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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Northern Ireland

Royal Ulster Constabulary

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the three former senior officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, Chris Albiston, Raymond White and Freddie Hall, who were named by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) on 24 January 2007, Official Report, column 1415W, following a report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, were formally interviewed concerning any alleged offence during the course of the ombudsman’s investigation into the death of Raymond McCord Junior and related matters; and if he will take steps to clear their names. (149982)

The three former senior officers, Chris Albiston, Raymond White and Freddie Hall, named by the hon. Gentleman were not formally interviewed in connection with any alleged offence in the course of the Police Ombudsman’s investigation. I am happy to put on record that these officers, in common with many colleagues, served with commitment and distinction in very demanding policing roles in Northern Ireland.

Solicitor-General

Departments: Consultants

To ask the Solicitor-General how much the Law Officers' Departments spent on (a) management consultants and (b) other external consultants and advisers in each year since 2000; and which of these consultants undertook work for the Department with a total contractual value in excess of £10 million over this period. (146331)

I am answering this question on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious Fraud Office, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, Treasury's Solicitors Department and HMCPS Inspectorate.

It has not been possible to distinguish between expenditure on management consultants and other external consultants. The statistics are also dependent on individual budget holders allocating expenditure to the correct code.

£000

Financial year

CPS

SFO

RCPO

TSol1

HMCPSI

2000-01

4,043

341

n/a

202

n/a

2001-02

7,126

298

n/a

195

153

2002-03

4,947

762

n/a

311

63

2003-04

7,139

672

n/a

278

51

2004-05

7,819

1,296

n/a

274

59

2005-06

3,784

1,919

127

658

66

2006-07

3,924

1,453

236

328

57

1 Including AGO

In addition the Treasury Solicitors’ department has incurred the following costs for externally procured legal advice for representation including expenditure which is recovered from client organisations through charges as part of the business operations of TSol.

£000

2000-01

17,531

2001-02

20,418

2002-03

27,089

2003-04

28,187

2004-05

22,981

2005-06

17,409

2006-07 (forecast)

20,254

Departments: Legislation

To ask the Solicitor-General what legislative provisions within the responsibility of the Law Officers' Departments introduced since 1997 have not yet been brought into force. (149681)

My Department is not generally responsible for the carriage of legislation. We are not aware of any legislative provisions within our responsibility and introduced since 1997, which have not yet been brought into force.

Public Sector: Misconduct

To ask the Solicitor-General how many (a) prosecutions and (b) convictions there were of public sector employees for offences relating to their official duties in the last period for which figures are available. (149682)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) maintains no central record of whether the defendants it prosecutes are public sector employees or whether the offences for which defendants are prosecuted relate to their official duties.

This information may be held on individual case files, but could only be obtained by locating and examining a huge numbers of individual case files and would incur disproportionate cost (Code of Practice on Access to Information, part 2, clause 9).

Police Cautions

To ask the Solicitor-General what monitoring the Law Officers' Departments undertake of the operation of the issuing of conditional cautions; and how many such cautions have been issued in each police authority. (149294)

The joint Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)/Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) prosecution team is responsible for the implementation of and the day-to-day monitoring of the conditional cautioning scheme.

Monitoring of the use of the conditional cautions is undertaken at both national and local level. An information data set has been produced, which contains national and local performance data including the number of offenders being conditionally cautioned and the types of offences conditional cautions have been issued for. The information data set is issued by the national prosecution team on a monthly basis to all staff across areas with lead responsibility for conditional cautioning.

Information contained in the information data set is obtained from the CPS case management system and management information system as well as from local areas and Home Office research, development and statistics (RDS) data. Collating the data in this way allows for a consistent, national recording mechanism which does not require additional reporting from areas.

Conditional cautioning is being implemented across each criminal justice area in a phased approach. To date, conditional cautioning is operational in 93 police basic command units across 41 out of the 42 criminal justice areas. Full implementation of the scheme across 230 basic command units is expected to be achieved by April 2008. There have been 2,963 conditional cautions issued nationally since the first pilot schemes were introduced in 2005. A breakdown of the number of conditional cautions in each CPS area is also available from:

conditional.cautioning:cps.gsi.gov.uk

In Gloucestershire, conditional cautions were introduced on 25 June 2007 in the Cotswold and Stroud division. However, to date no conditional cautions have been issued in this division.

Scotland

Departments: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department has spent on hospitality events in each of the last five years. (148613)

Scotland Office hospitality expenditure is detailed in the following table:

Hospitality expenditure (£)

2002-03

41,882

2003-04

25,969

2004-05

18,420

2005-06

17,748

2006-07

23,411

Departments: Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within his Department's areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. (149054)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave on 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 994W.

Departments: Racial Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which his Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. (149244)

Dover House: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many receptions have been held at Dover House in each of the last five years. (148605)

The number of receptions held at Dover House is as shown in the following table. The receptions not funded by the Scotland Office were third party events organised and funded by organisations such as charities and trade associations.

Third party events

Scotland Office funded events

Total number of events

2002-03

21

7

28

2003-04

14

8

22

2004-05

24

7

31

2005-06

11

5

16

2006-07

25

5

30

Navy: Military Bases

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the Naval Base Review, with particular reference to Faslane. (149556)

The Secretary of State has regular discussions with colleagues in the Ministry of Defence on a range of subjects.

Wales

Departments: Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within his Department’s areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. (149058)

A total of £12,263.38 was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants in the 12 months to 31 March 2007, the latest period for which we have final figures. This reflects the increased travel requirements of Cardiff-based staff in support of the heavy parliamentary legislative programme delivered by the Wales Office.

Pipelines: Natural Gas

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on health and safety and the new Welsh gas pipeline. (149217)

My hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen, West and South Pembrokeshire (Nick Ainger), and I had regular discussions with Welsh Assembly Government ministerial colleagues, including about the health and safety considerations of both phases of the liquid natural gas pipeline (LNG), and I will continue to do so as necessary.

I am confident that stringent conditions are attached to the approval. All pipelines in the United Kingdom are designed, tested and operated in accordance with the strictest standards established by the Health and Safety Executive and the Institute of Gas Engineers.

Both the National Grid (NG) and the Milford Haven Port Authority have been working closely with Government and security services to make sure they have robust security arrangements.

The NG takes safety and security of people and assets extremely seriously and continually carries out thorough reviews of safety and security at its sites around the country based on potential risks, and has a number of procedures in place. In 35 years the UK’s high-pressure National Grid Transmission System has never experienced a serious incident affecting life or property, and I am sure that NG is doing its utmost to maintain this exemplary record.

Leader of the House

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Leader of the House if she will commission research on the effect of the new postage and stationery rules on the ability of hon. and right hon. Members to communicate effectively with their constituents. (148357)

The monetary cap on the use of pre-paid envelopes from 1 April 2007 was balanced by the introduction of the Communications Allowance, which provides extra resources to enable Members to engage proactively with their constituents.

The rules of the new allowance will be reviewed and if necessary revised by the Members Estimate Committee in the light of experience and on advice by the Advisory Panel on Members' Allowances.

There are no plans to commission any research on the postage and stationery rules.

Members: Cycling

To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 9W, on Members: cycling, if she will take steps to enable hon. Members to register with the Government's cycle to work scheme in their capacity as an employer so that their staff members can participate in the scheme. (148573)

As employers, Members may register for the scheme, which has costs as well as benefits for Members' staff. Any Member doing so would be responsible for administering the scheme and ensuring that the scheme rules were met.

Oral Questions

To ask the Leader of the House when she expects the new rota for oral questions to be completed; and what provision she expects to make for (a) regional Ministers and (b) the Minister for the East Midlands to answer oral questions. (149740)

The Leader of the House confirmed the questions rota until the summer recess on 4 July for departmental Ministers. The rota, and related matters including the issue of question times for regional Ministers, will be considered during the summer recess.

International Development

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many reconstruction projects have been undertaken in Helmand province over the last five years; and where these have taken place. (150023)

Through the national solidarity programme, the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) have approved 697 reconstruction projects in Helmand of which 250 have been completed. These have taken place in Lashkar Gah, Nahr-e-Saraj, Kajki, Musa Qala, Baghran, Now Zad, Washer, Nad Ali, Nawa-i-Barakzai, Dishu, Garmsir, Sangin and Reg. Through DFID's support to GoA's rural water and sanitation programme, 229 wells to provide clean drinking water in Helmand have been completed. These are located in Lashkar Gah, Nahr-e-Saraj, Nawa and Nad Ali. Work is also being undertaken on 50 kilometres of DFID-funded roads in Lashkar Gah.

Since April 2006, the UK has funded 150 quick impact projects through the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) based in Lashkar Gah. Of these, 81 were reconstruction projects and 52 have been completed. These have taken place in Lashkar Gah, Gereshk, Sangin, Garmsir, Musa Qala and Nahr-e-Saraj.

In addition to this, the United States Government through USAID have completed 75 projects through their alternative livelihoods programme over the last two years in Helmand. These projects have covered every district in Helmand except for Dishu.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many reconstruction projects undertaken in Helmand province over the last five years have been destroyed or delayed due to fighting. (150024)

Over the past 30 years, infrastructure in Afghanistan, including Helmand province, has sustained substantial damage due to conflict, and neglect resulting from the collapse of governmental institutions. Since the UK assumed the lead of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in April 2006, the security situation has not been suitably permissive to allow either the PRT or provincial authorities to undertake a full battle damage assessment, encompassing destroyed or delayed projects, across Helmand.

The PRT works closely with the provincial authorities to undertake consultations with communities across the province to enable them to compile a provincial development plan (PDP) that will address the reconstruction and development needs of Helmand. The civilian and military elements within the PRT are working in close partnership to minimise the future risk of damage to infrastructure and non-combatants.

Latin America: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when his Department expects to publish its Latin America Regional Assistance Plan 2008-11. (150485)

The Department for International Development's Latin America policy will be reviewed in the autumn in the light of consultations on a new DFID strategy for Latin America.

We expect to have the Latin America Regional Assistance Plan 2008-11 published by the end of 2007.

Palestinians: EC Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he plans to use the Temporary International Mechanism as an acceptable method of delivering aid to the Palestinian population beyond its current extension to September. (150257)

Any decision to extend the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) beyond September will need to be taken by the Quartet in consultation with the Palestinians. The EU is currently discussing with Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad how best to provide financial and practical assistance to the emergency government. He has welcomed the continuation of support through the TIM, but has not yet indicated how he would like it to evolve after September.

Defence

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reconstruction projects in the Helmand province have been (a) started and (b) completed in the last two years. (148723)

I have been asked to reply.

Through the national solidarity programme, the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) have approved 697 reconstruction projects in Helmand over the last two years, of which 250 have been completed. Through DFID’s support to GoA’s Rural Water and Sanitation Programme, 1,000 wells to provide clean drinking water in Helmand have been surveyed, and 229 have been completed. Since April 2006, the UK has funded 150 quick impact projects through the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) based in Lashkar Gah. Of these, 81 were reconstruction projects and 52 have been completed. Work is also ongoing on 50 kilometres of DFID-funded roads in Lashkar Gah.

In addition to this, the United States Government through USAID have completed 75 projects through its alternative livelihoods programme over the last two years in Helmand.

Armed Forces: Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what responsibility his Department has for the health care of service personnel ill or injured (a) due to duties and (b) due to incidents unrelated to duties. (148233)

The MOD is responsible for ensuring the medical care of serving members of the armed forces. The actual delivery of health care is performed by a combination of the Defence Medical Services, the NHS, coalition forces or private medical providers, depending on the geographical location, circumstances and clinical need of the patient.

If service personnel require medical treatment when on leave in the UK away from their normal duty station, they should obtain it from local NHS facilities. If inpatient treatment is required, administrative arrangements are in place for the hospital to inform the relevant service authority, in order that the appropriate military medical and welfare processes can be set in motion, which may include transfer to facilities convenient to home or unit if necessary.

Armed Forces: Life Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision he has made for personnel being deployed abroad to assist them in securing life insurance. (149677)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: MOD already provides significant financial support for attributable death during service. This was improved under the 2005 Armed Forces Pension Scheme and the Compensation Scheme introduced on 6 April 2005.

As a matter of policy MOD leaves the decision whether to take out additional cover in the form of personal insurance to the individual as individual needs vary and personal insurance is a complex issue.

In the past, service personnel have sometimes encountered difficulties in obtaining affordable life insurance that provides cover for war risks such as chemical or biological attack.

One scheme currently available to all service personnel, including those deployed abroad is PAX which provides personal accident and life cover. PAX covers war risks, but has in the past imposed restrictions (such as closing the scheme or introducing war and terrorism risks) for new members.

In addition, MOD's Service Risks Insurance Premiums Refunds scheme currently contributes towards extra life insurance premiums incurred by personnel involved in certain high-risk activities such as flying. The compensation available is 90 per cent. of the extra premium up to a total sum assured, which is increased every year in line with service pay and is currently £157,000.

In addition, the MOD launched on 8 May a new life insurance scheme, aimed exclusively at service personnel, Service Life Insurance (SLI). The scheme is available to all service personnel—including those deployed abroad on operations—and guarantees affordable cover, including against the risks of war and terrorism throughout their service and civilian life. Premiums are comparable to those paid by civilians, with no premium loading for personnel deployed on operations—or those involved in high-risk activities.

Armed Forces: Nijmegen Marches

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK armed forces personnel will be taking part in the Nijmegen Marches in 2007; and if he will make a statement. (148130)

Armed Forces: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current percentage shortfalls are for each pinch point trade in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force. (148232)

A manning pinch point is defined as a trade or area of expertise where there is insufficient trained strength (officers or ratings/other ranks) to perform directed tasks. This might be as a result of adherence to single-service harmony guidelines, under-manning, and/or levels of commitment that exceed the resourced manpower ceiling for the trades or areas of expertise involved.

The percentage shortfall for each pinch point trade is as follows:

Army

Pinch point trade

Percentage shortfall

Ammunition Technician

19.41

Clerk of Works

16.28

Intelligence Operator

9.21

Vehicle Mechanic

7.85

Armourer

9.21

Recovery Mechanic

10.58

Mechanical Fitter

5.36

ITU Nurse

38.46

EM Nurse

45.28

Radiologist

80.00

Orthopaedic Surgeon

53.85

General Surgeon

50.00

UAV Operator Level 4

47.71

Anaesthetist

45.95

General Medical Practitioner

44.39

Radiographer

42.86

Registered General Nurse

36.04

ME Geographical

27.05

Explosives Ordnance Disposal

26.11

ODP

44.64

MEC3S

17.95

Postal and Courier Operator

9.36

Chef

7.15

Petroleum Operator

3.77

IS Engineer

3.44

Royal Navy

Pinch point trade

Percentage shortfall

Merlin aircrew (pilots)

32

Merlin aircrew (observers)

43

Merlin aircrew (aircrew)

30

Harrier GR7 Flying Instructors

85

Leading Seaman (Warfare)

42

Ableseaman (Divers)

3

Royal Marine (Marine)

9

Royal Marine (Corporal)

11

Royal Marine (Sergeant)

13

Leading Air Engineer Technician

35

Petty Officer (Mine Warfare)

33

Leading Aircraft Controllers

36

Ableseaman Warfare Specialist (Sensor Submarine)

32

Ableseaman Warfare Specialist (Tactical Submarine)

32

Strategic Weapon System Junior Rates (Engineering Technician)

30

Strategic Weapon System Junior Rates (Leading Engineering Technician)

25

Marine Engineer Submarine Nuclear Watchkeepers—CatA2

28

Marine Engineer Submarine Nuclear Watchkeepers—Cat B

19

Royal Air Force

Pinch point trade

Percentage shortfall

Operations Support (Intelligence)

2.5

Operations Support (Regiment)

12.3

Operations Support (Provost)

5.2

PMRAFNS (Nurses)

19.8

Weapons Systems (Air Loadmaster)

10.2

Gunner

13.0

Registered General Nurse (Other Ranks)

11.7

Medical

28.8

Musician

13.1

Pharmaceutical Health Technician

15

Radiographer

15.4

RAF Police

6.2

Registered Mental Nurse

21.3

Armed Forces: Royal Engineers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects (a) 124 Fd Sqn RE(V) and (b) 129 Fd Sqn RE(V) to form. (148980)

[holding answer 11 July 2007]: On current plans 124 Field Squadron RE (V) and 129 Field Squadron RE(V) will begin to form up from 1 April 2009.

Arms Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role his Department plays in delivering the objectives of the G8 global partnership. (149466)

I refer my hon. Friend to the Global Partnership, UK Fourth Annual Report 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Army

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers were commissioned from the ranks in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (149402)

The following table shows the number of trained soldiers who have outflowed to officer from the ranks for the period 1 April 2002 to 28 February 2007:

Date of flow

Number of outflows to officer

2002-03

360

2003-04

330

2004-05

320

2005-06

340

2006-071

370

1 Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system for all three services, Army data shown at 1 April 2007 and 1 May 2007 are not available. Consequently Army data shown are for the latest 12 months available, comprising data from 1 March 2006 to 28 February 2007.

Notes:

1. UK regular forces includes nursing services and excludes full-time reserve service personnel, Gurkhas, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.

2. All data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Defence Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many people were employed within the (a) Defence Housing Executive and (b) Defence Estates in each year since 1997, broken down by occupation; (149669)

(2) how many redundancies there were within (a) the Defence Housing Executive and (b) Defence Estates in each year since 1997, broken down by occupation.

Details of civilian full-time equivalent (FTE) strengths are given in the following table.

FTE strengths

Defence Estates1

Defence Housing Executive2

As at April:

1997

1,230

1998

1,160

1999

1,240

1,020

2000

1,220

960

2001

1,350

990

2002

1,420

940

2003

1,550

880

2004

2,450

2005

2,820

2006

2,900

2007

2,860

Details of civilian FTE redundancies are given in the following table.

FTE redundancies

Defence Estates1

As at April:

1997

3

1998

10

1999

3

2000

15

2001

3

2002

3

2003

10

2004

10

2005

3

2006

30

2007

60

1 Known as the Defence Estates Organisation until 1 March 1999 and subsequently merged with Defence Housing Executive on 1 April 2004; formally ceased to be a Defence Agency on 1 April 2007. 2 Defence Housing Executive was formed April 1999 and merged with Defence Estates on 1 April 2004. 3 Denotes less than 5. Notes: 1. These table use the revised definition of civilian personnel (see www.dasa.mod.uk for details). 2. Figures include values for part-time staff proportionate to those of full-time staff. 3. All figures are rounded to the nearest ten; as a result totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. For visibility rounding has only been applied to figures of ten and above. 4. For DHE strength figures are available for the first five years it existed, but redundancies are not separately identifiable.

Information relating to occupation is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defence Export Services Organisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Defence Export Services Organisation. (149158)

The Ministry of Defence will continue to offer high quality support to UK-based defence manufacturers to help them win contracts for legitimate defence exports.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with HM Treasury on the future of the Defence Export Services Organisation; and if he will make a statement. (149320)

[holding answer 12 July 2007]: I have regular discussions with colleagues at the Treasury on issues of mutual interest.

Defence Export Services Organisation: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what funding the Defence Export Services Organisation received in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; (149132)

(2) what future funding for the Defence Export Services Organisation was included in the 2007 Budget.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 24 April 2006, Official Report, column 845W, to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones). The net operating costs of the Defence Export Services Organisation in financial years 2005-06 and 2006-07 were £14.497 million and £15.015 million respectively.

Provision of £13.7 million has been made for the net operating costs of the Defence Export Services Organisation in 2007-08.

Departments: Early Retirement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his staff took early retirement in the last five years; at what cost; what grades of staff took early retirement; and what percentage of each grade took early retirement. (148817)

The information in respect of the number, grade and percentage of staff who took early retirement is provided in the following tables:

Table 1: Early retirement 2002-03 to 2006-07

Headcount

2002-03

700

2003-041

1,200

2004-05

790

2005-06

1,100

2006-07

1,100

1 The streamlining of Head Office prior to the reoccupation of main building in London led to 540 personnel taking early retirement on compulsory early retirement on structural grounds. Note: This table excludes Royal Fleet auxiliary and locally engaged civilian staff for whom no information on civilian early retirements is available.

Table 2: Early retirement 2002-03 to 2006-07 by grade

Grade

2002-03

2003-041

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Band B Level 1

10

50

10

20

30

Band B Level 2

20

120

20

50

60

Band C Level 1

50

120

80

160

110

Band C Level 2

80

180

140

230

160

Band D

90

220

100

230

170

Band E Level 1

160

160

140

110

140

Band E Level 2

50

60

40

50

40

Other Non Industrial

20

20

10

20

20

Industrial

160

150

130

90

200

Trading Fund Personnel

70

120

110

160

180

Total

700

1,200

790

1,100

1,100

1 The streamlining of Head Office prior to the reoccupation of main building in London led to 540 personnel taking early retirement on compulsory early retirement on structural grounds. Note: This table excludes Royal Fleet auxiliary and locally engaged civilian staff for whom no information on civilian early retirements is available.

Table 3: Percentage of each grade that took early retirement 2002-03 to 2006-071

Grade

2002-03

2003-042

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Band B Level 1

1.9

9.2

1.7

2.2

4.6

Band B Level 2

1.2

6.2

1.1

2.4

2.7

Band C Level 1

1.1

2.4

1.5

2.8

1.8

Band C Level 2

0.7

1.6

1.2

1.9

1.4

Band D

0.6

1.6

0.7

1.6

1.3

Band E Level 1

0.8

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.7

Band E Level 2

0.4

0.5

0.4

0.5

0.5

Other Non Industrial

3.5

1.4

3.0

4.8

3.0

Industrial

0.9

1.0

0.8

0.6

1.4

Trading Fund Personnel

0.6

1.0

1.0

1.4

1.7

1 Percentage is based solely on early retirement data by grade compared against a 13-month average strength profile by grade for each financial year. Notes: 1 The streamlining of Head Office prior to the reoccupation of main building in London led to 540 personnel taking early retirement on compulsory early retirement on structural grounds. 2 This table excludes Royal Fleet auxiliary and locally engaged civilian staff for whom no information on civilian early retirements is available.

The information requested about costs is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Flags

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance he has given to military establishments on the flying of the Union flag on a daily basis; and if he will make a statement. (150117)

Guidance is set out in Queen's Regulations and stipulates that all service and major commands and headquarters are required to fly the Union flag daily. In addition, these establishments are permitted to fly flags signifying the relevant single service and commander, corps, regimental, station and establishment.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many headquarters staff funded by the public purse in his Department are classified as people without posts. (142742)

Departments: Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of (a) his Department's final bid to HM Treasury for resources in the 2004 spending review and (b) the final settlement letter from HM Treasury setting out his Department's expenditure limits for the period covered by the review. (148892)

No. Publication of such documents would be prejudicial to the conduct of public affairs.

Departments: Public Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the number of its staff using public transport to commute. (147320)

The Department has not estimated the number of its staff using public transport to commute. MOD encourages the use of public transport and cycling to work by providing interest-free loans for the purchase of public transport season tickets.

Departments: Racial Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which his Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. (149255)

The number of formal complaints of racial harassment in the Ministry of Defence and armed forces for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007, the latest period for which figures are available, was as follows:

Investigated

Upheld

Armed forces

15

6

MOD civil service

0

0

The Department’s Unified Diversity Strategy makes clear that harassment of any kind is not tolerated in the Ministry of Defence or the armed forces. Revised complaints procedures were published in January 2007. Ongoing internal communications keep personnel informed of their rights and responsibilities.

Ex-servicemen: Hearing Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when and how ex-servicemen and women waiting for digital hearing aids due to service-related hearing loss will be informed of their priority status. (149673)

Advice regarding entitlement to priority treatment from the NHS is referenced in Leaflet 2 which is sent out by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency with the war pension disablement acceptance notification letter.

Regular reminders about priority treatment for war pensioners are circulated by the Health Departments to senior NHS managers who are tasked to ensure that relevant clinical staff are aware. Reminder action, due this year, will reference this issue. Priority for assessment, treatment, aids etc is decided by the clinician in charge based on clinical need.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been sent to NHS trusts in relation to affording priority status to ex-servicemen and women needing digital hearing aids due to service-related hearing loss. (149674)

MOD is working with the UK Health Departments regarding awareness of NHS priority treatment among health professionals. Later this year Health Departments will distribute reminders to the chief executives of trusts requiring them to ensure that general practitioners and hospital clinicians are aware of all those veterans who are eligible for priority treatment, including the group who have noise-induced sensorineural hearing loss accepted as caused by service. Priority refers to assessment, treatment and provision of aids. Allocation of priority is by the clinician in charge based on clinical need.

Iraq: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's estimate was in March 2003 of the cost of operations in Iraq in each of the subsequent five financial years. (148893)

The total estimate figures for the net additional costs of operations in Iraq, included in Spring Supplementary Estimates for the years 2002-03 to 2006-07, were as follows.

Financial year

£ million

2002-03

1,000

2003-04

1,539

2004-05

975

2005-06

1,098

2006-07

1,002

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK troops are deployed on operations in Iraq. (150011)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: As of June 2007, around 5,500 UK armed forces personnel are deployed on operations in Iraq, although numbers do fluctuate due, for example, to roulements and rest and recuperation breaks.

Military Bases: Wales

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with Airbus Cimpa on the temporary use of redundant bays in the Red Dragon hangar at MOD St Athan. (147285)

No formal discussions have taken place between the Ministry of Defence and Airbus Cimpa regarding this matter.

Ministry of Defence Police: Overtime

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of the decision of the Ministry of Defence Police to cancel all non-mandatory staff overtime on (a) the security of military bases and (b) the capacity of his Department (i) to implement its anti-terrorism strategy and (ii) to meet its financial targets. (148255)

I am unable to comment on security matters in detail as to do so would, or would be likely to prejudice national security. The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency is managing this reduction in overtime.

MV Bugaled Breizh

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 321W, on the MV Bugaled Breizh, whether his Department has received any communication from those conducting the French judicial investigation into the sinking of the Bugaled Breizh; and whether a completed report of that investigation has been received. (148875)

The Department has received indirect communication from the French Tribunal conducting the inquiry into the loss of the fishing vessel Bugaled Breizh via the Home Office (United Kingdom Central Authority) and the French embassy, London. This has been for additional information to assist with their inquiries and declassification of signal messages respectively. The Department has not received or had sight of any official reports from the investigation.

Navy: Drug Seizures

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what quantity of illegal drugs was seized by the Royal Navy in each of the last three years. (149603)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 26 June 2007, Official Report, column 670W, to the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans).

Project MoDEL

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original cost estimate was and (b) current cost estimate is of Project MoDEL. (148230)

The approval for the Project MoDEL contract included £177 million for capital expenditure for the development of RAF Northolt. Project MoDEL is currently forecast to remain within its original approval.

A second contract including around £30 million for capital expenditure was awarded to a separate contractor to relocate the British Forces Post Office to RAF Northolt. This contract is also currently forecast to remain within its original approval.

Transport: AWE Burghfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1286W, on transport: AWE Burghfield, under what circumstances special nuclear materials convoys travel from AWE Burghfield without (a) a visible police escort and (b) emergency support vehicles; and if he will make a statement. (149517)

I am withholding the information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether local incident management plans are put in place when special nuclear materials convoys travel from AWE Burghfield; and whether local authorities are informed before those convoys travel. (149949)

The transportation of nuclear and other hazardous materials is governed by the Radioactive Material (Road Transport) (Great Britain) Regulations 2002 and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2004 (as amended in 2005). Although the Department is exempt from the regulations, it is nevertheless MOD policy to comply with their principles although they place no obligation on a carrier to inform local authorities. The publicly available Local Authority Emergency Services Information (LAESI) document provides the emergency services, local and health authorities with information on contingency arrangements for the transport of special nuclear material.

Reserve Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists are deployed on overseas operations, broken down by deployment location. (148263)

As at 31 March 2007, the latest figures available, reservists were deployed in joint operational areas (JOA) as follows:

Iraq: 451

Afghanistan: 359

Balkans: 44.

In addition, some 500 mobilised reservists were in the UK, predominantly undertaking pre-deployment training, post-deployment leave or receiving medical treatment. Finally, 35 sponsored reserves were on mobilised service and serving in or between the JOAs and the UK.

Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recorded missing (a) weapons and (b) weapons parts reports were made to the Royal Military Police between May 2002 and May 2007. (149128)

The number of weapons and weapon parts lost, missing or stolen from the armed forces between 2002 and 2007 is shown in the table for each whole calendar year. This provides details of all cases reported to the Royal Military Police’s Service Police Crime Bureau and includes losses which have been investigated by the Ministry of Defence Police, Home Department Police Forces and other branches of the Service Police. The data cover a range of reported incidents, including weapons which have been lost or stolen in operational theatres and the loss of private firearms lodged in MOD armouries. The data are held by calendar year. To break them down in any other way could be done only at disproportionate cost.

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

20071

Air Rifle or Pistol

0

2

0

0

0

0

Automatic Weapon

0

2

0

1

0

0

Heavy Arms

0

0

0

0

1

0

Pistol

2

5

10

5

8

3

Rifle

2

17

15

9

14

4

Shotgun

0

0

0

0

0

2

Explosives and Pyrotechnics

2

4

3

6

2

1

Weapon component or attachment

0

6

0

1

6

2

Other

0

1

4

13

1

1

1 As of 1 July

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the time taken by the Child Support Agency to secure a liability order; and what the key factors are in determining that timescale. (146176)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 17 July 2007:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions regarding the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the time taken by the Child Support Agency to secure a liability order, and what the key factors are in determining that timescale.

The current time taken to secure a liability order from the courts from first referral to the Child Support Agency enforcement teams is 115 calendar days in England and Wales and 171 days in Scotland. The key factors in determining this timescale are; primarily, the local availability of court services and the requirement to allow a period of time between the court summons and court date, to allow the non-resident parent time to prepare for the hearing.

In Scottish courts, the non-resident parent also has the ability to object to the courts, which can impact on the time taken to obtain the liability order.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests have been made by the Child Support Agency to HM Revenue and Customs in each (a) month and (b) quarter since January 2003 in respect of access to information on the incomes of non-resident parents; and if he will make a statement. (146182)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 17 July 2007:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many requests have been made by the Child Support Agency to HM Revenue and Customs in each (a) month and (b) quarter since January 2003 in respect of access to information on the incomes of non-resident parents; and if he will make a statement.

Such information as is available is set out in the attached table, which shows the number of requests dealt with by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) where the Child Support Agency has made a request for information on the non-resident parents income.

The information supplied relates to queries dealt with by two parts of HMRC, the Centre of Research and Intelligence (CRI) and the National Insurance Contributions Office.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Number of requests actioned by the Centre of Research and Intelligence from 1 January 2003 to 24 June 2007

Month

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

January

1,837

1,619

2,024

2,949

4,319

February

1,587

2,082

2,227

2,470

3,096

March

1,814

2,369

2,255

2,385

5,410

Quarter 1 (January-March)

5,238

6,070

6,506

7,804

12,825

April

1,576

2,727

2,581

2,257

3,315

May

1,887

2,130

1,942

2,819

4,178

June

2,072

2,030

1,930

2,420

2,657

Quarter 2 (April-June)

5,535

6,887

6,453

7,496

7,493

July

1,658

2,856

2,351

2,968

August

2,319

2,143

2,058

2,385

September

1,980

2,101

2,210

2,425

Quarter 3 (July-September)

5,957

7,100

6,619

7,778

October

2,877

2,714

2,219

3,779

November

2,225

1,919

2,355

2,852

December

1,444

1,810

1,467

1,927

Quarter 4 (October-December)

6,546

6,443

6,041

8,558

Total

23,276

26,500

25,619

31,636

20,318

Number of referrals issued to National Insurance Contributions Office

Year

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08 to date

Totals

3,597

8,452

18,883

35,448

53,795

6,294

Note to table:

The information on referrals to the National Insurance Contributions Office is only available annually

Child Support Agency: Debt Collection

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what limitations there are on the amount of Child Support Agency arrears which can be recovered by a deduction of earnings order from a non-resident parent; and if he will make a statement. (146138)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 17 July 2007:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what limitations there are on the amount of Child Support Agency arrears which can be recovered by a deduction of earnings order from a non-resident parent; and if he will make a statement.

Regulation 11 of the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, requires the Agency not to exceed 40% of a liable person's net earnings when imposing a deduction from earnings order.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Child Support Agency: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure by the Child Support Agency on solicitor legal costs was in each year since 2000-01. (146169)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 17 July 2007:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total expenditure by the Child Support Agency on solicitor legal costs is for each year since 2000-01.

The Agency’s accounting system does not report solicitor’s legal costs in a discreet expense account; as such I am unable to provide the information in the format requested.

Solicitors legal costs are grouped together with court fees and charges into a single expense account code. The total costs of solicitors and court fees in each of the last six financial years is shown in the table below.

Financial year

£ million

2006-07

2.158

2005-06

1.408

2004-05

0.896

2003-02

0.606

2002-03

0.526

2001-02

0.498

The increase in legal costs in 2006-07 is a result of the increased legal enforcement action the Agency is undertaking as part of the Operational Improvement Plan.

Information for the 2000-01 financial year is not available as this year falls outside of the legislative requirement to keep accounting records for six years.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) for what reasons the Child Support Agency offices in Birkenhead and Bolton have different criteria for determining eligibility for an advance payment of arrears; (146852)

(2) for what reasons the Child Support Agency parliamentary business unit in Birkenhead is unable to communicate via telephone with the CSA office in Bolton.

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 17 July 2007:

In reply to your recent parliamentary questions regarding the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the chief executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, for what reasons the Child Support Agency offices in Birkenhead and Bolton have different criteria for determining eligibility for an advance payment of arrears, [146853] and

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, for what reasons the Child Support Agency Parliamentary Business Unit in Birkenhead are unable to communicate via telephone with the Child Support Agency office in Bolton. [146853]

All cases, including those being managed clerically at the Bolton office, are subject to the same legislative and procedural rules. This includes the decision to make an advance payment where maladministration has occurred and a range of pre-defined criteria are satisfied.

We actively encourage use of the telephone as the primary means of communication between offices to update or discuss particulars on a case. It is only in the case of a complaint being received in the Agency about a clerical case maintained by the Bolton office that, initially, the inquiry is emailed to Bolton. This is to ensure the Bolton office has all the necessary information to progress and resolve the client’s concerns. Subsequently, contact should be made by telephone.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Financial Assistance Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average processing time for pension schemes applying to qualify for initial payments was under the financial assistance scheme for each month since the scheme began operating; and if he will make a statement; (148250)

(2) what the average processing time was for pension schemes applying to qualify for initial payments under the FAS in each month since the scheme began operating; and if he will make a statement.

The following table shows the months in which schemes have requested initial payments and the average time taken from the date of request to the date on which the scheme was accepted for initial payments.

Month of request for initial payments

Average number of days between request and acceptance

2005

October

41

December

47

2006

January

19

February

42

March

47

April

48

May

41

June

32

July

20

August

42

September

20

October

4

November

12

December

11

2007

January

20

February

22

April

8

May

16

June

7

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the average processing time was for pension schemes applying to qualify for assistance under the financial assistance scheme in each month since the scheme began operating; and if he will make a statement; (148251)

(2) what the average processing time for pension schemes applying to qualify for assistance under the financial assistance scheme has been since the scheme has been operating; and if he will make a statement.

In order to obtain a decision on qualification for assistance under the financial assistance scheme, a pension scheme must successfully go through the two stages of notification and qualification. This involves the trustees and administrators providing basic scheme information to the FAS operational unit.

As at 29 June 2007, the average time taken since operations started in September 2005 from receipt at FASOU of a correctly completed application form for qualification to a qualification decision being issued was 47 working days.

Equivalent information on a month-by-month basis is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Industrial Health and Safety: Coroners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer from the then Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, of 19 June 2007, Official Report, columns 1713-4W, on Industrial Health and Safety: Coroners, what steps he has taken to ensure that health and safety regulations requiring employers to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to health and safety to which employees are exposed while at work have been carried out by those responsible for coroners and coroners’ officers. (149167)

[holding answer 12 July 2007]: Coroners are appointed and funded by the relevant local authority. Their officers are employed by the relevant local authority or police authority. Compliance with health and safety requirements for risk assessments relating to their work is a matter for the relevant employer. The Health and Safety Executive continues to work with employers to develop and implement sensible risk controls.

Industrial Health and Safety: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by the Health and Safety Executive on campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of working at height in each of the last five years. (148860)

The HSE’s ‘Height Aware’ campaign 2006 cost about £1.7 million including publicity, promotional events and evaluation of its effectiveness. In 2005 the HSE ran some initiatives focusing on ladder safety costing around £17.500. The HSE is currently building on these with the current ‘Ladder Exchange’ initiative, for which final costs are not yet available. A falls from height campaign specifically targeting those working in the construction sector was run in 2003-04, costing £275,000. These campaigns were aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries arising from falls from ladders which cost the British economy more than £60 million a year.

Pensions: Financial assistance scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pension schemes in England and Wales are eligible for the financial assistance scheme. (147299)

The FAS operational unit does not hold the precise information requested specifically for schemes in England and Wales as in many cases the principal employer of the underfunded pension schemes are no longer in existence. They have therefore been provided with the address of the scheme trustee, administrator or the official receiver which does not reflect the location of the sponsoring employer of the pension scheme.

A total of 682 schemes have qualified for FAS assistance. This is correct up to and including the 22 June 2007.

Pensions: Financial Assistance Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of pension schemes whose qualification status for the financial assistance scheme is undecided are (a) waiting for scheme trustees to provide additional information before a decision can be made and (b) having their application considered by the Department; and if he will make a statement. (148603)

As at 6 July 2007 there are a total of 38 pension schemes whose status for the FAS is yet to be decided. Of these, 10 schemes (26 per cent.) are being considered based on the initial information provided by the trustees; we are awaiting further information from the trustees of 15 schemes (40 per cent.) and the remaining 13 schemes (34 per cent.) have indicated that a compromise agreement is in place, so we are unable to progress the application until the legislation to implement the extension to cover these schemes is in place.

Social Security Benefits: Repayments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will undertake an evaluation of the 28-day hospital stay rule for young people with cancer. (150309)

From 10 April 2006, apart from those in receipt of disability living allowance, attendance allowance and carer's allowance, patients receiving free in-patient treatment in NHS hospitals no longer have their benefits reduced to a flat rate figure.

The role of DLA is to help with the extra costs of disability-related needs. These needs are met free of charge by the NHS when someone is in hospital. Payment of DLA for adults therefore stops after four weeks to avoid duplicate provision. However, payment of DLA to children aged under 16 does not stop until after 12 weeks, regardless of their diagnosis. Carer's allowance would also normally continue to be paid to the carer for this 12-week period. The 12-week rule recognises that children may have special needs for support from their parents while they are adjusting to hospital life.

We have no plans to change the current rules.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claimants received interest on their 2005 single farm payments for sums paid after 30 June 2006; what the total amount of interest paid was; and if he will make a statement. (148735)

As of 30 June 2007 5,745 claimants had been paid interest in respect of the single payment scheme for 2005. The total amount of interest paid was £1,203,619.97.

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the level of (a) carbon dioxide emissions and (b) greenhouse gas equivalent emissions was in the UK in each year since 1990; what the percentage change was in each year; and what the comparable figures and percentages were for (i) the EU, (ii) the US, (iii) China, (iv) Russia, (v) countries in sub-Saharan Africa and (vi) other developing countries. (149810)

For information relating to UK and EU emissions, I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer provided by my predecessor on 8 March 2007, Official Report, column 2184W.

Table 1 contains UK CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, and percentage changes, for each year between 1990 and 2005, the latest year for which data are available. Table 2 contains comparable figures for the EU-15, who have a collective target of -8 per cent. under the Kyoto protocol.

DEFRA does not hold the information requested for the US, China, Russia, sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries. Emissions estimates are submitted under the United Nations framework convention on climate change, which is the parent treaty for the Kyoto protocol and Montreal decisions. The United States and Russia are both Annex I parties, and are therefore required to submit annual estimates of emissions to the Convention. China, and all African countries, are non-Annex I parties to the convention, and are therefore not required to submit annual emissions estimates. All emissions data submitted to the convention are available on the UNFCCC website.

Table 1: CO2 and GHG emissions from the UK

GHG emissions (with LULUCF)

Percentage change on previous year

Percentage change on 1990

Net CO2 emissions including land use, land use change and forestry

Percentage change on previous year

Percentage change on 1990

1990

773.0

592.1

1991

779.2

0.8

0.8

598.9

1.1

1.1

1992

754.4

-3.2

-2.4

581.9

-2.8

-1.7

1993

732.6

-2.9

-5.2

567.0

-2.6

-4.2

1994

720.0

-1.7

-6.9

559.2

-1.4

-5.6

1995

709.7

-1.4

-8.2

549.6

-1.7

-7.2

1996

730.7

3.0

-5.5

571.3

3.9

-3.5

1997

706.6

-3.3

-8.6

548.4

-4.0

-7.4

1998

701.6

-0.7

-9.2

550.1

0.3

-7.1

1999

670.4

-4.4

-13.3

540.8

-1.7

-8.7

2000

672.0

0.2

-13.1

548.8

1.5

-7.3

2001

674.9

0.4

-12.7

559.6

2.0

-5.5

2002

654.3

-3.1

-15.4.

543.2

-2.9

-8.3

2003

660.0

0.9

-14.6

555.1

2.2

-6.2

2004

657.0

-0.5

-15.0

554.6

-0.1

-6.3

2005

653.8

-0.5

-15.4

554.2

-0.1

-6.4

Table 2: CO2 and GHG emissions from the EU-15

GHG emissions (with LULUCF)

Percentage change on previous year

Percentage change on 1990

Net CO2 emissions including land use, land use change and forestry

Percentage change on previous year

Percentage change on 1990

1990

4,040

3,135

1991

3,995

-1.1

-1.1

3,101

-1.1

-1.1

1992

3,921

-1.9

-2.9

3,041

-1.9

-3.0

1993

3,847

-1.9

-4.8

2,983

-1.9

-4.8

1994

3,826

-0.5

-5.3

2,963

-0.7

-5.5

1995

3,863

1.0

-4.4

2,993

1.0

-4.5

1996

3,930

1.7

-2.7

3,054

2.0

-2.6

1997

3,871

-1.5

-4.2

3,004

-1.6

-4.2

1998

3,898

0.7

-3.5

3,061

1.9

-2.4

1999

3,825

-1.9

-5.3

3,026

-1.1

-3.5

2000

3,846

0.5

^-4.8

3,062

1.2

-2.3

2001

3,867

0.5

-4.3

3,105

1.4

-1.0

2002

3,829

-1.0

-5.2

3,084

-0.7

-1.6

2003

3,909

2.1

-3.2

3,175

3.0

1.3

2004

3,926

0.4

-2.8

3,203

0.9

2.2

2005

3,877

-1.2

-4.0

3,164

-1.2

0.9

Carbon Emissions: Cattle

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has commissioned into reducing methane emissions from cows. (149644)

For information relating to research into reducing methane emissions from livestock, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 10 July 2007, Official Report, column 1380W.

In addition to our work on reducing emissions from livestock through nutrition, husbandry, genetics, and nutrient management, we are also exploring the potential for the use of anaerobic digestion to reduce methane emissions. Anaerobic digestion can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing methane from the decomposition of organic materials, such as livestock manures and slurries, sewage sludge and food wastes, to produce a biogas. The biogas can be used as a renewable energy source, both for heat and power, and as a transport fuel.

Departments: Lighting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department participated in the Lights out London campaign. (147126)

DEFRA participated in the Lights out London campaign in order to raise awareness of the issue of climate change by encouraging people to change their behaviour both at work and at home. One of the actions people can take to reduce CO2 emissions is to turn off lights.

Eight departmental buildings in London complied with the initiative.

Departments: Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost is of all private finance initiative projects for which his Department has responsibility completed since 1997; and what the projected cost is of such projects commissioned or under way. (148025)

There are no private finance initiative projects completed since 1997 for which the Department or its sponsored bodies have responsibility. There are, however, currently three PFI projects under way for which DEFRA does have responsibility and the details of these are shown in the following table. The Department is not presently involved in any other PFI projects which are at the commissioning stage. The total costs shown in the table include unitary charge payments which are conditional on the performance of the private sector contractors.

Organisation

Project description

Projected cost (£ million)

Natural England

Office facilities at Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge

92.89

Environment Agency

Broadland flood alleviation project

169.93

Environment Agency

Pevensey Bay sea defences

35.39

Total

298.21

The Department also gives support in the form of PFI credits to allow local authorities to enter into PFI contracts to provide waste recycling and management facilities. These projects are, however, managed by and the responsibility of the local authority concerned and not DEFRA itself.

Departments: Public Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what incentives he has considered to encourage staff in his Department to use public transport. (148788)

The main incentive the Department offers are interest-free loans for season tickets for travel to work. Use of public transport is encouraged by departmental policies including limited car parking, flexible working, using public transport during the course of travel and making use of travel websites and information services, such as Transport Direct. Staff are also informed about local transport initiatives and promotions. Where the location or nature of the work makes public transport use impractical for staff, car sharing and the use of low emission vehicles is encouraged.

Fisheries: Italy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will discuss with (a) the European Commission and (b) the Italian authorities the illegal use of driftnets by Italian fishermen in the Mediterranean. (149282)

My ministerial predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), took the opportunity at the 11-12 June Agriculture and Fisheries Council, to raise our concerns about the continuing illegal use of drift nets in EU waters. The Commission made it clear that it took such illegal activity seriously and that it is currently investigating the activities of both Italian and French vessels in this regard. In addition, the regulation defining drift nets, to provide for more robust enforcement of the existing controls, has now been formally adopted.

Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) number of deaths, (b) number of homes flooded, (c) amount of damage caused by floods and (d) the insured losses arising from floods in each of the last 10 years. (148950)

For (a), the data available on deaths due to drowning do not give a sufficiently detailed breakdown to enable direct attribution to flooding to be made. However, we are aware that in recent years two deaths resulted from the flooding in Carlisle in 2005, for example, whilst a number of deaths have been reported during the recent floods.

For (b), the following estimates include homes flooded in England as a result of river or sea flooding only.

Homes flooded

1997

281

1998

5,796

1999

1,930

2000

9,916

2001

1,641

2002

786

2003

1,516

2004

1,139

2005

4,116

2006

746

Source: Environment Agency flood incident management teams, regional flood risk management teams and flood risk mapping and data.

For 2007, the current total of reports of recent flooding from all sources, including surface water as well as river flooding, is now over 37,000 residential properties and businesses affected.

For (c) and (d), full details for each year are not available. However, for the autumn floods of 2000—the most widespread floods in recent years—the total costs were then estimated at around £1 billion. In addition, the following data for major weather events in the last 10 years are from the Association of British Insurers.

Incident

Cost estimate (£ million)

December 1997 to January 1998

Heavy storms and flooding throughout Great Britain

270

April 1998

Heavy rain causing flooding

137

October 1998

Heavy rain causing flooding

100

October-November 2000

Heavy rain causing flooding

760

January 2005

Floods in Carlisle

243

January 2005

Storms in Scotland

124

For 2007, the ABI has estimated that claims total around £1.5 billion for the recent floods.

Floods: Lewes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the effect of the timescale for the introduction of improved flood defences in Lewes arising from the allocation of existing funding by HM Treasury. (149457)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: The Environment Agency is developing a £2 million project to improve defences for the Cliffe area of Lewes, funded through a locally raised levy.

It is working closely with Lewes district council and private developers to identify opportunities to provide improved defences as part of redevelopment schemes within the town. Following completion of the Cliffe works, expected in late 2009, 166 residential and 58 other properties will benefit from improved protection.

No final decisions have been taken on the allocation of the £200 million of increased spending in 2010-11. Following the comprehensive review settlement, expected by the autumn, and a subsequent departmental allocations exercise, a separate prioritisation process will determine funding for individual flood risk management projects.

Sewers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what capacity of excess rainfall the storm water and sewerage system of each major urban area in England can bear; and if he will make a statement. (149623)

My Department does not hold this information. Water and sewerage companies are responsible for assessing the capacity of public sewers in order to ensure the effectual drainage of their area.

Typically, the public sewerage system overall is designed to withstand a one-in-30-year storm event and waste water treatment works are designed to deal with six times dry weather flows without discharging excess water to a watercourse.

It has been estimated that up to 50 per cent. of the sewerage network may be in private hands (for example, householders) and information on capacity for this section of the network is not available. Earlier this year, the Government announced that existing private sewers and lateral drains that drain to public sewers would be transferred into the ownership of water and sewerage companies. This will significantly improve the integrated management of the sewerage network as a whole.

As well as private sewers, there is also an extensive network of surface water drainage associated with highways which is the responsibility of highways authorities. This frequently discharges and interacts with the public sewerage network.

DEFRA is also funding 15 pilot projects to test alternative approaches to the integrated management of urban drainage across the different organisations with responsibilities in this area.

The Office of the Water Services compiles figures on the numbers of properties at varying risk of flooding from overloaded public sewers. The price limits for 2005-10 allowed a programme of nearly £1 billion to safeguard homes against the risk of sewer flooding. By then, the proportion of properties at risk would reduce to 0.01 per cent. of households.

Tree Felling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of levels of deforestation in England; and if he will make a statement. (150073)

A national survey of trees and woodland is carried out every 15-20 years by the Forestry Commission. The most recent inventory was published in 2001 and the next survey is planned to start next year. When completed this will enable an assessment of deforestation (i.e. the area of woodland lost between the two surveys) to be carried out. However, the Forestry Commission estimates that the current level of deforestation in England is running at between 500 and 1,000 hectares per year. This is almost entirely due to the removal of planted woodland to restore priority open habitats including lowland heath and upland peat bog.

New woodland creation has averaged almost 5,000 hectares per year over the last five years, outweighing the area lost to open habitat restoration.

Communities and Local Government

Adoption: Babies

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department provides financial incentives to local authorities to increase take-up of adoptions of babies under the age of six months. (149433)

The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister before it has since 2000 provided a system of performance incentivisation for local authorities in England across a range of service areas. This system operated via the local public service agreements, which have since been merged with local area agreements. These agreements offered a reward grant to local authorities who could deliver outcomes over and above the level of performance Government would otherwise expect.

Sixty one local authorities chose to include in their LPSA or LAA a measure performance on adoption and/or stability of placements for looked-after children, though the targets would not refer specifically to babies under the age of six months. Reward would be payable to local authorities and their partners for achievement of these particular targets, and in a number of cases this has now been claimed. Details on each target have been made available in the Library of the House, though we do not have data on the age of the children adopted in local authority areas.

Community Development: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to support social enterprises. (150108)

The Department launched a third sector strategy discussion paper on 7 June which includes consideration of the need of third sector organisations for more sustainable forms of investment. Our women and equality unit has commissioned a study to understand the barriers to ethnic minority women entering social enterprise and the support they need. Assistance for social enterprises is also available through the local enterprise growth initiative. So far, 29 local authorities have benefited from the first two rounds. Local authorities that have been successful may include projects to support social enterprises to encourage entrepreneur ship.

We will set out future proposals for supporting the third sector, including social enterprise, in the light of our assessment of responses to the discussion paper and the outcome of the 2007 comprehensive spending review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of the total value of contracts which her Department holds is held with social enterprises. (150109)

The Department does not currently hold information on suppliers in a way that captures the identification of contracts held with social enterprises. The Department is, however, seeking to revise its financial systems to capture information on third-sector suppliers, including social enterprises, and is liaising with the Office of the Third Sector to ensure that we adopt a common approach with the rest of Government.

Community Relations: Holocaust

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the contribution of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project to (a) community cohesion, (b) race relations, (c) faith groups relations and (d) the understanding of the Holocaust by young people; and if she will make a statement. (149285)

I believe that the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project makes an important contribution to the promotion of good relations between people from different ethnic, cultural and faith backgrounds, and in particular to ensuring young people appreciate the continuing lessons of the Holocaust for our society today. This is reflected in the Government’s recent response to the all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-semitism. The Department has contributed £20,000 to the Searchlight Educational Trust’s ‘Young Citizen’ magazine, the first issue of which contains testimonies from students who have participated in the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project.

Departments: Common Purpose

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department paid to Common Purpose in each of the last five years; for what purpose; and what the outcome of the expenditure was. (147604)

Over the last five financial years the Communities and Local Government has spent the following with Common Purpose:

Financial year1

Spend (£)

2002

20,930

2003

53,874

2004

39,018

2005

58,846

2006

134,324

1 Commencing

The purpose of the expenditure was to procure management training in leadership for senior managers and others within the Department, with the objective of enhancing their capability as potential leaders, both within their own organisation and in society as a whole.

The outcome of the expenditure should be that participants will gain new skills and competencies for leadership development and the Department will benefit from stronger, more inspired leaders who are more outward looking and closer to the community.

Departments: Early Retirement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of staff in her Department took early retirement in the last five years, broken down by grade; and at what cost. (148739)

The numbers of staff taking early retirement from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and its main predecessor the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, are set out, analysed by grade, and at what cost, in the following table. This does not include departmental agencies or non-departmental public bodies.

The cost of the earlier years exits, less than 15 per cent. of the 492 exits’ total, and analysis by grade of 13 of the earliest staff exits, is not shown as it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Department for Communities and Local Government (including Government offices)

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Five years

All grades

6

17

40

117

312

492

Comprising:

Senior Civil Service—Director General

1

0

1

2

Senior Civil Service—Director

4

1

1

3

9

Senior Civil Service—Divisional Manager

1

2

6

8

4

21

Senior Civil Service—Band Unknown

Deputy Divisional Manager

1

1

2

8

12

Principal

6

8

16

32

62

Fire Inspector

3

3

Senior Research Officer

1

1

Senior Professional Technical Officer

2

2

Senior Executive Officer

1

6

16

31

54

Higher Professional Technical Officer

1

1

Higher Executive Officer

1

4

26

75

106

Professional Technical Officer

3

3

Mapping and Charting Officer

2

2

Executive Officer

2

6

23

63

94

Personal Secretary

6

6

Administrative Officer

4

19

49

72

Administrative Assistant

6

9

15

Emergency Industrial Grade 4

2

2

Emergency Industrial Grade 3

8

8

Emergency Industrial Grade 1

12

12

Grade unknown

5

5

Proportion of central Department and Government office staff at start of year (percentage)

1

3

9

Cost (£ million)

Total first year payments

1

1

1

4.6

26.7

Forecast total future years’ payments

1

1

1

2.4

15.5

1 Obtaining information for earlier years would entail disproportionate cost.

Departments: Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total cost is of all private finance initiative projects for which her Department has responsibility completed since 1997; and what the projected cost is of such projects commissioned or underway. (148016)

The Department has responsibility for 46 signed PFI projects, of which all but one are contracts entered into by local authorities. The total level of capital investment being supported is £1,154 million. The projected annual payments, up to 2033-34, are £4,015 million. These payments cover the whole contract, including services, as well as payment for the capital investment, and are conditional on the performance of the contractor.

Costs for individual projects are available on the HM Treasury website, at:

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/documents/public_private__partnerships/ppp_pfi_stats.cfm.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost of upgrading drainage systems in the UK to tackle the consequences of flash flooding; and if she will make a statement. (146212)

I have been asked to reply.

Early estimates outlined in the Government's Foresight report on future flood risk suggested that investment of £100 million-£400 million per year may be required to limit damages caused by urban drainage flooding to levels similar to today under some scenarios for several decades. However, the authors of this report acknowledged that these estimates were based on very limited data.

Floods: Milton Keynes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will provide a substantive answer to Question 149169, on flooding in Milton Keynes, tabled on 9 July 2007, for answer on 12 July 2007. (150569)

Homelessness

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless people there were in each local authority area in England at the latest date for which figures are available. (149429)

Information about local authorities’ actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level, in respect of households rather than people.

Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households accepted by local authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty. The duty owed to an accepted household is to secure suitable accommodation. If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority may secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

This data is published in our quarterly statistical release on statutory homelessness, which includes a supplementary table showing the breakdown of key data, including acceptances and temporary accommodation, by each local authority. This is published on our website and placed in the Library each quarter. The latest release was published on 11 June 2007 and contains data for the period January to March 2007:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=2438

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

http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/705/NationalRoughSleepingEstimate2006_id1502705.xls

Housing: Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her latest estimate is of the number of new homes planned to be built in the next 10 years in the Leeds metropolitan District, broken down by (a) private homes to buy, (b) private homes to rent (c) housing association properties and (d) local authority homes to rent. (148646)

The draft regional spatial strategy for Yorkshire and the Humber (the “Yorkshire and Humber plan”) was submitted to the Government in December 2004. This gives a net housing delivery target for Leeds of 2,260 per annum up to 2016 and 2,950 per annum between 2016 and 2021.

In May 2007 the examination in public panel report on the plan was published. This report states that Leeds should accommodate more housing growth than currently set out in the draft RSS, but does not specify a number. Ministers are currently considering the panel report and the Secretary of State will publish proposed changes to the draft RSS later in the summer.

How these target numbers will be divided into various tenures is a matter which will be determined by both the housing market and regional and local planning processes and functions.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with registered social landlords and housing corporations on using RSLs’ spare borrowing capacity for construction of new affordable homes. (149427)

We continue to have discussions with the Housing Corporation and housing associations on RSLs’ borrowing capacity. In March 2007, the corporation published ‘Unlocking the Door’, analysing how past investment locked up in stock could be released to finance more affordable housing. The corporation has concluded that there is unused capacity and that housing associations can borrow more against their existing businesses. There is therefore scope for efficiency savings to be secured for new affordable housing.

The Housing Corporation is currently considering the responses it has received to its consultation document on recycled capital grants and links to property values.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons the letter from the hon. Member for Luton South to her predecessor relating to Mrs. Webb of Luton, dated 17 November 2006, was not replied to until 4 June 2007. (149430)

I apologise to my hon. Friend for the delay in responding to the correspondence, which was due to an administrative oversight. We attach great importance to the prompt and efficient handling of correspondence, particularly from hon. Members. Earlier this year, Communities and Local Government introduced new arrangements for the handling of ministerial correspondence and early indications are that the changes have significantly improved our performance.

Mobile Homes: Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1277W, on mobile homes: surveys, how many of the eight respondents supporting option 3 were (a) individuals and (b) organisations; and if she will identify these respondents. (150421)

Of the eight respondents that supported option 3, five were individuals and three were organisations. I am not able to disclose the identity of the individuals as we have given a commitment to individual respondents that their personal details will not be disclosed outside of the Department. However, the three organisations were Basingstoke and Deane borough council, Arun district council and South Norfolk district council.

Ordnance Survey: Copyright

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was raised by the Ordnance Survey from the sale to commercial enterprises of the rights to use licensable or copyright material in each of the last five years. (150285)

Revenue from commercial enterprises including licensed partners and distributors, from licenses for digital data and map copying and from sales of mapping for the years 2002-03 to 2006-07 were £50,475,353, £51,250,715, £51,930,385, £54,772,770 and £57,804,021 respectively.

Travelling People: Eastern Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the reason was for the initiation of the proposed single-issue revision of the Eastern regional spatial strategy in relation to the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites. (149976)

The single issue review of its Regional Spatial Strategy, “Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England” currently being carried out by the East of England Regional Assembly reflects the important role that “Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Circular 1/06, Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Sites” gives to Regional Spatial Strategies in addressing the shortage of authorised accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers.

The main steps in the process are:

Local authorities assess needs through their Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessments;

The regional planning body (i.e. the Regional Assembly) defines the total level of need in the region and the level of additional pitch provision at district council level through its regional spatial strategy;

The regional spatial strategy is confirmed by the Secretary of State, following an examination in public conducted by an independent panel if necessary;

Local planning authorities define the locations for new sites through their local development documents and ensure delivery through their strategic housing role.

The Regional Assembly gave a commitment to carry out such a review in early 2006 at the examination in public into the main review of the East of England regional spatial strategy, where it admitted that its policy did not meet the requirements of the Circular.

We are grateful to the Regional Assembly for its work on the Gypsy and Traveller accommodation review, which is the first in the country to fully reflect the requirements of circular 1/06.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions he has held with HM Treasury on funding commitments for the arts in the comprehensive spending review 2007. (149965)

Cultural Heritage: Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support and funding his Department has made available to the Department of Antiquities in Iraq to counter looting of archaeological sites and artefacts. (150361)

My Department has not provided direct funds to the Department of Antiquities in Iraq to counter looting or archaeological sites. Instead, the UK’s response to the heritage crisis in Iraq has been led by its sponsored bodies. In particular the British Museum has:

provided expertise and training on conservation and site management;

sent two archaeologists to Iraq who were instrumental in co-ordinating the quick supply of a wide range of desperately needed materials and equipment to the Baghdad Museum; and

arranged and managed (with additional funding of £15,000 from the DCMS) a project that allowed three interns coming from the Iraqi Ministry of Culture to learn the skills necessary for the future management of the Babylon archaeological site.

Departments: Early Retirement

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many and what proportion of staff took early retirement from his Department in the last five years, broken down by grade; and at what cost. (148740)

As numbers of staff by grade are so small, five or less, we are unable to provide the breakdown of early retirements as requested, on the grounds of confidentiality. The information relating to the overall early retirements numbers and costs in the last five years is contained in the table.

Number of staff

Proportion of staff as a percentage of the headcount

Overall cost to Department until the minimum pension age of 60 (£)

2002-03

0

n/a

n/a

2003-04

1

0.204

1

2004-05

0

n/a

n/a

2005-06

5

0.956

847,469.49

2006-07

6

1.138

912,624.54

n/a = Not applicable

1 Confidentiality applies

Departments: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of advertising commissioned by his Department in the last 12 months. (148516)

DCMS ensures that the most appropriate newspapers, publications and websites are used when advertising its job vacancies and public appointments, and monitors carefully the costs involved in placing these advertisements. My Department is co-operating fully with the central initiative of sharing recruitment advertising space and costs with other Government Departments where this is possible.

Departments: Racial Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which his Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. (149256)

There have been no formal complaints of racial abuse from DCMS employees in the last 12 months.

The Department is fully committed to equal opportunities and will not tolerate any form of discrimination, harassment or victimisation. There is an equal opportunities complaints procedure available on the Departments’ intranet which provides a mechanism for staff to raise and have addressed problems or concerns.

Digital Switchover Help Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what account has been taken of the continuing development of the (a) technology and (b) options available in relation to digital switchover in decisions over the form of assistance on offer. (149753)

In order to take into account the continuing development of the technology, an emerging technologies group will be established. This group will consider such developments and, where appropriate, will make recommendations to the BBC and DCMS to amend the help scheme’s core receiver requirements accordingly.

The scheme will be platform-neutral and will therefore allow those eligible to choose from the range of options where they are available. Those opting for cable, satellite or digital TV via a phone line, will have to pay any difference in cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on Government support for pensioners and vulnerable groups preparing for digital switchover. (150004)

The digital switchover help scheme will be available to households where at least one person is 75 years or over, severely disabled or is registered as blind or partially sighted during the eligibility period, which starts eight months before switchover in their region. The scheme will provide equipment to convert one TV set to the most cost-effective digital platform in the relevant area. Where necessary, there will also be an in-home service to help with the installation and use of equipment, or the upgrading of an aerial. Those eligible for the scheme will also be able to opt for an integrated digital television or personal video recorder. It will also be possible to opt for a different digital platform (broadband, cable, satellite or terrestrial) from the one proposed by the scheme. The scheme will make a financial contribution towards these alternative options, but the eligible household would need to meet the cost of any shortfall or continuing subscription.

Where the eligible household opts for the digital terrestrial platform, the scheme will provide a set top converter box which meets the scheme’s core receiver requirement. This incorporates a number of features, such as audio description, which are intended to be beneficial to the targeted groups.

There will be a £40 charge for the help scheme, but where the qualifying person is also in receipt of certain benefits, the assistance will be provided free of charge. Eligibility for the scheme will be based on Department for Work and Pensions data, which enables the scheme to target communications thus avoiding complex application forms and the need for complex and costly verification procedures.

Listed Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on which occasions Ministers have not followed the advice of English Heritage in relation to the listing of buildings in each of the last five years. (150431)

No central record is maintained, either by the Department or English Heritage, to show the number of occasions on which advice provided by English Heritage on listing applications is overruled. The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Olympic Games: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if he will list his Department's responsibilities with regard to the 2012 Olympics; (147850)

(2) which Minister is responsible for elite athlete training for the London 2012 Olympics; which Minister will have responsibility for the sports legacy of 2012; and which Minister will have responsibility for the National Lottery statutory instrument due to be laid before the House after the summer adjournment.

The Minister for the Olympics is responsible for the Government's overall Olympic Programme and legacy plans, to which a number of Departments will contribute. As such, she will co-chair (with the Mayor of London) the Olympic Board and exercise statutory and other functions with respect to the London Organising Committee, the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Olympic lottery distributor.

The Government Olympic Executive, which remains part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will report to the Minister for the Olympics through the Permanent Secretary of the Department.

As part of his wider responsibilities, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for:

Elite athlete training for the London 2012 Olympics;

The sports legacy for 2012;

Laying before the House the National Lottery statutory instrument transferring funds to the Olympic lottery distributor.

To ensure close co-ordination, the Minister for Sport will continue, as previously, to attend the Olympic Board.

The Secretary of State and the Minister for the Olympics have joint responsibility for the Cultural Olympiad. This recognises the importance of the cultural programme to London 2012, and of seeing the Olympiad as a key opportunity for the cultural sectors, with a lasting legacy.

The Secretary of State will continue to exercise statutory and other functions in respect of the various established sporting, cultural and other bodies including UK Sport and Sport England.

Playing Fields: Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) when his Department plans to consult on the proposals in the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 on playing fields of 0.2 hectares and above; (148823)

(2) when his Department plans to bring forward the changes recommended in the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 announced in his Department’s press release “Planning to Safeguard Open Spaces and Playing Fields” of July 2002.

I have been asked to reply.

We are strongly committed to reducing the threshold for statutory consultation on the sale of playing fields from 0.4 ha to 0.2 ha and this will be reflected in the consultation paper on the review of statutory consultees due later this year.

Public Buildings: Plymouth

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what date, and at what stage of the process, the (a) Secretary of State and (b) other Ministers were informed of the advice from English Heritage on the listing of the civil centre in Plymouth. (150427)

English Heritage provides advice to the Secretary of State on listing applications once they have consulted owners and local planning authorities and completed a full assessment of the building. English Heritage provided their advice on the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth to the then Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) on 12 June 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations were received by the Department objecting to the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth; and what advice he received from officials within his Department on the listing of the civic centre. (150428)

Between receipt by English Heritage of the application to list the building in April 2006 and the decision to list being taken in June 2007, the Department received two representations objecting to the possible listing. These representations were made by my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Sutton (Linda Gilroy) and for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck). The then Minister for Culture, my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (David Lammy) was advised that objections to the possible listing had been received, but that the application to list was with English Heritage pending the completion of an adviser’s report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what account was taken of representations objecting to the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth received by his Department. (150429)

All relevant evidence is taken into account in determining listing applications. For evidence to be relevant it must relate to the statutory criteria of special architectural or historic interest set out in planning policy guidance note 15. These are the only factors that the Secretary of State may take into account in making listing decisions. State of repair, cost of maintenance and unsuitability for modern needs are matters which are not relevant to the assessment of a building’s qualifications for listing—but they are all things which can be taken into account by the planning authority in considering any application to demolish or alter a listed building.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what role Ministers in his Department played in the approval of the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth; and on what date the listing of the civic centre in Plymouth was approved by Ministers. (150430)

English Heritage administers the listing system on behalf of the Secretary of State, but it is the Secretary of State who decides whether a building should be added to the statutory list. The decision to list the civic centre in Plymouth was made on 21 June 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what extra revenue his Department will make available to Plymouth council in respect of the financial implications of the listing of Plymouth civic centre by English Heritage. (150487)

Government funding for the historic environment in England is channelled through English Heritage. Grants are available for structural repairs to listed buildings that English Heritage considers to be of outstanding historical or architectural interest. Grants are usually restricted to buildings listed Grade I or Grade II*—rather than Grade II listed—but all applications are dealt with on their individual merits. There are a number of charitable trusts that make grants towards the preservation and upkeep of historic buildings. In addition, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has powers to provide financial assistance towards the repair and maintenance of buildings of importance to the national heritage, through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Decisions on applications are made by the NHMF trustees, who seek advice from English Heritage and other professional bodies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with the chief executive of English Heritage on its decision to list Plymouth civic centre; and if he will make a statement. (150488)

There have been no discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the chief executive of English Heritage on the decision to list Plymouth civic centre.

Radio Frequencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the Government’s policy is on the continued use of the FM and AM bands for radio broadcasts. (150124)

Spectrum planning is primarily a matter for Ofcom as the regulator. However, the Government note the proposals made in Ofcom’s ‘Future of Radio Review—Phase 3’ about alternative uses for the FM and AM bands, on which they have recently consulted.

Radio: Digital Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the impact on (a) low income households and (b) those in areas of poor digital radio reception of the switch-off of FM and AM analogue radio for digital radio. (150069)

None. The Government have no current plans to switch-off either the FM or AM analogue radio signals, but will keep this under review as required by section 67 of the Broadcasting Act 1996.

Tourism: Income

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the total value of the tourism industry was to the UK economy in each year since 1997. (148538)