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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 25 October 2007

House of Commons Commission

Management and Services of the House of Commons Review

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the Commission has decided on the implementation of the Tebbit review of management and services of the House. (161237)

In July the Commission agreed to fast track several areas of the Tebbit Review as detailed in my answer on 24 July 2007 (HC Deb 925W). Following the debate in Westminster Hall on 18 October and comments from the Finance and Services, Administration and Audit Committees, the Commission approved the following changes on 22 October.

A new Management Board replaced the existing Board of Management with immediate effect. The Management Board consists of the Clerk, as Chief Executive and Chairman, four director generals with functional responsibilities, and up to two external advisers. The six House Departments other than PICT will be merged into four new Departments broadly aligned with the Director Generals’ responsibilities. These will be:

Department of Chamber and Committee Services—incorporating Clerk’s Department, Hansard and core elements of the Serjeant’s Department;

Department of Information Services—incorporating the Library and allied information services;

Department of Resources—incorporating Finance and Administration;

Department of Facilities—incorporating Estates and Works, Accommodation Services and Refreshment Department.

These new Departments will come into effect on 1 January 2008. A recruitment exercise to fill the new post of Director General of Facilities will be put in place. Pending an appointment, the Commission has agreed that the Director of Catering Services will lead the work to create the new Department of Facilities.

PICT will be formally vested as joint Department of the two Houses early in 2008. Pending a review in 2009 of the working of the Parliament (Joint Departments) Act 2007, the Director of PICT will attend the Management Board as one of its external members.

The aim is to create a fully unified House Service that will provide Members and others with the highest standards of service. The changes are consistent with the approach recommended in the Tebbit report, but also address a number of issues on which the report did not reach a firm conclusion. The intention is that the changes will be cost neutral and there are no planned redundancies. I understand that consultation has begun with both staff and trade unions on how best to create the new Departments.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards: Public Appointments

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what progress has been made by the Commission in nominating a candidate for the post of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. (161179)

The Commission’s report recommending to the House Mr. John Lyon CB, currently the Director General of Legal and Judicial Services in the Ministry of Justice, is being published today at 11 am as House of Commons Paper 1096. Copies are available from the Vote Office. It is expected that the recommendation will be put to the House for approval in early November.

International Development

Departments: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development 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. (158591)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Cabinet Office answer on 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 45W.

Guatemala: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to help tackle the problem of violence against street children in Guatemala. (160646)

In Guatemala between 2004-05 DFID contributed $150,000 through the InterAmerican Development Bank to NGOs working with street children. This funding provided education, psycho-social care and work opportunities.

The British Embassy in Guatemala City has supported many local NGO projects on child rights including a sustainable training programme for police officers in the city centre. This aims to improve officers’ dealings with street children, ensure the inclusion of child rights in the Police Academy training curriculum and encourage efforts to bring child abusers to justice.

Overseas Aid: Forestry

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much support the UK made available to help developing countries with forestry programmes and reafforestation projects in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07; and what proportion of the (i) total international development budget and (ii) UK bilateral aid each figure represented in each year. (160229)

In 2005-06 £15 million of DFID bilateral expenditure was spent directly on forestry programmes. This represented 0.35 per cent. of the total DFID programme and 0.62 per cent. of the bilateral programme in 2005-06. In 2006-07 a further £15 million of DFID bilateral expenditure was spent directly on forestry programmes representing 0.31 per cent. of the total DFID programme and 0.60 per cent. of the bilateral programme in that year. These figures do not include spending on forestry programmes funded by partner governments to whom we provide budget support, nor do they include spending through the multilateral system to which we also contribute.

Children, Schools and Families

Academies: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many academies opened (a) before and (b) after September 2005 have exceeded budgets for (i) new buildings and (ii) start up costs; (160374)

(2) what percentage of academies opened since September 2005 have exceeded budgets for (a) new buildings and (b) start up costs;

(3) what the average amount is by which academies opened since September 2005 have exceeded original budgets for (a) new buildings and (b) start up costs.

There are now 83 academies open. Up to and including September 2005, 27 academies were opened, with the remaining 56 academies opening between September 2006 and September 2007 (inclusive). Of the 27 academies which opened up to and including September 2005, 16 (59 per cent.) have exceeded their budgets for new buildings. Of the 56 academies opening between September 2006 and September 2007 (inclusive), 13 (23 per cent.) have exceeded their budgets for new buildings. For those academies opened between September 2006 and September 2007 (inclusive) that have exceeded their original budgets for new buildings, the average overspend is £3,850,5361.

Academies are allocated fixed budgets to cover start up costs, which they are free to apply as they see fit. There are two types of start up grant. The first is intended to cover expenditure to acquire a basic stock of books and equipment. All academies are paid this grant by a formula which is based mainly on pupil numbers.

The second is paid to meet costs arising in the first years of an academy and comprises two elements, one of which is allocated by formula and the other, for which academies must bid, to cover exceptional transitional costs.

1 The number and percentage of academy building projects exceeding their agreed budgets for buildings, and the average overspend is subject to change, as not all open academy building projects have been completed.

Academies: Governing Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will take steps to increase local authority representation on the governing bodies of academies, with particular reference to cases where the authority is a sponsor. (160828)

All academies have at least one local authority representative on their governing body. Where the local authority is a co-sponsor, the lead sponsor retains majority control over the Academy Trust, but can appoint two local authority appointed governors to the governing body.

Literacy: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what percentage of children met the Government's literacy and numeracy targets in each London borough in each of the last five years. (153557)

The following tables set out the percentage of pupils in each London borough achieving the target level 4 and above at key stage 2, and level 5 and above at key stage 3 in English and in maths for each year since 2002. The underlying numbers can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Percentage of pupils achieving level 4 or above in KS2 tests

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

London GOR

73

72

76

72

77

73

79

74

80

75

City of London

93

89

97

79

80

73

83

74

64

71

Inner London boroughs

68

68

72

68

74

70

76

71

77

72

Camden

72

70

78

74

77

73

79

73

75

72

Hackney

65

65

63

59

70

65

69

64

71

64

Hammersmith and Fulham

74

76

79

76

77

73

79

74

81

74

Haringey

65

66

67

66

70

67

73

68

75

70

Islington

68

67

69

68

71

68

74

68

74

68

Kensington and Chelsea

80

79

84

79

87

82

84

81

85

80

Lambeth

67

67

72

67

76

70

76

68

78

70

Lewisham

69

66

73

69

73

70

77

72

79

71

Newham

63

68

68

67

71

70

75

72

76

72

Southwark

66

62

70

62

69

64

72

67

74

69

Tower Hamlets

70

67

74

71

77

75

78

76

80

78

Wandsworth

73

72

75

67

75

71

80

72

78

73

Westminster

77

77

80

77

82

77

81

76

84

76

Outer London boroughs

75

74

78

73

79

75

80

76

81

76

Barking and Dagenham

69

73

71

69

73

71

75

70

74

73

Barnet

81

79

81

78

84

81

84

81

85

82

Bexley

75

72

77

69

79

71

80

74

81

75

Brent

74

75

77

72

78

74

78

73

79

73

Bromley

80

77

83

78

83

78

84

77

85

79

Croydon

74

71

78

71

79

74

78

72

81

75

Ealing

74

74

77

73

78

73

79

75

79

75

Enfield

73

74

78

72

77

73

77

73

79

72

Greenwich

68

66

70

67

70

68

73

68

74

71

Harrow

80

79

82

77

84

80

82

78

85

79

Havering

80

78

80

78

81

78

85

81

84

80

Hillingdon

78

77

80

75

79

77

80

77

81

77

Hounslow

71

71

76

73

77

73

79

75

80

77

Kingston upon Thames

80

77

83

77

85

80

86

82

86

82

Merton

73

68

75

66

75

72

78

74

81

75

Redbridge

78

75

78

74

79

77

83

79

82

78

Richmond upon Thames

84

83

87

82

87

83

88

85

89

85

Sutton

80

78

81

77

80

76

83

78

83

79

Waltham Forest

66

65

70

68

73

69

73

69

77

72

Percentage of pupils achieving level 5 or above in KS3 tests

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

English

Maths

London

64

63

66

67

70

70

74

71

73

75

Inner London

58

59

63

62

68

65

68

70

Camden

66

63

68

65

73

70

76

72

75

76

Hackney

45

48

59

52

59

56

60

58

64

65

Hammersmith and Fulham

60

59

62

67

64

67

73

73

77

77

Haringey

56

52

52

55

59

58

65

62

61

64

Islington

51

50

49

57

55

59

64

61

61

64

Kensington and Chelsea

72

69

79

72

80

76

81

76

87

84

Lambeth

59

55

61

62

69

66

71

65

72

71

Lewisham

58

54

60

60

64

64

66

65

70

70

Newham

56

53

55

60

63

62

67

66

64

68

Southwark

50

46

51

52

63

58

66

59

66

65

Tower Hamlets

51

49

54

55

57

58

67

61

65

68

Wandsworth

64

60

62

63

68

67

73

70

71

73

Westminster

62

61

69

65

68

68

76

69

69

74

Outer London

69

71

74

74

76

74

75

77

Barking and Dagenham

58

58

62

61

65

65

66

66

67

70

Barnet

72

72

73

76

78

78

82

80

81

82

Bexley

66

69

71

73

75

77

76

74

74

77

Brent

64

66

64

66

70

72

73

74

74

76

Bromley

76

72

73

76

80

77

80

79

80

82

Croydon

65

65

66

68

70

72

75

71

73

74

Ealing

60

61

68

69

73

72

75

72

73

76

Enfield

64

65

67

68

70

71

72

72

71

74

Greenwich

54

54

61

61

63

60

67

63

68

68

Harrow

75

73

71

75

76

77

82

79

80

81

Havering

74

76

72

76

81

79

80

81

79

81

Hillingdon

67

64

65

73

71

74

74

73

70

76

Hounslow

64

64

71

68

70

71

76

71

76

77

Kingston upon Thames

74

78

79

80

80

83

80

83

84

84

Merton

62

62

65

67

66

68

75

71

67

71

Redbridge

75

74

75

76

78

79

82

80

81

83

Richmond upon Thames

72

70

74

72

77

75

75

73

80

79

Sutton

81

78

75

79

83

82

84

82

86

87

Waltham Forest

60

57

60

62

68

66

74

67

70

71

Schools: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of funding for schools is largely unrelated to school numbers; and if he will make a statement. (150888)

I refer the hon. Gentlemen to the answer given on 23 July 2007, Official Report, column 880W.

Home Department

101 Calls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make a statement on plans for the future of the 101 number. (158747)

Asylum: Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) which airlines the Government have used for the return of failed asylum seekers to their country of origin; (160765)

(2) which airlines have refused to carry failed asylum seekers from the UK to their country of origin.

Drugs: Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect of reclassifying drugs on their production, supply and use. (159832)

The Home Department undertakes and evaluates several surveys in order to monitor levels of illegal drug production, supply and use. These are not predicated on the ABC classification system but where they are drug specific, any changes are closely monitored following a drug’s reclassification. Relevant published research is also routinely considered.

Foreign Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 12 September 2007, Official Report, columns 2159-61W on foreign workers, if she will give a break down by nationality of (a) work permit holders with leave to enter for employment for 12 months or more and their dependants and (b) work permit holders with leave to enter for employment for less than 12 months and their dependants. (155991)

Copies of the table containing the requested figures for 1995 to 2006 have been placed in the Library.

Information for earlier years can be found in the Command Papers entitled “Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom” for those years, also from the Library.

Human Trafficking

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many trafficked women and children have been discovered since the launch of Operation Pentameter 2; and if she will make a statement. (160656)

Figures on the number of trafficking victims recovered will be published at the end of Operation Pentameter 2.

We shall not be releasing any interim figures during the period of this operation whilst we carry out the process of identification of victims. To issue interim figures in these circumstances may be misleading.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures were taken to ascertain whether the workers arrested in the Immigration Service raids on restaurant businesses in central London on 11 October 2007 were victims of trafficking and forced labour; what (a) counselling and (b) other assistance is available to any such workers who are identified as victims of trafficking and forced labour; and what measures are taken to ensure that any such workers are not placed in a situation where they might be vulnerable to recycling as forced labourers by the trafficking gangs. (160116)

49 migrant workers were arrested on 11 October in central London on suspicion of committing immigration offences. Current operational procedures require all those arrested to be interviewed to establish their identity and their current immigration status. If there is a suspicion of illegal entry then further detailed questions may be asked in relation to their route and method of entry and if they were assisted.

All the individuals arrested were questioned by Border and Immigration Agency officials as to their route of entry to the UK, and given the opportunity to obtain legal representation.

Any evidence or intelligence that leads to facilitators or traffickers will be vigorously pursued. In particular the Border and Immigration Agency is examining the role of the employers in all this to identify whether further offences have been committed.

Land: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers are available to the police and local authorities to compel landowners to take appropriate steps to secure land in order to prevent it from being used for antisocial and criminal purposes. (158611)

I understand that police do not have such powers. Local authority powers are the responsibility of the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Metropolitan Police: Emergency Calls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many calls were handled by the Metropolitan Police emergency call system in each month for which records are available; (155641)

(2) how long on average a caller to the Metropolitan Police emergency call system must wait before being answered.

Metropolitan Police: Eyesight

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to provide access to appropriate (a) tests and (b) laser eye surgery for members of the Metropolitan Police Service in (i) firearms and (ii) other sections of the force. (158579)

Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total cost was to public funds of the event held for the Immigration Minister in Essex on 16 October. (159975)

On 16 October 2007, the Immigration Minister visited Stansted Airport to meet Border and Immigration Agency staff to discuss local operations and view the more visible Border controls at the port. The Minister then visited Burnt Mill Comprehensive School in Harlow where he spent an hour with some of the children from Years 9-11 to discuss immigration issues, hosted by the school’s citizenship teacher. The Minister also made a speech at the school to local stakeholders on immigration policy. The costs to the Home Office were negligible, comprising travel and subsistence for officials travelling on the day from London.

Police

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the likely police deployment in 2008. (160817)

Police Stations

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police stations there were in each police force area in each year since 1997; and how many (a) opened and (b) closed in each year. (158854)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many police stations are in use in each parliamentary constituency; (159952)

(2) how many police stations were in use in each year since 1997.

The management of the police estate and allocation of resources are matters for each police authority and the Chief Officer, who are responsible for assessing local needs.

Police: Brent

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps her Department has taken to recruit more police in Brent; and if she will make a statement; (157378)

(2) how many unfilled police vacancies there are in each London borough.

Police: Bureaucracy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average period of time was for a police officer to process an arrest in (a) 1983, (b) 1992, (c) January 1997, (d) 1998, (e) each year since 2003 and (f) the most recent date for which information is available. (159610)

Police: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of police funding for each police authority in England and Wales was spent at (a) central and (b) divisional level in each of the last 10 years, listed in descending order according to level of central spending. (160519)

The allocation of resources within each force is a matter for the chief officer and the police authority.

Police: Firearms

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times police armed response units were deployed in the northern division of Cambridgeshire Constabulary in each year since 1997; and how many and what percentage of these incidents resulted in a police officer discharging their weapon. (160215)

The information is not available centrally in the form requested. The number of operations involving armed response vehicles (ARVs) in the Cambridgeshire Constabulary is shown in the following table. We do not collect statistics by force division. The overall number of incidents where a conventional firearm was used in England and Wales, is also shown.

Number of operations involving armed response vehicles (ARVs)—Cambridge Constabulary

Number

1996-97

23

1997-98

19

1998-99

27

1999-2000

54

2000-01

36

2001-02

43

2002-03

45

2003-04

155

2004-05

172

2005-06

160

Number of incidents where conventional firearms were used by police, England and Wales

Incidents

Percentage of incidents compared with number of authorised operations

1996-97

5

0.040

1997-98

3

0.025

1998-99

5

0.046

1999-2000

7

0.064

2000-01

9

0.081

2001-02

11

0.079

2002-03

10

0.067

2003-04

4

0.024

2004-05

5

0.031

2005-06

9

0.048

Police: Informers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent by each police force on police informants in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (160085)

[holding answer 23 October 2007]: Spending on informants is an operational matter for each chief officer and police authority in the light of their budget provisions.

Protest: Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the impact on levels of investment in research and development of the activity of animal rights extremists in England and Wales in the past 10 years; and if she will make a statement. (159674)

Although exact figures are not available, the statistics that are collected for pharmaceutical research and development in the UK started to decline from 2002 when the ARE activity was at its height.

The Government takes seriously the illegal activities of animal rights extremists aimed at discouraging investment in the UK. We have in place a robust interdepartmental strategy to eradicate the threat. The strategy is centred on an improved law enforcement approach, with additional resources provided to the police to tackle animal rights extremism, a central team set-up to drive forward police action nationally, and legislation enacted to protect animal research organisations. The strategy has led to a significant fall in illegal extremist activity.

Protest: Cenotaph

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will bring forward proposals to amend the law so as to allow protests against war in the vicinity of the Cenotaph. (159835)

Protests in the vicinity of the Cenotaph are already allowed. As the Cenotaph falls within the designated area around Parliament, organisers of static demonstrations are required to notify their intention to demonstrate to the Commissioner in advance. The Commissioner must authorise any demonstration which is notified to him in advance. Marches are subject to prior notification under section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986.

We announced in the Green Paper “The Governance of Britain” in July that we would review the provisions that govern the right to protest in the vicinity of Parliament. We shall be consulting widely with a view to ensuring that people’s right to protest is not subject to unnecessary restrictions. The consultation will begin very shortly.

Scouts and Guides

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many scouts from overseas due to attend the World Scouting Jamboree in August 2007 in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, (a) disappeared during the course of the Jamboree and (b) failed to turn up to the Jamboree after having entered the UK; (156166)

(2) how many scouts from overseas who were due to attend the World Scouting Jamboree in August in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, applied for political asylum since 28 July.

(3) what action has been taken by (a) the Border and Immigration Agency and (b) the police to track down those overseas scouts who entered the UK to attend the World Scouting Jamboree in August in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, and failed to turn up to the Jamboree or disappeared during the course of the Jamboree.

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: A number of overseas scouts attending the World Scouting Jamboree would have made an application for entry clearance to enter the United Kingdom. They would have been issued with visitor visas for the standard six month period.

The information requested regarding how many scouts from overseas disappeared or did not arrive at the World Scouting Jamboree event is not collected by the Border and Immigration Agency because no Immigration offences were committed.

The Border and Immigration Agency cannot confirm how many overseas scouts claimed asylum as we do not comment on individual cases.

Essex police have confirmed that a total of 11 scouts are missing and they are actively trying to locate them. All referrals from the police to The Border and Immigration Agency relating to the overseas missing scouts have been investigated and all individuals continue to have valid entry clearance and are in the United Kingdom legally. As such, this is an ongoing police matter.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Departments: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills 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. (155881)

The Department is planning an advertising and promotional campaign for student support in 2007-08. The advertising and publicity budget allocated to this programme is £4.5 million of which £1,777,776 will be spent on advertising and promotion. The costs following have been broken down as requested.

Projected spend (£)

Television

1,145,813

Radio

374,173

Print

257,790

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

Graduates: Higher Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) if he will commission an assessment of the benefits to (a) individual students, (b) businesses and (c) the economy of graduates completing second degrees; and if he will make a statement; (150819)

(2) what advice is provided to graduates on the (a) merits and (b) mechanics of pursuing a second degree; and whether guidance is available on the choice of subject.

We have asked HEFCE to phase out the support it gives to institutions for students doing a second degree at an equivalent or lower level in order to redistribute around £100 million a year by 2010/11 towards our priorities. While there may be some benefit to individuals, and their employers, in them retraining for a second qualification at the same level, it is generally fairer to both students and the taxpayer to give priority to those either entering higher education for the first time, or progressing to higher qualifications. All of the £100 million will be redistributed to support our priorities, including the challenges posed by Sandy Leitch around the proportion of the work force with graduate level skills from under 30 per cent. to over 40 per cent. by 2020. At the same time, we also published details of these changes and the rationale for them so that prospective students both with and without existing Higher Education qualifications can plan ahead in the knowledge of our priorities.

Laboratories: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which pathogens acting on (a) human and (b) animals are considered to be viable terrorist bioweapons; and what (i) guidance and (ii) security conditions are given to sites storing or studying such cultures. (158993)

I have been asked to reply.

There is a wide range of pathogens which could be considered as potential bioweapons. Guidance on hazardous pathogens and toxins, including security considerations is included within the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001). Pathogens (or derivatives) are covered under schedule 5, Order 2007 while security considerations are covered in part 7 of the Act.

Students: Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many loanees are making repayments to the Student Loans Company. (156067)

In March 2007 there were 253,200 English domiciled income-contingent borrowers repaying their loans. There were 154,300 mortgage-style borrowers ahead or up to date with repayments. In addition a number of mortgage-style borrowers classed as in arrears may have made repayments that did not bring their accounts up to date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many cases of delays in repayment of loans by graduates who have reached the earning threshold for repayment there have been in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (156587)

Disease Control: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when Government research facilities handling animal pathogens for which his Department is responsible have had their drainage systems (a) inspected and (b) risk assessed since 2001; and if he will make a statement. (159533)

I have been asked to reply.

The drainage systems of laboratories licensed by DEFRA to handle specified animal pathogens under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998 are not routinely inspected, nor is this a condition of a SAPO licence.

However, following the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), DEFRA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a safety alert to all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. The alert relates to issues arising from the independent reviews carried out by Professor Spratt and the HSE into potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright site. It requires all such laboratories to satisfy themselves that their facilities and procedures address all the issues identified by Professor Spratt and the HSE. DEFRA and the HSE will also undertake a programme of inspection at all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. SAPO licences for those laboratories have also been amended to make clear their responsibilities towards biosecurity.

In addition, we have commissioned a review of the regulatory framework for animal pathogens under Sir Bill Callaghan. This review will include a consideration of the appropriate enforcement standards for animal pathogens, including issues such as drainage.

Justice

Coroners

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his definition is of a working day in connection with a coroner’s responsibility to contact next of kin with reference to his Department’s latest draft charter for the bereaved. (160488)

The definition of a working day in the draft Charter is any day between Monday and Friday inclusive, with the exception of Christmas Day, Good Friday or a bank holiday in England and Wales under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971. I intend to publish the draft Charter at the same time as the Coroners Bill is introduced. This will enable Members to see a summary of how the measures in the Bill will benefit bereaved families. There will be further opportunities for consultation on the draft Charter in the future, following Royal Assent of the Bill, and before reform is fully implemented.

Courts: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the savings to his Department consequent upon the introduction of regional pay for court staff. (160119)

There are no direct cash savings to the Department arising from the introduction of the new pay system. Rather this system enables the Department to make best use of the available budget.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice 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. (158953)

The figures for the Ministry of Justice (former DCA and its’ agencies) have been compiled and are detailed as follows.

(a) (i) The total number of permanent and casual staff, and the percentage of staff above state retirement age, employed by the Ministry of Justice (former DCA) as at 30 September 2006, taken from the Ministry of Justice new oracle single human resource system are as follows:

Ministry of Justice

Formerly Department for Constitutional Affairs (excl. agencies)

Number/percentage

Total all staff (permanent and casual)

2,190

Number of staff above 65 (state retirement age)

5

Percentage of staff above age 65 and above

0.23

(b) (i) The total number of permanent and casual staff, and the percentage of staff above state retirement age, employed by the Ministry of Justice agencies (former DCA and it’s agencies) as at 30 September 2006, taken from the Ministry of Justice new oracle single human resource system are as follows:

Ministry of Justice’s agencies

Total all staff (permanent and casual)

Number of staff above 65 (state retirement age)

Percentage of staff above 65

HM Courts Service

22,570

211

0.93

Public Guardianship Office

350

2

0.57

Tribunals Service

3,070

10

0.33

Scotland Office (excl. Office of Advocate General)

30

0

0

Wales Office

60

1

1.7

(b) (ii) The ONS does not collate the information for NDPB’s centrally. Therefore, my Department would need to approach each of the individual NDPB’s and amalgamate responses at a disproportionate cost.

Departments: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with which companies contracts have been agreed on citizens’ juries; and what value of payments has been agreed with each company. (160254)

The Ministry of Justice has not contracted any companies to undertake citizens’ juries. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) on 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 283W.

Legal Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 10 September 2007, Official Report, column 1994W, on Legal Aid, if his Department will assess whether Arani and Co. solicitors should be allowed to remain on the list of legal aid firms. (160121)

The Legal Services Commission is responsible for awarding General Criminal Contracts, and for enforcing compliance with the standards required of contract holders. Any provider with a criminal legal aid contract, including Arani and Co., is subject to a series of reviews. The reviews test whether claims for legal aid have been made in accordance with the rules; whether the provider’s performance meets the requirements of the General Criminal Contract and specialist quality mark; and whether an independent peer review assesses the provider of sufficient quality to deliver an acceptable standard of legal advice and assistance.

Any decision to terminate a criminal legal aid contract is a matter for the Legal Services Commission, should any of the reviews demonstrate that such action is necessary.

Police Custody

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been spent on reserving unused police cells under Operation Safeguard since October 2006. (160139)

The Department has not separated the costs of used and unused police cells under Operation Safeguard. Places identified for use on the basis of potential operational need are paid for whether they are used or not.

The number of places used and the location of those places can vary on a day to day basis due to police and prison operational requirements.

Prisoners’ Release

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what action is taken against prisoners who remain unlawfully at large until their scheduled release date after release on the End of Custody Licence Scheme; (160137)

(2) how many prisoners recalled to prison after release on the End of Custody Licence Scheme remained unlawfully at large until their scheduled release date.

Offenders who breach any condition of the End of Custody Licence (ECL) are liable to be recalled, and a revocation order revoking their licence will be issued. From the revocation issue date, until they are arrested and returned to custody, the offender remains unlawfully at large (UAL). This period of absence is not treated as part of the sentence served unless the Secretary of State directs that it should be. Therefore, when the prisoner is returned to custody, the sentence must continue to be served including any custodial days outstanding.

All offenders whose End of Custody Licence is revoked are notified to the police local to the area to which the offender has been released. The police are committed to arresting and returning offenders to custody as quickly as possible.

Data on ECL, including prisoners recalled, are published at the end of each month on the Ministry of Justice website. The August report, published on 28 September, states that of the 205 offenders notified to NOMS as recalled between 29 June and the end of August, 48 offenders had not been returned to custody by end of 21 September, and all of those have passed their scheduled release date.

Information on the number of recalled offenders who have returned to custody and those who have not, as notified to NOMS, is reported monthly on the Ministry of Justice publications website.

Prisoners Transfers

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department was invoiced for costs incurred relating to transferring prisoners between sites of secure accommodation in (a) each year since 2001 and (b) each month in 2007; and if he will make a statement. (160755)

Details of expenditure on inter-prison transfer and court escort services, including the daytime staffing of court facilities and docks in courts by escort contractors for each year since 2001 are set out in the following table:

£ million

2001-02

105.1

2002-03

111.1

2003-04

116.1

2004-05

126.5

2005-06

140.7

2006-07

150.5

Details of expenditure for the financial year 2007-08 on a monthly basis are as follows:

£ million

April

5.4

May

4.8

June

24.9

July

13.3

August

16.8

September

12.7

Some of these payments do not necessarily relate to the months the actual costs were incurred.

Neither set of figures include costs of locally managed prisoner transfers. These are not recorded centrally.

Prisoners: Voting Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he plans to publish his Department’s response to the consultation on voting rights for convicted prisoners. (160562)

The Government are currently considering how to take forward the implementation of the “Hirst” judgment in light of the first stage of consultation on this issue.

Prisons: Film

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on cinema systems in (a) prisons and (b) young offender institutions in each of the last three years. (160461)

Her Majesty’s Prison Service does not collect information to this degree of detail on its central accounting system. This information could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance has been issued to prison governors and officers on the showing of 18 certificate films in prisons and young offenders institutions. (160565)

No specific guidance has been issued. Prison governors are expected to comply with the certification requirements and will exercise their professional judgement over the suitability of films to be shown to prisoners.

Prisons: Infectious Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many cases of (a) influenza, (b) Legionnaires’ disease, (c) MRSA, (d) dysentery, (e) tuberculosis and (f) Clostridium difficile there were within prisons in England and Wales in each year since 2000. (160561)

The information requested is not held centrally.

The Prison Service’s Performance Standard, Health Services for Prisoners (May 2004), requires every prison establishment to have in place effective arrangements for the prevention, control and management of communicable diseases. These must include arrangements for the notification of all incidents of notifiable disease, such as tuberculosis, to the local Health Protection Agency’s Consultant in Communicable Disease Control (CCDC) and an action plan in the event of an outbreak of a communicable disease.

Upon the detection of any infection in a prison establishment, appropriate health care and infection control procedures should be instituted in partnership with infection control teams in primary care trusts and health protection units.

Prisons: Telephones

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on (a) purchasing, (b) renting and (c) installing telephone systems for inmates in prisons in England and Wales in each of the last three years. (160469)

The information requested is not held and would require detailed consultations with the provider of the public prisoner telephone network at a disproportionate cost. Additionally detailed information on the precise commercial terms of purchasing, rental and installation of telephones by private sector prisons may not be available for commercial-in-confidence reasons.

Prisons: Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisons in England and Wales participate in child-friendly visit schemes. (160747)

A new Prison Service Order was recently issued to prisons which emphasises the need to make social visits as child friendly as possible, although there is currently no performance standard that requires prisons to operate specific child or family day schemes. As a result, we do not collect information about how many have been run. However, while practice and provision varies across the prison estate, a growing number of establishments are running schemes to ensure meaningful contact between prisoners and their children.

Reoffenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many crimes are known to have been committed by offenders while on licence from prison in (a) 2002 and (b) 2006. (160560)

We have data on the proven re-offending of offenders who were released on licence, but some of the re-offending of these offenders may have been committed after their licence period ended.

The available information on number of offences committed over three months by those offenders who were on licence when the snapshot of the probation caseload was taken is given in the following table. Information relating to 2002 is not available and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

Proven re-offending of those released on licence who were recorded as being on the probation caseload (England and Wales) at the end of March, June, September, December 200

Date of data extract

Total number of offenders on post-release supervision on probation caseload1

Period of re-offence

Number of re-offences2

Number of re-offenders

End March 2006

23,573

April to June 2006

4,332

2,086

End June 2006

23,519

July to September 2006

4,260

1,984

End September 2006

23,414

October to December 2006

3,861

1,914

End December 2006

24,066

January to March 2007

3,962

1,967

1 Based on data matched with the PNC

2 A re-offence is defined as an offence leading to a caution or conviction which took place in the three months following the end of that quarter and was proven within six months of the end of that quarter. For example, for March 2006, re-offences which took place in April, May or June 2006 will be included as long as they were proven by the end September 2006.

Note:

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the re-offending rate was for prisoners who had served custodial sentences in the latest period for which figures are available; and what plans are in place to reduce it. (160643)

The latest available data for adult offenders discharged from custody in the first quarter of 2004 show a 64.7 per cent. re-offending rate. The latest available data for juvenile offenders discharged from custody in the first quarter of 2005 show a 76.2 per cent. rate of re-offending.

The adult results show a 4.6 per cent. reduction in re-offending since 2000 and the juvenile results show a 2.8 per cent. reduction since 2000. Reductions in re-offending are measured by comparing the actual rate of proven re-offending to a predicted rate (which controls for changes in offenders characteristics) which is based on the results of the 2000 dataset.

The following tables set out adult and juvenile results since 2000.

Adult

Percentage change in re-offending

Actual re-offending rate

Predicted re-offending rate

Increase

Reduction

2000

64.8

2002

67.5

67.2

0.4

2003

65.9

67.4

2.2

2004

64.7

67.8

4.6

Juvenile

Actual re-offending rate

Predicted re-offending rate

Percentage change in re-offending (reduction)

2000

78

2004

78.2

1

2005

76.2

78.4

2.8

1 Unavailable.

A great deal of work is being taken forward across Government to build on this success. Reducing re-offending is a key element of the new Home Office Crime Strategy “Cutting Crime: A New Partnership 2008-11”. The new “Make Communities Safer” Public Service Agreement sets a target both to reduce adult and youth re-offending, and to reduce the level of serious re-offences. NOMS and DIUS will be producing an overarching Strategic Plan in spring 2008 to set out how the Government intend to meet this challenge and a consultation paper will be published shortly. Alongside this consultation, we will also be consulting on an Offender Health and Social Care Strategy and a NOMS Third Sector Action Plan. While these will focus on specific elements of work to reduce re-offending, they will support the overarching Strategic Plan, and underscore the Government’s commitment to tackling re-offending holistically.

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is working to reduce youth re-offending. The YJB has a scaled approach to youth justice interventions to ensure that youth offending services focus on those children and young people most likely to re-offend. The YJB has developed the assessment tool “Asset” which is used by all Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) to identify the risk factors driving offending behaviour and the protective factors that will support desistance. Asset is used to design a “multi modal” package of interventions to reduce risk factors and build up the protective factors. The Wiring-Up Youth Justice Programme is providing YOTs with the latest technology to improve the speed and quality of information transfer between YOTs, secure establishments and other key service providers.

The new local government performance framework which contains six specific youth justice indicators (out of total of 197) provides YOTs with an excellent lever to encourage local authority chief executives to prioritise young offenders’ access to services.

The reducing re-offending agenda also makes important contributions to a number of other cross-Government PSAs including, PSA 16: Increase the proportion of socially excluded adults in settled accommodation, employment, education or training; PSA 25: Reduce the harm caused by Drugs and Alcohol and PSA 24: Deliver a more effective transparent and responsive Criminal Justice System for victims and the public.

We are introducing new ways of measuring progress on reducing re-offending, which will include reducing the reporting time lag in the adult results from two years to one year and producing a metric to provide a more detailed understanding of the volume and seriousness of re-offences.

Reoffenders: Eastern Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many high risk offenders committed further serious crimes in (a) East of England and (b) Suffolk while under the supervision of the probation and police service in each of the last three years. (161183)

The number of offenders who were charged with a serious further offence while under the supervision of the probation and police services and managed at levels 2 and 3 of the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) in each of the last three years in (a) East of England and (b) Suffolk is set out in the following tables.

Offenders supervised at MAPPA levels 2 and 3 charged with a serious further offence, East of England

Number

2004-05

8

2005-06

2

2006-07

4

Offenders supervised at MAPPA levels 2 and 3 charged with a serious further offence, Suffolk

Number

2004-05

1

2005-06

0

2006-07

0

Sentencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will review the effectiveness of his sentencing policy. (160283)

The Government monitor closely the effectiveness of sentencing in reducing reoffending. A major review currently being conducted by Lord Carter is looking at sentencing policy as part of the wider examination of prison and probation services In England and Wales.

Transport

A303: Stonehenge

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to announce her decision on the A303(T) improvement scheme. (161076)

We are considering the findings of the inter-departmental review of the Stonehenge improvement scheme and alternative options together with the results of more recent traffic surveys and analysis carried out by the Highways Agency. We expect to announce our decision on the A303(T) improvement scheme later in 2007.

A38: Devon

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress her Department has made in ensuring that the alterations to the Deep Lane junction on the A38 in Devon will be carried out simultaneously with the development of a new town at Sherford. (160830)

The Highways Agency is currently negotiating with developers and local authorities to identify the most appropriate improvements for the Deep Lane junction, in order to accommodate the new community at Sherford along with other nearby developments. The Highways Agency has exercised its powers under Article 14 of the Town and Country Planning Act to instruct the local planning authority not to grant planning consent to the development until the applicant has provided additional information enabling the Highways Agency to assess fully the impact of the proposals on the A38 trunk road. The Highways Agency will continue working with all the relevant parties to ensure the improvement works are implemented in time to accommodate traffic generated by the new developments. The improvements have been identified as a priority for funding within the current regional funding allocation period.

Air Pollution: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures her Department is putting in place to achieve compliance with the European Union targets for reductions in nitrogen dioxide pollution by 2010; and if she will make a statement. (160388)

The Department for Transport (DFT) plays a key role in negotiating ever-tighter air quality standards for vehicles at EU level. The European Council recently voted for the latest set of Euro standards (Euro 5 and 6 for light duty vehicles), negotiated by DFT. Euro 6, due to come into force in 2015, will deliver a 68 per cent. reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel cars and vans, in comparison to the Euro 4 levels.

DFT requires local authorities to produce local transport plans (LTPs). Local authorities submitted their five-year LTPs in 2006, which cover all of England outside of London. In its guidance, DFT emphasised the importance of air quality by making it one of four shared priorities in the LTP.

The UK’s new Air Quality Strategy, published in July 2007, recommended that the Government further consider three new transport measures: incentives for the early uptake of new Euro standards; increased uptake of low emission vehicles; and reduced emissions from ships. Discussions have already begun across Government as to the possible implementation of these measures.

Aircraft: Air Conditioning

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment has she made of the health implications for aircraft passengers and crew of air quality in commercial aircraft; and if she will make a statement. (161279)

We commissioned the independent Committee on Toxicity (COT) to evaluate evidence submitted by the British Air Lines Pilots Association (BALPA) in relation to cabin air “fume events”. The COT received extensive information from oil companies, airlines, engine manufacturers, independent scientific experts and campaign groups. The COT also reviewed previous studies of cabin air. The COT reported on 20 September 2007. The report is published on COT's website at www.advisorvbodies.doh.gov.uk/cotnonfood/index.htm where there is a mass of material.

The committee considered that it was not possible to conclude whether cabin air exposures (either general or following incidents) cause ill-health in commercial aircraft crews. It recommended further work, in particular and as a priority, to ascertain whether substances in the cabin environment during fume events could potentially be harmful to health. COT considered that this work should be designed to detect any potentially harmful substances, rather than focus on named substances.

In keeping with its commitment to promoting healthy flying, the Department for Transport accepts this priority. We have recently been testing equipment which may be capable of capturing substances released during fume incidents. Subject to the results of this testing, the Department hopes to begin a study later this year or early next year.

Bus Services: Tickets

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she has taken to ensure that smartcard-based passes are issued and all buses have smartcard readers before the start of the English concessionary bus fares scheme. (159815)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: We have been providing regular guidance and support to Travel Concession Authorities (TCAs) to help them issue ITSO compliant smartcard passes. This includes issuing detailed bulletins and holding a series of regional seminars.

We have put in place a network of mentor authorities to provide additional advice and guidance to TCAs and have a dedicated and experienced team within the Department to provide support to TCAs and to monitor their progress.

We have put in place a framework agreement which TCAs can use to produce their smartcards, though they are free to other ITSO compliant smartcard producers if they wish. We have also put in place a number of other framework agreements offering related services, such as smartcard database management and the provision of equipment to allow TCAs to produce passes in house.

We are paying TCAs a grant of around £30 million this year which covers the cost of ordering passes under the framework agreement.

We are funding a new company, ITSO Services Ltd, to remove from TCAs most, if not all, of the financial and administrative burdens associated with becoming an ITSO member.

We have no plans to require smart readers to be installed on all buses in England. In areas where there are no smart readers, the passes will simply be shown to the bus drivers as they are now.

Departments: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistant devices bought for the use of departmental Ministers have been returned to the Department following each Cabinet reshuffle since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (156731)

Since May 2005, eight mobile phones and seven laptops issued to departmental Ministers for official use have been returned following reshuffles. Detailed information for previous years can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Driving Tests: Motorcycles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many motorcycle tests were carried out at each of the test centres in Scotland in each of the last 10 years. (160664)

Driving: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people held full UK driving licences in (a) Sandwell metropolitan borough council, (b) the West Midlands and (c) the UK in each year since 1997. (160120)

The following table shows the estimated number of people holding a full driving licence in (a) the West Midlands government office region and (b) Great Britain based on data from the National Travel Survey. It is not possible to produce estimates for Sandwell metropolitan borough council using data from this survey.

Full car driving licence holders, West Midlands government office region and Great Britain, 1996-98 to 20061

Estimated licence holders (million)

West Midlands

1996-98

2.7

1997-99

2.8

1998-2000

2.8

1999-2001

2.8

2002-03

2.9

2003-04

2.9

2004-05

2.9

2005-06

3.0

Great Britain

1996-98

30.7

1997-99

31.1

1998-2000

31.6

1999-2001

31.7

2002

31.9

2003

32.1

2004

32.2

2005

33.3

2006

33.7

1 Data for several years have been combined in some cases to increase the sample size.

London Gateway Port

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the impact of the London Gateway Port on twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity demand at other English ports; and if she will make a statement. (160220)

A detailed assessment of the impact of London Gateway on other ports by region was included in the Container Port Transhipment Study, prepared by the Department’s consultants MDS Transmodal and DTZ Pieda and published in May 2006.

Scenarios 2(b), 4(b) and 5(b) in this study considered the net effect of addition of London Gateway to other development scenarios. Depending on deep-sea development assumed elsewhere, the study estimated that it would reduce additional feeder-service quay length required elsewhere by 2030 by between 14 per cent. and 35 per cent. as well as abstracting deep-sea traffic from other ports.

London Gateway Port: Road Traffic

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the impact of the London Gateway Port on road congestion in Essex; and if she will make a statement. (160219)

An assessment of the impact of the London Gateway port on road congestion in Essex was made as part of the Government decision giving consent for the port. The then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron), was satisfied that the impact of additional road traffic in Essex resulting from the port would be adequately addressed by the proposed highway capacity improvements set out in undertakings given by the London Gateway port promoters to Essex county council.

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the date was of each meeting held by (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers since 27 June. (159787)

Ministers and officials have had a number of meetings with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (on an individual basis or as part of a wider group) since 27 June to discuss a range of issues.

River Thames: Bridges

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which stakeholders have been included in the discussion on a new Lower Thames Crossing; and if she will make a statement. (160230)

The first part of the study will include extensive consultation with both public and private sector stakeholders. In addition the study will have access to the comments made on capacity issues included in the response to the consultation on "Changes to Charges at the Dartford Crossing" carried out earlier this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the impact of a new Lower Thames Crossing on (a) access to and (b) congestion in Castle Point. (160231)

No detailed work has been carried out on the access and congestion implications of any specific option.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on commissioning a Lower Thames Crossing; and whether any locations have been ruled out. (160232)

Detailed work on the specification of the study has been completed in house and the project is now out to tender with consultants. No locations have been ruled out.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many hit-and-run accidents there were in the Peterborough constituency in each of the last five years; and how many accidents resulted in (a) injury and (b) death. (160216)

The information requested is given in the table:

Number of reported personal injury hit-and-run road accidents and the number that resulted in injuries and deaths in Peterborough constituency, 2002-06

Resulting in:

Accident year

Accidents

Injury1

Death

2002

91

90

1

2003

98

98

0

2004

87

87

0

2005

88

88

0

2006

74

74

0

1 Serious or slight.

Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average age is of rolling stock providing (a) inter-city services, (b) commuter services in London and the South East and (c) local regional rail services. (159813)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The information is not held in the form requested. Information on the age of rolling stock by operator is as follows:

Years

All operators

13.95

Long distance

16.40

London and SE

12.98

Regional operators

16.12

Shipping: Oil

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when she plans to bring forward secondary legislation to control ship to ship oil transfer in UK territorial waters; and if she will make a statement; (160752)

(2) when her Department plans to hold the consultation on the secondary legislation that will regulate ship to ship transfers within UK territorial waters.

The regulations which will regulate ship-to-ship transfers within the 12 nautical mile limit of the UK's territorial sea are still in draft. The Department now expects to put the draft regulations out for public consultation in early 2008, with a view to their coming into force later in that year.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 62W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, what the monetary value is of all items stolen. (158352)

The total estimated monetary value of thefts reported of both military supplies and private effects in transit to UK forces in Afghanistan from April 2006 to February 2007 is estimated at approximately £400,000.

Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received from Royal British Legion members on the military covenant. (160645)

The Secretary of State and I both received letters dated 12 September from Frances Done, then director general of the Royal British Legion, formally notifying the Ministry of Defence of the public launch of the ‘Honour the Covenant’ campaign on 13 September and setting out its principal concerns.

Since the launch of the campaign, Ministers have received in excess of 200 representations from members of the public concerning the Military Covenant. A majority of these have used the proforma generated by the Royal British Legion or state that they are writing on its behalf but we do not know the exact number of the correspondents who are members.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Service Families Accommodation properties were upgraded to Standard One in each financial year since 1997. (153387)

[holding answer 8 October 2007]: The number of Service Families Accommodation (SFA) properties upgraded to our highest ‘Standard One for Condition’ in each financial year since 1999 is:

Number

1999-2000

2,393

2000-01

2,700

2001-02

3,870

2002-03

1,440

2003-04

1,402

2004-05

2,610

2005-06

1,705

2006-07

1,215

Records pre-dating 1999 are incompatible and inconsistent with those now held due to changes in data collection and standards measured.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of service families accommodation (SFA) and single living accommodation (SLA) in the UK will be at standard (a) 1 and (b) 2 after his Department's planned programme of expenditure over the next 10 years; and by what date he expects all SFA and SLA to be at standard (i) 1 and (ii) 2. (160026)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The total number of service families accommodation (SFA) which will be retained in 10 years' time is dependent on wider rationalisation and disposal decisions yet to be taken. Under the housing prime contract, a survey is underway on SFA which will inform future upgrade plans. It would be premature to predict at this stage how many properties will be at a particular standard in 2017. The upgrading of properties is, however, proceeding and at present some 95 per cent. of SFA is at the top two standards for condition. This includes increasing the condition of properties at the top Standard from 40 per cent in 2001-02 to 59 per cent. now.

So far as single living accommodation (SLA) is concerned, the current programme extends to 2013 and by then we anticipate that 52 per cent. (70,000 bed-spaces) will be at the highest standard (Grade 1), with a further 14 per cent. (19,000 bed-spaces) at Grade 2.

Armed Forces: Lifelong Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) level of uptake and (b) cost was of the (i) standard learning credits scheme and (ii) enhanced learning credits scheme for (A) officers and (B) other ranks in each year since 1997. (158382)

The information is not held in the format requested in that records are not readily available by rank for either scheme, financial data about the Standard Learning Credits (SLC) Scheme is only kept to hand for the past five full financial years, and the first payments under the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) Scheme were only available from 1 April 2004. The full data requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

SLC Scheme

The total service uptake and expenditure of the SLC Scheme for the last five years is provided in the following table:

Financial year

Number of claims

Strength

Percentage take up

Total spent (£ million)

2002-03

24,888

181,700

13.7

3.035

2003-04

29,748

182,700

16.3

3.504

2004-05

28,020

184,500

15.1

3.475

2005-06

28,452

182,800

15.6

3.336

2006-07

26,629

178,300

14.9

2.800

ELC Scheme

Prior to 1 April 2004 a total of 177,534 personnel registered for the ELC Scheme.

Personnel only become eligible to claim ELC after accruing a minimum of four years service post their initial registration on the scheme. It would be misleading to express take-up as a percentage of registered personnel for such a demand-led scheme where, once eligible, personnel can make up to a maximum of three claims, no more than one per annum, at any time during their career or for up to 10 years after leaving the Service. The table below shows the number of additional registrations, the number of claims authorised and the value of those claims in the three financial years the scheme has been operating:

Financial year

Number of additional registrations

Number of claims authorised

Total spent (£ million)

2004-05

19,893

4,632

3.630

2005-06

14,962

6,125

5.044

2006-07

14,882

6,570

5.645

Armed Forces: Racial Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action the Government have taken to eradicate racism within the armed forces. (159059)

[holding answer 22 October 2007]: The Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force have done a great deal in recent years to promote racial equality and continue to work hard to develop an organisational culture that welcomes racial diversity and places the highest priority on tackling racism. The armed forces respect and value every individual's unique contribution regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, social background or sexual orientation. The goal is to create a working environment free from harassment and unlawful discrimination, in which all have equal opportunity to realise their full potential. From 1997 to 2006, the armed forces worked in formal partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality to improve racial equality.

The MOD published a race equality scheme (RES) in 2003 and subsequent reports about the scheme detail the range of measures that the armed forces have undertaken to improve racial equality. The RES was superseded in June 2006 by the Department's overarching equality and diversity scheme. The armed forces achievements in promoting racial equality were recognised when all three services finished in the top 10 in Business in the Community's annual Race for Opportunity annual benchmarking report for 2006.

Armed Forces: Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what weapons and ammunition for which (a) his Department and (b) the armed forces have responsibility have gone missing in the last two years. (155734)

In answering this question the term ‘weapons’ is taken to be firearms and ‘missing’ is taken to include lost and stolen. Separate records are not maintained for other weapons and such information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The number of firearms lost or stolen in the period 1 January 2005 until 1 October 2007 is 64. The breakdown is as follows:

Stolen

Recovered

Automatic weapon

2005

1

0

2006

0

0

2007

0

0

Total

1

0

Heavy arms (mortar etc.)

2005

0

0

2006

1

1

2007

0

0

Total

1

1

Other weapon

2005

13

0

2006

1

1

2007

1

1

Total

15

2

Pistol

2005

5

2

2006

8

2

2007

5

1

Total

18

5

Rifle (mil)

2005

9

2

2006

12

0

2007

4

1

Total

25

3

Shotgun

2005

0

0

2006

0

0

2007

2

0

Total

2

0

Rifle

2005

0

0

2006

2

0

2007

0

0

Total

2

0

Grand total

64

11

Thefts of weapons are investigated by the Service Police, Ministry of Defence Police or the Home Department Police, either jointly or independently.

The MOD holds numerous types of ammunition. Although the loss and theft is recorded, the information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the total number of each type of armoured vehicle was cannibalised in each of the last 12 months. (157041)

The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Army: Operating Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much it costs to run an infantry battalion (light role) for one year. (157966)

This information is not held in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Expenditure is spread over a variety of budgets and will vary according to the composition of the infantry battalion, the tasks in which it is engaged and where it is deployed.

Army: Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hours were worked per week on average by regular trained junior ranks in the Army in 2005-06; and whether time on annual leave was included in the calculations for the figures given on 16 June 2006, Official Report, column 1520W, on army personnel (working hours). (160249)

The Defence Analytical Service Agency (DASA) carry out a continuous sample survey of working patterns providing estimates of the average working hours per person, per week, for each service.

The results of the 2005-06 survey gave an estimate of an average of 45.2 "hours worked" per week for all regular trained junior ranks in the Army.

“Hours worked” includes time spent carrying out normal work, secondary duties, compulsory fitness training, organised sports and representational activities, but excludes annual leave, meal and tea breaks and time spent on call.

A copy of the 2005-06 Continuous Working Patterns report is available in the Library of the House.

Defence Estates: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much Defence Estate North has charged in liability charges for charity events held on his Department’s property since April 2005. (158373)

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

Departments: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the contracts his Department signed on a consultancy basis with a net value of more than £20,000 in 2006. (159316)

[holding answer 18 October 2007]: The information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, I have placed in the Library of the House, the MOD’s expenditure on Management and Business Consultancy, Finance and Accountancy Consultancy, Corporate Governance and Audit Consultancy, and Public/Private Partnership and Private Finance Initiative Consultancy contracts signed in financial year 2006-07 that have passed through a centralised approval process. The figures do not contain spend by the MOD’s Trading Funds or Agencies or on other types of consultancy.

Summaries of the MOD’s expenditure on External Assistance have been placed in the Library of the House on an annual basis since 1995-96. Furthermore, information on organisations, including consultancy firms, paid £5 million or more by the Department in each financial year is published in the UK Defence Statistics. Copies are also available in the House Library.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. (158936)

The number and percentage of employees in the Department and each Executive agency as at 1 September 2007 are shown in the following table.

All staff above retirement age (SRA)

Number

Percentage

Ministry of Defence (Less Agencies)

1,390

2.5

Defence Analytical Services Agency

1

2.2

Defence Medical and Education Training Agency

25

1

Defence Storage and Distribution Agency

70

1.8

Defence Vetting Agency

10

2.6

Ministry of Defence Police

55

0.7

Pay and Personnel Agency

25

2.0

Service Children’s Education

5

0.6

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

45

4.0

Trading Fund Personnel

95

1.0

Ministry of Defence Total

1,730

2.1

1 Less than 5.

Source:

DASA (Quad Service).

Data for non-departmental public bodies funded by the Department is not held centrally.

Meteorology: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of how many meteorologists work in the UK. (157208)

[holding answer 24 October 2007]: At the current time, the Met Office has some 400 forecasting and observing staff working directly in weather forecast production in the UK. The Met Office also has a small number of forecasters and observers working in overseas locations. In addition there are some 300 scientists working in meteorological research and development. There are also a number of staff working in management and support roles who have a meteorological background.

The Royal Navy currently has 136 HM (hydrographic, meteorological, oceanographic) officers and 13 warrant officers and chief petty officers who have received some form of training as meteorological forecasters. Only a proportion of these will be directly employed on forecasting duties at any one time. In addition to the trained forecasters, the RN has around 70 junior and senior rates trained as meteorological observers/forecasters’ assistants, most of whom will be employed on forecasting duties at any one time.

In addition to those working at the Met Office and in the Royal Navy, the Royal Meteorological Society estimates there are approximately 550 meteorologists working in academia and industry throughout the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of meteorologists likely to be needed in the UK in (a) 2010, (b) 2020 and (c) 2030; and if he will make a statement. (157209)

[holding answer 24 October 2007]: On current plans the requirement for meteorologists both at the Met Office and in the Royal Navy is likely to remain broadly constant in the future although the requirement is kept under regular review.

I am unable to comment on the future requirement for meteorologists working outside of MOD.

Nuclear Weapons: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what categories of records of human exposure to radiation during (a) British nuclear warhead tests and (b) plutonium dispersal tests at Maralinga are held by the Health Protection Agency. (160506)

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) hold an epidemiological database which is used for the ongoing follow-up study of the UK participants in the UK Atmospheric nuclear weapons tests and experimental programmes at Maralinga, conducted between 1952 and 1964.

The HPA epidemiological database includes details of individuals recorded as having been issued with film badges as well as recorded details of any external doses that had been incurred above the threshold of detection.

In addition to the information on the database, HPA has carried out post mortem radiochemical analyses on tissues from four nuclear weapons tests participants, at the request of either a coroner or relatives of the individual. The results of these analyses have been passed to the relevant individuals and are not in the public domain and are not part of the epidemiological database.

Royal Irish Regiment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many full-time Royal Irish home service corporals and section commanders were on short service type S engagement contracts on (a) 1 July 2000, (b) 1 July 2002 and (c) 1 July 2006. (160483)

This information is not readily available in the format requested. I will write to the right hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Service Children's Education: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what proportion of 11-year-olds in schools operated by Service Children's Education achieved level 4 in (a) English, (b) mathematics, (c) science, (d) reading, (e) writing, (f) reading and writing and (g) reading, writing and mathematics in each year since 1997. (156042)

The information for 2005 and 2006 is shown in the table:

SCE Key Stage 2 Student Performance—Level 4

2005

2006

Subject

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

English

700

83

611

82

Mathematics

634

75

598

79

Science

749

89

696

92

Reading

740

87

648

87

Writing

550

65

495

67

Reading and Writing

543

64

485

65

Reading, Writing and Mathematics

488

58

450

60

Academic results for 2007 await formal validation. They will be published in the Service Children’s Education Annual Report and Accounts, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House in due course.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 2 February 2006, Official Report, columns 708-709W, by the then Under Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for gave answers for the years from 1997 to 2004.

Unidentified Flying Objects

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 27 June 2007, Official Report, column 801W, on unidentified flying objects, for what reasons his Secretariat (Air Staff)/Defence Secretariat were not sent a copy of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Report. (160948)

Northern Ireland

Departments: Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what departmental budget items have been reclassified, under consolidated budgeting guidance, following Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 decisions; and what the (a) former and (b) new (i) classification and (ii) sum budgeted is in each case. (160408)

None of the Northern Ireland Office’s budgets, including its Agencies and NDPBs, have been reclassified following the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

Departments: Citizens’ Juries

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) 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; (159494)

(2) 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.

To date the Northern Ireland Office has not consulted citizens’ juries on departmental policies.

We do, however, provide an opportunity for stakeholders and the wider public to contribute to NIO policies and legislation including, where appropriate, focus groups and public meetings. Consultations are carried out in accordance with the Cabinet Office code of practice on written consultation and the consultation period will normally last for a minimum of 12 weeks. The Northern Ireland Office website www.nio.gov.uk provides a library of consultations and, where available, the summary of responses and associated revision to the policy or legislation.

Departments: Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what dates his Department breached its (a) resource, (b) near-cash, (c) administration and (d) capital budgets since 2001; what the total value of each breach was; and what the reason was for each breach. (160319)

Since 2001 the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Department has not had any breaches of its (a) resource budget, (b) Near-cash budget, (c) administration budget and (d) capital budget.

However, in 2001-02 the Department did have an excess vote relating to the funding of the grant to the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund, which is a stand-alone RfR (request for resources) within the Department’s supply estimates. The excess against the RfR was £285.2 million which in turn lead to an excess of £148.7 million over the total voted net cash requirement for the Department.

The reason for the breach was due to a breakdown in communication between the Department of Finance and Personnel, the NIO and HM Treasury during the spring supplementary estimates of that year.

Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what basis the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland claims lawful possession of a witness statement made to the Police Service of Northern Ireland by one of her employees; and if he will make a statement. (160482)

The Police Ombudsman has advised that any information received by her in the conduct of her duties and responsibilities is in compliance with powers conferred on her as Police Ombudsman.

Prime Minister

Armed Forces

To ask the Prime Minister how many times he has met the (a) Chief of the Defence Staff, (b) First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, (c) Chief of the General Staff and (d) Chief of the Air Staff in the last 12 months. (159923)

I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects.

Committee on Standards in Public Life

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 958W, on the Committee on Standards in Public Life, why he did not provide reasons why Sir Alistair Graham was not invited to serve a second term. (160976)

I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 958W.

Departmental Responsibilities: Offshore Industry

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 959W, on departmental responsibilities: offshore industry, for what reasons he decided to allocate responsibilities for offshore oil, gas and energy consents to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; and if he will make a statement. (160422)

I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 959W.

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 959W, on departmental responsibilities: offshore industry, what representations he received on the allocation of responsibilities for offshore oil, gas and energy consents; and if he will make a statement. (160423)

Since 27 June, my office has received approximately 200 representations on energy-related matters. Given the volume of correspondence I receive—thousands of letters each week covering a broad spectrum of issues—my office records letters by subject rather than by the view expressed.

Departments: Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 10 October 2007, Official Report, column 680W, on Departments: ministerial policy advisers, whether his adviser on political press issues has a written job description. (160288)

I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 10 October 2007, Official Report, column 680W.

Departments: Written Questions

To ask the Prime Minister how many and what percentage of questions tabled to his Office for answer on a named day received a substantive reply on the day named in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (161340)

In the period from September 2006 to September 2007, 103 named day parliamentary questions were tabled to my office, all of which received a substantive answer on the day named.

EU Reform: Treaties

To ask the Prime Minister what the evidential basis was for his statement of 22 October 2007, Official Report, columns 19-38, on the EU Inter-Governmental Conference-Lisbon, relating to the views of the hon. Member for Stone. (160815)

I refer the hon. Member to statements by the organisation ‘Conservatives Against a Federal Europe’, signed up to by the hon. Member in his former role as a vice-president of that organisation.

General Elections: Petitions

To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) hits and (b) signatures were received on the e-petition on holding a general election in 2007 on the Downing street website before 12 noon on 10 October 2007; and how many there have been since that time and date. (160277)

Information on the number of signatures is available on the e-petitions website:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Prime Minister where and when he raised the concerns of Sir Mike Jackson on US policy in Iraq with his US counterpart; and if he will publish the minutes of the meeting. (160175)

Official Hospitality: Prime Minister’s Office

To ask the Prime Minister what the (a) purpose and (b) cost was of each reception held in No. 10 Downing street since 1 August. (160050)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) on 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1135W.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departments: Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether each of his Department’s special advisers have declared conflicts of interest. (160280)

My special advisers are appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers.

Departments: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of his Department’s public service agreement targets (a) take and (b) do not take account of rural proofing. (159639)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has one public service agreement (PSA) target: to deliver a successful Olympic games and Paralympic games with a sustainable legacy and get more children and young people taking part in high quality PE and sport.

The PSA will be measured through five indicators. Indicators 1-3 do not require rural proofing as they relate specifically to the construction and design of the Olympic Park and Olympic venues and regeneration of East London. DCMS will ensure that the impact on rural communities is considered in relation to indicator 4—the delivery of public participation in cultural, sporting and community activities related to the 2012 games across the UK. In relation to indicator 5—creation of a world-class system for physical education (PE) and sport—DCMS is monitoring jointly with DCSF participation in PE and sport in all maintained schools, including those in rural communities. We will use this data to assess the impact in both rural and urban areas.

Solicitor-General

Inside Justice Week

24. To ask the Solicitor-General what role the Law Officers’ Departments are taking in Inside Justice Week. (160593)

Street Prostitutes

25. To ask the Solicitor-General what the policy is of the Crown Prosecution Service on the prosecution of street prostitutes. (160594)

The CPS policy is to consider alternatives to prosecution in the courts to help prostitutes find a route out of prostitution. In many areas of the country, the CPS and the local police have developed strategies that focus on rehabilitation.

Fireworks

26. To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions for criminal offences relating to fireworks have been pursued in (a) Northamptonshire and (b) England by the Crown Prosecution Service in the last 12 months. (160595)

It is not possible to provide a definitive response to this question from the records held by the CPS.

Information on prosecutions for offences against the person and for criminal damage is held at aggregate level, and it is not possible to identify separately any cases falling into these categories in which the offence involved a firework.

Offences under the Fireworks Regulations 2004 are within the scope of the Penalty Notice for Disorder Scheme, and are not prosecuted by the CPS unless the penalty notice is challenged.

Attorney-General

27. To ask the Solicitor-General what recent representations her Office has received on the future role of the Attorney-General; and if she will make a statement. (160596)

We have received a number of representations in response to the consultation document on the role of the Attorney-General. The consultation period runs until 30 November. The Attorney-General and I will be holding a seminar on 8 November to discuss the issues raised by the consultation, to which all interested hon. Members of both Houses are invited.

Duchy of Lancaster