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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Prime Minister

Engagements

14. To ask the Prime Minister if he will visit the UK Human Trafficking Centre in Sheffield to discuss trends in human trafficking into the UK from other EU member states. (203752)

The Government deplore all forms of human trafficking. The UK has led the way on human trafficking: the EU plan on preventing and combating trafficking in persons was adopted during the UK presidency in 2005; and, the UK and Poland are leading a project with a number of EU partners to undertake more practical co-operation on human trafficking.

The UK's action plan “Tacking Human Trafficking”, published in March 2007, sets out the Government's strategy. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in an official capacity in the last 12 months. (204389)

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

Speeches

To ask the Prime Minister who his Office has employed as a speechwriter since he took up office as Prime Minister. (203890)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 625W.

Duchy of Lancaster

Community Assets Programme

8. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on the community assets programme; and if he will make a statement. (203762)

The £30 million Community Assets programme is making excellent progress. Last month it announced 37 in-principle awards to refurbish assets that will be transferred to third sector ownership. The projects are imaginative and varied: from inner-city spaces offering alternative education for young people to cutting edge theatre and art, and health and keep fit services.

Charities and Community Groups

9. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he is taking to reduce the burden of administration on charities and community groups. (203763)

The Government are tackling administrative burdens affecting the third sector in a number of ways. For example the Charities Act 2006 includes a range of de-regulatory measures that particularly help the smallest charities, and the Charity Commission has introduced a simplified annual return form which is already benefiting 65,000 charities.

Social Enterprise

10. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he is taking to promote social enterprise amongst young people. (203764)

The Government are committed to promoting social enterprise among young people as part of the 2006 Social Enterprise Action Plan and the 2007 Third Sector Review. Programmes with a focus on young people include the Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme, raising the profile of social enterprise, and embedding social enterprise in the school curriculum, such as GCSE Business Studies.

Social Change

11. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what guidance he provides to the third sector on campaigning for social change; and if he will make a statement. (203765)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona MacTaggart).

14. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the Government’s policy is on third sector organisations which campaign for social change. (203768)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart).

Social Inclusion

12. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent steps he has taken to promote social inclusion in rural areas. (203766)

The Socially Excluded Adults Public Service Agreement and the Families at Risk Review will help to promote social inclusion in rural areas. They will support the Government’s wider work on building strong rural communities and ensuring that public services meet the needs of the most vulnerable rural residents. The Government are providing over £50 million a year to support rural bus services, are ensuring that 95 per cent. of the rural population are within three miles of a Post Office, and have committed to deliver over 10,000 affordable homes in settlements of less than 3,000 inhabitants by 2011.

Hospitality: Senior Civil Servants

13. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent assessment he has made of compliance with the civil service management code’s rules on the registration of hospitality received by senior civil servants. (203767)

The rules on the registration of hospitality are set out in the “Civil Service Management Code”. The Government are committed to publishing, for the first time, an annual list of hospitality received during 2007 by members of departmental boards. The information is currently being compiled, and it will be published shortly.

Conditions of Employment

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in removing the two-tier workforce. (203754)

In 2005 the Government introduced a Code of Practice on Workforce Matters designed to prevent the development of a two tier workforce in public services. The code’s implementation is currently being reviewed as part of the work programme of the Public Services Forum. The code also explicitly encourages employees and trade unions to alert Government to any problems with its implementation.

Departmental Press

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what weekly publications the Prime Minister's office subscribes to or purchases each week; and at what cost. (203891)

The Prime Minister’s office forms an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 530W.

Transport

Aviation: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when the Government adopted the 57dBLeq contour as the threshold for problematic aircraft noise; (194002)

(2) if she will review the effectiveness of the 57dBLeq contour as a threshold for problematic transport-related noise.

In September 1990 the Department for Transport announced the replacement of the noise and number index (NNI) with Leq (16 hour) dBA as the daytime index for aircraft noise. 57 dBA Leq (measured over 07.00-23.00 period) was adopted as representing the onset of annoyance, although the Government acknowledged that there can be no absolute measure of disturbance from aircraft noise given the variation in individual reactions.

This decision followed publication of the report “United Kingdom Aircraft Noise Index Study” (ANIS) in 1985 and subsequent consultation on its findings.

In 2001 the Department commissioned the “Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources” (ANASE) study to update the ANIS research. The conclusions of this study (which were announced by the Secretary of State on 2 November 2007) indicated that whilst it is highly probable that annoyance with a particular level of aircraft noise is higher than found in the ANIS study, it showed no evidence of a particular threshold at which it becomes a serious problem.

However, in terms of making quantitative comparisons between the results from ANASE and the earlier ANIS study, expert peer reviewers of the ANASE study advised that “reliance on the detailed outcome of ANASE would be misplaced” and that they would “counsel against using the detailed results and conclusions from ANASE in the development of government policy”.

Although the report does not provide evidence for replacing the figure of 57 dBA Leq (16 hours) with a lower or higher figure, we believe it is right to retain this figure as a safeguard for those who are most affected by aircraft noise. In the “Future of Air Transport” White Paper the Government gave a commitment that further development of Heathrow could only be considered if it resulted in no net increase in the total area of the 57 Leq dBA noise contour compared with summer 2002, an area of 127 sq km. That commitment stands and the ability to meet it is a key consideration, in the “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation.

Additionally, as we announced when the ANASE study was released, pending the availability of a better alternative we will apply existing valuation for road and rail noise when assessing the economic impact of noise in the cost- benefit analysis of future aviation projects. We have taken this approach in the case of “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation.

The Department is taking forward work to follow up the ANASE findings with the Aircraft Noise Monitoring Advisory Committee (ANMAC), whose role is to advise the Department on policy relating to aircraft noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

The significance of the 57 dBA (16 hours) contour—as representing the onset of annoyance—specifically relates to aircraft noise. Noise annoyance criteria from other transport sources will reflect research, as appropriate, specific to those modes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether training flight movements are included in data collected on air traffic management movements and consequential noise at UK airports. (200671)

The Civil Aviation Authority collects statistics on air transport movements at the larger UK airports and these are published on their website. The published statistics include a table:

(http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2007Annual/Table_ 03_1_Aircraft_Movements_2007.csv)

listing non-commercial movements amongst which are test and training flights.

The CAA also produces annual noise contours maps for the three London designated airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted). However similar maps for other airports are not produced.

Biofuels: Asthma

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the likely effects on incidence and severity of asthma of increased use of biofuels. (202837)

Dartford Tunnel: Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what factors she took into account in deciding the level of discount to local residents for Dartford Crossing tolls. (203572)

Final decisions have not yet been taken on discounts from Dartford Crossing charges for local residents. Our proposals are currently out to consultation, and the rationale for our proposals is described in the consultation document.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what role her Department has in setting toll charges for (a) the Mersey Tunnel and (b) the Dartford Crossing. (203574)

The Mersey Tunnels are not directly a matter for central Government. The Mersey Tunnels Act allows Merseytravel to increase tolls based on a Retail Price Index formula. Charges at Dartford are established by Order of the Secretary of State in exercise of powers conferred by the Transport Act 2000.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2008, Official Report, column 2533-34W, on departmental ICT, how many of the missing or stolen (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistants have been replaced by her Department; and at what cost. (202439)

The cost for the replacement of the laptop computers, mobile telephones and personal digital assistants reported as lost, missing or stolen since 2002, as referred to in the answer of 5 March 2008, Official Report, columns 2533-34W, was:

£79,370 for lost, missing or stolen laptops;

£2,852 for lost, missing or stolen mobile telephones; and

£4,918 for lost, missing or stolen personal digital assistants.

For the purposes of this reply, it is assumed that all lost, missing and stolen mobile devices were replaced by the Department for Transport. Complete records of whether any single lost or stolen item was actually replaced are not available. Where accurate replacement costs are not available, the replacement costs for these items have been estimated.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Disclosure of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make it her policy to require the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to release information to companies making manual requests only if such companies are members of a DVLA-accredited trade association. (203951)

The requirement for private car parking companies who submit requests for vehicle keeper information via electronic channels to be a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) was introduced following public consultation in 2006. The British Parking Association is the only existing ATA for the parking industry. Following the consultation, it was not considered necessary to extend this requirement to those who apply via the manual, paper-based channels due to the fact that each application is considered individually and additional to the evidence that must be provided.

The DVLA will shortly be undertaking a review of all the new measures introduced in 2006. This review will consider the effectiveness of the current requirements, and all other options available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many requests for information in respect of the registered keeper of a vehicle were made to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in the last month for which figures are available; how many of those were received by (a) electronic and (b) manual requests from (i) DVLA-accredited trade associations, (ii) non-DVLA-accredited car park operators, (iii) individuals and (iv) others; and how many in each category were (A) accepted and (B) refused. (203952)

Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002 provides for the release of information from the DVLA’s vehicle register to the police, to local authorities for investigation of an offence or a decriminalised parking contravention, and to anyone who can demonstrate ‘reasonable cause’ for having the information made available to them.

The requirement for unregulated companies who submit requests for vehicle keeper information via electronic channels to be a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) was introduced following public consultation in 2006.

Following the consultation, it was not considered necessary to extend this requirement to those who apply via the manual, paper-based channels due to the fact that each application is considered individually and additional to the evidence that must be provided.

The latest figures available for requests for information processed by the DVLA under the ‘reasonable cause’ provisions are for March 2008.

During March, 100,828 requests were received and responded to electronically. During the same month, 24,106 manual requests for information were received and processed and an additional 2,659 were refused.

The aforementioned figures show ‘all’ requests for vehicle keeper details under the ‘reasonable cause’ provisions. These include requests from insurance and finance companies, private car park enforcement companies, members of the public and solicitors, etc., for keeper details at a specific date of event. It also contains requests where the current keeper requires the full history of his vehicle and from mileage companies for investigations into vehicle ‘clocking’.

DVLA does not keep separate figures for each category of requests, so it is not possible to advise how many requests were made by individuals, members of DVLA Accredited Trade Associations (ATA), non-DVLA accredited car park enforcement companies, or others.

It is possible to confirm, however, that all electronic requests would have been made either by companies with a statutory regulator or members of an ATA.

Heathrow Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how risks 2.1, 4.1, 6.2, 7, 5.1, 1.1 and 4.3 referred to in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 17 October 2006 are titled; and if she will make a statement; (201249)

(2) how risks 3.3, 4.3, 1.1 and 1.3 referred to in Item 4: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 12 September 2006 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(3) how risks 2.2 and 2.4 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 10 August 2006 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(4) how risks 3.2, 4.2, 3.4 and 6.4 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 10 July 2006 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(5) how risks 1.1.3, 1.1.5, 1.3.2, 2.1.4, 2.1.1, 1.1.6, 1.3.7, 2.1.6 and 2.1.7 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 17 July 2007 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(6) how risks 1.3.4, 1.4.1, 1.6.1 and 2.1.3, discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 22 June 2007 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(7) how risks 1.2.1, 1.3.5, 2.1.5, 2.2.8, 1.3.1 and 2.2.11 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 18 May 2007 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(8) how risks 1.3.6 and 2.1.2 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 16 April 2007 are titled; and if she will make a statement;

(9) how risks 1.6.3 and 3.3.7 discussed in Item 3: Risks section of the Heathrow Project Board Meeting Note of 20 February 2007 are titled; and if she will make a statement.

Risk registers are a routine feature of programme and project management and are used widely within the Department for Transport (DfT) to help ensure that potentially relevant issues are anticipated and addressed. The Heathrow Project Board regularly reviewed risks as part of the process leading to the recent Heathrow consultation, and the information requested is listed as follows, by date of meeting, risk number and descriptor:

10 July 2006:

3.2—loss of housing in Sipson;

4.2—AirTrack and Crossrail funding;

3.4—direct action by opponents;

6.4—communications planning.

10 August 2006:

2.2—treatment of air quality ‘hot spots’;

2.4—nitrogen dioxide exceedences.

12 September 2006:

3.3—opposition of residents;

4.3—meeting air quality targets;

1.1/1.3—airspace design for mixed mode and runway three operations.

17 October 2006:

2.1—mitigation measures to achieve air quality limits;

4.1—road congestion around Heathrow;

6.2—three runway airport operating measures;

7—adapting the ADMS air quality model;

5.1—price increases required to support additional capacity;

1.1—airspace design for mixed mode operations;

4.3—possible mitigation measures to achieve air quality compliance.

20 February 2007:

1.6.3—modelling air quality compliant scenario;

3.3.7—non-delivery of mixed mode.

16 April 2007:

1.3.6—Strategic Road Network air quality exceedences;

2.1.2—loss of housing in Sipson.

18 May 2007:

1.2.1—possible mitigation measures to achieve air quality targets;

1.3.5—road traffic modelling;

2.1.5—public consultation handling;

2.2.8—analysis of consultation responses;

1.3.1—road congestion around Heathrow;

2.2.11—ANASE study.

22 June 2007:

1.3.4—surface access modelling;

1.4.1—noise modelling;

1.6.1—BAA and DfT scheduling forecasts;

2.1.3—opposition of residents.

17 July 2007:

1.1.3—airport operations with a third runway;

1.1.5—interaction with Northolt airport;

1.3.2—possible mitigation measures to achieve air quality compliance;

2.1.4—direct action by opponents;

2.1.1—relationship between White Paper, London Plan and local development framework;

1.1.6—NATS Terminal Control North airspace change;

1.3.7—accommodating increase in surface access trips;

2.1.6—regulatory impact assessment information;

2.1.7—resources for regulatory impact assessment.

M20: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1445W, on M20: noise, how many sites identified as being a high priority for resurfacing have been resurfaced in each of the last five years; and how many her Department plans to resurface in each of the next five years. (203881)

The resurfacing of the high priority sites commenced in financial year 2004-05. The number of high priority sites which have been resurfaced in each financial year to 2007-08 is:

Number

2004-05

2

2005-06

4

2006-07

3

2007-08

3

No information is available for the planned resurfacing of the remaining high priority sites by individual financial years. However, four sites are currently planned to be resurfaced before the end of financial year 2010-11. The remaining 10 sites are planned to be resurfaced after 2010-11.

Mersey Tunnel: Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations she has received on providing a discount for Mersey Tunnel tolls for local residents. (203573)

The Department for Transport is not aware of any representations relating to discounts for local residents for use of the Mersey Tunnels.

Passengers: Borders

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate she has made of the projected number of passenger movements across UK borders in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009. (203943)

The information requested is not available.

However, the Department for Transport’s latest forecasts of air passenger demand at UK airports are reported in “UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts” (November 2007), available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/environmentalissues/ukairdemandandco2forecasts/

Railways: Postal Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the merits of reopening the MailRail postal transport system under central London for mail or other purposes. (203954)

The Department for Transport has not carried out any assessment into the merits of reopening the Post Office Underground Railway system. Decisions on the future of the system are a commercial matter for the Royal Mail.

Railways: Sales

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of dismantled railway track bed have been sold by the British Railways Property Board since 2001; and if she will make a statement. (202921)

BRB (Residuary) does not record the length of trackbed that it disposes of. However, since 2001, the number of sites containing trackbed that have been sold is limited as most disused railway lines that were owned by the British Railways Board had been disposed of by then.

Railways: Watford

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers used the Watford-Gatwick service operated by Southern in each year since the service began; what the Government's plans are for the service; and if she will make a statement. (199349)

A survey carried out during 2007 showed that some 8500 passengers per day use the Watford-Gatwick service, of whom fewer than 30 per cent. were making journeys from one side of Clapham Junction to the other, and fewer than 3 per cent. were making journeys to and from Gatwick airport.

I understand that Southern (the train operator) intend to make an announcement about plans for this service shortly.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to ensure that fuel counting towards the renewable transport fuel obligation is sourced only from sustainable and local supply chains; and if she will take steps against those producers, wholesalers and retailers which do not meet these requirements. (203637)

Under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which came into effect on 15 April, transport fuel suppliers are required to report on the sustainability of any biofuels in respect of which they wish to earn renewable transport fuel certificates. Details of the reporting requirements are available via the Renewable Fuels Agency's website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/rfa.

The Government have set various targets to encourage transport fuel suppliers to source sustainable, low carbon biofuels. The Renewable Fuels Agency will report regularly on the performance of different transport fuel suppliers against these targets.

In parallel, the Government are pressing for EU-wide mandatory sustainability standards for all biofuels: these could be in place by April 2010.

Roads: Tolls

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) plans to commission on enabling technologies for road pricing schemes; and what timetable is planned for such research in each case. (199522)

The Government have invited the private sector to demonstrate how they might run a system of charging for road use according to time of day and route chosen. On 12 March we issued, to eight pre-qualified bidders, the first invitation to tender in this two-year demonstrations project, for the framework for road user service providers. We expect that this framework agreement will be established during June 2008, with the first trials involving volunteers getting underway this autumn.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how her Department takes into account the average income of local residents when deciding on the level of tolls for river road crossings and tunnels for which it is responsible. (203582)

The only charging regime for which the Department for Transport is responsible is the scheme for the Dartford Crossing. Income of local residents is not specifically taken into account in setting charges.

Roundabouts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will issue guidance on providing pedestrian crossings at roundabouts that at night can be decoupled from the traffic lights that control their operation to increase traffic flow and reduce noise at such junctions at night. (203700)

The type of crossing and use of traffic lights depends on the type of roundabout and its location. The local highway authority is responsible for deciding the most appropriate type of crossing and junction control.

Department for Transport advice on pedestrian crossings is given in two Local Transport Notes, LTN 1/95 The Assessment of Pedestrian Crossings and LTN 2/95 The Design of Pedestrian Crossings. LTN 2/95 provides advice on pedestrian crossings on the approaches to roundabouts and at traffic light controlled junctions. This advice includes the need to consider linking crossings with other nearby traffic lights to co-ordinate when the lights change and ease traffic flow.

The Department has commissioned research to examine options for traffic lights at roundabouts. We will consider the need for further guidance when that research is complete.

Traffic Management Act 2004

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects to issue guidance to local authorities in respect of the issuing of fixed penalty notices under the Traffic Management Act 2004. (201263)

The Traffic Management Act 2004 amends the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 to allow the use of fixed penalties for certain offences, as an alternative to prosecution in the magistrates court. The “Code of Practice for the Co-ordination of Street Works and Works for Road Purposes and Related Matters” which was released in July 2007 and re-issued in the 31 March 2008, included a chapter on fixed penalties.

Wales

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what council tax band amendments in Wales were made subsequent to the 2005 council tax revaluation; and how many homes were moved into a higher band after the revaluation came into effect. (202920)

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department spent on carbon offsetting in each of the last three years; and to which companies payments for carbon offsetting have been made in each such year. (204096)

My Department has offset its carbon emissions for the last two years.

The costs, to the Wales Office, of offsets were:

April 2007—£4307.80

March 2008—£747.20.

On both occasions the carbon offsetting was through “PURE the clean planet Trust”.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which animal disease preventative measures the Government plans to include in cost-sharing arrangements with farmers. (203488)

A consultation on responsibility and cost sharing for animal health and welfare closed on 15 April. Responses to that consultation will inform a further public consultation on specific proposals later this autumn.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on a UK-wide animal health and welfare strategy. (203487)

An Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Britain was launched in 2004. Northern Ireland has a similar strategy and is currently consulting on a draft all-island strategy. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has appointed an advisory body, the England Implementation Group, to oversee delivery of the strategy in England. This group maintains links with its Scottish and Welsh counterparts to review British wide strategy implementation issues.

Badgers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cage traps for catching badgers his Department holds in store. (203082)

DEFRA does not hold in storage any cage traps for catching badgers. The traps that were used during the randomised badger culling trial have been disposed of.

The Central Science Laboratory (an agency of DEFRA) holds over 600 badger cage traps which are being used as part of DEFRA-funded research.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated badger population was in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years. (203083)

Surveys of badger populations in Great Britain were undertaken in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. In the mid-1980s the badger population was estimated to be 250,000 and in the mid-1990s a survey estimated the population had increased by 77 per cent.

DEFRA is not aware of any national surveys which have attempted to estimate badger populations in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice he has received on the potential effectiveness of a tuberculosis vaccine for badgers if given to an already infected animal. (203084)

Vaccination evokes an immune response to prevent an uninfected animal from contracting the disease. The effect of Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccination on already TB-infected badgers is unknown, but work is under way to determine this. It may have no effect, may delay or reduce excretion of TB bacilli, but is not expected to have any adverse effect.

Ecologists have advised that the turnover in a badger population is 30 per cent. per annum and modelling has shown that in a relatively short timescale there would be a mostly naïve uninfected population in which vaccine would become more effective.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information (a) is held by and (b) has been provided to each Divisional Veterinary Officer on the relocation of badgers from urban and suburban areas to rural areas. (203085)

This information is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost to the Department.

Biofuels: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department is undertaking on the environmental impact of biofuels. (202824)

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) includes a reporting mechanism under which any transport fuel supplier wishing to claim a certificate in respect of any biofuel must submit a report detailing its environmental impacts. These reports will enable the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) to report regularly on the progress that is being made towards meeting targets under the obligation, as well as on the carbon savings and sustainability impacts of the policy.

In response to Government concern about the indirect impacts of biofuel cultivation, the chairman of the Renewable Fuels Agency is leading a study commissioned by the Department for Transport (the Gallagher Review) which is looking at effects of biofuels on land use change and the consequences for greenhouse gas savings. It is also examining the effects on international food prices and food security. The results of the review will inform the development of future UK biofuel policies and targets, including proposed EU targets for future biofuel consumption.

Birds: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' plans for sites of special scientific interest land in Castle Point constituency; and if he will make a statement. (203665)

Natural England is DEFRA's delivery body for sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and it has received no proposals from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in relation to plans for SSSIs in Castle Point.

Bluetongue Disease: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures are used to ensure that imported exotic livestock which are susceptible to or may be infected with bluetongue disease are kept in an insect-free environment for the duration of their quarantine. (203079)

The UK fully implements EU legislation with respect to imports of exotic ruminant animals from outside the EU. These rules take into account the full range of disease risks and are consequently very restrictive. In practice, such imports rarely occur so the question of quarantine does not arise.

Movements of exotic ruminants within the EU are subject to the same rules as those for farm livestock. There are a number of options based on combinations of protection from insect vector attack, blood testing and vaccination, all of which are carried out before departure and certified by the official veterinary services of the exporting country. These rules are kept under constant review in the light of experience and emerging science.

Once animals have arrived in the UK, they are restricted to the premises of destination and tested for bluetongue within two days of arrival. In exotic species, testing is carried out on the basis of a risk assessment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with manufacturers of Bt8 vaccine other than Intervet on supplying the UK market. (203080)

Since the Government decided to place an order with Intervet for 22.5 million doses of BTV-8 vaccine following a tender issued last year, DEFRA officials have met representatives from Merial and Fort Dodge to give them feedback on the tender process.

We are considering with the farming industry how best to secure future supplies of vaccine and will keep our options under review in the coming weeks.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) from which individuals and organisations his Department has sought advice on modifications to the table valuation system for compensation for cattle culled as a result of bovine tuberculosis in the last 12 months; (203451)

(2) what options for modifications to the table valuation system for compensation for cattle culled as a result of bovine tuberculosis he has considered;

(3) when he expects to make modifications to the table valuation system for compensation for cattle culled as a result of bovine tuberculosis.

The Government recognise that the new compensation system, based on table valuations, which was introduced in February 2006, is not supported by many in the farming industry.

DEFRA has not ruled out the possibility of changes to the current compensation system, but any changes would need to be justified and take into account the interests of all parties, including taxpayers. They would also need to take account of the extensive evidence in the level of over-valuation experienced under the previous system based on individual valuations. DEFRA held discussions with members of the Cattle Compensation Advisory Group about possible modifications to the new system without reaching any consensus. Discussions have also taken place with representatives from the organic farming sector to consider their view that system enhancements are needed for organically produced cattle.

A Judicial Review challenge concerning the table valuation system will be heard in the High Court in early June and any decisions about modifications to the system will take into account the judgment in that case.

Burbots: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the request from the University of Southampton, London Zoo and the Environment Agency for an import licence for burbots. (203816)

We are in dialogue with the University of Southampton, London Zoo and the Environment Agency and are working collaboratively to find a solution to this situation.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) wildlife trusts and (b) gardening associations on their evaluation of the impact of climate change; and what encouragement he is giving to them to measure that impact. (198240)

I am in regular contact with a wide range of interest groups on the impact of climate change.

The England Biodiversity Group, chaired by DEFRA, oversees the delivery of the England Biodiversity Strategy which has several workstreams including Climate Change Adaptation. A number of national and local members of Wildlife Trusts are active members of different workstreams within the strategy and have the opportunity to offer their views on climate change and to influence the workstreams plans towards adaptation. In 2007 the UK Biodiversity Partnership Standing Committee published “Conserving Biodiversity—the UK Approach” a new strategic framework for the UK biodiversity action plan, which identified shared priorities for action for priority species and habitats, acknowledging the need to help biodiversity respond to climate change. The Wildlife Trusts belong to the Wildlife and Countryside Link who are members of the UK Biodiversity Partnership Standing Committee.

DEFRA has had discussions with members of the Growing Media Initiative (GMI), an industry-led group which has been set up to meet targets for the reduction of peat use in horticulture/gardening. A new project has also been funded by DEFRA to examine the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction, production, processing, transport and use of growing media used by this sector and members of the GMI are involved in the Project Steering Group. In addition, DEFRA is aware that a number of growing media manufacturers and retailers are undertaking work to determine the carbon footprint of their products. DEFRA funds the UK Climate Impacts Programme, which will be hosting a stall at this year’s Chelsea Flower show to promote awareness of current and projected climate change impacts.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which offices of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are outside London; how many staff were employed in each pay grade at each location on (i) 1 October 2001 and (ii) 1 April 2004; and how many are planned to be employed at each location on 31 March 2008. (180757)

DEFRA has offices outside London at the following locations: Alnwick, Aston Down, Belfast, Beverley, Boston, Bristol Burghill Road, Bristol Temple Quay House, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge Eastbrook, Cambridge White House Lane, Cardiff Cathays Park, Cardiff Llanishen, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chichester, Chorley, Crewe Electra Way, Edinburgh, Exeter, Felixstowe, Gatwick, Guildford, Heathrow AHO, Heathrow PHSI, Hereford, Kings Lynn, Leeds, Lewes, Lincoln, Newcastle, Northallerton, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Peterborough, Polwhele, Reading Coley Park, Reading Kings House, Reading Innovation Centre, Sheerness, Shrewsbury, St. Asaph, Stafford, Stevenage, Swansea, Taunton Quantock House, Taunton Riverside Chambers, Tilbury, Trowbridge, Truro, Tunbridge Wells, Weybridge, Winchester, Witney, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Workington, Wye and York.

DEFRA's agencies have offices outside London as follows:

Animal Health:

Aberystwyth, Ashford, Ayr, Bakewell, Beverley, Boston, Bristol, Bristol Temple Quay House, Bury St. Edmunds, Caernarfon, Cambridge, Cardiff, Carlisle, Carmarthen, Chelmsford, Chorley, Crewe, Dorchester, Dover, Dumfries, Elgin, Exeter, Galashiels, Gloucester, Hamilton, Heathrow, Inverness, Inverurie, Itchen Abbas, Kirkwall, Launceston, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Llandrindod Wells, Llanishen, Luddington, Maidstone, Newcastle, Northallerton, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oban, Oxford, Perth, Preston, Reading, Reigate, Shrewsbury, St. Asaph, Stafford, Stevenage, Stranraer, Taunton, Thurso, Trowbridge, Truro, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Wye and York.

Central Science Laboratory:

Sand Hutton York and Woodchester Park

Gloucestershire.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture:

Burnham, Lowestoft, Weymouth

Government Decontamination Service:

Crewe and Stafford.

Marine and Fisheries Agency:

Amble, Brixham, Fleetwood, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Harwich, Hastings, Holyhead, Kings Lynn, Lowestoft, Milford Haven, Newlyn, North Shield, Penryn, Penzance, Plymouth, Poole, Portslade, Portsmouth, Scarborough and Whitehaven.

Pesticides Safety Directorate:

York Foss House and York Mallard House.

Rural Payments Agency:

Reading, Carlisle, Exeter, Newcastle, Northallerton and Workington.

Veterinary Laboratories Agency:

Aberystwyth, Bury St Edmunds, Carmarthen, Langford, Lasswade, Luddington, Newcastle, Penrith, Preston, Shrewsbury, Starcross, Sutton Bonnington, Thirsk, Truro, Weybridge and Winchester.

Veterinary Medicines Directorate:

Addlestone

The number of staff in grade at each location for CSL and RPA are shown in the following tables. Information on the number of staff in each pay grade at each location for DEFRA, AH, CEFAS, GDS, MFA, PSD, VLA and VMD is not available for the dates requested.

Central Science Laboratory

Number

Staff by grade and location - 1 October 2001

SCS

Band 7

Band 6

Band 5

Band 4

Band 3

Band 2

Band 1

Total

Sand Hutton

4.00

16.61

43.00

68.45

120.93

125.40

164.96

36.61

579.96

Woodchester Park

0.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

3.00

3.81

6.00

0.54

16.35

Other

0.00

1.00

1.00

2.00

9.54

15.15

6.00

10.50

45.19

Staff by location and grade - 1 April 2004

SCS

Band 7

Band 6

Band 5

Band 4

Band 3

Band 2

Band 1

Total

Sand Hutton

4.00

17.00

54.25

83.11

123.86

157.25

159.14

39.76

638.37

Woodchester Park

0.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

3.00

7.81

3.00

0.54

17.35

Other

0.00

1.00

1.00

2.00

9.54

5.00

13.00

1.00

32.54

Forecasted staff by location and grade - 31 March 2008

SCS

Band 7

Band 6

Band 5

Band 4

Band 3

Band 2

Band 1

Total

Sand Hutton

4.00

13.00

55.22

87.53

117.58

149.22

127.02

29.78

583.35

Woodchester Park

0.00

0.00

2.00

1.92

6.00

7.00

10.00

0.43

27.35

Other

0.00

0.00

1.00

1.00

9.54

5.00

4.81

0.00

21.35

Note: ‘Other’ category contains home-based staff and others not based at either main CSL site.

Rural Payments Agency

Staff by grade and location - 1 October 2001

Location

SCS

G6

G7

SFO

SEO

HEO

EO

Bristol

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

3.00

19.00

Cambridge

0.00

1.00

0.00

0.00

1.00

6.00

34.00

Carlisle

0.00

0.00

2.00

0.00

5.00

14.73

70.69

Crewe

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

2.00

9.81

Exeter

0.00

1.00

1.00

0.00

3.00

14.00

57.17

Inspectorate

0.00

0.00

3.00

2.00

10.00

22.49

97.96

Newcastle

0.00

1.00

6.00

0.00

9.00

32.86

116.09

Nottingham

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

5.81

50.00

Reading

5.92

10.00

37.28

0.00

55.58

137.59

250.24

Worcester

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

19.00

Grand Total

5.92

13.00

49.28

2.00

83.58

238.49

723.96

Location

PS

AO

SGB1

AA

TYPIST

SGB2

Grand Total

Bristol

0.00

14.00

0.00

5.00

0.00

0.00

41.00

Cambridge

0.00

59.28

0.00

17.54

1.00

0.00

119.82

Carlisle

0.61

95.68

1.00

81.01

4.11

2.00

276.82

Crewe

0.00

59.67

0.00

20.00

0.65

0.00

92.13

Exeter

1.00

180.64

2.11

58.01

1.69

2.00

321.62

Inspectorate

1.00

14.54

0.00

6.00

0.00

0.00

156.99

Newcastle

1.00

298.68

3.00

90.66

6.81

11.00

576.10

Nottingham

0.00

86.11

0.00

27.00

2.00

0.00

170.92

Reading

11.54

632.60

4.68

131.72

7.89

13.95

1298.99

Worcester

0.00

4.00

0.00

4.00

0.00

0.00

27.00

Grand Total

15.15

1445.20

10.78

440.94

24.15

28.95

3,081.39

Staff by Location and Grade - 1 April 2004

Location

SCS

GR6

GR7

SFO

SEO

HEO

EO

Reading

9.00

7.00

27.81

0.00

59.56

124.77

163.28

Cambridge

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Carlisle

0.00

1.00

3.00

0.00

5.86

15.94

51.37

Crewe

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

1.00

2.00

11.62

Exeter

0.00

1.00

2.00

0.00

5.00

16.86

55.43

Newcastle

0.00

1.00

2.00

0.00

7.00

23.68

55.26

Northallerton

0.00

1.00

2.00

0.00

5.00

16.46

39.68

Nottingham

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

1.00

3.81

13.62

Workington

1.00

0.00

3.00

0.00

6.00

18.83

71.34

Inspectorate

0.00

1.00

7.00

2.00

17.00

23.00

295.45

Total

10.00

12.00

46.81

2.00

107.42

245.35

757.05

Location

PS

AO

SGB1

AA

TYPIST

SGB2

Grand Total

Reading

6.00

356.54

2.00

4.00

27.39

7.81

795.16

Cambridge

0.00

2.00

0.00

0.00

0.74

0.00

2.74

Carlisle

0.68

155.02

0.00

2.50

95.74

1.00

332.11

Crewe

0.00

52.88

0.00

0.76

29.00

1.00

98.26

Exeter

1.00

225.61

1.55

0.00

107.22

5.00

420.67

Newcastle

0.86

229.12

1.00

0.81

78.21

5.41

404.35

Northallerton

1.00

221.44

1.49

0.93

135.98

4.00

428.98

Nottingham

0.00

99.35

0.00

2.59

41.43

1.00

162.80

Workington

2.00

311.63

15.34

0.00

41.58

0.00

470.72

Inspectorate

0.00

61.65

0.00

0.00

15.08

0.00

422.18

Total

11.54

1,715.24

21.38

11.59

572.37

25.22

3,537.97

Forecasted staff by location and grade - 31 March 2008

Location

SCS

GR6

GR7

SFO

SEO

HEO

EO

Reading

9.00

18.00

51.26

0.00

87.57

152.18

188.88

Carlisle

0.00

1.00

4.81

0.00

9.61

26.41

80.50

Exeter

0.00

1.00

4.00

0.00

6.94

24.60

89.57

Newcastle

0.00

1.00

5.00

0.00

15.39

30.83

100.58

Northallerton

0.00

2.00

5.93

0.00

12.80

33.68

91.95

Workington

0.00

1.00

6.00

0.00

9.41

25.31

110.00

Inspectorate

0.00

1.00

5.00

1.00

27.00

73.04

319.02

Total

9.00

25.00

82.00

1.00

168.72

366.05

980.50

SCS

GR6

GR7

SFO

SEO

HEO

EO

Reading

0.00

165.31

1.00

0.00

2.00

2.00

677.20

Carlisle

0.00

282.11

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

404.44

Exeter

0.00

217.50

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

343.61

Newcastle

0.00

245.79

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

398.59

Northallerton

0.00

237.89

2.68

0.00

0.00

1.00

387.93

Workington

0.00

584.56

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

736.28

Inspectorate

0.00

32.36

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

458.42

Total

0.00

1,765.52

3.68

0.00

2.00

3.00

3,406.47

Departmental NDPBs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were serving on the boards of the non-departmental public bodies which his Department sponsors at the latest date for which figures are available. (203597)

[holding answer 6 May 2008]: The Cabinet Office publication “Public bodies 2007” lists the number of people serving on the boards of public bodies as at 31 March 2007. These figures are broken down by individual Departments. “Public bodies 2007” can be downloaded from

www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public/bodies.asp.

Copies are also available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many full-time posts were filled on a temporary basis for a period in excess of six months in his Department in each of the last three years. (200661)

Posts may be filled temporarily by a variety of means, eg using short-term appointments, temporary promotion, employment agency temporary staff or interims. Consequently, it is not possible to identify all posts filled temporarily for longer than six months without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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. (201758)

Information to the level of detail requested is obtainable only at disproportionate cost.

The available information is set out in the following tables.

Total written questions received

Total number of PQs answered within five sitting days

Percentage

November

559

357

63.9

December

359

220

61.3

January

425

265

62.4

February

407

286

70.3

March

371

256

69

Total named day questions received

Total number of PQs answered on time

Percentage

November

133

49

36.8

December

67

27

40.3

January

143

61

42.7

February

69

33

47.8

March

71

20

28.2

My ministerial colleagues and I are committed to answering written parliamentary questions promptly. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Energy Saving Trust: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what payments the Energy Savings Trust made to (a) Stratagem, (b) Weber Shandwick Public Affairs, (c) Consolidated Communications and (d) Positif Politics Ltd. in each of the last five years; and on what date and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. (202293)

Environment Protection: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to his Department's press release of 2 April 2008 on initiatives on greener homes, by what criteria green neighbourhoods will be selected; and what role he expects local authorities to play in the selection process. (202952)

The Energy Saving Trust are currently working with a range of stakeholders to develop the programme with an aim to launch the competition for funding proposals by the end of the year. We expect the first successful projects to be funded from April 2009.

The competition will call for local alliances between householders, community groups, local authorities, energy suppliers, private companies and banks to come forward with proposals to transform homes and streets into green neighbourhoods. By pooling their resources, and with additional money made available from the domestic Environmental Transformation Fund, we wish to see the environmental performance of up to 100 such neighbourhoods across England transformed, with the aim of reducing their carbon footprints by over 60 per cent.

Fisheries: Trade Competitiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the fuel subsidy given by Spain to its fishing industry on the competitiveness of the British fleet. (203201)

[holding answer given 1 May 2008]: European Union (EU) state aid rules designed to prevent distortion to competition do not require the EU Commission clearance of an aid scheme or schemes which cumulatively pay less than £30,000 per recipient over three years. I understand that the Spanish Government are paying aid to its fishing fleet at a level below this “de minimis” limit and hence, no assessment has been made.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Environment Agency will publish its Strategy for Flood Risk Management for 2009 to 2014. (202515)

Flood Control: Gloucestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what analysis of critical infrastructure facilities has been undertaken in respect of Gloucestershire since July 2007; what additional protection has been put in place as a result; and what consideration has been given to the relocation of critical infrastructure. (201796)

During the Gloucestershire floods, electricity supplies were disrupted due to flooding of the Castlemeads electricity distribution substation. In addition, the larger Walham electricity transmission substation required urgent flood protection measures to be carried out to prevent the site from being flooded. Both of these substations now have permanent flood protection barriers in place.

A review into the resilience of electricity substations to flooding was initiated by the Energy Minister. It is being led by the Energy Networks Association with support from network owners, BERR, Ofgem and the Environment Agency. This review has made contributions to Sir Michael Pitt’s review into learning lessons from the 2007 floods and has developed a framework for assessing flood risk and mitigation measures that will be used to assess the situation at each of the major electricity substations during the remainder of 2008.

Severn Trent Water has been developing plans to secure alternative piped water supplies to Gloucestershire in the event of losing either Mythe or Mitcheldean Water Treatment Works. These plans are not limited to providing additional flood protection at the works and include such things as new pumping stations and improved interconnectivity between the works at Mythe and Strensham. The company presented outline proposals to Gloucestershire Overview and Scrutiny Management committee on 31 March 2008.

Fly Tipping: Enfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted for fly-tipping in the London borough of Enfield in each of the last five years. (202863)

Data are only available from 2004 onwards.

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

Following the release of the 2006-07 Flycapture statistics on 9 October 2007, this information has been sent to all MPs.

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

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

Food: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the relationship between biofuels and rising food prices; and if he will make a statement. (202551)

We have received various representations on this issue from both hon. Members and the public.

The Government are concerned about the effect of rising food prices. Although not the main cause, the demand for biofuels is a contributing factor. Other factors include adverse weather conditions affecting recent harvests, the increasing demand for meat and hence for animal feed in developing countries, trade restrictions imposed by Governments on exports and higher production costs, such as a rise in fertiliser prices.

Horses: Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his officials last raised with the European Commission the ban on the import of UK thoroughbred bloodstock by the Indian Government. (203077)

DEFRA has raised the issue of the ban on the export of breeding horses to India with the European Commission (and others) several times over many years, most recently in March this year. We will continue to do so as we and the Commission is very keen to resolve this long-standing issue in line with international protocol (World Animal Health Organisation) for Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM). The Commission has recently urged the Indian authorities to accept our invitation to visit the UK to see our CEM controls but the Indians have not so far taken up the offer. The Indian ban affects all countries in which CEM has occurred in the past three years, which includes other member states.

National Parks: Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty from the effects of aircraft noise pollution. (203292)

DEFRA has no formal role to play in how airspace is utilised. The Civil Aviation Authority is charged with scrutinising airspace change proposals and reaching a decision on them, balancing all the competing interests. I understand that Department for Transport guidance requires the Civil Aviation Authority to be rigorous in identifying and reviewing all significant environmental effects of airspace changes, and to notify the Secretary of State for Transport should an airspace change have a significant detrimental effect on the environment.

However, I recently asked my officials to write to the Civil Aviation Authority to remind it of its duty to have regard to the purposes of the National Parks under the provisions of section 11A(2) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and the purpose of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty under the provisions of section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Nature Conservation: Wildlife

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken to increase the protection of endangered species. (202524)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: Species protection has both national and international facets to it, and recent steps to improve protection have included the following:

Following advice from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the water vole, short-snouted seahorse, spiny seahorse, roman snail and angel shark have now been given enhanced protection in England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

On 28 August 2007, I announced a new UK list of priority species and habitats (containing 1,149 species), which provides a focus for conservation action over the next decade and will be used to inform statutory lists under legislation in each of the countries of the UK.

In August last year, we brought into force regulations that increased the protection of species listed on annex IV of the habitats directive.

On the wider international stage, at the 2007 Conference of Parties to the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES), the UK fully supported the increased protection of a range of species affected by international trade including the slow loris, the European eel and brazilwood. During 2007-08, DEFRA provided funding of around £1 million towards the operation of CITES and other major conventions, most notably the convention on biological diversity (CBD) including targeted funding for specific projects to protect and conserve albatrosses and petrels, migratory sharks, African elephants, Indian ocean marine turtles and tigers. In addition, DEFRA provided £75,000 for the Flagship Species Fund, which included projects on endangered sea turtles, primates and conifers.

Office of Water Services: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial contributions water companies make to Ofwat. (200318)

Ofwat’s expenditure is entirely funded through licence fees paid by appointed and licensed water companies in England and Wales. The fees recovered in 2007-08 came to a total of £12.4 million.

Packaging: Supermarkets

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to encourage (a) supermarket shoppers to re-use plastic bags and (b) supermarkets to use less packaging; and if he will introduce schemes encouraging supermarkets to provide fewer plastic bags to shoppers. (202719)

The Government pledged in the “Waste Strategy for England 2007” to phase out free single-use carrier bags.

The UK retail sector set itself a shared objective with the Government and the Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags by 25 per cent. by the end of 2008.

The Prime Minister announced on 19 November 2007 that we needed to go further—to eliminate single-use carrier bags altogether in favour of long-lasting and more sustainable alternatives. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget on 12 March that we will introduce legislation to impose a charge on single-use carrier bags in 2009 if we have not seen sufficient progress on a voluntary basis.

The management of packaging and packaging waste is covered by two sets of regulations in the UK: the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 and the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended). The aim of both sets of regulations is to minimise the amount of packaging used in the first place, and therefore reduce packaging waste. An additional objective of the regulations is to encourage reuse of packaging and increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.

My Department continues to encourage supermarkets to take greater responsibility for the waste they place on the market and to encourage producers to reduce their waste. Apart from the two sets of packaging regulations described above, WRAP is currently working with retailers through the ‘Courtauld Commitment’, a voluntary agreement which aimed to halt packaging growth by March this year and make absolute reductions in packaging waste by 2010.

Pest Control: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of local authorities charging for pest control services at the latest date for which figures are available according to estimates of (a) his Department and (b) the Audit Commission. (202555)

DEFRA holds no information on either the number or proportion of local authorities which charge for pest control services. It is for local authorities to decide on the most appropriate pest control programme in their own area, whilst having regard to their duties for controlling rats and mice under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949.

Pests

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what statistics his Department collects on (a) the size of the rodent population and (b) incidences of vermin infestation in England. (202951)

DEFRA does not collect statistics on the size of rodent populations. DEFRA will shortly be publishing an interim report on rodent presence in domestic properties as revealed by the English House Condition Survey data for 2002-03 and 2003-04. Key findings are that the occurrences of rats inside and outside properties in these years are not significantly different from those observed in 2001.

Plastic Bags

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of plastic bags used (a) by supermarket shoppers in the last 12 months and (b) in England in the last 10 years. (202718)

The Waste and Resources Action programme (WRAP) estimates that over 13 billion carrier bags are distributed in the UK each year. Of these, the supermarket signatories to the WRAP's voluntary agreement on carrier bags accounted for 12.7 billion bags in 2006 and 11.6 billion in 2007, of which 89 per cent. were plastic in 2006 and 80 per cent. were plastic in 2007.

We do not have figures predating this, or for England only.

Seals: Canada

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he last discussed the seal hunt in Canada with the Canadian Government; and if he will make a statement. (203811)

The last meeting with the Canadian Government at ministerial level took place on 28 March 2007 when Ian McCartney, the then joint Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), together with officials from DTI, FCO and DEFRA, met with a delegation from Canada to discuss the seal hunt.

More recently, officials from my Department, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and FCO, met with a delegation from Canada on 31 March this year to discuss the Canadian seal hunt.

I also wrote to the Canadian High Commissioner on 22 April agreeing to a meeting with me, or Ministerial colleagues at BERR or FCO, once the EU-commissioned report on the impact of any regulatory or other EU-wide measures in response to seal hunting has been published.

Sheep: Electronic Tagging

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the compulsory use of electronic identification for sheep; and if he will make a statement. (203078)

EC Council Regulation 21/2004 provides for the mandatory introduction of electronic identification (EID) of sheep and goats from 31 December 2009 for member states with flocks above a certain threshold number. In the UK only sheep will have to be electronically identified. We will be working in partnership with industry over the coming months to discuss how we can implement EID in a way which is practical and which the industry can make work.

Waste Disposal: Closed Circuit Television

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on the use of CCTV footage to monitor waste disposal. (202942)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 14 January 2008, Official Report, column 858W.

In addition, I can advise that local authorities are responsible for planning and monitoring their CCTV systems and that there has been no guidance issued by my Department on their use at municipal waste facilities or to monitor recycling.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken to improve local waste management. (202985)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: Waste Strategy 2007 outlines the role of local authorities in working towards improvements in local waste management.

My Department has recently announced that it has awarded PFI credits to four projects across England to improve local waste management. The projects will help local authorities deliver carbon benefits and divert over a million tonnes of waste from landfill. Each of the four projects will support the local authority’s waste ambitions. All aim to reduce the overall amount of waste created, and it is anticipated they all will deliver a minimum of a 50 per cent. recycling rate by 2020, with some aspiring to reach 60 per cent.

My Department is also consulting on draft regulations and draft guidance for proposals for establishing joint waste authorities in England. The consultation outlines that neighbouring local authorities, working together, can deliver better integrated and cost-effective waste services.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which is partly funded by the Government, continues to support local authorities in their work to deliver better recycling services and more waste reduction.

World War II: Medals

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how long on average it took for a successful applicant for the Women's Land Army Award to receive their badge in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (203467)

There have been over 28,000 applications for the Women's Land Army and Timber Corps badge. The badges are currently being manufactured and it is anticipated that they will be distributed to all applicants towards the end of June 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications his Department had received for the Women’s Land Army Award at the latest date for which figures are available; how many of those applications had been acknowledged; and if he will make a statement. (203471)

We have received approximately 28,200 applications for the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps badge. Completed application forms have not been acknowledged due to the high volumes received. However, all other written correspondence, approximately 3,000 pieces, has been acknowledged.

Treasury

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer of 10 September 2007, Official Report, column 1969W, on council tax: valuation, if he will place in the Library a copy of the agreement between the Valuation Office Agency and the IDeA in relation to Valuebill, redacting any commercially confidential elements. (203027)

The Valuation Office Agency does not have a formal agreement with IDeA in relation to Valuebill.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the Gate 4 review of the valuations project undertaken in relation to the Valuation Office Agency’s planned council tax revaluation in England. (203124)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) on 24 July 2007, Official Report, column 1017W.

Excise Duties: Fuels

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount of duty paid by consumers on vehicle fuel sold in the UK in each of the last five years. (203815)

The total excise duty raised on the quantities of vehicle fuel released for consumption is published in table 3 of the Hydrocarbon Oils Bulletin. This can be found at:

http://www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm?task=bulloil.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 227W, on housing: valuation, what technical name or definition was given to the localities referred to for the purposes of the automated valuation model; what co-efficient value was given to each locality for regression analysis; and what unique reference number or other identifier was given to each locality. (203029)

There is no other technical name for localities as used by the Valuation Office Agency in the context of its automated valuation models. The Agency has defined a locality as being an area that is subject to the same, or similar, market forces. In the multiple regression analysis, coefficients generated for localities differ from locality to locality. The coefficient generated for each of approximately 10,000 localities in England could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Every ‘live’ locality within a Billing Authority area is allocated a unique number.

Income Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the amount of income tax which would otherwise have accrued to the Exchequer from those who have (a) taken early retirement and (b) moved from full-time to part-time work at each year from age 55 up to the state retirement age in each of the last three years. (203481)

Taxation: Fuels

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much VAT revenue was raised from the sale of road fuel in each of the last 60 months for which figures are available; (203945)

(2) if he will estimate the average percentage of average household disposable income accounted for by (a) the purchase of road fuel and (b) the duty and VAT payable on road fuel in each of the last (i) five years and (ii) 12 months;

(3) what projections his Department has made of the amounts of revenue that would be raised annually from (a) road fuel duty and (b) VAT on road fuel if the price of oil was (i) 120, (ii) 130, (iii) 140 and (iv) 150 US dollars per barrel;

HM Revenue and Customs does not collect data on VAT from individual goods and services.

Annual estimates of the percentage of disposable household income accounted for by road fuels and duty and VAT payable on road fuels can be calculated from data held in the House of Commons Library. Data on average household income and expenditure are available from the Expenditure and Food Survey, published by the Office for National Statistics. Data on average road fuel prices per litre and average duty rates are contained in the “Tax Benefit Reference Manual”. Data are not available on a monthly basis.

No projections of revenues at hypothetical levels of oil price have been made.

Valuation Office: Databases

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what use the Valuation Office Agency’s District Valuer Services makes of dwelling house coding for domestic properties. (203130)

District Valuer Services makes use of dwelling house codes to assist in the valuation of domestic property, and analysis of transaction information.

Valuation Office: Rightmove

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contracts have been awarded to Rightmove.co.uk plc by (a) the Valuation Office Agency and (b) HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor on behalf of the Valuation Office Agency since 2001; at what cost; and for what purpose. (203125)

One such contract has been awarded, a copy of which has been placed in the Library following a request from the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), answered on 10 September 2007, Official Report, column 1969W.

Valuation: ICT

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2008, Official Report, column 508W, on valuation: ICT, how many localities are allocated to each billing authority area. (203028)

Working Tax Credit

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of those claiming the child care element of working tax credit have been reported as not using formal child care in each year for which figures are available. (202834)

This information is not held in the format requested. However, I refer the hon. Member to the Child and Working Tax Credit Error and Fraud Statistics available on HMRC’s website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/error-fraud.htm

Defence

Air Force: Labour Turnover

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people have (a) joined and (b) left the Royal Air Force since 2005. (203772)

The information requested is reported in TSP1—Strength, Intake and Outflow of UK Regular Forces, and TSP4—Quarterly Manning Report, which provide a full and detailed breakdown of the figures requested. Copies of these are available in the Library of the House. These publications are also available on the Defence Analytical Services and Advice website at:

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp1/gender.html

and

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp4/commentary.html

Air Force: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of training a new Royal Air Force recruit to the level of a fully operational fighter pilot. (203674)

Royal Air Force pilots continue to train throughout their careers and are considered to be combat ready after they have completed Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) training and a period of post OCU training on an allocated squadron. Costs of this training are shown in the following table by fast jet type.

£ million

Aircraft

Cost of training a pilot up to Operational Conversion Unit

Cost of training a pilot in OCU and post OCU to combat ready status

Total

Harrier

3.1

7.51

10.61

Tornado F3

3.1

4.04

7. 14

Tornado GR4

3.1

3.59

6.69

Typhoon

3.1

9.22

12.32

Armed Forces: Cadets

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cadet forces were disbanded in each year since 1997. (199490)

The MOD sponsors four cadet forces: the Combined Cadet Force; the Sea Cadet Corps; the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps. All four cadet forces have a long history and none have been disbanded.

Individual contingents/units/detachments/squadrons within each cadet force are formed and disbanded as the particular demands and aspirations of the communities they serve fluctuate. Information has not previously been held centrally. However, since 2007 the net change in cadet units is:

Combined Cadet Force—net gain 18 contingents.

Sea Cadet Corps—net loss nine units.

Army Cadet Force—net gain 22 detachments.

Air Training Corps—net gain two squadrons.

Armed Forces: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel were dishonourably discharged for drug abuse in each of the last five years. (203676)

The following number of British servicemen have been discharged ‘Services No Longer Required’, which is a dishonourable discharge, in each of the last five years for failing compulsory drug testing.

Number

2003

476

2004

492

2005

632

2006

669

2007

665

Armed Forces: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1645W, on armed forces: insurance, for what reasons Territorial Army personnel are treated differently from the Regular Army for insurance cover while on deployment; and for what reasons the company Abacus refuses Territorial Army personnel cover during deployments. (202971)

As I explained in my answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1645W, MOD facilitates the PAX, RPAX and Service Life insurance (SLI) schemes by means of contracts with the commercial providers. The cover for SLI is the same for TA as for regulars and that for RPAX will replicate the PAX cover in the near future. I understand that my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State will be writing soon, in response to an issue you raised during the recent debate on the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Territorial Army, to explain that the premiums for SLI are the same for the TA as for regulars and that RPAX will remain cheaper than PAX even when the premium increase has been applied.

PAX and RPAX have different insurers but the same brokers. They are intended to run in parallel with the same cover, but with RPAX premiums slightly cheaper. It was decided to implement the PAX changes first because PAX is the larger scheme.

In addition to PAX RPAX and SLI there are a number of private insurance schemes available to Service personnel which MOD does not facilitate; the scheme provided by Abacus is one of these. We do not have contracts with the providers of these schemes and are unable to comment on the cover which they provide.

Armed Forces: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) value of (i) under-payments and (ii) over-payments to service personnel in each month between January and November 2007; and if he will make a statement. (203501)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my noble Friend, the Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support to the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, in another place, Official Report, columns WA2-4.

Armed Forces: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many forces widows were in receipt of a pension from the Armed Forces Pension Scheme at the latest date for which figures are available. (202150)

The number of widows, widowers and surviving partners in receipt of a pension from the Armed Forces Pension Scheme as at 1 January 2008 is 63,496.

Armed Forces: Personnel Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many hours of Joint Personnel Administration training are required before personnel become qualified; (202354)

(2) how many people in his Department were trained in Joint Personnel Administration in each year since 2005;

(3) how much his Department spent on Joint Personnel Administration training in each year since 2005.

The amount of training required varies according to the individual or their role. All self-service users complete a mandatory three hour e-learning Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) training package, whereas a Human Resources (HR) administrator will receive at least 80 hours of training, with additional training given as they progress through the ranks or are assigned to different roles. Other administrators complete training of a type and length appropriate to their role.

To date, some 201,300 self-service users have undertaken the e-learning JPA training package. The number of HR administrators who have completed training in each financial year since 2005 are as follows:

Financial year

Number of personnel trained

2005-06

1,219

2006-07

7,072

2007-08

1,054

Note:

The high number of HR administrators trained during financial year 2006-07 was due to 6,835 Army HR administrators being trained in readiness for the roll out of JPA to the Army in March 2007.

The cost of JPA training in each year since 2005 is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel were serving sentences in military prisons, at the latest date for which figures are available. (203671)

As at 1 May, there were 145 British service personnel serving sentences at the Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester.

The Military Corrective Training Centre is not a prison. It is a military unit established for military corrective training. The majority of detainees are not sentenced for criminal offences, and return to their military duties on release; for example, a soldier would be sent there as a punishment for going absent without leave.

Armed Forces: Resignations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel left (a) the Army, (b) the Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force prematurely in each of the last 10 years. (203673)

Voluntary outflow figures for the services in each of the last 10 years can be found in Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 5—Trained Outflow to Civil Life. Monthly figures show the number of personnel who have outflowed in the previous 12 month period. TSP 5 is published monthly. The most recent publication presents outflow for the 12 months to 29 February 2008 and can be found at http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp5/tsp5tab5.html. Copies of TSP 5 are available in the Library of the House and also at

www.dasa.mod.uk.

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 55W, on the armed forces: training, how many (a) crew personnel, (b) pilots and (c) each type of aircraft participated in Arctic flying training during the winter training period of 2007. (203468)

48 pilots and 10 other aircrew personnel took part in Arctic flying training, during the winter training period of 2007. The number and type of aircraft which also participated are shown as follows:

Number

Type

5

Sea King Mk 4

3

Lynx Mk 7

2

Gazelle

3

Puma HCl

Army: Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the actual strength of Army officers of each rank is; and if he will make a statement on the position and retention of captains. (202970)

The Army officers’ strength as at 1 March 2008 is provided as follows:

Army Officers strength according to paid rank at 1 March 2008 1

Number

Major General to General

60

Brigadier

180

Colonel

580

Lieutenant Colonel

1,750

Major

4,710

Captain

4,690

Second Lieutenant and Lieutenant

1,710

1 All figures are provisional and are rounded in accordance with Defence Analytical Services and Advice conventions. Figures are for trained regular strengths only and therefore exclude Full Time Reserve Service, Gurkhas and Home Service Personnel of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Since 2004 there has been an increase in the number of Army Captains seeking Voluntary Outflow (VO) from service but the total number in service has actually increased, resulting in a reduction of the deficit against requirement.

The Army continues to monitor VO carefully, and is looking at a number of positive measures to improve retention and further reduce the deficit of captains. These include examination of the officer career management structure and conditions of service, and the commissioning of a greater number of officers both from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and from the non-commissioned ranks.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to reduce its energy consumption in the last 12 months; and what his Department’s expenditure on energy was in (a) the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available and (b) the immediately preceding 12 months. (201778)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has made significant progress over the past 12 months in reducing energy consumption by taking such steps as improving building energy management and energy efficiency; installing more energy efficient lighting, automated metering and biomass boilers; focussing resources on the top 220 energy consuming defence sites; conducting audits; improving data management; making central funds available for energy efficiency/carbon emissions reduction projects; and embedding pro-rata energy efficiency targets into Service Delivery Agreement between MOD the Under-Secretary and the Department’s management areas.

The Department has published figures for utilities expenditure since 2000. The figure for 2006-07 and 2005-06 have been published in the Department’s accounts and are the latest figures available. The figures are:

Utilities

Financial year 2006-07 (£000)

Heating oil

33,335

Utilities consumption—USF

2,781

Gas

92,244

Electricity

170,459

Water and sewage

20,772

Total

319,591

Utilities

Financial year 2005-06 (£000)

Heating oil

30,913

Utilities consumption—USF

3,132

Gas

100,151

Electricity

141,186

Water and sewage

15,965

Total

291,347

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. (201757)

The information is not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, the following tables shows the number of ordinary written questions answered within five working and named day questions answered on the named day since October 2007.

Ordinary written questions

Month

Received

Answered within five working days

Percentage

October 2007

371

180

49

November 2007

373

139

37

December 2007

419

79

19

January 2008

353

141

40

February 2008

264

132

50

March 2008

374

162

43

Named day questions

Month

Received

Answered on or before the named day

Percentage

October 2007

77

23

30

November 2007

54

24

44

December 2007

53

17

32

January 2008

74

31

42

February 2008

48

26

54

March 2008

75

39

52

Total

Month

Received

Answered within five working days or on or before the named day

Percentage

October 2007

448

203

45

November 2007

427

163

38

December 2007

472

96

20

January 2008

427

172

40

February 2008

312

158

51

March 2008

449

201

44

Ex-servicemen: Unemployed

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of former service personnel who were unemployed in each year since 1997. (203454)

The Ministry of Defence does not collect statistics in such a form as to be able to make an estimate of the number of former service personnel who were unemployed in each year since 1997. Data do however show that 94 per cent. of service leavers looking for careers after service life are in employment six months after discharge.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel completed the Northern Ireland Surveillance Course as part of their predeployment training for deployment to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each year since 2003. (203399)

No service personnel have completed the Northern Ireland (NI) Surveillance Course as part of their predeployment training for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. This course ceased to run in December 2006.

The Operational Training and Advisory Group runs a Static Covert Surveillance (SCS) Course which was developed from the NI Surveillance Course and has been adapted to meet the specific requirements of each operational theatre.

The Iraq SCS course was first delivered in January 2005 and as at 1 May 2008 a total of 630 soldiers have completed this training prior to deployment to Iraq. The Afghanistan SCS course was first delivered in March 2007 and 305 soldiers will have completed this training by the end of the current training year on 31 March 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel have been court martialled for offences relating to the treatment of civilians and prisoners in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan since 2001. (203670)

28 service personnel have been court-martialled for offences relating to the treatment of civilians and prisoners in Iraq.

No service personnel have been court-martialled for offences relating to the treatment of civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan.

Kosovo: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the UK's commitment for NATO's Operational Reserve Force to arrive in Kosovo. (203216)

It is planned that the UK's commitment for the NATO Operational Reserve Force will be present in Kosovo and ready to begin its mission no later than 31 May 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what vehicles he expects British forces to use while serving as NATO's Operational Reserve Force in Kosovo. (203218)

The vehicles to be used by British forces serving as NATO's Operational Reserve Force in Kosovo include Snatch armoured Land Rovers, standard Land Rovers, Saxon personnel carriers, 4-ton trucks, battlefield ambulances and various engineering vehicles.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 16, on what date his Department (a) began and (b) completed pre-positioning equipment for the UK's commitment for NATO's Operational Reserve Force in Kosovo. (203288)

The pre-positioning of equipment in Kosovo for potential use by the UK troops operating as the NATO Operational Reserve Force began in early November 2007. The transportation of equipment will be completed by 31 May 2008, the date when the UK Battalion is due to be in Kosovo ready to begin its task.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 16, what equipment has been pre-positioned in Kosovo for the UK's commitment to NATO's Operational Reserve Force. (203289)

As of 30 April 2008, equipment that has been pre-positioned in Kosovo includes Snatch Land Rovers, standard Land Rovers, Saxon personnel carriers, 4-ton trucks, engineering equipment, vehicle spares, ammunition, food, riot control equipment (including shields and batons) and fuel.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 16, how many (a) C-17 Globemaster, (b) C-130K Hercules, (c) C-130J Hercules, (d) Tristar and (e) VC-10 aircraft sorties were flown to pre-position the equipment required for the UK's commitment to NATO's Operational Reserve Force in Kosovo. (203290)

Two sorties were flown by C-130J Hercules in order to deliver ammunition. The C-17 Globemaster, C-130K Hercules, Tristar and VC-10 have not to date been used to pre-position equipment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the oral answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 16, what estimate he has made of (a) the number of troops which can be sustained by the pre-positioned equipment provided for NATO’s Operational Reserve Force and (b) the length of time UK forces can be sustained with the equipment. (203291)

It is planned that the battalion assigned to the NATO Operational Reserve Force (approximately 600 troops) will be sustainable for 30 days from the date its mission in Kosovo begins. This is in accordance with the requirements of the NATO Operational Reserve Force high readiness commitment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he was first informed that NATO would make a request for the UK to deploy a high readiness battalion to Kosovo; and when the request was formally received by his Department. (203935)

This commitment began on 1 January 2008. Since then, Ministers have been kept informed of discussions between the UK and NATO on this subject. The Department received a formal request from NATO for the deployment of the UK element of the operational reserve force on 7 April 2008. I said in the House on 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 15 that we were responding to the request imminently. An announcement was subsequently made to Parliament on 29 April 2008 and a formal reply to NATO made on 2 May 2008.

Meteorological Office: Politics International

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what payments the Met Office has made to Politics International Ltd. in each of the last five years; on what dates; and for what purpose the payments were made in each case. (202255)

The Met Office has made the following payments to Politics International Ltd in each of the last five years:

2004

£

14 July

6,000.00

28 July

425.54

6 October

19.00

3 November

5,000.00

17 November

608.14

2005

28 January

1,941.86

24 August

4,300.00

28 September

3,750.00

26 October

7,250.00

30 November

3,750.00

14 December

1,177.30

21 December

3,750.00

2006

25 January

3,750.00

17 March

3,750.00

7 April

3,750.00

26 April

3,750.00

17 May

15.00

24 May

5,150.00

28 June

9,700.00

26 July

3,750.00

28 July

585.85

30 August

3,750.00

28 September

3,750.00

25 October

3,750.00

24 November

3,750.00

2007

5 January

4,875.09

24 January

3,750.00

28 February

3,750.00

28 March

7,595.45

25 April

3,807.17

25 May

3,750.00

27 June

6,710.21

28 September

10,252.06

10 October

3,220.92

24 October

12,214.52

28 November

800.00

2008

11 January

3,642.85

30 January

8,793.80

26 March

1,170.00

These payments relate to training for Met Office witnesses appearing before Select Committees; training for Met Office staff in stakeholder management; assistance with the development and strengthening of relationships with key stakeholders; and support for Met Office participation in stakeholder events relating to meteorology and climate science.

Military Decorations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to amend the criteria for the award of the General Service Medal; and if he will make a statement. (203491)

Navy: Labour Turnover

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people have (a) joined and (b) left the Royal Navy since 2005. (203721)

The number of personnel joining the Royal Naval Service since 2005 can be found in Table 3 of Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 1 - Strength, Intake and Outflow of UK Regular Forces. The number of personnel leaving the Royal Naval Service since 2005 can be found in Table 4 of the same publication. TSP 1 is published monthly. The most recent publication shows figures for data from 1 April 2003 to 1 March 2008 and can be found at

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp1/intake.html

for Table 3 and for Table 4

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tspl/outflow.html

Copies of TSP 1 are available in the Library of the House and also at

www.dasa.mod.uk

Prince William