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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 12 May 2008

House of Commons Commission

Parliament: Renewable Energy

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much electricity was (a) consumed on and (b) produced from onsite renewable sources on the Parliamentary Estate in each year from 2002 to 2007. (202191)

The quantities of electricity consumed on the House of Commons part of the parliamentary estate in each year from April 2003 to March 2008, derived from invoices, are given as follows. The data for the year 2002-03 are not readily available.

Electricity consumption (kWh)

2003-04

21,439,229

2004-05

21,560,046

2005-06

21,864,974

2006-07

21,928,289

2007-08

21,740,053

No electricity was produced from onsite renewable sources on the parliamentary estate in any year from 2002-08. 10 per cent. of electricity was purchased from offsite renewable sources from 2003 onwards and by April 2007, this had increased to 100 per cent.

Electoral Commission Committee

Polling Stations: Disabled

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance has been issued to returning officers on (a) access to polling stations for those with disabilities and (b) steps to be taken in the event of non-delivery of polling cards. (204642)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: The Electoral Commission informs me that its guidance for returning officers covers access to polling stations for those with disabilities. This includes a checklist of issues to consider when choosing buildings for use as polling stations. The polling station handbook for use by presiding officers and poll clerks on election day also contains advice on accessibility.

The Commission’s guidance also includes information about the production and distribution of polling cards and the Commission provides advice on request in the event of non-delivery of polling cards.

Wales

Departmental Translation Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent by his Department on translation and interpretation services in 2007-08, broken down by language. (205175)

My Department spent £6,620 on translation services in the last financial year; all translation costs were for the Welsh language.

Parc Prison: Mental Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to ensure the provision of child and adolescent mental health services in Parc Prison, Bridgend; and if he will make a statement. (203586)

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Health Commission Wales (HCW) is currently working towards the provision of a Forensic Adolescent Consultation and Treatment Service (FACTS) in South and North Wales. HCW anticipate the service to be available in the summer of this year (2008). Part of the FACTS remit of the South Wales team will be to provide assessment and treatment advice for children in Pare prison with mental health problems. The FACTS will also assist local CAMHS teams in the development of specific services to the prison population.

The Welsh Assembly Government has made a commitment to CAMHS in its ‘One Wales’ document. The budget settlement included an additional £4.8 million—£1 million in 2008-09 and £1.6 million and £2.2 million in successive years—to enhance service delivery. This clearly demonstrates the priority that the Assembly Government attaches to these services. In addition, some £6.5 million has been allocated to counselling in schools over the same period.

The 2001 document “Everybody’s Business” is embedded in the development of policy within the Assembly Government. The well-being of children and adolescents in Wales, including their mental emotional health, is of paramount importance to this Government.

The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services in Wales (NSF) embeds this philosophy and the setting of targets via the Service and Financial Framework for the NHS in Wales has ensured that services are improving as evidenced by the NSF Self Assessment Audit Tool results for 2006-07.

A review of CAMHS covering all relevant agencies is being undertaken by the Wales Audit Office and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. The outcome of this review, which is expected towards the end of 2008, will contribute positively to future service developments.

Transport

A4123

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to complete the de-trunking of the A4123. (204250)

Subject to the completion of the statutory procedures, it is intended that the A4123 should be detrunked by March 2009.

A4123: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many accidents took place on the A4123 involving (a) pedestrians and (b) cyclists in the last five years; (204247)

(2) how many accidents resulting in fatalities have occurred on the A4123 in the last five years.

The number of accidents on the length of A4123 for which the Highways Agency is responsible, for the latest five year period for which data are available, is as follows:

Personal injury accidents: 48 pedestrians; 18 cyclists.

Fatalities: four, of which two involved pedestrians.

A4123: Cycleways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the feasibility of introducing improved provision for cyclists on the A4123. (204251)

The Highways Agency has given consideration to the provision of cycle routes on the A4123 footways near junctions but no specific schemes have so far been identified.

A4123: Pedestrians

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans her Department has to improve facilities for (a) pedestrians and (b) cyclists on the A4123 in Dudley and Sandwell. (204245)

Currently there are no schemes planned in the 2008-09 financial year to improve the facilities already available for pedestrians and cyclists on the A4123. A scheme identified for future consideration is the improvement of pedestrian facilities in the vicinity of Mason Street, Coseley but this is unlikely to be completed prior to the proposed detrunking of this route.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the risk of accident to (a) pedestrians and (b) cyclists on the A4123 in Dudley and Sandwell. (204246)

There have been two formal studies carried out into the accident risk to pedestrians and cyclists on the A4123 in the last three years. These were A4123 Pedestrian and Cyclists Accidents Birmingham to Wolverhampton Safety Study (April 2005) and The A4123 Operational Review (January 2008). In addition a review of the needs of pedestrians under the Disability Discrimination Act has also been completed for the whole of the route. All resulted in schemes that have either been taken forward or are being considered for future development.

A4123: Safety Measures

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department has taken to improve safety for pedestrians crossing the A4123 between the Foxyard and Priory estates in Dudley. (204249)

There is an existing signal controlled crossing facility on the A4123 at Priory road. The Highways Agency has given consideration to the provision of additional facilities at Tipton road but this is unlikely to be completed prior to the proposed detrunking of this route.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much her Department and its predecessors 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. (204103)

The majority of central Government Departments are members of the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF). The GCOF aims to fulfil the Government's commitment to offset emissions attributable to all official and ministerial air travel in central government. It is available to all central government departments and provides a simple and cost effective way to offset, as well as ensuring high environmental integrity. The GCOF runs for an initial period of three years (2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09).

The GCOF is being managed by EEA Fund Management Ltd., who won the contract to source and deliver 255,000 certified emission reduction credits, with a provision for a further 50,000 credits, over three years from a range of clean development mechanism(COM) projects. Credits will be supplied from the project portfolio of Trading Emissions Plc, to whom EEA is the investment adviser.

As a participant in the GCOF, the Department for Transport contributed £13,445.17 to offset air travel in the year 2006-07. In addition, the Government Car and Despatch Agency contributed £22,621.31 to offset Government road fleet emissions. Data are currently being collected for the 2007-08 reporting year and will be available later in the year.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of her Department's civil servants have been (a) suspended and (b) dismissed for accessing (i) obscene and (ii) other prohibited material on work computers in each of the last five years. (188781)

Regular reminders are issued to staff about their responsibilities with regard to the use of e-mail and internet systems. In order to ensure that these systems are not abused, or that the Department for Transport’s (DFT) security is not compromised, e-mails and internet use may be monitored from time to time.

Following are the details of the number of DFT staff either suspended or dismissed over the past five years for accessing either obscene or other prohibited material on work computers.

Suspended

Dismissed

2007

<5

<5

2006

1<5

218

2005

<5

<5

2004

<5

<5

2003

<5

<5

Total

9

26

1 Includes one case where an individual was suspended but resigned before disciplinary charges could be investigated.

2 Includes 17 people who were dismissed from DVLA after it was discovered that staff had been accessing and circulating inappropriate material.

Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 33W, on public transport: concessions, what representation of those with mental health disabilities there is on the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. (204018)

There is no specific representation of those with mental health disabilities on the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC).

Section 125 (3) of the Transport Act 1985 provides that at least half of the membership of the Committee should consist of persons who are disabled. Currently over 60 per cent. (13 out of 21) of the Committee are disabled. Members are appointed on merit and have experience of disability issues in general and understanding of the particular issues pertaining to certain impairments. DPTAC has a pan-disability approach to its work and its advice regularly reflect the views and concerns of people with different types of impairments.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Disclosure of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many requests from (a) private individuals, (b) car park enforcement companies and (c) other sources were submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for the release of information from the vehicle register under the provision of reasonable cause in each of the last five years; and how many of these were (i) agreed and (ii) rejected in each such year. (205159)

The following table includes all requests for vehicle keeper details processed under the ‘reasonable cause’ provisions. These include requests from insurance and finance companies, private car park enforcement companies, members of the public and solicitors, for keeper details at a specific date of event. It also contains requests where the current registered keeper requires the full history of his vehicle and from mileage companies for investigations into vehicle ‘clocking’. The DVLA does not keep separate figures for each category of requests, so is unable to provide figures on how many requests were from private individual, car park enforcement companies, or other sources.

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Electronic

597,688

633,084

809,859

936,538

1,263,019

Manual

291,975

327,476

454,425

407,365

380,874

Total

889,663

960,560

1,264,284

1,343,903

1,643,893

The following table shows the number of requests for information that were rejected during the same time period.

Requests rejected

2003-04

17,565

2004-05

16,381

2005-06

12,383

2006-07

37,763

2007-08

35,682

Total

119,774

Felixstowe to Nuneaton Railway Line: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail route in each year since 1997; how much her Department plans to spend in (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011, (d) 2012 and (e) 2013; and how much of this expenditure is intended to improve the freight carrying capacity of the line. (204023)

The amount of money spent on the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route since 1997 is a matter for Network Rail. The White Paper—‘Delivering a Sustainable Railway’—provided for £200 million to create a strategic freight network of which £50 million has been proposed for Ipswich to Nuneaton capacity enhancements. A further £80 million of Productivity—Transport Innovation Fund money was announced in October 2007 for gauge and capacity enhancements between Peterborough and Nuneaton.

All this expenditure is intended to enhance freight capacity on the route but will benefit passenger services as well. The annual breakdown of spend on these projects between 2009 and 2013 is a matter for Network Rail.

GoVia

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1117W, on GoVia, by what date she expects to have made an announcement regarding the South Central rail franchise. (203524)

[holding answer 6 May 2008]: The Government will be making a further announcement with regard to the South Central franchise before the end of May.

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 having been designated as high priority for resurfacing have been resurfaced when the road surface has been assessed as being structurally sound. (203876)

Official Vehicles: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in how many accidents (a) ministerial vehicles and (b) accompanying police vehicles have been involved in each of the last 10 years, broken down by ministerial office; and what the cost of repairs was in each case. (204010)

Official cars for Ministers are provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. There have been no accidents involving ministerial cars and accompanying police vehicles since the Agency was formed in 1997.

Oil: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, columns 2263-4W, on oil: prices, whether she plans to revise her projections for the future price of oil in (a) 2010, (b) 2015 and (c) 2020. (204668)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: The Department for Transport uses oil price projections from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) in its transport modelling. On 2 May 2008, BERR published revised oil price assumptions to (a) $65; (b) $68; and (c) $70 for the years requested. These are in 2007 prices and refer to their central scenario.

We are in the process of using these updated projections to make new road traffic and congestion forecasts. The new oil price projections will also be incorporated into the latest versions of Department guidance and software used in developing business cases for funding by promoters.

Railways: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what preparatory steps she has taken in connection with the possible future construction of high-speed rail lines. (203339)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: The Secretary of State has invited Network Rail to lead work on the development of our understanding of the complex options that may be needed in the future, in the context of the Department for Transport’s wider strategic planning process. This will include looking at the feasibility and potential role of new railway lines, whether high speed or conventional.

Railways: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 26 March 2008, Official Report, column 173W, on railways: consultants, (1) what work is being carried out by consultants on behalf of her Department on the feasibility of a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham; (202168)

(2) what work is being done by her Department on the feasibility of a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: The Secretary of State has invited Network Rail to lead work on the development of our understanding of the complex options that may be needed in the future, in the context of the Department for Transport’s wider strategic planning process. This will include looking at the feasibility and potential role of new railway lines, whether high speed or conventional.

Roads: Canvey Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funds have been allocated by her Department at national and regional level to Essex county council's feasibility study into an additional access road for Canvey Island. (204603)

The question of a proposed access road to Canvey Island is a matter for Essex county council, as local highway authority. The Department for Transport has not specifically allocated any funding for a feasibility study for any proposed scheme either at national or regional level.

Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to ensure that the electric version of the proposed Inter-City Express will be equipped with an automatic coupler to facilitate the attachment of a diesel locomotive. (204179)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: It is a requirement of the Invitation to Tender, published by the Department for Transport last year, that electric IEP trains can be automatically coupled to diesel powered vehicles.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what role her Department will have in the procurement process for the new Inter-City Express rolling stock. (204180)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: The Department for Transport has been leading the procurement process to-date, and will continue to do so through to completion in 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to ensure that rail vehicles intended for use on (a) Thameslink and (b) Crossrail routes will be compatible for use on either line. (204181)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: Thameslink and Crossrail are similar in concept. Both aim to connect together national rail routes with a high frequency metro style service through central London. However, Thameslink uses existing tunnels built in the 19th century, whereas Crossrail will use a new, purpose built tunnel. As a result the constraints on the physical size of the trains are different for the two projects and for that reason it is unlikely that they will be fully compatible.

Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date she expects to publish her Green Paper on transport challenges; and what topics will be covered by the Paper. (203337)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: Since the publication of “Towards a Sustainable Transport System” in October 2007, the Department for Transport has been discussing with stakeholders how to define the challenges that we will need to address in our transport strategy for 2014 and beyond. Those discussions finished at the end of March. We aim to publish our response to these stakeholder discussions, and our view on how the process of generating and selecting options should work, shortly.

Work and Pensions

Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his statement of 16 January 2008, Official Report, column 944, that there was record employment under Labour, including record numbers of British jobs, how many (a) people and (b) working age people were in employment in each year since 1997; what the (i) employment rate and (ii) working age employment rate was of (A) the UK population, (B) UK citizens, (C) UK born citizens and (D) non-UK citizens in each year; what the figures were in each quarter since 1 January 2006; and if he will make a statement on Government targets for the employment rate in the UK. (181903)

The information requested, as well as information on all those aged 16 and over in employment, is given in the following tables.

The Government's aim is to maximise employment opportunity for all, with a long-term aspiration of an employment rate of 80 per cent.

Table A: UK population

(i) Employment rate (percentage)

(ii) WA employment

(iii) 16+ employment

Q2 1997

72.90

25,700,000

26,500,000

Q2 1999

73.90

26,300,000

27,100,000

Q2 2001

74.50

26,900,000

27,700,000

Q2 2002

74.50

27,000,000

27,900,000

Q2 2003

74.80

27,300,000

28,200,000

Q2 2004

74.70

27,400,000

28,400,000

Q2 2005

74.70

27,700,000

28,700,000

Q1 2006

74.60

27,800,000

28,900,000

Q2 2006

74.60

27,800,000

29,000,000

Q3 2006

74.50

27,900,000

29,000,000

Q4 2006

74.50

27,900,000

29,100,000

Q1 2007

74.30

27,900,000

29,100,000

Q2 2007

74.40

27,900,000

29,200,000

Q3 2007

74.40

28,000,000

29,200,000

Q4 2007

74.70

28,100,000

29,400,000

Table B: UK Nationals

(i) Employment rate (percentage)

(ii) WA employment

(iii) 16+ employment

Q2 1997

73.2

24,600,000

25,400,000

Q2 1999

74.3

25,100,000

25,900,000

Q2 2001

75.0

25,500,000

26,200,000

Q2 2002

75.0

25,500,000

26,400,000

Q2 2003

75.3

25,600,000

26,500,000

Q2 2004

75.1

25,600,000

26,600,000

Q2 2005

75.2

25,600,000

26,600,000

Q1 2006

74.9

25,500,000

26,600,000

Q2 2006

74.8

25,400,000

26,500,000

Q3 2006

75.2

25,600,000

26,700,000

Q4 2006

75.0

25,400,000

26,600,000

Q1 2007

74.6

25,200,000

26,400,000

Q2 2007

74.8

25,200,000

26,400,000

Q3 2007

75.3

25,400,000

26,600,000

Q4 2007

75.5

25,400,000

26,700,000

Table C: UK Born

(i) Employment rate (percentage)

(ii) WA employment

(iii) 16+ employment

Q2 1997

73.5

23,600,000

24,400,000

Q2 1999

74.6

24,100,000

24,800,000

Q2 2001

75.4

24,400,000

25,200,000

Q2 2002

75.3

24,400,000

25,200,000

Q2 2003

75.7

24,500,000

25,300,000

Q2 2004

75.5

24,500,000

25,400,000

Q2 2005

75.6

24,400,000

25,400,000

Q1 2006

75.3

24,300,000

25,300,000

Q2 2006

75.2

24,200,000

25,200,000

Q3 2006

75.7

24,300,000

25,400,000

Q4 2006

75.5

24,200,000

25,300,000

Q1 2007

75.0

24,000,000

25,100,000

Q2 2007

75.2

23,900,000

25,100,000

Q3 2007

75.6

24,100,000

25,200,000

Q4 2007

75.9

24,100,000

25,300,000

Table D: Foreign nationals

(i) Employment rate (percentage)

(ii) WA employment

(iii) 16+ Employment

Q2 1997

60.3

930,000

960,000

Q2 1999

60.0

980,000

1,000,000

Q2 2001

61.5

1,150,000

1,190,000

Q2 2002

62.0

1,230,000

1,270,000

Q2 2003

62.6

1,320,000

1,350,000

Q2 2004

64.8

1,430,000

1,460,000

Q2 2005

63.8

1,520,000

1,550,000

Q1 2006

66.9

1,690,000

1,720,000

Q2 2006

67.8

1,760,000

1,800,000

Q3 2006

68.9

1,830,000

1,870,000

Q4 2006

68.6

1,880,000

1,930,000

Q1 2007

66.7

1,900,000

1,940,000

Q2 2007

67.8

2,010,000

2,050,000

Q3 2007

68.4

2,020,000

2,060,000

Q4 2007

68.1

2,080,000

2,110,000

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100,000 (in the case of foreign nationals to the nearest 10,000).

2. Tables B to D are not seasonally adjusted. This means direct comparisons between different quarters are not possible.

3. The figures in Table A are seasonally adjusted headline employment figures based on population estimates published in 2006.

4. In order to provide the more detailed breakdown that is required to answer the second part of the question in Tables B to D, it is necessary to use data that are based on population estimates made in 2003—these are the latest estimates available for use in respect of particular categories of the labour force such as migrants. The figures in Table A are based on population estimates published in 2006 and as such the figures presented in Tables B to D are not directly comparable to the figures in Table A. The totals for the UK population as a whole—Table A—will not be equal to the sum of the numbers shown for UK and foreign nationals—Tables B and D respectively. In May 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will be releasing re-weighted data based on 2007 population estimates, which will lead to some changes in the figures in the tables.

5. Tables B to D exclude individuals whose nationality is unknown.

6. As these figures are based on a sample survey they are also subject to sampling variability.

7. It should be noted that the nationality question in the LFS is an undercount because: it excludes those who have not been resident in the UK for six months; it excludes students in halls who do not have a UK resident parent; it excludes people in most other types of communal establishments (e.g. hotels, boarding houses, hostels, mobile home sites, etc); it is grossed to population estimates that only include migrants staying for twelve months or more.

Source:

Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Employment: Hearing Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms are in place to help deaf people into employment. (202742)

We are committed to helping all people, including deaf people, into suitable, sustainable employment through Jobcentre Plus.

Access to Work can provide a range of individually tailored support to enable disabled people to enter or stay in employment. Access to Work can fund specialist support for deaf and hearing impaired people in work. One type of support that deaf people may find particularly helpful is the funding provided through Access to Work for British Sign Language Interpreters, Lip Speakers or Palantypists.

People with health conditions, including deaf people, may also benefit from the help that is available through Pathways to Work. This service provides extra support and opportunities to help people with health problems and disabilities gain employment and retain it. Pathways to Work provides a series of interviews with an adviser and access to programmes to increase skills or confidence, or to help manage a health condition. Financial incentives may also be available to help people move into work.

Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentre Plus work with people needing more extensive support. They need not be receiving benefits and may be in employment but worried about losing their job due to their disability. Disability employment advisers can advise on appropriate employment opportunities, act as advocates on the customer's behalf, and negotiate with employers, as well as refer people, where appropriate, for an occupational health assessment, or draw on the professional expertise of work psychologists specialising in working with disabled people. Disability employment advisers can also advise on specialised support available for disabled people. This includes Work Preparation, WORKSTEP, New Deal for Disabled People where it is in operation, Residential Training Colleges, Job Introduction Scheme and Access to Work.

Between December last year and March of this year, we undertook a public consultation ‘Helping people achieve their full potential: Improving specialist disability employment services'. The consultation sought views about ways in which the Access to Work programme and other programmes for disabled people could be further improved, and ways to enhance aspects of the disability employment adviser role. We will publish our response during the summer.

Housing Benefit: Antisocial Behaviour

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each of the eight local authority pilot areas have (a) received written warnings for housing benefit sanction and (b) had their housing benefit withdrawn because of antisocial behaviour. (203244)

So far none of the local authorities taking part in the pilot for the sanction of housing benefit related to antisocial behaviour has issued a written warning or applied a sanction.

Housing Benefit: Wales

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much each local authority in Wales repaid to the Exchequer in respect of underspent funds allocated for discretionary housing payments in each of the last five financial years. (203521)

The information is in the following table.

Amount of repaid, underspent discretionary housing payment in each local authority in Wales in the last five financial years

£

Local authority

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Blaenau Gwent

3,000

4,000

4,000

3,000

Bridgend

0

5,000

5,000

0

2,000

Caerphilly

26,000

28,000

19,000

16,000

Cardiff

14,000

0

0

0

0

Carmarthenshire

19,000

12,000

13,000

19,000

9,000

Ceredigion

0

0

0

0

0

Conwy

4,000

0

0

0

3,000

Denbighshire

12,000

7,000

14,000

15,000

5,000

Flintshire

24,000

25,000

1,000

0

0

Gwynedd

3,000

4,000

4,000

0

0

Isle of Anglesey

7,000

8,000

0

0

0

Merthyr Tydfil

10,000

11,000

8,000

3,000

0

Monmouthshire

15,000

6,000

5,000

11 ,000

15,000

Neath Port Talbot

4,000

1,000

14,000

10,000

6,000

Newport

24,000

23,000

15,000

0

0

Pembrokeshire

25,000

18,000

10,000

7,000

0

Powys Rhondda

10,000

10,000

4,000

5,000

2,000

Cynon Taff

31 ,000

24,000

29,000

21,000

5,000

Swansea

49,000

41,000

23,000

9,000

0

Torfaen Vale of

8,000

11,000

0

0

0

Glamorgan

19,000

5,000

31,000

34,000

21,000

Wrexham

25,000

24,000

19,000

15,000

17,000

Total

330,000

270,000

220,000

170,000

90,000

Notes: 1. Amounts are rounded to the nearest thousand. Amounts too small after rounding are shown with a dash. 2. Totals are rounded to the nearest 10,000. 3. The latest available audited expenditure information for discretionary housing payments is for the financial year 2006-07. 4. Zero indicates local authorities who did not underspend.

Jobcentre Plus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1405W, if he will place in the Library a copy of the report on Jobcentre Plus’s investigation into the feasibility of introducing advance payments. (202207)

[holding answer 28 April 2008]: 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 12 May 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking pursuant to the answer of 20 March 2008, Official Report, column 1405W, if he will place in the Library a copy of the report on Jobcentre Plus’s investigation into the feasibility of introducing advance payments. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as chief executive of Jobcentre Plus.

I have no plans to place a copy of the report in the Library as this is subject to ongoing policy development. I would be pleased to arrange for you to be briefed by one of my senior officials, if you would find that helpful.

Pensioners: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners that will have a weekly income below the minimum income guarantee in each year to 2050; and what proportion of these will be (a) women, (b) aged over 75, (c) aged over 80 and (d) aged over 85 years. (200645)

The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Pension credit ensures that no-one aged 60 and over need live on an income of less than £124.05 a week. We want every pensioner to claim the benefits to which they are entitled which is why The Pension Service continue to undertake a wide range of activities to encourage people to claim the pension credit they are entitled to, including data matching to identify those who may be eligible but who are not receiving benefits, home visits for vulnerable customers and ever closer working with partner organisations.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will (a) undertake an impact assessment of the proposal to reduce the backdating period for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit claims and (b) make it his policy to publish the assessment before implementing any change in policy. (203686)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Danny Alexander) on 24 April 2008, Official Report, column 2174W.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 49W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, whether (a) elements of British forces will have a command relationship subordinate to the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Force and (b) elements of the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Force will have a command relationship subordinate to British forces in 2008. (203581)

Both Task Force Helmand and the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are under the control of the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

British forces will be neither commanded by, nor in command of the US 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, but individual arrangements may be made between UK and US forces as dictated by the practical execution of military operations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of (a) infantry battalions, (b) helicopters, (c) aircraft and (d) training teams available to NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan to achieve their objectives. (203776)

The Bucharest summit saw a number of nations make significant additional commitments to the International Security Assistance Force; in particular President Sarkozy confirmed the deployment of an additional battalion of French troops to the east of the country.

Nevertheless, there remains a need for more training and mentoring personnel; combat forces in the south and east of Afghanistan; and key enablers, such as helicopters and other aircraft, to meet the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements for Afghanistan. The UK continues to work with partners to address these shortfalls.

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK personnel are deployed on operations, broken down by location. (205127)

The following table shows the number of UK service personnel deployed on operations by location at 28 April 2008. The number of personnel in theatre will naturally fluctuate on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including leave (rest and recuperation), temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces and other factors.

Number of personnel deployed by location1

Location

Number

Total

14,410

of which:

Afghanistan

8,900

Iraq

4,000

Qatar

410

Cyprus

280

Kuwait

260

Oman

210

Kosovo

140

At Sea

80

Bahrain

80

Other

40

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

Notes:

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

2. Figures for Afghanistan are artificially high due to the handover period while a Relief In Place (RIP) is in operation. The operational establishment for Afghanistan is 7,800.

Armed Forces: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the change in the budget of the armed forces in (a) cash, (b) real and (c) percentage terms will be in (i) 2008-09, (ii) 2009-10, (iii) 2010-11 over the preceding year in each case; and if he will make a statement. (200274)

The defence budget over the years 2007-08 to 2010-11 can be found in the 2004 spending review (CM6237) and the 2007 pre-Budget report and comprehensive spending review (CM7227) White Papers. These figures can be converted to real terms using the GDP deflator, available on HM Treasury’s website.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many homes for service personnel there are in (a) Northumberland and (b) County Durham. (203785)

There are 294 service family accommodation properties in Northumberland and 54 in County Durham.

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which unit will provide the Spearhead Land Element requirement for the UK during the service in Kosovo of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles. (204566)

The 3 SCOTS will be providing the Spearhead Land Element requirement for the UK while 2 Rifles are deployed in Kosovo.

Armed Forces: Young Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Ministry of Justice on employing the armed forces on training programmes with young offenders; how many armed forces personnel he expects to be involved in such programmes; what proportion of the cost for such programmes will be borne by his Department; and how much that is expected to be. (203413)

There has been a preliminary discussion between MOJ and MOD on the wider issue of strengthening the links between the armed forces and Prison Service to broaden the scope of opportunities for ex-offenders within the military. There are currently no plans to employ members of the armed forces on training programmes with young offenders.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the procurement of Ridgeback armoured vehicles; and if he will make a statement. (203206)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 482W.

Army: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the average tour interval for each battalion in the (a) infantry and (b) Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was in the latest period for which figures are available; (200943)

(2) what the average tour interval was for each regiment in the (a) Royal Artillery, (b) Royal Engineers, (c) Royal Logistic Corps and (d) Royal Corps of Signals in the latest period for which figures are available.

Historical data to support the calculation of the average tour interval for each battalion or regiment of the infantry or the Royal Artillery are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

As at 1 April 2008, the last tour interval for each battalion of the infantry and each regiment of the Royal Artillery is shown in the following tables.

Infantry unit tour intervals

Unit deployed

Last operational deployment (as a unit)

Start date

Previous operational deployment (as a unit)

End date

Last unit tour interval (months)

1 Gren GDS

Afghanistan

May 2007

Iraq

September 2006

8

1 Coldm GDS

Afghanistan

October 2007

Iraq

October 2005

23

1 SG

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

April 2005

31

1 IG

Iraq

June 2007 _

Northern Ireland

March 2004

38

1 WG

Balkans

October 2006

Iraq

Apr 2005

17

1 Scots (1 RS)1

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

May 2006

18

1 Scots (1 KOSB)1

Iraq

December 2007

Northern Ireland

July 2006

16

2 Scots

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

October 2004

41

3 Scots

Iraq

July 2004

Iraq

June 2003

12

4 Scots

Iraq

November 2005

Balkans

October 2003

24

5 Scots

Afghanistan

April 2008

Balkans

October 2005

29

1 PWRR

Iraq

May 2006

Iraq

October 2004

18

2 PWRR

Iraq

January 2005

Northern Ireland

December 2003

12

1 RRF

Iraq

November 2005

Iraq

June 2003

28

2 RRF

Northern Ireland

April 2003

Northern Ireland

June 2002

9

1 R Anglian

Afghanistan

May 2007

Iraq

October 2005

18

2 R Anglian

Iraq

May 2006

Afghanistan

October 2003

30

1 Korbr2

Iraq

November 2005

Balkans

October 2000

60

1 Kings2

Iraq

July 2003

Prior to January 1999

QLR2

Iraq

July 2003

Northern Ireland

September 2001

21

1 Lancs2

Iraq

December 2007

n/a

2 Lancs2

Iraq

November 2006

n/a

1 Yorks

Iraq

November 2006

Balkans

September 2004

25

2 Yorks

Afghanistan

October 2007

Balkans

September 2006

12

3 Yorks

Iraq

November 2004

Balkans

June 2001

40

1 R Welsh

Cyprus (Theatre Reserve Battalion)

May 2007

Northern Ireland

January 2006

15

2 R Welsh

Iraq

June 2007

Iraq

October 2005

19

1 Mercian

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

October 2004

37

2 Mercian

Afghanistan

May 2007

Afghanistan

April 2005

24

3 Mercian

Iraq

November 2006

Iraq

October 2005

12

1 Rifles (1 RGBW)3

Afghanistan

October 2005

Northern Ireland

July 2003

26

1 Rifles (1 D&D)3

Iraq

May 2006

Northern Ireland

March 2001

61

1 Rifles

2 Rifles

Iraq

November 2006

Northern Ireland

September 2004

25

3 Rifles

Iraq

September 2006

Northern Ireland

March 2005

17

4 Rifles

Iraq

June 2007

Balkans

October 2001

67

5 Rifles

Iraq

May 2006

Iraq

April 2004

24

1R Irish

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

December 2005

27

1 Para4

Northern Ireland

March 2005

Iraq

June 2003

20

2 Para

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

April 2006

23

3 Para

Afghanistan

April 2008

Afghanistan

October 2006

17

1 RGR

Afghanistan

October 2007

Balkans

March 2006

18

2 RGR

Afghanistan

April 2005

Afghanistan

April 2004

11

1 1 RS and 1 KOSB amalgamated to form 1 Scots in August 2006. 1 Scots is to deploy for the first time as a formed unit to Iraq in December 2007. For the purposes of this question, 1 Scots was counted as one unit with a tour interval of 17 months.

2 1 Korbr, 1 Kings and QLR amalgamated in July 2006 to form 1 Lancs and 2 Lancs. Operation Telic 11 will be the first unit operational deployment for 1 Lancs. Because of the nature of this amalgamation, it is not representative to calculate the average tour intervals of 1 Lancs and 2 Lancs based on the previous operational deployments of 1 Korbr, 1 Kings and QLR, as such for the purpose of this question, no unit tour interval value for 1 Korbr, 1 Kings, QLR, 1 Lancs or 2 Lancs was included in the calculation.

3 1 RGBW and 1 DDLI amalgamated in March 2007 to form 1 Rifles. 1 Rifles has yet to deploy as a formed unit. For the purposes of this question, 1 Rifles was counted as one unit with a tour interval of 43.5 months.

4 1 Para transferred to directorate special forces in August 2005 and for the purposes of this question, no unit tour interval value was included in the calculation.

Royal Artillery unit tour intervals

Unit deployed

Last operational deployment (as a unit)

Start date

Previous operational deployment (as a unit)

End date

Last unit tour interval (months)

1 RHA

Iraq

June 2007

Cyprus

September 2005

20

3 RHA

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

April 2006

19

4 Regt RA

Afghanistan

October 2007

Cyprus

September 2006

12

7 Para RHA

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

December 2003

51

19 Regt RA

Afghanistan

May 2007

Iraq

October 2005

18

26 Regt RA

Iraq

May 2006

Cyprus

April 2005

12

29 Cdo Regt RA

Afghanistan

October2006

Iraq

May 2003

40

40 Regt RA

Iraq

November 2006

Cyprus

September 2004

25

The unit tour interval is a less relevant measure when applied to the Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. This is due to the frequency with which personnel move between formed units within these Corps (the personnel deployed with a unit will be substantially different from the personnel deployed with the same unit on a previous occasion). Unit tour interval data for these Corps are not therefore, routinely collated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what period has elapsed since personnel serving with 2nd Battalion The Rifles were last deployed on operations. (204560)

2 Rifles are due to deploy to Kosovo shortly. Their previous deployment was to Iraq from November 2006 to March 2007.

BAE Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with BAE Systems. (204355)

Ministers and officials at varying levels hold numerous discussions with BAE systems regularly. This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Bombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Foreign Secretary on negotiations towards a legally binding treaty to prohibit cluster munitions. (204353)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has held a number of discussions with the Foreign Secretary recently to determine how best to achieve a legally binding instrument that will prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of those cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.

Defence Estates: Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assets were held by Defence Estates in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland at the latest date for which information is available; what the estimated value of each asset is; and if he will make a statement. (204740)

Details of all Ministry of Defence (MOD) holdings over £1 million and their latest asset valuation are available in Chapter 7 of the National Asset Register (CM7022), which can be found on HM Treasury's website. All land and building assets of the MOD are held by Defence Estates. All other assets of Defence Estates are held by Defence Equipment and Support.

Providing details of all property below £1 million in value could be carried out only at disproportionate cost.

Defence Estates: Sales

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors determine the distribution of receipts from the sale of Defence Estates' property between devolved administrations and Government budgets other than those of Defence Estates. (204738)

In line with HM Treasury guidance, receipts retained by the Ministry of Defence from the sale of Defence Estates property are reinvested by the Department in key priorities.

Defence: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from defence equipment suppliers on the effects on them of the separation of the emissions trading scheme; and if he will make a statement. (203803)

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to ensure that counterfeit routers and other counterfeit hardware are not utilised in his Department’s computer networks. (203242)

It is not in the interests of the UK’s national security for Departments to confirm whether they hold information about malicious attacks against their IT systems.

Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what targets his Department has set in relation to its employment of people with disabilities over the next five years. (199056)

We are waiting for the successor to the civil service 10 point plan, to be released in late 2008, before determining further targets.

Iraq: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated total cost has been of equipment gifted to the Iraqi forces in each year since 2003. (183079)

The estimated total cost of equipment gifted to the Iraqi Security Forces per financial year is as follows:

Financial year

Cost (£)

2003-04

21,500.00

2004-05

12,678,300.00

2005-06

7,518,200.00

2006-07

3,357,400.00

2007-08

1341,600.00

1 This includes costs until 28 March 2008

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units have served (a) one tour, (b) two tours and (c) three tours and more in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan. (190602)

These data are not currently held in the format requested. Officials are working to collate this information from a number of sources. I will therefore write to the hon. Member.

Substantive answer from Des Browne to Liam Fox:

I undertook to reply to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 17 March 2008 (Official Report Column 815-6W) about the number of tours of Iraq and Afghanistan undertaken by Units. I am now in a position to be able to reply.

The information which you requested is shown the table below;

Unit

Iraq

Afghanistan

Total

1 Grenadier Guards

1

1

2

1 Coldstream Guards

1

1

2

1 Scots Guards

2

2

1 Irish Guards

2

2

1 Welsh Guards

1

1

1 Scots (Royal Scots)

2

2

1 Scots (Kings Own Scottish Borderers)

1

1

2 Scots (Royal Highland Fusiliers)

2

1

3

3 Scots (Black Watch)

2

2

4 Scots (Highlanders)

2

2

5 Scots (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)

1

1

1 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

2

2

2 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

1

1

1 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

2

2

1 Royal Anglian

1

2

3

2 Royal Anglian

1

1

2

2 Lancs (Kings)

3

3

2 Lancs (Queens)

1

1

3 Lancs (Kings Own Royal Border Regiment)

2

2

1 Yorks (Prince of Wales)

1

1

2 Yorks (Green Howards)

2

2

3 Yorks (Duke of Wellington)

1

1

1 Mercian (Cheshires)

2

2

2 Mercian (WFR)

1

2

3

3 Mercian (Staffords)

2

2

1 Rifles (Devon and Dorset Light Infantry)

1

1

2

2 Rifles (1 Royal Green Jackets)

1

1

3 Rifles (2 Light Infantry)

1

1

4 Rifles (2 Royal Green Jackets)

1

1

5 Rifles (1 Light Infantry)

2

2

1 Royal Irish

2

2

1 Para

1

1

2 Para

1

2

3

3 Para

1

1

2

1 Royal Gurkha Rifles

1

1

2 Royal Gurkha Rifles

2

2

1 Royal Welsh

1

1

2 Royal Welsh

3

3

Household Cavalry Regt

1

1

Queen's Dragoon Guards

2

2

Scots Dragoon Guards

2

2

Royal Dragoon Guards

1

1

QRH

2

2

9/12 Lancers

2

2

KRH

2

2

Light Dragoons

2

1

3

QRL

1

1

2 Royal Tank Regt

1

1

1 Royal Horse Artillery

2

2

3 Royal Horse Artillery

2

2

4 Regt Royal Artillery

1

1

7 Para Royal Horse Artillery

1

2

3

19 Regt Royal Artillery

1

1

26 Regt Royal Horse Artillery

2

2

29 Cdo Regt Royal Artillery

1

1

2

40 Regt Royal Artillery

2

2

3 Cdo Bde Royal Marines

1

2

3

40 Cdo RM

2

1

3

42 Cdo RM

1

1

2

45 Cdo RM

2

2

Cdo Logistics Regt RM

1

1

2

Commander UK Amphibious Forces

1

1

2

1 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

4

1

5

2 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

3

1

4

3 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

4

1

5

4 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

2

2

5 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

1

1

2

6 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt

1

1

7 Force Protection Wing RAF Regt (Tactical Police Wing)

1

1

2

1 Sqn RAF Regt

3

3

2 Sqn RAF Regt

3

1

4

3 Sqn RAF Regt

2

1

3

15 Sqn RAF Regt

1

1

2

34 Sqn RAF Regt

3

1

4

51 Sqn RAF Regt

3

1

4

63 Sqn RAF Regt (Queen's Colour Sqn)

2

2

This has proved to be a complex question to answer. You will be aware that most Infantry battalions have deployed on operations at least once in the last five years. The Infantry tend to deploy as formed units with the tour intervals in relation to Army units being based on (a) ‘Units’ defined as any Regiment deploying with a Regimental Headquarters and more than two Sub Units and (b) ‘deployment’ as any Unit deploying for four months or more. The Army's Harmony Guidelines recommend that Army units achieve 24 months between each six month operational tour.

Elements from other Arms and Services regularly deploy as sub-units, on attachment to other units, or as individual augmentees. For example, this is the case for Royal Engineers, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel. Information on some units, such as Logistics have not been included in the return as this would incur disproportionate cost. Although other Corps may deploy with an RHQ and two or more sub units, it may not always be with the same formation or with the same individuals and would therefore make the information very difficult to collate.

A Squadron is the key unit of deployment for the RAF and figures are collated accordingly. Additional Wings have been formed due to the increasing demand for Force Protection and this is the reason why some Wings have deployed fewer than others.

You can see from the table that while some Army units have undertaken three deployments, others have only completed one. Whilst operations have been continuing in Iraq and Afghanistan, units will also have been covering endorsed standing Military tasks such as commitments in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Balkans and the Falkland Islands as well as Public Duties, in addition to conducting essential training and recuperating from operations. Moreover, there have been occasions where one or two sub units of a Battalion or Regiment have deployed, but these instances do not qualify as unit deployments and are therefore not included in the table.

I am sorry that this information has taken so long to compile, but its collation has involved trawling through a substantial amount of information to ensure as full and accurate a response as possible based on the criteria set out above. Now that this detail has been gathered it will be maintained to prevent any such delay occurring in the future.

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many servicemen and women normally resident in East Dunbartonshire were serving in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many such service personnel have served in each country in the last five years. (204553)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: Data on the UK residential location of armed forces personnel are not held centrally in databases of individual records and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Territorial Army are on active service in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (204561)

As at 31 March 2008, there were 512 members of the Territorial Army serving in the Afghanistan Joint Operational Area (JOA), and 122 in the Iraq JOA.

Joint Rapid Reaction Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 28 April 2008, Official Report, column 58W, on the Joint Rapid Reaction Force, which units will form the UK's commitment to the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps from July to December 2008. (203475)

The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is a High Readiness Force (Land) assigned to NATO. Sixty per cent. of its established posts are found by the UK. Headquarters ARRC's intimate supporting elements are Headquarters 1 Signal Brigade, 252 Close Support Squadron, the ARRC Support Battalion and 12 Military Intelligence Company.

Kosovo: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on providing the strategic airlift required to deploy the UK's commitment for NATO’s Operational Reserve Force in Kosovo. (203217)

None. Our forward planning for this task will allow us to make maximum use of commercial charter aircraft.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what equipment will be made available to the UK operational reserve battalion for its deployment to Kosovo. (204140)

Equipment to be made available to the UK Operational Reserve Battalion includes Snatch Land Rovers, standard Land Rovers, Saxon personnel carriers, 4-ton trucks, engineering equipment, battlefield ambulances, riot control equipment (including shields and batons), body armour, personal light weapons and communications equipment, along with general items such as fuel, food, personal kit, vehicle spares and ammunition.

The overall need for airlift has been reduced by the pre-positioning of heavy equipment by road. Commercially chartered aircraft will be used for the transfer of personnel and further equipment wherever possible although some military aircraft have been allocated for use where necessary.

Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons his Department has imposed a 65-tonne weight limit on commercial loads which can be handled on the Falklands Jetty at Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre; when this limit was determined; whether its impact on the planning consent given for the construction plans for the new Marchwood Power Station was considered before the limit was laid down; and if he will make a statement. (204537)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: An internal review of the Falklands Jetty at the Sea Mounting Centre (SMC) Marchwood was carried out in 2005. It was concluded that the Jetty can continue to routinely handle military and commercial loads weighing up to 65 tonnes. While requests for the Jetty to be used for heavier loads are still considered, these tend to be handled through alternative facilities at the SMC. The SMC holds no records to suggest it was involved in the planning considerations for the Power Station in 2001-02.

Since Marchwood Power Limited started utilising the SMC in August 2007, the MOD has worked closely with the company to ensure that its requirements are met as practicably and safely as possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the weight limit is for military loads which can be handled on the Falklands Jetty at Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre; (204538)

(2) what the weight was of the heaviest load handled on the Falkland Jetty at Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre since 2001.

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: Since 2005, the heaviest piece of equipment that can routinely be handled from the Falklands Jetty is the military Challenger II tank, which weighs 65 tonnes. These vehicles are, however, usually loaded via Roll-On/Roll-Off facilities at the SMC’s quayside. Requests for the Jetty to be used for heavier loads are still considered although these tend to be handled through alternative facilities at the Sea Mounting Centre. Prior to 2005, the heaviest load handled from the Falklands Jetty was a 215 tonne reactor in 2001.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment was made of the (a) effect on traffic from the Port of Southampton to the Marchwood Power Station site and (b) cost of delivering the main heavy plant for the power station by road, when the decision to impose a 65 tonne limit on commercial loads handled at the Falkland Jetty at the Sea Mounting Centre was taken; (204545)

(2) if he will instruct his Department to give permission for up to 12 loads to be delivered to the new Marchwood Power Station via the Sea Mounting Centre and exempted from the 65 tonne limit.

When the decision to impose a routine weight restriction of 65 tonnes for loads on the Falklands Jetty was made in 2005, no assessment was carried out by MOD of the effects on traffic or the cost of delivering such loads by road. This is because an alternative loading solution exists that involves the acceptance of heavier loads using a floating crane to lift them over the Sea Mounting Centre's quay wall either onto the quayside or waiting rail transportation. To date, some 36 loads for the Marchwood Power Station, weighing between 98 and 171 tonnes, have been moved in this way.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many serviceable helicopters are available to (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force; and how many were available to each in 2005. (204194)

For the purposes of MOD reporting, a serviceable helicopter is defined as one that is used, is capable of being used or could be made ready for a period of two hours flying within a planned flying programme. Fit For Purpose is the metric that is used to measure serviceability, and the figures in the table represent the average Fit For Purpose figures for the month of March in each of the specified years. The numbers of helicopters that are considered to be Fit For Purpose will vary from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements, and does not include helicopters in transit.

The number of serviceable helicopters available in the Forward Fleet for the month of March in 2005 and 2008, broken down by Service are shown as follows:

March

2005

2008

Royal Navy

Sea King HC Mk 4 and 6

19

16

Lynx Mk 3

16

12

Lynx Mk 8

13

14

Merlin Mk 1

10

13

Sea King Mk 5

5

7

Sea King Mk 7

6

4

RN total

69

66

Army Air Corps

Apache AH Mk l

22

25

Agusta A 109

3

3

Lynx Mk 7 and 9

47

39

Gazelle HC Mk 1

58

36

AAC total

130

103

Royal Air Force

Chinook HC Mk 2

18

21

Merlin HC Mk 3

6

8

Puma MC Mk 1

19

13

SAR Sea King Mk 3/3a

Not available

18

RAF total

43

60

Total FFP

242

229

The figures for 2008 do not include the eight RAF Chinook Mark 3 helicopters that are being converted to a Battlefield role but do include three of the six RAF Merlin helicopters recently acquired from Denmark, as announced by the Secretary of State on 30 March 2007. The figures for 2008 also reflect the planned reductions in the Gazelle and Lynx Mk 7 fleets. The number of serviceable Apache will increase as the capability continues to be fielded.

Territorial Army: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of Territorial Army personnel are drawn from (a) small, (b) medium and (c) large businesses. (204607)

Figures for the Territorial Army are not available separately from the rest of the Volunteer Reserve Forces (VRF). Latest data show that, of the 59 per cent. of VRF with employers:

27 per cent. work for employers with one to nine employees

26 per cent. work for employers with 10 to 49 employees

23 per cent. work for employers with 50 to 200 employees

10 per cent. work for employers with 200 to 500 employees

14 per cent. work for employers with 500+ employees.

International Development

Africa: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much money was spent by his Department on aid programmes for Africa in each year since 2004, broken down by development objective. (201664)

Department for International Development (DFID) expenditure, both bilateral and multilateral, on aid programmes for Africa since 2004 is set out in the following tables.

Table 1: UK total bilateral gross public expenditure (GPEX) on development to Africa 2004-05 to 2006-07, by sector

£000

Sector

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Education

125,471

136,345

157,340

Health

173,165

199,822

221,070

Social

60,627

98,863

93,845

Economic

123,722

171,140

135,278

Livelihoods

46,254

37,661

35,927

Governance

121,169

153,548

159,491

Environment

12,064

15,821

8,147

Humanitarian Assistance

165,572

263,991

226,475

Sector Unallocated

39,924

62,631

97,431

Total bilateral

867,969

1,139,822

1,135,002

Table 2: Imputed DFID share of multilateral official development assistance (ODA) 2004-05 to 2006-07

£000

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Africa Multilateral

476,838

587,270

824,768

The DFID imputed share of multilateral ODA cannot be broken down by sector. A full statistical report of DFID's international development expenditure is published annually and may be found at:

http://www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/sid2007/contents.asp

Burma: Storms

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Burma following the recent cyclone; and what UK assistance has been offered to Burma; (204620)

(2) what steps the Government are taking to seek to ensure that humanitarian agencies are permitted access to cyclone-affected parts of Burma; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement that I made in the House on 8 May 2008, Official Report, column 863.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development 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. (204111)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is a member of the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF). The GCOF aims to fulfil the Government's commitment to offset emissions attributable to all official and ministerial air travel in central Government. It is available to all central Government Departments and provides a simple and cost-effective way to offset, as well as ensuring high environmental integrity. The GCOF runs for an initial period of three years (2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09).

The GCOF is being managed by EEA Fund Management Ltd. who won the contract to source and deliver 255,000 Certified Emission Reduction Credits, with a provision for a further 50,000 credits over three years from a range of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. Credits will be supplied from the project portfolio of Trading Emissions Plc, to whom EEA is the investment adviser.

DFID has to date contributed £175,741 to the scheme, paid during 2007-08 in respect of air travel during 2006-07.

DFID is currently focussing its efforts on reducing carbon emissions from its estate, including the implementation of equipment and procedures to maximise energy efficiency equipment, which for instance has in recent months reduced our electricity consumption in our London Headquarters by over 10 per cent. We were also recently awarded the Energy Efficiency Accreditation certification. Once these measures have been implemented we will make appropriate arrangements to offset any residual carbon emissions.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Answer of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1182W, on departmental data protection, if he will include information assurance data on data loss incidents in previous years in his Department's next annual report. (199178)

I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 1179 and the written ministerial statement made my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 98WS. The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within Departments and agencies for the storage and use of data.

The interim report of 17 December 2007 committed to put in place a programme to examine and improve data handling procedures. An update on this commitment will be included in the final report, expected in spring 2008, and this report will detail the information to be included by Departments on data loss in their annual reports

Developing Countries: Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the significance of policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions related to energy for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals related to the world's poorest countries. (203551)

Our assessment is that policies to reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions need not limit efforts to improve energy access in the world's poorest countries; indeed these two objectives could in some instances be complementary.

Policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will include adopting cleaner technologies, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy. In the longer term it will require the use of emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

In developing countries, improved access to reliable and affordable energy services is needed in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Energy access is lowest in rural areas, notably in sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia, often beyond the reach of grid-connected supplies. In these cases, decentralised energy production, using a wide range of renewable and conventional technologies, may offer the best solutions for increasing access to poor households and communities. A recent study by the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme concluded that renewable energy is more economical than conventional energy for many such applications.

Developing Countries: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department has provided for education in recent humanitarian responses in (a) Kenya, (b) Mozambique, (c) Bangladesh and (d) Chad. (202752)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has provided both direct and indirect support for education as part of its global response to recent humanitarian crises. In Bangladesh, the UK and other donors provided 400 temporary classrooms following the cyclone in November 2007. Other DFID-funded immediate relief helped to buy textbooks and other learning material for children in the affected areas, as well as providing technical support to help the Bangladesh Government develop a long-term school reconstruction plan.

In Kenya, Mozambique and Chad direct support to education was not provided early on in the crises as DFID's humanitarian response aimed to address the most basic humanitarian needs first—shelter, food, clean water and health.

UK humanitarian support is also provided through the UN's Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) where DFID remains the largest donor. In 2006, the CERF released approximately £500,000 to UNICEF for education interventions in Chad. Of this allocation, the UK's share amounts to approximately £100,000. Since the start of 2008, Mozambique has been allocated £2.4 million from the CERF, with provisions used towards the education sector.

Developing Countries: HIV Infection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is for tackling HIV/AIDS in the developing world in the next three years; and if he will make a statement. (204723)

Following a public consultation, the UK Government are currently updating “Taking Action - The UK’s strategy for tackling HIV and AIDS in the developing world”. The updated strategy is due to be launched in the near future.

Developing Countries: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent steps the Government have taken to promote and protect human rights in developing countries. (204169)

I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer given to his previous question on 28 April, Official Report, column 369W, which gives specific examples of how the UK Government have promoted human rights in developing countries.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leads the Government's efforts to promote human rights abroad and the Department for International Development (DFID) supports this in developing countries. DFID provides funding to partner governments once assessments have been made to ensure they are committed to respecting human rights as well as reducing poverty and strengthening financial management and accountability. The UK Government policy on integrating human rights into development is set out in the DFID strategy paper: “Realising human rights for poor people”, at

www.dfid.gov.uk/publications

Drugs: Patents

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s policy is on patent pools for essential medicines. (201942)

The UK Government believe that there is merit in examining the benefits that voluntarily established patent pools could bring in facilitating access to medicines. The Department for International Development is participating in a process organised by UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility, which is examining the feasibility of establishing a patent pool for antiretroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Gaza: UN Relief and Works Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department gives to the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. (204190)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has committed £100 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in the region for the period 2007-12. This will increase our support from £15.6 million in 2007-08, to £19 million in 2008-09 and then progressively to £23.4 million in 2011-12. Around 10 per cent. of this funding is linked to UNRWA achieving targeted improvements of its management and service delivery.

DFID funding helps UNRWA provide health, education and other services to 4.5 million Palestinian refugees, including over a million refugees in Gaza and over 700,000 in the West Bank. 70 per cent. of Gazans are registered refugees and will therefore benefit from the support we provide to UNRWA. We expect more than 30 per cent. of our funding to UNWRA to be allocated to Gaza.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of farmers in (a) Forest of Dean constituency and (b) England have not yet received their Single Farm Payment for (i) 2005, (ii) 2006 and (iii) 2007; and if he will make a statement. (204032)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: Detailed analysis of all the payments made under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) is not yet available. Once the remaining scheme payments have been completed a decision will be taken on the level of detail that will be published.

The proportion of English claimants who have not yet received SPS payments are:

2005: 8

2006: 45

2007: 8.3 per cent.

2005 and 2006 numbers are too low to register as meaningful percentages and the outstanding payments for these years relate to complex cases, mainly involving legal and probate issues.

RPA is working to finalise remaining payments as soon as possible.

Air Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at how many sites in England levels of (a) carbon monoxide, (b) sulphur dioxide and (c) nitrogen dioxide are monitored. (204301)

The number of sites monitoring levels of the pollutants is currently in flux due to preparations for the implementation of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe. The number of sites currently in operation is as follows:

Number of sites

(i)

Carbon monoxide

26

(ii)

Sulphur dioxide

45

(iii)

Nitrogen dioxide

104

Once the directive monitoring requirements are fully implemented the number of sites will be:

Number of sites

(i)

Carbon monoxide

26

(ii)

Sulphur dioxide

45

(iii)

Nitrogen dioxide

120

Air Pollution: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the introduction of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe. (204299)

The Secretary of State has not had any recent discussions on the new ambient air quality directive.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on changes to the UK automatic monitoring network in preparation for the introduction of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe. (204300)

During the negotiation of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe, DEFRA undertook a review of the automatic monitoring networks taking into account the requirements of the directive.

The changes to the Automatic Urban and Rural, and Hydrocarbons networks fall into three broad areas:

(i) A reduction in the number of carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide monitors, commensurate with the generally low levels of both pollutants currently found. However, there will be increased sulphur dioxide monitoring in some areas around particular industrial hotspots.

(ii) Movement of oxides of nitrogen monitors from agglomerations to zones, and from urban background to roadside.

(iii) The creation of a PM2.5 network, and changes to the PM10 network. In addition to setting the minimum number of PM monitors to be operated, the directive specifies the ratio of PM10:PM2.5 and urban background: roadside sites which must be operated; in both cases this ratio must be between 2:1 and 1:2.

This will result in:

the closure or removal from the network of 20 complete sites

the opening or affiliation into the network of 33 new sites (mainly for PM10/PM2.5 and oxides of nitrogen)

the removal of 51 carbon monoxide analysers

the removal of 32 and the addition of five sulphur dioxide analysers

the movement and/or addition of 29 oxides of nitrogen sites

the addition of 67 PM2.5 sites

the movement and/or addition of 21 PM10 sites

the movement of 11 benzene sites

the removal of 13 and the addition of four ozone sites

To date the following have been completed:

the closure or removal from the network of 20 complete sites (from 1 October 2007).

the dissemination of data from 51 carbon monoxide and 32 sulphur dioxide sites stopped on 1 October 2007.

the addition of 17 local authority sites into the network; a further five sites will be brought into the network during May/June. For the remaining sites, work is ongoing to identify suitable local authority sites to bring into the network.

the purchase of type approved gaseous analysers for DEFRA-owned sites to replace existing non-type approved equipment. These analysers will be installed during routine site visits during 2008.

the installation of 22 reference method equivalent PM10 analysers and the procurement of 11 PM2.5 analysers.

an OJEU notice has been published to procure the remainder of the particulate matter analysers.

Animals: MRSA

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to reduce the incidence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus in animals. (203489)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has not been detected in farmed livestock in the UK and there is no current evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of infection in the UK. The organism has been isolated from dairy cows, pigs and chickens outside the UK, as well as in companion animals (including cats, dogs and horses) both in the UK and elsewhere. Ongoing monitoring of the international picture is being maintained. A 12-month long study to provide an initial overview of the presence of MRSA in breeding pig herds across Europe began in January 2008. This is being carried out under Community legislation. It is anticipated that the results of this study will be published in mid 2009 and that they will inform the direction of future work by DEFRA.

DEFRA's Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) Group continues to provide guidance on policy relating to antimicrobial resistance. The membership of the DARC Group reflects a partnership approach and includes representatives from many organisations involved in both human and animal health throughout the UK. DARC created a MRSA sub-group in 2005, through which DEFRA is assisting and encouraging various initiatives relating to MRSA from the Bella Moss Foundation (a UK registered charity promoting awareness of MRSA in animals), industry and the veterinary profession. DEFRA has funded research to better understand the epidemiology of MRSA in companion animals and livestock and any role it may play in human infections.

In addition to chairing the DARC Group, DEFRA's Veterinary Medicines Directorate have used various means including legislation, publication of guidance and liaison with interested parties, such as the RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) alliance, to achieve a co-ordinated and integrated approach to raise awareness of the issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance in animals and promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.

Beekeeping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution of beekeeping to the agriculture sector; and if he will make a statement. (204201)

Through their important role in pollinating flowering plants, honey bees make a vital contribution to sustainable agriculture. Reflecting this, DEFRA continues to fund a programme of controls and education for beekeepers via the National Bee Unit and the Bee Inspectorate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution of research to the formulation of policy on beekeeping. (204202)

DEFRA’s Bee Health Programme underpins bee health policy and covers work on exotic and statutory pests and diseases of bees. Research is carried out to fill gaps in the knowledge base used to support policy and to allow evidence-based policy decision making. The research should deliver results which can be used by Government and the craft of bee keeping in combating pests and diseases.

Bees

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of recent trends in the bee population; and if he will make a statement. (204199)

It is too early to assess disease incidence this season although there are indications of some significant colony losses across the country. These are under investigation.

Bees: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research the Government is funding on (a) acaricide-resistant varroa destructor and its associated viral diseases, (b) European foulbrood, (c) bee viruses and (d) nosema. (204196)

In 2008-09, the research programme will continue to focus on the development of a monitoring and surveillance system for the Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida (Murray)) and assessing the effectiveness of the ‘shook swarm’ technique for the control of European Foul Brood (EFB). A three-year PhD studentship studying bee viruses, including those that are not transmitted by Varroa, which is based at the University of Surrey, will continue to build on recent progress.

Last year, the National Bee Unit analysed samples for the two Nosema species known to infect bees, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. Both species are present in England and Wales, although exact details of the spread and prevalence of these species are currently unknown.

No research is currently being carried out on Varroa destructor. However, this has been identified as a potential future research priority in the draft Bee Health strategy, which has recently been published for public consultation.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons dairy non-pedigree calved females are valued more highly than pedigree calved females over 36 months in tabular valuations related to bovine tuberculosis. (203466)

To support table valuations, sales data are collected from a large number and wide range of sources across Great Britain. We capture around 98 per cent. of the sales data for cattle sold at public auction, and, in our view, the table valuations reflect the market situation for same category cattle. Table values are only applied for any category in any month if adequate amounts of data have been obtained. Otherwise individual valuation is used to establish market value.

The non-pedigree table value has been higher than the pedigree value for the dairy calved female category on three occasions (between January and March 2008) since monthly table valuations for cattle compensation were introduced in February 2006. This reflected the underlying sales data that we received. I would stress that the approach we take is completely objective; sales data are not manipulated in any way.

Non-pedigree table values are based on one month's data, whereas for pedigree categories we use six months' data to cover seasonal variability in pedigree trade and to obtain adequate amounts of sales data.

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the level of reductions necessary for each household from 2002 to 2050 assuming the current breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions between the different component elements for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by (a) 60 per cent. and (b) 80 per cent. to be achieved by 2050. (202488)

Under the Climate Change Bill, the Committee on Climate Change must provide its first advice to the Secretary of State before 1 December 2008. That advice must include recommendations on the levels of the first three budgets as well as on the level of the 2050 target. It must also refer to the sectors of the economy in which there are particular opportunities for contributions to be made towards meeting the carbon budget.

The Government will consider the Committee's advice before announcing the first three budgets alongside fiscal Budget 2009. It is required to lay before Parliament a report on proposals and policies for meeting those budgets, including how they affect different sectors of the economy.

The Government's existing package of measures in the household sector, as set out in the 2007 Energy White Paper, is designed to reduce UK household emissions to less than 30 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) from today's level of 40 MtC.

Cetaceans: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent to which the UK has met its obligations under the EU by-catch regulation (EC) No. 812/2004; and what impact this has had on cetacean populations in UK waters. (203996)

The UK has reported on its implementation of EC 812/2004 in June 2006 and June 2007. As can be seen from these reports, we have fully met our obligation to monitor cetacean by-catch. This work is being carried out by the Sea Mammal Research Unit, and the annual reports of this research are published on the Departments website. However, technical problems with current designs have precluded full deployment of acoustic deterrent devices. No assessment has been made of the impact of these actions on cetacean populations in UK waters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many UK vessels are using acoustic deterrent devices to reduce cetacean by-catch . (203997)

Acoustic deterrent devices, “pingers”, are required to be used in certain fisheries under Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004. Prior to enforcing the use of pingers, the UK Government wants to be sure that the pingers we recommend to be used are safe and cost-effective for the industry and offer maximum protection to porpoises. The European Commission has recognised that because of deployment problems, some member states are not able to implement pingers as required by the Council Regulation, and have recommended that member states should continue with trials to develop a working pinger. The Sea Mammal Research Unit are currently looking at the effects that a ‘super-pinger’ has on the population distribution of porpoises. These ‘super-pingers’ are larger and therefore fewer devices are required, reducing deployment problems. We will consider the results of this research when it becomes available. We are therefore not aware of how many UK vessels are currently using acoustic deterrent devices to reduce by-catch of cetaceans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research on cetacean by-catch in UK waters his Department has commissioned. (204000)

The Department has implemented a comprehensive system of by-catch monitoring under the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive and Council Regulation 812/2004. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) produces annual reports of this research for DEFRA, and these are published on the Department’s website.

Since 2000, the UK has put over £2 million into researching by-catch mitigation measures and monitoring by-catch on vessels through observers. This is to try to identify those fisheries responsible for high levels of cetacean by-catch and mitigation measures that are effective at deterring cetaceans over the long-term and are safe and cost-effective for the industry. We are due to receive the final report project on By-catch Mitigation Research from SMRU at the end of May. A new research contract on this issue has recently been agreed with SMRU.

In 2003, the UK was the first member state to publish a cetacean by-catch response strategy for small cetaceans.

Cetaceans: South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish the most recent available data on cetacean strandings in Cornwall and Devon. (203995)

All data on Cetacean strandings across the UK, up to and including the 2006 data, are publicly available on the Defra website in the form of UK Cetacean strandings investigation programme (CSIP) Annual reports:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/resprog/findings/.

The 2007 Annual report is currently being drafted and will be available on the website in the near future.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its predecessors 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. (204105)

Figures currently available cover 2005-06 (where applicable) and 2006-07. Data are currently being collected for the 2007-08 reporting year and will be available later in the year.

DEFRA has paid £60,014.07 into the GCOF, to offset some 6,056tCO2 equivalent from a variety of sources from April 2005 to April 2007.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for his Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. (200005)

This information is not held centrally, and so the following information is what could be gathered without disproportionate cost. It lists the surveys, questionnaires and other services conducted by third parties which received funding from Defra and which sought opinion, and which were provided in completed and agreed form during the financial year 2007-08.

Company which conducted it

Title of report

2CV

Natural Environment Message Testing Research

British Market Research Bureau

ACT ON CO2 climate change campaign, post tracking

British Market Research Bureau

Chewing Gum Action Group Campaign evaluation

British Market Research Bureau

Public awareness of personal food imports

British Market Research Bureau

Public Attitudes Towards Farmers

TNS Omnibus

Omnibus research into Awareness of Endangered Species Trade

British Market Research Bureau

Survey of public attitudes and behaviour in relation to the environment

Brook Lyndhurst

Public Understanding of Sustainable Energy Use in the Home

Centre for Sustainable Energy

Distributional Impacts of Personal Carbon Trading

CML Market Research

Food Campaign—Message Research

Cognition Market Intelligence

VMD Customer Feedback Survey

Continental Research

Business Attitudes to Resource Efficiency

Creative Research

Rabies Restrictions Review Consumer Workshops

Edcomms

Natural Environment Communications Desk Research

Entec UK Ltd.

Understanding the barriers to flood resilience

GfK NOP

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) Awareness Raising Campaign tracking research

I ICM

Climate Change Tracking Wave 6. Omnibus survey covering public knowledge and attitudes to climate change

ICM

Climate Change Tracking Wave 5. Omnibus survey covering public knowledge and attitudes to climate change

IFF Research

Illegal Foods Campaign Tracking 2006-07

Ipsos MORI

Public Understanding of Sustainable Finance and Investment

Ipsos MORI

Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) Research

Ipsos MORI

Attitudes to use of organic waste on agricultural land

Jigsaw Research

Defra: Engaging The Business Community in Environmental Issues

Kate Willis

Fallen Stock Sheep Farmers Research

Marketing Synergie International

Illegal Food Imports Creative Development.

MVA consultancy, commissioned by Consumer Council for Water on behalf of the Water Saving Group

Campaigns to make a difference: Research into identifying water saving messages

Navigator

Waste Infrastructure Research.

Opinion Leader and Enviros Consulting

Personal Carbon Trading: Public Acceptability

Opinion Leader Research

Public Understanding of Sustainable Consumption of Food

Opinion Leader Research

Citizen summit on climate change

Research Works

Personal food imports Filler testing

Scott Wilson

Public Understanding of Sustainable Transport

Social Research and Consultancy

Consumer attitudes to water efficiency of bathroom fittings: analysis of quantitative research

University of Exeter

Contemporary livestock farming and watercourse pollution: a citizen's jury approach

University of Gloucestershire, CCRI and MLURI

Understanding and influencing positive behaviour change in farmers and rural land managers

University of Reading

Survey into farmers attitudes toward a TB cattle vaccine

University of Surrey

Public Understanding of Sustainable Leisure and Tourism

Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets his Department has set in relation to its employment of people with disabilities over the next five years. (199046)

We have not set targets in relation to the employment of people with disabilities, other than for the senior civil service. Our target for 31 March 2008 was 3 per cent. and we achieved 2.6 per cent.

However in an earlier response to the Baroness Byford on 23 October 2007, Official Report, House of Lords, columns WA98-99, we highlighted that our disabled employee representation had increased across the Defra network over the last year.

Our workforce information tells us that about 6 per cent. of our staff have declared that they are disabled. However, disability declaration is voluntary and we believe that the actual number of disabled people in the Defra workforce is in fact higher.

In developing our new disability equality scheme our disabled and deaf staff have told us that they lack confidence in the fairness of recruitment processes for disabled and deaf people. To address the concerns raised we intend to review our recruitment and selection policies and processes and improve the monitoring of the whole process to identify and eliminate barriers that disabled and deaf people may experience in securing work with Defra.

Our diversity team supports the business to ensure that the Defra workforce is representative of the wider community. We have set up a Disability Equality Scrutiny and Advisory Group made up of independent disabled experts to monitor and advise on our progress against our action plans.

Dogger Bank: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to protect the Dogger Bank as an offshore special area of conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. (203992)

Dogger Bank has been identified as a draft Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive Annex III Stage 1 selection criteria. Draft SACs (dSACs) are areas that have been formally advised to the UK Government as suitable for selection as SACs, but have not been formally approved by Government as sites for public consultation. Further information in support of the recommendation is currently being gathered.

Elephants: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what initiatives the Government (a) funds directly and (b) otherwise supports for the protection and conservation of elephants; and if he will make a statement. (204260)

Elephants are at risk from a number of factors including habitat destruction, poaching for ivory and human-elephant conflict. The UK supports several measures to tackle these threats internationally.

Through its membership of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) the UK works to protect endangered species of plants and animals at threat from trade by controlling and monitoring international trade in them. Since 2005 the UK has made payments to support the work of the Monitoring of the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and has been funding the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) since 2003-04. These programmes will enable the international community to monitor whether the sale of legally stockpiled ivory has an effect on the amount of poaching and illegal global trade. Since 2003-04, the UK has also supported the work of the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) and in May 2007 allocated £10,000 to support elephant dialogue meetings.

In addition, DEFRA’s Darwin Initiative contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s biodiversity. Over the last five years to 2008 funding for the programme has increased from 3 million to 7 million per annum, we will be announcing a new Round soon. To date the Darwin Initiative has funded 464 projects in over 130 countries. A number of these have specifically focused on the protection and conservation of elephants, including building capacities for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Assam and Kenya.

Environment Protection: Canvey Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the use of land owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for improvements to the A130 Canvey Way. (204596)

Fisheries: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what capacity his Department has to assess what fishing takes place in the proposed offshore special areas of conservation sites at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge. (203965)

The Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) assesses fishing that takes place in the proposed offshore special areas of conservation and has access to sightings data collected from both aerial and surface surveillance units (namely fishery protection aircraft and the Royal Navy vessels within the Fishery Protection Squadron). The MFA also has access to satellite monitoring data but this is only in relation to vessels over 15 m in length, transmitting their positions every two hours.

The MFA can also access fisheries statistics in relation to species caught and landed from a particular area via the Fisheries Statistical Unit to the level of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) statistical rectangles.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) actual and (b) potential environmental damage or risk of environmental damage from fishing and related activities within the proposed offshore special areas of conservation sites at (i) Braemar Pockmarks, (ii) Scanner Pockmark, (iii) North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef, (iv) Haig Frais, (v) Stanton Banks, (vi) Darwin Mounds and (vii) Wyville Thomson Ridge. (203966)

The Joint Nature Conservation Council made the following assessments of the impacts of fishing on the condition of the proposed offshore special areas of conservation (SAC) sites as part of the Offshore Marine Natura consultation process, which took place in 2007.

Braemar Pockmarks

The biological and physical structure of the interest feature at the Braemar pockmarks site are known to have been partially impacted by bottom trawling. This has dispersed, fragmented and possibly buried some of the carbonate formations, and may also have modified the structure of the encircling pockmarks (John Hartley, pers. comm., 2005). However, much of the interest feature is still intact.

The prospects of this feature in terms of maintaining its structure in the future (taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort) are good. A mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area if this is deemed to be necessary.

Scanner Pockmark

The biological and physical structure of the habitat at the Scanner pockmark site is intact on the available evidence but may have been impacted by bottom trawling for Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) (the main commercial demersal stock in the Witch Ground). Bottom trawling could have modified the structure of the pockmark, causing burial of some of the submarine structures, as well as breaking and displacement of carbonate pieces. Some fishing nets were observed caught on the structures. However, the feature appears to be largely undamaged.

The prospects of this feature to maintain its structure in the future, taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort, are good. A mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area if this is deemed to be necessary.

North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef

The biological and physical structure of the North Norfolk Sandbanks have been impacted locally by some gas extraction infrastructure and aggregate extraction. It is also possible that the fauna of the banks have been impacted by bottom trawling, which may have reduced the number of long-lived or fragile organisms associated with the interest feature. The physical structure of the banks is intact, if not pristine, and the biology is representative of the habitat.

The prospects of this feature to maintain its structure in the future, taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort, are good. Regulations are in place to control oil and gas activity in and around SACs in the UK continental shelf designated area and developments are subject to appropriate assessment if they are likely to affect the features of a SAC. A mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area if this is deemed to be necessary. The aggregates industries’ operations are currently subject to environmental assessment, and would be subject to appropriate assessment if likely to affect SAC interest features.

Haig Fras

Available evidence indicates that the biological and physical structure of the reef interest feature at Haig Fras are intact (Rees, 2000).

The prospects of this feature to maintain its structure in the future (taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort) are good, since the basic physical structure is resilient to mechanical impacts and the reef is isolated from terrestrial sources of pollution. Due to the shape of the feature, it is likely to be avoided by bottom trawlers which could damage the reef fauna. However, a mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area if this is deemed to be necessary.

Stanton Banks

The biological and physical structure of the reef habitat at Stanton Banks is intact to the best of our knowledge.

The prospects of this feature in terms of maintaining its structure in the future (taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort) are excellent. A mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area if this is deemed to be necessary.

Darwin Mounds

The biological and physical structure of the biogenic reef in this area is mainly intact although some areas have been damaged by bottom trawling. Evidence of damage was provided from sidescan sonar images in 1999 (Bett, 1999). New damage (smashed coral strewn on the sea bed) was also visible over about a half of the Darwin Mounds East during summer 2000 (Bett, 2001). A trawler was operating nearby during the surveys. Reef damage means a loss of not only the habitat itself, but the species assemblages it supports.

The prospects of this feature to maintain its structure in the future, taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort, are moderate. The European Commission, at the request of the UK, has adopted common fisheries policy measures which prohibit the use of bottom trawling gear within the SAC boundary. However, it is possible that some further bottom trawling may have occurred in the months before these common fisheries policy measures were in place. Equally, it is possible that illegal fishing activities take place on this site. Therefore, this feature could be degraded by fisheries in spite of reasonable conservation effort.

Wyville Thomson Ridge

The biological and physical structure of habitats on Wyville Thomson Ridge is intact on the basis of available evidence, although some scarring from bottom trawling has been observed.

The prospects of this feature to maintain its structure in the future, taking into account unfavourable influences and reasonable conservation effort, are good. A mechanism is available through the European Commission’s common fisheries policy regulations to modify fishing activity in the area, if this is deemed to be necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what ongoing monitoring of potential damage from fishing and related activities he plans to undertake in the proposed offshore special areas of conservation sites at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge. (203968)

Monitoring of fishing activities in the proposed Special Areas of Conservation (pSACs) sites is undertaken on the basis of a risk-based programme of monitoring and enforcement, including the use of inspections on land and at sea. This will often be in conjunction with enforcement in respect of fishing activity, though not exclusively, because other marine activities are also required to comply with the Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations 2007.

The enforcement programme will seek to identify those areas where there is the highest probability of offences occurring and to prioritise resources to those areas to ensure compliance. Intelligence information will also be used when it becomes available from any reliable source.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to prevent fishing activity if the Joint Nature Conservation Committee advises that fishing damages or has the potential to damage the proposed offshore special areas of conservation sites at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge; and how he plans to prevent environmental damage from fishing and related activities at each site. (203969)

The Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007 ensure that certain activities that have an effect on important species and habitats in the offshore marine environment can be controlled. The regulations apply in the “offshore area” beyond 12 nautical miles from the UK coast. They protect marine habitats, species and wild birds, through a number of offences.

The regulations take account of the fact that the regulation of commercial fishing activities is conducted in the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) (as the European Community has exclusive competence). Where measures are necessary to control commercial fishing activities to meet the conservation objectives of an offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) the UK will work with the European Commission to deliver proportionate and effective measures through CFP regulation.

Fisheries: Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will meet representatives of the fishing industry to discuss the effects of fuel prices on competitiveness in the industry. (204626)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: I am always pleased to meet representatives of the fishing industry and do so on a regular basis. I have recently agreed to meet with representatives of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations to discuss fuel prices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research on the effects of fuel prices on competitiveness in the fishing industries. (204627)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: The price of fuel is one of the factors taken into account in formulating policy intended to maximise the competitiveness of the UK fishing industry. I have no plans to commission research into the effects of fuel prices in isolation.

Fisheries: Special Areas of Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what records his Department holds of fishing in marine waters at the proposed offshore special areas of conservation sites at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk sandbanks and Saturn reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge. (204015)

The Joint Nature Conservation Council (JNCC) is required to prepare Conservation Objectives and Advice on Operations as after sites are submitted to the European Commission. Subsequently, for each of the offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) subject to consultation in 2007-2008, it has prepared draft documents which include information on the impact of fishing. This information has been compiled making use of existing knowledge and in consultation with various Government Departments and agencies who hold such information, including the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency.

Fisheries: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to subsidise fuel for British fishing fleets; and if he will make a statement. (204093)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: It is not Government policy to subsidise fuel costs, including for commercial fishing vessels. Such subsidies can lead to over capacity, distort business decisions, act against the long term interests of the industry, can be discriminatory, and are not sustainable.

The emphasis of any aid to the fishing industry should be on building a sustainable future and that is where we are directing our efforts.

Floods: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) homeowners, (b) tenants, (c) businesses and (d) farmers are eligible to apply for compensation for flood damage in Selsey. (204979)

There is no general compensation scheme for those who are uninsured, not least because it would be unfair to those who paid for cover. Also, flood defences are provided under permissive powers; there is no legal obligation on the Government to protect property to any given standard, or at all. This has been the policy of successive Governments.

While compensation is not payable for those affected by flooding, grants and loans are available from the Department for Work and Pensions to help those in most need following flooding.

Floods: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) research studies and (b) reviews have been commissioned by his Department into the flooding in summer 2007; who commissioned them; who is carrying them out; and how much they will cost. (204207)

A review of the flooding, its causes and subsequent management including recovery issues, was commissioned by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This is being led by the independent Chair Sir Michael Pitt, and being carried out by the Cabinet Office with support from DEFRA and CLG. Until the Review has been concluded, we will not have final costings.

Floods: Thames Gateway

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to promote the development of an integrated approach by local authorities, developers, highways authorities and water companies to the management of storm water within the Thames Gateway growth area; and if he will make a statement. (198990)

Planning Policy Statement 25 on Development and Flood Risk promotes the strategic consideration of flood risk at all levels of the planning process. This is done through a constructive partnership approach between local planning authorities, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders, in the early consideration of, and planning for, new development in flood risk areas.

In the Thames Gateway, strategic flood risk assessments, which are co-ordinated by the Environment Agency, are providing all stakeholders with a common understanding of risk from all forms of flooding.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on genetically modified crops; and what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Development on genetically modified crops and developing countries. (204302)

Defra has received a range of representations on GM crops, and we keep in close touch with the Department for International Development on any cross-cutting issues to do with the use of GM crops in developing countries.

Housing: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Energy Saving Trust on the launch of the Green Homes Service. (204297)

We have had a variety of discussions with the Energy Saving Trust on the issue of the Green Homes Service, at both ministerial and official level.

Landfill Tax: Fly-tipping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on fly-tipping of the landfill tax escalator. (204486)

No formal assessment has been made.

However, the Government are monitoring levels of fly-tipping and ways in which the effects can be mitigated. In April 2004, the Flycapture database was set up to help local authorities and the Environment Agency improve information on the scale of fly-tipping and to help focus resources and identify trends in this growing environmental crime. Flycapture is enabling central and local government to demonstrate the true nature, extent and scale of fly-tipping, both nationally and locally. The data are being used to develop more effective, evidence-based policies and strategies.

DEFRA also funded a research report by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science into the causes and incentives of fly-tipping. The report concludes that there is not one cause of fly-tipping but a number of separate ones.

Assessing the specific effect of the landfill tax on fly-tipping would be extremely difficult, not least because there are a number of different causes of fly-tipping, some of which may need to coincide before a person decides to act illegally. Fly-tipping levels also reflect the level of enforcement and other prevention activity undertaken by the Environment Agency and local authorities, which can offset any increase in illegal activity.

Although the research recognises that one of these causes may be the cost of legitimate waste disposal, the landfill tax is an important instrument in reducing our reliance on landfill and moving to more sustainable waste management options. The actual increases, together with the knowledge of the future rate of tax, is sending a strong signal. This will change behaviour, while allowing business time to adjust and make the necessary investment in alternative waste treatment routes.

Leisure: Staffordshire