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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 23 July 2007

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Coastal Areas: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for financial support for coastal clear-up in Cornwall. (152040)

My Department is not looking to provide financial support for coastal clear-up in Cornwall or elsewhere. However, local authorities, and others, who have incurred costs as a result of pollution from a ship-source pollution incident may recover their costs by lodging a claim in court in accordance with the domestic law which applies the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims Convention, 1966 (LLMC).

Where marine pollution incidents do occur which pose a particular risk to the marine environment, my Department will consider whether to undertake and fund appropriate monitoring so as to be able to assess the impact of the incident.

Domestic Wastes: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to encourage all councils to provide residents with a second bin for recyclables. (150785)

[holding answer 19 July 2007]: The Government encourages all local authorities to work closely with householders to increase levels of recycling and composting and my Department has set challenging national and local targets to drive improvements forward.

The Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 requires all waste collection authorities (subject to certain exemptions) to provide a separate kerbside collection service for at least two recyclable materials by 2010. Each authority is free to choose its own method of collection and the priority, degree of effort and resources required to meet its target and the requirements of the Act.

Recent statistics show that approximately 88 per cent. of households are now served by a kerbside collection for two or more recyclates.

Fisheries: Cornwall

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the volume of fish caught by Cornish fishing crews was between (a) 2001 and 2006, (b) 1996 and 2000 and (c) 1990 and 1995. (152032)

Fisheries Departments in the UK do not record information to allow landings made by Cornish fishing crews to be separately identified. Information is available on landings by UK fishing vessels whose home ports are within Cornwall, excluding those vessels administered from port offices in Cornwall but owned by foreign interests. The following table shows details of these landings in tonnes live weight of all fish species. The table also includes data for grouped landings by small vessels of 10 metre and under length into ports in Cornwall, on the assumption that these vessels will be primarily Cornish vessels.

Year range

Weight (tonnes live weight)

(a) 2001 to 2006

82,670

(b) 1996 to 2000

89,695

(c) 1990 to 1995

71,397

Fisheries: Industrial Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) deaths and (b) injuries were sustained by Cornish fishermen at work between (i) 1977 and 1986, (ii) 1987 and 1996 and (iii) 1997 and 2006. (152031)

I have been asked to reply.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch hold details of deaths and injuries aboard UK registered fishing vessels from 1991. Crew deaths and injuries aboard or boarding fishing vessels registered in a Cornish port are:

Deaths

Injuries

1991-96

14

27

1997-2006

15

42

Fisheries: Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 June 2007, Official Report, column 553W, on fisheries: protection, what estimate he has made of the number of hours per week the Royal Navy Fishery Protection service will be operational in UK seas in each of the five years of the new agreement beginning on 1 April 2008; and if he will make a statement. (150566)

For 2008-09 it is proposed that the Royal Navy Fisheries Protection Squadron will provide the Marine and Fisheries Agency with 700 patrol days. The precise number of patrol days for subsequent years will be subject to detailed operational requirements. It is proposed that there will be flexibility to increase or reduce the requirement by 50 days a year subject to notice being given by the Marine and Fisheries Agency in September the year before. The operational details of future tasking is not determined on an hourly basis. The Marine and Fisheries Agency agrees task profiling with the RN and MOD and at present is considering an option of operating on a 21-day patrol cycle for each vessel.

The maximum patrol days available during the period of the agreement will be 750 a year and the minimum will be 600.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what average number of hours per (a) week and (b) month the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Service was operational in UK seas was in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (150568)

The RN/MFA Agreement refers to patrol days dedicated to the task of fishery protection. This has been accounted for on a monthly basis as set out in the following table.

Month

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

January

79

91

67

71

65

56

50

58

46

51

February

96

91

64

74

89

82

82

79

65

77

March

74

91

86

85

82

87

72

83

82

70

April

98

93

82

77

84

87

78

79

78

66

66

May

92

91

80

86

93

86

85

72

80

79

79

June

107

94

97

85

86

89

95

83

88

81

66

July

111

112

102

97

79

92

86

86

82

92

August

113

102

73

74

78

76

86

80

89

80

September

100

103

99

102

78

77

94

83

87

80

October

98

92

88

80

82

85

69

63

67

73

November

101

91

78

85

83

76

65

69

50

54

December

61

54

63

61

58

49

46

45

41

42

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answers of 6 June 2007, Official Report, column 553W, on when he expects to conclude discussions with the Marine and Fisheries Agency, the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence on the detail of the agreement for the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Service from 1 April 2008; and if he will make a statement. (150571)

The Marine and Fisheries Agency, the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence are currently considering the detailed provisions of the new agreement. I expect these discussions to be concluded in good time for the new arrangements to operate from 1 April 2008.

Fisheries: Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 1663W, on fisheries quotas, for what reasons no (a) scientific assessments have been carried out and (b) safe biological limits have been defined for certain fish stocks; and if he will make a statement. (150565)

Fish stocks in EU waters are assessed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Scientists from the UK's fisheries laboratories contribute to the undertaking of these assessments. The ability to perform scientific assessments is directly linked to the quality of fisheries data. In some fisheries, for example, the quality of catch and effort data are deemed to be insufficient or the available catch data appear to conflict with data from research surveys. In such cases, as a consequence, quantitative scientific assessments are not available.

In the absence of a quantitative scientific assessment, it is not possible to define a stock's status with respect to safe biological limits.

Flood Control: Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where urgent calls dealt with by the Worthing emergency control centre of the Environment Agency will be routed following the closure of that office. (149296)

[holding answer 12 July 2007]: The Environment Agency has two principal offices in Worthing, a regional office in Guildbourne House and an area office in Saxon House.

The southern regional emergency control centre is based in Guildbourne House, where staff receive and route calls associated with incidents and emergencies.

These calls will continue to be dealt with there until at least June 2008, at which point a decision will be taken as to whether to transfer them to the well established National Customer Contact Centre in Sheffield.

However, if a local incident occurs these will continue to be managed by local centres within the affected region.

Heating: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential effect on carbon dioxide emissions of commercial and residential buildings adopting heat pump technology in place of gas boilers. (150214)

The Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) has confirmed that 200,000 heat pumps were sold in the commercial sector in 2006, of which around 90 per cent. were air source.

Estimates for the costs and savings in the housing market have been made for the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). Ground source heat pumps are not currently a cost-effective substitute for gas condensing boilers. In a typical three bed-roomed semi-detached house, carbon dioxide (CO2) savings are around 0.46 tonnes CO2 each year.

However, if they replace conventional electric heating, they are cost-effective, with annual CO2 savings of around 4.3 tonnes CO2 each year. If they replace solid fuel stoves, they are not cost effective but save around 5.7 tonnes CO2 each year. By comparison, cavity wall insulation would save 0.575 tonnes CO2 each year in a gas condensing boiler-heated house.

If 10 million homes with gas condensing boilers had them replaced with ground source heat pumps, national savings would be around 4.6 MtCO2 (million tonnes of CO2) each year. This compares with the impact of all the policies in the Climate Change Programme by 2010, of 17.6 MtCO2 each year.

Lighting: Nuisance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will issue quantitative guidance on the levels of obtrusive light which constitute a statutory nuisance. (151273)

There is no set level at which an activity becomes a statutory nuisance. It is for local authorities to consider what is a statutory nuisance on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a number of factors, including the character of the locality, the frequency of the occurrence, its duration, reasonableness of use, and the sensitivity of the complainant.

Marine Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to publish a draft Marine Bill. (151044)

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what his policy is on the promotion of single-stream recycling by local authorities; (149721)

(2) what research he has commissioned into the take-up of recycling facilities, including door-step collection, where single-stream recycling is employed.

Decisions on the best way to collect waste and recyclables are rightly a matter for local authorities, not central government. Decisions to collect recyclables for sorting at kerbside or in a single-stream (co-mingled) for sorting at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) will depend on a range of factors, including the local housing stock, the range of materials being collected and the sorting and re-processing facilities available.

No research has been commissioned by my Department on the take-up of recycling facilities where co-mingled recyclable collection is employed. Assessments on the uptake of local recycling facilities would normally be undertaken by individual local councils.

WRAP will be undertaking a study into the cost and performance of different kerbside collection schemes later in the year and they are planning for that study to investigate several of these issues.

Household waste recycling/composting has doubled in the last four years to reach 27 per cent. in 2005-06, which exceeds the Waste Strategy 2000 target of 25 per cent. This excellent progress is thanks to the commitment and hard work of the vast majority of local authorities, ever more enthusiastic householders and carefully targeted Government support.

Scotland

Departments: Flint Bishop Solicitors

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have made payments to Flint Bishop solicitors since 1997. (151373)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999 and, since that date, has made no payments to Flint Bishop.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many ministerial red boxes the Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them. (150292)

Details of boxes purchased by the Scotland Office are set out in the table.

Number of boxes

Cost (£)

2002

2

1,110

2003

1

510

2004

0

0

2005

0

0

2006

0

0

Ministerial red boxes are supplied via Banner Business Supplies.

Departments: Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many overseas visits were made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers within his responsibility, and at what cost, in each year since 1997. (151647)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis, a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total cost of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2006-07 is currently being compiled and will be published before the summer recess. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Civil Service Management Code” and the “Ministerial Code”. The Office does not maintain a central record of overseas trips by officials.

Official Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what his official engagements were for the week of 9 to 15 July. (151508)

During the week of 9 to 15 July, the Secretary of State for Scotland had five engagements, primarily meetings with Ministers and officials, and participated in Scottish Questions in the House of Commons.

Wales

Departments: Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department paid in fees to recruitment agencies for (a) temporary and (b) permanent staff in each year since 1997. (151665)

The Wales Office paid the following sums to agencies to supply temporary staff:

Amount (£)

2004-05

99,199

2005-06

91,914

2006-07

19,808

We have not used agencies to recruit permanent staff.

Corresponding information for previous years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

National Assembly for Wales: Powers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on holding a referendum on extending the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. (150226)

None. There is widespread debate as to the timing of a future referendum and I am aware of the different views that exist. The Government of Wales Act 2006 allows for the National Assembly for Wales to obtain enhanced legislative competence by way of Orders in Council. I am focussed on ensuring that these new procedures are a success.

Revenue and Customs: Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the likely effect on economic development of proposals to move HM Revenue and Customs jobs away from Objective 1 areas. (150218)

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and I continue to take a keen interest in the HMRC Change Programme and its possible impact on Objective 1 areas. My hon. Friend’s predecessor also met Treasury Ministers to discuss this issue.

The HMRC Change Programme is a genuine consultation; no official decision has yet been made on any Welsh HMRC office.

Welsh Language: Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he plans to bring forward new legislation on the Welsh language; and if he will make a statement. (150227)

The Government have no plans to bring forward legislation at Westminster on the Welsh Language. The Welsh Assembly Government announced on 6 June this year, their intention to seek enhanced legislative competence in the area of Welsh Language by way of an Order in Council. If approved by the National Assembly for Wales and Parliament this would enable the administration in Cardiff to bring forward an Assembly Measure on the Welsh Language.

Duchy of Lancaster

East Midlands

22. To ask the Minister for the Olympics what support is available for local authorities in the east midlands to develop their strategies and policies for London 2012. (151116)

Local authorities have a key role to play in ensuring we maximise the legacy of hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012.

In the east midlands, as in other regions, local authorities are represented on the regional groups for 2012 and supported by the regional coordinator. Additionally, the Local Government Association is supporting local authorities across England to ensure they realise the opportunities that the 2012 Games bring.

All this work is being driven forward nationally by the London 2012 Nations and Regions group, chaired by Charles Allen.

Departmental Reorganisation

24. To ask the Minister for the Olympics how she expects the recent departmental reorganisation to affect the delivery of London 2012; and if she will make a statement. (151119)

26. To ask the Minister for the Olympics how she expects the recent departmental reorganisation to affect the delivery of London 2012. (151121)

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave today to the hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Mr. Vara).

Legacy Plans

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what legacy plans have been put in place for the venues to be used for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (151120)

A key consideration in the design of Olympic venues is the provision of a lasting and sustainable legacy.

A legacy business plan is being developed for each venue to ensure economic viability.

Venues outside of the Olympic Park will revert back to their original use, although some with enhanced facilities, such as the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, which will benefit from an expanded slipway and increased number of moorings.

Cabinet Office

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the work programme of the Better Cabinet Office programme. (151261)

The Better Cabinet Office programme has been superseded by a new change programme aimed at addressing the findings of the Department’s Capability Review and the results of staff surveys. The capability review implementation plan, which was published 13 December 2006, covers actions up to the end of 2008. Copies of the Capability Review and the implementation plan are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Charities

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Government’s policy on funding for the third sector. (149512)

Recent surveys indicate that Government funding for the voluntary sector has doubled between 1996-97 (£5 billion) and 2004-05 (£10 billion). Initiatives like Futurebuilders, Capacitybuilders, the Invest to Save budget, expansion of Gift Aid (which currently provides £838 million to the third sector) and the new youth volunteering charity, v, have helped build the sector’s ability to make a real difference in local communities. In November 2006, the Government launched an action plan for social enterprise which committed £18 million to supporting social enterprises achieve their social, environmental and economic goals and proposals on their access to finance.

The Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 review into “The future role of the third sector in social and economic regeneration” is to be published later this month and followed a one-year consultation with the sector. The interim report of the review, published in December 2006, recognised that there was more to do to improve the relationship between Government and the third sector which included ensuring that there is stable and longer-term funding. The interim report announced a £30 million community assets fund and in addition an £80 million grants scheme for small community organisation was announced in Budget 2007.

The Government have also launched a consultation on considering measures to improve the take-up of Gift Aid on 23 June 2007.

Departments: Direct mail

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many contracts for direct mail his Department has entered into since November 2005; and what the value was of each. (151268)

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many civil servants have been transferred from HM Treasury to (a) the Cabinet Office and (b) No. 10 Downing street since 27 June 2007. (148866)

I have been asked to reply.

Since 27 June, three civil servants have transferred from HM Treasury to the Cabinet Office and three to No. 10 Downing street.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many ministerial red boxes her Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were; and what tendering process was used in selecting them. (150419)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 239W.

Departments: Task Forces

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which task forces were (a) established and (b) abolished by Government departments since the last general election. (151264)

Information on department’s task forces in existence on 31 March 2006 is contained in “Public Bodies 2006”. This publication also lists those task forces that were wound up during 2005-06. “Public Bodies 2006” is available in the Libraries of the House.

Information for 2006-07 is in the process of being published by departments alongside the publication of departmental reports. A summary of this information will be published by the Cabinet Office after publication by departments.

Departments: Theft

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether items in his Department worth more than £100 have gone missing since May 2005. (151369)

Four items with a value of more than £100 have gone missing from this Department since May 2005.

Departments: Visits Abroad

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many overseas visits were made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers within his responsibility, and at what cost, in each year since 1997. (151653)

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given on 21 June 2007, Official Report, columns 2048-49W, by my predecessor the right hon. Member for North-West Durham (Hilary Armstrong) to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Prisk). Information relating to Ministers overseas travel for 2006-07 will be published shortly.

Departments: Written Questions

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the role of special advisers is in producing answers to written parliamentary questions; and if he will make a statement. (151271)

Special advisers carry out their duties in accordance with the requirements of the “Code of Conduct for Special Advisers”.

Lord Birt

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who occupies the office previously occupied by Lord Birt. (151416)

Ministers: Official Residences

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for which official residential properties used by Ministers the council tax liability was met (a) by the Minister or Ministers occupying the property and (b) their Department in (i) 2005-06, (ii) 2006-07 and (iii) 2007-08. (151440)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by the former Prime Minister to the hon. Members for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) and Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 2 December 2005, Official Report, column 816W, and to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) on 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 789W.

Official Residences: Theft

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether any (a) works of art and (b) (i) valuable furniture, (ii) porcelain and (iii) other items have been reported missing from (A) 10 Downing street, (B) 11 Downing street and (C) Admiralty House since 1977. (152013)

Olympic Games: Greater London

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what discussions she has had with the National Sports Academy at Lilleshall, Shropshire on the prospect of it being used as an Olympic regional training facility for the 2012 Olympics. (150728)

The first class sporting facilities at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall will prove attractive to visiting teams. I have had no discussions with the National Sports Centre on this subject; however I look forward to visiting the centre shortly.

London 2012 has received over 700 applications from facilities across the UK that wish to feature in their Pre-Games Training Camp Guide, and is now carrying out an assessment and selection process.

Facilities will be notified of their inclusion in the Guide at the beginning of 2008—which will be distributed to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in August 2008.

Church Commissioners

Carbon Footprint

31. To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what steps the Commissioners are taking to reduce their carbon footprint. (151092)

The national Church institutions are committed to the Church’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign and are working hard to understand current energy consumption, reduce energy use in absolute terms and promote environmental best practice.

Footprint is a substantial and ambitious campaign which flows from the universal support for such action given by General Synod and the personal commitment of the Archbishop of Canterbury as evidenced by the recent award made to him by the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Commission: Annual Reports

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission when the annual report of the Electoral Commission for 2006-07 is to be published by the Commission. (151194)

The Electoral Commission's Annual Report for 2006-07 was laid before Parliament on Thursday 19 July and has been published by the Commission as House of Commons Paper No. 851. Copies of the report are available to Members from the Vote Office.

House of Commons Commission

Carter Ruck and Partners

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much the Commission paid in legal bills to Carter Ruck and Partners in each year since 1997. (151437)

The House of Commons Commission has paid £2,820 (inclusive of VAT) to Carter Ruck and Partners since 1 April 2003. Details of legal bills paid are not available for earlier years.

Legal Costs

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much was spent on legal (a) advice and (b) actions on behalf of (i) the Commission as a whole and (ii) individual members of the Commission in each year since 1997. (151438)

It is not possible to disaggregate legal costs specifically for the Commission or individual members of it. However, the total legal costs paid since 2003-04 have been:

£

2003-04

111,813

2004-05

165,350

2005-06

130,987

2006-07

789,802

2007-08 (first quarter)

54,416

Figures are not available prior to 2003-04.

The information provided is based on costs paid to the Treasury Solicitors who act on behalf of the House of Commons and disbursements incurred during claims. Types of cases and advice received include: Personal injury claims made against the House, employment tribunals, FOI appeals, advice on MPs allowances and expenses, Parliamentary Privilege Bill, judicial review proceedings, Legal Services Bill and air passenger duty.

The figures for 2004-05 to 2006-07 also include legal and project fees paid in order to resolve claims on Portcullis House and Normal Shaw South. These alone amounted to £96,154 (2004-05), £79,159 (2005-06) and £596,586 (2006-07).

Proof of Identity

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will take steps to replace the visitor stickers issued to visitors to the parliamentary estate with another form of temporary pass. (151877)

A new access control system for the parliamentary estate will be introduced in the autumn. Part of this project is to introduce an improved visitor management system, which is currently in development. The intention is to provide a paper visitor pass clipped to the person instead of the stickers used at present.

International Development

Afghanistan: Diarrhoea

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help tackle the recent outbreak of diarrhoea in Afghanistan. (150321)

The provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah has not been contacted by either the provincial health director or any other local medical providers alerting them to a recent diarrhoea outbreak in Helmand. Civil and military (CIMIC) teams who are actively engaged in health programmes in Lashkar Gah are also not aware of any outbreak. If more specific information can be provided, the PRT will make further inquiries.

The most effective way to deliver any aid to Afghanistan is to provide funding directly to the Afghan government. This ensures that the money is spent on what Afghans need and provides the best chance for building effective state institutions that will last. DFID provides around 80 per cent. of its aid in this way. Although we do not provide assistance specifically to the health sector, we are the largest donor to the Government's recurrent budget which, for example pays salaries of health workers.

In July 2006, DFID announced a £30 million programme of support to the Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (HARDP). This programme increases economic opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand through a series of programmes operated by the government of Afghanistan. These programmes will provide essential assistance to the people of Helmand, including better water and sanitation.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to increase the availability of medical supplies to combat the recent diarrhoea outbreak in Helmand, Afghanistan following security threats in the region. (150322)

The provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah has not been contacted by either the provincial health director or any other local medical providers alerting them to a recent diarrhoea outbreak in Helmand. Civil and military (CIMIC) teams who are actively engaged in health programmes in Lashkar Gah are also not aware of any outbreak. If more specific information can be provided, the PRT will make further inquiries.

DFID continues to help people have improved access to clean water and sanitation. In July 2006, DFID announced a £30 million programme of support to the Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (HARDP). This programme increases economic opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand through a series of programmes operated by the government of Afghanistan. These programmes will provide essential assistance to the people of Helmand, including better water and sanitation.

Africa: International Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the nature is of his Department's relationship with the Africa Progress Panel. (149301)

The Africa Progress Panel's objective is to maintain the momentum for delivery of high level commitments to Africa's development to which DFID is committed. It has an important part to play in holding donors and African countries alike to account for the promises made for Africa in the G8 summits and elsewhere.

While DFID provides funds to the Africa Progress Panel, it is operationally independent. DFID is providing £1 million over three years (March 2007 to December 2010) to support a Secretariat that serves the panel, and cover the expenses of panel members. It is expected that the Africa Progress Panel will also be funded by others.

Departments: Postal Services

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what volume of correspondence his Department sent (a) by Royal Mail and (b) by other commercial delivery services in each of the last five years; and what the reasons were for the use of other commercial delivery services. (150456)

The following table shows the volume of mail sent by DFID using Royal Mail and other commercial carriers in the last five years. Other commercial carriers have been used on the grounds of urgency, value for money and security. The vast majority of the mail by commercial carrier is in respect of a point-to-point contracted service between our two UK offices.

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Royal Mail

255,698

246,340

216,831

203,763

170,219

Commercial carriers

199,123

134,129

118,583

105,800

93,386

Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what programmes his Department runs in (a) the Democratic Republic of Congo, (b) Tunisia and (c) Thailand. (148778)

[holding answer 12 July 2007]: We expect to provide £70 million through our programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2007-08, which is aimed at three broad objectives:

(a) saving lives and meeting humanitarian needs;

(b) supporting democratisation and reform of the army, police and justice systems, to consolidate peace and stability in DRC; and

(c) expanding access to basic services and stimulating broad based economic growth through more equitable use of natural resources.

DFID itself does not run programmes in DRC. Our programmes are implemented by local and international non-governmental organisations and multilateral agencies. Last year 1 per cent. of our funding also went through the government of DRC, and in future we would expect to provide more through government systems if these can be proven to be effective.

DFID does not provide direct development assistance to Tunisia or Thailand which are middle-income countries. However, we provide significant support to countries in north Africa and the middle east through multilateral channels. In particular we will contribute a £1.5 billion share of the EC's European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument's (ENPI) £8.3 billion support from 2007 to 2013, which will include aid to Tunisia. DFID also provides funding to the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Commission, which have programmes in Thailand.

Treasury

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what consideration is given to an individual’s tax status by his Department and its executive agencies when offering (a) employment and (b) a consultancy contract; and if he will make a statement; (150520)

(2) how many individuals claiming non-domicile tax status in the UK were born in the UK; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of people living in the UK who are eligible for non-domicile tax status; and if he will make a statement;

(4) how many individuals (a) successfully and (b) unsuccessfully applied for non-domicile tax status in each of the last 10 years for which information is available; and if he will make a statement.

All individuals taking up employment or consultancy contracts with the Treasury Departments undergo background and security checks. However, we regard the tax status of individuals as being a private matter between themselves and the appropriate Tax Office of HM Revenue and Customs.

We do not currently hold information on how many individuals claiming non-domicile tax status in the UK were born in the UK; how many individuals are eligible for non-domicile tax status in the UK; or, how many individuals have successfully applied for non-domicile tax status in each of the last 10 years.

Departments: Postal Services

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what volume of correspondence his Department sent (a) by Royal Mail and (b) by other commercial delivery services in each of the last five years; and what the reasons were for the use of other commercial delivery services. (150458)

The Treasury uses Royal Mail for its postal services, and other companies for parcel and courier deliveries.

Number of items sent by Royal Mail

Number of parcel/courier deliveries

2003

99,845

101

2004

88,868

113

2005

59,104

410

2006

56,982

184

Information for 2002 is not available.

Excise Duties: Motor Vehicles

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what mechanism is in place to levy road tax on vehicles used in the UK but registered in other EU member states. (151248)

European Union (EU) vehicles (excluding commercial vehicles) circulating temporarily within or between member states are allowed under EC Directive 83/182 to be used on public roads without the need to register or license in the host country. These provisions limit visits to six months in any 12-month period and the vehicle must be compliant with the registration and licensing requirements of its home country. Any vehicle used in this country for more than six months in any 12 must be registered and licensed with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). In addition, where the keeper of the vehicle becomes resident in this country, the vehicle must immediately be registered and licensed here.

The Department for Transport is currently undertaking a feasibility study to explore ways of delivering better targeted enforcement on foreign heavy goods vehicles.

First Solution Money Transfer: Insolvency

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on UK residents of the collapse of First Solution Money Transfer Ltd. (149505)

In light of the recent financial difficulties experienced by the money transfer company, First Solution Money Transfer Ltd., the Companies Investigation Branch of the Insolvency Service, within the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, is carrying out an examination of the facts of the case. Further information is set out in my written ministerial statement, which was issued to the House on 11 July.

The Government welcome the announcement by the Sir William Beveridge Foundation on 16 July that an independent help line and support fund will be set up to provide advice and assistance to members of the Bangladeshi community affected. I will be making a personal donation to the fund, and would encourage others who are able to do so.

HM Revenue and Customs: Location

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made on the inquiry into the future of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices; whether there are plans to relocate the Chelmsford HMRC offices; and if he will make a statement. (150881)

For the purposes of HMRC’s regional review programme the two Chelmsford offices have been grouped in a cluster with Witham. No firm date has yet been set for the review of these offices but it will take place between this summer and early next year. Whatever the outcome of the review the inquiry centres housed in two of the offices will be retained in their current localities.

Home Information Packs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the written submissions by HM Revenue and Customs to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Communities and Local Government on home information packs. (150665)

Representations on the Home Condition Report register were made by the Valuation Office Agency, an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs. The information was provided in confidence and disclosure would therefore be inappropriate.

Inheritance Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in (a) inheritance tax revenue and (b) stamp duty revenue on property due to fiscal drag since 1997. (150668)

No such estimates have been made. Budget 2007 announced that the inheritance tax nil rate band would rise by more than forecast inflation to £312,000 in 2008-09 and to £325,000 in 2009-10. The initial stamp duty threshold was doubled from £60,000 to £120,000 in Budget 2005 and further raised to £125,000 in Budget 2006.

Taxation: Environment Protection

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which taxes are levied for reasons which include an aspect of meeting an environmental policy objective; and if he will make a statement. (150809)

Those taxes (and tax reliefs) that contribute towards meeting the Government's environmental policy objectives are set out in Table 7.2 of the Budget document.

I would also like to refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 18 July 2007, Official Report, column 443W.

Unemployment: Young People

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many economically inactive 18 to 24-year-olds there were in (a) 2006 and (b) 1997, broken down by (i) region and (ii) gender. (152030)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 23 July 2007:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the levels of economically inactive people aged 18 to 24 by (i) region and (ii) gender in (a) 2006 and (b) 1997. (152030)

The attached table shows the numbers of economically inactive people aged 18 to 24 by region and gender for 1997 and 2006. The estimates cover the three month period ending December each year, and are not seasonally adjusted.

Each month the ONS publishes the latest estimates of economic inactivity by age in the Labour Market Statistics Regional First Release available in Table 10 in the attached link. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/onlineproducts/lms_regional.asp. This data is consistent with the data given in the table overleaf.

Estimates are taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Economically inactive1 people aged 18 to 24 by region and gender 1997 and 2006, United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted

Thousand

Three months ending December each year

All persons

Men

Women

1997

United Kingdom2

1,191

479

712

North East

60

22

38

North West

140

58

82

Yorkshire and the Humber

113

45

69

East Midlands

68

24

44

West Midlands

111

47

64

East

82

32

50

London

198

91

107

South East

144

59

86

South West

78

29

49

Wales

72

29

43

Scotland

94

37

57

Northern Ireland

34

10

24

2006

United Kingdom2

1,430

608

822

North East

68

29

38

North West

170

77

94

Yorkshire and the Humber

118

41

77

East Midlands

95

43

52

West Midlands

139

59

80

East

95

38

56

London

253

110

143

South East

155

65

90

South West

106

50

56

Wales

65

28

37

Scotland

113

46

66

Northern Ireland

59

24

35

1 Economically inactive people are those who are neither in employment or unemployed. 2 Due to slight methodological differences between the way the national and regional LFS estimates have been adjusted for the 2001 Census there may be small differences between the UK totals and the sum of the regional components. The estimates in this table have been weighted to the 2005 mid-year population estimates. Source: ONS Labour Force Survey (ONS)

VAT: Registration

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many VAT registration applications were received in each of the last five years; what the average time taken to process such applications was in each year; what the target time is to process such applications; and how many and what proportion of applications were processed within that target time in the latest period for which figures are available. (144728)

VAT registration is the entry point to Missing Trader Intra-Community and other fraud—which reduced VAT receipts by an estimated £2 billion to £3 billion (2005-06). It is right that HM Revenue and Customs take steps to stop those who would abuse the system.

However, HMRC recognise that there has been a problem in recent months with delays in processing the VAT registration applications of genuine businesses. HMRC has put in place plans to improve the processing of registrations and already have additional staff in post and IT investment under way.

Number of applications received

Average processing time (95 per cent.)1

Target time

How many/what proportion processed within target

2002-03

257,139

2n/a

15 working days

248,910 (96.8 per cent.)

2003-04

299,043

n/a

15 working days

278,409 (93.1 per cent.)

2004-05

269,515

n/a

15 working days

262,238 (97.3 per cent.)

2005-06

284,804

n/a

15 working days

267,431 (93.9 per cent.)

2006-07

285,176

29 days

14 calendar days

77,568 (27.2 per cent.)

1Average measurement made on basis of 95 per cent. of low risk cases

2Revenue and Customs did not record the average processing times for years 2002-03 to 2005-06.

Welfare Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were (a) overpaid and (b) underpaid tax credits in each year since their inception in (i) Hampshire and (ii) England. (151040)

Estimates of the numbers of families with tax credits awards, including information on overpayments and underpayments by county and country, based on final family circumstances and incomes, for the years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 are available in the HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards. Supplement on Payments. Geographical Analysis”, for each relevant year. These publications are available on the HMRC website at:

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

Welfare Tax Credits: Hereford

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was overpaid to recipients of tax credits in Hereford constituency in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (150756)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 3 July 2007, Official Report, column 957W to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson).

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was overpaid to recipients of tax credits in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex in the last 12 months. (151433)

Estimates of the numbers of families with tax credits awards, including information on overpayments and underpayments by constituency and county, based on final family circumstances and incomes, for 2005-06, is available in the HMRC publication "Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards 2005-06. Supplements on Payments in 2005-06. Geographical Analysis", which is available on the HMRC website at:

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

Estimates for 2006-07 tax credit awards are due to be published in May 2008 when family circumstances and incomes have been finalised.

Welfare Tax Credits: York

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in City of York constituency receive (a) child and (b) working tax credit; and what the average value of tax credits to those households was in the latest period for which figures are available. (151615)

The average number of households benefiting from either child or working tax credits in 2005-06, or receiving the equivalent support through out-of-work benefits, by constituency, is shown in “Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards. 2005-06. Geographical Analyses”. This publication also includes average annual entitlement for 2005-06 and is available on the HMRC website at:

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

The publication referred to shows that there were around 9.5 thousand families benefiting from child and working tax credits in the City Of York constituency in 2005-06. It also shows that the average annual entitlement to these families was £3,086.

Transport

A27: East Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents there were on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate in each of the last 10 years. (151429)

The following table gives the Highways Agency’s record of road traffic accidents that have occurred on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate in each year since 1997.

Total number of accidents

1997

78

1998

58

1999

56

2000

63

2001

60

2002

59

2003

59

2004

61

2005

57

2006

61

The accident rate for this road between Lewes and Polegate is 24.04 Personal Injury Accidents (PIA) per 100 million vehicle kilometres. The national average figure for this type of road is 24 PIAs per 100 million vehicle kilometres.

Aviation: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment her Department has made of the environmental impact and noise pollution caused by private aircraft; (152005)

(2) what plans she has to introduce measures to reduce noise and noise pollution caused by private aircraft.

The Department is not aware of any assessment of the environmental impact and noise pollution caused by private aircraft. Propeller driven aircraft weighing under 9,000 kg—the main “general aviation” aircraft—have to comply with an internationally agreed noise certification standard, unless they were on the UK register prior to 1980. This standard was tightened for aircraft certificated after 1999. We expect aerodromes to set and to enforce appropriate rules to minimise noise nuisance, reflecting local circumstances. Guidance on recommended measures to help reduce the noise related nuisance from light aircraft is available on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website (www.caa.co.uk).

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much biofuel the UK produced in 2005-06; and what the estimated level of biofuel production is for 2007-08. (151573)

Total UK biofuel sales for the financial year 2005-06 amounted to some 139 million litres, and provisional figures suggest that total UK biofuel sales for the financial year 2006-07 amounted to some 327 million litres. Further details are available via:

http://www.uktradeinfo.com

Some of these biofuels were produced in the UK from a variety of feedstocks, and some were imported. The Department does not hold precise information on the breakdown between domestically produced and imported biofuels, nor does the Department have a precise forecast for UK biofuel production in 2007-08.

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, due to be introduced in April 2008, will significantly increase the demand for biofuels in the UK. A number of major new UK biofuel production facilities are due to come on stream over the next few years to help meet this additional demand. UK biofuel producers will, however, continue to need to compete with overseas producers to supply the UK market.

Departments: Early Retirement

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of her 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. (148810)

The following table represents the number of staff exits for the Department for Transport and its agencies broken down by grade and the total cost to the Department for the last five complete financial years. Information relating to percentage of staff who took early retirement broken down by grade can be given only at disproportionate cost.

Grade

Number/£

AA

57

AO

239

EO

126

HEO

113

SEO

139

Grade 7

54

Grade 6

8

SCS Payband 1

16

SCS Payband 2

2

SCS Payband 3

1

Not known

52

Total

807

Total cost (£)

31,271,609

Departments: Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what legislative provisions introduced by her Department since 1997 have not yet been brought into force. (149560)

I have placed in the Libraries of the House a list of the provisions in Acts for which the Department for Transport has lead responsibility, which have received Royal Assent since 1 January 1997 and which remain to be brought into force.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what legislative provisions introduced by her Department's predecessors since 1997 have been repealed. (149589)

I have placed in the Libraries of the House a list of the provisions in Acts for which the Department for Transport has lead responsibility, which have received Royal Assent since 1 January 1997 and which have been repealed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criminal offences have been created by primary legislation sponsored by her Department since October 2006. (149599)

I have placed in the Library of the House a list of the criminal offences created by primary legislation which received Royal Assent on or after 1 October 2006 and for which the Department for Transport has lead responsibility. The list includes (a) provisions that reform or modernise existing offences and (b) provisions that confer power to create new offences under secondary legislation.

Departments: Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within her Department's areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. (149056)

The Department for Transport (central) and four of its agencies spent a combined total of £3,102,287 on overnight accommodation and associated subsistence in the last 12 months. The remaining three agencies do not record overnight accommodation separately from other business travel expenses, and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Racial Harassment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many complaints of racial abuse relating to staff for which her Department is responsible have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in the last 12 months. (149242)

The Department for Transport (C) and its agencies have had three complaints in the past 12 months, all of which are still under investigation.

Departments: Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many overseas visits were made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers within her responsibility, and at what cost, in each year since 1997. (151652)

This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis, a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total cost of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2006-07 is currently being compiled and will be published before the summer recess. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Civil Service Management Code” and the “Ministerial Code”.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Shrewsbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 5 June 2007, Official Report, columns 394-5W, on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Shrewsbury, how long the Shrewsbury Office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency took to process the vehicle registration application in respect of (a) DX07OVF (Chassis No. ending 330934) and (b) CU07XDZ (Chassis No. ending 177735); and if she will make a statement. (150620)

While every effort is made to adhere to published service times, fluctuations in workloads can occasionally result in a failure to meet targets. Application forms to register CU07XDZ and DX07OVF were received at the Shrewsbury office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on 3 July 2007, but were not processed until 10 July 2007. Registration Certificates for both vehicles were issued on 13 July 2007.

Driving Under Influence: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) car drivers and (b) passengers died in drink driving-related accidents in (i) December and (ii) January in each year since 2003, broken down by local authority area. (151905)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic accidents were caused by drink-driving in each year since 2003, broken down by local authority area. (151906)

The estimated number of personal injury road accidents involving at least one driver or rider over the legal alcohol limit can be found in table 2a of the ‘Drinking and Driving’ article in ‘Road Casualties Great Britain’, available at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/roadcasualtiesgreatbritain2005

Estimates are calculated on a national basis. Local authority estimates are not available.

Driving: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the implications of the arrangements by which a Chinese driving licence can be exchanged for a British licence, via a Hong Kong licence, for road safety in England; how many licences have been issued in exchange for Hong Kong licences; and if she will make a statement. (151475)

The arrangements which allow the exchange of Hong Kong licences for British licences are governed by legislation.

This requires the exchange of a Hong Kong licence even if it was issued as a result of a test passed elsewhere. There is no discretion but officials are considering the effect of the legislation.

Approximately 4,500 Hong Kong licences are exchanged for a British licence each year. Figures are not available for how many were issued as a result of a test passed in Hong Kong as this information is not required for the exchange process.

First Great Western

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make it her policy to terminate the franchise held by First Great Western; and if she will make a statement. (151279)

First Great Western is not currently in breach of either the punctuality or reliability benchmarks specified in the Franchise Agreement.

Garage and Petrol Stations: East Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many filling stations in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex are (i) able to accommodate and (ii) offer alternative fuel types for cars. (151431)

This information is not held centrally by Government. However information on geographical locations is available on the Energy Saving Trust website at:

www.est.org.uk

The Government provide funds to the Energy Saving Trust to run their Infrastructure grant programme. The grants assist the building of refuelling stations for alternative fuels (natural gas/biogas, hydrogen and bio-ethanol).

M3: Road Traffic

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the volume of traffic (a) on the M3 motorway between junctions 6 and 7 and (b) entering and leaving the motorway at those junctions was in each year since 1993. (151999)

Traffic data on the volume of traffic on the M3 motorway between junctions 6 and 7 are only available from 1995 to 2006. Information on traffic entering and leaving the motorway at these junctions is only available for 2005 and 2006. The information is shown in the following tables.

Volume of traffic M3 junctions 6-7—annual average daily traffic flows in vehicles/day

Junction 6-7 eastbound

Junction 7-6 westbound

1995

38,222

37,946

1996

39,387

39,303

1997

41,177

40,956

1998

42,331

42,770

1999

43,138

43,418

2000

1n/a

43,995

2001

44,938

45,122

2002

45,108

43,948

2003

45,074

45,298

2004

45,060

44,217

2005

44,952

43,744

2006

45,930

46,616

1 Not available as the automatic traffic counting sites were out of operation.

Source:

Southern Region Trunk Road Traffic Monitoring Reports 2005 and 2006, HA TRADS2.

Volume of traffic entering M3 junctions 6 and—annual average daily traffic flows in vehicles/day

Junction 6 on-slip westbound

Junction 6 on-slip eastbound

Junction 7 on-slip westbound

Junction 7 on-slip eastbound

20051

8,032

15,145

4,014

1,744

2006

8,550

13,568

4,233

3,936

1 Data not available prior to year stated as automatic traffic counting sites on slip roads were not installed until 2005.

Source:

Southern Region Trunk Road Traffic Monitoring Reports 2005 and 2006, HA TRADS2.

Volume of traffic leaving M3 junctions 6 and 7—annual average daily traffic flows in vehicles/day

Junction 6 off-slip westbound

Junction 6 off-slip eastbound

Junction 7 off-slip westbound

Junction 7 off-slip eastbound

20051

12,879

8,169

3,024

4,034

2006

13,100

8,233

2,971

4,070

1 Data not available prior to year stated as automatic traffic counting sites on slip roads were not installed until 2005.

Source:

Southern Region Trunk Road Traffic Monitoring Reports 2005 and 2006. HA TRADS2.

Metronet

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate her Department has made of the public financial liabilities which may arise from Metronet going into administration. (151818)

Transport for London and London Underground are in discussions with PPP administrators to identify the best long term financial outcome resulting from the administration of Metronet’s activities. It would be premature to comment on any liabilities while those discussions are still in their early stages.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements for (a) MOT and (b) vehicle insurance are placed on owners of vehicles used in the UK but registered in other EU member states. (151247)

The information is as follows.

(a) All vehicles have to comply with the minimum standards of roadworthiness irrespective of the country in which the vehicle is registered. If they do not their drivers and operators can be prosecuted and fined. The vehicle can also be prohibited from moving until necessary repairs have been carried out.

(b) European law requires all vehicles registered in any member state to have insurance for the use of that vehicle in any other member state. That insurance must cover the driver’s liability for any personal injury or property damage caused to any third party.

Motor Vehicles: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of vehicles other than HGVs and LGVs failed the MOT test for reasons limited to exhaust emissions in the last 12 months. (151466)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is responsible for the operation of the MOT Scheme. Statistics regarding the number of vehicles that failed the MOT test on the grounds of emissions standards are published annually in VOSA’s Effectiveness Report. This is available on line at www.vosa.gov.uk and in the House of Commons Library, Business and Transport Section.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to consult on changes to the UK's MOT testing regime. (152440)

Motorways: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average cost per mile is to resurface a motorway with (a) noise reducing materials and (b) non-noise reducing materials; and if she will make a statement. (151820)

Motorways are only resurfaced with noise reducing materials. The average cost per mile for resurfacing a motorway, with three lanes in each direction plus a hard shoulder with a noise reducing surface, is approximately £180,000. This excludes the costs for traffic management, contract preliminaries, any road strengthening and other consequential works.

Official Cars: Ministers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Ministers have opted not to take up the use of a ministerial car since May 2005. (151266)

Since 2005, one Minister has opted not to take-up the use of a ministerial car through the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

Railways: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timescale will be covered by the UK’s proposed derogation from the EU proposal 2004/0048 (COD) for a European Parliament and Council directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the Community’s rail network. (151452)

The renewable derogation allowing member states to disapply on a time-limited basis provisions in the proposed directive on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains is for a period of 10 years.

The UK is minded to invoke this derogation. However, details of its implementation, especially with regard to any future renewal of the derogation, will be subject to consultation with the industry and users once the final text has been agreed both by the European Council and the European Parliament.

Railways: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with Ministers in the Scottish Executive on the development of high speed rail links between Scotland and London. (150492)

The Secretary of State has not met the Scottish Executive to discuss a high-speed rail link between Scotland and London.

Department for Transport Ministers and officials regularly consult the Scottish Executive on reserved railway matters which are of strategic importance to Scotland, including issues concerning cross-border capacity and franchising.

The Government will set out their position on high-speed rail links in the HLOS Rail White Paper later in the week.

Railways: Vandalism

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many (a) incidents of and (b) prosecutions there were for (i) vandalism, (ii) informed vandalism and (iii) trespass on rail lines in each year since 2001-02; (151863)

(2) how many incidences of arson on the railways there were in each year since 2000, broken down by (a) train operating company and (b) line.

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, E-mail:

general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in what percentage of road accidents resulting in the death or serious injury in each of the last five years vehicle defects were found to be a contributory factor. (152437)

The proportion of reported personal injury road accidents which had “vehicle defects” as a contributory factor was 2.6 per cent. in 2005 and 2.3 per cent in 2006.

2005 is the earliest year for which this information is available.

Severn Barrage

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make an assessment of the potential of the proposed Severn Barrage to provide a new rail link from South Wales to London and the South East; and if she will make a statement. (151920)

This would be primarily a matter for the promoters of the proposed Severn Barrage to consider, but the Department would be pleased to co-operate in any such assessment.

Transport: Private Finance Initiatives

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many transport projects were funded by private finance initiatives in each of the last 10 years, broken down by local authority. (151463)

The HM Treasury website provides updated details (on a six monthly basis) of awarded PFI projects overseen by the Department for Transport. The project details include the awarding authority, date of financial close, total capital value and the annual unitary charge payment. This information is available at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/documents/public_private_partnerships/ppp_pfi_stats.cfm

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people are employed by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. (151468)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) publishes the average number of staff employed (full-time equivalent) in its annual report and accounts. This is available online at www.vosa.gov.uk and in the House of Commons Library, Business and Transport Section.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects the study by Deloitte and Touche into the possible outsourcing of elements of the work of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency to be presented to the Department for Transport Board. (152441)

An update on progress on the outsourcing feasibility study will be presented to the DfT Board in the autumn.

Vehicle and Operators Services Agency: Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her estimate is of the value of the land and buildings used by the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency for its annual HGV and PSV inspections. (151258)

The net book value for existing use of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) estate used for testing HGV and PSV vehicles was £78.3 million as at end March 2007.

Defence

Aircraft Carriers: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to be able to make an announcement on the order for the Future Aircraft Carriers; and what the reason is for the time taken to do so. (149880)

[holding answer 18 July 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 May 2007, Official Report, column 1181W, to the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams).

Armed Forces: Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1456W to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, on the armed forces: council tax, what conclusion he has reached on support for the council tax costs in England of service personnel serving overseas; and if he will make a statement. (149659)

Work is ongoing to find a resolution to this issue and an announcement will be made in due course.

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military personnel are (a) deployed and (b) stationed in each country outside the UK. (150020)

The approximate number of UK service personnel deployed by operation and location as at 9 July 2007 is shown in the following table:

Operation

Number

Total

13,500

Of which:

Telic

6,800

Of which:

Iraq

5,500

Other (including ‘at sea’)

1,300

Herrick

6,200

Of which:

Afghanistan

6,200

Oculus

240

Of which:

Kosovo

180

Bosnia

60

UN

320

Of which:

Cyprus

290

Other1

30

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

Note:

Due to rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.

The strength of UK regular forces posted outside the UK is available in Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 6—Global Location of UK Regular Forces. The most recent publication show the numbers of service personnel at 1 October 2006.

Copies of TSP 6 are available in the Library of the House and are also available at:

www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp6/tsp6_oct06.pdf.

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

The Defence Analytical Services Agency is currently validating JPA RAF location data and expect to publish provisional RAF figures for 1 July 2006 and 1 October 2006 by the end of July 2007.

Armed Forces: Homosexuality

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the uniformed participation of members of the armed forces in Gay Pride events. (151943)

In accordance with Queen’s Regulations, decisions on whether armed forces personnel can attend Gay Pride or any other public events are a matter for the chain of command.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel are eligible for the key worker discount; and how many used the discount in each of the last five years. (148346)

All armed forces personnel stationed in London, the East and South East of England, with a household income of less than £60,000, are eligible to be considered for the key worker living (KWL) programme. The scheme was only extended to include Service personnel in September 2006, and the first two beneficiaries have moved into their new homes. Other applicants are at various stages in the process.

Armed Forces: Key Worker Living Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel are eligible for the key worker discount in Tamworth constituency; and how many have used the discount in the last five years. (150300)

None. Only armed forces personnel stationed in London, the East and South East of England with a household income of less than £60,000, are currently eligible to be considered for the Key Worker Living programme. That scheme was extended to include service personnel in September 2006, and the scope for extending similar arrangements to other areas of Great Britain, where there are major military establishments, is being explored with the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Armed Forces: Smoking

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the ban on smoking in enclosed public places applies to military vehicles. (151170)

The ban on smoking in enclosed public places applies to all military vehicles and has been in place for sometime.

Army Board: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on alcohol for entertainment at the homes of the non-ministerial members of the Army Board in the last year, broken down by (a) event and (b) type of alcohol. (138518)

The entertainment expenses claimed by non-ministerial members of the Army Board, as presented on 17 April 2007, Official Report, column 535W, and 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 1761W, include the costs of alcohol for the official functions in question.

Neither the Assistant Chief of the General Staff nor 2nd Permanent Under-Secretary incurred any expenditure on alcohol for official entertainment.

The Chief of the General Staff and his immediate predecessor claimed costs of approximately £521.33 for alcohol expenses for official entertainment in 2006, broken down as follows:

Date

Event/reason

Amount (£)

7 February

Lunch with Chief of the General Staff, Italy

190.00

15 March

The Friends of the Army Dinner

190.00

21-25 May

The Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Tour

94.47

21 June

Lunch with Chief of the Defence Staff New Zealand

225.00

16-20 July

Visit of Vice Chief of the Army Staff Pakistan

96.26

12 December

Lunch with Chief of the General Staff Sweden

125.60

1 Estimated costs based on the cost of events of a similar nature.

2 Estimated cost.

The Adjutant-General claimed £394.83 for the cost of alcohol for official entertainment in 2006. A breakdown is set out in the following table:

Date

Event/reason

Amount (£)

23 January

Visit of Master General of Ordnance

24.45

13 February

Visit of Quarter Master General with Director Army Legal Services and Senior Defence Lecturer, Cranfield

28.54

20 February

Army 3-star officer and senior civilian representatives

21.36

1 March

Visit of Senior Minister of the Catholic Group (Army)

28.00

30 March

Visit of Assistant Chief General Staff

35.34

27 April

Military and civilian staff Headquarters Adjutant General

31.12

8 May

Visit of Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel) and senior officers concerned with welfare/personnel issues

23.34

12 June

Visit of CinC Land Command

35.82

23 August

Visit of Judge Advocate General and hosting of Private Secretary to TRH Princes William and Harry

22.70

31 August

Visit of Governor Royal Hospital Chelsea

27.99

12 September

Visit of Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets) regarding Territorial Army soldiers operational and welfare needs

22.74

4 October

Visit of Chief Constable Wiltshire Constabulary

19.25

17 October

Sir Max Hastings, General Sir Mike Jackson, Sir Ronnie Hempel and senior military personnel

26.62

15 October

Visit of Minister of State for Armed Forces and Member for Air Personnel

20.37

21 November

Visit of Chief Constable Hampshire Constabulary (enhancement of relations and working best practice)

27.19

The General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland claimed £770.63 for the cost of alcohol for official entertainment in 2006. The events were:

Date

Event/reason

Amount (£)

21 January

Unit Cohesiveness event. Civilian and military staff from throughout the Command

57.29

2 February

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

51.45

9 February

Visit by Dir CT&UK Ops, MOD

51.51

13 May

Unit Cohesion event. Civilian and military staff from throughout the Command

20.29

15-18 May

Visit by GOC NI (designate)

4.75

18 May

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

49.02

1 August

Unit cohesiveness event. Civilian and military staff from throughout the Command

16.95

11 September

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

60.39

19 September

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

70.02

17 October

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

69.63

24 October

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

49.91

21 November

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

62.07

23 November

Visit by Deputy Adjutant General

35.48

6 December

Entertainment to foster relationships within the wider community

63.61

19 December

Unit cohesiveness event. Civilian and military staff from throughout the Command

108.26

The Commander in Chief Land Command claimed £1,294.60 for the cost of alcohol for official entertainment in 2006, broken down as follows:

Date

Event/reason

Amount (£)

25 January

Hosting visit by UK dignitaries

152.59

5 March

Hosting visit by UK dignitaries

101.70

6 March

Hosting foreign visitor

26.10

21 March

Unit cohesiveness

136.98

4 April

Hosting visit By UK dignitaries

87.24

18 April

Unit cohesiveness

72.90

18 May

Entertainment to foster relationships with wider community

143.63

23 May

Unit cohesiveness

117.36

10 June

Hosting UK officials

28.39

17 June

Hosting prominent members of the civilian community

195.40

18 July

Hosting visit by overseas dignitaries

44.94

20 July

Hosting visit by overseas dignitaries

89.17

14 November

Visit of Spanish Commander in Chief

98.20

All expenditure on official entertainment is subject to strict departmental rules and compliance with the principles of propriety set out in Government Accounting.

It has not been possible to break down the expenditure on alcohol by type as this information is not held.

AWE Aldermaston: Press

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse was of holding the media open day at AWE Aldermaston in June 2007; what plans he has to hold other such open days at atomic weapons establishment sites; and if he will make a statement. (150236)

The only identifiable cost of the AWE media open day was £494.40. These costs were for catering and the production of press packs. There will have been other small unquantifiable costs associated with employees' time. The media open day was organised to coincide with an on-site exhibition for employees, contractors and their families. This was in response to the House of Commons Defence Committee's (HCDC) view that there was a case for greater openness regarding the work undertaken at AWE. The Government response to the HCDC’s report ‘The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Manufacturing and Skills Base’ (HC 59 dated 19 December 2006) provides further details.

Currently we have no plans to hold another media open day at an AWE site.

Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the original estimated cost was of the Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System when the project was originally undertaken; what the latest estimated total outturn cost is; and if he will make a statement. (149671)

The Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System was brought into service in the early 1980s, and declared out of service in December 2006. Information on the costs of the system is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

British Merchant Fleet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the strategic implications of the decline in the number of British Merchant Navy vessels. (149882)

[holding answer 18 July 2007]: No formal assessment has been conducted recently. The MOD’s strategic shipping requirements are met initially by the six British flagged and manned roll-on roll-off vessels provided under a private finance initiative.

Additional requirements are met under reciprocal arrangements with allies and from the wider commercial market.

The recent House of Commons Defence Committee enquiry into Strategic Lift, whilst noting the good arrangements for securing additional sealift, recommended that the MOD undertake an analysis of the reducing commercial shipping market. The MOD is currently considering its response to this recommendation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the ability of (a) the Merchant Navy and (b) the UK maritime skills base to provide adequate strategic assets to support future operations. (151524)

No formal assessment has been conducted recently. The MOD’s strategic shipping requirements are met initially by the six British flagged and manned roll-on roll-off vessels provided under a private finance initiative. Additional requirements are met under reciprocal arrangements with allies and from the wider commercial market.

The recent House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry into Strategic Lift, while noting the good arrangements for securing additional sealift, recommended that the MOD undertake an analysis of the reducing commercial shipping market. The MOD is currently considering its response to this recommendation.

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. (150279)

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 13W.

Defence Medical Services: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Defence Medical Information Capability Programme has cost to date; and how much he expects it to have cost to establish once fully operational. (149662)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: The total cost of the Defence Medical Information Capability Programme (DMICP) to date, including the concept and assessment phases of the programme, has been £14.7 million. Full operating capability is expected to be achieved in 2010, by which time £48 million is expected to have been spent.

The total programme costs, over the 10-year lifespan of the system, are expected to be £107 million. All figures are exclusive of VAT.

DMCIP will provide a single integrated health record (including a dental record) for all patients treated by the Defence Medical Services, instantly accessible by all medical personnel who need to treat a patient, a range of improved administrative and patient management tools, and a comprehensive management information system. DMICP will be available from all fixed medical and dental centres in the UK, Germany and certain other permanent bases overseas; a deployed capability will be available on operations from late2008; and from 2010 DMCIP will be linked to NHS Care Records Service.

Departments: BAE Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2007, Official Report, column 1132W, on Department: BAE Systems, how many of those applicants granted permission to join BAE in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007 had dealt with (i) the receipt of tenders from BAE and (ii) the award of contracts to BAE, alone or as part of a team, while employed by his Department; which jobs those granted permission to join BAE took up; and what jobs those people had performed while in his Department. (149675)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: The number of those granted permission to join BAE Systems in 2006 and 2007 are as follows:

Number

Granted permission to join BAE Systems

Who had dealt with receipt of tenders

Involved with contract awards (alone or as part of a team)

2006

21

4

4

2007 (to date)

12

4

4

It is not possible to confirm from records where the applicant actually took up the post, but the proposed post in the application, i.e. the last post in MOD, were as follows:

BAE post

Last MOD post

UK Customer Relations

Naval Adviser

Procurement Adviser

DG, Trafalgar 200th Anniversary

Senior Software Assurance Engineer

Quality Assurance Representative

Executive Secretary to Tornado Director

PA/Harrier Assistant Director

Sales Support

Regional Director/Central DESO

Team Leader Supply Chain

Tornado IPT

Procurement Manager

AD/DG Log Proc

EVP Market Development

On secondment to BAE

Test Pilot

Equipment Capability

Maintenance Programme Manager

Engineering Manager

Consultant

Supply Engagement Manager

Project Ldr Comms Suite

Senior Equipment Support Manager

Marketing Development and Sales

Procurement Manager

Consultant , defence matters

UK Government agreements with Saudi MOD

Typhoon Information Systems Officer

Typhoon Information Support Officer

Resource Engineer

Managing Technical Demo Programme

Senior rep on RAF Station

OC Depth Support Manager

Head of maintenance

AD Depth Support Tornado

Bid Team

Niteworks Business Co-ordinator

Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

Logistic Sustainability Deployability Audit

ILS Manager

ILS Engineer

Business Manager, Light Munitions

CO Duke of Lancaster Regiment

Cost and Pricing Manager

Project Manager Army Base Repair Organisation

Avionics Implementation Manager

Tornado Project Office

Programme Manager

AD Engineering Policy

Trials and Delivery Manager

OC Comms Services Group

Test Pilot

Test Pilot

Senior Support Project Engineer

Tornado Project Support

Director of International Maintenance and Logistics

DG Logistics DLO

Engineering Support Engineer

Harrier Engineering Authority

Tornado Customer Liaison Manager

Tornado IPT Manager

Export Support for Typhoon

Regional Director for DESO

Flying Training

SO Fast Jet Training

Departments: Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what office accommodation standards apply to civilian staff in his Department’s buildings. (150284)

The scale (including floor space standards) of provision of MOD office accommodation is directed by guidelines within Joint Services Publication (JSP) 315—Services Accommodation Code. Within the JSP, Scale 45 applies to office accommodation for both military and civilian personnel.

A copy of JSP 315 can be found on the Defence Estates internet site at:

http://www.defence-estates.mod.uk/publications/jsp/index.php

Departments: Flint Bishop

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have made payment to Flint Bishop Solicitors since 1997. (151396)

The Ministry of Defence has no record of any payments being made to Flint Bishop Solicitors since 1997.

Departments: Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legislative provisions introduced by his Department's predecessors since 1997 have been repealed. (149592)