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Written Answers

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 19 May 2008

Wales

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department spent on (a) written consultations, (b) consultation roadshows and (c) stakeholder focus groups in each of the last three years. (205852)

In the last three years, my Department has held two written consultations. The first consultation in 2005, on the Better Governance of Wales White Paper, was completed at a cost of £11,880.38. For the second consultation run in 2007, relating to the Government's 2007 Draft Legislative Programme, the cost to my office was £69.

My office has not held any consultation road shows or stakeholder focus groups in the last three years.

Northern Ireland

Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) statutory instruments and (b) statutory rules of Northern Ireland have been (i) made and (ii) revoked by his Department since 1997. (205514)

Since 1997 the Northern Ireland Office has made:

199 Orders in Council;

155 UK statutory instruments which apply exclusively or primarily to Northern Ireland; and

5,702 statutory rules.

These figures include Orders in Council, statutory instruments and statutory rules made on behalf of the Northern Ireland Departments during periods of Direct Rule.

The information sought in respect of the statutory instruments and rules which have been revoked by the Department is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Prime Minister

Legislation

To ask the Prime Minister whether he discussed his Government's draft legislative programme with Tony Blair. (206617)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave at my monthly press conference on 15 May 2008. A transcript is available on the No. 10 website:

http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page15580.asp

and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Women and Equality

Consultants

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what payments the Disability Rights Commission made to (a) Politics International Ltd, (b) Hanover Communications and (c) Positif Politics Ltd in each of the last five years; and on what date and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. (202268)

The Disability Rights Commission has made the following payments:

(a) Politics International—paid £1,410.00 on 24 July 2006 for a Politics International Course for a member of staff.

(b) Hanover Communications—no payments made.

(c) Positif Politics Ltd.—paid £587.50 on 24 May 2007 for information services in respect of the Welsh Assembly Election 2007.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many staff working for the Government Equalities Office are based at 5th Floor, Eland House, Bressenden Place. (201420)

The Government Equalities Office has 82 staff. Of these 74 are based on the fifth floor in Eland House and eight Private Office and press staff work alongside the two GEO Ministers in Cabinet Office accommodation in Whitehall and in offices in Parliament.

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what the cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants, (b) special advisers and (c) Ministers in the Government Equalities Office staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in the last 12 months. (193542)

Since its establishment as a separate Department on 12 October 2007 the Government Equalities Office has spent £7,256 on overnight accommodation for civil servants, special advisers and Ministers, in Great Britain and overseas. Of this some £90 is attributable to overnight accommodation for the Minister's special adviser and some £100 to the Minister, both costs being incurred on GEO business in Edinburgh.

Equality

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 423W, on equality legislation, what assessment she has made of the consultation process's compliance with Cabinet Office guidelines on consultation, with particular regard to the publication of responses; and if she will make a statement. (206619)

The formal Government response to the consultation including a summary of the responses received is being drawn up for publication in compliance with the Cabinet Office guidelines.

Females: Marriage

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality pursuant to the answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 262W, on females: marriage, if she will make an assessment of the financial effect on women of changing their surname on marriage, with particular reference to charges for amending official documents. (206618)

The Government Equalities Office currently does not have plans to assess the financial cost of women changing their surnames on marriage.

Karian and Box

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what the value was of each contract awarded by the Government Equalities Office to Karian and Box since its establishment. (199637)

Since its establishment, the Government Equalities Office has not awarded any contracts to Karian and Box.

Olympics

London 2012: Manpower

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) men and (b) women are employed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, broken down by pay band. (205386)

Diversity and equality were key components of the bid for London 2012. Although it is a private company which funds itself from sales of sponsorship, merchandise, ticketing and broadcasting rights, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) nevertheless recognises its high-profile position within the overall London 2012 project. It has implemented a strong diversity and inclusion policy on its recruitment and retention of staff and volunteers that covers gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age. Five of the 11 members of LOCOG's Management Committee, as published on its website, are women.

LOCOG will shortly publish its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and will send a copy of this to the House of Commons Library. LOCOG will regularly monitor and report on its performance against the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Olympic Delivery Authority: Manpower

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) men and (b) women are employed by the Olympic Delivery Authority, broken down by pay band. (205387)

As of 30 April 2008, the Olympic Delivery Authority is employing 195 members of staff. This consists of permanent staff, fixed term contract staff, and secondments. The breakdown against salary bands is as follows:

Band

Role

Number

Female

Male

NA

CEO

1

0

1

5

Directors

7

1

6

4

Heads of Function

28

9

19

3

Managers/Technical Professionals

79

22

57

2

Executives/Officers

32

20

12

1

Projects/Administrative Support

47

40

7

Total

194

92

102

Olympic Games 2012: Contracts

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what steps have been taken to award 2012 London Olympic Games contracts to companies outside London. (206407)

The London 2012 Business Network has been established to spread opportunities in the London 2012 supply chains to businesses across the country. CompeteFor is a key component of this matching buyers with suppliers, and throughout this process businesses are signposted to business support services. The ODA has visited every nation and region of the UK to engage businesses in the opportunities generated by the Games. The opportunities are there, the network is in place, so as MPs we should do everything we can to ensure businesses in our constituencies sign up and get the support they need to win contracts.

This is not the only way in which the nations and regions of the UK can benefit economically from the Games. There will be business generated outside of the London 2012 supply chains, such as in the tourism and transport industries. The Games also give us the opportunity to develop our inward investment and export potential.

Olympic Games 2012: Wales

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many Welsh companies or organisations have bid unsuccessfully for contracts through the Olympic Delivery Authority. (203165)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: Two Welsh businesses that responded to invitations to tender for contracts above the Official Journal of the European Union threshold (according to EU legislation, all contracts from the public sector which are valued above a certain threshold must be published in the Official Journal of the European Union) have not been awarded contracts.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Northampton North of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 1345W, on contracts: companies outside London, how many and what proportion of the contracts awarded were awarded to companies in (a) Wales and (b) Gwent. (206639)

To date, three contracts have been awarded to businesses and organisations registered in Wales; this represents less than 1 per cent. of the total. Of these, one contract has been awarded to the Office of National Statistics, registered in Gwent. The other two contracts were awarded to John Evans Photography and Strategy and Solution Limited, both registered in south Glamorgan, It is still very early days with the vast majority of supply chain contracts to be awarded, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Welsh businesses to get involved.

The London 2012 Business Network has been established to spread opportunities in the London 2012 supply chains to businesses across the country, opening up supply chains like no other Games before. The opportunities are there, we have the network in place, so as MPs we should do everything we can to ensure businesses in our constituencies sign up and get the support they need to win contracts.

Olympic Games: China

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many (a) Ministers, (b) Government officials, (c) Olympics Delivery Agency staff and (d) London Organising Committee of Olympic Games members and staff will attend all, or part, of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games; and at what cost. (205719)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: I will attend all of the Olympic Games. Four Ministers will attend for a part of the Games: the Prime Minister; the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; the Minister for Sport and the Minister for Trade and Investment.

The number of Government officials attending has not yet been finalised, but they will include a private secretary and press officer support to the Ministers. There will also be a small number of officials who will be working to represent UK interests in Beijing, for example through trade opportunities and other events and six officials taking part in the official Olympic Observer Programme to learn lessons for staging the 2012 London Olympic Games. This will be the only opportunity to learn lessons from another summer Olympics before London 2012.

About 17 Olympic Delivery Authority staff are expected to attend. They will aim to learn important operational and logistical lessons to feed into planning for London 2012.

Full costs are not yet known for these visits—details are still being determined. We are working to ensure the best possible price.

There will be no cost to the public purse for London Organising Committee staff attending the Games. Numbers have not yet been finalised, but a significant proportion of LOCOG staff will attend. They will be seconded to the Beijing Organising Committee for about three months; will take part in the official Observer Programme; will take part in the closing ceremony; or will work in the media and operations centre. Again, this will be their last opportunity to learn from a summer Olympics before London 2012.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Answer of 7th May 2008, Official Report, column 831W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, whether armed forces personnel and Departmental staff are inspected for unauthorised items before departing from theatre. (205122)

Armed forces personnel and civilian staff employed by the Ministry of Defence are inspected for unauthorised items by Royal Military Police before departing from operational theatres.

Air Force: Military Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Royal Air Force last conducted humanitarian air drop operations; and in what circumstances. (206630)

The last time that the RAF, jointly with the Army, conducted dedicated humanitarian air drops was in April 1991 in Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Royal Air Force’s capability is to conduct humanitarian air drop operations; and if he will make a statement. (206654)

Humanitarian air drops are conducted jointly by the Royal Air Force providing the aircraft and the Army loading the aircraft and delivering the load.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) 463L pallets and (b) other pallets used for airdrop operations, the Royal Air Force had in its inventory in each year since 2001, broken down by type. (206656)

Unlike commercial airlines, which use pallets, the Royal Air Force uses baseboards to load airdrop goods. Records for the number of baseboards held by the Royal Air Force for each year since 2001 are not held centrally.

Currently, we have 207 baseboards in store and it is estimated that there are in the order of 200 baseboards in use.

Armed Forces: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the procedure is for paying service personnel (a) posted overseas, (b) on active service and (c) in the UK. (206382)

All service personnel are paid to their nominated bank accounts through the joint personnel administration (JPA) system whether posted within the UK, overseas or on operations. Recruits provide their bank details on arrival at their initial training or reservists’ units and payments to banks normally commence within three months of enlistment. Thereafter, it is the responsibility of the individual service person to maintain their bank details on the JPA system, including initiating, through their human resource administration staff, payments to overseas bank accounts, when posted overseas. The JPA system also has the capacity to make payments by payable order and for unit administration staff, when required, to make payments in cash.

Armed Forces: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) target, (b) actual and (c) shortfall percentage against target of recruiting of each pinch point trade was in each year since 1997; (200951)

(2) what the outflow (a) rate and (b) number of each pinch point trade was in each year since 1997.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the funding announced for stage 1 of the Future Rapid Effect System will affect funding available for future purchases of mine-protected vehicles. (205583)

The MOD has recognised that there is an urgent need to address the risks faced by our soldiers on current operations. To address this need we are implementing a range of measures including the introduction of protected mobility equipment such as Mastiff, which has proved its value on operations, offering high levels of protection against mines and roadside bombs.

The procurement of protected mobility equipment is managed and funded entirely separately from the Future Rapid Effect System programme and will therefore not be affected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what mine protection features the Piranha V vehicle will have; (205584)

(2) what additional capability will be afforded to the Army with phase 1 of the Future Rapid Effect System;

(3) whether the Piranha V will be designed to allow damaged parts to be unbolted and replaced after an explosive strike.

The Piranha V vehicle hull is shaped to offer protection from the mine blast and the underside of the vehicle is reinforced with appliqué armour to offer additional protection to the crew.

Phase 1 of FRES, which I have interpreted as the utility vehicle (UV), will deliver a fleet of wheeled medium weight armoured vehicles with higher levels of deployability and survivability than our current in service lighter armoured vehicles can achieve, with the potential to grow its capability as new technology becomes available. The UV fleet will cover the protected mobility, command and control, medical, repair and recovery and driver training roles. Other elements of the utility fleet to be delivered in later planned increments include specialist communications, electronic warfare and sensor vehicles.

The FRES utility vehicle will be designed for a modular armour solution. This will allow damaged sections to be unbolted and replaced.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what types of warfare the Future Rapid Effect System medium weight capability will be suitable. (205585)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 December 2007, Official Report, column 1402W, which details the type of warfare for which the FRES medium weight capability will be suitable.

Departmental Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many empty properties his Department owns, broken down by (a) region and (b) constituency. (197099)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) keeps its estate of around 240,000 under continual review to ensure that it is no larger than is required for defence purposes. Details of all MOD properties that are currently void (not in use for their intended purpose) are not centrally available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Void stock includes properties being held for planned moves of Service Units, sale or release, modernisation or demolition.

Records are held of void Service Family Accommodation properties (SFA) in Great Britain (GB). The majority of SFA in England and Wales are owned by Annington Homes Ltd and leased to this Department until we no longer require them.

It is a key departmental priority to reduce the number of voids and work is in hand to do this. Since March 2007, the number of void SFA properties worldwide has reduced from 13,338 to some 12,240.

Although records of void SFA are not held by constituency, they are listed by local parish. I have placed the list of void properties by local parish in the Library of the House.

Departmental Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many statutory instruments have been (a) made and (b) revoked by Ministers in his Department since 1997. (204769)

No information is held for statutory instruments made by MOD Ministers in 1997 and only partial details are held for 1998. However, records show that 154 such statutory instruments have been registered since 1997.

The information requested about the number of instruments which have been revoked in the period could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many weapons caches have been found in (a) Basra, (b) Maysan, (c) Dhi Qar and (d) Al Muthanna in each year since 2003. (200962)

Data on weapons cache finds have only been recorded since 1 January 2004. The number of weapons cache finds by Multi National Forces in Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar and Al Muthanna in each year since 2004 are as follows:

Finds of weapons caches

Al Muthanna

Basra

Dhi Qar

Maysaan

Grand total

2004

6

64

76

18

16

2005

5

46

50

27

128

2006

4

44

23

4

75

2007

1

15

2

4

22

2008

0

9

3

0

12

In addition, some 150 weapons caches were discovered in Basrah during April 20081 as part of the ongoing operations in the City led by the Iraqi Security Forces.

1 Up to 16 April 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the anti-insurgency strategies being employed by British and United States forces in Iraq. (203680)

The coalition’s strategy is to transfer security responsibility to the Iraqis so that they can take the lead in defeating the main threats to security and stability. Our assessment, reflected in the recent testimony given by Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus to the US Congress, is that the strategy is working and significant progress has been made across Iraq in improving security, including in Basra as a result of the recent Iraqi-led operation Charge of the Knights. Coalition forces continue to provide support to the Government of Iraq and their security forces as they seek to extend and consolidate security and underpin it with political and economic progress.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many interpreters his Department employs in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and how much they cost in the latest period for which figures are available. (204559)

We currently employ 108 interpreters in Iraq and 316 interpreters in Afghanistan. The total cost paid to cover salary and overtime for April 2008 was around £92,510 in Iraq and around £175,840 in Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Mesopotamia Group has requested rotary wing air escort since the start of the ISAF Contracted Air Transport contract. (204569)

Mesopotamia Group has not requested rotary wing air escort since the start of the ISAF Contracted Air Transport contract.

Military Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what material handling equipment is available to his Department for humanitarian airdrop operations. (206655)

Should an aircraft carry out a humanitarian airdrop, the necessary resources, including material handling equipment, are available to complete the task.

Reserve Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of participants in trips and functions under the SaBRE campaign came from (a) small, (b) medium and (c) large businesses in the last period for which figures are available. (204608)

Under its ‘Employers Abroad’ scheme, SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers) arranges for employers of reservists, and other influential business and commercial figures, to visit their employees who are mobilised and serving on operations in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Available records, for the period from January 2006 to May 2008, show that places available to employers on UK briefing visits and ‘Employers Abroad’ visits were allocated as follows:

Percentage

Small employers (1-49 employees)

5

Medium employers (50-249 employees)

9

Large employers (250 plus employees)

86

The ‘Large employers’ category covers representatives of focal organisations for over 200,000 small and medium sized enterprises, such as the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce, and the Trades Union Congress. SaBRE organises and assists in a great number of functions within the UK, many of which are not solely for employer support. It is not possible to ascertain how many invitations to these events go to small, medium or large enterprises.

Treaty of Lisbon: Foreign Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the legal status is of the declaration attached to the treaty of Lisbon which states that nothing in the treaties affects the existing powers of the member states to formulate and conduct their foreign policy. (191937)

I have been asked to reply.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was established by the Maastricht treaty. Under the Lisbon treaty it will remain a common policy based on the general rule that decisions must be taken unanimously by the member states. As Article 1 (27) of the Lisbon treaty makes clear, the special nature of CFSP is safeguarded with its decision making arrangements different and separate from all other areas of EU policy.

The declarations on CFSP further express the political commitment of all 27 member states that foreign policy is the responsibility of the member states and that the treaty does not affect member states' ability to formulate and conduct their own foreign policy.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment Protection: Seas and Oceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legal advice he has received on whether an environmental damage assessment is required in relation to fishing and related activities within the proposed offshore special area of conservation sites at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk sandbanks and Saturn Reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge. (204638)

The Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007 (OMCRs) came into force on 21 August 2007 and provides for controls on certain activities that have an effect on important species and habitats in the offshore marine environment through a number of offences that aim to prevent environmentally damaging activities, and for the carrying out of appropriate assessments of plans or projects where required by Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the habitats directive).

Legal advice in drafting and implementing these regulations has been ongoing to determine how they might apply to fisheries and best meet the UK obligations under Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds (the birds directive), the habitats directive and the common fisheries policy.

The UK has not yet submitted the sites mentioned to the European Commission to be considered for designation as marine Special Areas of Conservation. If and when they are submitted they will receive the full protection afforded by the OMCRs.

Fisheries: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what fishing and related activities took place in the proposed offshore special areas of conservation at (a) Braemar Pockmarks, (b) Scanner Pockmark, (c) North Norfolk sandbanks and Saturn reef, (d) Haig Frais, (e) Stanton Banks, (f) Darwin Mounds and (g) Wyville Thomson Ridge in the latest period for which information is available; how often fishing took place in each; which boats were identified; in which countries those boats were registered; what species were targeted in each; what catch techniques were used; and what the commercial value was of each catch. (203974)

The Joint Nature Conservation Council (JNCC) is required to prepare conservation objectives and advice on operations as soon as practicable after sites are submitted to the European Commission. For each of the offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) subject to consultation in 2007-08, JNCC prepared draft documents to the best of its existing knowledge, in consultation with various Government Departments and agencies who hold such information.

JNCC intends to update its conservation objectives and advice on operations taking into account additional information received during the consultation process.

The following summarises all the information relating to fishing activity, which is available for each site in JNCC's draft conservation objectives and advice on Operations for each possible site:

Braemar Pockmarks

Information for 12 months (ending July 2007) from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency's (SFPA) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) database indicates that there is currently significant fishing activity within the proposed boundary of this site. A 2006 survey of the site by an energy supply company also identifies that there is significant trawling in the site. The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) report that fishing in this area will include Nephrops trawling, seine netting, single boat demersal trawling, pair trawling and both single boat pelagic and pair pelagic trawling. SFF also indicate the data show that herring followed by haddock are the most important species with significant quantities of cod, monkfish, saithe and whiting. SFPA suggest it may be impossible to construct quantities data given the small size of the area.

Scanner Pockmark

Information for 12 months ending July 2007 from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency's (SFPA) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) database indicates that there is currently little fishing activity within the proposed boundary of this site. It is possible that this is because there is an obstruction in the area and this is under investigation. SFPA report that fishing in this area will generally be Nephrops (Norway lobster or ‘scampi’) trawling by Scottish vessels. There is also some Danish industrial fishing of pout and sand eel, and some pelagic UK, Danish and Swedish vessels targeting mackerel and herring. The SFF indicate that data show that there has been only one day of pelagic fishing in the past three years in the statistical square that the area lies in and that there is a significant number of days by vessels targeting whitefish using single boat demersal gear and demersal pair trawl. SFPA suggest it may be impossible to construct quantities data given the small size of the area.

North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef

This area is heavily commercially fished with mixed demersal fisheries and shellfisheries. The majority of beam trawlers are Dutch and Belgian operating around the banks and targeting sole, plaice and possibly cod, skate and rays. There are also some UK beam trawls and UK vessels using static fishing gear. There may be an occasional UK trawler operating in the area. While the area was popular with Grimsby based trawlers many years ago, the decline in that sector has meant that there has been little recorded activity by them in recent times. French stern trawlers work the area for whiting at certain times of the year (according to French fishing industry information).

Vessels targeting shellfish which are based on the coast from Caister to Weybourne, including the Cromer/Sheringham crab and lobster fleet, tend to work fairly close inshore and operate mainly on the inner sandbanks. However some of these vessels will venture further off shore. Wells based potting vessels in North Norfolk are more likely to operate further offshore and in the proposed SAC area. The offshore potters based in Grimsby, Bridlington and Scarborough are active throughout the general area. Some five UK long-liners can work the area, principally for cod, skate and dogfish, though the numbers have declined in recent years, with some of the vessels now concentrating on survey and guardship duties. Data from the Marine Fisheries Agency's Fishery Activity Database (FAD) show that the value of landings of fish caught within the boundary of the proposed site, in England by UK vessels, is £841,000 from beam trawls and £68,000 from other demersal towed gear.

Haig Fras

Fishing is known to take place within the site. Information from the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) indicates that the area is commercially fished in relation to mixed demersal fisheries, including hake and that there are the following activities:

Netters: Haig Fras is well within range of the netting fleet based at Newlyn. The area is fished by all of the western based static gear netting vessels (12 in number) and all are members of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO). In some cases these vessels are believed to work directly on top of the proposed SAC area. French netters also appear to work in or near Haig Fras at times.

Beam trawlers: There are a number of Newlyn based beam trawlers, probably less than 10, that work around this general area and possibly within part of the proposed SAC site at times. There may be some Belgium and Irish activity here as well, at certain times of the year.

Demersal trawlers: French stern trawlers fish quite widely in the general area around and possibly within Haig Fras for nephrops and demersal species (according to French fishing industry information). A couple of Anglo-Spanish trawlers may also work the area.

Long-liners: A couple of Anglo-Spanish vessels are known to work in the general area.

Data on UK landings in England from the Marine and Fisheries Agency show that the value of demersal fishing to UK vessels is about £230,000. There is also known to be French and Irish demersal trawling.

Stanton Banks

Information for 12 months ending July 2007 from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency's (SFPA) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) database indicates that there is currently significant fishing activity within the proposed boundary of this site, particularly to the north-west of the site. SFPA report that it is fished heavily by vessels based in west coast of Scotland. The site tends to be a seasonal fishery because of weather and as such provides a good fishing area for larger boats during summer months. The effort is nearly all demersal trawling. The main species targeted are Nephrops (Norway lobster or ‘scampi’), haddock, hake and monkfish as well as various other species. The West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation note that their vessels target nephrops and take by-catches of monk, megrim whiting, haddock and hake suing bottom trawls. In addition there is seasonal pelagic boat activity and significant crab fishing. Irish vessels (using both pelagic and demersal gear) also operate in this area; indeed part of the proposed site lies in Irish grey zone where UK-and Irish-claimed fishing limits overlap and there is an agreed system for enforcement. SFPA report that the industry are aware of coral in the area, and that fishermen make an effort to steer clear of it as it damages their nets.

Darwin Mounds

Mobile demersal gear is known to cause an impact to the reefs and has therefore been banned over the reef under the common fisheries policy.

Wyville Thomson Ridge

Information for 12 months ending July 2007 from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency's (SFPA) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) database indicates that there is currently significant fishing activity in the area. Generally the target species for demersal trawling are blueing, ling, greater fork beard and other associated deep sea species. These are targeted mostly by French (according to French fishing industry information), some UK (Scottish) vessels and possibly Spanish vessels. Given the areas rocky nature, it will generally be larger vessels. French pelagic trawlers also operate in this area. Because this site is adjacent to the recently agreed UK-Faeroese Median Line (S.I. 1999 No. 2031) there remains confusion as to the precise UK/Faeroese fishing limits in practice.

Nature Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements have been made for birds issued with Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species transaction specific certificates but removed from Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to be traced by the police for DNA testing when suspected of being wild-taken. (205799)

The UK CITES Management Authority (UKMA) makes every effort to ascertain the legality of acquisition of a bird before issuing a Transaction Specific Certificate. However if information came to the attention of the UKMA after issuing a certificate which led it to doubt the veracity of the original application, it would trace the ownership via the name and address in Box 1 "holder", as the certificate is re-issued every time the bird is used on a commercial basis by a new keeper. Applications for certificates will also contain details of parent birds, if known.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which of the 11 non-EU species proposed by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee for inclusion in Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 have existing captive populations in the UK; and what assessment he has made of the effects of including these species in Schedule 4 on the risk of wild birds being smuggled into the UK and their subsequent laundering. (205800)

Of the 12 species originally proposed by the JNCC for listing on Schedule 4, nine are non-EU species. Animal Health has issued CITES permits for six species (red-browed amazon, red-tailed amazon, hyacinth macaw, blue-throated macaw, red vented/Philippine cockatoo and Bali starling) in the last 10 years, indicating that these species have been kept in captivity in the UK.

The EU ban on wild bird imports has meant that, other than birds imported for conservation programmes, only captive-bred birds from approved breeding establishments have been permitted for import into the EU. Any import of wild non-EU birds would be contrary to the ban and CITES regulations. I consider that these regulations maintain a satisfactory level of control on any trade in the nine species, and there is no evidence to suggest that these controls do not work.

I do not consider that the listing of the nine non-EU species on Schedule 4 in England would have any effect on any illegal take of these species that may occur from the wild in third countries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in ensuring that captive populations of species to be removed from Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 are DNA profiled; and what procedures will be put in place to enable such profiles to be used to determine the (a) legitimacy and (b) parentage of birds of such species in the future. (205801)

My Department has no plans to carry out DNA testing on all birds that may be removed from schedule 4. The Department has no evidence to suggest that the population of birds currently listed on schedule 4 is other than from primarily legitimate sources. The cost of DNA testing the whole captive population would be prohibitively expensive and would not be justified by any possible enforcement or conservation benefit. Any DNA testing to be carried out by Animal Health will be based on a risk and intelligence-led approach.

Modern breeding techniques use artificial insemination from a variety of possible male donors. The movement, and death of many of the birds involved in this process means that any comprehensive testing scheme for all birds subject to registration would simply not be logistically possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for the revision of the criteria used to decide which species should be listed on schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. (205802)

The prohibition on the import of wild birds into the EU was extended in July 2007 and with this prohibition likely to remain in force for the foreseeable future, the situation in the commercial trade of wild birds has changed. My Department therefore revised the criteria for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) assessment of species to be listed on schedule 4. The list of species provided by the JNCC was considered in terms of the proportionality of the burden that registration of these species would place on keepers, balancing any conservation benefit that may arise from registration against the regulatory burden imposed by registration.

Waste Management: Enforcement

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much was spent on the (a) enforcement of legislation and (b) prosecution of offences relating to illegal waste activity in each of the last five years; (205703)

(2) how much was spent on the (a) enforcement and (b) prosecution of illegal waste activity in each of the last five years; and how much of this cost has been recovered through the courts.

Flycapture, the national database of fly-tipping incidents records the amount spent by local authorities in England on the following enforcement actions:

(i) duty of care inspections;

(ii) fixed penalty notices;

(iii) formal cautions;

(iv) injunctions;

(v) investigations;

(vi) prosecutions; and

(vii) warning letters.

These data have only been available since the year 2006-07. Flycapture records enforcement action that has been carried out with the aim of preventing the illegal disposal of waste, or fly-tipping. It does not record data on all illegal waste activity. In 2006-07, local authorities spent around £24.6 million on enforcement. This figure is calculated using standard costings for different types of enforcement.

National data on how much local authorities have spent on enforcement and which has been recovered through the courts are not available.

Data from Flycapture are available to download electronically on DEFRA’s Flycapture website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/localenv/flytippinq/fly capture-data.htm

Additionally, in recent years, the Environment Agency has typically spent approximately £14 million per annum on the enforcement and prosecution of illegal waste activity. This figure represents the full costs incurred by the Environment Agency and does not take into account any costs they may recover through the courts.

Costs recovered through the criminal courts, in respect of successful investigations and prosecutions, over the previous five years were as follows:

£

2003

1,006,704

2004

641,030

2005

912,969

2006

685,141

2007

1,007,293

Recovered costs cover all cases that involve waste, breaches and incidents.

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has for his Department to undertake an impact assessment of amendments to Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. (205798)

My Department will publish an impact assessment to accompany any statutory instrument that may amend Schedule 4.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Debt Collection

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to provide safeguards in relation to the activity of bailiffs for people with mental health problems who are in debt. (205268)

I have been asked to reply.

An enhanced and extended certification procedure for those enforcement agents who take control of goods, has been taken forward in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. The Act provides for the future compulsory regulation of all enforcement agents who take control of goods, and who are not Crown employees, via an enhanced and extended certification process. There will be a training requirement that will include knowledge of how to deal appropriately with vulnerable debtors.

Having secured the legislation, further public consultation is required to develop the underpinning rules and regulations. A development plan is being completed during May 2008 that will contain a timetable for implementation, together with a list of issues to be consulted on.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what mechanisms are in place to inform people of their rights in relation to action being taken against them by bailiffs. (205269)

I have been asked to reply.

Bailiffs’ powers currently stem from common law and numerous pieces of legislation resulting in an array of mechanisms depending on the type of debt or type of agent responsible for enforcement.

HMCS produce a leaflet, EX345 “About Bailiffs and Enforcement Officers”, detailing who bailiff and enforcement officers are, how they recover money, the complaints procedure and where to find free and independent advice.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which received Royal Assent on 19 July 2007, introduces a single piece of bailiff law which brings together in one place the legal structure for all warrant enforcement, written in terms that are easily understandable and which clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of creditors, debtors and enforcement agents.

Departmental Opinion Polls

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what polling companies held contracts with his Department centrally in 2007-08; and what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services each provided. (205410)

My Department has contracted Ipsos MORI to produce stakeholder surveys, the results of which are used to understand departmental reputation and to measure departmental performance and capability. The 2007-08 framework comprises a mix of five quantitative and qualitative surveys of different customer groups.

It is possible that other companies may have been contracted to provide ad hoc polling services. However this information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what projects sponsored by his Department were subject to Gateway reviews in each of the last four years; what status each project was assigned under such reviews; how much his Department spent on Gateway reviews in each such year; and if he will make a statement. (205871)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: The BERR-sponsored programmes and projects in the following list were subject to ‘medium' or ‘high' risk OGC Gateway reviews in each of the last four years. Gateway reports, including the findings and status, are conducted on a confidential basis for Senior Responsible Owners (SROs). We do not make this information routinely public.

2007-08

RSS Discovery Replacement Project

Dispute Resolution Review - New Services Project

HECToR

Easter Bush Research Centre

CHAMP

Business Support Simplification Programme

BLISS NIMR

Enabling the Future (2 Gateway Reviews in 2007/08)

CHIPS - Information Processing System

Digital Switchover Programme

Sellafield PBO Competition

LLWR PBO Competition

Magnox South Competition

CEH Transition and Integration Programme CO3031

CCS Demonstration Programme

Research Councils Shared Services Centre Implementation Project

Debt Relief Orders

2006-07

Easter Bush Research Centre

Data Improvement Programme

Company Law Reform Programme

HR Operational Efficiency Project

Competition for a PRO for the Sellafield SLC

Diamond Light Source

Service Transformation and Restructuring Programme (STAR)

Research Councils Shared Services Centre Implementation Project

Digital Switchover Programme

CHIPS - Information Processing System

UK Trade and Investment E-Business Programme - CRM Project

NDA DRIGG Competition (2 Gateway Reviews in 2006-07)

UKAEA Winfrith Site Closure Programme

RRS Charles Darwin Replacement (RRS James Cook)

UKTI 5 Year Strategy and Implementation

HECToR

NIMR RENEWAL

Two Roof Strategy Programme

Business Support Simplification Programme

Shared Primary Resource Information Environment

HR Operational Efficiency Project

RCUK Efficiency Delivery Project

Next Generation Back Office Project

2005-06

Consumer Direct Transition to OFT

Company Law Reform Programme

Pirbright Site Redevelopment

D3900 (RHILW Encapsulation, Immobilisation & Storage Facility)

Efficiency Delivery Programme

SGHWR

Trade Marks Integration and EDM Programme

National Physical Laboratory Upgrade Project

Consumer Direct

Digital Switchover Programme

Finance Excellence Plan Programme

SGHWR

HECToR

Flexible Computing Project

MATRIX 2

RCUK Efficiency Delivery Project

Account Services Update - MENTOR

CHIPS - Information Processing System

International Trade Single Window

Business Support Transformation Programme

XNP Partnering Project

Efficiency Delivery Programme

Two Roof Strategy Programme

2004-05

Information Centre Project

Research Administration Programme (RAP)

LLW Facilities Project

Business.gov

Efficiency Programme

HECToR

ICT Unit Project (P)

Consumer Direct

HPC(X) - High Performance Computing

D3900 (RHILW Encapsulation, Immobilisation and Storage Facility)

Digital Switchover Programme

RCUK Administration Strategy

Efficiency Programme

UKAEA Winfrith Site Closure Programme

Two Roof Strategy Programme

Trade Marks Integration and EDM Programme

NDA Programme

RRS Charles Darwin Replacement (RRS James Cook)

Euro Conversion Programme

Consumer Direct

Information Centre Project

A key principle of Gateway reviews is that they are cost neutral. However, where there is a shortfall in Civil Service Gateway Reviewers, suitably accredited external resource may be used. BERR is unable to identify the individual costs for each Gateway review undertaken as this information is not specifically recorded.

Local Better Regulation Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Local Better Regulation Office will set performance (a) indicators and (b) targets for local authorities trading standards and environmental health divisions. (202950)

LBRO will not set performance indicators or performance targets for local authorities. In order to ensure that LBRO understands performance issues in relation to its remit, the organisation is working closely with the Department of Communities and Local Government so that any LBRO projects which require the collection and/or analysis of performance information draw on and complement performance data available within the new performance framework for local government.

Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent estimate he has made of the number of people receiving the national minimum wage, broken down by level of total annual earnings. (204535)

[holding answer 9 May 2008]: Around 800,000 adults aged 22 and over are receiving the October 2007 national minimum wagel.

For people receiving the national minimum wage who remain with the same employer for the whole year2 it is estimated that around a quarter are earning less than £2,800 gross annual pay, about half earn less than £5,400 per annum and around three-quarters earn less than £9,100 per annum.

The vast majority of those receiving the national minimum wage and earning less than the median of £5,400 per annum are part-time employees. There will also be some people earning above the national minimum wage who earn less than £5,400 per year (and are not included above) because they do not work many hours during a week or during the year.

1 BERR has arrived at this estimate by deflating the October 2007 national minimum wage for adults (£5.52 per hour) by average earnings growth between April 2007 and October 2007. This deflated rate is equivalent to £5.40 per hour. Using April 2007 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings data around 800,000 individuals earn less than or equal to £5.40 per hour in the survey reference week.

2 Data on annual gross pay is only collected in the Annual Survey of Hours for employees who have worked with the same employer for a period of at least 12 months. In addition, the hourly earnings and hours worked in the reference week will not necessarily be the same for each week of the year.

Official Visits: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what visits he has made to Essex in an official capacity in the last 12 months. (204728)

In the last 12 months there has been one occasion when a Minister has visited Essex in his official capacity. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

Post Offices: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many submissions to the London Post Office Closure consultation supported the closure of a local post office. (205776)

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.

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much and what proportion of UK-generated energy supplies in megawatt hours was derived from renewable sources in each of the last five years. (206101)

[holding answer 16 May 2008]: The shares of renewables within (a) UK energy supplies and (b) renewable electricity within UK-generated electricity for 2002 to 2006 are summarised in the following tables. Data for 2007 will not be available until later this year.

(a) Share of renewables in UK energy supply, 2002-06

UK energy supply (GWh)

UK renewable energy supply (GWh)

Share of renewables within UK energy supply (percentage)

2002

2,804,563

33,685

1.20

2003

2,838,674

36,140

1.27

2004

2,861,701

42,858

1.50

2005

2,876,913

49,311

1.71

2006

2,835,487

51,522

1.82

Source: Data derived from the Digest of UK Energy Statistics, 2007, Tables 1.1 and 7.7.

(b) Share of renewables in UK electricity generation, 2002-06

UK electricity generation (GWh)

UK renewable electricity generation (GWh)

Share of renewables within UK electricity generation (percentage)

2002

387,246

11,127

2.87

2003

398,209

10,548

2.65

2004

393,867

14,085

3.58

2005

398,372

16,870

4.23

2006

398,327

18,133

4.55

Source: Data derived from the Digest of UK Energy Statistics, 2007, Tables 5.6 and 7.4

Small Businesses: Bureaucracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress the Better Regulation Executive is making towards its target of reducing red tape for small businesses by 25 per cent. by 2010; and if he will make a statement. (206570)

In December 2007, 19 Simplification Plans were published, showing more than 700 measures to reduce the burdens of complying with regulations. Over 280 of these measures have already been delivered saving businesses £800 million per year. Examples include:

Simpler law for smaller businesses (BERR):

Smaller businesses stand to benefit from substantial rewrite of company law. Coupled with better guidance, new provisions are expected to lower third party costs and make compliance easier. Conservative estimate of £2 million annual savings delivered.

Changes to small business rate relief (Communities):

Small firms eligible for small business rate relief no longer have to register for relief annually. £3 million annual savings delivered, and expected to rise to £11 million by 2010.

Small firms audit requirements (Financial Services Authority):

Removed the need for 3,400 small firms to have a statutory audit, saving £12.9 million per year. Copies of these plans are available online at:

http://www.berr.gov\uk/bre/policy/simplifyingexistingregulation/simplificationplans/2007/page44068.html

Our Enterprise Strategy, published alongside the Budget, also contained significant new proposals to reduce regulation. This includes examining whether small firms can be either exempted from new regulation or be subject to specifically tailored approaches. The Government will also consult on the introduction of regulatory budgets.

UK Trade and Investment: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what bilateral commercial contracts have been signed with the assistance of UK Trade and Investment since July 2007. (204861)

[holding answer 12 May 2008]: UK Trade & Investment measures its performance in terms of the value it adds for its customers and for the economy. In the case of its trade services, results for FY 2007-08 show that UKTI helped 15,900 UK companies to exploit overseas business opportunities. The total estimated additional bottom line profit for these businesses, generated by UKTI services, was £3 billion. In the case of inward investment, we expect the outturn result for the year to be close to the 525 target for foreign direct investment projects which UKTI has successfully facilitated, and significantly to have exceeded the target for 125 of those projects to be of high value.

Transport

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will meet Welsh Assembly Government ministers to discuss the use of concessionary bus passes across the border between England and Wales. (206616)

The Secretary of State has no plans at present to meet Welsh Assembly Government Ministers to discuss the use of concessionary bus passes across the England/Wales border, and nor have I. Further to my answer of 1 May 2008, Official Report, column 597W, discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government about reciprocal arrangements for cross-border concessionary travel between England and the Devolved Administrations have taken place at official level.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 3 March 2008, Official Report, column 2041W, on departmental manpower, how many of the employees under 18 years of age are receiving at least one day's training per week. (204936)

The Department for Transport currently employs 18 people who are under the age of 18. Sixteen of these employees are temporary staff, and they do not receive more than one day of training per week.

Of the remaining two employees, one receives at least one day of training per week.

Driving Instruction: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent steps the Government have taken to improve the standards of newly-qualified drivers; (205768)

(2) what recent steps the Government has taken to reduce the number of road traffic accidents caused by newly-qualified drivers.

On 7 May 2008, we launched the Driving Standards Agency’s Learning to Drive consultation, which sets out proposals for the reform of driver education, training and testing. The reforms will better prepare newly qualified drivers for modern driving conditions and help reduce collisions and casualties:

Key elements in our proposals are as follows.

A new pre driver foundation qualification in safe road use, with a course piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this autumn.

More thorough and effective learning to drive arrangements underpinned by a new learning to drive syllabus setting out the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to be a safe and competent driver. This will be supported by a student workbook. We are trialling new ways for people to develop safe attitudes including an attitude advisor, which can assess driver’s approach to risk and help guide training programs. We shall be investigating new ways of learning and training, including driver discussion groups, as well as improved in-car training arrangements.

Improved driving tests. We are investigating changes to both our theory and practical tests to ensure drivers meet the standards we require before qualifying for a full licence.

We are researching our theory test so it provides a better assessment of understanding, perhaps by using case studies. We shall research possible changes to the Hazard Perception Test to improve its safety effects. We have sought views on whether we should continue to publish the theory test question bank.

We are trialling possible changes to the practical test so that it provides a better guide to whether a learner has reached the standard to drive unsupervised. These changes include introducing independent driving, situational judgment, changes to the way specific manoeuvres are tested and switching from a fault based marking system to one that focuses on positive evidence on competence.

We are investigating improved feedback arrangements for all our tests. We are also looking at splitting the theory and practical tests into modules, to enable learners to pass elements as they are ready.

New opportunities to take further training and qualifications. We shall work with the insurance industry and employers whose employees drive in the course of their work to develop new courses and qualifications that they value, leading to lower insurance premiums and improved job prospects.

Star ratings for driving instructors so that learners can make an informed choice about the driver training services on offer and which are suitable for them.

Improved training and testing arrangements for driving instructors, both when they qualify initially and subsequently, to ensure they are well placed to provide a quality service in the new environment.

Copies of the consultation paper are available in the Libraries of the House.

Driving Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving test centres in England closed in each year since 1997; which driving test centres in England are earmarked for closure by the Driving Standards Agency; what savings have been achieved as a result of closures already implemented; and what estimate she has made of possible savings resulting from future closures. (202359)

[holding answer 29 April 2008]: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) currently operates a network of 425 driving test centres throughout Great Britain.

To facilitate the introduction of new European requirements for practical tests, alongside its existing estate DSA is developing a new national network of driving test centres. These centres, which are based on an updated design, are fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and also support the Government's wider sustainability agenda.

In order to exploit the value of the investment in these new centres DSA have decided that, wherever possible, they will be multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs). The new centres will have appropriate facilities to conduct practical tests for learner car drivers and motorcyclists. In some cases, there will also be provision for lorry driver tests.

As an organisation which relies on test fee income for the provision of its services DSA needs to ensure that it can deliver a cost-effective service which avoids unnecessary expenditure. The provision of MPTCs is expected to cost in the region of £71 million. That cost will largely be recovered through increased fees paid by test candidates.

In order to keep those fee increases to the minimum, DSA must closely examine how it delivers its services and seek more efficiencies in the way it conducts its business. This includes reviewing existing driving test centre provision to ensure that, while the service standard is maintained, there is no wasteful over-provision of facilities. Regrettably this does mean that some existing driving test centres have to close.

Since 1997 the following driving test centres in England have been closed:

Driving test centre (DTC)

Date closed

Annual saving1(£)

Alvaston LGV

1997

2

Sheffield Manor Top

1997

2

Farnborough

29 September 1998

2

Surbiton

3 June 2000

2

New Ilford

27 July 2000

2

Southfields

12 September 2000

2

New Southgate

15 December 2000

2

Teddington

15 June 2001

2

Truro

17 January 2002

2

Leamington Spa

28 February 2002

2

Stratford Upon Avon

8 April 2002

2

Croydon LGV

14 January 2004

13,846.00

Coventry Holyhead Road

26 January 2004

11,237.00

Coventry Mason Road

26 January 2004

7,643.00

Wallington Old Town Hall

31 January 2005

2,731.00

Birmingham Quinton

31 May 2006

25,026.00

Sidcup Craybrook

15 June 2007

18,784.00

Thornaby

27 August 2007

19,176.00

Winchmore Hill

31 August 2007

6,588.00

Ipswich LGV

15 September 2007

637.00

Total

137,431.00

1 Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004. 2 Unavailable.

Since September 2007 the following driving test centres have closed and been relocated as a result of the multi-purpose test centre project:

DTC

Annual saving1 (£)

Darlington

22,662.71

Exeter

125,361.77

Gainsborough

3,646.20

Gateshead

14,628.36

Gloucester

36,128.30

Hessle

17,151.20

Hull

10,431.25

Ipswich Woodbridge

32,550.12

Rotherham

18,843.02

Scunthorpe

10,017.88

Shrewsbury

14,901.14

St Helens

9,445.22

Total

315,767.17

1 Due to the recording system used by DSA, details of savings cannot be provided for driving test centres which closed prior to 2004.

The following driving test centres have been earmarked for closure and the anticipated savings from their closure are shown alongside; most of these closures will result from the implementation of the multi-purpose driving test centre project:

DTC

Potential savings (£)

Bexleyheath

13,266.37

Blackburn

18,432.59

Burton On Trent

17,413.22

Carlisle

17,665.86

Chester

11,453.44

Gedling

8,615.90

Gillingham

36,599.27

Herne Bay

9,283.62

Kings Lynn

7,869.21

Leicester Welford Road

21,369.51

Lincoln

15,772.57

Minehead

1,806.22

Norwich

10,499.00

Peterborough

31,712.91

Plymouth

53,084.30

Shirley

21,402.05

Southend

22,062.47

Spalding

4,660.00

Swindon

8,700.53

Taunton

36,461.65

Trowbridge

13,782.05

Warrington

24,150.62

Washwood Heath

13,559.31

West Bridgford

21,169.43

Wisbech

6,796.31

Wolverhampton

7,909.43

Total

455,497.84

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate her Department has made of the cost to the public purse of changing the format of the driving test. (206060)

Our aim is to develop more effective and efficient training and testing arrangements to improve road safety without increasing the average cost of learning to drive which we estimate currently to be some £1,500. A partial Impact Assessment which includes cost estimates for various elements of our proposals was published alongside the Driving Standards Agency's “Learning to Drive” consultation paper and these can be accessed via the DSA website www.dsa.gov.uk.

Actual costs would depend upon the decisions we reach in light of the comments from consultees plus the research and trialling work we are undertaking in parallel with the wide-ranging consultation exercise. We shall publish an updated Impact Assessment alongside our implementation plans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the longest distance is that learner drivers are expected to travel to take a driving test; (206249)

(2) what estimate she has made of the size of population that each driving test centre should serve.

Ministers have agreed the following target service levels for the distances most candidates are required to travel to take practical car driving tests:

Population density

Distance criteria

>=1,250/km2

No more than 7 miles

101-1,249/km2

No more than 20 miles

0-100/km2

No more than 30 miles

For practical motorcycle riding tests the target is that most customers should be able to reach a motorcycle testing facility within 45 minutes, travelling no more than 20 miles.

Driving Under Influence: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate her Department has made of the number of road traffic accidents associated with binge drinking in the latest period for which figures are available. (206017)

Information on personal injury road accidents associated with binge drinking is not available.

The provisional number of reported personal injury road accidents involving at least one driver/rider over the legal alcohol limit in Great Britain in 2006 was 9,390. Information is not available for damage only road accidents.

Further information on drinking and driving in reported personal injury road accidents is available in the ‘Drinking and driving’ article in ‘Road Casualties Great Britain 2006’ available at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/162259/162469/221412/221549/227755/rcgb2006v1.pdf.

Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

Driving: Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on changes in the cost to motorists of driving since 2005; and if she will make a statement. (206061)

The Retail Prices Index published by the Office for National Statistics is used to measure changes in the costs of motoring.

The total cost of motoring fell by 4 per cent. from January 2005 to April 2008 in real terms. The total includes the cost of buying cars, fuel, maintenance and insurance. This overall fall was driven largely by the falling costs of car purchase—down by 20 per cent. over this period. The real terms cost of tax and insurance fell by 6 per cent., the cost of maintenance rose by 5 per cent., with the cost of petrol and oil rising by 21 per cent.

Driving: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures were used to choose the (a) venues, (b) participants and (c) contents of the Young People’s Forums on Driving; and what steps have been taken to inform young (i) drivers and (ii) learner drivers of the report of the workshops held under the auspices of the forum. (206371)

To offer a reasonable geographical spread, one location in each of the nations in Great Britain was chosen. Nottingham was used as a central location in England outside of London; Cardiff and Glasgow as the major cities in Wales and Scotland.

The opportunity to apply to participate in the forum was widely promoted within each of the chosen locations through:

university and college networks

youth centres

local council youth programmes

workplaces with a relatively high number of young employees

Participants were selected to ensure that a reasonable diversity of membership for each group was reflected in terms of:

age

gender

ethnicity

educational or working background

stage in driver learning and learning/driving history

The contents of the fora were chosen so that:

elements of the proposed approach to driver learning and testing could be reviewed;

specific relevant research questions could be discussed and responded to;

the products we wanted to use for the “Learning to Drive” consultation exercise could be developed and reviewed to make them meaningful and accessible to young people.

As well as the references to the work of the Young People’s Forum and the workshops, a full report is available on the Driving Standards Agency website:

http://www.dsa.gov.uk/Documents/Consultation/ltd/DSA_YPF_Summary_report_10%2001%2008FINAL.pdf

The “Learning to Drive” consultation paper can be freely downloaded from the dedicated website:

www.dsa.gov.uk/learningtodrive

The website is accessible to young drivers and learners as well as the public in general.

The consultation and website are being promoted via three major social networking sites.

A condensed version of the full consultation paper has been published as a booklet, specifically with young people in mind. Public events will be held in England, Scotland and Wales during the consultation period. Members from the fora will attend to talk to young people who come along.

A media campaign will run throughout the duration of the consultation to promote the events and the website.

Information and directions to the “Learning to Drive” website are included with both the practical driving and theory test confirmation letters and are published on the Directgov website.

Lorries: Road Traffic Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much revenue remains uncollected from non-UK registered Heavy Goods Vehicles for (a) congestion charges, (b) parking fines, (c) speeding fines and (d) low emissions zone breaches. (206044)

[holding answer 16 May 2008]: The Government do not hold this information centrally.

Information collected by the Government identifies the total number of fixed penalties ordered to be paid in relation to criminal motoring offences such as speeding, and the number and amounts of court fines issued. Detailed data about particular offences, or the type of vehicle involved, are not collected.

The relevant highway authority is responsible for the enforcement of penalty charges for civil contraventions—such as congestion charge, parking and low emission zone contraventions. The Government do not require local authorities to provide information relating to unpaid penalty charges, or to particular vehicle types.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the cost of implementing the pay benchmarking analysis undertaken by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2007. (206591)

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the PCS and Prospect Unions have yet to agree formally both the details within the 2007 comparability studies and the validity and appropriateness of the potential comparators they describe. No estimate of costs can be made unless and until that agreement is reached.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations she has received from the chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on staff (a) pay and (b) grading. (206614)

It is the established practice that Maritime and Coastguard Agency chief executives have regular meetings with DfT Ministers, at which any aspect of Agency business can be discussed.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost of staff recruitment for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was in each year since 1997. (206568)

The cost of advertising and fees for staff recruitment at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, by financial year, since 1998 is shown in the following table.

Cost (£)

1998-99

59,942

1999-2000

44,159

2000-01

55,528

2001-02

100,463

2002-03

158,488

2003-04

244,672

2004-05

188,227

2005-06

231,968

2006-07

325,171

2007-08

252,221

Information is not available for 1997-08.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Vacancies

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff vacancies there are in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. (206569)

As of 15 May there were 36 vacancies that have arisen because of normal staff turnover.

In addition there were a further 60 posts to be filled as part of the agency’s on-going restructuring exercise, the majority of which will be filled from the pool of displaced existing staff. None of these were for coastguards or for surveyors.

Parking: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance has been issued to local highway authorities by her Department on (a) charging parents to drop their children off outside schools and (b) restricting the provision of parking places near schools. (205403)

We have not issued any specific guidance on these aspects of parking. The Department's “School travel strategies and plans: a best practice guide for local authorities” identified the imposition of parking restrictions as one of several measures that local authorities should consider when providing safer routes to schools, and it gave examples of local authorities that had used such controls as part of their traffic management strategies. There are powers in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 that enable local authorities to introduce parking controls (including any associated charges) where they consider it appropriate.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research has been commissioned by her Department on (a) the primary causes of accidents involving newly-qualified drivers and (b) measures to improve the road-readiness of drivers following the passing of the driving test. (206372)

The consultation on improving learning to drive which the Department for Transport launched on 7 May 2008 is supported by a number of research reports on the nature of the problems faced by learner and newly qualified drivers. The main research is summarised in the Learning to Drive evidence document, which is available online at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/rsrr87.pdf)

The research includes a large-scale study on the experiences and attitudes of learner and new drivers, including their involvement in accidents. This report can be found at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/cohort2/cohrtiimainreport.pdf

There is also substantial research on the causes of accidents involving young people, who represent the majority of newly qualified drivers—three-quarters (75 per cent.) of newly qualified drivers in 2006-07 were under the age of 25. In 2002, an in-depth study, commissioned by the Department, which explored the causes of accidents involving young drivers was published—see:

http://www.trl.co.uk/store/report_detail_asp?srid=2693

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) men and (b) women were killed in car accidents in London where at least one of the drivers involved was aged 21 years or under and (i) male and (ii) female in each year since 1997. (206378)

The numbers of (a) male and (b) female fatalities in reported road accidents involving at least one (i) male and (ii) female car driver was aged 21 years or under in London in 1997 to 2006 are shown in the table.

Number of fatalities1

Male car driver aged 21 years or under

Female car driver aged 21 years or under

Male fatality

Female fatality

Male fatality

Female fatality

1997

26

4

1

4

1998

14

7

2

0

1999

26

4

9

1

2000

24

10

2

2

2001

24

3

4

2

2002

18

9

0

3

2003

11

3

2

1

2004

18

2

2

0

2005

16

5

3

2

2006

22

0

1

1

1 Some fatalities may be double counted in the table as an accident could involve both a male driver (aged 21 and under) and a female driver (aged 21 and under).

Sea Rescue: Strikes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contingency arrangements were made by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency during each of the last three strikes by coastguards; and what further contingency arrangements have been identified as necessary in the event of a strike by coastguards lasting four days. (206588)

The UK’s maritime emergency response is provided by a co-operative partnership of Government Departments, emergency services and other organisations. During the three 24-hour periods of strike action by some Maritime and Coastguard Agency staff in March and April, the Agency worked with its partner organisations to maintain UK emergency response and search and rescue co-ordination capabilities. This was achieved by using a combination of well-rehearsed internal contingency measures (such as employing existing technology to ‘pair’ rescue co-ordination centres, where necessary), redeploying experienced managers, establishing a national strategic support centre and co-ordinating closely with other search and rescue operators. In addition, the Agency ensured that information about MCA services during the strike was widely disseminated to its customers.

The Agency will approach contingency planning for any future strike action by coastguards in a similar manner.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff at each coastguard station participated in strike action in each strike affecting the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the last five years. (206592)

The number of staff, by Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre, who have taken strike action in each strike affecting the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in the last five years, is shown as follows:

Strike date

MRCC

6 March 2008

11 March 2008

23/24 April 2008

Portland

13

12

11

Solent

17

11

16

Dover

12

10

11

Thames

11

11

12

Yarmouth

9

8

9

Humber

8

7

12

Forth

10

3

4

Aberdeen

9

5

6

Shetland

0

0

0

Stornoway

6

5

2

Clyde

11

8

5

Belfast

11

11

2

Liverpool

13

10

4

Holyhead

14

11

7

Milford Haven

9

8

2

Swansea

14

8

12

Falmouth

12

11

0

Brixham

9

10

1

London

2

2

2

Total

190

151

118

Travel: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the reason was for her issue of advice to local authorities on 14 February for them to order temporary concessionary travel passes; (206306)

(2) when she was first informed that Smartcard passes might not be ready by 1 April 2008;

(3) what the reasons are for the time taken to produce the Smartcard passes for the concessionary travel scheme; what assessment she has made of where responsibility for the delay to the time taken for production falls; and if she will make a statement;

(4) how many concessionary scheme bus passes have not been issued on the original timetable; and if she will make a statement.

Responsibility for issuing the concessionary travel passes rests with travel concession authorities, as it has done since 2000. When we made the decision last September to require the new concessionary travel passes to be in smartcard form we recognised this was a challenging requirement in the time available. This is why we put in place contingency arrangements, including allowing existing local passes to remain valid in the local area until 30 September, and providing authorities with temporary passes for people who wished to travel outside their local area.

Local authorities were advised to order sufficient temporary passes to ensure that anyone who was eligible for the England-wide concession was able to take advantage of it from 1 April even if they had not received their smartcard pass by then.

In fact, most local authorities and their suppliers were able to produce passes in time for the start of the concession. By 1 April, 95 per cent. of the anticipated passes had been produced. Unfortunately, while they had managed to produce the passes on time, we are aware that some suppliers experienced last minute problems in dispatching those passes to eligible people. Despite this, we estimate that around 4.8 million passes were dispatched by 1 April.

West Coast Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 May 2008, Official Report, column 1433W, on the West Coast railway line, what contingency plans are in place should the implementation of the West Coast Main Line timetable due in December 2008 need to be delayed. (206590)

The Government remain confident that Network Rail can deliver the December 2008 timetable changes on schedule. In the event that the timetable was to be delayed, existing services would continue. However, the Department for Transport is aware of the changes that would need to be made to franchises and the impact of any delay on the delivery of other projects. These matters were carefully considered by the Secretary of State when she decided to support delivery of the December 2008 outputs on schedule.

Communities and Local Government

Carbon Monoxide: Alarms

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice the Housing Health and Safety Rating System provides on the use of carbon monoxide alarms. (203050)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is a risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. Local authorities are responsible for operating the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System assesses 29 categories of housing hazard; each hazard has a weighting which will help determine whether the property is rated as having Category 1 (serious) or Category 2 (other) hazards.

Within the 29 categories carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products are listed as hazards. Clearly exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide is a serious hazard and following discovery of such concentrations would lead to immediate action to address the situation. Communities and Local Government has issued operating guidance for local authorities. The guidance contains a number of preventative measures that may be taken including the use carbon monoxide detectors. The guidance can be viewed on the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/hhsrs operatingguidance

Community Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many submissions she received in response to her consultation paper on the action plan for community empowerment; and when these representations will be published. (205596)

The Department for Communities and Local Government received 33 responses to the Community Empowerment Action Plan over the course of October 2007 to January 2008. These responses are being fed into the development of policy for the Community Empowerment White Paper which will be published this summer.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many receptions she has hosted and funded in her capacity as Secretary of State in the last 12 months; which individuals and organisations (a) were invited to and (b) attended each reception; and what the cost was of each reception. (203841)

I will publish, in due course, an annual list providing information relating to official receptions hosted by Ministers in this Department during the previous financial year.

Departmental Translation Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on translation services into (a) Welsh and (b) other languages by her Department, associated agencies and non-departmental public bodies in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05, (iii) 2005-06, (iv) 2006-07 and (v) 2007-08. (203871)

The Department’s expenditure by financial year on translation services is as follows:

Financial year

£

2003-04

114,191

2004-05

51,304

2005-06

61,319

2006-07

29,942

2007-08

61,329

Data to identify departmental expenditure on translation into (a) Welsh and (b) other languages are not held centrally and could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

The Department’s agencies have supplied the following information on their expenditure on translations services.

£

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Planning Inspectorate

93,047

96,082

64,152

67,890

59,215

Fire Service College

75

30

QE2 Conference Centre

The Fire Service College can supply data for financial year 2006-07 and 2007-08. It could provide previous years’ expenditure only at disproportionate cost. Detailed expenditure on translation into (a) Welsh and (b) other languages could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Ordnance Survey could identify spend on translation services only at disproportionate cost.

Records of the expenditure on translation by non-departmental public bodies are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much waste produced by her Department was sent to landfill in each year since 1997. (206056)

Communities and Local Government produced the following amounts of general waste (in tonnes):

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Communities and Local Government

253

310

204

203

197

Executive Agencies

1

1

1400

644

633

1 Date not available in these years. Note:These data do not include information from the regional Government Office network.

The Department is currently compiling its waste data for 2007-08, and does not hold data prior to 2002-03.

It should be noted that the Department sends its general waste to an incineration plant which generates energy from waste, rather than disposing in landfill.

Eco-Towns

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library copies of the letters of support for the shortlisted eco-town locations from (a) the Highways Agency, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) Natural England. (202079)

The initial identification of issues reflecting comments by these Agencies is summarised for each location in the recently published consultation document—“Eco-towns—Living a greener future”. This summarises the issues facing each shortlisted location and assesses both the benefits of the schemes and the challenges, as communicated to Communities and Local Government by all those agencies with an interest, including those related to transport and the environment. Copies of the consultation document are available in the House Library. Assessment of the issues and challenges for each location by the Agencies and other partners is continuing and will be set out in more detail in a draft Sustainability Appraisal on the locations and a draft policy statement, which we expect to publish for further consultation in July.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings Ministers in her Department have had with each of the 15 short-listed eco-town bidders. (202587)

Neither the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government nor Ministers in her Department have held meetings with representatives of bidders from the shortlisted eco-town bidders. Ministerial meetings will be held with them all in due course.

Eco-Towns Challenge Panel

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the role and purpose of the Eco-Towns Challenge Panel is; whether it will provide advice on which eco-towns proposed should be submitted for planning approval; and if she will make a statement; (205009)

(2) how the members of the Eco-Towns Challenge panel were selected; what the basis was of the establishment of the panel; how much it is estimated to cost each year; and what remuneration is paid to its members.

The Eco-Towns Challenge was set up specifically to be a short-term independent panel that would work with bidders to improve their schemes during the first stage of the process for taking eco-towns forward (as set out in ‘Eco-towns—Living a greener future’).

Members of the panel were selected for their expertise in matters of environment, sustainability, transport and design. Each member will be paid the Government rate of £350 per day when they are working for the panel. At present three panel meetings have been scheduled in May and June, but we anticipate a further round of meetings.

Eco-towns Challenge Panel: Political Impartiality

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether members of the Eco-towns Challenge Panel have made declarations of recent political activity. (202563)

The Eco-towns Challenge was set up to be a short term independent panel that would work with bidders to improve their plans, and declarations of political activities are not required for expert panels of this type. Members of the panel were selected for their expertise in matters of environment, sustainability, transport and design.

Eco-Towns: Motor Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department and its agencies have to use the New Towns Act 1981 to establish delivery vehicles for eco-towns. (202608)

As we have set out in the consultation document “Eco-towns-Living a greener future”, the New Towns Act 1981 may be an appropriate delivery option in circumstances where:

the task of infrastructure provision and related investment was of a scale where a statutory body would have significant advantages;

there was a major risk of land assembly and the need for special powers was evident; and

the ability of a statutory body to bring forward development more quickly was a significant factor.

We would only use these powers to support delivery of complex and challenging developments, and would expect such vehicles to be used in partnership with the local authorities.

Eco-Towns: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the location is of each Eco-Town bid made to her Department which has not been short-listed. (202588)

A list of the bids which were not on the shortlist published on 3 April is set out in the consultation document “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”. Based on the information received in relation to these bids, the areas in which they are located are set out as follows:

Region

Scheme name

Borough/district/city

East Midlands1

Kingston

Rushcliffe

East Midlands

Grovewood

Burton and South Derbyshire

East Midlands

Burtoft

Boston

East

Land North of Harlow

Harlow

East

Easton Park

Uttlesford

East

The Cambridge Light Railway and Cambridge Heath, a sustainable country town

Cambridge

East

North Weald

Epping Forest

East

Boxted Wood Eco Town

Braintree/Uttlesford

East

Alconbury Airfield

Huntingdonshire

East

Marks Tey

Colchester/ Braintree

East

Peterborough EcoTown

Peterborough

East

Thorpe Wood

Broadlands

East

Tilbury

Thurrock

East

Mereham New Community

East Cambridgeshire

East

Sculthorpe Airfield

South Cambridgeshire

East

Waterbeach (Denny St. Francis)

Cambridgeshire

East

Thurleigh North

Bedford/ Mid-Bedford

East

Thamesgate

Thurrock

North East

Causey Park

Gateshead

North East

Stockton Eco Town

Stockton-on-Tees

North East

Cambois

North Tyneside

North West

Wardle

Crewe and Nantwich

North West

Eco-Town Carrington

Trafford

North West

Derwent Forest

Allerdale

South East

Airtrack Rail

Bracknell Forest/Wokingham

South East

Redhill Aerodrome

Tandridge District, Reigate and Banstead

South East

Dunsfold Park

Waverley

South East

Sittingbourne

Swale

South East

Greenway

Aylesbury Vale

South East

Micheldever Station Market Town (MSMT)

Winchester

South East

Shipton Eco-town

Cherwell

South East

The Surrey/London borders EcoTown

Reigate and Banstead

South East

Westcott

Aylesbury Vale

West Midlands

The Throckmorton Airfield Sustainable Community

Wychavon

Yorkshire and Humberside1

Clifton Gate

York

Yorkshire and Humberside1

The Stainforth and Hatfield Eco Town Initiative

Doncaster

Yorkshire and Humberside1

Thorp Arch

Leeds

Yorkshire and Humberside1

Willow Green

Selby

Yorkshire and Humberside

Micklefield

Leeds

Yorkshire and Humberside1

The Greens

Leeds

Yorkshire and Humberside1

Darringfield

Wakefield

1 A further review of locations is taking place in Rushcliffe and in Leeds city region as set out in the consultation document.

Eco-Towns: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the Stage 2 and Stage 3 consultation procedures for eco-towns, what opportunities there will be for members of the public to participate in the consultation process; and what level of detail relating to each proposal will be available at each stage. (201841)

There will be considerable opportunity for public consultation at Stage 2 of the eco-towns consultation procedures, as there is currently during Stage 1. Over the next three months we are consulting on preliminary views on eco-town benefits and the shortlisted locations, as set out in the consultation document “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”. Bidders are publicising further details of schemes and holding consultation events, with input from local authorities. The arrangements will vary according to the location and the status of the schemes being developed. My Department will also be commissioning exhibition and consultation events about the eco-towns concept and the proposals in the consultation paper.

At Stage 2 we will publish—for further consultation—a draft Eco-towns Policy Statement and a draft Sustainability Appraisal which will set out more detail for each location.

Stage 3 of the process, as set out in “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”, will be the stage at which we publish the final list of locations with potential to be an eco-town and the final Eco-towns Policy Statement. After this it will be for individual schemes on the final shortlist to come forward with planning applications.

Energy Performance Certificates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many energy performance certificates (EPCs) have been recorded on the EPC register; and how many home condition reports (HCRs) have been recorded on the HCR register. (202585)

As of 29 April 2008 there are 645,045 Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and 1,776 Home Condition Reports (HCRs) stored in the Domestic EPC and HCR Registers for Dwellings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) data fields and (b) property attributes are held on the (i) Energy Performance Certificate and (ii) Home Condition Report register. (202642)

The data fields and property attributes that are held on the (Domestic) Energy Performance Certificate and Home Condition Report Registers for dwellings, are defined in the document entitled, “Technical Standards Enumerated Values”. This document forms part of the Certification and Accreditation Scheme Technical Standards and can be found on the Communities and Local Government website:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/enumerated-values

Fire Safety: Construction Methods

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2008, Official Report, column 397W, on fire safety: construction methods, if she will meet the Association of British Insurers to discuss section 4.4 of its Technical Briefing on Fire Performance of Sandwich Panel Systems (2003) and the combustibility of composite core panels which have passed the insurance industry standard LPS 1181. (205761)

The Association of British Insurers' Technical Briefing and the LPS 1181 test standard are not utilised within the guidance that supports the fire safety aspects of the Building Regulations or the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and they are not of direct relevance to the Department's work. No such meeting, therefore, is needed at this time.

Fire Safety: Warehouses

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received on the use of sprinklers as fire resistors in warehousing facilities; and if she will make a statement. (205775)

The recent review of the fire safety aspects of the building regulations looked at the case for sprinklers in warehouses. We undertook supporting research on the issue and a full public consultation. Following consultation, it was decided that a limit for the maximum unsprinklered compartment size for single storey warehouses should be set at 20,000m2 and/or a height of 18m where previously no such limit existed. This new maximum compartment size was included in the 2006 edition of Approved Document B which came into effect in April 2007.

Since then we have had a number of representations suggesting that this maximum compartment size should be reduced such that smaller warehouse buildings would also be provided with sprinkler protection. However, we have no plans to revisit this part of the building regulations in the near future.

Heating: EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions her Department has had with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the proposed labelling of heating systems in the Energy-using Products Directive. (206453)

Communities and Local Government officials are in ongoing discussions about the proposed labelling of heating systems in the energy-using products directive with their opposite numbers in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Officials are also in discussion with counterparts in the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs who are leading negotiations on the Directive with the European Commission.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes have been (a) built, (b) placed on sale and (c) sold through (i) Social HomeBuy, (ii) New Build HomeBuy, (iii) Open Market HomeBuy and (iv) the First Time Buyer Initiative in each region in England since 1st April 2006. (204262)

[holding answer 8 May 2008]: The following tables show the homes provided for 2006-08 by region for Social HomeBuy, Open Market HomeBuy, New Build HomeBuy and the First Time Buyers Initiative.

Social HomeBuy

Sold

North-east

9

North-west

38

Yorkshire and the Humber

18

East midlands

5

West midlands

6

East

4

London

103

South-east

22

South-west

2

Total

207

Note:

Social HomeBuy is a demand led product for social tenants to buy their own home. Some participating landlords are offering the scheme widely across their stock. Others are targeting specific estates, locations or local authority areas. We estimate that the pilot scheme which ran from April 2006 to March 2008 and resulted in 207 sales was offered across 5 per cent. of social stock.

Source:

Housing Corporation Investment Management System

Open Market HomeBuy

Sold

North-east

12

North-west

255

Yorkshire and the Humber

128

East midlands

122

West midlands

282

East

732

London

1,615

South-east

1,808

South-west

429

Total

5,383

Note:

Open Market HomeBuy enables purchasers to buy on the Open Market.

Source:

Housing Corporation Investment Management System

Provided1

Placed on sale2

North-east

206

206

North-west

1,629

1,629

Yorkshire and the Humber

696

696

East midlands

2,111

2,111

West midlands

1,990

1,990

East

2,981

2,981

London

8,335

8,335

South-east

5,819

5,819

South-west

2,142

2,142

Total

25,909

25,909

1 This can be both new build and acquisition and refurbishment.

2 Placed on sale means that RSLs have completed the home and the final grant payment has been made. The Corporation's Investment Management System does not have comprehensive information on which properties have been sold by region for each RSL.

Source:

Housing Corporation Investment Management System

First time buyers initiative/London wide initiative

Provided1

Placed on sale2

Sold3

North-east

104

69

24

North-west

359

253

48

Yorkshire and the Humber

116

116

92

East midlands

157

144

0

West midlands

257

189

126

East

237

162

23

London

770

627

240

South-east

529

444

251

South-west

304

304

95

Total

2,741

2,216

827

1 Provided means: contracted i.e. a legal agreement has been completed with a house builder or RSL to deliver a target number of FTBI homes.

2 Placed on sale means: the house builder/RSL and HomeBuy Agent market the homes. There is often a time lag between completion of the legal agreement and marketing because homes cannot be offered for sale if the expected time between exchange of contracts and sale completion is more than 12 months. The majority of FTBI homes are sold “off-plan”.

3 Sold means: First Time Buyer sales completions. This excludes reservations and exchange of contracts. Details of the latter categories can be provided if requested.

Source:

English Partnerships

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average equity in (a) percentage and (b) cash terms purchased by a homeowner under the (a) Social Market Homebuy, (b) New Build Homebuy and (c) Open Market Homebuy schemes has been since each such scheme was established. (204576)

The information requested is only available for 2006-07 and is in the following table. For social homebuy and new build homebuy sales, the table shows the average equity purchased by the homeowner.

Average equity purchased by the homeowner in percentage and cash terms, 2006-07

Type of sale

Average equity purchased (Percentage)

Average equity purchased (£)

New Build Homebuy

47

79,446

Social Homebuy

56

120,372

For open market homebuy sales where the purchaser buys 100 per cent. of the property with the help of an equity loan, the following table shows the average equity loan provided to the homeowner.

Average equity loan provided to the homeowner in percentage and cash terms, 2006-07

Type of sale

Average equity loan provided (Percentage)

Average equity loan provided (£)

Open Market Homebuy

22

32,003

Source:

CORE new sales log.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons the outcome of the shared-equity competition was restricted to a single mortgage lender. (201813)

It is not the case that the Housing Corporation’s National Affordable Housing Programme (2008-11) Open Market HomeBuy products are restricted to a single mortgage lender.

There are two products available providing equity loans of up to 50 per cent. enabling individuals to purchase a home on the open market. Purchasers through MyChoice HomeBuy can select a mortgage from participating lenders and purchasers through Ownhome can choose from the full range of Co-op mortgage products, and can re- mortgage with another qualifying lending institution, in accordance with the terms of the initial mortgage agreement.

I recently met with the Council of Mortgage Lenders who assured me that they will continue to support the availability of products compatible with shared equity schemes and of their commitment to ensuring the market remained open and competitive for first-time buyers, within the constraints of the wider financial market environment.

Housing: Regional Planning and Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to designate further Growth Points. (202559)

A second round of the growth point programme was announced in the Housing Green Paper in July 2007. We have received nearly 30 expressions of interest for additional growth points, which are currently being assessed.

Housing: Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) for what reasons she has struck out the requirement for 10 per cent. on-site renewable energy in all major new developments from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Spatial Strategy; (165297)

(2) what her Department’s assessment is of the effect of ending the application of the existing Merton rule in the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Spatial Strategy on those individual local planning authorities wishing to use the rule;

(3) what her reasons were for not accepting the independent panel's recommendations that Yorkshire and the Humber should have a minimum region-wide 10 per cent. on-site renewables planning requirement for all major new developments.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 15 October 2007, Official Report, columns 806-61W, which confirmed that, as we gear up to our zero carbon ambition, councils will be able to continue with and adopt new Merton rules, although it is important that they are properly tested as part of development plan documents (DPDs).

The reasons for the Secretary of State’s proposed changes to the Yorkshire and the Humber Assembly’s draft revised Regional Spatial Strategy are set out in the published schedule. This is available on the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber’s website at:

http://www.gos.gov.uk/goyh/plan/regplan/propchanges/

The consultation on the proposed changes closes on 21 December 2007. Representations received are being considered carefully in finalising the revised RSS which we intend to publish soon.

Local Authorities: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has issued to local authorities on their strategic roles in housing in changing market conditions. (201413)

As part of their statutory responsibilities we expect local authorities to provide advice and assistance to households threatened with homelessness. We are providing homelessness grant to all councils in England totalling £150 million over the next three years.

All local authorities should be supporting their local money advice agencies to advise people on how they can avoid getting into unnecessary debt. Local authorities will negotiate with individual lenders on a case by case basis where repossession is threatened. We are also working with local authorities to ensure that Court Desk sendees are available to people facing repossession action so that they have legal representation on the day. These areas of work are covered in “Preventing Homelessness: A Strategy Health Check” which we published in September 2006 as a toolkit for local authorities, and continue to use in our work to support local authorities in implementing their local homelessness strategies.

We aim to publish guidance to local authorities about the local authority strategic housing role later in the year, encouraging local authorities to assess and plan for the current and future housing needs of the local population across all tenures. This guidance will supplement the capacity building support that we have funded the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to provide to help local authorities deliver their strategic housing role.

Local Authorities: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information her Department holds on the number of people employed by each local authority who have a learning disability. (206508)

Information on the number of people employed by each local authority who have a learning disability is not held centrally.

Regional Planning and Development: Canvey Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the economic impact of the Canvey Island Seafront Improvement scheme. (204600)

The case for the Canvey regeneration area has been subject to Her Majesty’s Treasury’s Green Book appraisal. A number of studies provided evidence to support the improvements, which are part of a wider programme for regenerating Castle Point within the Thames Gateway.

Regional Planning and Development: Eco-Towns

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the homes provided in eco-town developments are to be included in the local authority's allocation under the regional spatial strategies. (202651)

As set out in the consultation document “Eco-towns—Living a greener future” we expect eco-towns to contribute significantly to help to meet those revised targets for additional housing and we want to assure local authorities, which include an eco-town in their future housing plans that it will, of course, count towards those future housing targets, which in most places are likely to be more stretching. The Housing Green Paper made clear that the housing numbers in existing and in some cases emerging plans were not high enough to address the pressing problem of long-term housing need and affordability. We are therefore aiming to complete a further set of Regional Spatial Strategy partial reviews by 2011 that will include revised housing numbers for local planning authorities that are consistent with our national aim to deliver 240,000 homes per year by 2016.

Duchy of Lancaster

Admiralty House

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1692W, on Admiralty House: official residences, what payments have been made from the public purse in respect of damage to the Admiralty House residences since 2001. (205395)

Departmental Equality

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) whether the Cabinet Office met the Civil Service diversity targets set out on page 51 of Cabinet Office Annual Report 2007 by April 2008; (204701)

(2) whether the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons met the Civil Service diversity targets by April 2008, as set out in the Cabinet Office Annual Report 2007, page 51.

The office of the Leader of the House of Commons forms an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

The latest published statistics against overall civil service targets were at October 2007. The statistics can be viewed on the civil service website at:

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/diversity/monitoring.asp

and copies have been placed in the Library of the House for the reference of Members. The final measurement against the targets will be published in autumn 2008.

The Cabinet Office's progress against these targets will be published in its departmental annual report.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many (a) mobile telephones, (b) personal digital assistants and (c) laptop computers issued to his staff were reported (i) lost, (ii) missing and (iii) stolen in each year since 2001. (184346)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many of his Department's personal digital assistants were (a) lost and (b) stolen in each of the last five years; and what the value of those items was. (185279)

Cabinet Office central records show the numbers of mobile phones, personal digital assistants and laptop computers issued to staff and reported lost, missing and stolen in each year since 2001 are as follows:

Mobile phones

PDAs

Laptops

2001

0

0

1

2002

2

0

0

2003

3

0

9

2004

1

1

6

2005

1

2

1

2006

8

0

0

2007

6

1

3

The value of the personal digital assistants lost and stolen is £1,186.06.

Employment: Wales

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many people were employed in each parliamentary constituency in Wales in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007, ranked in order of percentage change in the number employed. (205301)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 19 May 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people were employed in each parliamentary constituency in Wales in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007, each constituency being ranked in order of percentage change in the number employed. [205301]

The Office for National Statistics compiles employment statistics for local areas from the Annual Population Survey (APS) and its predecessor the annual Labour Force Survey (LFS) following International Labour Organisation definitions.

Table 1, attached, shows estimates of the total number of employed, for Welsh parliamentary constituencies. Estimates are obtained for the 12 month period ending in February 1997 from the annual Labour Force Survey (LFS). For the 12 month period ending March 2007 estimates have been provided from the Annual Population Survey (APS).

As these estimates are for a subset of the population in a small geographical area, they are based on small sample sizes, and are therefore subject to large margins of uncertainty.

Table 1: number of people employed age 16+ in Welsh parliamentary constituencies 1997 and 2007

12 months ending

February 1997(Thousand)

March 2007 (Thousand)

Percentage change between 1997 and 2007

Caernarfon

24

33

38

Delyn

26

33

31

Ynys-Mon

23

30

29

Clwyd West

26

34

29

Vale of Clwyd

23

29

27

Vale of Glamorgan

37

45

21

Wrexham

28

34

21

Swansea West

25

30

22

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

28

34

20

Aberavon

22

26

19

Clwyd South

30

35

18

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire

25

29

17

Islwyn

25

29

16

Caerphilly

33

38

16

Llanelli

27

31

14

Bridgend

33

37

14

Newport East

32

36

13

Swansea East

31

35

13

Cardiff North

39

44

11

Preseli Pembrokeshire

30

33

10

Cynon Valley

22

25

11

Rhondda

26

29

9

Ceredigion

31

33

9

Pontypridd

40

43

8

Gower

32

35

7

Blaenau Gwent

26

28

7

Newport West

34

37

6

Brecon and Radnorshire

30

32

6

Monmouth

36

38

6

Montgomeryshire

28

29

6

Cardiff West

35

36

2

Conwy

28

28

0

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

29

29

-2

Alyn and Deeside

42

41

-2

Cardiff Central

35

34

-2

Cardiff South and Penarth

37

36

-3

Neath

32

30

-6

Torfaen

38

36

-6

Ogmore

34

28

-20

Meirionnydd Nant Conwy

20

15

-22

Source:

Annual Labour Force Survey/Annual Population Survey

Migration

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what contribution net migration made to population change in the UK in each five year period since 1987. (205789)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated May 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question asking what contribution net migration made to population change in the UK in each five year period since 1987. (205789)

The table below shows the contribution of net migration and natural change to population change for the UK for each five year period since 1987.

Contribution of net migration and natural change to population change for the UK for five-year periods from year ending mid-1987 to year ending mid-2006

1987-1991

1992-96

1997-2001

2002-06

Total net migration and

932,999

79,571

143,112

532,652

Other changes1, 2

12,424

Total natural change

675,252

582,604

416,471

528,429

Total population change

754,823

725,716

949,123

1,473,852

1 It is not possible to separately identify and split net migration and other changes in the years up to 2001. For 2002-06 net migration and other changes are shown separately. 2 Other changes primarily include changes in the number of armed forces and dependants resident in the area and also (for years up to and including 2001) a factor to ensure that population change over the intercensal period agrees with estimates derived from the Census. Source: Office for National Statistics, General Register Office for Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Population

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what projections of population density for (a) the UK, (b) England, (c) Scotland, (d) Wales and (e) Northern Ireland in 2056 and beyond have been made. (205787)