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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 8 May 2008

Church Commissioners

Church of England Website

8. To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how often guidance provided by the Church of England on its website on prevention of theft from churches has been accessed. (204059)

The main source of advice for parishes is the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office, whose comprehensive guidance on the problem of theft of metal from churches has been endorsed by the Church of England, English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. A total of 36,000 copies have been printed and 620 more downloaded from their website, and the relevant advice sections of the site have been visited over 1,100 times.

In addition, there have been 526 hits on the Archbishops’ Council’s ‘churchcare’ website since the theft pages were added on 20 January this year, and the Council has e-mailed information on the guidance to dioceses for onward circulation to parishes via their own networks.

Women and Equality

Trafficked Women: Regional Refuge Centres

20. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if the Government will bring forward proposals to establish regional centres to provide refuge, rehabilitation and support for women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (204064)

The Government have funded the Poppy Project—which takes referrals from all regions in the country, since 2003. It provides refuge and comprehensive support for women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The project received additional resources during our recent national campaign, Operation Pentameter 2, to identify trafficked women and apprehend traffickers, which it used to develop partnerships with 17 third-sector organisations to enable them to better support trafficked women locally.

Single Equality Bill

21. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality when the Government plan to publish the Single Equality Bill. (204065)

The Government will introduce an equality Bill during this Parliament. If it is included in the draft legislative programme for the next Session of Parliament, we will publish it then.

Domestic Violence

22. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what recent steps the Government have taken to support victims of domestic violence. (204066)

I am proud to say that this Government have introduced more measures to support victims of domestic violence than any other before. They include

Establishing 98 specialist domestic violence courts;

Allocating £3 million per year over the three years from 2008-07 for independent domestic violence advisers;

Multi-agency risk assessment conferences will be established across England and Wales by 2011.

Corston Report

23. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what progress the Government have made in implementing the recommendations of “The Corston report: A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system.” (204067)

The Government welcomed Baroness Corston's report, and accepted the majority of the report's recommendations. When we published our response, we committed to achieving a number of actions within six months. The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) will make a statement on our progress this summer.

Female Entrepreneurship

24. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality when she next expects to meet representatives of small businesses to discuss measures to encourage female entrepreneurs. (204068)

The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Lady Vakra, is responsible for business and competitiveness. She leads on women's enterprise issues, and regularly meets representatives of small businesses. In addition, on May 12 my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Women and Equality will host an event to encourage women to start their own businesses, which I will also attend. Leading women entrepreneurs and the Federation of Small Businesses have been invited.

Employment Discrimination: Pregnancy

25. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government have taken to prevent employment discrimination against women on grounds related to pregnancy. (204069)

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 it is unlawful to treat a woman less favourably on the ground of her pregnancy.

In October 2005, we amended the Sex Discrimination Act to make this clear and to allow employees to know their rights and employers their responsibilities.

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many freedom of information requests made to the Government Equalities Office were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days, (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information since the GEO was established. (201734)

Since the establishment of the Government Equalities Office, the breakdown of freedom of information requests made is as follows.

Number

Answered within 20 days

2

Answered within 40 days

2

Answered within 60 days

Not answered

1

Answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000

1

The GEO has also received a request to review a decision made to not publish information sought under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. This was responded to within six weeks.

In anticipation of future requests, the GEO is increasing its capacity to deal effectively with freedom of information requests.

Leader of the House

Post-Legislative Scrutiny

32. To ask the Leader of the House what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of post-legislative scrutiny undertaken by the House and its Committees. (204047)

The Government published their plans for strengthening the process of post-legislative scrutiny of Acts in a White Paper in March. This reflects the Government’s agreement with other commentators that post-enactment consideration of how Acts have worked in practice has been something of a gap in the scrutiny of Government activity. It responds in particular to the report of the Law Commission on this subject in 2006 (following an inquiry undertaken by the Commission at the Government’s specific request).

Under the new process, the relevant Government Department will—from now on, beginning with Acts which received Royal Assent in 2005—be submitting to the appropriate departmental Select Committee a memorandum, three to five years after Royal Assent, summarising the steps taken in implementation of each Act and giving a preliminary assessment of how it is working out in practice.

Early-Day Motions

33. To ask the Leader of the House what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Early-Day Motions procedure. (204048)

The Government’s assessment of the procedures governing Early-Day Motions was set out in its July 2007 response to the Procedure Committee’s report “Public Petitions and Early Day Motions”.

The Government agreed with the conclusion of the Committee that—while there are some concerns about the number of EDMs—restricting the rules of eligibility for EDMs by reference to subject matter or by imposing a ration for each Member would not be appropriate.

Members' Correspondence

35. To ask the Leader of the House what recent representations she has received on the performance of Government Departments in dealing with correspondence from hon. Members in a timely manner. (204050)

My right hon. Friend receives occasional representations from Members, and is aware of points of order that have raised the issue. The Minister for the Cabinet Office has overall ministerial responsibility for this area, and I will be pleased to pass on any comments to him. The latest Cabinet Office report on departments’ and agencies’ performance on MPs’ and Peers’ Correspondence (issued by written ministerial statement on 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 71WS) announced that the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons responded to 94 per cent. of correspondence within its 15-day target.

House of Commons Commission

Staff: Disabilities

34. To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what percentage of staff employed by the House have a disability. (204049)

On the basis of a disability questionnaire in December 2007 and subsequent information gathered, 2.67 per cent. of staff of the House have declared a disability.

Solicitor-General

Shoplifting: Prosecutions

13. To ask the Solicitor-General what representations she has received from small businesses on the rate of prosecutions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service for shoplifting offences. (204038)

As far as I know neither the Attorney-General’s Office for the Crown Prosecution Service has received representations from small businesses.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor assured the House that the Government take very seriously the need for the whole criminal justice system to be as effective as possible in tackling crime against shopkeepers and small businesses.

I commend the hon. Member’s efforts to support small businesses in her constituency.

Dangerous Driving

14. To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Crown Prosecution Service takes in prosecuting cases to seek longer sentences for people convicted of dangerous driving which results in serious injury. (204039)

Prosecutors have a general duty to assist the court when sentence is being considered, which may include advising the court of any aggravating factors, the appropriate sentencing range and, where applicable, relevant sentencing guidelines or guideline cases. The prosecutor will also inform the court when it is relevant of the effect of the crime on any victim or on the wider community. However, prosecutors cannot recommend or seek particular sentences; that is a matter for the sentencing court.

In respect of Crown court cases and more complex cases in the magistrates courts, prosecutors prepare a ‘plea and sentence document’. This identifies any aggravating factors in the case, together with relevant sentencing guidelines and guideline cases, so that the court is aware of all relevant factors when sentencing.

The guideline from the Sentencing Guidelines Council on seriousness sets out aggravating factors to be taken into account when sentencing generally. It includes among the factors indicating a more than usually serious degree of harm

“an especially serious physical or psychological effect on the victim, even if unintended.”

Specifically on prosecuting cases of bad driving, including cases that result in serious injury or death, the Crown Prosecution Service published its Public Policy Statement on Prosecuting Cases of Bad Driving in December 2007. The Policy makes clear that the prosecutor has a duty to ensure that the court has all the information it needs to enable it to sentence appropriately.

Anthony Leon Peart aka Anthony Leon Joseph

15. To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made on implementing the recommendations of the report on Anthony Leon Peart, aka Anthony Leon Joseph. (204040)

I refer the hon. Member to my written statement on 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 1WS. The cross-agency working group is meeting this week and will continue to take forward the detailed responses to the recommendations. I shall report back to the House on progress in due course.

Expert Evidence

To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made by the review of expert witnesses in criminal trials; and if she will make a statement. (204033)

The OCJR is preparing a summary of expert witness initiatives, which is expected in late spring. The CPS is about to undertake a revision of their current guidance on expert witnesses; it continues to work closely with the independent Forensic Science Regulator in setting standards; and the CPS is also working with the Legal Services Commission in its evaluation of appropriate standards for experts in criminal cases.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent meetings his Department has held with farmers to discuss the impact of climate change on agriculture. (204303)

The Department holds regular discussions about the impact of climate change on agriculture. DEFRA's main advisory body in this area is the Rural Climate Change Forum. Membership includes the National Farmers' Union and the Country Land and Business Association, and both organisations represent farmers and land managers. Other members of the Forum are the Carbon Trust, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission, the National Trust, Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The Forum's remit includes advising on policy, research and communications in relation to agriculture's role in climate change mitigation and the impacts of climate change on agriculture. The forum meets three to four times a year; its last meeting was on 6 February 2008 and it meets again in June 2008.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice his Department's chief scientist has given on the sustainability of the Government's policy on biofuels; and if he will make a statement. (204165)

DEFRA's chief scientific adviser gives advice to Ministers on all aspects of biofuels policy and wider climate change strategy.

The Government's commitment to biofuels is subject to their sustainability. The renewable transport fuel obligation includes a robust carbon and sustainability reporting mechanism to encourage fuel suppliers to source the most sustainable biofuels. We recognise that reporting is only a first step: we are working with the European Commission to ensure that forthcoming EU legislation includes robust mandatory sustainability criteria for biofuels.

A review of the indirect impacts of biofuels was commissioned by the Department for Transport, and is being led by the Renewable Fuels Agency under Professor Gallagher. DEFRA's chief scientific adviser, along with other Government chief scientific advisers, will peer-review the findings prior to publication. The results of the review will inform policy on the social and environmental sustainability of biofuels.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average recorded rise in (a) sea temperatures and (b) global surface temperatures has been since 2000. (201968)

Taking short segments of temperature records (for example, considering periods shorter than a decade) emphasises year-to-year variations in climate which can be at odds with the long-term trend.

Globally, the trend of both sea surface temperatures (SST) and near-surface air temperatures is still upward. The year 2005 was the second warmest year (after 1998) in the air temperature record, which began in 1850. Eleven of the 12 warmest years in the record have occurred in the last 12 years—the exception was 1996. Since 2005, some cooling has occurred because of natural climate variations, including the current Pacific La Niña (1998 was especially warm because of a strong El Niño in that year).

(a) Sea Surface Temperature:

The most recent Met Office Hadley Centre HadSST2 analysis shows that global average SST has risen by 0.09° C per decade since 2000.

HadSST2 is the main global sea surface temperature analysis, which is produced by taking in situ measurements of SST from ships and buoys taken from 1850 to present.

(b) Near-surface Air Temperature:

The most recent Met Office Hadley Centre and climatic research unit joint analysis shows that since 2000, global average near-surface air temperature has shown a continued warming trend of 0.16° C per decade, with seven of the eight warmest years in the record since 1850 occurring since (and including) 2000. This compares to a rising trend of just over 0.15° C per decade since the mid-1970s and 0.1° C per decade between 1998 and 2007.

Further details and tables have been placed in the Library.

Note:

In the latest IPCC report, the trend in global average near-surface temperature 1979 to 2005 is 0.163° C per decade.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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. (201737)

The rebuild of the Lion House Building at Alnwick will be the first carbon neutral building on the DEFRA estate. It will deliver specific sustainability targets in relation to management, energy, internal environment, transport, water, materials, land use, ecology and pollution, and has integrated initiatives such as wind turbines, photovoltaic solar electric and solar thermal panels and biomass heating. The project will set the standard for all future DEFRA network estate projects.

DEFRA is currently installing advanced metering reading (AMR) on approximately 100 of its sites. The meters will capture over 90 per cent. of the DEFRA network estates utility use from electricity, gas, oil and water by the end of summer 2008. The Carbon Trust indicates that savings of up to 10 to 15 per cent. can be achieved through the implementation of initiatives realised through the analysis of AMR data, through reducing the base load, optimising the use of equipment and reducing peak usage.

DEFRA is implementing the Carbon Trust's Carbon management programme (CMP). The programme has enabled the Department to develop a systematic approach to carbon management and take a strategic approach to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions through operational improvements, reduced energy costs, staff awareness and monitoring initiatives. The CMP is integrated with DEFRA's energy efficiency programme and the numerous renewable energy projects being rolled out across the estate.

DEFRA is the first Government Department to access Salix Funding—a revolving ring fenced fund, which has been allocated to the CMP. Financial savings from CMP projects will be fed back into the fund for further projects.

DEFRA has installed 17 powerPerfector units across its estate to optimise voltage, therefore reducing electricity consumption.

A breakdown of energy costs:

Energy expenditure (electricity, gas, oil)

£

2006-07

8,535,523

2005-06

6,305,267

Floods: Warnings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the take-up was for registration with the Environment Agency for flood warnings in each of the last five years; and whether flood warnings extend to business properties. (203920)

The following table shows the number of properties currently registered with Flood Warnings Direct (FWD). Prior to 2006 the Environment Agency operated an Automatic Voice Messaging (AVG) system which delivered pre-recorded warnings to those who registered with the service. The AVG system provided a phone number for registered properties and therefore did not distinguish between home and business.

The AVG system was administered independently by Environment Agency area offices and therefore no year on year data of registered membership for this service is held nationally.

The Environment Agency transferred approximately 120,000 customers from its AVM system onto the new national system prior to FWD going live in January 2006.

Homes

Businesses

Total registered

1995 to 2005

120,000

2006

103,842

6,773

230,615

2007

168,117

16,305

304,422

2008

208,972

23,224

352,196

Weather Forecasts

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the pilots on the joint work of the Environment Agency and Meteorological Office on the prediction of extreme weather events will take place; and if he will include Gloucestershire as a pilot area. (201780)

I have been asked to reply.

The Met Office and Environment Agency are planning to launch a pilot alert service for extreme rainfall events in July 2008 to help the emergency response community mitigate the impacts of such events. The Met Office is working closely with the Environment Agency to finalise the details of the pilot service for England and Wales, including Gloucestershire. The Met Office also intends to make the pilot service available more widely in the UK, and will work closely with the responsible authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Transport

Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many cars have been registered in Great Britain in the last 10 years. (204204)

The number (in thousands) of cars newly registered in Great Britain in each of the last 10 years was as follows.

Number of cars newly registered (Thousand)

1998

2,262

1999

2,257

2000

2,337

2001

2,586

2002

2,682

2003

2,646

2004

2,599

2005

2,443

2006

2,340

2007

2,390

Total (1998 to 2007)

24,542

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for her Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. (200012)

Services provided by polling companies to the Department for Transport in 2007-08 are summarised in the following tables. These included on-going surveys (table A), ad-hoc surveys (table B) and qualitative research (table C).

(A) Ongoing surveys

Division/agency

Survey/opinion poll

(i) Firm

DFT

British social attitudes survey

NatCen

DFT

Bus passenger satisfaction survey

GfK NOP

DFT

Public attitudes towards road pricing

ONS

DFT

Public attitudes towards climate change.

ONS

DFT

THINK! Tracking Research

BMRB

DFT

Child and parents advertising

Murmur

DFT

Climate Change Pre and Post advertising tracking

BMRB

DFT

Act on CO2 campaign awareness tracking

BMRB

DFT

Directgov motoring awareness and usage omnibus

BMRB

DFT

Operators Survey 2007

Ipsos-MORI

DFT

Customer Satisfaction Survey—GCDA

Ipsos MORI

DFT

Citizen’s Panel

GFK NOP

HA

National road users satisfaction surveys

Faber Maunsell

HA

Area road users satisfaction surveys

Faber Maunsell

HA

Satisfaction with traffic officer service

Faber Maunsell

HA

Measuring improvements in network and information services

Faber Maunsell

DSA

Candidate Satisfaction Survey

Ipsos-MORI

DSA

Business Customer Satisfaction Survey

Ipsos-MORI

DSA

PDI Satisfaction Survey

Ipsos-MORI

MCA

Coastguard Customer Satisfaction Survey (ongoing but not run in 2007-08)

Amey PMG

MCA

Registry of Shipping and Seamen

Amey PMG

VCA

Type Approval Customer Satisfaction

Metra Martech

DVLA

DVLA Call Centre Mystery Shopper Research

Vocall

DVLA

Private Motorist Survey

Beaufort Research

(B) Ad-hoc surveys 2007-08

Division/agency

Survey/opinion poll

(i) Firm

DFT

Public attitude towards car sharing

NatCen

DFT

Public attitude towards buses and concessionary fares

ONS

DFT

Public attitudes towards Aviation

ONS

DFT

Post tracking Teen MTV Campaign

SMRC Childwise

DFT

Pre and post tracking Parents’ Campaign

SMRC Childwise

DFT

THINK! Parents Campaign

Virtual surveys

DFT

Drink Drive

Davies McKerr

DFT

Driving for Work

Firefish/AMV

DFT

THINK! Seatbelts

TRL

DFT

Customers Expectations of Service Standards

ORC

DFT

Consumer customers’ channel choice

TNS

DFT

Commercial customers’ channel choice

Simpson Carpenter

DFT

Survey of the UK element of EU provision of drink drive rehabilitations schemes

TRL

DFT

Neighbourhood Road Safety initiatives project—surveys

University College London (lead supplier) University of Surrey University of the West of England, University of Wales Swansea, Child Accident Prevention Trust

DFT

Demand for cars and their attributes

BMRB—conducted the survey element

DFT

Use of Advanced Cabin Baggage X-ray equipment.

QinetiQ

DFT

Analysis for Heathrow Consultation

Ipsos-MORI and Detica

DFT

Survey of Blue Badge Holders

Faber Maunsell

DFT

Survey of Blue Badge Holders attitudes and behaviours

BMRB

DFT

Wider public’s view of Blue Badge scheme

Faber Maunsell

HA

Satisfaction with traffic management trial at junctions 19 and 12 of M25

Faber Maunsell

HA

Highways Agency Travel Information Services Omnibus

GfK NOP

DSA

Driver CPC research

Ipsos MORI

VOSA

Drivers and fitters annual Customer satisfactions survey

Ipsos-MORI

VOSA

2 Stations test trial

Beaufort Research

DVLA

Local Office Customer Survey

MORI

DVLA

Electronic Delivery Channel Research

Beaufort Research

DVLA

Theft Resistant Number Plate

Beaufort Research

DVLA

EVL Postcard Research

Beaufort Research

DVLA

3D Verification by VISA

MRUK

DVLA

Ten Year Renewal Phase 2 Post Office Research

Beaufort Research

DVLA

Motoring Brand Awareness Omnibus Research

TNS (via COI)

(C) Qualitative research 2007-08

Division/agency

Projects

(i) Firm

DFT

Attitudes and motivations of teleworkers

NatCen

DFT

Travel needs behaviours and aspirations of Disabled People

NatCen

DFT

Directgov Motoring Usability research

Virtual Surveys

DFT

Transport Office/Business Link Usability research

Virtual Surveys

DFT

Public acceptability of Road Pricing

BMRB

DFT

Public Acceptability of New Technologies

Accent

DFT

The Role of the Car

NatCen

DFT

Qualitative depth interviews with Blue Badge Holders

Faber Maunsell

DFT

Exploring Public attitudes to personal carbon dioxide emission information

BMRB

DFT

Understanding travel needs, behaviour and aspirations of people in later life

NatCen

DFT

Understanding travel aspirations, needs and behaviour of young adults

NatCen

DFT

Accessibility Planning Evaluation scoping study

Atkins and CRSP

DFT

Attitudes to Climate change and Barriers/motivations to behavioural change

People, science and Policy

DVLA

Ten Year Renewal Focus Group Research

Beaufort Research

DVLA

EVL Creative Advertising Focus Group Research

Beaufort Research

DVLA

EVL Web Design Focus Group Research

Beaufort Research

HA

Mystery Shopping of HA Information Services

Faber Maunsell

HA

Evaluation of Think Ahead Move Ahead booklet

Faber Maunsell

HA

Evaluation of Think Ahead Move Ahead booklet (Part 2)

Faber Maunsell

HA

VMS Accuracy

Faber Maunsell

VOSA

Service agents Qualitative Research

Simpson Carter

Driving Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria she uses to determine whether driving centres should be approved for closure. (202361)

[holding answer 29 April 2008]: Decisions regarding the location of individual driving test centres are taken by the Driving Standards Agency.

The agency is a trading fund. As such, it is generally obliged to ensure that its operating costs are met from fee income. It seeks, therefore, to strike a reasonable balance between providing readily accessible driver testing services and the resultant costs that must be passed on to its customers.

In reaching decisions about car practical test centre location, the DSA must take account of the following ministerially agreed guidance on distance criteria at each level of population density:

Population density

Distance criteria

>=1,250/km2

No more than 7 miles

101-1,249/km2

No more than 20 miles

0-100/km2

No more than 30 miles

In respect of motorcycle practical test centre location, the DSA requires that most customers should be able to reach a motorcycle testing facility within 45 minutes, travelling no more than 20 miles.

When considering the closure of a driving test centre, DSA follows the “Code of Practice on Written Consultations—Driving Test Centres” which is available on the DSA's website and was agreed by Ministers.

First Great Western: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will publish the rail improvement plan for First Great Western. (201431)

A Remedial Agreement has been contractualised with First Great Western, the details of which will be on the Department's website in due course.

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 have been designated as high priority for resurfacing. (203885)

A total of 26 stretches of concrete carriageway were identified in April 2003 in England as high priority for resurfacing with quieter materials.

M25: Cost-Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will place in the Library a copy of the cost-benefit analysis which informed her decision on whether to include the M25 widening projects in the national feasibility study into rolling out active traffic management. (181875)

I have placed the documents and subsequent analysis on this matter in the Library of the House and on the Department’s website.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) men and (b) women died in car accidents in each year since 2000 where the driver was (i) male and (ii) female and aged 21 or under. (204492)

The number of (a) male and (b) female car occupant fatalities in reported road accidents in 2000 to 2006 where the driver was (i) male and (ii) female and aged 21 years or under are shown in the table.

Number of fatalities

0 to 21-year-old male car driver

0 to 21-year-old female car driver

Male fatality

Female fatality

Male fatality

Female fatality

2000

312

63

18

42

2001

354

64

24

50

2002

332

64

18

52

2003

373

59

17

41

2004

349

64

21

48

2005

365

71

19

63

2006

375

61

21

61

Roads: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 1421W, on Roads: Construction, when she expects the information on carbon impacts of Highways Agency road schemes to be published on the Highways Agency website and placed in the Library. (201268)

We expect to publish the information in relation to the carbon impacts of Highways Agency road schemes in the summer.

Transport: Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice she has (a) sought and (b) received from the Chief Scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on sustainability and the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation; and if she will make a statement. (204164)

The Government have always made clear that its biofuel policies must be based on the best available scientific evidence. We have asked the Renewable Fuels Agency to lead a review of the emerging evidence on the wider, indirect impacts of biofuel production. Professor Bob Watson, together with other Government chief scientific advisers, has been asked to peer-review its findings. The review is due to report in June.

Olympics

London 2012: Manpower

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what proportion of staff working for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games are (a) women and (b) men. (204123)

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is a private company, and has a strong diversity and inclusion policy on its recruitment and retention of staff and volunteers that covers gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age. This is regularly monitored for its effectiveness.

Olympic Games 2012: Finance

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what consultations the Government have undertaken with financial institutions on financing the 2012 Olympics; and what the cost of such consultations was. [203651]

The Government Olympic Executive has received informal advice, at no cost from financial institutions, on the possibilities for financing the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre and the Olympic Village are developer-led projects in which the developer is responsible for bank and equity funding. The Olympic Delivery Authority has taken and will continue to take appropriate advice on the nature of these transactions but does not have direct contractual relations with any financial institutions, and consequently has not paid for any advice from them.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will place in the Library a copy of the Creative Economy Strategy. (203879)

The ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’ document was deposited in the House Libraries, via a written ministerial statement, on 21 February 2008,Official Report, column 58WS.

Arts Council England: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2008, Official Report, column 1959W, on Arts Council England: Finance, what (a) resource and (b) capital allocations have been made for (i) 2008-09, (ii) 2009-10 and (iii) 2010-11. (203005)

Resource and capital allocations for Arts Council England (ACE) are set out in the following table.

£000

Resource

Capital

2008-09

428,955

1,950

2009-10

443,455

1,550

2010-11

466,955

1,550

Culture Leadership Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the performance of the cultural leadership programme; and if he will make a statement. (204162)

The Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) is formed from the Partnership of Arts Council England, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and Creative and Cultural Skills. Funding has been channelled through Arts Council England, which has assessed the programme as part of the ongoing review of its work and priorities. A mix of formal and informal learning opportunities has been created and is supported by the programme, including placements, courses, online information, advice and guidance; as well as work-based support including coaching and mentoring opportunities.

The programme is having a good impact on leadership development, in terms of both the new opportunities offered to emerging, mid-career and established leaders, and increasing awareness of the benefits of targeted leadership development for these important areas of the UK life and economy.

The programme has been delivered by a very small team, ensuring that an investment of over 85 per cent. of the £12 million made available has been spent directly on activities that will support leaders, and keeping administration and support costs to a minimum. The programme was launched just two years ago in June 2006, and the first phase ends in June 2008. The Department expects to receive a formal evaluation of the CLP soon after the end of this first phase.

Culture Leadership Programme: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what resources (a) his Department, (b) the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, (c) the Arts Council and (d) Creative and Cultural Skills plan to make available to the Cultural Leadership programme in each of the next three years. (204163)

In the period 2008-11 all financial support for the Cultural Leadership Programme will come from the settlement to the Arts Council. The Arts Council has agreed figures of £3,000,000 for 2008-09; £3,500,000 for 2009-10 and £3,500,000 for 2010-11.

There will be no financial contribution from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Creative and Cultural Skills or the DCMS, although they will continue to steer the development of the Programme through the Cultural Leadership Programme Delivery Partnership.

Culture Leadership Programme: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) hits and (b) unique visitors the Cultural Leadership programme’s website received in each of the last 12 months. (204161)

The following table details the visits made to the Cultural Leadership Programme’s website over the last 12 months.

Month

Hits

Unique visits

2007

April

117,900

2,748

May

65,065

1,563

June

79,511

1,963

July

90,865

2,612

August

96,589

2,583

September

61,274

1,919

October

88,062

2,573

November

101,272

2,862

December

80,229

2,401

2008

January

114,119

2,941

February

133,280

3,439

March

58,733

1,798

April

105,867

3,178

Total

1,192,766

32,580

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 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. (204113)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent £3,415.27 on carbon offsetting for the year 2006-07. This was the first payment of this type and was made to the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund, which is managed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Digital Broadcasting: Rural Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to address the digital divide in rural areas. (202154)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has been appointed as the Minister for Digital Inclusion and will work with other Departments, including mine, to co-ordinate policies and develop a coherent strategy to ensure that all citizens, especially the disadvantaged, benefit from the use of digital technologies. My Department is committed to addressing the digital divide where it is economically and technologically feasible to do so.

Digital Switchover Help Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will place in the Library a copy of (a) the research on return path capability amongst the elderly and (b) the drafted return path costed option annex referred to in the minutes of the Emerging Technologies Group meeting on 27 February in relation to the digital switchover assistance scheme. (203804)

The Emerging Technologies Group (ETG) was told that research on return path usage by the elderly existed, but the group has not yet had sight of this or any related research. No steps have been taken by the ETG to produce a costed option for including return path functionality within set-top-box equipment.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 1 May 2008, Official Report, column 596W.

Monuments: VAT

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the VAT Relief on Memorials scheme in each of the next three years. The Memorials Grant Scheme makes grants equivalent to the VAT incurred by charities and faith groups in establishing or repairing public memorials. The scheme is demand-led and it is not possible, therefore, to estimate future costs accurately. (204146)

Paralympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects the Playground to Podium Paralympics strategy paper to be published. (203011)

Sport England has advised that the Playground to Podium Steering Group is in the process of making final amendments to the framework following a consultation process with national governing bodies of sport and Steering Group members. The final framework will be published prior to the programme launch in September, in line with the commencement of the new school year.

The framework provides a clear rationale for the selection of, and investment in, a focused number of sports bodies that can support the delivery of a disability pathway for their sports from playground through to podium.

Sport England has taken responsibility on behalf of the Playground to Podium Steering group to co-ordinate the assessment and selection of sports, and has advised that sports bodies will be informed whether they have been selected in early May. Applications for funding will then be invited from the appropriate national governing bodies.

Regional Sports Boards: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department paid to the chairmen and chairwomen of regional sports boards in England in respect of their board duties in the last 12 months. (204148)

The following payments were made.

Part 1: Payments to RSB

Chairs

April 2007 to March 2008

RSB Chair

Region

Salary

Travel and Subsistence

Cantle-Jones T.

North East

8,040

1,631

Rowley P. W.

North East

3,576

0

Price P.

Yorkshire

10,720

0

Jackson L. C.

East Midlands

10,720

0

Castle S.

East

10,000

566

Lewis P.

London

6,253

0

Brewer J

London

4,505

142

McAnally M.

South East

10,720

1,646

Roddy G.

South West

11,413

3,063

Mirza R.

West Midlands

10,720

3,479

Worthington A.

North West

10,720

3,844

Total

97,388

14,371

Religious Buildings: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the Listed Places of Worship scheme in each of the next three years. The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme makes grants equivalent to the VAT incurred in making repairs to listed buildings in use as places of worship, and to clocks, pews, bells and organs that are fixtures in such buildings. The scheme is demand-led and it is not possible, therefore, to estimate future costs with precision. (204147)

Royal Ballet and Opera: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the affordability of seats for performances by the (a) Royal Ballet and (b) Royal Opera; and if he will make a statement. (201815)

My Department has not assessed the affordability of seats for performances by the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera.

The cost of seats is a matter for individual arts organisations to decide.

Arts Council England has also not assessed the affordability of seats for performances at either the Royal Ballet or the Royal Opera House. Arts Council England has recently produced guidance for arts organisations on how to maximise revenue while minimising the risk of price becoming a barrier that prevents people from attending or participating.

I am arranging for copies of ‘Call it a tenner. The role of pricing in the arts’ to be placed in the House Libraries.

Tourism Strategy Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department provided for the Tourism Strategy Fund in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (203014)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: The Tourism Strategy Fund was a specific budget used to fund a number of tourism support initiatives arising from the policy document ‘Tomorrow’s Tourism’ in 1999. The Department spent £30,000 in 2004-05, and no money has been spent through this fund since April 2005.

Work and Pensions

Jobcentre Plus: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for how long an individual must claim unemployment benefits before becoming eligible to go on a training course offered by Jobcentre Plus. (202776)

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

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 8 May 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how long an individual must claim unemployment benefits before they are eligible to go on a training course offered by Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Most people who claim Jobseeker's Allowance find work very quickly and only need general information, advice and guidance on how best to look for work. However, for those who need additional help, training courses are available at different stages, depending upon the needs of the individual:

People with an obvious literacy, numeracy or language need are identified at the new claims stage and encouraged to take immediate steps to address those needs through the Learning and Skills Council's Employment Skills Programme or other provision available locally.

People who need additional help with jobsearch skills, confidence and motivation and ‘soft’ skills associated with the world of work can access help through Programme Centres after 26 weeks unemployment, although earlier access is available where such help is clearly needed to have a realistic chance of finding work.

At 26 weeks, a fast-track assessment tool is used to screen people for any basic skills need not previously identified, and where appropriate, people are referred for help through the Employment and Skills Programme.

Full-time education and training is available through the New Deal, participation in which is mandatory for young people after six months unemployment; and for people aged 25 and over when they have been unemployed for 18 out of the previous 21 months. That said, immediate/early access is available where it is clear the customer is particularly disadvantaged in the labour market and the prospect of finding work is much less likely without additional help.

Pre-employment training may also be available through Local Employment Partnerships through which participating employers have committed to provide more job opportunities for people who are finding it particularly difficult to find work, such as longer-term unemployed people or people living in areas of high unemployment. In return, Jobcentre Plus and other partners, for example the Learning and Skills Council prepare people for work through a range of measures, which may include pre-employment training to prepare people for the sort of jobs available locally. Once in work, ongoing development of skills is encouraged through skills advice and support, e.g. through Train to Gain.

Building upon the success of New Deal and Local Employment Partnerships, there are plans to develop and implement an integrated employment and skills service as announced in “Ready for work: full employment in our generation” and “Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent”. A key part of this will be better and earlier screening to identify jobseekers with a skills need that is a major barrier to employment and referring them to a full skills heath-check and then appropriate remedial provision.

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners received pension credit in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08; (200445)

(2) how many pensioners received the guarantee credit in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08.

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 17 January 2008, Official Report, column 1419W, which gives the number of pensioners in receipt of pension credit and the number of pensioners in receipt of the guarantee credit each year from 2003 to 2007.

Rented Housing: Cambridgeshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of how much and what proportion of private rented accommodation in (a) Cambridge city council area, (b) the South Cambridgeshire district council area, (c) Cambridge constituency, (d) South Cambridgeshire constituency and (e) South East Cambridgeshire constituency are available at or below the median rent established by the Rent Service for the relevant broad rental market area. (204174)

The local housing allowance (LHA) is a median value calculated from a list of rents, for the number of bedrooms, collected from the private rented sector in a broad rental market area (BRMA). As the LHA is a median value, the middle value from the list of rents held in ascending order, it will always ensure that half of the properties in the BRMA will be affordable for housing benefit customers.

The Rent Service determines the median rents for each BRMA. We do not hold data that would show the proportion of the properties available at or below the median rent that lie within each local authority or constituency.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what benefits administered by his Department are uprated in line with a measure of (a) prices and (b) earnings broken down by measure used; (200646)

(2) what benefits administered by his Department are uprated annually under statute broken down by those uprated in line with (a) prices and (b) earnings; and if he will make a statement.

The powers to review and alter the rate of benefits are contained in the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (Sections 150 to 154). Sections 150 and 150A of that Act prescribe the benefits that must be reviewed on an annual basis and how they are to be uprated. The annual change in the retail prices index is used to uprate the following benefits, which, by statute, must be reviewed and up-rated annually at least in line with prices;

State Pensions (with the exception of the age addition);

Additional Pensions paid with State Pension and Widows' Benefits;

Increments: for the deferment of State Pension and Guaranteed Minimum Pensions;

Incapacity Benefit;

Attendance Allowance;

Severe Disablement Allowance;

Carer's Allowance;

Disability Living Allowance;

Industrial Injuries Benefits (including old cases);

Adult and Child Dependants Increases (The Child Dependants Increase is fixed in practice);

Widows Benefit and Bereavement Benefit rates (with the exception of Bereavement Payment), which are currently linked to the basic State Pension rate.

The standard minimum guarantee in pension credit must be reviewed and increased at least in line with earnings. The usual measure is the May to July headline figure for the whole economy, seasonally adjusted and including bonuses. However, for the April 2008 uprating, the increase was 4.2 per cent. in line with the Budget 2007 announcement which more than keeps pace with prices and earnings.

During the next Parliament we will re-link the uprating of the basic state pension to average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest.

For the full list of Social Security benefits and the basis on which they are currently up-rated I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 857W.

Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to answer Question 162350, tabled by the hon. Member for Hertsmere on 6 November, on incapacity benefit claimants. (171136)

Duchy of Lancaster

Childbirth

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many births there were in each year since 1978. (203548)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department does not collect birth statistics. Latest Office for National Statistics figures relating to births in England and Wales are as follows.

Number of live births in England and Wales

1978

596,418

1979

638,028

1980

656,234

1981

634,492

1982

625,931

1983

629,134

1984

636,818

1985

656,417

1986

661,018

1987

681,511

1988

693,577

1989

687,725

1990

706,140

1991

699,217

1992

689,656

1993

673,467

1994

664,726

1995

648,138

1996

649,485

1997

643,095

1998

635,901

1999

621,872

2000

604,441

2001

594,634

2002

596,122

2003

621,469

2004

639,721

2005

645,835

2006

669,601

Communities and Local Government

Building Research Establishment: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding she allocated to the Building Research Establishment in each of the last three years. (202641)

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not allocate funding to the Building Research Establishment (BRE). However the BRE is one of the Department’s preferred contractors under its framework agreements and has undertaken work for the Department both as part of these frameworks and under contracts let outside of them. The total payments made for work undertaken by BRE for the Department in each of the last three years is:

£000

2005-06

4,261

2006-07

4,532

2007-08

2,900

Council Tax: Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average Band D council tax precept was for fire authorities in England in 1998-99. (203060)

The average Band D council tax precept for the seven precepting fire authorities in England in 1998-99 was £26.56.

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1411W, on property: valuation, whether the Valuation Office Agency considers the presence of a (a) temporary and (b) permanent traveller encampment near a domestic dwelling to be material in determining the level of council tax. (202991)

When undertaking a valuation to arrive at, or amend, a council tax banding, all material factors that affect the open market value of a dwelling will be taken into account, as required by the Council Tax (Situation and Valuation of Dwellings) Regulations 1992.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 613W, on council tax: valuation, when the Council Tax Revaluation Programme Board (England) met. (203046)

The Valuation Office Agency’s Programme Board for the now postponed council tax revaluation generally met monthly between March 2003 and November 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answers of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 613W and of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1390W, on council tax: valuation, if she will place in the Library copies of minutes of the meetings the Council Tax Revaluation Programme Board (England) prior to 22nd November 2005 redacting the minutes in the same manner as those for 22 November 2005. (203068)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1415W.

Councillors: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether complaints about breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct can be made anonymously under the new scheme. (203040)

Yes. Local authority standards committees will be able to consider anonymous complaints.

However, standards committees must have regard to guidance issued by the Standards Board for England, which stresses that anonymous complaints should only be considered in limited circumstances, such as when they are accompanied by evidence that the allegation is of an exceptionally serious or significant matter.

The guidance also advises local authorities to publish a statement setting out how they will deal with anonymous complaints.

Departmental Civil Service Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the role of the relevant Shareholder Executive is in determining the definition of the public tasks of her Department's agencies. (203463)

The Shareholder Executive is responsible for advising Ministers from this Department directly on the management of their shareholding and financial interests in Ordnance Survey, a Government Department and executive agency in its own right. The executive also advises the Department on its interests in two other trading funds, the Fire Service College and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

In April 2007, Ministers asked Ordnance Survey and the Shareholder Executive to work together to prepare a more precise articulation of Ordnance Survey's public task as set out in the Ordnance Survey Framework Document 2004. This work was undertaken between April and June 2007, and Ministers approved the revised public task document in July 2007.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department and its predecessor spent on entertaining in each of the last five years. (203738)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) on 27 February 2008, Official Report, column 1594W.

The Department does not record expenditure for entertainment on its finance systems and the figures in the earlier reply relate to hospitality. Changes in coding parameters on the Departments financial systems mean that figures for earlier years can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

EC Grants and Loans: Castle Point

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received from Castle Point borough council on the use of European Union funding for the Charfleets green business initiative; and if she will make a statement. (203662)

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has not received any representations from Castle Point borough council on the use of European Union funding, for the Charfleets green business initiative.

Floods: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1405W., on floods: repair and maintenance, if she will undertake an assessment of the availability of plumbers, electricians, plasterers and other essential workers necessary to complete repairs to flood damaged properties. (202968)

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her target is for the number of transactions under each of the (a) social market homebuy, (b) New Build HomeBuy and (c) Open Market Homebuy schemes annually. (204521)

We have clearly stated in the Housing Green Paper ‘Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable’, that we will provide 25,000 shared ownership and shared equity homes a year over the next three years. We have not set individual targets for Open Market HomeBuy or NewBuild HomeBuy to ensure flexibility within the programme. Social HomeBuy is a demand-led product and as such no targets are associated with this programme.

Housing: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes have been built in each London (a) constituency and (b) local authority area since 1997. (203384)

Information on new build completions by constituency is not held centrally. The following table provides the figures as reported by local authorities:

New build completions by London boroughs 1997-98 to 2006-07

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

London

13,623

14,426

13,678

14,492

13,927

15,670

19,394

24,063

18,809

21,997

Barking and Dagenham

45

89

127

426

164

222

263

576

467

684

Barnet

637

703

818

656

471

712

902

1,326

597

377

Bexley

453

208

206

482

223

271

773

221

140

212

Brent

30

81

168

525

476

850

536

390

251

632

Bromley

115

234

208

332

359

203

269

874

497

484

Camden

237

451

323

405

257

77

162

499

400

378

City of London

235

163

301

165

105

67

213

45

41

2

Croydon

575

382

332

242

272

616

289

391

400

845

Ealing

773

456

273

140

324

236

730

605

702

1,325

Enfield

600

311

189

920

1,860

606

379

524

703

998

Greenwich

431

536

980

586

1,099

1,410

878

1,576

1,073

1,134

Hackney

708

250

404

762

612

333

205

525

353

420

Hammersmith and Fulham

220

144

106

75

26

78

135

281

131

202

Haringey

199

88

109

185

178

172

78

569

79

35

Harrow

185

151

97

110

93

547

291

238

275

320

Havering

138

250

284

274

307

263

271

457

486

650

Hillingdon

392

212

459

564

288

391

426

473

306

194

Hounslow

411

632

260

264

292

459

998

111

1,192

1,556

Islington

151

374

451

257

214

283

220

166

383

743

Kensington and Chelsea

184

196

228

157

130

269

602

120

75

139

Kingston upon Thames

838

446

336

271

200

207

405

425

188

172

Lambeth

339

207

149

231

284

392

224

552

659

942

Lewisham

453

360

251

151

289

483

447

188

164

457

Merton

108

260

353

171

508

306

115

502

948

646

Newham

364

312

518

484

722

402

981

553

796

471

Redbridge

382

100

501

159

301

510

419

650

963

513

Richmond upon Thames

201

625

175

157

147

269

361

316

249

159

Southwark

834

688

336

323

363

384

619

1,832

1,120

512

Sutton

338

302

257

441

191

372

272

670

400

455

Tower Hamlets

834

941

1,268

1,324

1,429

1,486

1,916

2,952

1,918

1,904

Waltham Forest

846

836

196

812

129

345

191

293

256

394

Wandsworth

264

551

617

212

336

625

483

1,260

338

722

Westminster

671

744

807

1,315

552

842

784

421

357

211

Source:

New build completions from P2 returns submitted by local authorities and the National House Building Council (NHBC). Regional totals include imputation for missing returns from local authorities. The local authority level figures are as reported and do not include imputation estimates. Regional totals may not equal the sum of the local authority totals.

Housing: North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes were built in each parliamentary constituency in the North West in each year since 1997. (202729)

[holding answer 30 April 2008]: Information on housing completions is collected on the basis of local authorities' administrative boundaries, and on the information provided by local authorities, not by constituency boundaries.

The following table shows housing completions for the period 1998 to 2007 in the local authorities that make up the North-West of England.

New build completions for local authorities in the North West Region

Local authority

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Allerdale

274

126

224

624

215

167

89

133

277

Barrow-in-Furness

123

120

142

385

150

107

74

108

118

Blackburn with Darwen UA

546

312

524

1,382

407

347

221

294

139

Blackpool UA

246

149

227

622

206

141

290

135

99

Bolton

516

804

655

1,975

628

596

589

515

892

Burnley

229

249

260

738

77

132

81

159

81

Bury

314

300

308

922

439

400

403

673

589

Carlisle

360

316

368

1,044

383

366

341

349

264

Chester

201

281

200

682

308

293

143

212

76

Chorley

404

467

412

1,283

464

393

305

349

253

Congleton

486

399

322

1,207

377

255

284

297

180

Copeland

123

180

197

500

144

149

264

498

176

Crewe and Nantwich

624

612

610

1,846

513

589

591

580

553

Eden

148

159

113

420

228

132

178

62

125

Ellesmere Port and Neston

201

173

58

432

77

126

207

309

128

Fylde

250

244

241

735

248

327

215

127

210

Halton UA

154

266

327

747

246

728

427

594

426

Hyndburn

208

212

178

598

164

169

170

259

140

Knowsley

166

194

275

635

108

398

385

221

539

Lancaster

283

335

284

902

459

500

192

78

101

Liverpool

1,343

1,254

1,406

4,003

827

1,041

1,472

2,734

2,091

Macclesfield

325

311

387

1,023

379

296

275

322

183

Manchester

1,367

1,453

1,712

4,532

2,787

1,770

924

1,024

1,355

Oldham

634

477

414

1,525

370

496

286

362

530

Pendle

114

190

207

511

159

158

177

117

206

Preston

566

274

360

1,200

82

289

718

395

177

Ribble Valley

164

133

198

495

187

226

157

74

71

Rochdale

533

508

381

1,422

449

154

247

463

232

Rossendale

206

133

59

398

158

208

318

181

134

Salford

590

524

636

1,750

482

810

1,214

1,490

495

Sefton

669

468

487

1,624

475

491

127

291

200

South Lakeland

354

317

256

927

282

154

162

253

283

South Ribble

494

428

237

1,159

523

269

345

453

229

St. Helens

555

417

473

1,445

434

441

840

286

301

Stockport

237

398

292

927

171

290

208

405

352

Tameside

289

365

588

1,242

442

333

410

707

728

Trafford

378

238

214

830

509

671

751

668

504

Vale Royal

482

729

617

1,828

533

365

297

224

150

Warrington UA

385

519

473

1,377

481

529

619

1,054

711

West Lancashire

405

330

340

1,075

411

256

422

143

159

Wigan

1,309

1,147

922

3,378

624

850

830

1,000

1,348

Wirral

849

685

632

2,166

648

517

435

495

516

Wyre

268

324

493

1,085

368

381

208

198

207

Region

18,372

17,520

17,709

53,601

17,622

17,310

16,891

19,291

16,528

Housing: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for changes to permitted development rights with regards to household extensions; and how the proposed changes will amend planning rules on loft extensions. (203051)

The Government intend to bring into force amendments to householder permitted development rights, including those for roof extensions, in October this year. The proposed regime will keep the current approach that allows householders roof extensions of up to no more than 40 cubic metres for terraced houses and 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached properties. An extension will not be permitted on a roof that fronts the house and is visible from the highway. Rear loft extensions will have to be set back at least 20 centimetres from the eaves.

A key change for all types of household extension is that the overall household volume restriction will be removed. This means that householders will no longer have to apply for planning permission for loft extensions if they have already extended at ground level.

Roof extensions will not be permitted development in certain sensitive areas such as conservation areas and national parks.

Housing: Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assumptions are made on the amount of waste and recycling produced each week in litres by family homes in determining the Code for Sustainable Homes recommendations on household waste storage capacity. (204722)

The Code for Sustainable Homes does not make any assumptions on the amount of waste and recycling produced by family homes. The Code’s Technical Guidance published in April 2008 contains mandatory minimum standards for the waste and recycling component for all levels of the Code. It states that space allocated for waste storage should be able to hold containers, the volume of which must be at least the minimum recommended by British Standard BS 5906 (British Standards, 2005) i.e. 100 litres volume for a single bedroom dwelling, with a further 70 litres volume for each additional bedroom.

A local authority recycling scheme offering containers equal to or greater than this volume would meet the requirements under the Code for Sustainable Homes, providing adequate external space is allocated to accommodate them. If the local authority provides containers with a smaller volume, or if no local authority scheme exists, the developer will need to ensure and demonstrate that the minimum recommended volume is met if they are to meet the requirements under the Code.

The Code also states that all containers must be accessible to disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, and sited on a hard, level surface. To allow easy access, the containers must not be stacked.

INTERREG Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1203W, on the France (Channel)-England Programme Managing Authority, which local authorities in England fall within the programme area. (202990)

The following local authorities in England fall within the area covered by the France (Channel)—England cross border co-operation programme:

South East England

Brighton and Hove City Council

East Sussex County Council

Eastbourne Borough Council

Hastings Borough Council

Lewes District Council

Rother District Council

Wealden District Council

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

East Hampshire District Council

Eastleigh Borough Council

Fareham Borough Council

Gosport Borough Council

Hampshire County Council

Hart District Council

Havant Borough Council

New Forest District Council

Portsmouth City Council

Rushmoor Borough Council

Southampton City Council

Test Valley Borough Council

Winchester City Council

Isle of Wight Council

Waverley Borough Council

Woking Borough Council

Adur District Council

Arun District Council

Chichester District Council

Crawley Borough Council

Horsham District Council

Mid Sussex District Council

West Sussex County Council

Worthing Borough Council

Ashford Borough Council

Canterbury City Council

Dartford Borough Council

Dover District Council

Gravesham Borough Council

Kent County Council

Maidstone Borough Council

Medway Council

Sevenoaks District Council

Shepway District Council

Swale Borough Council

Thanet District Council

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Elmbridge Borough Council

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council

Guildford Borough Council

Mole Valley District Council

Tandridge District Council

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council

Runnymede Borough Council

Spelthorne Borough Council

Surrey County Council

Surrey Heath Borough Council

East of England

Breckland District Council

Broadland District Council

Great Yarmouth Borough Council

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council

Norfolk County Council

North Norfolk District Council

Norwich City Council

South Norfolk Council

Babergh District Council

Forest Heath District Council

Ipswich Borough Council

Mid Suffolk District Council

St. Edmundsbury Borough Council

Suffolk Coastal District Council

Suffolk County Council

Waveney District Council

Cambridge City Council

Cambridgeshire County Council

East Cambridgeshire District Council

Fenland District Council

Huntingdonshire District Council

Peterborough City Council

South Cambridgeshire District Council

Basildon District Council

Braintree District Council

Brentwood Borough Council

Castle Point Borough Council

Chelmsford Borough Council

Colchester Borough Council

Epping Forest District Council

Essex County Council

Harlow District Council

Maldon District Council

Rochford District Council

Southend on Sea Borough Council

Tendring District Council

Thurrock Council

Uttlesford District Council

South West England

Caradon District Council

Carick District Council

Cornwall County Council

Kerrier District Council

North Cornwall District Council

Penwith District Council

Restormel Borough Council

Isle of Scilly Council

Devon County Council

East Devon District Council

Exeter City Council

Mid Devon District Council

North Devon District Council

Plymouth City Council

Bournemouth Borough Council

Christchurch Borough Council

Dorset County Council

East Dorset District Council

North Dorset District Council

Purbeck District Council

West Dorset District Council

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Mendip District Council

Sedgemoor District Council

Somerset County Council

South Somerset District Council

Taunton Deane District Council

West Somerset District Council

Kennet District Council

North Wiltshire District Council

Torbay Council

South Hams District Council

Teignbridge District Council

West Devon Borough Council

Torridge District Council

Salisbury District Council

Borough of Poole

West Wiltshire District Council

Wiltshire County Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans there are for the managing authority of the France (Manche)-England Operational Programme to be designated as a body under European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation provisions. (203041)

INTERREG Programme: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what projects are being considered in (a) Castle Point constituency and (b) Essex for funding under the (i) INTERREG and (ii) European Social Fund programmes; and if she will make a statement. (203635)

The information requested is as follows.

INTERREG IVA

Essex is included as an adjacent area in the France(Channel)-England and Two Seas INTERREG IVA programmes. The Operational Programmes for both programmes were submitted to the European Commission in November 2007 and have not yet been adopted, or approved, by the Commission. No projects have therefore yet been considered for approval.

INTERREG IVB

Essex is included in the North sea and North West Europe INTERREG IVB programmes. Both these programmes have now had a first call for projects resulting in 11 approvals. One of the North West Europe projects—IMCORE—has a Colchester based partner called Coastnet.

The second call for North sea projects has closed. Of the 30 project applications submitted two have Essex based partners. Essex county council for Haven Gateway is a partner in the Dryport project and Southend on Sea borough council is a partner in the Building with Care project. The second call for North West Europe projects closes on 9 May and we do not yet have information on individual partners.

INTERREG IVC

The first call for INTERREG IVC ended on 15 January 2008. There were over 480 applications and the IVC Secretariat is currently assessing them. We expect to receive project and partner details from the Secretariat during summer 2008.

European Social Fund

For the European Social Fund, two project specifications relating specifically to Essex have been appraised and await award of contract. A further 16 tenders for regional contracts that are likely to include Essex and Castle Point are under negotiation.

INTERREG Programme: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding the Government will be providing in co-payments towards the EU INTERREG (a) IVA, (b) IVB and (c) IVC programmes over the next three years. (203043)

The Government will not be providing match funding for projects in the new programmes. But we will be contributing towards their technical assistance budgets which are used for funding the programme secretariats. These secretariats deal with the day to day management of the programmes including arranging project applications, project monitoring and providing general advice. The UK contribution for April 2008 to March 2010 will be:

Euro

Interreg IVA

1,593,000

Interreg IVB (including INTERACT)

2,087,782

Interreg IVC

337,053

Total

4,017,835

Local Authorities: Cost Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what procurement advice her Department has given to best value authorities on the application of the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters; (203354)

(2) how many times the alternative dispute resolution procedure has been invoked for best value authority contracts;

(3) what steps her Department has taken to assess the effect the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters in best value authority contracts;

(4) what steps her Department has taken to monitor (a) the application of and (b) compliance with the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters in best value authority contracts.

The code of practice on work force matters in local authority service contracts (ODPM, 2003) is guidance based on the Secretary of State's view that a ‘two-tier work force’ does not achieve ‘best value’. Local authorities should have regard to the code when considering individual contracts.

The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure was developed by the TUC, CBI, the LGA—Local Government Association—and the Employers' Association for Local Government. Use of the ADR is not monitored centrally.

Communities and Local Government is carrying out a programme of ongoing research that will evaluate the impact of the local government procurement agenda as a whole. A specific strand has been to attempt to isolate the impact of the code of practice. Initial results were published in the ‘Evaluation of the Local Government Procurement Agenda—Baseline Survey Report’ (ODPM, August 2005). Just over two-thirds of authorities had included work force matters as a standard issue in contracts for services.

Currently, local authorities are required to certify in their best value performance plans (BVPPs) that individual contracts comply with best value requirements, including the work force requirements in the two-tier code. As part of the package of de-regulatory measures, announced in the Local Government White Paper 2006, the Department signalled the intention to remove the requirement for authorities to prepare BVPPs; provisions to do so were secured in the ‘Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007’. We will be consulting on proposed arrangements for monitoring compliance with the code in future.

Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many parish and town councils there are in England; and what estimate her Department has made of the number which levy a precept on council tax bills in their area. (203063)

There are approximately 8,900 parish and town councils in England. Details of the number of parish and town councils which levy a precept on council tax bills in their area is not recorded centrally.

Local Government Finance: Enfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the ratio between central Government funding and council tax revenue received by the London borough of Enfield was in each of the last 10 years. (202862)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) on 17 September 2007, Official Report, column 2181W.

Local Government Finance Funding Changes Independent Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which recommendations of the Lyons Inquiry into local government finance the Government (a) has implemented and (b) plans to implement. (203055)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on 9 January 2008, Official Report, column 631W.

Local Government: Electronic Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what citizen identification types are included in the Valuebill XML Schema. (203059)

Local Government: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) which private contractors have been given admitted body status to the local government pension scheme; (203355)

(2) how many third sector organisations have been given admitted body status to the local government pension scheme.

The information is not held centrally in the form requested.

The regulations governing the scheme in England and Wales require administering authorities to inform the Secretary of State of all admission agreements which they make. A list of admission bodies which have been notified to the Secretary of State has been deposited in the Library of the House. These lists do not specifically distinguish between contractors, third sector and other bodies.

Mobile Homes: Multiple Occupation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the number of park homes which are used as houses of multiple occupation. (204009)

A park home cannot be a ‘house in multiple occupation’ because it is not a building for the purpose of applying one or more of the tests in section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.

Non-Domestic Rates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the equivalent percentage rise in average business rate bills will be in a local authority area which levies the maximum supplementary business rate. (203042)

It is not possible to calculate the equivalent percentage increase in average business rate bills in a local authority area which levies the maximum business rate supplement, as it will depend on a number of factors, some of which can not be predicted. These include the level of the non-domestic rating multipliers before and at the time the supplement is levied and whether the property is in receipt of any rate relief. In addition, as announced in “Business rate supplements: a White Paper”, all properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less will not have to pay the supplement, thus excluding the vast majority of business properties in England. Those authorities levying supplements will also be able to decide whether there should be an offset for ratepayers contributing to BIDs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what restrictions there are on how revenue from supplementary business rates can be spent by local authorities. (203044)

‘Business rate supplements: a White Paper’, published in October 2007, made clear that the power to raise supplements is not intended to provide general purpose revenues. The revenue from business rate supplements will only be available for initiatives that will promote the economic development of an area and which otherwise would not have taken place.

Official Hospitality: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse was of the visit by the Chinese Ambassador and the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull to Mr. Chu’s China Palace in Kingston upon Hull in April 2004 according to records created during the existence of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. (204493)

All expenditure on official entertainment in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was made in accordance with the guidance set out in the “Ministerial Code” and with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in “Government Accounting”.

Ordnance Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she has (a) received representations and (b) commissioned advice on whether separating raw data from value-added products is consistent with Ordnance Survey’s new public task definition. (203439)

Since Ministers approved the revised Ordnance Survey Public Task in July 2007 representations have been made specifically on the separation of raw data from value added products. Ordnance Survey continues in discussions with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Office for Public Sector Information in response to recommendations raised by OFT in the report on its study of the Commercial Reuse of Public Information.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the effects of applications of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Directive on Ordnance Survey’s new public task definition. (203465)

Since Ministers approved the revised Ordnance Survey Public Task in July 2007, representations have been received from one trade association representing a number of private sector commercial organisations who commercially exploit public sector information. These representations included an unsubstantiated claim that the revised Public Task has implications for the applicability of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Directive.

Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Infrastructure Planning Commission will consider planning applications for (a) incinerators, (b) airports, (c) motorways, (d) housing developments and (e) sewage plants. (203064)

Under the proposals set out in the Planning Bill, the Infrastructure Planning Commission would consider applications for development consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects, which could include motorway, airport, sewage treatment plant, and waste incinerator projects, where they met the specified thresholds. It would not deal with housing developments.

Planning Permission: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many successful prosecutions for breaches of the Building Control Regulations there have been since 2000. (203706)

Building control bodies initially try to deal with enforcement in an informal manner by seeking to resolve the issues so as to reach a satisfactory conclusion without reverting to formal enforcement through the courts.

Information on the number of prosecutions (whether or not successful) is not collected centrally. However, a recent survey of building control bodies, carried out by the Building Control Alliance, indicated that in 2006-07, less than 0.1 per cent. of applications resulted in formal enforcement action.

The survey may be accessed at:

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/surveybuildingcontrolrpt

Planning Permission: Strip Clubs

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning appeals the Planning Inspectorate has considered in relation to lap dancing clubs in the last 36 months. (204487)

The Planning Inspectorate does not capture data to enable identification of planning appeals relating specifically to lap dancing clubs.

Property: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost to (a) her Department and (b) the public purse of meeting requests for private sector organisations for master address lists in the last 12 months. (203430)

The Department has created no master address list of its own, so has incurred no costs itself. No estimate of costs to the wider public purse has been made.

Property: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1410W, on property: valuation, how many dwellings are recorded on the Valuation Office Agency’s computers as being assigned with an OS value significant code. (202994)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1410W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1410W, on property: valuation, how many dwellings are recorded on the Valuation Office Agency’s computers as being assigned a FC value significant code;. (202999)

(2) how many dwellings in England are currently recorded by the Valuation Office Agency as having the value significant code of (a) TQ and (b) UP.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1410W.

Social Rented Housing: Waiting Lists

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many households in England were on local authority waiting lists for social housing in 2007; (204499)

(2) what the average period of time a household spent on local authority waiting lists before obtaining social housing was in the latest period for which figures are available.

For information on the number of households on local authority waiting lists I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 March 2008, Official Report, columns 1198-99W.

Information on the average wait for households on local authority waiting lists is not collected centrally.

Travelling People: Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2008, Official Report, column 1903W, on travelling people: council tax, whether traveller camps which occupy land which they do not own or have permission to occupy, and which do not having planning permission for occupation, are valued for council tax or business rates by the Valuation Office Agency. (203159)

A clearly defined pitch for a caravan which is a person's sole or main residence will be liable for council tax whether the basis for the occupation is legal or not.

Valuation Office: Digital Mapping

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1397W., on digital mapping, what role the Valuation Office Agency has in the development of Digital National Framework. (202955)

The Valuation Office Agency no longer plays an active role in the development of the Digital National Framework and are correspondence members only.

Valuation: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local billing authorities in England communicate property amendments to the Valuation Office Agency through (a) the Valuebill interface and (b) electronic billing authority reports. (203066)

None, other than by electronic billing authority reports (eBARs).

Between 1 January and 31 December 2007, 148 local authorities in England submitted eBARs to the Valuation Office Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Valuation Office Agency's targets are for local authority take-up of (a) the Valuebill interface and (b) electronic billing authority reports. (203067)

The Valuation Office Agency encourages all authorities to use these facilities but the decision whether to do so rests with them.

Waste Management: Audit

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account of joint waste authority status will be taken by the Audit Commission in conducting comprehensive area assessments. (203037)

Comprehensive area assessment (CAA) will assess the prospects for improving priority outcomes in each area. The effectiveness of joint working between local partners to achieve this improvement will be an important part of this assessment, but CAA will not be prescriptive about the particular arrangements for joint working. An adverse judgment under CAA would result if the inspectorates were not satisfied that outcomes will improve. The existence or otherwise of joint arrangements for a particular service would not automatically result in such a judgment being ‘marked down’.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action the Government has taken to reduce crime related to drunkenness. (186847)

[holding answer 18 February 2008]: The Government take the issue of crime and antisocial behaviour committed by individuals when drunk very seriously. The Government have taken a number of actions in order to combat this, including introducing the Tackling Violent Crime Programme (TVCP) which was launched in November 2004. Additionally, local areas are now required to address alcohol-related issues within their Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP) strategies. The Government have produced guidance to assist local areas in producing their strategies, and the Government offices for the regions are coordinating this requirement within their specific region. The Government have also recently published ‘A practical guide for dealing with alcohol related problems’ which is aimed at local alcohol practitioners and gives advice about the tools and powers available to tackle alcohol related crime.

The Government are working to improve the way alcohol related offenders are dealt with in custody and in the community. The National Offender Management Service is taking this work forward which includes; the publication of an alcohol pack for offenders under probation supervision, disseminating across the National Probation Service learning points from alcohol best practice projects, as well as work to develop two alcohol treatment programmes for prisons.

Additionally, the Government have funded four alcohol arrest referral pilots. These schemes aim to offer custody based interventions from a trained worker in order to reduce re-offending. These pilots will be rolled out to 10 new areas, which will ensure that the under 18's will also benefit from these interventions.

Cannabis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of cannabis users were classed as regular users (a) in each year since 1996 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available. (201691)

The British crime survey (BCS) only collects information about frequent drug use among young people aged 16 to 24 years. Questions on frequency of use in the last year were first asked in the 2002-03 BCS.

Table 1 provides trend data between the 2002-03 and 2006-07 BCS for the proportion of cannabis users aged 16 to 24 years who reported to using cannabis frequently (more than once a month) in the previous year. The latest figures show that there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of 16 to 24-year-old cannabis users who report being a frequent user between the 2002-03 and 2006-07 BCS (from 46.1 per cent. to 37.0 per cent.).

Table 1: Frequent use in the last year among 16 to 24-year-old cannabis users, 2002-03 to 2006-07

Percentage

Used more than once a month

Unweighted base

2002-03

46.1

743

2003-04

46.9

1,267

2004-05

41.1

1,348

2005-06

41.2

1,164

2006-07

37.0

1,069

Source:

British crime survey (BCS).

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people arrested by officers of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre since establishment have been (a) charged, (b) tried and (c) found guilty; and what the (i) sentence and (ii) earliest date for parole was in each case. (204071)

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is the lead agency for the co-ordination of UK policing response to the threat of child sexual exploitation, particularly within the online or mobile environments. CEOP works to support police, child protection and education agencies locally and internationally to better protect children and young people from this threat.

Since its launch in April 2006, 207 children have been safeguarded from sexual abuse either directly or indirectly as the result of CEOP activity.

As of 31 March 2008, in 176 cases involving the arrests of individuals, where CEOP provided operational support to UK police forces and where feedback was received from those police forces, 60 individuals where charged with various offences, 10 were cautioned, 63 cases are ongoing, and in 43, no further action was taken.

Responsibility for and information pertaining to the investigation, prosecution, trial and post-conviction management of any individual dealt with as a result of information, intelligence or operational support provided by CEOP lies with the relevant police force or criminal justice agency concerned.

Cocaine

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of cocaine powder users were classed as regular users (a) in each year since 1996 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available. (201692)

The British Crime Survey (BCS) only collects information about frequent drug use among young people aged 16 to 24 years. Questions on frequency of use in the last year were first asked in the 2002-03 BCS.

The following table provides trend data between the 2002-03 and 2006-07 BCS for the proportion of cocaine powder users aged 16 to 24 years who reported to using cocaine frequently (more than once a month) in the previous year. The latest figures show that although there was an increase in the proportion of 16 to 24-year-old cocaine powder users who report being a frequent user between the 2002-03 and 2006-07 BCS (from 18.9 to 25.6) this was not statistically significant as these estimates are based on small samples and subject to large margins of error. Larger differences are required to detect statistically significant changes over time.

Frequent use in the last year among 16 to 24-year-old cocaine powder users, 2002-03 to 2006-07 BCS

Percentage

More than once a month

Unweighted base

2002-03

18.9

123

2003-04

17.2

253

2004-05

14.2

275

2005-06

22.3

321

2006-07

25.6

302

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many 16 to 24-year-olds were reported to have taken any form of cocaine in each year since 1996; (201693)

(2) what estimate she has made of the number of 16 to 59-year-olds who have used any form of cocaine in each year since 1996.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) routinely provides information about the numbers and proportions of people who have used drugs ever, in the last year and in the last month.

Tables 1 and 2 provide trends, where available, of the estimated number of 16 to 24-year-olds and 16 to 59-year-olds respectively, who have used any form of cocaine in the last year.

These estimates are based on small samples and subject to large margins of error, as indicated in the tables.

Trends in the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds and 16 to 59 year olds who have used any form of cocaine are also included and show an increase in use among both age groups between the 1996 and 2006-07 BCS.

Table 1 Estimates of numbers and prevalence of 16 to 24-year-olds who have used any form of cocaine in the last year. 1996 to 2006-07 BCS

Best estimate

Lower estimate

Higher estimate

% of 16 to 24 year olds

Statistically significant change 1996

Unweighted base

1996

82

49

136

1.4

1,420

1998

180

125

257

3.2

*

1,246

2000

304

235

391

5.4

*

1,468

2001-02

289

247

339

5.1

*

3,995

2002-03

300

257

350

5.2

*

4,227

2003-04

318

278

364

5.4

*

5,531

2004-05

312

275

355

5.1

*

6,196

2005-06

370

327

417

5.9

*

5,892

2006-07

375

332

423

6.1

*

5,706

Notes: 1. The values are derived by adding or subtracting the confidence interval around the 2006-07 sample best estimates. Lower and higher estimates are based on 95 per cent. confidence intervals (calculated using a logit transformation where proportions were less than 0.2 or greater than 0.8). 2. The figures are calculated using population estimates provided by the Government Actuary's Department.

Table 1: Estimates of numbers and prevalence of 16 to 59-year-olds who have used any form of cocaine in the last year. 1996 to 2006/07 BCS

Table 2: Estimates of numbers and prevalence of 16 to 59-year-olds who have used any form of cocaine in the last year. 1996 to 2006-07 BCS

Best estimate

Lower estimate

Higher estimate

% of 16 to 24 year olds

Statistically significant change 1996

Unweighted base

1996

196

148

259

0.6

-

10,741

1998

382

309

470

1.3

*

9,884

2000

632

547

729

2.0

*

12,771

2001-02

620

551

696

2.0

*

19,973

2002-03

652

588

724

2.1

*

23,357

2003-04

775

705

852

2.5

*

24,197

2004-05

644

585

709

2.0

*

28,206

2005-06

776

712

846

2.4

*

29,631

2006-07

835

767

908

2.6

*

28,975

Notes: 1. The values are derived by adding or subtracting the confidence interval around the 2006-07 sample best estimates. Lower and higher estimates are based on 95 per cent. confidence intervals (calculated using a logit transformation where proportions were less than 0.2 or greater than 0.8). 2. The figures are calculated using population estimates provided by the Government Actuary's Department.

Reoffenders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persistent and prolific offenders have been identified in each police force area in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (200479)

Data from the performance management arrangements for the Prolific and other Priority Offender programme provides the number of such offenders identified through partnership arrangements in each police force area. The data are provided in the following table. The data cover the three years from January 2005 up to December 2007, and are the most recent data available. These figures rely on the accuracy and completeness of the data provided locally by prolific and priority offender schemes.

Table 1

Police force area

1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005

1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006

1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007

Avon and Somerset

218

225

228

Bedfordshire

116

118

122

Cambridgeshire

92

107

135

Cheshire

180

185

191

City of London

4

11

15

Cleveland

132

145

144

Cumbria

67

68

69

Derbyshire

355

359

357

Devon and Cornwall

359

334

334

Dorset

52

75

62

Durham

57

58

79

Dyfed Powys

92

81

84

Essex

195

167

194

Gloucestershire

100

104

112

Greater Manchester

737

840

1,004

Gwent

77

81

90

Hampshire

210

258

333

Hertfordshire

228

149

142

Humberside

181

212

234

Kent

306

254

278

Lancashire

413

361

427

Leicestershire

338

341

342

Lincolnshire

125

111

195

Merseyside

412

417

336

Metropolitan police

1,090

1,139

1,185

Norfolk

118

93

112

North Wales

136

100

120

North Yorkshire

55

89

122

Northamptonshire

183

259

265

Northumbria

224

219

241

Nottinghamshire

501

497

634

South Wales

186

195

237

South Yorkshire

240

237

265

Staffordshire

157

261

239

Suffolk

160

170

145

Surrey

138

181

149

Sussex

311

309

350

Thames Valley

327

334

330

Warwickshire

71

78

107

West Mercia

154

117

117

West Midlands

708

758

788

West Yorkshire

283

242

243

Wiltshire

80

78

48

Shares: Sales Methods

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance has been provided to police forces in England and Wales on dealing with fraud associated with boiler room operations. (204154)

The Government have not issued specific guidance to police forces on dealing with boiler room fraud but aim to deliver a multi-agency response to major frauds including boiler-room frauds. Law enforcement agencies, Government Departments and regulators have already worked together on several initiatives and the City of London Police has established Operation Archway, a national intelligence reporting system for boiler room fraud.

Action against boiler rooms will be strengthened further by the creation of the National Fraud Strategic Authority, which will co-ordinate national counter-fraud efforts. In parallel, the creation of a National Fraud Reporting Centre will boost the ability of law enforcement agencies to take intelligence-led action against complex fraud networks, such as those responsible for boiler rooms.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people were (a) arrested and (b) convicted for offences relating to fraud by boiler room operations in 2007. (204157)

The arrests collection undertaken by the Ministry of Justice provides data on persons arrested for recorded crime (notifiable offences), by age group, gender, ethnicity, and main offence group, i.e. robbery, burglary, fraud and forgery etc. From data reported centrally we are not able to identify specific offences of fraud from within the main ‘fraud and forgery’ offence group.

Similarly, the data held centrally by the Ministry of Justice on the court proceedings database does not contain information about the circumstances behind each case. As a result offences of fraud by boiler room operations cannot be separately identified from other offences under section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006.

Wildlife: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will review the effectiveness of enforcement by police forces of measures against wildlife crime and illegal hunting. (201500)

We have no plans at present to review the effectiveness of enforcement by police forces of measures against wildlife crime and illegal hunting.

It is the role of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to review the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces. As such it would be for the Chief Inspector to decide on such a review.

The Home Office has recently announced that it will contribute £150,000 per year for three years to fund the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU). Government officials will be working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the NWCU to monitor the outcomes achieved through this funding.

The Home Office continues to meet with interested stakeholders and to work closely with the police, through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to identify what more can be done to ensure the Hunting Act is effectively and appropriately enforced and to improve detection of illegal hunting.

The Association of Chief Police Officers have conducted a survey of local police forces’ response to enforcement of the Hunting Act which will inform best-practice guidance. The Government are also working with ACPO on ways to raise awareness of issues surrounding enforcement of the Hunting Act across the police service, and to communicate the importance of visible enforcement to community policing in rural areas and to the maintenance of public order.

We are also working closely with the Attorney-General about what more can be done to secure prosecutions where evidence has been presented of Hunting Act offences being committed. The Attorney-General in turn has agreed to raise the issue of the burden of proof in hunting cases with the Director of Public Prosecutions, and to engage with local Crown Prosecution Service leads to better understand and then communicate, the evidence needed to bring forward successful prosecutions.

26 individuals have now been convicted of offences under the Hunting Act 2004 which does show that the legislation is enforceable when the evidence presents itself.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she will answer Question 179094 on the national DNA database tabled on 9 January 2008 by the hon. Member for Cardiff Central; and if she will make a statement. (192952)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to reply to Question 191801, tabled on 29 February 2008, on test sales for video works. (198874)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Carlton Gardens

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 99W, on 1 Carlton Gardens, (1) what charges were made to the right hon. Member for Derby, South in respect of her occupation of the property following cessation of Ministerial office; (199519)

(2) what level of payment was made by the right hon. Member for Derby, South while occupying the property (a) as a Minister and (b) when not holding Minist