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Written Answers

Volume 475: debated on Friday 16 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Friday 16 May 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Ethnic Minority Business Task Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent meetings he has held with the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force. (204292)

My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms) when Minister for Competitiveness and the Regions, attended the second meeting of the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force on 16 January 2008. Senior officials from my Department attended the third meeting of the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force on 10 April 2008.

In addition to the Task Force meetings, the Government have recently consulted with over 600 businesses and business leaders to develop a better understanding of the challenges of building an enterprise economy in preparation for the development of the Enterprise Strategy. As part of this my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met with representatives from the Ethnic Minority Business Forum North West in Manchester on 18 October 2007 and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms) attended an event for ethnic minority businesses on 12 December 2007, hosted by the British Council in London.

London Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many times his Department hired VIP facilities at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Luton and (d) Stansted airports in each month since May 2006; and what the expenditure on VIP facilities at each was in each of those months. (205143)

Based on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s (BERR) records since May 2006, there were five official BERR bookings at a cost of £1,428.70.

A monthly breakdown of official usage is given as follows:

Bookings from May 2006 to March 2008

Number of bookings

Total cost (£)

Heathrow

23 October 2007

1

539.25

10 July 2006

1

539.25

Stansted

18 January 2008

1

100.00

8 July 2007

2

250.20

Total

1,428.70

Post Offices: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which local authorities in Gloucestershire made submissions to the recent restructuring review of post offices proposing funding one or more branches in their area. (205751)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Post Offices: Halifax

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post offices in Halifax were closed between 1979 and 1992. (206087)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, managing director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Postal Services: Competition

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to ensure fair competition in the provision of postal services. (204757)

Under the Postal Services Act 2000, Parliament established Postcomm as the independent regulator for postal services. Postcomm's primary statutory duty is to ensure provision of a universal postal service. Subject to this, Postcomm will exercise its functions in the manner which it considers is best calculated to further the interests of users of postal services, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition between postal operators.

Postcomm has wide-ranging powers to gather information and investigate complaints about anti-competitive behaviour in the mail market. A Memorandum of Understanding between Postcomm and the Office of Fair Trading ensures co-operation and co-ordination on cases of anti-competitive behaviour.

Royal Mail: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the level was of business use of the Post Office/Royal Mail in (a) the most recent year for which figures are available and (b) the previous year to that period. (205782)

These are operational matters for Post Office Ltd. and Royal Mail. I have therefore asked Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, to reply on both issues direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Children, Schools and Families

Children: Day Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 8 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1136-7W, on Children: Day Care, how many and what proportion of nursery pupils travelled to and from nursery (a) by car, (b) by public transport, (c) on foot and (d) by bicycle in each year since records are available. (206094)

Information on pupils’ mode of travel to school was collected for the first time in spring 2007, and was compulsory only for those schools with an approved Travel Plan.

The available information was provided in my answer of 8 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1136-7W.

Updated information relating to spring 2008 is expected to be available by the end of June 2008.

Children: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme's core offer will include provision to increase assistance given by medical professionals in applying for aids, adaptations and benefits. (203690)

I have been asked to reply.

The national Core Offer, which was published on 15 May 2008, is a national statement of what parents of disabled children can expect from public services. These expectations are based on the five areas of information, transparency, participation, feedback and assessment. The services, which are developed locally will vary according to the needs of the disabled child and what parents want.

Sure Start Programme: Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of (a) local Sure Start centres and (b) children’s centres are run by voluntary organisations. (206104)

Local authorities working with their partners in children's trusts are responsible for the overall delivery of the Sure Start Children’s Centres programme in England, building on the early Sure Start Local Programmes and other provision, including planning, securing value for money and ensuring overall quality in children’s centres. We encourage them to involve voluntary, private and independent organisations both in managing children’s centres and as service providers in order to harness the best of all sectors in delivering quality services for children. Reliable information on how many Sure Start Children’s Centres are run by voluntary organisations is not available centrally. A survey of around 1,100 children’s centres last year showed around 58 per cent. of child care provision in children’s centres is provided by the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector and that 74 per cent. of children’s centres are using voluntary organisations to deliver other services.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under what circumstances a revaluation of a home for the purposes of council tax may be triggered. (206051)

Listing Officers of the Valuation Office Agency have a statutory responsibility to compile and maintain council tax valuation lists. They will look to review a list entry if information is brought to their attention to suggest that the banding is not correct. The most common instance is where a property which has been improved, is then sold, and the extent of the improvements is sufficient to move it into the next band. In such cases, it is only when the property is sold that any revision of council tax band is made.

Eco-Towns

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the transcript of the telephone conference of 3 April 2008 between the Minister for Housing and Planning and hon. Members whose constituencies contain short-listed eco-town locations. (203460)

There is no transcript of the telephone conference of 3 April 2008 between myself and the hon. Members where constituencies contain short listed eco-town locations. However, I wrote to hon. Members where constituencies contain short-listed eco-town locations on 3 April 2008, setting out what I relayed during the conference call and provided some further background about the process for taking eco-towns forward. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of housing in eco-towns is planned to be zero-carbon. (203461)

As we have set out in the consultation document, “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”, the development as a whole, not just housing, should reach zero carbon standards.

Eco-Towns: Greenbelt

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of the short-listed proposed eco-town locations contain green belt land; and what the percentage of green belt land each contains. (203462)

In terms of development on the green belt I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 7 May, Official Report, column 1037W. All the shortlisted locations for eco-towns are subject to consultation and further assessment.

Eco-Towns: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of housing in eco-towns she plans to be affordable. (203458)

As set out in the consultation document, “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”, affordable housing should make up between 30 and 50 per cent. of the total housing.

Eco-Towns: Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the new Planning Policy Statement on eco-towns will be location-specific. (202589)

Yes, the eco-towns policy statement will be place specific, and will be an important material consideration in the determination of any planning application for an eco-town, particularly where the development plan is silent or out of date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether planning guidance for eco-towns will be site-specific. (203459)

Yes, the eco-towns policy statement will be place specific, and will be an important material consideration in the determination of any planning application for an eco-town, particularly where the development plan is silent or out of date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the approach in the draft planning policy statement on eco-towns will follow the approach to national policy statements envisaged in the Planning Bill, with particular reference to local publicity, consultation and parliamentary scrutiny. (204672)

The draft eco-towns policy statement will not be a national policy statement for the purpose of the Planning Bill, and therefore will not be covered by the provisions on consultation set out in it. However I can assure you that we will be publicly consulting on the draft eco-towns policy statement, which we expect to publish in July.

Energy: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on how many occasions officials in her Department discussed the proposed labelling of heating systems in the energy-using products directive with representatives of the European Commission in each of the last two years. (205440)

I have been asked to reply.

To date, my officials have held four discussions on this subject with representatives of the European Commission. These consisted of a bilateral on 31 January 2008, two energy-using products consultation forums on 18 December 2007 and 29 February 2008 and a conference call on 24 April 2007.

Additionally, an informal meeting with the European Commission and other member states has been arranged for 22 May.

Housing: Derelict Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 740W, on Housing: Derelict Land, what proportion of new dwellings built in 2006 were built on previously residential land, broken down by (a) county and (b) local authority area, presenting the data in a manner consistent with that of her answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1524W, on brownfield development. (204749)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 6 May 2008, Official Report, columns 740-41W.

This information was taken from the Department’s Land Use Change Statistics (LUCS). Because of the way that LUCS data are collected, the statistics are variable from year to year. At spatial scales below the regional level investigation has shown that annual figures are highly volatile and not robust. Information for local authorities and counties were therefore given as multi-year averages.

Local Authorities: Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the cost to local authorities arising from the Border and Immigration Agency’s Case Resolution Programme. (204186)

I have been asked to reply.

We have been working closely with local authorities to help mitigate impacts, including via a transitional costs fund. The financial support available will depend on the claims made by local authorities. Funding will be available for some items of expenditure incurred by local authorities on an agreed cohort of supported families cases processed by the agency. We cannot therefore accurately estimate the level of funding required.

Local Government: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the cash value was of payments made by local authority employers, including secondary contributions, to the local government pension scheme in each year since 1996-97; (202601)

(2) what the estimated cost to employers of the local government pension scheme was in each financial year since 1996-97 in (a) actual terms and (b) excluding the 20 per cent. of costs which relate to non-local authority employers.

The amount of contributions paid by English local authority employers in the local government pension scheme, excluding the 20 per cent. of costs which relate to non-local authority employers, for the period 1996-97 to 2006-07 is shown in the following table. These data relate to payments made under the scheme that ceased to have effect on 31 March 2008. Since then, contributions paid by employers and employees continue to be made under the new local government pension scheme which came into effect on 1 April 2008.

£ million

Total cost

Total costexcluding estimated non-local authority employer costs of 20 per cent.

1996-97

1,322

1,058

1997-98

1,520

1,216

1998-99

1,788

1,430

1999-2000

1,972

1,578

2000-01

2,273

1,818

2001-02

2,617

2,094

2002-03

2,916

2,333

2003-04

3,217

2,574

2004-05

3,544

2,835

2005-06

4,124

3,300

2006-07

4,626

3,701

These data represent the actual amount of contributions paid by employers participating in the scheme according to annual returns submitted to the Department by scheme administering authorities in England. The returns include all contributions paid by scheme employers.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will reply to the representation of the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey on behalf of his constituent Mr. Trevor Bailess on the Home Information Pack scheme. (206106)

Regional Planning and Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the responsibilities of the Local Government Taskforce are; and when it was established; (205415)

(2) in what projects the Local Government Taskforce is currently involved;

(3) what funds the Local Government Taskforce received from the public purse in each year since it was established.

The role of the Local Government Taskforce (LGTF), since its establishment in 2000, has been to embed good construction principles in local government and provide a link between local government and the construction sector. The LGTF has also taken the lead role in supporting delivery of the construction procurement strands of the Efficiency Review. Funding and priorities for 2008-09 are currently under discussion. Figures available to Communities and Local Government (CLG) on resource allocated by CLG and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (including their predecessor Departments) to the LGTF since 2003-04 are set out as follows.

Funding to LGTF 2003-08

£

CLG funding (exc. VAT)

DTI/ BERR funding (exc. VAT)

2003-04

74,000.00

175,000.00

2004-05

175,000.00

18,800.00

2005-06

175,000.00

0.00

2006-07

175,000.00

2007-08

175,000.00

40,000.00

Social Rented Housing: Foreigners

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many new (a) local authority social lettings and (b) registered social landlord lettings were made to foreign nationals from (i) EU member states and (ii) non-EU states in each year since 1997; (164359)

(2) how many foreign nationals obtained a tenancy of social housing without holding an existing social housing tenancy in each year since 1997.

I would like to apologise for the delay in answering these questions.

Information on the number of foreign national households allocated social housing is collected in the Continuous Recording of Letting form (CORE). A question on nationality was first introduced to the form for the 2006-07 data collection period. CORE is collected on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government by St. Andrew’s University. Historically CORE has only collected information from registered social landlords. An increasing number of local authorities are now providing information through this process as well, but there are still some gaps in the data.

In 2006-07 for registered social landlords, there were 1,769 new general needs lettings made to foreign nationals from European Economic Area (EEA) countries and 2,259 from non-EEA countries.

Adjusting for missing data from local authorities, we estimate there were around 7,000 general needs local authority lets to foreign nationals. It is not possible to estimate the split between EEA and non-EEA foreign nationals.

Overall, we estimate that around 6 per cent. (equivalent to around 11,000) new general needs lettings were made to foreign nationals in 2006-07. This estimate adjusts for missing local authority data, and includes lets made to nationals from EEA countries.

These estimates are the first to be made on the basis of a full year's information and are therefore the most robust information available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many social lettings were allocated to (a) foreign nationals and (b) A8 nationals in each region in each year since 2004; [200999]

(2) how many (a) registered social landlord and (b) local authority social lettings were taken up by (i) non-British citizens and (ii) A8 nationals in each quarter since 1 April 2006; and what these figures were as a proportion of total lettings in each case.

Stamp Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the average stamp duty paid by a first-time buyer in (a) Bexley, (b) England and (c) the United Kingdom in 2007-08. (204750)

I have been asked to reply.

No estimate has been made of the stamp duty land tax paid by first-time buyers. There is no requirement for taxpayers to provide information to HMRC as to whether they are first-time buyers.

Culture, Media and Sport

Football Licensing Authority: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding his Department plans to allocate to the Football Licensing Authority in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. (206237)

The planned funding to the Football Licensing Authority for the next three years is as follows:

Football licensing authority

£ million

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

Capital

0.060

0.000

0.000

Resource

1.261

1.261

1.261

Total

1.321

1.261

1.261

Departmental Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects to publish his Department's annual resource accounts for 2007-08. (206238)

I expect the annual resource accounts for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for 2007-08 will be laid before Parliament before the Summer Recess and published by the end of September.

Sports: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the value of (a) awards and (b) payments made from the New Opportunities Fund for physical education and sport was in each year since it was set up. (205817)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: The figures in the following table reflect the total value of awards and payments made from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) and its successor the Big Lottery Fund under the programmes listed in each year since NOF was set up. The figures given for 2007-08 are the latest currently available, but are not the complete figures for the year.

Total awards made

£

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

PE Sport in Schools

0

36,511,096

193,319,327

330,571,171

66,259,638

19,200,328

8,084,957

Spaces for Sports and Arts

10,596,800

11,765,026

208,810

0

1,637,163

178,080

0

School Sports Coordinators

0

10,346,489

8,916,210

7,475,404

15,808,192

11,952,507

13,060,748

Community Sports Programmes

0

0

0

57,127,482

23,810,981

9,338,760

-185,245

Football Foundation

0

30,000,000

0

0

0

0

0

Total

10,596,800

88,622,611

202,444,347

395,174,057

107,515,975

40,669,675

20,960,460

Payment

£

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

PE Sport in Schools

0

1,303,435

16,291,956

67,221,580

198,106,412

172,814,434

89,921,992

Spaces for Sports and Arts

11,400

1,808,083

8,090,580

-760,063

3,406,556

11,624,093

-730,649

School Sports Coordinators

0

1,689,821

4,925,199

7,086,675

13,186,855

10,415,616

16,356,430

Community Sports Programmes

0

0

0

5,765,175

27,164,829

24,238,854

13,814,298

Football Foundation

0

0

3,071,174

5,679,749

8,372,504

6,740,431

6,136,142

Total

11,400

4,801,339

32,378,909

84,993,116

250,237,156

225,833,427

125,498,213

UK Sport: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding his Department plans to allocate to UK Sport in each of the next three years. (206239)

The planned funding for UK Sport for each of the next three years is as follows:

UK sport

£ million

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

Capital

0.580

0.580

0.580

Resource

49.971

59.971

62.971

Total

51.551

60.551

63.551

Defence

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he expects the Piranha V future rapid effect system utility vehicle to come into service; and how many he plans to order; (205394)

(2) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 8 May 2008, Official Report, columns 39-40WS, on the future rapid effect system utility vehicle design decision, what the next stage of the utility vehicle programme will be; when he expects that stage to be concluded; and how much it will cost;

(3) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 8 May 2008, Official Report, columns 39-40WS, on the future rapid effect system military vehicle design decision, what the proposed package of work on risk reduction will consist of; when he expects this work to be completed; and how much it will cost.

The date by which the Utility Vehicle will enter service and how many will be ordered will be set at the time of the main investment decision. The next stage in the FRES utility vehicle programme will be the Demonstration Phase. Its duration and cost will be agreed at the time of the relevant investment decision.

Prior to the Demonstration Phase we will conduct a package of risk reduction work to further increase our confidence that the selected design is capable of delivering the required level of performance. In addition to addressing performance issues, the risk reduction work will also allow the designer to review aspects of their exploitation plans for future phases of the utility vehicle programme with regard to estimates of cost, risk and schedule. The duration and cost of this risk reduction work will be the subject of negotiations between the MOD and the vehicle designer.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 April 2008, Official Report, column 1924W, on the departmental internet, from which networks write access to Wikipedia has been blocked; when the decision to block them was made; for what reasons it was made; and if he will place in the Library his Department’s documentation of the decision. (202379)

We have blocked write access to Wikipedia via the MOD Enterprise Gateway Service (EGS). This covers MOD’s basic level (Restricted/Unclassified) Wide Area Network, servicing the vast majority of MOD’s office-based IT systems.

A number of minor systems can access the internet directly; these are either older systems, or those under local control which have specific business requirements which make them unsuitable for connection to the main Wide Area Network. Such systems will not be blocked from accessing Wikipedia.

More highly protected networks have never had internet access, and so cannot access Wikipedia.

The decision to block write access to Wikipedia via the EGS was taken on 30 November 2007 by staff of the Director General Information (DGInfo) and the Joint Security Co-ordination Centre (JSyCC). There was no compelling business reason to have the facility to update Wikipedia.

An exchange of emails at desk level documented the decision, and the method to be followed. I am withholding these e-mails as in order to safeguard national security, this information is not placed in the public domain.

Kosovo: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the technical arrangement between NATO Kosovo Force and the EU rule of law civilian mission to be finalised; and what assessment he has made of the effects on military and civilian operations in Kosovo of the time taken to secure finalisation. (202385)

NATO and EU staffs have produced Technical Arrangement papers to facilitate coordination and support between the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the EU rule of law civilian mission (EULEX). It is envisaged that they will be signed into force by the Commander KFOR and the Head of EULEX once EULEX is ready to deploy.

There continues to be good co-operation between the two organisations on the ground in Kosovo.

Radioactive Materials: Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 484W, on Radioactive Materials: Transport, what plans he has to ensure that the refurbished truck cargo heavy duty trailers and newly purchased tractor heads are compliant with regulations on radiation hazard, with particular reference to the carrying of radiation hazard warning signs when loaded with special nuclear materials; and if he will make a statement. (205190)

The regulations governing the transport of radioactive material, including the requirements for radiation hazard warning signs, are the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Transportable Pressure Vessel Regulations 2007. Provision exists within these for radioactive materials defined as instruments of war, or components thereof, to be exempt. Notwithstanding, arrangements have been put in place for the transportation of special nuclear material that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, at least as good as those required by legislation.

Hazard warning signs are generally intended to provide information to responding emergency services in the event of an incident. The Ministry of Defence police escorting convoys have this and more information to hand. All factors, including security, will be taken into account in determining whether hazard signs will appear on the replacement vehicles when carrying special nuclear material.

Veterans

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve the assistance given to soldiers to prepare for life upon return from tours of duty in theatres of operation. (205289)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: Prior to deploying on operations soldiers receive welfare and personal briefings that are intended to assist them in coping with the demands of operational tours and the subsequent return from theatre. These briefings are supplemented by a booklet and a DVD.

At the end of an operational tour personnel leaving theatre will go through a 24-36 hours period of ‘decompression’, prior to return to their home base. This enables them to unwind physically and mentally and to talk to colleagues and superiors about their experiences. Personnel also attend mandatory briefings during this period, designed to help them manage the transition to normal life. On return to the home base, and prior to the mandatory post operational leave, soldiers go through a normalisation process. This lasts for up to five days and is a structured programme of briefings and activities to help the re-adjustment to non-operational service life in barracks. Access to specialised mental healthcare is available at every stage of the process, as is access to the Army’s comprehensive range of welfare services.

For those leaving the operational theatre with illness or injuries it is often not practical for them to undergo decompression or normalisation. Those hospitalised at Selly Oak are visited at least daily by the Service Brigade Liaison Officers and the Defence Medical Welfare Staff. Arrangements are also made for their families to visit them as soon as possible to offer additional bedside comfort and support after their arrival in a UK hospital. They can also be counselled by Army welfare staff and, where appropriate, referred for more specialist treatment. For those who are evacuated from theatre to home sick leave the Army Sickness Absence Management process involves regular unit representative contact until individuals return to their units or are discharged from the Army. Where support requirements are identified before discharge an action plan is developed with the Veterans Welfare Service that ensures support continues for at least two years beyond discharge where necessary.

The Army has also recently implemented Trauma Risk Management (TRiM). This aims to identify at the earliest possible stage those who may have been affected by traumatic incidents so that appropriate counselling, or other forms of treatment, can be arranged for them.

Duchy of Lancaster

Committee on the Grant of Honours Decorations and Medals

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many recommendations of the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals have been submitted for consideration in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement; (203477)

(2) how many consultations the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals has conducted in the last 12 months; who was consulted; and if he will make a statement;

(3) on how many occasions the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals has met in the last 12 months; what the venue for each of these meetings was; what the cost of each meeting was; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what the cost of (a) the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals and (b) its secretariat was in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement;

(5) how many officials are engaged in the work of the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals; and if he will make a statement;

(6) if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) agendas and (b) minutes of each meeting of the Committee on Honours, Decorations and Medals in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Secretariat support for the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is provided by the Ceremonial Secretariat based in the Cabinet Office. The cost of the secretariat is accounted for in the departmental report and accounts.

The committee is made up of the following members:

Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service (Chair)

Private Secretary to The Sovereign

Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence

Defence Services Secretary

Permanent Secretary Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Permanent Secretary, Home Office

Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood

Ceremonial Officer of the Cabinet Office (Secretary).

All members of the committee have extensive careers in public administration and/or as members of the armed forces or the diplomatic service. As the posts are ex officio, members serve on the committee while they hold their current posts.

It is established practice not to disclose the details of internal discussion and advice.

Crime Prevention

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many people responded to the Have Your Say exercise as part of the Crime and Communities Review; (203237)

(2) what responsibility his Department has in combating crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour;

(3) what the responsibilities and duties of Louise Casey are.

The Cabinet Office plays a number of roles in relation to combating crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour. This includes, providing secretariat support to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees relating to domestic affairs, cross-Government work to tackle social exclusion including some of the underlying causes of offending, and supporting third sector organisations. The Strategy Unit also works collaboratively with other Government Departments on a range of home affairs issues.

The Prime Minister commissioned Louise Casey to carry out a cross-departmental review to look at how local communities, the police, local criminal justice agencies and other local partners can best work together to reduce crime, raise community confidence, improve information to local people and lower the fear of crime. The review is also looking at what makes people get involved in tackling problems in their community. The review is based in the Cabinet Office because of its cross-departmental nature but is staffed jointly by Departments.

The Crime and Communities Review's call for evidence attracted 1,457 responses to the questionnaire. A further 606 community activists attended evidence gathering events held across the country. The review is due to report by June 2008.

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many freedom of information requests made to his Department were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days, (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information in each year since the Act came into force. (201735)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested; however the proportion of resolvable requests the Cabinet Office answered “in time” (i.e. meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007 was 97 per cent.

For 2005 and 2006, the reports show the number of requests received by the Department which were withheld, either in full or in part, where an FOI exemption or EIR exception was applied. For 2007, the number of such requests was 152, based on aggregated quarterly statistics from 2007. Requests withheld solely under the exemption applicable to “information available by other means” are not included; statistics on these are not collected centrally because they are dealt with as routine business.

Immigration

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has made of the number of immigrants arriving in (a) the UK and (b) Northamptonshire in 2008; and if he will make a statement. (201244)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 16 May 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question about the number of immigrants arriving in (a) the UK and (b) Northamptonshire in 2008. (201244)

In 2006 an estimated 591,000 people arrived to live in the UK for at least a year. These are the latest available official estimates of Total International Migration.

International migration figures for local authorities are only calculated on a mid-year basis to form part of the mid-year population estimates. These show an estimated 7,000 people arriving to live in Northamptonshire for at least a year between mid-2005 and mid-2006.

Electoral Commission Committee

Elections: Standards

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps are being taken to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of returning officers. (205705)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it is using its powers under the Electoral Administration Act 2006 to implement a performance standards framework for returning officers and electoral registration officers in Great Britain. The Commission will use the framework to provide an assessment of the performance of individual officers, and to identify areas where further support may be required to improve performance. The Commission will also collect and analyse financial information from returning officers to support its assessments of performance and efficiency.

Voting Methods: Standards

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps are being taken to monitor the effectiveness of the delivery of (a) poll cards and (b) postal votes in each local authority area. (205706)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the responsibility for sending poll cards and postal votes to electors in each local authority area rests with the returning officer for that area. The Commission’s guidance to returning officers provides information about the production and distribution of poll cards and the issue and distribution of postal votes.

The Commission has no powers to direct or challenge individual returning officers in relation to the exercise of their statutory duties. However, the Commission’s performance standards framework will support an assessment of the performance of individual officers in relation to a number of key management standards.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Domestic Wastes: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has undertaken research into the potential risk of lung damage and other allergic reactions from household waste storage and collection practices amongst (a) immuno-compromised patients and (b) people with fungi allergies. (204485)

DEFRA published in 2007 a report by independent consultants that assessed the health impact of fortnightly residual collections of biodegradable waste. Part of the work assessed available evidence on health risks to members of the public from air-borne micro-organisms and air-borne biological material from household waste. They concluded that there is no evidence which indicates that fortnightly residual waste collection will result in an increase of these substances to levels in air which could pose any risks for members of the public. The research literature provides no evidence that fortnightly residual household waste collection will cause any significant health impacts for residents, or that any health impacts are likely to be significantly greater than those associated with weekly collections.

This is consistent with wider studies of the health effects of waste management, which indicate that waste management has at most a minor effect on health.

The research did not specifically assess risks to susceptible groups of people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers waste collection authorities have to enter (a) the curtilage of a property and (b) a property; under what circumstances such powers may be exercised; what powers such authorities have to inspect the contents of such domestic rubbish receptacles; and what penalty may be imposed upon householders who refuse entry to waste collection authority representatives by the authority. (204534)

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 extended the powers of section 108 of the Environment Act 1995 to waste collection authorities in relation to their functions under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA).

Subject to at least seven days notice expiring, and either the consent of the occupant or a warrant under schedule 18 of the Environment Act, persons authorised by the Environment Agency or the enforcing authority (which could be a local authority waste officer) are entitled to enter property to examine and investigate possible waste offences.

This would most likely be where a nuisance was being caused to the neighbourhood, for example by not placing waste in any receptacle and allowing it to be spread beyond the curtilage of the property.

This is not a power designed to enable the inspection of household waste receptacles. Local authority powers under section 46 of the EPA cover how waste is presented for collection, not how waste is stored by householders. If a householder had breached a section 46 notice it would be clear to the authority when it collected the waste, so there would be no need to enter the property to gather such evidence.

Floods: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Environment Agency on the funding required to implement the final recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt's report on the 2007 floods; and if he will provide a breakdown by subheading of the estimated costs of implementing those recommendations. (205612)

We have announced an initial provision of £34.5 million funding over the three years to 2010-11 which may be needed to implement the Pitt recommendations. We will determine how this should be spent when we see the final Pitt report and the priorities which it contains.

Litter

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department monitors the number of visitors to the Knowledge Bank on litter run by his Department and ENCAMS. (204657)

The Department does not monitor the number of people who visit the ENCAMS website, or the number of people visiting the Knowledge Bank section on litter.

Plastic Bags

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will convene a forum among representatives of supermarkets to discuss an industry-wide approach to reducing the use of plastic bags. (206067)

A forum was convened on 7 May 2008 which included representatives from supermarkets, the British Retail Consortium, and others. Its aim was to discuss the reduction of single use carrier bags.

Recycling: Castle Point

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from Castle Point Borough Council in relation to the Environment Agency's assessment of its recycling plan; and if he will make a statement. (204640)

The Environment Agency has made no assessment of Castle Point borough council's (CPBC) recycling plan.

CPBC are involved with the Essex Waste Management Strategy which is co-ordinated by Essex county council. The Environment Agency was recently consulted on this, but has no separate plan for CPBC.

I have no record of any representations having been received by my Department from CPBC in respect of this matter.

Sewers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on transferring ownership of private sewers to water companies since the consultation in 2004. (205874)

The Government Response Paper published in October 2004 acknowledged that transfer of ownership to sewerage undertakers would result in far-reaching changes and that further work was needed to understand the implications. Since then DEFRA has undertaken this work, which has included further cost estimates, a stakeholder seminar and qualitative customer research. Details of this work can be found on the DEFRA website.

As a result, the Government announced in February 2007 their decision to transfer private sewers and lateral drains draining to the public sewerage system into water company ownership. We subsequently published a public consultation in July 2007 on implementation options for the proposed transfer. The consultation also posed questions on the scope of assets to be included in the transfer and ways in which the creation of new private sewers can be prevented.

A summary of responses was published in March 2008 and we are currently preparing proposals for implementation with the help of a steering group of key stakeholders. The work of the steering group will inform the decision on the timing of transfer and the drafting of regulations for implementation. We expect to be in a position to consult on these regulations later this year.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will allocate resources to develop commingled waste collections. (205753)

Local authorities, in consultation with residents, are best placed to decide on the appropriate recycling and waste collection services for their areas. My Department funds the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to provide local authorities with advice on good practice.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma: Sanctions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2008, Official Report, column 640W, on Burma: Sanctions, whether a date has been set for the presentation of the conclusions drawn from discussions between the UK and its EU partners on how best to target financial transactions owned or controlled by Burmese officials; and if he will make a statement. (205862)

The UK has shared proposals for targeting financial transactions with the European Commission and EU member states. Discussions are continuing at a technical level in Brussels.

It is too early to say when these will be concluded.

Burma: United Nations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a UN Security Council Presidential Statement on Burma is expected following discussions by the UN Security Council on 24 April. (205807)

On 2 May, immediately before the devastating cyclone hit Burma, the UN Security Council agreed a Presidential Statement relating to the Burmese regime’s 10 May referendum. The Council reaffirmed its statements of 11 October and 15 November 2007 and called on the Burmese regime to establish the conditions and create an atmosphere conducive to an inclusive and credible political process.

Since the cyclone hit, we have focused on the imperative of getting humanitarian need to those who desperately need it.

The UK will continue to make the case for the Security Council to engage on the growing humanitarian situation in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government is taking to ensure that Burma is put on the UN Security Council’s formal agenda; and if he will make a statement. (205808)

We have made clear our belief that the UN Security Council should engage on the fast deteriorating situation in Burma as a matter of urgency. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has indicated his immense frustration at the way in which the Burmese government is restricting the international aid effect, and the Secretary-General should have the firm resolve of the Security Council behind him. The UK raised Burma in Security Council consultations on 12 May and continues to encourage members to place humanitarian relief on the formal agenda. We have also asked the UN Secretary-General to convene an Emergency Summit of world leaders to press for expanded delivery of aid as soon as possible. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed these issues with the UN Secretary-General on 13 May and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, Michael Williams, traveled to New York on 14 May to continue this dialogue with the UN and Security Council partners. The UK Permanent Representative in New York continues to make our concerns clear.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was of food and drink procured for working lunches attended by officials at which no external invitees were present in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (205519)

This information is not held centrally and could be researched only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) written consultations, (b) consultation roadshows and (c) stakeholder focus groups in each of the last three years. (205834)

This information is not held centrally, as there is no dedicated account for expenditure on any of these activities. Individual budget holders would need to identify relevant expenditure to obtain a total for the Department, and this could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Kingston upon Hull

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the itinerary of the visit of the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Zha Peixin, to Kingston-upon-Hull in April 2004. (205405)

We do not have a copy of the itinerary for the visit of the Ambassador for the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Zha Peixin. We would refer any specific questions regarding this visit to the Chinese Embassy.

Lebanon: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the violence in Beirut on the surrounding region. (205778)

The UK remains deeply concerned by the current violence in Lebanon. Such unrest is not only a threat to Lebanon but also to the stability of the wider region. We urge all sides to work urgently for a resolution to the crisis. We strongly support the Arab League mission, which arrived in Beirut on 14 May and are working for action at the UN Security Council to encourage a solution.

Maldives: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to support media and election monitoring in the Maldives in the run up to multi-party elections; and if he will make a statement. (204679)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East gave to the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) on 27 February 2008, Official Report, column 1704W.

We are working closely with the BBC, the Maldives Ministry of Information and the Maldives Media Association to promote media freedom and skills development.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Maldives on the (a) establishment of (i) an election commission, (ii) a judicial commission and (iii) an anti-corruption commission ahead of the multi-party elections and (b) on the subsequent operation of such commissions. (204686)

In a meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April the Maldivian Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid, stated that an Interim Election Commission would be created within 30 days of the ratification of the new constitution. He underlined that the deliberations of the Special Majlis (Constitutional Assembly) were nearly complete. Foreign Minister Shahid told us that the Commission would be responsible for all elections-related matters and that all registered political parties would be able to nominate Commissioners.

We have had no specific discussions on other commissions, but in his statement to EU Parliamentarians and officials on 6 May, Ahmed Sareer, Chargé d’affaires at the Maldives Mission to the EU, confirmed that an Interim Judicial Service Commission and an Anti Corruption Commission would be created within 30 and 60 days respectively of the introduction of the new constitution.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will answer the letter of 31 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Mrs. Brohi and Aftab Brohi. (205518)

Pakistan: Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 8 May 2008, Official Report, column 1105W, on Pakistan: Terrorism, (1) in how many of the six cases British consular access was (a) requested and (b) granted; (206054)

(2) in how many of the six cases the detainee complained of mistreatment.

Of these six cases, two were mono British nationals and four were dual British/Pakistani nationals. We sought consular access to the two mono British nationals and were given full consular access in one case. We have also requested, but are yet to be given, consular access to one dual national on exceptional grounds in accordance with our published policy on the death penalty.

Of the six cases mentioned, four have alleged mistreatment whilst in Pakistani custody.

Somalia: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of extrajudicial executions allegedly committed in Somalia by Transitional Federal Government forces, Ethiopian forces and other armed groups; and if he will make a statement. (204828)

On 6 May, Amnesty International published a report alleging extrajudicial killing by Transitional Federal Government forces, Ethiopian forces and other armed groups. The Ethiopian Government have categorically denied the claims.

We are very concerned about human rights abuses committed in Somalia. Where breaches of humanitarian law are proved, we will condemn them unreservedly and expect those responsible to be held to account.

We have supported the UN Human Rights Council in renewing the mandate of the international expert for Somalia and have asked the UN to produce a comprehensive plan, and to build capacity to monitor and report on the human rights situation there. To be effective and have a sustainable impact, measures to combat human rights abuses should be part of a broad approach to peace-building.

Sudan: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of responsibility for the recent attacks on villages, markets and populated areas in Umm Sidir, Ein Bassar and Shegeg Karo in north Darfur; and what representations he has made to the Sudanese Government about the attacks. (204832)

We strongly condemn the recent aerial bombings by the Government of Sudan in north Darfur, which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. We told Government of Sudan representatives, at the Sudan Consortium of 5-7 May, that such actions were unacceptable and in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591. We will consider farther measures against any party that fails to respect their responsibility under international humanitarian law to protect civilians.

We have also strongly condemned the recent attack by the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group on Omdurman which, on 11 May, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary described as a “shocking further escalation of violence in Sudan”. We have reiterated the UN Secretary-General's call on 10 May for an immediate end to the fighting and for all parties to do everything they can to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Sudan: International Criminal Court

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to promote a United Nations Security Council resolution to respond to Sudan’s failure to comply with warrants issued by the International Criminal Court; and if he will make a statement. (205214)

The UK sponsored UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1593 of March 2005 referred the human rights situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The UK fully supports the ICC and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised the need for Sudan to comply with the ICC in his meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor on 28 April.

The UK continues to press the Government of Sudan, at all levels, to comply with the ICC requirements. We have also raised Sudanese compliance with the ICC with partners, including in the UN Security Council, who have influence over the Government of Sudan.

Health

Arthritis: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that the particular continuing health and social care needs of people with arthritis are taken into account in (a) Lord Darzi's review of the NHS and (b) the World Class Commissioning initiative. (203934)

The National Health Service Next Stage Review, Our NHS, our future, led by Lord Darzi, challenges frontline care professionals to examine the way services are organised locally against the best available evidence of what works and with the input of users. In order to make sure that the local review work covers the widest possible variety of specific conditions, it has been arranged in terms of eight broad generic pathways of care. Details can be found at www.ournhs.nhs.uk. Those pathways most relevant to arthritis include staying healthy and long-term conditions.

World-class commissioning is an ambitious initiative that is being rolled out across the entire NHS, with the purpose of strengthening the commissioning of health and wellbeing services across the board. The world class commissioning programme will improve health outcomes for people with arthritis just as it will improve outcomes for people with any health need or condition, through transforming the way that health and care services are commissioned.

Cancer: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) data and (b) other evidence were taken into account in formulating Improving Outcomes Guidance for head and neck cancer services. (205398)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published its Guidance on Cancer Services: Improving Outcomes in Head and Neck Cancers, in November 2004. The supporting research evidence for this guidance is available on NICE'S website at:

www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/csghn_researchevidence.pdf

Dental Services: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dental braces were provided for those under the age of 18 years in each of the last five years; and what proportion of the associated costs were funded by the NHS. (205873)

Patients aged under 18 are exempted from national health service dental charges. If a dental brace is prescribed and fitted as part of an NHS course of treatment for a patient aged under 18, the full cost of that treatment is borne by the NHS.

Information is no longer collected on individual appliances, including dental braces provided as part of NHS treatment. Information is available for the years ending 31 March 2004, 2005 and 2006. The available information is provided in the following table. No information is collected on dental appliances or treatment provided outside the NHS.

England onlyYear ending March

Description

2006

2005

2004

Removable Spring and / or Screw Appliance—Upper

50,274

59,215

63,529

Removable Spring and / or Screw Appliance—Lower

447

485

600

Simple Fixed Appliance—Upper

10,378

9,554

8,921

Simple Fixed Appliance—Lower

1,121

641

726

Fixed Multiband or Multibracket Appliance—Upper

151,905

143,602

140,975

Fixed Multiband or Multibracket Appliance—Lower

138,985

131,275

127,152

Functional Appliance

14,077

13,350

13,386

Bite Plane Appliance

6,626

5,941

5,627

Total

373,812

364,064

360,916

Source:

NHS Business Authority Dental Services Division

Departmental Managers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what regular meetings are held of and among his Department’s national clinical directors. (205242)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what role his Department’s National Clinical Director for Service Reconfiguration is playing in Lord Darzi’s review of the NHS in England. (205243)

All of the national clinical directors have been involved in the review, commensurate with their roles as national clinical leaders in their particular fields. For example, they have been available to discuss with the local clinical pathway groups in each national health service region the evidence base in their particular areas of expertise. In his role as National Clinical Director for Emergency Access and National Clinical Director for Service Design, Professor Sir George Alberti has advised on clinical quality and safety and clear patient pathways.

Doctors: Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Health at what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials have discussed the Working Time Directive with (i) EU officials, (ii) Commission members, (iii) officials from member states and (iv) Ministers from member states in the last 12 months. (205824)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: Ministers and officials have been regular contact with a wide range of European Union and Commission officials on this dossier in the last 12 months.

The Government will continue to try to secure an acceptable agreement with member states and the European Commission on the European Working Time Directive.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers given on 9 May 2008, Official Report, column 1258W and on 13 May 2008, Official Report, column 1544W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 9 May 2008, Official Report, column 1258W, on Doctors: Working hours, if he will publish the dossier to which the answer refers. (205825)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: The independent research on the impact of the European Working Time Directive on medical training by Sheffield university will be published in summer 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2007, Official Report, column 1514W, on the NHS: Working Hours, which other member states are seeking changes to the European Working Time Directive. (205919)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: There is consensus among member states regarding changes needed to the European Working Time Directive to address the SiMAP and Jaeger issues.

Foetal Tissue: Blood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many units collected by the NHS Cord Blood Bank were (a) suitable for and (b) used for transplant purposes in each year since 2005; (205557)

(2) how many units the NHS Cord Blood Bank collected in each year since 2005.

The NHS Cord Blood Bank collected 2,543 samples in 2004-05, 2,056 in 2005-06, 2,232 in 2006-07 and 2,632 in 2007-08. This has provided 5,569 suitable samples of which 129 have been issued.

General Practitioners: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his announcement on 5 May 2008, that 12 new general practitioner practices will be provided in under-doctored areas, whether the allocation of funding to these new practices from the Access Fund will affect earlier allocations from the fund. (205307)

Health Services: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, columns 251-2W, on Children: Health Services, what estimate he has made of the number of additional health visitors to be recruited for the Child Health Promotion Programme. (205428)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave her on 7 May, Official Report, column 1017W.

Heart Diseases: Waiting Lists

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time for cardiac operations was in (a) England, (b) London and (c) Greenwich in (i) 1997 and (ii) the last year for which figures are available. (205342)

The median waiting times for in-patient admission for the specialty cardiothoracic surgery are shown in the following tables.

Median waiting times for elective cardiothoracic surgery, position at end of quarter: commissioner based

Median waiting times in weeks

Quarter 4 1996-97

Quarter 2 2007-08

England

17.6

5.0

London

17.9

4.5

Bexley and Greenwich Health Authority1

18.7

Greenwich primary care trust1 (PCT)

3n/a

1 Existing organisation at quarter four 1996-97. 3 Median not provided as the total number of waiters is too small for a statistically meaningful median to be calculated. A breakdown is given by weeks waiting in the following table. Source: Department of Health form QF01.

Patients waiting for elective cardiothoracic surgery, Greenwich PCT: end of quarter two 2007-08 (commissioner based)

Patients still waiting at quarter end, by weeks waiting

Under 1 week

2

1 to <2 weeks

1

2 to <3 weeks

2

3 to <4 weeks

1

4 to <5 weeks

1

5 to <6 weeks

0

6 to <7 weeks

3

7 to <8 weeks

3

8 to <9 weeks

0

9 to <10 weeks

0

10 to <11 weeks

1

Total waiting list

14

Source: Department of Health form QF01.

Hospital Wards: Gender

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to take to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation in the NHS. (205266)

“The NHS in England: The Operating Framework for 2008-09”, requires primary care trusts to review their current situation and agree, publish and implement stretching local plans for improvement in delivering single sex accommodation, with identified timescales and monitoring mechanisms. The Framework specifically requires that patient survey results, where available, be used as the monitoring mechanism. Copies of the Framework are available in the Library.

Hospitals: Cleaning Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what hospital inspections have taken place in Merseyside to ensure compliance with the hygiene code since 2006; on what dates such inspections were conducted; and if he will make a statement. (204937)

Hospitals: Infectious Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to implement the Rapid Review Panel recommendations on healthcare technologies capable of reducing healthcare-acquired infection into clinical practice at trust level; what budget has been allocated for this purpose; and how uptake of such technologies will be monitored. (204116)

A wide range of new programmes is being implemented to support the Rapid Review Panel as a consequence of the Healthcare Associated Infection Technology Innovation Programme launched in the Clean, safe care strategy (January 2008). Copies of the strategy are available in the Library. Technologies with a Rapid Review Panel recommendation 1 are being placed in showcase hospitals around the country for periods up to six months for the purpose of evaluating in-use features and providing feedback to the national health service in the form of ready made adoption business cases. Such technologies are also subject to an accelerated placement in the NHS supply chain catalogue.

The budget for the first phase is still being finalised as discussions with suppliers are ongoing but indicative costs for the purchase of technologies are estimated to be £1.4 million and the cost of providing local NHS expertise to manage the projects at the hospitals is £700,000 for a 12 month period.

Uptake will be reviewed through information provided by the NHS supply chain where this is appropriate. Plans are also being developed to provide support to technologies that have Rapid Review Panel 2 and 3 recommendations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many product assessments the Rapid Review Panel has undertaken since December 2003; how many assessed products were recommended to his Department for use (a) in the NHS and (b) by the NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency; and how many products in use by the NHS were recommended by the panel. (205204)

The Rapid Review Panel (RRP) has undertaken 207 assessments since its first meeting.

Seven products have demonstrated sufficient basic research and development, validation and recent in use evaluations to enable the RRP to make a recommendation to the Department that the product should be made available to national health service bodies. This is a recommendation one.

Of the seven products given a recommendation one, six products have been made available to the NHS by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency via the NHS Supply Chain and are contained in their product supply catalogue.

The Department does not have full information on the use of these three recommendation one products as infection control products do not have to be purchased through NHS Supply Chain. NHS trusts are free to choose which products to purchase and will maintain their own records.

The NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency does not recommend particular products.

Oral Cancer: East of England

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what resources he plans to allocate to the East of England region to provide training for dentists in detecting the early signs of oral cancers in the next three years; (205399)

(2) what in-service training in the detection of oral cancers for dentists in the East of England region his Department is funding in 2008-09.

Postgraduate dental deans determine priorities for the continuing education and training of dentists within block allocations made by the Department. However, as the diagnosis of oral cancer is included in the curriculum for the basic training of dental undergraduates in accordance with the ‘First Five Years’ published by the General Dental Council, specific courses on detection and diagnosis are not routinely included in postgraduate training programmes. However, we understand it is the policy of the postgraduate dental deanery for the east of England to include and update training in the detection of oral cancer in relevant training programmes for groups of dentists like vocational dental trainees. The deanery also makes available copies of the distance learning programme ‘Early Detection and Prevention of Oral Cancer’ funded by the Department and published in 2007.

Organs: Donors

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of viable human organs available under the NHS Organ Donor Register that were not used for a transplant operation in each year since 1997. (204475)

The following table provides the number of viable human organs procured by organ, that were not used for a transplant operation, in each year since 1997. This includes those organs not used for administrative or recipient reasons. It does not include those organs considered not viable for reasons of the donor or the organ itself.

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Kidneys

1

3

8

9

6

12

8

4

8

Pancreata

2

4

2

8

3

1

7

Lungs

1

2

2

2

3

3

Hearts

1

1

1

Livers

1

3

6

5

6

8

4

2

7

5

Total

2

1

7

10

17

15

16

26

16

16

23

Ovarian Cancer: Screening

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government's policy is on detection of and screening for ovarian cancer; and what the criteria are for deciding when to start screenings. (205298)

The Government will introduce ovarian cancer screening as and when research demonstrates that screening saves lives and is cost-effective. The UK National Screening Committee is advising us on this issue and we are keeping it under review.

A research study, the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, jointly funded by the Department, the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK, is under way looking at two possible techniques for screening for ovarian cancer and is due to report in 2010, with full results not expected before 2012.

Spinal Injuries: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what support is available for people with spinal cord injuries and their families; (205299)

(2) what steps are being taken to improve the Spinal Cord Injury Service.

Those with spinal injuries are able to access the full range of health and social care, including specialised treatment and rehabilitation services in a dedicated spinal injury unit where appropriate.

We are not aware of any specific steps being taken to improve services for those with spinal cord injuries.

Home Department

Airports: Customs Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Border and Immigration Agency staff on average were on duty each day after 10.00 pm at (a) Manchester, (b) Coventry, (c) Luton, (d) East Midlands and (e) Doncaster airport in the last 12 months. (194542)

This information cannot be disclosed as this could provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent immigration controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention and detection of immigration offences.

Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions her Department has had with the Department for Communities and Local Government on costs to local authorities arising from the Border and Immigration Agency’s Case Resolution Programme. (204185)

There have been frequent ongoing discussions between the UK Border Agency and the Department for Communities and Local Government over the management of work to resolve the backlog of asylum cases on stakeholders, including local authorities.

Borders: Personal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will provide a breakdown by offence of the arrests made under Project Semaphore of the e-Borders programme. (203607)

[holding answer 6 May 2008]: Alerts issued by e-Borders have resulted in over 1,700 arrests. A breakdown of arrests by offence is as follows:

Offence type

Number over period January 2005 to March 2008

Murder

18

Kidnapping

6

Rape

7

Sexual offences

49

Missing person found

0

Registered sex offender

8

Deserter from armed forces

1

Threatening behaviour

14

Harassment

10

Threats to kill

6

Violence against the person

77

Assault

110

Robbery

31

Burglary

38

Theft

82

Handling stolen goods

63

Criminal damage

29

Rioting

6

Offensive weapons/firearms

20

Road traffic offences

176

Drink driving

3

Arson

2

Fraud

66

Deception

28

Blackmail

1

Perverting the course of justice

6

Breach of court order

187

Prison absconder

7

Recall to prison

22

Failure to attend court

132

Bail offences

271

Non-payment of fines

154

Obstruction of police at court

1

Money laundering

35

Drug offences

60

Bigamy

1

Breach of the peace

2

Deserting the army

7

Copyright offences

1

Prostitution

1

Bankruptcy

1

Travelling on lost/stolen/cancelled passport

1

Fraudulently obtained document

1

Previous adverse immigration history/RLE

3

Facilitator

5

Total

1,749

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will provide a breakdown by category of the alerts raised under Project Semaphore of the e-Borders programme. (203608)

[holding answer 6 May 2008]: Alerts issued by e-Borders are now in excess of 23,000. A breakdown of alert categories is listed as follows:

Alerts

Police

10,438

HMRC (HMRC Detection now part of UK Border Agency)

2,218

Border and Immigration Agency (now UK Border Agency)

10,156

UKvisas (now part of UK Border Agency)

573

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department from which high-risk countries travellers are subject to compulsory watch-list checks under the e-Borders programme. (203942)

[holding answer 7 May 2008]: E-Borders currently receives data on 30 million passengers’ movements per annum from 102 carriers serving 182 non-UK departure points. We cannot disclose greater detail of these routes as it could potentially prejudice our ability to maintain the integrity of the control.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department has taken to reduce its energy consumption in the last 12 months; and what her Department’s expenditure on energy was in (a) the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available and (b) the immediately preceding 12 months. (201740)

Over the last 12 months the Home Office has reduced energy consumption in our London headquarters by shortening the operating hours of its cooling and heating plant and shortening the switch on periods of the motion detector lighting. Across the UK Borders Agency estate low voltage lighting has replaced less efficient halogen lighting and modifications to fans and pumps to reduce the electrical load have been made.

The table provides figures on energy expenditure on the Home Office estate (excluding the public sector prisons estate now part of the Ministry of Justice) between 2005-06 and 2006-07, the latest years for which data is available. The increase in costs from 2005-06 to 2006-07 is the product of a lower level of consumption and a higher cost of energy. which data is available. The increase in costs from 2005-06 to 2006-07 is the product of a lower level of consumption and a higher cost of energy.

Total energy spend £ (includes gas, electricity, oil)

2006-07

7,631,968

2005-06

7,187,353

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent in severance pay to special advisers in each year since 1997. (200500)

A total of £330,498.00 has been spent in severance pay to special advisers in each since 1997. It is not possible to break this down by year without disclosing the amounts individuals received.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much revenue was generated by each (a) 0845 and (b) 0870 telephone code used for customer inquiry lines by her Department's agencies in each of the last five years. (183956)

Figures relating to the revenue generated by each of the 0845 and 0870 numbers used for customer inquiry lines by the Home Office are not held centrally. As such it is not possible to answer this question within the time and cost limits of the PQ process.

Entry Clearances

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans her Department has to update the training programmes for staff assessing visa applications. (204278)

Training programmes for entry clearance officers and managers are kept under constant review. The structure and content are regularly updated to reflect any changes in immigration legislation or policy.

Foreigners

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of foreign nationals were counted (a) in and (b) out of the UK under the border and immigration system in (i) 2006 and (ii) 2007. (203606)

[holding answer 6 May 2008]: During 2007, the e-Borders system received data from over 500 high risk routes, with annualised passenger figures of greater than 35 million, of which 15.4 million (44 per cent.) were foreign nationals (defined as non EEA nationals.)

Data extrapolations for 2006 are currently not available in this format.

Frontiers: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions her Department has had with the Irish Government on the introduction of the e-Borders system in Great Britain; and what the outcome of those discussions was; (168404)

(2) what account has been taken of the implications of co-operation with the Government of the Republic of Ireland for the functioning of an E-borders system around Great Britain; and what the likely effects are of such a system on the common travel area.

We continue to work closely with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on operational, policy and legislative issues, including on the implementation of the e-Borders programme which is a key part of the Government's plans for securing our borders.

As outlined in our ‘Securing the UK Border’ strategy, March 2007, we are, in collaboration with the Irish government, reviewing the rules and operation of the CTA (common travel area) to explore how mutual border security can be strengthened. The results of that review will be announced in due course.

There is provision in the e-Borders contract for the supplier to provide data on passengers travelling from the Republic of Ireland to the UK although no decision has been made on how it will be captured because of the nature of CTA.

Immigration: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 17 March 2008, Official Report, column 806W, on Immigration: Housing, how many private sector providers have transferred existing properties to the private rented market; how many such units have been transferred; and what incentives have been offered to such private sector providers. (196266)

[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The issue of whether a private sector provider has transferred existing properties to the private rented market, and the number of these, is a commercial matter for the provider concerned. The UK Border Agency has provided no incentives for providers to do this, although we have encouraged our private sector providers to co-operate with the programme, principally by allowing existing properties to transfer to the private rented market.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Border and Immigration Agency will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 28 March, reference B12293/8. (203827)

International Development

Burma: Storms

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times he has met the Foreign Secretary to discuss the Government’s emergency relief aid response to Burma following Cyclone Nargis; and if he will make a statement. (206333)

The Foreign Secretary and I are in regular contact to discuss the crisis in Burma following Cyclone Nargis.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which sections within his Department are responsible for co-ordinating the Government’s emergency relief aid response to Burma following Cyclone Nargis; and if he will make a statement. (206334)

The Department for International Development’s (DFID) Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department is responsible for co-ordinating the UK’s emergency relief response to Burma following Cyclone Nargis.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what information his Department holds on the countries and organisations that supplied one aircraft or more carrying emergency relief aid to Burma in the first 10 days following Cyclone Nargis; and if he will make a statement. (206348)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is co-ordinating air relief efforts. According to WFP, as of 12 May, 35 flights carrying emergency relief had arrived in Burma since the cyclone hit. Since then the rate of arrival has been increasing: there were 23 flights scheduled for 14 May. The Department for International Development (DFID) does not hold full information on the countries and organisations which supplied these aircraft.

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on how many occasions he visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in an official capacity in the last 12 months. (204392)

In the last 12 months, Ministers in this Department have visited (a) Scotland once and (b) Wales once in their official capacities. No visits have been made to Northern Ireland during this period. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

I also travel frequently to and from Scotland in my capacity as MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South. On a number of these occasions I have undertaken visits to DFID's office in East Kilbride.

Departmental Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many statutory instruments have been (a) made and (b) revoked by Ministers in his Department since 1997. (204764)

The Department for International Development has made 14 general statutory instruments since 1997, none of which has been revoked.

The information has been provided by the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).

Disaster Relief

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development to which natural disasters the Government has responded with the supply of emergency relief aid in the last 10 years; how much aid was supplied in each case in terms of (a) weight and (b) value; and if he will make a statement. (206335)

My Department is unable to answer this question because of the disproportionate cost this would incur.

Justice

Bail Accommodation and Support Service: Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether he plans to involve the voluntary sector in the provision of bail accommodation in England and Wales; (205344)

(2) what the average size is of each hostel provided by ClearSprings for the accommodation of bailees in England and Wales;

(3) how many bail units have been opened by ClearSprings in England and Wales since the contract was made with them;

(4) for how long the contract with ClearSprings to provide bail accommodation lasts;

(5) when the contract to provide bail accommodation in England and Wales was awarded to ClearSprings;

(6) when (a) the police and (b) the Probation Service were informed of the (i) location and (ii) opening date of each of the new bail hostels operated by ClearSprings; and if he will make a statement.

The range of support services provided by ClearSprings Management Ltd. includes referral in some cases to relevant voluntary sector organisations to ensure appropriate support for service users. Voluntary sector organisations were free to bid for the Bail Accommodation and Support Service and some did so. Voluntary sector organisations are involved in providing housing advice to prisoners including those who may be bailed.

ClearSprings does not provide hostels. The service provides rented housing for those on bail and for offenders released from prison on Home Detention Curfew, with a maximum of five sharing. The average is between three and four bedrooms.

167 houses have been made available. A small number have been withdrawn and at 2 May there were 157 houses available to the service.

The contract with ClearSprings is for three years with options for two one-year extensions.

The contract was awarded on 18 June 2007 and announced to Parliament.

It is a duty of the contract for ClearSpings to consult the police, probation service and local authority. It is not possible to provide details of consultation for all 157 properties.

Criminal Justice Act 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many people were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted for an offence under section 139A of the Criminal Justice Act 1996 in each of the last 10 years; and on how many occasions the maximum sentence of two years imprisonment was imposed; (205373)

(2) how many people were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted for an offence under (i) section 141A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and (ii) section 1 of the Knives Act 1997 in each of the last 10 years.

Data showing the number of people proceeded against and convicted of offences under sections 139, 139A, 141 and 141A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and section 1 of the Knives Act 1997 are in the table below. The number of people who received the maximum two year sentence under sections 139 and 139A(1) and the maximum four year sentence for section 139A(2) is also shown in the following table.

The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Number of people proceeded against at magistrates’ courts and found guilty at all courts for selected knife offences1, England and Wales, 1997 to 20062, 3, 4

Proceeded against

Statute

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Section 139 of Criminal Justice Act 19886

4,466

4,867

4,556

4,606

5,798

6,941

6,903

7,313

7,277

7,654

Section 139A of Criminal Justice Act 19886

31

36

28

32

43

43

45

67

77

93

Section 1 of the Knives Act 19978

1

3

5

3

2

5

3

2

4

1

Section 141 of Criminal justice Act 19889

8

10

5

7

11

6

8

18

14

6

Section 141A of Criminal justice Act 198810

2

2

3

9

11

17

11

29

63

Found guilty

Statute

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Section 139 of Criminal Justice Act 19886

3,341

3,788

3,538

3,513

4,338

5,319

5,367

5,853

5,961

6,320

Section 139A of Criminal Justice Act 19886

35

31

29

29

41

36

43

77

73

85

Section 1 of the Knives Act 19978

1

2

2

3

1

1

1

Section 141 of Criminal justice Act 19889

4

10

3

1

5

5

4

12

10

4

Section 141A of Criminal justice Act 198810

2

2

2

8

10

17

9

26

51

Given the maximum sentence of two11 years.

Statute

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Section 139 of Criminal Justice Act 19886

1

1

1

1

1

1

Section 139A of Criminal Justice Act 19887

111

111

1

1 Following investigations, data from 1999 to 2004 for the offence “having an article with blade or point on school premises" for West Mercia PFA are deemed to have been coded incorrectly. These data are now included within the offence “Having an article with blade or point in a public place”. 2 Staffordshire Police Force were only able to submit sample data for persons proceeded against and convicted in the magistrates' courts for the year 2000. Although sufficient to estimate higher orders of data, these data are not robust enough at a detailed level and have been excluded from the table. 3 These data are on the principal offence basis. 4 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. 5 The number of people found guilty in a particular year may exceed those proceeded against, as it may be the case that the proceedings in the magistrates' court took place in the preceding year and they were found guilty at the Crown Court in the following year, or the defendants was found guilty for a different offence to the original offence proceeded against. 6 Includes “Having an article with blade or point in a public place.” 7 Includes “Having a blade or point on school premises” and “Possession of offensive weapons on school premises without lawful authority or reasonable excuse”. 8 Includes “Unlawful marketing of knives - Selling or hiring”, “Unlawful marketing of knives—Offers or exposes to sell or hire” and “Unlawful marketing of knives—has in possession for purpose of sale or hire”. 9 includes “Manufacture, importation and sale of certain offensive weapons”. 10 includes “Selling to a person under 18 a knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe or any other article which has a blade, that is sharply pointed and which is made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person”. 11 The maximum sentence for “Possession of offensive weapons on school premises without lawful authority or reasonable excuse” Section 139A(2) and 5(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, is four years. The two instances(in 1997 and 1999) in the above table are where a four year sentence has been given. Source: Criminal Evidence and Analysis - OCJR

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1921-22W, on departmental manpower, how many of the employees under 18 years of age are receiving at least one day’s training per week. (204934)

The Ministry of Justice encourages learning and development opportunities for all staff regardless of age. In line with the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 there is no specific age-related training for staff under the age of 18. All staff receive training to support them in undertaking their day to day duties as well as having access to classroom based courses and alternative learning and development solutions as required.

Prison Service: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans the Government have to increase levels of recruitment of prison officers. (205535)

Action has been taken recently to respond to the substantial increase in demand for prison officers, generated in particular by the National Offender Management Service's prison capacity building programme. A national prison officer recruitment campaign started on 7 January. It employed a major national advertising campaign, aimed at attracting a much wider range of applicants than had been achieved previously. It also created a new recruitment process, which reducing the time between application and appointment, introduced online application and sifting; and enabled more comprehensive information to be generated, on which to base selection decisions. Over 41,000 applications have been received to date.

Prison Service: Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government are taking to ensure the safety of prison staff. (205533)

HM Prison Service has an overarching health and safety policy statement, signed by Phil Wheatley, Deputy General of the National Offender Management Service, with other topic specific policy/guidance (e.g. risk assessment, moving and handling) issued in support of this. Each prison governor is responsible for ensuring a system is in place within their prison for effectively managing health and safety, which includes a comprehensive health and safety policy, which complies with the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 to ensure the health and safety of staff and others who may be affected by the Service's activities.

Health and safety is a management activity undertaken by all staff. The same health and safety policy and guidance applies to the private sector prisons.

Prison Service: Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) (a) how many working days were lost to sickness, (b) what the average number of working days per staff member lost to sickness was and (c) what percentage of days lost to sickness was attributed to stress-related conditions for (i) HM Prison Service staff and (ii) other departmental staff in each of the last five years; (195018)

(2) when he plans to answer question 195018 on staff sickness, tabled on 13 March 2008.

I replied to the hon. Member for Eastleigh’s question on 26 March 2008. Unfortunately it appears that it was not included in the Official Report that day. The answer to the original question is as follows.

The information is in the following tables and is derived from the Cabinet Office published report on sickness absence. There is no clear medical definition of stress and figures for the Ministry of Justice include all conditions relating to mental and behavioural disorders, a proportion of which will have a stress element. Information for the Office of Criminal Justice Reform and National Offender Management Service, which now forms part of the Ministry of Justice, is being provided in a separate Home Office response.

Table 1: Total and average working days per staff member lost to sickness in the Ministry of Justice’s agencies in each of the last five years

Agency

Sick days

Average staff in post

Average sick days

2003

Former DCA HQ

16,227

2,114

7.7

Office of the Public Guardian

3,626

294

12.3

Tribunals Service

13,616

1,075.3

12.7

Court Service

94,701

8,671

10.9

HM Prison Service

635,304

46,785

13.6

2004

Former DCA HQ

17,185.3

2,352.95

7.3

Office of the Public Guardian

2,825.5

316.64

8.9

Tribunals Service

13,145.3

1,079.49

12.2

Court Service

91,002

8,843.33

10.3

HM Prison Service

606,589

48,385

12.5

2005

Former DCA HQ

14,972.8

2,184.65

6.9

Office of the Public Guardian

3,277.5

340

9.6

Tribunals Service

13,595

1,196.83

11.4

Court Service

142,075.5

12,934.16

11

HM Prison Service

603,687

48,429

12.5

2006

Former DCA HQ

16,835.2

2,196.06

7.7

Office of the Public Guardian

3,437.5

342.42

10

Tribunals Service

31,228.5

2,770.67

11.3

Court Service

224,397.9

20,029.9

11.2

HM Prison Service

564,902

49,049

11.5

2007

Former DCA HQ

14,718

2,266.17

6.5

Office of the Public Guardian

2,642

310.3

8.5

Tribunals Service

25,189.5

2,848.4

8.8

Court Service

183,214.5

19,342.9

9.5

HM Prison Service

598,868

50,085

12

Table 2: Total and average working days lost and proportion attributed to mental and behavioural disorders in public sector Prison Service, 2003 to 2007

Mental and behavioural WDL

Percentage of days lost to sickness due to mental and behavioural disorder

2003

157,960

24.86

2004

155,103

25.57

2005

146,335

24.24

2006

129,421

22.91

2007

135,252

22.58

Table 3: Total and average working days lost and proportion attributed to mental and behavioural disorders in private sector Prison Service contracted estates

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

(a) Working days lost to sickness

Altcourse

7,354

5,798

n/a

n/a

n/a

Ashfield

2,937

4,229

3,704

2,810

n/a

Bronzefield

n/s

n/s

n/s

n/s

1

Doncaster

350

478

519

n/a

n/a

Dovegate

5,494

4,494

5,775

n/a

n/a

Forest Bank

n/s

n/s

n/s

n/s

n/s

Lowdham Grange

1,695

1,467

1,883

1,736

1,737

Parc

4271

3,867

4,271

n/a

n/a

Peterborough

n/s

n/s

n/s

1

1

Rye Hill

4,468

4,140

n/a

n/a

n/a

Wolds

2,833

1,996

1,064

1,145

n/a

Total

29,402

26,469

17,216

5,691

1,737

(b) Average number of working days per staff member lost to sickness

Altcourse

14.88

13.12

n/a

n/a

n/a

Ashfield

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Bronzefield

n/s

n/s

n/s

n/s

1

Doncaster

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Dovegate

11.00

10.00

12.00

n/a

n/a

Forest Bank

Lowdham Grange

5.00

5.00

6.00

6.00

6.00

Parc

13.15

13.35

10.55

n/a

n/a

Peterborough

n/s

n/s

n/s

1

1

Rye Hill

16.62

17.69

n/a

n/a

n/a

Wolds

13.50

9.68

6.60

7.20

n/a

Total

12.40

11.50

8.80

6.60

6.00

(c) Percentage of sick days lost to stress related illness.

Total

12.72

18.56

11.35

19.00

19.00

n/s = Not supplied by the contractor within the time scale given. Information may become available at later date.

n/a = Data are not available due to archiving and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

1 Not open

Note:

Information has been provided for two of the eleven contracted prisons Lowdham Grange and Parc. Due to the varying reporting systems across the contracted prison estate, data relating to stress related illnesses is not recorded at all establishments.

Table 4: Total and average working days lost and proportion attributed to mental and behavioural disorders in former Department for Constitutional Affairs

Total days lost

Proportion lost to mental disorders (percentage)

Magistrates Court Committee

106,438

19

HM Courts Service

60,911

17

Former Department for Constitutional Affairs

9,689

14

Tribunal Service

7,681

13

Office of the Public Guardian

1,066

38

Scotland Office

121

0

Wales Office

95

6

National Offender Management Service

11,135

20

Office of Criminal Justice Reform

1,347

29

Note:

The Cabinet Office published a report on sickness absence in the civil service on 7 February 2008. The report included an analysis of the days lost due to sickness absence for each Department by reasons for absence. The following table sets out the figures for 2006-07 for the constituent parts of this Department, which were in place prior to the creation of the Ministry of Justice in May 2007. Information on the reasons for sickness absence prior to 2006-07 for the former Department for Constitutional Affairs is not readily available.

Prison Service: Working Conditions

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government are taking to improve conditions of work for prison staff. (205536)