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Written Answers

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 29 March 2007

International Development

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1835-6W, on Afghanistan: overseas aid, how much funding each organisation listed in Annexe A and Annexe B received from his Department for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan in each of the last three financial years. (127865)

DFID Afghanistan has channelled the following amounts through the organisations listed in Annexe A and Annexe B of the answer of 6 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1835-6W for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan over the last three financial years (broken down by year where available):

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Total

Annexe A—international organisations

Aga Khan (£)

700,000

1,700,000

700,000

3,100,000

BBC World Service Trust (£)

49,595

49,595

BAAG (£)

100,000

158,000

39,000

297,000

Annexe B—local organisations

Afghan Fertiliser Company (£)

1,789

1,789

Afghanistan Independence Human Rights Commission ($)

5,700

Afghanistan Information Management Service ($)

4,196

4,196

Afghanistan National Construction Coordination ($)

63,976

63,976

Co-operation Centre for Afghanistan ($)

8,380

Helping Afghan Farmers Organisation (£)

1,336,000

1,336,000

Irtiqa Development and Construction Organisation ($)

71,640

Reconstruction Committee for Development of Afghanistan ($)

74,500

Roshan Construction Company ($)

23,547

23,547

Southern Afghanistan Development Association ($)

95,000

Southern Rehabilitation and Aid Committee ($)

23,000

Tribal Liaison Office (£)

81,952

81,952

Other organisations listed in Annexe A and Annexe B were funded prior to the last three financial years. DFID Afghanistan also indirectly funds a range of non-governmental organisations as implementing partners of the Government of Afghanistan’s National Priority Programmes (e.g. through our support to the National Solidarity Programme).

Cambodia: Forestry

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether her Department has made any recent representations to the Government of Cambodia on the subject of reform of the forestry sector. (129563)

Departments: Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development 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. (128038)

DFID has not to date advertised on television or radio. Spending on advertising in print media for recruitment and procurement purposes was as follows:

Spend (£)

2000

751,972

2001

1,208,192

2002

914,571

2003

849,196

2004

700,077

2005

397,776

Figures prior to 2000 and for 2006 are not available.

Spend on promotional campaigns since November 2000

Total (£)

(i) Second White Paper on International Development

To raise awareness of the Government’s White Paper “Eliminating World Poverty-Making globalisation work for the poor”

41,945

(ii) Developments Magazine and Rough Guide Campaign

To promote Developments Magazine and The Rough Guide to a Better World

3,642

(iii) Trade Matters Campaign

To raise awareness of the role of trade in fighting world poverty and promote availability of a new free publication—Trade Matters.

26,176

(iv) Developments Magazine Campaign

To increase the number of subscribers to the Department’s free magazine—Developments.

12,934

(v) Third White Paper on International Development

To raise awareness of the UK Government’s action plan for working with overseas and international partners to reduce world poverty over the next five years.

125,000

(vi) G8 Gleneagles—One year on

To report progress on delivering the commitments proposed at the G8 summit.

62,275

Departments: Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by his Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. (130139)

Information about the political activity of appointees is recorded and publicised in accordance with the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments' code of practice. DFID has made no public appointments of former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005.

Departments: Trade Unions

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many meetings (a) he and (b) his Department’s Ministers held with trade union representatives in 2006. (128761)

A number of Trade Unions take a close interest in International Development. The Secretary of State for International Development and myself attended a small number of civil society events and forums in 2006 at which Trade Unions were represented, and development issues discussed.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union and the Association of the First Division Civil Servants (FDA) both have members in the Department for International Development. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development and myself held no official meetings with representatives from these unions in 2006 but did meet with PCS union representatives in March 2007.

Departments: Work Permits

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many work permits were applied for by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years. (126804)

DFID has helped four people to apply for work permits over the past five years.

The work permits were linked to staff appointed in country coming to the UK on short-term learning and development attachments.

Human Trafficking

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to prevent women being trafficked into the UK. (128828)

Poverty and social exclusion make people vulnerable to human trafficking. DFID supports long-term development programmes to help eliminate the underlying causes of poverty.

Most of the poorest people in the world are women and girls. Part of what makes them poor is discrimination because of their gender. DFID is making gender equality a priority across its work. This commitment is set out in our Gender Equality Action Plan. Our programmes are helping to improve the education of girls, and the livelihood opportunities, security and political participation of poor women, so that they are less vulnerable to trafficking.

Iraq: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department committed in each year since the invasion to (a) water and sanitation projects and (b) electrification projects in Iraq. (120236)

Since 2003, DFID has spent the following amounts to improve electricity and water and sanitation in Iraq:

£ million

Electricity

Water and Sanitation

2003-04

12.1

10.3

2004-05

6.2

1.6

2005/06

5.2

6.6

2006-07

8.2

3.3

In addition, DFID has contributed £70 million to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRRFI). This has financed electricity, water and sanitation projects across Iraq. We have also contributed £36 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross so that they can provide emergency assistance to Iraqis. This includes access to clean water and sanitation.

Latin America: Debts

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had on debt relief in (a) Nicaragua and (b) other Latin American countries. (128277)

Since 1999 Nicaragua (US$ 4.5 billion), Honduras (US$1 billion) and Bolivia (US$ 2.06 billion), have all received substantial debt relief through the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. In addition, since its implementation last year these countries have also benefited from the 100 per cent. cancellation of debt stock owed to the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank under the multilateral debt relief initiative (MDRI). Last year, the MDRI relieved debts of $968 million to Nicaragua, $1.3 billion to Honduras and $1.75 billion to Bolivia. DFID has monitored the spending of this money through our work with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This helps to ensure that the money gets targeted to items in the budget that directly impact on the poor, such as health and education. We have cancelled all outstanding bilateral debt owed to the UK, including contributing to the debt relief provided under HIPC and MDRI.

Despite good progress on multilateral debt relief, Nicaragua still has about $1.3 billion in outstanding debt from commercial creditors who are not part of either HIPC or MDRI. This debt hinders how Nicaragua can use other debt relief to address poverty, and is subject to ‘vulture funds’ which buy the debt when Nicaragua is least able to pay, and then press for repayment at several times the debt's face value, when economic prospects are looking better. DFID has just committed $3.5 million to the elimination of this debt, in a deal with the World Bank and other donors. The deal itself reduces the debt to $64 million. The Nicaraguan Government itself will contribute $3.5 million. With contributions from the Government of Nicaragua, World Bank, DFID and others, it is hoped that this will fully eliminate the outstanding commercial debt owed by Nicaragua.

In addition, the Inter-America Development Bank has recently announced debt relief to the five poorest countries in the region. This amounts to $3.4 billion and $1.0 billion of future interest payments from its fund for special operations (FSO). This will provide immediate relief of $1 billion for Bolivia, $984 million for Nicaragua, and $467 million for Guyana among others. However, the UK has abstained from voting on this deal, along with several other European countries. This was because of concerns that the deal would hinder access of the poorest countries to concessionary IADB financing in the future. Access to continued flows of concessionary lending from the FSO of the IADB will be important to the achievement of the millennium development goals in countries such as Nicaragua. The UK is currently in discussions with IADB and other shareholders on this matter.

Nepal

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Nepal. (126272)

DFID, like other international donors, monitors the humanitarian situation in Nepal primarily through the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). UNOCHA provides leadership to and co-ordination of the international humanitarian community, and works with DFID and other international bodies to monitor and respond to emerging and ongoing humanitarian crises. In 2006-07 DFID provided £700,000 to support humanitarian monitoring and co-ordination, and the provision of food aid in response to drought.

Food security problems, particularly related to drought, are severely affecting more than 900,000 people. Health indicators remain at a critical level, with acute malnutrition among children under five having increased to 12 per cent. over the last five years. Protection remains a central issue, including for children directly affected by the conflict. Significant numbers of those displaced during the conflict have been returning—either spontaneously, or with facilitation, though many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees continue to face protection concerns. 107,000 Bhutanese refugees remain dependent on international aid. In addition to the humanitarian challenges exacerbated by the conflict, Nepal’s mountainous terrain means that it continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters including landslides, floods, and earthquakes.

The UN has just launched a Common Appeal for Transition Support which provides a framework for a co-ordinated international response to these issues. The appeal focuses on issues of particular importance in the short term, including food security, health, displacement, disaster preparedness, and protection. DFID is currently examining the appeal document to assess which elements it might support, and will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation jointly with UNOCHA and other partners.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid was provided to Zimbabwe by the UK in 2006-07. (130175)

The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors of humanitarian support to Zimbabwe, supporting over 1.5 million of the poorest people. DFID spent £138.9 million bilaterally in Zimbabwe in financial years 2001-02 to 2005-06. Our funding prioritises HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and supporting orphans and vulnerable children. Our current programmes will help ensure that an additional 30,000 people receive anti-retroviral treatment, will provide health care for around 350,000 children, promote food security in both urban and rural areas and assist extremely vulnerable displaced people. The UK does not give direct funding to the Government of Zimbabwe. All DFID’s bilateral funding is channelled through NGOs and UN agencies, much of it programmed jointly with other donors. We do not believe in cutting direct assistance to poor Zimbabweans and thus punishing them further for their unaccountable government.

Through the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool, jointly funded by DFID, FCO and MOD, the UK supports civil society organisations to promote better governance and human rights. Allocations totalled £2 million in 2006-07 and will be £2.5 million in 2007-08. The British embassy in Harare also supports community groups with small grants (£800,000 per year). The UK contributions to multilateral aid to Zimbabwe (United Nations, European Commission, World Bank and others) totalled £37.5 million from 2000 to 2004 inclusive.

Electoral Commission Committee

Elections: Expenditure

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment has been made of the case for decentralising responsibility for monitoring and regulating campaign and constituency expenditure in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to its regional offices. (130068)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it set out its views on the role of its regional and devolved offices on 19 March in its response to the 11th report from the Committee in Standards in Public Life. This is available in the House of Commons Library and on the Commission’s website.

Elections: Local Government

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the potential change in local government electoral turnout in an elected mayoral system. (130561)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it has made no assessment of the potential change in local government electoral turnout in an elected mayoral system.

Electoral Commission

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment he has made of the effect of proposals to allow party members to serve as (a) staff of the Electoral Commission and (b) Electoral Commissioners on the effectiveness of the Electoral Commission. (130062)

In its Eleventh Report, the Committee on Standards in Public Life made recommendations aimed at changing the extent of the statutory restrictions on grounds of political activity on appointment as an Electoral Commissioner, and at reducing the duration of the similar restrictions on appointments to the Commission’s staff. The Speaker’s Committee will be considering this report soon. I also refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1868W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich, (Mrs. Dunwoody).

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission how many staff of the Electoral Commission have worked for the Commission (a) for less than one year, (b) for between (i) one and two years, (ii) two and three years, (iii) three and four years, (iv) four and five years and (c) for more than five years. (130270)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the figures for current staff are as follows:

Number

(a) less than 1 year

37

(b) (i) 1-2 years

25

(b) (ii) 2-3 years

17

(b) (iii) 3-4 years

26

(b) (iv) 4-5 years

22

(c) more than 5 years

15

Note:

As at 23 March 2007. ‘Current staff’ includes all permanent and fixed term staff members, but excludes consultants and temporary workers.

Leader of the House

House of Lords: Powers

To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2007, Official Report, column 173W, on the House of Lords: powers, what timetable he has set for (a) the reconvening of the cross-party talks and (b) the setting of a date for a detailed statement on the way forward. (130468)

The Government are currently considering the next stages and once discussions are complete I will make a detailed statement to the House.

Political Parties: Finance

To ask the Leader of the House what representations he has received on the propriety of front companies acting as conduits to allow anonymous donations to political parties. (130678)

I have received many representations on this issue from hon. Members over recent months.

Its importance has also been recognised by Sir Hayden Phillips in his recent report—‘Strengthening Democracy: Fair and Sustainable Funding of Political Parties’—where he states:

“Unincorporated associations and companies that make donations to political parties should be required to identify the people involved in making the decisions to give money to the parties.”

The Government share this concern and agree that this is an area which would benefit from further consideration.

Written Questions

To ask the Leader of the House if he will bring forward proposals for the electronic provision of answers to hon. Members who ask written parliamentary questions. (129414)

The proof of concept database which allows the electronic exchange of parliamentary answers between Government Departments and the House of Commons (ePC) has recently been reviewed by Domain Technologies. The review was funded by the Leader's office and the authorities of the House of Commons.

It is my intention to proceed to the next stage in its development.

To ask the Leader of the House if he will place in the Library a copy of the internal guidance detailing the administrative procedure by which written parliamentary questions are (a) placed in the Library, (b) sent to the hon. Member who asked the question and (c) made available to the Press Gallery. (129457)

Good practice followed by all Government Departments is that the answers should be available to hon. Members prior to them being distributed elsewhere in the House, e.g. Library, Hansard, Press Gallery etc.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage the use of anaerobic digestion of farm waste to create biogas for energy production. (127541)

The Government are committed to making the most of the potential of anaerobic digestion to contribute to a number of our key objectives, notably, reducing greenhouse emissions from waste management and agriculture and improving air and water quality, as well as providing a source of renewable energy.

The UK Biomass Strategy and the national Waste Strategy, both of which will be published later this spring, will set out the important contribution which anaerobic digestion can make to achieving these objectives.

In order to encourage the greater uptake of anaerobic digestion, I am pleased that the Environment Agency has agreed to develop a standard for digestate in 2007-08. This will allow modern regulatory principles to be applied to the use of this material and bring certainty to when this material is considered to be “fully recovered”. This should help to facilitate the development of markets for digestate.

Air Pollution: Small Businesses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice his Department makes available to small businesses on meeting emission targets. (129368)

[holding answer 27 March 2007]: The Department funds the Carbon Trust, a not-for-profit company that works closely with business to encourage sustainable use of energy, establish energy efficient practices and systems, and develop low carbon technologies.

The Carbon Trust’s products and services for small/medium enterprises (SMEs) include an interest-free loan scheme of £5,000 to £100,000 for approved energy saving measures. The trust also provides advice via their website and a dedicated customer call centre, supports various trade bodies that work directly with SMEs and provides site survey visits to companies with energy bills over £50,000.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the animal welfare enforcement database; (127367)

(2) what discussions he has had with (a) the Home Office, (b) the Department for Constitutional Affairs and (c) the Information Commissioner regarding the animal welfare enforcement database.

DEFRA Ministers and officials have not yet discussed this issue with the Home Office, the Court Service or the Information Commissioner. However, we do see merit in establishing a central database for enforcers to access information such as details of convictions for offences relating to animals, disqualifications from keeping an animal, and certain records relating to previous licences. At present, there is no central record of those subject to disqualification orders and this is regarded as a significant handicap to effective law enforcement. The database could also contain a register of specialist experts, which would ideally be accessible to enforcers.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he has taken to establish the new arrangements for securing scientific advice on bovine TB following the Government’s strategic framework; (130300)

(2) what steps he has taken to implement the proposals put forward by his Department’s Science Advisory Council in 2005 for the establishment of a new bovine TB Science Advisory Board.

The Government are committed to establishing a new bovine TB Science Advisory Body (bTB SAB) to provide independent expert advice to inform policy decisions on bovine TB issues.

Defra has broadly accepted the recommendations put forward by the Science Advisory Council (SAC) and has had lengthy discussions with SAC members to receive advice on reporting channels, body composition and terms of reference for its proposed bTB SAB. Agreement has been reached to establish an overarching bTB SAB with an independent external chair and membership drawn from existing, strengthened, independent expert advisory subgroups covering all aspects of the bTB science programme.

The Department continues to obtain independent expert peer review at all stages of its procurement and management of research and, last July, a quinquennial review of Defra’s Bovine Tuberculosis Research programme was carried out. The report is available on the Defra website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the purpose is of a disease report form; and how the data collected are used to provide a better understanding of bovine TB; (130302)

(2) what use is made of the data obtained from the bovine TB disease report form; and if he will list the notices, reports and other documents that have been collected as a result of the process.

Since 1 January 2005, the TB Disease Report Form (DRF) has been used to collect the information required for dealing with each new TB incident.

When cattle react positively to a TB test, or TB is detected in a carcase or animal, an investigation is initiated into the circumstances of the incident. Information is collected to establish, whenever possible, the origin of infection.

The DRF is used to capture on-farm information, and collate results from the incident. The collection of data and the epidemiological section are used to consider the possible origins of infection and potential risks of further disease spread, set up lists of animals to be traced and identify which neighbouring premises require additional testing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what data from the bovine TB disease report form is entered into the electronic data retrieval system; how many forms are held by (a) the State Veterinary Service and (b) his Department; for how long are they retained; and what average time is taken for a veterinary officer to complete a form. (130303)

The information in the TB Disease Report Form (DRF) is collated and used by local State Veterinary Service (SVS) Officers to manage TB incidents. At the present time, the majority of the information captured is not normally entered onto an electronic database. However, such information may be routinely captured by other means as part of normal SVS business. The SVS are currently updating their information technology (IT) systems and plan to capture such information electronically in the future.

Information relating to neighbouring farms and cattle movements is used by the SVS to identify cattle ‘at risk’ of spreading TB. This information is entered into IT systems to trigger TB testing for neighbouring animals or herds. Information such as TB testing results and post-mortem results are taken from other IT systems and added to the DRF.

SVS staff are instructed to initiate a DRF for each TB incident. Between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2006 there were 7,103 new TB incidents. Records are held by the SVS, not the core Department. DRFs are retained for up to 25 years.

SVS staff initially complete parts of the DRF with the farmer involved, then complete it later at the local office; this can take, in total, between three and four hours. The DRF is subsequently updated with case-related results as required.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations have been received by his Department from (a) farmers and (b) landowners seeking licences to cull badgers infected with bovine TB. (127583)

Natural England has received three applications in the last 12 months under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 section 10(2)(a) for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). These applications resulted in the issue of one licence, which was to permit an animal hospital to euthanase rescued badgers testing positive to bTB. Of the two remaining applications, both from farmers, one application, which was seeking to interfere with a badger sett, was refused after due consideration, while the other application has been placed on hold.

Most TB applications would currently be placed on hold while scientific evidence base is being assessed and organisational questions around possible badger culling are addressed. However, there may be exceptions, for example, applications to euthanase captive badgers testing positive to bTB will still be processed.

Cattle Identification

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle have been (a) seized and (b) slaughtered due to inadequate identification in the past 12 months. (129809)

Between 23 March 2006 and 23 March 2007, 875 cattle were slaughtered under provisions within the Cattle Identification Regulations on 11 separate occasions. One of these compulsory slaughters accounts for 567 of these animals.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to Clause 4.8 of the draft Climate Change Bill, by what mechanisms he expects to put into law the climate change framework to drive innovation among domestic firms for low carbon solutions. (129109)

Paragraph 4.8 of the consultation document on the draft Climate Change Bill refers to provisions aimed at driving innovation among domestic firms. The Bill provides a clear, credible and (crucially) a long-term legal framework for reducing emissions. This will provide greater certainty and confidence for businesses to be able to plan and make the long term investment decisions needed to drive innovation and to deliver the changes needed to move to a low carbon economy.

The Government hope to receive a wide range of views.

Departments: Bexley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department provided in grants for projects in the London borough of Bexley in each of the last five years. (129463)

In addition to funding given under the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPOS) block of Government grant, the London borough of Bexley has also been awarded other grants for waste management as follows:

Funding type

Funding amount (£)

Funding description

Start date

End date

London waste minimisation and recycling fund

691,000

Fund to improve waste minimisation and recycling in London

1 April 2002

31 March 2004

London waste minimisation and recycling fund

264,076

Fund to improve waste minimisation and recycling in London

1 April 2004

31 March 2006

Grant to relieve spending pressures on waste

122,991

£20 million allocated to LAs according to need to spend on waste services

1 April 2004

31 March 2005

Local authority support unit: direct consultancy support

56,400

Assessment of cross-border use and re-use and recycling centres

1 April 2004

31 March 2005

Waste and resources action programme: civic amenity sites grant

35,000

LA grant scheme round 1 2004-05

1 April 2004

31 March 2005

Local authority support unit: direct consultancy support

40,730

Waste composition audit

1 April 2005

31 March 2006

Local authority support unit: direct consultancy support

19,600

Waste composition audit

1 April 2006

31 March 2007

Waste performance and efficiency grant

175,651

Capital: £98,803.44; Revenue: £76,847.12

1 April 2005

31 March 2006

Waste performance and efficiency grant

459,788

Capital: £229,894; Revenue: £229,894

1 April 2006

31 March 2007

Hazardous Substances: Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken on the use of thermal depolymerisation as a process for recycling hazardous medical and sewage waste into fuel. (127544)

My Department has not undertaken any research into the use of thermal depolymerisation as a mechanism for generating fuel or disposing of waste.

Pet Animals

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government plan to ratify the European Convention on Pet Animals. (129968)

We recognise that the European Convention has been an important catalyst in raising animal welfare standards. The introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England and Wales, as well as the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, means that our laws are now consistent with the principles set out in the convention. Nevertheless, there are aspirations in the convention, in particular the resolution on breed standards, which may not necessarily be the most effective way of promoting welfare.

DEFRA is currently working with the devolved administrations to identify the implications of the convention, were the Government to sign it, and areas that may cause mutual concerns.

Rats

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2007, Official Report, column 979W, on rats, if he will break down the rat population in England by (a) region and (b) local authority area as indicated by the English House Condition Survey 2001. (129011)

The data on rodent infestation in domestic dwellings as revealed by the English House Condition Survey (EHCS) 2001 are broken down by region in the report “Rodent infestations in domestic properties in England, 2001”.

My Department does not have data on the rat population broken down by local authority. The EHCS data only provides an estimate of the proportion of dwellings with rat infestations inside or outside. It does not provide definitive data on numbers of rats.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to counteract pollution caused by unauthorised chemical waste dumping; what recent assessment he has made of the extent of such dumping; and if he will make a statement. (129846)

There are strict controls on the management and disposal of all wastes, including waste chemicals, and producers of waste have a duty to ensure that it is lawfully managed. Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 makes it an offence to illegally dispose of waste and carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine, or five years imprisonment, or both. The Government have been developing and implementing its waste crime strategy for a number of years now. We will continue to do so as I believe that all forms of illegal waste disposal need to be prevented as far as possible. Where they do happen, incidents and offenders must be dealt with promptly and efficiently by the enforcing authorities.

The Environment Agency (EA) has the leading role in the enforcement of waste regulation and works with local authorities to tackle the fly-tipping of waste. Over the last five years, the EA has been called out to 134 incidents involving organic and inorganic wastes which would include ‘chemical wastes’. In 2006, there was a small drop in the number of incidents compared to previous years. At incidents, the EA take action to ensure that wastes are cleared up to prevent harm to human health and the environment.

Flycapture, the national fly-tipping database, was set up in 2004 by Defra, the EA and the Local Government Association to record the number of fly-tipping incidents dealt with by the EA and local authorities. There are 15 categories of waste that are recorded on the database but none of these specifically record chemical wastes. However, one category records chemical drums, oil and fuel and, in 2005-06, there were 4,927 incidences recorded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with relevant EU directorates concerning the adoption of the composting protocol by the Environment Agency; (129941)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Environment Agency concerning compliance with the Waste Framework Directive (Amendment) 2006 of the agency's waste protocols programme.

The European Commission has been kept informed of the work undertaken by the Environment Agency (EA) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to develop an end of waste protocol for compost.

Officials from DEFRA and the EA attended a recent seminar by the Commission's Joint Research Centre in Seville to discuss Commission-funded research into a methodology for developing end of waste criteria at EU level.

The EA is a member of the DEFRA project board which is steering the UK input to the negotiations on the proposed revisions to the Waste Framework Directive, under which the Commission has proposed a mechanism to set end of waste criteria for the EU. These negotiations are still in progress. The EA's experience in developing end of waste criteria for compost and other materials should help provide valuable input to future EU discussions.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1641W to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman), on waste management, whether a local authority can unilaterally leave a joint waste authority of its own accord once it has voluntarily decided to join one. (129107)

No. As stated in my previous answer of 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1641W to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) the Secretary of State will only be able to dissolve a joint waste authority in two situations: (i) if he/she receives a request to do so from all the appropriate local authorities; (ii) if he/she considers it necessary.

Other models of partnership working are available for those authorities that do not wish their partnership to be placed on a statutory footing.

Whaling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which foreign governments were represented at the recent meeting hosted by Japan to encourage more countries to support their position in the International Whaling Commission; and if he will make a statement. (130114)

All 72 members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) were invited to a recent meeting in Tokyo, known as the ‘Normalization’ meeting, organised by the Government of Japan. As far as my Department is aware, the following Governments attended the meeting:

Antigua and Barbuda

Cambodia

Cameroon

People’s Republic of China

Cote D’Ivoire

Denmark

Dominica

Gabon

The Gambia

Grenada

Guatemala

Republic of Guinea

Iceland

Japan

Kiribati

Republic of Korea,

Mali

Republic of Marshall Islands

Mauritania

Mongolia

Nauru

Norway

Oman

Republic of Palau

Russian Federation

Senegal

St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Lucia

St. Vincent and The Grenadines

South Africa

Surinam

Switzerland

Togo

Tuvalu.

The UK, along with 26 other anti-whaling countries, respectfully declined the invitation. While we are grateful to the Japanese Government for trying to further discussions on issues of division in the IWC, we believe this initiative serves to further polarise and distract its members from the important conservation work that the IWC undertakes. Furthermore, the IWC is the only body mandated to discuss, at plenipotentiary level, issues relating to the conservation and management of whales. The UK therefore considers that the IWC is the only recognised forum in which to hold intergovernmental discussions on whaling.

Prime Minister

Departments: EC Action

To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a list of attendees, with their affiliations, of public events hosted at 10 Downing street in the last two years on European Community matters. (130631)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 11 October 2006, Official Report, column 788W.

Departments: Silverfish Productions

To ask the Prime Minister what contracts his office awarded to Silverfish Productions Limited in each of the last three years; and what the cost was of those contracts. (128324)

As part of World Aids Day 2005, Silverfish Productions Limited produced a video about HIV/AIDS in Malawi, at a cost of £869.

Honours

To ask the Prime Minister why the reason for the removal of an honour from an individual is not routinely included with the notice of forfeiture placed in the London Gazette; if he will make it his policy that such reasons be so included; and if he will make a statement. (130486)

The Sovereign may, on the advice of Ministers, cancel an award if the holder is considered unworthy to retain it. It would be unnecessary to repeat this in the London Gazette on every occasion of forfeiture.

Defence

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines govern the advance notice to be given of a battalion’s flight dates prior to deployment on operations overseas; and if he will make a statement. (130251)

It is established practice that we give all our soldiers the maximum flight notice possible. Battalions are normally notified of the departure date between 10 and 30 days in advance and actual flight timings are notified at least 10 days in advance.

There may be occasions where unavoidable factors, either operational or aircraft related, result in further changes to the day or time of a flight. In all cases, battalions are contacted as soon as changes appear likely.

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2006, Official Report, column 626, on training, what steps he is taking to address consequences for the training of troops of the operational tempo. (130592)

The Ministry of Defence constantly assesses the impact of operational pressures on the force structure and adjusts programmes accordingly. To accommodate the training for current levels of operational deployment, the focus of training across defence, particularly in the land and air environments, has shifted towards training for specific operations rather than for general contingencies. Training for general contingencies continues, however, to form a significant part of Commander Joint Operations’ exercise programme, which ensures that the knowledge and experience required to command and control such operations is maintained over time.

Armed Forces: Working Conditions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to how many days rest and recuperation a soldier serving on operations is entitled after (a) four, (b) six, (c) 10 and (d) 12 months active duty is entitled. (130071)

[holding answer 27 March 2007]: Rest and Recuperation (R and R) is not leave and is to be taken at a time, location and duration specified by the operational commander. R and R may only be granted to individuals or units on periods of continuous operations in excess of four months. The maximum permissible period for each instance of R and R is 14 nights inclusive of travelling time. The number of permissible periods of R and R is dependent upon expected tour length and is subject to the following restrictions:

Over four months (120 days) but less than seven months (210 days)—one period of R and R.

Over seven months but less than 11 months (330 days)—two periods of R and R.

Over 11 months—three periods of R and R.

Army: Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the summer 2006 report of the Chief of the General Staff's briefing team. (124497)

[holding answer 5 March 2007]: A copy of the Chief of the General Staffs briefing team summer 2006 report will be made available in the Library of the House.

Merlin Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Merlin Mark 1 helicopters are (a) in service, (b) under repair and (c) being cannibalised; and if he will make a statement. (128260)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1437W.

Military Aircraft: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Britten Norman Defender 4S AL Mk1 aircraft have been procured; and how many of these have been delivered to Iraq for use by the Army. (130325)

Four Britten Norman Defender AL Mk1s have now been procured and delivered for use by UK Joint Forces.

All four aircraft have now served in Iraq. To allow for scheduled maintenance, modification/upgrade programmes and/or training requirements only two of the aircraft may have been operational at any one time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the acquisition cost was at 2006 values of the Britten Norman Defender 4S AL2 Mk1 aircraft procured by the army; and what the estimated hourly running cost is of these aircraft. (130326)

The acquisition cost of a Britten Norman Defender AL Mk1, based on the Economic Conditions of mid 2006, was in the order of £4.5 million.

The estimated hourly running cost during 2006 is £1,500 per hour.

Military Fatalities: Iraq and Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many fatalities were sustained by UK armed forces resulting from improvised explosive devices attack on (a) USA RG31 vehicles and (b) Canadian RG31 Nyala vehicles in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan in each of the last two years. (130016)

There have been no fatalities sustained by the UK armed forces in USA RG31 vehicles or Canadian RG31 Nyala vehicles during the last two years, in Iraq or Afghanistan, as a result of improvised explosive devices.

Tucanos

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which versions of the Tucano are operated by the Royal Air Force; what the acquisition cost was of each aircraft; and what the average total operating cost is per hour of Tucanos operated by the Royal Air Force. (130015)

The version of the Tucano operated by the RAF is the T Mark 1 for which the full acquisition cost for each aircraft was just over £l million. The total cost per funded flying hour for the Tucano T Mark 1 is £5,411.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the acquisition costs were of (a) the unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by the UK in Afghanistan and (b) the coalition unmanned aerial vehicles to which the UK has operational access in Iraq. (130024)

The acquisition costs of the Desert Hawk mini unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by the UK to Afghanistan were around £1.8 million. We do not comment on the costs of equipment acquired by coalition partners such as the unmanned aerial vehicles to which we have access in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Zimbabwe: British Nationality

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans his Department has put in place to evacuate British citizens in the event of a crisis in Zimbabwe. (130591)

With the FCO, the Ministry of Defence conducts periodic reviews of contingency plans that provide support to the FCO for Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations of British citizens from a range of countries, including Zimbabwe. Should the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate to the extent that the FCO decides to evacuate British citizens, the MOD would provide assistance to the FCO if requested.

Constitutional Affairs

Departments: Paper

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure her Department’s economical use of paper. (128011)

My Department has set in place a contract that provides recycled paper for printing and copying. In addition to this our HQ has piloted a successful paper recycling scheme. Best practice from this pilot is being used to assist development of the Department’s waste strategy and action plan.

Departments: Public Appointments

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by her Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. (130147)

Information about the political activity of appointees is recorded and publicised in accordance with the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. These show that no former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 have since been appointed to public bodies sponsored by the Department.

Sir Hayden Phillips: Pay

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how, and at what rate, Sir Hayden Phillips was remunerated for undertaking the inquiry into the funding of political parties; and how much he has been paid to date for that work. (130481)

Sir Hayden Phillips was appointed by the Prime Minister to conduct a review of the funding of political parties in March 2006.

Sir Hayden Phillips’ gross rate of pay for conducting the review was £700 per day, paid through the DCA. The total amount that he has been paid to date (up to the end of February 2007) has been £40,100 gross.

Politics and Government: South West Region

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) what distinct constitutional status applies to (a) Cornwall, (b) the Isles of Scilly, (c) the Cornish people, (d) the Duchy of Cornwall, (e) the Council of the Isles of Scilly, (f) Cornish stannary organisations and (g) any other Cornish or Duchy based institution which does not apply to England; (123754)

(2) what (a) treaties, (b) Acts of Parliament, (c) regulations and (d) statutory instruments provide distinct status to (i) Cornwall and (ii) the Isles of Scilly which does not apply to England.

The Government addressed the question about the constitutional status of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, and the Duchy of Cornwall on 6 March 2007, Official Report, column 1892W. The position of the Council of Isles of Scilly is recognised in UK legislation where it applies to the Isles. On the question about stannary organisations, there are no valid Cornish stannary organisations in existence. It is noted that stannary courts were abolished under the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896.

Cornwall has always been an integral part of the Union. There are no treaties today that apply to Cornwall only. With the exception of geographically limited matters such as Private Acts of Parliament for infrastructure works, Acts of Parliament, regulations and statutory instruments apply in Cornwall as they do throughout England, but do not always apply to the Isles of Scilly. There is no special status for legislation which applies to Cornwall or to Cornish localities.

Culture, Media and Sport

Animal Welfare: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which animal welfare organisations benefited from National Lottery funding in each of the last five years; and how much each received. (130495)

The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost as animal welfare organisations are not a separate category on the Department’s Lottery Grants Database.

The Big Lottery Fund does not support animal welfare groups, but it does support some charities involving animals.

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) key focus for funding animals is through the conservation of priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) species and priority UKBAP habitats. As HLF is concerned with the conservation and recovery of the UK’s most endangered animals and not the general wellbeing and welfare of animals, HLF has not funded, as far as we are aware, any animal welfare organisations.

Details of individual Lottery awards appear on the Department’s Lottery Grants Database, which uses information supplied by the Lottery distributors and can be searched at www.lottery.culture.gov.uk

Consultation Papers

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 21 March 2007, Official Report, columns 903-4W, on consultation papers, what fee she expects to be paid to the Work Foundation for the creative economy project. (130379)

The agreed cost of the Department's contract with the Work Foundation for their contribution to the creative economy programme is for a sum not exceeding £84,000 (excluding VAT). The terms of the contract will be reviewed in the light of the actual demands of the programme.

Departments: Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which industry summits her Department has (a) hosted and (b) co-hosted with other Government Departments in each of the last five years; what policy initiative each summit was associated with; and what the cost of each such summit was. (130381)

The Department has an ongoing programme of meetings with industry representatives from across all of its sectors. A relatively small proportion of which have been specifically termed Industry summits’. The most recent examples of these are the events being held to inform the Creative Economy programme and those which were held on ticket touting issues. In these cases, the costs incurred (in addition to those for internal administration) are as set out in the table.

An analysis of all of the industry summit’ events held over the last five years, the policy initiative each was associated with, and the cost of each, could only be provided at disproportionate expense.

Event

Programme

Date

Cost (£)

icket touting

Ticket touting

20 April 2006

0.00

Access to finance

Creative Economy programme

25 April 2006

0.00

Competition and IP

Creative Economy programme

24 May 2006

531.69

Technology

Creative Economy programme

12 June 2006

0.00

Diversity

Creative Economy programme

29 June 2006

408.00

Infrastructure

Creative Economy programme

6 July 2006

0.00

Ticket touting

Ticket touting

17 July 2006

0.00

Education and Skills

Creative Economy programme

19 July 2006

376.00

Music

Creative Economy programme

13 June 2006

3500.00

Computer games

Creative Economy programme

18 July 2006

2300.00

Publishing

Creative Economy programme

4 September 2006

400.00

Ticket touting

Ticket touting

8 February 2007

0.00

Broadcasting

Creative Economy programme

7 March 2007

0.00

Film

Creative Economy programme

12 March 2007

271.58

Architecture

Creative Economy programme

14 March 2007

406.50

Music

Creative Economy programme

19 March 2007

0.00

Publishing

Creative Economy programme

20 March

0.00

Software

Creative Economy programme

21 March 2007

0.00

Computer games

Creative Economy programme

21 March 2007

0.00

Design

Creative Economy programme

22 March 2007

68.80

Film

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 21 March 2007, Official Report, columns 904-5W, on film, what the budgets are for the summits on (a) software, (b) games, (c) design, (d) performing arts, (e) advertising and (f) fashion. (130378)

In addition to internal administrative costs, an overall budget of £1,000 has been allocated to cover the incidental costs of the current round of 12 industry summits being held to inform the creative economy programme. Support for these events also forms part of the Department's contract with the Work Foundation.

Summits have been held on broadcasting, film, architecture, music, publishing, software, computer games and design. Further summits are planned on advertising, fashion, the performing arts and arts, antiques and crafts.

Gaming Clubs: Energy Consumption

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether the small, large and regional casinos recommended to her by the Casino Advisory Panel will be required to use energy saving light bulbs in and around their premises. (129002)

Any new casino development will be required to comply with relevant planning and building requirements, including relevant requirements designed to protect the environment and promote energy saving.

Hotels: Taxation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which organisations have made written representations to her Department on taxation on hotel accommodation in the last 12 months. (130580)

DCMS has received 57 written representations on this subject since 1 March 2006. These include four submissions to the Department’s Welcome>Legacy consultation which raised the matter of an accommodation tax. A significant number of proforma letters, written as part of the Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s campaign against an accommodation tax, were sent to the Prime Minister and forwarded to the Department.

These representations were received from tourism and hospitality trade associations, individual businesses, local authorities, representatives of attraction businesses, Members of Parliament and public and private sector partnership organisations.

Since the publication of Sir Michael Lyons’ report on 21 March, the Government have stated there is no intention to introduce a local bed tax.

Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) when she expects a new text-based labelling system for internet sites to be introduced; (129174)

(2) what studies have been commissioned by her Department on the (a) feasibility and (b) cost of introducing a text-based labelling system for internet sites.

The Department has not commissioned any studies. The independent regulator Ofcom has a duty for media literacy in the Communications Act 2003. In pursuit of the duty Ofcom have been developing proposals for a common labelling framework.

I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to write with more details. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Licensed Premises: Safety Measures

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received on the use of plastic glasses in licensed premises. (130127)

I have been asked to reply.

Other than previous debates in the House and representations made by individual MPs on behalf of their constituents, no specific representations have been made by the drinks industry or other stakeholders on the use of plastic in licensed premises. The Licensing Act 2003 already provides for the police to apply for licence reviews and for conditions to be attached to licences. For example, that the licensed premises should use toughened drinks glasses and bottles. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 will in due course also provide a new fast track alcohol licence review process that could lead to such conditions being applied in cases of serious crime and disorder. We are also committed to reviewing the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England that was published in March 2004, later this year.

Licensing Laws

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many licencees have had their licences revoked since the Licensing Act 2003 came into force; (130384)

(2) how many licences have been (a) challenged and (b) placed under review due to the selling of alcohol to minors.

We do not hold this information. However, extrapolating from data collected by the Department in November 2006 from a small sample of licensing authorities, we broadly estimate there were around 600 completed licence reviews in the first year of the new regime which resulted in approximately 100 licences being revoked. Sales or attempted sales to persons under 18 would have been a factor in a number of those cases.

Public Libraries

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the percentage of the population that used a public library in each of the last five years. (130405)

The information necessary to estimate the percentage of population using public libraries in England across the whole period sought by my hon. Friend is not held centrally.

The DCMS ‘Taking Part’ cultural participation survey shows that 48.2 per cent. of all adults in this country visited at least one library during 2005-06. However, this was the survey's first reporting year so we do not have comparable information for previous years. Neither does this figure include library usage by children and young people under 16.

The Public Library Statistics, published annually by the Chartered Institute of Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) show that the following percentages of people in England borrowed at least one item from a public library (“active borrowers”) in the period 2001-02 to 2005-06:

Active borrowers as a percentage of total population

2001-02

27.6

2002-03

26.2

2003-04

24.8

2004-05

23.0

2005-06

22.2

The table, although focused on individual users, only reflects the number of people that used the library to borrow an item including books, DVDs and CDs. It does not take account of those people who used a library for other purposes such as reading a book or newspaper on the library premises, attending a reading or learning group or accessing information (whether in paper or online form). Increasingly, public libraries are becoming wider community resources that offer an increasing range of services.

The following table, shows the average number of visits to libraries in England per head of resident population in England as well the total number of visits overall.

Average number of visits to libraries in England per head of resident population

Visits overall (000)

2001-02

5.5:1

270,775

2002-03

5.5:1

274,053

2003-04

5.7:1

285,365

2004-05

5.8:1

288,382

2005-06

5.8:1

290,979

Tickets: Touting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with industry on the illegal selling of tickets to events. (130516)

The Department has hosted four separate meetings with key stakeholders from the ticketed events’ industry over the last year to discuss the problems associated with ticket resale, to identify solutions to those problems and work continues. Only the resale of tickets for designated football matches, the resale of tickets for the London 2012 Games and the trading of tickets on the street without a licence are illegal.

Illegal activity is a matter for enforcement agencies to take appropriate action.

Tourism: Hartlepool

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the potential effects on the (a) Hartlepool economy and (b) Hartlepool tourist and culture sector of the 2010 Tall Ships event. (130907)

This Department has made no such assessments. However, the national marketing organisation, VisitBritain, has worked with previous Tall Ships venues in the past (such as Newcastle Gateshead in 2005) to promote the event and will offer its support to Tall Ships Hartlepool 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what grants facilities in Hartlepool will be able to apply for in connection with the 2010 Tall Ships event. (130908)

This Department provides no such grants. However, the national marketing organisation, VisitBritain, will work with organisers to promote the event and One NorthEast, the regional development agency for the North East of England, will consider applications for support.

Tourism: North East Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many tourists visited (a) Hartlepool constituency, (b) Tees Valley sub-region and (c) the North East region in each of the last five years. (130891)

The following tables show the number of visits to the North East from (i) UK residents (with an overnight stay) and (ii) overseas residents, for the latest years for which data are available. Data for Tees Valley are only available for inbound visits and no information is available at a constituency level.

Domestic overnight visits1

Thousand

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

North East

4,300

4,800

4,800

3,800

4,640

1 The methodology for the UKTS changed in 2005 meaning that comparisons with previous years should be treated with caution. This change occurred as a result of concerns with the quality of 2004 data, which are thought to be an under-representation of the true position.

Source:

UK Tourism Survey (National Tourist Boards)

Inbound visits

Thousand

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Tees Valley

45

47

69

50

52

North East

440

529

505

539

590

Source:

International Passenger Survey (ONS)

In addition, account should be taken of the number of day visits made to, or within, the North East. The Leisure Day Visits Survey in 2002-03 recorded a total of around 30 million tourism day visits to destinations in the North East. It is not possible to provide a time series for this information as the surveys are run intermittently.

Education and Skills

Children: Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which conferences targeted at schoolchildren were funded by the EU in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (130670)

I am not aware of any conferences in the UK targeted at schoolchildren that have received funding from the EU.

Connexions

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on the Connexions service in each year since it was established; and how many people received advice from the service in each of those years. (130648)

Connexions was introduced in a staged way from April 2001. The following table provides information on the budgets and numbers of interventions with young people for each year since the service’s inception. The intervention data are included as information on the number of people receiving advice is not collected.

Connexions budget (£ million)

Careers Service budget (£ million)

Interventions

2001-02

151

173

1,257,437

2002-03

378

52

3,090,000

2003-04

455

3,656,000

2004-05

470

3,908,000

2005-06

475

4,264,000

2006-07

476

1

1 Not yet available

Notes:

1. The above figures reflect the staged way in which Connexions was introduced.

2. Young people also receive support from Connexions through group activities and events and from Connexions Direct, none of which are included in the above intervention figures. There are over 130,000 visits per week to the Connexions Direct website, with around 6,000 contacts per week to the helpline.

Departments: Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are in place to ensure his Department's economical use of paper. (128009)

An environmental housekeeping policy, published on the Department’s internal website, promotes economical use of paper through advice to reduce printing to essential only, printing double sided documents, using the phone or email to contact people and circulating papers instead of sending out copies.

DFES is currently implementing electronic management of records storage and on-line delivery of services which will transform the way our services are managed and delivered by helping to reduce the need for hardcopy paper production and handling.

The programme of upgrading to printers and multifunctional devices that allow double sided printing is in progress as part of planned improvements to flexible working arrangements in our Headquarters offices.

The Department has implemented a sustainable operations management system to help it meet sustainable development in Government targets. The system contains a strategic site-specific action plan on waste reduction and management for each of its headquarters offices.

Education Maintenance Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many young people have been in receipt of education maintenance allowance (EMA) in each London local authority since its introduction; and how many were in receipt of EMA in 2005-06. (128672)

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

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 28 March 2007:

I am writing in response to your recent Parliamentary Question that asked; “How many young people have been in receipt of educational maintenance allowance (EMA) in each London local authority since its introduction; and how many were in receipt of an EMA in 2005-06.”

EMA take-up is defined as young people who have received one or more EMA payments in the academic year.

National EMA was phased in over time to successive 16 year old age groups. 2004/05 was the first year of National EMA and therefore we can only give data for 16 year olds in that year.

The attached tables show EMA take-up data for each London Local Authority area during each academic year since the scheme’s inception.

I hope you find this information useful.

Scheme take-up

Area type

Area name

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07 to end February 2007

National

England

297,259

429,627

503,741

Region

London

50,896

70,480

79,303

LSC

London, Central

11,171

14,043

1,528

LA

Camden

1,550

1,749

1,886

LA

Islington

1,682

1,976

2,090

LA

Kensington and Chelsea

325

691

849

LA

Lambeth

2,791

3,406

3,666

LA

Southwark

2,647

3,138

3,469

LA

Wandsworth

1,607

1,948

2,103

LA

Westminster

569

1,135

1,465

LSC

London, East

18,871

24,229

26,335

LA

City of London

18

64

70

LA

Greenwich

2,161

2,479

2,672

LA

Hackney

2,841

3,262

3,444

LA

Lewisham

2,575

2,945

3,201

LA

Tower Hamlets

3,265

3,626

3,748

LA

Barking and Dagenham

1,408

1,917

2,196

LA

Bexley

834

1,552

1,826

LA

Havering

821

1,498

1,641

LA

Newham

3,774

4,601

4,823

LA

Redbridge

1,174

2,285

2,714

LSC

London, North

7,292

10,622

12,192

LA

Barnet

1,044

2,198

2,667

LA

Enfield

1,337

2,639

3,338

LA

Haringey

2,508

2,984

3,243

LA

Waltham Forest

2,403

2,801

2,944

LSC

London, South

4,253

8,332

10,235

LA

Bromley

936

1,698

1,983

LA

Croydon

1,375

2,874

3,646

LA

Kingston-Upon-Thames

370

706

867

LA

Merton

613

1,261

1,617

LA

Richmond-Upon-Thames

359

683

790

LA

Sutton

600

1,110

1,332

LSC

London, West

9,309

13,254

15,013

LA

Hammersmith and Fulham

1,247

1,429

1,524

LA

Brent

2,744

3,349

3,577

LA

Ealing

2,682

3,158

3,273

LA

Harrow

849

1,785

2,213

LA

Hillingdon

883

1,695

2,123

LA

Hounslow

904

1,838

2,303

English: Teaching Methods

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 15 January 2007, Official Report, columns 800-1W, on English language teaching, (1) if he will assess the merits of using the skills and materials available in the learning English section of the BBC World Service to maintain the accessibility of online/distance learning English for Speakers of Other Languages courses; and if he will make a statement; (120255)

(2) when he expects to reply to Question 120255, on the BBC World Service and English language teaching, tabled by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South on 6 February.

There are a wide variety of materials and resources to support the learning of English and we would encourage those that are effective and of high quality.

The Skills for Life Strategy has implemented national standards for adult literacy and numeracy and all provision eligible for funding as basic skills has to be mapped to these. The standards are reinforced and supported by national core curricula for literacy, numeracy, ESOL and ICT which provide a context within the learning environment. Learners wishing to improve their English skills should follow approved courses based on the Skills for Life national standards and curriculum and which lead to nationally recognised qualifications.

We recognise the value and potential of delivering English language online and via distance learning and we are currently investigating this area.

Mathematics: Secondary Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of mathematics lessons in mainstream maintained secondary schools is observed by Ofsted, broken down by school year group. (129708)

This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 28 March, 2007:

Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, for reply.

You asked what proportion of mathematics lessons in mainstream maintained secondary schools is observed by Ofsted, broken down by separate school year group.

The number of mathematics lessons that take place in schools nationally is unknown and therefore the proportion observed by Ofsted cannot be calculated. I am able to report that one in seven lessons observed by inspectors in mainstream secondary schools in 2005/06 was a mathematics lesson. The details are broken down by year group in the table beneath.

Proportion of lessons observed in maintained secondary schools which were mathematics lessons

Year group

Percentage

7

14

8

15

9

14

10

14

11

15

12

8

13

9

All

14

A copy of this reply has been sent to Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools, and will be placed in the library of both Houses.

Nurseries: Qualifications

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the viability of playgroups in circumstances where staff of those groups are found by Ofsted to have insufficient qualifications. (130067)

Ofsted regulates to the National Standards for under 8s day care and childminding and makes a judgment about whether all managers, staff and volunteers have the appropriate experience skills and ability to do their jobs. National Standards 1 and 2 of the sessional care standards sets the qualification requirements for playgroups. Where providers do not currently meet these requirements Ofsted will normally accept an action plan showing how they intend to fulfil them and over what timescale, and monitor progress at the next inspection.

Public Sector Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the cash equivalent transfer value is of the public sector pensions of the 10 highest paid members of staff in his Department and its executive agencies; and if he will make a statement; (113816)

(2) when he will answer Question 113816, on public sector pensions, tabled on 5 January 2007 by the hon. Member for Yeovil.

The cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) of the pensions of the 10 highest paid departmental employees at 31 March 2006 was £4,340,480.00. This includes the CETV of the members of the senior management team named in the Department’s remuneration report, which is published annually and which is in the public domain. The Department has no executive agencies.

Special Educational Needs

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent representations he has received on the availability of textbooks for blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children in accessible formats; and if he will make a statement; (130337)

(2) what assessment he has made of the availability of textbooks in formats accessible to blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children;

(3) what steps he will take to improve blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children's access to books in accessible formats in the next two years.

The Department regularly discusses the provision it makes for children with special educational needs and disabilities through the SEN and disability frameworks with key stakeholders both in the voluntary sector and across Government, including support for visually impaired and dyslexic children. A central record is not kept of the approaches made to the Department on individual issues.

We continue to invest significant resources to support the education of children with SEN and disabilities—some £4.5 billion in 2006/07. It is for schools and local authorities to plan to improve access to the curriculum and written materials for disabled pupils over time and the Disability Equality Duty requires schools them to promote disability equality.

To assist the provision of materials in accessible alternative formats for blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children specifically, the Government supported the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 which reduces delays in gaining copyright clearance to produce books and other printed materials in formats accessible to visually impaired people. The Department of Trade and Industry is also working on a feasibility study to look at opportunities for publishers to provide education material in accessible formats more quickly and this Department is involved in the process.

Vocational Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many hours of training on average were undertaken by participants in the Train to Gain programme; (123390)

(2) what percentage of participants in the Train to Gain programme received no training as a result of first stage assessment;

(3) what percentage of participants in the Train to Gain programme have received training of more than (a) 60 hours, (b) 70 hours and (c) 100 hours;

(4) what percentage of the Train to Gain programme budget has been spent on (a) training, (b) accreditation and (c) skills brokers.

Train to Gain is an ongoing service and as such performance is updated on a regular basis. Detailed operational information is not held centrally by the Department but is collected by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Mark Haysom the LSC chief executive has written to the hon. Member and a copy of his replies has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 28 March 2007:

I am writing in response to your recent parliamentary question about the number of hours Train to Gain learners take to achieve qualifications.

As the majority of learners take more than 6 months to achieve a qualification, there is currently only a small amount of data available to use in responding to this question.

However, analysis of nearly 10,000 learners starting in the period April-July 2006 who have now completed their training shows the average number of hours to be about 33 hours.

I hope this response is helpful to you.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 12 March 2007:

I am writing in response to your recent parliamentary question about what percentage of participants in the Train to Gain programme budget is spent on (a) training (b) accreditation and (c) skills brokers.

The Learning & Skills Council is not clear what is meant by the terms ‘training’ and ‘accreditation’ as used in this question. However, the following details of 2006/07 budget expenditure may answer the question:

Provision i.e. paid to providers to train employees to achieve a qualification. = 68% of budget.

Skills Brokerage including broker training and accreditation to new national standards in business advice = 11% of budget.

I hope this response is helpful to you.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 12 March 2007:

I write in response to your Parliamentary question asking what percentage of participants in the Train to Gain programme have received training of more than (a) 60 hours (b) 70 hours and (c) 100 hours.

Train to Gain has been available nationally since August 2006. The use of the term ‘training’ in the question is unclear as it could cover a wide range of activities. LSC collects data on the number of hours learners spend on training programmes working towards qualifications. As the majority of learners take more than 6 months to achieve a qualification, there is currently only a small amount of data available to use in responding to this question. Based on 7,103 records to date, the breakdown is:

(a) 60-70 hours = 4%

(b) 70-100 hours = 10%

(c) 100 hours + = 1%

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 12 March 2007:

I write in response to your Parliamentary question asking what percentage of participants in the Train to Gain programme received no training as a result of first stage assessment.

The Learning & Skills Council is unable to respond to this question without clarification as the term ‘first stage assessment’ is not recognised. It is also unclear whether the term ‘participants’ refers to employers or employees.

If you can clarify this point, we would be happy to respond.

Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, when he expects to answer Question 110609, on young people in London, tabled by the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green on 18 January. (130602)

The hon. Member’s question will be responded to by the Department for Work and Pensions. The question was transferred on 26 January.

Young People: EC Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the UK is taking under the EU Youth in Action programme (EU budget code 15 01 04 55); and if he will make a statement. (130658)

The EU Youth in Action Programme started on 1 January 2007 and will run until 31 December 2013. I have appointed Connect Youth, part of the British Council, to manage the programme in the UK and to maximise the take up by eligible young people in this country.

Youth Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the degree to which the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital funds are reaching the disadvantaged young people in Greater Manchester following submission by local authorities of reports to the Government Office in the North West. (129981)

Local authorities are required to report to Government offices on delivery of the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Funds on a six monthly basis. The first six monthly reports received at the end of October 2006 provided evidence predominantly on set up of the funds in each area. As a result, levels of participation by disadvantaged young people in the funds are not identifiable. The second reports due at the end of April 2007 will include full management information on participation, and will provide information on how the funds are reaching disadvantaged young people in each local authority.

Transport

A21: Compulsory Purchase

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Highways Agency plans to issue compulsory purchase orders along the A21 between Flimwell and Robertsbridge. (130594)

Aerodrome Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to consult on how to determine the interests of persons who live in the area in which an aerodrome is situated in determining the use of his powers under the Civil Aviation Act 1982 to fix charges. (129998)

Section 1 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 inserts a new section 38 into the Civil Aviation Act 1982. Subsection 5 of this section requires that where the Secretary of State is considering whether to exercise his power, conferred by subsection 4, to direct an airport operator to fix its charges by reference to aircraft noise or emissions, he must

“have regard (among other things) to the interests of persons who live in the area in which the aerodrome is situated”.

We do not plan to consult on a general process for determining those interests. Rather, we recognise that the interests will depend on specific local circumstances. If the Secretary of State were to consider the use of section 38(4) in a specific case, we would expect a public consultation giving local authorities, amenity groups, the airport's Consultative Committee, other local interest groups and individuals an opportunity to make their views clear. Decisions following consultation would depend on the merits of the case.

Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the aircraft for the use of the Prime Minister will be ready to enter service; and what the estimated whole life cost of such aircraft is estimated to be. (125931)

The Department for Transport plans to introduce the new air travel service as early as possible, consistent with best procurement practice and the need to deliver value for money and appropriate levels of safety, security and reliability. The timetable for delivery will depend upon the contractual arrangements and the lead-in times needed by suppliers to meet the new requirement.

Sir Peter Gershon’s “Independent Air Travel Review” estimated that the new service would cost between £104 million and £107 million in net present value terms over a ten year period. This compares with a cost of £98 million over the same period of continuing with the existing arrangements. Sir Peter Gershon’s Review calculated that such an arrangement would add no further burden to the public purse.

British Transport Police: Community Support Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many British Transport Police community support officers were based in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex in each of the last five years, broken down by location of post. (130937)

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail: general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Bus Services: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was paid to bus operators through the Bus Service Operators Grant in each year since the grant was introduced. (130058)

Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) was introduced under the Transport Act 2000. It replaced the Fuel Duty Rebate scheme which had been in place since 1965.

The amount of BSOG paid by the Department to operators of local bus and community transport services since 2000 is as follows:

£ million (cash prices)

2000-01

301

2001-02

304

2002-03

317

2003-04

341

2004-05

359

2005-06

369

2006-07

1380

1 Estimated.

Cycleways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on cycling facilities in local authority areas (a) in London and (b) in England outside London in each year since 2000-01; what his expectations are for future spending; and if he will make a statement. (129400)

The Department provides a central budget for cycling programmes and initiatives. Since 2005-06 this has been the responsibility of Cycling England and investment in cycle facilities is as follows:

£ million

2002-03

2.2

2003-04

2.2

2004-05

10.5

2005-06

3.2

2006-07

6.0

In 2000-01 and 2001-02 the budget was revenue spend on promotion of cycling.

The majority of expenditure on cycling is committed by local highway authorities who receive funding from the Department through the Local Transport Plan settlement and it is for them to determine their priorities. English authorities outside London have informed the Department that their investment in cycle facilities for each year is as follows:

£ million

2001-02

29.6

2002-03

39.9

2003-04

32.1

2004-05

40.0

2005-06

34.1

London boroughs also receive funding from the Department via a block settlement through Transport for London (TfL) and with their other revenue streams TfL has informed the Department that their investment in cycling facilities for each year since 2001-02 is as follows:

£ million

2001-02

12.5

2002-03

11.6

2003-04

12.7

2004-05

13.1

2005-06

18.3

The Department does not require local authorities to provide an estimate of future spend on cycling so no data are available for 2006-07 and 2007-08. TfL though have informed the Department that they forecast £24.1 million will be spent on cycle facilities in 2006-07 and £36.1 million in 2007-08. Cycling England forecast that their expenditure on cycle facilities in local authority areas in 2007-08 will be £3.8 million to be spent in the cycling demonstration towns and on ‘Links to Schools’.

Departments: Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on (a) sponsoring newspaper and publication supplements and (b) funding advertorials in newspapers and publications in the last year for which figures are available; and what the topic was of each. (130010)

The Department has not sponsored newspaper or publication supplements in fiscal year 2006-07. We have however purchased advertorial space to reinforce specific campaigns as follows:

Campaign

Cost (net) (£)

THINK! Road safety campaign: Mobiles phones

50,000

THINK! Drink Drive

162,000

THINK! Driving for Work

57,000

Transport Direct

73,183

VOSA Automatic Number Plate Recognition/Weigh in Motion Sensors

6,000

DVLA Electronic Vehicle Licensing

2056.25

DVLA Continuous Registration

3,300

Departments: Golden Arrow Communications

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent (a) meetings and (b) discussions Ministers in his Department have had with Golden Arrow Communications; and if he will make a statement. (130791)

Since 2005, Ministers have attended two events organised by Golden Arrow Communications.

As part of the consultations on the Department’s review of ports policy, the Minister of State accompanied by officials attended a lunch on 18 July 2006 to hear the views of ports and shipping interests.

On 21 February 2007 both Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State attended a parliamentary reception at which one spoke about the Government’s broad transport priorities.

In addition Ministers have attended conferences, receptions and other such events not organised by Golden Arrow Communications but at which individuals employed by them may have been present. No record is kept of such encounters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have held with Golden Arrow Communications since 2005. (129825)

[holding answer 26 March 2007]: Since 2005, Ministers and officials have attended several events organised by Golden Arrow Communications.

An official gave an introductory address about the Department’s review of ports policy at a seminar on 5 July 2006. As part of the consultations on that review, the Minister of State accompanied by officials attended a lunch on 18 July 2006 to hear the views of ports and shipping interests.

On 21 February 2007 both Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State attended a parliamentary reception at which one spoke about the Government’s broad transport priorities.

In addition Ministers and officials have attended conferences, receptions and other such events not organised by Golden Arrow Communications but at which individuals employed by them may have been present. No record is kept of such encounters.

Departments: Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by his Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. (130135)

Information about the political activity of appointees is recorded and publicised in accordance with the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. This shows that no former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 have since been appointed to public bodies sponsored by the Department.

Departments: Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were employed by his Department with a responsibility for rail transport in each year since 2002. (128919)

The Department for Transport was established in May 2002. The number of people employed with a specific responsibility for rail transport including Rail Accident Investigation Branch (operational from October 2005) and the transfer of the Strategic Rail Authority's responsibilities (from July 2005) for each year since 2002 were:

Rail directorates

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)

Total

May 2002

70

70

April 2002

72

72

April 2004

84

4

88

April 2005

90

36

126

April 2006

219

45

264

Government Car and Despatch Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers working for the Government Car and Despatch Agency in each of the last five years were (a) male and (b) female. (124612)

Drivers working for the Government Car and Despatch Agency in the last five years were as follows:

Male

Female

Total

2006-07

213

12

225

2005-06

208

10

218

2004-05

198

8

206

2003-04

210

10

220

2002-03

211

12

223

The Government Car and Despatch Agency is responsible for providing a range of transport and mail distribution services to Government and the wider public sector.

The Agency's Diversity Action Plan 2006-11, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House, includes a target to increase the number of women, disabled and black minority ethnic employees by 2011.

M42: Motorway Service Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish correspondence between the Highways Agency and Shirley Estates on the proposed motorway service area at junction 4 of the M42. (130472)

Correspondence between the Highways Agency and Shirley Estates on the proposed motorway service area at junction 4 of the M42 is ongoing. As this correspondence refers to work in progress it is not appropriate to publish it at present. The conclusions reached as a result of this correspondence will be included in the Highways Agency’s proof of evidence to be presented at the public inquiry and this document will be in the public domain at the appropriate time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the correspondence between the Highways Agency, Birmingham International airport and Swayfields with regard to the proposed motorway service area between junction 5 and junction 6 of the M42. (130473)

Correspondence between the Highways Agency, Birmingham International airport and Swayfields on the proposed motorway service area between junction 5 and junction 6 of the M42 is ongoing. As this correspondence refers to work in progress it is not appropriate to publish it at present. The conclusions reached as a result of this correspondence will be included in the Highways Agency’s proof of evidence to be presented at the public inquiry and this document will be in the public domain at the appropriate time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations between the Highways Agency and Shirley Estates with regard to the proposed motorway service area at Junction 4 of the M42. (130474)

The Highways Agency is not negotiating with Shirley Estates with regard to the proposed motorway service area at Junction 4 of the M42. As part of the planning process the Highways Agency has a duty to cooperate and act reasonably in considering proposals coming forward. No conclusions on the acceptability of the proposals have been reached.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations between the Highways Agency, Birmingham International Airport and Swayfields on the proposed motorway service area between Junction 5 and Junction 6 of the M42. (130475)

The Highways Agency is not negotiating with Birmingham International Airport and Swayfields with regard to the proposed motorway service area between Junction 5 and Junction 6 of the M42. As part of the planning process the Highways Agency has a duty to cooperate and act reasonably in considering proposals coming forward. No conclusions on the acceptability of the proposals have been reached.

The Highways Agency has been working with Birmingham International Airport Limited and the National Exhibition Centre on options for improving motorway access from the M42 to their developments. A Joint Statement produced by the Highways Agency, Birmingham International Airport Limited and the National Exhibition Centre regarding options for improving motorway access from the M42 was read out and given to the inspector at the pre-inquiry meeting on 19 March 2007.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department monitors the registration and taxing of vehicles in their home non-EU or EEA countries when the vehicles have been in the United Kingdom for more than 12 months. (129072)

This Department does not monitor the registration and licensing status of non-EU or EEA vehicles that may be circulating in the United Kingdom.

Motor Vehicles: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to change the required frequency of MOT tests for new vehicles. (130617)

We will be consulting shortly on options for the future conduct of the MOT scheme—and specifically about the frequency of testing—following a recommendation that we do so in the Davidson Review of the implementation of EU legislation. This consultation will include a full discussion of the potential advantages and disadvantages of making any change to test frequency.

Public Transport: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of total central Government support for the English concessionary fares scheme (a) was distributed for 2004-05 and (b) is forecast to be distributed to (i) the Scottish Executive, (ii) Transport for London, (iii) the Welsh Assembly, (iv) the Council of the Isles of Scilly and (v) local authorities where there are no bus services in each of the next five years. (129354)

In 2004-05, as now, the funding for statutory concessionary fares in England was one of the services supported through formula grant, which comprises Revenue support grant, redistributed business rates and principal formula police grant. Formula grant is an unhypothecated block grant i.e. authorities are free to spend the money on any service. Because of the method of calculation, particularly floor damping (which guarantees local authorities at least a minimum percentage increase by scaling back increases for other authorities), it is not possible to say what has been given to each local authority for any particular service.

Up to an extra £250 million per year will be provided for the national bus concession from April 2008 (this includes Barnett consequentials which will be paid on this in line with statement of funding policy). Eligible residents of the Isles of Scilly will be entitled to national bus concession, and so the Isles of Scilly will be receiving a share of the extra funding.

The Department, in discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG’s) and HM Treasury, is looking at a number of options for distributing the existing and future funding. The options will be discussed through DCLG's Settlement Working Group and, if appropriate, formally consulted upon during the summer.

Rail Franchises

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish (a) the cost benefit analysis and (b) the appraisal summary table taking account of the five objectives outlined in the New Approach to Appraisal prepared by his Department prior to the (i) award of the Greater Western franchise, (ii) award of the South Western Trains franchise and (iii) specification for the new Cross Country franchise. (117125)

In respect of the Greater Western and South Western franchises, the Department for Transport determined the value for money case for the specification at the stage prior to issuing the Invitation to Tender (ITT) to bidders. This includes the preparation of cost-benefit analysis tables, and an assessment of the wider benefits. Therefore, the information does not exist in the form that has been requested at the award stage.

The bids for the New Cross Country franchise have been submitted and are currently under evaluation. At the point of awarding the franchise, the Department will review whether the value proposed by the leading bidder to deliver the specification outputs exceeds that prepared at the time of the issue of the ITT.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) locomotives, (b) multiple units, (c) freight wagons and (d) carriages were in use on the rail network in the most recent period for which figures are available, broken down by (i) train operating company and (ii) class. (128589)

Tables giving details of the number of locomotives, multiple units and carriages used by franchised passenger train operators, broken down by train operating company and class has been placed in the Libraries of the House. Not included are vehicles operated by Scotrail (for which the Scottish Executive is responsible) and non-franchised operators such as Network Rail, open access and charter operators. Information on the number of freight vehicles used on the network is not held by the Department.

This information is based on latest available data but variations in the figures can be expected due to short term vehicle hiring, introduction of new fleets, withdrawal of older vehicles and cascades.

Railways: Capital Investment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve the railway network over the next three years; and what capital improvements of over £10 million each are planned to start in that period. (126865)

Improvements in capacity and performance are being achieved through the record investment the Government are making in the railway. Two projects in particular—the West Coast Main Line upgrade and Channel Tunnel Rail Link Stage 2—are due to be completed in the next three years. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also announced, earlier this month that a thousand new carriages will be introduced on some of the most congested routes in the country.

The High Level Output Specification, due to be announced in the summer of this year, will set out other Government’s requirement for railways from 2009-10 and subsequently.

Railways: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how train fares have changed on average over the last 10 years; and what assessment he has made of the effect on the number of people travelling by train. (129677)

Fares regulated by the Department for Transport cost on average 2 per cent. less in real terms today than in 1996. In that period, passenger numbers have grown by over 40 per cent. with more than a billion passenger journeys on the railway for the first time since 1959.

Railways: Franchises

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what adjustments he has made to his Department’s working assumptions on future projected revenues from rail franchise premium payments following the collapse of the GNER franchise. (124832)

We do not specify the levels of premium or subsidy payments that bidders may propose in franchise competitions. The Department maintains a close review of the current and projected future financial health of currently operating franchises.

Railways: Freight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) role and (b) actions his Department has taken in the development of the Strategic Rail Authority's policy towards large-scale railfreight interchanges. (130798)

On 14 October 2005 the Department for Transport issued a statement regarding the status of the Strategic Rail Authority’s Strategic Rail Freight Interchange Policy. This statement still represents the position of the Department. Both documents are available in the rail freight section of the Department’s website.

Railways: Hastings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with train companies on the Hastings to Charing Cross train line. (130593)

I have had no specific discussions with either Southern or Southeastern about the Charing Cross to Hastings line. However I, and my officials, have regular discussions with both train operators about performance and other issues.

Railways: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many train journeys were cancelled in each year between 1997 and 2006, broken down by train operating company. (122382)

This is an operational matter for Network Rail. For a response, the right hon. Member may wish to contact Network Rail’s Chief Executive at the following address:

John Armitt

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London

NW1 2EE