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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 28 April 2008

Solicitor-General

Administration of Justice: Appeals

To ask the Solicitor-General how many appeals on the grounds of undue leniency were made in each of the last five years. (200203)

The Attorney-General's Office publishes annual statistics on unduly lenient sentence references on its website:

www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk

The following table shows the number of offenders whose sentences were referred to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient, the number of offenders whose references were subsequently withdrawn and the number of offenders who were therefore brought before the Court of Appeal in each of the last five years for which full statistics have been published.

Offenders referred to Court of Appeal

Withdrawn references

Offenders brought to the Court of Appeal

2002

148

9

139

2003

102

6

96

2004

159

22

137

2005

127

19

108

2006

160

16

144

To ask the Solicitor-General how many appeals on the grounds of undue leniency against the minimum tariff applied in cases of indeterminate sentences for public protection were made in each of the last three years. (200205)

The Attorney-General's Office publishes annual statistics on unduly lenient sentence references on its website:

www.attomeygeneral.gsi.gov.uk

The following table shows the number of offenders whose sentences were referred to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the minimum term attached to a sentence of imprisonment for public protection (under section 225 (3) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003) was unduly lenient in each of the years when the sentence was available to the court and for which full statistics have been published.

Offenders referred

Number

20051

0

2006

2

1 The legislation came into force on 4 April 2005 and applies to offences committed from that date.

Corruption: Bosnia

To ask the Solicitor-General whether the Attorney General has sought views from other Government Departments about providing consent for the Serious Fraud Office to pursue a prosecution relating to alleged corrupt activity in Bosnia by the UK-based company EFT. (200807)

To ask the Solicitor-General what the reasons are for the time taken by the Attorney General's Office to decide the application for consent for the Serious Fraud Office to pursue an overseas corruption prosecution related to an alleged corrupt activity in Bosnia by a UK-based company. (201993)

A decision whether to consent to a prosecution is not a rubber-stamping exercise. The time taken to process a case may depend on the nature and complexity of the issues, legal and otherwise, and any dialogue with the prosecuting authority that may be necessary. I do not propose to comment on an individual case that is currently under consideration.

Sexual Offences: Appeals

To ask the Solicitor-General how many appeals on the grounds of undue leniency against sentences for rape were made in each of the last five years. (200206)

The Attorney-General's Office publishes annual statistics on unduly lenient sentence references on its website:

www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk

The following table shows the number of offenders whose sentences for offences including rape1 were referred to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient in each of the last five years for which full statistics have been published.

1 This includes attempted rape, conspiracy to rape and incitement to rape offences.

Offenders referred to Court of Appeal

Number

2002

4

2003

12

2004

12

2005

11

2006

18

Teachers: Misconduct

To ask the Solicitor-General (1) how many allegations of assault or professional misconduct brought against teachers by pupils were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service in each year since 1997; (202068)

(2) how many teachers prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service were found guilty of assault or professional misconduct following allegations by pupils in each year since 1997.

The records maintained by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) do not identify defendants in criminal proceedings by their profession or by their professional relationship with victims. To obtain this information, by reference to individual case files, would incur disproportionate cost (Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, part 2, clause 9).

Northern Ireland

Departmental Equality

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much expenditure his Department has incurred in conducting (a) equality screening exercises and (b) equality impact assessments in each of the last three years. (200614)

The Northern Ireland Office has in each of the last three years only incurred normal staff costs in conducting (a) equality screening exercises and (b) equality impact assessments as no external resources were engaged to carry out these exercises.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) equality screening exercises and (b) equality impact assessments his Department conducted in each of the last three years; and how many of each it proposes to conduct in 2008. (200621)

Details of (a) equality screening exercises and (b) equality impact assessments conducted by the Northern Ireland Office in each of the last three years are available in the Department’s Section 75 Annual Progress Reports which appear on the NIO website at:

http://www.nio.gov.uk/index/niopublication/niopubsearch esults.htm?category=Rights_and_Equality&keyword=Section+75&order=date&submitbutton.x=10&submitbutton. y=11

Information on the number of (a) equality screening exercises and (b) equality impact assessments the Department proposes to conduct in 2008-09 is being collated and will appear in the 2007-08 Annual Progress Report which will be published on the NIO website later this year.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many public consultations have been held by his Department since March 2007; and how many respondents took part in each consultation carried out by his Department in the last three years. (198680)

In each of the last three years the Northern Ireland Office held the following number of public consultations:

Number

2005-06

16

2006-07

20

2007-08

8

The number of responses to these consultations varies greatly ranging from no responses in the consultation “Search Code of Practice issued under POCA 2002”, to several thousand responses in the consultation on "Review of Sexual Offences".

Departmental Translation Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2689W, on departmental translation services, how much his Department, associated agencies and non-departmental public bodies spent on translation services into (a) Irish, (b) Welsh and (c) other languages in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05, (iii) 2005-06, (iv) 2006-07 and (v) 2007-08 to date. (197551)

The information requested is not held centrally and to provide this information would incur disproportionate costs. The Department, associated agencies and non-departmental bodies can provide the following information on translation services:

Spend on translation services

£

Irish

Other languages

2003-04

687.38

114,314.45

2004-05

1,105.91

256,772.79

2005-06

576.50

526,878.07

2006-07

1,963.00

910,160.00

Spend on translation services into other languages mainly comprises ethnic minority languages.

As indicated in a previous question (187993) figures are not yet available for the period 2007-08 but we shall lay this information in the Library of the House as soon as it becomes available.

Driving under Influence: Reoffenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people convicted of drink-driving related offences in Northern Ireland where a custodial sentence was not given were subsequently convicted of similar offences within 12 months of the original conviction in the last five years. (201507)

The table gives the number of convictions for drink/drug-driving related offences in Northern Ireland where a non-custodial sentence was given. Data in relation to the number of people who were subsequently convicted of similar offences within 12 months are not available. However, in 2004 (the latest year for which data are available) the two-year reconviction rate for all those sentenced to supervised community sentences was 33.7 per cent. compared with the predicted rate of 42.8 per cent. While we are not complacent, this is an encouraging sign and a clear indication that the measures and wide range of schemes put in place by the various criminal justice agencies to help reduce reconviction by offenders is having a positive impact.

Data in the following table cover the calendar years 2002 to 2006 (the latest available years) and are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Number of persons convicted of drink/drug-driving related offences1 in Northern Ireland who were given non-custodial sentences 2002-06

Number of persons given non-custodial sentences

2002

2,239

2003

2,537

2004

2,660

2005

2,779

2006

2,785

1 It is not possible to separate out drug-related offences from alcohol-related offences for the offences of ‘driving when unfit through drink or drugs’, ‘driving while under the influence of’, ‘attempting to drive while under the influence of’ and ‘in charge of a vehicle when under the influence of’.

Electoral Register

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the percentage of 18 year olds in Northern Ireland on the electoral register. (201508)

The Secretary of State has not made an estimate of the percentage of 18-year-olds in Northern Ireland on the electoral register. This is a matter for the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland and the hon. Member may wish to contact the Chief Electoral Officer directly.

Emergency Calls: Hoaxes and False Alarms

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many 999 calls turned out to be hoaxes in 2007; and how many such callers then involved a genuine 999 call in the same general vicinity. (201505)

The Chief Constable has provided the following answer:

“The total number of hoax calls using the reporting method of 999 to PSNI from 1 January to 31 December 2007 was 884. The information sought in the second half of the question is not recorded in the way requested but the total number of non hoax calls using the same method was 99,296.”

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria are used for the recruitment process to the Police Service of Northern Ireland of those who respond to advertisements in (a) Northern Ireland, (b) the Irish Republic and (c) Great Britain. (201353)

I am advised by PSNI that the criteria and assessment process for the recruitment of regular officers to the Police Service of Northern Ireland are exactly the same, regardless of origin of application.

Prisoner Escapes: Causeway Hospital

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects the review into the escape from custody of the prisoner attending the Causeway hospital on Tuesday 15 April 2008 to be concluded. (201506)

Terms of reference for the review were issued by the Prison Service's Deputy Director, Head of Operations, on 16 April, and specified that the report should be completed within 14 working days, i.e. 6 May. The investigating officer started interviews on Monday 21 April and it is expected that the review will be completed on schedule.

Olympics

Olympic Games 2012: Finance

To ask the Minister for the Olympics (1) how much and what proportion of the finance for the cost of the construction of the athletes’ village for the 2012 Olympic Games is planned to be raised on the debt markets; (201988)

(2) what recent discussions she has had with Bovis/Lend Lease on raising capital for financing the construction of the Olympic village;

(3) when she expects to announce the award of the contract for the construction of the athletes’ village for the 2012 Olympics;

(4) what her most recent estimate is of the public funding to be allocated to supporting the broadcast and media centres at the Olympic village for the 2012 Olympics;

(5) if she will provide a breakdown by main budget heading of the £492 million figure announced in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Annual Olympics Report of January 2008 allocated to construction of the (a) broadcast and media centres and (b) Olympic village for the 2012 Olympics.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 454W. The combined public sector budget for the IBC/MPC and the Olympic village remains at £492 million. However, the exact value of the overall public sector contribution will be finalised as sensitive commercial negotiations are closed out and, until then, we cannot disclose the further details requested.

Scotland

Festivals and Special Occasions: USA

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department played a role in (a) Tartan Day and (b) other Scotland Week events in the United States in April 2008. (201833)

Leader of the House

Select Committees: Regional Government

To ask the Leader of the House what the reasons are for the time taken to set up regional select committees; and when she expects them to be appointed. (201016)

This matter is being considered by the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons and the Government await its report with interest. The Committee invited evidence from October last year and has subsequently held a number of oral evidence sessions. The Government will bring forward proposals in due course.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Energy: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his officials will next meet the European Commission to discuss the Energy-using Products Directive. (201012)

My officials held a teleconference with the European Commission on 24 April to discuss the draft implementing measure on boilers and water heaters under the Energy Using Products Directive.

Lighting: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration he has given to the safe disposal of compact fluorescent lamps. (201007)

Low-energy light bulbs should be disposed of responsibly and advice on their safe disposal has been made available on DEFRA’s public website.

From 1 July 2007, waste Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs—the most common type of energy efficient bulbs) have been subject to the requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. Those who sell items such as energy efficient bulbs must provide information to the public about where they can take waste bulbs and other WEEE. Some retailers will also take them back in store. However, most retailers have funded Designated Collection Facilities—the majority of these are at local authority civic amenity sites. From this point, producers of such equipment fund its transport, treatment and recycling.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (limited to 5mg by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) but it cannot escape from an intact bulb. Even if a bulb should break, the risks from such a small amount of mercury are minimal.

Plastics: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to facilitate development of plastics recycling facilities. (202078)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 557W.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much waste was recycled by each local authority in (a) Yorkshire and the Humber and (b) Lincolnshire in the latest period for which figures are available. (201969)

The tonnages of household waste recycled, reused or composted by each local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber and Lincolnshire in 2006-07 are listed in the following table.

Household waste sent for recycling/reuse/composting

Type of authority

tonnage

(a) Yorkshire and the Humber

Barnsley

UA

26,461

Bradford

UA

56,373

Calderdale

UA

18,967

Craven

WCA

7,902

Doncaster

UA

38,814

East Riding

UA

55,769

Hambleton

WCA

15,677

Harrogate

WCA

12,043

Hull

UA

25,389

Kirklees

UA

40,334

Leeds

UA

77,656

North East Lincolnshire

UA

22,682

North Lincolnshire

UA

35,225

North Yorkshire

WDA

116,679

Richmondshire

WCA

6,409

Rotherham

UA

35,503

Ryedale

WCA

11,412

Scarborough

WCA

9,335

Selby

WCA

11,321

Sheffield

UA

59,617

Wakefield

UA

40,600

York

UA

40,561

(b) Lincolnshire

Boston

WCA

6,305

East Lindsey

WCA

19,657

Lincoln

WCA

12,770

Lincolnshire

WDA

141,313

North Kesteven

WCA

27,327

South Holland

WCA

7,229

South Kesteven

WCA

16,979

West Lindsey

WCA

11,820

Source: 2006-07 WasteDataFlow results.

Waste Disposal: Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what applications his Department has received from Gloucestershire county council in respect of private finance initiative projects for waste disposal. (201326)

DEFRA first received an application for private finance initiative (PFI) credits from Gloucestershire county council in 2003. Gloucestershire's proposed waste PFI project was approved by the Department and the Treasury's Project Review Group.

The procurement progressed to the Best and Final Offer stage. However, following a review of all major procurement schemes, the council decided to terminate the procurement and surrender the indicative allocation of PFI credits.

In May 2007 DEFRA received a new Expression of Interest (EoI) from Gloucestershire county council for PFI support. The project will be supporting the implementation of a long-term residual waste treatment solution.

On the basis of the EoI, DEFRA subsequently invited the authority to produce a detailed Outlined Business Case which represents the formal application for PFI credits. The deadline for this is 30 April 2008.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: Females

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he plans to take to achieve the 50 per cent. target for women on the boards of arts organisations; what funding his Department has allocated to such measures over the next 12 months; and when he expects the target to be met. (200293)

The Department is undertaking a range of measures to improve board diversity, and to work towards achieving the target of 50 per cent. representation of women on the boards of its NDPBs. These include widening departmental networks and contacts, encouraging NDPBs to produce diversity plans for appointments, and raising awareness about public appointments generally. It is not possible to predict when this target will be met, but we will continue to work energetically to achieve it. We plan to launch a targeted leaflet and publicity campaign this summer, specifically aimed at reaching and engaging people from under-represented groups, including women, members of ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities. The cost of this campaign is not yet confirmed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consultation process his Department undertook to inform the process by which 50 per cent. was agreed as the target for women's participation in the boards of arts organisations. (200294)

The DCMS target for 50 per cent. representation of women applies to the boards of the NDPBs for which it is responsible, and to which DCMS Ministers make appointments. This target was agreed in consultation with the Cabinet Office.

Culture: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether (a) arts and crafts and (b) museums and heritage initiatives will be prioritised under the Find Your Talent campaign. (201380)

When we announced the Government's plans for a Find Your Talent programme in February 2008, we published a prospectus setting out a core range of activities the pilots, as a minimum, should offer. This includes: learning a musical instrument; visiting and engaging with national and local exhibitions, galleries and museums; taking part in theatre and dance performances; making a piece of visual art or craft; and visiting heritage sites, significant contemporary buildings and public spaces.

Culture: Pilot Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in which 10 areas the Find Your Talent programme will be piloted. (201379)

We are not yet in a position to announce which 10 areas will pilot the Find Your Talent programme.

The deadline for expressions of interest was 7 April. We are hoping to announce the pilot areas by the end of May, following a final decision from Ministers. This will be based on advice from a stakeholder group that includes members from key cultural and educational organisations.

Digital Broadcasting: Elderly

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he has taken to assist older people in realising the benefits to be derived from the switchover to digital television. (201368)

The Government have announced a Help Scheme to assist the over 75s and those with significant disabilities, including people registered blind and partially sighted, to convert to digital television. The Help Scheme is an end-to-end package of support. As well as provision of a high quality set top box, the Scheme will provide practical assistance to install and use the equipment and the provision of an aerial if needed.

Digital UK has set up a digital outreach programme to deliver information and advice to older people who are under 75, those with sensory, mobility or dexterity impairments, people with learning difficulties and those who are socially isolated. Digital UK has a £2.9 million contract with Digital Outreach Ltd, a company set up by leading UK charities Age Concern England, Help the Aged, Community Service Volunteers and Collective Enterprises Limited, to commission support from local and regional voluntary sector organisations and charities, initially in the first four ITV regions to switch over (Border, West Country, Wales and Granada).

Fossils: Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the outcome of consultations on protection of fossils following the recommendations of the Quinquennial Review by the Committee on the Export of Works of Art in 2003. (201009)

My Department has undertaken no formal public consultation on this matter following the Quinquennial Review of the Reviewing Committee for the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest in 2003.

Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether his Department provides health or social care services out of public funds, with reference to the Statement by the Minister of State, Department of Health, in the Health and Social Care Bill Committee, of 17 January 2008, Official Report, column 327. (200216)

My Department does not provide any medical health schemes out of public funds. However, we do provide an Employee Assistance programme, which includes a counselling service.

Internet: Suicide

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he is taking to act against internet sites which encourage (a) suicide or (b) anorexia. (200680)

I am concerned about the potential harm of such internet sites. In March this year we accepted the recommendations of the Byron Review including that the new UK Council on Child Internet Safety look at whether the law around harmful and inappropriate material online could usefully be clarified, and explore appropriate enforcement responses. We expect this to be a key area of work for the council and that will make early recommendations for action if necessary.

Libraries: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the budget is for each public library in Wirral, West constituency for 2008-09. (201617)

The budget for each public library in 2008-09 in Wirral, West constituency, as provided by the Metropolitan borough of Wirral, is as follows:

Library

Net budget (£)

Upton

141,600

West Kirby

161,500

Greasby

118,800

Irby

77,000

Pensby

98,200

Hoylake

125,200

Woodchurch

72,000

Regional Cultural Consortiums: Audit

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what arrangements are in place for auditing the accounts of regional cultural consortia (RCCs) accounts; and what audits have been conducted under these arrangements since RCCs were established. (200299)

The Regional Cultural Consortia (RCCs) are companies limited by guarantee, and audits are carried out under the Companies Act by external auditors appointed by each of the Consortiums. Since the RCCs became executive NDPBs in 2004 there have been audits on a yearly basis.

Following the Government’s decision to give the Comptroller and Auditor General (C and A G) statutory powers to carry out audits of companies, it is open to the C and A G to perform this function for the RCCs in future.

Tourism: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the UK's national tourism deficit benchmarked against (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) the United States, (d) Australia, (e) Spain and (f) Portugal. (202087)

The UK's tourism balance of payments deficit for 2006 was £18.4 billion. According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this compared to:

£ billion

France

Surplus

19.58

Germany

Deficit

127.32

Spain

Surplus

123.85

United States

Surplus

26.34

1 2006. 2 2005, the latest figure held.

These figures have been converted to sterling at current exchange rates. The OECD does not hold the relevant figures for Australia and Portugal.

These figures show the obvious effects of climate and easier air travel. The Government are working with the tourism industry to make holidaying in this country more attractive to UK residents by improving the quality of our tourism offer in key areas, and this work has been brought together through the DCMS Tourism Strategy for 2012.

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street Policy Unit

To ask the Prime Minister who the head of the Number 10 Downing Street Policy Unit is. (199061)

The information requested is available on the No. 10 website, at:

http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page12.asp

A copy of this webpage has been placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent on the most recent redesign and implementation of his office's website. (200028)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 17 October 2007, Official Report, columns 1134-35W. Figures for 2007-08 will be available when the Cabinet Office Annual Resource accounts have been audited.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what (a) procedures were followed and (b) steps were taken in (i) advertising and (ii) interviewing for the appointment to post in No. 10 Downing Street of (A) Stephen Carter, (B) Nick Stace, (C) Jennifer Moses and (D) David Muir; (199058)

(2) what the duties of the Government Relations Director are;

(3) to whom (a) Jennifer Moses, (b) Stephen Carter, (c) Nick Stace and (d) David Muir report within his Office; who the line manager of each is; and if he will make a statement.

Special advisers are appointed under the terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract and Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, copies of which are in the Library of the House.

To ask the Prime Minister who in his office has the status of special adviser; and how much each such staff member is paid. (199064)

Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each pay band. I refer the hon. Member to my written statement on 22 November 2007, Official Report, columns 148-150WS.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Prime Minister what the (a) salary, (b) status and (c) contract terms are of each member of staff at No. 10 Downing Street; when each was appointed; and what the purpose is of each unit and office within No. 10 Downing Street. (199057)

Information about the salary and contractual terms of individual members of staff is personal between the employer and employee and therefore not disclosed. The cost and number of No. 10 staff, including special advisers, are published annually.

Official Visits: USA

To ask the Prime Minister which (a) Senators and (b) Members of Congress he met during his recent visit to the United States; where the meetings took place in each case; which Government Departments provided briefing materials for his use during the visit; and if he will make a statement. (201927)

During my recent visit to the United States I had meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects. In addition, I held separate meetings with Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama at the ambassador's residence in Washington. Briefing was provided by the relevant Government Departments.

Schools: Essex

To ask the Prime Minister which (a) schools and (b) hospitals in Essex he visited in each month since January 2007; on what dates and for what purpose in each case; and if he will make a statement. (201928)

A list of my UK visits will be published in the usual way following the end of the financial year.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: United Nations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the term of appointment of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan is. (200627)

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, announced the appointment of Kai Eide as his special representative for Afghanistan on 10 March 2008. The appointment is a one year renewable term.

Airports: Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times VIP facilities at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Luton and (d) Stansted Airport were hired by Her Majesty's Government in each month since May 2006; and what the expenditure on VIP facilities at each was in each of those months. (196874)

Based on Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) records since May 2006, there were 4,309 official FCO bookings at an estimated cost of £1,273,140. Actual costs, for the financial year 2007-08, will be available on receipt of BAA's final bill (trading statement) for that period.

A monthly breakdown of official usage is given as follows.

Bookings from May 2006 to March 2008

Number of bookings

Total cost (£) (estimated)

Heathrow

2006

May

414

114,264.00

June

353

97,428.00

July

103

28,428.00

August

44

12,144.00

September

109

30,084.00

October

209

57,684.00

November

310

85,560.00

December

52

14,352.00

2007

January

176

48,576.00

February

175

48,300.00

March

252

69,552.00

April

174

48,024.00

May

242

66,792.00

June

240

66,240.00

July

174

48,024.00

August

67

18,492.00

September

184

50,784.00

October

170

46,920.00

November

140

38,640.00

December

97

26,772.00

2008

January

105

28,980.00

February

115

31,740.00

March

83

22,908.00

Total

3,988

1,100,688.00

Gatwick

2006

May

30

12,480.00

June

11

4,576.00

July

8

3,328.00

August

0

0.00

September

12

4,992.00

October

10

4,160.00

November

14

5,824.00

December

12

4,992.00

2007

January

13

5,408.00

February

9

3,744.00

March

14

5,824.00

April

21

13,083.00

May

21

13,083.00

June

27

16,821.00

July

0

0.00

August

6

3,738.00

September

19

11,837.00

October

26

16,198.00

November

21

13,083.00

December

21

13,083.00

2008

January

7

4,361.00

February

7

4,361.00

March

12

7,476.00

Total

321

172,452.00

Burma: Internally Displaced Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to mitigate the challenges arising from the volume of internally displaced people in Karenni state and other parts of eastern Burma; and which of these have been taken in co-operation with the Government of Thailand. (200347)

I visited Thailand from 28 February to 1 March and met several non-governmental organisations working in the refugee camps on the Burma/Thailand border. I also raised the plight of ethnic groups in the border region with the Thai Minister of Interior.

The UK provides support to people in Karenni state through several mechanisms:

funding for the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Initiative;

our significant contribution to the Three Diseases Fund, which supports work on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in Karenni state;

support provided through local faith based organisations who are able to reach internally displaced people from inside the country; and

support from Thailand through the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium, which is providing assistance to the refugee camp bordering Karenni state, Ban Mae Noi Sae.

UK funding for projects in Karenni state is part of our effort to provide humanitarian assistance to people suffering poverty and deprivation across Burma. The Department for International Development’s programme in Burma is increasing from £9 million in 2007-08 to £18 million in 2010-11.

Burma: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to invoke the UN Security Council principle of the responsibility to protect in relation to Burma. (200346)

We continue to support the concept of Responsibility to Protect, under which Governments have the responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

As a member of the UN Security Council, the UK has persistently stated that the military regime in Burma must account for the systematic and appalling human rights abuses it commits against Burma's people. We strongly support the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma and his work to gather evidence of the abuses that have taken place. We have called for his early return to Burma to be facilitated by the regime to enable the Rapporteur to continue his vital role.

The UK has helped to secure strong resolutions on Burma at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly Third Committee, and worked to keep Burma on the Security Council agenda. The President of the UN Security Council's statement in October 2007 required a number of actions by the regime, including an inclusive transition to democracy. With the Burmese military rulers' failure to deliver any tangible outcomes despite the good work by the office of the UN Secretary-General, we will continue to consider options for further Security Council action with like-minded partners in New York.

Commonwealth: Scholarships

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people received funding under the Commonwealth Scholarships Programme in 2006-07, broken down by country of origin. (200285)

The number of scholars funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan in 2006-07, including those in their first, second or third year of study, was as follows:

Number

Australia

30

Bahamas

1

Canada

47

Cyprus

2

New Zealand

21

Singapore

4

Total

105

Cuba

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Cuba. (202112)

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) permanent Civil Service posts, (b) permanent non-Civil Service posts and (c) temporary or agency workers in employment in his Department there were in each month since May 2005. (199536)

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published civil service employment statistics, broken down by Department, in the Public Sector Employment First Release every quarter since January 2006. Prior to January 2006 the Cabinet Office published civil service employment statistics annually.

The following table sets out the Cabinet Office figures for permanent UK civil servants and permanent UK non-civil servants employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2005 and the corresponding ONS figures for each quarter since January 2006.

Permanent civil servants

Permanent non-civil servants

December 2007

6,090

10

September 2007

6,120

9

June 2007

6,170

11

March 2007

6,110

10

December 2006

6,130

10

September 2006

6,190

10

June 2006

6,240

6

March 2006

6,290

6

September 2005

6,000

4

Individual business managers are responsible for employing agency and temporary workers. The FCO does not hold central records of their employment.

Developing Countries: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the Government have taken to promote human rights in developing countries. (200976)

Ethiopia: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the recent UN report on the humanitarian situation in the Somali region of Ethiopia. (200345)

The UN published its report on the Somali Region of Ethiopia in September 2007. The UN has not published a further report since. We welcomed the Ethiopian Government’s acceptance of the UN assessment team’s appraisal and we continue to urge the Ethiopian Government to adhere to its commitments in relation to the report—opening-up of trade routes, lifting restrictions on movement, allowing food aid to reach all parts of the region and allowing non-governmental organisations greater access. However, we continue to be concerned at the risk of further human suffering and therefore look forward to full implementation of the report’s findings. The UK continues to raise this with the Government of Ethiopia at regular intervals. My noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown raised this issue when he met Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in late January. Most recently, our ambassador in Addis Ababa discussed ways to improve the situation in the Somali region with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister in March.

Ethiopia: Qatar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Ethiopia about that country's relationship with Qatar. (201565)

[holding answer 25 April 2008]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any discussions with the Government of Ethiopia about their relationship with Qatar.

Gaza: Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has made to the government of Egypt on the trafficking of people and weapons into Gaza from Egypt via under-border tunnels. (200350)

Arms and people smuggling into Gaza remain a great concern. The Quadrilateral Committee, which consists of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the US, has been working closely to address the issue of smuggling and border control. The EU commends and supports efforts by the Government of Egypt to contribute in finding a peaceful and orderly solution. Our embassy in Cairo regularly meet with Egyptian interlocutors to discuss various issues, including the situation in Gaza.

Kenya: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department's advice to UK citizens living in or travelling to Kenya has changed in the last month. (202159)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office keeps travel advice under close and constant review. Our travel advice for Kenya has been changed 50 times so far in 2008. We made 36 changes in January, 10 in February, two in March and two in April. The Kenya travel advice was last updated on 18 April to make factual changes relating to clashes between the Kenyan police and the outlawed criminal Mungiki sect, and the formation of the Kenyan Grand Coalition Government.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the use of longer-range Katyusha rockets in attacks on Israel on the political situation in that country; and what representations he has received on options for the prevention of the use of such weapons. (200351)

In recent months Katyusha rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. These rockets have a longer range, which brings more Israeli towns, citizens and infrastructure facilities within striking distance. The Government continue to call on all Palestinian factions in Gaza to stop attacks, including rocket attacks. They aim to target civilians and to undermine the Annapolis process and escalate an already tense situation.

At the same time, Israel must ensure its actions are in accordance with international law. It is important that all parties find a way to restore calm for the sake of the populations on both sides.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the recent increase in rocket attacks by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on the security situation in Israel; and if he will make a statement. (200352)

The UK is deeply concerned by rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli citizens. The launching of rockets against Israeli civilian targets and all forms of violence must stop. Violence serves only to undermine the prospects for peace and security in the region.

The Government continue to call on all Palestinian factions to stop attacks, including rocket attacks, which target civilians and only escalate an already tense situation. At the same time, Israel must ensure its actions are in accordance with international law. It is important for both sides to exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from the use of force.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions on the security situation in Gaza, including most recently with Israeli Defence Minister Barak and with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni on 17 April. Our embassy in Tel Aviv and our consulate in Jerusalem regularly meet with Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors to discuss various issues, including the situation in Gaza.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) allowances, (b) travel costs and (c) accommodation have been provided to staff seconded from his Department to support the work of (i) James Wolfensohn and (ii) Tony Blair in their roles as Quartet Representatives; and if he will make a statement. (200833)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) did not second any staff to support the work of James Wolfensohn when he held the role of the Quartet Representative for Gaza disengagement.

The FCO has seconded three members of staff to work in the Quartet Representative’s office in London. The UK has provided £400,000 to a UN Development Programme Trust Fund which provides support to the Quartet Representative. The Quartet Representative’s office in London and Jerusalem draw from this trust fund to meet their costs.

We do not have figures for all expenses and costs associated with the Quartet Representative’s office in Jerusalem or in London. The right hon. Tony Blair has been appointed by, and reports to, the Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia). It is a matter for the Quartet to determine whether to publish details of the right hon. Tony Blair’s team, costs and funding.

Papua: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken in the last 12 months and (b) plans to take to promote effective dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and representatives of the people of West Papua on conflict resolution. (200301)

We believe that the complex issues in Papua can best be resolved through peaceful dialogue between the people of Papua, their elected representatives and the central Government of Indonesia. The dialogue is ongoing. Indonesian Vice President Kalla, along with a team of Ministers, visited Papua most recently in February to discuss economic and social development with representatives of the Papuan people. Papuan leaders regularly visit Jakarta. The Indonesian President has committed his Government to improving the situation in Papua, which we welcome. Governor Suebu, of Papua province, is pressing ahead with his development programmes, underpinned by the significant financial resources now being directed to Papua as a result of its special autonomy status.

We continue to encourage all sides to maintain a meaningful dialogue that focuses on implementing fully the existing special autonomy legislation. We judge that this is the best way to ensure the long-term stability and development of Papua and its people.

At the UN Human Rights Council examination of Indonesia under the Universal Periodic Review, in Geneva on 9 April, the UK welcomed Indonesia’s substantial progress on human rights since 1998, but noted ongoing concerns in Papua.

Our embassy in Jakarta follows the situation in Papua closely and is in regular contact with human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations and academics working in the region. Embassy staff also visit Papua regularly, most recently from 15 to 20 February 2008. While there, they held discussions with local officials, non-governmental organisations and representatives of religious organisations. The Department for International Development (DFID) is providing funding for four development advisers to the Governor of Papua. Their work focuses on poverty alleviation, public finance and infrastructure. DFID is also funding HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities in Papua, as well as focusing on improving forest governance livelihoods to address poverty reduction and deforestation in Papua. We continue to engage with Papuan leaders on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, and we fund several projects in Papua, including human rights training for the police.

Simon Mann

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take in the week beginning 28th April to monitor the (a) treatment and (b) risk of torture of Mr. Simon Mann in Black Beach Prison, Equatorial Guinea; and whether Mr. Mann is still being continuously shackled. (198172)

Our consul from the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos was refused consular access to Simon Mann during his last visit to Equatorial Guinea in March. We have expressed our concern to the Equatorial Guinea authorities and are urgently seeking another consular visit. His welfare remains our primary concern.

Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Governments in Southern Africa following the elections in Zimbabwe on political and economic stability. (202158)

In the aftermath of the elections my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown have been in regular contact with heads of state and foreign ministers in the region and in the wider international community, in particular with President Mbeki. We will continue to speak to leaders in the region and encourage them to use their influence to bring about a swift resolution to the crisis.

International Development

Bangladesh: Mining

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports he has received on the effects of Global Coal Management Resources plc's open cast mining at Phulbari in north-west Bangladesh on development and poverty reduction in the area. (198831)

Global Coal Management Resources (GCM) does not currently have any mining operations in Phulbari, Bangladesh, but we are aware that plans exist. We have not received any reports on the potential effects of this, but we are aware that the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) has been assessing it. The bank has recently announced that they will not go ahead with the project proposal.

Some international and national organisations have raised concerns to us and AsDB about the environmental sustainability of the proposed project and possible negative effects for the population living in the area.

DFID's position on this has been that the social and environmental aspects of investments made by the bank need to be thoroughly considered and the bank's own procedures for project proposals must be followed.

Constella Group: HIV Infection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of Constella’s compliance with the UN Aids guidelines on criminalisation, disclosure and testing in relation to HIV. (199695)

The UK Government have made no formal assessment as to whether Constella Futures Group complies with UNAIDS guidelines on criminalisation, disclosure and testing in relation to HIV. We understand that the issue of compliance has arisen with regard to legislation in a number of west African countries, which DFID has not financed. We are in discussion with UNAIDS about actions they can take to promote compliance with the guidelines.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of (a) salaries for permanent civil service posts, (b) salaries for permanent non-civil service posts and (c) payments to temporary or agency workers in his Department was in each month since May 2005. (199533)

Due to the way historic records are held by the Department for International Development (DFID), the separate salary costs for permanent civil service posts and fixed term posts in each month since May 2005 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

DFID employs locally engaged staff, who work in more than 50 overseas offices. They are employed on local terms and conditions. Their salaries vary from country to country and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The following table covers the costs paid to the three suppliers of temporary administrative staff managed centrally since 2005.

£

May 2005

153,536.51

June 2005

142,599.46

July 2005

127,028.59

August 2005

115,890.50

September 2005

107,410.47

October 2005

103,369.50

November 2005

112,094.65

December 2005

101,490.64

January 2006

82,844.95

February 2006

81,161.81

March 2006

99,102.70

April 2006

58,766.65

May 2006

77,745.67

June 2006

116,696.65

July 2006

76,263.09

August 2006

110,239.99

September 2006

78,022.71

October 2006

95,190.27

November 2006

115,704.68

December 2006

102,202.54

January 2007

80,639.81

February 2007

106,944.08

March 2007

95,471.96

April 2007

58,254.02

May 2007

67,386.20

June 2007

56,587.46

July 2007

67,794.88

August 2007

65,631.06

September 2007

65,238.33

October 2007

72,396.59

November 2007

72,286.61

December 2007

57,578.24

January 2008

59,034.57

February 2008

68,030.28

March 2008

73,737.76

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) 0800, (b) 0845 and (c) 0870 telephone numbers for the public are used by his Department. (200129)

DFID has one 0845 number which enables members of the public to call the public enquiry point in East Kilbride from anywhere in the United Kingdom, charged at standard local rates. DFID does not use any 0800 or 0870 numbers.

Ethiopia: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to improve (a) the availability of therapeutic foods and medical supplies and (b) the capacity to respond to health and nutrition emergencies in rural areas in the Somali region of Ethiopia. (200401)

The Department for International Development has contributed £4 million in 2007 to the Humanitarian Response Fund, managed by the United Nations. With support from the fund, a number of non-governmental organisations have provided high nutrient food, immunisation and other basic health services through four mobile clinics.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking in co-operation with (a) Ethiopian authorities and (b) non-governmental organisations to provide humanitarian assistance in the Somali region of Ethiopia. (200402)

The Department for International Development channels funds for humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, including assistance for Somali region, through the Humanitarian Response Fund, managed by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The fund supports the work of non-governmental organisations and United Nations (UN) organisations in Ethiopia. In 2007 we provided the fund with £4 million and as a result about 12 non-governmental organisations and a number of UN agencies were able to respond to needs in the region.

Ethiopia: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what response he has made to the recent UN humanitarian assessment of the Somali region in Ethiopia. (200769)

The UK Government agree with the recommendations made in the United Nations assessment of the Somalia region in September 2007. We provided the UN-managed Humanitarian Response Fund with £4 million in 2007, to respond to humanitarian needs in Somali region and in other parts of Ethiopia. In response to an appeal from the Government and UN agencies in April 2008, we are considering a further contribution of £3 million for 2008.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial support his Department has provided to (a) projects and (b) institutions involved in research into genetically modified species in each of the last five years. (200395)

In 2005-06, DFID contributed £1,553,000 to two programmes that included research using genetically modified (GM) techniques. These were the Plant Sciences Research Programme and the Aquaculture and Fish Genetics Research Programme. The main institutions that received grants included: Bangor University; Overseas Development Institute; Bath University; World Fish Centre; Stirling University; and, Asian Institute of Technology.

Since 2003 DFID has given £20 million per annum in unrestricted funding to the centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. A list of these, and other international organisations receiving DFID support, is shown as follows. Some of these use GM techniques. However, it is not possible to attribute DFID funding to specific activities.

From 2003 to 2008 DFID has provided £5 million to the African Agricultural Technology Foundation to facilitate access to both GM and conventional agricultural technologies. Last financial year DFID awarded £7.1 million of grants for research that will include the use of GM and non-GM biotechnologies. Details of these grants are provided in Table 1.

Names of international institutions receiving DFID support to conduct agricultural research

Africa Rice Center (formerly West African Rice Research and Development Authority)

World Vegetable Centre (formerly Asian Vegetable Research Development Centre)

Bioversity International (formerly International Plant Genetics Research Institute)

CABI—(formally Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux)

Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT)

Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP)

International Centre for Development Orientated Research in Africa (ICRA)

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

World Agro forestry Centre (formerly International Centre for Research on Agroforestry)

World Fish Centre (International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management)

Harvest Plus Challenge Programme

Water and Food Challenge Programme

Sub Saharan Challenge Programme

Genetic Diversity Challenge Programme

Table 2:Summary of Grants Awarded under the joint DFID and Biological and Biotechnology Science Research Council Sustainable Agriculture Research for International Development programme

Institutions

Country

Title

Budget (£)

Leeds University

UK

Nematode resistant plantain for African subsistence growers.

524,216

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

Uganda

John Innes Centre

UK

Assessment of genetic biodiversity of durable disease resistance in African wheat genotypes, leading to the development of markers for wheat breeding.

662,385

University of Free State

South Africa

Nottingham University

UK

Phytoplasma diseases of coconuts: Understanding their transmission, and the sustainable breeding of resistant and tolerant varieties.

355,684

Oil Palm Research Institute

Ghana

Natural Resources Institute

UK

How resistant plant varieties avoid suppression of RNA silencing by viruses as exemplified by sweet potato: Better food security through virus control.

727,544

University of Cambridge

UK

Central Science Laboratory

UK

The International Potato Center

Peru

Makerere University

Uganda

National Agricultural Research Organisation

Uganda

University of Warwick

UK

Accelerated breeding of black rot resistant brassicas for the benefit of east African smallholders.

729,705

CABI

Kenya

Central Science Laboratory

UK

Rothamsted

UK

Towards incorporating the biosynthetic transformation required for Striga inhibition from Desmodium into edible legume intercrops.

620,877

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

Kenya

Rothamsted

UK

Nutrient regulation of the saprotroph to parasite transition in Pochonia chlamydosporia, a soil microbial inoculant for nematode control.

408,308

University of Nairobi

Kenya

Aberdeen

UK

Characterizing genetic and soil induced variation in arsenic uptake, translocation and metabolism in rice to mitigate arsenic contamination in Asia.

657,328

Calcutta University

India

Bangladesh Agricultural University

Bangladesh

Chinese Academy of Sciences

China

International Rice Research Institute

Philippines

Rothamsted

UK

National Institute of Agricultural Botany

UK

Cis-acting regulatory elements in the rice genome: a novel source of alleles for rice breeding.

607,807

International Rice Research Institute

Philippines

Sheffield (WARDA)

UK

Unravelling the molecular genetic basis of Striga resistance in cereals: integrating Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) and genomic approaches.

596,880

International Crops

India

Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics African Rice Center

Senegal

National Institute of Agricultural Botany

UK

Lancaster University

UK

Understanding the mechanisms of persistence and dispersal of an insect pathogen and its potential for novel strategic control of African armyworms.

617,328

Natural Resources Institute, Greenwich

UK

Laurentian University

Canada

Sokoine University of Agriculture

Tanzania

Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research

UK

Integrating genomics and mapping approaches to improve pearl millet productivity in drought prone regions of Africa and Asia.

634,859

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

India

University of Cape Coast

Ghana

All India Coordinated RP on Pearl Millet

India

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's policy is on providing support for research into the development and use of genetically modified species variations. (200397)

DFID recognises that the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can have potential significant benefits for farmers in developing countries if applied safely and responsibly. At the same time, an over-riding objective is to safeguard human health and the environment and to give consumers informed choices. Our policy is that DFID will support research involving GMOs as long as international rules, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, are followed and it is targeted to help developing countries make their own informed choices about whether to use GM technologies.

HIV Infection: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services; and if he will make a statement. (198684)

Progress towards the goal of Universal Access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support will be reviewed by the international community during 2008. Data being prepared for the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on AIDS in June will inform the review process. UNAIDS will use these data to assess progress against the interim Universal Access targets (milestones), set by countries during 2006-07, in the final quarter of 2008.

JP Morgan

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department paid to JP Morgan in each year since 1997; and what the purpose of each payment was. (199613)

The Department for International Development (DFID) paid JP Morgan a total of £672,784 in 2001 for work completed on the Andhra Pradesh (India) Power Sector Reform project.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 5 March 2008, on economic partnership agreements. (202161)

The reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire's letter of 5 March 2008 has been issued.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the Government's grant to the United Nations Development Trust Fund to support the work of Quartet Representative Tony Blair is included as part of the Government's Official Development Assistance budget; and if he will make a statement. (200836)

The UK grant of £400,000 to the office of the Quartet Special Representative, Tony Blair, is drawn from the DFID Palestinian aid framework and forms part of the UK development assistance budget. The mandate of Tony Blair to ‘facilitate the efforts of the international community to help Palestinians to build the institutions and economy of a viable state' is consistent with the objectives of the UK aid programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Sudan: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many people are being given food and other humanitarian assistance in Sudan by (a) the World Food Programme and (b) other international humanitarian agencies to which the UK contributes. (199447)

The World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to 5.8 million people in Sudan during 2007. The UK Government's bilateral partners in Darfur and southern Sudan provide humanitarian assistance across a range of sectors to a total of over 2.5 million people.

In addition, the UK Government provided £40 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) for 2008. The CHF funds humanitarian agencies to address the most urgent of the humanitarian needs across Sudan that have been identified in the UN Workplan.

Zimbabwe: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of children under 11 years of age in Zimbabwe were estimated to be enrolled in full-time education in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007. (202157)

Available data cover net enrolment of children aged 7 to 12 attending primary school in 1994, 1999 and 2006. Net enrolment was 86 per cent. in 1994, 65 per cent. in 1999 and 91 per cent. in 2006.

Transport

Biofuel: Buses

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will assess the effect of the addition of a five per cent. blend of biodiesel in fuel tanks to fuel on commercial bus operations on fungus growth in such tanks. (202484)

The Government are aware that in some circumstances the use of biodiesel blends can be associated with bacterial contamination in fuel tanks. The problem tends to arise particularly where the biodiesel does not meet the relevant fuel quality standards. The issue is not a new one: biodiesel blends have been used for many years by bus operators in the UK and other countries. It can generally be addressed through good housekeeping practices, such as regular tank cleaning, and by the use of various fuel additives. These are matters for the transport fuel industry to resolve: commercial bus operators and others should ensure that fuel quality requirements are covered in any fuel supply contracts.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the adequacy of information contained in the sustainability reports of suppliers of biofuels. (202020)

The first such reports are due to be submitted to the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) by 16 June. Thereafter, the RFA will be reporting regularly on the information it receives on the sustainability of the biofuels used in the UK.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many senior citizen bus passes were delayed on account of her Department's failure to give the necessary information to the contractors Euclid in good time. (201008)

None. However, I understand that a number of travel concession authorities have their passes produced by Euclid. The Department had nothing to do with any arrangements made by authorities with Euclid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether a taxi operating as a bus service under the Transport Act 1985 and licensed as a restricted PSV operator under Part II of the Public Passenger Act 1981 is able to offer concessionary fares under the national concessionary fare scheme; and whether this applies to those with (a) eight seats or more on a timetable and (b) fewer than eight seats or not on a timetable. (201388)

A licensed taxi has to be a vehicle with fewer than nine passenger seats.

To operate as a taxi-bus the licensed taxi's owner has to acquire from the Traffic Commissioner a Special Restricted Public Service Vehicle operator licence (under section 12 of the Transport Act 1985). This enables the vehicle to run a registered bus service (as a taxi-bus) at certain times of the day and be used for conventional taxi work at other times.

The Local Services (Operation by Taxis) Regulations 1986 requires the display of a "bus" sign and prohibits the use of an illuminated taxi sign during the vehicle's use as a taxi-bus.

The Travel Concessions (Eligible Services) Order 2002 describes circumstances where a taxi-bus could be considered an eligible service for concessionary travel. It is for the local Travel Concession Authority to determine whether a taxi-bus service meets the requirements which include:

being available to the general public at bus stops;

running to a published timetable; and,

offering transport to and from any stops on the route, with fares payable to the driver and not set at a level which is likely to act as a deterrent to bus users.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many public consultations were held by her Department in each of the last three years; and how many respondents took part in each consultation. (198634)

The Department undertook the following number of consultations in each of the last three years:

Number

2007

58

2006

42

2005

50

The number of respondents to these consultations varies greatly, from two in the case of our consultation on the “Report on Channel Tunnel Order 2007 to transpose Railway Safety Directive for the UK” to about 70,000 on the “Adding capacity at Heathrow airport—Consultation document” and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Government responses to each consultation, including how many respondents took part in each one, are available on the Department's website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/closed/

Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether her Department provides health or social care services out of public funds, with reference to the statement by the Minister of State, Department of Health, in the Health and Social Care Bill Committee, of 17 January 2008, Official Report, column 327. (200227)

Across the Department for Transport there are employee assistance providers who provide support to employees. The service, funded by the Department, provides professional advice, guidance and in some cases counselling sessions for staff who could be facing a variety of personal problems.

The Department also has access to qualified occupational health advisers who provide medical and health related advice that includes advice on sick absence cases, pre-employment health checks, work station assessments and medical check-ups in specific work areas.

Exceptionally, the Department may pay towards the cost of physiotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy both to assist in the employee's return to work and as a preventative measure. It would need to be clearly demonstrated that the therapy would result in an earlier return to work than would otherwise be the case. In these cases we would work with our occupational health advisers to agree the best course of action.

These professional services and support mechanisms support the Department in its drive to promote employee well-being, reduce sickness absence and facilitate a return to work as soon as possible.

Lorries

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate she has made of the number of lorries which will be required to comply with European legislation on the retro-fitting of safety mirrors; and how many lorries will be exempt because they were registered before 2000; (201820)

(2) for what reasons the Government do not plan to require older lorries with suitable cabs to have additional safety mirrors fitted;

(3) what the Government's timetable is to implement European legislation on retro-fitting of safety mirrors to lorries registered in the UK before 2000 in order to meet the deadline of March 2009 stipulated in the relevant Directive.

There are approximately 419,000 currently registered goods vehicles and 161,000 of these are exempt from the retro-fit requirement because the cab-height is too low for the mirrors to be installed. Around 157,000 vehicles will be upgraded by the retro-fit requirement and the remaining 100,000 are exempt because they were registered prior to 2000.

The Council of Ministers considered an earlier introduction date than 1 January 2000 for the new requirements but concluded that the cost of converting older vehicles would be disproportionate to their remaining life. The Government are therefore implementing the European directive for vehicles registered from this date.

We are in the process of transposing, the retro-fit directive for existing heavy goods vehicles. This will be enforced from 31 March 2009.

Lorries: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving (a) British and (b) foreign-registered lorries on roads in the UK resulted in (i) fatalities and (ii) injuries in each year since 1997. (202137)

The numbers of reported personal injury road accidents involving (a) British Heavy Goods Vehicles and (b) foreign registered Heavy Goods Vehicles in Great Britain resulting in fatalities and injuries are:

Number of accidents

British HGV1

Foreign registered HGV1

Fatalities

Injuries2

Fatalities

Injuries2

2005

407

9,428

27

1,071

2006

365

9,146

31

1,010

1 HGV = Heavy Goods Vehicle over 3.5 tonnes maximum permissible weight gross vehicle weight (gvw). 2 Injury = serious and slight injury. Note: Where there are accidents involving both British and foreign registered vehicles, they will appear in each of their categories.

Prior to 2005, it was not possible to identify foreign registered Heavy Goods Vehicles separately.

M180

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the M180 was closed on 31 March 2008; on whose authority the closure took place; and what guidance she issues on the appropriate action to be taken in closing motorways following an incident. (201289)

The M180 was closed on 31 March 2008 between junctions 2 and 1 both westbound and eastbound from 9.20 am to 4.36 pm following a fatal accident involving five vehicles.

The M180 was closed by South Yorkshire Police to enable them to manage the incident safely and to facilitate their investigation into the incident.

The Highways Agency's Traffic Officer Service works closely with local police forces when dealing with these incidents, applying the principles set out in the national guidance framework document that was signed by both the Highways Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) when the Traffic Officer Service was established. The decision as to whether a motorway should be closed is, however, a local one, taking into account factors such as the particular circumstances of the incident, traffic conditions, the safety of the travelling public and the safety of the emergency service personnel involved in dealing with the incident.

Public Transport: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to provide free local travel to those with long-term mental health conditions. (200673)

The Transport Act 2000 (or for those resident in London, the Greater London Authority Act 1999) makes provision for statutory concessionary travel to a wide range of disabled people. Categories of disability were drawn up following representation from local government and support from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. The people eligible are as follows:

any person who:

is blind or partially sighted;

is profoundly or severely deaf;

is without speech;

has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to walk;

does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms;

has a learning disability, that is, a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning;

would, if he/she applied for a grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his/her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Local authorities are free to offer their residents discretionary concessions over and above the statutory minimum at their own expense. This can include offering concessionary travel to other categories of people, such as those with mental health problems.

We have no plans at present to change the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus travel to include people with long-term mental health conditions.

Radio: Highways Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Highways Agency will spend on radio broadcasting in 2008-09; for what reason such allocations have been made; and if she will make a statement. (201291)

The Traffic Radio project value for 2008-09 is £2.945 million.

The Highways Agency broadcast service, Traffic Radio, has been delivered in line with ministerial commitments and Highways Agency business targets to supply information services to the public.

Alongside its other information services, the aim of Traffic Radio is to supply high quality information to the public, before they travel. This allows them to make an informed decision on when or if to travel and to further consider mode of transport or route. Alerting road users to potential delays or incidents before they set out will help them to avoid those delays, thereby reducing the impact of that delay for all road users.

Traffic Radio is delivered on Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and the internet to the public in a constant loop allowing listeners to obtain the information, at a time convenient to them. This allows them to make a considered journey choice before setting out.

The business case for the service predicted a positive benefit to the public through reduced congestion. Further benefits are expected with the expansion of DAB and internet radio both at the home and in car.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people aged (a) under 16, (b) between 16 and 25 and (c) over 25 years died in road accidents in (i) Lancashire and (ii) England in each of the last five years. (202232)

The information requested is given in the following table:

Number of fatalities by age group resulting from personal injury road accidents in Lancashire and England : 2002-06

Casualty age

Lancashire excl. Blackburn and Blackpool

England

0 to 15

16 to 25

26 +

Total1

0 to 15

16 to 25

26 +

Total1

2002

4

19

30

53

156

801

1,992

2,980

2003

7

22

46

75

141

807

2,039

3,004

2004

4

18

32

54

145

775

1,776

2,714

2005

4

17

62

83

123

762

1,841

2,735

2006

4

21

32

57

134

799

1,753

2,695

1 Includes missing ages.

Roads: Yorkshire and Humberside

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the damage caused to the highway network in the East Riding of Yorkshire as a result of flooding in 2007; and what additional sum is to be paid to the East Riding of Yorkshire council to compensate for the damage. (201290)

In January 2008 East Riding of Yorkshire council submitted a claim to my Department for funding of £6.095 million to repair damage to their roads caused by flooding in 2007. The authority received an interim settlement in March in respect of £2.25 million. This covered £1.087 million funding to the authority to cover the costs identified and supported by evidence and a local contribution of £1.163 million representing 15 per cent. of their 2007-08 Local Transport Plan capital highway maintenance allocation.

Discussions have been held with the authority regarding the evidence they need to provide to support the remaining £3.845 million costs in their claim. The Department will consider whether further funding should be paid to the authority in the light of further evidence.

Schools: Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will extend the requirement to wear seat belts to include buses used to transport pupils to school in vehicles hired from or operated by bus companies and local authorities. (202095)

The Department for Transport is presently considering responses to its consultation on regulations to require children under 14 years of age to use seat belts in buses and coaches where they are fitted. There are no plans for legislation to require that all vehicles used for school transport must have seat belts fitted—that can already be achieved by school authorities for contracted vehicles.

Severn Bridge: Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Severn Bridges Act 1992 to allow tolls for Severn Bridge crossings to be paid by credit and debit cards. (201341)

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: We want it to be as convenient as possible for people to pay tolls at the Severn Crossing. But there are some practical obstacles to this and a working group has been set up to look at solving these.

Further consideration will be given once the working group have submitted their findings and recommendations. This is expected to be by early autumn.

Traffic Commissioners: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many traffic commissioners were dismissed in each of the last 30 years. (202218)

We do not have this information for the period before 1990. Since 1990 no traffic commissioners have been dismissed.

Transport: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Trans-European transport networks will cost; and what the UK's contribution will be. (200525)

The 2007 TEN Financing Regulation estimates the cost of completing the Trans-European transport network between 2007 and 2020 will be €600 billion. This includes investment from both public and private sources, as well as public-private partnerships.

There is no specific UK contribution to the programme. The UK makes its contributions to the EC budget as a whole and not to individual spending programmes within it.

Transport: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that regional transport funding is distributed on an equitable basis. (195370)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to his question of 12 March 2008, Official Report, column 448W.

We have already increased investment in transport in all regions. By 2008, transport spending will be 80 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1997, and we will continue to take account of the needs of all regions in making investment decisions.

The introduction of regional funding allocations has allowed regions to align these increased funding levels to their key priorities and needs, delivering the best outcome for each region.

Work and Pensions

Access to Work Scheme: Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department is doing to publicise Access to Work. (200783)

The Access to Work national delivery team is currently implementing an internal marketing strategy to ensure that all Jobcentre staff involved with disabled customers are fully briefed on the Access to Work programme. This will cover the aims of the programme, eligibility criteria and the application process.

The programme is also being promoted through presentations and exhibitions, and through close working partnerships developed with the major disability groups such as the Royal National Institute for Blind people, Royal National Institute for Deaf people and MIND.

Articles have appeared in external publications such as ‘Disability Wales’ and the National Spinal Association magazine illustrating how Access to Work can practically support disabled people into paid employment. Additionally, Jobcentre Plus includes information on Access to Work in internally produced magazines such as ‘Inspire’. This magazine, which is targeted at job seekers, is available, along with other leaflets on Access to Work, in all Jobcentre Plus offices. The magazine ‘Engage’, also produced by Jobcentre Plus and aimed at employers, regularly carries information about Access to Work, along with other Jobcentre Plus services.

Information about Access to Work is available on the Jobcentre Plus and Directgov websites. Directgov as a source of information about Jobcentre Plus services for disabled people is widely publicised, for example, in the latest issue of ‘Ability Needs’ magazine. Disability employment advisers, who are often the gateway to Access to Work, are regularly in contact with small to medium sized employers locally and will raise awareness of Access to Work when appropriate.

Apprentices: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of applications for apprenticeships in the construction industry in each year since 1997; and how many places were available in each of those years. (201038)

I have been asked to reply.

Information about the number of people applying for apprenticeships is not collected or held centrally. Information about the number of people starting apprenticeships in the construction industry is provided in the following table. Figures for years prior to 2002-03 are not available.

Construction apprenticeships starts 2002-03 to 2006-07

Number

2002-03

23,706

2003-04

15,229

2004-05

18,742

2005-06

15,731

2006-07

21,004

Notes:

1. Includes all age groups and both apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships.

2. Figures include engineering construction and construction; framework codes 107 and 116.

Source:

Work Based Learning Individualised Learner Record.

Departmental Leaflets

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of his Department's public information leaflets are available online on (a) his Department's and (b) the Directgov website. (195772)

The Department for Work and Pensions public information leaflets are mainly published through its agencies' websites (Jobcentre Plus, Child Support Agency and The Pension Service) and the DWP website links to these. Of the 66 Public Information leaflets produced by the Department 57 are currently available. A further nine are due to be published shortly and these will replace other leaflets currently on the sites.

Directgov does not hold leaflets on its site but incorporates information into its core pages or has external links to customer leaflets and information stored on other websites—DWP, Inland Revenue, Jobcentre Plus, Veterans Agency, HMRC, CSA, Department of Health, Pensions Service et al. Directgov also links to welsh versions of leaflets with links to English versions of leaflets where the Welsh version is not available.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of his Department's work force were employed in each region in each year since 2004. (200465)

Details of how many and what proportion of the Department's work force was employed in each region in each year ending 31 March, since 31 March 2004 is set out in the following tables:

Period ending March 2004

Total FTE1

Proportion of Department (percentage)

East midlands

6,415

4.9

East of England

6,715

5.2

London

13,789

11

North-east

13,600

10.5

North-west

25,825

19.9

Scotland

14,334

11.1

South-east

8,626

6.7

South-west

8,012

6.2

Wales

7,313

5.6

West midlands

11,004

8.5

Yorkshire and Humberside

13,989

10.8

Total

129,624

1FTE figures and percentages may not sum due to rounding

Period ending March 2005

Total FTE1

Proportion of Department (percentage)

East midlands

5,960

5

East of England

6,162

5.1

London

12,807

11

North-east

12,691

10.5

North-west

23,808

19.8

Scotland

13,278

11

South-east

7,835

6.5

South-west

7,448

6.2

Wales

7,014

5.8

West midlands

10,152

8.4

Yorkshire and Humberside

13,138

10.9

Total

120,292

1FTE figures and percentages may not sum due to rounding

Period ending March 2006

Total FTE1

Proportion of Department (percentage)

East midlands

5,700

5

East of England

5,537

4.8

London

11,687

10

North-east

12,304

10.7

North-west

23,341

20.3

Scotland

12,718

11.1

South-east

7,229

6.3

South-west

7,438

6.5

Wales

6,630

5.8

West midlands

9,818

8.6

Yorkshire and Humberside

12,366

10.8

Total

114,767

1FTE figures and percentages may not sum due to rounding

Period ending March 2007

Total FTE1

Proportion of Department (percentage)

East midlands

5,393

5

East of England

5,022

4.6

London

10,642

10

North-east

11,604

10.7

North-west

22,762

21

Scotland

11,697

10.8

South-east

6,943

6.4

South-west

7,102

6.5

Wales

6,276

5.8

West midlands

9,418

8.7

Yorkshire and Humberside

11,614

10.7

Total

108,472

1FTE figures and percentages may not sum due to rounding

Period ending March 2008

Total FTE1

Proportion of Department (percentage)

East midlands

5,211

5.1

East of England

4,787

4.7

London

10,195

10

North-east

11,165

10.9

North-west

20,931

20.4

Scotland

11,148

10.9

South-east

6,507

6.4

South-west

6,091

6

Wales

6,298

6.2

West midlands

9,110

8.9

Yorkshire and Humberside

10,927

10.7

Total

102,371

1FTE figures and percentages may not sum due to rounding

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many public consultations were held by his Department in each of the last three years; and how many respondents took part in each consultation. (198636)

The number of public consultations conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions in the last three years has been as follows:

Consultations launched

2005-06

22

2006-07

18

2007-08

23

Providing a full answer to the second part of the question could be done only at disproportionate cost. The number of responses to our consultations questions varies greatly. For example, we received over 450 formal written submissions to our recent Welfare Reform Green Paper consultation, but this represents only a small part of the picture, because in addition we received over 2,000 posts in two internet-based discussion forums, and a large amount of face-to-face input at a range of different meetings. Whereas, for our more specialist, and often limited, consultations in the Private Pensions area typically between 50 and 100 responses are received.

Departmental Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many full-time posts in his Department were filled on a temporary basis for a period in excess of six months in each of the last three years. (200670)

Information on the number of full-time posts filled on a temporary basis, for a period in excess of six months, by the Department for Work and Pensions for each of the last three years ending 31 March is set out in the following table.

Year end

Temporary staff (full-time equivalent)

31 March 2006

1,532

31 March 2007

561

31 March 2008

477

For years ending 31 March 2006 and 2007, the figures include all temporary staff. For the year ending 31 March 2008, members of staff with a fixed term contract in excess of 12 months have been excluded in line with revised Office of National Statistics (ONS) definitions.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the levels of public awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as measured by the disability module of the Office of National Statistics Omnibus Survey. (200448)

Using the most up to date data available from the Office for National Statistics Omnibus Survey for between January and September 2007, 72.3 per cent. of the general population were aware of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as amended.

Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets his Department has set in relation to the employment of people with disabilities over the next five years. (199054)

The “10 Point Plan for a Diverse Civil Service” published in November 2005 set a target that 3.2 per cent. of senior civil service (SCS) posts were to be filled by disabled people by April 2008. In line with all civil service Departments DWP produced its own plan and targets for the period from 2005 to 2008. As well as its higher target for the SCS, the Department also set targets for the grades below the SCS. The March 2008 DWP targets and figures are in the following table:

DWP staff with disabilities March 2008 figures

Percentage

Grade

March 2008

DWP 2008 targets

Civil service 2008 target

SCS

2.8

6.0

3.2

G/G6-F/G7-E/SEO

4.0

4.0

D/HEO-C/EO

6.5

7.0

B/AO-A/AA

4.5

6.0

All DWP

5.3

n/a

The figures are based on the proportion of staff who have voluntarily declared themselves as being disabled. However, we are aware that not all disabled staff declare their disability for departmental records, and the true figure may be higher than the figures shown. For example, the 2008 DWP Staff Survey (which is completed anonymously), showed that 13.6 per cent. of respondents considered themselves to have a long standing health condition or disability.

The roll out of a new computer system has meant a more accurate record of the numbers of disabled people working within the Department who made a declaration. As we rolled out the new system we asked each member of staff to check the personal information we held about them and to declare whether they considered themselves to be disabled. A further recent communications exercise has also emphasised the importance of individuals providing this information, and we will be repeating the request for people to declare their status later this year.

Although we have achieved good levels of diversity across the Department, including those for disabled people, we aim to improve this position and details of actions are in Department for Work and Pensions Race, Disability and Gender Equality Schemes 2008-11.

The Cabinet Office is currently drawing up a new diversity strategy that will build on the achievements and lessons learnt from the 10 Point Plan. Once this has been agreed the Department will be setting further targets to 2011 and the strategy for achieving them.

Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions staff employed by his Department defrauded his Department in the last 10 years.[Official Report, 3 June 2008, Vol. 476, c. 9MC.] (200839)

The Department for Work and Pensions was created in April 2001 and information has been held centrally only from April 2003. To try to obtain information for earlier years would incur a disproportionate cost. Figures are not yet available for 2007-08.

Information is not available in the exact format requested but the figures shown in the following table show the number of instances of attempted or actual fraud where the investigation was completed in the year stated, together with the average number of staff in post in each year. The figures relate to all the benefits administered by DWP, theft of assets and financial irregularities:

Employee fraud against the benefits system

Other fraud by employees

Staff in post

2003-04

23

78

130,786

2004-05

4

44

126,988

2005-06

52

99

119,972

2006-07

51

75

114,500

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of (a) workless couples and (b) workless lone parents claiming housing benefit in the last period for which figures are available. (199253)

There were 430,000 workless couples and 670,000 workless lone parents in receipt of housing benefit. These represented 38 per cent. of workless couples and 78 per cent. of workless lone parents.

These estimates have been derived from information in the Family Resources Survey 2005-06.

Incapacity Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of those removed from incapacity benefit by 2015 who will (a) return to work, (b) retire and (c) move on to other benefits. (198776)

The information is not available. We do not produce off-flow forecasts broken down by reason.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2008, Official Report, column 780W, on social security benefits, how many people were claiming incapacity benefit in each year since 1998, broken down by country. (199917)

Information is not available prior to 2007. The available information has been placed in the Library.

Incapacity Benefit: Medical Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract signed with ATOS Origin to provide medical assessments for incapacity benefit claimants. (200191)

[holding answer 21 April 2008]: A copy of the medical services contract, excluding those paragraphs which are considered commercially sensitive, has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Incapacity Benefit: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether those claiming employment and support allowance will be included in incapacity benefit figures when assessing performance against the target to reduce the number on incapacity benefit by 2015. (198775)

Our goal is to reduce the combined employment and support allowance and incapacity benefits caseload by 1 million over a decade, starting from 2.74 million incapacity benefits claimants in May 2005.

As such the combined total of those claiming employment and support allowance and those claiming incapacity benefits will be used to measure our progress towards this aim.

Incapacity Benefits: Medical Examinations

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that employment and support allowance assessments take account of the characteristics of different health conditions, with particular reference to the fluctuations inherent in the symptomatic severity of myalgic encephalopathy; and if he will make a statement. (201834)

The new Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance will be a fair, robust and accurate assessment of limited capability for work which takes account of all conditions, including those that are long term and that fluctuate such as myalgic encephalopathy.

The Work Capability Assessment is not a snapshot of a person’s condition on the day of the assessment. In assessing whether a person can carry out any given activity, health care professionals must take into account the person’s condition over a reasonable period of time. They must take into account the effects of symptoms such as pain and fatigue. In this way the Work Capability Assessment takes account of the effects of fluctuating conditions.

If there is a change in a person’s disabling condition, there will be a provision to refer the person to an approved healthcare professional so that we can determine afresh whether or not the person has limited capability for work, or limited capability for work-related activity.

Industrial Injuries: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work-related (a) deaths and (b) injuries occurred in the construction industry in (i) 2005-06, (ii) 2006-07 and (iii) 2007-08. (202309)

Information currently available on work-related deaths and injuries in the construction industry in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 is shown in the following table:

Injuries in construction (SIC 45) 2005-06 to 2006-071 by severity of injury and employment status, as reported under RIDDOR 952 regulations

Severity

Employment Status

2005/06

2006/071

2007/083, 4

Fatal

Employee

43

50

46

Self employed

17

27

11

Member of the public

4

7

3

Total

64

84

60

Major

Employee

3,706

3711

5n/a

Self employed

766

719

5n/a

Total

4,472

4,430

5n/a

Over-3-day

Employee

7,555

7,108

5n/a

Self Employed

829

749

5n/a

Total

8,384

7,857

5n/a

Non-fatal

Member of the public

200

187

5n/a

Total

200

187

n/a (b)

1 Provisional. 2 RIDDOR—Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995. 3 1 April to 31 December 2007. 4 2007-08 figures based on the first nine months. These figures are unvalidated at this stage, so final details may change. 5 Unvalidated non-fatal injury figures for 1 April to 31 December 2007 are available on HSE's website. The figures do not include data from all enforcing authorities, so are not comparable with previously-published figures.

Very preliminary indications for 2007-08 are that the number of fatal accidents to workers in the construction industry dropped by around 10 per cent. from the level of 2006-07.

Jobcentre Plus