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Written Answers

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Northern Ireland

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what his most recent estimate is of the unfunded liability in present value terms of each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; and on what assumptions for (a) discount and (b) longevity the estimate is based; (200756)

(2) what the unfunded liability in present value terms was of each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible in each year since 1990-91;

(3) what the (a) rate and (b) cost was of employer contributions for each public sector pension scheme for which his Department has responsibility in each year since 1990-91; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what the effect on his Department's expenditure would be from increasing the employee contribution to each pension scheme for which his Department is responsible by one per cent.; and if he will make a statement.

Employees of the Northern Ireland Office are employed by either the Home civil service or Northern Ireland civil service, and as such, they are members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (GB) and (NI) respectively. These schemes are the responsibility of Cabinet Office and the Department for Finance and Personnel respectively. Relevant details are included in their scheme accounts.

The Department has responsibility for broadly by analogy pension schemes for public appointments. Details of the most recent and past unfunded liabilities in present value terms will be contained within the Department's resource accounts which will be laid before Parliament by 22 July.

Police Stations: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2008, Official Report, column 765W, on police stations: closures, when he expects the review to be published on possible police station closures in Northern Ireland. (202205)

The Chief Constable has provided the following answer:

“Work is currently being carried out identifying stations, which will be subject to review. The outcome will likely be included in the Updated PSNI Estates Strategy planned to be submitted to the Northern Ireland Policing Board in June 2008.”

Prisoners: Foreigners

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of (a) convicted and (b) remand prisoners in Northern Ireland were neither UK nor Irish citizens in 2007. (205936)

The average number of convicted prisoners recorded as neither UK nor Irish citizens in custody during 2007 was 16, or 1.75 per cent. of the average convicted prisoner population.

The average number of remand prisoners recorded as neither UK nor Irish citizens during 2007 was 40, or 7.5 per cent. of the average remand prisoner population.

Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to have discussions with the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Irish Republic on the possible future political implications in Northern Ireland of the charging in the Special Criminal Court in the Irish Republic on 10 May of a man in connection with possession of explosives and membership of the IRA. (206043)

It would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on a criminal case which is ongoing in another jurisdiction.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Aggregates: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) target and (b) outturn for the proportion of aggregates that are recycled or from secondary sources used in Government-funded construction projects was in each of the last three years. (205606)

No targets have been set in respect of the recycling of aggregates and data are not held on the proportion of aggregates that are recycled or from secondary sources used in Government-funded construction projects.

Agriculture: Science

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether, in his role as Director of the International Assessment of Agricultural knowledge, Science and Technology for Development at the Intergovernmental Plenary, the Chief Scientific Adviser is required to act independently of the UK Government. (205006)

The DEFRA Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bob Watson, is also Director of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Professor Watson was appointed as IAASTD Director in an independent capacity and is not representing the UK Government in this role.

Animal Welfare: Circuses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Tewkesbury of 22 January 2008, Official Report, column 1969W, on animal welfare: circuses, what progress has been made in considering the feasibility of introducing secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to regulate the welfare of wild animals in circuses through the replacement of the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925; and whether there is a timeframe within which he expects these changes to be made. (205162)

[holding answer 12 May 2008]: The feasibility study, looking at the possibility of regulating wild animal acts in travelling circuses, has taken longer to complete than we originally anticipated. Details will be released as soon as the study is complete. Any future regulations relating to wild animals in circuses would not replace the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925. DEFRA has a long-term commitment to reviewing this Act, but the timing of this review has yet to be fixed.

Beekeeping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department provides for research into beekeeping; and if he will make a statement. (204200)

Detailed allocations for all of DEFRA's programmes have still to be finalised, including those for research. Funding for DEFRA's bee health programme is expected to be unchanged in 2008-09 (£1.3 million) In addition to this, commissioned research into honey bee health is expected to be c. £190,000. In addition, honey bee health benefits from other DEFRA-funded research activities. Research priorities are addressed in the draft Bee Health strategy which has recently been published for public consultation.

Bees: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the risk to bee colonies of (a) the varroa mite and (b) other bee parasites. (205638)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: The Varroa mite is ubiquitous and is probably in every honey bee colony in England and Wales. Although it is no longer a statutory requirement to notify the presence of Varroa, it poses a major threat to beekeepers. However, it can be kept under control with appropriate treatments and hive management techniques. The National Bee Unit provides written material on Varroa management (available on their Beebase website) and issues advice to beekeepers both through comprehensive training sessions on effective management of Varroa and when visiting individual beekeepers.

Other damaging parasites affecting honey bees include Nosema and Tracheal mites. Limited survey work has shown that two species of Nosema—N. apis and N. ceranae—are present in the UK. They have been found in widely dispersed locations. Tracheal mite is also widespread.

There is a statutory requirement to notify the presence of Tropilaelaps mites which can affect brood and adult bees. They are found in Asia and have not been reported in Europe.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on whether to use badger culling as part of a package of measures to address the incidence of bovine tuberculosis. (205893)

No decision has yet been made on whether to use badger culling to contribute to the control of TB in cattle. There is a great deal of complex evidence to consider and the matter is receiving our attention.

Departmental Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) UK and (b) non-UK nationals were employed in his Department's establishments in each year since 2001. (205392)

Although information on the nationality of candidates is collected as part of the recruitment process, the nationality of members of staff is not held electronically and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities in England employed dog wardens in each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement. (206082)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) on 15 January 2008, Official Report, column 1099W.

Ducks: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether he plans to require the provision of water for farmed ducks to swim in on welfare grounds; (205093)

(2) pursuant to the question of 15 November 2007, Official Report, column 339W, on ducks, whether his Department plans to make changes to the welfare regulations relating to ducks as a result of the research project on the welfare of farmed ducks.

[holding answer 13 May 2008]: The results of the DEFRA-funded research project a "Study to Assess the Welfare of Ducks Housed in Systems Currently Used in the UK" are being prepared for publication and will be submitted to a scientific journal shortly. We will consider the report in detail before deciding on a way forward.

Energy: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for the implementation of Lot 1 of the Energy-using Products Directive; and when he expects a decision on this matter to be taken by the Regulatory Committee. (206451)

The Commission has not yet set a formal timetable for bringing forward the implementing measure on Lot 1 of the energy-using products directive, but has indicated that it expects the measure to go to the Regulatory Committee for a vote towards the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009.

Floods: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will consider assigning the proceeds of the fine imposed on Severn Trent plc to improvement of the sewage and drainage systems in areas affected by last year's flooding; and if he will make a statement. [Official Report, 22 May 2008, Vol. 476, c. 6MC.] (206892)

Ofwat is required by law to pay the fines it collects from water companies into the consolidated fund.

Plastic Bags

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage retail outlets to replace plastic bags with brown paper bags; and if he will make a statement. (206065)

We are taking no such steps. To do so would be counterproductive in terms of direct environmental impact, and would conflict with our objective of phasing out all single use bags, whether made from plastic or paper. While paper bags are derived from a renewable resource, their manufacturing process is resource intensive. Considerable quantities of oil are used, particularly for the extraction of wood pulp. Paper bags are also heavier than plastic bags and therefore require more energy to transport, resulting in greater emissions.

Rural Areas: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the budget is for the Rural Development Programme in each year from 2007-08 to 2010-11. (206092)

The total budget for 2007-08 was £392.4 million of which £192.4 million was Exchequer-funded and £200 million was funded from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The DEFRA Exchequer-funded RDPE budget for 2008-09 is £204.4 million. The EAFRD budgets to match this funding are still being finalised. DEFRA budgets for 2009-10 and 2010-11 have not yet been finalised.

The total RDPE budget for the seven year programme period 2007-13 (both national and EU funded) is £3.9 billion.

Stichling Hahn Hilbrich

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) purpose and (b) value was of each (i) contract and (ii) transaction between his Department and Stichling Hahn Hilbrich in each of the last five years; and on what date each such (A) contract was signed and (B) transaction took place. (204927)

From information held centrally, the core-Department has made no payments to Stichling Hahn Hilbrich since DEFRA was created in June 2001. Information on payments made by DEFRA outside of the core-Department is not held centrally and any information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Scotland

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department spent on (a) written consultations, (b) consultation roadshows and (c) stakeholder focus groups in each of the last three years. (205826)

In the last three years, the Scotland Office has incurred direct costs of £2,038 in 2007-08 on written consultations; nothing on consultation roadshows; and nothing on stakeholder focus groups.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultants have been contracted by his Department to conduct public participation activity in the last three years; and what the value of each such contract was. (205827)

The Scotland Office incurred no costs on consultants in the last three years.

House of Commons Commission

Freedom of Information: Requests for Data Held

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what further steps the Members Estimate Committee plans to take regarding freedom of information requests for data held by the House. (207226)

The House has decided not to seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the judgment of the divisional court of 16 May 2008.

It is planned that the publication scheme announced for the autumn will now include information down to receipt level.

Wales

Public Sector: Welsh Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what information he holds on the percentage of public sector jobs in Wales that require the ability to read or speak Welsh. (206066)

Defence

Air Force: Military Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force have the capability to conduct humanitarian airdrop operations. (206657)

[holding answer 19 May 2008]: RAF Hercules C130J and Ks are capable of conducting humanitarian airdrop operations.

Armed Forces: Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of service personnel were unable to take all their annual leave in each year since 2001. (206150)

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

Armed Forces: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many spare parts were lost in transit in 2007-08. (206141)

Data on losses are not held in such a way that enables the separate identification of ‘spare parts’.

Armed Forces: Widowed people

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many armed forces widows voluntarily surrendered their pensions on remarriage or cohabitation in each of the last five years; and what the associated saving to the defence budget was in each year. (169976)

An exercise is currently underway to provide detailed figures. I will write to the right hon. Member as soon as this exercise is completed.

Substantive answer from Derek Twigg to James Arbuthnot:

Further to my letter of 14 April 2008,1 am writing to inform you that the exercise undertaken by the Government Actuary's Department has recently been completed. I am now in a position to provide you with a full answer to your parliamentary question (PQ00549U refers).

You requested details of how many armed forces widows in each of the last five years voluntarily surrendered their pension on remarriage or cohabitation. The following table provides data in respect of the number of pension cessations due to remarriages and cohabitations over the last 25 years. You may agree that this level of detail provides a more comprehensive overview.

Number

1983-86

32

1987-89

54

1990-92

193

1993-95

200

1996-98

204

1999-2001

171

2002-04

230

2005-07

44

Total

1,128

As you are aware, entitlement to an AFPS 75 widow's non-attributable pension ceases in the event of remarriage or cohabitation and the onus is on individuals to notify the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) should there be a change in their personal circumstances. This is a compulsory requirement to comply with the AFPS 75 scheme rules.

Contrary to these statistics representing a saving to the defence budget, I should point out that costs would have been incurred if these spouses' pensions had not ceased on re-marriage or cohabitation. The estimated capitalised cost of paying back payments (plus interest) to those individuals represented in the table, whose pensions were ceased, as well as the cost of paying those pensions in future would be around £150 million.

The capitalised cost of removing the cessation condition completely for the future would be between £70 million and £350 million. The reason for the range in figures is that the AFPS 75 statistics are not consistent with the UK population remarriage statistics. This could be due to a reduction in the reporting of remarriage and cohabitation in recent years.

I am sorry that it has taken so long to provide a substantive reply, but it has required a bespoke exercise to be conducted to generate sufficient data for the scheme actuary to be able to analyse.

I hope this is helpful.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Bushmaster vehicles have been ordered; for what purpose they are intended; what the cost of the order is; in which theatre of operation they are to be used; when they will be delivered; and if he will make a statement. (206526)

I can confirm that we have ordered 24 Bushmaster vehicles at a unit cost of about £0.500 million, including spares. I am withholding the further information requested as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces

Army: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what targets he has for recruitment of Commonwealth citizens into the Army. (206114)

The Army currently has no target for the recruitment of Commonwealth citizens. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1577W, to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what visits were made by Army recruitment selection teams to Commonwealth countries in each year since 1997. (206115)

The Army does not actively recruit overseas with the exception of Gurkhas from Nepal. Any Commonwealth or Irish citizen residing overseas who wishes to apply to join the Army must travel to the UK at their own expense to undergo the selection process. However, in recent years the Army has sent selection teams to some Commonwealth countries at the specific request of the government concerned, and even then only when evidence suggests that there is sufficient interest among the local population to merit a visit. The selection teams screen out those who are not thought capable of meeting the full entry standards, to save them the cost of an abortive trip to the UK to undergo the recruitment selection process. The selection team will only see those who have made an application to the Overseas Cell of the Army's Recruiting Group.

Since 1997 Army Overseas Selection Teams have visited Fiji 10 times, St Vincent and the Grenadines three times and St Lucia twice. In addition a team has this month just commenced a visit to St Lucia and Belize.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the Army he estimates will be non-UK citizens in each year from 2009 to 2015. (206116)

Foreign and Commonwealth citizens (excluding Gurkhas) currently represent seven per cent. of trained Army strength compared to six per cent. as at March 2007 and six per cent. as at May 2006. No forecasts have been made for future years and it is therefore not possible to provide an estimate for each year from 2009 to 2015.

AWE Burghfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 835W, on AWE Burghfield, on whose authority live nuclear work was suspended at AWE Burghfield, as described in the Health and Safety Executive Quarterly Report for 1 October to 31 December 2007; on what date work was suspended; what work needs to take place before live nuclear work resumes; on what date work is expected to resume; on whose authority this will take place; and whether he was informed of this suspension; (205054)

(2) on what date the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate stopped live nuclear work at Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield; for what reason the work was stopped; when he expects work to recommence; and if he will make a statement.

As a result of temporary disruption due to flooding at AWE Burghfield, the nuclear site licensee, AWE plc, took a decision not to undertake live nuclear working while remedial work was undertaken. This decision was taken on 20 July 2007, in consultation with the nuclear installations inspectorate (NII) and with Ministry of Defence officials, and was consistent with our planned operational programmes. Precise details on these programmes, including live working dates, are being withheld for the purposes of safeguarding national security.

While necessary work to repair flood damage was ongoing, the opportunity was taken to maximise completion of existing work identified from AWE’s routine Periodic Review of Safety (PRS), as a parallel activity. Work varied in different facilities, examples include: replacing floors, plasterwork and doors; replacing electrical equipment; mechanical, electrical and lighting improvements and new vacuum and compressed air systems. Live working has already resumed. Facilities have been subject to rigorous scrutiny through AWE plc’s governance process with inspection by, and authority from, the NII.

Ministry of Defence officials maintain a constant dialogue with AWE plc and NII colleagues have been consulted throughout. The disruption did not have an adverse effect on the UK deterrent programme, and AWE Burghfield maintains its capability to support the deterrent safely under highly regulated arrangements.

BOWMAN Combat Radio System

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the average life of VHF manpack batteries for the Bowman radio is; (204001)

(2) what the average range of the Bowman radio is;

(3) how many representations his Department has received about the longevity of the VHF manpack batteries used in Bowman radios.

The Bowman VHF manpack battery has an average battery life of approximately four years, based on delivery of 300 life cycles. Within these parameters, the VHF radio battery is expected to last between six to 12 hours before it requires recharging, dependent on the intensity of use and the life cycle history.

There are several types of Bowman radio, which differ in range dependent on radio type, power, antennae, terrain and weather conditions. I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence is not aware of any representations specifically on the longevity of the VHF manpack batteries used in Bowman radios.

Cyprus

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 48WS, on UN Forces (Cyprus), what the mission of the 250 reservists will be once deployed to Cyprus. (206631)

The mission of the 250-plus reservists due to deploy to Cyprus in October will be to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) mandate, which is to prevent a recurrence of fighting, maintain a stable environment and de-escalate the military presence along the Buffer Zone in order to enable a just and lasting political solution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 48WS, on UN Forces (Cyprus), whether the 250 reservists have been notified of their future deployment. (206641)

The process of selection and training of Reservists to serve on the next deployment for Op TOSCA with the UN in Cyprus will culminate in full notice of call-out (which is a minimum of 28-days) prior to their mobilisation. This will not need to take place until later this year.

Defence Equipment and Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what amount of efficiency savings Defence Equipment and Support are required to make in 2007-08. (203202)

Under the spending review 2004 efficiency programme, the MOD is required to achieve £2.83 billion of cumulative input and output efficiency savings by the end of 2007-08. Defence Equipment and Support is forecasting a contribution of approximately £l billion towards this target, with an additional £150 million being forecast as a result of Logistics Transformation in the Front Line Commands.

Departmental Equality

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department met the Civil Service diversity targets set out on page 51 of Cabinet Office Annual Report 2007 by April 2008. (204703)

The latest published statistics against overall civil service targets were at October 2007, and are available on the Civil Service website at

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

The final measurement against the targets will be published in autumn 2008.

Since 2004, when the Cabinet Office set its diversity targets, the Ministry of Defence has made progress towards improving the diversity of its work force. In keeping with a number of Departments, the MOD was set its own targets within the overall civil service target. These targets recognised the lower baseline figure from which the MOD were working, but remained both meaningful and stretching.

We have, as a result, exceeded our targets for those with disabilities within the senior civil service, and narrowly missed our targets for women, and women in top management positions. Nevertheless, we have continued to make good progress in the right direction. We have, however, been unsuccessful in improving the numbers of ethnic minorities in our senior civil service, despite having initiatives in place to try and do so.

We are also making good progress in grades that feed into the senior civil service. For example, the MOD Fast Stream (the civil service graduate scheme), is now just over 48 per cent. women and over 9 per cent. ethnic minorities.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department’s Claims Annual Report for 2007-08. (206151)

Copies of the Ministry of Defence’s Claims Annual Report have been placed in the Library of the House each year since it was first published in 1997-98. The 2007-08 report is scheduled to be published in July 2008 and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance he has issued on security arrangements to ensure the safe functioning of his Department’s petroleum storage depots; and if he will place in the Library a copy of such guidance. (206156)

All Ministry of Defence establishments follow Government policy on the appropriate physical security measures to protect assets and personnel.

Release of the details of such measures could compromise both the security of such establishments and the health and safety of those employed there.

Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of (a) C-17 Globemaster, (b) C-130K Hercules, (c) C-130J Hercules, (d) Tristar, (e) VC-10 and (f) Nimrod aircraft are (i) in service, (ii) in the forward fleet and (iii) fit for purpose. (206152)

The number and percentage of C-17, C-130J, C-130K, Tristar, VC10 and Nimrod that are in the Forward Available Fleet and considered Fit for Purpose (FFP) during the month of April are detailed in the following table. Forward Available Fleet (FAF) aircraft are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes; aircraft undergoing scheduled depth maintenance, or planned routine fleet maintenance are not included. Aircraft defined as Fit for Purpose are those considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date. The figures shown are the average for the month of April 2008, and have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Number in service

Average number of aircraft in Forward Available Fleet

Average percentage of total fleet in FAF

Average number of aircraft Fit for Purpose

Average percentage FFP of Forward Available Fleet

C-171

5

3

60

2

74

Tristar

9

7

78

5

78

VC10

16

12

75

7

56

C-130K

19

12

62

9

77

C-130J

24

18

75

13

74

Nimrod MR2

15

10

63

6

65

Nimrod R1

3

2

50

1

61

1 The fifth C-17 was delivered for squadron service in this month and is only counted in the Fit for Purpose statistics from 10 April 2008.

Reserve Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilian employer complaints his Department received on the deployment of reserve forces in the last period for which figures are available; and what percentage of the total number of deployments this represents. (206155)

Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, the employer of a member of the reserve forces is entitled to apply for his or her employee’s exemption from call out or recall into permanent or mobilised service or to have the employee’s call out or recall deferred or revoked or, if the employee has been accepted into service, to seek his or her release from permanent service. Such an application is made to a service adjudication officer, whose decision or determination can be challenged by way of a re-hearing of the application by a Reserve Forces Appeal Tribunal, a judicial body independent of the Ministry of Defence.

As detailed in the following table, in 10 cases only have applications for exemption, etc., by employers been decided at Reserve Forces Appeal Tribunals, established on 1 April 1997, since which more than 17,000 members of the reserve forces have been deployed on mobilised service.

Reserve Forces Appeal Tribunals—employer exemption cases —1 April 1997 to 16 May 2008

Number

Appeals registered

152

Appeals later withdrawn or settled out of court

42

Appeals decided at tribunal

110

Appeals decided for the appellant employer

2

Appeals decided for the Respondent Service Authority

18

1 One case only since March 2004.

Russia: Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on which occasions RAF aircraft have flown sorties in response to unannounced incursions by Russian military aircraft into areas adjacent to United Kingdom airspace in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (206366)

In the last 12 months no Russian aircraft have penetrated UK national airspace. However, Russian aircraft have approached or entered the NATO Air Policing Area (APA) for which the UK has responsibility.

I am withholding the exact dates that Russian military aircraft entered the APA as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. However, the following table gives the number of days within a month that Quick Reaction Alert aircraft have been launched to identify Russian military aircraft approaching or entering the APA.

Number

2007

May

0

June

0

July

2

August

1

September

3

October

4

November

5

December

2

2008

January

2

February

0

March

1

April

1

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency: Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, (1) what steps he will take to (a) minimise the potential for disruption and (b) retain (i) skills and (ii) service levels in relation to the proposed re-location of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency; and if he will make a statement; (204670)

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of the Business Case for the re-location of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what estimate he has made of the costs to his Department associated with re-locating the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency; and if he will make a statement;

(4) when he plans to make a statement on the proposed re-location of the Service personnel and Veterans Agency.

I will write shortly to the hon. Member regarding my decision about the proposed relocation of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency functions undertaken currently at Innsworth Station.

Substantive answer from Derek Twigg to Andrew Murrison:

You may recall that I wrote to you on 22 April (ref: D/US of S/DT MC02052/2008) in reply to your letter of 2 April (ref: AM/JCP/29/020408) enclosing one from your constituent, Ms K Eastwood of 17 Bush Court, Priors Road, Prestbury, Cheltenham who expressed her concern about the proposed relocation of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) from Innsworth to Gosport and Norcross.

As you will be aware from my letter to you on this issue, I undertook to write to you once I had made my decision. I trust you will also accept this as my written reply to your written questions ref 204670,204676, 204677 and 204678.

I have considered carefully all of the issues surrounding the options outlined within the Future Accommodation Study (FAS) for the relocation of the SPVA functions from Innsworth, and have decided that SPVA should retain a four site structure based at Centurion Building, Gosport, Tomlinson House, Norcross, Kentigern House, Glasgow and Building 247, Innsworth (i.e. Option One under the FAS).

While I recognise that there would be business benefits in the medium term to be gained from moving the SPVA functions currently undertaken at Innsworth, I consider that the risks associated with moving the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and the MOD Medal Office at this time, given the vital role and the excellent service they provide, to outweigh these benefits. Therefore, I have decided that, on balance, those functions currently undertaken at SPVA Innsworth should remain there for the foreseeable future.

Territorial Army

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the required complement of Territorial Army driver training instructors is; and how many such instructors there are. (206209)

There is a requirement for each TA unit to have one driving instructor on strength with two in infantry battalions. This equates to a requirement for 128 driving instructors in TA units. This requirement may be filled by either TA or regular personnel within the TA unit.

There are 66 members of the TA whose current role includes Defence Driving Instructor duties. This is supplemented by the use of contractors to deliver driver training.

Territorial Army: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Territorial Army personnel from Northern Ireland took part in active service outside the United Kingdom in each of the last five years. (205937)

The number of Territorial Army (TA) personnel, with their permanent residence in Northern Ireland, who have been mobilised for operations or in support of operations outside the United Kingdom in each year since 2003 is as follows:

Number of TA personnel mobilised

2003

280

2004

173

2005

70

2006

23

2007

108

2008 (as at 15 May 2008)

43

The duration of mobilised service is generally 11 and a half months (invariably spanning two calendar years) and includes a period of pre-deployment training and integration, the operational tour itself, decompression, demobilisation and a mandatory period of post operational leave.

Transport

Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the membership of the External Advisory Group looking at airport-related issues is; on what dates it has met since September 2004; and which of those meetings have been attended by Ministers. (206138)

The membership of the Department for Transport's External Advisory Group looking at airport-related issues is:

Air Transport Users Council

Airport Operators Association

Aviation Environment Federation

BAA

Board of airline representatives in the UK

British Air Transport Association

British Airways

Confederation of British Industry

DHL

Friends of the Earth

Manchester Airports Group

Scottish Executive

Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group

Sustainable Development Commission

TUI Travel

Virgin Atlantic

Since September 2004, it has met on the following dates:

Date

2004

16 September

2005

4 February

16 June

28 October

2006

28 February

6 July

18 September

1 November

2007

16 July

15 October

2008

29 February

None of the meetings was attended by a Minister.

Airports: Security Guards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will impose a three-year residency requirement for foreign nationals seeking employment as security workers at UK airports. (206680)

We announced in December 2007 that the Government have commissioned an independent review, led by Stephen Boys Smith, into the current arrangements for pre-employment checks in the transport industry. The review is looking at the arrangements regarding foreign nationals working at UK airports and will report to Ministers in the summer.

Aviation: Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if she will make it her policy to seek to limit and reduce the impact of aircraft noise on (a) National Parks and (b) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and if she will make a statement; (205238)

(2) what assessment her Department has made of the effect on (a) National Parks and (b) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty of (i) current and (ii) projected patterns of aircraft noise; and if she will make a statement;

(3) what steps she has taken to rural-proof her Department’s policy on aircraft noise.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for approving the use of UK airspace, as part of its role to develop and enforce a policy for the sustainable use of that airspace. The process for making changes to airspace is governed by the CAA’s Airspace Change Process under which it is for airspace change sponsors, such as NATS, to develop proposals and then consult on them.

The Secretary of State for Transport has issued Directions (2001) to the CAA requiring it to take into account the need to reduce, control and mitigate as far as possible the environmental impacts of civil aircraft operations. Supporting Guidance (2002) encourages the CAA, as far as possible to avoid routes below 7,000 ft over built-up areas and to pursue policies that help to preserve the tranquillity of the countryside, such as avoiding overflight of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where this does not add to the environmental burdens on more densely populated areas.

The Directions and Guidance are on the Department for Transport’s website:

www.dft.gov.uk

Cycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures are in place to encourage an increase in the number of people taking the national standards for cycle training. (206772)

We announced in March this year grants of over £3 million to local authorities to train an additional 80,000 children to the national standard. We are also making available £1 million for direct cycle training grants to schools through the School Sports Partnerships. This will provide funds for around a further 25,000 children to receive national standard training.

This builds on the 46,000 children for whom we have already funded training via local authorities and School Sports Partnerships.

Further grants will be made available, through Cycling England over the next few years to achieve our target of providing cycle training for 500,000 children by 2012.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in meeting the Government’s national cycling strategy objective to increase cycle journeys to eight per cent. of journeys by 2012. (206773)

The White Paper on the Future of Transport (CM 6324) published in July 2004 announced a move away from the “one size fits all” national target towards working closely with individual local authorities to put in place sharper, more focused, local plans and targets for walking and cycling.

We announced in January a six fold increase in Cycling England’s budget to £140 million over the next three years to work with local authorities and others to increase cycling.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport 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. (203853)

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

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much her Department spent on (a) written consultations, (b) consultation roadshows and (c) stakeholder focus groups in each of the last three years. (205844)

Consultation exercises form an integral part of policymaking and as such are funded from policy teams' budgets rather than from a consultation budget, and so a total cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projects sponsored by her Department were subject to Gateway reviews in each of the last four years; what status each project was assigned under such reviews; how much her Department spent on Gateway reviews in each such year; and if she will make a statement. (205867)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: There are three types of Gateway reviews: high, medium and low risk. Some of these reviews are organised and recorded centrally and information about these is provided in a table, which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. Other reviews are delivered and recorded locally and information about these could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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.

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. The Department has spent around £115,000 per annum in this way.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Industrial Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what involvement the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has in civil contingency planning; and what impact the industrial action by agency staff has had on civil contingency plans. (206782)

As a Category 1 responder under the terms of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) co-operates and shares information with other responders, planning to prevent and respond to emergencies, planning for business continuity and warning and informing the public in the event of an emergency. This is mostly achieved by engaging with local resilience fora.

The importance of civil contingencies planning has been recognised by the MCA within its revised management structure and has been given additional resources.

The MCA is not aware of any instance where staff have withdrawn from civil contingencies planning activities in the last 12 months as a result of industrial action.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have withdrawn from civil contingencies planning activities as a result of industrial action in the last 12 months. (206582)

The MCA is not aware of any instance where staff have withdrawn from civil contingencies planning activities in the last 12 months as a result of industrial action.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff joined the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in each year since 1997; and how many left the Agency in each of these years, broken down by reason for ending employment. (206713)

Information is available only for 2003 onwards.

The number of starters at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, by year, is shown in the following table:

Starters

2003

193

2004

155

2005

151

2006

139

2007

140

2008 (to date)

30

Exit questionnaires for leavers are not compulsory and have been used only since 2004. The number of leavers, by year, with primary reason for leaving is shown in the following table:

Primary exit reason

Total

2003

No reason

119

Pay

1

2003 Total

120

2004

Change of career

15

Dislike job/Unhappy with present job

3

Dislike of working methods

1

Family commitments

3

Further education

8

Lack of promotion prospects

2

Lack of training

1

Moving to another location

14

No reason

69

Pay

5

Seeking more responsibility

2

Unhappy with management

2

Unhappy with work location

1

2004 Total

126

2005

Change of career

13

Dislike job/Unhappy with present job

5

Family commitments

3

Further education

10

Lack of promotion prospects

3

Moving to another location

13

No reason

85

Pay

5

Seeking more responsibility

5

Travel to work difficulties/Expense

3

Unhappy with hours of work

1

Unhappy with management

3

Unhappy with work environment

1

2005 Total

150

2006

Bullying/Harassment

1

Change of career

22

Dislike job/Unhappy with present job

4

Dislike of working methods

1

Family commitments

2

Further education

7

Lack of promotion prospects

6

Moving to another location

12

No reason

72

Overworked

1

Pay

7

Seeking more responsibility

2

Travel to work difficulties/Expense

2

Unhappy with hours of work

3

Unhappy with management

2

2006 Total

144

2007

Change of career

26

Dislike job/Unhappy with present job

2

Family commitments

3

Further education

9

Lack of promotion prospects

4

Moving to another location

8

No reason

71

Overworked

1

Pay

8

Seeking more responsibility

4

Travel to work difficulties/Expense

2

Unhappy with management

2

2007 Total

140

2008 (to date)

Change of career

10

Family commitments

1

Lack of promotion prospects

1

Moving to another location

7

No reason

29

Pay

7

Seeking more responsibility

1

Unhappy with work environment

1

2008 Total (to date)

57

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff who started employment with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency since 1997 left employment within (a) one year and (b) two years. (206714)

Information is available only for 2003 onwards.

The numbers of staff who started employment with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency since 1997 that have left within (a) one year and (b) two years is shown in the following table:

(a) Left within 1 year

(b) Left within 2 years (but greater than 1)

2003

31

8

2004

14

17

2005

16

17

2006

22

13

2007

23

18

2008 (to date)

11

8

Total

117

81

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (a) employs and (b) employed in 1997, broken down by (i) grade and (ii) office. (206715)

Information is only available from 2002.

The number of staff employed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is shown for 2002 and for 2008 by (i) grade and (ii) office location is shown in the following tables.

(i) by grade

Headcount

Grade

2002

2008

AA

172

182

AO

340

369

EO

261

268

HEO

122

128

SEO

134

171

Grade 7

98

91

Grade 6

20

17

SCS

3

2

Total

1150

1228

(ii) by office

Headcount

Office

2002

2008

Aberdeen

61

61

Belfast

34

38

Brixham

34

31

Cardiff

46

49

Clyde

55

61

Dover

39

36

Falmouth

38

40

Forth

27

27

Highcliffe

18

18

Holyhead

26

28

Hull

20

23

Number

35

36

Leith

4

2

Liverpool

40

44

London

10

8

Milford

33

29

Orpington

12

15

Plymouth

9

9

Portland

29

31

Shetland

21

26

Solent

33

33

Spring Place

358

417

Stockton

5

7

Stornoway

30

32

Swansea

47

42

Thames

31

36

Tyne

21

15

Yarmouth

34

34

Total

1150

1228

Ministers: Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Lewes of 2 April 2008, Official Report, column 1020W, on Ministers: official cars, which former Ministers have been provided with cars by the Government Car and Despatch Agency since 1 January 2005. (204778)

The Government are committed to publishing an annual list of the numbers and cost of Government cars provided to Departments. The list for 2007-08, which will be published before the summer recess, will include information relating to cars provided to former Ministers.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many exemptions from road tax in each band were granted to disabled people in the last 12 months. (206788)

There were approximately 1.12 million vehicle excise duty exemptions granted to disabled people during 2007.

Public Transport: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what proportion of bus and train providers she expects to have fulfilled their accessibility targets by (a) 2010 and (b) 2020; (206610)

(2) what steps her Department has taken to encourage bus and train providers to meet the deadlines under Part 5 of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 for accessibility;

(3) what proportion of bus and train providers have met the accessibility goals set by the Government.

Latest figures showed that 58 per cent. of buses were low floor and wheelchair accessible at 31 March 2007. This rises to over 80 per cent. in urban areas and 100 per cent. in London. The Disability Discrimination Act requires that all buses with a carrying capacity exceeding 22 passengers and used on local or scheduled services must comply with accessibility regulations by the start of 2017.

Over 4,700 accessible rail vehicles have been introduced into service since 1998 when the accessibility regulations took effect.

Railways: Stansted Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if officials in her Department will meet representatives of Arriva Trains Cross Country in advance of decisions related to the December 2008 timetable change to discuss the provision of earlier weekday and weekend services between Peterborough and Stansted Airport. (206028)

There are currently no plans to meet representatives of Arriva Cross Country Trains Ltd. to discuss the provision of earlier services between Peterborough and Stansted airport.

Provided Arriva Cross Country meets the minimum specification for this route, as set out in its franchise agreement, any decision on operating additional services is one for Arriva to take. Such decisions would be made on a commercial basis to meet passenger demand.

Railways: Tickets

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent discussions her Department has had with train operating companies on the introduction of smartcard ticketing; and if she will make a statement; (206204)

(2) what cost-benefit analysis her Department has undertaken into smartcard ticketing across the rail network.

The Department for Transport, Transport for London and train operators are working together on the acceptance of Oyster Pay as You Go on rail services in the London Travelcard Zones and the acceptance of ITSO Smartcards on Oyster equipment. Commercial and contractual negotiations are taking place.

The introduction of ITSO smartcards has been mandated in the most recently let franchises—South Western, West Midlands, East Midlands and Intercity East Coast, with the New Cross Country Franchise accepting smartcard tickets issued by other operators.

The costs and benefits of these smartcard schemes have been demonstrated in the confidential bidding process for these franchises.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of road accidents which resulted in death or serious injury involved drivers aged (a) over 75, (b) between 40 and 74 and (c) 18 to 39 years old in the last 12 months. (206952)

The latest reported personal injury road accident data available are for 2006. Data for 2007 data will be published on 26 June 2008.

In 2006, 4 per cent. of reported personal injury road accidents resulting in death or serious injury involved drivers aged 75 and over, 50 per cent. involved drivers aged between 40 and 74 years old and 65 per cent. involved drivers aged between 18 and 39 years old.

The total of these percentages exceed 100 per cent. as some accidents involve more than one driver. Information on damage only accidents is not collected.

Speed Limits: Road Signs and Markings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the criteria are for the use of speed advisory signs on motorways; who is responsible for authorising the (a) operation of such signs and (b) the advisory speed displayed; what mechanisms are in place to provide assurance that such advice is appropriate; and if she will make a statement. (206521)

The criteria that are used to set electronic speed advisory signs on the motorway are contained in the Policy and Procedures for the use of matrix signals by the Regional Control Centres which has been agreed between the Highways Agency (HA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). These signs can be set automatically by the system software or manually by the HA Regional Control Centre staff (RCC). The decision to set signals should be based on the information available and is the responsibility of the officer (Traffic Officer or police in charge of the incident at the scene) or the operator in the control room. Where an advisory speed limit sign is set manually by the operator, the decision on the advisory speed displayed is based upon information received from a number of sources including CCTV, traffic officers and police at the scene.

An RCC operator who has set signals manually has to monitor the situation to revise the signal setting as necessary, to prevent the setting of a misleading or contradictory series of signals and VMS messages and remove them when the incident has cleared. The automatic system will clear the signal once the incident has cleared.

Transport: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what analytical issues are subject to consideration by the Eddington Friends group; and if she will make a statement. (206139)

The Eddington Friends consider a broad range of implementation issues arising from the ‘Towards a Sustainable Transport System’ report.

This includes advice on technical appraisal, the appraisal of wider productivity impacts, climate change analysis and analysis of scheme costs and benefits.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the next meeting of his Department's Burma stakeholder group will be held; and what the Government's objectives for the meeting are. (206023)

The most recent meeting of Burma stakeholders took place on 14 May, at which there was an exchange of views on the situation following Cyclone Nargis. There is no set date for the next meeting but it is our intention to maintain regular dialogue with stakeholders. The objective for all our stakeholder meetings is to exchange views and information with those groups and individuals that have an interest in Burma's future.

China: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the sentences handed down in China to demonstrators and human rights activists over Tibet; and if he will make a statement. (206282)

We are deeply concerned about the recent sentencing of Tibetans in connection with the demonstrations in Lhasa in March. Together, with EU partners, we continue to urge China to guarantee fair trials for all the accused, including access for defendants to Counsel of their choice and access for independent observers to trials.

Cuba: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of political prisoners in Cuba; and what recent representations he has made to the Government of Cuba on this matter. (206203)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) on 13 May 2008, Official Report, column 1478W.

The EU Common Position on Cuba calls for the release of all political prisoners. We regularly raise the situation of political prisoners with the Cuban authorities, both in London and Havana, and call for their immediate release. Most recently, I raised the release of political prisoners with Jaime Crombert Hernandez-Baquero, Vice President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, in November 2007 and Cuban Vice Foreign Minister, Eumelio Caballero, in April 2008.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many unique visitors there have been to each site on his Department's bloggers platform in the last 12 months. (206179)

The statistics available to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the blogging platform are for the site as a whole and show the number of sessions. From September 2007 (when the site was set up) to 14 May 2008, there were 2,393,244 individual sessions on the platform. The statistics are not broken down by individual blog, nor can we say how many unique visitors there were.

Simon Mann

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he was last given any substantive information about the (a) welfare of, (b) proposed trial of and (c) other matters relevant to Mr. Simon Mann by the Equatorial Guinea authorities. (206290)

The Equatorial Guinea authorities have recently given us assurances about Simon Mann’s welfare. We have not been given any further information about the proposed trial.

Somalia: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to engage civil society in Somalia in the peace process. (205754)

Our high commission in Nairobi maintains regular contact with representatives of civil society groups in Somalia. In the UK, we maintain contact with representatives of the British Somali communities who also have an important role in supporting civil society groups in Somalia.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdalla, held an international civil society meeting in Uganda from 11-13 March 2008, which was funded by the European Commission and attended by high commission officials. The meeting explored ways for civil society to contribute to reconciliation and peace building in Somalia.

The UK supports the efforts of the UN Special Representative for Somalia to engage with civil society and to help bring about social and political reconciliation that will lead to greater respect for human rights and religious freedoms for all Somalis.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a UN Security Council Resolution on Somalia addressing piracy issues is expected. (205803)

The UN Security Council is currently considering a draft Resolution on piracy, which has been co-sponsored by the UK. We hope the Resolution will be adopted as soon as possible once discussion in the Council is complete.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the organisation of peace talks on Darfur in London between the Government of Sudan, rebel groups and other stakeholders, following the Prime Minister's offer in April 2008 to host such talks; and whether a date has been agreed for the talks. (205804)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has offered further UK support for international efforts, including a possible meeting in the UK, if that would help revitalise the Darfur political process. We are exploring the scope for this with the UN, the African Union, Sudan's neighbours, international partners, the Government of Sudan and the Darfur Movements.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have been held with the AU and UN Special Envoys to Darfur, Salid Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson; and what the outcome was of those discussions. (205805)

We have had contacts with the African Union (AU) and UN Special Envoys at ministerial and official level. We also have regular contacts with their staff. These discussions are part of our ongoing efforts to support AU/UN activity to move the Darfur political process forward.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) troops and (b) civilian personnel made up the UN-AU Joint Hybrid Mission to Darfur on 1 May; and if he will make a statement. (205806)

As of 1 May the UN-African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur consisted of approximately 7,500 troops, 1,700 police, and 1,500 civilian personnel. We are working closely with the UN, the AU and international partners to support the full deployment of the mission as soon as possible.

Uganda: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance he is providing to the process of peace-building in Northern Uganda. (205781)

Over the last two years, the UK has provided over £40 million in humanitarian aid, and other assistance, to Northern Uganda, These resources have been used to help displaced people return to their homes and support other activities identified as priorities in the Government of Uganda’s peace, recovery and development plan for the north. The UK has also contributed £1 million to the Juba Initiative Fund, to help support the Juba peace talks.

Health

Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to raise public awareness of the size of alcohol units in relation to standard measures served; and whether his Department has undertaken research to discover levels of public awareness of appropriate levels of alcohol consumption. (204901)

On 19 May, the Government launched the first major advertising campaign to raise awareness about units and to help people to estimate how much alcohol they drink. The Government will spend £10 million this year on national alcohol campaigns.

The units strand of the Know Your Limits campaign includes a series of adverts on television, radio, billboards and press. A new online calculator can be downloaded to help people add up the units in their drinks. There are free materials, including posters and leaflets.

The inclusion of unit content and sensible drinking advice on most drinks labels by the end of 2008, by agreement with the alcohol industry, will also raise awareness of units and health risks.

The “Drinking: adults’ behaviour and knowledge in 2007” report is based on information collected by the Office for National Statistics Omnibus survey covering adults in the United Kingdom. The latest report published in January is the seventh in a series and includes information on peoples’ knowledge of alcohol units and benchmarks (the sensible drinking guidelines on regular daily intake), their awareness of unit labelling, what people drink, where and with whom and whether they had discussed drinking with a medical professional.

The report found that in Great Britain in 2007, 85 per cent. of adults had heard of measuring alcohol consumption in units, compared with 79 per cent. in 1997. It also found that there has been an increase from 54 per cent. in 1997 to 69 per cent. in 2007 in the proportion of adults who had heard of the sensible drinking guidelines on regular daily intake. In 2007, around 40 per cent. of these adults did not know what the benchmarks were.

The Government commissioned a YouGov poll to inform the new alcohol units campaign described above. The YouGov poll shows that the majority of men (78 per cent.) and women (76 per cent.) do not know how many units are in a large glass of wine and that 56 per cent. of men and 60 per cent. of women do not know how many units are in a double gin and tonic.

Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of people attending accident and emergency departments in England presented with (a) alcohol-related conditions and (b) injuries in which alcohol was a contributory cause in each of the last three years, broken down by region. (204380)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the numbers of people admitted to hospital accident and emergency departments as a result of binge drinking in the latest period for which figures are available. (206020)

Information on numbers of people who attend accident and emergency departments as a result of binge drinking is not held centrally.

Blood: Medical Treatments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS treatments involving (a) adult and (b) cord blood stem cells are ongoing; and if he will make a statement. (206128)

One of the most successful exploitations of adult stem cells to date has been in the use of bone marrow transplantation for a variety of conditions including leukaemia and lymphoma. More than 2,500 bone marrow transplantations are performed each year in the United Kingdom. More recently, cord blood stem cells have been used as an alternative source of stem cells. In the past three years, the NHS Cord Blood Bank has issued both unrelated and directed cord blood units to treat 115 patients and these numbers continue to grow annually.

Cancer: East of England

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department has issued to the East of England Strategic Health Authority on the provision of oncological services in the region in the last three years; (205397)

(2) what provisions there are in the private finance initiative agreement between his Department and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the number of (a) oncological procedures and (b) head and neck cancer procedures to be carried out at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

It is for local primary care trusts (PCTs) in conjunction with their strategic health authorities (SHAs) and other stakeholders to plan and commission services for their local populations, including oncological services. The Department has not issued any guidance to the East of England SHA on the provision of oncological services in the region.

Since May 2005, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued Improving Outcomes Guidance (IOG) to the national health service on four cancer tumour sites—Children and Young People with Cancer (August 2005), Skin Tumours including melanoma (February 2006), Sarcoma (March 2006) and Brain (June 2006). The IOG series sets out recommendations on how services for patients with cancers should be organised in order to ensure the best outcomes. Implementation of NICE guidance is a developmental standard and the Healthcare Commission is responsible for assessing progress of healthcare organisations towards achieving developmental standards.

Private finance initiative contracts are held locally between NHS trusts and the contractors, and contain no clauses for the provision of clinical services.

Cervical Cancer: Screening

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of women in (a) Hemsworth constituency and (b) England received cervical smear tests within the recommended period of time in the last 12 months. (206042)

I refer my hon. Friend to the response I gave the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds) on 31 January 2008, Official Report, columns 617-36W, which provides information on cervical screening coverage across England, broken down by primary care trust.

Coverage is the percentage of eligible women who have had a cervical screening test result in the previous five years.

Drugs: Rehabilitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions were dispensed for (a) subutex, (b) methadone and (c) other opiate replacements in each strategic health authority in each of the last five years. (197960)

The information requested is set out in the following tables.

The Government have made a substantial investment in drug treatment with £604 million being spent in 2007-08 compared to £287 million in 2001-02. The increased dispensing is largely a reflection of the significant increase in the numbers of patients in drug treatment over the past 10 years, increases in dosages and people staying in treatment longer (a measure of effectiveness) thereby receiving more prescriptions.

Prescription items for subutex1 dispensed in the community in England

Thousand

Strategic health authority (SHA)

February to December 20032

2004

2005

2006

2007

East of England

22.4

38.8

45.1

51.9

53.3

London

21.1

34.9

49.6

68.4

71.4

North East

17.0

29.8

35.0

39.5

42.0

North West

41.2

63.0

71.4

85.9

87.3

South Central

26.6

41.7

47.2

51.1

49.6

South East Coast

17.1

30.8

32.2

33.3

32.4

South West

29.2

40.6

45.9

53.3

59.4

West Midlands

48.2

66.8

69.3

72.4

71.8

Yorkshire and the Humber

48.8

82.4

92.9

104.8

103.3

Total

292.0

462.8

532.7

610.8

621.0

Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA).

Prescription items for methadone3 (all formulations) dispensed in the community in England

Thousand

SHA

February to December 20032

2004

2005

2006

2007

East of England

104.8

125.7

137.4

151.4

167.3

London

219.7

253.5

264.6

278.4

299.0

North East

95.6

141.5

167.2

183.2

193.6

North West

404.8

455.9

473.3

492.9

514.5

South Central

70.8

76.6

91.3

102.3

117.8

South East Coast

68.8

75.1

78.7

89.4

108.0

South West

125.8

150.8

169.7

182.5

204.7

West Midlands

141.6

188.1

226.6

265.8

291.8

Yorkshire and the Humber

176.4

232.5

293.9

355.9

394.2

Total

1,486.7

1,810.0

2,044.0

2,277.1

2,491.9

Source:PCA.

Prescription items for suboxone4 dispensed in the community in England

Thousand

SHA

2006

2007

East of England

0

0.9

London

0

0.2

North East

0

0.3

North West

0

2.9

South Central

0

3.3

South East Coast

0

0.6

South West

0

2.9

West Midlands

<0.1

1.0

Yorkshire and the Humber

0

6.3

Total

<0.1

19.3

1 Subutex is a brand name for buprenorphine and is a substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence. 2 The prescription pricing division of the NHS business services authority keeps data for only 60 months. The figures provided cover the period from February 2003 up to the end of 2007. The SHA is the one in which the prescription was dispensed. 3 Methadone is prescribed for use in the treatment of opioid drug addiction, however it is also used in the treatment of cough in terminal disease and analgesia. The figures reflect prescriptions dispensed for all indications and formulations. 4 The only other substantive treatment for opioid drug dependence is suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This was not dispensed earlier than 1 December 2006. Source: PCA.

Exercise

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he has given to subsidising participation in physical activity and sport to effect improvements in quality adjusted life years. (205885)

As stated in the “Healthy Weight Healthy Lives: A Cross Government Strategy for England”, the Department is considering a range of different kinds of interventions to tackle the burden of lifestyle diseases. We are in discussions with the fitness industry and other stakeholders about ways in which we can encourage more people to become more physically active. Copies of the strategy are available in the Library.

The Department is building its knowledge of which interventions are most effective in encouraging individuals and families to change their behaviour and will provide resources to seek to pilot and evaluate a range of different approaches to encourage healthy living.

Food: Salt

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will issue guidance to sub-groups of the population that may experience adverse consequences from restricted sodium consumption, with particular reference to pregnant women, the elderly and those who take regular strenuous exercise. (206583)

In 2003, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published its report, ‘Salt and Health’, and recommended that the average daily intake of salt by all adults should be reduced to six grams per day. SACN found no evidence to suggest that such a reduction in salt intake would have adverse effects on any particular group in the population including pregnant women, the elderly and those who are exposed to conditions that cause extreme sweating. We are not aware of any substantive evidence published since the SACN report to suggest any adverse effects on reducing salt intake to these sub-groups. Copies of the SACN report are available in the Library.

Hospital Beds

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of hospital beds in England were in single rooms at the latest date for which figures are available. (203402)

For the existing health care estate in England, the latest figures show that the proportion of available beds that are in single rooms has risen from 22.6 per cent. in 2002-03 to 27.9 per cent. in 2006-07.

For new hospital developments, the Department's guidance is that the proportion of single rooms should aim to be 50 per cent., but should not fall below 20 per cent. and must be higher than the facilities they are replacing. Each trust makes an informed choice regarding the appropriate percentage of single bed provision based on practical considerations such as site restrictions, affordability as well as clinical and operational limitations. The policy and design guidance for the provision of single rooms in mental health accommodation is 100 per cent.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department last met (i) stem cell and embryo scientists and (ii) medical researchers to discuss matters included in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. (203449)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, last met scientists and medical researchers formally to discuss the Bill on 12 March 2008. I last met scientists and medical researchers formally on 29 April 2008.

NHS: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ensure that contracts which primary care trusts, NHS trusts and foundation trusts have with private sector providers of health and social care allow members of local involvement networks to enter the premises of providers to monitor the quality of the work they provide under such contracts. (206242)

On 1 April 2008 we issued Directions to organisations commissioning health and social care services. Under these Directions those organisations must ensure that new contracts with independent providers allow for authorised representatives of local involvement networks (LINks) to enter and view, and observe the carrying on of activities in, premises which are owned or controlled by the independent provider. The Directions entitled: “Local Involvement Networks—Briefing for independent providers”, have been placed in the Library and are available on the Department’s website at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_083837

The Directions do not apply to national health service foundation trusts (FTs). The standard NHS contract for acute services contains provisions to ensure that new NHS FTs or those whose existing contracts have expired comply, in their role as providers, with all reasonable requests from LINks either to enter and view services or to provide information.

NHS: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements there are for local involvement network (LINk) members to be provided with legal indemnity by his Department when they undertake activities on behalf of a LINk. (206243)

There are no central arrangements to provide indemnity for those involved in local involvement networks. This is a matter to be determined locally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make provision for a financial loss allowance for members of local involvement networks; (206244)

(2) if he will take steps to ensure local involvement network (LINk) members are paid expenses by the host organisation when they undertake activities on behalf of a LINk.

It is for each local involvement network (LINk) to determine its own policy regarding payment and reimbursement, including the payment of allowances and expenses. We have reminded LINks, and host organisations, that the Department’s “Reward and Recognition: The principles and practice of service user payment and reimbursement in health and social care” document provides a useful guide on these matters. Copies of this publication are available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether budgets for local involvement networks will be increased to reflect the additional responsibilities they have compared with patients’ forums. (206245)

Local involvement networks operate in different ways and are funded differently from the way patients’ forums operated and were funded and the methods are not comparable. The amounts provided to local authorities (LAs) have been worked out according to the needs of each LA area. We have no plans to review the funding allocations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will consider the merits of funding local involvement networks to help establish networks to monitor (a) cancer, (b) mental health, (c) ambulance and (d) other services commissioned regionally and nationally. (206247)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) on 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 96W.

NHS: Questionnaires

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, columns 771-3W, on the NHS: questionnaires, what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take as a result of the findings of each survey. (206029)

Pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, columns 771-3W, the Department does not collect, centrally, information on surveys it commissions. To identify individual surveys, in order to provide information in the format requested would attract disproportionate cost.

NHS: Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 9 May 2008, Official Report, column 1258W, on working hours, when the Sheffield research will be published. (205860)

The independent research on the impact of the European Working Time Directive on medical training by Sheffield university will be published in the summer.

Obesity: Surgery

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients had gastric bypass surgery in each hospital trust in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (206079)

The information has been placed in the Library. The table gives the number of finished consultant episodes for 2004-05 to 2006-07.

Palliative Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the proportion of all paid-for prescriptions which were for a long-term condition in the latest period for which figures are available, broken down by condition. (206072)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people with long-term conditions aged between 16 and 60 years. (206073)

We have made no estimate of the number of people with long-term conditions aged between 16 and 60.

Pathology

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many reviews of histopathology services were conducted in each strategic health authority in each of the last three years; (206074)

(2) how many histopathology samples were reviewed by NHS trusts following concerns about discrepancies in histopathology laboratories in each of the last three years.

The Department does not routinely collect information centrally about reviews of histopathology services or the number of histopathology samples reviewed by national health service trusts.

Patient Choice Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many patients have been affected by a Choose and Book system error since the system’s inception; (205570)

(2) how many times unique reference numbers for Choose and Book have been transposed between patients since the system’s inception.

We are aware of only one choose and book system error that has affected patients. Out of 8.5 million bookings made, the error is known to have affected 272 bookings, between 11 April 2008 and 24 April 2008 through the transposition of unique reference numbers.

The affected cases were quickly identified and action was taken to minimise any potential impact for patients. All hospitals and patients were contacted where the possibility had arisen of notification of incorrect appointments resulting from the error. In many cases it was established that no adverse effect on patients had occurred and at no time was patient confidentiality compromised.

The supplier made corrections to the system and no recurrence of the problem has been experienced since 24 April 2008. While no further recurrence is expected in future, an automated process has been put in place to identify the problem immediately if that should happen.

Pharmacy: General Practitioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness implications of the plans to cease dispensing by doctors. (206326)

There are no plans to cease dispensing by doctors. Dispensing doctors play a pivotal role in ensuring continued access to pharmaceutical services and providing patient care for those who need it.

The White Paper “Pharmacy in England; Building on Strengths—Delivering the Future”, looks at aligning the future provision of pharmaceutical services and sets out proposals to look at the market entry criteria for doctors and pharmacists—but no decision has yet been taken on the criteria to be used in future for patients to receive pharmaceutical services from their general practitioner. Copies of the White Paper are available in the Library.

A consultation paper will be launched in late summer after the publication of the primary and community care strategy. We will consider fully the impact of any proposals on patients, the national health service and contractors.

Prescriptions: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, columns 1810-11W, on prescriptions: ICT, what the reasons are for the difference between the number of electronic prescriptions service (EPS) prescription messages generated by GPs and the number of EPS dispense notification messages sent by pharmacies. (205571)

During the transition from paper based prescriptions to electronic prescriptions, we are committed to ensuring that patients have the choice of going to any community pharmacy or other dispensing contractor to get their prescriptions whether they have the appropriate information technology capability or not. This results in a larger number of electronic prescription messages being issued than are dispensed.

Prostate Cancer

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk of 9 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1226-32W, on prostate cancer, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the trend in the number of diagnoses of prostate cancer since 1997. (206403)

The main reason for the increase in the number of prostate cancers diagnosed is the introduction of the Prostate Specific Antigen test in the early 1990s, although this increase was on top of an existing underlying trend of more cases.

Alongside this increase in prostate cancers diagnosed the mortality rate from prostate cancer has continued to decline in recent years. The five-year survival has increased from 42.4 per cent. between 1986 and 1990, to 74.4 per cent. between 1999 and 2003.

Prostate Cancer: Screening

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects Government-funded trials for prostate cancer screening to report; and if he will make a statement. (206398)

The Government are not currently funding trials for prostate cancer screening. There is currently insufficient evidence from any country in the world to show that screening would reduce deaths from prostate cancer. The Government are committed to introducing a national screening programme for prostate cancer if and when screening and treatment techniques are sufficiently well developed. The UK National Screening Committee keeps screening for prostate cancer under review, and research under way in both Europe and the United States of America is being monitored.

The Department is supporting the development of screening technology for prostate cancer by having a comprehensive research strategy into all aspects of prostate cancer. We are jointly with other National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) members funding two NCRI Prostate Cancer Research Collaboratives, and the Department is funding half of the total £7.4 million cost. In addition, the Department is funding a £20 million trial of treatments for prostate specific antigen screen-detected early prostate cancer, the ProtecT trial and supporting a comparison trial to run alongside it.

Treasury

Capital Gains Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the additional revenue from capital gains tax if it were levied on companies at the same rate as corporation tax in 2008-09. (206193)

No additional revenues would be raised. Companies are not subject to capital gains tax, instead any chargeable gains accruing to them are charged to corporation tax as part of their total profits. Consequently companies' chargeable gains are already taxed at the relevant rate of corporation tax for 2008-09.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the additional revenue from capital gains tax if it were levied on individuals at the basic rate of income tax in 2008-09. (206194)

A reform of this kind would result in a large behavioural response and such estimates are susceptible to a wide margin of error. A broad estimate of the eventual steady state impact, taking account of the likely taxpayer response to such a change, is additional receipts in the order of £400 million a year by comparison with the current capital gains tax regime.

Council Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many notification changes have been made to the Valuation Office Agency’s Council Tax List with a code of CL26 (correction of inaccuracy) in the last 12 months. (203131)

Of the 22.5 million entries in the council tax valuation lists in England, 56,122 (0.25 per cent.) were reviewed and cleared in 2007-08 using code CL26.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultants were contracted by his Department to conduct public participation activities in the last three years; and how much expenditure his Department has incurred on each such contract. (206212)

Information on consultants used to conduct public participation activities is contained within the total external consultancy figures and cannot be separately identified without incurring disproportionate cost.

Families: Clwyd

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department has taken to help working families in the Vale of Clwyd since 1997. (205755)

Since 1997 the Government have introduced a number of policies to make work pay and help working families.

The working tax credit (WTC) provides financial support on top of earnings, and together with the national minimum wage (NMW) helps to improve work incentives and relieve in-work poverty. The child care element of WTC improves the financial rewards for parents from work, and gives them the financial flexibility to choose the child care arrangements that are most appropriate for their families. It offers low-to-moderate-income families support with up to 80 per cent. of child care costs up to a limit of £300 per week for two or more children. In addition, families in work are eligible for the child tax credit. Taken together, these policies mean that form October 2008, the guaranteed minimum income for a family with one child working full-time will be £292 a week.

The Government are committed to helping parents balance work and family life, including introducing enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption leave, the right for parents to request flexible working.

The Government are also trialing new ways of ensuring that work pays. From October 2008 the Government will pilot a new better off in work credit which will reassure long-term recipients of incapacity benefit (ESA on its introduction), income support, or jobseeker's allowance that if they enter full-time work they will have an in work income, including any in work benefits or tax credits, of at least £25 per week more than they receive from their out of work benefits.

Immigration

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect of immigration on (a) gross domestic product and (b) per capita gross domestic product since 1997. (205788)

Migration has added around 0.5 per cent. per annum to the working age population between 1997 and 2006, stimulating growth in total output. Average output growth over this period was 2.7 per cent. and migration is estimated to have contributed around 15-20 per cent. of this.

The direct impact of immigration on gross domestic product per capita has been small but broadly positive.

The impact of immigration on the economy is discussed in more detail in a cross-departmental report1 in sections 3.3 and 3.4.

1 Home Office and Department of Work and Pensions (2007). The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration: A Cross-Departmental Submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/economic-impact-of-immigration.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what projection the Government Actuary's Department has made of changes in population over 50 years per million immigrants; and if he will make a statement. (206613)

The Government Actuary's Department (GAD) has made no such projection since responsibility for the production of the national population projections transferred from GAD to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 31 January 2006. This transfer was recommended by an independent review of the actuarial profession and of GAD conducted by Sir Derek Morris. The latest set of population projections produced by ONS—and the first since the transfer of responsibility took place—was published on 23 October 2007.

(http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/pproj1007.pdf).

Income Tax: Crewe

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Crewe and Nantwich constituency paid only the 10 pence rate of income tax in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (