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Written Answers

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Friday 19 October 2007

Communities and Local Government

Arm’s Length Management Organisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local ballots have been held on whether local authorities should convert their housing department to an arm's length management organisation; and what the result of each ballot was, including the percentage of those balloted voting for each option. (157320)

The following table lists which ALMOs have held ballots and the percentage of those balloted in favour of establishing an ALMO.

Percentage

Local authority

Turnout

In favour

Derby

48

88

Hounslow

35

83

Kirklees

47

81

Rochdale

46

90

Stockton-on-Tees

44

93

Barnsley

25

57

Carrick

61

96

Colchester

57

76

Leeds—East

35

83

Leeds—North East

41

88

Leeds—North West

42

89

Leeds—South

39

91

Leeds—South East

40

88

Leeds—West

38

90

Waltham Forest

49

85

Camden

30

23

High Peak

60

98

Islington

27

85

Sheffield—Brightside and Shiregreen

42

78

Sheffield—Central Area

47

87

Sheffield—Hillsborough, Nether Thorpe

45

87

Sheffield—Parson Cross, Foxhill, Longley

38

94

Sheffield—Westfield, Hackenthorpe

43

89

South Lakeland

65

88

Bassetlaw

58

85

Hammersmith and Fulham

40

81

Hammersmith and Fulham

40

81

Nottingham

40

76

Slough

47

91

Wolverhampton

40

84

Lambeth

27

51

Balance of Funding Review: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total cost was to the public purse of the Balance of Funding Review. (157636)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 30 June 2005, Official Report, column 1655W.

City Hall: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Government Office for London’s estimate was of the total cost to the public purse of the Greater London Authority’s City Hall over the duration of the 25 year lease, based on the final contract signed by her Department’s predecessor. (157690)

In January 2000, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions signed an agreement with the developers of More London for the procurement of the City Hall as the headquarters of the Greater London Authority. This agreement set out the annual rent payable for City Hall, which amounts to a total of £171.2 million over the 25 year lease—£6.5 million a year on average.

Community Development: Non-Profit Making Associations

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authority local enterprise growth initiative bids included social enterprise in each round. (156817)

Social enterprise can play a central and important part in promoting enterprise and assisting regeneration. Bidders for local enterprise growth initiative funding were therefore asked to consider how their proposals might support the development of social enterprise and how elements of their bid might be delivered through social business models. The majority of bids featured elements on developing social enterprise.

Copies of the successful bids for both rounds one and two can be found on our website at:

www.neighbourhood.gov.uk/legi.

Council Tax: Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average fire authority precept on Band D council tax was in England in each year since individual precepts were created. (157480)

Details of the average fire authority precept for Band D two-adult properties in England since individual precepts were introduced are as follows:

Metropolitan fire authorities

Combined fire and rescue authorities

1998-99

27

1999-2000

30

2000-01

32

2001-02

34

2002-03

36

2003-04

42

2004-05

45

53

2005-06

47

55

2006-07

49

58

2007-08

51

60

Prior to 2004-05, combined fire and rescue authorities were funded through grants from county councils, and not through a separate council tax precept.

The data are collected on Budget Requirement returns submitted annually by all billing and precepting authorities in England.

Council Tax: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assumed council tax collection rate is used by her Department in the grant distribution formula; and whether this assumed rate varies according to the type of local authority; (157675)

(2) whether councils which have poor (a) council tax and (b) business rates collection rates receive lower total funding after the adjustments of equalisation; and whether councils with above-average collection rates are allowed to keep the additional income after the adjustments of equalisation.

No assumptions are made about an authority’s collection rates of either council tax or business rates in the distribution to them of formula grant. Formula grant consists of Revenue Support Grant and redistributed National Non-Domestic Rates and, where appropriate, principal formula Police Grant.

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister spent on preparing for the council tax revaluation in England prior to its postponement. (157559)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 25 October 2005, Official Report, column 327W.

Debts

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the average level of household debt. (157620)

I have been asked to reply.

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 October 2007:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on average household debt. (157620)

Published figures identifying households separately in the National Accounts are not available and are only produced combined with non-profit institutions serving households.

Annual estimates of total UK households have only been available since 1996; previously up to 1991 they were produced decennially.

Total financial liabilities of households and non-profit institutions serving households (£ million)

Total number of UK households in millions

Average households financial liabilities in (£000)

1991

450,412

22.9

19,651

1996

550,108

23.7

23,231

1997

586,659

23.8

24,650

1998

625,134

23.9

26,069

1999

675,599

24.0

28,056

2000

734,790

24.3

30,263

2001

810,665

24.4

33,183

2002

923,144

24.6

37,496

2003

1,046,913

24.7

42,419

2004

1,172,032

24.7

47,374

2005

1,249,393

24.8

50,318

2006

1,370,221

24.9

55,073

Source:

Total financial liabilities of the households and non-profit institutions serving households—United Kingdom Economic Accounts Quarter 2, 2007, ONS http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=1904 Total number of UK Households—Focus on Families 2007, ONS http://www.statistics.gov.uk/focuson/families/

Departments: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has spent on external public relations consultants and companies in the last 24 months; and for what purposes. (157689)

Over the last 24 months, Communities and Local Government has spent £1.2 million on public relations activity to help meet our obligation to inform the public of changes in the law, and their rights and responsibilities.

This includes work to support the Department’s Fire Safety campaign to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by domestic fires, activity to support the campaign to encourage members of the public to use the online services provided by local authorities, and media coverage of the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit scheme to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.

Departments: General Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contingency preparations her Department made for the possibility of a general election being held in autumn 2007; and what the costs were of those preparations. (157053)

[holding answer 11 October 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 15 October 2007, Official Report column 822W.

Departments: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistant devices her Department and its predecessors have bought for the use of departmental Ministers following each Cabinet reshuffle since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (156739)

After the 2005 election and up to the 2006 Cabinet reshuffle there were one laptop, seven mobile telephones and one PDA purchased for use by ODPM Ministers.

After the 2006 Cabinet reshuffle and up to the 2007 Cabinet reshuffle there were one laptop, one mobile phone and four PDAs purchased for use by Communities Ministers.

After the 2007 Cabinet reshuffle and to date there were one laptop, one mobile phone and one PDA purchased for use by Communities Ministers.

Providing figures for periods prior to the 2005 election would incur disproportionate costs.

Departments: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many websites her Department operates; how many it operated at 1 January 2005; and what the estimated annual cost has been of running her Department’s websites in the last five years. (157861)

During 2005 we had 22 unique websites plus 13 separately hosted sub-domains. As at 31 August 2007 the Department operated 16 unique websites and six separately hosted sub-domains.

To produce annual costs for all the Department’s websites for each of the last five years would incur disproportionate cost. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4 July 2006, Official Report, column 958W to the hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry) for the list of websites under the Department’s responsibility, and the annual running costs of those sites.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hits the (a) most and (b) least popular website run by her Department has received since 1 January 2007. (157862)

The Department does not centrally hold web usage statistics for all of its websites. Based on those sites where figures are held centrally and using the monthly unique visitor figures, the most frequently visited site is the corporate website: www.communities. gov.uk, which averaged 247,839 unique visitors per month from January to June 2007 and the least frequently visited site was the specialist local government site Best Value Performance Indicators: www.bvpi.gov.uk, which averaged 350 unique visitors per month over the same period.

Departments: Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many full-time equivalent posts in her Department have been relocated out of London and the South East in the last 12 months; in which divisions; and to what locations. (157670)

The Department have relocated 65 full-time equivalent posts outside of London and the South East since 1 October 2006. All these posts were relocated by our non-departmental public bodies (Audit Commission, 25 posts relocated to Bristol and 40 Standards Board for England posts relocated to Manchester).

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many full-time equivalent staff were employed by her Department in (a) April 2006 and (b) April 2007. (157669)

Staffing levels are measured as at the last day of each quarter. The Department for Communities and Local Government came into being on 5 May 2006. As at 31 March 2006 the predecessor Department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, employed 2,348 full-time equivalent staff and at 31 March 2007 the Central Department for Communities and Local Government employed a total of 2,244 full-time equivalent staff. This does not include the Government Offices or the Department’s Agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people were employed by her Department and its predecessor on 1 January in each of the last five years; and how many of these staff were (a) permanent employees, (b) temporary staff and (c) contractors. (158329)

Statistics on staffing levels are collected as at the last day of each quarter. The numbers of staff in the Central Department for Communities and Local Government, and its predecessor, Office of Deputy Prime Minister on 31 December of each year are shown in the following table. This does not include staff in the Government Offices or the Department’s Agencies.

FTE1

31 December

Permanent employees

Temporary staff

Total

2002

2,246

36

2,282

2003

2,350

77

2,427

2004

2,350

111

2,461

2005

2,317

77

2,394

2006

2,304

51

2,355

1 Full-time equivalent.

Figures exclude those on unpaid absence from the Department. Temporary staff are those employed on fixed term contracts. They do not include temporary staff from agencies, contractors or consultants.

Contractors are employed on a number of contracts throughout the Department. Contracts are monitored by cost and no records of contractor staffing levels are held centrally.

Elections: Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for her Department (a) to consult on and (b) to decide whether to use the powers in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill if enacted to move the date of the May 2009 local elections to June 2009. (157478)

No decisions have been taken as to whether, and if so how, to use the powers which may be available if the Bill is enacted to move the date of the 2009 local elections to coincide with the 2009 European elections.

Equal Opportunities Commission: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2007, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles), Official Report, column 1215W, on the Equal Opportunities Commission: manpower, what steps the Commission is taking to tackle the under-representation of men amongst employees of the Commission. (156245)

I have been asked to reply.

The Equal Opportunities Commission was dissolved on the 1 October 2007. The roles and responsibilities of the Equal Opportunities Commission will be taken forward by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fire authorities in England and Wales have tri-service centres. (157657)

Homelessness

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the Government defines people as being homeless. (157409)

Sections 175 to 178 of the Housing Act 1996 define the circumstances when a person is statutorily homeless. Broadly, this provides that a person is homeless if they do not have accommodation that they have a legal right to occupy, which is accessible and physically available to them (and their household) and which it would be reasonable for them to continue to live in. It would not be reasonable for someone to continue to live in their home, for example, if that was likely to lead to violence against them (or a member of their family).

“Guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping (2007 Revision)”, which the Department has published for the purposes of local authority rough sleeping counts, advises that the following should be considered as ‘rough sleeping’:

“People sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters); people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes”)”

“Guidance on evaluating the extent of rough sleeping” has no statutory force.

Homelessness: Females

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if her Department will revise the Homelessness Code of Guidance for local authorities to classify women fleeing domestic violence as unintentionally homeless and in priority need. (157402)

The “Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities” provides guidance in respect of women fleeing domestic violence which accords with legislation and case law. Under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996), a person is homeless if they have accommodation available but it would not be reasonable for them to continue to occupy it. It is not considered reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic violence or other violence against that person (or against someone who normally resides as a member of that person's family, or any other person who might reasonably be expected to reside with that person).

In 2002 the Government extended, by Order, the categories of housing applicant who has a priority need for accommodation. These include a person who is vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out.

Broadly, the Code of Guidance states that a person fleeing a probability of violence is not to be considered intentionally homeless even if they were aware of measures that could have been taken to prevent or mitigate the risk of violence but decided not to take them.

Homelessness: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people remain displaced from their homes due to the floods in June and July. (158148)

The information requested on how many people remain displaced from their homes due to the floods in June and July 2007 is not held centrally.

The latest estimate of the total number of households that remain in alternative accommodation due to the floods in June and July is 2,740. This figure is based on the information that has been provided by local authorities and may not include those households who have made private arrangements or those who have secured alternative accommodation through their insurance companies.

Housing: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) when she plans to make it a requirement for local authorities to accept applications from members of HM armed forces for social housing on leaving the services; and if she will make a statement; (157786)

(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that local authorities do not discriminate against members of HM armed forces applying for social housing who have left the services earlier than the period for which they had signed up.

Local authorities are required to consider every application for housing accommodation including those from a member of HM armed forces, provided it is made in accordance with the procedural requirements of their allocation scheme. Furthermore, local authorities must treat every applicant as eligible for an allocation of accommodation, with the exception of certain persons from abroad specified in regulations; and persons whom an authority decides to treat as ineligible because they (or a member of their household) have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make them unsuitable to be a tenant of the authority.

The hon. Member in asking the question is perhaps referring to the application of “local connection” in respect of the allocation of social housing under the Housing Act 1996. At the moment members of the armed forces cannot establish a local connection with the area in which they are stationed or work. This can put the members of the armed forces at a disadvantage where a local authority takes account of local connection in its allocation scheme.

In this respect I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made on 21 June 2007, Official Report, column 108WS, by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning in which it was announced that we would make the necessary changes to housing legislation, at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that service personnel are put on an equal footing with other people when applying for an allocation of social housing.

The fact that a person may have left the services earlier than the period for which he or she signed up is not a relevant factor in determining their eligibility or priority for an allocation of social housing.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many individuals obtained a tenancy of social housing without holding an existing social housing tenancy in each year since 1997. (155989)

Local authorities in England report the number of lettings in their annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns. Registered social landlords record the number of lettings on their CORE lettings logs. These two data sources together give the total number of new social lettings in England to tenants entering the social rented housing sector in each year since 1997, as at 1 April each year.

The total number of new social lettings to new social housing tenants in England from the Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns and CORE lettings logs in each year since 1997 are provided in table 1 and table 2. Due to different data collection processes, these data sources are not necessarily directly comparable.

Table 1: Local authority social lettings to new social housing tenants in England

Local authority lets

1997

259,690

1998

258,510

1999

250,210

2000

235,570

2001

222,330

2002

196,540

2003

191,050

2004

161,940

2005

149,090

2006

133,300

Note:

As reported by local authorities. Rounded to nearest 10.

Source:

Communities and local Government Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix Return

Table 2: Registered Social Landlord lettings to new social housing tenants in England

RSL lets

1997

118,200

1998

129,100

1999

138,100

2000

139,200

2001

139,700

2002

145,600

2003

145,900

2004

147,300

2005

141,400

2006

143,200

Note:

As reported by Registered Social Landlords. Rounded to nearest 100

Source:

Continuous Recording of Social Lettings Log

Housing: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average price for a (a) house, (b) detached house and (c) flat was in each local authority area in England and Wales in (i) April 1991, (ii) May 1997 and (iii) the most recent period for which figures are available, according to Land Registry data. (158196)

HM Land Registry data for 1991 is unavailable.

A table presenting HM Land Registry data on the (a) average house price, (b) average price for a detached house and (c) average price for a flat by local authority area for May 1997 and March 2007 (provisional) has been placed in the Library of the House.

Housing: Rural Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the target of 50 homes set by the West Midlands Regional Housing Board for settlements of less than 10,000 for the three year comprehensive spending review period in addressing housing need in those rural areas. (157400)

The target set by the Regional Housing Board of 50 homes was set prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 (CSR07) announced by the Chancellor on 9 October. West Midlands' assessment of need for affordable housing was based on the allocation received for the 2006 to 2008 funding period. There was the anticipation that the strategy would need to be revisited once the final CSR07 allocation is known.

On 16 October my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Housing, announced a £10.2 billion package for housing and we anticipate that this will support a 50 per cent. increase in annual social rents outputs by 2010-11 in comparison with this year (2007-08) in addition to other measures to tackle the need for affordable housing.

In the Housing Green Paper, we announced that we would be establishing a national target for rural affordable housing across the three years 2008 to 2011. With this in mind, my Department is working with the regional assemblies to assess need for rural affordable housing in their areas and what provision should be in the light of the CSR settlement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the target of 65 homes set by the East of England Regional Housing Board for settlements of less than 10,000 for the three year comprehensive spending review period in addressing housing need in those rural areas. (157401)

The target set by the East of England Regional Housing Board of 65 homes was set prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 (CSR07) announced by the Chancellor on 9 October. The East of England's assessment of need for affordable housing was based on the level of funding received for the 2006 to 2008 funding period and projected forward to arrive at an indicative allocation for 2008 to 2011.

On 16 October my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Housing, announced a £10.2 billion package for housing and we anticipate that this will support a 50 per cent. increase in annual social rents outputs by 2010-11 in comparison with this year (2007-08) in addition to other measures to tackle the need for affordable housing.

In the Housing Green Paper, we announced that we would be establishing a national target for rural affordable housing across the three years 2008 to 2011. With this in mind, my Department is working with the regional assemblies to assess need for rural affordable housing in their areas and what provision should be in the light of the CSR settlement.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Valuation Office Agency’s value significant codes of (a) ZL, (b) ZI and (c) ZH have a (i) positive and (ii) negative co-efficient applied to the variable in the multiple regression formula used in its automated valuation model. (155693)

Coefficients are not applied to a variable in the multiple regression formula. Multiple regression analysis determines whether an attribute is statistically significant in explaining an element of variation in the price achieved in a property transaction. Whether a positive or negative coefficient results for any attribute will vary (a) each time analysis of sales information is undertaken (b) from area to area and (c) between property types (e.g. flats and houses).

Land use

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department and its agencies have made of the amount and proportion of land-banking by property developers in the form of not initiating developments which have been granted planning permission. (157680)

There is no centrally held information from which we could estimate the amount and proportion of ‘land banking’ by property developers.

Local Authorities: Accountability

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to increase the powers of redress for local residents in relation to services provided by local authorities. (157488)

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill contains a provision to take forward the Community Call for Action mechanism which contains a statutory process for ward councillors to act on concerns from the local community to resolve problems with local government services.

As part of the “Governance of Britain” Green Paper the Government committed to consulting on ways of increasing citizen’s powers of redress to scrutinise and improve the delivery of local services and to consider a duty that requires local authorities to consider and investigate petitions from local communities.

Local Authorities: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what use is made of damping mechanisms in the allocation of formula grants to local authorities; and if she will make a statement. (157666)

Within the local government finance settlements for 2006-07 and 2007-08, there are two damping sub-blocks within the Relative Needs Formulae—one for Children’s Social Care and one for Younger Adults’ Personal Social Services.

We also use floor damping in the final calculation of formula grant.

Local Authorities: Non-Profit Making Associations

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure local authorities support social enterprise. (156844)

The Department launched a third sector strategy discussion paper on 7 June which included consideration of the need of third sector organisations for more sustainable forms of investment and improvements in local partnership working.

More than 150 written responses have been received. Over 450 delegates took part in eight regional consultation events on the paper. In addition, the responses received are being considered and we aim to publish a final strategy, including propositions of how the Department and local authorities can work in partnership and support the third sector, including social enterprises.

Local Authorities: Petitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to introduce legislation to introduce a duty on local authorities to consider petitions. (157467)

As the recently published; “Governance of Britain” Green Paper states, the Government are considering introducing a duty that requires local authorities to consider and investigate petitions from local communities, and guarantees petitioners and the wider community a response on the issues which have been raised. We intend to consult about this in the near future.

Local Authorities: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether she plans to introduce legislation to require local ballots on spending decisions by local authorities; (157465)

(2) whether she plans to require local authorities to implement citizens' juries.

In the recently published “Governance of Britain” Green Paper the Government announced their desire to help create active citizens and empowered communities who are fully engaged in local decision-making. As part of this process the Government have proposed a number of ideas to debate and consult on, including introducing powers to ballot on spending decisions and consulting on major decisions through mechanisms such as Citizen's Juries.

Local Authorities: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what targets her Department sets for local authorities, including under the public service agreement, local area agreement and best value performance indicator regimes, in relation to the (a) number of benefit awards and (b) number of unclaimed benefits. (157683)

Neither Communities and Local Government nor the Department for Work and Pensions sets targets for local authorities on the number of benefit awards and the number of unclaimed benefits. Local authorities may, if they wish, include targets on these issues in their local area agreements (including for reward) which are agreed with central Government.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what date she expects the next Local Government Finance Settlement statement to take place. (157667)

Local Government Finance: Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of local government revenue expenditure in England was financed through council tax in each year since 1996-97. (157641)

Outturn information for years up to 2005-06 can be found in Table 3.5c of Local Government Financial Statistics England No. 17 2007 at the following web address:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/stats/lgfs/2007/index.htm.

Local Government: Cooperation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has for a concordat between local and central Government. (157468)

The “Governance of Britain” Green Paper contains a commitment that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG) will work with the Local Government Association (LGA) to establish a concordat to govern the relations between central and local government. Discussions between CLG and the LGA are ongoing. CLG will provide further detail about publication of the concordat in due course.

Local Government: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans the Government have to use powers in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, if enacted, to delay the date of the May 2009 local elections. (158073)

No decisions have been taken as to whether, and if so how, to use the powers which may be available if the Bill is enacted to move the date of the 2009 local elections to coincide with the 2009 European elections.

Local Government: Television Channels

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what expenditure has been incurred to date by her Department on the Local Government Today television channel. (155710)

As at 3 October 2007 no publicity expenditure has been incurred by Communities and Local Government on the Local Government Today television channel.

Mobile Phones: Aerials

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will amend planning guidance on mobile telephone masts to make disclosure of mast locations and power levels to a Sitefinder website or equivalent a condition of planning permission. (157501)

We have no plans to amend planning guidance in this way. The Government and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) remain committed to the principles underlying Sitefinder.

Each of the mobile network operators is in discussion with Ofcom and the Government on the future provision of data to Sitefinder so that members of the public will continue to be able to access information about the location of base stations in their neighbourhood.

Non-Domestic Rates: Assessment

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the internal guidance used by the Valuation Office Agency on undertaking assessment casework for non-domestic rates valuations. (152527)

A copy of the relevant instruction and guidance to Valuation Office Agency staff on undertaking assessment casework for business rates has been placed in the Library.

Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received on the Planning White Paper. (157442)

The Planning White Paper covered a wide variety of issues and included a number of questions upon which we went to consultation. This closed on 17 August 2007. We received over 30,000 responses which we are currently in the process of analysing. The Government will produce a summary of responses, including next steps, shortly. However, Ministers continue to receive a range of letters and other representations on the issues raised in the Planning White Paper.

Planning Gain Supplement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Government have spent on preparatory work carried out on the planning gain supplement; and if she will make a statement. (158013)

I have been asked to reply.

HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Department for Communities and Local Government have undertaken preliminary work since 2004 to develop and explore the feasibility of a planning gain supplement. This has included the publication of one consultation document alongside the 2005 pre-Budget report and three consultation documents alongside the 2006 pre-Budget report. The costs incurred have been borne by the respective Departments as part of the normal policy development process.

Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department and its agencies have made of the proportion of residential planning applications granted each year which are not commenced. (157679)

There is no estimate centrally available but the Government are keen to see faster take up and commencement of planning permissions granted for housing development. We have recently reduced the period for which a planning permission remains valid from five years to three years. We have also made it clear in planning policy that there is no presumption that planning permission will be renewed in the case where an applicant is seeking, in effect, to renew a permission that has expired.

In our Housing Green Paper: “Homes for the Future; more affordable, more sustainable” we said that we would consider whether further measures are needed to incentivise developers to build out major housing development sites more quickly through the development control process. We shall also want to take account of anything that John Calcutt says in the independent review of house-building delivery we asked him to undertake. He is due to report on this shortly.

Planning: Agriculture

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in respect of which local plans, broken down by Government Office of the Region, she has made a direction, under paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 8 to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to not save a local plan policy of protecting the best and most versatile agricultural land. (157347)

The following local authorities’ requests to extend saved policies specifically aimed at protecting the “best and most versatile” (BMV) agricultural land were not agreed by the Secretary of State:

South East

Bracknell Forest

Chiltern

Crawley

Guildford

Hart

Medway

Runnymede

Wycombe

South West

Restormel

Torbay

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes have been made to planning policy on the protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land since May 1997. (157447)

The Government’s planning policy on best and most versatile (BMV) agricultural land is set out in “Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable development in rural areas” (PPS7), published in August 2004. PPS7 replaced “Planning Policy Guidance note 7: The Countryside, Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development” (PPG7), published in February 1997, which included policy guidance on (BMV) agricultural land.

PPG7 said that, within the principles of sustainable development, BMV agricultural land (defined as grades 1, 2 and 3a) should be protected as a national resource for future generations and its development should not be permitted before opportunities had been assessed for using previously developed or lower grade land.

In December 2000 the Government’s Rural White Paper “Our Countryside: the future”, signalled that policy affecting planning decisions relating to BMV land should be changed. The White Paper said that decisions about proposed development affecting BMV agricultural land should take account of the overall value of the land and that agricultural quality should be treated only as one factor. It therefore proposed that BMV agricultural land should no longer be protected as a national agricultural resource and that decisions about proposed development affecting such land should left to local planning authorities. It also proposed that powers for the Minister of Agriculture to intervene in decisions on BMV agricultural land should be repealed.

PPG7 was subsequently amended by a parliamentary answer given by the then planning Minister the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) on 21 March 2001 to reflect the White Paper’s policy proposals.

These policy changes were carried forward into PPS7. This asks local authorities that the presence of BMV agricultural land should be taken into account alongside other sustainability considerations when determining planning applications. The policy also says that where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality, except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations. If any undeveloped agricultural land needs to be developed, the policy requires any adverse effects on the environment should be minimised.

Planning: Crime Prevention

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what consultation her Department has undertaken with the police on the new planning application form planned for use nationally from April 2008; (158052)

(2) if she will require the inclusion of a question on crime prevention measures in the new standard planning application form.

Consultation proposals for the standard planning application form were published in March 2005.

The form does not include a question on crime prevention measures. The form cannot be changed at this stage as some local planning authorities are using it before it becomes mandatory on 6 April 2008.

Local planning authorities should have regard to Planning Policy Statement 1: Sustainable Development which states that their policies should ensure that developments create safe environments where crime or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life.

Property: Public Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties are held on the Register of Surplus Public Sector Land database; and what property attributes are recorded for each property. (158407)

The Register for Surplus Public Sector Land is managed by English Partnerships on behalf of Government. It identifies land held centrally by central Government and their agencies that is surplus to operational requirements. The register allows a 40-day period for public bodies to express an interest in an area of land prior to it being marketed more widely. The most recent version of the register was published on 30 September 2007 and is available at:

www.englishpartnerships.co.uk/rspsl.htm

This provides site information by county, local authority, originating body, nearest town and area. The information provided about individual properties is the site area and a short description or location. To date around 70 public sector bodies have supplied details of more than 750 sites, totalling around 5,000 hectares of land.

Race Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to which organisations or individuals the Preventing Extremism Unit has made grants of less than £100,000 since June. (158619)

Since June 2007 the Preventing Extremism Unit has made direct grants of less than £100,000 to:

Organisation

£

Business in the Community (BITC)

70,000

Common Purpose

40,000

Muslim Youth Helpline

35,000

Muslim Youth Development Partnership, made up of:

40,000

Karimia Institute (grant recipient)

Crime Concern

Muslim Hands

Sizanani Africa

20,000

No grants have been made to individuals.

Regional Development Agencies: Planning Gain Supplement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether it is the Government’s intention that regional development agencies will keep part of the revenues raised from planning gain supplement. (157502)

The 2007 pre-Budget report announced on 9 October that legislation implementing the planning gain supplement will not be introduced in the next parliamentary Session. Instead, the Government intend to legislate in the forthcoming Planning Reform Bill to empower local planning authorities in England to apply new planning charges to new development, alongside negotiated agreements for site-specific matters. The ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning, also on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 25WS, set out further details of the new planning charge.

Smoking: Enforcement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what procedures she has in place for (a) recording and (b) proceeding against (i) ministers and (ii) staff who breach the ban on smoking in enclosed public places; and if she will make a statement. (157515)

Staff in Communities and Local Government who breach the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces would be dealt with under the Department’s disciplinary rules. All penalties given to staff under the disciplinary rules are recorded. Staff in Communities and Local Government smoking in areas in or around its buildings where it is prohibited would be asked by security staff to move to an acceptable location. Any who might refuse or who repeatedly try to smoke in a such an area would be reported for disciplinary action.

Speeches: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library copies of the presentation, speech and handouts produced by her Department’s representatives at the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Annual Conference on 10 October 2007 on the challenge of GC and e-connectivity to enable transformation. (157497)

A copy of the presentation made by Balraj Sandhu, Senior Business and Stakeholder Manager Government Connect Programme of Communities and Local Government, at the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Annual Conference on 10 October 2007 is available on the Government Connect website,

www.govconnect.gov.uk.

Standards Board for England: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the budget of the (a) Standards Board for England and (b) Adjudication Panel is for (i) 2007-08 and (ii) 2008-09. (157624)

The Department has agreed to provide the Standards Board with grant funding of £9.371 million for 2007-08. This includes a sum of £515,000 to meet the operational costs of the Adjudication Panel. An additional payment of £599,000 in 2007-08 has been agreed in respect of the costs relating to the Standards Board's relocation from London to Manchester.

No decisions have been taken in respect of the grant to be allocated to the Standards Board for 2008-09.

Valuation Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) of 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 1156W, on the Valuation Office, on what aspects of domestic valuations Cole Layer Trumble are providing consultancy advice. (157553)

Prime Minister

Departments: Flowers

To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent by his Office on flowers in the last 12 months. (153160)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office (Gillian Merron) on 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1131W.

Departments: Recruitment

To ask the Prime Minister how many people have been appointed to his Office outside Civil Service grades in the last 30 days. (153162)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office (Gillian Merron) on 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1132W.

Defence

Armed Forces: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been (a) overpaid and (b) underpaid to military personnel stationed in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) elsewhere through the Joint Personnel Administration system in 2007. (154548)

The number of over and underpayments resulting from Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system errors in 2007 can be provided, although the information requested for Afghanistan and elsewhere is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The figures are:

Month

Overpaid

Underpaid

Total

January

161

1,383

1,544

February

70

0

70

March

229

54

283

April

13,908

252

14,160

May

3,340

1,181

4,521

June

0

90

90

July

2,978

416

3,394

August1

0

51,917

51,917

1 Figures for August are subject to revision and refinement.

The increase in the number of overpayments in April was due primarily to transitional data errors from the Army legacy systems where elements were not picked up as expected by the JPA system. Records were corrected in time for the May payroll.

In August 35,553 incorrect payments of £3.00 were made to the discontinued RN and Royal Marines Dependants’ Fund. The error has been corrected and the money will be re-credited to pay accounts in October.

In addition 16,364 underpayments of Home to Duty Travel claims for RN reservists occurred. The error has been corrected and the claims have reprocessed for payment in September.

Armed Forces: Personnel Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the full implementation of the Joint Personnel Administration project; and if he will make a statement. (154546)

The Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system is one of the most complex business change projects in either the private or public sector. It has been successfully rolled-out on time to all three Services; to the RAF from April 2006; to the RN from October 2006; and to the Army from March 2007.

Since the initial roll-out of JPA to the RAF much has been achieved to improve the quality of the service being provided and to address problems. Personnel are more familiar with the new system and the business processes that it supports. But we are still in a transitional phase and there will be a further period of ‘bedding down’ which is bound to highlight the need for further business process, technical and training changes.

JPA now provides a stable, modern platform to support our Services. However, like all major change programmes of this complexity it will take a period of further refinement in order to exploit its full potential. I remain fully committed to delivering an excellent pay and personnel administration service to our armed forces.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armoured vehicles are in service with the Army, broken down by type. (157042)

The number of armoured vehicles of each type that are in service with the Army as at 10 October 2007 are shown in the following table.

Vehicle type

Number in service in 2007

AS 90

146

Combat Engineer Tractor (CET)

78

Challenger 2 (CR 2) Fleet

345

Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV)

81

Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) Fleet

1118

FUCHS

11

FV432 Fleet

1492

Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)

59

SAXON Fleet

413

SHIELDER

30

STORMER

148

TROJAN

14

TITAN

16

WARRIOR Fleet

385

VIKING

40

These figures include those armoured vehicles used for training and undergoing in depth maintenance. Not included are those vehicles considered ‘protected’ such as the MASTIFF protected patrol vehicles.

Departments: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hits the (a) most popular and (b) the least popular website run by his Department has received since 1 January 2007. (157866)

Total page views for the most popular and the least popular websites run by the Ministry of Defence are as follows:

Site + URL

Total page views (number of times individual pages in the site accessed)

Most popular

RAF: http://www.raf.mod.uk

136.2 million

Least popular

MOD Art Collection: www.art.mod.uk

22,000

1 Figures for January—October 2007.

2 Financial year 2006-07.

Military Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Mastiff vehicle will be (a) delivered to the UK and (b) shipped to theatre. (157077)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 202, during the Defence Procurement debate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many of the ordered 140 Mastiff vehicles announced during the Prime Minister’s statement on Iraq of 8 October 2007, Official Report, columns 21-38, will be sent to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and by what date in each case; (157138)

(2) from which budget funding will be provided for the 140 additional Mastiff vehicles announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Iraq update of 8 October 2007, Official Report, columns 21-38.

As I said during the procurement debate in the House on 9 October, the Defence budget will be funding the procurement of additional Mastiff vehicles. Although delivery schedules have not yet been confirmed, we anticipate that they will be deployed on operations within the next 18 months. The allocation of these vehicles to Iraq, Afghanistan and the UK based training fleet will be a matter for commanders.

RNAS Yeovilton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future role of RNAS Yeovilton. (157593)

The future role of RNAS Yeovilton is currently being considered as part of Programme Belvedere, which was announced in 2006 and set up to conduct a study into the long term requirements for Joint Helicopter Command’s helicopter bases in the UK, originally part of the MOD review of Defence Airfields.

Programme Belvedere’s review is ongoing; consequently, no decisions have yet been taken on the future role of any of the bases included in the review. Once the programme has reached its conclusions, a ministerial announcement will be made. This is not expected before early 2009.

Justice

Peterborough Prison: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many seizures of illicit drugs have taken place at HMP Peterborough in each month since May 2005; and if he will make a statement. (159049)

The answer is provided in the following table.

Seizures of Illicit Drugs by Month: HMP Peterborough

Number

Male

Female

2005

May

1

0

June

0

0

July

3

0

August

0

0

September

1

1

October

0

0

November

1

0

December

0

0

2006

January

1

1

February

1

0

March

5

2

April

1

0

May

1

1

June

2

0

July

0

1

August

5

0

September

3

2

October

4

0

November

6

2

December

5

0

2007

January

1

0

February

5

2

March

5

0

April

2

1

May

4

1

June

8

2

July

4

0

August

2

1

September

3

0

October

1

0

November

December

Repossession Orders: Mortgages

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether an estimate has been made of the number of mortgage repossessions which would be classified as subprime mortgages. (158195)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government do not hold these figures. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) publishes the total numbers of properties taken into possession, available at:

http://www.cml.org.uk/cml/statistics

Transport

Bicycles: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many traffic accidents there were involving cyclists in Peterborough constituency in each of the last five years. (158960)

The number of reported personal injury road accidents involving at least one pedal cyclist in the Peterborough constituency in the last five years is shown in the following table.

Peterborough constituency

Number of accidents

2002

72

2003

98

2004

78

2005

64

2006

62

Departments: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many websites her Department operates; how many it operated at 1 January 2005; and what the estimated annual cost has been of running her Department’s websites in the last five years. (157921)

Current figures for the Department for Transport and its executive agencies are as follows:

80 operating websites have been identified, 71 of these have been listed for closure by end 2011 of which 17 have already closed.

The Department is currently undertaking a programme of website rationalisation under the Transformational Government Agenda. Figures for central Government Department websites were published in January this year in the Transformational Government Annual Report 2006 as part of the departmental website review (http://www.cio.gov.uk/transformational_government/annual_report_2006/). Updated figures were subsequently reported in the National Audit Office Government on the Internet Report published in July 2007. (http://www.governmentontheweb.org/access_reports.asp)

There is no central list of departmental sites that operated in January 2005 and to obtain such a retrospective list could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Estimated running costs for departmental sites where available, were previously provided to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) on 15 May 2007, Official Report, columns 648-49W. No additional information for running costs for the last five years is available.

Driving: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) identification documents and (b) driving licences are required to receive a full EU driving licence. (159664)

Driving licences issued in the UK conform to the format and standard laid out in the second EC directive on driver licensing (91/439/EEC) and are considered to be EU driving licences.

All applicants for a first driving licence must provide evidence of identity. This is usually a passport but, in instances where a passport is not available, alternative documentation will be considered. If there is any doubt concerning the applicant's identity, a licence will not be issued.

The holder of a full driving licence issued elsewhere within the EU/European economic area may apply to exchange their licence for a full UK licence. Driving licences from the following countries may also be exchanged: Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe. Any application to exchange a licence must be accompanied by evidence of identity.

I am unable to comment on the arrangements concerning identification checking for the issue of driving licences elsewhere in the European Union.

Internet: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether her Department has made an assessment of the effectiveness of the website Arrive Alive. (159488)

The Arrive Alive website's main aim is to promote the Arrive Alive programme to schools to deliver important road safety messages to schools and other organisations.

There is no assessment made on the effectiveness of the Arrive Alive website. However, during the months from 30 September 2006 to 30 September 2007 there were 50,877 visits to the website, which equate to 139 average daily visits. This shows a positive interest in the programme.

Railway Network

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her Department's latest estimate is of the cost of constructing a high speed rail line between London and Scotland via (a) the north-east and (b) the west midlands and the north-west. (160042)

The capital cost of constructing a new high speed railway line between London and Scotland is likely to be some £30 billion, whichever route is taken. Presently there is no justification case for such expenditure. Considerable improvements are already being made to the West Coast Main Line to accelerate Anglo-Scottish journey times for introduction in December 2008.

Road Safety Campaigns

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2006, Official Report, columns 42-43, on road safety campaigns, how many hits the www.hedgehogs.gov.uk site received in each month since October 2006; and what further assessment of the effectiveness of the website has been conducted since November 2006. (159487)

The number of hits (total number of successful requests for pages) the hedgehogs website has received since October 2006 is set out in the table. As provided in November 2006, I have also enclosed the figures for the distinct number of hosts served.

As mentioned previously, the hedgehogs website is one medium within a broad mix of media channels such as online advertising, PR, partnership marketing and road safety materials used to raise awareness about road safety to children. Our advertising drives children to the hedgehogs site to engage them in more comprehensive road safety information in a fun and engaging way.

Visitor numbers to the site remain encouraging and given the growing proportion of children moving to the internet as their primary medium, we shall continue to use online advertising and web presence to help to boost road safety awareness among children.

Month

Hits1

Visitors2

2006

November

161,435

26,053

December

148,040

47,868

2007

January

123,701

21,668

February

142,438

36,557

March

152,926

33,828

April

121,144

26,101

May

155,984

30,867

June

149,293

29,568

July

136,569

33,880

August

104,979

27,211

September

123,131

27,325

1 Total number of successful requests for pages.

2 Number of distinct hosts served.

Home Department

Crime: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes were committed by children in Cambridgeshire in each of the last 10 years, broken down by type of offence. (158805)

The information requested is not available centrally. Details of the age of the offender are not collected in the recorded crime statistics.

Departments: Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will place in the Library copies of (a) written guidance and instructions provided to officials in her Department who draft parliamentary answers and (b) the declaration required to be made by such officials on submitting drafts for ministerial approval; and if she will make a statement. (156848)

Lancashire Constabulary: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police are employed in Lancashire; and how many there were employed in 1997. (158654)

The number of full-time equivalent police officers (rounded to the nearest whole number, excluding those on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave) was 3,566 as at 31 March 2007. As at 31 March 1997 the figure was 3,248 on the same basis.

Metropolitan Police: Emergency Calls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if she will make a statement on the performance of the Metropolitan police emergency call system; (155640)

(2) what assessment she has made of the performance of the Metropolitan police emergency call system on 20 July 2007;

In 2005-06, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary undertook a baseline inspection of emergency and non-emergency contact management systems for the police forces of England and Wales. Under this review, the Metropolitan police performance was classified as ‘Fair’. There has not been a similar or specific assessment of the performance of the Metropolitan police's emergency and non-emergency contact management system for 21 July 2005 nor for 20 July 2007.

Police

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) local authorities and (b) local authority wards comprise each police force basic command unit. (158130)

A spreadsheet has been produced which details, for each local authority ward area, which police basic command unit and local authority area the ward falls within. Due to the volume of data in the spreadsheet, a copy of this will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Police: Festivals and Special Occasions

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on the operation of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme; what progress has been made in extending its remit to cover the training of stewards and road marshals for local events; and if she will make a statement. (159151)

Community Safety Accreditation Schemes enable chief officers to designate limited powers under the Police Reform Act to employees of approved organisations who contribute towards community safety. These powers include the power to regulate traffic.

It is a matter for the chief officer to decide the extent and content of the training undertaken by the employee(s) in order to be accredited and designated particular powers, and it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure its employee(s) receive that training.

Police: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in each police force in each year since 1997. (158855)

The information is shown in the following table.

Police officer strength1 (FTE)2 by police force as at 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2007

Police force

19973

1998

1999

2000

20014

2002

20035

20045

20055

20065

20075

Avon and Somerset

2,989

2,976

2,999

2,934

2,994

3,096

3,149

3,401

3,384

3,389

3,375

Bedfordshire

1,094

1,079

1,041

1,028

1,036

1,069

1,106

1,181

1,215

1,198

1,185

Cambridgeshire

1,302

1,291

1,274

1,237

1,296

1,362

1,384

1,400

1,402

1,430

1,381

Cheshire

2,046

2,042

2,071

2,011

2,002

2,059

2,119

2,177

2,186

2,174

2,192

Cleveland

1,459

1,483

1,416

1,404

1,407

1,461

1,582

1,687

1,676

1,677

1,713

Cumbria

1,144

1,164

1,126

1,084

1,048

1,100

1,140

1,222

1,232

1,230

1,244

Derbyshire

1,791

1,772

1,759

1,777

1,823

1,848

2,003

2,070

2,070

2,046

2023

Devon and Cornwall

2,865

2,962

2,887

2,841

2,934

3,053

3,202

3,283

3,369

3,493

3,476

Dorset

1,284

1,310

1,279

1,306

1,354

1,381

1,416

1,433

1,450

1,485

1,492

Durham

1,461

1,515

1,568

1,558

1,595

1,614

1,651

1,685

1,718

1,699

1 ,683

Essex

2,961

2,928

2,891

2,806

2,897

2,946

2,989

3,098

3,190

3,279

3,297

Gloucestershire

1,133

1,104

1,104

1,114

1,173

1,183

1,227

1,284

1,291

1,289

1,303

Greater Manchester

6,922

6,949

6,810

6,795

6,909

7,217

7,343

8,042

8,041

7,959

7,887

Hampshire

3,452

3,490

3,473

3,419

3,438

3,480

3,668

3,706

3,725

3,707

3,796

Hertfordshire

1,759

1,740

1,724

1,767

1,922

1,825

1,957

2,086

2,104

2,126

2,159

Humberside

2,045

2,021

1,974

1,932

1,917

2,058

2,105

2,213

2,230

2,224

2,227

Kent

3,260

3,251

3,201

3,204

3,319

3,355

3,487

3,576

3,586

3,599

3,664

Lancashire

3,248

3,257

3,245

3,179

3,255

3,304

3,339

3,550

3,551

3,583

3,566

Leicestershire

1,949

1,983

1,993

1,993

2,032

2,100

2,114

2,277

2,283

2,250

2,225

Lincolnshire

1,196

1,191

1,140

1,115

1,202

1,198

1,221

1,228

1,221

1,213

1,221

London, City of

859

825

778

732

703

764

808

853

876

869

854

Merseyside

4,230

4,216

4,211

4,085

4,081

4,125

4,099

4,122

4,317

4,269

4,413

Metropolitan Police

26,677

26,094

26,073

25,485

24,878

26,223

27,984

29,735

30,710

30,536

30,710

Norfolk

1,432

1,430

1,381

1,381

1,420

1,468

1,499

1,510

1,544

1,557

1,565

Northamptonshire

1,177

1,169

1,137

1,117

1,157

1,214

1,210

1,239

1,267

1,317

1,281

Northumbria

3,677

3,769

3,840

3,788

3,857

3,929

3,943

4,040

4,048

3,983

3,917

North Yorkshire

1,338

1,367

1,337

1,283

1,305

1,417

1,444

1,529

1,543

1,636

1,654

Nottinghamshire

2,323

2,323

2,225

2,204

2,275

2,330

2,411

2,484

2,502

2,477

2,410

South Yorkshire

3,159

3,182

3,168

3,163

3,197

3,199

3,183

3,279

3,265

3,255

3,254

Staffordshire

2,211

2,292

2,238

2,170

2,129

2,133

2,202

2,266

2,280

2,272

2,288

Suffolk

1,174

1,186

1,190

1,145

1,133

1,203

1,253

1,304

1,313

1,300

1,342

Surrey

1,620

1,608

1,662

1,785

2,066

1,992

1,906

1,913

1,915

1,922

1,914

Sussex

3,085

2,996

2,847

2,822

2,855

2,893

2,989

3,039

3,044

3,092

3,077

Thames Valley

3,695

3,776

3,748

3,740

3,703

3,762

3,833

4,034

4,114

4,229

4,197

Warwickshire

926

924

908

900

926

969

997

1,008

1,011

1,032

1,059

West Mercia

2,040

2,010

2,025

1,887

1,951

2,018

2,256

2,355

2,367

2,351

2,400

West Midlands

7,113

7,156

7,321

7,194

7,423

7,681

7,751

7,887

8,056

8,097

8,173

West Yorkshire

5,209

5,155

4,982

4,822

4,815

4,889

5,029

5,275

5,631

5,644

5,655

Wiltshire

1,154

1,156

1,151

1,118

1,120

1,157

1,158

1,217

1,222

1,219

1 ,204

Dyfed-Powys

1,005

1,002

1,026

1,040

1,055

1,132

1,149

1,160

1,174

1,182

1,177

Gwent

1,243

1,233

1,247

1,264

1,274

1,333

1,341

1,372

1,438

1,467

1,493

North Wales

1,369

1,396

1,391

1,403

1,444

1,506

1,539

1,603

1,652

1,617

1,591

South Wales

2,976

2,986

2,981

2,926

3,154

3,222

3,239

3,279

3,281

3,263

3,297

Total England and Wales

125,051

124,756

123,841

121,956

123,476

127,267

131,426

137,105

139,491

139,631

140,032

1 This table contains full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Because of rounding, there may be an apparent discrepancy between totals and the sums of the constituent items.

2 Full-time equivalent excludes those on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave

3 Boundary changes on 1 April 1996 transferred resources for the policing of the Rhmney Valley from South Wales Police to Gwent Police.

4 Boundary changes on 1 April 2000 transferred some resources from the Metropolitan Police to Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey police forces.

5 Comparable strength (excludes those on career breaks, or maternity/paternity leave). The Police Numbers Task Force (2001) recommended that a clear presentation was made of the numbers of staff employed by police forces including those seconded into the force and those on any type of long or short term absence. These new calculations were first used in 2003, and are not comparable with data prior to March 2003. The data from 2003 onwards used here are termed comparable because they have been calculated on the old basis to allow comparison.

Treasury

Excise Duties: Diesel Fuel

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to minimise the financial impact on pleasure boat users of the end of the UK's derogation allowing the sale of rebated gas oil for pleasure boating. (158751)

Officials have been discussing with various representative organisations ways of implementing the new regime which will both minimise the impact on pleasure boat users, and ensure that any additional compliance burden is as small as possible. As part of this process, HMRC published at 1 August 2007 a consultation on options for the implementation of the new regime. As announced at Budget 2007, private pleasure craft owners will continue to be able to use red diesel at the rebated duty rate until 1 November 2008.

Marriage

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) marriage and (b) divorce rate of each ethnic group was in each year since 1980. (158641)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 October 2007:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary questions asking for marriage and divorce rates for each ethnic group for persons, and then separately for males and females, for each year from 1980 (158641).

In England and Wales the ethnicity of either partner is not recorded at the registration of a marriage nor at the recording of a divorce by the Court Service. I am, therefore, unable to provide you with the statistics you requested.

Migrant Workers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimates of the number of migrant workers in the UK are in each year from 1997 to 2012; and if he will make a statement. (158565)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 October 2007:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the number of employed people in the United Kingdom who were migrant workers from 1997 to 2012. (158565)

The attached table gives the number of employed people aged 16 and over who were either United Kingdom or foreign born, for the three month period ending June, for each year since 1997 up to 2007. Comparable estimates are not available for 1998 and 2000. Projections of migrant workers to 2012 are not available from either the Labour Force Survey (LFS) nor the National Population Projections.

When interpreting the figures in the table, it is important to bear in mind that the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is not designed to cover everyone who is present in the UK. The survey may undercount the numbers of people who were born overseas for the following reasons:-

The LFS sample covers people living in private households, those in national health service (NHS) accommodation, and students living in halls of residence who have a UK-resident parent. Students living in halls of residence who do not have a UK-resident parent are not covered by the sample.

The LFS does not cover people living in other types of communal establishment (such as hostels, hotels, boarding houses, or mobile home sites).

Individuals living at sampled addresses are generally included in the survey only if they regard the address as their main residence. Those who have been living at the address for less than six months are not eligible to take part in the survey.

The survey results are weighted to estimates of the 'usually resident’ UK population living in private households, NHS accommodation and student halls of residence. The population figures cover long-term international migrants (people who change their country of usual residence for 12 months or more). They do not include people moving to the UK for less than 12 months, nor do they exclude from the usually resident population people moving out of the UK for less than 12 months.

The LFS estimates at this detailed level are only consistent with the UK population estimates published in February and March 2003 and they do not incorporate the more recent population estimates that are used in the headline LFS series.

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

Number of people in employment of working age1 who were born abroad 1997-2007—United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted

Thousands

Three months ending June each year

All persons2

Born in UK

Born abroad

1997

25,544

23,638

1,904

1999

26,060

24,056

2,003

2001

26,607

24,431

2,169

2002

26,735

24,426

2,305

2003

26,935

24,473

2,460

2004

27,015

24,471

2,544

2005

27,136

24,444

2,687

2006

27,187

24,177

3,009

2007

27,226

23,948

3,269

1 Men aged 16 to 64 and women aged 16 to 59.

2 Includes those who did not state their country of birth.

Notes:

It should be noted that the country of birth question in the LFS:

-excludes those who have not been resident in the UK

-excludes students in halls who do not have a UK resident parent

-excludes people in most other types of communal establishment

(eg hotels, boarding houses, hostels, mobile home sites etc)

-is grossed to population estimates that only include migrants staying for twelve months or more

-microdata is only grossed to population estimates consistent with those published in spring which are significantly lower that the latest population estimates.

Comparable data not available for 1998 and 2000.

Source:

ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Population

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the size of the likely UK population in each year until 2050; what it was in each of the last seven years; and if he will make a statement. (158572)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 October 2007:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your question regarding the estimated population for each year until 2050 and the population for each of the previous seven years. (158572)

The attached table shows the total population for 1999 to 2050, for the United Kingdom. The latest available population estimates relate to 2006. The latest population projections are 2004-based. New 2006-based national population projections will be published on 23 October 2007.

Total population United Kingdom

Year

Million

Population estimates

1999

58.7

2000

58.9

2001

59.1

2002

59.3

2003

59.6

2004

59.8

2005

60.2

2006

60.6

Population projections

2007

60.8

2008

61.1

2009

61.4

2010

61.6

2011

61.9

2012

62.2

2013

62.4

2014

62.7

2015

63.0

2016

63.3

2017

63.6

2018

63.9

2019

64.2

2020

64.4

2021

64.7

2022

65.0

2023

65.3

2024

65.5

2025

65.8

2026

66.0

2027

66.2

2028

66.4

2029

66.6

2030

66.8

2031

67.0

2032

67.2

2033

67.3

2034

67.5

2035

67.6

2036

67.8

2037

67.9

2038

68.0

2039

68.1

2040

68.2

2041

68.4

2042

68.5

2043

68.6

2044

68.7

2045

68.8

2046

68.8

2047

68.9

2048

69.0

2049

69.1

2050

69.2

Source:

Office for National Statistics mid-year estimates; Government Actuary's Department 2004-based national population projections

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the proportion of the UK population which was born abroad in (a) 2000 and (b) 2006; and what he expects it to be in (i) 2010, (ii) 2020, (iii) 2030, (iv) 2040 and (v) 2050. (158573)

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

Letter from Mike Hughes, dated 19 October 2007:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the proportion of the UK population which was born abroad in (a) 2000 and (b) 2006; and what it is expected to be in (i) 2020, (ii) 2020, (iii) 2030, (iv) 2040 and (v) 2050. I am replying in her absence. (158573)

Based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the proportion of the UK population that was foreign born in 2000 was 7.6%. The equivalent proportion in 2006 was 10.0%.

There are no official projections of the proportion of the UK population that is foreign born.

When interpreting these figures, it is important to bear in mind that the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is designed to capture all people in the UK living in a private household or NHS accommodation. Some UK residents are not captured by the LFS including students living in halls of residence who do not have a UK-resident parent, and people living in other types of communal establishment (such as hostels, hotels, boarding houses, or mobile home sites). These factors may contribute to the LFS giving a slight underestimate of the foreign born population as a proportion of the total UK population.

As with any sample survey, LFS estimates are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Taxation: Bingo

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to meet representatives of the Bingo Association to discuss the taxation regime which applies to its members; (158574)

(2) for what reason bingo operators have to pay both value added tax and gross profits tax;

(3) if he will commission a review of the taxation regime applying to the bingo industry.

The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review and decisions about gambling taxation are made at Budget alongside all tax and spending decisions. The Government take all relevant factors into consideration when establishing and maintaining fair regimes for gambling taxes.

As part of the normal Budget process Ministers and officials have been in periodic contact with representatives of the bingo industry and will continue to meet them as part of the normal Budget process.

Teenage Pregnancy: Greater London

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many conceptions among girls under 18 years old occurred in each London constituency in 2005. (158989)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated October 2007:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many conceptions among girls under 18 years old occurred in each London constituency in 2005. (158989)

Conception figures for girls aged under 18 are routinely published by local authorities and strategic health authorities. Figures cannot be provided by Parliamentary Constituency because of the risk of disclosing individual’s information, due to small differences between the Parliamentary Constituency and local authority boundaries.

The number and rate of conceptions to girls aged under 18 in each London Borough for 2005 are shown in the attached table. Figures for 2005 are provisional.

Available figures are estimates of the number of conceptions that resulted in a live birth, stillbirth or legal termination.

Conceptions to girls aged under 18: Numbers and rates by area of usual residence. London boroughs, 20051

London borough

Number

Rate2

Camden

124

40

Hackney and City of London

226

56

Hammersmith and Fulham

91

37

Haringey

246

63

Islington

156

56

Kensington and Chelsea

68

28

Lambeth

319

80

Lewisham

316

70

Newham

241

46

Southwark

275

68

Tower Hamlets

169

43

Wandsworth

155

49

Westminster City of

62

22

Barking and Dagenham

191

64

Barnet

167

29

Bexley

164

36

Brent

223

44

Bromley

203

36

Croydon

365

54

Ealing

186

36

Enfield

246

46

Greenwich

259

63

Harrow

127

30

Havering

150

33

Hillingdon

218

44

Hounslow

166

43

Kingston upon Thames

70

27

Merton

104

33

Redbridge

164

33

Richmond upon Thames

57

20

Sutton

109

31

Waltham Forest

192

48

1 Figures for 2005 are provisional.

2 Rate per 1,000 females aged 15-17.

Note:

To preserve confidentiality, counts for the City of London have been combined with those for Hackney LB.

Duchy of Lancaster

Defence Export Services Organisation

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what consultations were undertaken before the decision was made to move the Defence Export Services Organisation into UK Trade and Investment. (156170)

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 17 September 2007, Official Report, column 2172W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

Olympic Games: Greater London

To ask the Minister for the Olympics when she expects the Olympic Delivery Authority's budget to be announced. (157732)

[holding answer 15 October 2007]: On 15 March 2007, Official Report, column 450, I announced an Olympic Delivery Authority budget of £.3 billion (net of tax). This formed part of the overall funding provision for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games of £9.325 billion.

International Development

Amnesty International: Abortion

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received from Amnesty International on abortion-related issues; and if he will make a statement. (158365)

I have received no recent representations from Amnesty International on abortion-related issues.

DFID believes that no woman should die or suffer because of unsafe abortion. Abortion should not be promoted as a form of family planning. But if women seek abortion through failure of contraception or lack of control over the circumstances in which they become pregnant, abortion should be available, safe and linked to post-abortion care, including contraception and HIV prevention services. This is in line with the consensus agreed at the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.

Sexual and reproductive health is an essential element of good health and human development. More progress is needed on sexual and reproductive health to meet many of the millennium development goals, particularly those concerned with child and maternal health, HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases, gender equality and achieving universal primary education.

Departments: Marie Stopes International Conference

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the Ministers from his Department who will be (a) attending and (b) speaking at the Marie Stopes International Conference being held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on 23 to 24 October; whether his Department will be contributing (i) direct funding, (ii) informal support and (iii) personnel; whether there are restrictions on the use of these contributions; whether officials from his Department will (1) attend and (2) participate; if he will place in the Library material produced for the conference by his Department; and if he will make a statement. (158371)

DFID officials will be participating in the Marie Stopes international global safe abortion conference. However no DFID Ministers will be attending or speaking at the conference. DFID is not providing funding, informal support or producing any material for the Conference.

DFID believes that no woman should die or suffer because of unsafe abortion. Abortion should not be promoted as a form of family planning. But if women seek abortion through failure of contraception or lack of control over the circumstances in which they become pregnant, abortion should be available, safe and linked to post-abortion care, including contraception and HIV prevention services. This is in line with the consensus agreed at the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994.

Sexual and reproductive health is an essential element of good health and human development. More progress is needed on sexual and reproductive health to meet many of the millennium development goals, particularly those concerned with child and maternal health, HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases, gender equality and achieving universal primary education.

Developing Countries: Health Education

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the role of sexual and reproductive health education in achieving the sixth millennium development goal, of combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. (157960)

Education, including sexual and reproductive health education, is one of the most significant factors in preventing the spread of HIV in the next generation. In Swaziland, two-thirds of teenage girls in school are free from HIV, while two-thirds of girls out of school have HIV. Girls, boys and adults with more education are more likely to have knowledge of key prevention techniques, including condoms to help prevent HIV infection and insecticide impregnated bed nets to prevent malaria infection, and more able to persuade their partners, and in the case of bed nets, families, to use them.

DFID has funded two major research programmes that included assessing the impact of sexual and reproductive health education. These are the 'Safe passages to adulthood' programme at Southampton university (with a £2 million grant) and the Transitions to Adulthood' programme, run by then Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and the Population Council (with a £5 million DFID grant). Early AGI findings from research in four developing countries (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ghana and Uganda) demonstrate that the impact of sex education varies with the country and cultural context, as well as with methods of teaching used. In Uganda, for example, there was 8.5 times the use of condoms among those that had sex education, compared to those that did not. However, this finding was not replicated in all contexts. 40 per cent. of women who had been given a practical demonstration on how to use a condom reported using one at their last sexual encounter, whereas only 30 per cent. who had not received the demonstration reported using a condom.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health education in developing countries. (157961)

DFID has funded two major research programmes that included assessing the impact of sexual and reproductive health education. These are the 'Safe passages to adulthood' programme at Southampton university (with a £2 million grant) and the Transitions to Adulthood' programme, run by then Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and the Population Council (with a £5 million DFID grant). Early AGI findings from research in four developing countries (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ghana and Uganda) demonstrate that the impact of sex education varies with the country and cultural context, as well as with methods of teaching used. In Uganda, for example, there was 8.5 times the use of condoms among those that had sex education, compared to those that did not. However, this finding was not replicated in all contexts. 40 per cent. of women who had been given a practical demonstration on how to use a condom reported using one at their last sexual encounter, whereas only 30 per cent. who had not received the demonstration reported using a condom.

A special issue of the African Journal of Reproductive Health, ‘Protecting the next generation', providing evidence from the AGI work will be published later this year.

Education, including sexual and reproductive health education, is one of the most significant factors in preventing the spread of HIV in the next generation.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Domestic Wastes: Broxbourne

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice or consultancy services (a) the Waste Resources Action Programme and (b) his Department has provided to Broxbourne council in relation to charging for domestic rubbish collection or charging for containers which will hold domestic rubbish. (158250)

No advice or consultancy services have been provided by DEFRA on these issues. The Waste and Resources Action Programme is currently considering a request for help from Broxbourne council, received on 16 October, for help with communications to increase participation in recycling.

Environment Agency: Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of changes in the funding of (a) the Environment Agency and (b) British Waterways on the provision of flood defence. (155960)

The changes in the funding applied to the Environment Agency’s non-capital spend which funded items such as staff costs, operational spend and maintenance of defences. Funding for capital projects for new and improved defences to reduce risk was not cut and no current or planned capital improvement projects were delayed as a result. Funding to British Waterways was also reduced but these changes did not have a material impact on the provision of flood defence by British Waterways.

Fly Tipping: Domestic Wastes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of fly-tipping incidents were accounted for by household waste in each year for which the Flycapture database holds figures. (158093)

Flycapture, the national fly-tipping database, records the number of incidents of fly-tipping in which household waste is the predominate waste type. It does not record whether it is householders, businesses or illegal waste operators that actually fly-tip the waste.

The following table lists the percentage of fly-tips classified as household waste since Flycapture was introduced:

Flycapture year

Percentage of household waste

2004-05

55.4

2005-06

76.7

2006-07

77.0

2004-05 was the first year of the Flycapture database with 174 (49 per cent.) of local authorities submitting the required 12 monthly returns. This rose to 313 (88 per cent.) in 2005-06 and 323 (91 per cent.) in 2006-07.

White Fish: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the conservation of sea bass stocks. (159331)

Scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) suggests that the bass stock is fished sustainably.

Current European Union legislation protects sea bass by specifying a minimum landing size (MLS) of 36 centimetres, below which bass cannot be landed, and corresponding mesh sizes to be used for both fixed and trawl gear when bass is targeted. Some Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) have introduced a higher MLS of 37.5 centimetres which applies within the relevant district. The UK has also designated 37 specified areas in which bass fishing from a boat is prohibited.

I am currently considering the evidence for increasing the MLS for bass in England, and will make an announcement shortly.

Scotland

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many and what percentage of employees in (a) his Department and (b) each (i) executive agency and (ii) non-departmental public body funded by his Department are above state retirement age. (158939)

The Scotland Office does not directly employ any staff; all staff are seconded from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice, as necessary. The Office does not hold personnel records that would allow age to be determined.

Departments: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent by his Department on official hospitality in the last 12 months. (158902)

Scotland Office hospitality expenditure for the last financial year is detailed as follows:

Financial year

Hospitality expenditure (£)

2006-07

23,411

All expenditure, including that on hospitality, has been incurred in accordance with the principles of Government Accounting and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

Departments: Secondment

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff are seconded to his Department from outside Government; from which outside body each has been seconded; and what the length is of each secondment. (157916)

Departments: Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department spent on (a) opinion polling and (b) market research in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (154472)

Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had since the Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2007 with returning officers on auto-adjudication during the counting. (158773)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information his Department provided to the inquiry led by Ron Gould into the conduct of Scottish elections in May 2007 on auto-adjudication without human supervision; and if he will make a statement. (158774)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information his Department has provided to the inquiry led by Ron Gould into the conduct of the Scottish elections in May 2007 on automatic adjudication of ballot papers without human supervision. (159067)

The Scotland Office has provided information to the Gould inquiry about electronic counting which includes reference to user agreements. User agreements, where auto-adjudication is specified, were signed by each returning officer, who have statutory responsibility for the adjudication of ballot papers. The Scotland Office did not take any decisions on the inclusion of auto-adjudication and passed no specific information about it to the inquiry.

Culture, Media and Sport

Cotswold Heritage Academy: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support he has made available to the Cotswold Heritage Academy; and if he will make a statement. (159361)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him on 2 March 2007, Official Report, column 1591, by my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy).

Creative Economy White Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects to publish the Creative Economy White Paper. (158206)

Culture: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on the culture part of its responsibilities in each year since 1995-96 at constant 2007-08 prices. (156711)

The table shows how much the Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent on the Culture part of its responsibilities, from 1995-06 to 2006-07 at 2007-08 prices.

£

1995-96

1102.2

1996-07

962.0

1997-08

918.5

1998–09

809.6

1999-2000

860.7

2000-01

870.4

2001-02

888.7

2002-03

956.4

2003-04

11562.1

2004-05

1036.8

2005-06

1091.1

2006-07

1142.5

12003-04 figures increased due to certain NDPBs joining the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS).

Departments: General Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what contingency preparations his Department made for the possibility of a general election in autumn 2007; and what the costs were of those preparations. (157004)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Edward Miliband) on 15 October 2007, Official Report, columns 822-23W.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many and what percentage of employees in (a) his Department and (b) each (i) executive agency and (ii) non-departmental public body funded by his Department are above state retirement age. (158952)

Using the current state retirement age of 65 for men and 60 for women, in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) there are nine (1.76 per cent.) employees above state retirement age. The Royal Parks Agency has one (1 per cent.) employee above state retirement age. DCMS does not hold centrally the information you have requested for the non-departmental public bodies funded by the department and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent by his Department on official hospitality in the last 12 months. (158931)

Expenditure on official hospitality is made in accordance with principles of government accounting, Treasury handbook on regularity and propriety as well as the Department's internal guidance on hospitality. The Department's expenditure on hospitality in the last 12 months (to September 2007) was £74,979.

Departments: Railways