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Written Answers

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Communities and Local Government

Departments: Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what factors underlay her decision to change the branding of her Department from DCLG to Communities and Local Government; and if she will make a statement. (138727)

The legal name of the Department remains the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In order to emphasise the mission of the Department, we use the term Communities and Local Government to refer to the Department wherever possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will list the meetings that she or her Ministerial colleagues attended where the re-branding of her Department from DCLG to Communities and Local Government was discussed. (138728)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer today (138727). The Department was not re-branded from DCLG, so there have been no such meetings.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what her estimate is of (a) the number of people who have participated in and (b) the level of public expenditure on Government initiatives to increase home ownership in each year since 1997, broken down by (i) local authority area and (ii) region; (105729)

(2) what her estimate is of the number of people in each region who will participate in Government initiatives to increase home ownership in future years.

The following table shows completions and expenditure through the Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) and Local Authority Social Housing Grant on low cost home ownership programmes. This investment reflects the overall public expenditure levels established by the previous administration and set for 1997-98 to 1999-2000 and the priority first given to tackling the backlog of £19 billion in council housing investment to provide decent homes. From 2004, investment decisions have reflected the priorities set by the regional housing boards for investment in their areas and since 2006-07, the Government’s priority of providing more social rented homes.

Completions

Expenditure (£ million)

1997-98

11,684

172

1998-99

8,874

125

1999-2000

5,112

94

2000-01

4,775

117

2001-02

4,352

118

2002-03

4,487

161

2003-04

6,912

343

2004-051

11,409

459

2005-06

16,534

544

1 Completion figures do not include VPG.

For the two years, 2006-07 and 2007-08, we plan to assist some 35,000 households into low cost home ownership through the Housing Corporation’s AHP.

We have a target to assist 120,000 people into home ownership by 2010 and the homes being provided by the Housing Corporation will contribute to this. The number of homes to be provided from 2008-09 will be the subject of the comprehensive spending review 2007.

A table has been placed in the Library of the House displaying information on the homes provided for low cost home ownership and expenditure on these programmes from 1997-98 to 2005-06 through the Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) and Local Authority Social Housing Grant (LASHG) by local authority and region.

Neither table includes spend or completions through Starter Home Initiative, Thames Gateway or Right to Acquire figures. Funding and completions are not directly comparable, as funding will relate to projects running, not necessarily units completed, in any one year.

Housing: London

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many permanent dwellings were completed by registered social landlords in (a) Camden and (b) London in each year since 1990-91; (122934)

(2) how many permanent dwellings were completed by councils in (a) Camden and (b) London in each year since 1990-91.

[holding answer 23 February 2007]: The numbers of additional homes provided by local authorities and registered social landlords in Camden and Greater London in each year since 1991-92 are tabulated as follows. Information for the financial year 1990-91 is not available. Homes provided through new build as well as acquisitions have been included. Figures are as reported by local authorities and the Housing Corporation.

Affordable housing provision in Camden and Greater London: 1991-92 to 2005-06

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

1998-99

Local authority house building completions

Camden

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

London

580

169

146

223

45

23

52

35

Additional1 social rent homes: Registered social landlords

Camden

168

373

524

611

471

436

284

183

London

3,745

11,767

9,914

10,852

12,785

9,247

7,310

6,952

Additional1 intermediate homes2: Registered social landlords

Camden

59

81

128

82

152

137

112

96

London

1,601

3,023

4,162

4,971

4,318

3,598

3,142

2,796

Affordable housing provision1 (total)

Camden

227

454

652

693

623

573

396

279

London

5,926

14,959

14,222

16,046

17,148

12,868

10,504

9,783

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Local authority house building completions

Camden

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

London

0

79

27

71

12

0

4

Additional1 social rent homes: Registered social landlords

Camden

323

158

164

126

81

188

72

London

5,846

5,858

6,279

5,163

5,045

4,876

5,123

Additional1 intermediate homes2: Registered social landlords

Camden

19

25

34

103

253

149

242

London

1,793

1,755

1,479

3,003

6,018

4,600

6,113

Affordable housing provision1 (total)

Camden

342

183

198

229

334

337

314

London

7,639

7,692

7,785

8,237

11,075

9,476

11,240

1 Includes both new builds and acquisitions

2 Intermediate housing includes both low cost homes ownership schemes and homes provided for intermediate rent.

Source:

Housing Corporation, statistical returns from local authorities.

Local Government: Reorganisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what role she has played in local government reorganisation being undertaken by her Department. (138046)

The Secretary of State issued on 26 October 2006 an invitation to local authorities to submit proposals for unitary structures. The Secretary of State assessed proposals received against the five criteria set out in the invitation. On 27 March I announced that the Secretary of State had judged that 16 proposals should go forward for stakeholder consultation.

Defence

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK service personnel are (a) deployed and (b) stationed at each location overseas. (136039)

The following table shows the number of personnel deployed on operations by operation and location at 30 April 2007.

Number of personnel deployed by operation and location

Operation

Number

Total

15,010

Of which:

Telic

7,260

Of which:

Iraq

5,710

Other (including “at sea”)

1,550

Herrick

7,100

Of which:

Afghanistan

7,100

Oculus

320

Of which:

Kosovo

170

Bosnia

150

UN

300

Of which:

Cyprus

280

Other1

20

1 Other UN locations have fewer than 10 personnel per country and include Georgia, Nepal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

Note:

The strength of UK regular forces posted outside the UK is available in Tri-Service

Publication (TSP) 6—Global Location of UK Regular Forces. The most recent publication show the numbers of service personnel at 1 October 2006. Copies of TSP 6 are held in the House of Commons Library and are also available at:

www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp6/tsp6-oct06.pdf.

Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system (JPA), TSP6 RAF location data for 1 April 2006 are provisional and subject to review, and after 1 April 2006 are not currently available. TSP6 Naval service location data are not currently available after 1 October 2006.

Armed Forces: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ex-service personnel pensioners who served in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force do not receive a full armed service pension. (138058)

Army: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether an estimate has been made of the value of the property occupied by the general officer commanding London district. (138926)

Departments: Money

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1463W, on Departments: money, what steps he is taking to reduce the amount of notes and coins lost each year. (138776)

[holding answer 22 May 2007]: Guidance on the safeguarding of cash is set out in Joint Service Publications 462 (Financial Management Policy Manual) and 501 (Imprest Accounting and Banking Policy Manual). The guidance is routinely updated, as necessary, to reflect any lessons learned.

A management action plan is also being implemented in response to the National Audit Office (NAO) report entitled “Ministry of Defence, Management of Losses and Special Payments” published in July 2006. Revised procedures include the requirement for top level budget holders to report the value of losses formally to the Finance Director on a quarterly basis. These are consolidated into departmental reports for the Defence Audit Committee.

Departments: Rates and Rating

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under which budget heads in his Department’s accounts (a) council tax payments and (b) national non-domestic rate payments can be identified in respect of Ministry of Defence property. (138416)

All service accommodation in England, Scotland and Wales is formally exempt from the payment of council tax but the Ministry of Defence pays instead a Contribution in Lieu of Council Tax (CILOCT) to local authorities. CILOCT is broadly equivalent to the amount of tax that would otherwise be due based on an assessment made by the Department on the number and type of properties it occupies. These are agreed annually with individual authorities.

Both CILOCT and National Non-Domestic Rates are included within the 2005-06 Departmental Resource Accounts in the Operating Cost Statement as ‘Other Operating Costs’. The costs are included within Note 10 under the description of ‘Accommodation Charges’.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department paid to local authorities for (a) council tax and (b) national non-domestic rates in respect of (i) Erskine Barracks, Wilton, (ii) Boscombe Down Airfield, (iii) Defence Science and Technology Laboratories, Porton Down and (iv) Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth in 2006; and if he will make a statement. (138417)

In financial year 2006-07 the non domestic rates paid were:

Site

Amount (£)

Erskine Barracks, Wilton

197,015

Boscombe Down Airfield

1,136,625

Defence Science and Technology Laboratories, Porton Down

567,230

Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth

2,622,245

All Service accommodation in England, Scotland and Wales is formally exempt from the council tax regime and the Ministry of Defence instead pays a contribution in lieu of council tax (CILOCT) to local authorities, broadly equivalent to the amount of tax that would otherwise be due. In financial year 2006-07, MOD paid some £2 million in CILOCT to Salisbury district council, which covers the sites at Erskine Barracks, Boscombe Down Airfield and Porton Down and some £700,000 to Portsmouth city council, which covers the Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth. These payments cover both service families accommodation and single living accommodation.

I will write to the hon. Member with a further breakdown of payments made in relation to the specific sites requested and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Military Bases: Industrial Health and Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of the most recent defence estate health and safety inspection in the Library. (119245)

I understand that the hon. Member is referring to health and safety information published by the former Defence Housing Executive (DHE). The last health and safety information prepared by DHE was reported in the DHE agency annual report and accounts 2003-04, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

DHE formally ceased to be a Defence agency on 1 April 2004 and was merged with Defence Estates (DE) from that date. DE’s subsequent annual report and accounts have provided details of the governance procedures in DE for safety, health, environment and fire. The last such report covered 2005-06 and a copy is available in the Library of the House.

In managing the provision of Service Families Accommodation (SFA), DE is responsible for ensuring that a range of SFA safety inspections are carried out. These include gas safety inspections, inspection and testing of electrical installations, and inspections in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations. Such inspections are carried out by the housing prime contractor, Modern Housing Solutions (MHS).

DE’s annual report and accounts for 2006-07 are being prepared. Once completed, I will place a copy in the Library of the House.

NATO: Uniforms

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the wearing of the NATO logo on armed forces uniforms. (138369)

It is usual multinational practice for troops under NATO command to wear the NATO logo. This is to ensure that they are easily recognised as being members of NATO forces.

University Officer Training Corps

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the strength is of the University Officer Training Corps; how many applicants were turned down for the current academic year because there were no vacancies; and if he will make a statement; (137914)

(2) if he will increase the strength of the University Officer Training Corps by (a) expanding existing units and (b) creating new units; and if he will make a statement.

The current overall strength of the University Officer Training Corps is approximately 5,030 (including the instructional staff). The actual strength of the student body is currently approximately 4,4301. Demand can exceed capacity and a selection process is adopted similar to that which governs Officer Selection at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Candidates can fail to gain entry for a number of reasons, not just because of capacity constraints. A list of reasons given for non-selection of individuals is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

There are currently no plans to increase the strength of the University Officer Training Corps by either expanding existing units or creating new ones. A contingent can only be formed when specifically requested by a university. There have been no formal requests for a new contingent by a university since the year 2000.

1 In accordance with departmental policy, figures have been rounded.

Duchy of Lancaster

Charities Advisory Trust: Finance

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much the Charities Advisory Trust has received from the public purse since it was set up; and for what purpose funding was provided. (138939)

I understand the Charities Advisory Trust received funding from the Home Office when it was established in 1979. There are no current records of recent funding for the Charities Advisory Trust.

Departments: Consultants

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if she will list the outside (a) agencies and (b) consultancies which are undertaking work commissioned by her Department; and what the (i) purpose and (ii) cost is of each commission. (138464)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald), the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) and the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1631W.

Education and Skills

Apprentices: North East Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people in (a) the North East and (b) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland undertook apprenticeships in each of the last two years; and what percentage went on to find employment in the field of their apprenticeship. (134761)

Figures for those participating in apprenticeships funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) derive from the Individual Learner Record (ILR). The table shows the number of learners on Advanced Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships in the North East and in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Advanced apprenticeship

Apprenticeship

Total

2004-05

North East

10,430

19,150

29,590

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

480

800

1,280

2005-06

North East

10,450

18,510

28,960

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

440

730

1,180

The ILR does not collect information about the field of employment learners go into on completion of their apprenticeships although because the vast majority of apprentices are employed during their training it is probable that most will stay in the same field of employment on completion of their training.

Babies: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many babies were abandoned by their parents in Lancashire in each of the last 10 years. (125237)

Carers: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he has taken to support carers while they are engaged in learning activities; and if he will make a statement. (121268)

Statutory responsibility for supporting carers under the age of 18 who have been assessed as children in need lies with the local authorities concerned, and my Department issued guidance with the Department of Health in August 2005 on the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004. The latter Act requires authorities, in making an assessment, to take into account the carer’s wishes to undertake education, training, work, or a leisure activity.

The Department’s guidance to administrators of the discretionary Access to Learning Fund covers students with caring responsibilities, although this is chiefly designed with adult carers in mind. Young carers in full-time education—that is, with at least 12 guided learning hours per week—may be eligible for Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs). Although in general a weekly allowance payment is only made to a student where they have attended all required sessions, a school or college has discretion to authorise an absence caused by caring responsibilities. Learning providers should not, however, authorise a student’s absences regularly for this reason.

Carers aged over 16 who provide at least 35 hours of care a week may be entitled to Carers Allowance, where they are undertaking less than 21 hours a week of supervised study, and institutions will need to take this into account when considering appropriate arrangements for enabling carers to access learning.

Children in Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will include in the White Paper following Care Matters proposals for regulatory change to enable young people to stay in care longer; and if he will make a statement. (138113)

The forthcoming White Paper on children in care will set out the Government’s proposals for delivery across services for children in care. It will follow on from the proposals published in the Care Matters Green Paper last year and will include information about how we intend to support young people so that they only move from their care placement with proper preparation when they feel ready to leave. In general, this will mean that we would expect young people to remain longer with their carers.

Children in Care: Custodial Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many young people in the care of a local authority received (a) a custodial and (b) a non-custodial sentence in 2006. (134482)

At present, this information is not collected centrally; data on the number of children who ceased to be looked after because they have been sentenced to custody will be available from autumn 2007.

Children: Abuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to reduce the number of children experiencing physical abuse and neglect. (137881)

The Government are committed to improving safeguards for children. We have introduced new legislation, new guidance, new structures and new policy initiatives to make children safer and to ensure that there is a proper focus on children at the very heart of Government.

To reduce the amount of abuse and neglect we need safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be clearly everyone's responsibility—to be fundamental duties for everyone who has regular contact with children. Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a statutory duty on all key agencies (including prisons, the police, and health bodies) to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It mirrors a requirement on education institutions in the Education Act 2002. We published updated guidance on the section 11 duty earlier this year.

Last year we set out clear guidance for the rest of the safeguarding framework with the publication of “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”, the new version of “Working Together To Safeguard Children”, which is the core guidance to help all agencies act effectively to safeguard children, and an updated version of “What To Do If You're Worried A Child Is Being Abused” which is a guide for front line staff. New Local Safeguarding Children Boards were put in place by April 2006 to co-ordinate what is done in each local area to safeguard children and to ensure that it is effective. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 will deliver the first centralised vetting and barring scheme for all those working with children and vulnerable adults.

The Act will introduce a new system with a number of improvements over the current arrangements to make the work force safer. These improvements include: bringing together in one place for expert judgement all information relevant to vetting and barring; introducing tough penalties on employers who fail in their responsibility to carry out the necessary checks; making barring decisions when new information becomes available, and notifying employers when an employee’s status changes; and making it possible for parents to check that home tutors and nannies are members of the new vetting scheme. The new scheme will apply in the same way to the volunteers and those organising the work of volunteers as it will to employees and employers.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how his Department determines the staffing levels and grade mix for its directorates; and what cover for contingencies and emergencies is built into its resource planning for ongoing staff reductions in the Department. (137680)

The Department's March 2008 target of 3,200 (full time equivalents) was set following Sir Peter Gershon's independent review of public sector efficiency. This recognised that the Department will be smaller but more strategic enabling it to deliver its priorities for improved outcomes for children and learners within the planned headcount. Reform programmes within each Directorate, underpinned by a project and programme management approach to delivery, allows the Department to focus its resources efficiently but flexibly.

The Department's board maintain an awareness of issues and business priorities and are regularly provided with detailed analysis of current and anticipated labour market and work force issues. The board decides any necessary reallocation of staff resources to best meet the needs of the business and ministerial priorities.

Cover for key staff and resource planning for incidents/emergencies are part of the business continuity planning process which is undertaken across the Department.

Departments: Market Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 9 May 2007, Official Report, column 290W, on Departments: market research, how much his Department spent on researching public opinion in each of the previous five years; and what methods his Department uses to research public opinion. (138502)

The Department has spent a total of £527,128 on public opinion research surveys in the last five years. The research findings are available on the Department's website.

Financial Year

Cost (excluding VAT ) (£)

2002-03

111,500

2003-04

113,840

2004-05

65,521

2005-06

123,736

2006-07

112,531

Departments: Sovereign Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department held with Sovereign Strategy in each year between 1997 and 2006. (136862)

The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.

Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and advice.

Education Maintenance Allowance: Eastern Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many young people received (a) £30, (b) £20 and (c) £10 in education maintenance allowance in (i) North West Cambridgeshire constituency and (ii) the East of England in each year since the scheme began; and what percentage of all young people in the area each figure represented. (134213)

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

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 15 May 2007:

I am writing in response to your Parliamentary Question 134213 that asked:

“How many young people received (a) £30, (b) £20 and (c) £10 in education maintenance allowance in (i) North West Cambridgeshire constituency and (ii) the East of England in each year since the scheme began; and what percentage of all young people in the area each figure represented.”

Information on the number of young people who have applied, enrolled and received education maintenance allowance (EMA) is available at local authority level, but not at constituency level EMA take-up is defined as young people who have received one or more EMA payments in the academic year.

The following tables show EMA take-up data split by payment band for Cambridgeshire local authority area and East of England during each academic year since the schemes inception.

Take-up of EMA in each academic year

Band

£30

£20

£10

Total

2004/05

Cambridgeshire

1,203

257

277

1,737

East of England

17,367

2,936

3,308

23,613

2005/06

Cambridgeshire

2,314

421

424

3,159

East of England

28,973

4,771

4,407

38,151

2006/07 to end April

Cambridgeshire

2,974

474

446

3,894

East of England

36,608

5,278

4,720

46,606

In the first year of national roll out EMA was available to all 16-years-olds across England and to 17 and 18-years-olds in former pilot areas (young people who are 19 are entitled to receive EMA in certain circumstances). In 2005/06 EMA roll out continued and EMA, was available to all 16 and 17-year-olds nationally. In 2006/07 EMA is available to all 16, 17 and 18-year-olds nationally. In calculating the percentage of young people receiving EMA only take up and population figures for age groups where EMA was available nationally have been used.

The following table shows the percentage of young people receiving EMA in Cambridgeshire local authority area and East of England during each academic year since national roll out.

Percentage of population receiving EMA in each academic year

2004/05 (16-year-olds only)

2005/06 (16 and 17-year-olds)

2006/07 to end January (16, 17 and 18-year-olds)

Cambridgeshire

23

21

17

East of England

29

26.

22

I hope this information is useful and addresses your question.

Foundation Degrees

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students were studying for foundation degrees in each of the last five years, broken down by course title. (138129)

[holding answer 18 May 2007]: The latest available information is shown in the following table. Data, relating specifically to the course title of foundation degrees, are not held centrally.

Total number of students enrolled on foundation degrees in higher education institutions and further education colleges in England—academic years 2002/03 to 2006/07

Number of students

2002/03

12,310

2003/04

23,945

2004/05

37,820

2005/06

46,780

2006/07

60,925

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

2. 2006/07 values are provisional. Figures for earlier years have been subject to minor changes where institutions were given the opportunity to further verify and then correct any data errors found in their returns, the figures therefore differ slightly to those published previously.

Source:

Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey (HESES)

General Certificate of Secondary Education: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) number and (b) proportion of pupils in mainstream maintained secondary schools achieved five A* to C GCSEs including English, mathematics, science, a modern language and either history or geography in each year between 1997 and 2006. (129707)

The information requested is given in the following table and reflects the increased level of qualification choice at key stage 4.

15-year-old1 pupils at maintained mainstream schools2 who achieved five or more A*-C at GCSE including English, Mathematics, Science, a Modern Foreign Language and History or Geography3

Number

Percentage

1997

100,099

43.8

1998

102,755

44.4

1999

109,306

44.8

2000

109,788

43.8

2001

115,362

43.5

2002

112,086

40.6

2003

105,829

36.1

2004

108,430

35.3

2005

104,139

32.6

2006

97,020

28.6

1 Aged 15 at the beginning of the academic year.

2 Includes academies, community schools, voluntary aided schools, foundation schools and city technology colleges.

3 Includes pupils who achieved both grades A*-C at both Geography and History GCSE and those that gained a grade A*-C at GCSE in either Geography or History.

Higher Education: Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the statement of the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning of 15 May 2007, Official Report, column 225WH, on higher education (funding), what figures he used to calculate that there is on average net £100,000 graduate earnings premium; and how he used those figures to reach that final figure. (138731)

Over the working life, the average net graduate earnings premium is comfortably over £100,000 in today’s valuation, compared to what a similar individual would have earned if they just had A levels.

The data which underpin this figure are taken from the Labour Force Survey. We estimate the effect on net additional earnings from getting a degree, after allowing for factors like gender, age, and the probability of being employed. The figures are also discounted so that they are in ‘today's valuation'. Comparing the lifetime earnings profiles of otherwise similar graduates and those with A levels, we find that graduates can expect to earn, after taxation, over £100,000 more than similar non-graduates. Recent research by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated the discounted gross (i.e. pre-tax) additional lifetime earnings associated with a degree to be around £160,000.

Higher Education: Hartlepool

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many students from Hartlepool constituency were allocated a university place in each year since 1996; (137357)

(2) how many students from Hartlepool constituency went to (a) each university and (b) university in each region of the UK in the last year for which information is available.

The total numbers of undergraduate entrants to UK Higher Education Institutions from Hartlepool parliamentary constituency for each year since 1996/97 are given in the table. Figures for the 2006/07 academic year will be available in January 2008.

Number of entrants to undergraduate courses1 from Hartlepool parliamentary constituency—UK Higher Education Institutions2 academic years 1996/97 to 2005/06

Academic year

Number of entrants

1996/97

500

1997/98

535

1998/99

620

1999/2000

615

2000/01

770

2001/02

825

2002/03

960

2003/04

940

2004/05

940

2005/06

985

1 Covers students on full-time and part-time modes of study.

2 Excludes the Open University.

Note:

Figures are on a snapshot basis as at the 1 of December for comparability and are rounded to the nearest five.

Source:

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The latest available information for the number of students from Hartlepool parliamentary constituency who went to each university in the UK split by the government office region of the institution is given in the following table, for the 2005/06 academic year.

Number of entrants to undergraduate courses1 from Hartlepool parliamentary constituency by institution and Government Office Region of the Institution—UK Higher Education Institutions2 academic year 2005/06

Government Office Region/Institution

Number of entrants

North East

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle

95

The University of Sunderland

145

The University of Teesside

510

University of Durham

20

The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

30

Total

800

North West

Edge Hill University

5

St. Martin’s College

3

The University of Central Lancashire

10

Liverpool John Moores University

3

The Manchester Metropolitan University

5

The University of Lancaster

5

The University of Liverpool

5

The University of Salford

3

Cumbria Institute of the Arts

3

The University of Manchester

5

Total

35

Yorkshire and the Humber

York St. John University College

10

Trinity and All Saints College

3

The University of Huddersfield

10

Leeds Metropolitan University

25

Sheffield Hallam University

5

The University of Hull

10

The University of Leeds

10

The University of Sheffield

3

The University of York

5

Total

75

East Midlands

The University of Northampton

3

The University of Lincoln

3

De Montfort University

5

The Nottingham Trent University

5

The University of Leicester

3

Loughborough University

3

The University of Nottingham

5

Total

15

West Midlands

University of Central England in Birmingham

3

Coventry University

3

The University of Wolverhampton

3

Aston University

3

The University of Birmingham

5

The University of Warwick

3

Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies

3

Total

10

East

Anglia Ruskin University

5

University of Hertfordshire

3

The University of Cambridge

5

The University of Essex

3

Total

10

London

University of the Arts, London

3

Rose Bruford College

3

Kingston University

3

London South Bank University

3

Thames Valley University

3

Brunei University

3

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

3

The Royal Veterinary College

3

Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

3

London Metropolitan University

3

Total

10

South East

The University of Brighton

3

Oxford Brookes University

5

The University of Portsmouth

5

The University of Kent

3

The University of Oxford

5

The University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury

3

Total

10

South West

University of Gloucestershire

3

The University of Plymouth

5

The University of Bath

3

Total

5

Scotland

The University of Edinburgh

5

Total

5

Wales

University of Wales, Aberystwyth

3

Total

3

Northern Ireland

The Queen's University of Belfast

3

Total

3

Total

985

1 Covers students on full-time and part-time modes of study.

2 Excludes the Open University. Excludes those institutions that did not have any entrants from Hartlepool parliamentary constituency.

3 Number greater than zero but less than three.

Note:

Figures are on a snapshot basis as at the 1 December for comparability and numbers are rounded to the nearest five therefore components may not sum to totals.

Source:

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Higher Education: Student Numbers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the participation rate in higher education is of people aged 18 to 21 in (a) each parliamentary constituency, (b) each local council area and (c) each electoral ward in the latest year for which figures are available. (138203)

The latest available figures on participation in higher education by local areas were published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in January 2005 in “Young Participation in England”, which is available from their website at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2005/05 037. Copies have been placed in the House Library.

This report shows participation rates for young people who enter higher education aged 18 or 19 for the years 1997 to 2000 by parliamentary constituency, local authority and Learning and Skills Council areas. HEFCE have not produced participation rates beyond 2000.

The Department uses the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR) to assess progress on increasing first-time participation of English students aged 18-30 in higher education towards 50 per cent.: the latest provisional figure for 2005/06 is 43 per cent. The HEIPR is not calculated at parliamentary constituency level or local authority level.

Olympic Games: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 10 May 2007, Official Report, column 344W, on the Olympic games: Greater London, how his Department plans to monitor progress towards and achievement of the targets set by construction skills to address the skills needs of the Olympic project; whether these targets will extend beyond 2012; and if he will make a statement. (138894)

The ConstructionSkills Council and CITB-ConstructionSkills’ Board review performance against targets regularly, using data supplied by the Construction Skills Network. Regular meetings between CITB-ConstructionSkills and DFES at both official and ministerial level ensure that the Government is kept well-informed about progress. The achievements of key targets for London and the South East will to continue to be reported in CITB-ConstructionSkills’s annual report which is laid before Parliament each spring.

The Construction Skills Network works to a five year forecasting model and current forecasts cover up to 2012. They are, however, working with the Office for Government Commerce to develop models for London, the Greater South East and the rest of the UK that extend 10 years forward. This will help to ensure that ConstructionSkills and the Government have a better understanding of the industry's capacity in the longer term.

Part-time Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the fees regime on the provision of part-time courses by higher education institutions. (135987)

The effect of the new fee and student support arrangements will be considered in 2009 by an independent review in the light of the data available at that time, but we expect both the demand for and supply of part-time courses provided by higher education institutions to expand as we increase and widen participation. An increasing proportion of such courses should be co-funded by employers.

Physical Education: Further Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proposals and programmes his Department has put in place to promote physical education and healthy living in the further education sector. (138849)

FE colleges are independent institutions catering for the diverse needs of young people and adults participating in learning. Colleges have an important role in promoting physical education and healthy living. Government funding is provided for all 16 to19-year-olds in FE to support a range of extra curricula activities including sport and health promotion. We are also supporting the FE sector as it implements a number of sector led initiatives to promote healthy living and participation in sport and physical education, including for the 2012 games. With Government funding, the new sector co-ordination and communications unit will ensure that learners in FE colleges benefit from and contribute to the success of the games. In addition, a wide range of publicly funded learning programmes for learners of all ages, ranging from construction through to hospitality and tourism, delivered through FE colleges, incorporate modules relating to physical education and health promotion.

Schools: Fingerprints

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether schools have powers to collect pupils’ fingerprints without the prior written consent of parents; and if he will make a statement. (126223)

[holding answer 8 March 2007]: Maintained schools have the power to collect pupils’ personal data, including biometric data without prior written consent of parents. Under paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 1 of the Education Act 2002 the governing body of a maintained school has the legal power to do anything which appears to them to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of, or in connection with, the conduct of the school. Schools must process biometric data in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. DfES guidance recommends that schools should engage fully with parents and pupils if they decide to introduce biometric technology systems.

Schools: Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidelines his Department has issued to schools on contacting students' parents. (139010)

In June 2000, the Department issued guidance to schools about who they must involve in issues about a child's education and who they must keep informed about school matters (Guidance DfES/0092/2000). It includes guidance about responding to non-resident parents who wish to be involved in their children's education.

A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library. It is in the process of being updated and a new version should be available later this year.

Schools: Safety Measures

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance, other than that relating to the Criminal Records Bureau checking procedures, he provides on the measures schools should take to ensure that they are safe. (138435)

[holding answer 22 May 2007]: The Department has a number of guidance documents aimed at keeping schools safe, in the sense of safeguarding pupils from abuse or neglect. We issued guidance last year to safeguard children in schools. "Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education" covers safeguarding children, recruitment and selection, vetting checks, and dealing with allegations of abuse against education staff.

Beyond this specific area of safeguarding from abuse or neglect, the Department also provides a wide range of guidance on other aspects of school, staff and pupil safety.

Sure Start Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many Sure Start children's centres closed in each of the last five years; and how many such centres were the subject of requests to him for additional resources without which the centre would be closed in each year; (138091)

(2) pursuant to the answer of 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1538-9W, on children's centres, whether he would expect to be informed in all cases of closures of Sure Start children's centres; and of how many such closures he has been informed since 28th March 2007.

The Department has not received any reports of the closure of Sure Start children’s centres since the programme began in 2003. I would expect local authorities to alert us if any centre were to be threatened with closure. This would enable Together for Children (the consortium appointed to support the delivery of children’s centres) to broker a solution with local partners for the continuation of children’s centre services in the area concerned.

Unemployment: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many and what proportion of (a) 16-year-olds, (b) 17-year-olds, (c) 18-year-olds and (d) 19-year-olds were not in employment, education or training in England in each of the last three years; (138490)

(2) how many and what proportion of (a) 20-year-olds, (b) 21-year-olds, (c) 22-year-olds, (d) 23-year-olds and (e) 24-year-olds were not in employment, education or training in England in each of the last three years.

The following table gives the number and proportion of (a) 16, (b) 17 and (c) 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) in England in each of the last three years for which figures are available. Comparable figures are not available for older ages.

End 2003

End 2004

End 2005

(a) Age 16

Number

53,000

53,000

51,000

Proportion (percentage)

8

8

8

(b) Age 17

Number

49,000

61,000

73,000

Proportion (percentage)

8

9

11

(c) Age 18

Number

83,000

83,000

96,000

Proportion (percentage)

13

13

14

Record numbers of 16-year-olds are in full-time education. But, we recognise the need to take action to reduce the proportion of young people not in any form of education, employment or training, and have set ourselves a very challenging target to get the proportion down to 8 per cent. by 2010.

It is vital that all young people gain the essential skills and qualifications so that they are better prepared for getting on and success in life. Our 14-19 reforms will ensure there are suitable routes through the education and training system in place for every young person.

To keep them in learning, we need to help them tackle the other issues in their lives that might cause them to leave which we are doing through our Every Child Matters reforms.

Young People: Carers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to ensure children who act as principal carers for family members have necessary support at school; what budget has been allocated for that purpose; what strategy is in place to monitor the educational outcomes of such children; and if he will make a statement. (138722)

Schools are already required to promote the education and welfare of all their pupils, and they should take pupils' particular circumstances into account. The Government are clear that if a school is concerned that one of their pupils may be a “child in need”, whether as a young carer or for any other reason, they should consider communicating with the child's family and with local children's services.

The Government are committed to ensuring that the revised guidance on attendance management, “Advice and guidance to Schools and Local Authorities on Managing Behaviour and Attendance: groups of pupils at particular risk”, is understood by schools and publicised by the Department. This guidance includes young carers as one of the groups that is at risk of becoming disengaged from education, and it was revised in October 2006 to reflect comments from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Young carers will be mentioned in our revised anti-bullying guidance, Safe to Learn (due to be issued later this term), as one of the categories of pupil particularly vulnerable to bullying. We also plan to ensure that schools are aware of their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA), and to draw their attention to our resource Implementing the DDA in Schools and Early Years Settings. Once this work is complete, we plan to draw the attention of teachers, schools, and local authorities to the specific application to young carers of these resources.

There is no specific budget allocated for the support of young carers at school: head teachers and governors have discretion to allocate their resources flexibly in response to local needs. As part of their general funding, local authorities have substantial resources to fulfil their responsibilities towards children and families. They also receive the carers special grant which supports local authorities in providing breaks and services for carers.

Schools are not required to collect data on children and young people with caring responsibilities. The Government accept that not all young carers wish to discuss what they regard as sensitive family issues with their schools.

Electoral Commission Committee

Elections: Reviews

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what the terms of reference are for the Electoral Commission’s review of the Scottish parliamentary and local government elections held on 3 May. (138120)

As I told the House during oral questions on 21 May, the Electoral Commission announced the broad scope of its review, and that it would be independently led by Mr. Ron Gould, an international specialist in electoral administration, on 14 May. The Commission announced further details, including terms of reference, on 21 May, and has informed me that a copy of this announcement has been placed in the Library. I also refer the hon. Member to the exchanges on this matter in the House on 21 May 2007, Official Report, columns 973-75.

Electoral Commission

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission when the Electoral Commission’s five-year plan 2007-08 to 2011-12 is expected to be published. (138104)

The Electoral Commission’s Corporate Plan 2007-08 to 2011-12 (HC474), approved by the Speaker’s Committee on 21 March, was laid before the House by the Committee on 9 May. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The Commission informs me that it has also published the plan on its website and that paper copies will be generally available shortly.

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what consideration the Speaker’s Committee has given to the response of the Electoral Commission to the report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on the work of the Commission, Cm. 7006. (138199)

The Electoral Commission has sent to the Speaker’s Committee a copy of its published response to the recommendations of the eleventh report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The Speaker’s Committee is in the process of considering its own response to the report and, in doing so, will take due account of the Commission’s observations.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Cattle: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of cattle in England with certificates of registration. (138130)

[holding answer 21 May 2007]: According to records on the cattle tracing system, the number of live cattle in Great Britain with certificates of registration, that is cattle born before July 1996 when passports began to be issued, is 383,000.

It has not been possible to obtain a precise figure for England only in the time available but, based on the proportion of the national herd that is resident in England, I estimate that there are just under 250,000 cattle with certificates of registration in England.

Departments: Intimidation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints of bullying have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld. (134829)

The figures for this information relate to core DEFRA and the following agencies: PSD, CSL, VMD, CEFAS and Animal Health.

The internal formal equal opportunities complaints procedure is on DEFRA's intranet site and all staff has access to them.

Under the above procedures in the last 12 months, six cases of bullying were investigated and one case was upheld.

Elephants

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in Africa about (a) elephant populations and (b) the ivory trade in preparation for the forthcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species conference. (137678)

I met with Marthinus Van Schalkwyk the South African Minister last June and we discussed issues of elephant management among other issues. Although visa difficulties prevented officials from Kenya, Mali, Chad, Ghana, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo from meeting me last month, they did meet environment officials in the UK's permanent representation in Brussels, who passed their briefing to my Department. However, last year DEFRA officials met the Honourable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, the Botswana Minister for Environment and Tourism, on 8 November when he was in London, to hear that country's perspective. I also met Michael Wamithi (IFAW's global elephant habitat programme manager) on 28 November 2006.

We are in constant touch with non-governmental organisations and experts in elephant conservation to ensure we have a full and rounded picture of the issues involved. A DEFRA official will also be attending the African elephant dialogue meeting which will take place immediately before the CITES conference, the outcome of which will influence the EU/UK position on the proposals to be discussed at the Conference.

Environment Protection: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions resulting in (a) convictions and (b) custodial sentences there were in each year since 1 May 1997 for offences related to (i) water resources, (ii) flood defences, (iii) fisheries, (iv) navigation, (v) process industry regulation, (vi) radioactive substances, (vii) waste and (viii) water quality as recorded in the national enforcement database. (137872)

The following table shows the number of convictions (1) and custodial sentences (2) for environmental offences recorded in the national enforcement database in each financial year from 1999-2000 to 2005-2006.

1999-20002000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-06

1

2

1

2

1

2

1

2

1

2

1

2

1

2

Fisheries

5

0

34

0

21

0

50

0

31

0

43

0

78

0

Flood Defence

3

0

1

0

1

0

1

0

7

0

10

0

6

0

Industry

11

0

10

0

5

0

5

0

3

0

5

0

1

0

Regulation Navigation

5

0

4

0

8

0

26

0

34

0

31

0

32

0

Radioactive Substances

4

0

5

0

8

0

3

0

1

0

2

0

1

0

Waste

354

4

418

8

466

7

502

6

426

7

422

7

514

5

Water Quality

237

0

224

0

219

0

0

0

176

0

192

1

216

0

Water Resources

10

0

21

0

12

0

0

0

8

0

16

0

10

0

National Fruit Collection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent maintaining the National Fruit Collection in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (137423)

[holding answer 16 May 2007]: Costs for maintaining the National Fruit Collection in each of the last five years are given as follows:

£

2002-03

218,000

2003-04

218,000

2004-05

221,000

2005-06

187,000

2006-07

200,000

Strangles

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what funding his Department has provided for research into a diagnostic test for strangles; (138096)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to eradicate strangles in the UK;

(3) what research his Department has commissioned into the (a) detection, (b) prevention and (c) eradication of strangles;

(4) what steps his Department is taking to promote a code of practice for farmers for dealing with cases of strangles;

(5) what steps his Department is taking (a) to develop a blood test for strangles and (b) to fund research to do so;

(6) what assessment his Department has made of the risk presented to animal health by strangles.

Strangles is not a notifiable disease or infection, there is no evidence that it has any significance for public health and it is not a listed disease by the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). There are no plans to make it notifiable or for the Department to take steps to eradicate the disease. The equine industry has the responsibility to control strangles and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) publishes a code of practice, updated annually, containing guidelines on the disease. The code is available from the HBLB, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the British Horse Society, and can be accessed via the DEFRA website. Both DEFRA and the industry encourage horse owners to follow the guidelines on strangles contained in the code of practice.

DEFRA is not funding research into developing a diagnostic blood test for strangles and has no plans to do so. However, the Animal Health Trust is currently working on improving diagnostic tests for equine strangles through a three-year welfare grant awarded by The Horse Trust. The Department concentrates its resources on those equine diseases which have human health, economic or international trade implications.

Sugar Beet: EC Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the European Commission's proposals to extend the sugar restructuring programme to individual sugar beet growers. (138427)

[holding answer 21 May 2007]: The European Union’s sugar restructuring scheme has, so far, failed to achieve its planned results and we agree with the European Commission that further action is necessary to make it more effective. The Commission’s proposal to establish a limited grower initiative within the third year of the scheme is part of a wider package of measures designed to increase uptake. Discussions on the proposed package are at a very early stage but we do believe that, if adopted, this element of the package would contribute to increased overall uptake.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

African Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK is taking to strengthen its relationship with the African Union. (138240)

The formation of the African Union (AU) in 2002 was a major development and an important break from the past with the AU committing itself to taking real responsibility for promoting peace and security; improved governance; sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. The AU's lead continental role on many issues is now established. We welcome this.

We seek every opportunity to support the AU politically and practically. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister invited AU chairperson Konare to London in May 2006 and to the G8 Gleneagles summit. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, has attended all of the AU's six-monthly summits since his appointment in 2005. Our ambassador in Addis Ababa is accredited as the British permanent representative to the AU; the embassy spends a substantive part of its time on AU matters. The UK is providing significant support to AU operations in Sudan and Somalia, as well as to help develop the AU's internal capacity and its key instruments such as the African peace and security architecture.

Ascension Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has for the future of those living on Ascension Island following the conclusions of her Department’s economic report of 2005. (138855)

Government policy remains to work with the Ascension Island Government towards improving the working and living environment for those on Ascension Island. As long as the main employers remain on Ascension Island, there should continue to be employment prospects for St. Helenians and others. All those working and living on Ascension Island are required by Ascension law to leave once their contracts expire. This will continue to be the case.

Ascension Island: British Nationality

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens reside on Ascension Island. (138645)

Although there are no permanent residents on Ascension Island, the total number of British and/or British overseas territories citizens working and living there at the end of March was 904.

Commonwealth: International Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much and what proportion of the costs of the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Uganda in November will be met by the Government; and from which budget this contribution will be drawn. (138941)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 17 May 2007, Official Report, column 871W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the adequacy of arrangements for the security of the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Uganda in November; and if she will make a statement. (138942)

All aspects of Her Majesty the Queen’s security on visits overseas are kept under close review. We are working closely with the Ugandan authorities to ensure that all necessary measures are taken for the state visit and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to assist in finding a solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (138238)

In the short term, we continue to urge the Congolese government to seek peaceful and negotiated solutions to the internal problems which provoke violence. We support the continuation of the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (MONUC)'s mandate and encourage MONUC to take a robust stance against foreign and Congolese militia groups that threaten civilians.

We remain concerned by the ongoing violence in eastern DRC. We continue to press the Congolese Government to make security sector reform a priority, so a disciplined and well-trained national army is developed. This is the only long-term solution to prevent further conflict.

The DRC remains a priority for the UK. Our extensive bilateral assistance to the DRC, £75 million in the last financial year, is designed to work in support of conflict prevention, including work on security sector reform, democracy and accountability and provision of basic services to the population. I discussed this issue myself when I met William Swing, the UN Secretary-General's special representative for the DRC, on 2 March.

Economic and Monetary Union: European Constitution Treaty

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funds have been spent since 2005 by British embassies to EU countries on (a) events and (b) organisations to support UK strategic priorities pertaining to the Government’s EU policies, with particular reference to (i) the euro and (ii) the EU constitution. (138137)

All our embassies in EU capitals are proactive in supporting the UK’s strategic priorities relating to the Government’s EU policies through a wide range of activity. However, the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Ethiopia: Kidnapping

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government received from the Eritrean authorities in obtaining the release of the kidnappees held recently in the Afar area. (138805)

Senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London and our ambassador in Asmara maintained active contact with the government of Eritrea during the abduction of the five officials from our embassy in Addis Ababa and family members from 2 March to 13 March.

The government of Eritrea offered to provide whatever assistance they could in obtaining the release of our staff and their family members on humanitarian grounds. After our staff and family members were freed, the Eritrean government made arrangements to transport them to Asmara where they were handed over to our ambassador.

The Ethiopians that were abducted at the same time were released on 22 April. It is not yet clear if the Eritrean authorities offered any assistance or were instrumental in facilitating their release.

The Government are grateful for the assistance received from the Eritrean government, including the personal engagement of President Isaias.

European Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s main priorities are for the forthcoming European Council meeting in June. (138510)

The 21-22 June European Council will focus on institutional reform. The Government’s aim, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 16 April, is to secure an outcome that allows Europe to work more effectively while preserving our national interest, including our position as a key player in Europe. I set out the Government’s approach to these negotiations in my written ministerial statement on 5 December 2006, Official Report, columns 10-11WS.

The Government want to maintain momentum on delivering the concrete results that citizens expect. So we will also want the European Council to confirm progress on EU action on important, practical challenges, such as tackling climate change, strengthening police co-operation across Europe and improving the efficiency of the single market.

Nigeria: Overseas residence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens are permanently resident and working in Nigeria. (138239)

A total of 3,007 British citizens are registered with our high commission in Abuja, including dependants and others who are not necessarily working. We strongly advise all British citizens who intend to stay in Nigeria for three months or longer to register with the high commission but not all do so, so the exact number of British residents is likely to be higher than 3,007.

Northern Cyprus

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the campaign led by the Mayor of Famagusta in Cyprus for the full re-opening and redevelopment of Famagusta; and if she will take steps to discuss this issue with the Mayor of Famagusta. (138470)

The Mayor of Famagusta has already shared his campaign plans with senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). They emphasised the importance of a UN process leading to a comprehensive and durable settlement of benefit to all Cypriots. Our high commissioner in Nicosia is also in regular contact with the Mayor. The FCO remains open to further meetings.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives to promote multilateral disarmament the Government are proposing at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting in Vienna being held in May; and if she will make a statement. (138236)

The UK statement of 30 April to the meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee will be made available to the Library of the House. On multilateral disarmament, this made clear the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and encouraged those countries that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty. It reiterated UK support for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and called for a prompt start to negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It also called on the US and Russia to make further progress on disarmament through their bilateral arms control agreements.

Palestinians: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of security arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza. (138442)

We are concerned about the security situation in Gaza. The recent intra-Palestinian violence, which started on 13 May, has left 54 Palestinians dead. We welcome the ceasefire, which was agreed on 19 May, to end this violence. However, the on-going launching of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and the resulting Palestinian casualties are of serious concern. As the Minister for the Middle East my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) said on 21 May in a press conference following the Israeli raids on Gaza:

“For the sake of the people of Gaza and southern Israel, we want to see a complete halt to internal violence in Gaza and to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. The continuing violence is creating a situation of intolerable suffering for those living in the Gaza Strip, and taking its toll on the residents of Sderot”.

We are also concerned by the movement restrictions placed upon Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has noted that access to parts of the West Bank, such as East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, have not improved due to a high number of checkpoints (537 as of April), roadblocks, the barrier and a complex system of permits. In Gaza, the regular closure of the Rafah crossing point and lack of access to the West Bank has had a detrimental effect on the population. We continue to raise our concerns about movement restrictions with the Israeli Government and call upon both parties to implement the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

Robert Mugabe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking with her Commonwealth counterparts to ensure that President Mugabe is not invited to the Commonwealth Heads of Government or related events. (138676)

President Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003. We would therefore not expect him to be invited to or to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala and we are confident he will not be.

Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the situation in Eastern Sudan. (138177)

Following the signing of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front (EF) on 14 October 2006, the region has been calm. We welcomed the ESPA, but are concerned that implementation has been slow. This is partly due to the EF’s inability to agree nominations to political posts in the Government and National Assembly in Khartoum. We have urged them to complete this process quickly.

The east remains one of the poorest parts of Sudan. Large numbers of people live in extreme poverty and socio-economic indicators, such as infant mortality, are the worst in the country. Illiteracy and unemployment levels in the region are also high. The UK supports development and stability in Eastern Sudan as part of our contribution to implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The UK currently chairs an informal donor co-ordination group on Eastern Sudan. This group shares information and fosters joint programming among members of the international community. The Government’s own support to Eastern Sudan includes pressing the Government of Sudan for the timely transfer of funds from the central budget to the states and pilot projects such as a social protection scheme implemented in the east through Oxfam.

Uganda: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the role of the media during the 2006 Ugandan elections. (138694)

International observers monitoring the 2006 elections raised concerns that a level playing field was not established before the elections took place. One reason for this was the lack of balance in media coverage, especially on the part of the state owned media. However, there was consensus that despite some shortcomings on election day, voting was generally well administered, transparent and competitive.

Our high commission in Kampala, along with other representatives of the international community, continues to monitor the governance environment, including media freedom, in Uganda.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Ugandan authorities on the administration of future presidential and parliamentary elections. (138695)

We have a regular dialogue with the government of Uganda on all aspects of developing multi-party democracy and engaging with the opposition, building towards the next elections. Our high commissioner in Kampala discussed these issues most recently with President Museveni on 10 May.

The Government are helping the Ugandan Parliament finalise a new strategic plan for its development and is helping to build the capacity of a number of parliamentary committees. The Government also plan to commit £5 million to a new multi-donor ‘deepening democracy’ programme which will include help for the implementation of the strategic plan that Parliament is now finalising.

In March our high commission in Kampala funded a visit of Ugandan opposition MPs to the UK to enable them to gain a greater understanding of how an opposition works within a parliamentary democracy. We will continue to look for further opportunities to work with the Ugandan parliament in the run up to the 2011 elections.

Zambia: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the political situation in Zambia. (138237)

Following elections, which we believed set a strong example within the Southern African Development Community, Zambia has continued to enjoy political stability. Underpinning this is Zambia’s continued strong economic performance. In their 27 December 2006 report, the International Monetary Fund forecast a solid 6 per cent. growth for 2006, with an outlook of 7 per cent. for 2007. The 2007 Budget speech contained a useful restatement of the Government’s commitment to sound macroeconomic policies and fiscal discipline.

President Mwanawasa has also targeted corruption as a key Government priority. The 4 May judgment by the London High Court against former President Chiluba in a civil case brought before it on behalf of the Zambian Attorney-General was a historic event. It sends a powerful message in Zambia, but with a resonance beyond, that plundering a nation’s resources will not be tolerated. We look forward to the money being returned to the Zambian people.

Health

Accident and Emergency Departments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place a copy of the national guidance stating that accident and emergency departments should serve a catchment population of 450,000 to 500,000 people in the Library. (137312)

The Department has not issued guidance stating that accident and emergency departments should cover a given catchment population.

It is a matter for the local national health service to ensure that there is appropriate provision of urgent and emergency services that are responsive to people’s needs.

General Practitioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations her Department has received on the support general practitioners are receiving from primary care trusts in delivering change; and if she will make a statement. (122812)

The Department and the ministerial team meet stakeholder organisations including the Improvement Foundation, NHS Alliance, National Association of Primary Care, NHS Primary Care Contracting team, British Medical Association, and Royal College of General Practitioners on a regular basis. They are key stakeholders in the implementation of practice based commissioning which relies on good relationships with and support from primary care trusts.

Midwives: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with plans to require independent midwives to have professional indemnity insurance; and what consultation (a) has taken place and (b) is planned with (i) midwives, (ii) other healthcare professionals and (iii) women on those plans. (136426)

The White Paper stated that the introduction of compulsory indemnity insurance of all registered health professionals will be required in time.

The introduction of compulsory professional indemnity cover for midwives will require secondary legislation. A three-month public consultation will form part of that legislative process. No specific date for this has yet been set.

The chief nursing officer has met with and written to independent midwives and is investigating alternative contractual arrangements which may resolve the issue.

NHS: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department plans to take to decrease the time-lag between the conclusion of clinical trials and subsequent licensing of orphan medicines for the treatment of serious, life threatening or chronically debilitating illnesses and their availability to patients. (131655)

Applications for marketing authorisations for designated orphan medicinal products are required to be submitted via the European centralised procedure and hence applications for national United Kingdom marketing authorisations are not possible. The time taken from submission of a Marketing Authorisation application to licence issue is therefore outside of the control of the UK and follows the timetable for European centralised applications.

However, where there is a clear clinical need there is the possibility that orphan medicinal products can be made available to patients, prior to the grant of a marketing authorisation, under a compassionate use programme authorised by the European Medicines Agency and there is the possibility for accelerated consideration of a marketing authorisation application by that agency.

Out-patients

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many outpatient appointments were missed (a) in England and (b) in each relevant NHS organisation in the most recent year for which figures are available; what proportion of the total number of out-patient appointments this figure represented for each relevant NHS organisation; and what estimate she has made of the overall cost to the NHS of such missed appointments. (137392)

The number of missed out-patient appointments in England in 2005-06 was 5,582,315 or 11 per cent. of all national health service out-patient appointments. Data for individual trusts have been placed in the Library. The Department has not estimated the cost of missed appointments. The choose and book system can be used to help reduce the number of missed appointments by giving patients greater certainty and choice over the date, time and place of their appointments.

Referral-to-Treatment Waiting Times

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2007, Official Report, column 1088W, on referral-to-treatment waiting times, when she plans to publish data related to admitted patients. (137365)

Publication will begin as soon as the data are of sufficient quality.

Referral-to-treatment times for admitted patients who completed that 18 week pathway in March 2007 will be published in June.

Screening: Waiting Lists

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) mean and (b) median waiting time has been for a (i) magnetic resonance imaging, (ii) computerised tomography, (iii) non-obstetric ultrasound, (iv) barium enema, (v) DEXA scan, (vi) cardiology - echocardiography, (vii) cardiology - electrophysiology, (viii) peripheral neurophysiology, (ix) colonoscopy, (x) flexi sigmoidoscopy, (xi) cytoscopy and (xii) gastroscopy test in each month since January 2006. (123063)

The information requested is provided in the following table.

Commissioner based mean and median waiting time information for diagnostic test—2006s

Weeks

Month end

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

Test

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

6.4

9.3

5.2

7.3

4.9

6.5

5.4

6.9

4.9

6.6

Computed Tomography

2.7

4.8

2.6

4.3

2.4

3.8

2.7

4.1

2.5

4.0

Non-obstetric ultrasound

4.3

7.3

3.8

6.2

3.8

5.8

4.1

6.0

3.8

5.8

Barium Enema

2.9

5.5

2.6

4.6

2.7

4.4

2.8

4.5

2.6

4.4

DEXA Scan

7.6

13.0

5.7

10.9

6.1

11.0

6.3

10.9

5.9

10.5

Cardiology-echocardiography

8.1

13.4

6.9

12.7

6.5

12.4

6.2

9.1

5.9

8.6

Cardiology-electrophysiology

9.8

11.1

8.2

10.6

9.7

11.7

10.4

12.0

10.8

12.2

Neurophysiology-peripheral neurophysiology

11.8

19.6

11.9

19.5

10.6

18.3

11.3

19.0

11.0

18.8

Colonoscopy

11.0

23.5

10.2

20.5

8.8

19.7

8.7

18.6

8.3

18.0

Flexi sigmoidoscopy

7.0

12.6

6.3

12.2

6.3

11.4

6.5

11.2

5.9

10.6

Cystoscopy

6.7

10.1

5.9

9.5

5.7

9.0

6.3

9.1

5.9

8.6

Gastroscopy

7.0

12.8

6.1

12.1

6.0

11.7

6.3

11.7

5.9

11.5

Weeks

Month end

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

Test

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Magnetic resonance imaging

4.4

6.1

4.5

6.0

4.9

6.3

4.5

6.1

4.3

5.7

Computed tomography

2.5

4.0

2.6

4.1

2.7

4.3

2.4

3.9

2.4

3.6

Non-obstetric ultrasound

3.5

5.3

3.6

5.3

3.9

5.5

3.4

5.1

3.4

4.9

Barium enema

2.3

3.6

2.4

3.7

2.6

3.9

2.3

3.9

2.4

3.5

DEXA scan

5.3

9.9

5.5

10.8

5.3

10.2

4.7

9.5

4.6

9.5

Cardiology-echocardiography

5.6

8.5

5.5

8.5

6.1

9.2

5.4

8.7

5.1

8.5

Cardiology-electrophysiology

10.1

11.7

9.6

11.7

10.2

11.6

9.9

11.1

9.0

10.6

Neurophysiology-peripheral neurophysiology

9.8

17.9

10.2

18.1

10.7

18.1

10.4

17.7

10.0

17.0

Colonoscopy

7.5

17.7

7.4

17.4

7.5

16.6

7.0

16.2

6.4

15.0

Flexi sigmoidoscopy

5.8

10.0

5.5

9.9

5.8

9.4

5.1

8.9

4.8

8.6

Cystoscopy

5.7

8.5

5.7

8.5

6.0

8.7

5.6

8.6

5.4

8.5

Gastroscopy

5.7

11.2

5.6

11.1

5.5

10.7

4.8

10.1

4.3

9.2

Weeks

Month end

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

Test

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Median waiting time

Mean waiting time

Magnetic resonance imaging

4.2

5.5

4.9

6.0

4.3

5.7

4.0

5.0

Computed tomography

2.1

3.3

2.9

4.0

2.1

3.3

2.1

2.9

Non-obstetric ultrasound

3.1

4.5

3.8

5.0

2.9

4.7

3.0

4.1

Barium enema

2.1

3.3

2.9

3.9

2.2

3.6

2.0

3.0

DEXA scan

4.4

9.4

4.8

9.4

3.7

7.1

3.7

6.3

Cardiology-echocardiography

4.7

7.1

5.2

7.8

4.7

7.0

4.1

6.3

Cardiology-electrophysiology

9.8

11.0

9.1

10.4

8.9

9.8

7.0

8.8

Neurophysiology-peripheral neurophysiology

9.0

16.7

9.8

17.6

9.7

16.8

7.2

14.9

Colonoscopy

6.4

15.8

6.8

15.9

6.4

14.6

4.9

13.6

Flexi sigmoidoscopy

4.5

9.0

5.2

9.4

4.4

9.1

4.1

9.0

Cystoscopy

5.0

8.0

5.7

8.7

5.5

8.4

4.9

7.8

Gastroscopy

4.1

9.8

4.7

9.9

3.8

9.1

3.6

8.5

Source:

Department of Health, DM01

Surgery: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations funded by her Department were planned to be undertaken by independent sector treatment centres in the first wave; how many operations were undertaken; and how many operations it is estimated will be undertaken within the contract period. (138724)

[holding answer 22 May 2007]: It is expected that the first wave of the independent sector treatment centre programme, including the general supplementary contracts, will deliver approximately 870,000 procedures for national health service patients. The contracted case mix is indicative only and the actual delivered activity may vary. As at 31 March 2007 more than 160,000 procedures had been delivered through the programme.

York Capio Centre

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2007, Official Report, column 1055W, on York Capio Centre, what procedures were carried out at the Clifton NHS Treatment Centre in 2006-07; how many patients underwent each procedure; and what the average cost per case was for each procedure; (135520)

(2) pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2007, Official Report, column 1055W, on York Capio Centre, how many procedures the Clifton NHS Treatment Centre was contracted to carry out in 2006-07; how many were carried out in that year; and how many procedures the centre is contracted to carry out in each year between 2007-08 and 2010-11.

There were 1,522 patient discharges from the Clifton national health service treatment centre in 2006-07. Information on patients discharged is not held by procedure.

Utilisation of independent sector treatment centre contracts is measured on the basis of value rather than activity, this is to allow for the variations which occur through substitution of activity between procedures of varying value. This in turn allows the schemes to better meet the requirements of local NHS commissioners. Recent changes to the casemix at the treatment centre, at the request of sponsoring primary care trusts, has meant that the total expected activity is now 8,455 procedures over the life of the contract.

As the vast majority of wave 1 independent sector treatment centres are now operational, the Department is currently reviewing the release of contractual, financial and utilisation data. A decision will be taken shortly and I will write to the hon. Member.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police command units are taking part in the current Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol campaign. (138631)

There are 166 participating basic command units of the police participating in the current Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol campaign, in partnership with Trading Standards Officers.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when an assessment of the results of the current Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol campaign will be made available. (138632)

The current national Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol campaign is due to end in July. The final results will be made available as soon as all the results from across the 166 participating basic command units have been collated and verified.

Antisocial Behaviour

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to make membership of a gang (a) a factor in relation to sentencing and (b) an offence. (135942)

(2) To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007 to the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), Official Report, column 1224, on knife crimes, when he will publish his plans on whether or not to make membership of a gangan aggravating factor in sentencing.

The Sentencing Guidelines Council document “Overarching Principles: Seriousness”, published in December 2004, sets out the factors affecting sentencing, and includes groups or gangs as an aggravating factor. Section 1.22 (“Factors indicating higher culpability”) includes “Offenders operating in groups or gangs”. We are now considering whether this is sufficient, or whether it should be extended to cover all offences where the offender is a member of a gang, irrespective of whether the offence was committed with other members of the group or gang, or whether a new offence is needed.

This issue was considered by a working group drawn from the Home Secretary's Round Table on Guns, Gangs and Knives on 18 May, which will report back to the next Round Table meeting, due to be held on 26 June.

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were (a) charged, (b) prosecuted and (c) convicted of offences under section 35(3) and (4) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004 in each year since its coming into force; how many had a previous conviction under this Act; how many and what percentage of those convicted thereunder received custodial sentences; how many and what percentage have been successfully deported on completion of that sentence; and how many and what percentage of those (i) charged, (ii) prosecuted and (iii) convicted of the above mentioned offences had previously been convicted of such an offence. (129970)

The answer is as follows:

S35 (3) and (4)

Charged/prosecuted

Convicted

2005

4

3

2006

14

9

2007

2

1

Total

20

13

Note:

This table provides local management information from both Border Control and Enforcement and Removals criminal investigation teams.

20 individuals have been charged/prosecuted for offences under section 35(3) and (4) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004 by Border Control and Enforcement and Removals Criminal Investigation Teams since the Act received Royal assent in July 2004.

Of the 13 persons convicted, 12 (92.3 per cent.) received custodial sentences (the other one received a suspended sentence). Of those serving a custodial sentence none have been removed so far. Of the other individuals, two have been removed so far.

Of the 20 persons charged/prosecuted and the 13 persons convicted, three persons have been previously convicted of offences under section 35(3) and (4) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004. This represents 15 per cent. of the total number of people charged and 23 per cent. of those convicted respectively.

It should be noted that these figures are locally collated management information and may be subject to change.

Children: Abuse

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that data on offences against children are recorded by (a) age of victim and (b) offence and made available at national level. (137460)

The police record crimes that come to their attention committed against all victims, including children (those aged under 16). Information in the Home Office police recorded crime statistics do not currently separately identify the age of offenders or victims.

Work is in progress to develop a data system that will allow such information to be produced in the future. Record level data from all forces in England and Wales will be collated in a central data hub within the Home Office. Information on individual offences will be returned, including the offence type and victim characteristics such as age. This system will be used to derive and present police recorded crime statistics nationally and sub-nationally. Statistics will be released within the annual Crime in England and Wales bulletin, as part of National Statistics. However, before that happens a full assessment of the reliability and completeness of any new data collected will have to be made.

Crime: Intellectual Property

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in implementing the recommendation of the Gowers Review that intellectual property crime should be given higher policing priority; what support he has given to police forces on intellectual property crime; and if he will make a statement. (137459)

The Gowers Review recommended that

“The Home Office should recognise IP crime as an area for police action as a component of organised crime within the updated National Community Safety Plan.”

This has been implemented. The National Community Safety Plan update, published in November last year, includes among key actions for the police service in 2007-08:

“To ensure asset recovery powers are used to the full and to have strategies against all the major threats set out in the UK Threat Assessment ...including fraud and intellectual property crime.”

The Home Office plays an active role in the National IP Crime Strategy and the SOCA programme board on tackling serious criminals involved in identity fraud, IP theft and counterfeit currency. The priority given to IP crime by all Government enforcement agencies has risen since the launch of the national IP Crime strategy in 2004, with ACPO identifying IP Crime as a spotlight crime. Government recently committed an additional £5 million for 2007-08 to accompany additional powers for Trading Standards to enforce against copyright counterfeiting and piracy.

Departments: Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) instructions are issued to staff in his Department and (b) technical procedures are in place to shut down computers at night. (136098)

Instructions for PC shutdown are not centrally managed within the Home Office. Shut down policies vary, dependant on individual Business area requirements.

The user information for most Home Office IT systems require users to power off their base unit and monitors at night, but not everyone does so. The Sustainable Development Team, in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Information Officer are working towards raising the profile of Sustainable Operation Targets, and how best the Home Office can meet them.

Departments: Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedure his Department uses to ascertain support within relevant public bodies and Government Departments for proposed legislation. (135853)

Each non-departmental public body or executive agency for which we are responsible has a “sponsor” unit within the Home Office. Such units would normally liaise routinely and regularly with the relevant body as part of the normal policy development process which leads to legislation. As part of the normal function of Government, we obtain collective ministerial agreement on significant proposals or those which affect other Departments. Other Departments would respond on behalf of those bodies for which they are responsible, seeking their views directly where appropriate.

Where time, resources and the parliamentary process permits, we will consult on legislation in draft and undertake full public consultations to obtain a wider range of views.

Departments: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total sum of bonuses paid to civil servants in his Department was in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. (121569)

Where it is available, the information requested is recorded in the following table, covering the financial years 2004-05 and 2005-06.

Within the Home Office and its Agencies there are separate arrangements for awarding bonuses. Staff may receive annual, appraisal-related awards based on their exceptional contribution throughout the year, or special bonuses for exceptional, specific work. Senior civil servants can be awarded bonuses as set out in the senior salaries review body report number 62.

Amount paid (£)

Number paid

Total staff (headcount)

2004-05

3,459,397

4,710

24,081

2005-06

3,612,916

5,014

25,343

Notes:1. The data for appraisal-related bonus payments are included only for Home Office HQ and Border and Immigration Agency (BIA). The data for the public sector Prison Service are excluded as they can be provided only at disproportionate cost. Identity and Passport Agency (IPS) does not run an appraisal-related bonus scheme. 2. Data for special bonus payments are included only for the Senior Civil Service (for the whole Department and its Agencies) and IPS for 2004-05 and 2005-06 for certain bonuses where information is available. 3. Data recorded for performance appraisal payments relate to the previous reporting year and not the financial year in which the bonuses themselves were paid. 4. Staffing data are for those in Home Office HQ and BIA and all senior civil servants in the Department and its Agencies. For 2004-05 and 2005-06 IPS staff are included.

Departments: Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the reports produced by consultants to his Department in each of the last five years. (136231)

There is no central record of reports produced by consultants for the Department. To examine files for all individual pieces of consultancy dating back to 2002 would incur a disproportionate cost. Requirements for consultants are subject to value for money reviews at the point of purchase.

Departments: Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much energy in kilowatt hours was purchased by his Department from renewable sources in the most recent year for which figures are available. (134992)

The Home Office is committed to the sustainable operations in Government target to purchase at least 10 per cent. of its energy from renewable sources by 31 March 2008. The amount of renewable energy the Home Office purchased in 2005-06 was 65,502,271 kWh all of which was electricity. This represents 17 per cent. of the total energy purchased, which exceeds the target.

Departments: Speeches

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his speech delivered in Venice on Saturday 12 May to Ministers representing the G6 nations of the EU represents Government policy; and if he will place in the Library a full text of the speech. (138001)

[holding answer 18 May 2007]: The G6 meeting is a regular informal gathering of the Homeland Ministers of the six largest European countries. During the G6 meeting of the 11 and 12 May, I did not give any formal speeches so there is no text of a speech. I did, however, make a number of interventions during the summit on a range of issues. All of those interventions were entirely consistent with Government policy.

Drugs: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been (a) arrested, (b) prosecuted and (c) imprisoned for drugs offences since 2005. (137022)

There were 14,500 persons aged 17 and under arrested for notifiable drug offences in England and Wales in 2004-05, the latest year for which data have been published (HOSB 21/05).

Latest available prosecutions data relate to persons aged under 17 cautioned or dealt with at court for all drug offences in England and Wales during 2004 (HOSB 23/05).

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, police forces and other agencies. 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.

Persons aged under 17 dealt with for principal drug offences1 by action taken: England and Wales 2004

Action taken

Number of persons

Dealt with at court

Found guilty

3,180

Of which:

Immediate custody

86

Suspended sentence

Non-custodial

3,094

Found not guilty

402

Total dealt with at court

3,582

Cautioned

5,797

Other2

10

Total

9,389

1 In the case of persons charged with two or more drug offences, the principal drug offence is the one for which attracted the most severe penalty.

2 Includes informal warnings and no further action.

Identity Cards

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will commission a successor report to the KPMG Outline Business Case following recent changes to the details of the proposed Identity Cards Scheme. (135843)

KPMG were originally commissioned to review the outline business case put forward by the Home Office.

The business cases related to the National Identity Scheme have also been scrutinised by Her Majesty’s Treasury and are subject to the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review Process.

There are no plans to commission any further such reports but this may be considered in the future.

Illegal Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Immigration and Nationality Directorate enforcement officials keep a record of the (a) confirmed and (b) unconfirmed illegal individuals dealt with while carrying out (i) raids and (ii) searches. (135838)

The Border and Immigration Agency do keep records of illegal migrants encountered during operational visits and searches.

Officers undertake intelligence led operational visits and searches to detain and remove persons who no longer have the right to remain in the UK and do so in line with operational policy and guidance, which is available to view at:

http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/lawandpolicy/policyinstructions/oem

Immigrants: EC Enlargement

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of A8 accession country immigrants working in the UK's social care sector. (135913)

Information taken from registration of A8 nationals under the worker registration scheme shows that there were almost 6,200 persons working as care assistants and home carers and 300 as social workers for the calendar year 2006, as published in Annex A of the Accession Monitoring Report on 27 February 2007 at:

http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/accession_monitoring_report

The sectors and occupations used in the Worker Registration Scheme do not conform to the ONS standard industrial and occupational classifications.

The figures quoted are not provided under national statistics protocols and have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have left the UK following removal of their support under section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004. (135836)

Information on the number of voluntary and enforced returns will be included in the section 9 pilot evaluation report when it is published.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have had their asylum support removed as a result of section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004. (135837)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) on 14 December 2006, Official Report, column 1311W.

Updated information on the number of families who had support withdrawn under the section 9 provision will be included in the section 9 pilot evaluation report when it is published.

IND

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of staff at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate have been investigated for impropriety since 31 July 2006. (112656)

In recording data on investigations, we do not have a specific category called “impropriety”. The number of investigations commissioned within the Border and Immigration Agency investigated or under investigation for potential misconduct between 1 August 2006 and 30 April 2007 is 322.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Warley of 12 March on Mrs. Nagina Bi of Smethwick. (137972)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Taunton of 19 February on the location of passport interview centres. (138432)

[holding answer 21 May 2007]: Bernard Herdan, executive director of service delivery for the Identity and Passport Service, replied on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid) to the hon. Member for Taunton's letter on 7 March 2007. A copy of Mr. Herdan’s letter is as follows:

Letter from Bernard Herdan, dated 7 March 2007:

Thank you for your letter of 19 February to the Rt Hon John Reid MP. It has been passed to me to reply as Executive Director, Service Planning and Delivery at the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

The network of 69 interview offices has been designed to strike a balance between keeping costs (and therefore fees) as low as possible while making journeys to interviews as short as possible. The proposed locations have been verified by a consultancy and take into account consultations with authorities and agencies responsible for sparsely populated areas. I have enclosed a document “Passport Office Authentication by Interview Network”, which will give you more information on how we decided the locations of the interview offices, The interview office network is intended to provide an office within an hour’s travelling time for over 95% of the UK population. In remote, sparsely populated areas where it is not cost-effective to set up an interview office, we are putting in place videoconferencing facilities to conduct the interview to avoid people having to make long journeys. This will affect a small number of applicants who live more than an hour's journey from an interview office, estimated to be less than 4,000 per year in 25 areas.

When assessing interview office locations and travelling times to those offices we considered both private and public transport and used all available local and national transport and census data on population movements and modes of travel.

Each location has been selected as part of a mutually supporting network; no individual location can be changed without affecting the whole network.

I hope this has clarified the situation.

Migrant Workers: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) migrant workers and (b) school age children of migrant workers in (i) England, (ii) Wales, (iii) Scotland and (iv) Northern Ireland; and how many such children are registered in schools in (A) Wales, (B) England, (C) Scotland and (D) Northern Ireland, broken down by country of origin. (128690)

[holding answer 20 March 2007]: The Home Office has not made estimates of any of the figures requested.

Figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), estimate that there were 3.075 million people who were born overseas in employment in the UK in April-June 2006. A breakdown on a comparable basis for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is not available from ONS. As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Comparable estimates of the number of school age children of people who were born overseas and were in employment in the UK are not available.

Information on the number of children of migrant workers registered in schools is a matter for the various Education Ministers. They have informed me that this information is not collated centrally.

National Identity Register

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what will happen to the information registered on the National Identity Register of individuals who do not re-register from the scheme. (135833)

Information will be retained on the National Identity Register, in accordance with section 3.1 of the Identity Cards Act 2006,

“for as long as it is consistent with the statutory purposes for it to be recorded in the Register”.

Net Migration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007 to the hon. Member for City of York, Official Report, column 1226, on net migration, what the exact number of A8 accession country immigrants working in the NHS is; and if he will break this number down by (a) job and (b) nationality. (135923)

Information taken from registration of A8 nationals under the worker registration scheme shows that there were 9,790 registrations for the health and medical sector for the calendar year 2006. We are unable to confirm how many of this number were working in the NHS.

The jobs that the A8 workers, including those in the health and medical sector were doing are listed in Annex A of the accession monitoring report published on 27 February 2007 at:

http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/accession_monitoring_report.

The nationality of those registering is provided in the following table.

Accession state worker registration scheme— initial approvals2006 health and medical sector

Number

Czech Rep

558

Estonia

87

Hungary

469

Latvia

147

Lithuania

515

Poland

7,036

Slovakia

965

Slovenia

14

Total

9,790

Note:

The figures have not been rounded to the nearest five as in the published accession monitoring report.

The sectors and occupations used in the worker registration scheme do not conform to the ONS standard industrial and occupational classifications.

The figures quoted are not provided under National Statistics protocols and have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007 to the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), Official Report, column 1226, on net migration, what provisions there are in the points based system to allow for fast-track work permits. (135924)

Under the new points based system, employers on our sponsorship register will issue Certificates of Sponsorship to prospective employees who will apply for leave to enter at posts abroad or leave to remain if extending their stay in-country.

Passports

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria were used when finalising the list of approved passport photo countersignatories. (137553)

A countersignatory for a passport application must be a professional person, or a person of standing in the community, who holds a current British or Irish passport. There is no exhaustive list of approved countersignatories; the passport application form and the Identity and Passport Service website give examples of the types of occupations which would be considered acceptable but there is no intention to preclude other people who meet the criteria.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of passport applications submitted using the Check and Send service were refused in the last 12 months; on what grounds applications may be refused; and how many applications were refused on each of those grounds over that period. (138279)

[holding answer 18 May 2007]: Passports are issued at the discretion of the Secretary of State under the Royal prerogative. In practice, passports are issued when the Secretary of State is satisfied as to the identity and British nationality of applicants, in accordance with legislation, except in certain well defined categories, of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. These are:

(i) a minor whose journey was known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority in whose favour a residence or care order had been made or who had been awarded custody; or care and control, or to the provisions of section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, or section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976, as amended by the Children Act 1989;

(ii) a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued in the United Kingdom, or a person who was wanted by the United Kingdom police on suspicion of a serious crime;

(iii) in very rare cases, a person whose past or proposed activities were so demonstrably undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities would be contrary to the public interest;

(iv) a person repatriated from abroad at public expense until the debt has been repaid.

In addition, passports would not be issued to those who were currently the subject of Football Banning Orders or Travel Restriction Orders.

The statistics available show only the breakdown between those applications which failed on nationality grounds and those rejected for other reasons. In the 2006 calendar year 0.38 per cent. of the 2,846,324 applications received through the Check and Send service were rejected. The numbers in each category were:

Number

Nationality grounds

2,634

Other reasons

8,266

Passports: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of new child passport applications were refused in the last 12 months; on what grounds applications may be refused; and how many applications over that period were refused on each of those grounds. (138278)

[holding answer 18 May 2007]: Passport applications may be refused if the applicant does not hold British nationality, has not satisfactorily established their identity or falls into one of certain well defined categories, of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. The only one of these categories which is relevant to new child passport applications is as follows:

a minor whose journey was known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority in whose favour a residence or care order had been made or who had been awarded custody; or care and control, or to the provisions of section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, or section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976, as amended by the Children Act 1989.

The statistics available show only the breakdown between those applications which failed on nationality grounds and those rejected for other reasons. In the 2006 calendar year 1.2 per cent. of the 948,201 first applications for children were rejected. The numbers in each category were:

Number

Nationality grounds

4,108

Other reasons

7,269

Passports: Elderly

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government will make it its policy to give free passports to those who have reached the age of 75 years. (138226)