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Written Answers

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 9 May 2007

Transport

Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 1 May 2007, Official Report, column 1527W, on aviation exhaust emissions, whether he has made any assessment of the potential effects on health of contrails from aircraft. (136145)

Contrails are ice crystal clouds that form at high altitudes under certain atmospheric conditions. They are initiated by exhaust products and the disturbance caused by aircraft. The Department has sponsored research into these emissions including a major international scientific meeting last year which presented significant new research on the subject:

http://www.pa.op.dlr.de/tac/.

Bridges: Thames Gateway

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations of (a) support and (b) objection he has received on the pending decision on the Thames Gateway Bridge. (135999)

In the last year the Secretary of State has received (a) one letter supporting and (b) two letters opposing the Thames Gateway Bridge.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding has been allocated to the concessionary bus fare scheme for pensioners in 2007-08; what estimate he has made of the cost of administering the scheme; and if he will make a statement. (136028)

From April 2006, older and disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. Statutory concessionary fares are 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 this and 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 how much of the total Formula Grant funding is for any particular service. The Government provided an extra £350 million in 2006-07 and a further £367.5 million in 2007-08, via the Formula Grant system, to fund the extra costs to local authorities. The Government are confident that this should be sufficient to cover the total additional cost to local authorities of the statutory concession.

Local authorities have the discretion to offer (and fund from their own resources) enhancements to the statutory minimum, such as peak bus travel and/or concessions on other modes.

Departments: Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) instructions are issued to staff in his Department and (b) technical procedures are in place to shut down computers at night. (136104)

The Department for Transport (Central) and its agencies are very conscious of the need to reduce power, thereby contributing to a common target to reduce carbon emissions by 12.5 per cent. by 2010-11. All therefore have policies of shutting down computers at night, and staff are regularly instructed to do so by means such as induction training, circulars, general guidance, notices and night security checks. In addition, departmental procurement policy states that preference should be given to energy efficient IT equipment.

Technical procedures are not used at the moment, although DfT (Central) is examining the possibilities for this, commencing in mid-June, with an automatic shutdown of computers inadvertently left powered on at close of business each Friday.

Fares: Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 414W, on fares: technology, what progress has been made towards using smartcards as part of the national concessionary fares scheme when it is launched in April 2008. (135954)

As part of extending concessionary travel to cover journeys on all off peak local bus services anywhere in England, the Department for Transport intends to specify a standard national concessionary bus travel pass.

We are actively exploring the option of specifying that the new passes must be ITSO compliant smartcards. Our decisions about the specifications of the pass will be dependent on the outcome of a forthcoming consultation and discussions with suppliers.

ITSO based smartcards are being used by both Scotland and Wales for their national concessionary travel schemes.

Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus has (a) lay representatives and (b) a chosen insulin-treated diabetic who can attend meetings of the panel in a non-voting capacity. (136256)

Two lay members sit on the panel.

There are no health criteria for lay panel members but we do draw them from a range of sources including patient interest and support groups.

Road Traffic Control: Blackwall Tunnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received on the decision to end the tidal flow system at the Blackwall Tunnel. (135458)

The Secretary of State has received one representation regarding the decision to end the tidal flow system at the Blackwall Tunnel. This was a letter from a Member of Parliament.

Roads: Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to tackle the road safety hazard posed by the theft of drain covers from highways. (135752)

The Department endorses “Well maintained Highways” the code of practice on highway management published by the UK Roads Liaison Group. The code provides guidance on safety inspections and those defects to be inspected which include ironwork broken or missing.

The Highways Agency is responsible for the maintenance of the strategic road network. Their routine and winter service code specifies that a missing drain cover requires an immediate and temporary repair and a permanent repair within 28 days. Safety inspections are carried out every 24 hours on most motorways and every seven days on heavily trafficked all purpose trunk roads and on a 28 day cycle on all other trunk roads.

Transport: Radioactive Materials

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what regulations exist to cover the safe transport of radioactively contaminated metals from United Kingdom nuclear plants to other member states of the European Union for decontamination treatment. (136354)

In the European Union the regulations to cover the safe transport of radioactive material are contained in the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) 2005 Edition and the Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) 2005 Edition. These regulations are required to be transposed into domestic regulations by each member state.

In Great Britain the current regulations are the Radioactive Material (Road Transport) Regulations 2002, SI 2002 No. 1093 and the Radioactive Material (Road Transport) (Amendment) Regulations 2003, SI 2003 No. 1867 and, for rail transport, the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2004, SI 2004 No. 568.

The Transfrontier Shipment of Radioactive Waste Regulations 1993 SI 1993 No. 3031 may also apply in order to prevent diversion of material.

House of Commons Commission

Parliament: Parking

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the Answer of 23 April 2007, Official Report, column 873W, on Parliament: parking, if he will estimate the annual revenue which would be raised by the introduction of a £10 charge for the use of car parking facilities on the estate. (136264)

As I said in my earlier reply there are no plans to introduce charges for use of car parking spaces on the parliamentary estate.

Prime Minister

Early Intervention Measures

10. To ask the Prime Minister what research he has evaluated on early intervention measures to tackle the causes of inequality, deprivation and under-attainment. (136194)

Ensuring that all children are able to read is essential to tackling inequality and under-attainment. Since 1997, 95,000 more 11-years-olds are able to read as a result of the daily literacy hour. We are also putting in place the recommendations of the review by Jim Rose for systematic phonics teaching for all children.

In addition, the Government are also supporting measures to improve children's behaviour and attitudes from an early age. The evaluation of the primary Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme found that it had a positive impact on children's results, behaviour and attitudes to school. Approximately 60 per cent. of primary schools are already implementing SEAL and a programme for secondary schools will start from September 2007.

Departments: Internet

To ask the Prime Minister for which Government websites he 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. (135715)

My office is responsible for the No. 10 website (http: //www. number-10.gov.uk).

Information on the number of visits to the site can be found on the No 10. website (http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page1232.asp). A copy of this web page has been placed in the Library of the House.

On costs, I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1807-8W. Figures for the financial year 2006-07 are not yet available.

Trade and Industry

Credit: EC Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the EU Consumer Credit Directive on UK consumer spending in the (a) year following its implementation and (b) two years following its implementation. (135972)

The DTI published an up-dated impact assessment in 2006 on the revised proposal for a Consumer Credit Directive. Our assessment then was that it could impose potential costs on lenders and lead to a possible reduction in access to credit among consumers, both of which could have a negative impact on consumer spending. Since then the proposal has been through a number of re-drafts and we think this risk has been very much reduced. It is not practicable to make any further assessment of the impact of the proposal post-implementation at a time when the text is subject to frequent change. We will be up-dating our impact assessment in the light of the final text if and when the directive is agreed. I will write to the hon. Member as the impact assessment is updated—and place copies in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the EU Consumer Credit Directive on UK consumer spending, with particular reference to (a) the overall cost of credit, (b) the ability to obtain credit and (c) access for people on low incomes to legal credit. (135973)

The DTI published an up-dated impact assessment in 2006 on the revised proposal for a Consumer Credit Directive. Our assessment then was that it did put at risk the diversity of credit products and could drive up costs and prices and lead to a reduction in the availability of credit particularly to the sub-prime market. Since then the proposal has been through a number of re-drafts and we think this risk has been very much reduced. Negotiations are ongoing and we will be up-dating our impact assessment in the light of the final text if and when the directive is agreed. I will write to the hon. Member as the impact assessment is updated and place copies in the Libraries of the House.

Overseas Trade: Canada

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what initiatives his Department is taking to increase trade with Canada; and if he will make a statement. (136227)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: Through UK Trade and Investment, the Department supports initiatives and provides services across a range of sectors for UK companies seeking business in Canada, with a clear focus on activity that delivers maximum added value for business and the UK economy.

Pay Television: Competition

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to promote competition in the pay television market. (134406)

The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to my hon. Friend. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Northern Ireland

Departments: Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much energy in kilowatt hours was purchased by his Department from renewable sources in the most recent year for which figures are available. (135001)

My Department purchased 811,107 kilowatt hours of energy from renewable sources in 2005-06. This represents 25 per cent. of the total energy used and is well ahead of the 10 per cent. target set for March 2008. This is the most recent year for which figures are available.

Equal Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in implementing the Workplace 2010 scheme in Northern Ireland; which bidders have been short-listed during the procurement stage; and whether Ministers-designate were consulted during the short-listing process. (135937)

Health Professions: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will defer the Northern Ireland recruitment process relating to the modernising medical careers programme for 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (136358)

Midwives

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government are taking to ensure there is an adequate number of midwives in Northern Ireland. (136551)

Northern Ireland Assembly: Flags

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which flags will be flown from the Northern Ireland Assembly building at Stormont; and on what dates. (135037)

Parliament Buildings is not defined as a Government building as classified in the Flags Order (NI) 2000, and so is not subject to the Flags Regulations. After devolution it will be for the Northern Ireland Administration to decide on flag flying procedures at Parliament Buildings.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Casualties

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland were (a) killed and (b) injured on duty in each year since 1997. (135039)

The following tables provide a breakdown of the number of RUC or PSNI officers who have been (a) killed on duty and (b) injured on duty.

(a): Number of police officers killed on duty1—1997 to 2006

Number

1997

4

1998

1

1999

0

2000

2

2001

0

2002

0

2003

1

2004

0

2005

1

2006

0

1 Includes (a) death by terrorist on duty (b) death by non-terrorist on duty (c) death by traffic accident on duty (d) death by accident on duty.

(b): Occurrences of injury on duty1—19992 to 2006

Number

1999

1,598

2000

1,594

2001

2,114

2002

1,490

2003

1,165

2004

928

2005

848

2006

564

1 Figures include IOD incurred by police officers while travelling to and from work.

2 Earliest year for which this data is available.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the budget of the Police Service of Northern Ireland was in each year since 2002. (135041)

The Police Service of Northern Ireland budget for the period 2002-03 to 2006-07, excluding budgets for the police pension schemes which are treated separately to other GB forces, is detailed in the following table.

Police Service for Northern Ireland analysis of grant 2002-03 to 2006-07

£ million

Main grant revenue

Main grant capital

Patten non severance revenue

Patten non severance capital

Patten severance

2002-031

635.1

20.5

9.8

14.9

42.2

2003-041

649.2

19.7

14.6

12.9

10.2

2004-05

780.8

30.3

20.0

7.9

26.6

2005-06

721.8

32.2

21.1

6.4

28.1

2006-07

764.2

36.1

19.6

2.6

27.9

1 Represents cash budgeting figure (non cash not included). All other figures are on a resource basis.

Notes:

1. 2004-05 main grant includes a provision for FTR severance.

3. 2006-07 main grant includes a provision for injury on duty liabilities.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are employed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. (135040)

On 27 April 2007 the number of officers and civilian staff of the PSNI, not including secondments, was 12,670.

Police: Crimes of Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many attacks on police officers there were in each district command unit of Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. (135353)

Information prior to 2005-06 is not available in the requested format. However the following table outlines the total number of attacks on police officers in each of the last two years.

District command unit

2005-06

2006-07

Antrim

39

7

Ards

5

3

Armagh

7

7

Banbridge

1

4

East Belfast

178

31

North Belfast

454

124

South Belfast

123

39

West Belfast

696

439

Ballymena

29

11

Ballymoney

4

2

Carrickfergus

18

9

Coleraine

6

7

Cookstown

6

8

Craigavon

131

106

Castlereagh

17

22

Dungannon and S. Tyrone

14

3

Down

12

15

Fermanagh

8

2

Foyle

251

173

Larne

3

1

Limavady

7

9

Lisburn

130

138

Magherafelt

2

6

Moyle

5

2

Newtownabbey

79

50

North Down

12

11

Newry and Mourne

62

92

Omagh

12

8

Strabane

39

26

Total

2,350

1,355

Justice

Absent Voting: Merchant Seamen

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice whether she has received representations concerning difficulties encountered by merchant seamen in responding to requests for information from electoral registration officers in relation to proxy vote entitlement. (136296)

Voting Rights: Prisoners

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice when she expects her Department’s consultation process on the right of convicted prisoners to vote to be completed. (135907)

The Government are currently analysing the responses to the first stage consultation document. Once this analysis is complete, a second consultation document will be produced, to consider how any changes might work in practice.

Our current plans are as set out in the action plan submitted to the Committee of Ministers for responding to the Hirst judgment. That indicates that we hope to conclude the consultation process on this subject by January 2008.

International Development

Security Objectives

6. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on the appropriateness of his Department contributing to security objectives overseas. (136210)

Security and development are linked. Poverty, under-development, weak and ineffective government all help to provide fertile conditions for conflict, criminality and, in some circumstances, terrorism, which is why DFID country programmes all promote the security of the poor and in doing so, help to address the root causes of insecurity locally, nationally and internationally.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

7. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the outcomes of his recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (136211)

During my visit I met President Kabila, Prime Minister Gizenga and others. I expressed deep concern about the recent fighting in Kinshasa and Bas Congo: Congolese politicians need to embrace democracy, not confrontation and violence. I pressed for renewed commitment to democracy, progress on security sector reform and enforcement of the moratorium on new logging concessions.

At Panzi hospital in Eastern DRC, I met rape victims aged just 4 and 7. I was moved by the hospital staff’s determination to make a difference. DFID’s task is to support such efforts to help poor people and sustain peace in DRC.

Water Supplies

8. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department’s efforts to promote clean water and sanitation in the developing world. (136212)

13. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to promote clean water and sanitation in the developing world; and if he will make a statement. (136217)

We will double our expenditure on water and sanitation in Africa—where the Millennium Development Goal targets are most off-track—to £95 million a year by 2007-08, and then double it again to £200 million a year by 2010-11.

Last November, I published a global call to action on water and sanitation. We need both developing country Governments and donors to do more, we need to invest more and to ensure this money is spent effectively, and we need to put the best structures in place to make all of this happen.

Nigeria

9. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Nigeria. (136213)

Nigeria ranks below the average for sub-Saharan Africa in the UN’s Human Development Index. In Northern Nigeria, high maternal mortality, low levels of immunisation, and gender inequality mean human development indicators are among the world’s worst, outside conflict zones. While Nigeria has not seen a widespread humanitarian crisis in recent years, there are regional instances of severe human suffering. A nutritional crisis in mid-2005 in several Northern states led Medicins Sans Frontieres to treat over 15,000 severely malnourished children. Meanwhile, oil spills in the Niger Delta have affected the environment and local livelihoods in that region.

Darfur

10. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Darfur. (136214)

Four million people in Darfur are in need of assistance including two million Internally Displaced Persons, 131,000 of whom have been displaced since the beginning of the year.

Recent assessment showed malnutrition just below emergency line and fairly stable mortality figures. This success however is dependent on continued humanitarian assistance which continues to be under threat both from violence and from bureaucratic impediments imposed by the Government of Sudan. Aid delivery remains suspended or severely curtailed in many areas of Darfur leaving large numbers of people with no access to critical humanitarian assistance.

11. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Darfur. (136215)

Four million people in Darfur are in need of assistance including two million who have been displaced by violence. Displacements continue at an alarming rate of 30,000 a month.

Recent assessments report malnutrition just below emergency threshold and fairly stable mortality figures. However this success is dependent on the provision of ongoing humanitarian assistance which continues to be under threat both from insecurity and from bureaucratic impediments imposed by the Government of Sudan. Aid deliveries remain suspended or severely curtailed in many areas of Darfur leaving many without access to critical humanitarian assistance.

Vulture Funds

12. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with (a) the World Bank and (b) other multilateral institutions on the activities of vulture funds in developing countries. (136216)

The actions of vulture funds are deplorable. They cannot be allowed to continue to profit from poor countries. The UK is working with the World Bank to ensure that countries can buy back their commercial debts at a considerable discount through the Debt Reduction Facility. We are encouraging the World Bank and IMF to strengthen their support for debt management capacity building in developing countries. The UK is also supporting the African Development Bank’s proposal to set up a legal assistance facility to help countries facing lawsuits access legal advice. In addition, we will seek to develop a voluntary code of conduct for commercial creditors.

Latin America

14. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to tackle inequality in Latin America. (136218)

DFID is primarily working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and World Bank. We are seeking to help the poor to get better access to markets, and to make their voice heard in Government services. There are signs of improvement: between 2001 and 2005, incomes of the poorest 10 per cent. of people in Brazil rose eight times faster than incomes of the top 10 per cent. This is in part because of the Bolsa Familia programme of cash transfers that the banks and DFID have been supporting.

Somalia

15. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. (136219)

The UN has declared Somalia one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world. Killings, woundings, displacement, destruction of homes, and theft of property, especially due to the conflict in Mogadishu, has added to mounting levels of starvation and epidemic disease especially in southern and central Somalia. More people were displaced in Somalia in the past month than in any other conflict in the world. Continuing insecurity, and deliberate harassment and obstruction by all parties is seriously impeding relief efforts. Against a UN appeal of $262 million DFID has committed over £3.6 million to humanitarian activities in 2007, and is considering further support.

Communities and Local Government

Aerials: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will revise paragraphs 29 to 31 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 to allow local planning authorities to take account of concerns about the potential health effects of mobile telecommunications stations irrespective of whether the proposed station meets the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines for public exposure. (134121)

We are currently considering the need to revise Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 but have yet to make a decision on whether we will do so. If we believe there is a case for revision to the guidance, we will consult the Electronic Communications Working Group which comprises Government, industry, academic and campaign representatives.

Bridges: Thames Gateway

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many representations of (a) support and (b) objection she has received on the pending decision on the Thames Gateway Bridge. (135991)

Overall, the Department has received 4,808 written representations objecting to the scheme, broken down as follows:

2,949 representations, of which 2,836 were contained in petitions, before the opening of the Public Inquiry into the proposed Bridge;

1,819 representations were made during the Inquiry; and

44 representations following the close of the Inquiry.

Overall, the Department has received 77 written representations supporting the scheme, broken down as follows:

59 expressions of support/representations for the proposal before the opening of the Public Inquiry into the proposed Bridge;

11 representations were made during the Inquiry; and

7 written representations following the close of the Inquiry.

Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many fire authorities (a) have formally committed to moving to regional fire control centres, (b) are awaiting a final business case before formally deciding, (c) have formally committed not to move to regional fire control centres and (d) have agreed to join local authority controlled companies, but with caveats that they may withdraw if the full business case does not provide evidence of value for money. (133678)

[holding answer 24 April 2007]: As yet no fire and rescue authority has been asked to commit to formally moving to a regional fire control centre although all have been asked to make preparations for doing so in accordance with the fire and rescue national framework. The business case shows that FiReControl provides good value for money and we expect every fire and rescue authority should see savings on current spend.

Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many decisions of the Planning Inspectorate she has overturned since (a) 5 December 2005 and (b) 1 November 2006; and whether any of these decisions relate to reserve sites as identified in the local development plan. (135773)

I am presuming that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to decisions where the Secretary of State has disagreed with the ‘recommendation’ of a Planning Inspector. The Secretary of State does not overturn decisions taken by the Planning Inspectorate.

Since 5 December 2005:

The Secretary of State has made 23 planning decisions against the recommendations of the Inspector.

Since 1 November 2006:

The Secretary of State has made seven planning decisions against the recommendations of the Inspector.

The issue of reserve sites for housing is not one that arises nationally. It relates to only a few areas, including the county in which the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency lies. It was not an issue in any of these cases.

Some recent cases, where the Secretary of State has been minded to make a decision against Inspectors recommendations, will not be included in these statistics as a final decision has not yet been issued.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her policy on determining planning applications has altered with the publication of Planning Policy Statement 3. (135775)

Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3) was published in November 2006 and took full effect on 1 April 2007. It is therefore the relevant national policy statement which the Secretary of State takes into account in determining planning cases which involve prospective housing development.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many decisions of the Planning Inspectorate she overturned in each year for which records are available; and what proportion this represents of all inspectorate decisions in each year, broken down by regional planning authority. (135777)

I am presuming that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to decisions where the Secretary of State has disagreed with the ‘recommendation’ of a Planning Inspector.

The Secretary of State does not overturn decisions taken by the Planning Inspectorate.

If so, records are available since 2002, and can be seen in the following table:

Call-ins (Number)

Call-ins (Percentage)

Recovered appeals (Number)

Recovered appeals (Percentage)

Total (Number)

Total (Percentage)

2006-07

Total decisions

80

153

233

Decisions against Inspector’s recommendation

6

7.5

10

6.5

16

6.9

2005-06

Total decisions

78

306

384

Decisions against Inspector’s recommendation

17

21.8

18

5.9

35

9.1

2004-05

Total decisions

86

261

347

Decisions against Inspector’s recommendation

12

14.0

17

6.5

29

8.3

2003-04

Total decisions

88

236

324

Decisions against Inspector’s recommendation

11

12.5

20

8.5

31

9.6

2002-03

Total decisions

59

124

183

Decisions against Inspector’s recommendation

12

20.3

5

4.0

17

9.3

The figures, for cases decided by the Secretary of State, should be seen in the context of the total number of planning decisions made by Inspectors of the Planning Inspectorate:

Number

2002-03

14,950

2003-04

18,194

2004-05

17,403

2005-06

21,493

2006-07

20,860

For the most recent year, the 16 decisions made by the Secretary of State against the recommendation of the Inspector represents 0.08 per cent. of the total number of decisions made by Inspectors or the Secretary of State.

There are no regional planning authorities, as suggested in the question. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the Government Office regions. Should this be the case, I would be more than happy to provide him with this information on request.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account she takes of local residents’ views when determining planning applications. (135778)

The Secretary of State fully takes into account the views of local people when determining planning applications. The principle of fully considering the views of local people, and the importance the Secretary of State ascribes to this process, is outlined in paragraphs 40-44 of Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development.

Furthermore, the Secretary of State will always consider the Inspector’s Report, inquiry evidence and post-inquiry representations—all of which incorporate the views of local people.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made on reconstruction works in Afghanistan being undertaken by those responsible to him. (132266)

The Secretary of State announced the deployment of additional Royal Engineers on 10 July 2006 to accelerate the reconstruction effort in southern Afghanistan. It is worth noting, though, that the UK task force as a whole is deployed to provide security so that reconstruction and development may take place.

The following tables list quick impact projects being undertaken in Helmand Province, and the progress that has been made to date. I have stated the agency responsible for the implementation of each project, and identified whether the responsible agency reports to the MOD. It is important to note, however, that in all instances the military work closely with other Government Departments and non-governmental organisations to agree key priorities with the Afghan authorities. In many instances, project delivery will require the involvement of a number of agencies. This is in line with our comprehensive approach.

In addition to the projects in the following table, there are a number of long-term development initiatives being undertaken throughout Afghanistan, to which the Department for International Development (DFID) contributes. DFID funds around $60 million over three years (2006-09) in support of their Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme.

Security

Responsible agency

Agency responsible to MOD

Location

Title

Total cost ($)

Status

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Permanent Vehicle Check Point (PVCP)

21,387

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Afghan National Police (ANP) Infrastructure in Gereshk

240,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Afghan National Army (ANA) Platoon House

40,387

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

ANP Outposts

143,964

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

4 x PVCPs

155,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

4 x Enhanced PVCPs

110,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Helmand

Construction resources for 12 modular Military Construction Force built ANP temporary police stations/PVCPs

600,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

New Joint Provincial Coordination Centre

161,147

Complete

Governor’s Office

No

Lashkar Gah

2 x PVCPs

16,800

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Ablutions at US Protection and Investigations (USPI) compound for Afghan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP) training

5,265

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Tombstone

Camp Shorabak (ANA) Mosque

100,000

Planned

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Provision of security infrastructure for Governor’s office and Bost Hotel

84,227

In progress

Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT)

Yes

Kajaki

Water/Fuel storage for the ANA

1,200

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Upgrade to ANA compound in Gereshk

15,000

Complete

Operations Company

Yes

Laskhar Gah

Upgrade to Muktar Gate

6,475

In progress

42 Commando

Yes

Nowzad

Rubble Clearance

0

In progress

Royal Military Police (RMP)

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Bonus Scheme for ANP top-performers at PVCPs

3,000

In progress

Information Exploitation Group

Yes

Garmsir

Garmsir PVCP repairs

700

In progress

Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)

No

Lashkar Gah

Afghan Meeting facility

651

Complete

Total

1,705,203

Social and economic development

Responsible agency

Agency responsible to MOD

Location

Title

Total cost ($)

Status

Helping Afghan Farmers Organisation (HAFO)

No

Gereshk

Sayed Tajdar Shrine: wall and gate construction

21,224

Complete

HAFO

No

Gereshk

Sayed Tajdar Shrine: road and footpath construction

33,076

Complete

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Improvement of Friday market and Gabion wall

140,623

Complete

HAFO

No

Cha-i-Anjeer

Improvement of Friday market

24,950

Complete

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Gabion Extension

34,108

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Safean Playground

50,000

In progress

PRT

No

Lashkar Gah

Support to Office of Governor to respond to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) needs

60,000

Complete

Information Operations (IO)

Yes

Lashkar Gah

improvements to Media Centre

8,336

Complete

Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC)

Yes

Lashkar Gah/Gereshk

Installation of solar-powered lighting

280,960

In progress

IO

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Support to Radio Stations

150,000

In progress

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Weir on Helmand River

161,848

Complete

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Extension of Gabion walls on Helmand River

168,045

Complete

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Silt Removal from Helmand River

259,479

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Bost Hospital Generator and Mortuary

130,400

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Security wall for Women’s Centre

30,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Building work for Kartelegan and Toortank day care centres

86,052

Complete

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Women’s Centre sewing ISAF badges to UK mil uniforms

750

Complete

Governor’s Office

No

Nahrisiraj

Work to clear and strengthen stretch of Nahrisiraj canal

12,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Construction of 8 new classrooms at Zacor School

80,008

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Connection of a new school to electricity grid

1,809

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Construction of a 20 room midwifery hostel

221,762

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Construction of a perimeter wall for Cha I Anjeer school

25,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Essential repairs to Bolan Bridge

231,728

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Welfare Association for Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) Playground

1,090

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Repairs to 3 schools

185,062

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Improvements to Lashkar Gah library

13,925

Complete

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Sports equipment for 8 schools

0

Planned

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

School sports equipment

30,000

Planned

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Kartelegan Playground

52,237

Complete

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Welfare Centre Kitchen

15,819

In progress

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Women’s Park

840,813

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

New School in Qala-e-Khana

0

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Refurbishment of Nawa School

72,713

In progress

Ministry of Public Health

No

Lashkar Gah

Rapid Assessment of Mukhtar IDP camp

973

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Musa Qaleh

Repairs to 3 mosques

350,000

Planned

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Playground and Football pitch

39,098

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Seminar Awal School repairs

0

Planned

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Technical School repairs

0

Planned

Royal Engineers

Yes

Gereshk

Abolfathi Botsi Boys School Repairs

0

Planned

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Ministry of Agriculture Tree

6,750

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Garmsir

Reconstruction using local labour—road, wells, ditches

4,000

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Garmsir

Culvert bridge

500

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Garmsir

Bore Hole and Hand Pump

1,750

In Progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Nahr-e-Saraj

Lashkar Gah-Gereshk canal road culvert and gravel track repairs

28,272

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

3 km asphalt road and solid drainage Kartelegan-601

429,950

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Garmsir

CHC Generator Repair

505

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah/Gereshk

Midwifery Kits

5,416

In progress

Stabilisation Advisor (STABAD)

No

Lashkar Gah

Carpet weaving pilot project

82,733

In Progress

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Furniture for Zacor High School

20,000

Complete

PRT

No

Helmand

Support to Director of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (DRRD) for Musa Qaleh IDPs

800

Complete

CIMIC

Yes

Gereshk

Refuse Collection Points and new trucks

34,000

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Upgrade to Bost Hospital Grounds

150,860

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Gereshk

Furniture for Gereshk Women’s Group

1,920

Complete

HAFO

No

Lashkar Gah

Lashkar Gah Bus Station

854,327

In progress

UK Task Force (UKTF)

Yes

Garmsir

Wells and Water Tower

10,800

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Covered waiting area at Bost Hospital

7,000

Complete

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Reconstruct Dept of Land Registry

98,142

In progress

CIMIC

Yes

Helmand

Procure 3 GPS units

500

In progress

PRT

No

Helmand

Provide Plant Machinery to DRRD

2,268,000

In progress

Police Mentors

No

Lashkar Gah

Additional Support to the Traffic Division

40,000

In progress

Total

7,860,113

Governance

Responsible agency

Agency responsible to MOD

Location

Title

Total cost ($)

Status

BBC World Service (BBCWS)

No

Lashkar Gah/Gereshk

Radio Transmitter

94,231

Complete

RMP

Yes

Helmand

ID card making facility (ANP)

30,295

Complete

PRT

No

Lashkar Gah

Generators for the Governor’s Office and compound

220,186

Complete

Justice Advisor

No

Lashkar Gah

Wall for the Office of the Prosecutor

10,000

Planned

Governance Advisor

No

Lashkar Gah

Refurbish of Offices for Provincial Government Departments

32,000

In progress

IO

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Rehabilitate Printing Press

224,098

In progress

Governor’s Office

No

Musa Qaleh

Set up costs for Musa Qaleh District Administration

10,000

Complete

RMP

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Equipment for 8 PVCPs

32,584

In progress

PRT

No

Lashkar Gah

Additional support to the Dept of Hajj

24,167

In progress

Police Mentors

No

Lashkar Gah

Support to ANP Traffic Division

32,631

In progress

Total

710,192

Counter-narcotics (CN)

Responsible agency

Agency responsible to MOD

Location

Title

Total cost ($)

Status

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Regrading of Bost Airfield

555,000

In progress

MNCC

No

Lashkar Gah

Windmill Wells

10,640

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Upgrade to Lashkar Gah prison

45,385

Complete

British Embassy Drugs Team (BEDT)

No

Lashkar Gah

Comms equipment for the Counter-Narcotics Police Authority (CNPA)

8,900

Complete

BEDT

No

Helmand

PA Systems for 12 District Centres

3,000

Complete

BEDT

No

Helmand

CN Tractor Repairs

12,000

Complete

BEDT

No

Helmand

CN Tractor Ploughs

30,000

Complete

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Tractors and equipment for the Governor

884,718

In progress

Royal Engineers

Yes

Lashkar Gah

Repair to bomb-damage at the Directorate of Counter-Narcotics

21,079

Complete

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Upgrade to Counter Narcotics Provincial Administration

88,925

In progress

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Incinerator for Bost hospital

30,000

In progress

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Uniforms for the Prison Staff

5,000

Complete

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Computer for Chief of Police

1,761

Complete

BEDT

No

Lashkar Gah

Support to the Counter Narcotics Provincial Administration

340,000

In progress

Total

2,031,408

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which British military units are deployed to Afghanistan, broken down by Afghan province; (135362)

(2) when he plans to update the list of units deployed to Afghanistan on his Department’s website.

[holding answer 2 May 2007]: Following the recent roulement of forces in Afghanistan, an up to date list of military units deployed to Afghanistan is now available on the MOD website.

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/Operations Factsheets/OperationsInAfghanistanBritishForces.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) British and (b) Afghan (i) armed forces members and (ii) civilians were killed in (A) each of the years since the present conflict began and (B) in each month of the most recent year. (135785)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: The numbers of UK military and civilian personnel killed or injured in Afghanistan are published on the Ministry of Defence website:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/Operations Factsheets

and are in the following tables. Figures cover military personnel and UK civilians employed, or contracted, by the MOD.

Number of UK military and civilian fatalities from 7 October 2001 to 31 December 2006

Number

2001

0

2002

3

2003

0

2004

1

2005

1

2006

39

Number of UK military and civilian fatalities in 2007 by completed month

Number

January

2

February

2

March

4

April

1

Figures for Afghan armed forces fatalities are not held by the UK and are a matter for the Afghan National Government. There are no reliable means of ascertaining the numbers of Afghan civilians killed during the period since the conflict began. The UK makes every effort to minimise the impact of military action on the Afghan population.

Armed Forces: Casualties

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who is responsible for the (a) policy, (b) administration and (c) operational aspects of the safe return of the bodies of service personnel killed on operations to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. (136156)

Ownership of repatriation policy rests with the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel). The administration and operation of the process rests with the personnel staffs located at the permanent joint headquarters and the nominated lead authority, usually the parent service of the deceased.

Armed Forces: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what Government support is available for the children of single parents who are serving in combat with HM armed forces; (130651)

(2) what support is provided for the care of children whose parents or guardians are both deployed on overseas operations with HM armed forces.

Service personnel who are single parents remain liable for deployment on operations in accordance with identified operational requirements. The need to make plans in advance for appropriate care arrangements for dependent children is made very clear to all service personnel but is explicitly brought to the attention of single parents. All children of any service personnel deployed on operations will continue to receive the full range of support available, such as unit staff, specialist service welfare organisations, community support staff, MOD children’s education support staff, HIVE information services, and the families federations.

This support will be available direct to children or, more typically, through those who have taken on the care of those children in the absence of the parent, in accordance with the arrangements made by the service parent.

The responsibilities, arrangements, support and advice available in the case of both serving parents being deployed on operations is no different to the case of a serving single parent deploying on operations. The armed forces are very successful in minimising the occurrence of such simultaneous deployments.

Armed Forces: Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the rules are covering the release of servicemen serving in the armed forces to work for the private security sector during the last weeks of service; and if he will make a statement. (132844)

Service personnel leaving the Regular Forces may accept paid permanent employment while on Terminal Leave subject to the requirements laid down in Queen’s Regulations which are available from the Library of the House.

Contrary to my answer of 26 April 2007, Official Report, column 1247W, Service personnel leaving the Regular Forces may accept paid employment while on Terminal Leave subject to the requirements laid down in Queen’s Regulations which are available from the Library of the House. Queen’s Regulations for the Army do however specifically preclude personnel taking up civil employment in an operational area while on Terminal Leave.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many single service personnel in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force were living in communal accommodation in each year since 1997. (135416)

The number of service personnel living in multi-occupant rooms within single living accommodation is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Life Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of the service personnel life insurance programme will be for 2007-08 and subsequent planned years; and under which budget this cost falls. (131093)

The projected cost of the Service Life Insurance (SLI) project for 2007-08 is £90,000. This sum covers salaries (until the project team disbands on 30 June 2007), consultancy and ‘bedding in’ costs following SLI launch in May 2007.

SLI attracts no cost in subsequent years as it is planned to be at nil cost. All SLI costs fall to the centre top level budget.

Armed Forces: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Army personnel were mispaid on the first pay run by the Army Joint Personnel Administration; and if he will make a statement. (136155)

The April payroll has been completed successfully on time and the vast majority of 110,104 Army regulars and 17,059 TA personnel have received their basic pay accurately. 8,238 personnel have been affected by minor discrepancies in relation to deduction charges and allowances, of which some 4,000 stem from a single error resulting in an overpayment of £1.43 per person. 90 per cent. of these will be corrected in the May pay run with the remainder being corrected in June.

Armed Forces: South Africa

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2007, Official Report, column 1033W, on the Armed Forces: South Africa, what steps he is taking to estimate the number of personnel serving in the British Army who have dual British and South African citizenship. (131706)

[holding answer 16 April 2007]: British, Irish or Commonwealth citizens can apply to join the Army, but there is no requirement for personnel with dual nationality to declare this on their Record of Service (ROS). As such, the only way to accurately determine this information, would require asking each and every British and South African national, and would incur disproportionate cost.

However, a check of the ROS has shown that 150 personnel in the Army have declared dual British/South African nationality.

Army: Fairtrade

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the Fairtrade products purchased for the office of the (a) Chief of the General Staff and (b) Adjutant General in the last 12 months. (135911)

No separate records are kept covering the purchase of Fairtrade items. The information is not therefore available.

Departments: BAE Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 15 March 2007, Official Report, column 458W, on BAE Systems, whether Mr. Julian Scopes was issued a security pass before December 2005. (132895)

[holding answer 20 April 2007]: Mr. Scopes was photographed for a Main Building pass on 16 October 2004 and a contractor’s pass (valid for a year) was first issued to him at that time. My response of 15 March 2007, Official Report, column 458W, gave details of the most recent pass (which expired in December 2006). I apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

Departments: India

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Ministers in his Department have visited India in the last 12 months; on how many occasions each Minister visited India; and what the length was of each visit. (135544)

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1462W, on departments: manpower, how many of the civilian personnel referred to in the answer are (a) Departmental personnel and (b) private contractors. (136152)

Departments: Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of paper used (a) for photocopying and (b) in printed publications by his Department was from recycled sources in each of the last three years. (134048)

The percentage of paper used for photocopying and printed publications from recycled sources in the last three years is as follows:

In MOD Main Building, 100 per cent. of the paper used for photocopying comes from recycled sources, a practice which started in March 2006. For the Department as a whole, the figures for the last three years are as follows; 2.1 per cent. for 2004-05; 1.8 per cent. for 2005-06; 1.9 per cent. for 2006-07. As a Department, it is planned that as of October 2007, 100 per cent. of paper used for photocopying will be from recycled sources.

In 2006-07, the percentage of paper used for printed publications coming from recycled sources was 3.1 per cent. This figure is based on two thirds of MOD printed publications, the remaining one third covers smaller independent contracts for which data are unobtainable.

Data for the previous two years are unavailable from the supplier. As of April 2007, our new suppliers are required to print on paper containing a minimum of 50 per cent. recycled fibres.

As these targets are being put in place this year, our current data will not reflect this step change in paper procurement.

Departments: Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many telephone helplines are sponsored by his Department with the prefix (a) 0870 and (b) 0845; and whether alternative geographic numbers are available in each case. (136257)

The use of 0800, 0845 or 0870 numbers in the Department and its Agencies is determined at local level in accordance with individual business requirements and ordered directly from the supplier. Records of these numbers are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

European Fighter Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much was saved by the decision taken in 2001 not to equip Typhoon aircraft with Mauser 27 mm cannon; (135062)

(2) what the cost has been of retrofitting Typhoon aircraft with cannon.

[holding answers 30 April 2007]: All RAF Typhoon aircraft have been fitted with a cannon. As stated within the Major Project Report 2006, the decision to leave the Typhoon cannon non-operational was assessed to save £32 million in programme costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest assessment is of the merits of fitting a cannon to (a) Typhoon and (b) other future combat aircraft. (134727)

[holding answer 1 May 2007]: The activation of the cannon on Typhoon, and its fitting to future combat aircraft, would provide an additional means of delivering air-to-surface low collateral damage effect in support of ground forces. This would need to be weighed against the through life costs of such a capability, including the implications for airframe life.

Gap Year Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Gap Year Commission was started; and how many people passed though it in each year since it started. (136041)

Gap Year Commissions were introduced in 2000, prior to this, personnel were granted a Short Service Limited Commission.

Intake by financial year, of untrained Regular Army Officers to Gap Year Commission is shown in the following table.

Financial year

Number

2000-01

60

2001-02

70

2002-03

80

2003-04

70

2004-05

30

2005-06

40

2006-071

50

1 1 April 2006 to 28 February 2007.

Iraq: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are in place for the medical welfare of reserve forces who have served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan on their return; and in what ways such arrangements differ to those in place for regular servicemen and women. (136031)

Any mobilised serviceman or woman injured when on operational deployment is treated the same, and will receive exactly the same medical treatment and support, whether they are regular or reserve. If a medical officer in-theatre assesses that a member of the reserve forces requires treatment or rehabilitation back in the UK, they will be treated in exactly the same way as regular personnel. This may include treatment and rehabilitation at a military Regional Rehabilitation Unit or the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Surrey, or—if the problem is related to their mental health—admission to the Priory Group or treatment at a military Department of Community Mental Health.

When reserve personnel are demobilised, they are given a medical assessment. During this process, if it is identified that they are in need of an operation they may be referred to NHS hospitals housing Ministry of Defence Hospital Units or the Royal College of Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, where they will be treated within military time frames which can in some cases offer faster access to treatment. Reserve personnel will receive treatment for injuries sustained on operation until they are deemed to have reached a steady state of fitness. They are then demobilised, and taken through a transition from military to NHS care, if they have continuing health care needs.

The patient may express a preference for treatment in a hospital nearer to their home, which may be a non-MDHU hospital, and some reservists opt for this route. In accordance with NHS protocols, if they are referred on to a non-MDHU hospital, then access to treatment is according to clinical priority.

Once demobilised it is a long established tradition that reserve forces’ medical welfare becomes the responsibility of their local NHS primary care trust and the majority of Veterans’ physical and mental health needs are met by these provisions. However, the MOD recognises that it has an expertise to offer in certain specific circumstances, and in November 2006 launched a new initiative—the Reserves Mental Health Programme. This is open to personnel who have been demobilised since January 2003 following overseas operational deployment as a reservist and who have concerns that their mental health has suffered primarily as a result of their operational service leading up to their demobilisation.

They will be invited to attend the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre at Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, where members of the Defence Medical Services will carry out an assessment of their mental health. If it is considered that they are eligible for out-patient treatment by the Defence Medical Services, this will be provided at one of the military Departments of Community Mental Health, at the most convenient site to meet the individual’s circumstances whenever possible. More details of the programme are available at:

http://www.army.mod.uk/rtmc/rmhp.htm

Finally, the Government fund courses of care at Combat Stress facilities for both regulars and reservists whose condition is due to service and for whom this is an appropriate course of treatment.

Lynx Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the acquisition costs are of the Lynx Mk 8 aircraft; and what the average total operating cost is per hour. (134199)

The current Lynx Mk8 aircraft were initially procured as Mk 2 and Mk3 aircraft between 1979 and 1988 and have subsequently been extensively modified, enhanced and converted to the Mk8 standard. The average Net Book Value on 16 January 2007 for these aircraft was £11.5 million.

The total operating cost per flying hour for Lynx Mk 8 is approximately £16,000. This cost includes both fixed and marginal costs incurred in using the aircraft, comprising servicing costs, fuel costs, crew capitation and training costs, support costs and charges for capital and depreciation.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Minister for Veterans expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 22 December 2007, (ref: D/US of S/DT MC00143/2007). (134605)

[holding answer 27 April 2007]: Following my interim reply of 22 February, I sent a final response to the hon. Member on 30 April.

Permanent Joint Headquarters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the permanent joint headquarters is integrated with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development. (128482)

[holding answer 19 March 2007]: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) engages with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID) on operational issues through a number of tri-departmental strategic and working groups from ministerial level downwards. Desk level officials maintain close and regular contacts across departments. Policy and Commitments staff in MOD head office lead on cross-governmental engagement. Permanent joint headquarters (PJHQ) staff are consulted and contribute on operational and tactical matters to provide an integrated HMG response.

At the tactical level, as part of the UK’s comprehensive approach to our operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, personnel in theatre engage regularly with their deployed counterparts in the FCO and DfID. PJHQ staff monitor and advise as necessary on these interactions.

The MOD has also developed a formal agreement with DfID on the provision of military assistance to humanitarian relief operations and is in the process of agreeing service levels with the FCO on the provision of military assistance to evacuation operations.

War Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many war pensions were awarded under the Naval, Military and Air Forces, Etc, (Disablement and Death) Service Pension Order in each year between 2001-02 and 2004-05. (134537)

The number of war pensions awarded under the Naval, Military and Air Forces, Etc, (Disablement and Death) Service Pension Order is by year shown in the following table.

War pensions

Number

2001-02

5,945

2002-03

5,075

2003-04

4,530

2004-05

4,230

Note:

Data have been rounded to the nearest five.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Productivity

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to help improve the productivity of farming. (136075)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: Total factor productivity for UK farming, which shows the volume of output leaving the industry per unit of all inputs including fixed capital and labour, rose by 2.1 per cent. in 2006. More information about the productivity levels of UK farming can be found in the DEFRA publication ‘Agriculture in the United Kingdom’.

DEFRA continues to conduct research, at both the farm level and through aggregate comparisons with other countries, into what influences the productivity of UK farming.

Improving productivity is a key element for our vision for farming, which identifies an industry that is profitable in the market place, makes a positive net environmental contribution and manages the landscape and the natural assets that underlie it.

We are undertaking a range of actions to improve the competitive position of farming in England. These include:

i. The use of Axis 1 funding of the new Rural Development Programme for England, which will be used to promote greater awareness of market opportunities, including for diversified enterprises, the benefits of collaboration and co-operation, and the acquisition of skills needed to exploit new opportunities.

ii. Restructuring the five statutory horticulture and agriculture levy boards into one overarching levy board with subsidiary, sectoral companies, thus allowing for efficiencies and commonalities to be identified, in order to help the sectors involved. For example, the new structure will facilitate exchange of information across the sectors on issues of common interest such as water and waste.

iii. In addition to that available under the agriculture development scheme, the Government have provided a significant amount of dedicated funding to the Food Chain Centre and the Red Meat and Cereals Industry Forums, and English Farming and Food Partnerships, as a transitional measure to help the industry adapt to a more market-orientated future.

iv. Implementation of the non-food crops strategy, which aims to drive forward the bio-based economy through research, dissemination of technology and knowledge, and building supply chains from agriculture to industry.

v. Supporting the quality regional food sector through a five year £5 million programme (which began in 2003-04) with the specific objective of creating a flourishing high quality regional food sector.

vi. Working with stakeholders to progress the action plan to develop organic food and farming in England which aims to create a sustainable and competitive organic farming and food sector.

vii. Support for farmers to take advantage of financial risk management products to enable them to be more resilient to increased price volatility, and to increase uptake of the business benchmarking software that is available under through the whole farm approach.

viii. Helping farmers and growers under the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) to develop the capabilities and capacity necessary to meet the public sector's requirements for food.

ix. Establishment of the biomass action plan with the objective of addressing barriers to the production of biomass energy, and stimulating the development of the sector.

x. Improving the regulation of farming, by making it more effective, and efficient for farmers, thus helping them to reduce costs and increase competitiveness.

xi. The whole farm approach (WFA) helps farmers to identify where there is a regulatory requirement and the actions necessary to fulfil that requirement, supported by targeted help and guidance.

xii. Developing a business competence framework for the environmental and land-based sectors to provide a clear understanding of what skills an individual will require to work in particular industries and in particular jobs within those industries.

xiii. Supporting the initiative which aims to encourage new people into the farming industry with the appropriate skills to succeed in a market-driven environment.

Black Environment Network: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have provided to the Black Environment Network; for what purpose the funding was provided; and what the outcome of such funding has been, broken down by project. (135406)

The following table shows funding contributions to the Black Environment Network (BEN) over recent years from English Nature and the Countryside Agency (CA), as founding bodies for Natural England.

£

Countryside Agency

English Nature

Natural England

2002-03

13,300

3,000

2003-04

7,700

3,000

2004-05

7,800

7,000

2005-06

5,200

3,000

2006-07

0

0

0

Totals

34,000

16,000

No payments have been made to BEN after 1 October 2006 from any of the founding bodies, or Natural England.

English Nature (EN) had a long standing relationship with BEN and recognised the valuable work done to support and develop the involvement of ethnic minority groups and individuals with the natural environment. The payments in 2004-05 and 2005-06 were to further develop their national and regional networks, and to provide English Nature staff with awareness training, advice and guidance with projects involving ethnic communities.

Through our support, BEN was able to improve its network administration and support, further develop its website, and share good practice. An English Nature staff training event was very successful and well attended. Staff gained confidence and understanding, and were able to follow up and seek specific advice on their projects.

Additionally, the CA provided a three year grant to fund specific posts within BEN from January 2002 to March 2005.

BEN received funding of £98,473 over three years for their project ‘Core Strategic Programme’ under the Environmental Action Fund (EAF) 2002-05.

The project aim was to support and enable ethnic participation in sustainable development through developing the knowledge, skills and values needed to make decisions about how they do things, individually and collectively, locally and globally.

Key project activities and outcomes included:

Work developing and strengthening BEN as an infrastructural organisation

Enabling active participation in sustainable living,

Formalisation and promotion of partnership initiatives focussed on ethnic environmental participation,

Strategic participation in mainstream environmental movement, in order to maintain profile of ethnic community environmental participation,

Publication and promotion of resource materials based on models of good practice, in order to stimulate ethnic community environmental participation,

Development and promotion of BEN as a training and consultancy resource for ethnic community environmental participation.

Departments: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) temporary staff accommodation and (b) travel expenses in each year since 2001. (134676)

The Department does not maintain a discrete record of expenditure on temporary staff accommodation.

Details of travel expenses can be found under other administration costs in the notes to the Department’s resource accounts.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff were employed in the press offices of (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each year since 2001. (135243)

The number of press officers in Core DEFRA is tabulated as follows, with the census point for the number of press officers taken as June for each year. The staffing numbers for the Press Office fluctuate during the course of any one year.

Staff number as at June

Press officers

2001

22

2002

22

2003

22

2004

18

2005

24

2006

24

The DEFRA Press Office provides services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

The number of staff employed in the press offices of each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 is tabulated as follows:

Agency

CEFAS

RPA

2001

0.02

0.2

2002

0.03

0.2

2003

0.03

0.2

2004

0.68

0.2

2005

1.0

0.2

2006

1.0

1.0

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies spent on staff employed in press agencies in each year since 2001. (135244)

The salary and directly related costs for all permanent and temporary staff for both Press Officers and support staff were as follows:

Financial year

£ million

2001-02

1.3

2002-03

1.2

2003-04

1.1

2004-05

1.3

2005-06

1.8

2006-07

1.5

The DEFRA Press Office provides press office services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

The costs for Press Officers and support staff in each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 were as follows:

£

Agency

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

CEFAS

900

936

18,140

41,222

50,201

43,553

RPA

6,000

6,000

6,000

6,000

40,000

132,000

Departments: Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many regulations were implemented by his Department in each year since 2001. (136338)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: The number of Statutory Instruments implemented by the Department for the years 2001-06 are: 2001—133 (includes those implemented by MAFF up to June 2001); 2002—120; 2003—106; 2004—125; 2005—144; 2006—150; The figure to date for 2007 is 59.

DEFRA is committed to a comprehensive programme of regulating better. Our December 2006 simplification plan, maximising outcomes, minimising burdens, explains the action that is being taken across DEFRA and its agencies to reduce administrative burdens and to improve regulations, and identifies over 130 separate initiatives that will contribute to meeting our target of reducing the administrative burden we impose on business by 25 per cent. by 2010. Those initiatives are scheduled to deliver an annual administrative burden reduction of around £159 million. That includes removing redundant legislation, without compromising environmental standards, seeking alternatives to traditional regulation and taking a risk-based approach to enforcement and inspection. A copy of the simplification plan is available from the Library of the House.

Departments: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to decrease the level of regulatory burden for which his Department is responsible. (136076)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: DEFRA is committed to a comprehensive programme of regulating better. Our December 2006 ‘Simplification Plan, Maximising Outcomes, Minimising Burdens’, explains the action that is being taken across DEFRA and its agencies to reduce administrative burdens and to improve regulations. That includes removing redundant legislation, without compromising environmental standards, seeking alternatives to traditional regulation and taking a risk-based approach to enforcement and inspection.

The Simplification Plan, which is available from the Library of the House, identifies over 130 separate initiatives that will contribute to meeting our target of reducing the administrative burden we impose on business by 25 per cent. by 2010. Those initiatives are scheduled to deliver an annual administrative burden reduction of around £159 million. They include:

Movements of hazardous waste—simplifying paperwork for monitoring movements will deliver savings of £2.1 million.

Whole Farm Approach—the administrative saving for farmers is estimated at £2.9 million by 2009-10 (based on current uptake).

Replacement of the over 30 month scheme with the older cattle disposal scheme—will deliver administrative savings of £3.49 million by the end of 2008.

Fruit and vegetable marketing standards (introduction of electronic certificates of conformity with EU marketing standards)—will achieve administrative savings of £3.22 million in 2007.

The Game licensing review—realises administrative savings of £0.6 million per annum—starting in mid-2007.

Eggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking under the public sector food procurement initiative to encourage public sector bodies to purchase non-cage eggs when procuring food and meals; and if he will make a statement. (135588)

The public sector food procurement initiative does not have specific guidance on purchasing eggs. Key objectives of the initiative, which apply to all food purchases, include increasing tendering opportunities for small and local food producers, raising standards of production, and addressing barriers to supply.

DEFRA’s Procurement and Contracts Division has included a model specification clause on farm assurance standards in the public sector food procurement initiative’s catering toolkit. This is helping to raise the profile of animal welfare in public sector food procurement and facilitate the purchase of products from welfare friendly producers.

In the longer term, the European Commission’s “Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-10” proposes quantifiable animal welfare indicators and an EU welfare labelling scheme for products produced from high welfare protection systems. This should enable public sector purchasers to make more informed decisions.

Fishing Catches

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his estimate is of the amount of fish discarded in UK waters in each month since January 2006 by (a) UK vessels and (b) non-UK vessels; and if he will make a statement. (133078)

The information is as follows:

(a) It is not possible to provide figures for discards solely in UK waters. The discard estimates used by ICES in stock assessments are carried out in relation to particular sea areas (e.g. the North Sea) rather than national waters.

Since 2002 all EU countries have been required to collect data on discarding under Council Regulation 1543/2000, but the information is not yet compiled systematically. Quantities of discards are estimated quarterly using data collected by scientific observers aboard commercial fishing vessels. They are required to record the quantity landed and discarded, and the species and size composition of the discards each time the fishing gear is hauled. Deploying scientific observers in this manner is expensive and time consuming, with the result that it is usually only possible to sample a small proportion of the overall fishing trips in a given area. As a result it is necessary to extrapolate from the limited sampling to provide estimates for the entire fleet. Although the sampling is intended to cover a representative sample of the fleet, this does mean that the estimates of total discards are subject to uncertainty.

Quarterly figures for discards of some important commercial species in 2006 are given in the following table. The table also includes estimates of landings and discard rates by the same fleet segments in order to provide an indication of the relative importance of discarding in each case. The figures given are as follows:

Country

Area

Species

Type

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

English and Welsh registered vessels

North Sea ICES sub-area IV

Cod

L

240.4

214.9

406.4

323.8

D

20.5

65.4

243.1

252.2

DR (%)

7.9

23.3

37.4

43.8

Haddock

L

68.2

50.6

75.7

107.0

D

23.8

35.3

148.5

102.6

DR (%)

25.8

41.1

66.2

48.9

Plaice

L

1,390.0

1,432.5

2,119.7

1,425.0

D

17.9

4.9

290.9

37.1

DR (%)

1.3

0.3

12.1

2.5

Sole

L

141.6

48.9

35.7

99.9

D

0.1

29.4

0.0

7.6

DR (%)

0.1

37.5

0.0

7.1

Whiting

L

668.8

538.2

831.9

369.0

D

260.4

54.7

334.9

735.3

DR (%)

28.0

9.2

28.7

66.6

Scottish registered vessels

North Sea ICES sub-area IV

Cod

L

1,505.8

1,918.8

2,003.0

1,136.1

D

262.1

587.3

331.1

489.1

DR (%)

14.8

23.4

14.2

30.1

Haddock

L

9,744.0

4,792.0

9,882.0

7,081.8

D

2,669.2

3,503.2

5,262.9

3,234.1

DR (%)

21.5

42.2

34.8

31.4

Saithe

L

2,671.6

2,769.1

1,579.1

712.8

D

1,366.1

955.6

2,648.9

752.1

DR (%)

33.8

25.7

62.7

51.3

Whiting

L

2,189.9

1,891.6

1,843.0

2,017.1

D

1,122.1

933.4

1,114.2

1,287.1

DR (%)

33.9

33.0

37.7

39.0

Scottish registered vessels

West of Scotland ICES Division VIa

Cod

L

70.2

100.6

93.6

43.3

D

19.9

32.8

214.1

53.8

DR (%)

22.1

24.6

69.6

55.4

Haddock

L

1,150.7

1,938.4

1,218.0

596.2

D

680.9

1,205.2

1,961.6

605.5

DR (%)

37.2

38.3

61.7

50.4

Saithe

L

603.3

648.6

399.8

706.9

D

233.2

755.7

302.3

407.0

DR (%)

27.9

53.8

43.1

36.5

Whiting

L

35.0

42.9

48.6

50.9

D

99.4

104.0

246.3

197.8

DR (%)

73.9

70.8

83.5

79.5

Notes:

L: Estimated landings (tonnes)

D: Estimated discards (tonnes)

DR: Discard rate, i.e. percentage of total catch in weight that is discarded.

There are a number of reasons for these discards. The mixed nature of most fisheries in EU waters means that fish of these and other species often swim together with others which fishermen have no interest in (for example because there is no market for the fish or they have no relevant quota allocation), all of which may be caught at the same time. Discards also arise from the catching of juvenile or undersized fish. In order to avoid this happening and those fish that are not required having to be discarded, UK Fisheries Departments are funding a range of work, in collaboration with the industry, looking at making the respective fishing activity more selective in terms of either species or size. The industry will be encouraged to use any such gear modifications which prove successful. The EU Commission has also made clear in its recent publication on discards that it attaches high priority to tackling this issue throughout EU waters.

(b) Discard estimates from other EU countries are not yet available for 2006, but these should appear later in the year. The UK is continuing to press the Commission to ensure all member states provide full sets of the relevant data. In the longer term, there are plans to develop a “Discards Atlas”—a compendium of available information from member states on discards—as a resource for fisheries science.

Food Supply

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to improve food security in Great Britain. (136081)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: My Department published Food Security and the UK: An Evidence and Analysis Paper, a wide-ranging study on Food Security, in December 2006.

DEFRA is improving food security by promoting continuity and contingency planning in the food chain. By strengthening trading relationships, based on more open international markets and reductions in trade distorting subsidies, we increase UK food security by unlocking access to a diversity of supply sources.

In a modern economy, the production, availability and distribution of all our food is dependent upon a secure energy and fuel supply, as well as upon other transport infrastructure. It is clear that our food chain—whatever the degree of agricultural self-sufficiency—relies on various forms of energy and that energy security is a primary concern. The Government's ‘Energy Review’, published in July 2006, specifically considered how our energy security can be maintained and enhanced in an uncertain world.

The food retailers have robust and resilient business continuity plans to deal with any threat of disruption. DEFRA works closely with all parts of the industry to ensure that appropriate support is provided.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for commercial growers of GM crops if beekeepers refuse to place their hives near to GM crops. (133984)

The potential implications would depend on the type of GM crop being grown and the specific policy that beekeepers were following. No commercial GM cropping is expected here for several years at least and it is difficult to make firm assumptions about the circumstances that might arise in the future. What can be said is that GM crops will only be grown here commercially if they are approved as safe at EU level, and if there is a market for them because they offer some recognised benefit. We know that beekeepers have concerns about GM presence in honey, and we will continue to discuss the coexistence of GM and honey production with them. From a regulatory standpoint it should not generally be necessary to avoid placing hives near to GM crops, as research has shown that any GM presence in honey should always be well below the 0.9 per cent. EU labelling threshold.

Honey: East Riding

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value of (a) borage honey production, (b) pollination services from honey bees and (c) borage crop was in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the last period for which figures are available. (133983)

Mackerel: Fishing Catches

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the track record basis is for the figure of 257 tonnes of North sea mackerel for under 10 metre vessels in the initial allocation for 2007; and whether the records used show the extent of catches taken in areas IVa, b and c by vessels in each of those areas. (135618)

This allocation is not made on the basis of a track record. The allocation for 10 metre and under vessels in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) area IVa is a fixed share (300 tonnes) of the UK's opening quota for North Sea mackerel. This may change during the year following swaps with other groups. In 2007, their initial allocation was reduced by 43 tonnes to 257 tonnes as a result of a UK overfish of North sea mackerel in 2006.

Details of end year allocations and landings of mackerel by 10 metre and under vessels from areas IVa, b and c for the last five years are set out in the following table.

Tonnes (liveweight)

End year alloc. for area IVa (incl. swaps)

Landings from Northern North sea (area IVa)

End year alloc. for area IVbc (incl. swaps)

Landings from central North sea (area IVb)

Landings from Southern North sea (area IVc)

2002

299

251

0

6

5

2003

315

357

11

5

5

2004

324

322

0

0

5

2005

364

365

26

0

4

2006

333

409

19

13

2

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any of the 257 tonnes of North sea mackerel for under 10 metre vessels is available to vessels for areas IVb and c. (135619)

None of the UK’s opening quota for North sea mackerel, which is allocated to the 10 metre and under fishing by handline, is available to vessels operating in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) areas IVb or IVc. However, following representations received from fishermen in the North East and East Anglia, Fisheries Administrations have acquired 40 tonnes of North sea mackerel, through an international swap, for their use in 2007. They are continuing to explore the scope to acquire further quota. In the meantime, we will be consulting interested parties shortly on management arrangements for this fishery.

Meat: Smuggling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of illegal meat imported into the UK in each year since 2001. (135240)

It is not possible to make an accurate estimate of the number of illegal meat imports because they are illegal and therefore, clandestine.

The Government have significantly increased the amount of money available to tackle illegal imports of Products Of Animal Origin (POAO), plants and Plant Based Goods (PBG). £25 million has been spent over the past three years. This money was split between DEFRA, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shown as follows:

£ million

HMRC1

FSA2

DEFRA3

2003-04

4

1.5

0.5

2004-05

7

2

1

2005-06

7

2

1

1 HMRC: enforcement and publicity.

2 FSA: step change project with local/port health authorities.

3 DEFRA: publicity and risk.

Note:

£1 million extra spend.

The current level of funding has been included in HMRC’s allocation for future years. Funding will also continue to be available for DEFRA to examine the risks and help increase public awareness, and for the FSA for work on inland controls.

Since April 2001, seizures of illegal meat imported into the UK have been recorded and are shown in the following table:

As at 1 April to 31 March each year

Seizures (kilograms)

2001-02

18,955

2002-03

31,301

2003-04

72,734

2004-05

78,664

2005-06

106,135

The table includes seizures made by HMRC at points of entry (and by staff funded by DEFRA until 11 April 2003), those made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI) at points of entry in Northern Ireland, and those made by inland local/port health authorities. HMRC have been responsible for anti-smuggling controls on POAO into Great Britain since 11 April 2003.

It is not possible to say whether the increase in seizures is a result of more smuggling activity. It is equally likely to be the result of greater surveillance and enforcement.

Rights of Way: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted for obstructing Rights of Way in each of the last five years. (135209)

I have been asked to reply.

Data extracted from the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform showing the number of defendants proceeded against for offences relating to obstructing Rights of Way in England and Wales, 2001 to 2005 are shown in the following table.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates1 courts for obstructing Rights of Way, England and Wales, 2001 to 20051,2

Offence

Statute

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Failure to comply with order to remove obstruction. Failure to comply with order to remove obstruction after conviction.

Highways Act, 1980 S.137ZA(3) as added by Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 s.64

1

1

5

2

3

Total

1

1

5

2

3

1 These data are on the principal offence basis.

2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces.

As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Rural Areas: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) English farming households and (b) households in rural areas with incomes below the Department for Work and Pension’s low income threshold. (135245)

For the population as a whole, the Government have a preferred measure of ‘low income’ defined as 60 per cent. of the median equivalised income for all UK households after tax. It may be presented either before housing costs or after housing costs. The Farm Business Survey is not able to provide figures for household income net of tax so farm household incomes cannot be compared directly with the low income threshold. Instead, they are compared with a modified low income threshold defined as 60 per cent. of the England median equivalised income before tax (and before housing costs).

This has been calculated from 2004-05 Family Resources Survey data. Table 1 shows that:

the mean income for farm households was higher than the national mean but the median income was about the same;

both mean and median farm incomes were lower than for the population of self-employed households;

31 per cent. of farm households were below the modified low income threshold (gross before housing costs) in 2005-06 compared with 21 per cent. for all households and 18 per cent. for self-employed households.

Table 1: Equivalised household income and low-income threshold, England 2005-06

Average household income, equivalised, gross before housing costs (£ household)

Mean

Median

Modified low income threshold(£ household)

Percentage of households below low income threshold

Household of principal farmers

33,900

22,700

31

All households

30,200

23,000

13,800

21

Self-employed households

38,000

27,000

18

Sources:

Farm Business Survey (England) and Family Resources Survey (2004-05)

Household income data for rural households are not available. However, Table 2 shows the percentage of working age people living in England in households with an income of 60 per cent. below the GB median. Figures are broken down by DEFRA’s local authority (LA) classification. The classification divides LAs into the following six categories:

Rural-80: districts with at least 80 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns,

Rural-50: districts with at least 50 per cent. but less than 80 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns,

Significant Rural: districts with more than 37,000 people or more than 26 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns,

Other Urban: districts with fewer than 37,000 people or less than 26 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns,

Large Urban: districts with either 50,000 people or 50 per cent. of their population in one of 17 urban areas with a population between 250,000 and 750,000.

Major Urban: districts with either 100,000 people or 50 per cent. of their population in urban areas with a population of more than 750,000.

Table 2: Percentage of working-age adults living in low income households in England, by LA classification 2004-05

Before housing costs

After hosing costs

Rural 80

11

15

Rural 50

11

14

Significant rural

12

16

Other urban

13

18

Large urban

15

20

Major urban

16

22

Notes:

Estimates are based on 3-year averages. 2004-05 uses data for 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Low income is defined as households with an income of below 60 per cent. of the median income for GB.

Source:

DWP Family Resource Survey, 2004-05

Rural Payments Agency: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working at the Rural Payments Agency in each year between 1997 and 2006; and what the total cost was of those bonuses in each year. (132832)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was formed in 2001, and we only hold data from 2003 onwards.

The following table shows how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working in the RPA between 2003 and 2006.

Number of bonuses

Amount of bonus (£)

2003

5

28,845.00

2004

6

51,640.60

2005

7

55,062.25

2006

4

33,000.00

Tree Planting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, column 460W on tree planting, when he expects the revised English Forest Strategy to be published. (135970)

I can confirm that the England Forestry Strategy “England’s Trees, Woods and Forests” will be published in the summer.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Abdul Hameed

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations for commutation to the Pakistani authorities following the death sentence handed down by the courts there upon Abdul Hameed for the crime of blasphemy. (135756)

We regularly raise our concerns regarding blasphemy laws and the use of the death penalty with the Pakistan authorities and will continue to do so. In December 2006, together with EU partners, we reiterated to the Government of Pakistan our concerns about the effects of blasphemy legislation and its frequent abuse. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, most recently raised this issue in correspondence with the Government of Pakistan in February.

Although we do not usually raise individual cases, we follow closely the subject of blasphemy trials in Pakistan. Officials receive reports on blasphemy trials from human rights groups and monitor cases reported in the media. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We, together with our EU partners, call upon all states to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and forever.

China: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Government of China on animal welfare issues in China; and if she will make a statement. (135747)

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (Barry Gardiner), raised animal welfare issues with the Chinese Government during his visit in July 2006. We continue to encourage the Chinese Government to establish laws that regulate treatment of animals, including domestic pets, and welcome the work that non-governmental organisations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals undertake with the Chinese authorities to improve standards and to build support in China for animal welfare issues. We also support a proposed EU ban on the import of domestic cat and dog fur.

China: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made to the Government of China on (a) human rights in China and (b) the human rights of followers of Falun Gong in China. (136409)

We raise a comprehensive range of human rights issues, including the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, with the Chinese Government at the biannual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, the most recent of which was held in February. We also work bilaterally and through the EU to raise human rights concerns at every appropriate opportunity, including at senior level. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised freedom of expression with the head of the Chinese Information Office for the State Council in April. He also raised human rights with Chinese Premier Wen in September 2006. Officials regularly raise concerns at working level in Beijing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the numbers of (a) religious and (b) political prisoners in China; what her estimate is of the number of such prisoners who are followers of Falun Gong; and if she will make a statement. (136410)

We do not estimate the number of religious and political prisoners in China, or the number of those who are followers of Falun Gong but continue to urge China to improve transparency of statistics. At the most recent round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in February, we asked the Chinese Government to confirm how many Falun Gong practitioners are currently detained. We are still awaiting a response.

Greece: Whales

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Minister for Europe had with the Greek Foreign Minister and Europe Minister on 24 April on Greece’s possible membership of the International Whaling Commission; and if she will make a statement. (135522)

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe (Mr. Hoon) has had no discussions with Greek Ministers on the subject of whaling, but following discussions at official level with our embassy in Athens, Greece has indicated that it intends to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC). We welcome this move. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials remain in close contact with their Greek counterparts, and recently met representatives from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the IWC.

Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Government of Sudan on support for militia recruitment in Niger to fight in Darfur. (135755)

We are not currently aware of militia recruitment from Niger to fight in Darfur. We are investigating these claims.

We are continuing to press the Government of Sudan to comply with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1706 to disarm all militia operating in Darfur. If they do not comply, we will move towards further sanctions and an extension of the existing UN arms embargo in the UN Security Council.

Sudan: Libya

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with Libya on the situation in Darfur. (135513)

We have regular contacts with the Libyan Government on Darfur. We have encouraged the Libyans to work with the African Union (AU)/UN.

The UK’s special representative for Sudan, Mr. Christopher Prentice, attended a meeting in Tripoli on 28 April on the political track of the Darfur peace process. The representatives agreed that all regional mediation initiatives should converge under AU/UN leadership; urged all parties to show serious commitment and accelerate preparations for negotiations; warned of the consequences of obstructing progress; and encouraged the AU/UN to intensify their work to agree a road-map for renewed negotiations.

Sudan: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she plans to take to further a ceasefire agreement in Darfur prior to the deployment of the African Union-UN peacekeeping force. (135510)

We are continuing to press the Government of Sudan and the rebel movements in Darfur to uphold their commitments to a ceasefire. The Government of Sudan reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire at a meeting in Tripoli of 28-29 April organised by the Libyans to discuss the political track of the Darfur peace process.

But we have made clear that all sides to the conflict will be judged by their actions. If they do not abide by their commitments, we will move towards further sanctions and an extension of the existing UN arms embargo in the UN Security Council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on progress on Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement, with particular reference to the handling of boundary disputes. (135511)

We are concerned at the slow progress being made to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The Government of National Unity need to urgently resolve a number of difficult issues including the Abyei and North/South boundary disputes. While the Abyei dispute continues, the people of Abyei are without access to basic services. The parties must establish an interim administration there immediately. The North/South Border Technical Committee needs to accelerate its work, as its conclusions affect other elements of the CPA including elections and wealth sharing.

We continue to urge both sides to implement the CPA in full, including at meetings of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission tasked with monitoring CPA implementation. We also raised CPA implementation at the Sudan Consortium in Khartoum (19-21 March) and in the UN Security Council during discussions of the renewal of the UN mission in Sudan’s mandate last month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are to renew the UN Mission in Sudan mandate. (135512)

UN Security Council Resolution 1755 renewed the UN mission in Sudan’s mandate for another six months on 30 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans are in place to disarm janjaweed militias in Darfur. (135515)

The Government of Sudan announced its plan to disarm the janjaweed in 2006. However, there has been little action since then. We are continuing to press the Government of Sudan to comply with its commitment obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 1706 to disarm the janjaweed. If they do not comply, we will move towards further sanctions and an extension of the existing UN arms embargo in the UN Security Council.

Uganda: Commonwealth

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingencies have been put in place for an alternative venue for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting planned in Kampala. (135894)

The Commonwealth Secretariat confirmed on 26 April that Kampala would be the venue for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Any decision about changing the CHOGM venue would be for the Commonwealth Secretariat to take, in consultation with member states.

We want CHOGM to take place in Uganda and for it to be a success.

We have important concerns about the state of governance in Uganda, particularly with respect to the independence of the judiciary, political space for the opposition and recent incidences of violence. We are working with the Government of Uganda to resolve these concerns. We continue to stress that CHOGM presents a historic opportunity for Uganda to demonstrate that it is building an inclusive and pluralist society and we will continue to press for progress on the issues of concern.

Uganda: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Ugandan authorities on the re-arrest of the nine People’s Redemption Army suspects granted bail by the High Court; and if she will make a statement. (135622)

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1394W.

Uganda: Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made on the recent attacks on Asian businesses in Kampala, Uganda; and if she will make a statement. (135895)

We are particularly disturbed by the racially motivated aspects of the violence by some demonstrators during street protests in Kampala on 12 April. We welcome President Museveni’s statement of 13 April condemning the violence, in which he said that

“to attack, insult or damage the property of any Ugandan or guests of Uganda is something the National Resistance Movement government will not tolerate”.

We also condemn all such violence and call on all sides to show restraint and respect the rule of law during demonstrations. We are talking to the Ugandan Government about developing a ‘Code of Conduct’ for running and policing demonstrations.

We have expressed our concerns to the Ugandan Government about the importance of responsible and proportionate policing during demonstrations. Our high commissioner in Kampala raised this most recently with Foreign Minister Kutesa on 25 April.

The violence followed demonstrations protesting about the Ugandan Government’s plans to give away parts of Mabira forest to the Ugandan Sugar Corporation. Two Ugandans and one Indian national were killed and Asian businesses were attacked.

Deputy Prime Minister

Environment: Technology

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department plans to publish proposals on environmental technology and its employment potential. (125934)

I am deputy chair of the Cabinet Committee on Energy and the Environment, which develops the Government’s energy and environmental policies, monitors the impact on sustainable development of the Government’s policies, and considers issues of climate change, security of supply and affordability of energy.

The UK environmental goods and services industry is strong, well established and diverse, employing approximately 400,000 people in around 17,000 companies, with an estimated annual turnover of £25 billion. A recent joint report by the Department for Trade and Industry and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ‘A Study of the Emerging Markets in the Environmental Sector’, estimates that this turnover will increase to more than £34 billion by 2010 and £46 billion by 2015. This is available on the DTI website at:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/sectors/environmental/index.html.

A Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance was established in November last year and will publish its report in the spring. It will make recommendations on how the UK can make the most of the opportunity that environmental protection can present for wealth creation and employment growth. The Commission is jointly chaired by the Secretaries of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Trade and Industry, and its membership is drawn from business, non-governmental organisations, academia, trade unions and public-sector organisations.

Duchy of Lancaster

Departments: India

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which Ministers in her Department have visited India in the last 12 months; on how many occasions each Minister visited India; and what the length was of each visit. (135538)

This Government publish an annual list of Cabinet Ministers’ travel overseas costing over £500 along with the total cost of all ministerial travel. Information for 2005-06 was published on 26 July 2006 and is available in the Library for the reference of members. Information for 2006-07 is currently in the process of being collected and will be published as soon as it is ready.

All travel is in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers.

Departments: Sexual Harassment

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in her office in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (135377)

In order to protect the confidentiality of individuals, it is standard Government practice not to publish records relating to five or fewer individuals.

Departments: Sick Leave

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many people took sick leave for stress in the Prime Minister’s Office in the last 12 months; and what percentage of the total staff number this represents. (135468)

The Prime Minister’s Office forms part of the Cabinet Office.

In order to protect the confidentiality of individuals, it is standard Government practice not to publish records relating to five or fewer individuals.

Voluntary Work: Young People

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total value in grants made by the v organisation has been to date, broken down by type of grant; and if she will make a statement. (136373)

Between May 2006 and May 2007 v has made grants totalling £13 million to projects in order to provide volunteering opportunities for over 59,000 young people. The grants provided for 22,000 short-term volunteering opportunities, 13,000 part-time, 1,200 full-time and 23,000 through volunteer development teams which work with statutory bodies to enable them to create volunteering opportunities for young people.

A further 55,000 volunteering opportunities have been created through match funding and partnerships with the private sector.

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much the v organisation has spent on (a) staff, (b) administration, (c) marketing, (d) branding, (e) communications and (f) web design and maintenance; and if she will make a statement. (136374)