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Written Answers

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Scotland

Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the Scotland Office submitted its views on the de-coupling of the Scottish local government elections and the Scottish Parliament elections to the Scottish Executive. (163960)

The decision to decouple the Scottish local government elections from the Scottish Parliament elections is a matter for the Scottish Executive. In his statement to the House on 23 October, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland indicated he would welcome such a decision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations the Scotland Office made to the then Department for Constitutional Affairs on the timetable for the enactment of the Electoral Administration Act 2006. (163961)

The Electoral Administration Bill received Royal Assent on 11 July 2006, almost 10 months before the Scottish elections in May 2007. As a member of the ministerial team taking the Bill through, I was fully aware of the timetable for enactment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the legislation sub-group of his Department's 2007 elections steering group was consulted on the proposed ballot paper for the Scottish Parliament elections. (163962)

Neither the 2007 elections steering group nor its legislation sub-group were established by the Scotland Office. The elections steering group was chaired by the Scottish Executive. The steering group's legislation sub-group was chaired by the Scottish Executive when the local government legislation was under discussion and the Scotland Office when the Scottish Parliament legislation was under discussion. The sub-group was consulted directly on the proposed ballot paper for the Scottish Parliament election at a meeting of the sub-group on 10 August 2006.

International Development

Afghanistan: Driving

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many drivers his Department employs in Afghanistan. (162716)

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department's personnel are in each province of Iraq; what their role is in each province; and if he will make a statement. (162520)

DFID currently has four permanent staff in Baghdad and one in Basra. DFID Baghdad comprises the Head of Office, a Deputy Head, a Programme Officer and an Office Manager. In Basra, the DFID staff member is integrated into the Consulate.

DFID's role in Iraq is to support the government in unlocking its own human and financial resources. To this end, staff in Baghdad oversee three main programmes: economic reform, developing the machinery of government and donor co-ordination of humanitarian relief efforts. The DFID representative in Basra oversees DFID's power and water projects, and economic and governance work through the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Developing Countries: Debts

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of heavily indebted countries at risk from vulture funds’ actions; and if he will make a statement. (162388)

World Bank and International Monetary Fund staff conducted a survey on this issue in May 2007. It identified 11 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) that had been targeted with lawsuits by a total of 46 litigating creditors. In addition, two countries reported being threatened by litigation.

Eight new legal actions were reported since the previous survey in 2006, of which five are against Nicaragua, two against Cameroon, and one against Ethiopia. The HIPCs facing the most litigation cases are Nicaragua, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Uganda, with nine, eight, seven, and six lawsuits respectively.

This information is included in the latest annual joint World Bank/International Monetary Fund status of implementation report on the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The report is available on the World Bank website.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on ensuring that highly indebted poor countries have access to the legal assistance they need to defend themselves against litigation from vulture funds, with particular reference to the proposals at the African Development Bank to develop a legal assistance facility to help countries facing legal action gain access to technical and legal support; and if he will make a statement. (162389)

The UK welcomes the consideration being given by the African Development Bank to develop a legal assistance facility to help countries facing creditor litigation. The bank has recently conducted a feasibility study on the establishment of such a facility. We will continue to influence and support the bank in this endeavour and to seek support from other donors for this initiative.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to protect developing countries from the effects of the activities of vulture funds. (162492)

We are working to address this problem in two ways—by seeking to prevent debts being sold to vulture funds in the first place and by limiting the damage done by cases already under way. To reduce the risk of debts falling into the hands of vulture funds, we are working with the World Bank to help poor countries buy back their commercial debts at a discount through the Debt Reduction Facility. The debts are then dealt with and cannot be taken through a court. More than $8 billion (approx. £4 billion) of debts have already been cancelled in this way. We are also working with heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) to strengthen their debt management capacity and overall governance.

In cases where poor countries’ debts are already in the hands of vulture funds, we are working with the African Development Bank and others to ensure that countries have access to legal advice to help them fight these cases. The strong defence that the Government of Zambia mounted recently, for example, reduced its liability by around $40 million (approx. £20 million). It was the first defence case of this kind that has been even partially successful.

The UK will also continue to raise this issue internationally. At the recent annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, G7 Finance Ministers agreed to examine whether additional steps can be taken to address this problem.

Guatemala: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department has given to non-governmental organisation offices working with street children in Guatemala in the last 12 months. (162603)

DFID has given no funding to non-governmental organisations' offices working with street children in Guatemala in the last 12 months.

Iraq: Security Guards

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much his Department spent on private contractors providing protection services in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each year since 2003; (162518)

(2) what private contractors have provided protection services for his Department in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each year since 2003.

DFID engages private security companies for security of our staff in high threat environments. ArmorGroup, Control Risks Group (CRG), and Kroll have provided mobile security for DFID staff, consultants and static guarding for our compounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since June 2004, DFID's security needs in Iraq have been met by contracts managed and administered by the FCO. The following costs have been incurred by DFID:

Cost to DFID (£ million)

2003-04

15.0

2004-05

14.2

2005-06

12.9

2006-07

6.1

2007-08

2

Total

38.2

1 DFID contract. 2 Not yet available.

The Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) Iraq Strategy also has significant programme spend on Police/Prison reform—elements of police capacity building programme contracted to ArmorGroup who utilise both CRG and military (escorts) to provide security for their personnel.

In Afghanistan, DFID has awarded a number of contracts to ArmorGroup for armed protection of the main DFID office and residential compounds. These contracts also provide close protection (armed bodyguards) to staff when travelling to locations in Afghanistan deemed medium/high risk, and defensive driving training to our locally employed drivers. The value of these contracts from June 2004 to December 2006 was £3,217,691. Since January 2007, DFID's security needs have been met through a contract issued by the FCO, and the total DFID contribution to this contract this financial year was £949,567 by June 2007.

Jamaica: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's aid programme for Jamaica was in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (162231)

Information on UK aid to Jamaica is available in the DFID publication ‘Statistics on International Development 2007’. This publication is available online at:

www.dfid.gov.uk.

In 2006-07 DFID gave £5.8 million in bilateral aid to Jamaica. The imputed UK share of multilateral official development assistance (ODA) to Jamaica in 2005 was £1.4 million.

Home Department

Alcohol: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were prosecuted for selling alcohol to minors in (a) Hertfordshire and (b) Dacorum in each of the last five years. (163417)

The information requested on persons proceeded against for selling alcohol to persons under 18 years in each of the last five years in Hertfordshire is provided in the attached table. Information on prosecutions in Dacorum is not available as the data is not held at that level of detail.

In addition to court proceedings, the offence of sale of alcohol to a person under 18 can attract a penalty notice for disorder (PND). The offence was added to the PND scheme on 1 November 2004. No PNDs were issued in Hertfordshire in November and December 2004 and three were issued in 2005. Data for 2006 will be available in November 2007.

The results of the national Tackling Underage Sales Enforcement Campaign (TUSAC), during which 2,683 premises were targeted by police and trading standards officers during a 10-week campaign between 4 May and 13 July 2007, show that in nearly 9,000 test purchase operations children were only able to obtain alcohol in 14.7 per cent. of cases.

In 2004, the overall test purchase failure rate was 50 per cent. In 2006, it had dropped to 20 per cent. In this latest and more targeted campaign it now stands at 15 per cent. overall.

Whereas earlier enforcement campaigns were conducted on a random sample of premises, good and bad, this campaign targeted premises known to problematic. A further reduction in the failure rate is therefore particularly encouraging.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for selling alcohol to underage customers, Hertfordshire police force area 2001-051,2,3

Proceeded against

Found guilty

2001

2002

1

2003

1

2004

8

6

2005

3

1

1 These data are provided on the principal offence basis.

2 Covers the offences: Selling etc. intoxicating liquor to person under 18 for consumption on the premises under the Licensing Act 1964 s. 169 A and B as added by Licensing (Young Persons) Act 2000 s.1, Wholesaler selling intoxicating liquor to a person under 18 under the Licensing Act 1964 s.181 A(1) as added by Licensing Act 1988 s.17, Sale of alcohol to a person under 18 under the Licensing Act 2003 s. 146 and Allowing Sale of alcohol to a person under 18 under the Licensing Act 2003 s. 147. Sections 146 and 147 of the 2003 Licensing Act only came into effect from 24 November 2005, so data prior to 2005 are not available.

3 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police forces and courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

RDS—Court proceedings database—Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Ministry of Justice

Anti-Terrorism Control Orders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how frequently control orders are subject to review; and what form such review takes. (162207)

Each non-derogating control order is valid for 12 months and will be automatically subject to a judicial review before the High Court.

The controlled person may also appeal a dispute relating to any modification of the control order with any such appeal also being heard at the High Court.

In addition, the Home Office has established a review group, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular (quarterly), formal and audited review.

Lord Carlile, the Independent Reviewer of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, reviews the operation of the Act on an annual basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of control orders. (162209)

The Home Office keeps the effectiveness of control orders under review. We continue to assess that control orders are an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many control orders are active. (162211)

I would refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement published on 17 September 2007, Official Report, columns 126-28WS.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals currently subjected to control orders have previous convictions for terrorism-related offences. (162212)

None of the individuals currently subject to control orders have previous convictions for terrorism-related offences.

One individual has been convicted of breaching his control order and sentenced to five months' imprisonment.

Crime: Victims

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people aged 65 years and over in (a) the East of England and (b) Suffolk have been victims of crime in each of the last five years. (162590)

The information requested is not available centrally. Details of the age of victims of crime are not available from the recorded crime statistics. The British Crime Survey collects details of the victim's age and can look at victimisation of those aged 65 and over at a national level. However, this data cannot be reliably broken down at either regional or police force area level.

Crimes of Violence: Retail Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the incidence of physical violence against retailers in the last 12 months; what representations she has received on the subject; and what steps she intends to take to reduce the levels of physical violence against retailers. (162075)

Figures on physical violence against retailers are not available from the recorded crime series as no details of the victim’s employment are recorded.

We are aware of the concerns of retailers and retail organisations about threats and actual violence against shop staff and we are fully committed to working with them, both through the National Retail Crime Steering Group and through other means, to address these concerns.

We also support Usdaw’s ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign and the Union has been invited to nominate a representative to attend future meetings of the National Retail Crime Steering Group.

Handguns: Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she has received reports of illegal guns arriving in mainland Great Britain through the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement. (163010)

Advice from HM Revenue and Customs is that there is little or no current intelligence to suggest that prohibited firearms are being brought into mainland Britain from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Motor Vehicles: Glass

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance is made available to police forces in England and Wales on enforcement of the visual light transmission standard imposed by Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. (161905)

Enforcement of Regulation 32 is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police and for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. No central guidance has been issued and information is not collected centrally on how much forces spend on equipment to test compliance.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money was spent by police forces in England and Wales on equipment capable of measuring compliance with the visual light transmission standard imposed by Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 in each of the last five years. (161947)

Enforcement of Regulation 32 is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police and for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. No central guidance has been issued and information is not collected centrally on how much forces spend on equipment to test compliance.

Offensive Weapons: Milton Keynes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of knife crime were reported in Milton Keynes in each year between 1997 and 2007. (162749)

The requested information is not yet available. Data on knife-enabled grievous bodily harm and robbery offences have been collected centrally since April 2007. Figures for 2007-08 will be published in July 2008 in the next annual ‘Crime in England and Wales’ volume. It will, however, be possible to provide breakdowns only at police force area level.

Police: Doctors

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was to each police authority in England and Wales of employing healthcare professionals at custody suites in each of the last five years. (162089)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: The allocation of resources within each force area is a matter for the Chief Officer and the Police Authority.

Police: Tourists

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what information her Department uses to estimate the number of tourists visiting police authority areas in England and Wales; (162092)

(2) what adjustments are made to the police formula grant in England and Wales to take account of the numbers of tourists visiting individual police authority areas. (162093)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: A new funding formula for allocating police general grant was introduced in 2006-07. During the discussions on the new formula, in which representatives from ACPO and the APA and the wider policing community were involved, it was concluded that no reliable indicator of tourism exists.

A full consultation on options for change took place in the summer of 2005-06 where all representations were fully taken into account.

Security Guards: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the fee is for applying for a Security Industry Authority licence for security guarding; and what the fee was in each of the last two years. (162579)

Since 6 April 2007, the fee for applying for a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence has been set at £245 for two years, subject to review.

Before this date, the SIA licence application fee was £190.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the impact of the licensing regime on the UK security industry, with particular reference to the costs of and delays in issuing licences. (162801)

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) published research in July 2007 on the impact of licensing on security guards and door supervisors. This is available on the SIA website at:

http://www.the-sia.org.uk/home/about_sia/publications_research.htm.

Stop and Search

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times the power to authorise stop and search for offensive weapons within a specified area for the period of 24 hours under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was used by a senior police officer in each year since the Act came into force. (163714)

Available information on stops and searches of persons or vehicles under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 from 1995 to 2005-06 can be found in the following table.

Searches of persons or vehicles under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and resultant arrests England and Wales

Number

Stops and searches in anticipation of violence

Total searches

Number of persons found to be carrying offensive weapons or dangerous instruments

Arrests for offensive weapons

Arrests for other reasons

1995 (from 10 April)

2,380

205

58

109

1996

7,020

187

132

371

1996-97

7,970

177

129

392

1997-98

7,970

377

103

332

1998-991

5,500

213

91

84

1999-00

6,840

59

36

195

2000-01

11,330

357

309

411

2001-02

18,900

1,367

203

485

2002-032

44,400

1,568

356

2,142

2003-043

40,400

557

299

1,248

2004-054

41,600

286

256

958

2005-06

36,300

542

192

1,522

1 Figures updated since publication of the 1998-99 Bulletin.

2 Figures updated since publication of the 2002-03 Bulletin.

3 Figures updated since publication of the 2003-04 Bulletin.

4 Figures updated since publication of the 200-05 Bulletin.

Terrorism: Detainees

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the people detained without charge on suspicion of terrorist offences since July 2006 were released (a) before 10 days, (b) between 11 and 20 days, (c) between 21 and 26 days, (d) on the 27th day and (e) on the 28th day. (164010)

The 14 day detention period came into effect on 20 January 2004 and the maximum period of detention pre-charge was extended to 28 days with effect from 25 July 2006. The following table, compiled from police records, provides details, to date, of the numbers of individuals charged or released and held from between 14 to 15 days and through to 27 to 28 days. We do not collate statistics for the timescales requested.

Period of detention

Number of persons held

Charged

Released without charge

14 to 15 days

1

1

18 to 19 days

1

1

19 to 20 days

3

3

27 to 28 days

6

3

3

Wales

Departmental Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what contracts his Department has with external consultants; what the total value, including all VAT and disbursements, of these contracts are for the current financial year; how long each contract lasts; and what the forecast total value is of each contract. (163808)

In the current financial year my Department entered into a short-term consultancy contract which started on 11 April and ended on 10 May 2007 at a total cost of £4,700.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales at which functions his Department incurred expenditure on hospitality in 2006-07; and how much expenditure was incurred at each function. (162813)

During 2006-07 the Wales Office spent £12,265.41 on hospitality for the following events:

Event

Cost (£)

July 2006

Wales Office Reception for Government of Wales Act 2006 London

3,309.04

December 2006

Wales Office shared reception with Northern Ireland Office

3,524.12

March 2007

Wales Office St. David’s Day Reception

3,239.11

March 2007

Wales Office Slavery Abolition Reception

2,193.14

Whistleblowers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many reports have been made to his Department’s nominated officers under paragraph 16 of the revised Civil Service Code since its publication on 6 June 2006. (162477)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported to his Department by departmental staff since 6 June 2006. (162478)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when his Department’s whistleblowing procedures were reviewed to reflect the provisions in the revised Civil Service Code. (162479)

Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what in-year changes were made to the Barnett formula as it applies to Wales in each year since 2000. (164000)

The Barnett formula remains unchanged. Revised editions of the Treasury publication “Funding the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly—a Statement of Funding Policy” were published in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2007. These contain full details of the Barnett formula including changes to the population factors and the comparability factors.

In addition, the population factors are revised on an annual basis to take account of the updated mid-year estimates of population published by the Office for National Statistics.

House of Commons Commission

Departmental Property

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost to the public purse was of providing a square metre of office space on the parliamentary estate in 2006-07. (162487)

The average resource cost of a square metre of space on the parliamentary estate in 2006-07 was £651. This is a high-level figure covering the whole of the estate, including unusable spaces. Detailed cost figures for office space only are not readily available. A costing system is under development to provide detailed unit cost information by the end of 2007-08.

Palace of Westminster: Parking

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission (1) if the Commission will consider introducing a scheme to enable hon. Members to book disabled parking bays for their guests; (162619)

(2) what enforcement procedures are in place to ensure that parking bays designated for people with disabilities in the Palace of Westminster are used by blue badge holders only;

(3) what recent assessment the Commission has made of the adequacy of parking arrangements for disabled visitors to the Palace of Westminster.

Parking spaces for Members and staff with disabilities or mobility problems are provided in Star Chamber Court. If space is available and advance notice is given, the Serjeant at Arms office will endeavour to accommodate Members’ guests although this cannot be guaranteed. Priority is given to Blue Badge holders driving the vehicle. Able-bodied drivers are normally given permission to drop off a passenger and park elsewhere. Occasionally it is possible to arrange for parking in the House of Lords for such visitors.

Permission to park in designated bays is occasionally given to Members or staff who have temporary disabilities such as a broken limb or following major surgery so the bays are not limited to Blue Badge holders only.

The provision of parking facilities for people with disabilities is kept under review and the Serjeant at Arms office records details of permissions given to ensure that the limited spaces are not overbooked.

Electoral Commission Committee

Constituencies: Parliament

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what calculations the Commission has made of the number of parliamentary constituencies there would be in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland if all constituencies had equal numbers of voters. (163633)

The Electoral Commission has no statutory responsibilities in relation to parliamentary constituency boundaries, and informs me that it has made no such calculations.

Transport

Aircraft: Air Conditioning

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many incidents of (a) carbon monoxide and (b) organophosphates poisoning were reported on (i) Flybe 146 flights, (ii) 146 aircraft, (iii) Boeing 757 flights and (iv) other flights in the last year for which figures are available. (163162)

The CAA's mandatory occurrence reporting scheme (MORS) database contains reports of contaminated air events submitted by UK operators. The nature of any potential contaminant is not recorded on the database. In accordance with its regulatory practice, the CAA's data analysis does not identify the operators or aircraft registrations and has been aggregated to include all UK operators.

The last full year for which figures are available is 2006. In that year there were 109 contaminated air events. These figures break down by aircraft type as follows:

Aircraft type

Number of contaminated air events

Boeing 757

43

BAe146

17

Airbus A319

10

Embraer EMB 145

9

Airbus A320

7

Boeing 737

5

Various other aircraft

18

Total

109

Aviation: Fireworks

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many passenger aircraft have reported instances of near misses with fireworks in the last 10 years; and at what altitude each of the aircraft was when the near miss took place; (162766)

(2) how many passenger aircraft have been struck by fireworks in the last 10 years; at what altitude each aircraft was struck; and what damage was sustained.

Over the last 10 years, there have been 33 reports of fireworks in the vicinity of passenger aircraft within UK airspace, and six reports of passenger aircraft struck by fireworks in UK airspace.

The reported altitude and aircraft damage (if applicable) for each event is summarised in the following tables by year. Where the altitude of the aircraft was not reported, the data is recorded as “unknown”.

Fireworks reported in vicinity of passenger aircraft

Number

Height (feet)

1998

1

7,300

1999

2

8,000, 300

2000

1

500

2001

3

600, 400, 400

2002

6

Unknown, 300, 400, 150, 300, 300

2003

6

200, 1,200, 350, 400, 450, 350

2004

2

150, 400

2005

6

800, 150, unknown, 600, 450, 250

2006

4

700, 200, 3,000, 0

2007

2

150, 700

Total

33

Passenger aircraft struck by fireworks

Number

Height (feet)

Damage to aircraft

1998

0

n/a

n/a

1999

0

n/a

n/a

2000

1

100

No

2001

0

n/a

n/a

2002

1

800

No

2003

2

560, 250

No

2004

1

Unknown

No

2005

0

n/a

n/a

2006

0

n/a

n/a

2007

1

300

Scorched paint

Total

6

Aviation: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of the Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England study published by her Department on 2 November 2007; and how much was spent on fees to MVA consultants. (162080)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: The current cost of the Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England (ANASE) project is £1,458,711.1. Of which, £1,401,517.60 represents fees to MVA consultants.

British Transport Police: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total serving strength of the British Transport Police is; and how many officers work primarily in (a) airports and (b) international railway stations. (163136)

As at 31 March 2007 the British Transport Police comprised 2,818 serving officers, 252 Community Support Officers and 1,121 support staff.

The British Transport Police do not police the airports.

The other information requested is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail: general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk

Departmental Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what departmental assets are planned to be sold in each financial year from 2007-08 to 2010-11; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each asset is; what the expected revenue from each sale is; and if she will make a statement. (164157)

The requested information, where not commercially sensitive, has been placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Welsh speakers her Department employs. (162899)

Invalid Vehicles: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic accidents involving mobility scooters were recorded in each of the last three years records for which information is available. (163108)

Mobility scooters involved in personal injury road accidents reported to the police are recorded under the other motor vehicle category and cannot be identified as a distinct group of vehicles.

Level Crossings: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many deaths there were at (a) unmanned and (b) manned railway crossings in each of the last five years. (163592)

The information is contained in the following table:

Fatalities at (a) unmanned and (b) manned crossings from 2002-061

(a) Unmanned crossings

(b) Manned crossings

Total

2002

13

1

14

2003

15

1

16

2004

15

2

17

2005

13

1

14

2006

8

0

8

Total

64

5

69

1 These data are based on accident notifications sent by railway companies to the Office of Rail Regulation’s HM Railway Inspectorate, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 1995.

Fatalities caused by trespass and confirmed suicides are excluded from these data.

Level Crossings: Frinton-on-Sea

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what consideration of safety factors there will be before a decision is reached on the future of the manned railway crossing at Frinton-on-Sea; (163489)

(2) what assessment she has made of the effect of changing from a manned railway crossing to an unmanned railway crossing in Frinton-on-Sea on safety; and what the evidential basis is for her assessment.

The Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) is currently assessing Network Rail’s proposal to modernise Frinton-on-Sea crossing. As required by the Level Crossings Act 1983, ORR’s consideration of the safety factors at level crossings must take into account the “safety and convenience of all users at or near the level crossing”.

At present, ORR’s view is that Network Rail’s plans to modernise the crossing are acceptable, subject to continuing discussion and agreement as the scheme progresses. ORR plans to meet local people on Friday 16 November to discuss their representations. Essex county council has given approval in principle for the highway element of the crossing modernisation.

The existing arrangements at the level crossing are unsuitable to deal with the current volume of road traffic and rail traffic. The planned modernisation will reduce risks to all crossing users, particularly those from the local community who have disabilities. It will also reduce risks to Network Rail’s own staff—the current level crossing arrangements pose a significant risk to the safety of the crossing keeper.

Under Network Rail’s planned proposals the crossing will be monitored at all times by the railway signaller from the signal box using closed circuit television. This is a common method of operation on level crossing across Britain’s mainline railway network. These types of automatic barrier level crossings which are locally monitored have a very good safety record.

Motor Vehicles: Glass

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much money was spent by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency in each of the last three years on (a) equipment used to measure the visual light transmission (VLT) standard for vehicle window tint and (b) enforcement actions related to infringement of the VLT standard by drivers. (161949)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has spent the following on equipment used to measure the visual light transmission standard for vehicle window tint:

Amount

2007-08

15,918.00

2006-07

7,410.00

2005-06

9,195.00

2004-05

15,400.00

1 To date

VOSA does not record the costs uniquely for enforcement actions related to infringement of the VLT. To retrieve this information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many copies of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency leaflet Tinted Windows: Your Questions Answered have been (a) printed and (b) requested by members of the public in each of the last three years. (161950)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has printed the following numbers of copies of the leaflet ‘Tinted Windows: Your questions Answered’ in the last three years:

Copies

2005

5,000

2006

0

2007

10,000

VOSA does not record the number requests received for leaflets.

Overcrowding: Olympic Games 2012

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what facilities will be put in place to ensure that commuters travelling between Liverpool Street and Chelmsford will not be affected by severe congestion during the Olympics. (162131)

The transport arrangements for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games are set out in the Olympic Delivery Authority's Olympic Transport Plan, which was published on the 23 October 2007. This includes a number of measures in and around Stratford designed to increase the number of trains on the Great Eastern Mainline out of Liverpool Street that are able to stop at Stratford, and thus reduce the likelihood of congestion on this route.

Performance Standards: Chelmsford

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of the standard of service on the Liverpool Street to Chelmsford line for commuters; and if she will make a statement. (162133)

The Secretary of State for Transport has not undertaken an assessment of the standard of service on the Liverpool Street to Chelmsford line for commuters. Passenger surveys are undertaken by Passenger Focus. The results of the latest National Passenger Survey (Spring 2007) are available on the website at www.passengerfocus.org.uk.

Railway Stations: Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with Stroud district council on the proposed new railway station at Hunts Grove. (163109)

The Secretary of State has had no discussions with Stroud district council on a proposed new station at Hunts Grove.

Railways: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the accumulated public sector cost of the railways in the UK has been since 1997, including subsidies, loans and borrowing guaranteed by the Government. (162186)

Historic Government support to the Rail Industry is set out in Table 6.2a of National Rail Trends which is published by the Office of Rail Regulation. Copies are available in the Library of the House. The Government also provide a financial indemnity (FIM) to Network Rail's lenders, has issued guarantees in respect of certain bonds that have been issued to finance the channel tunnel rail link (CTRL) project and has issued a guarantee in respect of CTRL track access payments. Full details of these arrangements have been previously notified to Parliament and are set out in the Department's Resource Accounts. As at 31 March 2007, Network Rail's FIM backed debt stood at £19.8 billion, and the CTRL guarantee arrangements were valued at some £4.38 billion.

Rapid Transit Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many light rail schemes have been completed and opened since 1997. (163422)

The following light rail schemes have been completed and opened since 1997:

Light rail scheme

1999

Midland Metro

1999

Docklands Light Railway extension to Lewisham

2000

Croydon Tramlink

2000

Manchester Metrolink Phase II (to Eccles)

2002

Tyne and Wear Metro Sunderland extension

2004

Nottingham Express Transit

2005

Docklands Light Railway extension to London City Airport

South West Trains: Winchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason she decided not to include the Winchester to Romsey Rail Link bus service in the franchise re-awarded to South West Trains; and if she will make a statement. (162606)

The Winchester to Romsey Rail Link bus service was not explicitly included within the South Western franchise specification. Bidders were asked to consider transport integration within their bids, and to seek opportunities within the franchise area. The improved rail service from Romsey in recent years and the loss-making nature of the existing Rail Link bus service resulted in Stagecoach deciding that it would be poor value to continue with the service.

Speed Limits: Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many personal injury collisions occurred at the site of each fixed speed camera in (a) Hertfordshire and (b) Dacorum in the 12 months (i) before and (ii) after installation of each. (163424)

The information is not held in the form requested. Fixed cameras operated by the Hertfordshire Safety Camera Partnership under the national safety camera programme, which ended on 31 March 2007, reduced the number of personal injury collisions at camera sites by an average of 49 per cent. per year, comparing all the available after installation data with the three years before installation. This means around 162 fewer personal injury collisions each year. I have arranged for tables to be placed in the Libraries of the House regarding the performance of fixed speed cameras in Hertfordshire.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to assist farmers with protection from (a) flooding and (b) waterlogging. (162069)

The operating authorities are encouraged to manage flood risk within a strategic, catchment-wide approach. Such works may be grant-aided by my Department if they meet our criteria and many farmers receive considerable benefit from public investment in this area. The Environment Agency also provides information on flood risk and advice to farmers on managing their land to reduce the likelihood and impacts from floods and water-logging.

Bees: Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has undertaken to investigate the phenomena of Colony collapse disorder; and whether he intends to make more funds available for research into honey bees. (162134)

DEFRA is aware of the press reports about the serious situation in the USA in respect of cases of abnormally high levels of colony loss described as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Scientists and inspectors at the National Bee Unit (NBU) are monitoring the situation and are in contact with experts in the USA and Europe to learn about developments.

However, we do not have evidence to suggest that there is something similar happening in the UK. The very limited number of cases of high losses which have occurred this season, for which there is no ready explanation, are being investigated in depth by the NBU and bee inspectors. The causes of significant colony losses are being considered as part of the Central Science Laboratory and the NBU’s horizon scanning work. Initial results indicate high levels of virus in samples taken from dead or dying colonies.

DEFRA’s annual expenditure on bee health research has averaged around £200,000 since 2001. However, there is an ongoing review of expenditure on all DEFRA programmes, including bee health, and future funding will need to be considered alongside the full range of priorities facing the Department.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the review group investigating bovine tuberculosis led by Sir David King will take steps to engage with the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. (162061)

Sir David King is arranging a meeting with Professor Bourne and other members of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB to discuss his report on badgers and bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to introduce the use of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction for the testing of cattle for bovine tuberculosis. (162818)

Under EU regulations, the tuberculin skin test is (and is likely to continue to be) the primary diagnostic test for TB in live cattle in the field. We foresee only a minor, if any, role for non-immunological assays in the screening of cattle populations for TB.

DEFRA has been funding work using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to develop tests for Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) since 1999. This has included work to develop a reliable and rapid bovine TB screening test that can detect the presence of M. bovis DMA in infected cattle tissues. Work to date shows the value of the application of PCR techniques in certain situations, for example in cattle tissue samples from suspect cases of TB disclosed at routine slaughter, where the speed of the result is of importance.

The use of automated PCR machines has been trialled by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency for use in routine detection of M. bovis in a range of bovine tissue samples in the laboratory. A review of this and its incorporation into routine laboratory diagnostic techniques is currently being planned. However, PCR is not yet as sensitive, specific or reliable as conventional bacterial culture in detecting TB.

DEFRA is investing £1.3 million on work on PCR over the next 3 years that will allow us to tell the difference between M. bovis and similar species from environmental samples. This is not likely to be available as a field test in the short term.

No reverse transcription stage is required for the detection of M. bovis organisms by PCR, as DMA (not RNA) is the constitutive nucleic acid in the genome of mycobacteria.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on tackling climate change by his Department in 2006; and if he will provide a breakdown of this spending by main category of expenditure. (162050)

Departmental Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on rationalising his Department’s property portfolio; and if he will make a statement. (162782)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: The Department has a business-led estates strategy which will deliver a reduction of the Estate of approximately 20 per cent. by March 2011. In London a 50 per cent. reduction in office accommodation has already been achieved from a 2003 baseline.

This rationalisation strategy supports the Renew DEFRA Business Reform Programme which is aimed at providing an efficient Department, including its Executive Agency delivery bodies, occupying a sustainable office portfolio and reducing the Departmental carbon footprint.

Disposals already identified over the current CSR period will deliver the initial 20 per cent. target reduction and the Department is already looking to identify other opportunities to further reduce the operational property portfolio both in London, and nationally in line with Departmental business need.

The principal strategy is to deliver a modern sustainable workplace which is cost effective and enables the Department, including its Executive Agency delivery bodies, to deliver its key business objectives.

Energy: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms his Department has established to evaluate the effectiveness of standard assessment procedures in relation to energy efficiency. (161897)

I assume the hon. Member is referring to standard assessment procedures (SAP) software approvals.

We have contracted the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to evaluate third party produced SAP software that would be used by SAP assessors. Software submitted to BRE are tested against the approvals criteria which determine for example, the accuracy of assessment results.

If the software meets the requirements, then an approval for its use to determine compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations for England and Wales is issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by central Government on energy conservation in Huddersfield in each year since 2004-05. (162541)

Energy conservation is a broad term that could refer to many activities implemented by a wide number of Government institutions. As such, it is not possible to accurately estimate the total Government spend in Huddersfield.

DEFRA’s main programme for improving the energy efficiency of vulnerable households is the Warm Front Scheme, which provides grants for heating and insulation measures. Warm Front spend on measures in Huddersfield is set out in the following table:

Financial year

Huddersfield (£)

2004-05

594,825.32

2005-06

293,090.61

2006-07

881,334.24

Year to date

797,105.08

Total

2,566,355.25

Environment Agency: Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the Environment Agency will announce its new plans for the improvement of flood defences; (161944)

(2) what recent assessment the Environment Agency has made of the present condition of flood defences for which they are responsible.

The Environment Agency is currently reviewing its business plans for 2008-09 in light of the recent Comprehensive Spending Review settlement. It will announce its proposals for the improvement of flood defences in February 2008.

The Environment Agency currently inspects assets on a risk based programme and assesses the national position on a quarterly basis.

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

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

Flood Control: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funds were allocated for flood protection to (a) Yorkshire and the Humber, (b) East Anglia and (c) London in each of the last five years. (162177)

The Environment Agency is the principal operating authority with responsibility for flood risk management in England. The following table shows Environment Agency expenditure for the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Flood Defence Committee (RFDC) (which covers Yorkshire and the north bank of the Humber estuary) and Anglian RFDC. Thames RFDC covers a wider area than just London but the figures indicate funds allocated for flood protection in Greater London only.

£million

Area

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Yorkshire and Number

37.3

33.4

40.7

34.0

35.1

Anglian

71.2

71.0

86.5

95.6

78.6

Thames (London only)

39.1

41.1

47.2

45.5

43.7

Some further works will have been carried out by local authorities and internal drainage boards but these will be significantly lower than the sums expended by the Agency.

Floods: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to encourage small businesses to take out business interruption insurance cover in relation to flooding. (161890)

I have been asked to reply.

Together with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Association of British Insurers, my Department is reviewing the current guidance that we make available on businesslink.gov and the best means to promote the importance of being adequately insured against the risk of flooding.

Floods: North East Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the number of homes at risk from (a) river flooding, (b) coastal flooding and (c) surface water flooding in the North East region. (162178)

The Environment Agency's 2006 National Flood Risk Assessment identified 295,900 homes at risk from river and coastal flooding in the north east region. 138,200 of these are at risk from river flooding and 153,000 homes are at risk from coastal flooding. In addition there are 4,700 properties at risk from both river and coastal flooding.

The Environment Agency's National Flood Risk Assessment does not include surface water flooding, but its flood map shows areas that are known to have been flooded. This will include some areas of surface water flooding but in many instances this takes place in conjunction with river flooding and it is not possible to separate the two.

Floods: Risk Assessment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans he has to review the number of bodies involved with and the coordination between them relating to mapping flood risk, including scope for better coordination; (162031)

(2) what plans he has to review bodies involved in mapping flood risk; and what plans he has to improve co-ordination between them.

The Environment Agency is the only public sector organisation that maps flood risk on a national scale and it is funded by DEFRA to do so. The agency co-operates with local authorities and other bodies undertaking flood risk assessments and mapping for different purposes. It will continue to improve its maps over time as technology develops.

Floods: Warnings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what review has been undertaken of the (a) channels of communication and (b) liaison on warnings between the Environment Agency and the Meteorological Office at times of flooding. (162032)

The Environment Agency’s review of the summer floods will include looking at communications and liaison on flood warnings and will inform the independent review being undertaken by Sir Michael Pitt.

Separately, the agency is leading a joint project with the Met Office to identify improvements in notification of major rainfall or other flood-causing severe events and in the procedures to be followed by both organisations.

Floods: Yorkshire and the Humber

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the likely cost of putting in place defences to protect Yorkshire from river flooding; (162028)

(2) what estimate he has made of how much it would cost to protect Yorkshire from river flooding.

It is not feasible to completely protect against flooding.

I understand the Yorkshire RFDC has a programme of possible expenditure on new defences of £364 million over the next 10 years. The amount that is eventually spent will depend on the relative priority of schemes in Yorkshire compared to those elsewhere in the country.

The current Environment Agency estimate of expenditure on all its flood risk management activities (i.e. including such activities as operations and maintenance as well as new defences) in the Yorkshire RFDC area over the next 10 years is £628 million.

Further works may be carried out by local authorities and internal drainage boards but the sums involved are much lower than for the Environment Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of total funding for flood protection Yorkshire and the Humber have received over each of the last five years. (162175)

The Environment Agency collects and holds data on the basis of Regional Flood Defence Committee (RFDC) boundaries. The Yorkshire RFDC boundary covers Yorkshire and the north bank of the Humber estuary.

The following table shows Yorkshire RFDC percentages of total DEFRA grant in aid allocated to the Environment Agency for flood risk management from 2004-05 onwards (when direct grant from DEFRA replaced the previous mixed system of majority funding from levies on local authorities with some capital grant from DEFRA).

Percentage allocated RFDC of total FDGIA to Yorkshire

2004-05

8

2005-06

10

2006-07

9

2007-08

9

Further funding would have been provided to local authorities and internal drainage boards but at much lower levels than those provided to the Agency.

Fuel Poverty: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes there have been to the Government's public service agreements on fuel poverty. (162063)

A revised approach to public service agreements (PSAs) was introduced in the comprehensive spending review 2007, with a new set of PSAs coming into effect from April 2008. There is a much smaller number of key cross cutting PSAs, setting a vision for continuous and accelerated improvement in the Government's priority outcomes, and delivered collectively by multiple Departments.

Fuel poverty is firmly embedded in this approach, no longer as a stand alone PSA, which is now contributing to the achievement of wider Government priorities. Fuel poverty is reflected as a component in the delivery of the PSAs on Child Poverty (led by Her Majesty's Treasury), on Independence and Well-being in Later Life (led by Department for Work and Pensions), and on Better Health and Well-being (led by Department of Health). The Government remain committed to tackling fuel poverty and promoting effective cross-departmental work to this end.

My Department's and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform's delivery of its responsibilities on fuel poverty will be reflected in these PSAs, and also as part of my Department's ongoing performance reporting systems, which will underpin its annual report to Parliament.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Seeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will seek to maintain and strengthen the UN moratorium on the field testing and commercialisation of Terminator seed technology; and if he will make a statement. (162375)

The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) decided in 2000 that there should be a precautionary approach in field testing and commercial development of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).

‘Terminator seeds’ are one example of plants that could potentially be bred using these technologies. The decision is clear that products incorporating GURTs should not be approved for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate scientific assessments with regard to ecological and socio-economic impacts have been carried out and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated.

At the most recent CBD meeting, held in March 2006, governments reaffirmed this decision. We supported the decision. The UK Government’s position has not changed on this issue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the potential effects on UK agriculture of the use of Terminator seed technology; and if he will make a statement. (162376)

My Department has not commissioned any recent research on the potential effects of “Terminator seed” technology on UK agriculture.

We commissioned a desk study of Technologies for Biological Containment of Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM Crops. The report is available on the DEFRA website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received from (a) Progressio and (b) others on Terminator seed technology. (162377)

We have received two recent representations, which included the subject of “Terminator seed” technology, neither of these were from Progressio.

Pigs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response he has made to the recommendation of the Farm Animal Welfare Council that the use of aversive gas mixtures for stunning and killing pigs should be phased out within five years; and if he will make a statement. (162903)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: In its response to the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) report, the Government indicated that it would investigate alternatives to the use of carbon dioxide for stunning and killing pigs. DEFRA has commissioned two research projects that will examine the use of other gases or gas mixtures (including inert gases) for these purposes. The work commenced in 2005, but it will take at least five years to complete. The Government’s response confirmed that it could not make a commitment to phase out the use of carbon dioxide within five years while there was no certainty that an effective alternative system would be available within that time frame. This remains the position.

Wild Boar

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to (a) finalise and (b) publish his Department’s strategy for wild boar management. (162803)

We intend to finalise our policy on feral wild boar management by the end of 2007 and will publish it as soon as is practical.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library a breakdown of his Department's efficiency savings in relation to its Spending Review 2004 (SR04) targets, including (a) the efficiency projects in the Department, (b) the date on which each of these projects was initiated and (c) how much was predicted to contribute to the SR04 target. (162316)

Details of the Northern Ireland Office's efficiency savings in relation to Spending Review 2004 can be seen in the Department's Efficiency Technical Note. A copy is available in the Library.

Solicitor-General

Prison Service: Homophobia

To ask the Solicitor-General with reference to her answer of 21 May 2007, Official Report, column 1145W, on Prison Service: homophobia, for what reason this information is not held by the Treasury Solicitor; and if she will make a statement. (163233)

The Treasury Solicitor keeps records primarily to meet the operational needs of his Department as the Government's solicitor. Cases tend to be categorised according to client and according to the nature of the claim at law, for example, assault, personal injury, unfair dismissal, misfeasance, judicial review. Homophobia as such does not constitute a claim at law. Rather, it may be, or may be perceived to be, a motivating factor in many kinds of claim. Whether, in any case, homophobia has been such a factor may never be established leaving the issue speculative and any record based upon it unreliable. No operational purpose of the Treasury Solicitor's Department would be served by keeping such a record and for that reason, having regard to the duty to be cost-effective, such records are not kept.

Culture, Media and Sport

Community Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on the Where We Live programme in each of the last three years. (163518)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: The Where We Live programme now has the new brand-name of Living Places.

The programme is delivered through a partnership between the five leading national cultural agencies, DCMS, DCLG and the Regional Cultural Consortia.

Its aim is to ensure all communities can benefit from cultural and sporting opportunities by embedding culture in the development of our villages, towns and cities.

DCMS contributed £20,000 towards the Thames Gateway Forum in 2006.

DCMS has yet to be invoiced for its contribution of £20,000 from this year's partnership budget.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what efficiency savings his Department was required to make as part of its Spending Review 2004 (SR04) targets; what efficiency projects have been undertaken in the Department in pursuit of those targets; on what date each was initiated; and how much each was predicted to contribute to the SR04 target. (162321)

The Department has five efficiency programme streams that contribute to its overall target of £262 million savings over the SR04 spending period. Latest figures up to June 2007 are:

£ million

June 2007 outturn

March 2008 target

DCMS Internal

1

2

Museums and galleries NDPBs

52.9

45

Heritage NDPBs

12.8

14

Strategic NDPBs

52.2

55

Local authorities

84.6

146

Total

203.5

262

Our efficiency savings are reported publicity in our Departmental Annual Report and our Autumn Performance Report. The 2007 Autumn Performance Report, due to be published in December, will contain the latest figures up to September 2007.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many reports have been made to his Department’s nominated officers under paragraph 16 of the revised Civil Service Code since its publication on 6 June 2006. (162431)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s nominated officers have received no reports under paragraph 16 of the revised Civil Service Code since 6 June 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported to his Department by departmental staff since 6 June 2006. (162432)

No allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported by staff in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport since 6 June 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many civil servants in his Department (a) transferred to other Government Departments and (b) left the civil service in each of the last five years. (162741)

Over the last five years a total of (a) 347 civil servants in DCMS have transferred to other Government Departments and (b) 172 have left the civil service. See following table for breakdown per year.

Transferred to OGD1

Left civil service

2002-03

47

23

2003-04

62

27

2004-05

63

36

2005-06

57

53

2006-07

47

33

1 Please note that figures for transferred civil servants include those on long-term loans to other Government Departments and whose loan period to DCMS came to an end and who returned to their own Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many Welsh speakers his Department employs. (162890)

We are unable to provide an answer as the Department does not hold information on how many Welsh speakers it employs; the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Football: Community Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which football clubs receive Government funding to operate community schemes; what assessment he has made of these schemes; and if he will make a statement. (162206)

The following Government initiatives fund community schemes operated by, or in conjunction with, football clubs.

Playing for Success establishes out of school hours study support centres at professional football clubs and other sports clubs. 80 centres are based in football clubs, including all 20 clubs in the premier league, to which the Department for Children Schools and Families will contribute £5.3 million in 2007-08.

The Home Office funds Positive Futures, a national sports-based social inclusion programme. Six football clubs, (Arsenal, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth, Chelsea, Millwall and Brentford) have Football in the Community Schemes affiliated to them that have successfully applied for Positive Futures programme funding, and will receive a total of £608,074 in 2007-08. The 2007 annual monitoring and evaluation report on the entire Positive Futures Programme is expected to be published in November.

The Kickz scheme, currently delivered in partnership with 19 premiership and 11 football league clubs across the country, offers positive evening activities for young people, including football leagues and education sessions. Evaluation of the four pilot Kickz projects showed that local crime had fallen by an average of 27 per cent. during those times that projects were being held. The Football Foundation received £1 million to help expand the Kickz programme from four to 25 clubs in 2006 and a further £1 million was allocated to Kickz in September 2007.

I am arranging for further details of these schemes and participating clubs to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Legacy Lives Conference

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many government bodies are involved in the 2008 Legacy Lives Conference in Barbados; and if he will make a statement. (163721)

UK Sport is the only government body that is involved in this event. In addition, the Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is due to speak at the conference via video link.

Sports: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding the Government have allocated for prevention of doping in sport in each of the last 10 years. (162750)

The following table shows UK Sport’s, the UK’s national anti-doping organisation and lead agency for elite sport, allocation of funding for the prevention of doping in sport in each of the last 10 years.

£ million

1998-99

0.67

1999-2000

10.62

2000-01

10.61

2001-02

10.89

2002-03

1.16

2003-04

1.40

2004-05

1.77

2005-06

3.12

2006-07

3.01

2007-08

3.27

1 These entries show budget figures, as records for actual spend are not available. The figure for 2007-08 is a forecast.

Since 2002, Government have paid an annual contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for its work in the prevention of doping in sport. The following table sets out these contributions, which are paid in December each year. The figure for 2007 is a forecast.

Amount (£)

2002

308,788

2003

339,977

2004

329,056

2005

373,902

2006

337,081

2007

357,758

Sports: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding his Department has allocated to sport in each of the last 10 years. (162752)

The following table shows how much the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has allocated to Sport in each of the last 10 years, including planned figures for 2007-08.

£ million

1997-98

50.1

1998-99

49.4

1999-2000

51.9

2000-01

52.6

2001-02

68.8

2002-03

112.1

2003-04

97.5

2004-05

146.2

2005-06

150.0

2006-07

183.2

2007-08

186.4

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in raising £100 million from the private sector for elite sport announced in the 2006 Budget and referred to in the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1293-94W, on sports: finance; and if he will make a statement. (163720)

Following discussions with UK Sport, LOCOG and other stakeholders, my Department is tendering for a specialist consultancy to lead this work on our behalf.

The deadline for companies to submit a tender is 7 December, and we expect to appoint the company soon after that date.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is open to the UK to refer Burma to (a) the International Court of Justice and (b) another international body for persistent use of forced labour; and if he will make a statement. (164005)

There are provisions in the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which allow a state to pursue a complaint that another state has breached an ILO convention; this could ultimately lead to proceedings in the International Court of Justice. However, the Secretariat of the ILO believe that it would be wrong to start such action now in respect of forced labour in Burma. The ILO want to see the Memorandum of Understanding, that they signed with the Burmese government on 26 February 2007, produce results. The memorandum provides that alleged victims of forced labour in Burma will have full freedom to submit complaints to the ILO Liaison Officer in Rangoon.

We support the actions of the ILO aimed at ensuring that Burma complies with its international obligations on forced labour. We are actively working with our European and international partners, as well as through the UN and ILO, to press the regime to end the appalling human rights violations and to engage in a genuine process of national reconciliation involving all relevant parties and groups in Burma.

China: Capital Punishment

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he and Ministers and officials from his Department have had with the Chinese government on the number of crimes punishable by death in China. (162013)

We regularly urge China, both bilaterally and through the EU, to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death and to adopt transparency on death penalty statistics. The death penalty was discussed at the most recent round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in Beijing on 17 October 2007. We also raised the death penalty at the last round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in London on 5 February 2007.

Cuba: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests have been made by the US administration for UK funding for the US Freedom Fund for Cuba; what plans his Department has to contribute to such a fund and what assessment his Department has made of the compatibility of the Freedom Fund for Cuba with Article 2 of the UN Charter and related international treaty obligations. (162365)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received no request for UK funding for a US Freedom Fund for Cuba and, therefore, has no plans to contribute to such a fund. The US administration has not released full details of the proposed Freedom Fund and so it would be inappropriate for us to undertake an assessment of the compatibility of the fond with Article 2 of the UN Charter or other international treaty obligations.

Departmental Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts his Department has with external consultants; what the total value, including all VAT and disbursements, of these contracts are for the current financial year; how long each contract lasts; and what the forecast total value is of each contract. (163819)

The information requested by the hon. Member could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Annual expenditure on external consultants is published in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Department’s annual reports, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The two most recent annual reports also contain details of expenditure on the top five consultancy suppliers. The vast majority of work undertaken for the FCO by consultants is associated with its major Information Communication Technology and Estate construction programmes.

I also refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe gave to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 542-43W, and the reply the then Minister for Europe my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) gave to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) on 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1474W.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at which functions during the last year hospitality expenditure was incurred by his Department. (162797)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe on 18 October 2007, Official Report, column 1314W.

Further to that answer, Government Hospitality, Protocol Directorate, managed 199 official functions between November 2006 and October 2007. Of these functions, 58 were hosted by Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers or were funded directly by Government Hospitality on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

EU Treaties: Reform

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for which policy areas where a common position has already been agreed at EU level the new EU Foreign Affairs representative will play a lead role following ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. (161926)

The draft Lisbon Treaty specifies that the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy "shall ensure the implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council" on common foreign and security policy issues. He or she would therefore have responsibility for taking forward implementation of common positions and other decisions on foreign and security policy issues where member states decide on action at the EU-level in the Council. Common positions currently in force cover a range of issues, including EU policy towards Belarus, Burma, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Iraq: Overseas Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) location of death, (b) age at death and (c) cause of death was of the 72 British civilians who have died in Iraq since March 2003 referred to in the answer of 17 October 2007, Official Report, columns 1089-90W, on Iraq: overseas workers. (162734)

The location and cause of death of the 72 British civilians that have died in Iraq since March 2003 are as follows:

Location

Number

Baghdad

23

Basra

8

Mosul

7

Diwaniyah

6

Tikrit

4

Kirkuk

3

Karbala

3

Fallujah

2

Sulaymaniyah

1

Umm Qasr

1

Hit

1

Al Kut

1

Rustamiyah

1

Anbar

1

Bayji

2

Samarra

1

Latifiyah

1

Balad

1

We do not have the location details of the remaining five cases.

Cause

Number

Improvised Explosive Device

25

Shot

22

Vehicle borne Improvised Explosive Device

7

Road traffic accident

4

Natural causes

4

Bomb blast

4

Fall

1

Beheaded

1

Suicide

1

Note:

Cause of death was not established in the three remaining cases.

We have no central data for the ages at time of death.

Iraq: Security Guards

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on private contractors providing protection services for his Department in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each year since 2003. (162526)

The information requested by the hon. Member is as follows:

£

Iraq

2003/04

16,800,000

2004/05

49,500,000

2005/06

47,800,000

2006/07

30,400,000

2007/08

26,000,000

Afghanistan

2004

4,000,000

2005

4,000,000

2006

15,000,000

2007

19,600,000

The information above covers contracts put in place by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London with private security companies, and reflects the contract values concerned and not the actual spend. All of these contracts cover other Government Departments with the costs thereof being shared accordingly.

The FCO ensures that all contracts are subject to a rigorous selection process so that we obtain best value for money. Any company engaged by the FCO needs to pass through a stringent and transparent procurement process in line with public procurement guidelines and best practice.

Napoleon Gomez Urritia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on Napoleon Gomez Urritia, leader of the National Union of Mine and Metallurgical Workers of the Mexican Republic known as Los Mineros. (163932)

On 7 November, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary received a request from British trade union Community for a meeting with Mexican trade union representatives to discuss the issue of Mr. Gomez. A meeting with relevant officials has been offered.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Mexican government on the welfare of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, leader of the National Union of Mine and Metallurgical Workers of the Mexican Republic known as Los Mineros. (163904)

My right. hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made no representations to the Mexican government on the welfare of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia.

Pakistan: Overseas Residence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK passport holders are estimated to be living in Pakistan. (163334)

The number of passports issued in Islamabad and Karachi over the last 10 years indicates a figure of 35,000 British nationals who live permanently in Pakistan and hold a British passport. However, we estimate that the actual figure could be as high as 80,000 as many Pakistanis are dual nationals who obtain a passport in the UK, but live for a large part of the year in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia: Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost to the public purse was of the visit to the UK by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. (163908)

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 12 November 2007, Official Report, column 41W.

Sudan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the military situation in Darfur. (162172)

The military situation is confused because so many of the armed groups have splintered. Darfur remains insecure with continued attacks against African Union Mission in Sudan troops and Government forces, unrest in the internally displaced persons camps and inter-tribal conflict, as well as general banditry. The African Union Mission in Sudan currently has approximately 7,000 troops based in Darfur, under the command of General Agwai. UN Security Council Resolution 1769 mandated the deployment of a 26,000-strong African Union-UN hybrid force. We are working for the prompt and effective deployment of this force and the engagement of all parties in the political process to address the insecurity in Darfur.

Travel Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the WAGs Guide to Travel was produced by his Department; how much it cost; and if he will make a statement. (163831)

Know Before You Go is a travel safety campaign run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Consular Directorate, aimed at reducing the problems that British travellers face when on holiday abroad. It focuses both on the general travelling public and on a number of key target audiences who are involved in a disproportionate number of preventable consular cases.

One of the campaign's target groups is young women aged between 16-24. Research shows that this audience responds particularly well to advice from celebrities and other aspirational figures. We therefore decided to involve a football wife and girlfriend (WAG) in the campaign to generate media coverage, which would deliver our messages to this audience.

To front the WAG's guide the campaign recruited Charlotte Mears and she was paid £2,000. Planning and administration of the campaign were covered as part of our ongoing contract with Know Before You Go campaign agencies at no additional cost. In total, Ms Mears worked for 10 hours on the WAG's guide and its promotion. The guide had coverage on GMTV, radio, websites, consumer magazines and national and regional press and generated over 27 million opportunities to hear and see Know Before You Go travel safety messages. This equates to £170,000 worth of media advertising. For an outlay of £2,000 we therefore secured coverage which would have cost £170,000 to buy commercially, making the WAG's initiative a highly cost-effective way of getting safety messages across to a key target audience.

Western Sahara

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to Morocco to encourage it to join a third round of talks agreed by the Polisario and Algeria on the future of the Western Sahara. (163928)

The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, and has encouraged the parties to continue negotiations under UN auspices, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 1754 and 1783.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1783 on 31 October, which renewed the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara until 30 April 2008. The resolution also calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith.

The first two rounds of these negotiations took place in Manhasset, New York on 19-20 June and 10-11 August. The UN has not yet announced dates for a third round of negotiations.

Work and Pensions

Flexible Working: Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to ensure that the case for extending the right to request flexible working to parents with older children is kept under review; and whether he will set a deadline for a review period. (162041)

I have been asked to reply.

On 6 November 2007, the Prime Minister announced that the Government have decided to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older children. At the same time, he announced that he had asked Ms Imelda Walsh, Director of Human Relations at J Sainsbury plc, to conduct a review to consider where the age cut-off for older children should be set. Ms Walsh will make recommendations to the Secretary of State in the spring of 2008.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people on benefits had been in receipt of benefits continuously for over 12 months in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) active and (b) inactive benefits. (162674)

The information is in the following table.

Working age claimants of active or inactive benefits with a duration of over 12 months in Great Britain, as at February each year

February

Active benefits1

Inactive benefits2

1997

625,550

3,304,300

1998

355,040

3,214,100

1999

313,420

3,200,900

2000

254,555

3,076,950

2001

196,625

3,122,230

2002

154,985

3,142,220

2003

136,710

3,160,880

2004

133,930

3,164,430

2005

118,830

3,134,270

2006

131,440

3,088,770

2007

153,305

3,035,020

1 ‘Active benefits’ means jobseeker’s allowance.

2 ‘Inactive benefits’ means working age claimants of income support (income support claimants include: lone parents; sick and disabled; carers; and others), incapacity benefit (including national insurance credits only cases), and severe disablement allowance.

Notes:

1. Inactive benefits caseloads 1997 to 1999 figures are rounded to the nearest 100 and for 2000 onwards are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Inactive benefits caseloads for 1997 to 1999 have been uprated by applying 5 per cent. proportions to 100 per cent. WPLS data.

3. Active benefit caseloads are rounded to the nearest five.

Sources:

Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample, February 1997 to 1999;

Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) 100 per cent. data, February 2000 onwards; and

100 per cent. count of claimants of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus Computer Systems

Winter Fuel Payments: Suffolk

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of eligible pensioners in (a) Suffolk and (b) the East of England claimed the winter fuel allowance in each of the last five years. (162593)

The information requested is not available. We can only assess eligibility for those people who are in contact with the Department and whose circumstances are known. The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need to claim, but those people whose circumstances we are not already aware of, for instance because they are not on state pension or other benefits administered by DWP, would need to make a claim so that their eligibility can be assessed.

The following table shows the number of winter fuel payments made to people in Suffolk and the East of England in each of the last five years.

Payments made

Suffolk

East of England

2002-03

153,000

1,110,690

2003-04

155,730

1,128,200

2004-05

155,730

1,128,650

2005-06

158,630

1,145,550

2006-07

162,640

1,171,170

Notes:

1. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Government office regions and local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.

Source:

Information directorate 100 per cent. data

Communities and Local Government

Housing: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what standards will be applied to development rights for single family dwellings in (a) conservation areas and densely built-up urban areas and (b) modern, low density suburban areas; (163409)

(2) whether single family dwellings in conservation areas will be exempted from the change in the development rights as set out in Changes to Permitted Development, Consultation Paper 2: Permitted Development Rights for Householders.

The Department is considering the responses to the consultation paper on permitted development rights for householders, including the response from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which addresses the issue of permitted development rights for houses in conservation areas. The Government will announce its decision on this issue soon.

Housing: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the change has been in average house prices in (a) east Worthing and Shoreham, (b) West Sussex and (c) England over the last 10 years. (161913)

The average house prices in West Sussex and England in 1997 and 2006 are given in the following table together with the percentage change over that period. Data at the east Worthing and Shoreham level is unavailable.

Mean house price, England—1997-2006

1997

2006

£ change

Percentage change

West Sussex

90,314

239,863

149,548

266

England

79,482

206,715

127,233

260

Source:

HM Land Registry

Housing: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made with the technical committee for the development of the Standard Assessment Procedure for homes announced in July; if she will publish the timetable of the three meetings of this committee due to be convened; and whether she expects to receive the committee’s recommendations by January 2008. (162667)