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Written Answers

Volume 472: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 3 March 2008

Scotland

Departmental Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent on advertising by (a) his Department and (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which his Department is responsible in each year since 2005. (187715)

Departmental Homeworking

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people in his Department have been able to work from home in the last 12 months. (189775)

All the staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice, which are both committed to achieving a work life balance for all staff. No staff in the Office have formally worked from home in the last year.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which public relations companies had contracts with (a) his Department and (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which his Department is responsible since 2004. (187716)

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many journeys his Department's (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants made between London and Scotland on official business in each month since May 2007. (187062)

The information requested is set out in the following table. There were no journeys by car. In relation to ministerial journeys, the information relates to travel paid by the Scotland Office. This does not include weekly travel between London and Ministers' homes in Scotland, paid by the House of Commons.

Number

Air

Rail

Ministers

Civil Servants

Ministers

Civil Servants

May 2007

0.5

22.0

0.5

8.0

June

4.0

29.5

11.0

July

1.5

23.5

12.5

August

1.0

7.0

4.0

September

2.0

17.5

7.5

October

26.5

7.0

November

0.5

18.0

10.0

December

0.5

16.5

5.5

January 2008

3.5

21.5

8.5

Note: A return journey is classed as one journey; if, for example, the outward leg of a journey is undertaken by air and the return by train, this is shown as 0.5 of a journey under each column.

Fairtrade Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to promote fair trade fortnight 2008 among staff within his Department; and if he will make a statement. (189507)

Fairtrade fortnight was recently promoted on the intranet to which all staff in the Scotland Office have access.

Mineral Waters

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many litres of bottled water were purchased by his Department in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (191256)

The Scotland Office does not centrally record the number of litres of bottled water that are purchased.

Transport

A1: North Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response she has made to the inspector’s report into the proposed A1 upgrade between Dishforth and Barton. (187043)

The inspector’s report is currently being considered and a decision on the published scheme will be made as soon as possible.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff under 18 years are employed by her Department. (189076)

Civil service statistics are collected by ONS from the Annual Civil Service Employment Survey. The latest published statistics are for the year to 30 September 2006. This shows for the Department for Transport a headcount of 20 and 10 FTEs aged under 18 years.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the salary range is for each pay band of civil servants in her Department. (188796)

The salary range for each pay band in the Department for Transport is given in the following tables which show the minimum and maximum salary for each grade encompassing the individual pay rates of the central Department and agencies.

£

Grade

Location

Minimum

Maximum

AA

Outside London

10,850

16,141

London

13,865

19,973

AO

Outside London

14,742

19,853

London

17,499

23,355

EO

Outside London

18,689

26,099

London

22,086

28,706

HEO

Outside London

23,147

33,260

London

25,949

36,238

HEO/SEO

Outside London

28,356

33,710

London

31,369

37,291

SEO

Outside London

30,625

41,692

London

34,199

47,258

Grade 7

Outside London

38,269

56,830

London

43,440

67,248

Grade 6

Outside London

48,070

64,787

London

54,508

68,190

£

Grade

Minimum

Ceiling

SCSPB1

56,100

116,000

SCSPB2

81,600

160,000

SCSPB3

99,960

205,000

Specialist grades which are outside of the aforementioned

£

Minimum

Maximum

Traffic management

1A

16,719

18,466

1B

17,248

20,912

2

23,716

28,751

3

37,516

45,478

Accident and nuclear

SEO

53,481

62,792

Grade 7

65,500

75,000

Grade 6

72,500

85,000

Coastguard technical S level

34,564

43,525

Senior driving examiners

24,258

26,866

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the current average basic pay for full-time equivalent (a) men and (b) women in (i) AA, (ii) AO and (iii) EO or equivalent grades is in each of her Department’s bargaining units. (190272)

[holding answer 28 February 2008]: The current average basic pay for men and women within each of the Department’s bargaining units is shown in the following table. London and outside London salaries are included within the averages shown.

£

AA

AO

EO

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

DfT(C)

16,902.33

17,341.00

22,196.29

21,903.30

25,958.74

26,410.67

VOSA

12,510.00

16,240.00

16,860.00

20,520.00

22,600.00

25,970.00

DVLA

13,653.90

13,486.41

16,656.34

16,710.04

20,315.39

20,344.85

VCA

15,660.00

14,895.00

18,343.00

18,259.00

22,250.00

23,032.00

HA

15,688.00

15,402.00

16,653.00

16,530.00

20,459.00

20,300.00

MCA

13,751.74

13,581.47

16,838.16

17,178.70

21,880.16

23,215.66

DSA

14,855.50

14,600.20

17,276.50

17,205.46

21,802.30

21,685.47

GCDA

21,749.01

21,134.34

25,391.66

26,228.63

Note:

VOSA levels made up of both technical and non-technical staff. Technical posts attract a market premium and these posts are predominantly filled by male staff.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of parliamentary questions from hon. Members for answer on a named day received by her Department have received a (a) holding answer and (b) substantive answer by the named day in each year since 2001. (190293)

The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002. Figures between that date and the beginning of parliamentary session 2002-03 are not available.

The requested information from the beginning of session 2002-03 is contained in the following table:

Named-day parliamentary questions receiving a holding answerNamed-day parliamentary questions receiving a substantive answer on the due date

Parliamentary session

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

2002-03

117

21.8

420

78.2

2003-04

147

29.4

353

70.6

2004-05

76

32.2

164

67.8

2005-06

288

25.9

826

74.1

2006-07

119

16.6

599

83.4

My ministerial colleagues and I aim to ensure that hon. Members receive a substantive response to their named day question on the due day. Unfortunately this is not always possible but the Department for Transport makes every effort to achieve the timescales.

Driving Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether delegated examiners may conduct driving tests for candidates who (a) they have personally trained and (b) have been trained by an organisation where the delegated examiner is the head of training; and if she will make a statement. (190243)

It is a condition of approval that delegated examiners are not permitted to conduct driving tests for candidates that they have personally trained.

A person may be a delegated examiner and head of training but is not permitted to conduct driving tests for candidates they have personally trained.

First Great Western: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 147W, on First Great Western: standards, what her timescale is for a reassessment of the ability of First Great Western Franchise to comply with the current franchise; and if she will make a statement. (188278)

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on 26 February 2008, Official Report, columns 73-4WS.

Hacking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the use of a hacking tool or other malicious software enabling information to be (a) retrieved and (b) manipulated by a third party has been detected on a (i) network or (ii) computer in her Department. (190335)

It is not in the interests of the UK’s national security for this Department to confirm whether it holds information about attacks against its IT systems. This would enable individuals to deduce how successful this Department is in detecting these attacks and so assist such persons in testing the effectiveness of the UK’s IT defences.

Minibuses: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will extend concessionary fare schemes to cover the provision of volunteer car and minibus services. (188331)

The Government have no plans at present to extend the coverage of statutory concessionary travel to cover the provision of volunteer car and minibus services, although a small number of community transport-type services may already be eligible for the statutory concession. Our current focus is on the successful implementation of the new all-England off-peak bus travel concession from April this year.

Any changes to the scope of concessionary travel would have to be fully funded and the impacts considered carefully following consultation with all the interested parties. Local authorities retain the ability to offer discretionary concessions over and above the statutory minimum at their own expense.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which community rail partnership projects she has visited since her appointment as Secretary of State; and which representatives of train operating companies she has met. (168691)

Since her appointment, the Secretary of State has met with representatives of the following train operating companies or franchise owning companies: Arrive, Chiltern Rail, EWS, First Group, Go-Ahead Group, National Express Group, SERCO-NedRailways, Stagecoach Group, Virgin Trains. She has also met representatives of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). In addition my right hon. Friend has visited the community rail project at Walkden station.

Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average weight of (a) an electric and (b) a diesel train carriage is; and what the average weight will be of each of those referred to in the rolling stock plan of 30 January. (190607)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: The Department does not compile this information, but it is available through the railway trade press.

Trains: Design

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance her Department provides on train cab design best practice. (190171)

The Department has not published any guidance on cab design. Best practice guidance on the design of train cabs is published by the Railway Safety and Standards Board on behalf of the industry.

House of Commons Commission

Tourists

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many visitors to the Houses of Parliament undertook a public tour in each of the last five years. (190812)

Figures given are for calendar years:

Memberstours (free)

Number

2003

95,990

2004

111,656

2005

106,844

2006

127,736

2007

133,533

Figures are for bookings taken and permits issued by the Central Tours Office and do not include guests escorted personally by passholders. They also do not include schools coming via the Parliamentary Education Service or Clock Tower Tours.

Summer opening (paying)

Number

2003

86,806

2004

93,314

2005

79,170

2006

87,294

2007

89,300

Totals (both categories)

Number

2003

182,796

2004

204,970

2005

186,014

2006

215,030

2007

222,833

Leader of the House

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Leader of the House how many and what proportion of parliamentary questions from hon. Members for answer on a named day received by her Office have received a (a) holding answer and (b) substantive answer by the named day in each year since 2001. (190295)

The information requested is as follows;

Answered substantively

Session

Percentage

Number

2007-08 (to date)

100

18 of 18

2006-07

100

40 of 40

2005-06

100

72 of 72

2004-05

100

14 of 14

2003-04

100

42 of 42

2002-03

96

44 of 46

2001-02

98

95 of 97

The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons has answered 100 per cent. of the 186 named day questions received in the last five Sessions on time. Just four questions have received holding replies since the 2001-02 Session, and none in any of the last five Sessions.

World Squares for All Steering Group

To ask the Leader of the House what representations she has received on the work of the World Squares for All Steering Group; what (a) political and (b) official representation the House has on the group; what submissions have been made by the House to the group; and what discussions she has had with other Ministers about the group. (190140)

The World Squares for All Steering Group has been established under the leadership of the Greater London Authority and includes representatives from a range of affected interests. The group aims to redefine the heart of London—specifically Trafalgar square, Parliament square and the Whitehall conservation area. The latest stage of its work is the Parliament square improvement project.

Representation of the House on the group is a matter for the administration of the House under the ultimate authority of the House of Commons Commission.

Parliament is represented on the group by the parliamentary director of estates or a representative, and by the manager of Visitor and Public Information Projects. The House has no political representation on the group. Officials have received briefings from the architects, Hawkins Brown, and from Transport for London, and have consulted the Joint Committee on Security on security aspects of the plans. The Group on Information for the Public has submitted to the Parliament square improvement project a briefing on Parliament's priorities for the redevelopment of the square.

The Administration Committee, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Doran), has heard a presentation from representatives of the Parliament Square Improvement Project, who sought the advice of the Committee on how Members of Parliament could be consulted about the plans. At the Committee's request, the group will shortly write to all Members, before the start of wider public consultation.

The Leader of the House has received no representations and has held no discussions on this issue.

Wales

Departmental Impact Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many regulatory impact assessments his Department has conducted in the last 12 months. (191259)

None. The nature of the Wales Office’s responsibilities means that such assessments will rarely be called for.

Departmental Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the (a) value and (b) start date was of each private finance initiative project approved by his Department in each of the last three financial years. (190810)

The Wales Office has not initiated or approved any private finance initiative projects in the last three years.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of Parliamentary questions for answer on a named day to his Department received a (a) holding and (b) substantive answer on the named day in each year since 2001. (190289)

The total number of named day questions received by my department and answered substantially are listed as follows:

Total received

Substantive answer

2001

59

54

2002

80

55

2003

34

18

2004

19

16

2005

17

16

2006

27

27

2007

24

24

Television Screens

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many plasma television screens have been purchased by his Department, and at what cost, in the last 24 months. (191073)

Defence

Surface Fleet

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on future orders for the surface fleet of the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. (190366)

We continue to make good progress on the future orders for the surface fleet of the Royal Navy. We have committed to ordering two new aircraft carriers and have placed orders for six Type 45 destroyers. It is our intention, in addition, to deliver replacement vessels in the future for Type 22 and 23 frigates, and elements of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Attack Submarines

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future number of attack submarines in the Royal Navy. (190368)

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of attack submarines for the Royal Navy. (190375)

Our judgment remains that in the medium term, a fleet of eight of the current classes of attack submarine will be sufficient to meet the full range of tasks. By 2022 we will have completed the transition to the more capable Astute class, for which it remains our plan to order seven boats. Over the next 14 years, attack submarine numbers will fluctuate between seven and eight as Astute replaces the current classes.

Watchkeeper

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when army training will start on the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle; and where in the UK it will take place. (190369)

We plan to begin classroom based training for the Watchkeeper programme in September next year at Larkhill, and live flying in March 2010 at Parc Aberporth in West Wales.

Armour

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether future armoured fighting vehicles purchased by his Department will have chassis armour and bolt-on armour. (190370)

A combination of base and bolt-on armour is likely to be used for most future armoured fighting vehicles. It allows us to reconfigure the armour solution to counter threats as they emerge, and to take advantage of the latest armour technologies.

Afghanistan

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the security conditions in Afghanistan. (190371)

The security situation in Afghanistan is stable if fragile in places. The Afghan National Army and troops from the 40-nation International Stabilisation Assistance Force are actively engaged in operations to maintain the pressure on the Taliban and extend the authority of the Government of Afghanistan.

Mental Health

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps his Department has taken to work with the NHS in developing effective mental health care for service veterans. (190373)

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many pilot schemes he has established for the identification of veterans in need of mental health services and for the provision of such services. (190379)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made on the regional pilots to improve mental health care for veterans. (190378)

The MOD, the four UK health departments and Combat Stress have been working together with clinical experts and the Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) to develop a new model of community-based veterans mental healthcare that will address assessment and treatment of veterans’ mental health problems. Pilots have been launched in Staffordshire and Shropshire, Camden and Islington, Bishop Auckland and Cardiff Vale. These will be followed shortly by pilots in Lothian and Cornwall. Following two years of piloting and evaluation it is planned to roll the model out across the UK.

Future Rapid Effects System

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the future rapid effects system. (190374)

The Future Rapid Effect System is progressing well. We have selected the system of Systems Integrator, completed the Utility Vehicle design trials and issued a pre-Qualification Questionnaire for the Utility Vehicle Integrator in recent months. FRES is currently in its assessment phase and work on detailed requirements is continuing.

Devonport

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for Devonport naval base. (190376)

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced in July 2007 at the conclusion of the Naval Base Review, the most effective means of supporting the Royal Navy is to retain all three naval bases, including Devonport.

In doing so we will continue to work with industry to develop innovative programmes that deliver effective, efficient and sustainable support to the Royal Navy.

Deployment Strength

23. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the deployable strength is of the Army. (190380)

25. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the deployable strength is of the Army. (190382)

As at 27 February 2008, the Army currently has 67,400 personnel within its deployable formations. 53,400 of these personnel are presently graded as deployable, with a further 7,600 personnel graded as being deployable in a limited range of roles. Non-deployable personnel will include those who are medically unfit and those filling key roles in support of families of those service personnel who are not deployed.

Additionally there are elements of the Army that are deemed as being in non-deployable posts employed in essential roles often directly supporting operations within the training organisations, staff headquarters and the regional forces command structure.

Skill Force

24. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of initiatives in the city of Nottingham by Skill Force to use the talents of retired military personnel. (190381)

Skill Force is involved in the city of Nottingham helping difficult to reach young people during term-time through an alternative curriculum that includes team building and problem solving skills, leading to a variety of awards and qualifications. They are currently working in three Nottingham schools, but such has been their success that they hope to expand to cover five schools in the city from September of this year. As with the rest of the Skill Force project, they are making an extremely valuable contribution to efforts to tackle social exclusion among young people.

Health Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that GPs provide priority treatment to veterans. (190372)

The Health Secretary announced in November an extension of NHS priority treatment. From 1 January all veterans, not just war pensioners, should receive priority access to NHS secondary care for conditions which are related to their service. The Department of Health has issued guidance on the new provision. Defence and Health officials and the ex-Service organisations are now working together on communicating the new arrangement to GPs and the veterans’ community and monitoring its effectiveness.

NATO Bucharest Summit

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the forthcoming NATO Bucharest summit. (190377)

The UK will look to the Bucharest summit to reaffirm NATO’s solidarity and commitment to its operations and missions—particularly in Afghanistan, where we need to build on the success NATO has achieved to date, and agree a comprehensive plan for the future. We will want it to maintain momentum on capability developments and force generation, both for current operations and more widely. Heads of State and Government will consider membership invitations for those countries currently participating in Membership Action Plans.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which elements of the Afghanistan Combined Joint Statement of Requirements remain unfulfilled. (188232)

[holding answer 22 February 2008]: Among other requirements, NATO currently needs more training and mentoring personnel, combat forces in the south and east of Afghanistan and key enablers, such as helicopters, to meet the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements for Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many sea king helicopters are to be fitted with Carson blades; and how many of those helicopters with such blades will be deployed in Afghanistan. (188616)

We are fitting 14 Sea King HC4 helicopters with Carson blades. We have deployed a number of Sea King helicopters fitted with Carson blades to Afghanistan, and expect to deploy more later this year. I am withholding information on the exact number of helicopters deployed as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Armed Forces: EU Institutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British military personnel are attached to the (a) European Union Military Staff, (b) European Defence Agency, (c) European Union Military Committee and (d) other EU institutions. (190715)

17 British military personnel are currently seconded to the EU Military Staff in Brussels, and there are two British military staff officers currently working in the European Defence Agency.

The European Union Military Committee is a regular meeting of the Chiefs of Defence Staff or their representatives from the EU member states, not a standing EU structure. There is one British military officer who is seconded as the military adviser to the permanent Chairman of the EU Military Committee.

There are no British military personnel seconded to other EU institutions.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of (a) single living and (b) service family accommodation units in (i) Germany, (ii) Cyprus, (iii) Gibraltar and (iv) the Falklands Islands there were in each of the four charge grades at the most recent date for which figures are available. (182325)

Services Family Accommodation (SFA) and Single Living Accommodation (SLA) in Germany, Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands is at the following Grade for Charge (GfC).

SFA

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Cyprus

0

504

27

140

8

1,589

65

Gibraltar

82

17

66

14

90

19

239

50

Falklands/ Ascension Islands

0

0

0

80

100

Germany

2,212

17

6,010

47

3,481

27

1,149

9

SLA

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Germany

2,356

14

1,494

9

4,186

24

8,989

53

Cyprus

67

4

14

1

534

36

882

59

Falklands/ Ascension Islands

14

<1

0

0

6,105

>99

Gibraltar

325

83

24

6

41

11

0

The low grade given to SLA in the South Atlantic Islands for example reflects the remote location and environmental factors rather than the actual condition of the accommodation which is considered reasonable. It should be noted that a large proportion of overseas SLA is only used during operational deployments. Although much of this accommodation is G4fC, residents are not charged for it.

In Cyprus, some 650 bed-spaces will be upgraded by 2012 for use on a permanent basis. In addition, there are ongoing programmes of improvement work in all the above locations including the Hired Accommodation Revitalisation Programme project, which aims to replace or upgrade the entire hired estate in Germany over the next five years.

Over the next decade the MOD will spend over £8 billion on accommodation, including some £3.1 billion on bringing accommodation up to the top condition. This will include the delivery of some further 30,000 new or improved SLA bed-spaces by 2013.

Checkmate

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the ability of Checkmate technology to improve the UK Network Centric Warfare capability; and if he will make a statement. (188747)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 13 December 2005, Official Report, column 1881W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

Civil Contingency Reaction Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the reservists who make up the operational capability of Civil Contingency Reaction Forces are on active duty overseas. (190603)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 1 March 2005, Official Report, column 1137W, to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis).

Committee of Permanent Representatives

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 1401W, on the Committee of Permanent Representatives, how many (a) civilian and (b) military personnel from his Department are part of the staff of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (i) I and (ii) II. (190835)

The Committee of Permanent Representatives does not have a dedicated staff.

There are two MOD civilians working in the UK Permanent Representation to the EU on a national basis who for part of their time support the UK Permanent Representative on European security and defence policy matters considered in the Committee of Permanent Representatives II.

There is no defence business that relates to the Committee of Permanent Representatives I.

Departmental Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the reasons are for the consideration of one-fifth of defence intelligence staff posts in London for abolition; (189427)

(2) whether he has consulted the former Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, John Morrison, about the potential impact of a one-fifth reduction in defence intelligence staff posts in London.

MOD is currently streamlining its Head Office as part of the Department’s response to its capability review. The Defence intelligence staff fall within the remit of this streamlining programme.

No Ministers have consulted Mr. Morrison. We will keep the wider intelligence and security community engaged as the work is taken forward.

Departments: Charities

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much Defence Estate (Aldershot) billed in liability charges for charity events held on his Department’s property since April 2005 to 2007. (152355)

The information requested will need to be collated and this will take a little time. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Derek Twigg to Nick Harvey:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 3 September 2007, (Official Report, column 1617W) about the amount Defence Estates (Aldershot) was billed in liability charges for charity events held on his Department’s property since 2005-2007.

I apologise for the delay in writing to you following our meeting on 12 December, which was due to the time required to retrieve and review our available information. Unfortunately, the review has shown that it is not possible to separately identify liability charges for charity events.

I am placing a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

EU Defence Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2008, Official Report, columns 37-38W, on EU defence policy, what his definition is of statute, seat and operational rules; and if he will make a statement. (190826)

We understand the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency as described in the Lisbon treaty to be the instrument setting up the European Defence Agency, its headquarters and the rules under which it operates.

EU Defence Policy: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he had with European Defence Ministers on the financing of EU military operations under the Athena Mechanism at the recent meeting in Brdo, Slovenia; and if he will make a statement. (190720)

The Athena Mechanism ensures that EU member states pay an equitable share of common costs for agreed EU military operations. This mechanism was not discussed at the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers held in Brdo, Slovenia on 21-22 February 2008.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of (a) combat and (b) peacekeeping operations in Iraq in each year since 2003; and if he will make a statement. (190062)

Combat activities commenced on 20 March 2003 and ceased on 1 May 2003 spanning two financial years 2002-03 and 2003-04 totalling £2,158 million. All subsequent years are categorised as peacekeeping operations.

The costs of operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MOD’ Annual Report and Accounts. The total annual costs of operations in Iraq for the years 2002-03 to 2006-07 including the cost of combat activities are in the following table:

£ million

Operations in Iraq

Expenditure on capital equipment

Total

2002-03

629

218

847

2003-04

1,051

260

1,311

2004-05

747

163

910

2005-06

798

160

958

2006-07

787

169

956

Grand total

4,982

An estimated cost of £1,648 million for 2007-08 was included in the Spring Supplementary Estimates published in February, which is due to be voted on by Parliament shortly.

Iraq: Resettlement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the number of Iraqi citizens formerly employed by the Ministry of Defence expected to apply for (a) the UK Gateway scheme and (b) indefinite leave to enter on an exceptional basis outside the Immigration Rules in 2008-09. (189895)

[holding answer 28 February 2008]: We estimate that there are approximately 400 former members of staff who are eligible for the LECs assistance scheme. Around half of those already assessed as eligible and who have informed us of their preferred form of assistance, have opted for the Gateway scheme.

Staff who left MOD’s employment prior to 8 August 2007 are not eligible for indefinite leave to enter the UK on an exceptional basis. Seven current staff members made redundant since 8 August 2007 have chosen this option.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much financial support the Government paid to Iraqi citizens formerly employed by the Ministry of Defence awaiting resettlement under the UK Gateway programme in third countries in each month since October 2007; and how many Iraqi citizens formerly employed by the Ministry of Defence have received financial support whilst awaiting resettlement. (189896)

[holding answer 28 February 2008]: No financial assistance has yet been paid to former staff members seeking resettlement to the UK under the Gateway programme. The focus of our effort has been on assessing the eligibility of those applying to the scheme from within Iraq, and on undertaking the necessary security checks on those seeking resettlement. The first tranche of this work is now largely complete, and we expect that a significant number of former Ministry of Defence employees and their dependents (in excess of 100 individuals) will soon leave Iraq for a third country for assessment under the Gateway programme. Financial assistance will be paid to these individuals, as well as to any eligible former employees who have already left Iraq, in the coming weeks.

As of 21 February, the Ministry of Defence has paid over $450,000 to former staff members who opted for the financial package of assistance.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 24 January, on low flying aircrafts (reference: MC00711/2008). (191221)

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flying hours helicopters can undertake before they must be taken out of service, broken down by type of helicopter. (189269)

Different helicopter types have differing Structural Integrity design philosophies. They do not all have a set number of flying hours before they must be taken out of service as indicated in the following table.

Aircraft type

Finite life—designed fatigue life-flying hours

Agusta A109A/AM

No

Attack Helicopter

Yes—9,000 hours

Chinook Mk2/2a

No

Gazelle

Yes—15,000 hours

Lynx Mk3, Mk7, Mk8, Mk9

Yes—7,000 hours

Merlin Mk1 and Mk3

Yes—10,000 hours

Puma HC1

No

Sea King Mk3/3a, Mk4, Mk5 Mk6c, Mk7

No

The structural integrity of airframes is assured by regular maintenance and replacement of fatigue-sensitive components after a set period of use. In all cases, the maintenance policy and lives of key components are regularly reviewed to ensure it supports the safe operation of the aircraft. Helicopters with designed fatigue lives can fly beyond the design life when specific actions are taken. Actions may include the replacement of significant structural items and the instigation of enhanced inspections and maintenance.

Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which countries provided the requirement for NATO’s Operational Reserve Force in each year since 2001; and which countries will provide the requirement until 2010. (190694)

During this period, there was an Operational Reserve Force for ISAF from August to December 2006 which was provided by Romania.

For the Balkans, the reserve was called the Over the Horizon Force until mid-2002 with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the US all contributing battalions. Since mid-2002, the Operational Reserve Force has comprised three battalions provided by the UK, Germany and Italy.

As commitments to the Operational Reserve Force are made on an annual basis, there is no programmed rota for 2009-10.

Reserve Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservist personnel were deployed overseas at the most recently available date, broken down by (a) location and (b) service. (190650)

As at 31 January 2008, the number of volunteer reservists deployed on operations was:

Number

Royal Navy Reserve

Royal Marines Reserve

Territorial Army

Royal Auxiliary Air Force

TELIC (Iraq)

44

0

124

30

HERRICK (Afghanistan)

10

77

528

17

TOSCA (Cyprus)

0

0

2

0

OCULUS (Balkans)

1

0

16

0

Global Counter Terrorism

1

0

12

0

Total:

56

77

682

47

There were also 616 other reservists undergoing pre-deployment training, receiving medical treatment, or on post operational leave, and in addition 41 sponsored reserves involved in operations but who are not necessarily permanently based in an operational theatre.

Spearhead Land Element

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE); whether it is fully equipped; whether the SLE is deployed; and when the future SLE will take over. (190671)

The Second Battalion The Royal Gurkha Regiment forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE), which is not currently deployed. The SLE is currently fully equipped in accordance with the joint rapid reaction force directive and operational mounting instructions. The next SLE will be provided by the Second Battalion The Rifles, who will assume this role from 30 March 2008.

Work and Pensions

Carers’ Allowances

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the earnings limit for carer’s allowance was last increased. (189030)

The earnings limit for carer’s allowance was last increased in October 2007. Recipients of carer’s allowance can now earn up to £95 a week after deduction of allowable expenses.

Child Support: Administration

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what basis the decision not to initially migrate existing cases onto the new child support system was made; and if he will make a statement; (188520)

(2) when all child support cases will have been transferred to the new child support system.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 226W, to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).

Delivery Notices

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the letter of 28 January 2008 from the Minister of State for Pensions to the hon. Member for Northavon, if he will place in the Library a copy of the departmental leaflets issued after 2001 which stated that people would be advised about delivery notices by letter. (184456)

[holding answer 4 February 2008]: The relevant extracts from documents NP46 and N17A have been placed in the Library.

Employment: Prisoners Release

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what Government assistance is provided for prisoners to secure work on release from prison; and what changes in types of support have been made since 1992. (191210)

Jobcentre plus offers extensive help to those leaving prison. The following have all been introduced since 1992.

Employment and Benefit Surgeries—In prison-based Employment and Benefit Surgeries, Jobcentre Plus advisers work in co-operation with the Prison Service and other agency staff to address the key employment and benefit needs of prison inmates during both the entry and pre-release stages of their period in custody.

New Deal—Offenders are entitled to early entry, from day one of their claim, to the new deals, including the New Deal for Young People, which applies to 18 to 24-year-olds, thereby giving them access to help with finding a job and dealing with their barriers to employment.

Freshstart—Freshstart involves pre-arranging a new jobseeker interview to claim benefit (jobseeker’s allowance) at the prisoner's home Jobcentre Plus office, on release. As well as speeding up the process for receiving benefit, the individual is exposed at the earliest opportunity to jobs and the prospect of engaging with mainstream provision, to which, in most cases, they will have early entry status. Last year 35,000 interviews were booked

Rapid Reclaim Process—Jobcentre Plus also operate a “Rapid Reclaim Process” for jobseeker’s allowance, income support and incapacity benefit (employment support allowance also when introduced). This service is available if a short-term prisoner reclaims within 13 weeks of their last claim and circumstances have not changed. There are simpler and shorter forms and the processing of the benefit is easier.

Progress2work and progress2workLinkUP—Special programmes aimed at helping clients with drug misuse, the homeless, ex-offenders, and alcohol misusers deal with the particular barriers to work that they face. Both programmes are run by specialist providers who have established expertise in dealing with the issues faced by these client groups. Progress2work is a national programme; progress2workLinkUP is in almost half of Jobcentre Plus districts.

Early Custody Licence—DWP shared services administer grants on behalf of the Ministry of Justice for those released on early custody licence.

Exit to Work—Exit to Work is an action-research project trailing a new way of engaging employers and moving ex-offenders into work. The project is being managed by Working Ventures UK in collaboration with DWP, Jobcentre Plus, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Ministry of Justice. Exit to Work takes a two-pronged approach to tackling employment and skills-related issues for offenders:

a network of seven Job Developers (across Birmingham, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Teesside, and South Yorkshire) whose role is to be a single point of contact for the employer, to help them understand the benefits of recruiting ex-offenders and how to mitigate the risks and to orchestrate the range of support available to provide the employer with a seamless package; and

managing an information and vacancy sharing website, which allows CVs of ex-offenders to be uploaded, evaluated, and accessed on behalf of potential employers.

Jobcentre Plus engages with young offenders both in custody and in the community. Dependant upon the customer’s age, a range of support becomes available.

Young offenders in custody have access to employment and benefit surgery advisers and can get employment and training advice as well as Freshstart appointments upon release to claim jobseeker’s allowance.

At age 18 offenders released from custody and community sentenced offenders have early entry to New Deal and access to specialist help via progress2work and Progress2work Link Up. Advisers regularly review activity and job search efforts and on a longer term basis, customers have to undertake mandatory activities such as New Deal for Young People. New Deal for young People has now been in operation for over 10 years and has helped thousands of young offenders to enter work and training.

Income Support: Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Department’s publication, Ready for Work, what forecast he has made of the likely number of lone parents claiming income support in each quarter to 2011, broken down by (a) region, (b) ethnicity and (c) family size; and what assessment he has made of the effect on these numbers on changes in his Department’s spending on (i) benefits and (ii) benefit administration. (176943)

The full information requested is not available. The Impact Assessment published alongside the publication “Ready for Work” presented our current estimates of the impact of the proposals on benefit case loads and costs.

Pensioners: Aberavon

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners there were in Aberavon constituency in the most recent period for which figures are available. (190218)

As at May 2007, there were 13,540 recipients of state pension in the Aberavon parliamentary constituency.

Note:

Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will estimate the number of people who were not sent a letter from his Department in 2004-05 in connection with the deficiency notices exercise who would have been sent such a letter but for the fact that the then Inland Revenue had ceased sending them deficiency notices prior to 1996-97; and if he will make a statement; (167266)

(2) pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 724W, on pensions, how the target group of 632,000 was defined; and which categories of pensioners in the target group were not sent letters.

[holding answers 22 November 2007 and 25 January 2008]: In total, we estimate that around one million people1 who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 23 October 2004:

(a) were not entitled to a full basic pension on their own contributions; and

(b) had a deficient contribution record in one or more of the years 1996-97 to 2001-02.

Of these, 632,000 who were resident in the UK satisfied the conditions for receiving a deficiency notice. In addition, a further 40,000 pensioners who were resident overseas satisfied the conditions. This group, including those overseas, was defined as the target group.

However, only those people in the target group who could improve their ongoing pension entitlement were contacted and thus excluded:

(i) people already receiving a full basic pension derived wholly or in part from their former spouse’s contributions; and

(ii) married women already receiving a pension derived wholly or in part from their husband’s contributions who could not improve their ongoing overall pension entitlements by paying additional contributions.

Of the remaining approximately 350,0002, it is not possible to readily identify those who could improve their ongoing pension entitlement.

Pursuant to my written answers of 1 October 2007, Official Report, column 2376W, and 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 724W, the figure of 470,000 referred to in these answers related to the total number of pensioners contacted regarding deficiencies in their contribution records and included around 55,000 who had already paid contributions. The figure of 414,427 pensioners automatically contacted by the Pension Service during the period September 2004 to September 2005 quoted at page 197 of the Department’s Resource Accounts for 2006-07 relates to the number of pensioners who were informed of deficiencies in their contribution records in that period. No further deficiency notice letters were automatically issued by the Pension Service after the end of September 2005.

Pursuant to my written answer of 1 October 2007, Official Report, column 2376W, the response rate of 62 per cent. quoted was incorrect. It was calculated by reference to a total figure of 470,000 letters issued and the 290,000 customers contacts referred to in the answer. However, it has subsequently become apparent that the figure of 290,000 comprises contacts from individuals who had received an automatic deficiency notice and those who had not. It is not possible to disaggregate the figure of 290,000 to separately identify contacts by people who had received an automatic deficiency notice. Similarly, it is not possible to disaggregate the figure of 69,249 individuals who have made additional contributions. Therefore the figure of 24 per cent. relating to the proportion of respondents who made additional contributions is also incorrect.

1 Source: Lifetime Labour Market Database 2, 2003-04.

2 Figure rounded to the nearest 50,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the number of people who will receive pension forecasts in 2008. (174801)

The Pension Service issues an individual pension forecast when a customer request is made via the e-service channel, over the phone or on completion of form BR19.

Based on the number of requests received in 2007, we anticipate that around 300,000 individuals will receive an individual pension forecast in 2008.

Due to IT changes which need to be made as a result of the Pensions Act 2007, the Pension Service is temporarily unable to provide an individual pension forecast to customers who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2010.

To help them plan for retirement, the Pension Service is able to offer these customers personalised information on potential state pension entitlement, based on the pension qualifying years they have from their national insurance record. Around 125,000 customers have benefited from this service. The Pension Service expects full forecasting services will be available in spring 2008.

Pensions: Taxation

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the additional costs in (a) benefit payments and (b) administration that would be incurred as a result of HM Revenue and Custom’s proposals to tax small pensions retrospectively for the year 2007-08. (190850)

Social Security Benefits: Polygamy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on the payment of benefit to families in polygamous marriages; and if he will make a statement. (188967)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) on 20 February 2008, Official Report, column 756W.

Social Security Benefits: Prisoners Release

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many ex-prisoners of working age were claiming (a) income support, (b) incapacity benefit, (c) jobseeker’s allowance and (d) another working age benefit (i) three, (ii) six and (iii) 12 months after being released from prison in each year since 1997. (191209)

State Retirement Pensions: Anniversaries

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consideration his Department has given to the erection of a memorial to celebrate the centenary of pensions; and if he will make a statement. (188957)

We have no plans to erect a memorial.

We plan to mark the centenary of the introduction of the state pension as a key element of the celebrations around the second UK Older People’s Day in October 2008.

Winter Fuel Payments: West Midlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received a winter fuel payment in (a) Warley constituency and (b) Sandwell Metropolitan borough council area in the most recent period for which figures are available. (189626)

In winter 2006-07, 14,080 people in the Warley constituency and 54,360 people in Sandwell metropolitan borough council received a winter fuel payment. We expect the numbers to be similar for this winter.

Notes:

1. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.

Source:

Information directorate 100 per cent. data.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine Tuberculosis: Devon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department has received from Milk Link on cases of suspected bovine tuberculosis in Devon; how many such cases were reported by Milk Link in each of the last three years; and what steps his Department has taken as a result. (190575)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: Responsibility for reporting suspected cases of bovine tuberculosis rests with veterinary surgeons (on farms) and meat hygiene service inspectors (at slaughterhouses).

Therefore, no suspected cases of bovine tuberculosis have been reported to my Department by Milk Link, which I understand, is a milk wholesaler business.

Energy: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on the proposed implementation of the Energy-using Products Directive for boilers being outside the scope of the Directive. (189251)

DEFRA officials regularly meet and have discussions at EU level, including on energy efficient products, and have held formal and informal meetings with the Commission on the Energy Using Products Directive.

The Commission is currently analysing responses from the boiler and water heater industry on its proposals for implementation of the Energy Using Products Directive. DEFRA officials are due to attend a Consultation Forum (comprising the Commission, European Trade Associations and other member state representatives) on the directive on 29 February 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will meet representatives of the controls industry to discuss their proposal for the creation of a separate standard for controls rather than the bundled approach proposed in the energy-using products directive; (189253)

(2) what assessment the Government have made of the consequences Lot 1 of the energy-using products directive will have on the UK heating controls industry;

(3) whether the Government have considered using industry expertise to work with the European Commission to produce a separate standard for heating controls rather than including them with boilers as outlined in the energy using products directive.

DEFRA officials have invited key stakeholders, including members of the boiler and water heater industry, to discuss implementation of the energy using products directive and raise any concerns on implications for the UK. The Commission is currently analysing responses from the industry and the alternative proposals it has put forward.

The Government's market transformation programme is currently assessing the full range of possible impacts of implementation of the energy using products directive, based on the Commission's current proposals.

DEFRA officials will also shortly be attending meetings with the European trade associations in order to learn more about the issues the boiler and heating industry face across Europe.

Heating controls play an important role in improving the efficiency of heating systems and the Government have recently published a consultation paper setting out indicative standards for better use of existing controls and advanced controls for domestic heating. A copy of the consultation document is available on DEFRA's website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what position his officials will be taking on the Energy-using Products Directive at the Implementing Measure Consulting Forum on 29 February. (189254)

The Government generally see Consultation Forum meetings as an opportunity for industry to let the Commission know of their concerns directly. The Government are aware that the industry has raised significant concerns about these proposals and DEFRA officials are assessing the feedback we have received, with a view to relaying these concerns to the Commission at the Consultation Forum meeting on 29 February 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration his Department has given to the report produced by the consultancy commissioned by the European Commission to write a preparatory study for the Energy-using Products Directive. (189257)

DEFRA officials are aware of the report, produced by the consultancy VHK on behalf of the Commission, on implementation of the Energy Using Products Directive.

The Government’s Market Transformation Programme is currently assessing its recommendations and assumptions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that the Energy Using Products Directive ensures the maximum potential carbon savings of heating controls are realised. (189259)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps the Government are taking to maximise the carbon reduction impact of the energy-using products directive, with reference to heating controls; (189464)

(2) what steps he plans to take to take account of the potential effects of the energy-using products directive in developing the proposed strategy for developing the market for advanced heating controls in new and existing homes.

The Government are committed to raising product efficiency. We are working with key stakeholders from the boiler and water heater industry and the European Commission to develop proposals which will maximise the standards and efficiency of products covered by the energy using products directive.

Heating controls play an important role in improving the efficiency of heating systems and the Government have recently published a consultation paper setting out indicative standards for better use of existing controls and advanced controls for domestic heating. A copy of the consultation document is available on the DEFRA website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration the Government have given to the development of a discrete standard for heating controls under the Energy-using Products Directive; and if he will establish a working group including industry experts to examine this matter. (189465)

DEFRA officials have held a range of meetings with key stakeholders, including members of the boiler and water heater industry, to present the Commission proposals and discuss concerns on implementing the energy using products directive in the UK. The Commission and DEFRA officials are currently analysing responses from the industry and the alternative proposals it has put forward.

Heating controls play an important role in improving the efficiency of heating systems and the Government have recently published a consultation paper setting out indicative standards for better use of existing controls and advanced controls for domestic heating. A copy of the consultation document is available on the DEFRA website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what account the Government has taken of the potential electrical and electronic waste arising after 2013 in its consideration of the implementation of the Energy-using Products Directive in relation to supply system bundles; (189470)

(2) what estimates he has (a) made and (b) evaluated on the potential effect of the Energy-using Products Directive on the UK boiler industry; and if he will make a statement.

The Government’s Market Transformation Programme is currently assessing the full range of possible impacts of the implementation of the energy-using products directive, based on the Commission’s current proposals.

Officials are due to attend a meeting of the Consultation Forum (comprising the Commission, European Trade Associations and other member state representatives) to discuss the Commission’s proposals on boilers and water heaters on 29 February.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will meet representatives of the heating controls industry to discuss the creation of a separate standard for controls, with reference to the implementation of the Energy-using Products Directive. (189479)

DEFRA officials have held a number of meetings with key members of the boiler and water heater industry to present the Commission proposals under the energy-using products framework directive and to discuss the implications of these for UK industry. DEFRA officials are currently analysing responses from the industry and the alternative proposals it has put forward.

DEFRA officials will shortly be attending meetings with the European Trade Associations in order to learn more about the issues this industry faces across Europe.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on the scope of the Energy-using Products Directive as it relates to boilers. (189481)

DEFRA officials regularly meet and have discussions at EU level, including on energy efficient products, and have held a number of meetings with the Commission on the energy-using products directive, including an informal meeting on the Commission’s proposed implementing measure on boilers and water heaters.

The Commission is currently analysing responses from the boiler and water heater industry on its proposals for boilers and water heaters. DEFRA officials are due to attend a Consultation Forum (comprising the Commission, European Trade Associations and other member state representatives) on these proposals on 29 February.

Energy: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to cap transmission charges if Ofgem implements a new payment system based on generator distance from population centres. (189446)

I have been asked to reply.

In the GB electricity market, Transmission Network Use of System Charges (TNUOS) are already charged on a cost-reflective locational basis, such that generators furthest from centres of demand pay a higher charge to reflect the additional transmission network costs. Ofgem are considering whether such arrangements should also apply to transmission loss charges, which currently do not vary by location.

The Government has no intention of capping these charges for the generality of users. However, section 185 of the Electricity Act 2004 gives the Secretary of State the power to adjust such charges in an area which has high potential for the development of renewable generation and where the charges would otherwise be a material hindrance to that development. The Government has said that it intends to exercise this power for the Scottish islands, subject to the statutory tests set out in section 185 being met. In particular, the Government would need to be satisfied that the level of transmission charges in the absence of a scheme constitutes a material hindrance to the development of renewable generation in those locations.

Incinerators: Hazardous Substances

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when consultations have taken place with incinerator operators on an eco-toxity test for incinerator bottom ash; (189838)

(2) what testing his Department has commissioned of the toxicity of incinerator bottom ash;

(3) what consultation he plans on the testing regime for incinerator bottom ash;

(4) what the timetable is for the introduction of the new test of toxicity for incinerator bottom ash.

I understand that the waste industry is taking forward an initiative to identify a protocol for the ecotoxicity testing of Incineration Bottom Ash (IBA). The initiative will use a direct testing method on IBA, where the validity of classification results from the desktop method remains uncertain. This uncertainty arises because of the potential for ecotoxic metal substances in IBA to exist as the metal or other non-ecotoxic form; something that the desktop analytical method cannot determine.

DEFRA and the Environment Agency support this initiative, considering that the classification of IBA will remain “non-hazardous” pending the results of the direct testing.

The Environment Agency will review this decision when results from direct testing have been provided. No consultation is planned by my Department on this issue.

Lymington River: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the timetable is within which the Marine and Fisheries Agency plans to determine the application by Wightlink for shore works on the Lymington river; and if he will make a statement; (190276)

(2) whether the Marine and Fisheries Agency plans to consult when making an appropriate assessment on shore works to accommodate larger ferries in the Lymington river under the provisions of the Habitat Directive.

In July 2007, Wightlink applied to the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) for a licence to undertake modification works to piles, fendering and linkspan bridges comprising parts of the ferry terminals at both Lymington and Yarmouth. The MFA's controls under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) and the Coast Protection Act 1994 (CPA) only apply to the works proposed seawards of Mean High Water Spring Tide line (i.e. only including the foreshore).

Permissions related to the works have also been sought from other regulators, including the respective local authorities, the Environment Agency, and the Lymington and Yarmouth harbour authorities.

In progressing the FEPA and CPA applications, the MFA is working with these regulators to address the need for more environmental data. The MFA have taken the view that the intended works should be subject to ‘Appropriate Assessment' in compliance with the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994, which should also have regard to the potential effects on nature conservation that may arise from the operation of the proposed larger ferry vessels.

A meeting was convened in January with the other regulators and Natural England to clarify what statutory responsibilities applied to the various elements of the project and how their possible effects were to be assessed. A subsequent meeting was held with Wightlink, primarily to discuss what additional data regulators and their advisers considered necessary.

Wightlink also met separately with Natural England to clarify what further information would be needed to support an appropriate assessment, and they have commissioned marine consultants to prepare a report that will be submitted to each of the regulators. Lymington Harbour Commissioners have also set in train arrangements to monitor the hydrodynamic effects of the existing ferries as basis for considering any constraints that may be necessary, for health and safety reasons, to the operation of the new vessels.

In determining their respective applications, regulators will individually and jointly, make an assessment of the additional data in so far as it applies to their responsibilities. This will enable them to determine the extent of any adverse risk to protected conservation sites, whether any mitigation is required and, if so, how this can be ensured.

As the consultation process raised no concerns in respect of only those elements of the works proposed at Yarmouth, Wightlink made a further application to the MFA earlier this month in respect of those works. This application has been determined and a FEPA Licence and CPA consent were granted on 21 February.

Peregrine Falcons

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many convictions there have been for offences involving wild-taken peregrine falcons since 1981; and what effect the introduction of DNA testing of birds in 1992 has had on the number of such offences. (188490)

Records of offences and convictions do not distinguish between species. DNA testing techniques have provided a useful additional investigative tool for wildlife law enforcers, but it is not possible to measure their effect on the number of such offences.

Warm Zones Programme: North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households have had roof and wall installations under the Warm Zone scheme in (a) Stockton South, (b) Teesside and (c) the North East. (188965)

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Households fitted with cavity wall insulation under the warm front scheme

Households fitted with loft insulation under the warm front scheme

Stockton South

1,287

1,368

Teesside1

9,094

10,918

North East

58,260

54,369

1 Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, Redcar, Stockton North and Stockton South.

Waste Disposal: Electronic Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the costs incurred by small businesses as a consequence of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations. (189542)

I have been asked to reply.

A full regulatory impact assessment was published alongside the UK WEEE regulations. There are no derogations for small businesses to be excluded from the scope of the WEEE directive. The UK WEEE regulations ensure that small businesses are not disproportionately affected and both the registration fees for producers and distributors are scaled according to company size.

Waste Disposal: Small Businesses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the WRAP SME recycling programme on increasing the rate of recycling waste since it was established; and if he will make a statement. (191242)

The aim of WRAP’s SME recycling programme was, through a series of trials, to increase and improve recycling services for small to medium enterprises. These businesses can find it difficult to access appropriate recycling services for the waste they generate for a variety of reasons; for instance, because they lack the internal resources needed to establish and manage a recycling scheme, and because individual SMEs generate relatively small quantities of waste.

WRAP’s programme has involved a range of feasibility and demonstration trials to develop appropriate recycling services, charging mechanisms, sales and marketing approaches and advice on staff involvement in recycling. The overall aim was to make recycling at work easy, convenient and cost-effective. A number of deliverables were measured for these trials, related to developing economic models for collection and good practice guidance for recycling service providers.

WRAP’s activities formed a research, rather than a delivery programme. Therefore, impact in tonnage terms was not the primary purpose. Early figures indicate that over 3,000 SMEs were recruited to recycling services. However, it is important to recognise that the key performance indicators for this programme revolved around information relating to how businesses could be recruited to recycling, what systems worked for them, what charging regimes could be employed and what collection frequencies are appropriate to make recycling more attractive to SMEs. The findings from the trials will be made available through Good Practice Guidance and Executive Summaries. These will be available on WRAP’s website. The programme will be subject to a full evaluation at the end of this financial year, and the results will be published in WRAP’s next annual review.

Northern Ireland

Broadcasting: Radio

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions have taken place with RTE on the effect on listeners in Northern Ireland of the removal of FM radio band from the end of March 2008; and if he will make a statement. (188818)

The decision to switch off medium wave transmission of RTE Radio 1 is a matter for RTE and the Irish broadcasting authorities. I understand that RTE Radio 1 will remain available to listeners in Northern Ireland on FM and Long Wave (LW) bands and also on a variety of other platforms such as satellite television and the internet.

Crime: Cannabis

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much time the Police Service of Northern Ireland spent on work to tackle the illegal production and distribution of cannabis in each of the last two years. (186985)

PSNI do not record police time specifically spent on tackling the illegal production and distribution of cannabis.

PSNI activity against drug crime focuses on the most significant criminal individuals and groups engaged in drug trafficking and supply.

Departmental Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what property was lost or stolen from his Department since 1997; and what the cost of replacement was in each case. (187476)

The following table shows the property which has been lost or stolen from the Northern Ireland Office (excluding its Agencies and NDPBs) since 1997.

To 31 December

Lost

Stolen

1997

No Records Available

No records available

1998

None

1 x Laptop

1999

None

1 x Camcorder 1 x Laptop

2000

None

None

2001

7 x Mobile Telephones

1 x Mobile Telephone 1 x Laptop

2002

2 x Mobile Telephones

1 x Personal Digital Assistant

2003

2 x Mobile Telephones

None

2004

None

3 x Mobile Telephones 1 x Laptop

2005

2 x Mobile Telephones

1 x Mobile Telephone 1 x Personal Digital Assistant

2006

2 x Mobile Telephones

1 x Laptop

2007

5 x Mobile Telephones

1 x Mobile Telephone 2 x Laptops

2008 to date

None

None

Departmental Sick Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of sickness pay to staff within his Department was in the most recent year for which figures are available. (187509)

The total statutory sick pay (SSP) paid to employees in 2006-07 was £168,478, however SSP covers only a small proportion of the cost of sickness absence, as the Department also has an occupational sickness pay scheme, the costs of which cannot be isolated out from the overall payroll costs.

We receive a statistical analysis based on average salaries, grade, and days lost, which estimated the cost to the Department for 2006-07 at £1.7 million. This figure excludes the NI Prison Service and the Department's NDPBs.

The Northern Ireland Office takes the management of sickness absence very seriously and has robust policies and procedures in place to deal with inefficiency which results from poor attendance. The health and safety of everyone in the Department is of paramount importance; we have a duty of care to help prevent staff becoming ill and to support them when they are.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department spent on travel (a) within and (b) outside the UK for officials in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage of his Department’s overall expenditure was spent on such travel in each such year. (181530)

In the Northern Ireland Office’s travel budgets, expenditure relating to journeys within and outside the UK are included together.

These figures are based on calendar year rather than financial year and cannot therefore be compared with the figures shown in the travel budgets. The following table shows the overseas travel costs from April 2004 to December 2007:

Total costs (£)

April to December 2004

85,013

January to December 2005

184,055

January to December 2006

131,907

January to December 2007

80,889

Expenditure for travel in the NIO is held for the current financial year to date plus the previous five financial years. The following table provides details of the NIO’s total travel expenditure (excluding agencies and NDPBs) and compares this against the total departmental expenditure (excluding agencies and NDPBs) in each year since 2002-03:

Total travel expenditure (£)

Percentage of travel expenditure against departmental expenditure

2002-03

4,238,875

0.463

2003-04

4,354,144

0.492

2004-05

4,140,237

0.442

2005-06

4,248,807

0.387

2006-07

4,996,164

0.477

Total

21,978,227

0.450

All official travel is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code, a copy of which is available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Departmental Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many overseas visits by officials in his Department took place in each of the last 10 years; which countries were visited; and how much was spent on such visits in each such year. (181598)

The number of visits is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

My Department has recorded the cost of overseas travel by air and rail from April 2004 to December 2007. The countries visited include the USA, Republic of Ireland and other European countries. This information is set out in the following table.

Total costs (£)

April to December 2004

85,013

January to December 2005

184,055

January to December 2006

131,907

January to December 2007

80,889

All official travel is undertaken in accordance with departmental rules.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what proportion of parliamentary questions for answer on a named day to his Department received a (a) holding and (b) substantive answer on the named day in each year since 2001. (190280)

Electronic records are only available from 18 May 2005 onwards. To obtain the information requested prior to this date would involve an extensive manual trawl of records which could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

The following table provides the information that is available.

Holding answers issuedSubstantive answers issued

Total number of PQs received1

Total number of named day questions

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

18 May 2005 to end 2005

2,846

363

168

46

195

54

2006

4,023

617

377

61

240

39

20072

1,421

220

105

48

115

52

2008 up to 22 February 2008

146

21

5

24

16

76

1 Inclusive of transfers and withdrawals.

2 Reduction in the overall number of PQs received due to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly (8 May 2007).

Employment Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2008, Official Report, column 1145W, on employment agencies, which recruitment agencies his Department has used in each year since 1998; and how much each agency was paid in each year. (189361)

The following table shows how much the Northern Ireland Office (excluding its Agencies, NDPBs and Public Inquiries) spent on recruitment agencies in each financial year since 1998-99. These figures include both the costs for appointing staff to the department and the salaries paid to these temporary staff members.

Recruitment Agencies used

Recruitment Agencies costs (£)

1998-99

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

27,051

Hays Accounting Personnel

21,878

Lynn Recruitment

2,421

Total

51,350

1999-2000

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

35,190

Grafton Recruitment

1,594

Lynn Recruitment

428

Total

37,212

2000-01

Diamond Recruitment

6,997

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

29,466

Grafton Recruitment

445

Total

36,908

2001-02

Diamond Recruitment

11,649

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

28,029

Total

39,678

2002-03

Diamond Recruitment

3,438

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

25,543

Grafton Recruitment

4,967

Hays Accounting Personnel

32,322

Tim Lewis Recruitment Ltd.

15,074

Total

81,344

2003-04

Diamond Recruitment

9,700

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

24,915

Grafton Recruitment

32,432

Hays Accounting Personnel

31,518

Select Recruitment

1,318

Total

99,883

2004-05

Diamond Recruitment

14,812

Excel Recruitment Ltd.

14,473

Grafton Recruitment

31,740

Hays Accounting Personnel

29,993

Tim Lewis Recruitment Ltd.

6,553

Select Recruitment

23,783

Total

121,354

2005-06

Brook Street (UK) Ltd.

2,404

Diamond Recruitment

10,555

Grafton Recruitment

76,451

Hays Accounting Personnel

31,992

Tim Lewis Recruitment Ltd.

5,512

Select Recruitment

9,389

Total

136,303

2006-07

Brook Street (UK) Ltd.

913

Diamond Recruitment

10,333

Grafton Recruitment

112,394

Hays Accounting Personnel

43,846

Tim Lewis Recruitment Ltd.

1,522

Total

169,008

Inquiries

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the costs to date have been of the inquiries into (a) Bloody Sunday, (b) Robert Hamill death, (c) Rosemary Nelson’s death, (d) Pat Finucane’s death and (e) Billy Wright’s death. (187830)

The costs to the end of January 2008 for the inquiries are as follows:

Cost (£ million)

The Bloody Sunday inquiry

181.4

The Robert Hamill inquiry

13.0

The Rosemary Nelson inquiry

24.5

The Billy Wright inquiry

13.2

An inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane has not yet been established.

The Wright and Hamill inquiries are operating under the Inquiries Act 2005. The Nelson inquiry is operating under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. The Bloody Sunday inquiry is operating under the Tribunals Act 1921.

Prisoners: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prisoners detained in Northern Ireland have (a) applied for and (b) received student loans in each of the last five years. (189291)

Prostitution

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the level of the vice trade in Northern Ireland in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (189827)

The true extent of the vice trade is very difficult to quantify, particularly as brothels tend to operate in one location for a short period of time before moving to avoid the attention of local police. The PSNI are taking part in Operation Pentameter 2, a UK-wide operation against human trafficking, which will improve our understanding of the scale of human trafficking and the illegal sex trade in Northern Ireland. In 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), three people were prosecuted and convicted in Northern Ireland for brothel-keeping.

As well as impacting on individuals, prostitution causes real problems for communities. In recent months, therefore, police have mounted three investigations where controlling prostitution was suspected. A file has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service, and €15,000 was seized under the proceeds of crime legislation.

In response to community concerns, I intend to include extension of the offence of kerb crawling to Northern Ireland, and a new offence relating to soliciting, in the draft Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order on which I have recently been consulting.

Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in the anti-terrorist operation against associates of the Real IRA in Vilnius, overseen by the Lithuanian authorities, Garda Siochana, PSNI, British Intelligence Agencies and Interpol, which resulted in the arrest of Michael Campbell. (189055)

It would not be appropriate to comment on anti-terrorist operations or who may be involved in them. The prosecution of the individual referred to is a matter for the prosecuting authorities in Lithuania.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects to answer question (a) 181598 and (b) 181530, on departmental travel, tabled on 21 January 2008 by the hon. Member for Taunton; and what the reason for the time taken to respond is. (191243)

Questions (a) 181598 and (b) 181530 were both answered today.

Each of these questions requested details of departmental travel including travel outside of the United Kingdom. To ensure accuracy in the answers, extensive cross-referencing was required between different parts of the Department, which proved to be more time consuming than originally expected.

International Development

Chad: Internally Displaced Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of Chadians who are (a) resident in internally displaced people’s camps and (b) refugees; and what steps his Department is taking to provide assistance to such people. (189619)

There are currently approximately 180,000 internally displaced people in Chad, the vast majority of them distributed across sites in the east of the country. In 2007-08, the UK Government have committed £6.5 million in Chad through humanitarian agencies to collectively address the needs of the internally displaced, the refugees and the host population. This support has been used for the provision of water and sanitation facilities, food, medical assistance, shelter and other relief items to these groups.

The recent attack by rebels on N’Djamena (the capital of Chad) resulted in the flight of refugees into neighbouring Cameroon; approximately 10,000 still remain there. The United Nations recently made an allocation of approximately £2.4 million for these refugees from its Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), to which the UK is the largest donor (20 per cent.).

Approximately 25,000 Chadian refugees also reside in Sudan. These receive indirect support from the UK through the UN’s Common Humanitarian Fund in Sudan, to which the UK is contributing £35 million in this financial year.

Developing Countries: Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on the funding of the public-private product development partnerships for diagnostics for neglected diseases. (189268)

The UK Government are a strong supporter of public-private product development partnerships for neglected diseases, recognising the need to develop new diagnostics.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced over $60 million in support for TB diagnostics research in September 2007 in a grant to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), who also receive funding from the Dutch Government, EU and USAID. DFID staff have had a number of meetings with FIND and we will be considering funding for diagnostics in the context of DFID’s new research strategy 2008-13.

Infant Mortality

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the merits of including in the millennium development goals framework equity objectives to close the gap in child mortality between the richest and poorest 20 per cent. of developing countries' populations. (188918)

The UK Government believe that equity objectives do currently underpin the millennium development goals' framework. The millennium declaration clearly states that signatories accept a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level, with a particular duty to children.

Press

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many press office staff were employed by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies (i) in each year since 1996-97 and (ii) at the latest date for which information is available. (189686)

The Department for International Development (DFID) does not have any agencies, and is responsible for two non-departmental public bodies—the Crown Agents Holding and Realisation Board and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, which do not have any press officers. The number of such staff in DFID since 1997, when the department was established, is shown in the following table:

Number

1997

6

1998

6

1999

4

2000

4

2001

5

2002

4

2003

6

2004

7

2005

7

2006

6

2007

6

Now

7

Sierra Leone: Economic Situation

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's latest assessment is of the economic situation in Sierra Leone. (190612)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: The economic outlook for Sierra Leone is favourable, although fragile and highly vulnerable to external shocks. The economy grew at sustained pace (8 to 9 per cent. per year) since the end of the hostilities in 2002, and is expected to continue to expand at 6.5 per cent. in 2008, in line with the sub-Saharan African average. Inflation, around 12 per cent. in 2007, is expected to decline to single digit by the end of 2008. Business confidence was boosted by the peaceful outcome of the September 2007 elections, with an increase of private investment, especially in the construction and hospitality industry, and new entrants in the banking sector.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child