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Written Answers

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Public Accounts Commission

National Audit Office: Information Officers

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission how many press officers are employed by the National Audit Office. (154218)

Justice

House of Lords: Reform

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on proposals for legislative reform of the House of Lords. (156074)

I outlined the Government plans on the immediate next steps on House of Lords reform in my statement on 19 July 2007, Official Report, column 449. I hope to be able to publish a further White Paper around the turn of the year, with the aim of producing draft clauses that would form elements of the final draft Bill. My intention through the work of the cross-party working group on Lords reform is to formulate a comprehensive reform package that we would put to the electorate as a manifesto commitment at the next general election. All proposals have been and will continue to be the subject to clearance with Cabinet colleagues in the normal way.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Commission: Information Officers

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission how many press officers are employed by the Electoral Commission. (154162)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it employs three media relations officers and a media relations manager.

House of Commons Commission

School Visits

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will consider making funding available for school visits to the Houses of Parliament. (156076)

In its report on Improving Facilities for Educational Visitors to Parliament in April this year the Administration Committee recommended that consideration should be given to subsidising school visits to Westminster from more remote constituencies. The Commission is interested in this possibility and the Administration Committee has agreed to the introduction of a pilot scheme to assess the merits of alternative approaches. The pilot is planned to take place early in the next financial year.

Members: Proof of Identity

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many hon. Members' staff passes were valid on the dates of 1 July (a) 1987, (b) 1997 and (c) 2007. (152165)

The earliest information on Members’ staff passes is from 1998 and then each year from 2002 to 2007. The numbers show a 16 per cent. increase since 1998 and a 10 per cent. increase since 2002.

Number

1998

1,344

2002

1,421

2003

1,459

2004

1,427

2005

1,400

2006

1,565

2007

1,558

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many House of Commons Press Gallery passes were valid on the dates of 1 July (a) 1987, (b) 1997 and (c) 2007. (152166)

The number of media passes now is broadly the same as in 2002 (the earliest year we have information available), although there was a drop in years 2004-06.

Number

2002

445

2003

459

2004

431

2005

408

2006

420

2007

442

Refreshment Department: Consultants

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost will be to the House of Commons Refreshment Department of the research being undertaken by the Russell Partnership. (153627)

The Russell Partnership is currently undertaking two research projects for the House of Commons Refreshment Department:

an operational and financial benchmarking review of catering and retail services; and,

customer research to provide qualitative input for the benchmarking review.

Further to my reply to the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands) on 26 June 2007, Official Report, column 658W, the tendered price to interview a sample of around 35 MPs and to conduct a survey among staff of the House and Members' staff was £6,950. The cost of the benchmarking review will be up to £26,250.

Both contracts were awarded following competitive tendering exercises under the House of Commons consultancy framework agreement. The research is being carried out in response to recommendations made by the Administration Committee in their report on Refreshment Department Services (HC 733) published on 14 February 2006.

Speaker: Legal Opinion

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on the matter of legal advice recently given to the Speaker and its cost. (156789)

During July and August, the House administration endorsed the Speaker's use of the firm Carter Ruck to counteract a series of articles that were published in the media which questioned the impartiality of the Speaker in his official role. The cost of this advice was £18,696.06.

International Development

Burma: United Nations

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what information his Department has about reports that UN Development Programme (UNDP) project staff in Burma have had to pay up to two months salary to UNDP national staff to retain their jobs. (155617)

DFID has raised this matter with the UN Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP has carried out an investigation which failed to reveal any evidence to support that allegation. Subsequently, UNDP invited all its staff in Burma to complete a detailed confidential questionnaire on transparency, accountability and conflict of interest issues. UNDP is currently analysing the responses.

UNDP take incidents and allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and continue to seek ways to ensure that transparency and accountability are a priority of their programme in Burma. UNDP has reviewed the operational procedures of their programmes and have begun to put in place additional safeguards to ensure the efficient, effective and appropriate use of resources. An internal oversight unit is now being established and a more robust grievance mechanism set up to deal with issues raised by staff, beneficiaries, various other stakeholders and the general public. A code of conduct training for all UN staff in Burma is due to begin soon, focusing on, among other things, transparency, accountability, conflict of interest, abuse of authority and harassment.

Departments: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s projected spending is on advertising and promotional campaigns for (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09, broken down by cost relating to (i) television, (ii) radio and (iii) print media. (155890)

For the period 2007-08:

(i) DFID has not to date advertised or run promotional campaigns on television, and has no current plans to do so.

(ii) DFID has not to date advertised or run promotional campaigns on radio, and has no current plans to do so.

(iii) DFID has not to date run any promotional campaigns in print media, and has no current plans to do so. DFID's advertising spend is for recruitment and procurement purposes, and is estimated at £260,000.

A projected figure for the overall period cannot be supplied as budgets for promotional activities and advertising in 2008-09 have yet to be put in place, and it is yet to be determined what promotional activity or advertising will take place.

India

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he classes India as a low-income country or a middle-income country; and if he will make a statement. (155727)

DFID currently classes India as a low-income country. This is in line with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) classification, recognised and used by the international donor community.

The OECD bases its classification on the World Bank’s World Development Indicators report. This currently states that India is a low-income economy because its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita was calculated as $730 in 2005, well under the $875 per capita or more that would mean graduation to middle-income country status.

India and China: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s long-term expenditure strategy is for (a) India and (b) China; and if he will make a statement. (155726)

DFID’s bilateral expenditure in India is £266 million for 2007-08.

DFID’s bilateral expenditure in China is £33.4 million for 2007-08.

For future years we are awaiting the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review which will determine our long-term expenditure in both countries. However, we expect to terminate our bilateral programme in China by the end of 2011.

International Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the main proposed budget headings are for the £20 million funding announced on 5 April for activities in emergency and post-crisis countries over the next five years; and how much of this funding will be provided for the first global roster for education in emergencies. (155635)

The programme of work to be covered by the £20 million announced on 5 April is currently being discussed by DFID and UNICEF. It has not yet been finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take to implement the UK’s contribution to the new global roster for emergency humanitarian education services. (156256)

UNICEF and Save the Children Alliance (SCA) share responsibility for the provision of education in emergencies, and DFID is closely following the progress that they are making in establishing a global roster of education experts to be deployed in emergencies. DFID has provided UNICEF with £4 million per year from 2006 to 2009 to support their role in responding to emergencies, which includes building education response capacity.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when the first global roster for emergency humanitarian education services announced on 5 April will be operational. (156257)

UNICEF and Save the Children Alliance (SCA), who share responsibility for education provision in emergencies, are currently working on establishing the global roster of education experts. It is too soon to say when this roster will be operational. DFID is closely monitoring progress.

Iraq: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what sectoral priorities the Government is supporting through aid in Iraq. (156354)

Iraq is a wealthy country, with Government revenues expected to be around $33 billion this year. Our priority is helping the Iraqi Government to unlock the potential of its human and financial resources to enable growth and deliver better public services to its own people. We also aim to internationalise the aid effort by leveraging a more effective role for key players such as the World Bank and IMF and we support the most vulnerable Iraqis through contributions to humanitarian agencies.

Since March 2003, the UK Government have provided £744 million for these reconstruction and development priorities in Iraq. This includes £90 million for infrastructure projects and £125 million for humanitarian agencies. Current programmes include: an Economic Reform Programme advising the Iraqi Government on macro-economic, fiscal and public financial management issues; our Support of Centre of Government programme to help build key Government institutions of central Government including the Prime Minister’s office; and work through the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basra to promote public and private investment. We are also supporting the establishment of institutions including the Basra Investment Promotion Agency and Basra Development Fund designed to promote private sector development and credit for small and medium enterprises. This work is already serving as a model for assistance elsewhere in Iraq.

Maldives: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid the Government has given to help develop the Maldives in each year since 1997. (156568)

Details of the UK’s bilateral assistance and imputed multilateral assistance to the Maldives since 1997 are laid out in the following tables.

Table 1: UK total bilateral gross public expenditure on development in the Maldives 1997-98 to 2006-07

Financial year

Bilateral expenditure (£000)

1997-98

292

1998-99

310

1999-2000

292

2000-01

286

2001-02

83

2002-03

195

2003-04

199

2004-05

808

2005-06

405

2006-07

0

Table 2: Imputed UK share of multilateral aid to the Maldives for 1997 to 2005

Calendar year

Imputed aid (£000)

1997

420

1998

368

1999

173

2000

369

2001

276

2002

347

2003

703

2004

309

2005

1,163

Peru: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial and other commitments the Government has made following the earthquake in southern Peru; and what steps he is taking to ensure that aid is received by those in need. (156296)

DFID contributed £750,000 to the Peru earthquake response to help provide sanitation and washing facilities for those affected; to assist in planning for longer-term rebuilding; and to ensure that buildings in the area are better able to withstand earthquakes. We also paid for the British leader of the UN’s disaster assessment and coordination team. Our assessment of the people affected by the earthquake showed that funding in this way was the best way for DFID to support those most in need. We will monitor progress.

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) has allocated US $9.6 million. The United Kingdom is the largest donor to the UN CERF, contributing 25 per cent. of its budget this year based on current calculations (the UK has provided $83.7 million of $329 million so far contributed).

The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) provided €8 million. DFID’s share via ECHO was approximately £970,000—17.4 per cent.

Philippines: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid the UK Government gave to the Government of the Philippines in the last year for which figures are available. (155791)

South East Asia: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid has been given to help those affected by the recent flooding in South East Asia. (156072)

DFID responded to the floods in South Asia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We did not receive requests for assistance from South East Asian states.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DFID contributed £650,000

£500,000 through WFP to provide food, clean water and safeguard people against water borne diseases.

£149,422 to Save the Children for essential health care support.

We have also offered support to the UN if required to assist with co-ordinating the relief effort.

In South Asia DFID contributed over £5 million to help the worst affected countries.

In Bangladesh we contributed £2.1 million through the Chars Livelihood Programme, United Nations Development Programme and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) to provide food, water, emergency shelter and medicines to help more than 1 million people in the worst-affected districts.

In Pakistan, we contributed £2.2 million through the Pakistani Rural Support Programme Network, the United Nations, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) providing multi-sectoral immediate relief as well as livelihoods assistance.

In India, DFID gave Save the Children £750,000 to provide general relief items, healthcare and livelihood support, children’s education and protection to 13,341 families (including 31,660 children).

Children, Schools and Families

Children’s Centres: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of children’s centres in targeting the most disadvantaged children and families; and if he will make a statement; (153832)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to ensure children’s centres are father friendly; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment he has made of children’s centres’ effectiveness in working with community organisations.

We now have over 1,400 children’s centres up and running providing services to, predominantly, the most disadvantaged communities. The National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) findings on the early impact of 150 of the first Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) (November 2005) identified that of those families in the most disadvantaged areas served by SSLPs, 86 per cent. of the parents in the sample were benefiting from Sure Start. However, this evaluation also found that some of the most socially excluded groups could not be shown to be benefiting from living in a SSLP area. Although the NESS methodology could not identify whether any of the children in the sample had actually attended a Sure Start centre or not, we have taken a number of steps to ensure that the most excluded partners benefit.

In November 2005 the Department issued ‘Practice Guidance’ to encourage greater use of outreach and home-visiting services by children’s centres to reach the most disadvantaged families, which we then updated in November 2006.

To encourage better monitoring and a more systematic approach we issued Planning and Performance Management Guidance in November 2006 which contains a framework for centres to assess their progress in reaching excluded groups in their area.

We also commissioned Together for Children (TfC) to produce a toolkit, issued in December 2006, to complement our Practice Guidance and support centres in gathering information about their area and recording how they engage with excluded groups.

In August, we announced significant additional funds for children's centres for 2008-11 including funding to enable local authorities to add two outreach workers to centres serving the most disadvantaged communities, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to and supporting more fathers.

Research evidence shows that the impact a father's early involvement has on their child is long-lasting. Our revised Practice Guidance therefore emphasises the crucial role fathers have to play in giving their children the best start in life. It provides advice about how children’s centres can tailor their services to meet the needs of fathers, including non-resident parents, how staff should be encouraged to engage proactively with fathers and specific areas where fathers may require additional support. The Planning and Performance Management guidance recommends that children’s centres assess how well they engage with fathers and the TfC toolkit includes advice on working with fathers.

We have not made an assessment of how well children’s centres work with organisations from the community sector. However, an early survey of Phase 1 children’s centres showed that 82 per cent. of children’s centres had contracts with the voluntary sector for services. The Practice Guidance makes clear that local authorities must work with those organisations that have a track record of understanding local needs and delivering services that improve children’s outcomes. In addition, we require local authorities to consult and consider using all private, voluntary and community sector organisations in the area when planning and developing children’s centres services. In 2008, local authorities must review all centres developed in 2003-06 to ensure that maximum use has been made of good quality local private, voluntary and community sector suppliers and repeat this exercise every two years. We expect local authorities to keep evidence that they have carried out the required reviews.

Children's Commissioner for England: Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many press officers are employed by the Children’s Commissioner for England. (154553)

This is a matter for the Children’s Commissioner for England. Rob Williams, the chief executive of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, has written to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Rob Williams, dated 5 October 2007:

I am writing to you in response to the parliamentary question that you recently tabled 154553. To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, how many press officers are employed by the Children’s Commissioner.

11 MILLION is a national organisation led by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Professor Sir Albert Aynsley-Green. Our mission is to use our powers and independence to ensure that the views of children and young people are routinely asked for, listened to and that outcomes for children improve over time. We aim to do this in partnership with others, by bringing children and young people into the heart of the decision-making process to increase understanding of their best interests.

Our two long-term goals are that children and young people see significant improvements in their wellbeing and can freely enjoy their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and that children and young people are more highly valued by adult society.

In the financial year 2007/08, 11 MILLION has the equivalent of 2.5 staff members spread across two full-time press officers and other communications staff.

A copy of this reply will be placed in the house library.

Departments: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his Department’s projected spending is on advertising and promotional campaigns for (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09, broken down by cost relating to (i) television, (ii) radio and (iii) print media. (155885)

The Department’s advertising spend in 2007-08 is as follows:

£ million

Spend to date

Projected spend

Television

1.519

1.546

Radio

0.944

1.432

Print

0.180

0.470

Departmental spend on all promotional campaigns is not held centrally. This is funded from policy programmes and from within the central Advertising and Publicity (A and P) budget.

The A and P budget for 2007-2008 is £13.5 million. In addition to funding promotional campaigns, this covers a wide variety of publicity activities (e.g. the Children’s Plan consultation, magazines for teachers and governors and attendance at events like The Education Show), as well as marketing infrastructure support (e.g. paying for the Department’s mailing house).

It is not possible to provide figures for 2008-09. Budgets for individual campaigns will not be agreed until communications priorities and objectives for 2008-09 have been finalised and planning (informed by evaluation of 2007-08 activity) has been completed.

Health Education: Sex

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what representations he has received from the Youth Parliament on sex and relationships education in schools; and if he will make a statement. (152369)

The Minister of State for Schools and Learners attended the launch on 4 July of the UK Youth Parliament’s report “Sex and Relationships Education - Are You Getting It?”

He commended the members of the Youth Parliament for their efforts in producing the report and said that the Department would consider it in more detail.

Play: Facilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what advice he has issued to local authorities on the commercial sponsorship of children’s play facilities. (154788)

We recognise fully the benefits of play for children and we continue to take steps to support and promote the provision of opportunities for play. We have not issued guidance on the commercial sponsorship of children’s play facilities: funding for such facilities is a matter for each local authority to determine.

Pupils: Foreigners

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary school children in England are foreign nationals. (156311)

The Department does not hold the requested information as schools are not required to separately identify pupils from overseas.

Pupils: Speech Therapy

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the supply of speech therapists for pupils in schools; (154760)

(2) what the average waiting time was for a speech therapy assessment in each English local education authority in the last period for which figures are available.

I have been asked to reply.

No assessment has been made centrally. It is for primary care trusts in partnership with local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, outlined in the national service frameworks, and to commission services accordingly. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community, including the provision of speech and language therapy (SLT).

A major review into the provision of services for children and young people with speech, language and communications needs was announced on 11 September by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and the Secretary of State for Health. The review will report by summer 2008 and will build on the investment and improvements to SLT and resources in the last 10 years.

Information about waiting times for SLT provided by the national health service (NHS) are not collected centrally. The Department of Health collects waiting times information by consultant led specialties. SLT is not a consultant led speciality. Our objective is to balance the need for data against the burden that data collection places on the NHS.

Respect Budget: Bournemouth

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding has been provided to Bournemouth through the Respect budget; and for what purposes. (156190)

The total Respect grant allocated to Bournemouth between 2006-08 is £387,307.

In 2006-07 the Respect Task Force provided Bournemouth borough council with a total grant of £48,860.

This funding allocation contributed to Bournemouth council’s wider effort to tackle antisocial behaviour and contributed towards the initial set up costs of its Family Intervention Project.

In 2007-08 the Respect Task Force has made available a total Respect grant allocation of £338,447. This represents:

£50,000 for a parenting expert, based in or linked to the antisocial behaviour team, to deliver additional parenting support to families. This funding was announced on 21 November 2006 and is available in 77 areas across England.

£125,000 to improve Bournemouth’s parenting services for families whose children are at risk of or involved in antisocial behaviour. The Respect Task Force announced this funding on 22 January 2007 as part of a wider announcement highlighting the commitment of 40 areas to become Respect areas, of which Bournemouth were announced as one. All Respect areas were invited to apply for £125,000.

£128,447 allocated for the set-up and operation of its Family Intervention Project, one of 53 projects being established across the country.

£35,000 Respect grant contribution has been allocated to Bournemouth’s Local Area Agreement pot which can be used flexibly to deliver the Respect programme.

In addition to direct Respect grants, Bournemouth can flexibly use other funds, pooled through Local Area Agreements to tackle antisocial behaviour and implement the Respect programme.

Young People: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the planned extra expenditure on services aimed at young people will be ring-fenced; and if he will make a statement. (155733)

Aiming High for Young People: A Ten Year Strategy for Positive Activities was launched on 26 July 2007. The strategy announced the DCSF comprehensive spending review (CSR) settlement in relation to services for young people, which provides an additional £184 million alongside continuing funding of £495 million for positive activities over the three year period 2008-09 to 2010-11.

A relatively large proportion (around two thirds) of this proposed £679 million expenditure will be ring-fenced for specific purposes including for: centrally managed schemes; participatory budgeting by young people themselves; and initiatives within the third sector. The remainder of the monies will be pooled within the new area based grants and negotiated via local area agreements.

Youth Clubs: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many youth clubs are funded by his Department. (154790)

Youth centres are delivered locally by local authorities through their youth provision and national and local voluntary youth organisations. Information is not held centrally on the number of youth centres at local, regional or national level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much has been spent on youth clubs by his Department in the last 12 months. (154792)

Youth centres are delivered locally by local authorities through their youth provision and national and local voluntary youth organisations. Information is not held centrally on how much has been spent on youth centres at local, regional or national level.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Birds: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds on increasing the number of marine wildlife reserves. (155945)

As I indicated in a letter of 30 September 2007 to the Royal Society for Protection of Birds' (RSPB) chief executive, I would welcome an opportunity to hold discussions with the RSPB. These discussions could include consideration of marine wildlife reserves and the possibility of increasing their number.

Conservation: Solent

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the adequacy of measures to protect the marine environment of the western Solent; whether he has plans to make legislative provision for those measures in a Marine Bill; and if he will make a statement. (156382)

Marine waters in England and Wales are assessed regularly by DEFRA and the Environment Agency. The most recent assessment of the state of the UK seas, “Charting Progress—an Integrated Assessment of the State of the UK Seas” (2005), contains a regional assessment of the Eastern English Channel which includes the Western Solent. Measures in place to protect the marine environment in the western Solent include 100 management plans and initiatives, covering all or part of the Solent, that address issues such as nature conservation, coastal defence and emergency planning.

The Marine Bill will enable us to take a significant step forward in the way we plan for and manage activities in the marine area. It will provide us with the tools to deliver better protection for marine life, and integrated planning and management of our seas, coasts and estuaries. DEFRA officials are working closely with organisations in the western Solent to ensure that the Marine Bill proposals are developed in a way that can be beneficial for that, and other, local areas.

Dredging

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the process of applying for and being granted a licence to dredge off the coast of England; and if he will make a statement; (156546)

(2) how many licences were (a) granted and (b) refused for dredging off the coast of (i) England and (ii) the East Riding of Yorkshire in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how much was received for dredging licences in respect of sites off the coast of (a) England and (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.

The hon. Member's questions appear to concern the dredging of marine minerals (the extraction of sand and gravel from the seabed to be landed for use in construction or beach maintenance) rather than dredging more generally. I will therefore confine my answer to this area.

The Crown Estate, as landowner up to 12 miles offshore and the owner of the rights to non-energy minerals within the UK continental shelf and beyond, issues licences to dredge for marine minerals. Thirteen licences were issued in the last 10 years. The numbers issued in each year are set out in Table 1. No licences were issued for dredging off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire in this period and no marine minerals dredging is currently licensed there. The closest that any such dredging currently takes place to this coast is to the south of Spurn Head and some 10 kilometres off the coast of Lincolnshire which the Crown Estate refers to as the Humber region for administrative purposes. Two licences were issued in this area, in 2000.

No licences were refused during this period. Licence proposals that were likely to be refused were either abandoned by the prospective applicant before submission as applications, or withdrawn before any formal decision was made.

Table 1

Licences issued for English waters

1997

0

1998

0

1999

1

2000

3

2001

2

2002

0

2003

1

2004

0

2005

2

2006

4

Total

13

The Crown Estate receives royalties from operators for every tonne of aggregate that is dredged from the seabed that it either owns or controls. Table 2 shows the royalties it has received from English dredging operations over the past 10 years. Net income received by the Crown Estate is paid into the consolidated fund. As there is no aggregate dredging there, no royalties have been received from dredging off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Table 2

£ million

Year

Crown Estate royalties for English waters

1997

9.13

1998

9.46

1999

11.87

2000

12.48

2001

11.38

2002

12.11

2003

12.15

2004

12.25

2005

12.60

2006

13.27

Total

116.70

The Crown Estate only issues a licence when it has received the consent of central Government to the proposal. In the period in question, Government consent was delivered through the Government View system.

Until 1 April this year, the Department for Communities and Local Government was responsible for keeping the effectiveness of the process for giving Government's consent under review. Since then DEFRA has been responsible.

As a result of ongoing assessment and regular dialogue with stakeholders, the Government concluded that the existing process needed updating to make the system more transparent and efficient, and to reflect relevant European legislation. A new system to do this was introduced by the Environmental Impact Assessment and Natural Habitats (Extraction of Minerals by Marine Dredging) (England and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2007 which came into force on 1 May this year.

The Government are committed to ensuring that decisions on applications are made on the basis of the best possible scientific evidence. In recent years much research has been carried out on understanding coastal processes and the potential impacts of aggregate dredging. DEFRA has recently published a report on this work, funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (which was set up by DEFRA), entitled ‘Marine Aggregate Dredging: Helping to Determine Good Practice’, published 9 July 2007. This work supports the Government's increasingly sophisticated management of aggregate extraction integrated with the protection of resources of conservation and heritage significance. We are not aware of any scientific evidence to indicate that marine minerals dredging, as controlled by the Government since 1968, has had any effect on the coast or significantly affected the marine environment. The Government are satisfied that the regulation of marine minerals dredging is both effective and adequate.

Farms: Mushrooms

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action is being taken under the latest statutory guidelines to control emissions from mushroom farms. (156539)

Statutory guidance note PG6/30(06) specified various improvements to mushroom substrate manufacturing installations for completion in most cases before 1 March 2007. Local authorities are required to have regard to such guidance, but must ultimately decide on pollution control standards in each individual case, taking account of site-specific factors.

I understand that the TunnelTech mushroom composting plant regulated by Bassetlaw district council has been served with an enforcement notice requiring improvements to be made by 30 June 2008 and that the improvements go beyond those specified in the guidance.

Fisheries: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which fisheries have closed in each month during 2007; and if he will make a statement. (155905)

UK Fisheries Administrations have closed, in-year, a total of six fisheries to all UK registered vessels. These are set out in the table as follows:

Fishery

Month of closure

North Sea Sandeels

May

Herring Vll

July

Deep Sea tusk V, VI, VII

July

West of Scotland herring

September

Irish Sea haddock

September

Bluefin tuna Atlantic Ocean, east of 45, and Mediterranean

October

These closures are kept under review and, if quota becomes available from outside the UK, it is possible that they may be re-opened. Further fishery closures at a UK-level will be undertaken if the UK quota for particular stocks is taken in full.

Fisheries: Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has for quota swaps to increase fishing opportunities for the under-10 metre fleet; and if he will make a statement. (155736)

The Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) is exploring all options for acquiring additional fishing opportunities for 10 metre and under vessels, including through quota swaps. This work has been under way throughout 2007 and will continue, particularly for those stocks for which the 10 metre and under vessels have the greatest need. The opportunity to undertake such swaps is limited as those stocks are, in may cases, those under most pressure from other sectors of the UK industry and the fishing industry in other EU member states. A number of swap options are currently being considered. However, it is not possible to provide details at this time as to do so might prejudice the ability of the MFA to bring the negotiations to successful conclusions.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of flood defences and structures owned and maintained by the Environment Agency were in a good or better condition in April 2007. (153850)

The Environment Agency does not own all of the flood defence assets that it maintains for the benefit of the general public.

The proportion (by length) of flood defences such as raised walls and embankments, maintained by the Environment Agency that were in good or better condition in April 2007 was 55 per cent., with a further 40 per cent. in fair condition.

The proportion (by number) of flood defence structures such as sluices and outfalls, maintained by the Environment Agency that were in good or better condition in April 2007 was 69 per cent., with a further 26 per cent. in fair condition.

These assessments are based on visual inspections.

Flood Control: Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to re-examine the planned levels of spending on the flood protection and water drainage infrastructure to meet the effects of climate change. (154574)

Funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management will increase from the current £600 million a year to £800 million a year by 2010-11. This reflects the evidence prepared for the comprehensive spending review and is consistent with the rate of increase suggested by the Foresight Future Flooding study, which took a long-term view of national flooding and coastal erosion risks to 2100.

Floods: Broadcasting Reception

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingencies are in place for the rapid relaying of flood warnings by the Environment Agency in the event of the sustained breakdown of the BBC digital signal on radio and television broadcasts; and if he will make a statement. (154190)

The Environment Agency uses a range of methods for communicating flood warnings, which include automated telephone warnings. Radio and television broadcasts are also used and in the event of the sustained breakdown of these, the Environment Agency will use loudhailers (speakers mounted on Environment Agency vehicles) that can broadcast a pre-recorded warning message in the affected areas.

In the event of severe flooding, gold command operations would be utilised.

Housing: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties will be protected each year by the recently announced additional proposed expenditure for flood defences. (154113)

DEFRA introduced new outcome measures for flood and coastal erosion risk management and will be setting targets using them shortly. This will include the number of properties moving between probability bands. In setting targets, we will consider the funding levels we are able to set following the announcement of the Department's formal comprehensive spending review settlement. It is not yet known how many extra properties will be protected.

Institute for Animal Health: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the last inspection of the effluent pipes at Pirbright took place; and if he will list the dates of the effluent pipe inspections at Pirbright since 2001; (155477)

(2) when Ministers were first informed that the effluent pipes at the Pirbright Institute for Animal Health were deficient and likely to leak effluent;

(3) when Ministers were first informed of requests to replace or renew the effluent pipes at Pirbright.

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: The drainage systems of laboratories licensed by the Department to handle specified animal pathogens under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998 are not routinely inspected. The responsibility for the integrity of the buildings and infrastructure rests with the licensee and the owners of the site. No specific concerns that would have suggested that the integrity of the effluent pipe system at Pirbright was at risk, were raised with DEFRA as licensor and regulator. DEFRA was not asked by the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) for money to replace or renew the drainage system because of concerns about the risk of effluent leakage. Any issues relating to funding of the effluent drainage system, whether remedial or replacement, would be a matter for the IAH and Merial (as the occupants of the Pirbright site), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (which owns the land and buildings on the Pirbright site) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) (as the IAH's and BBSRC's sponsoring Department).

Until the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into potential biosecurity breaches at Pirbright was under way, there was no indication that there was a risk of effluent escaping from the drainage system; although there had been some concerns over the possibility of water leaking into the drains via the manhole covers, that was brought to DEFRA's attention. However, it had been recognised that the system was old. The HSE informed DEFRA Ministers, on 17 August, that leaks could have occurred from the system. On the same day, DEFRA contacted the IAH, which that afternoon put into effect a plan controlling access and strengthening biosecurity measures for movement of people and vehicles. The report from the HSE investigation contains a detailed inspection of the drainage system, and is available from the DEFRA website and the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice Ministers received about the implications for bio security of the decision not to fund the repair of deficient pipework at the Pirbright Institute for Animal Health site. (155532)

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: DEFRA is the licensor and regulator of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998. Prior to the Health and Safety Executive's advice in August 2007, neither the IAH, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as owners of the site, nor anyone else raised concerns with DEFRA about possible biosecurity issues relating to the effluent drainage system.

Any issues relating to funding of the effluent drainage system, whether remedial or replacement, would be a matter for the IAH and Merial (as the occupants of the Pirbright site), BBSRC (as the IAH's funding body) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) (as the IAH's and BBSRC's sponsoring Department). In its role as licensor and regulator, DEFRA was consulted about the requirements and specifications of a replacement effluent drainage system to meet extra capacity demand and to address concerns about water getting into the drains via the manhole covers, and was kept informed of progress in relation to instigation of the work. At no stage was any indication given to DEFRA, that there might be possible implications for biosecurity resulting from delays in agreeing funding between the parties concerned.

Utilities: Meters

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of differences in recent trends in charges by energy companies to customers with prepayment meters compared to those paying by direct debit on the achievement of fuel poverty targets. (153359)

I have been asked to reply.

The amount a customer is paying for their energy is one of the key determinants of whether such a household might be in fuel poverty, and we acknowledged in the Energy White Paper that the gap between direct debit and other payment methods has been increasing. I am encouraged by the work of Ofgem to highlight the savings prepayment customers can make by switching to a cheaper supplier. However, use of prepayment meters is not wholly synonymous with fuel poverty, and the majority of fuel poor customers pay for their gas and electricity by direct debit or standard credit. We will publish shortly our annual Fuel Poverty Progress Report which will include the latest data and projections on fuel poverty levels and a full examination of the factors driving the levels of fuel poverty, including energy market issues.

Northern Ireland

Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions officials in his Office have held with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding supporting of conflict resolution programmes overseas. (155829)

The Government are always ready to share their experience of the Northern Ireland peace process where this might be of assistance to others. My officials have from time to time discussed with the FCO where such assistance might be offered, although no central record is kept of this.

I can, however, confirm a number of recent instances of engagement by former NIO Ministers and officials in supporting conflict resolution. One of my predecessors as Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), accompanied by a senior official in the Northern Ireland Office, visited Sri Lanka from 14-16 November 2006. One of my officials visited Tanzania from 5-8 July 2007 to share lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process which might help efforts to address political polarisation in Zanzibar. An NIO official also met with representatives of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo at a private conference in New York in April 2007 organised by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In each case these engagements were discussed in advance with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland who were released from prison after serving a sentence for drug-related offences subsequently re-offended in each of the last five years. (154010)

Re-offending data are not available and reconviction data are only available for those released from prison in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The following table gives the number of offenders that were released from prison for drug-related offences who were subsequently reconvicted for any offence within a two year period. Data are collated on the principal offence rule; thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Reconviction rates for those who were discharged from custody after serving sentences for drug offences (2001-03) and who were reconvicted for any offence within a two year period

Number discharged from prison for drug offences

Number reconvicted for any offence within a two year period

2001

59

17

2002

56

18

2003

53

23

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average sentence handed down by the courts in Northern Ireland for (a) possession of and (b) dealing in drugs was in each of the last five years. (154012)

The information requested is contained in the following tables.

Tables 1 and 2 give the number of disposals and the average sentence length for each disposal type for unlawful possession of drugs and unlawful dealing in drugs respectively.

Data cover the calendar years 2001 to 2005, the latest available years, and are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Disposals given to those convicted of unlawful possession of drugs and the average sentence given by the courts for the years 2001-05

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Immediate custody

23

21

23

23

23

Average sentence (months)1,2

6

11

8

7

8

Suspended custody

32

25

23

28

33

Average sentence (months)

6

6

8

7

6

Community Service Order

17

13

8

8

15

Average sentence (hours)

102

100

134

155

128

Attendance Centre Order

1

0

1

1

2

Average sentence (hours)

12

12

24

18

Probation Order

33

18

29

36

31

Average sentence (months)

12

12

14

12

15

Fine

175

192

242

263

314

Average amount (£)

145

114

121

128

134

Combination Order

2

0

3

1

6

Average probation period (months)3

18

12

12

Average community service period (hours)3

80

100

83

Youth Conference Order4

1

0

Conditional Discharge

25

25

45

40

29

Other5

2

3

4

0

4

Total number convicted

310

297

378

401

457

‘—’ = Not applicable.

1 Data include those sentenced to prison, Young Offenders’ Centre and those given Custody Probation Orders.

2 Average immediate custodial sentence length for 2002 excludes one sentenced to juvenile justice centre order; 2003 excludes one sentenced to a juvenile justice centre order and one sentenced to detention at the Secretary of State’s pleasure; 2005 excludes two sentenced to a juvenile justice centre order.

3 Data are not available for the average probation period (months) and the average community service period (hours) for Combination Orders for 2001 and 2002.

4 Average sentence lengths are not given for Youth Conference Orders.

5 Other includes Absolute discharge and Recognisance.

Table 2: Disposals given to those convicted of dealing in drugs and the average sentence given by the courts for the years 2001-05

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Immediate custody1

65

44

56

61

60

Average sentence (months)

26

22

30

28

22

Suspended custody

65

40

35

67

47

Average sentence (months)

19

18

17

20

20

Community Service Order

5

2

4

6

4

Average sentence (hours)

116

170

133

145

180

Attendance Centre Order

0

0

0

1

0

Average sentence (hours)

24

Probation Order

2

6

7

14

11

Average sentence (months)

24

20

19

18

16

Fine

7

14

9

20

16

Average amount (£)

221

128

106

254

209

Combination Order

1

4

4

9

6

Average probation period (months)2

15

17

14

Average community service period (hours)2

95

78

65

Youth Conference Order3

0

1

Conditional Discharge

6

2

4

4

4

Other4

1

0

0

0

0

Total number convicted

152

112

119

182

149

‘—’ = Not applicable.

1 Data include those sentenced to prison, Young Offenders’ Centre and those given Custody Probation Orders.

2 Data are not available for the average probation period (months) and the average community service period (hours) for Combination Orders for 2001 and 2002.

3 Average sentence lengths are not given for Youth Conference Orders.

4 Other includes Absolute discharge and Recognisance.

Northern Ireland Police Authority; Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many press officers are employed by the Northern Ireland Police. (154720)

The PSNI currently employ 16 personnel, filling 13 Press Officer positions (one of whom is part-time) and three Senior Press Officer positions.

Rates and Rating: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland where responsibility lies for making changes to the system of local taxation in Northern Ireland. (154688)

Local taxation in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland. The UK Government remain responsibility for taxes that apply to the United Kingdom as a whole.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the UK Government are making a submission to the Northern Ireland Executive's review of domestic rates. (153890)

Local Taxation in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland. The Government have no plans to make a submission to the review of domestic rates in Northern Ireland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 955W, on valuation and rating, if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent by the Rate Collection Agency's Chief Executive. (153893)

Sexual Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the (a) shortest sentence, (b) shortest suspended sentence and (c) lowest fine handed down by the courts in Northern Ireland was following conviction for (i) rape, (ii) attempted rape, (iii) indecent assault on a female, (iv) indecent assault on a male, (v) indecent assault on a female child, (vi) indecent assault on a male child, (vii) gross indecency with a child, (viii) buggery with a boy under 16 years of age, (ix) buggery with a girl, (x) unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14 years, (xi) unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17 years, (xii) permitting a girl under 17 years to use premises for intercourse, (xiii) incest by man, (xiv) indecent exposure with intent to assault a female, (xv) exposure, (xvi) voyeurism, (xvii) sex offender failing to notify police of change of address, (xviii) breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order, (xix) bigamy, (xx) distributing indecent photographs of children, (xxi) possessing indecent photograph of a child, (xxii) taking indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of children and (xxiii) making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of children in each of the last three years. (154009)

The information requested is contained in the following tables.

Tables 1-3 give the number sentenced to immediate custody and the minimum sentence length (in months) handed down by the courts for those convicted of specific sexual offences for the calendar years 2003 to 2005 (the latest years available). Tables 4-6 provide similar information for those given a suspended sentence.

The number of defendants disposed of by a fine and the minimum fine amount given over the same period are documented in tables 7-9.

Data are collated on the principal offence rule; thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Number sentenced to immediate custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2003

Offence

Number sentenced to immediate custody

Minimum custodial sentence given (months)

Rape

8

18

Attempted rape

1

24

Indecent assault on female

30

4

Indecent assault on male

4

12

Indecent assault on female child

3

12

Indecent assault on male child

0

1

Gross indecency with child

5

12

Buggery with boy under 16 years

1

84

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

1

60

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

1

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

0

1

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

0

1

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

1

24

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 2: Number sentenced to immediate custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2004

Offence

Number sentenced to immediate custody

Minimum custodial sentence given (months)

Rape

15

48

Attempted rape

3

48

Indecent assault on female

19

2

Indecent assault on male

9

3

Indecent assault on female child

2

12

Indecent assault on male child1

2

48

Gross indecency with child

3

12

Buggery with boy under 16 years

4

60

Buggery with girl

1

24

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

3

6

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

2

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

2

Incest by man

0

2

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

2

Indecent exposure

1

1

Voyeurism

0

2

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

2

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

2

Bigamy

0

2

Distributing indecent photographs of children

1

12

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

1

6

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

2

6

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

4

6

1 One offender was sentenced to prison and one given a juvenile justice centre order. The shortest sentence length stated is based on the prison sentence.

2 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 3: Number sentenced to immediate custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2005

Offence

Number sentenced to immediate custody

Minimum custodial sentence given (months)

Rape

4

48

Attempted rape

4

60

Indecent assault on female

21

3

Indecent assault on male

4

9

Indecent assault on female child

13

6

Indecent assault on male child

3

8

Gross indecency with child

3

8

Buggery with boy under 16 years

1

96

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

3

14

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

1

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

1

36

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

1

3

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

1

12

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

1

18

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

0

1

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

5

4

1 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 4: Number sentenced to suspended custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2003

Offence

Number sentenced to suspended custody

Minimum suspended sentence given (months)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

13

3

Indecent assault on male

0

1

Indecent assault on female child

0

1

Indecent assault on male child

0

1

Gross indecency with child

0

1

Buggery with boy under 16 years

0

1

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

3

8

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

1

3

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

1

5

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

1

4

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

3

2

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 5: Number sentenced to suspended custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2004

Offence

Number sentenced to suspended custody

Minimum suspended sentence given (months)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

18

1

Indecent assault on male

2

6

Indecent assault on female child

1

24

Indecent assault on male child

2

18

Gross indecency with child

0

1

Buggery with boy under 16 years

2

24

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

1

36

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

1

12

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

0

1

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

0

1

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

1

6

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 6: Number sentenced to suspended custody for sexual offences and the minimum sentence length (in months) given by offence for the year 2005

Offence

Number sentenced to suspended custody

Minimum suspended sentence given (months)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

9

2

Indecent assault on male

2

6

Indecent assault on female child

1

18

Indecent assault on male child

2

6

Gross indecency with child

2

2

Buggery with boy under 16 years

0

1

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

2

4

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

1

18

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

1

4

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

1

3

Bigamy

0

1

Distributing indecent photographs of children

1

3

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

1

12

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

1

1

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Sentence length is not applicable.

Table 7: Number sentenced to a fine for sexual offences and the minimum fine (£) given by offence for the year 2003

Offence

Number sentenced to a fine

Minimum fine given (£)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

3

400

Indecent assault on male

0

1

Indecent assault on female child

0

1

Indecent assault on male child

0

1

Gross indecency with child

0

1

Buggery with boy under 16 years

0

1

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

1

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

1

100

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

2

250

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

0

1

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Fine amount is not applicable.

Table 8: Number sentenced to a fine for sexual offences and the minimum fine (£) given by offence for the year 2004

Offence

Number sentenced to a fine

Minimum fine given (£)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

2

150

Indecent assault on male

1

250

Indecent assault on female child

0

1

Indecent assault on male child

0

1

Gross indecency with child

0

1

Buggery with boy under 16 years

0

1

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

1

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

0

1

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

0

1

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

0

1

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

0

1

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Fine amount is not applicable.

Table 9: Number sentenced to a fine for sexual offences and the minimum fine (£) given by offence for the year 2005

Offence

Number sentenced to a fine

Minimum fine given (£)

Rape

0

1

Attempted rape

0

1

Indecent assault on female

4

100

Indecent assault on male

0

1

Indecent assault on female child

1

2,500

Indecent assault on male child

0

1

Gross indecency with child

0

1

Buggery with boy under 16 years

0

1

Buggery with girl

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 14

0

1

Unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 17

0

1

Permitting girl under 17 to use premises for intercourse

0

1

Incest by man

0

1

Indecent exposure with intent to insult a female

0

1

Indecent exposure

0

1

Voyeurism

0

1

Sex offender failing to notify police of change of address

4

100

Breach of interim sex offender’s prevention order

0

1

Bigamy

0

1

Distributing indecent photographs of children

0

1

Possessing indecent photograph(s) of child(ren)

0

1

Taking indecent photograph or pseudo photographs of children

0

1

Making indecent photograph or pseudo photograph(s) of children

0

1

1 Fine amount is not applicable.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland previously convicted of (a) rape and (b) other sexual assault have subsequently committed other sexual offences in each of the last five years. (154011)

Re-offending data are not available and reconviction data are only available for those released from prison in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

It is not possible to break reconviction data into individual sexual offence types. The following table gives the numbers that were released from prison for sexual offences who were subsequently reconvicted for other sexual offences within a two year period. Data are collated on the principal offence rule; thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Reconviction rates for those who were discharged from custody after serving sentences for sexual offences (2001-03) and who were reconvicted for sexual offences within a two year period

Number discharged from prison for sexual offences

Number reconvicted for sexual offences within a two year period

2001

51

0

2002

52

1

2003

39

1

Work and Pensions

Children: Day Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what financial implications in terms of (a) rewards for fulfilment and (b) penalties for failure will be introduced on local authorities following the introduction in April 2008 of the duty to secure sufficient childcare for working parents. (154312)

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

We are determined that local authorities should have the resources they need to fulfil the statutory duty to secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, sufficient childcare to meet the needs of working parents. Accordingly, from April 2008 the Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare Grant will include an appropriate allocation. Successive sufficiency assessments conducted by local authorities will indicate their success in closing gaps in provision; and the Government offices for the regions will also monitor authorities’ progress in securing sufficiency. It will be open to anyone who believes they have been the victim of maladministration by local authorities in relation to the sufficiency duty to seek redress through various means, including the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Government do not consider that it would be appropriate to introduce a system of financial rewards and penalties in relation to fulfilment of this statutory duty.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the reason is for the further delay in dealing with the case of Mr. and Mrs. Beardsmore of Paignton and responding to the hon. Member for Totnes' letter of 4 July and subsequent letter of 13 August to the chief executive of the Child Support Agency. (155458)

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 9 October 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 reason is for the further delay with the case of Mr and Mrs Beardsmore of Paignton and responding to the hon. Member for Totnes’ letter of 4 July 07 and subsequent letter of 13 August 07 to the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency. [155458]

As details about individual cases are confidential I have written to you separately about this case.

Departments: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of people employed by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are disabled. (153581)

The latest figures based on the position at 31 March 2007 are that 6,854 staff across the department have declared that they are disabled. As a proportion of staff who have declared a disability status of 115,525, this equates to 5.93 per cent. of staff. Individual agency figures are contained in the following table.

The figures are based on the proportion of staff who have voluntarily declared themselves as being disabled. However, we are aware that not all disabled staff declare their disability for departmental records, and the true figure may be higher than the figures shown. For example, the 2006 DWP Staff Survey (which is completed anonymously), showed that 13 per cent. of respondents considered themselves to have a long standing health condition or disability.

The roll out of a new computer system by the end of April has meant a more accurate assessment of the numbers of disabled people working within the Department. As we roll out we are asking each member of staff to check the personal information we hold about them and to declare whether they consider themselves to be disabled. A further joint communications exercise with departmental trade unions to highlight the importance of individuals providing this information is also planned.

Organisation

Total headcount

Total staff who have made a declaration

Actuals non disabled

Actuals disabled

Percentage disabled staff

Jobcentre Plus

75,906

71,606

66,893

4,713

6.58

The Pension Service

13,888

13,888

13,203

685

4.93

Disability and Carers Service

6,731

6,731

6,298

433

6.43

CSA

12,614

12,614

12,145

469

3.72

Corporate Centre

10,686

10,686

10,132

554

5.18

Total DWP

119,825

115,525

108,671

6,854

5.93

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have been appointed to his Department outside civil service grades in the last 30 days. (153179)

The Department engaged 36 non-civil service contractors to fill interim posts during this period.

In addition, my Department publishes information annually on appointments to the public bodies for which it is responsible. Data for 2006-07 are available at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/ndpb/DraftPublicBodies.pdf.

Departments: Pension Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what systems are in place to ensue accurate information-sharing between his Department and the Pension Service; and if he will make a statement. (156659)

The Pension Service is part of the Department for Work and Pensions and accordingly there is a free flow of information and data across the organisation. The exchange of information takes place both clerically and via interfacing IT systems.

One of the major features of the Department’s IT is a core system (customer information system), which holds a record for each national insurance number holder and a comprehensive range of personal details as a minimum. By linking all of the main benefit application services (e.g. income support computer system, pensions Strategy computer system) to CIS, the Department is able to keep customer records fully updated and is able to provide immediate notification of change of circumstances when they occur.

The IT systems links across DWP, including the Pension Service through CIS, and include the transition from working age to pensions.

Employment: Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how may work-focused interviews have been booked with lone parents whose youngest child is aged 11 or over in the last 12 months; how many lone parents whose youngest child is 11 or over (a) moved into work and (b) came off benefits in each of the last 12 months; how many sanctions for failing to attend a work-focused interview were applied to lone parents whose youngest child is aged 11 or over in each of the last 12 months. (155938)

374,000 work-focused interviews were booked for lone parents with a youngest child aged 11 or over between April 2006 and March 2007.

The remaining available information is in the following table.

Lone parents with youngest child aged 11 and overMonthInto workOff benefitsSanctions2006April1,9403,580840May2,3003,6401,060June2,1003,5001,060July2,0203,4401,040August1,8603,3401,080September2,8804,040760October2,9604,640920November2,5203,340940December1,4003,2208202007January2,0203,340980February1,7203,220980March1,6603,7401,160 Notes:1. Employment data relate to lone parents who had claimed income support and were recorded as entering work during the period. Data may include some lone parents who continued their income support claim after finding work.2. Employment data under-represents lone parents entering work during the period as it excludes some job entries e.g. people with earnings below the tax threshold and those entering self-employment.3. Data for people moving off benefits in the period are for people who stopped claiming income support and did not continue claiming any other benefit. Those who ended their income support claim, but were in receipt of a different benefit immediately after ending their claim, are not included.4. Sanctions data only include those who were in receipt of or entitled to income support.5. Latest available data for all requested information are to March 2007.Sources:National Benefits Database and Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Pensioners: Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the impact on pensioner poverty of raising the level of the basic state pension to the level of the guarantee credit; and what assumptions he has used about the take-up of income-related benefits in coming to this estimate. (155947)

We have made good progress in tackling pensioner poverty. Since 1997 the number of pensioners living in relative poverty, based on a threshold of 60 per cent. Of contemporary median income after housing costs, has fallen by 1.1 million, from 2.9 million to 1.8 million in 2005-06.

Raising the level of the basic state pension to the level of the guarantee credit is estimated to reduce the number of pensioners below 60 per cent. median income after housing costs by around 200,000 based on 2007-08 benefit rates.

This figure is based on the Department’s policy simulation model. Take-up of income related benefits are modelled and lie within the range of published National Statistics estimates.

Pensions: Females

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many married women aged (a) 60, (b) 61, (c) 62, (d) 63, (e) 64, (f) 65, (g) 66, (h) 67, (i) 68 and (j) 69 are (i) one year, (ii) two years, (iii) three years, (iv) four years, (v) five years, (vi) six years, (vii) seven years, (viii) eight years and (ix) nine or more years short of the number of qualifying years that would be necessary to exceed the 25 per cent. threshold for entitlement to any payment of basic state pension. (155042)

[holding answer 10 September 2007]: The information is not available for married women only. The information that is available is in the following table.

It shows the number of UK women aged between 60 and 69 in 2003-04 who did not satisfy the ‘25 per cent. rule’ for entitlement to a basic state pension on their own contribution records. It also shows the number of additional qualifying years that would be necessary to satisfy this rule.

Some of these women may be eligible to receive a basic state pension based on their husband's contribution record.

Number of UK women not satisfying the 25 per cent. rule (thousand)

Additional qualifying years required to satisfy the 25 per cent rule

Age in 2003-04

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9 or more

All

60

9

7

6

5

4

3

1

2

2

39

61

8

7

8

6

5

5

3

0

4

46

62

9

9

10

8

7

4

4

2

4

56

63

10

10

10

9

7

6

2

2

6

62

64

12

13

11

13

9

7

4

2

5

76

65

14

16

18

13

10

6

4

3

5

89

66

13

16

16

16

12

8

5

2

5

93

67

15

16

16

16

14

7

4

2

7

96

68

12

17

19

14

9

8

5

4

6

94

69

15

17

21

17

11

9

6

2

5

102

All

117

129

135

118

86

63

38

20

48

754

Notes:

1. Figures refer to women living in the UK.

2. Figures refer to entitlement based on women's own contribution records.

3. The information is based on the data held on the national insurance record up to and including the 2003-04 tax year at May 2005. It therefore excludes any national insurance contributions paid after that date.

Source:

Lifetime Labour Market Database 2, 2003-04

Additionally, pursuant to my answer to PQ/07/155043, Official Report, vol. 463. column 2377, the numbers given in that answer now need revising to mirror the same methodology used to determine the numbers for the above answer.

The error arose because the method used to select the data was incorrect in that complete work histories were looked at instead of the national insurance record at the specific ages. This therefore meant that too many people were included in the answer because people would have less than 25 per cent. entitlement in their earlier years but they would have improved their entitlement over their working lives.

The revised table is set out in the following table:

Number of UK women not satisfying the 25 per cent rule (thousand)

BSP entitlement at state pension age (percentage)

Age in 2003-04

0-4

5-9

10-14

15-19

20-24

All

60

3

3

8

10

15

39

61

5

4

10

12

15

46

62

6

5

10

17

18

56

63

7

5

13

19

19

62

64

6

7

15

24

25

76

65

6

8

16

31

28

89

66

6

7

20

31

29

93

67

8

6

20

33

30

96

68

7

9

17

33

29

94

69

7

8

19

37

32

102

All

59

60

148

247

241

754

Social Security Benefits: Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the (a) efficacy and (b) fairness of requiring applicants for income support, jobseekers allowance and incapacity benefit to use a telephone; if he will review the requirement that an emergency crisis loan cannot be made from a Jobcentre Plus office customer phone; what estimate he has made of the number of claimants who applied on pay-as-you-go mobile phones that do not give free calls to the 0800 number in the latest period for which figures are available; what estimate he has made of how often applicants did not complete the journey through the automated menu options; and what estimate he has made of how often staff offered applicants alternative means to claim. (155271)

[holding answer 12 September 2007]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie dated, 9 October 2007:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about applications for benefits and emergency Crisis Loans by telephone. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Contact Centres were introduced partly in response to the Government’s desire to offer a modernised service and partly to respond to customer feedback that Jobcentre Plus services should be handled by phone.

Contact Centres:

are generally more convenient for customers to access (i.e. removes the need to visit a local office);

can offer services over longer opening hours more cost effectively; and

can deliver services more efficiently (e.g. through the more efficient use of space and the better utilisation of staff time).

We take new claims over the telephone as this ensures that we have all the necessary information to complete the claim, therefore minimising any potential delay. However, customers who have difficulty using the telephone for whatever reason can request a face-to-face interview or, where appropriate, a home visit. They can also choose to claim using a clerical claim form.

Customers are not currently permitted to use customer access phones in Jobcentres to make claims for crisis loans. This decision is being reviewed following a request from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and because it is appropriate to keep under review the risks associated with customer reaction to negative decisions. Consultation with relevant parties is underway with specific attention being paid to the issue of access to customers, particularly those who only have the use of mobile phones.

Information is not available regarding the type of telephone used by customers to contact us, as we cannot identify and do not record whether the customer is using a mobile (pay-as-you-go or other) or landline.

We have recently introduced management information to assess disconnected calls during the automated menu options. The months with complete data are June and July 2007 when we received in total 1,197,960 calls to the First Contact Interactive Voice Response. Of these, 155,466 have been disconnected by the customer before being transferred to the queue. Indications for this point to the fact that customers do not have all the information required to make a claim when going through the Interactive Voice Response.

Information is not available on how often customer service agents offer alternative means to claim benefits. However, staff have clear guidance on the circumstances in which customers should be offered different options.

State Retirement Pensions: Widowed People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many widows in receipt of widow’s pension prior to their 60th birthday have failed to claim their state retirement pension. (155750)

A woman in receipt of widow’s pension has various options on reaching State pension age (currently 60). She can choose to continue receiving her widow’s pension up to the age of 65, she can choose to claim her state pension in place of the widow’s pension, or she can give up her widow’s pension and not draw her state pension in order to earn a higher state pension or lump sum when she does claim it.

Our records show that just over 20,000 women aged 60 to 64 are receiving widow’s pension.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Pension Service takes to provide information to widows to claim state retirement pension at 60 years. (155751)

Four months and four days before a person reaches age 60/65, the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS) passes personal and contributions details to the Pensions Strategy Computer System (PSCS) which will set up a pension account if a current address is held and:

(a) the first contribution condition for basic State Pension is satisfied with entitlement of at least 25 per cent. basic State Pension.

(b) there is entitlement to Additional State Pension, Shared Additional State Pension or GRB;

(c) the person is a widow, widower or divorcee (including an annulled marriage), regardless of entitlement in their own right; or

(d) PSCS issues a claim package.

The claims package consists of:

1. leaflet BR33 SPIB that invites the customer to contact the Pension Service to make a claim over the phone, request claim form BR1 over the phone or return a tear-off for claim form BR1 to be issued;

2. a BR33R which contains:

(a) identity details;

(b) the choices on how to claim State Pension;

(c) details of the information the customer needs to have close to hand when contacting the Pension Service by telephone.

Unemployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of trends in the level of worklessness among the under 25s since 1997 . (156440)

Claimant unemployment is now falling for 18-24 year olds. This is the result of our successful employment policies, including the new deal. Almost three quarters of a million 18-24 year olds have been helped into work through new deal for young people.

Unemployment Benefits: Elderly

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total value of attendance allowance and disability living allowance payments to people over retirement age living in the City of York local authority area was in (a) 1996 and (b) 2006-07. (155277)

[holding answer 12 September 2007]: The available information is in the following table.

Total value of attendance allowance and disability living allowance payments to people aged 60 and over in City of York local authority

£ million

Attendance allowance

Disability living allowance

Cash terms

1996-97

5.8

2.2

2006-07 (estimated outturn)

11.7

5.6

Real terms

1996-97

7.6

2.9

2006-07 (estimated outturn)

12.1

5.8

Notes:

1. Benefit caseloads data for 1996-97, produced from 5 per cent. sample data, were up rated to 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) totals. Caseloads for 2006-07 were produced from 100 per cent. WPLS data.

2. Figures are consistent with budget 2007 expenditure forecast.

3. Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Information is available on the DWP website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/expenditure.asp

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate 5 per cent. and 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study data and Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Expenditure Forecasts.

Home Department

Border and Immigration Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of lost documentation have the Border and Immigration Agency recorded in the last 12 months. (156340)

Statistics for the numbers of documents lost in the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) are not kept. However the majority of passports held by BIA are in connection with managed migration casework. In the 12 months ending August 2007, 176 passports were lost from managed migration casework. Case working units in Croydon alone retain between 70,000 to 100,000 passports in their possession at any given time.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what proportion of letters sent by hon. Members to the Border and Immigration Agency have received a substantive reply within (a) three, (b) four, (c) six, (d) eight, (e) 10 and (f) more than 10 weeks; and if she will make a statement. (156288)

In the period 1 January to 30 June 2007, the last period full data is available, the Border and Immigration Agency received 22,636 letters from hon. Members.

Of these:

(a) 12,713 (56.2 per cent.) were answered in three weeks or less

(b) 18,866 (83.3 per cent.) were answered in four weeks or less

(c) 20,917 (92.4 per cent.) were answered in six weeks or less

(d) 21,426 (94.7 per cent.) were answered in eight weeks or less

(e) 21,910 (96.8 per cent.) were answered in 10 weeks or less

(f) 643 (2.8 per cent.) took more than 10 weeks to answer.

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reasons are for the increase in the number of scientific procedures carried out on (a) goats and (b) sheep between 2004 and 2006; which establishments accounted for the greatest amount of that increase; and if she will make a statement. (154410)

The number of scientific procedures carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 using goats and sheep for the past three years is shown in the following table.

As the table shows, the principal increase in procedures involving both goats and sheep in 2006 arose in connection with the study of fundamental biological disease.

It is Home Office policy not to publish the names of designated establishments licensed under the 1986 Act for health and safety reasons.

Procedures

2004

2005

2006

Purpose

Sheep

6,670

5,650

11,601

Fundamental biological disease

567

472

485

Applied studies-human medicine or dentistry

13,141

3,719

2,495

Applied studies-veterinary study

0

10

8

Protection of man, animals or environment

5

5

1

Education

3

3

0

Forensic enquiries

20,868

19,411

21,746

Direct diagnosis

29

59

41

Breeding

Total

41,283

29,329

36,377

Goats

322

289

502

Fundamental biological disease

43

19

20

Applied studies-human medicine or dentistry

24

8

15

Applied studies-veterinary study

4

3

2

Protection of man, animals or environment

2

11

10

Direct diagnosis

Total

395

330

549

Animal Experiments: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to assess the effectiveness of legislation on licensing of animal experimentation. (154382)

The use of animals in experiments and other scientific procedures is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which puts into effect, and in some ways exceeds, European Union Directive 86/609/EEC. The 1986 Act provides a strong regulatory framework balancing the need to protect animals from unnecessary suffering with the legitimate requirements of the scientific community, and the public, for medical and other essential research and testing.

The operation of the 1986 Act has been regularly reviewed since it first came into force. Full-scale reviews have been carried out by the Animal Procedures Committee which published its 10 year review of the operation of the Act in 1998, and by the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures which reported in July 2002. In addition, specific aspects of the operation of the 1986 Act have been reviewed at various times by the Animal Procedures Committee, which is required under section 20 of the Act to advise the Secretary of State on matters concerned with Act and her functions under it. The Animal Procedures Committee has, for example, in the last five years, reviewed the use and acquisition of non-human primates, the cost benefit assessment of the use of animals in research, the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals published under section 21 of the Act, modular training for licence applicants and schedule 1 to the Act dealing with appropriate methods of humane killing

In due course, the current revision of Directive 86/609 will provide a further opportunity to review the regulation of animal experiments.

Asylum: Sri Lanka

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when her Department last reviewed the safety of returning Tamil asylum claimants to Sri Lanka. (154571)

Each asylum and human rights application made by a Sri Lankan national is, as with all other nationalities, considered individually against the background of current information from a wide range of well-recognised sources about the situation in Sri Lanka. Those who are found not to be in need of international protection and have no legal basis of stay in the UK, may return voluntarily to any region of Sri Lanka. Where an individual does not return voluntarily, removal may be enforced. Enforced removals will only be undertaken where we are satisfied the individual has no protection needs.

Bicycles: Confiscation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many bicycles have been confiscated from offenders under the provisions of the Police Reform Act 2002. (156465)

None: the Police Reform Act allows the seizure, in appropriate circumstances, of motor vehicles only.

British Transport Police

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Government Departments provide funding for the British Transport Police. (156353)

I have been asked to reply.

Revenue funding for the force is provided by the industry. The Department for Transport is providing £7.5 million for capital expenditure this financial year and the force receives money from the Home Office for specific initiatives.

Community Support Officers: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effectiveness and suitability of under-18 year olds serving as police community support officers; and if she will make a statement. (155645)

Police community support officers (PCSOs) are employed as police staff and as such are bound by standard employment regulations. It is for individual chief officers in each force to determine whether a person is suitable, capable and adequately trained to undertake the role of PCSO.

The Home Office will be working with senior colleagues in the service to make sure current guidance is sufficient to ensure that only those who are capable of performing the role serve as PCSOs.

Crime: Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of crimes reported to the police in (a) Yorkshire and the Humber and (b) North Yorkshire in (i) 1997 and (ii) the most recent year for which figures are available were cleared up. (155493)

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: Detection statistics at police force area level for 2006-07 were published on 20 September 2007. They show a clear up rate of 28 per cent. for Yorkshire and the Humber region and 33 per cent. for North Yorkshire. Changes to the offence coverage in 1998, the detections guidance in 1999 and the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002 mean that data for 1997 are not directly comparable with that for 2006-07. In 1997, the clear up rate was 26 per cent. for both Yorkshire and the Humber region and North Yorkshire.

Crime: South West Region

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recorded crimes of each type there were in (a) Devon and Cornwall, (b) the south-west and (c) England and Wales in 2006-07. (156358)

The information requested is published in Table 6.05 of ‘Crime in England and Wales 2006-07’. A copy is available on the Home Office website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb1107chap2.xls

Crimes of Violence: Suffolk

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the figures were for (a) violent crime and (b) gun crime in Suffolk in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2007. (155779)

A number of changes have been made to recorded crime in response to suggestions in the two reviews of crime statistics. Once such change is that the term 'violent crime' is no longer used in connection with the recorded crime statistics and we now provide figures for violence against the person.

There were 2,448 offences of violence against the person recorded in Suffolk in 1997 and 10,190 offences recorded in 2006-07, the latest year for which statistics are available. The introduction of expanded coverage in 1998 and the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002 resulted in an artificial increase in recorded offences of violence against the person and figures for the two years are therefore not directly comparable.

There were 17 firearms offences (excluding air weapons) in Suffolk in 1997 and 58 in 2005-06, the latest year for which data are available.

Driving Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government have taken to tackle the incidence of driving off without payment offences in relation to petrol retail. (156232)

It remains an offence under the Theft Act 1978 to make off without paying for goods with intent to avoid payment. However, changes were made in April 2005 to Home Office counting rules reflecting concerns expressed by police forces about the lack of consistency among forces in recording allegations of making off without payment offences.

Many police forces continue to work with industry to reduce this type of problem and initiatives such as ‘Forecourt watch’ and self-reporting packages have proved very successful in terms of improving security and reducing crime.

The British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) continue to make a valuable contribution in partnership with local police and petrol retailers to reduce this type of offence.

Forced Marriage

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of offences related to forced marriage were investigated in each of the last five years by each police force in England and Wales. (155517)

[holding answer 17 September 2007]: The Home Office does not collect this information and it is not routinely collected by the police, as there is no specific offence of forced marriage. Offences related to forced marriage can range from common assault, false imprisonment and kidnapping, to murder.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has published guidance for police forces on identifying, assessing and managing risk in domestic violence cases, and separate guidance on dealing with cases of forced marriage. In addition, the Crown Prosecution Service is currently undertaking pilots in four areas (Lancashire, London, West Midlands and West Yorkshire) to investigate the prosecution of forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence cases. All cases in these pilot areas will be flagged and monitored from July 2007 to March 2008.

Foreign Workers: Care Homes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many work permits were issued to senior care workers in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (149343)

The following table shows the number of work permit applications which were approved for overseas nationals for senior care workers from non-EU states in period 2005 -2006. Data prior to 2005 are not available.

Approvals

2005

1,870

2006

5,690

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.

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

Foreign Workers: Health Professions

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many work permits were issued for (a) doctors and (b) nurses and auxiliary nurses from non-EU states in (i) 2006 and (ii) each of the preceding 10 years. (149263)

The following table shows the number of work permit applications which were approved for overseas nationals for (a) doctors and (b) nurses from non-EU states in the period 1999 to 2006. Data prior to 1999 are not available. There have been no approvals for auxiliary nurses.

Doctor

Nurse

Total

1999

170

2,430

2,600

2000

580

15,130

15,710

2001

1,805

24,355

26,160

2002

3,120

28,740

31,855

2003

3,820

29,590

33,410

2004

4,690

29,180

33,875

2005

4,070

22,670

26,740

2006

3,830

13,685

17,520

Total

22,090

165,780

187,870

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.

2. Because of rounding figures may not add up to the totals.

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

Genetics: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to update the national DNA database to include full postal addresses of every person who has been added onto the database. (154364)

None. The purpose of the National DNA Database (NDNAD) is to hold a record of a person’s DNA which can be matched against DNA taken from crime scenes. If there is a match the police are notified and make further inquiries. The NDNAD holds the person’s name, date of birth, ethnic appearance, gender, a link to any record on the police national computer, and information about the police force which took the sample. This is sufficient for the police to be able to contact the person if required. It is not necessary for the NDNAD itself to hold the person’s postal address.

The address someone is living at when a DNA sample is taken from them will of course become outdated when they move, so adding this address would impose extra work on the police for the sake of information which in many cases would soon become out of date. In order to keep address information accurate, it would be necessary to monitor changes of address of the 4 million people on the database. This would be expensive and intrusive without adding anything useful to police operations.

Genocide: Rwanda

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions she has had with her French and Belgian counterparts on the search for and prosecution of suspected Rwandan genocidaires residing in those countries; (153428)

(2) what steps she is taking to encourage other EU Governments to arrest suspected Rwandan genocidaires residing in their countries;

(3) what discussions she has had with EU counterparts about procedures for extradition to Rwanda of suspected Rwandan genocidaires residing in Europe.

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: It is for each member state to determine, in accordance with its own laws, what action might be appropriate in particular cases. Regular discussions, however, are held with EU counterparts, both at ministerial and official level, about a range of judicial cooperation issues including, from time to time, about bringing to justice alleged genocidaires from Rwanda. No one fleeing prosecution in that country should expect to find safe haven or to enjoy impunity within the EU. That is why the Government have entered into special extradition arrangements with Rwanda in respect of four cases currently before the courts.

Identity Cards: Channel Islands and the Isle of Man

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether compulsory identity cards will be introduced in (a) Jersey, (b) Guernsey and (c) Isle of Man simultaneously with the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. (155808)

There are no provisions in the Identity Cards Act 2006 to make it compulsory to have an identity card and to do so would require further primary legislation.

As with previous legislation on identity cards, the Government would consult the Administrations of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man as and when further primary legislation on identity cards was being prepared.

Lisbon Agenda

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies her Department has adopted to assist the United Kingdom’s fulfilment of the Lisbon Agenda criteria. (155839)

The Government fully supports the aims of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. Reforms across EU member states consistent with the Strategy to boost productivity and skills, expanding participation in the labour market and increasing social inclusion, are key parts of the response to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation.

In line with the aims of the Lisbon Strategy, the Government are pursuing a comprehensive programme of long-term structural reform to deliver strong and sustainable economic performance and employment growth, including addressing specific skills shortages through its managed migration policy. This is set out in the UK National Reform programme, progress against which the Government reports on annually. The most recent progress report was published in September and is available in the Library of the House and on the website of HM Treasury.

Official Visits: European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what official visits she is planning to European Union member states in the next six months. (155840)

The Secretary of State for the Home Department has recently returned from Portugal where she attended the informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council. Over the coming months she plans to visit Poland for a meeting of the G6 Interior Ministers to discuss cooperation in the areas of counter terrorism, organised crime and immigration; and Germany for a G6 counter terrorism symposium. She is also currently considering a visit to France.

In addition, the JHA Council will be meeting in Brussels in November, December and February 2008, and in Slovenia in January 2008. Ministerial attendance at those meetings will be determined in the light of the individual agendas. Home Office Ministers are also planning visits to Ireland, Germany and Belgium before the end of the year. There may be other visits or EU meetings, attendance at which will be considered against the pursuit of Home Office aims.

Police

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has for a Royal Commission on policing; and if she will make a statement. (156697)

Police: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers in (a) Essex and (b) Southend have been the subject of complaints in each year since 1997; how many of these have been the subject of local resolution. (156569)

The information requested is not collected by the Home Office. This is a matter for the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Police: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much extra funding will be provided by the Government for policing provision during the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth. (156022)

The Home Office provide special grant to police authorities to pay for the additional costs of policing the main annual party conferences.

Dorset police submitted a bid of £4.5 million (revenue) plus £80,000 (capital) for the additional costs of policing the 2007 Labour Party autumn conference which has been approved.

Police: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on the current formula for determining the annual pay of police officers. (156698)

It is important that pay arrangements for the police are both fair and affordable, for the taxpayer as well as the police service. This is why the Government asked Sir Clive Booth to conduct a review of police pay. His recommendations were published in a written ministerial statement on 21 February 2007, and they recommended an interim index linking increases in police officer pay to increases in the public sector. This was the basis of the 2007 pay offer to police officers. The Government made clear in their ministerial statement of 21 February that Sir Clive Booth's recommendations would be taken forward through the Police Negotiation Board (PNB). We are disappointed that the PNB failed to reach agreement. The matter has now been referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal. Before my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary makes her decision on the police pay award for 2007, she will consider very carefully the recommendations that result from this process.

Police: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many security alerts were dealt with by police in each police force area in each of the last 10 years. (156476)

This information is not held centrally by the Home Office and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Police: South West Region

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were (a) in total and (b) per 100,000 of the general population in (i) Devon and Cornwall, (ii) the South West and (iii) England in (A) 2006 and (B) 2007. (156316)

The requested data are published annually in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin series “Police Service Strength, England and Wales”, copies of which are available online and are in the Library of the House.

The available data are given in the tables.

Total police officers (FTE)1 for Devon and Cornwall force, South West region and England as at 31 March 2006 and 2007

As at 31 March each year

Devon and Cornwall

South West

England

2006

3,540

11,024

133,924

2007

3,523

11,006

134,265

1 Full-time equivalent strength figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Total police officers per 100,0001 population for Devon and Cornwall force, South West region and England as at 31 March 2006 and 2007

As at 31 March each year

Devon and Cornwall

South West

England

2006

219

219

267

2007

216

217

266

1 Based on full-time equivalent strength figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Ports: Immigration Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the 35 main ports of entry to the UK were staffed 24 hours a day by immigration officials in (a) 2003 and (b) 2006. (156308)

Of the 35 main ports of entry, there are 19 ports in the UK and in juxtaposed locations which are staffed 24 hours a day. A further 16 have staff based there during operating hours. Other ports are staffed on a regular basis to cover scheduled services with all remaining points of entry attended on a risk assessed basis or in response to specific intelligence.

Terrorism Act 2000

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) assessment has been made of and (b) guidance her Department has issued on the use of section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 by the Metropolitan Police Service. (156011)

In spring 2007, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) carried out a review of its use of stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. One of the recommendations was to continue to apply appropriately for the authority. Another recommendation was to raise public awareness about the powers. As part of that commendation, the MPS are publishing stop and search figures for each London borough on a monthly basis. Lord Carlile of Berriew also assesses the use of section 44 in his capacity as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

National guidance for the police on the use of section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was published in July 2006 by the National Centre for Policing Excellence. One of the key aims of the guidance was to set out a framework for the use of section 44 powers to ensure that they are used appropriately by officers on the ground. In August 2006, the Home Office produced a circular for the police on the use of section 44. This included a requirement for the authorising officer to provide details of the community impact assessment made prior to authorising the powers.

Vehicles: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicles were seized as uninsured vehicles in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how many of those were subsequently destroyed or scrapped. (156320)

The police power is to seize vehicles driven by someone without appropriate insurance. Information on the number of vehicles seized is not recorded centrally.

Wiltshire Constabulary

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the costs were of (a) interpretation and (b) translation in connection with police work by the Wiltshire Constabulary in each of the five most required foreign languages in each of the last five years. (156721)

Work Permits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications from employers for work permits were waiting for processing to be completed on (a) 1 March and (b) 1 September; and what the average time was between (i) initial receipt of the application and despatch from the payment processing facility and (ii) completion of the payment processing and approval of the work permit on each of those dates. (155639)

The number of work permit applications awaiting an initial decision was 4,658 on 1 March 2007 and was 3,508 on 1 September 2007.

Work permit applications received at the payment processing centre before 1.30 pm are delivered to the Border and Immigration Agency the same day. Those received later are delivered the next working day.

For the six- month period prior to 1 March 2007 it took an average eight calendar days from receipt at the Border and Immigration Agency to complete a work permit application and for the six-month period prior to 1 September 2007 it took an average of 10 calendar days.

All the above figures exclude those applications that had been initially refused but which were being reconsidered on review at these dates.

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

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of people who were granted a UK work permit in 2000 subsequently (a) applied for and (b) were granted settlement. (156305)

The information requested could be obtained by the detailed examination of individual records only at disproportionate cost.

Although information on both work permits and grants of settlement are provided in the Home Office Command Paper “Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom 2006”, it is not possible to directly cross reference between the data as the basis for calculation is different.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Overseas Trade: Yorkshire and the Humber

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the value was of international trade in (a) goods and (b) services for the Yorkshire and the Humber region in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available; and what percentage of gross domestic product in each year each figure represents. (155273)

[holding answer 12 September 2007]: HM Revenue and Customs publishes a regional breakdown for trade in goods going back to 2000. Their figure for 2000 for exports of goods from Yorkshire and the Humber was £8.8 billion compared with £12.7 billion in 2006; the 2006 figure may have been affected by transactions associated with missing trader VAT fraud. In 2000 this was about 14.5 per cent. of regional gross value added; regional GVA figures for 2006 are not yet available, but the comparable figure is likely to be about 15.4 per cent. For imports of goods, equivalent figures are £10.7 billion and 17.6 per cent. in 2000, and £14.1 billion and 17.1 per cent. in 2006. Similar data for regional trade in services are not available.

Post Offices: Disadvantaged

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether alternative locations for post offices that Royal Mail propose for closure will be required to comply with disability discrimination legislation; and if he will make a statement. (155604)

Disability access to Crown post offices is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. acting in compliance with the requirements of the disability discrimination legislation.

Supermarkets: Ethics

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will ask the Competition Commission to inquire into whether practices of UK supermarkets involve significant exploitation of workers in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. (152605)

The Government do not request the Competition Commission to undertake inquiries except in certain, limited circumstances. Ensuring that markets operate freely and fairly is not a matter for the Government, but is for the independent competition authorities.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has asked the CC to investigate if any features of this market prevent, restrict or distort competition and if so, what action might be taken to remedy these. The CC has a statutory requirement to report within two years of a reference to them by the OFT. It is required to publish its final report by 8 May 2008, but is aiming to do so by October 2007. The CC expects to publish its emerging thinking for consultation on 23 January. The current timetable for the inquiry can be found at:

www.competition-commission.org.uk/inquiries/ref2006/grocery/core_timetable.htm

The CC investigation is not limited to considering only the issues that the OFT has identified, and any issues should be raised direct with them.

Wind Power: Greenbelt

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many domestic wind turbines were granted planning permission on land designated as green belt for each of the previous three years for which figures are available. (156572)

I have been asked to reply.

This information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: North East Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many arts organisations in (a) Stockton on Tees and (b) the North East received Arts Council England North East funding in each of the last 10 years. (149968)

The table shows the amount of arts organisations in Stockton on Tees and the North East in receipt of Arts Council funding for each of the last 10 years.

Figures for the North East prior to 1999-2000 relate to arts organisations receiving lottery funding distributed by the Arts Council. From 1999-2000 the figures for the North East include regularly funded organisations. This is because prior to the merger of the Regional Arts Boards in 2003-04 to create Arts Council England, each region managed its funding records independently.

Stockton on Tees

North East

1997-98

7

215

1998-99

1

48

1999-2000

3

129

2000-01

5

180

2001-02

6

195

2002-03

3

143

2003-04

11

270

2004-05

9

229

2005-06

11

231

2006-07

9

218

BBC Trust: Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will consider introducing (a) pre-appointment parliamentary scrutiny and (b) confirmation hearings for future appointments to the BBC Trust. (156454)

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: BBC Trust appointments are among those regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. We believe the scrutiny afforded by existing arrangements, which include the involvement of an OCPA trained independent assessor throughout, is sufficient. We do not therefore plan to consider introducing pre-appointment parliamentary scrutiny or confirmation hearings for future appointments to the BBC Trust.

This is consistent with proposals set out in the Government Green Paper “The Governance of Britain” (July 2007), which accepts there are a number of positions in which Parliament has a particularly strong interest because the office holder exercises statutory or other powers in relation to protecting the public’s rights and interests. The Government believe that Parliament, through its Select Committees, may play a valuable role where such appointments are not subject to oversight by the Commissioner for Public Appointments or other form of independent scrutiny.

Big Lottery Fund: Voluntary Organisations