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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Transport

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will ensure that grants to local authorities to cover the concessionary bus pass scheme fully reflect the number of (a) qualifying residents in and (b) visitors to an area. (160096)

From April 2006, older and eligible disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. The Government provided an extra £350 million in 2006-07 and a further £367.5 million in 2007-08, via the formula grant system, to fund the extra costs to local authorities.

The Government are providing local authorities in England an extra £212 million from April next year for the national bus concession. This extra funding is based on generous assumptions about the probable cost impact of the new concession, including visitor “hotspots”. We are confident this funding will be sufficient in aggregate.

The £212 million will be distributed by a non-ringfenced special grant via a formula. The Department has recently published a consultation paper on the formula basis for distribution of the special grant. It includes a number of different options for distributing the new funding, taking account of likely cost drivers including eligible residents and visitors. This new consultation supersedes the Department for Communities and Local Government's consultation on the formula grant options for concessionary fares. Local authorities have been asked to respond to the special grant consultation by 23 November.

In addition, we have announced that we will be providing local authorities with approximately £30 million for the issuing of the national pass.

Heathrow Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what modelling her Department has undertaken of runway lengths in relation to Heathrow airport's expansion; and if she will make a statement. (160430)

Results of modelling of a third runway at Heathrow, and the underlying assumptions, will be set out in our consultation later this year.

Lorries: A1

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will assess the merits of restricting heavy goods vehicles to the inside lane of the A1 dual carriageway between Grantham and Newark. (159322)

There are no proposals to carry out such an assessment, as this section of the A1 is relatively flat and the Highways Agency is not aware of any particular problems caused by heavy goods vehicles using the outside lane on this stretch of the A1. However, the ongoing replacement of the existing roundabout at Gonerby Moor, with a split level junction, will remove an identified source of congestion on the A1. This work should be completed in late spring/early summer next year.

Lorry Drivers: Fines

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether foreign lorry drivers given on-the-spot fines will be required to pay the fine before the vehicle is allowed to proceed. (160039)

Road Works: A1

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects work to be completed in the vicinity of the Gonerby Moor roundabout on the A1 in Lincolnshire; and if she will make a statement. (159321)

The A1/B1174 Gonerby Moor junction improvement is being constructed at present. It is expected that the junction will be open for traffic in February 2008.

There will be minor works to complete after this date including planting. These will not delay the opening of the road.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrians and cyclists aged between 0 and 15 years (a) died and (b) were seriously injured on UK roads in 2006. (160072)

The Department collects personal injury road accidents data only for Great Britain.

The information requested is available from table 34 of “Road Casualties Great Britain: 2006 annual report”. Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of the House. This table can also be found on the Department’s website at the following web address:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/172974/173025/221412/221549/227755/285672/WebTables2140.xls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what change there was in the number of road deaths of children aged up to 15 years between 2000 and 2006. (160073)

There has been a 12 per cent. decrease between 2000 and 2006 in the number of child (0-15 years old) fatalities resulting from reported personal injury road accidents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children aged up to 15 years (a) killed and (b) seriously injured on UK roads in each of the last 10 years were killed (i) on their journey to or from school and (ii) within 300 metres of their home; and how many were travelling (A) on foot, (B) on a bicycle and (C) in a vehicle in each case. (160074)

The Department collects personal injury road accident data only for Great Britain. Information on the number of children injured within 300 m of their home is not available.

The number of children (aged 0-15 years) (a) killed or (b) seriously injured in reported personal injury road accidents on their way to or from school, by (i) foot, (ii) pedal cycle and (iii) in other vehicles for the past 10 years for Great Britain is given in the table.

Children (aged 0-15)

Number of casualties

Pedestrian

Pedal cyclist

Other vehicles

Total

Killed

Serious

Killed

Serious

Killed

Serious

Killed

Serious

1997

22

934

3

99

0

101

25

1,134

1998

15

847

3

108

7

135

25

1,090

1999

16

765

3

113

3

108

22

986

2000

19

762

2

64

3

81

24

907

2001

16

722

0

53

5

60

21

835

2002

8

718

3

64

2

81

13

863

2003

11

521

1

44

1

41

13

606

2004

10

502

2

35

2

53

14

590

2005

6

448

1

51

4

45

11

544

2006

15

425

1

39

2

33

18

497

House of Commons Commission

Anniversaries: Oliver Cromwell

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans he has for Parliament to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the death of Oliver Cromwell. (159080)

I understand that no proposal has been made to the Administration Committee to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the death of Oliver Cromwell. The hon. Member may wish to contact the Cromwell Association which is planning events around this anniversary.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 October, on the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, how much was allocated to each recipient under the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in each year since inception. (159901)

DEFRA's Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund database contains details of amounts paid to each recipient from April 2004 onwards, but a breakdown of annual payments is not recorded centrally. I have arranged for a list of recipients of grant from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, since April 2004, to be placed in the Library of the House.

Agriculture: South West Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will increase the funding of the South West Rural Enterprise Gateway to help farmers diversify. (159328)

The South West Rural Enterprise Gateway has received DEFRA funding under the England Rural Development programme and Objective One of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (the latter specifically for its activities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly). This funding was to support the development of farm and rural businesses, including skills acquisition.

Future support in the region under the Rural Development programme for England will be delivered by the South West of England Regional Development Agency. The Agency is working with the Enterprise Gateway on plans to take forward its delivery responsibilities for the new programme, which will include support for farm diversification and other rural business development activities. The precise level of funding will be a matter for the South West of England Regional Development Agency.

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claims for the single farm payment remain to be validated, broken down by year of application; and if he will make a statement. (159551)

For the 2005 Single Farm Payment scheme (SPS), there are 12 claims where processing is not complete. All of these claims are held up by legal issues such as probate.

For SPS 2006, there are 434 claims where processing is not yet complete. 223 of these claims have received partial payments and the Rural Payments Agency is continuing to process these claims to provide top up payments where applicable. The other 211 are claims for which a payment is yet to be made. Many of these are complex cases involving probate, business partnership changes and domestic issues. It is likely that on completion of processing, some of these claims will not be eligible for payment. Where it is confirmed that payments are due, these will be made as soon as possible.

The figures are as at 17 October 2007.

Angling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has to implement the recommendations of the 2005 Securing the Benefits report on the fishing industry with regard to recreational sea angling; and if he will make a statement. (159719)

Recommendations in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report “Net Benefits” concerned with inshore fisheries in England, including recreational sea angling (RSA), were addressed in DEFRA's “Charting a New Course”. These publications are available in the Library of the House.

Progress to implement RSA recommendations has included:

i. A consultation on proposals to increase the minimum landing size for bass launched in November 2005. I will be making an announcement on this shortly;

ii. Establishment of a central focal point within DEFRA for RSA interests;

iii. Strengthened representation for anglers on Sea Fisheries Committees;

iv. Proposals in the Marine Bill White Paper for a more active approach to managing recreational fisheries; and

v. A draft RSA strategy, developed in collaboration with key stakeholders including recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and other interested parties. We will be consulting on this shortly.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for measures to regulate the activities of the trainers and exhibitors of performing animals; and if he will make a statement. (159673)

There are two sets of measures currently in development which will have an impact on the regulation of performing animals.

Last year my hon. Friend, the then Minister for Animal Welfare (Mr. Bradshaw), announced that he was minded to introduce Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to ban the use of certain non-domesticated species from travelling circuses, whose welfare needs cannot be met in that environment.

A Circus Working Group was formed to provide and consider evidence relating to the transportation and housing needs of these animals. The Group will shortly provide a report setting out the findings to my DEFRA ministerial colleagues and I. The report will help inform us how we take forward the introduction of regulations.

The Government are also committed to repealing the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 which is ineffectual in setting and maintaining standards in the wider performing animal industry. I want to see in its place an open and auditable regulatory system that clearly addresses issues such as training, trainer competences and the way that animals across the whole spectrum of performance are looked after. Discussions are taking place between industry and welfare groups to see how this can be achieved.

Animal Welfare: Zoos

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent fatal shooting of a chimpanzee at Whipsnade Zoo; and if he will make a statement. (159661)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: My Department has no direct role in decisions regarding the shooting of escaped zoo animals.

Zoos are regulated by means of a licensing and inspection regime administered by local authorities. South Bedfordshire district council is responsible for licensing Whipsnade Zoo where this incident took place. I understand the council is investigating the incident and that a full inspection of the zoo will be carried out in due course.

I also understand that Whipsnade Zoo is carrying out its own investigation into why the chimpanzee escaped from its enclosure.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidelines are in force to advise zoo owners of appropriate action to take when an animal escapes; whether requirements are in place to require the use of tranquilising darts rather than firearms; and if he will make a statement. (159662)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: Section 1A(d) of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (as amended) requires zoos to prevent the escape of animals and to put in place measures to be taken in the event of an escape or unauthorised release of animals.

In addition, DEFRA's Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice (SSSMZP) provides guidance, to ensure public safety, on the procedures that should be established by the zoo relating to animal escapes.

Procedures relating to animal escapes should include the provision of firearms and darting equipment to tranquillise or kill escaped animals. The precise details of these are discussed and agreed by the zoo operator and the local police. The zoo is responsible for the selection of the appropriate firearm or darting equipment to deal with escaped animals.

Animals: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will list the improvement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive to the Institute for Animal Health concerning (a) Compton and (b) Pirbright in each of the last five years; and what the subject was of each such notice; (155782)

(2) on how many occasions the Health and Safety Executive found the statutory requirements of the Institute for Animal Health at its (a) Compton and (b) Pirbright sites to have been breached in each of the last five years.

I have been asked to reply

In the last five years in relation to the IAH Compton site HSE Inspectors have issued the following improvement notices:

2003: for failure to control the risk to health from animal asthmagens;

2006: for failure to adequately control the exposure of employees and others to legionella bacteria;

2007: for lack of effective monitoring and review arrangements as part of an overall health and safety management system;

2007: for the use of an unauthorised biocidal product.

HSE Inspectors have issued no notices at the Pirbright site where HSE is not the lead regulator. However, HSE, in conjunction with DEFRA, suspended, from 24 September 2007, all activities that involve manipulation of genetically modified viruses that could pose a risk to the environment and which require class 3 and 4 approval as required under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000.

Bluetongue: Vaccination

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in developing a vaccine for the bluetongue strain BTV8; what the involvement of (a) Merial and (b) other pharmaceutical companies is in this process; and what work is being undertaken in co-operation with other EU countries. (159530)

[holding answer 19 October 2007]: There is currently no suitable inactivated vaccine for bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8) available, as this serotype only emerged in Europe last year.

We are aware of a number of companies such as Merial, Intervet and Fort Dodge who are developing such a vaccine and we are in urgent discussions with all these companies to do what we can to encourage this work. DEFRA officials recently participated in a conference with those companies and other member states affected by BTV-8 to discuss the availability of vaccines and possible approaches to vaccination. We are also developing a plan with the farming industry as to how a vaccination campaign could work once a vaccine becomes available, and is licensed as safe and effective for use, which we understand should be next summer.

Carbon Emissions: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will include annual targets for carbon reductions in the Climate Change Bill. (158761)

Climate Change Levy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the National Audit Office report The Climate Change Levy and Climate Change Agreements. (159480)

The National Audit Office report was prepared for the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the Climate Change Levy and Climate Change Agreements.

My Department has provided written evidence to the Committee and the Secretary of State will be giving oral evidence on 31 October. Once the Committee has completed its work and prepared its report, a formal Government response will be provided.

Departments: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department follows on the maximum time taken to respond to hon. Members' correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. (158596)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Fiend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband) on 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 45W.

Departments: Cost Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work his Department has undertaken to identify the efficiency savings suggested in the Comprehensive Spending Review as available by 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. (158355)

As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review DEFRA undertook zero based reviews of Animal Health and Welfare, Flood Risk Management and Natural Resources Protection. The evidence in these reviews informed ministerial decisions on departmental priorities for the CSR.

Like all Government Departments DEFRA will publish a VFM delivery agreement setting out our strategy for delivering savings identified in the CSR by the end of the year.

Departments: Parking Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fixed penalty tickets were incurred by vehicles within the purview of his Department in the last year for which figures are available; and what the total cost was. (157871)

From information held centrally, and for the period April 2006 to March 2007 inclusive, the number of fixed penalty notices incurred by the core-Department was 28. Information relating to DEFRA's Executive Agencies is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. DEFRA's policy is that drivers are responsible personally for the payment of fixed penalty notice fines incurred by them while using a departmental vehicle.

Environment Protection: Nuclear Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports he has received of the meeting in Vienna on 30 September on nuclear safety and the environment held by his Irish, Austrian, German, Italian, Latvian and Norwegian counterparts. (159475)

My right hon. friend the Secretary of State has received no official reports on the meeting in Vienna on 30 September on new nuclear build and climate change.

Fisheries: Angling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has commissioned studies on the effects of commercial catching practices on recreational sea angling. (159472)

I will be making an announcement shortly on work that will take account of recreational sea anglers’ interest in fisheries and consider the impact of different fishing practices.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what compensation is available to (a) cattle hauliers and (b) other industries allied to farming adversely affected by the cattle movement restrictions in place as a result of foot and mouth disease. (158636)

Under the Animal Health Act 1981, compensation is paid for animals that are compulsorily culled to prevent the spread of certain diseases. For foot and mouth disease (FMD), the Act requires that compensation is paid at the full market value of the animal before it became infected. Compensation is also paid for other items, such as farm equipment and feed, where these are seized because they are considered to be contaminated; this includes such things as milk.

It is a long established principle that the Government does not meet the costs of consequential losses, which must be borne by the industry.

DEFRA is taking a risk-based and staged approach to easing movement restrictions when the evidence indicates that it is appropriate to do so. We have announced that we will lift all restrictions in most unaffected areas of the country on 17 October, subject to the disease situation. This is the best way to facilitate the return to normal working for the industry. We are working in partnership with the industry, but eradication of FMD remains our priority.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at how many premises during the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease culling was undertaken before the receipt of test results. (157934)

[holding answer 15 October 2007]: With the exception of the first infected premises (IP1) where provisional positive laboratory results were available, authorisation to cull the remaining premises was made under the slaughter on suspicion or dangerous contact policies. Some of the subsequent premises may have been subject to earlier surveillance visits and blood testing, but culling was initiated at all the remaining 16 premises prior to the final laboratory test results being received. Premises have only been confirmed as infected premises on the basis of positive laboratory results and none of the premises have been confirmed on clinical grounds alone.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many test results which were available before culling during the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease were negative. (157935)

[holding answer 15 October 2007]: Of the 17 premises culled for disease control purposes, with the exception of the first infected premises (IP1) where provisional positive laboratory result were available, 16 were culled on the basis of suspicious clinical signs under the slaughter on suspicion policy or after having been assessed as dangerous contacts. No definitive negative tests from contemporaneous samples were available at the time culling was authorised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there are any plans to revise the rules covering the movement of livestock following the latest outbreaks of foot and mouth and blue tongue. (159248)

The framework of rules covering the movement of livestock in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) or bluetongue is set out in the European Union Directive 2003/85, the European Directive 2000/75 and the Commission Decision 2005/395 respectively.

DEFRA has been involved in recent negotiations surrounding the revision of movement restrictions for bluetongue outbreaks, in order to reflect the lessons learned during the recent outbreaks on the continent.

While the general principles of movement controls are applicable in each outbreak of a disease, movement conditions may differ depending on the nature of the outbreak and the assessed risk. In order to facilitate the return to normal working for the industry, we are taking a risk-based and staged approach to easing movement restrictions when the evidence indicates it is appropriate to do so.

During the current outbreaks of FMD and bluetongue, DEFRA and industry representatives have been meeting frequently to discuss movement control strategies.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Export Controls

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to the British economy resulting from the ban on farming exports during the most recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. (159655)

[holding answer 19 October 2007]: The foot and mouth disease restrictions as a whole are estimated to have cost livestock producers about £100 million to early October 2007. Market impacts account for some three quarters of this, and the larger part of these market impacts are attributable to the export ban. The overall net cost to the British economy is likely to have been less.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Hunting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will lift the restrictions placed on drag hunting during the foot and mouth outbreak. (159161)

On 12 October, a general licence was issued which authorises the hunting of any drag or other trail within the foot and mouth disease surveillance and restricted zones in England. This licence was issued subject to the necessary conditions of biosecurity being satisfied by participants in such hunting activities.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will ensure that there is parity in the financial assistance packages introduced for farmers in the UK following the recent foot and mouth outbreaks; (157424)

(2) what discussions he plans to have with devolved administrations on developing packages of financial support to farmers following the recent foot and mouth outbreaks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources he plans to make available to the devolved administrations to support welfare packages for farmers in light of the recent foot and mouth outbreak. (157741)

[holding answer 15 and 16 October 2007]: We are working closely with the devolved administrations during the current foot and mouth disease and bluetongue outbreaks to co-ordinate our response. DEFRA has had a range of discussions with both the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales, on the disease situation and control measures at both ministerial and official level.

Certain functions under the Animal Health Act 1981, including disease control functions were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales under the Transfer of Functions Order 2004 (SI 2004/3044). Similarly, certain functions on disease control relating to the Animal Health Act 1981 were transferred to the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act.

However, DEFRA has agreed to make payments on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executive for animals killed and property seized due to foot and mouth disease. This does not however extend to specific Welsh or Scottish schemes to protect animal welfare or to support farmers during disease outbreaks. Such schemes remain the responsibility of the devolved administrations who have decided to introduce, their own during the current outbreak.

In my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State’s statement to the House on 8 October, he set out an aid package for the English livestock sector to assist those farmers most affected.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to relax the 20 day standstill rule for livestock outside the foot and mouth controlled zones. (157421)

[holding answer 15 October 2007]: Movement of any susceptible animal from a premises in Great Britain is currently not permitted if any susceptible animal has been moved on to that premises in the 20 days before the date of the intended move unless a susceptible animal is moving direct to slaughter.

However, since 4 October, in the foot and mouth disease (FMD) low risk area and the bluetongue protection and control zones, breeding rams may be brought on to a premises that has an isolation unit with a current, valid approval under the Disease Control (England) Order 2003. This is an exception to the 20 day standstill required for farm to farm movements.

Since 9 October, pigs have also been able to move unlimited distances without a standstill between two premises approved under Article 14 of the Pigs Records, Identification and Movement Order 2007. There is no need for pre-movement veterinary inspection but this does require one working day’s notice to the local Animal Health office.

On 12 October, DEFRA announced the intention to lift the FMD Protection Zone in Surrey on Wednesday 17 October. DEFRA also announced the intention to lift all movement restrictions in England, outside of the FMD Risk Area, to coincide with this lifting of the Protection Zone. From this point forwards, there will be a reversion to the six day standstill rule.

These decisions have been taken following extensive surveillance in the area, and are in line with EU rules.

Land: Contamination

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much is available for contaminated land grants in 2007-08; and how much was available in each of the previous four years. (159739)

DEFRA’s Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme has been resourced by grants, provided under the Local Government Act 2003, since 2006-07. The grant paid for 2006-07 was £13.5 million but the figure for 2007-08 is not yet available.

In the three years before the introduction of grants, the contaminated land programme funding was by Supplementary Credit Approvals in 2003-04, and by Supported Capital Expenditure (Revenue) in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Under both finance systems, the funding was delivered via the Revenue Support Grant system. The amounts for 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 were £15.3 million, £10.3 million and £12.3 million respectively.

Milk

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the level of carbon emissions generated by storing (a) ultra high temperature milk and (b) fresh milk. (159329)

DEFRA has commissioned a literature review of the existing evidence on the environmental impacts, and benefits, of the production and consumption of liquid milk. The literature review will attempt to quantify impacts, including those associated with storage, across the life cycle for a range of milks including UHT, pasteurised and organic. This review will be published later in the autumn.

Nature Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to stop the rise in the number of species threatened with extinction and on the IUCN Red List. (159244)

Most of the UK species on the present IUCN Red List are included in the list of UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) priority species which has recently undergone an extensive review. Conservation action is being taken under the UKBAP for many of these species and their habitats which will lessen the chance of their extinction.

Internationally, the Government are similarly concerned about the threat of species extinction, using as a focus the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. The Government actively participate in inter-governmental biodiversity conservation agreements including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) as well as through funding mechanisms such as DEFRA's Darwin Initiative and the Flagship Species Fund.

Pets: Fireworks

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to take steps to warn the public about the dangers of leaving pets outdoors around 5 November. (159249)

We understand that people are concerned about the distress that animals might experience because of fireworks. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to infuriate or terrify any animal. Any person or organisation may initiate proceedings under this Act. The courts alone must decide whether an offence has been committed.

The use of fireworks is governed by the Fireworks Act 2003. Regulations were introduced in 2004 under this Act to prohibit the use of fireworks after 11 pm (12 pm on 5 November). They also ban the supply of excessively loud fireworks. These measures were brought in partly to protect animals.

Our general advice, which will be published on the DEFRA website, is to:

i. keep all pets inside the house once the sun starts to set, some people set off fireworks before nightfall;

ii. cover aviaries and rabbit hutches so that should the very loud noises disturb the animals, they do at least have a natural-like habitat, where they are able to hide;

iii. feed and exercise your animals well during the day, this will lead to a calmer animal once the noise starts;

iv. if your dog runs for its bed, a cupboard or under the bed, leave it there and allow it to follow its natural instinct which is to hide in a den or cave;

v. do not try to acclimatise your dog to the noise by insisting it faces the noise, they may never get used to the noise and you may be causing damage;

vi. allow the dog comforts within the den, give it its blanket, some water and a toy to make it feel comfortable;

vii. your dog may jump into the bath or start to dig, which shows its instinct to run into holes when danger is present; and

viii. if your dog shows any tendency to hide, let it do so.

Pigs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will introduce a Sow Welfare Disposal scheme. (158294)

We have no plans to introduce a Sow Welfare Disposal scheme. Welfare issues arising from foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bluetongue control measures are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis through the use of special movement licences or measures to support the farmer in their duty of care towards their animals. This includes the provision of advice, temporary shelter and access to supplementary feed.

We are working to ensure that sufficient slaughter capacity is available, particularly for farmers in the bluetongue restriction zone, and would urge farmers facing welfare problems to move animals to slaughter wherever practicable and permitted by disease control restrictions.

Lifting movement restrictions on a phased basis is the best way to alleviate welfare problems facing the industry. On 12 October, DEFRA announced the intention to lift the FMD protection zone in Surrey on Wednesday 17 October. DEFRA also plans to lift all movement restrictions in England, outside the FMD risk area, to coincide with this lifting of the protection zone. These changes will be made provided that there is no change to the disease situation.

Rural Payments Agency: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints the Rural Payments Agency has received in the last 12 months. (160255)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) received 1,824 complaints between 1 October 2006 and 30 September 2007.

The complaints were raised in letters addressed to Ministers, RPA's Chief Executive or Customer Relations Unit either by the customers themselves or by MPs acting on their behalf.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Tree Felling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to prevent the felling of trees on sites of special scientific interest. (160049)

Sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) are notified to conserve and enhance the full range of England’s biodiversity. Some SSSIs are notified for interest features which are liable to damage by trees. On such sites, the felling of trees may be necessary and Natural England works with local landowners and communities so that any felling is carried out in accordance with a management plan.

The aim is to secure the favourable or recovering condition of SSSIs, in accordance with our PSA target to have 95 per cent. SSSIs in England in favourable or recovering condition by 2010. Where woodland is a notified feature of a SSSI, or it supports other notified interest features, it will be conserved or restored as appropriate. Overall the area of woodland being conserved (over 84,000 hectares) is far in excess of the area being felled to restore other features (1,440 hectares).

Waste Management: Industrial Health and Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what health and safety guidance has been provided to local authorities in relation to manual handling in kerbside collection of domestic rubbish and recyclables. (158215)

I have been asked to reply

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has not produced any guidance specifically for local authorities on manual handling in the kerbside collection of domestic waste and recyclables. However, HSE’s web pages include guidance on interpreting and applying the results of research reported in ‘Manual handling in kerbside collection and sorting of recyclables’, in order to secure the best possible risk assessment and strike the best balance between environmental controls, meeting landfill diversion targets and ensuring the health and safety of those affected by the industry.

Whales

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made in establishing which countries are being approached by Japan to join the International Whaling Commission. (160292)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts are aware of the need to watch for indicators that countries may join the International Whaling Commission and adopt a pro-whaling stance. Posts in the relevant capitals are briefed, and engage in discussion with their counterparts on whaling at every appropriate opportunity. Countries are in no doubt as to the importance that the UK attaches to whale conservation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made in engaging in discussions about whaling with countries that vote with Japan at the International Whaling Commission but have no interest in whaling. (160294)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: We continue to raise the issue of whaling with countries that adopt a pro-whaling stance within the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at every appropriate opportunity. Posts abroad will continue to lobby all countries to support the UK’s position. The prominent role we play within the IWC ensures no country can be in any doubt as to the importance we attach to whale conservation.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also shortly deliver an updated version of the publication “Protecting Whales - A Global Responsibility” to Governments that support whaling to encourage these nations to join the effort to protect these species and maintain the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Whales: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made in recruiting more pro-conservation countries to join the International Whaling Commission. (159982)

We continue to lobby all countries who express any interest in joining the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to support the UK’s position. Uruguay has recently joined and several other countries have committed to adhere in time for next year’s annual meeting.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also shortly deliver an updated version of the publication “Protecting Whales - A Global Responsibility” to host Governments to encourage more anti-whaling countries to join the effort to protect these species and maintain the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Whales: Hunting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has had discussions with Japanese government ministers on the killing of whales for alleged scientific research. (159826)

There have been no recent discussions between DEFRA Ministers and Japanese Ministers on this issue. However, at this year's annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the UK and other anti-whaling countries were able to sponsor and secure a key resolution calling on Japan to halt its lethal “scientific” research programme.

In December last year, the British ambassador to Japan took part in a 27 country démarche to both the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Fisheries Agency to protest against Japan's programme of lethal special permit (“scientific”) whaling in the Southern Ocean.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Prime Minister of New Zealand on Japan’s whaling activity in the Southern Ocean sanctuary; and if he will make a statement. (160045)

I have no plans to meet the Prime Minister of New Zealand to discuss specifically this issue, but UK Government Ministers and officials engage in regular discussion with all members of the International Whaling Commission regarding Japan’s continued whaling activity.

White Fish

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the volume of wild bass stocks. (159471)

Scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea in 2004, suggested that the bass stock is fished sustainably. A more recent study assessing bass stocks in British coastal waters by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) suggests the biomass of the adult population has approximately doubled between 1995 and 2004, though there is no estimate of the absolute biomass of bass stocks. Catches in the UK fishery increased from 1234 to 2211 tonnes over the same period. Cefas expects to update the stock assessment for bass later this year.

International Development

EU Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether UK aid channelled through the EU may be earmarked by the UK for specific (a) purposes and (b) countries; and if he will make a statement. (160052)

UK aid channelled through the EU cannot be earmarked for specific countries or purposes. This aid is managed by the European Commission, which bases its country allocation decisions on agreed criteria, and develops its strategies for each country on the basis of the development priorities of that country’s Government. The UK and the other member states oversee the Commission’s decisions on aid allocations through attendance at the relevant management committees.

EU Aid: Commonwealth

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total amount of EU aid to Commonwealth countries was in each of the last five years; and what proportion was attributable to the UK in each year. (160047)

Official Development Assistance (ODA) from EU member states and the EC to Commonwealth countries over the last five years is laid out in the following table:

Table 1: ODA to Commonwealth Countries from EU members and EC, 2001-05

£ million

EU Members and EC ODA to Commonwealth Countries

UK ODA to Commonwealth Countries

2001

3,333

943

2002

3,848

830

2003

3,683

1,117

2004

3,667

1,172

20051

6,982

2,243

1 In 2005, Nigeria received large sums of debt relief of £3,024 million from DAC EU members, of which £1,136 million from UK.

Work and Pensions

Council Tax: Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each of the districts of County Durham qualify for council tax benefit but do not claim it. (160633)

Estimates of the numbers entitled to, but not claiming, council tax benefit are not available below the level of Great Britain. Latest estimates of the numbers entitled but not claiming at that level can be found in “Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2005-06”. A copy of the report is available in the Library.

Departments: Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's projected spending is on advertising and promotional campaigns for (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09, broken down by cost relating to (i) television, (ii) radio and (iii) print media. (155888)

The Department for Work and Pensions runs a number of promotional campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of rights and responsibilities among the general public, benefit claimants and employers. Some of these communications campaigns include advertising through TV, radio and press media and are detailed in the following table.

The table gives the figures for projected media spend to the end of the financial year 2007-08. These figures remain provisional as we continually assess the effectiveness of our activities throughout the remainder of the year.

Projected spend for 2008-9 is not available as budgets have yet to be finalised.

2007 to 2008

(£)

Campaign

TV 000

Radio 000

Print media 000

Total (by campaign)

Targeting benefit thieves. Aims to increase awareness of what constitutes fraud, highlight the likelihood of getting caught and the consequences.

1,600

1,600

2,450

5,650

Employ ability. Challenges employer attitudes to the recruitment and retention of people with health conditions or disabilities

200

200

Lone Parents. Highlights how a job can benefit the life of a lone parent and their family.

15

15

Local Employer Partnerships. Seeks. to secure employers' commitment to provide 250,000 opportunities for often overlooked people to move into work over 3 years

250

250

Pension Credit. Aims to raise the number of returned applications for Pension Credit and highlight the “right” to claim.

500

1,300

1,800

Now Lets Talk Money. Seeks to help financially excluded people get free, local money advice about basic financial services.

400

450

850

Incapacity Benefit Customers Campaign (Jobcentre Plus Scotland) Aims to raise overall awareness of the help and support Jobcentre Plus can provide in helping customers back into work.

100

100

Child Maintenance Enforcement Campaign Challenges the culture of non-compliance by highlighting the action we can and will take against non-resident parents who fail to pay maintenance.

200

650

850

Overall total

1,700

2,715

5,300

9,715

Notes: 1. The table does not include the following as the information is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost: spend by non-departmental public bodies for which the Department if responsible details of highly localised publicity activity by the Departments customer facing businesses recruitment or procurement advertising. The figures in the table refer to media spend only excluding production, direct mail activity, public relations and other costs. Some of our campaigns supporting customer understanding of entitlements and support do not use advertising and therefore have not been listed. 2. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. 3. All figures are quoted excluding VAT.

Departments: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of contracted provision being delivered by a private sector provider for which his Department is responsible was won against a public sector bid; and what the value is of such private contracts. (154315)

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: The Information is not available in the format requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were employed by his Department 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. (158328)

Information on the number of staff employed by the Department for Work and Pensions as at 31 March 2007 is published by the Office for National Statistics in table 6 of the Quarterly Public Sector Employment First Release at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/pse0607.pdf

This is the key official source of work force numbers for the civil service and provides a breakdown of permanent and temporary employees by Department.

For earlier years, the source is at table A of the Civil Service Statistics publication.

2006 (30 September)

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vink=2899&Pos=&ColRank=1&Rank=422

2005 (1 April)

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/2005/tablesandcharts/index.asp

2004 (1 April)

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/2004/tablesandcharts/index.asp

2003 (1 April)

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/2003/tablesandcharts/index.asp

For 2005 and 2006, the civil service statistics were not published with the permanent and temporary breakdown so the information is available in the following table.

PermanentTemporaryTotal

Headcount

FTE

Headcount

FTE

Headcount

FTE

30 September 2006

121,430

109,110

3,690

3,520

125,120

112,630

1 April 2005

129,450

117,100

1,850

1,740

131,300

118,840

Statistics on the number of contractors employed by the Department are not published. The civil service statistics represent those employees paid directly from the Department’s payroll. Any contractors employed via agencies and so not paid directly by the Department are not included.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 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. (158938)

The number and percentage of employees above state pension age, of 65 for men and 60 for women, for Departments and Executive agencies is not available from published sources, but information collected from the last Annual Civil Service Employment Survey in September 2006 is in the following table.

Number of staff

Percentage of staff

Departmental Corporate Units

140

1.24

Child Support Agency

200

1.56

Disability and Carers Service

210

2.93

Jobcentre Plus

1,650

2.10

The Pension Service

240

1.63

The Rent Service

15

2.29

A total of 2,455 staff in DWP are above state pension age, of 65 for men and 60 for women (1.91 per cent.).

The information requested is not available for non-departmental public bodies.

Departments: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of his Department's public service agreement targets (a) take and (b) do not take account of rural proofing. (159634)

Over the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 period (2008-11) the Department has lead responsibility for two PSAs; “Maximise Employment Opportunity for All” and “Tackle Poverty and Promote Independence and Well-being in Later Life”.

The Department and its delivery partners remain committed to taking account of rural issues when delivering services and policies in support of both PSAs.

Disability Living Allowance: Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Peterborough constituency were in receipt of disability living allowance in each year since 1997. (160213)

Disability living allowance—cases in payment in Peterborough parliamentary constituencyNumberMay 19973,200May 19983,400May 19993,700May 20003,700May 20013,700May 20024,100May 20034,350May 20044,460May 20054,590May 20064,680February 20074,740 Notes:1. Totals show the number of people in receipt and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.2. May 97-May 2001 case load figures are rated in line with WPLS totals and rounded to the nearest hundred.3. May 2002-February 2007 case load figures are rounded to the nearest 10.4. Some additional disclosure control has also been applied.5. Totals may not sum due to rounding.Source:DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (May 2002-February 2007); Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample (May 97-May 2001).

Disability: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what publicly-funded assistance is available to young people with a disability who wish to move from education into work. (159273)

[holding answer 18 October 2007]: Jobcentre Plus provides a wide range of help to young people with disabilities who wish to move from education into work.

New deal for young people (NDYP) is mandatory for all 18-24 year-olds who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) continuously for six months. Early entry can be allowed for certain groups including people with disabilities. NDYP aims to move people into sustainable work as quickly as possible and provide those who need it with extra help to improve their employability.

There is also a range of specialist disability measures and programmes for young people who are not in receipt of JSA.

Disability employment advisers (DEAs) are trained to help people with a range of disabilities and health conditions consider work, take up work and also retain their jobs. DEAs concentrate on making their customer aware of their capabilities and how to overcome their own particular barriers in the workplace.

Young people may benefit from The Access to Work programme. They can be helped by a support worker in a number of ways, for example as a job coach, mentor, advocate or counsellor.

WORKSTEP is a programme of supported employment which can provide tailored support to find, and retain, jobs for people with disabilities who have more complex barriers to finding and keeping work.

Work preparation is an individually tailored, work-focused programme that enables people to address barriers associated with their disability and prepare to access a labour market with the confidence necessary to achieve and sustain their job goal.

Incapacity Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to link the lower limit of the earnings disregard of incapacity benefit with (a) the minimum wage and (b) average earnings. (159670)

Recipients of incapacity benefit are able to undertake permitted work subject to some limits, which include weekly earnings limits. The permitted work lower limit is £20 a week. There are no plans to link the lower limit to the minimum wage or average earnings but the Government keep such limits under review.

Incapacity Benefit: Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the lower limit of the earnings disregard of incapacity benefit on benefit recipients' (a) willingness and (b) ability to enter the labour market. (159671)

There has been no specific assessment of the impact of the permitted work lower earnings limit on benefit recipients' willingness and ability to enter the labour market. However, there is clear evidence that, for a number of clients, the permitted work rules have acted as a stepping stone to employment.

Incapacity Benefit: Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of adults of working age in Peterborough constituency were claiming incapacity benefits in each year since 1997. (160209)

Industrial Health and Safety: Formaldehyde

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government will adopt the recommendations of the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits to reduce occupational exposure limit values for formaldehyde to 0.2 ppm for eight-hour time weighted average and to 0.4 ppm for short-term exposure limits up to 15 minutes. (160389)

The Government do not intend to adopt the recommendations on formaldehyde from the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on occupational exposure limits, at the current time.

However, discussions are currently ongoing within the European Commission on whether or not to include formaldehyde in the annex to a future indication occupational exposure limit values (IOELV) directive, and if so at what level. We anticipate the Commission will present a proposal to the Luxembourg Advisory Committee on Safety and Health in November.

Should an IOELV be agreed for formaldehyde in a future Commission directive, the UK Government will take that limit into account when setting their own domestic limit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) Disease Reduction Programme has concluded its benchmarking exercise; what steps the HSE plans to take on workplace exposure limits for formaldehyde; and if he will make a statement. (160390)

The Health and Safety Executive's benchmarking exercise was presented in June 2007 to representatives of employers, trades unions, pressure groups and the scientific community at a workshop chaired by a highly respected independent academic.

There are no immediate plans to amend the current workplace exposure limits for formaldehyde. If, however, formaldehyde is included in the third European Commission Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values Directive, the Health and Safety Executive would be obliged to take account of that limit when setting a domestic limit in the UK.

Industrial Health and Safety: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recent research from the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Laboratory on manual handling in kerbside collection and sorting of recyclables. (158180)

The final and revised research report produced by the Health and Safety Laboratory, ‘Manual handling in kerbside collection and sorting of recyclables’ was published in May 2006 and is available to the public via the Health and Safety Executive’s website. A copy has been forwarded to the House of Commons Library following this inquiry.

Industrial Health and Safety: Sunbeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress he is making in updating Health and Safety Leaflet INDG209 to contain information on the use of automated tanning salons. (160208)

Officials of the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Health are continuing to assess how leaflet INDG 209 might best contain information on the use of automated tanning salons.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Complaint Review Team, Falkirk Child Support Agency office will reply to the fax of 17 September 2007 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West in relation to his constituent Mr. Grant Lumsden. (158771)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 24 October 2007:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, when the Complaint Review Team, Falkirk Child Support Agency office would reply to the fax on 17 September 2007 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West in relation to his constituent Mr. Grant Lumsden. [158771]

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

National Insurance: Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new national insurance numbers were issued to non-UK citizens resident in Peterborough City Council area in each month since January 2004. (160616)

Information is not available prior to April 2004. The available information is in the following table.

National insurance number registrations in respect of non-UK nationals in Peterborough local authority area from 6 April 2004

Month of registration

Number of registrations

6 April-30 April 2004

100

May 2004

170

June 2004

180

July 2004

170

August 2004

120

September 2004

170

October 2004

180

November 2004

350

December 2004

390

January 2005

250

February 2005

570

March 2005

720

April 2005

480

May 2005

480

June 2005

450

July 2005

300

August 2005

210

September 2005

420

October 2005

440

November 2005

310

December 2005

290

January 2006

470

February 2006

560

March 2006

690

April 2006

200

May 2006

290

June 2006

360

July 2006

370

August 2006

250

September 2006

330

October 2006

360

November 2006

400

December 2006

360

January 2007

770

February 2007

510

March 2007

560

Notes:

1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

3. Numbers are based on 100 per cent. data from the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS).

4. Local authority is assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory.

5. Local authority counts are based on the most recently recorded address of the national insurance number recipient.

Source:

100 per cent. sample at 25 June 2005, 17 June 2006 and 14 May 2007 from the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS).

Remploy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to protect (a) jobs in and (b) contracts held by Remploy. (157327)

We have guaranteed that there will be no compulsory redundancies for disabled people. This was clearly highlighted in the written statement to Parliament on 19 July 2006 and reaffirmed by the then Secretary of State’s statement on 22 May 2007.

Where Remploy are proposing that a factory will close, disabled employees will be offered a range of options including voluntary redundancy, early retirement or a job with another local employer on their current Remploy terms and conditions, including membership of Remploy’s pension scheme. Some disabled employees will have the opportunity to transfer to another Remploy factory.

We have guaranteed that no recommendation for factory closure will be agreed without full scrutiny by Ministers.

DWP Ministers are currently pressing the case with Government colleagues for Remploy to retain and receive good quality public procurement work.

Social Security Benefits: Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average annual cost has been of administering (a) a fuel direct payment under the Third Party Deductions scheme and (b) each payment under other key benefit payments administered by his Department in each of the last five years. (159934)

Televisions: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many free television licences were issued in (a) Warley constituency and (b) Sandwell Metropolitan borough council in each of the last five years. (160122)

I have been asked to reply.

TV Licensing, who administer free television licences for people aged 75 or over as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, the number of households with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment as at winter 2006-07 in the Warley constituency was 4,910 and 17,840 in Sandwell, according to Department for Work and Pensions records.

Scotland

Departments: Citizen's Juries

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many citizens' juries were arranged for (a) his Department and (b) his Department's agencies in each year since 1997; which organisations were commissioned to conduct each citizens' jury; and what the cost was of each. (160018)

The Scotland office was established in July 1999 to advise on matters affecting the devolution settlement, as determined in the Scotland Act 1998. To date the Office has arranged no citizens’ juries.

Departments: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what guidance his Department follows on the maximum time taken to respond to hon. Members' correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. (158586)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband), on 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 45W.

Departments: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the cost was of buying new (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistant devices for new Ministers in his Department following each Cabinet reshuffle since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (156728)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. Prior to 2005, records were not maintained in the form requested. Since that date, there has been no such expenditure on laptops, mobile telephones or personal digital assistant devices.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people were employed by his Department 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. (158330)

The number of staff in the Office, broken down by grade and gender, is published in the Office’s annual report, copies of which are held in the House Library. The Scotland Office has not employed any contractors.

The number of temporary staff is shown in the following table, the figures relate to the total number of temporary staff—sometimes reflecting several temporary staff filling posts in succession. They do not reflect the total number of posts filled by temporary staff.

Number

Scotland Office and Office of the Advocate General for Scotland

2002-03

15

2003-04

20

2004-05

6

Scotland Office only

2005-06

2006-07

3

Note:

Prior to 2005-06, separate figures were not maintained for SO and OAG.

Departments: Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what policy changes his Department has implemented since 27 June 2007. (159282)

The Scotland Office is set up to advise on matters affecting the devolution settlement as provided in the Scotland Act 1998. Our direct policy responsibilities concern the conduct of elections to the Scottish Parliament and the relevant policy framework was put in place before the most recent elections held on 3 May.

Departments: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many citizens’ juries have been arranged by his Department since June 2007; which organisations were commissioned to conduct each citizens’ jury; and what the estimated cost is of each exercise. (159489)

Departments: Road Traffic Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many fixed penalty tickets were incurred by vehicles within the purview of his Department in the last year for which figures are available; and what the total cost was. (157915)

The Scotland Office maintains the policy that road traffic violations, such as parking tickets and speeding fines, remain the responsibility of the individual and are not reimbursed from public funds. No costs were incurred by the Office in 2006-07.

The exception to this is the Government Car and Despatch Agency and I refer the hon. Member to his question answered on 18 October 2007, Official Report, column 1185W, by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick).

Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many official visits he and his predecessor made to (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. (154442)

I and my predecessor have made numerous official visits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during each of the last five years.

Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many overseas meetings he (a) has attended since his appointment and (b) plans to attend in his role as Secretary of State. (153865)

I have not attended any overseas meetings in my role as Secretary of State for Scotland and none are planned.

Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many meetings with charities and voluntary groups he has had since his appointment. (153866)

I have had a range of discussions with charities and voluntary groups since my appointment as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Culture, Media and Sport

Alcoholic Drinks: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) off-licensed premises and (b) on-licensed premises had their licences revoked for selling alcohol to underage customers in each of the last four years. (159464)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: This information is not held centrally. Past and future statistical bulletins on licences to sell alcohol include the number of licences revoked, but do not indicate why. Licences may be revoked for a number of reasons or a variety of factors, including sales to children.

Broadcasting: Radio

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) station name, (b) licence area and (c) character of service is of each of the radio stations licensed for broadcast in the UK. (160435)

The matter raised is the responsibility of the Regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Digital Broadcasting: Gaelic Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the expected cost is of launching the Gaelic digital television service; and what the estimated annual running costs are. (160040)

I understand that the total revenue costs of setting up the channel (including promotion) are expected to be in the region of £1.27 million and the total capital requirements £1.5 million. The annual running costs of the channel, excluding distribution, are estimated to be £17.9 million.

These figures are dependent on the outcome of the BBC Trust’s consideration of the proposals which are currently subject to a Public Value Test, as required under the BBC charter and agreement.

Digital Broadcasting: Radio

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate his Department has made of the amount of radio listening which occurs through digital platforms. (159699)

The Department does not collect its own radio listening figures. However, radio listening data compiled by RAJAR for the second quarter 2007 show (a) that 26.2 per cent. of the population (adults15+) listened via a digital platform each week and (b) the total radio listening share by platform was:

Listening via

Percentage

AM/FM

66.1

All digital1

12.8

Analogue/digital unspecified

21.1

1 Digital platforms consisting of 7 per cent. listening via DAB, 2.6 per cent. DTV, 1.5 per cent. internet and 1.7 per cent. unspecified.

Licensed Premises: Take-Away Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many take-away restaurants which do not sell alcohol have been licensed under the Licensing Act 2003. (159701)

We do not hold this information centrally. The Licensing Act 2003 devolved the administration of the licensing regime to individual licensing authorities, and each licensing authority should hold information about licensed premises in their area.

Rugby

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) ministers and (b) officials plan to attend the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final in an official capacity. (159144)

[holding answer 18 October 2007]: Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I attended the Rugby World Cup Final in an official capacity as guests of the International Rugby Board.

Talented Athlete Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people received funding from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme in each year in which it has been running; and how much was allocated under the Scheme in each year. (159703)

The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) was introduced in 2004. Details of the number of athletes it has supported and the level of funding are as follows:

Awards given

Funding (£ million)

Level of awards (£)

2004-05

920

3

1,500 or 3,000

2005-06

1,233

4

1,500, 3,000 or 10,000

2006-07

1,090

5

3,000 or 10,000

So far this year, more than 600 awards have been given.

In total, 2,714 athletes have received a TASS award during its first three years (as some athletes have received more than one annual award).

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many frontline personnel were casualty evacuations during 12 Brigade’s operational tour in Helmand Province. (160227)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: The Relief in Place of 12 Mechanised Brigade is not yet complete. In the period 12 April 2007 to 10 October 2007, 213 personnel were aeromedically evacuated from units of 12 Mechanised Brigade during their operational tour.

During the same period, a further 131 individuals, including UK personnel serving under the wider ISAF force structure, civilians, contractors and other military personnel serving on secondment or attachment with other units deployed to theatre, were aeromedically evacuated.

Both sets of figures include aeromedical evacuation for all reasons, including battle injuries, non-battle injuries, illness and disease.

The MOD publishes casualty details for Afghanistan on its website under the following URL:

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F777CD49-CC59-456E-A3E8-5E470E37F69C/0/opherrick_casualtytables_15Sept.pdf

Armed Conflict: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition he uses of killed in theatre; and whether it is used of those who sustain injuries in theatre but who die later. (159170)

We do not routinely use the term ‘killed in theatre’. The operational fatality figures published by the Department include those personnel who died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the operational theatre, but who were evacuated elsewhere prior to their death.

Arms Trade: Treaties

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Treaty between the Government and the US Administration concerning defence trade co-operation includes transfers of component parts for (a) national missile defence and (b) nuclear weapons systems. (159476)

The detailed arrangements for the Defence Trade Co-operation Treaty are still under negotiation. The Treaty will operate alongside the existing UK export control regime and transfers of controlled components will be subject to the current arrangements. Controls on exports from the United States are a matter for the US Government.

Ballistic Missile Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the US Administration on the stationing of interceptor missiles at USAF Lakenheath or other US bases in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (160033)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1116W, to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis).

Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what strategic military capabilities his Department will seek to develop in the next 10 years. (158383)

Details of the future military capabilities can be found in the 2003 Defence White Paper, “Delivering Security in a Changing World” (Cm 6041-1) and “Delivering Security in a Changing World—Future Capabilities” (Cm 6269) published in July 2004.

We continue to keep future capabilities under review through our regular planning process.

Defence Estates: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors are taken into account by Defence Estate officials when reviewing in detail the background to a charity event to be held on defence property; what factors were taken into account in carrying out this function in respect of the Sergeant Biddiss Charity event held at RAF Brize Norton; and when officials decided to waive the liability charge for that event. (158302)

Each case would be considered on its merits. In the case of the specific event referred to, the main factor considered by officials in deciding to waive the nominal charge was the nature of the charitable event. The decision to waive the liability charge on a Defence Estates license was taken on Friday 30 March 2007.

Departments: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance his Department follows on the maximum time taken to respond to hon. Members’ correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. (158597)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 45W.

Departments: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many websites his Department operates; how many it operated at 1 January 2005; and what the estimated annual cost has been of running his Department's websites in the last five years. (157865)

The Ministry of Defence and armed forces collectively maintain four corporate websites. Identified direct expenditure on running these in the last five years was as follows:

Annual expenditure (£)

Website

URL

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Ministry of Defence

http://www.mod.uk/

124,350

111,000

127,192

147,000

177, 875

Royal Navy

http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/

154,000

230,000

197,888

2197,000

178,398

British Army

http://www.army.mod.uk

n/a

160,000

96,000

n/a

160,000

Royal Air Force

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

87,500

108,000

121,213

3126,860

4173,859

n/a=Not available

1 Cost for site management only

2 Includes £64,000 cost of running two sites during transition

3 This was erroneously shown as the cost for 2006-07 in the table—10 May 2007, Official Report, column 348W.

4 Includes cost of re-launch.

In accordance with the Cabinet Office-led programme of website rationalisation, the MOD is progressively reducing the number of other websites maintained by business units within the Department. On 1 January 2005 MOD and the armed forces collectively maintained eight corporate websites, which have now been reduced to the four listed above. In phase one of the Cabinet Office-led web rationalisation programme MOD identified 44 additional sites, which have now been reduced to 31. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 May 2007, Official Report, columns 348-52W, to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) which gave the costs of running sites in this category in 2006-07. A further 18 sites, now reduced to 17, were identified within the scope of phase 2 of the web rationalisation programme. Further reductions are planned between now and 2010. Costs for these sites could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In addition, there are numerous individual unit, regiment, charity, sports and recreation sites, which are maintained independently by the organisations in question and are not classed as part of the corporate websites maintained by the Department. Lists of these sites could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy, when answering a written question by reference to written answers previously given by him or junior Defence Ministers to hon. Members other than the one tabling the current question, to enclose a copy of the past written answer or answers referred to with the reply. (160088)

GCHQ: Electricity

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the alternative arrangements for electricity are at (a) GCHQ and (b) AWE Aldermaston in the event of a catastrophic failure of the National Grid; and if he will make a statement. (154407)

Robust arrangements are in place at AWE to ensure the continued safety and security of operations in the event of the failure of electrical supplies. These include multiple-point connection to the national grid and the capability for on-site electricity generation.

Information on arrangements at GCHQ is a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Iraq: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 71W, on Iraq: armed forces, what changes were made to plans agreed before the invasion as a consequence of the flexibility to respond to events. (159657)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The details of planning remain confidential. Planning was reviewed on a regular basis and adapted in light of developments on the ground in Iraq.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the number of incidents of intersectional violence in Basra in (a) July, (b) August and (c) September. (157085)

[holding answer 15 October 2007]: Overall reported crime rates for September in Basra remain at a similar level to previous months, and where security incidents have occurred the Iraqi Security Forces have demonstrated their ability to deal with them swiftly and effectively. It is not practicable to determine whether each act of violence is politically or criminally motivated but our assessment is that sectarianism is not a major factor in Southern Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many times British or coalition military forces have intervened militarily in (a) Maysan, (b) Dhi Qar and (c) Al Muthanna since the handover to the Iraqi Government; (157140)

(2) who will make the decision for any British military intervention in (a) Maysan, (b) Dhi Qar and (c) Al Muthanna;

(3) under what conditions British forces would be expected to intervene in (a) Maysan, (b) Dhi Qar and (c) Al Muthanna.

As the Prime Minister outlined in his statement to the House on 8 October, once Basra province has transitioned to Provincial Iraqi Control, UK forces would only re-intervene in any of the provinces within Multi-National Division South East at the specific request of the Government of Iraq or where action is necessary for the self-defence of coalition forces.

Since Maysan, Dhi Qar and Al Muthanna provinces transitioned to Provincial Iraqi Control, on no occasion have coalition forces been required directly to re-intervene, as the Iraqi security forces have been able to deal with the isolated incidences of violence that have occurred. On occasion, at the request of the Iraqi Government, coalition forces have, however, provided limited support to Iraqi security operations in these provinces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many members of the Territorial Army have been killed in operations in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan since 2003. (158377)

[pursuant to the reply, 17 October 2007, Official Report, c. 1118W]: I incorrectly stated that the number of Territorial Army personnel killed in Iraq since 2003 was four, the correct figure was five. The error occurred due to a misinterpretation of operational casualty records.

NATO

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the NATO and Egypt Individual Cooperation Programme. (158273)

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

Territorial Army: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Territorial Army personnel on weekend training are expected to pay for their meals. (157163)

In general, reserve forces personnel working at their parent unit (or Territorial Army Headquarters) who are in receipt of full-time pay or “over eight hours” daily rate of pay are treated as full-time service personnel and therefore pay for their food. However, personnel on exercise being fed under field conditions do not pay for their food.

Warships: Devonport

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions over the last 12 months Royal Navy ships ported in Devonport have been required to sail to Portsmouth or Marchwood in order to undertake ammunitioning or de-ammunitioning activity. (160124)

During the past 12 months, ammunitioning or de-ammunitioning support has been provided at HM Naval Base Portsmouth or Marchwood Military Port to five Royal Navy ships that are base-ported at HM Naval Base Devonport.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions during the last 12 months Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels have been required to remain outside Devonport harbour and await entry to the port due to tidal window or other movement restrictions. (160125)

Arrival and departure times at Devonport harbour are adjusted regularly to allow vessel movements to take place with the minimum of disruption. Over the last 12 months, only one Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel, RFA Largs Bay, was required to remain outside of the harbour due to movement restrictions and the availability of berths.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions over the last two years it was necessary to divert Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels due alongside in Devonport to other commercial or military ports as a result of tidal window or other restrictions. (160126)

Over the last two years, only one Royal Navy vessel was diverted from HM Naval Base Devonport. In February 2007, HMS Ocean was transferred to HM Naval Base Portsmouth due to the unavailability of a Devonport berth for unplanned defect rectification.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions during the last 12 months it was necessary to stop Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel movements within Devonport harbour as a result of poor visibility due either to fog, rain or high winds. (160127)

Disruption to routine sailings due to adverse weather conditions is not routinely recorded although it is estimated that during the last 12 months there were six occasions when Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary movements were disrupted within Devonport harbour as a result of poor visibility due to fog, rain or high winds.

Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what new (a) cluster munitions and (b) weapons employing explosive submunitions the Government are in the process of (i) developing and (ii) procuring. (157363)

There is no internationally recognised definition for a cluster munition; this is the subject of ongoing negotiations under UN auspices. However, we have no plans to develop or procure new munitions falling under the UK’s current working definition of a cluster munition.

In terms of new weapons that employ submunitions technology, we are developing a Ballistic Sensor Fused Munition—a 155 mm gun-launched shell containing two explosive sub-munitions, each having target detecting sensors and a self-destruct system.

Home Department

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts: Berkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) acceptable behaviour contracts and (b) parenting orders were issued in (i) Reading, (ii) Wokingham and (iii) Berkshire in each year since their introduction. (159510)

Data on acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs) are not collected by the Home Office as they are voluntary agreements and therefore not suitable for central data collection. However, surveys of crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) indicate that over 25,000 ABCs have been made since October 2003. The Home Office recently issued updated and comprehensive guidance for practitioners on the use of ABCs.

Parenting orders are a matter for the Ministry of Justice. However I understand that they were piloted between 30 September 1998 and 31 March 2000 but data showing the breakdown by area are not available for that period. Parenting orders were commenced in England and Wales in June 2000. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) has since April 2000 collected the number of parenting orders by youth offending team ("YOT") area, as reported to it by youth offending teams including education-related orders where the YOT has been involved.

Until April 2007, one YOT covered Reading and Wokingham. Four other YOTs cover the rest of Berkshire. Since September 2004, the Department for Children, Schools and Families has collected data on the number of parenting orders in England related to non-attendance of children at school and exclusion from school at local authority level.

Four parenting orders were made in Berkshire following truancy prosecution between 1 September 2004 and 13 April 2007: two in Reading between 2 September and 31 December 2006; one in West Berkshire between 22 April and 1 September 2006 and one between 2 September and 31 December 2006.

Between 1 September 2004 and 13 April 2007 Berkshire local authorities did not report any applications to the courts for parenting orders in the case of exclusions.

The number of parenting orders relating to crime or antisocial behaviour from April 2000 until March 2007 reported to the YJB by the YOTs in Berkshire are shown in the attached table.

Table A: Parenting orders related to youth offending or anti-social behaviour reported by Berkshire YOTs

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Bracknell Forest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Reading and Wokingham

7

0

3

5

6

5

5

Slough

0

2

4

1

0

0

1

West Berkshire

0

6

1

0

4

2

4

Windsor and Maidenhead

0

3

0

1

0

0

0

Total

7

11

8

7

10

7

10

Animal Welfare: Horses

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she plans to take to provide security for the Appleby Horse Fair in future; what the outcome of inquiries into events at the last fair have been; and if she will make a statement. (159680)

The policing of the Appleby Horse Fair is an operational matter for the chief constable of Cumbria constabulary. In regard to the drowning of a horse in the River Eden on the first day of the Fair, I understand that this incident is currently being investigated by the RSPCA who are still trying to trace the individual responsible.

Animals Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of whether the threshold of moderate pain in animal experimentation is being adhered to; (159240)

(2) how the Government defines moderate pain in relation to animal experimentation.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 makes provision for the protection of animals used for experimental or other scientific purposes which may have the effect of causing pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

Projects licensed under the 1986 Act specify “protocols” which are the means by which the project will be carried out. Each protocol is assigned a severity limit in one of four categories, ‘unclassified’, ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or “substantial”. The severity limit for each protocol is determined by the upper limit of the expected adverse effects that may be encountered by a protected animal, taking into account the measures specified in the licence for avoiding and controlling adverse effects. It represents the worst potential outcome for any animal subjected to the protocol, even if it may only be experienced by a small number of the animals to be used.

A detailed description of each category of severity limit is set out in paragraph 5.42 of the published Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (HC 321). In general terms, the “moderate” category is reserved for protocols in which suffering is effectively controlled or terminated before the animal shows more severe effects. In the case of animals experiencing pain in such protocols, effective analgesia is provided or the protocol is terminated before the animals show more severe effects.

Under standard project licence condition eight, set out in Appendix D to the Home Office Guidance, it is the responsibility of the project licence holder to ensure adherence to the severity limits and if these constraints appear to have been, or are likely to be, breached, the project licence holder must ensure that the Secretary of State is notified as soon as possible. Veterinary surgeons and animal care staff skilled in the recognition of the severity of signs of suffering or distress in animals are available at each establishment to advise the licensees on when an animal is experiencing or liable to experience more than moderate pain.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate also visit designated establishments where animal experiments are being carried out to determine whether the conditions of licences are being complied with. Inspectors report to the Secretary of State any case in which any provision of the 1986 Act or any condition of a licence or certificate under the 1986 Act has not been or is not being complied with and advise on the action to be taken in any such case. Home Office records show that non-compliance with severity limits is rare.