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Written Answers

Volume 461: debated on Monday 18 June 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 18 June 2007

Prime Minister

Africa

To ask the Prime Minister what the cost was to the public exchequer of his recent visit to Africa; and if he will make a statement. (141420)

Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying Ministers on overseas visits is included in the list.

All Ministers’ travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the “Ministerial Code”, and the accompanying guidance document, “Travel by Ministers”. Information for 2007-08 will be published in the normal way.

Czech Republic: Ballistic Missile Defence

To ask the Prime Minister what matters concerning the deployment of missile defence systems he discussed with his Czech counterpart on 13 June. (143939)

I refer the hon. Member to the press conference I held with Prime Minister Topolanek on 13 June 2007 (http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/ Page11944.asp). A transcript of this is available on the No. 10 website and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Departments: Attorney-General

To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions and on which dates since 1 January 2006 (a) he and (b) members of his staff at No. 10 Downing Street have spoken to the Attorney-General; and if he will make a statement. (143042)

My officials and I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Departments: Visits Abroad

To ask the Prime Minister what the cost has been of his overseas visits since 10 May 2007; which countries he has visited; how many (a) officials, (b) advisers and (c) members of his family accompanied him; what the cost was in each case; where he and those who accompanied him stayed during each visit; what the cost was in each case; if he will list those persons he met during each visit; which British Government Departments provided briefing material for his use during each visit; and if he will make a statement. (142818)

Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying Ministers on overseas visits is included in the list. All Ministers’ travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the “Ministerial Code”, and the accompanying guidance document, “Travel by Ministers”. Information for 2007-08 will be published in the normal way.

Briefing for my visits is provided by the relevant Government Departments. I meet a wide range of people during my visits, including foreign leaders, details of which can be found on the No. 10 website.

IBM Corporation

To ask the Prime Minister when his meeting at No. 10 on 2 December 1999 with Mr. Louis Gerstner Junior of the IBM Corporation of New York was first sought to be booked; whether discussions included the transfer pricing review of IBM then being undertaken by Inland Revenue in August 1999; and whether a record of the meeting exists. (144040)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 21 February 2005, Official Report, column 193W.

Saudi Arabia

To ask the Prime Minister whether (a) he and (b) Downing Street staff have (i) met and (ii) had discussions with (A) Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia and (B) his representatives since May 1997; and if he will make a statement. (143091)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 16 May 2007, Official Report, column 754W.

Solicitor-General

BAE Systems: Saudi Arabia

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will request the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to reopen the investigation into the allegations of bribery in relation to the Al Yamamah contract. (142300)

Departments: Data Protection

To ask the Solicitor-General how many times the Law Officers' Departments were found to have been in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (139234)

I am answering this question on behalf on the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious Fraud Office, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions office, HMCPS Inspectorate and the Attorney-General's office.

The definition of “found to have been in breach” can be broad. Depending on their nature, breaches by Government Departments of the Data Protection Act can be dealt with by the Information Commissioner, the courts or by Departments at an informal local level. The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Minister for Children on the potential for co-ordination between efforts to identify potential abusers of children and of animals. (142887)

There have been no discussions between DEFRA and the Department for Education and Skills on this issue.

Animal Welfare: Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 5 June 2007, Official Report, column 334W, on animal welfare: transport, what the figure of 217 non-returned journey logs represents in terms of the proportion of journey logs approved by his Department between 5 January and 30 March 2007; how many of the 217 journey logs have still not been returned; and what steps he is taking in respect of those persons and organisations that have failed to return journey logs on time and in compliance with the legal requirements. (142693)

The information requested is set out in the following table. The data have been collated from spreadsheets completed by Animal Health Divisional Offices from 5 January 2007 to 30 April 2007.

Number/percentage

Total number of journey logs approved

2,004

Number of journey logs not returned within one calendar month1

294

Number of journey logs still outstanding

182

Percentage outstanding

9.08

1 This figure has increased since the answer given on 5 June 2007, Official Report, column 334W, due to additional data being entered onto journey log spreadsheets.

Warning letters have been issued, as the standard response, to transporters who have not returned journey logs. These letters cautioned that non-compliance with journey log rules, as per Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005, may lead to future journey logs not being processed until outstanding logs are returned, with the possibility that repeated offences will lead to conditions being imposed on Transporter Authorisations.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the State Veterinary Service/Animal Health on (a) the views of individual state-employed vets on bovine TB and (b) the communication of such views to farmers. (142886)

The Minister of State and DEFRA policy officials meet with the chief executive and others from Animal Health to discuss the organisation's objectives.

Those objectives include the delivery of agreed animal health and welfare strategies and policy, as well as supporting the development of evidence-based policy.

The views of individual state employed vets and the communication of such views to farmers would not form part of those discussions.

Cotswolds Conservation Boards: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the grant aid settlements given to the Cotswolds Conservation Boards by Natural England were in each of the last five years for which figures are available; what recent discussions he has had with Natural England about the level of these grants; and if he will make a statement. (143695)

The Cotswolds Conservation Board was established in December 2004. Responsibility for its funding initially lay with the Countryside Agency but, since its creation, lies with Natural England. The funding is as follows:

£

2007-08

617,314

2006-07

631,816

2005-06

810,387

2004-05

456,192

The figures represent total funding for core (administrative) costs, specific projects and the Sustainable Development Fund. However, the 2004-05 figures do not include the Sustainable Development Fund (created in June 2005) nor one-off set-up costs for the board which were met by the Countryside Agency. The reduction in funding from 2006-07 to 2007-08 is attributable to a reduction in support for specific projects. There has been no reduction in core funding.

I have not had any discussion with Natural England about this matter.

Departments: Legal Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by his Department on legal fees in each of the last five years. (139403)

Legal fees of counsel and solicitors in private practice incurred by this Department and its agencies over the past five financial years are as follows:

£000

2002-03

3,107

2003-04

2,810

2004-05

4,615

2005-06

3,975

2006-07

1,754

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff funded by the public purse in the Veterinary Medicines Directorate are classified as people without posts. (141640)

Domestic Wastes: Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, columns 80-1W, on Domestic Wastes: Waste Management, if he will place in the Library (a) the documents outlining the assumptions about the costs of alternate weekly collections and (b) the initial report of the preliminary benchmarking project run by Be-Environmental. (142396)

I have arranged for copies of the Waste and Resources Action Programme's (WRAP) Kerbside Analysis Tool user manual to be placed in the House Library.

The aim of the Be-Environmental study was to conduct a comparison of a number of consultants' proprietary collection cost models. This formed Phase 1 of a more comprehensive study of the costs and performance of different collection systems and involved using models to determine the costs of a number of collection options.

It is not WRAP'S intention to publish this as a stand-alone report. WRAP is using the findings to inform Phase 2 and will incorporate the relevant sections in the overall study report, which is expected to be completed early next year.

Fisheries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pilot projects have been established by European Union member states following the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, “Promoting more environmentally-friendly fishing methods: the role of technical conservation measures” (COM(2004) 438 final), dated 21 June 2004; and if he will make a statement. (142282)

Since the release of the communication, the UK has developed two discard pilot projects. The first focused on improving selectivity in the north east coast prawn fishery. I have arranged for a copy of the report of this project to be laid in the Library of the House. The second, for which the details are still being finalised, will be a project run jointly with the Irish Government, which will look at discarding across a range of fisheries in the Irish Sea.

Details of pilot projects undertaken by other member states are not available.

Forestry

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made pursuant to the duty imposed by section 1(3) of the Forestry Act 1967, of the adequacy of national reserves of growing trees. (143606)

The Strategy for England's Trees Woods and Forests to be published on 20 June sets out our objectives for their future role in England. This strategy focuses on maximising the public benefits which trees, woods and forests can deliver. Changing demands from society mean that public benefit is the key test of "adequacy" today. Sustainable management of the existing resource is just as important as new woodland creation. Increased afforestation must be linked with identifiable public benefit.

We have seen a long-term increase in the area of woodland in England and the Forestry Commission monitors this through the national survey of woodland, which has been carried out every 15-20 years since 1924. In addition the Forestry Commission publishes softwood availability forecasts to help inform the plans of wood-using industries and investors. At present we estimate that only around one quarter of annual growth is harvested from England’s native woodlands each year, and only 60 per cent. of the annual growth from England’s conifer forests.

Nappies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the revised version of the Environment Agency report Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK, May 2005, will be published. (142520)

The Environment Agency expects to publish a further report on nappies by the end of the year.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evidence he has examined on whether there has been a causal link between the rate of growth of gross domestic product and the rate of growth of (a) municipal waste and (b) business waste in the UK. (142612)

The most recent statistics1 show that since 2000, waste (business and municipal) has grown significantly less than the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP). This equates to average growth in waste of less than 0.5 per cent. per year, over the last five years. The average municipal waste growth up to the millennium was around 3.5 per cent. per year, indicating a significant step change in the UK’s waste management. Data for 2006-07, expected in autumn 2007, will provide further useful evidence on whether the trends of recent years have been sustained.

Between 1998-99 and 2002-03, the amount of waste produced by businesses in England fell from 69 million tonnes to 68 million tonnes per year2, while GDP increased by about 10 per cent. In this period, industrial waste fell by 6 per cent. (2.5 million tonnes), declining faster than industrial gross value added (GVA)3, which fell by 3.5 per cent. Commercial waste increased by 6 per cent. (1.7 million tonnes), compared with the 29 per cent. increase in commercial GVA. These changes mainly reflect increased employment in the service sectors and a decrease in industrial activity, along with increasing reliance on imports.

The overall aim of waste prevention is to decouple waste growth from increases in GDP. The recently published Waste Strategy 2007 renews the Government’s commitment to breaking the link between economic growth and waste growth, by placing more emphasis on waste prevention and re-use.

1 Municipal Waste Statistics 2005-06.

2 Environment Agency Survey of Commercial and Industrial Waste 2002-03.

3 Gross value added (GVA) measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector. The GVA generated by any unit engaged in production activity can be calculated as the residual of the units’ total output less intermediate consumption (that is, goods and services used up in the process of producing the output), or as the sum of the factor incomes generated by the production process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what statistics his Department keeps on levels of (a) household waste, (b) commercial waste, (c) industrial waste and (d) other waste in the UK; and how these statistics are used to measure the UK's progress in reducing the amount of waste it produces. (142618)

Waste statistics kept by my Department are available from the DEFRA website at the following address:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/waste/index.htm

The recently published Waste Strategy contains a series of national level performance indicators, including on household waste per head after reuse, recycling and composting and waste arisings by key sectors (municipal, commercial and industrial, and construction and demolition waste). These indicators will be used to track progress in delivering the objectives of the strategy.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has given to (a) manufacturers and (b) commercial enterprises on methods by which they can reduce their waste arisings. (142615)

DEFRA’s Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme has been established to provide targeted guidance and support to businesses to improve their resource efficiency and to minimise the levels of waste that are unnecessarily sent to landfill. For example, the BREW Programme funds the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP). NISP matches one operator’s waste with another’s raw material needs. In the first two years of its operation, in the region of 1.7 million tonnes of material have been diverted from landfill, with £70 million of cost savings.

An early assessment of selected BREW activities suggests that the programme has made a good start in returning landfill tax receipts to businesses and helping them improve their resource efficiency. Around £4 has been saved by business for each £1 of BREW-funded advice and support. There were also reductions in water use, waste sent to landfill and the amounts of raw materials used by businesses. Many of the benefits will be seen beyond 2005-06, and work is currently under way to assess the impact of programme spending in 2006-07. More details about the BREW Programme can be found on the DEFRA website.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is also working across a range of industry sectors to reduce waste arisings. For example, WRAP is working with retailers and their supply chains towards its 2006-08 business plan target to secure reductions in packaging waste of 80,000 tonnes a year. WRAP has specific programmes with the construction and manufacturing sectors.

My Department has also produced the publication “Saving money by reducing waste”, which gives practical guidance on waste minimisation for farmers and growers and is available from the DEFRA website.

Apart from guidance and support offered by DEFRA, there are also two sets of regulations in place to encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise, recycle and recover packaging and reduce packaging waste. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to work with industry to find further solutions to the challenge of minimising packaging, and recommend ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.

The Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), which was published in April 2006, also challenged the food manufacturing sector to reduce its own waste by 15-20 per cent. by 2010. Thirteen major grocery retailers (representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector) have signed up to a voluntary agreement, the “Courtauld Commitment”, and are working with WRAP to:

(i) design out packaging waste growth by 2008;

(ii) deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and

(iii) identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.

Wales

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 4W, on council tax: valuation, what change there was in council tax receipts as a result of revaluation (a) between 2004-05 and 2005-06 and (b) in subsequent years. (141649)

The revaluation and rebanding exercise was intended to be revenue-neutral. Year-to-year changes in the level of council tax receipts are the result of local authority budget decisions.

The increase in Band D council tax was 3.8 per cent. between 2004-05 and 2005-06; 4.5 per cent. between 2005-06 and 2006-07, and 4.4 per cent. between 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Additional Learning Needs Order

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) procedures and (b) schedule for all forms of consideration and agreement of the Legislative Competence Order on Additional Learning Needs he is seeking to establish by both Houses of Parliament. (143764)

The Government intend to present all proposed draft Orders in Council to Parliament for pre-legislative scrutiny in all but exceptional circumstances.

On conclusion of pre-legislative scrutiny, the Welsh Assembly Government, in consultation with the UK Government will consider the recommendations made by Parliament and prepare a draft Order in Council.

The draft Order in Council will then be formally laid before Parliament and will be subject to affirmative resolution by both Houses. If approved by Parliament the Order in Council will be submitted to Her Majesty for approval.

The Government envisage a similar procedure for proposed draft Orders in Council that are put forward by Assembly committees or Back-Bench Members.

The Government expect the proposed draft Order in Council on Additional Learning Needs to follow the procedure set out.

Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will bring forward proposals to provide for all proposed legislative competence orders laid before the National Assembly for Wales to be referred automatically to the Welsh Affairs Committee and an appropriate committee in the House of Lords for pre-legislative scrutiny. (143352)

The Government gave assurances about pre-legislative scrutiny for proposed Orders in Council during the passage of the Government of Wales Bill, 24 January 2006, Official Report, column 1329. Both the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee and the House of Lords Constitution Committee have announced that they will conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of proposed draft orders in Council and the Government very much welcome this approach.

Leader of the House

House of Lords: Reform

To ask the Leader of the House if he will undertake a formal public consultation on the electoral system for the House of Lords. (142122)

The Government will listen carefully and consider the issues raised during the debates earlier this year on the electoral system for the House of Lords. As I have indicated, I will return to Parliament to make a statement outlining the Government's approach on the way forward.

Members: Costs

To ask the Leader of the House what the annual cost per hon. Member of the House is on the public purse. (142448)

The overall costs of the House of Commons are the sum of the Estimates for House of Commons: Administration and House of Commons: Members. A range of the costs within the Administration Estimate (and also within the Members Estimate) do not relate solely to Members. Information for recent years is given in the table.

£ million

Financial year

Total cost1

Total per Member2

2006-07 (provisional)

365.8

0.57

2005-06

3477.2

30.74

1 In accordance with the principles on which the accounts are prepared, the information is in resource rather than cash terms. 2 Using a figure of 646 members for 2005-06 and 2006-07. 3 Expenditure on the Administration Estimate for 2005-06 included a technical accounting adjustment for pension liabilities (£116 million) and the General Election in that year involved payment of Resettlement Grants and Winding Up Allowance to retiring Members on the Members Estimate (£9 million); adjusted for these elements, the per member figure would be £0.55 million.

Oral Questions

To ask the Leader of the House what consideration he has given to the amount of time allocated for oral questions to (a) the Home Department and (b) the Ministry of Justice. (143156)

The allocation of time within the oral question rota for the Home Office and for the Ministry of Justice is being reviewed and announcements will be made in due course.

Northern Ireland

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) off sale outlets and (b) licensed premises were prosecuted for serving alcohol to individuals under the age of 18 years old in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years. (142639)

The following table gives the number of prosecutions and convictions for the offences of “selling intoxicating liquor to a minor” and “permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises” For the former, it is not possible to identify separately those proceedings brought against off sale outlets and licensed premises.

Data cover the calendar years 2003 to 2005 and are collated on the principal offence rule; thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Number of prosecutions and convictions for the offences of ‘selling intoxicating liquor to a minor’ and ‘permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises’ 2003-05

Selling intoxicating liquor to a minor

Permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises

Prosecutions

Convictions

Prosecutions

Convictions

2003

5

3

0

0

2004

7

2

0

0

2005

8

3

5

0

Departments: Official Residences

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the official ministerial residences allocated to Ministers in his Department; and what the total annual cost is of running each. (141963)

When in Northern Ireland I stay at Hillsborough castle. As well as providing overnight accommodation for me, the facilities at Hillsborough castle are also used to provide official hospitality and overnight accommodation for members of the Royal Family, visiting dignitaries and diplomats. Other activities at the castle include departmental meetings, the Annual Garden Party and Citizenship Ceremonies. In addition to its use by the Northern Ireland Office and other Government Departments, charities and local community groups can request to use the facilities, generally for fund raising purposes, and the castle and grounds are open at certain times of the year for guided tours.

The costs associated with my overnight accommodation at Hillsborough castle cannot be separated from the overall cost. The cost of running Hillsborough castle for the 2005-06 financial year was £4,948,666.27. As custodians of this listed building the NIO takes seriously the need to preserve, maintain and refurbish the fabric of the building. This cost includes the maintenance of the buildings and grounds, and the security of the castle, the grounds, and that of Ministers, officials and visitors while present at the castle. It also includes the cost of catering, hospitality and administration. £3,165,938.56 is included in this amount in respect of cost of capital and depreciation.

Departments: Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by his Department on public relations in each of the last five years. (139420)

In each of the last five years the Department and its agencies has spent the following on public relations:

£

2002-03

7,758.13

2003-04

54,985.83

2004-05

29,440.29

2005-06

97,158.00

2006-07

128,901.57

The reason for the increase in spend during 2005-06 and 2006-07 is due to the Youth Justice Agency's specific strategy of raising public awareness of the additional services available locally through the roll-out of the Youth Conferencing process across Northern Ireland.

Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Freedom of Information requests have been received by each Northern Ireland Office (a) Department or (b) agency since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force; and how many of those requests were (i) agreed and (ii) denied. (123452)

An administrative error meant that the answer to this question was not tabled prior to restoration. Had it not been missed, the answer would have indicated that the response rates for the NI Departments are as listed in the following table.

This, however, would now be a matter for the Northern Ireland administration.

The information provided covers the period from 1 January 2005 as although the Freedom of Information Act received Royal Assent in 2000 it only came into force from 1 January 2005.

Department

Requests received— 1 January 2005 to 30 September 20061

Number of resolvable requests2

Number granted in full

Number granted in part

Number withheld in full

Agriculture and Rural Development

393

361

241

54

66

Culture, Arts and Leisure3

1,013

817

771

34

12

Education

272

231

193

25

13

Employment and Learning

183

163

131

23

9

Enterprise, Trade and Investment

161

133

95

21

17

Finance and Personnel

655

622

436

99

87

Health, Social Services and Public Safety

247

218

174

22

22

Environment

1,700

1,615

1,152

344

119

Regional Development

646

637

583

23

31

Social Development

295

261

213

29

19

Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

157

139

124

13

2

1 Figures include requests made under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

2 Excludes requests on hold or lapsed, where information is not held or where the request was outstanding at time of reporting.

3 DCAL figures includes requests made to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs published quarterly reports for Whitehall Department; statistics for the Northern Ireland Office are included in these. Figures for the first quarter of 2007 (1 January to 31 March) will be published in due course.

The following table covers figures relating to the performance of the Northern Ireland Office. The information supplied in relation to the Northern Ireland Office does not include information on the agencies. The agencies are not required to monitor statistics relating to Freedom of Information requests.

Department

Requests received— 1 January 2005 to 31 December 20061

Number of resolvable requests2

Number granted in full

Number granted in part

Number withheld in full

Northern Ireland Office

400

302

140

58

54

1 Figures include requests made under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

2 Excludes requests on hold or lapsed, where information is not held or where the request was outstanding at time of reporting.

Immigrants: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many foreign nationals were convicted of criminal offences in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. (142638)

At present information in relation to nationality is not included in court sentencing data and therefore it is not possible to calculate the number of foreign nationals who were convicted of criminal offences. I anticipate that such information will become available with the development of the Causeway information system.

Northern Ireland Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list those matters on which he will answer questions following the resumption of devolved government; and if he will make a statement. (142385)

I will answer questions on those matters for which I retain responsibility following the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland—primarily for policing, security policy, prisons, criminal justice, constitutional matters and the operation of the Northern Ireland devolution settlement.

Defence

Ghana

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance his Department is providing to peace support training in Ghana. (142917)

We provide a Defence section within the high commission and an eight man British Military Advisory Training Team as assistance to peace support training in Ghana. Ghana currently deploys upwards of 2,800 peacekeepers on peace-support operations both within Africa and elsewhere. The Defence Advisers and British Military Advisory Training Team provide day to day advice, training and assistance to this process.

Unexploded Ordnance

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the steps taken to remove land mines and explosive remnants of war. (142918)

The UK has been actively engaged in removing landmines and explosive remnants of war worldwide. This has had a real impact in reducing civilian casualties. The UK is contributing funds towards humanitarian de-mining programmes and initiatives to train de-mining personnel in Kenya and Kosovo and has built an explosive destruction facility in Bosnia. In addition since 2001, the Department for International Development has contracted at least £10 million per year on mine action. In April 2007, DFID announced a further £30 million to mine action over the next three years.

Warship Procurement

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the types and numbers of future warships to be ordered for the Royal Navy. (142919)

Over the next 20 years we expect to contract for or build more than 20 major warships, including nuclear attack submarines, new aircraft carriers and more air defence destroyers, and to begin a new class of fleet escorts. Numerous support ships will also come into service over this period.

Naval Accommodation

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account is taken of the implications for naval accommodation when decisions are made about royal naval training and the basing of ships. (142920)

The potential implications for naval accommodation, for both single personnel and families, are always taken fully into account whenever decisions are taken about royal naval training or the basing of ships. These considerations are an integral component of any review, such as the defence training review and the naval base review, that could have implications for the location of naval personnel.

Operational Injuries

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many very serious injuries have been sustained in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq in 2007. (142921)

Between 1 January this year and 31 May, seven military personnel in Afghanistan and 14 military personnel in Iraq were categorised as very seriously injured. Regretfully, there have in addition been 16 fatalities in Afghanistan and 24 in Iraq during 2007.

Super Garrisons

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the development of super garrisons in the UK. (142923)

The Army aspires to quartering the majority of its units in fewer, bigger and better garrisons, known as “super garrisons” over the coming decades. Detailed work to develop this approach is continuing. The actual locations of super garrisons have yet to be decided.

Surplus Military Equipment

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safeguards are in place to prevent the acquisition of dangerous surplus military equipment by private individuals. (142924)

The MOD takes the disposal of military equipment very seriously. Other than major capital platforms sold on a Government-to-Government basis, the MOD does not sell any item that has a potential dangerous or offensive use, and all such items are destroyed or recycled. Other equipment sold into the commercial marketplace is demilitarised and declassified before sale, as appropriate.

Cocaine Interdiction

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the Royal Navy is playing in the prevention of cocaine smuggling in the Caribbean. (142926)

The Royal Navy makes a major contribution to international counter drug operations in the Caribbean as one element of the UK's broader counter drugs engagement in the region. During 2006-07 Royal Navy vessels were involved in the seizure of over 17 tonnes of cocaine, with a street value in the UK of £680 million.

Airfield Review

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on his airfield review. (142927)

Ministers have received a number of representations from hon. Members and the public about studies that have been and are being undertaken across military airfields.

Troop Relocations

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the relocation of Army personnel from Germany. (142928)

As part of the Future Army Structures, I can confirm that the transition of 4th Armoured Brigade into 4th Mechanized Brigade has been made and the unit continues to train and equip for its new role. 4th Mechanized Brigade will move from Osnabrück to Catterick during 2008-09.

In addition the BORONA Programme is currently assessing a number of possible UK locations for elements of the British Army's Germany-based units. No decisions have yet been taken.

RAF Cosford

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of RAF Cosford. (142929)

The aeronautical engineering and communications and information systems training currently delivered at Cosford will relocate to St. Athan as proposed by the Metrix Consortium as part of the defence training review programme. No significant moves, however, are anticipated before 2011. There are currently no plans to close Cosford, and we are exploring a number of proposals for the future defence use of the site.

Veterans Badge Scheme

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the veterans badge scheme. (142930)

The veterans badge scheme has proved extremely popular since it was launched in 2004, with over 460,000 issued to date. It is my intention that all armed forces veterans should receive their badge at the earliest opportunity. A regular programme of extensions to eligibility has been conducted based on our capacity to handle demand, and further extensions of eligibility to apply for the badge will follow as soon as practicable.

BAE Systems Arms Contracts

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of his Department in the negotiation of BAE Systems arms contracts. (142931)

BAE Systems is the largest supplier of defence equipment to the Ministry of Defence, providing products and services in the air, sea, land and space sectors. As with all contracts placed by MOD acquisition staff, the contracts with BAE Systems are negotiated against a strict set of terms and conditions in order to deliver acquisition programmes to meet operational, programme requirements and to achieve best value for money.

As with other UK defence companies, we also support the company's efforts in the defence export market through the Defence Export Services Organisation.

CAT Scanners

23. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made in ensuring the provision of CAT scanners in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (142932)

Bevin Boys

24. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards recognising the contribution of the Bevin Boys to the second world war effort; and if he will make a statement. (142933)

Following the Prime Minister's Statement on 24 January that the Government would be announcing proposals to give recognition to the Bevin Boys, it has been agreed that responsibility for implementing the Prime Minister's decision should lie with the Department of Trade and Industry, as the Department responsible for the coal mining industry. I understand that a statement giving specific detail on the Government's proposals is imminent.

Veterans: Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision his Department has made for the mental health care of veterans. (142925)

I announced on 11 June that the Ministry of Defence was expanding the medical assessment programme at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, to provide assessments to any veteran suffering from mental health problems as a result of service in operations since 1982. For the longer term, the MOD is working with the four UK Health Departments to pilot a new community-based service that will provide NHS health professionals with access to expertise in military mental health.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of family accommodation at Pirbright barracks are occupied by squatters; and what steps are being taken to ensure such accommodation is not occupied by squatters or vandalized. (141849)

We are aware of two incidents of squatters having taken over empty Service Families Accommodation (SFA) at Pirbright, both of which occurred in the early part of last year. The properties were “outside the wire”.

In both cases, the squatters were removed and steps taken to ensure that the properties are not occupied or vandalised by squatters again.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what programmes his Department is funding to look at counter measures against the RPG29 and other shaped charge threats to British armoured vehicles. (142922)

We constantly assess the threats facing our forces on operations and have a number of programmes in place to ensure we are fielding the most suitable protection measures.

For reasons of operational security, I cannot provide any further detail on the programmes or protection measures employed by our forces.

Departments: Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was raised from the sale of departmental property in each of the last five years. (139319)

The proceeds from the disposal of surplus defence land and buildings are as follows:

Financial year

£ million

2001-02

185

2002-03

281

2003-04

207

2004-05

216

2005-06

258

It should be noted that 2001-02 includes disposals in the UK and North West Europe only. Disposals in the rest of the world cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.

2006-07 figures will be available once the agency accounts of Defence Estates—the Ministry of Defence organisation responsible for the defence estate—have been audited. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many weapons mounted installation kits and general purpose machine guns are in theatre in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (142525)

The Ministry of Defence is currently conducting a policy review of what information can be disclosed about operational equipment without compromising operational security or effectiveness. Until that review is complete, I am withholding this information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.

Military Bases: Cyprus

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence upon what grounds and for what reason a currency other than sterling will be used by British troops based on UK sovereign territory in Cyprus from next year; what consultations have taken place in connection therewith; with whom those consultations have taken place; and if he will make a statement. (143140)

[holding answer 15 June 2007]: Appendix O to the 1960 treaty establishing the Republic of Cyprus states

“the currency of the Republic will be legal tender in the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs)”.

Since 1960 the SBAs, including the large numbers of Cypriot citizens and British military personnel resident there, have used the Cyprus pound and not the pound sterling. The Republic of Cyprus is expected to replace the Cyprus pound with the euro from 1 January 2008. If this happens then the legal tender in the SBAs will become the euro. Use of a currency in the SBAs other than that circulating in the Republic of Cyprus would be impractical, and would run counter to the 1960 treaty.

UK military and UK based civilian staff will continue, as now, to be paid in pounds sterling and they can continue, as now, to elect to have a portion of their salary paid in the local currency into a local bank account. The same process applies in other overseas locations including Germany which also now uses the euro.

HMG has consulted both the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Commission on the practical aspects of euro use.

Veterans Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding his Department has allocated for local events to mark Veterans Day 2007; and whether all the funding has been allocated to local events. (142431)

£250,000 was initially allocated to regional events meeting the criteria set for Veterans Day 2007. However, in view of the high number of compliant bids received, this has been increased and a total of £319,000 has now been awarded. We have had to give priority to those proposals that have clearly supported the objectives set out for Veterans Day. The closing date for applications has now passed.

War Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many ex-service personnel are waiting for financial entitlements from the Veterans Agency; (131714)

(2) how many service personnel are awaiting (a) war disablement pension payments and (b) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments from the Veterans Agency.

At the end of March 2007 there were 6,016 claims being processed for a war disablement pension or associated supplementary allowances under the War Pension Scheme.

Under the War Pension Scheme (WPS), only medical discharge cases involve serving personnel—all others will involve ex-service personnel. At the end of March 2007 there were 348 WPS medical discharge cases under consideration. Some of these individuals may have left the service.

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme deals with claims from both serving and ex-service personnel. At the end of March 2007 there were 111 medical discharge cases and 400 injury/illness cases being processed under this scheme.

Of the 400 injury/illness claims being considered 156 cases were from ex-service personnel and 244 cases were from service personnel.

Clearance times under these schemes reflect the fact that many claims require extensive medical evidence to be gathered under various sources, and it is often necessary to seek further information in the light of the initial evidence received. Evidence then needs to be collated and assessed before a decision is taken.

Some 35,500 WPS claims and 4,800 AFCS claims were received in 2006-07, so it is inevitable that at any one time there will be several thousand being processed. This is normal work in progress, not a backlog.

The WPS key target for 2006-07, to reduce the average time it takes to issue decisions on claims to war pensions to no more than 53 working days, was exceeded with an achievement of 49 working days. The AFCS key target for 2006-07, to issue decisions on AFCS claims in an average of no more than 35 working days, was exceeded with an achievement of 34 working days.

Not all claims being processed will result in a payment.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 11 June 2007, Official Report, column 739W, on the Arts Council, how many projects of all sizes were cancelled by Arts Council England in each of the last five years. (143017)

On average, the Arts Council receives approximately 8,500 applications a year, resulting in awards for 4,500 projects on average.

It is not possible systematically to identify records on the Arts Councils grants systems of awards that were cancelled. Consequently to provide an answer would involve manually examining hundreds, if not thousands of records, which would incur disproportionate costs.

Casinos

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will bring forward proposals to establish a parliamentary committee to consider the Casino Advisory Panel's report in respect of the regional casino and that of the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee. (143186)

Ministers are currently considering the options in the light of the defeat of The Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licences) Order 2007 in the House of Lords on 28 March, and there is no set timetable for an announcement.

Departments: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff in her Department received bonus payments in 2006-07; what proportion of the total workforce they represented; what the total amount of bonuses paid was; what the largest single payment was; and if she will make a statement. (143098)

The Department makes bonus payments to its staff for two purposes:

(a) special bonuses to reward outstanding contributions in particularly demanding tasks or situations; and

(b) performance bonuses to reward highly successful performance over a whole year.

(a) Staff bonuses

2006-07

Number of staff awarded special bonuses

111

Percentage of workforce

21.5

Total value of special bonuses (£)

69,565

(b) Performance bonuses

2006-07

Number1 of staff awarded performance bonuses

154

Percentage of workforce

29.9

Total value of performance bonuses(£)

343,595

1 2006-07 relates to the financial year Notes:1. In any one year, some staff may receive both a special bonus and an end year performance bonus. 2. Performance bonus payments relate to performance in the previous year.

The largest single bonus payment was £10,000.

Digital Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what work her Department has undertaken with (a) Age Concern, (b) the Royal National Institute for the Blind, (c) the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, (d) Copeland Borough Council, (e) the Citizens' Advice Bureau and (f) other public sector or charitable organisations in relation to digital switchover in October 2007. (142842)

DCMS and Digital UK work closely with leading charities through the Digital Switchover Consumer Expert Group. Representatives include Age Concern, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf and the Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Digital UK is running an ongoing programme of drop-in sessions at a number of locations in the Border TV region and is in Whitehaven this week with the national roadshow.

Copeland borough council hosts the Digital Switchover Steering Group which meets every month. There are a number of joint events with Digital UK, including public meetings. In addition, Digital UK contributes to the council's newsletter with contributions, information and updates on switchover in the area.

In Copeland, Digital UK co-locate their offices with Age Concern North West Cumbria (ACNWC) and all ACNWC staff have been trained to provide support on the digital switchover. Digital UK also work closely with the West Cumbria Society for the Blind, with whom they held a joint event at the beginning of the month. Digital UK also hold joint events with the Cumbria Deaf Association and have worked with the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what work her Department is undertaking to develop public service applications delivered via digital television; and if she will make a statement. (142847)

A return path, which would facilitate interactivity with public service applications via digital television, is not currently a requirement for set-top boxes provided by the Digital Switchover Help Scheme. However, officials continue to have discussions with various parties about how these services might be delivered, and the requirements for Help Scheme set-top boxes are kept under review so that equipment will be updated so as best to meet the needs of the groups the scheme is intended to serve.

Digital Broadcasting: Border Television

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what involvement her Department has had with Border Television in preparation for the digital switchover in Copeland in October. (142843)

Digital UK is in regular contact with the editorial team and management at Border TV. Border TV offers a vital local service to viewers in the region, and Digital UK's regional manager for the Border TV region, John Askew, regularly appears on local news programmes to explain to viewers what they can practically do to prepare their homes for the switch.

In addition, the local news features a regular programme entitled “Ask Tim” whereby viewers send in their questions to the presenter who answers them on air. The digital TV switchover is regularly featured as a topic on “Ask Tim” and this is largely down to the ongoing and constructive relationship between Digital UK and Border Television.

Digital Broadcasting: Copeland

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department has collated data on the number of digital (a) televisions and (b) receivers sold in Copeland since the announcement in 2006 relating to digital switchover taking place there in October. (142844)

Digital UK is speaking to retailers on a monthly basis to assess how much kit they are selling and the feedback from this process is included in the Whitehaven monthly progress report.

According to the Q1 2007 Digital UK Tracker, 70 per cent. of primary sets in Copeland have already been converted. A further 27 per cent. of other sets have been converted. The proportion of the total number of sets converted is 49 per cent. We expect many people to wait until very near the time of switchover until they buy their equipment.

It should be noted that there is currently no availability of Freeview in Copeland and that the only method for going digital before the switchover is satellite. It is only by switching off the analogue signal that Freeview can be made available to homes in Copeland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what methodology was used to decide that Copeland would be the first area in the UK in which digital switchover would occur; and if she will make a statement. (142848)

Copeland was chosen as it offers an ideal environment in which to refine plans for the national switchover programme. The area is a clearly defined one with little broadcast overlap. Copeland has a good demographic mix, 16 per cent. 65+, 6.6 per cent. 75+, 21.4 per cent. registered disabled, living in a mix of private/rented housing/multiple dwelling units.

The area will benefit significantly as the Whitehaven, Gosforth and Eskdale Green transmitters do not provide digital terrestrial TV currently.

Digital Broadcasting: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much digital switchover implementation in October will cost the public purse, broken down by main budget heading. (142841)

The cost of switchover in Whitehaven in October will be met by the broadcasters. In addition, it is estimated that up to £1 million of the £603 million budget for the Digital Switchover Help Scheme (which is funded through the licence fee) will be applied in Whitehaven.

Digital UK

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) regulatory and (b) oversight role her Department has over Digital UK. (142849)

Digital UK is an independent organisation set up by the Public Service Broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Five, S4C and Teletext) and the multiplex operators. DCMS works closely with Digital UK to deliver a successful switchover.

Schools: Sight Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what provisions she plans to put in place to improve the access to sport in schools for blind and partially sighted children. (143016)

The National School Sport Strategy aims to increase the proportion of all schoolchildren who spend at least two hours each week on high quality PE and school sport. The strategy includes a variety of measures to encourage take-up among children and young people with special needs and disabilities, including those who have visual impairments.

For example, the Youth Sport Trust has recently been working with disability sport organisations, including British Blind Sport, to develop new resources for teachers and coaches working within our network of 100 multi-sport clubs for young disabled people. This network of clubs is scheduled to grow to 450 by 2009 to cover every School Sport Partnership in the country.

Swimming Pools: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what financial assistance is available to fund community swimming pools. (143129)

Financial assistance for community swimming pools is available through Sport England's Community Investment Fund (CIF). Applicants need to meet CIF criteria and show strong links with Sport England Regional Sports and Amateur Swimming Association strategies. Since 1997 swimming has been the biggest recipient of lottery funding, having attracted £249 million of which £242 million has gone to community swimming.

Duchy of Lancaster

Departments: Training

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2007, Official Report, column 1122W, on departments: training, how much expenditure was incurred on services provided by each of the two firms referred to in the last year for which figures are available. (141702)

Cost incurred using these suppliers in 2006-07 will be available only when the Department's resource accounts are fully audited and laid before Parliament. This is expected to be before the 2007 summer recess.

Minister for Women

Equal Opportunities: Ethnic Groups

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to address inequalities faced by ethnic minority women in the workplace; and if she will make a statement. (140849)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on 14 May 2007, Official Report, columns 520-21W.

Equal Opportunities: Public Bodies

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to increase diversity in (a) the judiciary, (b) the police, (c) Parliament and (d) other UK institutions; and if she will make a statement. (140848)

The Government are committed to increasing diversity and equality of opportunity in UK institutions. The Ministry of Justice is working with the judiciary and Judicial Appointments Commission to increase diversity, for example, by promoting the judicial service and widening the range of people eligible to apply for judicial office. The Judicial Diversity Strategy, setting out the approach, was announced to Parliament by written ministerial statement on 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 25WS. The Judicial Appointments 8th Report published in March 2006 showed that the proportion of female judges appointed in the previous year had increased from 31 per cent. to 41 per cent. Between 2001 and 2006 the percentage of female judges rose from 14 to 18 per cent. The percentage of those from a BME background appointed increased from 5 per cent. to 17 per cent. over the previous seven years.

Colleagues in the Home Office are extremely active in pushing for greater diversity in the police and have introduced a number of initiatives looking at recruitment, retention and progression. These include positive action guidelines on recruitment, and a toolkit looking into the setting of targets for the recruitment of women. Twenty-Two per cent. of police officers are women, and 3.7 per cent. of police officers are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Progress has been made in recruiting minority ethnic Special Constables (6.6 per cent.) and Police Staff (6.9 per cent.) and especially minority ethnic Police Community Support Officers (15.2 per cent.).

In 2002 we introduced the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act allowing positive measures towards women’s increased participation in politics. This legislation is having an impact. Women now make up 20 per cent. of MPs compared with 9 per cent. before 1997. However, there is still a long way to go: only 2.3 per cent. of MPs are from non-white backgrounds, compared with around 8 per cent. of the population. The Discrimination Law Review is considering the case for widening the scope of positive measures to target the selection of political candidates beyond gender. It is also looking at how to widen the range of voluntary positive action measures available to organisations as employers and service providers in order to prevent or compensate for disadvantage or to meet the special needs of groups protected by discrimination law. Our consultation paper, “A Framework for Fairness”, setting out our proposals for a Single Equality Bill, was published on 12 June.

Refuges: Edmonton

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many recorded cases there were of women being housed in refuges and safe houses in Edmonton constituency in 2006. (140756)

Transport

A303

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans are in place to upgrade the A303 to a dual carriageway; and what the likely completion date is of each scheme. (142990)

I have accepted the Region’s advice that priority for a start on a second strategic route in the South West should be given to either the A303 Ilminster Bypass or Stonehenge, if the current review identifies a deliverable and affordable scheme.

The A303 Ilminster Bypass is included within the 10 year forward programme which forms part of a high quality strategic route to the South West. Subject to regional funding, construction on this scheme could begin in 2014-15 with completion in 2017. The Stonehenge Report is still under review.

The remaining unimproved sections of the A303 are:

A303 Chicklade Bottom to Mere Improvement

A303 Sparkford to Ilchester and Podimore Junction Improvement

A303 Wylye to Stockton Wood Improvement.

These three schemes are in the Region’s longer-term list of priorities (beyond 2016) and are currently on hold.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were (a) killed and (b) seriously injured on the single carriageway sections of the A303 in each of the last 10 years. (142966)

The number of people killed and seriously injured on the single carriageway sections of the A303 in each of the last 10 years are shown in the table as follows:

Fatal

Serious

1997

3

26

1998

6

29

1999

6

21

2000

2

15

2001

6

22

2002

6

28

2003

2

19

2004

6

14

2005

4

11

2006

3

16

Total

44

201

A449: Safety Measures

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will request the Highways Agency to conduct a full review of the safety of the A449 between Claines roundabout and Ombersley before the agency transfers responsibility for the road to Worcestershire county council. (142599)

A full safety study on this section of the A449 was carried out in 2004. The resulting recommendations for improvements to the road were promoted at a public exhibition. A safety scheme involving improvement to the elevation of the bends and signing, and the installation of two mobile safety camera sites was completed in 2005. As a result of a follow-up Road Safety Audit of these works, further improvements are to be carried out later this year. These include additional signing and installation of an anti-skid surface and hazard marker posts.

Negotiations are continuing between the Highways Agency and Worcestershire county council about the transfer of responsibility for the A449 to the local authority and no further safety reviews are anticipated.

Airbus A380

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many airports in the UK have the (a) facilities and (b) runway distance to operate the new Airbus A380 when it comes into service; (142994)

(2) how many airports in the UK have the (a) facilities and (b) runway distance to operate the Boeing 747-8 (extended range).

[holding answer 15 June 2007]: Neither the A380 nor the B747-8 require any more runway length than other heavy jets currently in service.

In the UK only London Heathrow airport has so far developed facilities specifically to cater for A380 and B747-8 operations.

The development plans for London Stansted airport also include A380 and B747-8 facilities. Other UK airports have either yet to declare their plans for dealing with these aircraft or are content to operate them with existing facilities.

Automatic Train Protection: Inquiries

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of the 1999 Health and Safety Commission inquiry into train protection systems. (143705)

Blue Badge Scheme: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations his Department has received on the consultation on extending the Blue Badge disabled parking scheme to include children under two years of age. (143700)

The Department is proposing to extend the eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge to children under the age of two with specific medical conditions.

The consultation exercise is due to finish on 19 June and the replies will be analysed after that date.

Eurostar: Ashford Kent

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has had from local interest groups regarding the Ashford International Eurostar service in the last 12 months. (143146)

FV Gaul Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of the FV Gaul Inquiry. (143714)

The total cost to the Department of the Re-opened Formal Investigation (RFI) was approximately £6.5 million.

FV Trident Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the estimated cost is of the FV Trident inquiry; who has responsibility for chairing the inquiry; and when he expects it to report. (143719)

Estimates for the total cost of the Trident RFI are around £2 million. The Sheriff Principal for Grampian, Highland and Islands will be chairing the inquiry. The timing of the inquiry is dependent upon the production of technical evidence required by the experts advising legal parties, and the report will follow thereafter.

Galileo Project

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the overall change in the projected cost of the Galileo Satellite Navigation System was in each of the last three financial years; what assessment he has made of the impact of those changes on the business case for the project; and if he will make a statement. (140413)

Galileo is a European Community project which the Government accept should be managed at European level.

The EU, and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly fund the design and development programme for Galileo. The ESA estimate for the cost of the development phase (in orbit validation or IOV) has increased by €136.7 million, in 2001 prices, over the last three years:

cost in 2005: €1,557.4 million (€1,452.0 million in 2001 prices);

cost at March 2007: €1,788.4 million (€1,588.7 million in 2001 prices).

At the last meeting of the ESA programme board which deals with Galileo, in May 2007, the ESA executive informed its member states that it is assessing issues which may affect the costs of the programme. These relate to the contracts for the second test satellite, GIOVE-B, and the IOV phase. They were not yet able to define the costs.

The Nice European Council of December 2000 decided on a public private partnership (PPP) for the deployment and operation phase. This was to be one- third EC, two-thirds private funding, with a 20-year concession.

The draft EU Financial Regulation currently allocates €900 million, at 2004 prices, towards the deployment and operation of the system.

On 8 June Transport Council Ministers concluded that the current negotiations have failed. The Commission has been requested to submit to the October Council for decision detailed alternative proposals for taking the project forward. These should be based on an additional thorough assessment of costs, risks, revenues and timetable. The need for competition in a procurement strategy has been emphasised. The Commission was also requested to bring forward proposals for strengthening the public governance of the programme. The UK, jointly with the Netherlands and supported by Slovakia and Cyprus, submitted a minutes statement stressing our commitment to the PPP principle for major infrastructure projects, our concerns on the potential increased costs of public procurement, the need for a reassessment of the business case for Galileo, competitive procurement, sound risk management, and ensuring that any extra funds are kept within the current EU financial perspective. The cost of this phase will not be known until Council makes that decision.

The European Commission's Communication of 16 May 2007 does not provide an assessment of the impact of cost changes on the business case for the project.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the expected cost-benefit ratio of the Galileo Satellite Navigation System was in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06 and (c) 2006-07; (140414)

(2) what limit the UK Government have set for (a) the maximum level of funding that it would approve for the Galileo project and (b) the cost-benefit ratio at which it would withdraw its support for the project.

No annual cost-benefit ratios have been produced by the Commission. Cost information has been updated from time to time. At the beginning of the programme, the Commission engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers. Their report of November 2001 identified a positive benefit-cost ratio of 4.6:1.

The conclusions of the December 2004 Transport Council asked the Commission to submit a reasoned analysis of the results of the public private partnership (PPP) negotiations, including on risk allocation and final costs, before any final decision was made. The UK, supported by Austria, entered a minutes statement stressing the need for the proposed risk and cost allocations between public and private sector to be acceptable to Council.

In spring 2006, three studies were commissioned by the Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) and reported to member states at the GJU Supervisory Board. The studies covered revenues, costs, and the value for money of the satellite procurement: no overall cost-benefit analysis was produced.

The most recent Commission Communication, 16 May 2007, sets out 23-year net present values (NPVs) of:

(i) €1.8 billion for a PPP as foreseen, except that four of the deployment satellites would be procured by the public sector, as risk mitigation; and

(ii) €2.2 billion for the public procurement of 18 satellites, with a further 12 purchased by the private sector; and

(iii) €1.0 billion for the public procurement of 30.

On 8 June Transport Council Ministers concluded that the current negotiations have failed. The Commission has been requested to submit to the October Council for decision detailed alternative proposals for taking the project forward. These should be based on an additional thorough assessment of costs, risks, revenues and timetable. The need for competition in a procurement strategy has been emphasised. The Commission was also requested to bring forward proposals for strengthening the public governance of the programme. The UK, jointly with the Netherlands and supported by Slovakia and Cyprus, submitted a minutes statement stressing our commitment to the PPP principle for major infrastructure projects, our concerns on the potential increased costs of public procurement, the need for a reassessment of the business case for Galileo, competitive procurement, sound risk management, and ensuring that any extra funds are kept within the current EU financial perspective.

The Government have not set either a maximum level of funding that they would approve for the project, or a cost-benefit ratio at which they would withdraw their support. The latest information from the European Space Agency is that costs of the development phase are €1778.40 million to date (2007 cash terms). The draft EU Financial Regulation allocates €900 million, at 2004 prices, to the deployment phase.

The Government are strongly committed to the existing budget ceilings and to ensuring that there is no reopening of the Financial Perspective. The principle that member states would not be required to fund Galileo from national budgets for the deployment and operational phases of the programme was agreed at the March 2002 Transport Council. The Government remain committed to this principle.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what return he expects to receive on the UK's contribution to the Galileo project; and how it will be calculated; (140417)

(2) what evaluations he has made of the market opportunities and applications of Galileo; when those evaluations were made; and when they were last revised.

No calculation of UK return has been made for the programme as a whole.

ESA operates an industrial policy that provides for a geographical return based on member state contributions. The UK commitment to the ESA element of the design and development phase of the programme is €142 million. The value of contracts awarded to UK companies up to 15 May 2007 was €212.7 million.

The EU's contribution to the design and development phase is made from the EC budget and is estimated by the Commission to be €790 million. The UK makes its contributions to the EC budget as a whole and not to individual spending programmes within it.

There is not an identified UK contribution to the design and development phase of the programme via the EU budget.

The Government expect benefits from their investment in Galileo for companies that provide space technology and services, and for companies that exploit the technology in downstream applications. A study commissioned by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) in 2005 evaluated the economic impact of Galileo in the UK. It identified benefits for space segment industries and for downstream services and products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the total cost is of the full number of satellites proposed under the Galileo project; how many there are at the moment; and how many are planned in the future; (141065)

(2) how many Galileo satellites will be purchased by the European Commission on behalf of the European Union under the new programme; and what percentage of the cost of a re-programmed and re-financed Galileo will be borne by the UK.

The Galileo global constellation is expected to comprise 30 satellites. The Commission has based its assessment and its proposals to the Transport Council on the provision of 30.

A first test satellite, GIOVE-A, was launched in December 2005 and is providing operational signals. A second test satellite, GIOVE-B, has been delayed and is scheduled to be launched by end 2007.

On 8 June Transport Council Ministers concluded that the current negotiations have failed. The Commission has been requested to submit to the October Council for decision detailed alternative proposals for taking the project forward. These should be based on an additional thorough assessment of costs, risks, revenues and timetable. The need for competition in a procurement strategy has been emphasised. The Commission was also requested to bring forward proposals for strengthening the public governance of the programme. The UK, jointly with the Netherlands and supported by Slovakia and Cyprus, submitted a minutes statement stressing our commitment to the PPP principle for major infrastructure projects, our concerns on the potential increased costs of public procurement, the need for a reassessment of the business case for Galileo, competitive procurement, sound risk management, and ensuring that any extra funds are kept within the current EU financial perspective. The timetable for the programme, its funding, and its organisation are subject to these decisions at Council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans there are to strengthen the GNSS programme as referred to in the European Commission communication COM (2007) 261 of 16 May 2007; and by what mechanisms it will be strengthened. (141153)

In its Resolution of 24 April 2007, the European Parliament called on the Commission to:

“make a proposal—together with the European Space Agency (ESA)—capable of solving the problem of better public governance by ensuring clear political responsibility and leadership on the part of the Commission.”

The Commission Communication of 16 May 2007 refers to this request. The Communication proposes that the Commission be asked to bring forward proposals for stronger public governance of the project with clearer divisions of responsibility between the Commission, ESA and the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA). On 8 June 2007 Transport Council asked the Commission to submit in September proposals for

“a sound public sector management structure of the programme on the basis of a clear division of responsibilities between Commission, ESA, GSA, member states and Council”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the scope is of the European Union EGNOS programme; what the timetable is for its implementation; what its cost will be to the UK; how the programme is regulated; which British (a) nationals and (b) firms are involved in this initiative; and if he will make a statement. (141154)

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is a satellite based augmentation system (SBAS) that will augment the two satellite navigation systems now operating, the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) systems, and make them suitable for safety-critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels.

It is a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission and Eurocontrol (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation), with the involvement of the principal European Air Traffic Service Providers, including NATS plc. The programme is regulated as an ESA programme under its ARTES 9 programme. The integration of EGNOS into the Galileo programme was decided by Transport Council in its conclusions of June 2003.

The programme funding currently provides for the development and operation of the system by ESA until 31 March 2008. Arrangements and the funding of EGNOS after March 2008 are unlikely to be decided until the October 2007 Transport Council.

The ARTES 9 programme of ESA is funded by subscriptions from its member states. The European Community also contributes as have the principal European air traffic service providers. Since the start of the programme, UK contributions to ESA have been almost €35 million.

This industrial sector is international in nature but prominent firms operating in the UK that have been awarded contracts by ESA include British Telecommunications, Inmarsat UK, LogicaCMG UK, Thales (UK), and Vega UK.

Accordingly, accurate information on all specific British nationals and firms that have been involved in this initiative would be difficult to provide and only at disproportionate cost.

Galileo Project: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the (a) cost and (b) merits of funding the Galileo project through (i) public and (ii) private finance. (141149)

Galileo is a European Community project which the Government accept should be managed at European level.

The most recent Commission Communication, 16 May 2007, sets out 23-year net present values (NPVs) of:

i. €1.8 billion for a PPP as foreseen, except that four of the deployment satellites would be procured by the public sector, as risk mitigation; and

ii. €2.2 billion for the public procurement of 18 satellites, with a further 12 purchased by the private sector; and

iii. €1.0 billion for the public procurement of 30.

On 8 June Transport Council Ministers concluded that the current negotiations have failed. The Commission has been requested to submit detailed alternative proposals for taking the project forward to the October Council for decision. These should be based on an additional thorough assessment of costs, risks, revenues and timetable. The need for competition in a procurement strategy has been emphasised. The Commission was also requested to bring forward proposals for strengthening the public governance of the programme. The timetable for the programme, its funding, and its organisation are subject to these decisions.

The UK, jointly with the Netherlands and supported by Slovakia and Cyprus, submitted a minutes statement stressing our commitment to the PPP principle for major infrastructure projects, our concerns on the potential increased costs of public procurement, the need for a reassessment of the business case for Galileo, competitive procurement, sound risk management, and ensuring that any extra funds are kept within the current EU financial perspective.

The Department has not made a separate estimate of the costs and merits of funding the Galileo project through public and private finance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the balance of risk between private and public sectors in the Galileo project is the same as that adopted by the Government in relation to domestic public private partnerships. (141150)

The proposed commercial public-private partnership (PPP) structure developed by the Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU), and subsequently the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA), on behalf of the European Community aimed to obtain best value for money by placing risks with those best able to manage them. Negotiations on risk allocation had not been concluded when the heads of terms, version 1, was signed in November 2006. On 8 June the Transport Council concluded that the PPP negotiations had failed and should be ended.

There are no UK PPPs directly comparable with the Galileo project.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the total cost of the Galileo programme between 2007 to 2013 will be paid for by the UK. (141151)

The EC budget commitment for Galileo under the 2007-13 Financial Perspective will not be decided until after the summer.

The UK makes its contributions to the EC budget as a whole and not to individual spending programmes within it. Before taking account of the abatement, the UK contribution to the EC budget in 2007 is estimated to be 17.1 per cent. of the total. Over the period 2007-13, the draft EU Financial Regulation allocates €900 million, at 2004 prices, to the Galileo deployment phase.

The EU and the member states of ESA jointly fund the design and development programme for Galileo. As an ESA member state, the UK has committed €142 million to the design and development phase. This represents just under 17 per cent. of the subscription made to the programme by participating member states, and is comparable with contributions made by Germany, France and Italy. By the end of March 2007, payments to ESA amounted to just over half of the €142 million, leaving the remainder to be paid during 2007-13.

ESA has recently identified additional costs for the design and development phase. It is expected that the ESA executive will apply a rule that enables them to draw down up to 20 per cent. more than the original subscription made by the participating member state. ESA has also identified other additional requirements, the cost of which has not yet been scoped.

The principle that EU member states would not be required to fund the deployment and operational phases of the Galileo programme from national budgets was agreed at the March 2002 Transport Council. The Government remain committed to this principle.

M3

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will provide estimates of the level of noise between junctions five and seven of the M3 motorway in each of the last 20 years for which data are available further to the answer of 27 June 2005, Official Report, column 1261W on the M3. (142773)

Noise data are not available to estimate noise levels between junctions five and seven of the M3 for each of the last 20 years. As explained in the answers of 27 June 2005, assessments of noise severity are made using the “Calculation of Road Traffic Noise” (CRTN model) which use distance from source, exposure, obstacles and traffic levels. Each of these factors varies significantly at any point along the road length. The range would vary between less than 60 dB to more than 72.5 dB at the road surface.

The statement in the answer of 27 June 2005 that the noise level is likely to have increased by around 4.5 dB over the last 20 years was based on the approximate increase in traffic levels over the 20-year period.

To provide retrospective assessments would require assumptions to be made about many of the variable factors which would reduce the accuracy of assessments to an unreliable level.

The Highways Agency has conducted assessments using the CRTN model at specific “noise hotspots” and implementation of a programme of local noise mitigation measures is ongoing.

Motor Vehicles: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many MOT tests were carried out in each of the last three years in the UK. (144031)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) publish this information annually in an Effectiveness Report. The Effectiveness Report for 2005-06 is available on-line at www.vosa.gov.uk. A hard copy of the report for previous years is placed in the House of Commons Library, Business and Transport section.

Motorcycles: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of motorcyclists killed and seriously injured in the last five years had (a) passed their test through direct access, (b) passed their test less than two years previously and (c) taken advanced training; and if he will make a statement. (143738)

MV Derbyshire Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of the MV Derbyshire Inquiry. (143713)

The total cost to the Department of the Re-opened Formal Investigation (RFI) was approximately £11 million.

Railways: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of total rail journeys were on tickets with unregulated rail fares for each train operating company in each year since 1998-99; and if he will make a statement. (143620)

The Department for Transport does not hold this information. However, approximately 40 per cent. of train operators revenue comes from fares which are regulated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total change in (a) regulated and (b) unregulated rail fares was for each rail franchise in England for the period 1996-97 to 2007-08 inclusive; and if he will make a statement. (143621)

Figures for average increases in fares can be found in “National Rail Trends” published by the Office of Rail Regulation and available from www.rail-reg.gov.uk. Standard class tickets increased by an average of 6 per cent. between 1995 and 2006.

Railways: Grayrigg

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the inquiry into the derailment at Grayrigg on 23 February 2007. (143615)

The investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is continuing. RAIB currently plans to issue a second interim report later in the summer.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many unlicensed vehicles were involved in road traffic accidents in each year since 2000. (144029)

I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 20 February 2007, Official Report, column 589W, given to the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright).

Roads: East Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding the Government has set aside for the construction of the Bexhill to Hastings link road; and if he will make a statement. (143147)

The proposed Bexhill to Hastings link road, a Local Transport Plan major road scheme, was granted Programme Entry in December 2004 with an agreed Departmental funding contribution of £47.120 million towards the cost of the scheme. This funding is subject to a number of provisions including the satisfactory completion of statutory procedures. In addition, we also awarded East Sussex county council £0.850 million in 2005 towards eligible preparatory costs for the scheme.

Skips

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving building skips on roads have taken place in (a) England and (b) Wiltshire in the last 10 years for which figures are available; and on how many occasions breaches of section 139 of the Highways Act 1980 have been recorded. (143335)

Trains: Overcrowding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on levels of rail overcrowding. (143406)

The railway in recent years has been a success. Since privatisation, passenger numbers are up by 40 per cent.—driven by a strong economy, improving services, new trains and Government investment.

We will continue to increase capacity through the franchising process and in other ways. In particular, the Secretary of State announced on 14 March that the High Level Output Specification, to be published in the summer, will include a commitment to a thousand extra carriages. They will be targeted at the most congested routes on the network.

Vans: Safety Belts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many serious injuries involving van drivers not wearing seat belts there were in each of the last five years. (142898)

Education and Skills

Adult Education: Basic Skills

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many (a) adults and (b) adults over 25 years received Skills for Life funding in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05 and (iii) 2005-06; (138365)

(2) how many (a) adults and (b) adults over 25 years receiving Skills for Life funding were given workplace training in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05 and (iii) 2005-06, broken down by the number of hours of workplace training given.

Figures for adults funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) under the Skills for Life programme can be derived from the Individualised Learner Record (ILR).

Skills for Life tends to be described as a strategy rather than a funding stream. There are aims that are funded with and without a programme weighting for Skills for Life, which can all count towards the Skills for Life PSA target.

The following table shows the number of Further Education (FE) and University for Industry (UFI) LSC-funded adult learners (aged 19 and over) and adult learners aged 25 and over who could contribute towards the Skills for Life target in 2003/04, 2004/05

and 2005/06.

Thousand

Adults

Adults aged 25+

2003/04

210.7

148.5

2004/05

256.9

185.1

2005/06

308.7

223.2

The ILR cannot robustly be used to determine the incidence of workplace training.

Adult Education: Copeland

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many adult learners were in further education in Copeland in 2005-06. (133488)

Figures for those participating in further education (FE) funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) can be derived from the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). There were 3,436 adult learners (aged 19 and over) in FE in Copeland parliamentary constituency (based on home post code of the learner) in 2005-06.

Basic Skills

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to meet the Leitch Review of Skills' objective to eradicate low skills among the adult working age population by 2020. (142683)

We have accepted the very stretching skills ambitions for 2020 that Lord Leitch recommended in his skills review. Our current plans are to publish a full response in early July which will set out the coherent package of measures we will take to meet the ambition.

Book Trust: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding his Department provided to the Booktrust charity in each year since 2001. (142753)

[holding answer 14 June 2007]: The information requested is provided in the following table.

£

Financial year

Total funding for year

2001-02

290,000

2002-03

0

2003-04

150,000

2004-05

2,074,000

2005-06

8,584,000

2006-07

9,063,000

2007-08

13,018,000

Total amount to date

32,929,500

Departments: Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent by his Department on public relations in each of the last five years. (139413)

The Department employs public relations agencies for specific communications tasks, most commonly working alongside our press office to provide campaign support in local regional and specialist media. The amount spent on such activities in each of the last five years has totalled significantly less than 0.01 per cent. of total departmental spend and is as follows:

Cost1 (£)

2002-03

567,987

2003-04

1,105,207

2004-05

1,593,317

2005-06

914,163

2006-07

1,630,935

1 These figures include contracts placed by the Department and by the Central Office of Information (COI) on our behalf.

In 2006-07 the spend has covered:

Work on the London Challenge including the ‘London Schools Celebrating Achievement’ campaign.

Promoting a wider awareness of foundation degrees among learners, while also helping employers to understand the benefits of these qualifications to their businesses.

Student Finance—a key objective of our activity in 2006-07 was to ensure that 16 to 19- year-olds and their parents were aware of, and understood, the new student support arrangements. This was important to help ensure that finance was not seen as a barrier to participating in HE.

Departments: Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will place in the Library copies of his Department’s employee surveys for (a) 2002 and (b) 2004. (142026)

The Department undertakes a staff survey approximately every 18 months. The survey is a powerful tool which allows the monitoring of progress across a range of staff-related issues. The survey also enables the Department to compare itself with other UK organisations in both the public and private sector, including high-performing organisations.

The Department completed a survey in 2003 and 2005. The results of these surveys will be placed in the House Libraries.

Education: EC Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which (a) conferences, (b) seminars and (c) other events have been funded under bilateral EU-US funding for joint activities in higher education, training and youth. (133080)

This Department does not hold information on activities carried out under the EU’s bilateral co-operation programmes which are funded and administered centrally by the European Commission.