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Written Answers

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 26 March 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Leader of the House

Members: Second Homes

To ask the Leader of the House how many hon. Members claim for a second home (a) in London and (b) in their constituency. (195741)

Hon. Members are entitled to claim the additional costs allowance when staying away from their main home on parliamentary business. The allowance may be used for help with the cost of purchase or rental of a property, or for hotel or other overnight costs. In 2006-07 441 Members claimed the allowance for staying in London and 148 in their constituency.

Olympics

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) press and (b) communications officers were employed to promote (i) the bid for and (ii) the hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics in each year for which figures are available. (182511)

There were no press officers employed in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport solely to work on the Olympic bid. Subsequent to London winning the bid, the Department has employed the following numbers of press officers to work on the Olympics:

Press officers

2005-06

2

2006-07

3

2007-08

3

The Department does not have a “communication officer” grade. The “White Book” of contacts in Government Departments and agencies contains listings for the Department and the book is updated twice yearly.

Northern Ireland

Criminal Justice and Policing

8. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made on devolution of criminal justice and policing to Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. (195504)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh).

Fuel Smuggling

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the level of fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland. (195506)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Jones).

Policing Budget

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the policing budget for Northern Ireland is in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (195507)

The allocation made to the Northern Ireland Policing Board in respect of policing in 2007-08 amounts to £1,231 million.

Security Situation

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. (195508)

The security situation in Northern Ireland has been dramatically transformed, not least because of the historic agreement reached exactly one year ago today by the right hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) and the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Adams).

Abortion

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to introduce new legislation on abortion in Northern Ireland. (195509)

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants, (b) special advisers and (c) Ministers in his Department staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in the last 12 months. (193536)

The Northern Ireland Office does not record the costs of overnight accommodation in the format requested. This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Driving Offences: Sentencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) arrests and (b) convictions for drink-driving offences resulted in a custodial sentence in each of the last 10 years, broken down by (i) specific offence, (ii) age and (iii) sex. (194756)

Table 1 sets out the number of arrests for drink driving offences from 1998 to 2007. Breakdown by gender is available from 2002-07. However, the only information recorded on age is the average age of those arrested.

Table 2 sets out the number of convictions for drink driving offences which have resulted in a custodial sentence in each of the last 10 years, 2006 being the latest available.

Table 3 sets out the number of convictions for drink driving offences resulting in a custodial sentence categorised by age in each of the last 10 years, 2006 being the latest available.

Table 4 sets out the number of convictions for drink driving offences resulting in a custodial sentence categorised by gender in each of the last 10 years, 2006 being the latest available.

Table 1: Breakdown of number of arrests 2002-07

Male

Female

Average age

2007

3,866

478

33

2006

4,145

512

33

2005

3,992

443

34

2004

3,489

388

34

2003

3,142

349

33

2002

2,145

283

32

Total number of arrests 1998 to 2001

Number

2001

4,271

2000

5,284

1999

5,025

1998

4,711

Table 2

Offence

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

In charge of vehicle while under the influence of alcohol/drugs

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen of blood/urine—major accident

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Driving with excess alcohol

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

1

0

In charge with excess alcohol

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

Driving with excess alcohol—blood/urine

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

In charge with excess alcohol—blood/urine

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen of breath—driving

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen of breath—attempting to drive

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen of blood/urine—minor accident

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Driving when unfit through drink or drugs

5

5

3

8

4

2

5

12

15

8

Attempting to drive when unfit through drink or drugs

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

In charge when unfit through drink or drugs

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

0

0

Driving with excess alcohol in breath

9

14

5

11

3

11

4

5

4

14

Attempting to drive with excess alcohol in breath

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

In charge with excess alcohol in breath

0

2

0

0

0

1

2

1

0

0

Driving with excess alcohol in blood

0

0

4

3

2

5

2

3

1

3

Attempting to drive with excess alcohol in blood

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

In charge with excess alcohol in blood

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Driving with excess alcohol in urine

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

In charge with excess alcohol in urine

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen of breath for preliminary test

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

Failing to provide specimen of breath for analysis

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

Failing to provide specimen of blood or urine for analysis

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

Failing to provide specimen when driving unfit

0

1

2

3

2

0

0

3

2

0

Failing to provide specimen when attempting to drive unfit

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen when in charge unfit

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

Failing to provide specimen when driving with excess alcohol

0

0

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen when attempting to drive unfit

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Failing to provide specimen when in charge with excess alcohol

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Causing death by driving carelessly when unfit

1

1

1

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

Causing GBI by driving carelessly when unfit

3

1

2

1

1

1

3

1

0

0

Causing death or GBI by driving carelessly- excess alcohol

1

0

0

1

0

1

2

1

0

0

Causing death by inconsiderate driving with excess alcohol

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Causing GBI by driving carelessly with excess alcohol

3

3

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Causing death—driving carelessly, failing to provide specimen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Causing GBI—driving carelessly, failing to provide specimen

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

24

28

19

31

14

23

21

36

28

27

Table 3

Age (years)

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

0 to 17

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

18 to 24

3

10

2

9

7

7

3

12

12

12

25 to 39

16

6

9

11

4

11

15

15

9

14

40 to 59

3

12

8

11

3

5

3

6

6

1

60 +

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Not recorded

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

Total

24

28

19

31

14

23

21

36

28

27

Table 4

Sex

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1990

1998

1997

Male

23

28

19

30

14

21

21

35

28

27

Female

1

0

0

1

0

2

0

1

0

0

Total

24

28

19

31

14

23

21

36

28

27

PSNI data on numbers of arrests are not directly comparable with statistics on convictions, as the offence recorded initially may differ from that which is used in court.

Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) when Mr. Phil Taylor formally ended his employment as a special adviser to the Northern Ireland Office; (191031)

(2) what the employment status was of special adviser to the Northern Ireland Office, Mr. Phil Taylor while working on a Labour Party deputy leadership campaign; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Phil Taylor ceased to be employed by the Northern Ireland Office on 28 June 2007.

Special advisers working in the Northern Ireland Office were aware of the Special Adviser Code of Conduct and the additional guidance issued by the Cabinet Secretary in December 2006.

House of Commons Commission

Fairtrade Initiative

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will provide for the stocking of Fairtrade bananas in House cafeterias. (196223)

The House of Commons Catering and Retail service stocks Fairtrade bananas from time to time and in particular during Fairtrade fortnight, which ran from 25 February to 7 March 2007.

Despite extensive research of the market, however, it has proven exceptionally difficult to source a supplier able to supply Fairtrade bananas in the relatively small quantities required by the Catering and Retail service. Most Fairtrade bananas are purchased at source by the major supermarkets and those that are available on the wholesale fruit market in London generally have a minimum order level of one pallet (540 kg) per delivery, which is far more than we can reasonably use or store.

International Development

Africa: International Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the potential role of international companies in promoting development in Africa; and what steps he is taking to promote and co-ordinate such involvement. (194578)

International companies have a key role in contributing towards development and economic growth in Africa through investment, job creation and their contribution to Government revenues by paying taxes.

The UK Government work with developing country governments and international agencies to create an environment that supports the growth of business by supporting reforms that allow markets to work with greater efficiency and fairness. The UK Government also promote adherence to the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises which set out the standards on issues such as employment and industrial relations, the environment and corruption that OECD governments expect business to adhere to when they invest overseas.

Companies can also use their core business to deliver better development outcomes. The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with companies that have signed up to the Prime Minister's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Call to Action to develop concrete initiatives which apply core business, skills, and expertise to enhance growth and wealth creation to help meet the MDGs.

Developing Countries: Water

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to reduce conflict over water in developing countries. (196894)

The Department for International Development (DFID) recognises the importance of promoting co-operation over water resources to reduce the risk of conflict. DFID provides support to programmes in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia that reduce conflict over water resources. DFID is also increasing funding to support countries to manage the effects of climate change, which will improve the management of water and reduce the risks of conflict as resources become more scarce.

In the Middle East, DFID provides support to the EXACT programme (part of the multilateral track of the Peace process), to improve regional management of groundwater pollution. In Sudan, DFID is providing £1 million for the development of an integrated water resources management plan to improve co-operation over scarce water resources and help build sustainable livelihoods. We have provided £14 million to the Nile Basin Initiative that supports co-operation among the countries that share the waters of the Nile. DFID has also recently agreed to provide initial funding to the South Asia Water Initiative to promote co-operation over water in one of the world's most volatile regions. We continue to consider other requests for support to improve the management of water to help reduce conflict at regional levels and in countries.

EU Aid: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions (a) he, (b) his officials and (c) UK representatives in Brussels have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the EU Commission on the additional €160 million funding announced to supplement EU food aid; what assessment his Department has made of the planned distribution of these additional funds; whether his Department was consulted in the process of reaching this decision; and if he will make a statement. (192972)

The European Commission’s €160 million operational plan for food aid to meet the food needs of approximately 18,675,000 people was discussed with member states at the Humanitarian Aid Committee (MAC) on 13-14 December in Brussels. DFID received the papers about the decision but was not represented at this meeting.

Following the Humanitarian Aid Committee in December the operational plan for food aid was adopted by the European Parliament on 19 February.

These funds form part of the €223 million food aid budget under the European Commission’s Humanitarian Regulation. They take account of expected increases in humanitarian demand due to climatic shock, the decreasing availability of food, the impact of recent food price rises and the reducing incomes of the most vulnerable groups.

DFID subsequently reviewed the operational plan and is confident that the allocation is appropriate and will be spent where there is genuine need.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions (a) he, (b) his officials and (c) UK representatives in Washington DC have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the US Administration on the possible matching of the increase in EU food aid by the US; and if he will make a statement. (192973)

Our UK representatives in Washington understand that there is no move to increase budgets or overhaul the structure of US food aid.

There are also no current plans to increase EU food aid. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him today (UIN 192972).

Global Plan to Stop TB

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has allocated to the Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-15 since the programme was launched; what progress has been made towards the targets in the Plan to Stop TB; and how much of the funding required to implement the Global Plan has been (a) identified and (b) spent. (194960)

[holding answer 17 March 2008]: The Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis (TB) lays out the actions and resources needed to achieve its target to halve TB prevalence and deaths by 2015. It does not receive funding directly but acts as an umbrella organisation for those involved in TB control.

The World Heath Organisation estimates that globally the number of new cases of TB is falling slowly (less than 1 per cent. a year) and the reported treatment success rate is now 85 per cent.

When launched in 2006, the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis (TB) set the overall plan cost at US $56 billion, the estimated funding gap being US $ 31 billion. For its first three years, the Global Plan identified the need for about US $12 billion of which countries have reported US $7.6 billion in available resources.

Global Schools Partnership

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2008, Official Report, column 284W, on Global Schools Partnership, how many of the participating schools in Wales were from each local authority in Wales. (195032)

The breakdown, by local authority, of Welsh schools participating in the DFID Global School Partnerships (DGSP) programme in the period 1 April 2005 to 29 February 2008 is as follows:

Local authority

Eligible DGSPs

Blaenau Gwent

3

Bridgend

2

Caerphilly

6

Cardiff

8

Carmarthenshire

9

Ceredigion

7

Conwy

3

Denbighshire

13

Flintshire

2

Gwynedd

6

Isle of Anglesey

9

Merthyr Tydfil

4

Newport

2

Pembrokeshire

5

Rhondda, Cynon, Taff

8

Swansea

3

The Vale of Glamorgan

2

Wrexham

10

Grand total

102

Ipsos MORI

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what payments his Department has made to Ipsos MORI in the last 24 months; and for what purposes. (194313)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has not made any payments to Ipsos MORI during the past 24 months. DFID has recently contracted Ipsos-MORI through the Central Office of Information to research issues around the attitude of the UK public to international poverty.

Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken to ensure that aid given by his Department is spent on the purposes for which it was intended. (196893)

The Department for International Development (DFID) always checks three points for each aid programme:

That the funds were paid to the intended recipient;

That the funds have been used for the purposes agreed; and

That the use of the funds has been audited.

DFID checks on the use of funds by requiring recipients to provide audited financial statements and by conducting annual monitoring reviews.

DFID’s programme management is supported by regular audits by DFID’s internal audit department and the National Audit Office, both providing further evidence of the correct use of aid funds.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on FCO scholarships and fellowships, what assessment he has made of the rigour and transparency of selection methods for the (a) Commonwealth and (b) Chevening Scholarship schemes. (195766)

The selection process for Commonwealth scholars is both rigorous and transparent. The changes we are making to the Chevening scholarship scheme, set out in my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-24WS, will improve the consistency of the selection of Chevening scholars.

Departmental Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) objective and (b) value was of each contract placed with (i) Deloitte & Touche, (ii) Ernst & Young, (iii) KPMG, (iv) PricewaterhouseCoopers and (v) PA Consulting by his Department and its agencies in each year since 2004-05. (179022)

The information requested by my hon. Friend is as follows:

Company/Objective

Value of contract (£)

For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Deloitte and Touche

Advice in relation to Private Finance Initiative options for various projects

2004-05

11,300

Ernst and Young

None

KPMG

IT Strategy Development, Shared Services Banking consultancy, Efficiency Health Check

2006-07

154,429

2007-08

118,518

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Provision of Accounting and Auditing services to FCO Resource Accounts and Internal Audit Departments

2004-05

5,000

2005-06

499,377

2006-07

112,300

2007-08

300,000

PA Consulting

UK Visas Biometric consultancy, Shared Services consultancy, Commercial Partnerships Consultancy and Change Management Support

2004-05

590,579

2005-06

5,125,928

2006-07

15,737,004

2007-08

11,763,173

FCO Services (an Executive Agency of the FCO)

Deloitte and Touche

None

Ernst and Young

None

KPMG

Accountancy services in respect of a Value Added Tax Review (VAT)

2007-08

128,912

PricewaterhouseCoopers

None

PA Consulting

General Management Consultancy Services including those related to the Future Vision and Strategy/Trading Fund Programme

2004-05

193,456

2005-06

47,400

2006-07

36,008

2007-08

3,840,879

The figures in the table represent FCO and FCO Services commitments (i.e. excluding VAT) to these companies during this period and not the actual expenditure against these commitments some of which may be made in subsequent periods. These figures are based on reports produced by Prism, the FCO's financial and management information system. The amounts actually paid against these commitments may differ where VAT is applied. The contracts/services detailed reflect the key services/contracts which these commitments have covered.

These figures also only cover commitments/contracts made in the UK and exclude those made by our missions overseas, which due to currency/exchange rate issues we are not readily able to include here.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will publish the full strategic framework document Better World, Better Britain following his letter to right hon. and hon. Members of 29 February 2008 enclosing a leaflet setting out in brief the new strategy. (196307)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The key points of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) new strategic framework were set out in my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s written ministerial statement of 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 52-53WS. Additionally, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote to all hon. Members and peers, enclosing a leaflet titled: “Better World, Better Britain”, with further information about the strategic framework. Further details will be available on the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk) from 28 March 2008 and in the forthcoming FCO departmental report.

Departmental Scholarships

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, column 23WS, on FCO scholarships and fellowships, if he will publish the review. (195650)

I will arrange for a copy of our 2006 review of the Chevening scholarship scheme to be placed in the Library of the House.

Detainees

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 1356W, on detainees, what subsequent assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy of domestic legislation and international legal instruments and (b) future discussions of the Secretary General's proposals by the Committee of Ministers following the Oral Statement on terrorist suspects (renditions) of 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-59. (197029)

Officials continue to work through the details and implications of the new information received from the US on renditions through Diego Garcia. Once this work is completed we will look again at the proposals of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue to take account of any discussions of rendition in the Council of Europe's, Committee of Ministers and will keep UK procedures under review to ensure that they meet the standards we have set and comply with UK domestic law and our international obligations.

Kenya: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the power sharing agreement in Kenya. (196343)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: We welcome the power-sharing agreement signed by President Kibaki and the Leader of the Opposition, Raila Odinga, on 28 February 2008. We join the international community in thanking Kofi Annan and his team for their outstanding efforts in brokering this deal.

But the hard work must continue. Real leadership, patience and tolerance is necessary to ensure that the agreement sticks and is implemented in full. We welcome signs that this is happening, including the constitutional reforms passed on 18 March 2008 involving creating the office of Prime Minister.

Middle East: Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the effects of transmissions by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiyya on public perception of the UK in the Middle East. (195622)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office employs two Arabic spokespeople: one in London and one in Dubai, both appear regularly on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya to put forward the UK’s position. They monitor and report regularly on how UK issues are covered in the Arab media.

Pakistan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the recent report funded by the British High Commission into public attitudes within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. (197114)

The recently published report “Understanding FATA” examines attitudes towards governance, security, religion and the wider society within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It was produced by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, a Pakistani non-governmental organisation, and funded by the cross-departmental conflict prevention pool. It is based on independent polling and research and forms an important contribution to our developing understanding of the FATA—particularly through acknowledging and examining the opinions of the tribal people themselves. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

PricewaterhouseCoopers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department paid to PricewaterhouseCoopers in each financial year since 2000. (180816)

The amounts paid to PricewaterhouseCoopers in each year were:

£

2000-01

202,364.53

2001-02

9,350.52

2002-03

0

2003-04

221,801.00

2004-05

5,875.00

2005-06

254,798.76

2006-07

384,196.97

2007-08

1297,026.02

1 To December 2007.

These figures are based on reports produced by Prism, the FCO’s financial and management information system. The above include value added tax (VAT), some of which was recoverable VAT. The figures represent Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and FCO Services payments made during this period. Payments may be made in periods following those in which contractual amounts were previously committed.

The aforementioned figures given only cover commitments/contracts made in the UK and exclude those made by our missions overseas which, due to currency/exchange rate issues, were not readily available to include here.

Russia: TNK-BP

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the police search of TNK-BP and BP-Trading Limited in Russia in March 2008. (197095)

We are aware that on 19 and 20 March, the Russian authorities conducted searches at the Moscow offices of both TNK-BP and BP. Files and computer servers were seized, and company employees were questioned. None of them were UK nationals. We are in touch with the companies and continue to monitor the situation closely. Clearly, we expect any investigations by the Russian authorities to be conducted in full transparency and in accordance with Russian law.

Sudan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will encourage the representation of Arab militias in peace talks in Darfur. (196327)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: We have made clear to the UN and African Union (AU) envoys, most recently at the international meeting they hosted in Geneva on 18 March, that we believe civil society and Arab engagement in the political process are essential for an inclusive process and a sustainable settlement.

The UK has filled five key posts in the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation, which will be the main mechanism for civil society engagement in the political process and in longer-term reconciliation and rehabilitation in Darfur. We have also committed £1 million to support the AU and UN Joint Mediation Support Team, which is currently focused on encouraging rebel movements to unify further and agree on common platforms ahead of negotiations with the Government of Sudan.

Tibet: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Tibet; and if he will make a statement. (196277)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: We do not have access to all the information needed to make an accurate assessment of the humanitarian situation in Tibet. However, we remain seriously concerned about the recent events in Tibet and the surrounding region and continue to closely monitor the situation. We have asked the Chinese authorities for permission for an official, from our embassy in Beijing, to visit Tibet. We have expressed our concern to Chinese authorities both in Beijing and London and have urged them to respect fully the human rights of those detained; to avoid use of excessive force in dealing with riots; and to respect freedom of expression and religion in Tibet.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Tibet; and if he will make a statement. (196278)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: We remain very concerned about the situation in Tibet and surrounding areas, including reports of loss of life, use of force and damage to property. We understand an uneasy calm has returned to the streets of Lhasa. We continue to urge the Chinese to respect fully the human rights of those detained; to exercise maximum restraint in restoring public order; and to respect freedom of expression and religion in Tibet. We also call on the protesters, in Lhasa and elsewhere, to desist from further violence. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke to Chinese Premier Wen on 19 March urging the Chinese Government to address the underlying issues by re-engaging in dialogue without preconditions with the Dalai Lama and his representatives. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also emphasised the need for dialogue when he spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on 21 March.

Scotland

Departmental Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which of his Department’s initiatives have been advertised to the public in each of the last 10 years; and what the cost of each such campaign was. (192221)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999; the Office spent the following on advertising:

£

1999-2000

26,861

2000-01

270,494

2001-02

186,564

2002-03

10,390

2003-04

0

2004-05

0

2005-06

0

2006-07

17,510

Most of the expenditure in 2000-01 and 2001-02 relates to electoral registration matters. Since 2001, this has been the responsibility of the Electoral Commission.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether confidential or personal information has been compromised through the loss of property from his Department since 1997. (193446)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. Except in exceptional cases, when it is in the public interest, it has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on breaches of security. However, following the publication of the Data Handling Procedures in Government: Interim Progress Report on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS, all Departments will cover information assurance issues in their annual reports.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the hourly rates of pay of all non-permanent staff working for his Department were in each of the last 12 months; and how many staff were receiving each rate in each of those months. (196443)

Solicitor-General

Crime: Victims

To ask the Solicitor-General what arrangements have been put in place to improve the level of service given to victims of crime by the Crown Prosecution Service. (195737)

The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) commitments to victims of crime are contained within the Prosecutors’ Pledge, which was launched by the Attorney-General in 2005, and the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, which was introduced in April 2006.

The CPS has made significant progress in improving victim and witness care in recent years with the introduction of initiatives such as the Direct Communication with Victims scheme, the Victim Focus Scheme and the ‘No Witness No Justice’ initiative.

Under the ‘No Witness No Justice’ initiative, the CPS, working in partnership with the police, has introduced witness care units across England and Wales. From the point of charge until the conclusion of the case, a witness care officer provides a single point of contact for the victim ensuring that information about the case and support is provided to meet the needs of individual victims and witnesses.

Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases the Crown Prosecution Service has prosecuted in the last three years; in how many instances a conviction was secured; and if she will make a statement. (196256)

The following table shows the number of defendant cases prosecuted in each of the last three years and the number that resulted in a conviction. Convictions are also shown as a proportion of cases completed in each year:

2005

2006

2007

Total prosecutions

1,156,325

1,098,627

1,071,738

Convictions

946,187

914,245

907,709

Convictions as percentage

81.8

83.2

84.7

The volume of cases has fallen as crime levels have reduced and as increasing numbers of lesser offences have been dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice, rather than court proceedings. Against this background, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has achieved effective increases in conviction rates, from 81.8 per cent. in 2005 to 84.7 per cent. in 2007.

Culture, Media and Sport

Art Works: Intellectual Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in obtaining the indefinite extension of the derogation of artists’ resale rights. (191313)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether it is his policy to obtain the indefinite extension of the derogation which limits the artists’ resale rights scheme to the work of living artists only; and if he will make a statement. (191875)

I have been asked to reply.

We are in the process of considering the evidence on the impact of artist’s resale right on the UK art market, including the derogation. We will be continuing our discussions with the Commission on this issue.

Arts: Resale Rights Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make it his policy that artists should be required to register their names at the beginning of each year on a centrally available database if they wish to exercise their right to receive payment under the artists’ resale rights scheme; and if he will make a statement. (191874)

I have been asked to reply.

An artist’s resale rights under article 1 of Directive 2001/84/EC are inalienable and cannot be waived. It would not therefore be consistent with this Directive to make payments of resale rights dependent upon whether the artist has registered with a database.

Departmental Intranet

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the Answer of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 1296W, on departmental intranet, what the (a) creations and (b) amendments were referred to in the Answer. (195854)

The following table shows all changes made by staff in DCMS to pages on Wikipedia.

Page title

Diff1

Comments2

A Brighter Summer Day

138119739

Adamski

9535361

corrected spelling of Tinley

American Revolutionary War

69983408

Germany did not exist until 1870 therefore reference to ‘Germans’ amended

Amersham

18665642

Amersham

18665719

Arthur C. Clarke Award

8510343

added external links

Arthur C. Clarke Award

81027462

Aryan race

70380391

/* Nazism */

Aryan race

70380431

/* Nazism */

Baron Phillimore

95701674

Baron Phillimore

100873930

/* See also */

Battersea Park railway station

1846151

Beeston, Nottinghamshire

1714319

Beeston, Nottinghamshire

1714332

Bjorn Lomborg

7796392

/* Miscellaneous trivia */ removed non-neutral characterisation

Boots Group

1714584

British Army

6936241

/* Major Actions and Deployments */ int links

British Science Fiction Association

6358875

new page

British Science Fiction Association

6378225

added ext links and extra content

British Science Fiction Association

13711021

new internal link replacing content

Brixton

1564257

Brixton

1564315

Brixton

1564323

Brixton

1588007

Brixton Hill

2467268

First entry

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

114771126

corrected first line to past tense “was a” to match past tense later in para

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

114771191

Colin Wells

66333259

Crash (1973 novel)

6927844

added detail

Crash (1973 novel)

6927894

revised for clarity

Crash (1973 novel)

9440306

fixed int links

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

6575717

add info

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

6825899

added info

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

39568170

DJ Shadow

7245168

/* Discography */ added releases

Douglas Hurd

22621605

Ruislip-Northwood link fixed

Ellie Levenson

77184331

Flickr

25743854

/* History */

Greg Rutherford

78884909

Hackney

6977423

Hard science fiction

6776829

corrected list of authors

Hector Monro, Baron Monro of Langholm

79607877

History of South Africa in the apartheid era

66118113

HTML

8288090

Iain Banks

6773059

/* Miscellany */ correction

J. G. Ballard

6927524

/* Novels and short story collections */

J. G. Ballard

7060557

created proper bibliography

James College

71813179

Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent

1714567

Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent

1760318

Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

142228236

John Boot

1714471

Ken MacLeod

7060613

added information on critical studies

List of science fiction authors

6932349

/*R*/

LSRfm.com

139666304

/* Station Managers */

LSRfm.com

145186572

/* Station Managers */

Mahmoud Ahmed

50240163

/* See also */

Martin Callanan

19373013

/* External link */

Martin Callanan

19576435

Michael Todd

103163022

Michael Todd

103163479

Michael Todd

103163596

Michael Todd

103163712

Michael Todd

103164630

Michael Todd

103164660

Michael Todd

103164690

Michael Todd

103165164

Michael Todd

103165648

North London Lions

106310570

/* History */

North London Lions

106312118

/* International tour matches */

North London Lions

106312315

/* History */

Nottingham Playhouse

15069764

Performance art

56299783

Performance art

56300035

PS Publishing

6932132

added 2001 history

PS Publishing

7273036

/* 2002 */

Remembrance Day

27354408

Remembrance Sunday

33833547

Remembrance Sunday

33833618

Remembrance Sunday

40874224

Remembrance Sunday

45260044

Streatham

1585677

Streatham

1585792

Streatham

1587823

Streatham (UK Parliament constituency)

15693607

/* Politics and history of the constituency */

Streatham Hill railway station

1585938

Streatham Hill railway station

1585969

Streatham Hill railway station

1585971

Streatham Hill railway station

1586038

Talk:A Brighter Summer Day

138120049

Plot spoilers removed

Talk:James Fenton/Comments

131268154

[[WPAES|]]Created page with ‘This article is VERY POOR in terms of failing to h wide-ranging intellectual interests and a concer...”

Talk:Kennington Park

83900443

Talk:Peter F. Hamilton

6942226

Talk:Transformational Government

79026089

The Fourth Horseman

69614762

/* Part 2 */

The Guardian

6941893

/* Supplements */

User talk:Mailer diablo

116804531

deletion james hulme

West Yorkshire

7062291

/* Places of interest */added categories

Wiki

8264708

Wikipedia:Sandbox

20041140

/* A new title */

Wikipedia:Sandbox/History

10826753

Wikipedia.Tutorial (Editing)/sandbox

18659308

/* This is a Headline */

Wikipedia:Tutorial (Editing)/sandbox

19772543

/* Level 2 */

1 Diff is a file comparison utility that outputs the differences between two files. The number here refers to the page change in Wikipedia. This report was created using http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr/

2 The comments here were added by the editor making the change to the page and generated in the report referred to in 1.

Departmental Video Conferencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will set a target to increase the use of video-conferencing by his Department to reduce the need to travel to meetings. (195873)

My Department installed a new video-conferencing system as part of the recent refurbishment of our HQ building. This system is already widely used, and we are promoting the use of video-conferencing to staff with the aim of doubling use by 2010.

Heritage Lottery Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the Heritage Lottery Fund's new mentoring scheme. (194743)

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will launch its third strategic plan in April 2008, with changes and improvements to all its grant programmes. HLF will offer a mentoring service to applicants who need extra help in developing their projects, to increase the capacity and skills of groups applying for grants and to help improve the delivery of projects.

The role of a mentor is to help the organisation and individuals leading the project to achieve the project’s aims. Mentors may give general advice on how to carry out the project, specialist advice where a project team lacks particular experience, and guidance on good practice.

Wales

Departmental Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when his Department plans to publish its sustainable operations policy statement. (195892)

My Department is currently establishing a sustainable operations policy.

We already have a robust recycling programme for paper, cans, glass, plastic, cardboard and shredding. We recycled 5,913 kg from April to September 2007. We have been successful in reducing both energy and water consumption, and 100 per cent. of our electricity is supplied from renewable sources.

As soon as the policy is in place the statement will be published on our website.

Departmental Video Conferencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will set a target to increase the use of video-conferencing by his Department to reduce the need to travel to meetings. (195893)

The Wales Office is always looking at ways to reduce the need to travel to meetings. Staff are encouraged to use video conferencing facilities, both in London and Cardiff, for meetings whenever possible and do so on a regular basis.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Naval ratings are being retrained to act as HGV drivers in Afghanistan. (195954)

Currently, 36 Royal Navy ratings are being trained as HGV drivers in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan with three Commando Brigade Royal Marines later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of expenditure on British military operations in Afghanistan during (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2009-10. (196114)

The MOD has requested £1.649 billion from the Treasury Reserve to cover the net additional costs of operations in Afghanistan for 2007-08. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget speech that we expect to spend over £2 billion supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008-09. The highly changeable nature of operations means that we are not able to provide an accurate forecast for Afghanistan alone nor any indication of cost for 2009-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria he uses to assess the effectiveness of spending on British military operations in Afghanistan. (196115)

The success of British military operations in Afghanistan (for which the net additional cost is funded from the Treasury Reserve), is judged against military strategic objectives set by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Progress is reported quarterly by the relevant commander through the Department's formal performance management process (the Defence Balanced Scorecard), which includes endorsement by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Commitments). The Balanced Scorecard is reviewed by the Defence Board. The Defence Board's conclusions are submitted to Ministers and reflected in the Department's quarterly published public service agreement (PSA) reports and in the departmental annual report and accounts.

As part of its review of Departments' SR04 PSA reporting systems, the National Audit Office concluded that the MOD's data system is fit for the purpose of measuring and reporting performance against this target and that it found no weaknesses in the quality of disclosure of Ministry of Defence public performance reports.

Armed Forces: Mental Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions (a) he and (b) officials from his Department have had with representatives of Global Health Partners on contracts operated by the Priory Group; and if he will make a statement. (195391)

Neither I nor officials are aware of any recent discussions with Global Health Partners on contracts operated by the Priory Group.

Cyprus: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints have been received from (a) service personnel and (b) dependents of service personnel about treatment received after referral by a service doctor to hospitals in Cyprus in each of the last 10 years. (194946)

The majority of complaints received by Commander Medical BFC concerning either The Princess Mary hospital (TPMH, based at RAF Akrotiri) or one of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) medical facilities are resolved locally and to the satisfaction of the complainant. TPMH operate a robust complaints procedure which is based on the equivalent NHS processes.

Records are available for 1999-2007 concerning treatment received in civilian medical facilities in the Republic of Cyprus. In this period there have been a total of 22 complaints (six from service personnel and 16 from dependents) recorded.

Complaints recorded as being made by service personnel

Complaints recorded as being made by dependents

1999

0

1

2000

0

1

2001

0

2

2002

0

1

2003

0

0

2004

0

1

2005

2

5

2006

2

3

2007

2

2

During the same time frame 137 complaints were made against TPMH itself (58 by service personnel and 79 by dependents):

Complaints recorded as being made by service personnel

Complaints recorded as being made by dependents

1999

5

12

2000

5

3

2001

3

7

2002

5

10

2003

10

10

2004

7

9

2005

10

14

2006

7

7

2007

6

7

The incidence of complaints made by service personnel and their dependents concerning medical care in Cyprus (both complaints against RoC medical facilities and TPMH) is broadly comparable to the incidence of complaints received by the NHS in England when allowance for the very different size of patient population is made.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will break down, by sub-head in (a) near cash and (b) non-cash terms his Department’s (i) gross resource outturn, (ii) operating appropriations in aid outturn, (iii) gross capital outturn and (iv) non-operating appropriations in aid outturn for financial years 2001-02 to 2006-07; (191679)

(2) what his Department’s (a) gross resource departmental expenditure limit (DEL), (b) operating appropriations in aid, (c) net capital DEL and (d) non-operating appropriations in aid outturn, broken down in (i) near cash and (ii) non cash terms, was for financial years 2000-01 to 2006-07.

I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Bob Ainsworth to Gerald Howarth:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Questions on 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2346W and 5 March 2008, Official Report, column 2284W, with details on various aspects of Departmental Public expenditure.

Attached at Annex A are tables which provide a detailed breakdown of the Department’s outturn for 2001-02 to 2006-07, together with a breakdown of the Department’s Spring Supplementary Estimate for 2007-08.

The figures are based on the accounting regime in effect at the time that those accounts were produced. Prior to financial year 2001-02, all Departmental expenditure recorded in the Estimates and accounts was on a cash basis. This data was published in the Estimates reports and end of year Appropriations Accounts, copies of which can be found in the Library of the House. Prior to the introduction of Stage 2 Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) in Financial Year 2003-04 non-cash DEL did not exist as a budgeting aggregate. The non-cash costs were scored to Non-Cash AME.

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

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many road side bomb attacks there were in Basra in each year since 2003. (195382)

[holding answer 19 March 2008]: The number of reported improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Basra in each year since 2003 is as follows:

Total

2003

31

2004

115

2005

82

2006

169

2007

296

2008

24

Data for 2003 covers the period after 6 May 2003. The figure for 2008 is for incidents up until 14 March 2008.

These data reflect reported attacks on both military and civilian targets where IEDs have detonated. The figures can only be an estimate of the actual number of such incidents, as, for example, we can never be sure that all attacks, especially against civilian targets, have been reported.

Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency: RAF Fairford

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the US authorities on the level of policing at RAF Fairford by the Ministry of Defence Police. (196388)

Discussions are currently taking place between officials and the US authorities on the policing arrangements for RAF Fairford. This is part of a continuing review of security at bases used by the United States visiting force. Any changes in security would not take place without mutual agreement.

Porton Down: Human Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what settlement has been reached in respect of veterans’ claims relating to participation in trials at Porton Down; what the implications of the settlement are for veterans not represented in the claims made; and if he will make a statement. (189696)

I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Derek Twigg to Mark Todd:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 28 February 2008, Official Report, column 1808W, about compensation for Porton Down veterans.

Solicitors on behalf of Porton Down veterans issued the Ministry of Defence (MOD) with a letter of claim on 8 March 2007 for alleged illnesses arising from non-therapeutic human experimentation conducted at Porton Down. 244 veterans claiming short term illnesses and 116 claiming long term illnesses formed a Group Action. The majority of claims relate to experiments involving nerve gas, mustard gas or riot control agents.

The matter has been resolved by way of mediation at which the MOD agreed to pay a global settlement of £3 million in full and final settlement to the entire group of 360 veterans and to make an apology by way of a written ministerial statement in the House, which I did on 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 26WS. The MOD has therefore paid all known claims from Porton Down veterans.

That said we recognise that more veterans, some of whom decided against joining the Group Action, might come forward. This is despite being assured by the Claimants’ solicitors that the Group Action had been publicised and that those who remained in the group had been carefully selected on the basis that each had a meritorious claim for personal injury said to have been caused by exposure to a specific chemical warfare or treatment agent which was supported by expert evidence. I should make clear that the MOD did not compensate individuals for mere attendance at Porton Down.

Against this background, the MOD has decided that it will consider any additional meritorious claims that are made on or before 30 June 2008; after that date, the MOD reserves the right to plead a defence based on the provisions of the Limitation Act 1980.

Any veteran now considering pursuing a claim for compensation might wish seek advice to establish whether they have a reasonable claim against the Department. One option would be to contact the solicitors involved in the Group Action who have considerable experience already in handling such cases. They are:

Leigh Day & Co.

Solicitors

Priory House

25 St. Johns Lane

London

EC1M 4LB

or

Thompson Snell & Passmore

3 Lonsdale Gardens

Tunbridge Wells

Kent

TN1 1NX

Duchy of Lancaster

Adventure Capital Fund: Contracts

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what criteria his Department used in the process which resulted in Adventure Capital Fund being awarded a contract to distribute grant funding; and if he will make a statement. (196228)

The criteria used to determine the new fund manager for the Futurebuilders programme were:

quality and efficiency of service;

quality of bidding organisation or consortium;

engagement with the Government's aims for the third sector; and

price.

The Cabinet Office used the European Union model known as the “competitive dialogue” process, which allowed the Cabinet Office to discuss its needs and requirements with a pool of potential bidders with the aim of selecting one or more solutions capable of meeting its needs.

The Adventure Capital Fund (ACF) submitted the tender that best met the set criteria for the re-tender and offered best value.

Futurebuilders England: Contracts

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for what reasons his Department's contract with Futurebuilders England for the distribution of grant funding was not renewed. (196227)

The tripartite agreement between Cabinet Office, Futurebuilders England and Charity Bank expires on 31 March 2008. In recognition of its success to date, Ministers have decided to continue the programme into a second phase. The second phase of the programme will see the arrangement moving to a bipartite structure, between the Cabinet Office and the fund manager. Under new procurement rules, this required a new tender process. Following this process Cabinet Office have appointed the successful bidder to run the fund from April 2008 to April 2011.

Transport

Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what methodology for assigning international aviation emissions to the national emission inventories the Government are advocating in the international negotiations for a post-2012 framework to tackle climate change. (195034)

I have been asked to reply.

DEFRA commissioned a study, published in 2006, which examined what the different allocation methodologies proposed by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) would mean to greenhouse gas inventories (UK and all others). No judgement was made on which methodology the UK advocated.

The inventory includes domestic aviation and international aviation as a memo item (using bunker fuel sales to estimate the GHG emission). A recent workshop in Oslo looked at methodological issues with regards to the climate change impact of aviation—it was concluded that whilst it is technically feasible to include international aviation in a post-2012 agreement, there is a political barrier to this at present.

We continue to work with EU and international partners to seek a way through the current political impasse, and very much hope to see it included in future frameworks for tackling climate change.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by her Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. (173688)

Except in exceptional cases, when it is in the public interest, it has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on breaches of security. However, following the publication of the “Data Handling Procedures in Government: Interim Progress Report” on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS, all Departments will cover information assurance in their annual reports.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what mechanisms the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency uses to check the bona fides of private parking control companies before releasing personal data relating to vehicle owners and operators to them; what steps the Agency takes to assess the uses to which such data is put by such companies; and if she will make a statement. (175771)

[holding answer 7 January 2008]: In the Secretary of State for Transport's statement to Parliament on 17 December she outlined measures to improve the security of personal data in the context of the Cabinet Secretary's review of data across Government.

She also advised that, to ensure greater clarity of responsibility, the Permanent Secretary has written to senior officials in the Department, including Agency Chief Executives, drawing their attention to current guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act 1998. This includes the main principles of the Act, information on handling personal data appropriately and the role of the Information Commissioner.

New measures for companies requesting information manually were introduced on 1 November 2006, following the review of the release of information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's (DVLA) records announced by the then Minister of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman). The use of company headed paper has been replaced by the introduction of two new forms—V888/2 and V888/3. All applications must be supported with a business resume outlining details of the company's operations and provide details of why they want the information and how it will be used, as well as evidence to corroborate their request.

Car park enforcement companies have to confirm that a parking charge scheme is in operation, and provide evidence that they are operating on the instruction of the landowner. All forms contain a note that reminds applicants that it is a criminal offence under Section 55 of the DPA to falsely obtain personal information.

Companies that request and receive data via a secure electronic link do so under strict contractual terms and must firstly complete a six-month probationary period making manual requests, during which time their behaviour in the use of the information is monitored. The level and nature of any complaints is taken into account before an electronic link is established. Since 1 October 2007, all organisations that do not have a statutory regulator are required to be a member of a DVLA Accredited Trade Association (ATA).

An ATA must have a clear, enforceable code of practice (COP) governing the conduct and business practices of their members and will publish that COP on their website, along with a list of their members. ATAs that fail to enforce their COP will lose their accreditation and their members will forfeit their entitlement to request and receive DVLA data electronically.

The Agency has the right to carry out ad-hoc audits on companies to ensure that inquiries are appropriate. Any evidence of abuse will be referred to the Information Commissioner for investigation and, when appropriate, prosecution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what circumstances the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency may release details of vehicle ownership to private companies; and if she will make a statement. (174659)

In the Secretary of State for Transport's statement to Parliament on 17 December, she outlined measures to improve the security of personal data in the context of the Cabinet Secretary’s review of data across Government.

She also advised that, to ensure greater clarity of responsibility, the Permanent Secretary had written to senior officials in the Department, including Agency Chief Executives, to draw their attention to current guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act. This includes the main principles of the Act, information on handling personal data appropriately and the role of the Information Commissioner.

Regulation 27(1)(e) of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002 requires the DVLA to release information to any person who can demonstrate ‘reasonable cause’ to have that information.

The term ‘reasonable cause’ is not defined in legislation but the DVLA has always taken the view that release should normally be associated with road safety or events occurring as a direct consequence of the use of the vehicle. Everybody that applies for personal information is required to produce evidence that they have ‘reasonable cause’ for requesting the information.

A full list of the circumstances that the DVLA has, in the past, considered to meet ‘reasonable cause’ has been published on the DVLA and Direct.gov websites. The website also contains a list of bodies that it has released information to and the names of companies that have approved conditional access (ACA) which allows companies to request and receive information via an electronic link.

Heathrow Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses have been received to the Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport consultation; and how many of these were from (a) individuals, (b) organisations and (c) groups of individuals. (196311)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The ‘Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport’ consultation ended on 27 February. We are not yet in a position to provide data on the numbers of responses received or provide any breakdowns.

M1: Bedfordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration (a) her Department and (b) its agencies have given to widening the M1 between junctions 10 and 13; what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of such motorway widening; and when she expects such work on widening to commence. (194005)

A scheme to widen the M1 between junctions 10 and 13 is currently being prepared by the Highways Agency. Following the publication of the Advanced Motorway Signalling and Traffic Management Feasibility Study on 4 March 2008 we have also asked the Agency to examine whether active traffic management with hard shoulder running might be a cost effective alternative to widening on some sections. The scheme cost and the timetable for works to commence are dependent on the option that we decide to take forward.

M1: M62

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her policy is on widening parts of the M62; what research her Department and its agencies have commissioned on M1/M62 widening and improvements in the last three years; what estimate she has made of the cost of such widening and improvements; and when she expects work to commence on the outstanding sections of the M1/M62 widening and improvements package. (194015)

It is our policy to provide targeted improvements on seriously congested sections of the road network, subject to schemes offering value for money and being affordable. The Highways Agency has carried out detailed investigations over the last three years into options for increasing capacity on the M62 between junctions 25 and 28 and on the M1 between junctions 30 and 42. A scheme to widen the M1 between junctions 31 and 32 was opened to traffic in December 2007 and fully complete in February 2008.

In light of the results of the Advanced Motorway Signalling and Traffic Management Feasibility Study published on 4 March, the Highways Agency will be examining whether Active Traffic Management including hard shoulder running would provide a cost effective means of providing additional capacity on the other sections. The scheme cost and delivery timetable are dependent on the options that we decide to take forward for each section.

M6: East Midlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate she has made of the cost of widening the M6 between junctions 11a and 19; when she expects such work to commence; and whether plans for such widening include (a) a stretch of four-laned motorway through the East Midlands, (b) climbing lanes for lorries and (c) junction improvements; (194006)

(2) what progress has been made on the widening of the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham; and what account she has taken of the potential for hard shoulder running in developing those proposals;

(3) what steps she is taking on the widening of the M6 between junctions 11a and 19.

The Highways Agency has been preparing proposals for widening the M6 between junctions 11a and 19. However, in light of the findings of the Advanced Motorway Signalling and Traffic Management Feasibility Study published on 4 March, the Agency will carry out a detailed assessment of whether Active Traffic Management, including hard shoulder running, would be a more cost effective method of adding capacity than widening on sections of the M6 between junctions 11a and 19. The assessment will also include examination of the case for climbing lanes and junction improvements. The cost and delivery timetable for these improvements are dependent on the option selected. This section of the M6 does not run through the East Midlands.

Motor Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to publish the report of the study of longer, heavier road vehicles commissioned by her Department in December 2005; and if she will make a statement. (195930)

The study was actually commissioned in October 2006. We expect the report to be published shortly.

Motorcycles: Safety Measures

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she has made an assessment of the effectiveness of measures for improving the safety of motorcycle users established in the Government’s motorcycling strategy; and if she will make a statement. (196081)

The Government’s motorcycling strategy includes a wide range of actions. We regularly keep each of these under review, working with motorcycling industry and user groups through the National Motorcycle Council and its four sub-groups.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the (a) cost and (b) time required to complete high speed rail links from London to (i) Birmingham, (ii) Manchester and (iii) Scotland. (195176)

[holding answer 19 March 2008]: In developing the July 2007 Rail White Paper, the Department for Transport commissioned work on various inter-urban capacity options. One element of this work suggested a high-speed line between London and Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow might cost £29 billion. It should be noted that, informed by this and other work, the White Paper made clear that a new line was not necessary in the period 2009-14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her policy is on committing to (a) network wide electrification, (b) a high speed line and (c) other all or nothing projects. (195642)

[holding answer 20 March 2008]: Electrification and new rail lines are not necessarily ‘all or nothing’ projects. We are beginning work with the rail industry to re-examine the long-term cases for electrification and new lines. Options identified may include incremental solutions such as electrifying short stretches of line where there is a strong argument in favour of doing so.

Railways: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on consultants for work on high speed rail links from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland in each of the last five years. (195182)

[holding answer 19 March 2008]: In developing the July 2007 Rail White Paper, the Department for transport commissioned work on various inter-urban capacity options.

In the year preceding the July 2007 Rail White Paper, work on the potential for new lines amounted to around £250,000. No substantial sums were spent by the Department in previous years.

Railways: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many delay minutes there were on the railway network in each year since 1993 for which (a) Railtrack and Network Rail and (b) a train operating company was responsible; and what the equivalent figures were for the most recent month for which data are available. (195976)

[holding answer 20 March 2008]: The Department for Transport holds the data requested only from 2005-06 when it took over responsibility for rail passenger franchises. These figures relate to delays caused to franchised passenger services, and are:

mins

2005-06

2006-07

(a) Network Rail

8,256,000

8,251,000

(b) Train operating companies

7,379,000

6,304,000

Total

15,635,000

14,555,000

The most recently available equivalent data (for the year ending 2 February 2008) is given in the following table.

(mins)

(a) Network Rail

7,689,000

(b) Train operating companies

5,506,000

Total

13,195,000

To seek historic data prior to 2005-06, the hon. Member is advised to contact Network Rail at the following address.

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London

NW1 2EE

Roads: Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons the amendments to the Road User Charging (Charges and Penalty) (London) Regulations due for completion by the end of 2007 have not yet been made. (196346)

The Department for Transport (DfT) expects to have the necessary resources available to complete consultation on the amendments to the road user charging regulations ready for implementation in 2009.

Treasury

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what occasions officials of (a) his Department and (b) HM Revenue and Customs were (i) disciplined and (ii) dismissed for (A) alleged breaches of data protection requirements and (B) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data, broken down by (1) grade, (2) sex and (3) age in each of the last five years for which information is available. (169431)

Devolution: Finance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) amount and (b) purpose of payments made to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland outside (i) block grants calculated under the Barnett formula and (ii) main departmental programmes in annually managed expenditure was in each year since 1997. (195803)

Figures for departmental expenditure limits and departmental annually managed expenditure for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses. Changes in DEL are determined as set out in the Statement of Funding Policy. Forecasts of annually managed spending are updated in the Budget and pre-Budget report in the normal way. Details of specific settlements for the devolved Administrations are set out in the relevant spending review White Paper. The devolved Administrations’ spending plans are set out in their own budget publications.

Income: Equality

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2008, Official Report, column 112W, on income: equality, what assessment he has made of trends in (a) national prosperity and (b) household income inequality in (i) England, (ii) the North East, (iii) Tees Valley district and (iv) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. (195564)

The ONS publishes measures of regional gross value added (GVA) per head in current prices in the regional accounts publication. The lowest regional level available is the NUTS3 level (unitary authorities or districts). The published data show a significant increase in GVA per head in England, North East and Tees Valley since 1997. There are no published data for Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland as they are below the NUTS3 level.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=7359

Currently there are no available statistics of household income inequality at regional level. Data at UK level are published by the DWP in “Households Below Average Income” and by the ONS in “The Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income”. Available statistics show that the inequality at UK level has been stable since 1997.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of Government spending per capita was in each of the last 10 years. (196461)

Total managed expenditure per head (total UK population) from 1997-98 to 2006-07 is provided in the following table:

Financial year

Total managed expenditure divided by UK population (£)

1997-98

5,521

1998-99

5,657

1999-2000

5,843

2000-01

6,183

2001-02

6,582

2002-03

7,097

2003-04

7,648

2004-05

8,232

2005-06

8,703

2006-07

9,074

Restricted Share Awards

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the payment of bonuses through restricted share awards. (196286)

It is for employers to decide how and how much their employees are paid in the light of what is necessary to recruit, retain and motivate labour in the market conditions in which they operate. Government policy is to ensure that all employers and employees pay the proper amount of tax and national insurance contributions on these rewards of employment, however these rewards are delivered.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reconsider again at whether Stamp Duty/Land Tax (SDLT) should be charged on shared equity properties for first time buyers when they reach the thresholds for SDLT because of changes to house prices especially, in southern England. (196295)

Stamp duty rates and thresholds, like all other taxes, are kept under review as part of the Budget process.

Taxation: Social Security Benefits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's policy on the taxation of social security benefits is. (196873)

Social security benefits are taxable when they are paid as a substitute for earned income. Income related social security benefits, child allowances and disability allowances are generally not taxable.

VAT: Repayments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken by HM Revenue and Customs to process a value added tax refund was in each of the last five years. (196265)

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is committed to paying correct repayment claims without undue delay. It does not keep figures on average processing times, but operates to a published target to authorise at least 90 per cent. of correct repayment returns within 10 working days of their receipt. At the same time, HMRC makes clear to businesses that it will carry out checks and apply safeguards to ensure that claims are legitimate and accurate. In each of the past five years the target has been met.

Young People

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) men and (b) women in the age groups (i) 15 to 19 years and (ii) 20 to 24 years there were in the UK in each year since 1991. (196824)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 26 March 2006:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question on how many (a) men and (b) women in the age groups (i) 15 to 19 years and (ii) 20 to 24 years there were in the UK in each year since 1991. (196824)

The latest available population estimates are for mid-2006. The attached table shows the figures requested:

Mid-year population estimates: United Kingdom; estimated resident population at ages 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 by sex, 1991 to 2006

Thousand

Male

Female

15 to 19

20 to 24

15 to 19

20 to 24

1991

1,905

2,242

1,815

2,207

1992

1,802

2,193

1,729

2,157

1993

1,733

2,135

1,672

2,097

1994

1,721

2,053

1,666

2,021

1995

1,737

1,979

1,687

1,951

1996

1,763

1,889

1,716

1,863

1997

1,799

1,800

1,752

1,780

1998

1,829

1,741

1,780

1,729

1999

1,839

1,737

1,786

1,727

2000

1,850

1,757

1,783

1,750

2001

1,879

1,792

1,799

1,790

2002

1,935

1,823

1,822

1,820

2003

1,989

1,866

1,867

1,851

2004

2,018

1,935

1,903

1,882

2005

2,030

2,000

1,927

1,929

2006

2,060

2,048

1,936

1,976

Sources:

Office for National Statistics, General Register Office for Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many individuals received consolatory payments from (a) his Department, (b) the Child Support Agency, (c) Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus, (d) the Disability and Carers Service, (e) the Pension Service, (f) the Rent Service and (g) the Debt Management Service in each year since 1997; what the average value of payments made in each year was; and how much was paid in consolatory payments in each year in each case. (185931)

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the tables.

Consolatory payments made by DWP

Total value of payments (rounded to nearest £000)

Number of individual awards made1

2006-07

850,000

11,389

2005-06

822,000

11,435

2004-05

752,000

10,946

2003-04

557,000

7,248

2002-03

773,000

9,725

2001-02

835,000

9,811

2000-01

758,000

7,553

1999-2000

575,000

5,211

1998-99

664,000

4,645

Consolatory payments made by DWP agencies

Total value of payments (rounded to nearest £000)

Number of individual awards made1

2006-07

TPS

43,000

509

JCP

109,000

1265

DCS

25,000

272

CSA

666,000

9,194

2005-06

TPS

38,000

414

JCP

125,000

1,294

DCS

35,000

323

CSA

608,000

9,208

2004-05

TPS

38,000

511

JCP

96,000

993

DCS

29,000

322

CSA

582,000

8,998

2003-04

TPS

23,000

304

JCP

90,000

932

DCS

24,000

289

CSA

407,000

5,561

2002-03

TPS

14,000

150

JCP

60,000

667

DCS

33,000

377

CSA

661,000

8,443

2001-02

BA

83,000

849

CSA

696,000

8,320

2000-01

BA

72,000

737

CSA

654,000

6,336

1999-2000

BA

82,000

682

CSA

485,000

4,469

1998-99

BA

80,000

300

CSA

565,000

4,235

1 Notes:

1. The Department has three main categories of consolatory payments. Where a person is found to have suffered gross inconvenience, embarrassment or severe distress as a result of maladministration a consolatory payment is made. Each case is judged on its individual merits and an award is made, as applicable, for each of these categories.

2. The Department does not retain details of the number of individuals who receive consolatory payments. Records are retained of the number of awards made under each of the above categories. Where, for example, a customer receives an initial award based on an early examination of a complaint he may later receive additional awards as a result of further investigation or under one of the other categories. The number of awards made therefore exceeds the number of individuals concerned.

3. The first table shows the entire sum awarded as consolatory payments by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its predecessor, the Department of Social Security (DSS). The figures include those paid by agencies that were part of the Department at the relevant time.

4. The Pension Service, Jobcentre Plus and the Disability and Carers Service were formed in 2002, prior to this they were part of the Benefits Agency (BA).

5. Debt Management is not an Executive agency of DWP. A consolatory payment awarded because of maladministration by Debt Management is awarded by Jobcentre Plus.

6. The Rent Service (TRS) was formed in October 1999 as an Executive agency of the Department of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. TRS became an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions in June 2001. The Rent Service has not made any consolatory payments.

Departmental Disclosure of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action has been taken in response to allegations of a breach of the Civil Service Code in respect of unauthorised publication of material on the internet by a member of his Department; what the cost to the public purse of this action has been; what the results were; and if he will make a statement. (196178)

The Department takes any allegation of a breach of the civil service code seriously. It would be inappropriate to comment on any investigation or disciplinary procedure.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) mobile telephones, (b) personal digital assistants and (c) laptop computers issued to departmental staff were reported (i) lost, (ii) missing and (iii) stolen in each year since 2001. (184318)

The following table shows the numbers of (a) mobile telephones (b) personal digital assistants (PDAs), and (c) laptop computers which were issued to departmental staff and were reported as stolen, lost, or missing (presumed to be stolen) since 2001, together with the average number of staff in each year. The records do not differentiate between those items which were reported as lost, stolen or missing, respectively.

Total number of staff

Mobile phones

PDAs

Laptops

2001

186,806

1

0

23

2002

124,117

3

0

42

2003

131,409

30

0

42

2004

130,786

34

1

75

2005

126,988

31

0

46

2006

119,972

15

0

28

2007

114,500

14

19

15

1 Figure relates to the former Department of Social Security only.

Employment: Rural Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the proposals contained in the Green Paper, In Work Better Off: Next steps to full employment on rural communities; by what process such an assessment was reached; and what steps he plans to take to ensure that rural communities receive in equitable benefit from the implementation of any proposals arising out of the Green Paper. (192824)

Most Department of Work and Pensions policies and programmes are aimed at individuals, with eligibility dependent on personal circumstances rather than where they live. This means that even without specific targeting the help provided by the Department is concentrated in areas facing labour market disadvantage. Over the last ten years, the biggest labour market improvements have been in the areas that started in the worst position.

In addition to national programmes there is also a range of locally flexible support, such as the Jobcentre Plus Adviser Discretion Fund, the Deprived Areas Fund and the new Working Neighbourhoods Fund.

When determining how to deliver its services, Jobcentre Plus also considers the implications for rural and other areas. For example, support is provided not only through the Jobcentre network but also by telephone through the Contact Centre and Benefit Delivery Centre network as well as the internet. This allows all customers to access key services regardless of where they live. Where there are issues about the ability of customers to access Jobcentre Plus support, provision can be made for additional or more flexible arrangements. These include the installation of jobpoints in libraries, surgeries in third party premises, partnering in local authority outlets and, where practical, some mobile services.

Taken together, the Department's approach helps to ensure that individuals in deprived communities across the country are able to get the help and support they need to move back into work. However, our new generation of employment programmes, including Pathways to Work and the flexible New Deal, will offer further scope for provision to be tailored to the needs of individuals in different geographical locations and those facing particular labour market challenges.

On 13 December 2007, we published ‘Ready for work: full employment in our generation’ which sets out the measures the Government will take to reach the goals of an 80 per cent. employment rate and working people with world class skills. The paper responds to the ‘In work, better off’ consultation exercise which ran from July to October 2007. A full assessment of the effects of those measures will be carried out as part of post-implementation evaluation.

A key feature of the measures is the need to provide more flexible, responsive and individually focused employment and skills support. For example, by extending our use of private and voluntary sector organisations we will be making use of their knowledge of the challenges faced by particular groups or localities. They will be able to provide the right kind of support to individuals based on their particular circumstances, which could include issues related to where they live. Each contract will be evaluated as to its effectiveness throughout the duration of that contract.

Hearing Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provision is made for deaf people to access services provided by his Department through call centres. (194953)

Deaf people can use the typetalk service or our separate textphone numbers to access all our call centres.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance is issued by his Department to local authorities on issuing discretionary housing payments to (a) all those in receipt of housing benefit and (b) those in receipt of the single room rent. (190307)

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) can be made, subject to an annual cash limit, where a person is entitled to housing benefit or council tax benefit and the local authority considers that person is in need of further financial help to meet any shortfall in their housing costs or council tax. The scheme is discretionary so it is up to local authorities to decide how they operate it, with any decisions on its use being made on a case-by-case basis.

DWP cannot prescribe the circumstances in which an authority must make payments, but guidance has been issued to all local authorities setting out the conditions for entitlement to an award. In deciding whether to award a DHP local authorities should consider the circumstances that give rise to a shortfall.

In our revised guidance, due to be published shortly, we make it clear that a DHP can cover a shortfall resulting from rent officer restrictions such as the single room rent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the outcome was of his Department’s review of the operation of the single room rent; (190332)

(2) what his estimate is of the quantity of accommodation that meets the criteria for eligibility for the single room rent.

The Department’s recent review examined the shortfalls faced by many single room rent (SRR) claimants and considered why the majority of this group do not live in shared accommodation. Three aspects were examined—affordability, accessibility and availability of shared accommodation.

On affordability we found that there are gaps in the market evidence on which the Rent Service set SRR rates and this may impact on affordability. However, changes to the way the Rent Service gathers market evidence brought about by the introduction of the local housing allowance (LHA) from April 2008, and a change in the SRR definition, should overcome the current evidence gaps and lead to an increase in SRR rates.

On availability we found that some areas of the country, particularly rural areas, appear to have a shortage of shared accommodation that falls within the definition currently used for the SRR. However, the introduction of the national LHA will address some of these issues through the move to a median LHA rate and the new Shared Room Rate. The latter covers a wider definition of shared accommodation than under the current SRR and will better reflect the range of accommodation available to tenants.

The findings on accessibility from academic research and some anecdotal evidence suggest that young people and housing benefit tenants are unpopular with landlords in the private rented sector which may restrict SRR customers’ access to shared accommodation.

The Department plans to make an initial assessment of the impact of the rollout of the LHA on the SRR as part of the two year review of the LHA.

There are no data available to provide an accurate estimate of the quantity of accommodation that matches the definition of the SRR.

Industrial Health and Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what resources his Department has made available for (a) enforcement and (b) advice and guidance on health and safety at work in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (188365)

The annual gross expenditure for 2002-03 to 2006-07 on enforcement (including investigations) and advice and guidance on health and safety at work by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, is provided in the following table.

HSE's gross expenditure1

£ million

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Enforcement and Investigation2

39.9

40.2

38.8

41.4

51.0

Advice and Guidance3

18.1

21.7

21.8

34.2

33.7

1 To allow comparison across the years, the figures have been adjusted for years 2002-03 to 2004-05 to exclude HSE's Rail Safety function which transferred to the Office of Rail Regulation on 1 April 2006.

2 HSE measures the cost of enforcement from the point at which it decides to proceed with legal sanctions and the cost depends on a range of factors, many of which are not in HSE's control, e.g. whether a prosecution is defended. HSE investigates those incidents reported to it that fall within the Health and Safety Commission's incident selection criteria and this is one of the main activities from which enforcement is initiated and the costs are included in the table. Figures are based on historical work recording data from HSE's Field Operations Directorate, Hazardous Installations Directorate and Nuclear Directorate; and its Corporate Science and Analytical Services Directorate and Health and Safety Laboratory's expenditure in support of enforcement activities.

3 Advice and guidance includes that given by inspectors in Field Operations Directorate. Also included are resources that HSE spends on providing information e.g. through campaigns, guidance through publications, staff in other directorates and its Infoline service.

Industrial Training: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints his Department has received about the suitability of placements offered to people by Skills Training UK in the last 12 months. (195021)

My Department is not aware of any complaints in the last 12 months about the suitability of placements offered by Skills Training UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the (a) safety, (b) suitability and (c) value of placements offered to people by Skills Training UK; and if he will make a statement. (195022)

All welfare to work contractors, including Skills Training UK, are required to meet the quality and delivery standards set out in the contract specification, and are subject to contract management and monitoring by professional and trained procurement staff, in addition to any Ofsted inspection and audit.

The Department's contract management and supplier relationship processes aim to ensure that corrective measures are introduced if the provider does not achieve the level and standard of performance required. This includes the suitability and value of placements and contractual compliance issues, such as the safety of trainees during their placement.

Low Incomes: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of (a) children and (b) pensioners lived in households with below 60 per cent. of median household income in (i) England, (ii) Scotland, (iii) Wales and (iv) each region of England, (A) before and (B) after housing costs and (1) including and (2) excluding the self-employed in each year from 1999 to 2000. (195390)

Maternity Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claimed maternity allowance in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (192892)

Information is not available in the format requested. Information is not available prior to 2003. The available information is in the table.

Maternity allowance, new claim commencements in Great Britain

Number

2003-04

47,100

2004-05

50,300

2005-06

55,300

2006-07

51,000

Note:

Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Source:

DWP Maternity Allowance Quarterly Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people had claimed maternity allowance but had yet to receive payments as of 28 February 2008; and if he will make a statement; (192893)

(2) what the average length of time was between the point at which an individual claimed maternity allowance and the start date of their payment in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 26 March 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply direct to your questions asking how many people had claimed maternity allowance but had yet to receive payments as of 28 February; and what the average length of time was between the time an individual claimed maternity allowance and the start date of their payment in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. This is something that falls within my responsibilities as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

As of 28 February we have 6,233 maternity allowance claims outstanding. We aim to clear maternity allowance claims within 20 days. We clear on average 350 claims per day, so this outstanding figure equates to 18 days of work, which is below the normal stock of work.

From March 2007 to February 2008 we received 89,626 maternity allowance claims and have cleared 86,563. The yearly average of cleared claims is 18.16 days to the end of February.

I hope this is helpful.

Personal Income

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average income was of the (a) top and (b) bottom quartile of households with dependent children in each year since 1997. (173891)

The information is in the following table.

Average (median) weekly equivalised incomes of the top and bottom quartile of households with dependent children since 1997

£

Before housing costs

After housing costs

Bottom quartile

Top quartile

Bottom quartile

Top quartile

1996-97

155

512

103

412

1997-98

157

520

105

419

1998-99

160

535

108

433

1999-2000

166

538

112

443

2000-01

174

562

118

466

2001-02

183

589

128

485

2002-03

185

584

130

493

2003-04

187

599

132

506

2004-05

191

596

135

510

2005-06

191

606

134

524

Notes:

1. The information shown is for the United Kingdom from 2002-03 onwards. Earlier years are Great Britain only.

2. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication ‘Households Below Average Income’ (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, equivalised for household size and composition, as a proxy for standard of living.

3. Median incomes within the relevant quartiles have been presented. We have used median rather than mean as a measure of average incomes within the quartile. This is in line with the HBAI publication, where medians are used because the mean will be heavily influenced by the small number of households having very high or very low incomes.

4. Figures have been presented on both a before housing cost and an after housing cost basis. For before housing cost, housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage interest payments, structural insurance payments and ground rent and service charges) are not deducted from income, while for after housing cost they are. This means that after housing cost incomes will generally be lower than before housing cost.

5. Amounts in the tables have been rounded to the nearest pound sterling.

Source:

Family Resources Survey, 2005-06

The figures show that households with dependent children in the lowest quartile and highest quartile of incomes have both seen their incomes grow over the last decade. Those families with dependent children in the lowest quartile have seen their incomes grow by a greater extent than those in the highest quartile.

Social Security Benefits: Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2008, Official Report, column 1388W, on social security benefits: Ireland, whether discussions took place on the time migrants have to be resident before claiming benefit in the meetings referred to. (190910)

[holding answer 29 February 2008]: The meetings referred to in the answer of 26 February 2008 to question 186429 were to discuss measures to prevent benefit fraud. No discussions took place at those meetings on the time migrants have to be resident before claiming benefits.

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost of incorrect benefit payments was, excluding those payments resulting from fraud, in each of the last 10 years. (189296)

Reliable estimates regarding the total cost of incorrect benefit payments are not available from 1997-98 to 1999-2000. The available information is in the following table.

Estimated cost of incorrect benefit payments (not including fraud)

£ billion

Cost of incorrect payments

Total amount of benefit paid

Customer error

Official error

2000-01

101.3

0.7

0.4

2001-02

106.6

0.7

0.4

2002-03

110.2

0.6

0.6

2003-04

105.7

0.7

0.8

2004-05

111.1

0.9

0.9

2005-06

115.8

1.0

0.9

2006-07

119.1

1.0

0.9

We have had great success in reducing benefit fraud, and we are now applying the same drive and determination to reduce the level of overpayments caused by error in the benefit system. We have:

established a task force to reduce official error in the benefits most vulnerable to error;

launched the first ever long term error reduction strategy which addresses both official and customer error across the whole benefits system;

created a Benefit Simplification Unit to direct our work on reducing complexity in the benefit system.

Sunbeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many instances of burning from sunbed use have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive since January 2006. (195373)

Winter Fuel Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under what circumstances a retrospective claim for a winter fuel payment may be made. (195568)

The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need for a claim. However a small number of people who are not in receipt of a benefit administered by DWP or who have not received a payment before need to make a claim.

For people who need to claim, claim forms are available from July for the oncoming winter and can be submitted up to the 30 March cut off date the following year. Payment cannot be made for claims received after the cut off date.

Winter Fuel Payments: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the public purse of extending winter fuel payments to all those eligible for the cold weather payment. (195438)

Approximately £320 million a year.

Notes:

1. Cold weather payment caseload extracted from Work and Pensions Longitudinal Survey, 100 percent data.

2. Cold weather payments to people under age 60 are made to those awarded income support or income based jobseeker's allowance who have a disability premium or a child under age five. The caseload for these benefits can go up or down from month to month. This estimate is based on those meeting the cold weather payment eligibility as at May 2006.

3. This estimate is based upon the assumption that individuals now eligible for a winter fuel payment under the cold weather criteria do not live in the same household as any other individual eligible for a WFP (therefore they are awarded the full winter fuel payment).

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Climate Change: Population

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration his Department has made of the effects of global population growth on climate change. (195742)

DEFRA ensures that UK greenhouse gas emissions projections include the impact of predicted population growth.

Global emissions scenarios contained in the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment Reports take into account global population growth when predicting future greenhouse gas emissions.

Crops: Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effects the production of biofuels has had on the production of food crops. (196199)

The impact in the EU has been very limited as less than 2 per cent. of total cereal consumption will be used for biofuels this year. The current high level of cereal prices is mainly due to a mix of short and long term factors as set out in the DEFRA briefing note “Implications of rising agricultural commodity prices” available on the DEFRA website.

The Government are very eager to ensure that biofuel production is sustainable, and has commissioned Professor Ed Gallagher, chairman of the Renewable Fuels Agency, to lead a study on the wider economic and environmental impacts, including the impact on food prices, of different forms of biofuel production. The terms of reference for the review were published on the Department for Transport’s website on 13 March.

Energy: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effects the provisions of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 on the energy efficiency of (a) local authority housing stock and (b) privately rented homes; (195659)

(2) what changes the operation of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 has produced in levels of carbon dioxide emissions from residential housing stock;

(3) what estimate he has made of the changes in residential accommodation energy efficiency which have resulted from the provisions of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995;

(4) what estimate he has made of the tonnage change in carbon dioxide emissions as a result of the implementation of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995;

(5) what estimate he has made of the terawatt hour energy savings resulting from the implementation of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995;

(6) what assessment he has made of changes to levels of energy efficiency within residential accommodation as a result of the operation of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995.

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires local authorities with housing responsibility to prepare a strategy for improving energy efficiency within residential accommodation in their areas and report annually on progress. Since 1996, authorities have reported an average total improvement of approximately 19 per cent. to 31 March 2006. Results for the period up to 31 March 2007 will be published shortly.

A number of programmes are likely to have contributed to this improvement in energy efficiency, particularly the Energy Efficiency Commitment, Warm Front and Decent Homes. It is important to note that Home Energy Conservation Act strategies and monitoring techniques differ, and that the figures reported have not been independently verified.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent efficiency directions have been issued to authorities that have not met the targets resulting from the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. (195681)

The Sustainable Energy Act 2003 provides a power for the Secretary of State to issue an Energy Efficiency Direction to local authorities. This power has not been exercised.

The Government’s policy to support and incentivise increased local authority action on climate change is outlined in the 2006 UK Climate Change Programme and the 2007 Local Government White Paper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities achieved the improvement targets resulting from the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 in each year since the Act was implemented; and how many he expects to achieve the targets in the next 12 months. (195683)

The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires local authorities with housing responsibility to prepare a strategy for improving energy efficiency within residential accommodation. These are aimed at achieving a voluntary 30 per cent. improvement within 10 to 15 years, though authorities identify their own specific targets. Most authorities have set 15 year targets, giving them until 2011 to meet them. However, annual progress reports suggest that 4 per cent. of authorities had met their targets by 31 March 2006.

Floods: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole of 5 March 2008, Official Report, columns 2510-11W, what progress is being made in his discussions with the insurance industry on the availability of insurance cover for homes in flood risk areas; and if he will make a statement. (194588)

A statement from the Government and Association of British Insurers (ABI) was issued on 13 February confirming joint working to carry out the regular review of the statement of principles.

The scope of the review includes joint working groups looking at: assessing the information and mapping currently available and ensuring better understanding of flood risk; the approach to a long term strategy in order to provide effective flood risk management; promoting increased resilience, preventing inappropriate development in high flood risk areas, and addressing the interim conclusions from the Pitt Review on the availability and uptake of insurance.

The review is expected to be finalised in the summer. In the meantime ABI members will continue to adhere to the existing statement of principles.

Forestry: Borneo

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has held with the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia on deforestation on the island of Borneo; and if he will make a statement. (196272)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The Malaysian and Indonesian Governments signed the tri-Government (with Brunei) declaration on trans-boundary co-operation to preserve the Heart of Borneo in February 2007. The UK supports the development of a tri-national action plan to be completed in the first half of 2008. This will be important in shaping the future protection and sustainable use of forests on Borneo. DEFRA is currently funding 16 projects in Indonesia and Malaysia under the Darwin Initiative, including forest related projects on Borneo.

DEFRA Ministers have met several times in the last year with their Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts, and discussed the importance of tackling deforestation in general in these countries.

I met with Indonesian Environment Minister Witoelar on 21 February 2008, and discussed forest carbon, among other issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) met with the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture on 1 October 2007 and discussed the problems of deforestation, and the related issues of illegal logging. He also discussed the need for a balanced approach to palm oil production. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Barry Gardiner) met with the Malaysian Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities in May 2007, explaining the UK's concern that palm oil production is increasing the pressure on forests.

Hazardous Substances