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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Health

Allergies: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many consultant allergists there are in England per head of population; (202669)

(2) how many consultants specialising in allergies there are in England.

The majority of patients with an allergy are treated in primary care. There are 18 consultant allergists in England. This equates to 0.04 per 100,000 population. There are also 444 consultant dermatologists, 58 consultant immunologists and 2,156 consultant paediatricians who treat patients with allergies.

Autism

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people with autistic spectrum disorder have been detained under mental health legislation since the relevant provisions came into force. (200794)

Autism: Diagnosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the frequency with which autistic spectrum disorder was misdiagnosed as a mental health condition, in the latest period for which figures are available; (200267)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of occasions on which a misdiagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder led to an inappropriate prescription of psychoactive drugs in each of the last five years.

This information is not held centrally.

The content of curricula of courses for health and social care professionals is a matter for a variety of independent professional and educational bodies such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Children: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what role health visitors will play in delivering the Child Health Promotion Programme; and what estimate he has made of the number of health visitors required to deliver the target outcomes of the programme. (200518)

Health visitors are central to delivering the Child Health Promotion Programme (CHPP). With expertise in children, families and public health, together with their background as nurses they are ideally placed to lead the delivery of CHPP in the community. The recent review into the future role of the health visitor, ‘Facing the Future’, recommended two roles for health visitors. One of the roles is to lead and deliver the CHPP for a defined population working across general practice and children's centres. The recently updated CHPP promotes the important role of the health visitor to commissioners and services providers.

It is the responsibility of local organisations to commission and develop services to respond to local needs, including the recruitment of health visitors. The operating framework for 2008-09 highlights the importance of children's services and the need for local organisations to commission and provide the necessary services and work force.

Chlamydia: Screening

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to have developed a national template for service specification for chlamydia screening through the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework; and what steps he will take to encourage primary care trusts to commission chlamydia screening as an advanced service. (201335)

The Sexual Health National Support Team (SH-NST) will be working closely with the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) to increase screening volumes. The SH-NST will also be working jointly with strategic health authorities to identify those areas facing the greatest challenge in commissioning services, to help drive up screening volumes. The Government plan to publish a national template later in 2008 to support primary care trusts’ commissioning of chlamydia screening from community pharmacies as part of the NCSP.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that recommendations for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome set out in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines are met in respect of (a) the causes of the illness, (b) the clinical and cost effectiveness of intervention strategies and (c) identifying efficient ways to deliver domiciliary care for people who are severely affected. (201793)

Research recommendations made in National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines are considered on behalf of the Department by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme (HTA). The director of the HTA programme meets annually with NICE for this purpose. The next of these joint meetings will be held in September.

Departmental Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has adopted the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management Programme. (181317)

The Department started working with the Carbon Trust on the Carbon Management Programme last autumn. We are currently engaged in a tender exercise for the consultants who will work with us on the Programme.

Doctors: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of the NHS pension abatement rules on doctors who have been obliged to retire on the grounds of disability and who are re-employed by the NHS on a part-time contract. (200910)

Abatement is a common feature of public service pension schemes. It affects all members of the NHS Pension Scheme who receive an enhanced national health service pension funded by the scheme or their employer if they return to NHS employment. It continues until they are aged 60 for members of the 1995 scheme, or age 65 for those members of the 2008 scheme. It does not affect those who have retired on voluntary grounds with an actuarial reduction in their pension. Abatement will usually only affect those who earn more than 50 per cent. of their previous salary.

Eyes: Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what requirements his Department places on ophthamologists to maintain statistics to monitor the incidence of keratoconus. (200437)

The majority of keratoconus patients will receive contact lenses or glasses from their optometrist or ophthalmic medical practitioner and will have their condition managed in the community.

The Department places no requirements on individual ophthalmologists to maintain statistics on such patients. Hospitals are required to collect data on the diagnosis of patients being admitted to hospital. This include those patients with a diagnosis of keratoconus.

Hospitals: Cleaning Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) which hospitals in (a) Southend and (b) Essex had not been deep cleaned by the target date; and if he will make a statement; (198741)

(2) how much was given to each hospital in (a) Southend and (b) Essex to fund its deep clean; and if he will make a statement.

As set out in my written ministerial statement on 21 April, Official Report, columns 93-94WS, a list of the trusts which have undertaken or are undertaking a deep clean as part of this national programme is available in the Library. This list sets out which trusts completed their deep clean by 31 March 2008 and which are still undertaking their deep clean and are due to complete by the end of May 2008.

Information provided by strategic health authorities (SHAs) shows that they have all made available the funding they promised for the programme, as also set out in my written ministerial statement. Further information on the implementation of the deep clean of the national health service is available from SHAs.

Maternity Services: Merseyside

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many perinatologists are employed in each hospital trust on Merseyside. (201621)

This information is not available in the format requested.

The trusts that most closely correspond within the Merseyside area have been included in the following table.

Hospital and Community Health Services: Medical staff within the Obstetrics and gynaecology specialty by organisation within the Merseyside area

Numbers (headcount)

Full-time equivalents

Merseyside

124

114

Wirral Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

21

18

St. Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust

16

16

Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

63

57

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

24

23

Notes:

1. The table is up to date as at 30 September 2007.

2. The staff information cannot be summated at such a low level. Perinatologists have therefore been substituted for staff with the obstetrics and gynaecology specialty.

3. The information does not include primary care trusts in the area, some of which may have these specialities.

4. Only organisations which have obstetrics and gynaecological staff were shown. If a trust does not appear in the table, it indicates that there were zero obstetrics and gynaecological staff. This does not necessarily mean that this service is not provided at that trust.

Source:

The Information Centre for health and social care—medical and dental workforce census.

Mental Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations the Government has received on the likely effects of implementing the provisions of the Mental Health Act 2007 on independent mental health advocacy six months after the introduction of community treatment orders; (201872)

(2) when plans for the commissioning and implementation of mental health advocacy services under the Mental Health Act 2007 will be published;

(3) when training for mental health advocates under the Mental Health Act 2007 will begin; and what criteria will be used to select advocates.

The Mental Health Alliance has asked the Department to consider placing together the implementation dates for the Mental Health Act 2007, and independent mental health advocacy provision to provide additional safeguards, particularly for patients discharged from hospital under supervised community treatment.

We aim to publish guidance on commissioning and implementing independent mental health advocacy later this year.

National training materials are currently being developed and tested. We aim to make these available for organisations to start training later this year. Local commissioners are responsible for contracting with organisations to provide independent mental health advocacy services. Departmental guidance for commissioners will provide guidance on service specifications and standards.

NHS (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had on the possible suspension of regulation 13 of the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005. (200433)

I discussed this matter with the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) recently and explained that there were no plans to suspend regulation 13 of the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005.

I meet officials regularly to discuss questions of policy. Our White Paper ‘Pharmacy in England Building on Strengths—Delivering the Future’ (Cm7341) published on 3 April 2008 sets out the Government's proposals in relation to pharmacies open at least 100 hours per week which have secured the right to provide NHS services under regulation 13. Full consultation will follow later this summer.

NHS European Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what work has been conducted by the NHS European Office since it was set up in 2007. (199416)

The NHS European Office intends to produce a report on its activities covering the period from establishment to the end of the financial year. This will be published shortly on the Office's website.

NHS: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultants with clinical excellence awards, who have been obliged to retire on the grounds of disability and have been re-employed on a part-time contract by the NHS, have been required to repay a part of their pension under NHS pension abatement rules. (200914)

NHS: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether there are circumstances under which unused prescription medicines returned by patients may be re-allocated to other patients; and if he will make a statement. (201246)

It is not appropriate to promote the reuse of medicines returned from patients. The continuing quality of medicines returned from patients following storage in their homes and the ability of pharmacists to assure quality based on physical inspection cannot be guaranteed. Recycling medicines returned by patients is both unethical and unsafe.

NHS: Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the Answer of 18 July 2007, Official Report, column 470W, on NHS: land, what progress has been made by his Department in examining how the review of surplus NHS land will apply to the NHS foundation trust sector; and if he will make a statement. (201978)

The review of surplus land resulted in 299 national health service trusts replying to a request for details of their land holdings. About 190 sites were identified with a total area of 260 hectares, or enough for 6,300 new homes.

Of the responding trusts, 10 were foundation trusts. Discussions continue with all trusts to ensure that all surplus land is properly registered with English Partnerships.

NHS: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects of the market forces factor on hospital trusts that employ staff at nationally agreed pay rates in areas where average earning are below national averages. (201138)

The Department has commissioned two pieces of research to look at the impact of external labour markets on national health service staff costs. The first, a study on regional pay differentials in 2005 known as the ‘Aberdeen Study’ found that private sector wage rates were correlated with the vacancy rate for qualified nurses. As part of its current work programme, the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation has carried out a review of the market forces factor. This work will be used to inform revenue allocations to primary care trusts for 2009-10 and 2010-11. The aim is to announce the revenue allocations by the summer.

NHS: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Health at how many sites (a) Safe Estates Ltd and (b) Camelot have been commissioned by the NHS to provide site security for existing or former hospital or medical facilities. (202519)

The Department has responsibility for one hospital site on which it has a current contract with Safe Estates Ltd. and Camelot. There are no other known contracts that the Department has with either firm.

The Department does not hold this information in respect of hospital sites owned and operated by the national health service. It is a matter for each NHS trust to make whatever arrangements it sees fit to cover its security needs.

Nurses: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many school nurses were employed by each primary care trust in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (200364)

The annual national health service workforce census collected information on the number of school nurses employed by the NHS in England for the first time in 2004. A table showing the number of school nurses employed by each primary care trust in England from 2004-07 has been placed in the Library.

Plastic Surgery: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what his policy is on funding for orbicularis oculi muscle strips. (201848)

Funding for orbicularis oculi muscle strips is the responsibility of primary care trusts (PCTs), as they have their own policies covering the circumstances in which this treatment may be available on the national health service. Most policies are based around ensuring that treatment of this kind is available where there is a clinical need to secure physical or psychological health.

Radiography: Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) part-trained and (b) fully-trained radiographers were employed by the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust in each year since 1997. (201926)

The requested information can be found in the following table.

NHS hospital and community health services: headcount of radiography staff in the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as at 30 September each specified year

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

All radiography staff

61

66

73

71

73

80

80

82

88

84

81

Qualified Staff

51

56

60

58

59

65

68

69

75

70

70

Manager

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Therapist

45

54

58

56

57

63

66

68

73

68

68

Technician

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

Tutor

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

Unqualified Staff

10

10

13

13

14

15

12

13

13

14

11

Student/Trainee

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

5

6

8

6

Helper/Assistant

10

10

13

13

14

15

8

8

7

6

5

Note:

Enhanced validation processes have led to the removal of duplicate records from the non-medical census (from 2006 onwards). Although percentages were small (less than 1 per cent.), comparisons with years prior to this need to be treated with caution.

Source:

The Information Centre for health and social care non-medical workforce census.

Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease: Out of Area Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients resident in Wales (a) received rehabilitation treatment at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease, Bath and (b) were referred for such treatment but failed to receive sanction for the referral in each of the last eight years for which figures are available. (202171)

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: Information about the number of patients resident in Wales, who received rehabilitation treatment at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease in Bath, is not held centrally. In addition, information about patients resident in Wales who failed to receive sanction for referral for rehabilitation treatment, at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease is not collected centrally. It is the responsibility of Welsh local health boards to commission and fund rehabilitation services to meet the needs of their local populations, including the commissioning of treatment at centres in England.

Smoking: Public Places

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects of the smoking ban on (a) public health and (b) his Department’s expenditure; and what mechanisms he has put in place to measure these effects. (201663)

Smokefree legislation was introduced primarily to protect people from the harm of second-hand smoke in enclosed parts of work and public places.

Research has been commissioned which will evaluate various aspects of the impact of the smokefree law in England; the resulting reports will be published once completed and peer reviewed. While it is still too early for any of the Department’s commissioned research to have been published, in October 2007 Cancer Research UK and the Tobacco Control Centre published results from a small scale study of the impact of the new law. That research found that hospitality workers exposure to harmful second-hand smoke may have fallen by 95 per cent. since 1 July 2007.

An assessment of the costs and benefits of smokefree legislation is set out in the Final Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), entitled “Final Regulatory Impact Assessment to be made under Powers in Part 1 Chapter 1 of the Health Act 2006” was published by the Department in December 2006.

Copies of the RIA are in the Library.

Work and Pensions

Carers’ Allowances

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review the level of the carer premium in the preparation of the national carer strategy. (200674)

The Government's review of the National Carers Strategy is examining all aspects of benefits for carers. The conclusions of the review are due to be published in summer 2008.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms for redress are available to people in circumstances where maintenance orders made by the High Court are not fully implemented by the Child Support Agency. (201847)

The Child Support Agency is not responsible for implementing maintenance orders made by the High Court. Therefore such mechanisms would not be appropriate.

Departmental Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to report on his Department's performance against public service agreements with deadlines of March 2008. (200467)

For all PSA targets with deadlines on or before March 2008, a final assessment will wherever possible be provided in the 2008 departmental report, expected to be published in mid May. Where time lags mean that a final assessment cannot be provided, progress to date will be reported. A final assessment will be given in the 2008 Autumn Performance Report or subsequent departmental report as soon as data availability allows.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was allocated to each (a) London local authority and (b) region of the UK under the discretionary payment scheme in each of the last five years; and what proportion of funding allocated was used in each case. (200824)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have issued on the maximum distance a tenant in receipt of housing benefit in the private rented sector may be required to move as a result of the introduction of local housing allowance and the use of broad rental market areas as a basis for calculating allowance levels. (201225)

Where a customer chooses to live is entirely a matter for the individual and their family, therefore the Department for Work and Pensions or its agencies have not issued any guidance on the maximum distance a tenant in receipt of housing benefit in the private rented sector may be required to move.

The aim of the Local Housing Allowance is to give customers a choice as to whether to rent accommodation cheaper than their Local Housing Allowance rate and keep the excess (£15 a week maximum) or be able to rent a more expensive property and pay additional rent from their own income.

Local Housing Allowance rates are set by rent officers at the median level within each Broad Rental Market Area. This means that exactly half of the rental properties within any Broad Rental Market are affordable to people claiming housing benefit.

Housing Benefit: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process a housing benefit application was in each year since 2002-03. (200450)

The available information is in the following table:

Average days to process housing benefit and council tax benefit claims

Number

2002-03

55

2003-04

50

2004-05

45

2005-06

37

2006-07

33

2007-081

28

1 April to September 2007. Source: Local Authority Management Information provided to DWP.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process a housing benefit application in the worst performing 15 per cent. of local authorities was as at March 2008. (200461)

Jobcentre Plus: Leaflets

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance his Department issues to Jobcentre Plus offices about their (a) stock, (b) display and (c) use of public information leaflets. (195773)

The stock and display of information products in Jobcentre Plus offices is governed by the customer information display standards guidance. This guidance is available on the Jobcentre Plus intranet site. All Jobcentre Plus information leaflets, together with a specified number of DWP information leaflets, are mandatory stock items. The guidance stipulates which Jobcentre Plus leaflets are mandatory for display in Jobcentre Plus offices.

Separate internal guidance is available on the Jobcentre Plus intranet site that explains to our staff which public information leaflets are most appropriate to offer to an individual across a range of possible scenarios.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will answer Question 185261, tabled by the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire on 4 February 2008, on children in workless households. (191465)

[holding answer 4 March 2008]: I replied to the hon. Member’s question on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1858W.

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pension traces were carried out by the Pension Tracing Service in each year since 2005. (200447)

The information is in the following table.

Successful pension traces since 2005-06

Total successful trace

2005-06

30,458

2006-07

40,165

2007-08

64,852

Notes:

1. The Pension Service achieved the PSA target of 60,000 successful traces during 2007-08.

2. In compiling this data an error has been identified in the data given in my reply to the hon. Member on 22 January 2008, Official Report, column 1895W. The response said that there had been 40,160 successful pension traces in 2006-07. This should have said that there had been 40,165 traces. I apologise to the hon. Member for this inadvertent error.

Source:

Pension Tracing System

Winter Fuel Payments: Swansea

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in Swansea East constituency are eligible for winter fuel payments. (200455)

In winter 2006-07, 11,270 people in the Swansea, East constituency received a winter fuel payment. Figures for winter 2007-08 are not yet available but we expect the numbers to be similar.

Notes:

1. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.

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

Source:

Information directorate 100 per cent. data.

Women and Equality

Departmental Video Conferencing

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will set a target to increase the use of video-conferencing by the Government Equalities Office to reduce the need to travel to meetings. (195946)

GEO is a small department and its staff are based in Eland House in London. The vast majority of meetings are held there or in other Government buildings within walking distance. The GEO's needs for routine travel are limited and its staff are committed to minimise travelling and to use videoconferencing and teleconferencing whenever appropriate. In these circumstances GEO has no current proposals to set a target.

Females: Marriage

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the financial effect on women of changing their surnames on marriage, with particular reference to charges for amending official documents; and if she will make a statement. (201344)

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: The Government Equalities Office have made no assessment of the financial effect of women changing their surname on marriage.

Olympics

Consultants

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what payments the (a) London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and (b) the Olympic Delivery Authority have made to (i) Mandate Communications and (ii) AS Biss and Co since their establishment; on what date and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. (202305)

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) are committed to undertake a proactive programme of engagement with central, regional, devolved, and local government. To assist this process, both organisations have procured the services of Mandate Communications (formerly known as AS Biss) to provide research and event management support. ODA spend to date with AS Biss/Mandate Communications is £6,383.65 inclusive of VAT. LOCOG, which is a privately funded company, has a separate arrangement with Mandate.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many days it took on average to answer written parliamentary questions tabled by each hon. Member for answer by her in the last six months. (201768)

Information on the average number of days taken to answer parliamentary questions is not readily available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what her latest estimate is of the cost to construct the Olympic Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games; and for what reasons this estimate differs from initial estimates. (201376)

The budget for the Aquatics Centre is £242 million. This iconic venue, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, will provide state of the art facilities and a world class permanent legacy facility for elite and community use. The contract for the Aquatics Centre also includes constructing the land bridge that will be the main gateway into the Olympic Park and will also form part of the roof of the venue. The budget for both the Aquatics Centre and the bridge is £303 million, and this has not changed throughout the procurement process. This figure includes the contract price, allowance for inflation, an element of project management costs, VAT and the costs to convert the venue for long-term legacy use (and associated VAT and contingency). This budget is within the ODA's £6.090 billion baseline budget as set out in the statement made in December.

The Bid Book estimate for the Aquatics Centre was $117 million at 2004 prices (approximately £73 million at a USD/GBP exchange rate of 1.6). However, this did not include inflation, legacy transformation costs, project management costs or VAT.

The overall venues budget remains broadly in line with the Bid Book when an allowance is made for inflation, project management costs, transformation costs and VAT.

Scotland

Electronic Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether mechanisms are in place to monitor the extent to which his Department's (a) internal and (b) external (i) correspondence and (ii) distribution of publications is carried out electronically. (199188)

Most ministerial and internal correspondence is now undertaken electronically although formal mechanisms are not in place to monitor the method of correspondence.

Northern Ireland

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons on average were eligible for pension credit in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years. (199400)

[holding answer 21 April 2008]: I have been asked to reply.

In Northern Ireland pension credit administration is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Defence

Afghanistan: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 56W, on Afghanistan: drugs, what steps (a) UK and (b) US troops are taking to support the government of Afghanistan's counter-narcotics effort. (201956)

As part of the UN-authorised, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) British and American troops do not have a direct role in counter narcotics. They can, however, provide indirect support in accordance with the NATO Operational Plan for Afghanistan, such as intelligence, logistics and planning assistance.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the decision was made to put armour on the Jackal M-WMIK vehicle; whether all the M-WMIK vehicles have been armoured; whether any M-WMIK vehicles have been armoured after they were manufactured or delivered to theatre; and how much armouring each vehicle has cost. (201417)

The requirement to protect Jackal was a Key User Requirement and was stated within the Business Case, in May 2007. All vehicles delivered to the operational theatre are fitted with armour (during production), while some vehicles within the UK training fleet are not, but will be fitted retrospectively. The armour kit costs £83,000 per vehicle installation.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft lifts have been ordered; and how many will be required for each future aircraft carrier. (202674)

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel were deployed on operations, broken down by location, in the latest period for which figures are available. (201024)

The following table provides the number of UK service personnel deployed on operations by location at 21 April 2008. The number of personnel in theatre will naturally fluctuate on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including leave (rest and recuperation), temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces and other factors.

Number of personnel deployed by location at 21 April 20081

Location

Number

Total

214,810

of which:

Afghanistan3

9,100

Iraq

3,800

At sea

430

Qatar

410

Cyprus

280

Kuwait

250

Oman

210

Kosovo

140

Bahrain

70

Other

30

1 Countries with 10 or more personnel are shown separately. Other countries with fewer than 10 personnel per country include Bosnia, Georgia, Nepal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. With the exception of Bosnia, personnel in these countries are participating in smaller UN operations, e.g. we contribute five military personnel to the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).

2 Figures for Iraq and Afghanistan have been rounded to the nearest 100 for operational security reasons. Other figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Due to rounding, the total is not equal to the sum of the individual locations.

3 Figures for Afghanistan are artificially high due to the handover period while a relief in place (RIP) is in operation. The operational establishment for Afghanistan is 7,800.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date the Queen's Colour Squadron will cease ceremonial duties prior to its deployment to Afghanistan. (201030)

The Queen's Colour Squadron will cease ceremonial duties once it has represented the RAF at the state opening of Parliament later this year prior to deployment to Afghanistan in February 2009. The precise date of this deployment has yet to be decided.

Armed Forces: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people who applied to join the armed services in 2006-07 were rejected because they did not meet fitness criteria. (200541)

The numbers of armed forces applicants in 2006-07 who were recorded as rejected before entering service because they were classified as permanently unfit were as follows:

Number

Naval service

312

Army

825

RAF

365

Total

1,502

The figures exclude those who were temporarily unfit at the point of application but whose fitness later improved.

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what specific training in tropical medicine medical officers undertaking the Army's Entry Officers course receive. (200944)

Medical officers undertaking the Army's Entry Officers course undergo two days of training in travel medicine. Specific topics for study include: Malaria and its prevention, practical parasitology, blood borne viruses, Leishmaniasis and its prevention, immunisation schedules and sources of information for travellers. Another day is spent at the Institute of Naval Medicine where students look at the effects of heat and cold injuries. In addition to these specific topics all subjects on the 13 week course include an environmental component which incorporates the treatment of casualties in hostile and remote situations.

Students also undertake public health training which includes looking at the needs of refugees and misplaced persons and their associated temporary camps.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2008, Official Report, column 791W, on armoured fighting vehicles, how many individual shipments were required to transport the first tranche of Mastiff armoured vehicles into the theatre of operations; and what the (a) lowest, (b) highest, (c) mean and (d) mode number was of individual shipments of Mastiff armoured vehicles to (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan during the delivery period of the first tranche. (201233)

The chosen method for the deployment of all tranche 1 Mastiff vehicles was by commercial air.

The number of individual consignments to Iraq was 21 and to Afghanistan was 18.

I am withholding the details of individual shipments since disclosure could reveal the strength and capability of UK forces operating in theatre, and could prejudice operational security.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2008, Official Report, column 791W, on armoured fighting vehicles, how many individual shipments were required to transport all Bulldog armoured vehicles into the theatre of operations; and what the (a) lowest, (b) highest, (c) mean and (d) mode number was of individual shipments of Bulldog armoured vehicles to (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan during the delivery period. (201234)

Bulldog armoured vehicles have not been deployed to Afghanistan.

The number of individual shipments required to transport all Bulldog armoured vehicles to Iraq was three.

I am withholding the details of individual shipments since disclosure could reveal the strength and capability of UK forces operating in theatre, and could prejudice operational security.

Defence: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the UK's contribution is to NATO's Cyber Defence Management Authority; and if he will make a statement. (201678)

As part of the Department's cooperation on cyber defence operations with our allies, the MOD, together with other Government Departments, are fully engaged with the development of NATO's Cyber Defence Management Authority. Such cooperation would include the sharing of intelligence, experience and expertise. However, it is Government policy not to make comments on details of protective measures, techniques and strategies applied to protecting communication and information systems as these could assist potential attackers.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance is issued to members of his Department on the authorship and publication on the internet of material relating to their official duties; and if he will make a statement. (196739)

The Civil Service Code, the Civil Service Management Code and Propriety Guidance on Government Communications, all provide guidance to staff on the publication of material relating to their official duties. Copies of each of these are in the libraries of the House. They are also available on the Cabinet Office website at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/.

Armed forces and MOD staff publishing material on the internet as part of their official duties, for example on the MOD's own website, are governed by a number of internal MOD documents including training manuals and style guides.

HMS Southampton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where (a) HMS Southampton and (b) HMS Exeter have been deployed in 2008; what plans he has for further deployments prior to their decommissioning; and if he will make a statement. (201914)

HMS Southampton and HMS Exeter have been engaged in Maritime Security operations in UK waters during 2008. I am withholding information about these ships' future programmes as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Land Rovers have been lost due to damage sustained from an improvised explosive device or landmine in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; (201566)

(2) how many WIMIK equipped vehicles have been lost due to damage sustained from an improvised explosive device or landmine in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan;

(3) how many Vector patrol vehicles have been lost due to damage sustained from an improvised explosive device or landmine in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan;

(4) how many service personnel have been (a) injured and (b) killed by improvised explosive devices or landmines in WIMIK equipped vehicles in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) Iraq;

(5) how many service personnel have been (a) injured and (b) killed by improvised explosive devices or landmines in Vector patrol vehicles in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) Iraq;

(6) how many service personnel have been (a) injured and (b) killed by improvised explosive devices or landmines in Land Rovers in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) Iraq.

I am withholding the details as disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Iraq: Ports

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which projects his Department (a) initiated, (b) oversaw, (c) directed and (d) funded in connection with the modernisation of the port of Umm Qasr; and if he will make a statement. (196916)

Since 2003 the British Military have initiated, overseen and directed 15 reconstruction projects in the vicinity of Umm Qasr to a value of approximately £500,000. These projects have been funded by the Multi-National Force Commanders Emergency Response Programme (CERPs).

Regeneration plans for the port are now being led and co-ordinated by the government of Iraq, supported by UK and US personnel in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Karian and Box

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the value was of each contract awarded by his Department to Karian and Box since 1997. (199646)

There are no records held centrally of any contract awarded to Karian and Box by the Ministry of Defence since 1997.

Information on contracts awarded by Defence agencies, top level budget areas, trading funds, joint headquarters, single service commands and military units is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

War Graves: Seas and Oceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government have taken to protect military shipwrecks as final resting places. (201656)

The Protection of Military Remains Act (PMRA) 1986 allows the MOD to protect the remains of aircraft and ships lost while in military service from unauthorised interference. The latest tranche of wrecks designated under the Act will come into force on 1 May 2008, raising the total number of designations to 58.

Wales

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many freedom of information requests made to his Department were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days, (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information in each year since the Act came into force. (201733)

The Ministry of Justice has published two annual reports containing statistical information on freedom of information requests received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) in 2005 and 2006. These reports can be found at the following address:

http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/reference/statisticsAndReports.htm

The 2007 annual report is currently being drafted for publication in June 2008. However, statistics on requests received in each quarter of 2007 have been published and can be found via the MOJ website:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/freedomofinformationquarterly.htm

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires public bodies to respond to written requests within 20 working days of receipt, but allows additional time for the consideration of the public interest in disclosing the requested information.

The published reports provide statistics on the number of “non-routine” requests received during each period where: an initial response was provided within 20 working days; an initial response was given outside this time but a public interest test extension had been applied; an initial response was given outside this time and no public interest test extension was applied, and where no initial se had been given at the time the statistics were collected.

The 2006 annual report provides statistics on the duration of the public interest test extensions in that year. Corresponding statistics for 2007 will be available when the 2007 annual report is published.

Information requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested; however the proportion of resolvable requests the Department answered “in time” (i.e. meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007 was 89 per cent.

For 2005 and 2006, the reports show the number of requests received by the Department which were withheld, either in full or in part, where an FOI exemption or EIR exception was applied. For 2007, the number of such requests was three based on aggregated quarterly statistics from 2007. Requests withheld solely under the exemption applicable to “information available by other means” are not included; statistics on these are not collected centrally because they are dealt with as routine business.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) permanent civil service posts, (b) permanent non-civil service posts and (c) agency workers there were in his Department in each month since May 2005. (200215)

The following table shows the number of staff employed by the Wales Office from May 2005.

Details for agency staff were not kept in the format for the financial year 2005-06 and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Number of staff employed from April 2005 until March 2008

£

Permanent civil servants

Permanent non civil servants

Temporary staff

Agency staff

2005

May

51

2

2

June

49

3

2

July

51

3

2

August

51

3

2

September

49

3

2

October

53

3

1

November

52

3

1

December

55

3

1

2006

January

58

3

1

February

58

3

1

March

55

3

0

April

55

3

0

1

May

58

3

0

1

June

58

3

0

1

July

58

3

0

1

August

57

3

0

1

September

56

3

0

1

October

58

3

1

1

November

59

3

1

1

December

56

3

1

1

2007

January

57

3

1

1

February

59

3

1

1

March

60

3

1

1

April

56

3

3

0

May

54

3

3

0

June

55

3

3

0

July

55

3

3

0

August

51

3

3

0

September

49

3

3

0

October

51

3

3

0

November

51

3

3

0

December

46

3

4

0

2008

January

51

4

3

0

February

51

3

3

0

March

49

3

3

1

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the total cost was 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 in each month since May 2005. (200214)

Salary costs for the Wales Office are broken down in the format requested in the following table.

The figures for agency staff, in the financial year 2005-06, were not kept in this format and could be obtained only at disproportionate costs, however the annual figure for agency staff in this period was £91,923.

Salary costs from April 2005 until March 2008

£

Permanent civil servants

Permanent non civil servants

Temporary staff

Agency staff

2005

May

164,476

5,074

3,306

June

160,162

8,876

3,306

July

173,839

9,010

3,306

August

180,015

11,514

3,306

September

158,266

11,763

3,306

October

192,462

11,763

1,720

November

186,270

11,763

1,720

December

193,780

11,763

1,720

2006

January

200,585

11,763

1,720

February

196,319

11,763

1,720

March

189,270

11,763

April

180,213

11,759

2,016

May

199,066

11,759

5,398

June

196,821

11,864

2,016

July

203,071

12,000

6,302

August

187,313

11,846

5,336

September

177,452

11,846

4,326

October

228,393

11,846

1,760

2,903

November

167,920

11,873

1,760

5,226

December

191,243

11,873

1,760

1,240

2007

January

191,153

11,873

1,760

1,167

February

204,309

11,873

1,760

1,246

March

207,198

11,872

1,760

1,046

April

194,080

12,068

4,299

0

May

191,337

13,138

5,318

0

June

187,952

12,372

5,318

0

July

190,462

12,978

5,318

0

August

183,428

18,746

3,005

0

September

176,563

12,254

5,318

0

October

189,863

12,254

5,727

0

November

210,297

13,045

5,454

0

December

173,845

12,254

6,911

0

2008

January

181,949

22,246

6,507

0

February

180,004

8,199

7,449

0

March

180,156

25,769

6,605

539

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many days it took on average to answer written parliamentary questions tabled by each hon. Member for answer by him in the last six months. (201767)

To provide the answer in the format requested would incur disproportionate cost. However over the last six months the Wales Office has responded to written questions on average within four days.

House of Commons Commission

Parking

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether provision is planned in the House of Commons car park for installing facilities for re-charging electric or hybrid vehicles. (200632)

There are no plans to make any special provision but the Speaker will ask the Administration Committee to look into this matter.

Transport

A12

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many representations she has received from Essex county council on the adequacy of the A12 since 2005; (202119)

(2) if she will allocate funds to the Highways Agency to hold an inquiry into the adequacy of the A12 from London to Ipswich;

(3) what plans she has for improvements to the A12 through Essex to Ipswich; and if she will make a statement;

(4) if she will allocate funds to Essex county council to undertake improvements to the A12 through Essex; and if she will make a statement.

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: The A12 through Essex is considered to be primarily of regional importance. Decisions on such schemes are made on the basis of advice from regional bodies, including the Regional Assembly and the Regional Development Agency, on the priorities for funding within an indicative budget. The advice provided by the East of England regional bodies in 2006, which Ministers have accepted, did not prioritise any A12 schemes in the period to 2016.

The Government intend, by the summer, to invite each region to carry out a further review of its funding priorities. This will provide an opportunity for those who support improvements to the A12 to press their case within the region.

Officials in the department have regular meetings with Essex county council and have received correspondence over the period in question from both individual councillors and the council itself.

A46: Nottinghamshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will amend the proposals for the dualling of the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool to keep the project within budget. (201266)

The current proposals for dualling the A46 between Newark and Widmerpool forms one of the highway schemes which is planned to be funded from the East Midlands' Regional Funding Allocation for major transport schemes. The region is considering how to accommodate the A46 scheme within its recommended programme of schemes in the light of emerging cost pressures. We will carefully consider the region's advice both for the programme as a whole and in relation to the A46 scheme.

Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what payments Network Rail made to (a) Mandate Communications and (b) AS Biss in each of the last five years; and on what date and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. (202274)

This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The hon. Member should contact Network Rail’s chief executive at the following address for a response to his questions:

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London

NW1 2EE

Heathrow Airport: BAA

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what meetings took place in 2007 between her Department’s (a) officials and (b) Ministers and representatives of BAA to discuss the project for the development of Heathrow Airport; and on what date each took place; (201310)

(2) if she will publish the minutes or notes of each meeting that took place in 2007 between her Department's officials and representatives of BAA to discuss the project for the development of Heathrow Airport.

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: No such meetings took place between Ministers and BAA. Notes of all meetings with officials prior to the issue of the recent Heathrow consultation document have been released in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That information is on, or can be requested via, the Department’s FOI response website (March 2008). I will see that the hon. Member is sent copies of all the relevant documents.

Heathrow Airport: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much her Department paid to WS Atkins for its work on the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow resulting in the October 2007 technical report entitled Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow: Population Exposure to Air Pollution; and if she will make a statement; (201467)

(2) how much her Department paid to WS Atkins for its peer review work which resulted in the November 2007 report entitled Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow: Demonstrating Confidence in the PSDH Air Quality Work; and if she will make a statement.

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: The two reports in question were commissioned as part of the suite of supporting technical documents to the recent Heathrow consultation. The work to produce them was part of the contract with Atkins to provide technical assistance throughout the project on local air quality issues and has not been separately costed.

Kemble to Swindon Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will publish the Network Rail evaluation of proposals to re-double the Kemble to Swindon line, including any cost predictions. (201573)

The Office of Rail Regulation is currently evaluating proposals published by Network Rail this month for enhancing both the North Cotswold and the Stroud Valley lines and expects to publish its preliminary determination in June 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) hon. Members and (b) local authorities have made representations to (i) her and (ii) Network Rail on the re-doubling of (A) the Kemble to Swindon line and (B) the North Cotswold line. (201574)

The following hon. Members have made written representations to the Department in the last three years:

Swindon—Kemble line

Geoffrey Clinton-Brown MP

David Drew MP

Mark Harper MP

Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP

Laurence Robertson MP

North Cotswold line

David Cameron MP

Geoffrey Clinton-Brown MP

David Drew MP

Michael Foster MP

Peter Luff MP

John Maples MP

We have received no written representations from local authorities about either line during this period.

My hon. Friend will need to contact the chief executive about representations made to Network Rail. His address is:

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London

NW1 2EE

Lorries

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) foreign and (b) British-registered lorries made at least one journey on UK roads in each year since 1997. (202128)

M5

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on proposals to modify junction 12 of the M5; and what plans she has for consultation prior to the introduction of any modifications. (201572)

Committed developments in Gloucester will increase pressure on the M5 junction 12. Following the first release of funds from developers, the Highways Agency is about to commission the preparation of design works in respect of an improvement at the junction.

The Highways Agency will be developing a communications strategy, to include stakeholder involvement. This will provide an opportunity for interested parties to see and discuss the improvement scheme proposals.

North Cotswold Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria were used to (a) accept the North Cotswolds line and (b) reject the Stroud Valleys line for future re-doubling. (201430)

The Government are supportive of rail growth to meet the needs of our growing economy and we have specified and funded the high level improvements in capacity, safety and reliability required by 2014. It is for the rail industry to determine the enhancement schemes required to deliver this specification, subject to independent evaluation by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

The ORR is currently evaluating proposals published by Network Rail this month for enhancing both the North Cotswold and the Stroud Valley lines and expects to publish its preliminary determination in June 2008.

Ports: Automatic Number Plate Recognition

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to install number plate recognition systems at all major British ports. (200676)

I have been asked to reply.

It is not possible, for reasons of operational security, to divulge the current level of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems currently in use at British ports. It is however, the Government's intention to ensure that ANPR systems are installed in all major British ports in the future, subject to the necessary funding being made available.

Public Transport: Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the tram trains for use on the Penistone line will be built in the UK. (200630)

Northern Rail will undertake the procurement of tram-trains for the Penistone line trial, acting in accordance with European procurement regulations.

Railway Stations: Halifax

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will estimate the number of passengers who used Halifax railway station in each of the last five years. (202093)

The Department for Transport does not hold this information. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) publishes data on station usage which is available from their website:

www.rail-reg.gov.uk

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the feasibility and cost of a maglev rail system. (200629)

In the preparation of the 2007 rail White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, the Department for Transport commissioned a report into maglev systems. This report reviewed a number of features of maglev systems including safety, environmental, and engineering feasibility. A copy of this report is available on the Department’s website at:

www.dft.gov.uk

The only operational maglev in the world had costs three times higher than equivalent high speed lines.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the division of responsibilities is between (a) her Department and (b) Network Rail on (i) the safeguarding of lines for possible future expansion of the network, (ii) the building of new lines, (iii) the collection of data relating to passenger numbers before and after new lines have been opened and (iv) decisions relating to the electrification of existing lines; and if she will make a statement. (201267)

Regional and local planning authorities are responsible for the safeguarding of alignments via spatial plans. The Secretary of State for Transport may issue safeguarding Directions under the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995. The Office of Rail Regulation regulates the disposal of land owned by Network Rail.

Towards a Sustainable Transport System describes a new, multi-modal approach to transport planning. Network Rail, working with the rail industry, will provide a view on the ways in which the railway can contribute most effectively to the Secretary of State's wider transport objectives for the period from 2014. This may include new lines and electrification proposals.

Passenger demand is forecast by the sponsor of a scheme and train operators collect data on subsequent patronage.

Railways: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many deaths of (a) railway workers and (b) others occurred as a result of electrocution by the third rail in each year since 1997. (201260)

The number of railway fatalities caused as a result of electrocution by the third rail in each year since 1997 are provided in the following table.

(a) Railway employees

(b) Others (members of the public)

1997

0

9

1998

0

8

1999

0

13

2000

0

16

2001

0

6

2002

1

9

2003

1

12

2004

0

5

2005

0

6

2006

1

12

20071

0

4

1 The data for 2007 is provisional.

Source:

Data provided by the Office of Rail Regulation

Most fatalities result from members of the public trespassing on railway infrastructure.

Railways: Electric Cables

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many railway overhead lines fell down in each year since 1997. (201261)

This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The hon. Member should contact Network Rail's chief executive at the following address for a response to his questions:

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London

NW1 2EE

Railways: Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much copper from signalling cables on the railways has been stolen in each of the last five years; how many thefts there were in (a) England and Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) North East of England, (d) Yorkshire and Humber, (e) South East, (f) Midlands and (g) South West in each of those years; and if she will make a statement. (201482)

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

Roads

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects the Nichols costs review of Highways Agency road schemes to be completed; and whether the review will be published on her Department's and the Highways Agency's websites. (201247)

The Highways Agency is currently in the final stages of completing revised cost estimates for their major roads projects. We expect to be in a position to publish these on the Department for Transport’s and the Highways Agency’s websites in the late spring.

Roads: Tax Evasion

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road tax evaders there were in (a) 2000-01 and (b) 2005-06; what proportion of these were prosecuted in 2005-06; and what the loss was of revenue as a result of such tax evasions in 2005-06. (202134)

There was no roadside survey to measure road tax evaders conducted in 2000-01. The nearest estimate available is from the 2002 roadside survey. The estimated number of unlicensed vehicles at that time was 1.76 million vehicles, representing an estimated loss of revenue through evasion of £193 million.

The 2005 roadside survey estimated the number of unlicensed vehicles as 1.55 million, with an estimated revenue loss figure of £147 million.

In 2005-06 DVLA brought 144,884 successful prosecutions at magistrates’ court relating to the use of unlicensed vehicles. A further 516,808 cases were dealt with via out of court settlements.

Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2008, Official Report, columns 1034-35W, on rolling stock, what requests received from train operating companies for extra rolling stock have been rejected since 1 January 2005. (201308)

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: The Department for Transport has frequent discussions with train operators on a range of issues, including the possibility of providing extra rolling stock. However, no formal requests to approve leases for additional vehicles have been rejected.

As part of the HLOS process, the Department for Transport is in discussions with train operators about delivering 1,300 additional vehicles.

Rolling Stock: Northampton

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has for the improvement of the rolling stock on the London to Northampton train service. (202696)

London Midland are committed to replacing the class 321 electric multiple units with brand new Siemens Desiro class 350 electric multiple units, on services between London and Northampton as part of its franchise.

Rolling Stock: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she takes to ensure that passengers' seating comfort is taken into account in train design; and if she will make a statement. (201219)

The Department for Transport is working with the industry to develop a whole life cost model for evaluating the design of rail vehicles. Passenger seating comfort is one of the many factors within the model which recognises the significance of comfortable seating in encouraging the use of rail services. The model also balances the desire for spacious seating against the requirement to provide a sufficient number of seats.

During the procurement of the Intercity Express trains the Department will be working with passenger groups to assess the relative comfort of the various proposals for passenger seating.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Hemp

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) estimate his Department has made of the costs and (b) assessment he has made of the merits of growing industrial hemp in England, with particular reference to the production of cellulose for (i) biodegradable plastics and (ii) paper manufacture. (200534)

Approximately 1,416 hectares of industrial hemp are grown and processed in England, mainly for the bio-composite, construction, and animal bedding industries. Such end uses are driven by the market and represent the most cost beneficial application of this high value raw material.

The DEFRA renewable materials LINK programme is set up to assist consortia of academia and industry bring innovative technologies based on novel crops to market. New products based on hemp and hemp fibre would be eligible for consideration for LINK funding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the merits of a licensing regime for farmers wishing to grow industrial hemp. (200535)

I have been asked to reply.

The United Kingdom already has a licensing regime for growing industrial hemp.

Agriculture: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the likely environmental impacts arising from the application of slurry and poultry manure to non-sandy farmland in the days immediately following the end of closed periods proposed for nitrate vulnerable zones. (200927)

This will be included in the Government’s response to the consultation, which I intend to announce and publish before Parliament breaks for summer recess.

Air Pollution: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent consideration the Government have given to lowering the maximum permissible levels of air pollution; and what assessment the Government have made of the effects of increased use of diesel vehicles on levels of air pollution. (201275)

A new ambient air quality directive, due to come into force in May 2008, consolidates existing EU legislation and includes new controls over very fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), where the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that there is no safe level of exposure. The main elements are a 'backstop' limit value, to be met everywhere by 2015, and an 'exposure concentration obligation' to be met across urban background locations (as an average), also by 2015. The directive must be transposed into UK law within two years of it coming into force.

Estimates of future air pollution emissions from transport include assumptions modelling the increase in diesel car market share, with an assumption that this will stabilise at 42 per cent. in 2010. These estimates are used for assessing new vehicle emissions standards and the revised National Air Quality Strategy, published in 2007. Diesel cars currently emit significantly higher levels of both particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen than petrol cars. However, the recently agreed Euro 5 and 6 emissions standards will reduce particulate emissions from new diesel cars to comparable levels to petrol cars by 2011 and substantially reduce the difference between petrol and diesel NOx emissions by 2015.

Angling: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) full and (b) concessionary cost of a (i) coarse and trout and (ii) salmon and sea trout rod licence was in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (201440)

The following table shows the full and concessionary cost of a (i) non-migratory trout and coarse and (ii) salmon and sea trout licence in each of the last five years.

£

Salmon and sea trout

Non migratory trout and coarse fish

Full

Concessionary

Full

Concessionary

2004-05

62.00

31.00

23.00

11.50

2005-06

63.50

31.75

23.50

11.75

2006-07

65.00

32.50

24.00

12.00

2007-08

66.50

33.35

24.50

12.25

2008-09

68.00

45.00

25.00

16.75

I should point out that the Environment Agency is under no legal obligation to offer rod licences to any class of persons at concessionary duty rates. Both the agency and I recognise that the increase in concessionary duty rates for this year is significant and the agency has publicly stated that it will use a significant proportion of the monies raised by the higher duty rates to improve access to angling for the disabled and senior anglers. I welcome this and I will seek evidence from the agency that it has honoured that commitment.

Biofuels: Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to raise awareness of the effects of more widespread use of biofuels. (201254)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government have consulted widely on their biofuel support policies since 2004. On each occasion they have drawn attention to the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of increasing levels of biofuel use. Ministers and officials have made regular presentations on this subject at conferences and other public events, and the Government have held a large number of stakeholder workshops which have been well-attended by representatives from a wide range of different interest groups.

Information on biofuels has also been made available via the Department for Transport’s website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/environment/rtfo/

and, in recent months, via the Renewable Fuels Agency’s website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/rfa/

The Renewable Fuels Agency will report regularly on the effects of the biofuels used under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). These reports will be made available via the RFA’s website.

Climate Change: Seas and Oceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has conducted into the impact of the melting of ice-sheets; and what estimates his Department has made of the lowest and highest potential rise in sea levels as a result of such melting. (201323)

DEFRA funds research at the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) aimed at improving the representation of ice sheets in climate models, and (through the DEFRA/Ministry of Defence funded MOHC Integrated Climate Programme) scientists at the MOHC are working with the wider academic community to study future changes in ice-sheet volume and sea level. DEFRA also funds research into the potential impacts of sea level rise on the United Kingdom through the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

The Government advise the operating authorities to factor a predicted change in the rate of sea level rise from the current 2.5 to 4 millimetres per year from 13 to 15 millimetres per year by the end of the century, depending on location, into the design of present-day river and coastal defences. As part of a precautionary approach, this advice includes predicted land level changes as well as predicted changes in global average sea level.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cash equivalent transfer value is of the public sector pensions of the 10 highest paid members of staff in his Department and its executive agencies; and if he will make a statement. (200720)

It is not appropriate to disclose values for staff, other than those whose details are reported on in Remuneration Reports in the Department’s Resource Accounts. A copy of the Resource Accounts for the year 2006-07 can be found in the Library.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many respondents took part in each consultation held by his Department in each of the last three years. (198676)

Departments publish consultations as an integral part of their policy development work. In compliance with the Government’s Code of Practice on Consultation, departments publish summaries of the responses received to their consultation exercises. These state how may responses were received.

Information is not held centrally on how many respondents took part in each consultation for over the last three years. To acquire this information would be at disproportionate cost. The number of responses to DEFRA consultations varies greatly, from 12 in the case of our Consultation on the Reform of Fruit and Vegetable Regime to 16,919 responses for the Climate Change Bill.

Since January 2005 until December 2007 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched 289 public consultations.

The breakdown, per year, is as follows:

Calendar year

Number

2005

100

2006

108

2007

81

Fisheries: Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that compensation is provided to under-10 metre fishing fleets when new catch limits are in place. (201921)

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: Monthly catch limits of quota stocks for the under 10 metre fleet are set by the Marine and Fisheries Agency, taking into account the amount of quota available to the under 10 metre fleet and estimates of the likely pattern of fishing activity. The proposed limits for 2008 were published earlier this year. These are subject to revision following discussion at quarterly meetings with representatives of the fishing fleet at quarterly meetings around the coast and in London.

I have recently consulted under 10 metre fishermen on a package of measures intended to bring fleet capacity more into line with fishing opportunity. My officials are developing detailed proposals and I expect to be able to publish a formal consultation on these proposals in the summer of this year. Compensation payments do not form part of those proposals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for discussions between his Department and the Marine and Fisheries Agency with regard to changes to the under-10 metre fleet catch limits. (201923)

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: DEFRA officials and the Marine and Fisheries Agency discuss fisheries management issues, including the under 10 metre catch limits, on a regular basis as required. For this reason, there is no set timetable for discussions.

Fisheries: Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given to the situation of under-10 metre fleets that use sustainable rod and line fishing methods in formulating fisheries policy. (201922)

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: As DEFRA continues to develop its policy on environmentally responsible fishing we will be considering the environmental impacts of all types of fishing, including rod and line fishing.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the capacity of internal drainage boards to undertake responsibility for flood prevention beyond their traditional locations. (201325)

The current consultation on surface water management seeks views on the role that internal drainage boards might play in producing surface water management plans in the future. It is suggested that internal drainage boards might play a greater role in managing surface water drainage in rural areas in a parallel role to the equivalent operating authority in urban areas.

The consultation suggests that operating authorities, in fulfilling their surface water drainage responsibilities, could set up a working group made up of the relevant local authorities, water companies, the Environment Agency and the relevant internal drainage boards. In certain circumstances, a local authority may choose to discharge its responsibilities for leading a surface water management plan through a relevant internal drainage board in their area. This board would then play a lead role in preparing the plan and ensuring that other operating authorities' activities are consistent with it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authority areas fall within the catchment of an internal drainage board. (201779)

There are approximately 170 internal drainage boards (IDB) in England and Wales concentrated mainly in East Anglia, Yorkshire, Somerset and Lincolnshire. Most IDB catchments overlap several local authority boundaries. This means there is at least one, and usually multiple local authorities within each IDB catchment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will encourage local authorities in areas where two tiers of local government exist to form joint bodies to oversee flood prevention measures. (201782)

Local authorities have permissive powers (but no statutory obligation) to undertake works to manage flood risk from the sea and from watercourses for which the Environment Agency and internal drainage boards do not hold such powers. In areas where there are two tiers of local government, county councils will not normally exercise such powers unless this has been requested by the district council.

The current consultation on surface water management is considering the role that local authorities might play in preparing surface water management plans. It suggests that such plans should be prepared by the same tier of authority that currently prepares strategic flood risk assessments. In two-tier authorities, this is normally the district council, although this can depend on local circumstances.

Where flooding issues cut across district boundaries within a county, district councils would provide the detailed surface water management plan as the local planning authority, with county councils potentially exercising a scrutiny function across several local authorities.

We are currently reviewing the responsibilities of all delivery bodies involved in flood risk management and will look to the recommendations from the Pitt Review to determine how any changes might be implemented.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will encourage localised measurement of rainfall to present more accurate information on potential flooding. (201783)

The Environment Agency maintains a network of 750 telemetered rain-gauges which feed data directly into computer models to forecast river levels, using the national flood forecasting system (NFFS). The Environment Agency is about to gain access to a further 110 telemetered rain-gauges that are owned by the Met Office. The Environment Agency also maintains a network of 2,250 rain-gauges across England and Wales that are monitored on a daily basis and which are used in a planning capacity to establish potential flood risk.

Due to the limitations of measuring rainfall at fixed point locations, spatial data on actual and forecast rainfall is provided by a network of weather radars (which measure rainfall to a resolution up to 1 sq km), and by the Met Office’s weather forecasting models. The Environment Agency has evaluated each area with a flood risk to ensure that each is served with information from an appropriate number of rain-gauges or data from weather radar. Where gaps are identified, then improvements in rain-gauge coverage (and/or weather radar) are under way.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers are available to a person who is appointed as a flood warden by a parish or town council. (201785)

The Environment Agency recently produced a policy statement on the use of flood wardens for flood warning purposes and supports the practice of using volunteers in local communities in times of flooding. Flood wardens provide community cohesion and support during and after flooding.

The Environment Agency is not aware of any powers available to volunteers who undertake this role.

Floods: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions the Environment Agency has objected to a development on the basis of flood risk in the last five years, broken down by local authority; and what the outcome of the application was in each case. (201784)

The high level target (HLT) 5 (previously HLT 12) and its appendices, provide information on the impact of the technical advice on flood risk provided by the Environment Agency on planning decisions made by English local planning authorities. This includes a list of all of the Environment Agency’s objections on flood risk grounds (major and minor development).

All annual HLT reports compiled by the Environment Agency, from 2000-01 on development and flood risk, have been submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (and before that to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), with recent reports copied to Communities and Local Government.

The Environment Agency’s list of all its objections lodged during 2006-07, are currently available via the Environment Agency’s website and copies of the annual HLT report from 2001-02 have been placed in the Library of the House.

Livestock: Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) cattle or calves, (b) sheep and (c) other livestock species were exported from the UK for (i) further fattening and (ii) slaughter in 2007. (201169)

The information requested is not collected centrally and to do so would incur disproportionate cost.

Local Food Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria he has established to determine eligibility for the local food scheme; and whether such criteria vary between regions. (201256)

I have been asked to reply as Minister with responsibility for national lottery issues.

The Local Food programme is run by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts as an award partner of Big Lottery Fund. It is one of five England wide award partner programmes funded through the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces programme. Not-for-profit community groups and organisations in England can apply to the Local Food programme. The eligibility criteria do not vary between regions. For full details of eligibility criteria and further information about the programme visit:

www.localfoodgrants.org

Natural Gas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has commissioned or funded into gas use in households which have introduced energy efficiency measures. (201324)

DEFRA has a research programme in place to test and quantify the in-situ performance of energy efficiency measures. We have also undertaken research into householder 'comfort taking'. This research feeds back into the modelling and the carbon savings prescribed to policies in the climate change programme.

Although yet to be fully quantified, we now know that UK gas consumption has fallen 12 per cent. since 2005, which we believe to be at least in part the impact of our regulatory energy efficiency policies such as the supplier obligation and building regulations.

Packaging: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the introduction of a standardised labelling system indicating the recyclability of product packaging. (201556)

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has helped the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to develop a voluntary scheme for on-pack labelling on recycling. WRAP and the BRC consulted on the scheme in November 2007, and expect to launch it formally soon.

Pet Travel Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of failure of microchips used to obtain pet passports there were in each of the last five years. (200967)

[holding answer 24 April 2008]: Animal Health (AH) do not hold records of pets whose microchips have failed when scanned by their local vet.

AH do hold records of microchip failures when pets are presented at ports of entry. These show that, between 1 January 2003 and 1 January 2008, 297 pets were presented at ports and were refused entry into the UK under PETS due to microchip failure.

Plastic Bags: Taxation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to exempt plastic bags made from biodegradable film from the proposed plastic bag tax. (202677)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget on 12 March that we will introduce legislation to require retailers to impose a charge on single-use carrier bags from 2009, if retailers have not achieved a substantial reduction in the number of bags distributed on a voluntary basis.

The criteria for the types of bags subject to the charge, and any appropriate exemptions, will be a matter for secondary legislation. This will be consulted on beforehand.

However, as the purpose of the proposed charge is to reduce the numbers of all types of single-use carrier bags being distributed, there are no current plans to exempt bags made from biodegradable film.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether plastic bags manufactured before the start date for any plastic bag tax will be subject to the tax. (202678)