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Written Answers

Volume 459: debated on Thursday 3 May 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 3 May 2007

Minister for Women

Local Councillors

20. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on steps to increase the diversity of local councillors. (135450)

The independent Commission on Local Councillors, announced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly) on 8 February, has been set up to consider how a more diverse range of people, including more women, can be encouraged and supported to become councillors so that communities are better represented. The Commission is looking at the range of barriers preventing women, and other under represented groups such as from the BME community and younger people, from standing, including for example time requirement and public perception of the role of councillors. The Commission is expected to report to the Secretary of State with its recommendations in the autumn.

Age Discrimination

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans she has to prevent age discrimination in the provision of goods and services. (135449)

The Government are considering whether there is a case for introducing legislation to prohibit harmful age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services as part of the Discrimination Law Review. The proposals emerging from the review will be published for public consultation later this month.

Women and Work Commission

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what progress has been made in the last 12 months in taking forward the recommendations of the Women and Work Commission; and if she will make a statement. (135451)

On 2 April we launched a report setting out the comprehensive programme of action being taken forward by Government to reduce the gender pay and opportunities gap one year on from the Women and Work Commission's recommendations. This included: details of a £500,000 fund to create more quality part-time work; the development of an Equality Check Tool to allow employers to see where they could improve their practices in relation to gender equality issues. I will also continue to chair a project board of Whitehall officials to drive forward the women’s economic participation agenda.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 307W, on the Rural Payments Agency, (1) when he expects analysis by constituency of claimants and payments made under the single payment scheme to be published; and where the information will be made available; (133135)

(2) when he expects analysis by constituency of claimants and payments made under the Single Payment Scheme to be published; and where the information will be made available.

[holding answer 2 May 2007]: Detailed analysis of all the payments made under the 2005 single payment scheme is not yet available. Once the remaining 2005 scheme payments have been completed, a decision will be taken on the level of detail that will be published.

Bees

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value was of (a) UK honey production and (b) pollination services provided by beekeepers in (i) 2004, (ii) 2005 and (iii) 2006. (133562)

The value of honey production in the UK in 2004 was £17.3 million and in both 2005 and 2006 was approximately £18 million per year. On the basis of an economic evaluation in 2001, the estimated economic value of crops grown commercially in the UK that benefit from bee pollination is £120 million to £200 million per year.

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the reduction required in UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 if the UK is to meet its share in an international goal of stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at between 450 and 550 ppm of carbon dioxide equivalent. (131737)

There is no simple relationship between a long-term stabilisation goal and the pathways required to get there. The most recent science indicates that to stabilise at between 450 and 550 ppm CO2 equivalent, global greenhouse gas emissions would need to fall by between 10 per cent. and 65 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2050.

The UK’s target of a 60 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is consistent with this approach. However, we recognise that we will need to keep this goal under review in the light of emerging scientific evidence and other developments.

Coastal Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he intends to take in response to the Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on Coastal Towns. (135211)

Coastal Erosion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much coastal erosion occurred on the UK’s coastline in each of the last 30 years for which figures are available. (135210)

DEFRA has overall policy responsibility for coastal erosion risk in England and grant aids local authority improvement projects to reduce this risk, but does not build defences, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake. Management of coastal erosion risk and associated monitoring is the responsibility of the relevant local authority in each area.

DEFRA does not measure the extent of coastal erosion or hold these figures centrally. Erosion risk will vary around the coastline depending on local conditions and defences in place. DEFRA has encouraged the relevant authorities to produce Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) which provide large-scale assessments of the risks associated with coastal processes and present long term policy frameworks to manage them in a sustainable manner. In 2001, DEFRA funded a national study of information on long term coastal processes and evolution over the next century (Futurecoast). This is designed to be used by coastal authorities to inform their current revisions of SMPs.

The then Office of Science and Technology’s Foresight Future Flooding report, published in 2004, also considered possible rates of coastal erosion under different scenarios over the next 80 years.

Darwin Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding and other resources have been (a) spent in each of the last three financial years and (b) allocated for each of the next three financial years for the Darwin Initiative fund. (132432)

The information is as follows:

(a) Expenditure on the Darwin Initiative in each of the last three years was as follows:

£ million

2003-04

3.7

2004-05

4.5

2005-06

6.7

It is still too early to provide accurate and verified figures for expenditure under the Darwin Initiative for the 2006-07 financial year.

(b) The budget is £7 million for this financial year (2007-08). The allocation for future years will be determined in light of the outcome of the comprehensive spending review.

Departments: Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in his Department were employed on matters relating to climate change in each year since 2000. (135049)

[holding answer 1 May 2007]: The information requested cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff are employed by the Office of Climate Change, broken down by salary band. (135050)

[holding answer 1 May 2007]: The number of staff employed in the Office for Climate Change on 31 March 2007 taken from the central HR Database was as follows:

Number of staff

AO

3.00

HEO

10.00

SEO

1.00

Grade 7

5.00

Grade 6

2.00

SCS

4.60

Total

25.60

The numbers shown are full-time equivalents and exclude employment agency temporary staff, consultants and contractors.

Departments: Pressure Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings took place between Ministers and outside interest groups between 1 January and 31 March; and what the date of each such meeting was. (131030)

The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Ministers and officials meet a large number of people and groups in the course of their official duties.

Departments: Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much energy in kilowatt hours was purchased by his Department from renewable sources in the most recent year for which figures are available. (134997)

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs purchased a total of 45,968,886 kilowatt hours from renewable sources in 2005-06. This equates to 63 per cent. of its total electricity and 27 per cent. of its total energy consumed.

Cross Government targets mandate Departments to source at least 10 per cent. of their electricity from renewable sources by 2008.

Farmers: Resignations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers who left the agricultural sector in Suffolk in each year since 1997. (134674)

Figures from the Agricultural and Horticultural Survey indicate labour on registered holdings at June each year. These figures therefore show net change only in the numbers of farmers.

Agricultural labour force in Suffolk

Total farmers, partners, directors and spouses (if working on the holding)

Total labour

1997

4,895

11,791

1998

4,815

12,160

1999

4,641

11,173

2000

5,476

11,211

2001

5,830

11,582

2002

5,637

10,785

2003

5,498

10,208

2004

5,699

10,683

2005

5,635

10,621

2006

5,778

10,293

Notes:

(a) Figures prior to 2000 are for main holdings only. Figures from 2000 onwards include all holdings. A minor holding has to meet all of the following conditions:

(i) the total area less than six hectares

(ii) the labour requirement is estimated to be less than 100 standard person days

(iii) there is no regular full time farmer or worker

(iv) the glasshouse area is less than 100 square metres

(v) the occupier does not farm another holding

(b) Since the annual June Survey is now based on a sample estimates have been made for those not surveyed.

(c) Due to the introduction of new labour questions in 1998 figures prior to this year are not directly comparable with earlier year’s results.

(d) Due to a register improvement exercise in 2001 labour figures prior to this are not directly comparable with later results.

Source:

June Agricultural Survey

Government Departments: Combined Heat and Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much combined heat and power (CHP) has been installed on the Government estate since 1997; and whether the Government expects to meet its CHP target by 2010. (135591)

Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) reports, which monitor how the Government manage their land and buildings, set out that during the period 2001-02 (the date of the first report), three Departments sourced good quality CHP, while during the last reporting period (2005-06) seven Departments sourced good quality CHP. In this period DEFRA sourced 12 per cent. of their electricity from CHP and the DTI sourced 14.3 per cent.

The DTI’s digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES) sets out that in 2005, 14 CHP schemes had been installed in buildings on the Government estate.

All Departments are working towards the sustainable operations targets launched by the Prime Minister in June of last year. Government Departments are also mandated within the new targets to source at least 15 per cent. of electricity from Good Quality Combined Heat and Power by 2010 (with allowances for Departments that already purchase 100 per cent. renewable energy).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on his commitment that 15 per cent. of electricity used in the Government estate will be from combined heat and power by 2010. (135594)

No representations have been made to me recently on the subject of the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate target to source at least 15 per cent. of electricity from Good Quality Combined heat and Power by 2010 (with allowances for Departments that already purchase 100 per cent. renewable energy).

Rights of Way: East Anglia

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Rights of Way have been established since the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; how many were in East Anglia; and how much land has been affected in (a) England and (b) East Anglia. (135212)

Local highway authorities are responsible for the management of rights of way and hold the relevant information on them. DEFRA does not hold the information requested which could be gathered only at a disproportionate cost.

Rural Areas: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many agreements have been made under the (a) Countryside Stewardship, (b) Entry Level and (c) Environmentally Sensitive Areas schemes, broken down by year of expiry. (134076)

The following table shows numbers of agreements currently recorded broken down by the year of expiry expected at the time the agreement was entered into under the three agri-environment schemes in question.

Agreements by year of expected expiry under each scheme

Number

CSS

ESA

ELS

1993

4

0

0

1994

5

0

0

1995

14

0

0

1996

10

0

0

1997

21

0

0

1998

70

0

0

1999

122

0

0

2000

164

0

0

2001

990

0

0

2002

1,395

2,253

0

2003

1,192

2,822

0

2004

991

2,315

0

2005

573

1,691

0

2006

1,083

991

0

2007

1,120

889

0

2008

1,292

802

0

2009

1,196

579

0

2010

2,210

483

11,871

2011

2,506

594

12,801

2012

2,885

2,383

2,820

2013

2,772

2,412

0

2014

1,657

1,639

0

2015

0

2

0

Notes:

1. A small number of agreements do not run for the full duration as they are terminated early.

2. The full duration is 10 years for Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) and five years for the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme (ELS).

3. As the ELS scheme is open to new applications, the figures for ELS are a snapshot showing current live agreements, and accordingly this figure will be subject to future variation.

Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has made to the Home Department on the future of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme. (134341)

My Department has regular discussions with the Home Office on a range of issues. The Government are aware of the importance of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme (SAWS) to farmers and growers. The scheme plays an important role in helping the industry to meet its demand for seasonal and casual workers, particularly during periods of peak activity. The views of DEFRA Ministers are fully represented in decisions taken by the Government about the future of SAWS.

Seeds: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many lots of seeds for (a) maize and sweetcorn, (b) winter oilseed rape, (c) spring oilseed rape, (d) sugar beet, (e) fodder beet, (f) beetroot and (g) winter brassicas were imported into the UK in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006; and what the (A) weight and (B) country of origin of the seeds was in each year. (133933)

The following table gives the volume of seeds imported to the UK by country of despatch in 2005 and 2006 for the seed types recorded in the official overseas trade statistics. Note, some of the seed types requested are not separately available.

The statistics are provided by country of despatch rather than country of origin. Details of country of origin are not available for the vast majority of imported seeds.

The data are subject to a degree of statistical error. The overall level of errors is low, but these errors have a much greater proportional effect on countries with small values or volumes of trade. Therefore, care is needed when interpreting the data.

Tonnes

Description/country

2005

2006

Maize seed for sowing excl. sweetcorn

Irish Republic

13,054

4,345

France

5,813

3,162

Netherlands

1,817

1,784

Germany

731

1,660

Italy

306

Austria

72

39

Pakistan

8

14

Spain

12

7

Belgium

16

USA

3

2

Dubai

3

Colombia

3

Australia

2

Sweden

1

New Zealand

0

Portugal

0

0

Denmark

0

Low erucic acid rape or colza seeds for sowing

France

196

471

Germany

350

40

Denmark

0

15

Netherlands

4

4

Sweden

6

Irish Republic

1

1

Austria

0

New Zealand

0

Other rape seed o/t low erucic acid rape

France

3,453

18,172

Irish Republic

3,039

3,604

Belgium

22

3,423

Netherlands

0

2,104

Germany

4

109

Egypt

61

New Zealand

2

Sugar beet seed of a kind used for sowing

Italy

457

Germany

27

86

Belgium

9

91

France

65

31

Poland

2

57

Irish Republic

6

18

Denmark

5

Netherlands

3

Sweden

0

Salad beet seed or fodder beet root seed

Netherlands

24

22

USA

34

0

Australia

3

3

Italy

0

Germany

0

Beet seed other than sugar beet seed

Germany

71

32

France

3

4

Denmark

1

Netherlands

0

0

Italy

0

0

Portugal

0

Belgium

0

Other vegetable seeds of a kind used for sowing

Netherlands

808

3,961

Germany

270

221

France

66

301

USA

103

108

Austria

67

67

Italy

61

51

India

39

39

Canada

46

4

New Zealand

4

44

Chile

30

0

Egypt

19

12

Czech Republic

24

Denmark

8

8

Irish Republic

8

7

Japan

9

5

Spain

6

5

Australia

9

3

Lebanon

10

Israel

4

4

Portugal

6

Brazil

4

China

1

3

Sweden

1

2

Taiwan

1

1

South Africa

0

2

Singapore

2

Belgium

2

0

South Korea

0

1

Ghana

1

Thailand

1

0

Hong Kong

1

Lithuania

0

Ukraine

0

Switzerland

0

0

Jordan

0

0

Greece

0

Argentina

0

Poland

0

0

Hungary

0

0

Uganda

0

Cyprus

0

0 = quantity less than half the unit shown

‘—’ = nil values

Note:

2006 data are subject to amendments

Source:

HM Revenue and Customs

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

Communities and Local Government

EC Grants and Loans: North East Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Objective 2 schemes in the North East were held to be deficient in the management of expenditure, resulting in the suspension by the European Commission of all European Regional Development Fund payments to the UK. (135065)

[holding answer 2 May 2007]: The European Commission is holding back the reimbursement of some expenditure by the Government on European Regional Development Fund 2000-06 programmes in some regions in England, including the North East, not across the whole of the UK. The European Commission has required that more on site checks of projects funded from the European Regional Development Fund are carried out by the Government Office for the North East to ensure that projects are complying with particular European Commission requirements. The European Commission has not referred to specific projects in the North East programme in this regard. The Government Office for the North East has put in place a robust action plan to deal with the issues and has achieved targets for on site checks set for the end of March. Discussions are continuing with the Commission with a view to getting expenditure reimbursed as soon as possible.

EC Grants and Loans: Government Office for London

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking (a) to investigate and (b) to remedy the causes of the suspension of European Regional Development funding to the Government office for London; what those causes are; and if she will make a statement. (132513)

The European Commission is holding back the reimbursement of some expenditure by the Government on European Regional Development Fund 2000-06 programmes in some regions in England, including London, until additional on site checks have been completed to ensure that projects comply with particular European Commission criteria. The Government office for London put in place a robust plan to deal with the issues as soon as they were raised and action has been taken to deal with them. Discussions are continuing with the Commission with a view to getting expenditure reimbursed as soon as possible.

Homelessness: Hartlepool

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless people there were in (a) Hartlepool constituency and (b) Tees Valley sub-region in each of the last 10 years. (130903)

Information about local authorities’ actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level, in respect of households rather than people. There are five local authorities in the Tees Valley sub-region: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees. The constituency of Hartlepool comprises the local authority of Hartlepool.

Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households accepted by local authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty.

The duty owed to an accepted household is to secure suitable accommodation. If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority may secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available. The number of households in temporary accommodation arranged by the councils under homelessness legislation, as at the end of each quarter, is reported by local authorities, and includes both those households who have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty, and those for which inquiries are pending.

These are data published in our quarterly statistical release on Statutory Homelessness, which includes a Supplementary Table showing the breakdown of key data, including acceptances and temporary accommodation, by each local authority. This is published on our website and placed in the Library each quarter.

Since 1998, information has also been collected on the number of people who sleep rough—that is, those who are literally roofless on a single night—and these are also published on our website, by local authority.

Summary tables showing the total number of households (a) accepted under homelessness provisions and (b) in temporary accommodation, from 1997-98 to 2005-06, and (c) rough sleeper estimates from 1998 onwards, for each local authority (including those within the Tees Valley sub-region), were placed in the Library in response to the answer given on 23 October 2006, Official Report, columns 1663-64W, to my hon. Friend the Member for the Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane).

Housing: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1329-30W, on housing: construction, what estimate she has made of the number and percentage of the houses built in each category in 2005-06 that were built (a) for rental purposes and (b) as social housing. (131134)

Information on the total new build dwellings for rental purposes is not available centrally.

The following numbers of social dwellings for rent were provided in England, Hampshire and each district in Hampshire since 2003-04:

Social for rent housing provision in England, Hampshire and districts

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

England

22,661

21,017

23,349

Hampshire

1,070

1,051

975

Basingstoke and Deane

235

138

145

East Hampshire

158

74

35

Eastleigh

96

132

47

Fareham

18

28

8

Gosport

31

47

64

Hart

43

58

52

Havant

74

27

78

New Forest

100

55

114

Portsmouth UA

25

82

119

Rushmoor

134

64

90

Southampton UA

92

162

114

Test Valley

13

80

63

Winchester

51

104

46

Notes:

1. LA figures are as reported.

Social housing provision includes new build and acquisitions.

Source:

Housing Corporation, statistical returns from local authorities.

Social for rent supply includes new build and acquisitions. The figures only make up part of the affordable housing supply with other dwellings being provided through low cost home ownership schemes. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1800W, for total affordable homes provided in Hampshire.

Housing: Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to use building regulation standards to promote (a) energy efficiency, (b) modern heating systems including solar thermal and (c) microgeneration. (135726)

Part L of the Building Regulations is concerned with the conservation of fuel and power. The provisions were amended in April 2006 to raise energy efficiency standards and change the method of showing compliance. Without prescribing solutions, this new approach and associated calculation tools, take into account the low carbon benefits of solar thermal and other microgeneration systems, thus encouraging their use. Guidance was published alongside the Part L changes to highlight the contribution that these technologies can make. These standards are kept under review and the Government have signalled the next comprehensive amendment will come into effect around 2010.

Housing: Hartlepool

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to increase the number of new (a) affordable and (b) social houses available in Hartlepool constituency in the next five years. (130904)

The Housing Corporation programme for 2006-08 currently includes an allocation of over £3.7 million which should provide 65 new rented units in the borough. In addition a recent allocation has been made to fund 20 new social home buy units. There will be the opportunity for more homes to be provided by way of the next bidding round which covers the period 2008 onwards.

Through the planning system, the Secretary of State encourages planning authorities to assess need and make provision for that need through Local Development Frameworks.

Housing: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what policy reason Planning Policy Statement 3 prevents local authorities from using windfall sites to meet their housebuilding targets. (129235)

Planning Policy Statement 3: “Housing” (PPS3) does not stop local authorities taking advantage of windfall sites to boost the delivery of housing in their areas. But it does seek to ensure that, generally speaking, housing provision is properly planned, and that local authorities develop clear and informed strategies for the location of housing development, and for the infrastructure needed to service it. PPS3 asks local authorities, wherever they can, to identify specific sites in their plans where they consider homes should be built, including brownfield sites, and discourages an over-reliance on windfall sites (such as garden land) that may come forward randomly and speculatively.

We recognise that in some circumstances it may make sense for local authorities, within a planned strategy, to include a windfall allowance in planning their land supply. Under PPS3 policy, it is open to them to do this, if they can clearly demonstrate why, in the particular circumstances of their local area, specific sites cannot be identified.

Our objective is, however, that wherever possible, land supply and housing delivery benefit from a plan led approach.

Housing: South West Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the private sector housing renewal grant was for the south-west in 2006-07; what it is projected to be in 2007-08; and if she will make a statement. (131142)

The regional housing pot, which includes private sector renewal grant, provides investment for the provision of new affordable homes, bringing local authority stock up to the Decent Homes standard, improvements in private sector stock and provision of sites for Gypsies and Travellers. The balance between these priorities is determined on advice given by the regions.

The south-west share of the regional housing pot rose from £154 million in 2006-07 to £190 million in 2007-08. Following advice from the region, we allocated £31 million in 2006-07 to local authorities to support improvement work in the private sector and will be allocating £28 million later this month for the same purpose in 2007-08.

Key Real Estate

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what payments her Department has made to Key Real Estate Ltd, trading as Key Homes in the last 12 months; and what the (a) date, (b) value and (c) purpose was of each payment. (133583)

The Department has made no payments to Key Real Estate Ltd, trading as Key Homes in the last 12 months.

Local Government Finance: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will assess the merits of ringfencing council funding for noise abatement services. (135304)

Policy responsibility for the provision and funding of local authority noise abatement services rests with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Government provide funding for these services through Formula Grant (Revenue Support Grant and National Non-Domestic Rates). This is unhypothecated and decisions on the use of that funding are for local authorities. The Government are committed to ensuring that, wherever possible, councils receive funding through unhypothecated provision. The Chancellor announced in the recent Budget report that the Government are committed to set out a clear target to reduce specific grants and ring fenced funding to local authorities.

Local Government: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what initiatives she is considering for the use of local authority contracts to stimulate the skills training and employment of local unemployed men and women. (133938)

The Government’s established policy is that all public procurement should be based on value for money, having due regard to propriety and regularity. Subject to their legal duties, including public procurement law, the duty of best value and equalities law, local authorities are responsible for taking their own procurement decisions.

The use of contract clauses to promote social, economic or environmental factors, for example in relation to skills training and employment, may be permitted in circumstances where the clauses link into the subject matter of the contract.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons she has not responded to (a) the letter from Mr. Fielder of Weston-Super-Mare on home information packs forwarded by the hon. Member for Weston-Super-Mare on 5 February and (b) the letters of (i) 14 March and (ii) 29 March from the hon. Member. (133633)

Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the Planning White Paper to be published; and what provision will be made in the White Paper relating to (a) increasing public participation and (b) third party rights of appeal. (132493)

The White Paper will be published later this spring. The Government of course recognise the importance of effective public participation in this area and the White Paper will propose arrangements for achieving this. The issue of third party rights of appeal was carefully considered when we developed proposals for radical reform of the planning system in 2001; the Government concluded then that such a proposal could add unacceptably to the costs and uncertainties of planning.

Transport

Pedestrian Crossings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the document setting out the criteria used to determine the location of zebra and pelican crossings in England; what the requirements are for the minimum distance from which such crossings must be visible to oncoming motorists; and if he will make a statement. (135596)

There are no national criteria for the placing of pedestrian crossings in England. It is for the local highway or traffic authority concerned to decide on suitable crossing types and locations. The Department’s published guidance, Local Transport Note 1/95, The Assessment of Pedestrian Crossings, recommends a decision framework approach which includes making an assessment of the visibility distance of crossings. Local Transport Note 2/95, The Design of Pedestrian Crossings, provides guidance on visibility distances. I have arranged for copies of both publications to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

International Development

Palestinians: International Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how a terrorist is defined for the purposes of the Temporary International Mechanism. (135562)

The Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) does not make payments to individuals if they appear on the following internationally-recognised terrorist lists:

Bank of England terrorist list;

European Union terrorist list;

United Nations sanctions list;

Office of Foreign Assets Control (United States Treasury) terrorist list; and

Hong Kong Monetary Authority terrorist list.

The TIM has also set up a comprehensive accounting and audit system to track payments.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many social welfare payments under the Temporary International Mechanism have been stopped by HSBC because of concerns of terrorism. (135563)

The purpose of terrorist checks under the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) is to provide assurance that EU assistance is not being used to support terrorism. Between 27 August 2006, when payments under the TIM began, and 1 May 2007 one welfare payment has been withheld because the individual's name was on one of the internationally recognised terrorist lists.

Sudan: Internally Displaced Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance he is (a) providing and (b) planning for policing in the internally displaced people's camps in Darfur. (135514)

Under the Darfur Peace Agreement, responsibility for monitoring security in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Darfur rests with AMIS. The UK is currently paying the staff costs of the African Union Mission in Sudan’s (AMIS) civilian police and military staff, as well as helping AMIS with its running costs.

The UK also has seconded 12 police officers to the EU Supporting Action to AMIS in Darfur to train and advise AMIS’ civilian police force. These civilian police officers represent just under a half of the total EU contribution and cost the UK around £1 million a year.

Treasury

Climate Change Levy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on the use of clean coal technology and the administration of the climate change levy. (135593)

The Government receives a range of representations on the climate change levy and considers these representations, alongside other policy advice within the normal PBR and Budget cycle.

Employment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are in (a) full-time and (b) part-time employment in each constituency; what the corresponding figures were in 1997; and what the percentage change in numbers has been in each constituency. (135561)

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

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 3 May 2007:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people are in (a) full-time and (b) part-time employment in each constituency; what the corresponding figures were in 1997; and what the percentage change in numbers has been in each constituency. I am replying in her absence. (135561)

The Office for National Statistics compiles employment statistics for local areas from the annual local area Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS) following International Labour Organisation definitions.

The table, attached, shows the number of people in employment by full-time and part-time status for all constituencies, in Great Britain, for the 12 month period ending in February 1997 from the annual local area LFS and for the 12 months ending in September 2006 from the APS. Data for the new Scottish constituencies, introduced in May 2005, are not available for the earlier period. The table also shows the percentage change between the periods, although most of these percentage changes are not considered statistically significant.

As these estimates are for a subset of the population in small geographical areas, they are based on small sample sizes, and are therefore subject to large margins of uncertainty. In this case, most of the sample sizes are not sufficient to give an accurate estimate of even the direction of the change over the period.

Since the information is so extensive, a copy of the table has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Loans: Students

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much the Government received for the sale of student loans in (a) 1998 and (b) 1999; and what the face value was of each of these loans at the time of sale; (132261)

(2) how much interest was paid to banks by the Government in support of the student loans scheme in each year since its inception.

I have been asked to reply.

In 1998 the Government received £1 billion for the sale of student loans with a face value of £1.02 billion. In 1999 the Government received £1 billion for the sale of student loans with a face value of £1.03 billion. These are UK figures.

The following table shows the amount of interest subsidy paid to the debt sale owners in each year since 1998.

Financial year

Subsidy (£000)

1998-99

54,000

1999-2000

90,890

2000-01

110,476

2001-02

88,986

2002-03

88,963

2003-04

42,751

2004-05

48,091

2005-06

36,895

Note:

Figures are for England and Wales

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many HM Revenue and Customs offices are currently unstaffed; and what the estimated cost to the public purse is of such offices. (134311)

HM Revenue and Customs currently holds 12 unstaffed offices which are still part of the estate due to various lease and legal title issues and longstanding commitments with other Government Departments.

The estimated annual cost of these offices is £1,435,512. HMRC is working to cease its liability for these offices as soon as is practical.

Skills in the UK Independent Review

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of employing Opinion Leader Research to organise the Skills Challenge: A Public Debate held on 8th February 2007 to discuss the Leitch Review. (133721)

I have been asked to reply.

On behalf of the DfES, the Central Office of Information (COI) managed a competitive tendering process to organise and deliver “The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate” to be held on 8 February 2007. The tender was won by Opinion Leader Research, with a contract value of £153,484.38.

Stamp Duty: Suffolk

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many properties sold in (a) Bury St. Edmunds constituency and (b) the Suffolk county council area in each of the last three years attracted stamp duty at (i) zero per cent., (ii) 1 per cent., (iii) 3 per cent. and (iv) 4 per cent. (134687)

Estimates of the number of property transactions for 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 are given in the following table for Bury St. Edmunds parliamentary constituency and Suffolk county, grouped by stamp duty band.

Property transactions attracting 0 per cent. rate1

Property transactions attracting 1 per cent. rate2

Property transactions attracting 3 per cent. rate3

Property transactions attracting 4 per cent. rate4

Total

Bury St. Edmunds

2004-05

430

2,200

420

50

3,140

2005-06

1,300

2,200

510

90

4,100

2006-07

1 ,500

2,800

690

120

5,100

Suffolk

2004-05

3,500

14,000

2,100

500

20,100

2005-06

8,600

10,500

2,400

420

21,900

2006-07

8,800

12,100

3,100

730

24,800

1 Residential threshold £60,000 in 2004-05, £120,000 in 2005-06 and £125,000 in 2006-07. Non-residential threshold £150,000 in all years.

2 £60,001 to £250,000 range for residential transactions in 2004-05, £120,001 to £250,000 for residential transactions in 2005-06, £125,001 to £250,000 in 2006-07, £150,001 to £250,000 for non-residential transactions in all years.

3 £250,001 to £500,000.

4 £500,001 or more.

The number of transactions bearing stamp duty will be lower than the number shown in the non-zero bands due to the use of various reliefs, e.g. disadvantaged area relief, group relief, registered social landlord relief etc. There are also some lease transactions which fall in the 0 per cent. band on account of consideration, but which bear stamp duty on the lease rental.

Tax Credits: Overpayments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many legal proceedings were instigated for recovery of tax credit overpayments in each (a) year and (b) quarter since April 2003; what the average level is of overpayment outstanding for which legal action has been instigated; what the total value is of overpayments for which legal action has been instigated; what the average cost has been of pursuing a case through the courts; and how much has been recovered through court action. (133995)

In 2006-07 some 38,000 legal proceedings were commenced at an average value of £2,260 and an average cost to HMRC of £135 to instigate proceedings. The other information is not available.

Taxation: Agriculture

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons he plans to withdraw writing down allowances on industrial and agricultural buildings between 2008-09 and 2010-11; what assessment he has made of the likely impact of this change on the farming industry; how many farm businesses he estimates will be affected; and to what value. (135573)

The Government’s decision to withdraw the industrial and agricultural buildings allowances were based on an assessment of a number of issues, common across industry sectors. The Government have not sought to target the farming industry or any other industry with this change.

Industrial buildings allowances (IBAs) and agricultural buildings allowances (ABAs) were introduced in 1945 to encourage post-war reconstruction. They are now a poorly focused subsidy, selectively available on a disparate range of assets, including some that typically appreciate in value. IBAs and ABAs have long been recognised as a significant distortion in commercial property investment. These issues are compounded by the compliance burden imposed by their complicated rules.

The withdrawal of IBAs and ABAs is not an isolated measure. The Budget also announced cuts in both the basic rate of income tax and the main rate of corporation tax and introduced a new annual investment allowance (AIA) of £50,000 for business investment from 2008. Taken as a whole, these reforms to the business and personal tax systems are designed to deliver increases in investment and growth overall.

Taxation: Public Transport

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the impact on tax revenue of increased use of public transport; and if he will make a statement. (134639)

We monitor tax receipts on an ongoing basis and take into account all the relevant economic, social and environmental factors in future decisions.

Welfare Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what proportion of families with children are (a) eligible for and (b) claimants of tax credits; (135559)

(2) what proportion of families without children are (a) eligible for and (b) claimants of tax credits.

Estimates of take-up rates for child and working tax credits in 2003-04 and 2004-05, including information on families with children and families without children, are available on the HMRC website at:

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

Written Questions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will be able to provide substantive replies to question (a) 133687, (b) 133686 and (c) 133685, on non-domicile tax status. (135263)

Solicitor-General

Sentencing: Appeals

To ask the Solicitor-General how many unduly lenient sentences for crimes committed by serving police officers were referred to the Court of Appeal in (a) England, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) Dacorum in each of the last five years; and how many appeals were upheld in each year. (135324)

I regret that information on sentences referred by the Law Officers to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient is not recorded by reference to whether or not the offender was a serving police officer. This information can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost

Scotland

Departments: Intimidation

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many complaints of bullying have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (134824)

In the period April 2006 to March 2007, there were no complaints of bullying in the Scotland Office.

Departments: Sexual Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (135378)

Trade and Industry

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the role of scientific innovation in tackling climate change. (135426)

I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss a wide range of issues.

Corporate Social Responsibility Academy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Corporate Social Responsibility Academy; and if he will make a statement. (135438)

The CSR Academy played a significant role in raising the profile of CSR within UK companies. This success will now be built on as the work of the academy will continue through Business in the Community.

Trade Union Recognition

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to review the 21-employee threshold for trade union recognition by employers; and if he will make a statement. (135441)

The threshold was fully examined as part of the 2003 Review of the Employment Relations Act 1999. We continue to monitor the operation of the statutory recognition procedure, but we have no plans to undertake a further review of the threshold.

Africa: Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support the Government provided to British firms seeking to establish export agreements with African countries in the latest period for which figures are available. (134315)

[pursuant to the reply, 1 May 2007, Official Report, c. 1560W]: Incorrect figures were provided. They should read £6,194,177,000 and £5,777,083,000.

Bankruptcy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to place in the Library a copy of the Office of Fair Trading Report on the mis-selling of individual voluntary arrangements. (134337)

The Office of Fair Trading do not propose a specific report on the mis-selling of individual voluntary arrangements, however, its work in this area will be reported in its annual report, which will be laid before Parliament on 11 June 2007.

Business: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress his Department has made towards reducing the burden of regulation on British businesses. (135428)

The Department's progress on reducing regulation is set out in our Simplification Plan which was published on 11 December last year. We will publish another report on the progress we have made and the further plans we have later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress his Department has made towards reducing the burden of regulation on British businesses. (135439)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given to the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mrs. Dorries) today.

Carbon Sequestration

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the use of clean electricity generated using carbon capture and storage technology. (135592)

The Secretary of State has received many representations on CO2 capture and storage (CCS).

The Budget 2007 announced that a competition will take place to demonstrate CCS on a full scale power plant in the UK. Further details will be announced in May 2007 and the outcome of the competition will be announced in 2008.

The Government are aware of eight to 10 potential full-scale CCS power plant demonstrations in the UK. My officials and the Department's technical advisers have discussed plans with all the project developers on a number of occasions.

Energy Policy Progress Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has made an estimate of the effect on costs to domestic customers and businesses arising from the time taken to publish the Government’s Energy White Paper. (135429)

Consumers and businesses will benefit from the measures we will set out in the Energy White Paper, because they will help us deliver cleaner, more secure energy supplies.

Energy: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to address the level of consumer complaints against energy companies. (135634)

Between 2002-03 and 2005-06, complaints to Energywatch declined substantially each year. We expect the final figures for 2006-07 to show an increase over 2005-06, principally because of complaints about British Gas. British Gas is working closely with Energywatch to address this. The Government have no plans to take any steps at this time. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), which is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, has extensive powers to act against suppliers that breach licence conditions.

Fuel Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many households in each parliamentary constituency were in fuel poverty in each year since 2001. (134612)

[holding answer 27 April 2007]: Fuel poverty statistics are currently only available at Government office region level. Latest available figures are sourced from the 2004 English House Condition Survey. Figures for fuel poverty in each of the Government office regions in 2001, 2003 and 2004 are given as follows. Figures for other years are not available.

2001

2003

2004

North East

127,000

95,000

103,000

Yorkshire and Humber

232,000

180,000

163,000

North West

313,000

178,000

190,000

East Midlands

156,000

112,000

101,000

West Midlands

213,000

146,000

153,000

South West

212,000

139,000

134,000

East of England

137,000

115,000

141,000

South East

205,000

149,000

133,000

London

151,000

108,000

119,000

Small variations between years may be due to sampling variability, rather than underlying trends in the data.

A fuel poverty indicator giving estimates of the level of fuel poverty in small areas of England is due to be launched on 25 May 2007. These will be published at lower super output area, a geography that splits England into 32,482 areas.

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what average damages have been recovered by the 20 law firms with the greatest volume of claims for (a) vibration white finger and (b) chronic bronchitis and emphysema. (134782)

The averages damages recovered by the 20 claimants’ representatives with the greatest volume of claims for vibration white finger (VWF), and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are shown on the following tables:

VWF

Claimants’ representatives

Claims registered

Average damages paid on claims settled by payment (£)

Thompsons Solicitors

21,061

13,595

Browell Smith and Co.

16,466

9,622

Beresfords Solicitors

11,625

9,236

Union of Democratic Mineworkers

11,529

9,846

Raleys Solicitors

11,279

10,161

Hugh James

10,637

9,921

Graysons Solicitors

8,700

12,690

Moss Solicitors

7,374

9,287

Watson Burton LLP

5,934

13,519

Towells Solicitors

5,356

11,090

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

5,301

8,788

Kidd and Spoor Harper Solicitors

3,668

11,733

Atteys

3,096

12,736

O. H. Parsons and Partners Solicitors

2,701

9,937

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

2,363

12,446

Shaw and Co. Solicitors

2,256

14,630

Saffmans Solicitors

2,234

10,478

Kingslegal

1,885

7,535

Latham and Co. Solicitors

1,838

12,726

Corries Solicitors

1,677

16,700

COPD

Claimants’ representatives

Claims registered

Average damages paid on claims settled by payment (£)

Beresfords Solicitors

80,860

2,504

Thompsons Solicitors

57,949

9,581

Hugh James

56,764

8,124

Raleys Solicitors

48,803

6,805

Browell Smith and Co.

32,965

7,201

Avalon Solicitors

32,419

2,063

Mark Gilbert Morse

25,738

7,546

Union of Democratic Mineworkers

16,630

3,210

Barber and Co.

14,090

2,697

Watson Burton LLP

14,077

4,349

Graysons Solicitors

12,964

4,637

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

10,201

3,094

Randell Lloyd Jenkins and Martin

9,846

5,879

Delta Legal

9,429

2,206

The Legal Warehouse

8,098

3,189

Moss Solicitors

7,939

4,175

Ingrams Solicitors

7,933

3,544

Birchall Blackburn

7,663

2,636

Corries Solicitors

7,459

3,241

German Hamilton Solicitors

6,245

3,093

In each of the tables, figures of Claims Registered may be lower than in the previous answers due to claimants having changed representatives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many coal health claimants are awaiting a medical examination in (a) Bassetlaw and (b) the UK. (135425)

The number of coal health claimants that are currently awaiting a medical examination for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Bassetlaw is 408 and in the UK is 65,221. For vibration white finger the figures for Bassetlaw is 35 and the UK is 1,639.

Iran: Export Credit Guarantees

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice is being given by his Department to the Export Credit Guarantees Department on loan guarantees for UK exports to Iran. (134322)

ECGD has advised Ministers on export credit cover policy towards Iran. For some time, ECGD has restricted the availability of cover. At present, applications for cover are not being processed pending clarification of the applicability of UN Security Council resolution 1747 to the provision of export credits. In any event, there has been a sharp decline in the demand for ECGD cover.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent changes have been made to Government policy on loan guarantees for UK exports to Iran; and if he will make a statement. (134323)

ECGD has pursued a cautious policy towards Iran for some time. Cover capacity has been limited in order to contain exposure. In the light of recent developments with Iran, ECGD is required to consult Ministers before approving any applications for export credit support.

Since the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1747 in March, ECGD is not processing applications for cover pending clarification on its applicability to the provision of export credits to Iran. In any event, there has been a sharp decline in demand for ECGD cover.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his role is in decisions on whether to approve export credit guarantees to companies wishing to trade with Iran; and if he will make a statement. (134329)

In the light of recent developments with Iran, ECGD is required to consult Ministers before approving any applications for export credit cover. No applications for cover are currently being processed pending clarification on the applicability of UN Security Council resolution 1747 to the provision of export credits. In any event, there has been a sharp decline in demand for cover for Iran.

Migrant Workers: Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure that migrant workers (a) receive the minimum wage and (b) are protected from employer coercion in relation to their terms of employment. (135069)

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs minimum wage compliance teams are devoted to making sure all workers receive their entitlement to be paid at least the national minimum wage. Every year the DTI publicises details about the minimum wage and the number to ring (0845 6000 678) if workers need more information or believe they are being underpaid. The helpline operators have access to language line interpreters so that callers can be phoned back allowing the caller to speak in their own language.

The Government will not tolerate the mistreatment of migrant workers. Legal migrant workers have the same employment rights and recourses as their UK equivalents. To ensure migrant workers are aware of their rights we have produced ‘Know before you go’ leaflets in partnership with the Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese governments. The Home Office is also distributing a one page DTI note on “basic employment rights and where to go for further advice”. This is going to all workers registering under the worker registration scheme and is available in a range of languages.

Nuclear Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 19 March 2007, Official Report, column 635W, on nuclear power, what additional areas the new consultation on nuclear energy will cover. (134929)

Our new consultation on nuclear energy will endeavour to bring together the evidence and analysis Government have collected and published since the Energy Review began. It will help people reach informed views and provide the Government with valuable contributions, which will help inform the Government’s decision in the autumn.

Photovoltaics Demonstration Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money was (a) allocated for grants and (b) disbursed by the photovoltaics demonstration programme in each month since the scheme began. (131742)

[holding answer 16 April 2007]: The information requested is as follows.

Solar PV major demonstration programme—Stream 1

£

Month

Allocated

Disbursed

May 2002

85,561.09

June 2002

52,438.31

July 2002

84,378.17

30,048.67

August 2002

117,793.37

September 2002

75,689.86

47,247.97

October 2002

76,759.51

30,409.03

November 2002

87,266.78

58,684.52

December 2002

66,086.17

57,053.46

January 2003

59,817.31

104,080.86

February 2003

143,515.52

44,170.58

March 2003

70,054.31

138,719.63

April 2003

243,640.28

71,205.77

May 2003

365,348.80

58,334.98

June 2003

191,564.75

102,304.25

July 2003

140,828.62

106,767.08

August 2003

65,930.96

55,097.04

September 2003

168,736.85

74,479.90

October 2003

76,087.92

165,466.36

November 2003

147,277.41

119,177.34

December 2003

58,479.80

94,257.62

January 2004

107,291.50

114,778.26

February 2004

171,295.44

101,200.14

March 2004

200,030.49

168,096.89

April 2004

233,205.54

64,246.96

May 2004

145,564.98

117,825.23

June 2004

157,736.86

105,666.35

July 2004

315,894.47

224,614.93

August 2004

235,219.75

159,648.82

September 2004

173,608.65

165,152.95

October 2004

187,956.96

188,901.73

November 2004

377,204.48

147,555.83

December 2004

175,170.80

197,485.24

January 2005

268,463.59

207,031.24

February 2005

424,280.76

226,405.26

March 2005

216,545.58

305,999.43

April 2005

308,615.73

150,887.68

May 2005

418,169.93

141,726.54

June 2005

442,438.55

231,318.86

July 2005

615,589.77

304,797.58

August 2005

191,426.43

347,963.13

September 2005

245,421.79

209,130.25

October 2005

145,837.02

266,885.05

November 2005

475,146.13

385,535.46

December 2005

297,141.81

341,359.53

January 2006

218,981.48

279,299.33

February 2006

326,285.00

290,560.81

March 2006

386,140.76

442,841.36

April 2006

310,900.00

126,589.89

May 2006

835,030.28

367,651.18

June 2006

554,511.98

387,622.46

July 2006

146,937.83

378,313.93

August 2006

73,651.24

326,151.90

September 2006

340,682.83

October 2006

380,580.38

November 2006

459,038.18

December 2006

357,755.50

January 2007

417,741.29

February 2007

297,782.06

March 2007

392,146.12

Solar PV major demonstration programme—Stream 2

£

Month

Allocated

Disbursed

July 2002

1,154,030.59

August 2002

September 2002

October 2002

November 2002

1,040,293.72

December 2002

January 2003

February 2003

March 2003

1,340,262.52

April 2003

May 2003

June 2003

1,524,080.13

16,184.83

July 2003

August 2003

112,158.80

September 2003

1,647,697.01

October 2003

72,486.05

November 2003

December 2003

868,202.49

57,437.61

January 2004

228,297.20

February 2004

31,065.45

March 2004

1,049,318.60

576,082.95

April 2004

May 2004

89,022.00

June 2004

1,499,136.60

154,603.45

July 2004

611,032.85

August 2004

485,437.18

September 2004

282,884.42

October 2004

1,031,184.12

405,726.08

November 2004

470,839.46

December 2004

450,357.21

219,815.33

January 2005

304,409.88

February 2005

155,001.35

March 2005

710,599.81

April 2005

216,426.00

May 2005

968,480.15

369,907.18

June 2005

472,971.44

July 2005

129,278.85

August 2005

942,883.28

405,132.34

September 2005

296,292.77

October 2005

232,614.30

November 2005

487,567.09

466,613.53

December 2005

384,627.88

January 2006

219,758.74

February 2006

322,374.36

March 2006

794,455.85

617,075.10

April 2006

88,008.00

May 2006

736,337.97

261,168.17

June 2006

76,054.89

July 2006

242,590.67

August 2006

299,499.68

September 2006

435,757.28

October 2006

392,786.59

November 2006

287,832.82

December 2006

90,443.72

January 2007

531,801.50

February 2007

414,412.68

March 2007

1,701,912.28

Post Offices: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices closed in villages and towns with populations smaller than 10,000 inhabitants in 2006-07. (135242)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd (POL). I understand from POL that the post office branches in settlements with populations smaller than 10,000 inhabitants are classified as rural branches. Also that for 2006-07 the net number of rural post office branch closures was 128.

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account he expects the forthcoming Energy White Paper to take of the Government’s binding commitments made at the European Union Summit on 9 March for renewable energy to supply 20 per cent. of overall EU energy consumption by 2020; and how he plans to meet these commitments. (135635)

Sellafield: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the terms of reference for the Sellafield historic autopsy inquiry to be published. (134775)

The terms of reference for the inquiry were published on 26 April 2007, Official Report, column 28WS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the families of those affected by the Sellafield autopsy issue will be consulted on the terms of reference for the investigation to be led by Michael Redfern QC. (134776)

Although the families of those affected have not been consulted on the terms of reference for the inquiry, I know that Mr. Redfern is keen to talk to them at an early stage in the inquiry.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how long the Sellafield historic autopsy investigation is expected to continue; and whether an investigation team will be based at or in the communities around Sellafield. (134777)

I have asked Michael Redfern QC to report to me as soon as possible. I anticipate that some of the work of the inquiry team will take place in West Cumbria.

Solar Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account is taken in the proposed accreditation for solar PV installers of (a) the costs of entry into the marketplace for smaller companies and (b) the compliance costs on those existing small companies in the market. (132177)

The microgeneration certification scheme is a voluntary scheme covering product and installation standards and a code of practice. The scheme is an important market mechanism aimed at building consumer confidence in microgeneration technologies. The cost of compliance to companies is set at a level to ensure delivery of a robust United Kingdom Accreditation Services accredited scheme that will provide consumer protection.

The DTI is subsidising compliance costs for industry, including new and existing small companies, over the first year of the scheme. This measure should help to support companies wishing to join the scheme in the short term. In the longer term, industry should benefit from increased consumer confidence, which should encourage investment in microgeneration at the domestic level, growing the market.

Wind Power: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether all applications which have been made for Stream 1 grants for wind turbines which meet the criteria of the scheme have been approved. (134899)

The Low Carbon Buildings Programme supports grant applications for a range of microgeneration technologies including wind turbines. To date, we have received 1,849 Stream 1 grant applications for wind turbine projects, of which 1,669 met the scheme criteria and were awarded grants.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Opium

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her estimate is of the number of hectares of land in Afghanistan which were (a) used to grow poppies and (b) destroyed as part of the eradication scheme in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. (135558)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's 2005 Afghanistan Opium Survey reported that 109,103 hectares of land was used to cultivate opium poppy in 2005, of which 5,103 hectares was eradicated. Their 2006 Afghanistan Opium Survey reported that 180,300 hectares of land was used to cultivate opium poppy in 2006, of which 15,300 hectares was eradicated.

Committee of Permanent Representatives: Secondment

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British civil servants were seconded to work full-time for the Committee of Permanent Representatives in each year between 1997 and 2006. (134810)

The Committee of Permanent Representatives is divided into two parts. The UK is represented in COREPER I by the UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU and in COREPER II by the UK Permanent Representative to the EU. No UK official, nor that of any other member state, is seconded to either part of COREPER.

Cuba: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made on the judicial process in Cuba and the provision of legal representation for defendants. (134522)

The UK will continue to seek opportunities to raise human right issues, including judicial processes, with the Cuban authorities, despite the limited contact granted to us by the Cuban Government. On 30 April my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade expressed concern about political prisoners and other human rights issues during a meeting with the Cuban Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade, Antonio Carricarte. In addition, officials regularly voice UK concern with their Cuban counterparts over such issues.

Departments: Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many grievance procedures have been initiated in her Department in the last 12 months. (135155)

Since 1 April 2006, 27 formal individual grievances have been submitted in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Guidance on the procedures in place for lodging grievances is available to all staff. All formal individual grievances are investigated in line with the procedures.

Departments: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for which Government websites she is responsible; how many visitors each received in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the cost (a) was of establishing and (b) has been of maintaining each site. (135720)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has responsibility for 211 FCO websites, which cost £6 million to establish in 2001 and cost £650,000 to maintain in the year 2006-07. These websites include the main FCO Website, Ukvisas website, more than 180 embassy and high commission websites and the i-UK.com portal website. These fall under the following key domains with the associated number of visitors:

Domain

Visitors

www.fco.gov.uk1

8,255,352

www.britishembassy.gov.uk1

6,798,276

www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk1

3,025,405

www.ukvisas.gov.uk

5,326,484

www.i-uk.com1

613,740

www .gogapyear.com2

20,921

1 Figures only available between 1 July 2006 and 30 April 2007. Monthly average taken to calculate 12 month total.

2 Figures available between 1 September 2006 and 30 March 2007. Monthly average taken to calculate 12 month total.

These figures do not include 12 websites that have been run independently of the FCO web platform. We do not have figures for the number of visitors or cost of these sites. They are:

www.britainusa.com

www.britishembassy.ie

www.britishembassy.se

www.uknow.or.jp

www.uk.cn

www.britaus.net

www.bhcvictoria.sc

www.britain.or.ug

www.britischebotschaft.de

www.britemb.org.il

www.ukun.org

Departments: Intimidation

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints of bullying have been investigated in her Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (134828)

The number of formal complaints of bullying investigated in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the last 12 months is very small. In line with guidance issued by the Cabinet Office, the information requested can therefore not be released on grounds of confidentiality. Guidance on the procedures in place for those who have a concern related to any form of unfair discrimination, including bullying, is available to all staff.

Departments: Sexual Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in her Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (135372)

There have been no formal complaints of sexual harassment in the last 12 months in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Guidance on the procedures in place for those who have a concern over all forms of harassment is available to all staff.

EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many European Union Directives have been transposed into UK law in the last 12 months. (133216)

Individual Government Departments are responsible for transposing EU Directives into UK law in their policy areas. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not transpose EU Directives. Transposition notes stating all the main elements of individual EU Directives that have been or will be transposed into UK law are available in the Library of the House.

EU Directives may be directly applicable, implemented by administrative means, or introduced when domestic legislation is amended for other purposes. The European Communities Act 1972 (the ECA) allows the Government to implement EU Directives either by primary legislation or by secondary legislation.

Standard Note SN/IA/2888, which is available in the Library of the House, gives information on the number of Statutory Instruments (S.I.) enacted under the ECA in each parliamentary session and the proportion of the total number of S.I.s this represents. Between 1998 and 2005 an average of 8.9 per cent. of S.I.s were laid in order to implement EU legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many European Union Directives have been repealed from UK law in the last 12 months. (133217)

House of Commons Standard Note SNIA-02888 states that 60 directives were repealed or expired in 2006. The Commission continue to make progress with their ambitious programme to simplify and reduce existing EU laws. In November 2006 they announced a further 43 simplification proposals and identified 10 pending proposals to be withdrawn. The UK continues to support the Commission’s efforts. We welcome the agreement at the Spring European Council in March to cut administrative burdens by 25 per cent. by 2012; delivering on this commitment will help boost European competitiveness and help stimulate further the Lisbon jobs and growth agenda.

A detailed progress report on better regulation is available in the Commission’s 2006 general report available at:

http://europa.eu/generalreport/en/welcome.htm

European Union: Communication

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the role is of the European Union working group of national communications experts; what she expects the (a) format and (b) agenda of the next meeting of the group to be; and if she will make a statement. (133082)

The role of the Council’s Information Working Group is to examine the information policy and communication strategy of the EU, to assess ways to increase transparency and openness of the Institutions, to provide access to documents and to promote co-operation between institutions.

The Information Working Group is composed of delegates of the 27 EU member states, representatives of the General Secretariat of the Council and representatives of the European Commission. Meeting agendas contain a list of topics and references to documents on which discussions will be held.

The Working Group on Information meets every two weeks in principle. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 May. The agenda for this meeting has not yet been circulated.

European Union: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK representation is on the Interinstitutional Group on Information; what the agenda is for its next meeting; and when it will next meet. (133543)

The Minister for Europe of the country holding the EU presidency attends the Interinstitutional Group on Information. Officials from the incoming presidency attend as observers.

As such, UK officials will attend the Interinstitutional Group on Information as observers six months ahead of the next UK presidency of the EU, and the UK will be represented at ministerial level when it holds the presidency.

The next meeting of the Interinstitutional Group on Information is scheduled for 22 May. The agenda for that meeting has not yet been circulated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will list the documents produced by the Inter-institutional Group on information in each of the last 10 years. (133547)

Requests for this information can be made to the European Commission direct. The Commission provides the Secretariat to the Inter-Institutional Group on Information.

India: Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how much ground rent is paid annually by the Indian Government for its high commission at 9 Kensington Gardens, London; and how much was paid for the current lease on the building; (135231)

(2) when the decision was made to make rent payable on the Indian high commission at 9 Kensington Gardens, London; for what reasons it was decided to levy a rental charge on the building; and if she will make a statement.

The Indian high commissioner’s residence, at 9 Kensington Palace Gardens, is leased by the Indian Government from the Crown Estate; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not involved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports she has received of the decision of the Indian Government to charge rent to the British high commission in India at 2 Rajaji Marg, Delhi; and if she will make a statement; (135233)

(2) how much the Government are expected to pay the Indian Government in annual rent for the British high commission in India at 2 Rajaji Marg, Delhi;

(3) what representations she has made to the Indian Government on the rent payable on the British high commission in India; and if she will make a statement.

The Government have paid rent on 2 Rajaji Marg, the high commissioner’s residence in New Delhi, since independence in 1947. At present, we are in negotiation with the Indian authorities on renewal of the lease, which we hope will be concluded shortly. I am sure the hon. Member will understand that I cannot go into precise details without jeopardising our negotiating position.

Constitutional Affairs

Constituencies

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Privy Council is expected to meet to consider the statutory instrument bringing into effect the recent Boundary Commission report on English parliamentary constituencies. (134489)

The House of Commons has now approved the draft order, and the House of Lords is due to consider it on 17 May. The next meeting of the Privy Council is on 13 June.

Devolution

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the formal arrangements for liaison between the UK Government and the devolved administration. (134788)

There are strong bilateral relationships between the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government and Whitehall Departments, which are guided by principles underpinned in formal documents such as the Memorandums of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations and supplementary concordats and devolution guidance notes, all of which are published on the Department’s website. The Scotland and Wales Offices continue to work closely across Whitehall and with the devolved Administrations to ensure that good practice is followed and policies and legislation are successfully implemented, in a way that is consistent with the respective settlements.

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Genetics

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many DNA samples have been taken by or, on behalf of, the Child Support Agency (CSA) in each year since its inception; in what circumstances and on what grounds the CSA may require someone to take a DNA test; how many DNA tests resulted in maintenance being demanded from those tested; how and by whom any DNA data obtained by the CSA are stored; for how long such data are stored; and to which other departments, agencies or authorities they may be made available. (130878)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 3 May 2007:

In reply your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many DNA samples have been taken by or on behalf of the Child Support Agency (CSA) in each year since its inception; in what circumstances and on what ground the CSA may require someone to take a DNA test; how many DNA tests resulted in maintenance being demanded from those tested; how and by whom any DNA data obtained by the CSA is stored; for how long such data is stored; and to which other departments agencies or authorities it may be made available. [130878]

The Child Support Agency does not require DNA tests to be carried out but may suggest a DNA test in cases where the parentage of a qualifying child is disputed. The parent with care and alleged non-resident parent must consent to such a test, as must the qualifying child if he or she is over the age of 16. If the alleged non-resident parent refuses to take a DNA test, the Agency may assume parentage and proceed accordingly.

The information requested concerning the number of DNA tests undertaken on behalf of the Child Support Agency is provided in the attached table. However information is unavailable prior to 1997/8 and the Agency does not record information on how many DNA Tests result in the pursuit of maintenance from those tested. We do know that on average since 1997/98 around 84% of tests return a positive result and it may therefore be reasonable to assume that in these cases a maintenance assessment will be undertaken. We do not have figures on how many of these assessments result in a positive maintenance assessment and are subsequently pursued as there may also be other circumstances in which maintenance is not pursued, for example, if the parent with care requests the case be closed.

DNA samples are stored in a secure environment by the Agency’s contractor. Access to the data is restricted to laboratory staff, and managed by swipe card access controlled doors, alongside a number of other security measures. The case data is retained by the contractor for 3 months, and case records are kept for 1 year after the case has been resolved, after which they are destroyed by shedding and incineration.

Finally the CSA does not routinely share data relating to individual DNA tests with any other Departments, Agencies or authorities.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Number of DNA tests undertaken on behalf of the Agency

Number of tests taken

1997-98

3,750

1998-99

4,173

1999-2000

3,317

2000-01

2,938

2001-02

2,346

2002-03

4,146

2003-04

2,444

2004-05

2,888

2005-06

2,454

Note:

CSA clerical MI is used from 1997/98 to 2001/02 for the number of tests taken. MI from the DNA test contractor is used from 2002/03 onwards for the number of tests taken.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many letters to his Department sent from hon. Members during Session 2005-06 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four and (e) over six months old. (114602)

We have replied to 90 per cent. of the letters received by Ministers from hon. Members within 20 working days in both the 2005 and 2006 calendar years. We have also taken action to ensure the remainder are being dealt with as soon as possible thereafter. The available information shows that 425 of the letters received by Ministers from hon. Members during the 2006 calendar year remained unanswered on 10 January 2007. Of these (a) 64 were one month old, (b) seven were two months old and (c) six were three months old, (d) one was four months old and (e) none was older.

Departments: Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many questions tabled by hon. and right hon. Members to his Department for oral answer have been transferred to other departments since May 2005. (133804)

Four oral questions by hon. and right hon. Members to the Department for Work and Pensions have been transferred to other Government Departments since 1 May 2005.

Departments: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1064W, on Departments training, how much was spent on training courses for staff aimed at reducing benefit fraud and error in 2006; and how many staff attended these courses in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (133893)

Considerable effort and resources would need to be used on interrogating the Staff Information System in order to obtain information that could be used to work out costs for the 2006. Obtaining this level of information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1064W, on Departments training, how much was spent on training away days for departmental staff in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (133894)

Information on training away days is not classified separately from other learning and would be scheduled as an event along with other courses. Attendance at external events will have been recorded by individuals on their learning history. This information cannot be downloaded centrally. Obtaining this level of information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1064W, on departments: training, how many people attended each course in each of the last three years for which figures are available; how many days were allocated to each course; which of these training courses were conducted at off-site locations; and which locations were used. (133940)

Considerable effort and resources would need to be used to interrogate the Staff Information System to obtain the level of detail required for 2006. Previous to this there were no IT systems in place to collect such detailed information. Any information still available would be held clerically at a local level. Obtaining this level of information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1064W, on departments: training, how much was spent in 2006 on courses in (a) media training for ministers, (b) handling media for civil servants, (c) strategic communications planning for civil servants, (d) leadership in the outdoors for civil servants, (e) managing change for benefits releases for civil servants, (f) strategy training for civil servants, (g) fireworks for civil servants, (h) core consultancy skills for civil servants, (i) public leadership for civil servants, (j) the communications network programme for civil servants and (k) turnaround leadership for civil servants in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (133941)

(a) The total specific media training costs for Ministers for 2006 was £3,794.84. (b-k) Considerable effort and resources would need to be used on interrogating the Staff Information System in order to obtain the level of detail required to identify the spend in 2006. Previous to this there were no IT systems in place to collect such detailed information. Any information still available would be held clerically at a local level. Obtaining this level of information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1064W, on departments: training, how much was spent on courses for staff in his Department in (a) stress awareness, (b) self development, (c) self awareness, (d) creative thinking, (e) curriculum vitae writing, (f) running staff clubs, (g) facilitation skills, (h) non-verbal behaviour workshops, (i) intervention skills and (j) being a change agent workshops in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (133942)

Considerable effort and resources would need to be used on interrogating the Staff Information System in order to obtain the level of detail required for 2006. Previous to this there were no IT systems in place to collect such detailed information. Any information that may still be available would be held clerically at a local level. Obtaining this level of information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 7 March 2007, Official Report, column 2084W, on departments: visits abroad, how much his Department spent on foreign visits by staff which were subsequently cancelled in each of the last three years, broken down by (a) destination and (b) departmental agency. (133895)

This information is not held centrally and could be provided only by incurring disproportionate costs. The Department will incur just a minimal charge if a trip is cancelled in good time. For example the cancellation fee for flights is currently £9.25. For hotels, if cancelled before noon on date of arrival, the Department would not incur any cancellation charges at all.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 7th March 2007, Official Report, column 2084W, on Departments: visits abroad, what the foreign travel costs in his Department were for the last three years, broken down by (a) destination, (b) type of expenditure and (c) departmental agency. (133896)

The information requested is available for the last 12 months but would require a detailed clerical examination in order to present it in the format requested, which would incur disproportionate costs.

Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of single parents on income support (a) have never been married, (b) are separated, (c) are divorced and (d) are widowers; and if he will give equivalent data for (i) five, (ii) 10, (iii) 15, (iv) 20 and (v) 30 years ago. (135703)

Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of (a) existing and (b) new (i) incapacity benefit and (ii) disability living allowance claimants received an independent medical assessment in each of the last five years. (131823)

Social Security Benefits: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds who were classified as not in employment, education or training, and who were claiming benefits, had been in that condition for (a) 0 to six months, (b) six to 12 months, (c) 12 to 24 months and (d) 24 months and over in each quarter since 1992. (122108)

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much (a) the Film Council and (b) the Arts Council of England (i) received from the National Lottery in 2006 and (ii) will receive from the National Lottery in 2007. (135554)

The following table shows the UK Film Council’s and Arts Council of England’s income, including investment income from the National Lottery Distribution Fund, for the financial years 2005-06 and 2006-07; and estimated figures based on the Departments latest income projections, for 2007-08.

£

Distributor

UK Film Council

Arts Council of England

Income 2005-06 to nearest £1,000

30,342,000

172,093,000

Income 2006-07 to nearest £1,000

26,289,000

149,257,000

Projected income 2007-08 to nearest £1,000

29,942,000

154,563,000

Departments: Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) instructions are issued to staff in her Department and (b) technical procedures are in place to shut down computers at night. (136091)

Guidance on energy saving, including switching off computers and monitors when not in use, is published on the Department’s intranet. We are currently evaluating various tools aimed at making it easier to automatically manage IT power usage out of hours.

Departments: Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of the change in name from the Department of National Heritage to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (134234)