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Written Answers

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 10 December 2007

Transport

Airports: Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions with stakeholders she has had on competition in the market for airport parking. (168665)

Airport parking charges are a commercial matter for the airport operator. The Office of Fair Trading is, however, able to investigate if it suspects that a feature or a combination of features of the market in which airport services are supplied by an airport operator prevents, restricts or distorts competition.

Ministers have had no specific discussions with stakeholders on this issue.

Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will place in the Library recent studies her Department has carried out on the economic impact of airport expansion. (168663)

Two documents were published on 22 November. The consultation document “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport”, of which the impact assessment forms annex B of this document. The Department also published the “UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts report”. Both documents have been placed in the Library and are also available on the Department for Transport’s website (www.dft.gov.uk/heathrowconsultation). The consultation runs until 27 February 2008 and, in line with Government practice, a summary of consultation responses will be published and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Aviation: Leisure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of the increase in flights at (a) Heathrow and (b) other UK airports in each of the last 10 years was of short haul leisure flights. (168673)

Bexleyheath Station: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with Southeastern Railway on the proposed 13 per cent. fare increase at Bexleyheath Station. (170302)

The Government protect commuters by regulating the average annual increases in season tickets. On Southeastern, this increase is limited to 3 per cent. above inflation from 2007 to 2011.

Individual fares can increase by more than the average, as long as no individual regulated fare increases by more than 8 per cent. above inflation from one year to the next. Therefore, individual regulated fares on Southeastern can rise by up to 11.8 per cent. for 2008.

Southeastern is committed by its Franchise Agreement to zonalise all fares in London from January 2008, including seasons. To achieve this, and to maintain a balanced fare structure, a general derogation against fares regulation was granted for a number of season fares within London. There were no specific discussions on fares from Bexleyheath.

The new zonal fares structure on Southeastern will help pave the way for Oyster Pay-As-You-Go smart ticketing, to be rolled out across national rail in London from 2009. It simplifies the current complex system of individually-priced station-to-station fares.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many journeys were made by freedom pass holders on London buses in each of the last five years. (170972)

This information is not held centrally; it can be obtained from the London councils who administer the Freedom Pass scheme on behalf of the London boroughs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what factors she took into account in distributing the grant to cover the cost of the implementation of the new concessionary fares scheme for bus travel from April 2008; and what representations she has received on the potential inequalities of the distribution of the grant funding; (171019)

(2) what estimate she has made of the ability of councils to pay for the concessionary travel scheme; and whether councils will be required to pay for the costs of visitors to the council area using the concessionary travel scheme.

From 1 April 2008, people aged 60 and over and eligible disabled people in England will be entitled to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England, not just within their local area as at present.

The costs will be apportioned to the Travel Concession Authority where the concessionaire boards the bus rather than where the concessionaire is resident—this is the only practical means of operating an England-wide concession for April next year.

The extra £212 million for the national bus concession will be distributed by the Department for Transport via a special grant. This extra funding is based on generous assumptions about pass take-up and trip levels and the overall probable cost impact of the new concession. We are therefore confident this funding will be sufficient in aggregate to meet the extra costs to local authorities. In addition, we have announced that we will be providing local authorities with approximately £31 million for the issuing of the national pass.

Any discretionary local enhancements, such as peak bus travel, are funded from an authority's own resources. Local enhancements can be restricted to eligible local residents. It is for local authorities to implement affordable local schemes taking account of their statutory obligations and their assessment of local circumstances and need.

Regarding representations on the potential inequalities of the distribution of the grant funding, the Department for Transport's consultation on the formula basis for the distribution of the special grant closed on 23 November. The consultation included a number of different options for distributing the new funding, taking account of likely cost drivers, including bus patronage, eligible residents and visitors. A summary of the responses will be published in due course.

The provisional special grant distribution was announced on 6 December and will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the new year.

Cycling: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of her Department's spending has been devoted to encouraging cycling in each of the last five years. (164629)

The Department provides funding to encourage cycling through a number of different mechanisms. These are through a central budget, to local authorities through the local transport plan (LTP) settlement, and to the Mayor of London via a total transport grant through Transport for London (TfL). These combined give the following spend:

Cycling spend (£ million)

2002-03

50.2

2003-04

43.0

2004-05

60.4

2005-06

51.2

2006-07

60.3

The DfT integrated block element of the LTP settlement was worth £547 million in 2006-07 while TfL received £2.4 billion. It is for local authorities and TfL to determine their spend on cycling.

This is a partial picture. There are many other initiatives that can contribute to the encouragement of cycling. For example, road safety and traffic calming schemes such as 20 mph zones or through programmes such as the Sustainable Travel Towns where all forms of sustainable travel including cycling are encouraged.

It would, therefore, be impossible to disaggregate the expenditure from these programmes and initiatives that have a direct impact upon encouraging cycling.

Departmental Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projects her Department has commissioned from external consultants in each of the last five years; and how much was paid by her Department to those consultants in each instance. (164639)

Lists have been placed in the Libraries of the House for commissions recorded within the Department and its agencies' accounting systems as consultancy for financial years 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Details of the projects commissioned by the Department in financial years 2002-03 and 2003-04 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs. Total expenditure recorded by the Department on consultancy in these years was £227.5 million (2002-03) and £239.5 million (2003-04).

Departmental Foreign Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non EU foreign nationals are employed by her Department. (168098)

There are a total of (a) 55 EU foreign nationals and (b) 21 non-EU foreign nationals employed in DVLA, GCDA, the Highways Agency, MCA, VCA and VOSA. Details for the Central Department and DSA can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Secondment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many secondments of staff were made (a) to and (b) from her Department in each year since 1997; which organisations staff were seconded (i) to and (ii) from; how many staff were seconded in each year; for how long each secondment lasted; and what the cost was of each secondment in each year. (167278)

The Department for Transport was created in 2002. The number of outward secondments from the Department each year from 2003, where records exist, are set out in the following table:

Secondments out—total

Organisations

Duration

2003

10

Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust

1 year

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Montreal

1 year

French Ministry of Transport

3 months

European Commission, Brussels x 2

1 year; 4 months

Arriva

2 months

Security Service

2 years

First Great Western Trains

1 month

Canadian Government

23 months

2004

16

Arriva x 2

6 months; 6 months

European Commission, Brussels x 3

1 year; 1 year; 1 year

European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Portugal x 2

3 years; 25 months

English Heritage

3 years

Standards Board

3 years

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

2 years

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

1 year

Ernst and Young

1 year

East Midlands Development Agency

15 months

French Transport Ministry

2 years

Japanese Government

3 years

RAF Kinloss

3 years

2005

17

BAA

10 months

Cross London Rail Link x 2

2 years; 2years

West Sussex County Council

2 years

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

1 year

Mersey Travel

1 year

European Commission, Brussels x 3

5 months; 2 years; 8 months

Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)

2 years

Greek Transport Ministry

1 month

SERCO

2 months

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) x 2

4 months; 4 months

Danish Road Authority

6 months

EMSA x 2

4 years; 3 years

2006

16

French Transport Ministry

1 year

Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES)

1 year

European Commission, Brussels x 3

6 months; 2 years; 2 years

Transport for London

3 months

Faber Maunsell

4 years

Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)

1 year

British Council, Brussels

2 years

Lifelites

6 months

Bank of England

2 years

Ertico

6 months

Rijjkswaaters tatt, Holland

2 years

Citizens Advice Bureau

1 year

BVI Administration x 2

2 years; 3 years

2007

18

European Commission, Brussels x 5

2 years; 6 months; 1 year

European Parliament

2 years

European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Portugal x 2

2 years; 3 years

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

3 years

Transport for London

1 year

BRB (Residuary) Ltd. X 2

3 years; 2 years

ACAS

1 year

Connect for Health

1 year

UBS Investment Bank

1 year

South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA)

2 years

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

6 months

Chamber of Shipping

3 months

The number of inward secondments in the same period, where records exist, are as follows:

Secondments out—total

Organisations

Duration

2003

5

Japanese Government

3 months

Parsons Brinkerhoff Ltd.

5 months

French Road Ministry

2 years

Fire Brigade

4 years

Canadian Government

3.5 years

2004

17

Buckinghamshire County Council

2 years

Milton Keynes Council

4 years

Lancashire Constabulary

3 years

Japanese Government

6 months

Ernst and Young

17 months

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA)

1 year

East Kent Council for Voluntary Services

1 year

Arriva

6 months

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA)

1 year

Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)

5 months

Mercer Management Consulting

3 months

British Airways

2 years

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA)

6 months

Amey Highways

2 months

Danish Road Directorate

2 months

French Transport Ministry

1 year

Fire Brigade

3 years

2005

10

First Group Plc

3 years

PricewaterhouseCoopers x 2

1 year; 9 months

French Transport Ministry

3 years

Essex County Council

2 years

Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) x 2

1 year; 3 months;

Strategic Rail Authority x 2

11 months; 5 months

Fire Brigade

4 years

2006

4

RNIB

2 years

Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)

1 year

Wokingham Social Services

1 year

Fire Brigade

2007

10

Qinetiq

2 years

Energy Saving Trust

4 months

Deloittes

1 year

Freshfields Legal

6 months

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

1 year

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

3 years

Swedish Ministry of Enterprise

1 month

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

3 years

KPMG

1 year

Simmons and Simmons Solicitors

1 year

Ed Excel

1 year

Supporting financial information cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.

Heavy Goods Vehicles: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the number of collisions on motorways in the last 12 months that have involved heavy goods vehicles from mainland Europe where the vehicle has not had adaptations to wing mirrors for use on British roads. (169510)

[holding answer 29 November 2007]: Information is collected on whether vehicles involved in personal injury road accidents are foreign registered. However, no information is collected on either the country of origin or any adaptations to wing mirrors of vehicles involved in road accidents.

The information on foreign registered vehicles involved in reported personal injury road accidents which is collected is available from table 53 of “Road Casualties Great Britain: 2006 annual report”. Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of the House. This table can also be found at the following address:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/172974/173025/221412/221549/227755/285672/WebTables4153.xls

In addition, the Department and agencies have investigated cases of lorries on international journeys involved in sideswipe incidents. Following successful trials in the South East which distributed 40,000 stick-on Fresnel lenses as an immediate solution to the problem, VOSA have published a report on the trials which is available online at www.vosa.gov.uk or from the House of Commons Library.

It was found that the lens helped to reduce sideswiping incidents in the South East by 58 per cent. We are now investing in further free distribution of 90,000 lenses.

Highways Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what cost changes have been approved for schemes in the Highways Agency’s major roads programme since the publication of the Nichols report in March 2007. [Official Report, 28 January 2008, Vol. 471, c. 1MC.] (168982)

Following the Nichols report the arrangements for estimating and approving the cost of schemes within the roads programme are being improved. Schemes are not finally approved for construction until we have a price agreed with the contractor. Since publication of the Nichols report we have approved start of works for five schemes, at the expected costs shown in the following table.

Expected cost (£ million)

M27 Junction 3-4

17.4

M27 Junction 11-12

36

M1 Junction 25-28

345

A1 Bramham to Wetherby

65

M25 Junction 1b-3

162

1 In addition, £12 million of work has been transferred to the A2/A282 scheme.

The Highways Agency is currently undertaking an exercise to re-estimate the costs for schemes not yet in construction, following the recommendations on cost estimating in the Nichols report. Where appropriate they are examining the scope for using Active Traffic Management (ATM), in line with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State’s announcement on 25 October of a feasibility study into the scope for advanced traffic management. The results of the re-estimation process and the ATM feasibility work will be published in the spring.

In the meantime, where schemes need to progress through stages of development, the best information available at the time has been used. Since publication of the Nichols report, Ministers have agreed cost estimates for the purpose of publishing Environmental Statements or draft orders for the following schemes:

Cost estimate agreed (£ million)

M25 DBFO

Section 1

696

Section 4

583

M1 J10-13

601

A421 Bedford to M1 J13

188

In addition we have approved the preferred route for the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton improvement. The estimate for this scheme is being reviewed, as noted above, and more robust estimates will be published in spring 2008.

Railway Stations: Hampshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has for the premises of former travel centres at Hampshire rail stations; and if she will make a statement. (172620)

It is for franchise operators to manage the facilities at their stations within the contractual and regulatory framework.

South West Trains has put forward a number of proposals to change the use of Travel Centres at stations. These include details of the consultation responses and alternative arrangements proposed for passengers. These proposals are currently under consideration.

Railway Stations: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Statement of 14 November 2007, Official Report, columns 667-86, on national security, at which railway stations she is planning to introduce baggage and passenger searches; and if she will make a statement. (165662)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which of the proposals in the report by Sir Alan West on security at (a) rail stations and (b) airports will be met from existing departmental budgets. (168669)

Under the long standing ‘user pays’ principle, it is the transport industry that delivers and funds security requirements. The Department for Transport has responsibility for the policy and regulation of these protective counter-terrorism security measures.

The Department for Transport supports industry in meeting these requirements through collaborative working to achieve compliance and through the funding of research and the providing of advice. The aim is to ensure our security regimes remain proportionate and effective.

Railways: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect of the recent increase in costs of unregulated train tickets; and if she will make a statement. (172883)

In the absence of specific grounds for doing so, the Department has made no formal assessment of the recent increases in unregulated fares. However, we keep unregulated fares under review. The Department continues to listen to the representations of passenger focus and has invited them to take a greater role in commenting on the specification of future franchises.

Railways: Tickets

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her policy is on the charging of administrative fees by rail travel ticket agents when issuing refunds to customers. (172882)

The policy on refunds is set out in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. The National Rail Conditions of Carriage entitles passengers to a refund on tickets which have not been used, payable in specified circumstances. It also permits administration charges of up to £10.00 to be raised for processing the refund.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the potential effects on the number of road accidents of introducing British Summer Time in winter and double British Summer Time in summer. (172336)

A Government commissioned report by the Transport Research Laboratory published in October 1998, investigated the effects of the UK adopting single/double summertime (i.e. GMT plus one hour in the winter, from October to March, and GMT plus two hours in the summer, from March to October) thereby making the evenings lighter throughout the year. It concluded that, there could be a net saving of over 400 people killed or seriously injured per year in Great Britain, including over 100 deaths.

The 1998 research did not identify casualty savings by age.

Sustainable Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether her Department is on course to meet the commitment in the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate targets (a) to source at least 10 per cent. of its electricity from renewables by 31 March 2008 and (b) to increase recycling figures to 40 per cent. of waste by 2010. (171978)

The information is as follows.

(a) The Department has already achieved the “renewables” target with 62.5 per cent. of electricity being obtained from renewable sources and 10.1 per cent. derived from Combined Heat and Power.

(b) The Department has already achieved the waste recycling target with 57.1 per cent. of waste being recycled.

Transport for London: Underground Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with Transport for London (TfL) relating to TfL's bid to take over the London Underground maintenance contracts originally awarded to Metronet. (163475)

West Coast Railway Line: Watford

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons were for setting a timetable for the West Coast Mainline with fewer stops made in Watford. (168692)

One of the key objectives of the modernisation of the West Coast Main Line is to provide capacity for growth in passenger and freight over the next 30 years with substantially faster and more competitive journey times. Therefore, from the December 2008 timetable change, much greater use will be made of the fast lines with up to 11 trains every hour. This means that only two of these can call at Watford Junction.

The more fast line trains that call at Watford Junction, the lower the frequency that can operate to and from Euston. This would then reduce the benefits to passengers overall of the scheme, because the West Coast Main Line service as a whole would not be able to accommodate the projected demand. As a result of the new timetable, two of the 11 hourly services will call at Watford Junction. Watford Junction passengers are also able to interchange with a range of services at Milton Keynes.

Northern Ireland

Consultants: Government Departments

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 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. (163802)

The following table shows the current list of contracts with external consultants that the NIO has and their forecast value for 2007-08 together with the estimated time for completion of the contract and the remaining value after the current year. VAT is only included where this is not reclaimable by the Department under the Contracted-out Services regime for non-business activities.

Brief description

Number of contracts

2007-08 (£000)

Length

2008-09 (£000)

Accountancy

1

115

Runs to June 08

15

Recruitment

1

135

Ends in 2007-08

10

IT Management

1

11

Ends in 2007-08

10

IT Management

4

170

Ends in 2007-08

10

IT Management

1

145

Ends in 2007-08

10

IT Management

2

1158

Runs to June 08

136

IT Management

5

687

Ends in 2007-08

0

Legislative Drafting

1

80

Runs to May 2008

10

Legislative Drafting

1

16

Ongoing

12

Legal Advice

1

35

Ends in 2007-08

0

Research Project

1

11

Ends in 2007-08

0

Personnel Management

1

5

Ongoing

0

Financial Management

1

5

Ends in 2007-08

0

Programme Management

2

55

Ends in 2007-08

0

Programme Management

1

130

Ongoing

0

Contracts Advice

1

1

Ends in 2007-08

0

Programme Management

2

139

Runs to June 2008

33

Public Awareness Campaigns

3

227

Ends in 2007-08

0

Less Lethal Weapons Advice

1

6

Being reviewed

3

Marketing

1

47

Ends in 2007-08

0

Strategic Management

1

8

Ends in 2007-08

0

Strategic Management

1

8

Ends in 2007-08

0

Security Surveys

1

2

Ends in 2007-08

0

Corporate Governance

1

15

Ends in 2007-08

0

Accommodation

1

9

Ends in 2007-08

0

Engineering/ Architectural

1

116

Ends in 2007-08

97

Total

38

1,926

196

1 Forecast

Departmental Corporate Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions he has accepted corporate hospitality in the last 12 months. (171305)

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many confirmed data security breaches there have been in his Department in the last 36 months; and what action was taken after each occurrence. (170247)

I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. A statement on departments’ procedures will be made on completion of the review.

Departmental Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by his Department on advertising in the last 12 months. (167951)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) spent £258,000 on advertising between December 2006 to November 2007.

Drugs: Belfast

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons were (a) charged with and (b) convicted of possession and supply of illegal drugs in North Belfast in each of the last 10 years. (170496)

The following table shows the number of persons charged with possession and supply offences in North Belfast from 2002-03 until 2006-07. PSNI has advised that figures for persons charged in the years prior to 2002-03 are not readily accessible.

Number of persons charged with possession and supply of illegal drugs in North Belfast for the years 2002-07

Persons charged—possession offences

Persons charged—supply offences

Total number of persons charged1

2002-03

64

15

70

2003-04

69

13

75

2004-05

79

19

93

2005-06

98

14

103

2006-07

122

42

147

1 Persons can be charged for both a possession and a supply offence.

Figures detailing the number of persons charged and the number convicted are collected separately. It is not possible to reconcile charge based data from PSNI with prosecution and conviction data, since data on charges from PSNI relate to the number of offences, whereas data on prosecutions and convictions relate to the number of offenders brought before the courts.

The following table shows the number of persons convicted of possession and supply offences in North Belfast from 2000-05. Prior to this, prosecution and conviction data were based on the police division to which an offence was reported, and are therefore not directly comparable.

Number of persons convicted of possession and supply of illegal drugs in North Belfast for the years 2000-05

Persons convicted of possession of illegal drugs

Persons convicted of supply1 of illegal drugs

Persons convicted of possession with intent to supply illegal drugs

2000

37

2

29

2001

26

0

10

2002

27

3

13

2003

44

2

11

2004

37

0

6

2005

46

0

5

1 Includes being concerned in supply/offering to supply a controlled drug.

Motor Vehicles: Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many vehicles were stolen in North Belfast in each of the last 10 years. (170494)

Due to the introduction in 1998-99 of revised rules for recording crime, figures for the years prior to 1998 are not available.

The number of recorded thefts or unauthorised taking of motor vehicles in North Belfast District Command Unit is shown in the following table.

Recorded

1998-99

897

1999-2000

916

2000-011

1,023

2001-02

1,248

2002-032

882

2003-04

568

2004-05

498

2005-06

344

2006-07

347

1 Figures are available by District Command Unit back to 2000-01. The figures for 1998-99 and 1999-2000 have been aggregated by station area to produce totals for North Belfast DCU, however they are not completely comparable with later years due to boundary changes.

2 From 1 April 2002 most attempted thefts/unauthorised taking of motor vehicles are recorded as vehicle interference due to a change in Home Office counting rules.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Annual Reports

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness, (b) efficiency and (c) value for money of the distribution of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable's Annual Report to households in Northern Ireland. (170488)

In August 2006 PSNI commissioned a survey to evaluate the level of awareness and readership of the Chief Constable's Annual Report. Of those who had read the report, 78 per cent. stated that it provided them with a clearer understanding of the work of the police service.

The total cost of the exercise is approximately £120,000 per year; this represents around 16 pence per household.

The Chief Constable's Annual Report is delivered to every home in Northern Ireland and is also available on the Internet. It is an important aspect of PSNI's outreach and engagement with the community. The Northern Ireland Policing Board is responsible for ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the police, however I am content that distributing the report in this way is a valuable exercise and represents value for money.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Garda Siochana

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many members of the Garda Siochana were (a) seconded and (b) transferred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in each year since 2005, broken down by (i) rank and (ii) sex. (170489)

I am advised that to date no An Garda Siochana officers have been seconded or transferred to PSNI.

However, since October 2005, 12 An Garda Siochana officers have been on personnel exchanges, for periods of between two and four months, under the auspices of the joint protocols signed by the Garda Commissioner and Chief Constable on 21 February 2005.

Close co-operation between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana continues across a range of areas including human resources, traffic, IT, internal communications, roads, community safety, training, fraud, drugs and immigration.

Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many paramilitary-style assaults took place in Northern Ireland in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available, broken down by group deemed responsible. (172103)

The following table details the information requested.

Casualties as a result of paramilitary style assaults

Attribution1

Loyalist

Republican

2006

November

2

0

December

1

0

2007

January

3

1

February

6

0

March

6

0

April

2

0

May

0

1

June

0

1

July

2

0

August

3

1

September

0

0

October

9

2

1 Attribution is as perceived by PSNI based on the information available and does not necessarily indicate the involvement of a paramilitary organisation. Note: 2007-08 statistics are provisional and may be subject to minor amendment. Source: Central Statistics Unit, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Lisnasharragh.

The Government continue to work through and with the political parties to create the conditions that will make such assaults a thing of the past. The PSNI, which has the support of all parties in Northern Ireland, will continue to investigate all such incidents and where sufficient evidence exists will bring those responsible to justice.

Vetting

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what additional resources have been deployed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to expedite the progress of applications submitted to the Child Vulnerable Adult Access Vetting Unit. (170454)

The PSNI is committed to providing a high quality vetting service ensuring the protection of those most vulnerable in society.

The PSNI has deployed additional resources to address the current heavy workload. Since summer 2007 seven extra staff have been employed by the unit and staff have worked overtime to manage the increasing workload. Working practices are under review to ensure that available resources are used to best effect.

A new criminal history disclosure body, Access N.I., will replace the Criminal Records Office service from early 2008. This new service will bring Northern Ireland under the same legislation as the rest of the United Kingdom and will create a platform for the development of new national systems.

Scotland

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department and its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in each of the last five years. (171445)

The Scotland Office’s expenditure on Christmas cards is detailed in the table as follows.

Christmas cards (£)

2003

679

2004

687

2005

567.74

2006

702.65

2007

0

The Scotland Office has not incurred any expenditure in relation to Christmas parties in the last five years. We do not have separate records for expenditure in relation to Christmas decorations.

Departmental Computers

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many of his Department’s (a) computers and (b) laptops have been stolen in 2007; and what the value of those items was. (168603)

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what reviews have been undertaken of his Department’s rules on data protection in the last two years; if he will place in the Library a copy of the report of the last review of his Department’s compliance with data protection laws; and if his Department will undertake a review of its compliance with data protection laws; (168075)

(2) on how many occasions in his Department confidential data have been downloaded on to compact discs (i) without and (ii) with encryption in the last 12 month period for which figures are available; how many of those discs have been posted without using recorded or registered delivery; what procedures his Department has in place for the (A) transport, (B) exchange and (C) delivery of confidential or sensitive data; what records are kept of information held by his Department being sent outside the Department; what changes have been made to his Department’s rules and procedures on data protection in the last two years; on how many occasions his Department’s procedures and rules on data protection have been breached in the last five years; what those breaches were; what procedures his Department has in place on downloading confidential data on to computer discs before their transfer; what technical protections there are in his Department’s computer systems to prevent access to information held on those systems which is not in accordance with departmental procedures; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each of his Department’s rules and procedures on the protection of confidential data on individuals, businesses and other organisations;

(3) how many employees of each grade in his Department (a) have access to confidential or sensitive data and (b) are authorised to download such data to disk; how many of his Department’s employees have undergone data protection training in the last 12 months; what the average length of time is that each employee of his Department has spent on data protection training; how many investigations of employees of his Department for improperly accessing confidential information have taken place in the last 12 months; how many such investigations resulted in cases of disciplinary action; and what the circumstances of each of those cases was.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department’s information technology and data management systems are BS7799 compliant. (168740)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he proposes to review how his Department transports data; and whether his Department uses TNT to transport data. (169386)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many confirmed data security breaches there have been in the Office of the Advocate General for Scotland in the last 36 months; and what action was taken after each occurrence; (170216)

(2) how many confirmed data security breaches there have been in his Department in the last 36 months; and what action was taken after each occurrence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) on how many occasions the Information Commissioner was contacted by his Department to report breaches of data protection security in each of the last five years; (168817)

(2) how many breaches of data protection security there were in his Department in each of the last five years; and if he will provide details of each breach.

I refer the hon. Members to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within Departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. A statement on Departments’ procedures will be made on completion of the review.

Departmental Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much has been spent by his Department on advertising in the last 12 months. (167949)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 7 June 2007, Official Report, column 691W.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Land Use

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated annual administration costs associated with the Rural Payments Agency’s practice of resizing fields are. (166699)

[holding answer 21 November 2007]: Annual administration costs specifically relating to resizing fields (changes to area) cannot be separated from other costs related to the Rural Land Register (RLR). Costs for RLR-related work including all digitising work and RLR support staff were £4.26 million in 2006-07. Estimated costs for 2007-08 and 2008-09 are £3.34 million and £2.69 million respectively. These figures do not include possible further developments of the land register to meet European and business requirements.

Angling: Scottish Executive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to discuss changes to the main concordat with the Scottish Executive on fishing; and if he will make a statement. (172026)

I have no such plans, nor have I received any representations from the Scottish Executive to change the fisheries specific concordat.

Animals: Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which pathogens handled under Specified Animal Pathogens Order licence in the UK for viruses and diseases are not normally present in British livestock; and if he will make a statement; (170867)

(2) what the benefits to the UK are of handling pathogens under SAPO licence for viruses and diseases that are not normally present in British livestock; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is vulnerable to the introduction of exotic animal disease as global trade in animals and animal products increases. Despite sophisticated systems of import control, we cannot hope to reduce the risk of introduction of disease to zero. Climate change and the threat of bio-terrorism also present new means by which animal disease could be introduced to this country. We must therefore ensure we can prepare for, and react quickly to, all disease outbreaks.

The Government's ability to respond to outbreaks of exotic animal disease depends on having ready access to specialist facilities where diseases can be diagnosed quickly and with confidence, and where research is carried out on animal pathogens and the mechanisms to deal with disease outbreaks. This was highlighted by the pressure put on existing facilities during the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK. At least some of this work must be done in a facility with high bio-containment capability.

DEFRA has issued licences to a number of laboratories to hold category 3 and 4 viruses. Details of specific viruses which laboratories have licences for cannot be divulged as they are commercially confidential.

Animals: Vaccination

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 22 to 23 October 2007 and the discussions on the animal health strategy, what plans he has to review the UK Government's vaccine policy; and if he will make a statement. (170949)

The Government keep their vaccination policy for all notifiable diseases under constant review, taking full account of the latest scientific evidence, lessons learnt from outbreaks and the desirability of harmonising approaches to vaccination with other member states.

For example, in recent years we have substantially developed vaccination policy for foot and mouth disease and avian influenza, in line with developments in EU law, through procuring a vaccine bank and developing contingency plans for its potential use. We are currently doing the same on vaccination policy for bluetongue.

Avian Influenza: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from cage bird societies and other organisations forced to cancel events because show licences were revoked as a result of the outbreak of avian flu; what compensation is available to organisers of cage bird show events in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement. (170285)

DEFRA officials and I have received a small number of representations from cage bird societies and other organisations who have been forced to cancel events as a result of the ban on bird gatherings following the recent avian influenza outbreak. We put the ban in place due to the high risk nature of bird gatherings when there is great uncertainty over the presence of undetected infection in other parts of the country immediately after an outbreak. We kept this ban under constant review and, following a veterinary risk assessment once we knew more about the spread of disease, we lifted the ban after 11 days.

It is a long established principle that the Government do not meet the costs of consequential losses due to disease control measures. It is inevitable that such measures for avian influenza will disrupt bird gatherings due to the need to prevent wide-scale disease spread for both animal and human health reasons. No Government could commit itself to insure bird keepers against the cost of all the losses resulting, directly or indirectly, from disease outbreaks or the action taken to deal with them.

Beaches: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on improvements to sewerage infrastructure to improve bathing water quality in each of the last seven years. (170431)

Between 2000 and 2005, Ofwat collected data on costs for the improvements to continuous discharges (improvement to the processes at sewage treatment works themselves); under the bathing water directive. From 2005 to 2010, Ofwat is collecting the data on costs incurred to improve intermittent discharges, such as combined sewer overflows, as well as the continuous discharges that have been, and will be, improved under the bathing water directive.

This information is displayed in the following table.

£ million

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Total by 2006-07

Capex: Continuous discharges—bathing water directive

11.1

27.9

52.3

21.5

12.8

Opex: Continuous discharges—bathing water directive

0.9

1.3

2.1

3.3

4.3

Capex: Continuous and intermittent discharges—bathing water directive

8.8

2.8

Opex: Continuous and intermittent discharges—bathing water directive

0.1

0.11

Total

12.0

29.2

54.4

24.8

17.1

8.8

2.9

1149.04

1The totals may not equal the sum of the figure shown due to rounding.

Notes:

1. All costs are displayed in 2006-07 price base inflated by retail price index.

2. Capex = capital expenditure; Opex = operating expenditure.

3. Recurring opex incurred as a result of improvements in 2000-05, will have been transferred to base service at the last periodic review.

4. All costs displayed are in £ millions and in 2006-07 prices.

5. The data shown are additional costs incurred over and above the maintenance of the assets.

Carbon Emissions: Heating

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has considered the contribution of heating networks towards the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. (169733)

The draft Order for the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target was laid before Parliament on 5 December. The Government propose an overall target of 154 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) lifetime, which is equivalent to annual net savings of 4.2 MtC02 by 2010 and broadly double the level of activity of the current Energy Efficiency Commitment 2005-08. Subject to approval by the regulator, Ofgem, it will be open to energy suppliers to promote district heating systems and combined heat and power (CHP), including biomass CHP.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003; and if he will make a statement; (170922)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Home Affairs on the sentence for persons convicted of cruelty crimes, specified in the Animal Welfare Act 2006; and if he will make a statement.

We regularly review the implementation of the maximum sentences available under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 with the Ministry of Justice.

Crops: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what average level of annual subsidy from the public purse per hectare for growing (a) wheat, (b) barley, (c) potatoes and (d) miscanthus grass was in the latest period for which figures are available. (170198)

The introduction of the single payment scheme in 2005 decoupled support from production. There are now no specific payments for growing cereals or potatoes.

The average payment per hectare for the single payment scheme 2006 in England was £163. This is a simple average obtained by dividing the net amount payable by the total area on agricultural holdings in June 2006. There will have been wide variations between farms and within the same farm type. This payment was decoupled from production and was not dependent on any production taking place on farm.

The England Rural Development Programme’s (ERDP) Energy Crops Scheme offers grants to farmers in England for the establishment of miscanthus and short rotation coppice. The scheme is currently awaiting approval from the EU Commission but the rate for miscanthus is expected to be £800 per hectare.

Growers of crops used for the production of energy, including rapeseed, wheat, barley, short rotation coppice and miscanthus, may also be eligible for aid under the Aid for Energy Crops (AEC) Scheme. After scaleback due to the area claimed being greater than the maximum guaranteed area, claimants will receive a maximum payment of €31.65 per hectare for the eligible land on which they made a claim for AEC in 2007. The predominant crop in 2007 was oilseed rape.

Dairy Farming: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of his Department's annual budget was allocated to dairy farming in each of the last three years. (171023)

There are no DEFRA grants that are specifically allocated to dairy farming. However, dairy farmers and the dairy industry benefit from a range of DEFRA-funded activity.

These include: the single payment scheme (SPS); the England Rural Development programme (ERDP) and its successor the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); the England catchment sensitive farming delivery initiative (ECSFDI); the agricultural development scheme (ADS); environmentally sensitive farming (ESF); top-up to the school milk subsidy scheme (SMS); Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS); and the dairy supply chain forum (DSCF).

Figures for the budget allocation (NB: though actual resource spend for ERDP) to each of the schemes is highlighted in the following table:

Scheme

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

SPS1 (£ billion)

n/a

1.55

1.57

ERDP/RDPE (£ million)

250.3

273.5

335.1

ECSFDI2 (£ million)

n/a

n/a

8.6

ADS (£ million)

2.50

2.80

3.10

ESF2 (£000)

n/a

833

833

SMS (£000)

500

500

500

OCIS (£000)

311

311

311

DSCF (£000)

100

100

100

1 Figures for SPS are net of modulation.

2 Note that the ESF and ECSFDI were launched in 2005 and 2006 respectively so expenditure was not incurred in previous years.

We do not maintain records which would enable us to readily identify specific sectors benefiting from these activities.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products used in his departmental headquarters were imported products in the most recent period for which figures are available. (166655)

From information held centrally, the percentages of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products of imported origin used in the departmental headquarters were 0 per cent., 0 per cent. and 0 per cent. respectively and for dairy products 0 per cent. (eggs and milk) and 5 per cent. (cheese).

I refer the hon. Member to the data published in the report deposited in the House of Commons Library on 8 November 2007 giving the proportion of UK produce supplied to Government Departments, the NHS and HM Prison Service. A copy of the report is also available on the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) website at

http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/pdf/govt-food-usage.pdf.

Departmental Computers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of his Department’s (a) computers and (b) laptops have been stolen in 2007; and what the value of those items was. (168596)

The following figures show the number of reported thefts/losses of computers/laptops in DEFRA during 2007:

Item description

(a) Computers/desk tops—none

(b) Laptops—18

Following the outsourcing of IT services to IBM in October 2004, computers/laptops are no longer classed as departmental assets as they form part of the overall contract for the provision of IT services. All IT equipment therefore belongs to IBM. However, in an effort to reduce the losses of laptops, advice and guidance on the security of portable computer equipment is regularly issued to users.

Departmental Corporate Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions he has accepted corporate hospitality in the last 12 months. (171315)

Any hospitality that I may have accepted in the last 12 months has been declared in the Register of Members' Interests.

Departmental Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which buildings occupied by his Department (a) are and (b) are not fully accessible to people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement. (163952)

No central data are held of the number of buildings occupied by my Department, which are or are not considered to be fully accessible to disabled people.

Where there are access difficulties for disabled people, my Department makes appropriate reasonable adjustments to it's arrangements for the recruitment and employment of staff, and the services and functions it delivers to its users in accordance with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1005.

Departmental Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what land surplus to his Department’s requirements it is (a) selling, (b) leasing and (c) intending to (i) sell and (ii) lease; and what the (A) size and (B) name of each relevant site is. (168852)

A statement of the Department’s surplus land and properties currently available for sale and to let, included known future disposals, is set out in the table.

Property details

Property no.

Property name

Town

Postcode

Tenure

NIA (Sq m)

Land (Ha)

54

Thirsk (Sowerby) Buffer Depot

Thirsk

YO7 1QX

Freehold

1.1

62

Almondbank 4

Perth

PH1 3HY

Freehold

8.9

63

Almondbank 5

Perth

PH1 3HY

Freehold

5.6

93

Fish Labs, Rememberance Ave.

Burnham-on-Crouch

CM0 8HA

Leasehold

0.55

94

Laboratory Complex Pakefield Road

Lowestoft

NR33 0HT

Leasehold

1.21

146

Guildford, Epsom Road

Guildford

GU1 2LD

Freehold

4.92

272

Longbenton VIC-surplus land

Newcastle

NE12 9SE

Freehold

2.1

302

Efford Plot (0.1 ha)

Lymington

SO41 0JD

Freehold

0.1

302

Efford Paddock (0.25 ha)

Lymington

SO41 0JD

Freehold

0.25

302

Efford Sewerage Treatment Works

Lymington

SO41 0JD

Freehold

0.01

309

Boxworth Farm

Boxworth

CB3 8NN

Freehold

326

317

Terrington (Land)

Kings Lynn

PE34 4PW

Freehold

1.6

321

Ditton Laboratory

West Malling

ME19 6BJ

Freehold

1

340

Dargues (Land)

Otterburn

NE19 1SB

Freehold

21.86

Departmental Public Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) percentage and (b) amount his Department has required each of the public bodies for which he is responsible to reduce its budget for 2007-08 from the level planned at the beginning of the financial year; what options he is considering for further savings in public expenditure; and if he will make a statement. (167179)

My Department has not required any of the public bodies for which the Department is responsible to reduce budgets for 2007-08 since these were set at the beginning of the financial year.

Budgets for 2008-09 are currently being considered by Ministers with the aim of being finalised in the new year.

Departmental Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on overnight accommodation for Ministers overseas in the last year. (171340)

Details of the cost of overseas travel, including the cost of travel and accommodation are contained in the Overseas Travel by Cabinet Ministers list. The latest list for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the 2007-08 financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. All travel is made in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

Domestic Wastes: Packaging

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the (a) proportion and (b) tonnage of waste from household collection which is made up of packaging waste; (170536)

(2) what estimate he has made of the tonnage of packaging waste from household collection which is (a) recovered and (b) recycled annually; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 3 December 2007]: 4.7 million tonnes of packaging ended up as household waste in the UK in 2006. This accounts for an estimated 18 to 21 per cent. of household waste.

No estimate has been made by my Department on the tonnage of packaging waste which is recovered or recycled specifically from household sources.

However, the total amount of packaging waste recovered and recycled in 2006 was around 6.3 million tonnes.

Energy: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what has been the total level of expenditure on his Department's market transformation programme since its inception. (169936)

Since DEFRA was formed in 2001, it has provided just over £13.5 million to its Market Transformation Programme over the seven years between 2001 and 2007. Annual expenditure levels are set out in the following table:

£

2001-02

520,000

2002-03

812,000

2003-04

1,200,000

2004-05

2,139,000

2005-06

4,270,000

2006-07

4,600,000

Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 120W, on environment protection, if he will break down the Environment Agency’s maintenance expenditure on activities other than dredging, aquatic weed removal, grass cutting, tree removal and pollarding. (171707)

In 2006-07 the proportion of the Environment Agency’s flood risk management maintenance expenditure on activities other than dredging, aquatic weed removal, grass cutting, tree removal and pollarding was as follows:

Percentage

Obstruction removal

8.6

Structure maintenance

18.7

Channel/defence maintenance

10.2

Operational and asset inspections

11.6

Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation, Automation and Control

7.2

Buildings maintenance

1.1

Asset monitoring, operation and repair

7.4

Other

4.6

Environment Protection: Lighting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government has taken to promote the use of energy saving light bulbs. (171835)

[holding answer 6 December 2007]: The number of efficient light bulbs in UK homes rose from 26 million in 2000, to 110 million in 2006. However, we recognise that more can be done to encourage their use.

We are working with retailers, manufacturers, energy suppliers and the Energy Saving Trust, to voluntarily phase out inefficient light bulbs by 2011 in the UK, ahead of our European partners.

This is supported by the “EU Energy” and “Energy Saving Recommended” labels, which provide consumers with appropriate information on the energy efficiency of products.

Replacing bulbs with energy efficient alternatives will save up to 5 million tonnes of CO2 from electricity generation per year by 2012 and will also help reduce householders’ energy bills.

Fish: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Marine Bill will include provisions to improve the welfare of fish caught for human consumption. (171100)

There are no plans for the Marine Bill to include provisions on the welfare of fish caught for human consumption.

Fisheries: Navy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contribution he receives from the devolved administrations on the costs of the contract for the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Service; and if he will make a statement. (170913)

The Royal Navy provides fisheries protection services to the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) in the waters around England and Wales. The cost of the provision of this service is borne by the MFA. The Welsh Assembly Government contribute 6 per cent. of the overall cost by a PES transfer to the MFA. There are no other contributions from the devolved administrations for this service.

Neither the Welsh Assembly nor the Northern Ireland Assembly received separate funding for this service upon devolution, and therefore make no contribution to the resources used on the MFA's behalf by the Royal Navy.

The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA), an Agency of the Scottish Executive, provides fishery protection services to the Scottish Executive in the waters around Scotland. The SFPA operates its own patrol vessels. As the SFPA does not use the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron, it makes no contributions to the cost of the Squadron.

Fisheries: Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the timing of its proposals on managing Scottish quota; and if he will make a statement. (172040)

I have yet to receive a formal proposal from the Scottish Executive regarding managing the UK quota in Scotland, and have had no recent discussions with my counterparts in the devolved administrations on the timing of such a proposal.

Fisheries: Regional Advisory Councils

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding he plans to give to (a) the North Sea Regional Advisory Council, (b) the North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council, (c) the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council and (d) the Long Distance Regional Advisory Council in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. (170901)

On 11 July 2007, Council Regulation 2004/585 was introduced to simplify the funding arrangements for all regional advisory councils in order to provide them with sufficient and permanent funding to allow them to continue their advisory role within the Common Fisheries Policy. Under these new funding arrangements, the Commission's allocated grant "shall not exceed 90 per cent. of the operating budget" of each regional advisory council, on an annual basis.

In addition, the UK and other member states contribute an annual membership, which varies from year to year. For the financial year of 2007-08 the UK membership is:

(a) 2,450 Euros to the North Sea RAC;

(b) 3,700 Euros to the North-Western Waters RAC;

(c) 2,222 Euros to the Pelagic RAC.

The Long Distance RAC has been established recently and the UK membership contribution has yet to be agreed.

In 2008, the Commission intends to review the function of regional advisory councils and that may include funding provisions.

Fisheries: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research on attitudes to regulation and compliance in the English seafood industry. (172052)

The Government currently have no plans to commission research on attitudes to regulation and compliance in the English seafood industry.

Fisheries: Science

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much he intends to spend on (a) fisheries science and (b) the science fisheries partnership in the next comprehensive spending review period; and if he will make a statement. (173017)

No final decisions about the budget for the first of the comprehensive spending review years has been taken so we do not have the level of detail requested.

However in 2007-08 we are spending approximately £13.5 million on fisheries science. This includes £1 million on the Fisheries Science Partnership and £3 million on long-term research and development projects.

Fisheries: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made on finalising the draft operational programme on the Fisheries Fund for submission to the European Commission; and when he expects it to be submitted. (172027)

I intend to submit the UK operational programme to the European Commission following a public consultation on the draft. This will be a 12-week consultation which I expect to commence early in 2008.

Agreement has now been reached between all UK Fisheries Ministers regarding the division of the UK European Fisheries Fund budget. DEFRA officials are working with their counterparts in the devolved administrations to complete the UK operational programme, in order to enable the consultation to take place.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the Government's commitment in the Statement of Principles with Insurance Industries to (a) reduce the annual probability of flooding each year for a substantial number of properties in the UK, (b) maintain investment in flood management each year, (c) implement reforms to the land-use planning system to ensure that new developments do not lead to an increase in the national or local flood risk, (d) communicate flood risk effectively and (e) develop an integrated approach to urban drainage that alleviates the risks of sewer flooding and flash flooding. (171154)

The Association of British Insurers' Statement of Principles sets out members' commitments on availability of flood insurance in association with Government commitments on effective management of flood risk.

(a) A full programme of Government-funded works across the country is currently forecast to considerably exceed the Spending Review target to improve protection from river flooding and coastal erosion for more than 100,000 households between 2005 and 2008. Our investment is making real improvements possible across the country but, regardless of future levels of funding, it would be unrealistic to expect the Government to address all flood and coastal erosion risk problems.

(b) Spending on flood and coastal erosion risk management across central and local government has increased from £307 million in 1996-97 to some £600 million this year and will increase further to a minimum of £650 million in 2008-09, £700 million in 2009-10, reaching £800 million in 2010-11. This represents a significant real terms increase.

(c) I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my colleague the Minister for Housing on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 673W, as this is a matter for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

(d) Flood risk mapping is an important part of the Government's strategy on public awareness. DEFRA funds the Environment Agency to map flood risk as part of our strategy to ensure that the risk from flooding is better understood by all concerned. The Environment Agency continues to improve the flood mapping available to the public, local planning authorities, the emergency services and insurers.

(e) The Government's developing strategy to improve flood risk management, “Making space for water”, seeks to identify improvements in urban flood risk management where there is a complex interaction of drainage systems and a number of different organisations involved. As part of this, DEFRA is funding 15 pilots in different locations around the country to test new approaches to urban drainage management and clarify responsibilities. We are also developing proposals for how the current range of responsibilities for urban flood risk should be managed and the role of the Environment Agency in this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the collation of groundwater flooding records, and monitoring and risk assessment, as referred to in Making Space for Water. (171156)

Recommendations from the Making Space for Water project (MSfW) ‘Groundwater flooding records collation, monitoring and risk assessment’ are being considered at MSfW programme level, with other related work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have been introduced to encourage people to take up resilience measures in their homes. (171158)

The Environment Agency publishes helpful information on its website on resilience and resistance measures.

In conjunction with the Association of British Insurers, we are working to develop ways in which the public can be encouraged to incorporate appropriate flood resilience or resistance measures in their homes and businesses. We are also undertaking a £500,000 pilot scheme looking at the feasibility of providing financial assistance for people to install such measures. In May we published a technical report which described in broad terms the suitability and cost effectiveness of a variety of measures such as temporary flood gates, water resistant floors and wall coverings.

Flood Control: Video Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department has provided for the development of Discovery Software’s Flood Ranger programme. (171625)

No funding has been provided by my Department. The cost of developing this software, c£25,000, was met by the former Department for Trade and Industry through its Office of Science and Technology’s Foresight Programme.

Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Department uses to assess the effectiveness of flood proofing measures used on (a) private homes and (b) business properties. (171729)

The Environment Agency is the principal operating authority for flood risk management in England and supports the Kitemark scheme of certified flood products as they have been independently tested and proved fit for purpose. Details of the scheme and a list of certified products are available on its website. The Environment Agency does not endorse any individual product or manufacturer.

Floods: Infrastructure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of critical infrastructure is situated in flood risk areas; and what proposals he has to ensure the future safety of this infrastructure. (170519)

The Environment Agency has identified nearly 5,000 sites in areas in England and Wales assessed by the agency as having an annual probability of flooding of 1 in 75 or greater.

The 14 categories of assets include power stations, sewage and water treatment works and schools. On the data currently available, the Environment Agency identifies 12.2 per cent. of these as being situated within the extreme flood outline.

Fly-tipping: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many incidents of fly tipping were recorded in each London borough in each year since 1998; and what the estimated cost was of dealing with these incidents in each borough in each year. (172493)

I have arranged for a table to be placed in the Library of the House showing the number of fly-tipping incidents and prosecutions recorded in each local authority by local authorities on Flycapture for 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. Data are only available from 2004 onwards.

Following the release of the 2006-07 Flycapture statistics on 9 October 2007, this information has been sent to all MPs and has been placed in the Printed Paper Office.

It is also available to download electronically on DEFRA’s Flycapture website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/localenv/flytipping/flycapture-data.htm

Food from Britain: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the budget allocated for Food for Britain has been in each year since its creation. (169935)

The following table shows the grants receivable by Food from Britain (FFB) from MAFF/DEFRA in each year since FFB was created in 1983. Information on FFB’s total income and expenditure in these years can be found in its annual report and accounts, copies of which have been laid before Parliament.

Financial yearCore grant in aidGrant in aid for capital expenditureOther MAFF/DEFRA grant1983-843,876,002145,477n/a1984-855,433,42289,452n/a1985-865,410,69650,036n/a1986-874,786,82553,214n/a1987-883,664,965139,412n/a1988-894,056,849129,555n/a1989-904,702,04281,759n/a1990-914,025,49788,719n/a1991-924,691,32930,403n/a1992-934,648,51988,092n/a1993-944,915,85027,875n/a1994-954,953,300143,699n/a1995-965,431,41081,020n/a1996-975,274,47828,616n/a1997-984,772,55058,3801300,0001998-994,927,00067,9171313,000 plus 2355,0001999-20004,968,00073,0841405,000 plus 218,0002000-015,392,00030,6631150,000 plus 210,0002001-025,368,00055,99932,500,0002002-035,368,00034,6023500,0002003-045,368,00045,95541,000,000 2004-055,368,00059,47241,000,000 2005-065,368,00051,64241,000,0002006-074,965,40048,69541,000,0002007-084,965,40060,00041,000,000 1 Sector Challenge funding2 Exceptional additional MAFF funding3 Foot and mouth recovery funding4 Additional funding to support implementation of DEFRA’s English Regional Food Strategy, initially agreed for the period 2003-04 to 2005-06 and subsequently extended for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08.Note:Figures exclude grants paid to Food from Britain by the Countryside Agency in the years 2001-02 to 2002-03 to fund specific activities carried out by Regional Food Groups. Source:1983-84 to 2006-07—Food from Britain Annual Report and Accounts

Foot and Mouth Disease: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the likely effects on the UK economy are of producing foot and mouth disease vaccine in Britain; and if he will make a statement; (170865)

(2) if he will re-examine the merits of producing foot and mouth disease vaccine in the UK.

DEFRA has not made an assessment of the financial merits to the economy of producing foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine in the UK. However, having a readily available stock of FMD vaccine is of clear benefit in terms of ensuring timely access to vaccine in the event of an outbreak.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Farmers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support is being provided to farmers within the foot and mouth disease restriction areas. (164395)

On 8 October, DEFRA announced a package of assistance worth £12.5 million aimed at supporting those livestock farmers in England most severely affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD), including those in the restriction areas. Implementation of all elements of the package is well under way and some are almost completed.

£8.5 million was allocated to provide support for our hill farmers. Approximately £8.3 million has now been paid out. The rest of the payments are expected to be made by the end of December.

£1 million was allocated to raise the level of subsidy from 10 per cent. to 100 per cent. for the National Fallen Stock Scheme for farmers in the FMD Restricted Zone while it was in place. This scheme closed when the Restricted Zone was lifted on 19 November.

£2 million was to promote the sales of lamb, beef and pork domestically and in our export markets. The first payment of £250,000 has been made. Lamb promotion activity has begun and additional beef promotion will start later this month. The demand for lamb from European partners is proving strong. Preparatory work has started for promoting third country exports of pork once we have regained World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) freedom, and additional domestic pork promotion will start in January.

A donation of £1 million was made to the Arthur Rank Centre for disbursement to Farming Help charities, which provide advice and practical and emotional support to farming families. £500,000 has already been transferred.

All domestic control restrictions have now been lifted, and the only restrictions remaining in place are those placed on movements to ensure eligibility for export to the EU.

Game

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) initiated and (b) evaluated on (i) the proportion of shot game which is released to the black market and (ii) the proportion of shot game in respect of which income tax is declared. (172621)

Game: Birds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the gamebird shooting industry on (a) the killing of indigenous mammals and birds, (b) damage to moorland peat deposits and (c) burning of heather; and if he will make a statement. (170284)

The gamebird shooting industry involves the shooting of the native grey partridge and red grouse in addition to non-native gamebirds such as red-legged partridge and pheasant. These populations are managed for shooting and there is no evidence to suggest that shooting has resulted in population declines. In order to enhance gamebird populations, a range of native birds and mammals are killed legally as part of pest control campaigns. These species are generalist predators, including foxes, stoats, weasels, carrion crows and magpies. There is no evidence to suggest that this has an adverse affect on populations of these species, although little information is available on which to assess the impacts of killing stoats and weasels. The illegal persecution of native birds of prey, especially for the threatened hen harrier in England, has been associated with game rearing interests and remains a serious problem.

Natural England is working to establish management agreements with landowners and managers, including those associated with the game industry (especially on sites of special scientific interest), to restore peatlands by the blocking of drains and agreement of burning plans. In addition, DEFRA has recently set up a policy project to coordinate the Government's work on peat. This aims to protect and enhance peat under all forms of management. As a part of this work, we plan to commission research to assess the environmental impacts of peatland management.

We are aware of the potential for damage of unregulated or poorly practised burning. This is why we introduced the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2007. The regulations protect people, property and the natural environment, and introduce new rules to safeguard carbon-rich soils. In addition, we have published the Heather and Grass Burning Code 2007. The regulations and the code have the support of Natural England and key stakeholders, including the National Farmers' Union and the Moorland Association.

Heathrow Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings he had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the expansion of Heathrow airport before the publication of responses to the consultation on the subject. (171801)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) met the Secretary of State for Transport in September when, among other things, the expansion of Heathrow airport was discussed. This issue has also been discussed during the general course of Cabinet business.

Housing: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent representations he has received on insurance industries offering home insurance to new developments built against Environment Agency advice; (172069)

(2) what recent discussions he has held with the insurance industry on the affordability of insurance for properties at risk of flooding.

There is a continuing dialogue with the Environment Agency, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Association of British Insurers on this issue with the aim of ensuring widespread availability of insurance cover for flooding.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave her on 12 November 2007, Official Report, column 14W.

Inland Waterways: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the likely effect of funding reductions for inland waterways on tourism; and if he will make a statement. (171965)

I have received correspondence from a wide range of stakeholders regarding the funding of British Waterways, and its public benefits.

Laboratories: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 22 and 23 October 2007 and the discussions on the animal health strategy (1) what steps he is taking to ensure improvements in biosecurity in laboratories; and if he will make a statement; (170883)

(2) whether he discussed with his European counterparts biosecurity at the Pirbright site; and if he will make a statement.

We are keeping in close contact with the European Commission on these issues.

Stringent new conditions have been applied to work undertaken on the Pirbright site, and a safety alert was issued to all similar laboratories immediately following the August outbreak. A follow-up round of inspections has been taking place jointly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Additionally, we accepted all recommendations that apply to the Government contained in the HSE and Spratt reports. These measures will ensure the highest level of biosecurity both at Pirbright and at all other laboratories working with specified animal pathogens.

Following the incident announced by DEFRA on 22 November, Merial’s Specified Animal Pathogens Order licence was suspended. The incident was contained in the enclosed, re-lined drainage system, and there was no release of virus to the environment. An inspection team has produced a full report for the acting chief veterinary officer.

Livestock: Agricultural Shows

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department provides to livestock show judges on the avoidance of contamination on clothing. (170292)

Livestock shows must be licensed by DEFRA and each show must have a biosecurity officer to assist the licensee in ensuring the rules of the licence and the Animal Gatherings legislation are followed.

DEFRA has issued specific guidance to show organisers and their biosecurity officers for implementing the biosecurity conditions of the show's licence and the legislation, which are their responsibility. The guidance is available from the DEFRA website.

Judges at livestock shows, as well as owners of animals and stockmen, should understand all the biosecurity rules, including those for clean clothing and personal biosecurity when leaving the area to which animals have access.

Merial Animal Health: Pirbright

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) economic and (b) other factors he took into account in granting licences to produce vaccines to Merial at Pirbright. (170612)

Specified Animal Pathogen Order (SAPO) licenses are only granted if the laboratory can demonstrate that they have the necessary management processes, trained staff, documented operating procedures and facilities to ensure the safe containment, handling and disposal of the specified animal pathogens concerned. Laboratory inspections are carried out to assess this, and economic factors are not a consideration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 22 November 2007: Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) Licence Conditions at Merial Animal Health, whether the valves on the steam lines used to sterilise the associated pipework were inspected by his Department’s officials prior to restoring the SAPO licence to Merial Animal Health on 6 November 2007; and if he will make a statement. (170869)

The facility was inspected prior to restoring the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) licence on 6 November. Following inspections and documentary evidence from Merial, we were satisfied that they complied with all of the required licence conditions and had in place all the necessary measures to ensure strict biosecurity throughout the site.

As part of the SAPO licence, we require Merial to apply rigorous standard operating procedures. In relation to the valves, these mean that each time the centrifuge is used, two operators must certify that the valve is locked shut and its integrity is confirmed by pressure tests before and after each batch. In addition, the preventive maintenance system includes regular inspections and although the valves on the centrifuge have a three-year life expectancy, they are replaced annually. All these checks must be recorded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 22 November 2007: Specified Animal Pathogens Order Licence Conditions at Merial Animal Health, what risk assessment he has carried out to the risks to British livestock of contamination from the live virus leak reported; and if he will make a statement. (170870)

An assessment carried out by the inspection team, on 20 November, concluded that live virus had not been released to the environment. This was the result of the extensive layers of biosecurity that we require under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order licence, which effectively contained the virus in the enclosed, re-lined drainage system before deactivation in the chemical treatment plant within the Pirbright site.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 22 November 2007: Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) Licence Conditions at Merial Animal Health, and the decision to suspend the SAPO licence, what assessment he has made of the effect this will have on the production of a bluetongue vaccine; and if he will make a statement. (170871)

On 20 November, Merial informed DEFRA of a biosecurity incident at Pirbright and, although the incident was contained, the use of live virus was immediately suspended as our paramount concern is the security of the site. An inspection team urgently conducted detailed checks and we are considering what further action needs to be taken.

It is too early to say what implications this may have on the production of a bluetongue vaccine. However, this suspension does not prevent Merial from conducting development of a bluetongue vaccine as their Pirbright site is primarily a production, rather than research, facility; Merial conduct the majority of their research elsewhere. There are also two other manufacturers of bluetongue vaccine, Intervet and Fort Dodge. We are currently considering bids from all three companies that were submitted following our recent tendering exercise and we plan to make an announcement on the outcome shortly.

Organic Farming

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s policy on organic farming. (170365)

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s report on Paying Farmers for Environmental Services is a helpful contribution to the debate on how best to secure delivery of environmental public goods for which there is no return for farmers from the market. The contribution which can be made in this country by organic farmers is recognised through aid paid under the Organic Entry Level Scheme.

Organic Food: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken to increase the availability of organic food to low income families. (171834)

[holding answer 6 December 2007]: The Government offers considerable support to the organic sector through financial aid to organic farmers and the organic action plan, in order to make organic produce more accessible. The stakeholder group supporting the organic action plan is currently examining the issue of how income and geographical locations impact on the ability of consumers to purchase organic food and will make recommendations to DEFRA in the new year.

We have to recognise that, by its very nature, organic food is more expensive to produce because of the greater emphasis on sustainable extensive management systems in preference to artificial inputs and intensive farming systems.

Pigs: Animal Breeding

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the size was of the total breeding herd of pigs in England in each of the last 10 years. (173001)

Number of pigs in breeding herd1998629,9151999573,0342000502,6972001488,9802002457,8712003418,0532004424,4852005386,2072006386,1092007374,861 Notes:1. Pig breeding herd is sows and gilts in pig and other sows either being suckled or dry sows being kept for further breeding.2. These totals are estimates based on a sample survey and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.Source: June Survey of Agriculture

Poultry: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on animal welfare problems associated with intensive broiler chicken production; and if he will make a statement. (171073)

[holding answer 5 December 2007]: I am pleased to say that the European Commission directive on the welfare of broiler chickens gained political agreement at Agriculture Council on 7 May 2007, after two years of negotiations. The UK worked hard with the Commission and other animal welfare-conscious member states to get the dossier agreed.

The directive will deliver real welfare benefits for broilers, while balancing economic, social and environmental impacts. It takes into account a range of factors including the latest scientific evidence, veterinary advice, consumer concerns and industry practice.

Throughout the negotiations we held extensive discussions with a range of stakeholders, both through a formal consultation on the proposals as well as through meetings and correspondence. We will continue to involve stakeholders during our transposition of the new directive into domestic legislation, and this will include a full 12-week public consultation period.

Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the role of the UK policy custodian for the marine and aquatic environment is, as stated in his Department’s Marine and Fisheries Business Plan 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (170931)

DEFRA is the UK policy custodian for the marine and aquatic environment. The purpose of the role is to seek to deliver clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas through the Department’s marine programme.

Seas and Oceans: Pollution Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to report on the review of the marine emergency contingency plan; and if he will make a statement. (170895)

I have been asked to reply.

The current National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations, agreed by Ministers, was published in November 2006. This plan ensures that there is a timely, measured and effective response to the threat of, or actual pollution of UK waters from ships or offshore installations. A copy of this plan is available on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's website at

http://www.mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/mcga-environmental/mcga-dops_cp_environmental-counter-pollution/mcga-ncp.htm

Special Areas of Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which inshore sites he has identified to become special areas of conservation over the next five years; and if he will make a statement. (170890)

Currently, there are 28 Special Areas of Conservation with marine habitats or species in English inshore waters. Natural England are in the process of carrying out a programme of further data collection and survey work for seven additional inshore areas. This should lead to the selection of further Special Areas of Conservation.

The areas involved include: Outer Wash sandbanks; Greater Thames estuary; Lyme Bay to Poole Bay; Salcombe to Yealm and Eddystone; Lizard Point; Lands End and Cape Bank; and Outer Morecombe Bay, Shell Flat and Lune Deep.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which offshore sites he has identified to become special areas of conservation over the next five years; and if he will make a statement. (170891)

We are completing our Natura 2000 network of sites in the marine area, which we hope to have substantially finalised by 2012. We expect to send an initial tranche of candidate offshore special areas of conservation to the European Commission before September 2008.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee will be consulting on seven initial sites later this month. These include: Braemar Pockmarks, Darwin Mounds, Haig Fras, North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef, Scanner Pockmark, Stanton Banks and Wyville Thomson Ridge.

Our programme of data collection and survey work will continue to identify further sites needed to complete the UK network.

Turtles: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 168W, on Turtles: conservation, if he will list the UK wildlife crime priorities for 2007-08; and with respect to the illegal trade in CITES species, what the five species threatened by illegal trade are that are being focused on. (171213)

The five UK wildlife crime priorities for 2007-08, agreed by senior Government and enforcement officers, are offences against bats and freshwater pearl mussels, the illegal trade in CITES species, the illegal killing of hen harriers, and poaching.

With respect to the illegal trade in CITES species, the five areas being focused on are caviar, ivory, ramin, tortoises and traditional medicines.

The priorities do not preclude action being taken to investigate and prosecute crimes against other wildlife species.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of waste facilities required to meet the commitments entered into under the European Landfill Directive; how many such waste facilities exist; how many new ones are (a) under construction and (b) planned; and if he will make a statement. (167132)

No specific estimate has been made by my Department on the number of waste facilities needed. However, DEFRA’s Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme (WIDP) is maintaining a national overview of existing and planned residual treatment capacity to ensure that resources are applied in the most effective manner. It is the responsibility of local authorities, working on their own or in partnership with neighbouring authorities, to procure waste management facilities suited to local needs.

While we are confident that we have enough infrastructure in place to meet our 2010 EU Landfill Directive target, current estimates suggest that we still require an increase in diversion capacity to allow us to meet the 2013 and 2020 targets. This infrastructure will help to facilitate an increase in both recycling and composting and diversion from landfill. The number of facilities required will depend upon the nature of waste delivery authority procurements, the technology selected and the size of individual plants.

We are currently aware of 81 plants across England (covering a range of treatment and disposal technologies) that are scheduled to become operational from 2008 onwards. These will potentially provide the capacity to treat an extra 10.3 million tonnes of municipal waste. With the ongoing engagement WIDP is undertaking with authorities, the combination of authorities’ ambitions and the utilisation of the £2 billion private finance initiative credits recently announced in the comprehensive spending review, the Government believe sufficient infrastructure can be delivered to meet our obligations under the Landfill Directive.

It remains vital that regional spatial strategies and local development documents look forward and make adequate provision for the appropriate types and scales of infrastructure and waste treatment facilities needed. It is also important for specific and suitable sites to be identified in local plans.

Waste Disposal: Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the average cost per capita of collecting waste in predominantly (a) rural and (b) urban local authorities; and if he will make a statement. (170877)

Local authorities report the cost of waste collection per head as best value performance indicator (BVPI) 86. Data for local authorities in England for 2006-07 are available on the DEFRA website.

No specific assessment has been made of the average cost of collecting waste in rural compared to urban areas. However, it is possible to calculate the total per capita cost of household waste collection from the BVPI data. This shows that the average cost per head for predominantly rural authorities is £49.82 compared to £48.73 in urban authorities. Analysis of the individual local authority data shows that there is variability within these average costs.

Water

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given to bringing the responsibility for drainage matters in a particular area under one statutory authority. (172065)

We are aiming to improve management of flood risk nationally and to clarify responsibilities by giving the Environment Agency a strategic overview of all forms of flooding in a close partnership with local authorities and the water companies in long term planning and strategic risk management.

The Government is currently examining approaches to the management of surface water drainage. As part of the upcoming Government Water Strategy, Future Water, due to be published early in 2008, we will review the institutional arrangements for those bodies responsible for surface water. This work will take on board recommendations from Sir Michael Pitt’s interim report, due shortly, and the 15 pilot projects we are funding to identify improvements to the management of urban drainage.

Wales

Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list those meetings he has helped to arrange between ministerial colleagues across Government and Welsh business representatives over the last 12 months. (172690)

It is my duty to facilitate meetings across Government both at Westminster and in Cardiff to strengthen economic opportunity for Wales and I and my office do so from time to time.

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department and its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in each of the last five years. (171448)

Prior to 2004-05 these items were purchased by or paid for via the National Assembly for Wales and figures can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The expenses incurred by the Wales Office for the following years were:

£

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

(a) Cards:

2,949.57

1,020

897.80

(b) Parties:

1,284.28

2,523.96

5,538.33

(c) Decorations:

0

0

100

Printing costs for invitations are not included this can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Departmental Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department spent on overnight accommodation for Ministers overseas in the last year. (171330)

Details of the cost of overseas travel, including the cost of travel and accommodation are contained in the ‘Overseas Travel by Cabinet Ministers’ list. The latest list for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the 2007-08 financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. All travel is made in accordance with the ministerial code.

Right to Buy Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when the Government first received the draft legislative competence order on the supervision of the right to buy from the Welsh Assembly Government. (172689)

While discussions between the Welsh Assembly government and the UK Government concerning this proposal began at the end of June, the draft order that was published in the National Assembly on 4 December was first received by the Government on 29 November.

Women and Equality

Equality

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality for what reasons responsibilities for administering the provisions of the Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates Act) 2002, Civil Partnerships Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2006 are divided between Departments. (172594)

Responsibility for administering these provisions is not divided between different Departments. The Government Equalities Office is responsible for maintaining these pieces of legislation, working closely with a range of Departments which have a strong interest, including Communities and Local Government and the Ministry of Justice.

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what changes have been made to ministerial responsibility for each equality strand in the last year; and how these changes have been communicated to (a) staff and (b) stakeholders. (172595)

I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement made by the Prime Minister on 26 July 2007 at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070726/wmstext/70726m0004.htm#07072644000043

and to a subsequent written ministerial statement made by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 18 October 2007:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm071018/wmstext/71018m0001.htm#07101814000009

All changes to ministerial responsibility are reported to staff by senior officials within relevant Departments. Changes to ministerial responsibility were communicated to those stakeholders with whom there are regular contacts by correspondence or by telephone.

Ministerial Duties

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what proportion of the working week of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Government Equalities Office, is allocated to (a) her role supporting the Minister for Women and Equalities and (b) her role as Minister for the East of England. (171384)

There is no such thing as an average working week.

As with any Minister who has a broad portfolio I prioritise my work accordingly.

Olympics

Legacy Objectives

4. To ask the Minister for the Olympics what the legacy objectives are for the Olympic Games in Southend and the UK. (172192)

We are committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK can be part of the 2012 games—through cultural events across the country, more opportunities to take part in sport and be physically active, and a wealth of volunteering, jobs and skills training initiatives. The five legacy promises that I published in June encapsulate these objectives, and I will be publishing an action plan in the new year making clear how these promises will be delivered. These aims apply to every nation and region of the UK, including Southend.

Budget

5. To ask the Minister for the Olympics what recent discussions she has had on the budget for the Olympic Games; and if she will make a statement. (172193)

The Ministerial Funders Group met on 26 November and agreed funding for the Olympic Delivery Authority within the £9.325 billion provision I announced in March.

Since then I have had discussions with:

the Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee;

the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee;

the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Culture spokesmen and

the president of the International Olympic Committee.

This morning, I presented a written statement to the House to update hon. Members on the budget for 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

British Olympic Association

6. To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the contribution of the British Olympic Association to preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games. (172194)

The British Olympic Association plays a key role in the preparations for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

The BOA is a member of the London organising committee, and its chairman, Lord Moynihan, is a member of the Olympic Board—the body responsible for overseeing the successful delivery of the games in 2012 and ensuring the games leave a lasting sporting and social legacy.

The BOA is also responsible for selecting and leading Team GB. It provides support to Britain’s Olympic athletes and works closely with national governing bodies and UK Sport to ensure the success of British athletes in 2012.