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Written Answers

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 19 June 2008

Home Department

Alcohol: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many underage young people were (a) tried at magistrates courts and (b) convicted of buying alcohol illegally in each of the last five years. (188261)

[holding answer 22 February 2008]: The number of youths tried at magistrates courts and convicted for offences related to buying alcohol illegally in each of the last five years in England and Wales can be viewed in the table.

In addition the police can issue a £50 fixed penalty for the offence of “Buying or attempting to buy alcohol by a person under 18” under section 149(1) of the Licensing Act 2003 (c.17).The number of PNDs issued to youths aged 16 to 17 years were 0 in 2004, 17 in 2005 and 62 in 2006.

The number of persons who were proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences relating to purchase of alcohol by a person aged under 18 years in England and Wales, 2002 to 20061,2,3

Proceeded against

Found guilty

2002

13

9

2003

13

10

2004

10

8

2005

14

9

2006

8

6

1 Data are on the principal offence basis.

2 Data include the following statutes and corresponding offence descriptions :

Licensing (Occasional Permissions) Act 1983 Schedule (Sec 3) para 4(2). Licensing Act 1964 Sec 169(2).

Person under 18 buying or attempting to buy or consuming intoxicating liquor.

Person under 18 buying or consuming intoxicating liquor in Licensed premises.

Licensing Act 2003 S. 149(l)(7a)

Purchase of alcohol by an individual under 18.

3 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts, other agencies, and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

Court proceedings data held by CJEA—Office for Criminal Justice Reform—Ministry of Justice

Asylum: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she is taking to manage the costs of former unaccompanied asylum-seeking children following the recent transfer of that responsibility to her Department. (204255)

The UK Border Agency is working to deliver faster conclusions for unaccompanied asylum seeking children—integration or removal by age 18—and consequently reduce calls on leaving care support. Alongside this, discussions are underway with local authorities about the level and management of payments for the support of former unaccompanied asylum seeking children as part of the wider implementation of "Better Outcomes: The Way Forward. Improving the Care of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children" (a copy of which is in the Library, DEP2008-0274).

Departmental Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2008, Official Report, column 623W, on departmental accountancy, what the heading is of each data line her Department uploaded to HM Treasury's Combined On-line Information System in January 2008. (206071)

Data lines are uploaded to COINS with codings rather than headings. These codes identify the different categories and types of spend to the COINS system.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 602W, on departmental accountancy, what assessment she has made of the cost to her Department of providing the data for departmental budget lines to HM Treasury. (206576)

These costs are not separately identified, and cannot be determined without incurring excessive costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 861W, on departmental accountancy, what estimate she has made of the cost of providing the requested information. (206577)

The cost of providing the requested information was estimated as being in excess of the current limit of £700.

All budgetary data are required to be uploaded at a high level of detail to the Treasury's Combined Online Information System (COINS), in a format that is coded to be compatible with it. This allows subsequent analysis (via COINS) across the budgets, estimates, accounts and national accounts, for publication (at aggregated level) in the national accounts, departmental report, supplementary budgetary information tables, and estimates.

These raw data were designed to be analysed by COINS, and as such are of no value without the means to decode them. The complex analysis that was requested in the original question required decoding and analysis of the raw data by a means other than COINS. It would require a range of data sources to be used, to obtain both the estimate line and departmental report heading codes and related information, to allow the level of analysis required by the question.

Staff investigated the most efficient way of providing this analysis, and then tested the viability of providing a full decoding and analysis of the uploaded data. This demonstrated that the extent of the work required to complete the full analysis would exceed the cost limit set for PQs. At that point, work stopped on the PQ.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 602W, on Departmental accountancy, what estimate she has made of the monthly cost to her Department of providing the data for 385 departmental budget lines to HM Treasury. (209860)

Providing the monthly data is an important requirement placed on all Departments by the Treasury. No estimate of the costs has been made.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) UK citizens born in the UK, (b) UK citizens born abroad and (c) foreign nationals were employed as staff by her Department and its agencies in each of the last five years. (206543)

All candidates for posts within the Home Office and its agencies (the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau) are subject to the same pre-appointment checks regardless of nationality. Our pre-appointment checks ensure that we only select those that pass eligibility in accordance with the Cabinet Office nationality requirements:

www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/eligibility/nationality.asp

Information on whether UK citizens employed by the Home Office and its agencies were born in the UK or abroad, and on the number of foreign nationals employed is not recorded centrally, and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Domestic Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people in England were convicted of assault in which the victim was (a) a female partner, (b) a male partner, (c) a child and (d) one of their own children in each of the last three years. (211334)

Driving Offences: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions were secured for the offence of driving without insurance in each of the last five years in London, broken down by borough. (211603)

Information held by the Ministry of Justice relates to the offence of using a motor vehicle whilst uninsured against third party risks, it is available at police force level only. The latest year for which figures are held is 2006.

Information relating to the Metropolitan and City of London police force areas is in the following table. Information for 2007 should be available later in 2008.

Findings of guilt at magistrates courts for the offence of using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks1, within London, 2002-06

Number of offences

Police force area

City of London police

Metropolitan police

Total London

2002

1,330

27,116

28,446

2003

1,605

31,463

33,068

2004

1,122

36,465

37,587

2005

1,068

36,033

37,101

2006

1,130

37,075

38,205

1 Offences under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s. 143 (2).

Notes: l. It is known that for some police force areas, the reporting of court proceedings in particular those relating to summary motoring offences, may be less than complete.

2. Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Firearms: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) firearm certificates and (b) shotgun certificates were (i) issued, (ii) revoked and (iii) renewed in each police force area in each of the last 10 years; (206481)

(2) how many (a) firearm certificates, (b) shotgun certificates, (c) firearms covered by certificates and (d) shotguns covered by certificates there were in each police force area in each of the last 10 years.

The requested information, relating to1995 up to and including 2005-06, is given in the tables placed in the House Library .

Fraud: Banks

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whom the police classify as the victim of a crime when someone who has had money fraudulently taken from their bank account has been reimbursed by the bank; and if she will make a statement. (211230)

The National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime (HOCR) provide guidance to police forces on how they should record and classify crimes. These are public documents available online at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/countrules.html

The Counting Rules include guidance issued to both police and financial institutions relating to fraud by false representation for cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts This guidance was agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the UK Payments Association and implemented on 1 April 2007. It is clear that the financial institution is to be treated as the victim except where they have refused to refund losses to an account holder. Where an account holder is the financial loser they are to be treated as the victim for crime recording purposes.

Genetics: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in how many prosecutions DNA samples from the national DNA database was used in evidence since the database was created; (191173)

(2) in how many cases where convictions have been secured DNA from the national DNA database was used in evidence since the database was created.

Information on the number of prosecutions in which DNA samples from the National DNA Database have been used in evidence and on any subsequent convictions is not collected centrally. Information is available on the number of crimes detected in which a DNA match was available and a suspect identified and I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend, the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), on 30 April 2008, Official Report, column 488W.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she plans to reply to the letter of 7 February 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Mrs Rabia Begum. (206968)

I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 10 March 2008. This was unfortunately incorrectly addressed. A copy of this letter was sent on 19 May 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she plans to answer the letter of 28 April from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, on Mr. S. Shah. (210192)

Passports: Interviews

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the cost has been of establishing each passport interview office, broken down by (a) capital costs, (b) staffing costs and (c) other operational costs; (202246)

(2) what has been spent on establishing and operating the network of passport interview offices.

Staffing and operational costs per interview office are unavailable at this time as the network of offices is only just reaching full operational status. In due course it is our intention to publish the staffing and operational costs for 2008-09, the first full year of operations.

However, the monthly cost of operating the interview office network during 2008-09, including office rental, security, IT systems, administrative overheads and staff is estimated at £2.50 million. This excludes the cost of depreciation of relevant capital expenditure.

Subject to year-end adjustments for 2007-08, the total capital expenditure to date to establish the network of interview offices has been £49.9 million. Within this total, the capital costs to establish each office are as follows:

Cost centre

Fit-out costs (£)

Belfast

554,625

Armagh

384,173

Coleraine

364,662

Omagh

368,781

Birmingham

1,129,056

Derby

494,053

Leicester

382,369

Northampton

379,860

Shrewsbury

364,662

Stoke on Trent

372,095

Warwick

368,051

Dundee

377,292

Edinburgh

423,095

Glasgow

991,170

Aberdeen

370,649

Inverness

369,016

Oban

379,338

Stirling

374,267

Wick

365,218

Leeds

730,386

Kingston on Hull

381,155

Scarborough

379,783

Sheffield

485,260

York

401,083

Liverpool

606,682

Wrexham

375,898

Manchester

1,350,224

Blackburn

426,495

Carlisle

377,485

Dumfries

369,686

Selkirk

395,040

Kendal

364,662

Middlesbrough

421,827

Newcastle

734,647

Berwick Upon Tweed

368,781

Ripon

365,025

Crawley

373,520

Dover

378,143

Brighton

434,592

Luton

486,166

London

2,569,743

Chelmsford

431,560

Maidstone

388,721

Bristol

431,923

Cheltenham

369,335

Newport

562,411

Aberystwyth

368,781

Swansea

423,230

Swindon

369,733

Bury St Edmunds

369,189

Ipswich

369,016

Kings Lynn

376,407

Lincoln

382,119

Norwich

380,430

Peterborough

494,404

Sleaford

368,231

Redruth

379,874

Exeter

377,340

Plymouth

497,120

South Molton

369,544

St. Austell

366,835

Yeovil

376,022

Bournemouth

376,501

Newport (IOW)

365,387

Oxford

377,835

Portsmouth

461,079

Reading

598,544

Andover

367,712

Total

32,588,000

Pornography: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions she has had with (a) US and (b) Russian authorities on preventing access to child abuse images on the internet. (209619)

The Home Secretary has not held any discussion with US or Russians specifically on preventing access to child abuse images on the internet.

However, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which is funded by the Home Office, has regular contact with law enforcement overseas through the Virtual Global Taskforce, on the prevention of child exploitation.

Furthermore, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US recently contributed to the development of the Social Networking Guidance, produced by the Home Secretary’s Taskforce on Online Child Protection. The Home Secretary met delegates from the centre at this launch event.

We have discussed with US the possibility of sharing sex offender databases.

In addition, at the June 2008 G8 Justice and Interior Ministers meeting, delegates (including representatives from the US and Russia) showed their continued commitment to combating online child abuse images.

Vetting: EU Countries

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what reciprocal arrangements are in place between the UK and other EU member states to check criminal records; (206490)

(2) what plans there are to establish an EU-wide database for criminal record checks.

There are no plans to establish an EU wide database for criminal record checks. However under Council Decision 2005/876/JHA of 21 November 2005 the United Kingdom can, in the context of criminal proceedings in the UK, send a request for criminal record information to another member state in relation to offences committed by nationals of the member state. An EU member state can, in the context of criminal proceedings in that member state, request criminal record information about a UK national from the UK.

Under the same Council Decision, the UK already receives conviction information on UK nationals who have been convicted of offences in EU member states and sends, to the member state of nationality, criminal record information on EU nationals convicted in the UK. Information received in the UK is entered on to the Police National Computer by the UK Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records.

The European Union has agreed a general approach on a proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from criminal records between member states. We expect the Framework Decision to be adopted by the end of 2008 with an implementation deadline of three years from the date of agreement.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Art Works: Royalties

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent representations he has received from representatives of the British art market on the Artist’s Resale Right, with particular reference to representations on the application of the right to living artists only. (211569)

My colleague, Baroness Morgan, the Minister responsible for Intellectual Property, has met with representatives of the art trade to discuss resale right. We have also received written representations from the British Art Market Federation on this issue.

Higher Education: Admissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what (a) representations he has received from and (b) discussions he has had with university admissions tutors on the account taken of A-level qualifications in their admission assessments; and if he will make a statement; (210518)

(2) what research his Department (a) has commissioned, (b) plans to commission and (c) has evaluated on the role of A-levels in university admission assessments; when his Department last undertook a review of the role of A-levels in admission assessments that took into account (i) UK and (ii) international research; and if he will make a statement.

I meet many leaders in higher education to discuss issues of importance to them, including the reforms to our national qualifications system and admissions. Higher education institutions are solely responsible for their own admissions and it is for them to decide the entry requirements to individual courses, including prior qualifications.

The Department does not assess the value of the wide range of entry qualifications that institutions may use to select from applicants. But the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority maintains and develops the national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations, and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service’s tariff is a points system used to report achievement for entry to higher education in a numerical format. It establishes agreed comparability between different types of qualifications and provides comparisons between applicants with different types and volumes of achievement.

A-levels already provide a high quality, well recognised route into HE courses for large numbers of students and the changes that are being made from September will reinforce this. New A-levels which are being taught from September this year have incorporated further stretch and challenge and the new Extended Project has been widely welcomed by admissions tutors as likely to allow applicants to demonstrate the independent study skills that they will need for HE. These will be complemented by the new diplomas and over 100 higher education institutions have already confirmed that they will include these new qualifications as part of their admissions processes. A recent report by the 1994 Group of universities shows widespread welcome for changes being made to A-levels to ensure they provide the right level of stretch and challenge for those going on to higher education. The same report was also positive about the use universities would make of the new diplomas in admissions.

Students: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what consideration he has given to giving the 2009 Fee Commission a mandate to consider the needs of part-time students; and if he will make a statement. (212310)

There will be an independent review of the first three years of the new fee and student support arrangements which will make recommendations for Parliament to consider. The draft terms of reference we published for the review in January 2004 included reference to “Choice of institution and course, mode of study (full time/part time)”.

But ahead of that there are a number of pressing questions about what Government and universities should do over the next 10 to 15 years to ensure we have a world class system of higher education. It is on these issues that Government, universities and others should now focus.

Students: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of (a) the number and proportion of higher education students studying part-time who are supported by their employers and (b) the average contribution made by employers to those students they support. (212309)

A 2004 study of part-time students for the DFES found that 41 per cent. of part-time students received some help with their fees from an employer, with 36 per cent. having all their fees paid. The report is available at:

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR600.pdf

A reliable estimate of the average contribution made by employers to those students receiving this type of support is not available.

Work and Pensions

Access to Work Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received assistance from the Access to Work scheme in each of the last five years; and what proportion of those people had been diagnosed with a mental illness. (211364)

[holding answer 16 June 2008]: The available information is in the following table.

People who received assistance from Access to Work

Received assistance

Mental health condition (Percentage)

2003-04

24,000

<1

2004-05

26,000

<1

2005-06

25,000

<1

2006-07

24,000

1

2007-08 (provisional)

28,000

1

Notes:

1. All numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand; all percentages are rounded to the nearest percentage point.

2. A new, more relevant definition of participation has been established for reporting from 2007-08 onwards; data are not yet available to give a final figure for the year 2007-08. This figure is not directly comparable with figures for previous years.

3. The mental health category is based on the condition recorded on the Access to Work computer system. No records are kept on whether participants have been diagnosed with the condition. Only the primary condition of a participant is recorded, and as such, these figures are likely to underestimate the proportion of those with a mental health condition. These percentages exclude dyslexia.

4. Many people who receive assistance from Access to Work in a particular year continue to benefit from this support in further years.

Source:

The Access to Work Evaluation Database.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what organisational status Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) will have; and whether CMEC staff transferred from the Child Support Agency will retain Civil Service status. (211041)

[holding answer 16 June 2008]: Schedule 1 paragraph 22 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 provides that the functions of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission are to be exercised on behalf of the Crown. This means that all Agency employee terms and conditions are protected on transfer and that transferred Agency people will remain civil servants as stated during the passage of the Act. It is our intention that the Commission be classified as a Crown non-departmental public body once the relevant provisions of the Act have been commenced.

Children: Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children were living in child poverty in Mid Essex (a) in 1997 and (b) at the latest date for which information is available. (211245)

Our child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, allow a breakdown of child poverty by Government office region. However, the information requested is not available below the level of Government office region.

Employment and Support Allowance: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the level of readiness of the employment and support allowance computer system prior to the introduction of the benefit; and if he will make a statement. (211152)

The introduction of employment and support allowance and associated computer system is matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 19 June 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what assessment he has made of the level of readiness of the Employment and Support Allowance computer system prior to the introduction of the Allowance. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The IT platform for the delivery of Employment and Support Allowance will be built onto existing systems. By using tried and tested systems we lessen the risk associated with major change in our business.

The Employment and Support Allowance component of both computer systems continues to undergo rigorous testing by experienced test teams made up of IT experts, DWP test analysts and Jobcentre Plus operational staff.

A Model Office is in place to test the full range of Employment and Support Allowance products and processes in a ‘live’ office environment to provide further assurance that the system will be business ready for October 2008. Products are evaluated individually and are assured for compatibility with current business products to ensure the successful delivery of Employment and Support Allowance.

I hope this information is helpful.

Industrial Health and Safety: Redcliffe Bay

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Health and Safety Executive works in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence on the maintenance of safety and security standards at the Redcliffe Bay oil storage depot site; and if he will make a statement. (211393)

The Redcliffe Bay oil and storage depot is subject to the provisions of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) which apply to the site due to the quantity of fuel stored there and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The site duty holder is the Oil and Pipelines Agency (OPA) which operates the depot on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The COMAH Regulations are enforced in England and Wales by a Competent Authority comprising of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA). HSE inspects the site in respect of the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and relevant Statutory Instruments made under the Act.

The duty holder is required to secure the site in order to control the risks arising from trespass of an ordinary member of the public. HSE is reviewing the measures taken by OPA to achieve this level of security. Conclusions reached under this review will be formally communicated to OPA. Any additional security measures which may be required to deal with such matters as terrorist issues or other criminal activities are a matter for the security services, the Home Office and the police.

Jobcentre Plus: Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on the adequacy of Jobcentre Plus’s out-of-hours telephone service. (204907)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Mel Groves, dated 19 June 2008:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what recent representations he has received on the adequacy of Jobcentre Plus’ Out of Hours telephone service. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to Ms Strathie as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. I am replying in her absence as Acting Chief Executive.

We made changes to our Out Of Hours Service on 12 May. Local stakeholders were informed of the changes as part of local planning and implementation. Some local issues were raised and in a few locations we have deferred the changes until 28 May to ensure a smooth delivery of the new arrangements.

Local representations have been made by:

West Midlands: one hostel in Staffordshire, three in Birmingham area, one in Walsall and one welfare rights organisation.

North West: one homeless men’s hostel and one women’s hostel in the Merseyside area.

Wales: Benefits Advice Shop Charity and Emergency Social Services Association Wales.

Scotland: Social Work Department (in West and East Scotland)

South East: Welfare Rights.

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much was recovered by his Department’s Recovery From Estates Debt Management Unit in the latest year for which figures are available; (210603)

(2) what the cost of running his Department’s Recovery From Estates Debt Management Unit was in the latest year for which figures are available.

Recovery From Estates recovered £23.3 million in 2007-08. The cost of running the unit was £1.4 million.

Transport

Aviation: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what risk assessment she has made of pilots flying into London airports whose English language skills are not compliant with the minimum requirements of the Civil Aviation Organisation; and if she will make a statement; (211993)

(2) if she will make a statement on the findings of the Air Accident Investigation Branch investigation into the incident of a LOT Airliner, involving language communications difficulties with air traffic control on its approach to Heathrow airport;

(3) if she will prevent any airline operators from landing at London's airports who do not comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's requirement for pilots to be proficient in English language; and if she will make a statement.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigation into LOT flight 282 on 4 June 2007 concluded that the primary cause of the incident was a single error made by the co-pilot prior to take off from Heathrow by the use of “E” instead of “W” when the longitude co-ordinates were entered into the flight management system. This led to the crew experiencing difficulties navigating the aircraft and necessitated their return to Heathrow under the guidance of air traffic control.

The AAIB report notes that the crew's difficulties were complicated by the commander of the aircraft having some difficulty comprehending and communicating with the air traffic controllers, a situation probably exacerbated by the high workload in the cockpit attendant on the navigational problems. The report suggests that the incident is indicative of problems which can arise through a lack of understanding between controllers and flight crews.

Accurate communication between flight crews and air traffic controllers is clearly a matter of the first importance to the safety of international aviation. The requirements for language proficiency for operational personnel are determined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which has traditionally required that air-ground radiotelephony communications shall be conducted in the language normally used by the station on the ground or in the English language.

In 2003, with UK support, ICAO took steps to reinforce rules on language proficiency. It set a deadline of March 2008 for proficiency in Level 4 (operational) and above English for all pilots flying international routes, and for ATC controllers serving international airports and routes. The proficiency scale ranges from Level 1 to Level 6, with guidelines published for pronunciation, fluency, structure, vocabulary, comprehension and interaction. Level 4 (operational) proficiency is considered as a minimum 'stepping stone' to higher levels.

The UK became compliant with ICAO's language proficiency requirements on 5 March 2008.

However, in recognition that not all states would be able to comply fully by March 2008, ICAO, while urging states to meet the deadline if at all possible, has allowed for a transition period from March 2008 until March 2011. The Polish Civil Aviation Office are due to specify a date by which they will comply with the ICAO requirement for English language proficiency.

I naturally hope that all ICAO signatory states become compliant with the language proficiency requirements as soon as possible. As ICAO Level 4 (operational) proficiency in English is not yet binding on States, however, the UK, as an ICAO signatory, cannot make this a requirement for granting permission to foreign airlines to operate to UK airports.

I understand however that evaluation of this incident by UK air navigation services provider, NATS, has identified to a number of learning points which have been incorporated into NATS' “Training for Unusual and Emergency Circumstances” package which all controllers are required to complete annually.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is consulting on its draft implementing rules for operations and flight crew licensing from May to November 2008. These proposals include legal requirements on language proficiency.

Bicycles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government have taken to increase the provision of bicycle racks in public places. (211750)

The provision of bicycle racks in public places is the responsibility of individual local authorities.

We encourage all local authorities to develop a cycling strategy as part of their local transport plan (LTP). This can include the provision of bicycle racks as well as on and off road cycle facilities such as cycle tracks and cycle lanes.

In January the Department announced a £140 million investment, over the next three years, for its cycling delivery body, Cycling England. This will complement local authority spend. £47 million of this has been allocated to extending the cycling demonstration towns (CDTs) programme to include up to 17 towns and a large city. As part of their programmes the successful CDTs will be able to provide cycle parking as well as other facilities for cyclists.

As part of the proposed package of public transport improvements to complement the planned congestion charge scheme, the Greater Manchester authorities intend to provide more than 2,500 extra cycle parking spaces introduced at 250 new locations and secure long-term parking facilities for bikes at rail and Metrolink stations.

We made funds available to provide over 2,500 cycle parking spaces in 2004-05, together with cycle shelters and CCTV at various stations all round the country.

In addition to this many train operators have provided improved cycle parking at public interchanges often working with local authorities. For example, TfL have provided improved cycle parking including the introduction of the innovative cycle centre at Finsbury Park Station, and Surrey county council have also worked with train operators to improve cycle parking at a number of stations in the county.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government has taken to promote road safety amongst cyclists. (211751)

I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of Tuesday 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 848W, to the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Christine Russell).

Cars: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2008, Official Report, column 1894W, to the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) on cars: research, what studies in this area conducted elsewhere in the EU her Department has evaluated. (210599)

The Department is aware of EU studies on eco-driving techniques. However, these relate to the most efficient way of driving in different traffic conditions rather than to the effects of constant speed driving. We are not aware of any specific EU studies which have been undertaken on the most economical constant driving speed.

My response of 22 April indicated that we had taken account of the results of EU research in deriving emissions factors. The principal study considered was the EU ARTEMIS programme. However data from COST 319 (MEET), COPERT 4, PARTICULATES and OSCAR programmes were also considered in deriving emissions factors.

A summary of the ARTEMIS programme is available at http://www.trl.co.uk/ARTEMIS/. Publication of the final report1 is currently pending.

Details of the COST 319 (MEET), COPERT and PARTICIPATES programmes are available at:

http://www.inrets.fr/infos/cost319/index.html

http://lat.eng.auth.gr/copert/

http://lat.eng.auth.gr/particulates/

Unfortunately the OSCAR programme website is no longer available.

1 Boulter, P.G. and McCrae, I.S. (editors) (2007). Assessment and reliability of transport emission models and inventory systems. Final Report of the 5FP EU ARTEMIS (Assessment and reliability of transport emission models and inventory systems) project. DG TREN Contract No. 1999-RD. 10429. Deliverable No. 15. TRL report UPR/IE/044/07, TRL Limited, Wokingham.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much (a) her Department and (b) its agencies spent on training courses for staff in the last (i) 12 months and (ii) five years. (210561)

The following table sets out the amounts that the Department for Transport has spent on training courses for staff over the last five years:

2007-08

2006-07

2005-06

2004-05

2003-04

Central DfT (£m)

3.1

2.8

2.5

3.1

2.1

Highways Agency (£m)

7.25

7.0

7.1

7.05

6.96

Government Car and Despatch Agency (£000)

170

2.6

1.1

0.8

0.2

Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (£m)

2.4

2.4

2.7

2.1

1.7

Marine and Coastguard Agency (£m)

1.1

1.1

1.1

1.5

1.2

Driving Standards Agency (£000)

847

745

780

678

594

Vehicle Certification Agency (£000)

146

195

118

159

126

Vehicle Operator Service Agency (£000)

604

496

589

515

449

Great Western Trains: Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that sufficient rolling stock continues to be available to First Great Western (FGW) to operate the Cardiff-Portsmouth line in the event that Arriva give notice that they wish to terminate the arrangement whereby their rolling stock is leased to FGW. (211090)

[holding answer 13 June 2008]: The Department for Transport remains in dialogue with the parties involved to ensure they understand what risk there may be of the additional trains being recalled, and how that risk can be mitigated.

Heathrow Airport: Passengers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers connecting between flights at Heathrow Airport began their journeys in (a) the UK, (b) France, (c) Belgium, (d) the Netherlands, (e) Luxembourg, (f) Germany, (g) Austria, (h) Switzerland, (i) Italy, (j) Spain and (k) other locations in the last year for which figures are available. (211100)

The number of passengers connecting (transferring) between flights at Heathrow airport who began their journeys at locations in (a) the UK, (b) France, (c) Belgium, (d) the Netherlands, (e) Luxembourg, (f) Germany, (g) Austria, (h) Switzerland, (i) Italy, (j) Spain and (k) other locations, in 2007 are shown in the following table.

Country from

Transfer passengers (thousands)

Austria

195

Belgium

307

France

790

Germany

968

Italy

545

Luxembourg

20

Netherlands

390

Spain

709

Switzerland

312

United Kingdom

2,573

Other locations

16,050

Total transfer passengers at Heathrow

22,860

Motorways: Road Traffic Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation her Department undertook on the ramp metering scheme model before its implementation on the highway network. (208086)

The Highways Agency (HA) developed a deliberately proactive stakeholder engagement strategy to support the wider implementation of ramp metering across its network. The purpose of the strategy was to explain the concepts and anticipated benefits of ramp metering, introduce the project structure and the sites selected for implementation, engender understanding, trust and support among stakeholders, provide a coherent and consistent picture of progress and minimise the risk of mis-information.

Due to the extent to which ramp metering affects the operation of the motorway, the HA recognised that there would be a wide range of interested parties, both at a national and local level, with whom it would be essential to liaise. These included the network ‘consumers’ (nationally and local to a scheme), regional and local government, police and other emergency services, driver and business representative groups, suppliers and staff.

The stakeholder engagement strategy and associated communications plan provided a detailed identification of the main stakeholders and their information needs, the roles and responsibilities for stakeholder engagement and the key messages and available channels of communication. Different types of communications included presentations, press notices, briefing notes, meetings, leaflets and a publicity video.

As an example, for the new sites on the M4 in the South East, liaison has taken place with the following stakeholders:

Slough Borough Council (including SBC communications team);

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (including RBWM communications team);

Royal Berkshire Ambulance Trust;

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Services;

Metropolitan Police Service;

East Regional Control Centre; and

South East Regional Control Centre.

Network Rail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the role of the Office of Rail Regulation is in respect of network enhancements proposed by Network Rail; and if she will make a statement; (211081)

(2) for what reasons the Office of Rail Regulation rejected the scheme proposed by Network Rail to redouble track between Swindon and Kemble.

Following the Secretary of State's publication of the High Level Output Specification (HLOS), specifying what she wants the railways to deliver over the five years from 2009 to 2014, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) asked Network Rail to publish a plan on behalf of the industry setting out how the Government's requirements could be delivered. Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan included enhancement schemes that it considered were needed to deliver the specified outputs.

In its draft determinations, ORR set out which enhancement projects it proposes to provide funding for. Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan included redoubling the track between Swindon and Kemble, but ORR concluded that this was not necessary to deliver the performance improvements specified in the HLOS.

Olympic Games 2012: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many members of her Department have been seconded to work on transport issues for the 2012 Olympic Games; which organisations they have been seconded to; and when their secondments will (a) commence and (b) finish. (211413)

There have been no Department for Transport officials seconded to work on transport issues for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many members of her Department have access to car parking facilities at each Department and agency building. (209051)

General staff car parking facilities are not available at the Department's London headquarters buildings. Elsewhere, car parking facilities are allocated according to site specific local policy. Information on arrangements at each building has been placed in the Library of the House.

A listing by building for the regional sites operated by the Driving Standards Agency and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the maximum average load factor is at each station identified in Table A4 and A5 of her Department’s 2007 White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, in the last year for which figures are available; (211420)

(2) what the (a) forecast passenger demand and (b) train capacity was at each station identified in Table A4 and A5 of her Department’s 2007 White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, in the last year for which figures are available;

(3) who in her Department has responsibility for policy on train capacity; and whether a national study on train capacity is planned.

The average maximum load factor for each London termini is shown on table figure 5.4 on page 53 of the 2007, White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, published in July 2007 and available on the departmental website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/whitepapers/white papercm7176/.

These are the most recent data available.

The load factor data for the regional cities shown on table figure 5.5 on page 55 of the White Paper are also the most recent data available for these cities.

The Forecast Passenger Demand and Train Capacity data contained in the White Paper are the most recent available data.

A national study on train capacity was conducted to inform the proposals contained in the White Paper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department has introduced to ensure that train companies providing long-distance travel allow standard class passengers to sit in first class when there are no seats available in standard class. (212246)

Train companies guarantee the provision of seats where reservations have been made. Seat reservations are automatically included with many tickets, such as quota controlled 'Advance' fares.

In other circumstances, on-train staff may give permission for holders of Standard Class tickets to travel in First Class accommodation without extra charge. Alternatively they may declassify First Class carriages. However, this is a matter for the train companies and their staff and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Railways: Electrification

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many officials in her Department are working on plans to upgrade or increase railway electrification. (208315)

The Government committed in last year’s rail White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, to keep the case for further rail electrification under review. The improving business case suggests great potential for a rolling programme of electrification, and the Department continues to work with the rail industry to explore how the cost of electrification can be reduced, and to prioritise schemes. A number of officials are at times engaged with this work, and as a result, it is not possible to provide a simple figure. Upgrades of existing electrification infrastructure are a matter for Network Rail.

Railways: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on (a) railways and (b) roads, including Highways Agency allocations for each year of the Department’s existence; and what the projected figures are for 2008-09. (206173)

[holding answer 16 May 2008]: The information requested is as follows:

£ million

Outturn

Estimated outturn

Plans

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Rail

3390

4236

4252

3608

4632

4450

3700

Roads

4816

4912

5496

6159

6970

7400

7827

Of which:

Highways Agency

4209

4283

4769

5405

6204

6460

6937

Other roads spend

607

629

727

754

766

940

890

The Department also provides funding to local authorities via the Department’s Integrated Transport Block and for Local Authority Major Schemes, as follows:

£ million

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Funding provided to LAs (including roads)

915

933

717

659

631

892

1043

Local authorities spend this funding both on road-related schemes and public transport projects. It is not possible to disaggregate the data between the different types of project.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what schemes her Department plans to allocate funding from the Designated Community Rail Fund. (211747)

The Designated Community Rail Development Fund is a new initiative intended to assist with locally based schemes such as small scale station improvements (signage, seating, landscaping, artwork), promotions (web-sites, leaflets, posters, special events) and community engagement (work with schools, youth clubs, groups who are from socially excluded groups).

The mix of schemes that will be funded will depend on what applications are made by Community Rail Partnerships on designated routes.

Railways: Overcrowding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the evidential basis is for her Department’s calculation that each rail passenger requires 0.45 square metres of space as stated on page 153 of her Department's 2007 White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway. (211417)

As the White Paper states, the 0.45 square metres figure is one that has been in general use within the industry. It has been used for some time, in conjunction with other measures which are also described in the White Paper, as a rule of thumb when calculating train capacity. It was determined by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), based on earlier work by the British Railways Board.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate she has made of the margins for error in her Department’s figures on train capacity; (211423)

(2) what methods are used by her Department and its agencies to calculate train capacity.

The Department for Transport’s calculation of train capacity is based on a consistently applied calculation, which uses the size of the interior of each passenger railway vehicle, divided by a space of 0.45 m2 which is an industry-standard calculation of the space occupied by each passenger.

Any structures, such as luggage racks are included in the calculation, and the total size of the vehicle interior is reduced accordingly to reflect where these structures exist. These calculations are updated when modifications are made to the interior of any fleet of passenger rail vehicles.

Railways: Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the supporting evidence is for her Department’s calculation, for rolling stock with no information on furnishable space available, that train capacity is 1.4 times the number of seats, and 1.2 times the number of seats on inter-city rolling stock. (211418)

This calculation was undertaken to support the rail High Level Output Specification, published in July 2007. For the small numbers of rolling stock where detailed information was not readily available at the time, the train capacity was based on the approximate mid-point of the range of similar trains where full data were available. While commuter and regional rolling stock types have similar seat and standing densities, inter-city rolling stock tends to have a lower seating density.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) locomotives, (b) multiple units, (c) freight wagons and (d) carriages were in use on the rail network in the most recent period for which figures are available, broken down by (i) train operating company and (ii) class. (211419)

This information is not held by the Department for Transport, but is widely available in the specialist press.

Railways: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2008, Official Report, column 1895W, on railways: Scotland, what work she has asked Network Rail to undertake on new lines and high speed rail lines between England and Scotland. (210600)

Network Rail accepted an invitation from the Secretary of State to develop longer term options for the railway network. This will include consideration of new and high-speed lines.

Rolling Stock: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains she plans to order in the first phase of the (a) Thameslink and (b) Intercity Express Programme Order in the summer of 2009. (211405)

The information is as follows:

(a) Thameslink

The Thameslink Rolling Stock project intends to order an entire new fleet to operate the enhanced Thameslink service from December 2015. The fleet size will be between 900 and 1,300 vehicles depending on detailed service planning. It is intended to award a single contract for the whole fleet in summer 2009 at which time the delivery schedule for the vehicles will be agreed.

(b) Inter-city Express Programme

In the case of the Inter-city Express Programme (IEP) the number of trains will be determined by the train service provider based on the performance regime they have contracted to meet and the number of trains required to operate the timetable for the chosen routes. While the Secretary of State for Transport will provide a commitment to use the trains over a 20 year period there will not be an order for a specific number of trains. Consequently, until IEP bids have been received and evaluated a broad estimate of between 600 and 1,200 vehicles can be assumed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2008, Official Report, column 265W, on rolling stock: procurement, how many of the 317 vehicles ordered from manufacturers will be delivered in October 2008. (211871)

The intention is that four electric multiple unit vehicles will be delivered to the London Midland Franchise in October 2008 subject to completion of the testing and acceptance requirements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2008, Official Report, column 265W, on rolling stock: procurement, what the date of delivery is of each carriage ordered; and on which line each carriage will be delivered. (211952)

The detailed delivery dates and exact allocation of rolling stock is for the train operator to manage. The new vehicle orders apply to Chiltern Railways, New Southern Railways and London Midland.

Trains: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information was provided to her Department by Alstom and Barclays Private Equity on their reasons for withdrawing from the tendering process to build trains under the Intercity Express Programme. (209663)

Alstom advised the Department for Transport that it decided to withdraw from the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) competition to focus instead on other major rolling stock opportunities. The Department is reassured that Alstom remains committed to the UK rail market and we look forward to receiving robust bids from IEP bidders in the coming weeks.

Solicitor-General

Civil Servant Prosecutions

6. To ask the Solicitor-General what role law officers play in decisions to prosecute civil servants on matters arising out of their employment. (212147)

If the offence is one for which the consent of the Attorney to prosecute is not required, the decision whether to prosecute would be taken by the relevant prosecuting authority. If the offence requires the consent of the Attorney, and the Attorney received a request for consent, she would deal with it in the normal way—namely form a view as to whether there was sufficient evidence and whether a prosecution was in the public interest. The decision would be taken independently of Government.

Rape Victims

To ask the Solicitor-General what progress she has made in her proposals to seek the admission in rape trials of evidence on the psychological reactions of rape victims. (212148)

Two joint inspectorate reports in 2002 and 2007 identified that the attitude to the victim within the court process was key to improving conviction rate and so have convened a group of experts including the judiciary to look at potential ways to dispel the myths that unfairly influence juries.

Careless Driving

8. To ask the Solicitor-General what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on bringing into force the legislative provision establishing the offence of causing death by careless driving. (212149)

I am aware that colleagues at the Ministry of Justice have previously confirmed that the new offence will be commenced after the Sentencing Guidelines Council has published guidelines for the court. These are expected later in the summer and the Ministry of Justice will work closely with other interested Departments to agree an implementation date.

National Fraud Strategic Authority

9. To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made in the work of the National Fraud Strategic Authority and Reporting Centre. (212151)

The National Fraud Strategic Authority is being established to co-ordinate a national strategy to combat fraud, to be in place by the end of the year. Proposals for a National Fraud Reporting Centre that will provide major enhancements for reporting fraud and acting on fraud intelligence is now in an early pilot stage.

Prosecutions: Northampton

To ask the Solicitor-General in what proportion of prosecutions in Northamptonshire victim personal statements (a) formed part of the case files and (b) were shared with the court in the last 12 months. (212378)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not retain data for the proportion of victim personal statements, which form part of the prosecution file or the proportion of victim personal statements which are shared with the court.

However, the CPS recognises the importance that victim personal statements can have to inform the decision to prosecute and the appropriate charges and the added value in providing victims of crime with an opportunity to inform the court about the impact the crime has had on their lives. Systems and procedures have been developed to ensure that victim personal statements are drawn to the courts attention. Additionally, under the CPS victim focus scheme, crown prosecutors play a key role in assisting bereaved families to prepare a victim personal statement.

Shoplifting: Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions were brought for shoplifting by the Crown Prosecution Service in each of the last three years; and if she will make a statement. (212150)

The CPS data are only broken down by offences and can only provide prosecutions for theft as an offence. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Ministry of Justice on 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 987W.

Prime Minister

Chequers

To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the likely effect on the use of Chequers of draft proposals in the National Air Traffic Service's consultation on the use of airspace over South East England. (212379)

None. I will continue to use Chequers consistent with the Chequers Estate Acts and consistent with the practice of previous administrations.

Women and Equality

Gender Equality: Carers

16. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on equality between men and women in providing care. (212143)

As I said in the response to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown). We recognise that the majority of caring, around 70 per cent. is done by women. The Prime Minister launched the revised National Carers Strategy on 10 June. It set out a £255 million package of support for carers. Throughout the development of this strategy I had discussions with ministerial colleagues about support for men and women.

Wales

Council Tax: Rates and Rating

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 7 May 2008, Official Report, columns 894-95W, on council tax: valuation, how many dwellings in Wales had their council tax banding amended by the 2005 council tax revaluation. (211653)

Statistics showing the revised property bandings that resulted from the 2005 valuation are shown in the following table.

Number

Revised A bandings

A

172,006

B

72,088

C

9,523

D

1,549

E

414

F

183

G

59

H

10

I

3

Revised B bandings

A

26,765

B

188,485

C

97,768

D

11,056

E

1,398

F

290

G

110

H

18

I

5

Revised C bandings

A

673

B

23,211

C

155,687

D

69,882

E

13,532

F

1,661

G

317

H

28

I

8

Revised D bandings

A

27

B

671

C

25,300

D

106,606

E

56,818

F

9,689

G

1,303

H

85

I

18

Revised E bandings

A

5

B

32

C

736

D

16,713

E

88,919

F

49,495

G

7,668

H

470

I

79

Revised F bandings

A

1

B

1

C

8

D

301

E

7,060

F

38,314

G

17,163

H

1,377

I

227

Revised G bandings

A

0

B

3

C

3

D

17

E

115

F

3,646

G

22,482

H

9,258

I

2,721

Revised H bandings

A

0

B

2

C

0

D

0

E

2

F

6

G

85

H

806

I

2,487

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 15 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1682-83W, on council tax: valuation, how many dwellings have changed band since the 2005 revaluation, in terms of moving (a) up a band or more and (b) down a band or more. (211832)

Pursuant to my answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1682-83W, 1.55 per cent. of bandings were changed as a result of challenges during the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2007. All of these changes would have resulted in a property moving down one or more bands as where, on reassessment, no reduction in banding is found to be appropriate, the taxpayer is invited to withdraw their appeal.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the banding amendments that have been made in Cardiff by the Valuation Office Agency subsequent to the 2005 council tax revaluation; and how many dwellings in Cardiff have seen their original bandings move to a higher band. (211925)

The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost at the moment but the Valuation Office Agency are currently developing the capability to provide this information and it will available in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what role the Welsh Assembly Government plays in the valuation of properties for council tax purposes; and how responsibilities are divided between the Valuation Office Agency, Welsh Assembly Government, his Department, the Department for Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury. (211926)

The Welsh Assembly Government are responsible for local government in Wales and as such can request the revaluation of properties within the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for compiling and maintaining council tax valuation lists for all homes in Wales.

No other Government body has any responsibility for the valuation of properties in Wales.

Olympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department plan to attend the Beijing Olympic Games; to what purpose in each case; and what estimate he has made of the cost. (212118)

Culture, Media and Sport

Alcoholic Drinks: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with reference to the answer of 1 October 2007, Official Report, column 2352W, on alcoholic drinks: children, if he will break down the figures provided by region. (186358)

[holding answer 18 February 2008]: I have been asked to reply.

The figures for the number of cautions issued and the average fine issued for the offences of selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18, can be found in the following tables, which have been broken down by region.

Number of defendants issued with a caution for offences relating to the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years, by region, England and Wales, 1997 to 20061, 2, 3

Region

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

North East

17

5

14

7

2

4

0

3

3

8

North West

63

18

12

8

20

33

27

42

34

27

Yorkshire and Humberside

25

7

7

8

1

18

21

27

7

East Midlands

7

8

15

16

5

2

3

7

2

0

West Midlands

6

5

3

3

12

2

3

7

11

3

East of England

23

6

7

0

1

11

9

5

0

2

London

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

South East

19

9

6

3

4

0

0

3

2

3

South West

4

14

0

0

0

4

2

11

12

8

Wales

6

4

5

8

3

3

1

2

7

0

England and Wales

171

76

69

53

48

59

63

101

98

58

1 Data are on the principal offence basis.

2 Includes the following statutes and corresponding offence descriptions :

Licensing (Occasional Permissions) Act 1983 Schedule (Sec 3) para 4(1). Licensing Act 1964 Sec 169(1). Holder of occasional permission or his agent knowingly selling to, knowingly allow consumption by or allowing any person to sell, intoxicating liquor to a person under 18. Selling etc. intoxicating liquor to person under 18 for consumption on the premises.

Licensing Act 2003 S.146

Sale of alcohol to person under 18.

3 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

Court proceedings data held by CJEA - Office for Criminal Justice Reform - Ministry of Justice.

Average fine levied for offences of selling alcohol to persons under 18, by region, all courts, England and Wales, 1997 to 2006, England and Wales

Average fine amount (£)

Offences

Region

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Selling etc. intoxicating liquor to persons under 18 for consumption on the premises; Sale of alcohol to person under 18

North East

321

237

164

110

118

250

259

221

204

443

North West

129

233

254

256

244

201

209

220

212

252

Yorkshire and Humberside

129

120

193

217

244

221

100

226

183

213

East Midlands

150

-

225

375

300

404

247

259

262

283

West Midlands

351

228

185

108

160

240

253

209

209

340

East of England

172

168

186

370

125

400

306

169

302

332

London

210

280

180

200

200

350

306

288

284

312

South East

314

317

175

250

250

183

306

281

361

282

South West

150

167

220

450

250

330

323

272

207

353

Wales

186

181

229

267

100

250

211

192

243

335

Total

227

212

194

206

208

249

253

237

246

305

Note:

These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected are subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

Source:

OMS, Analytical Services

Broadcasting: Political Impartiality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent research has been undertaken by Ofcom on impartiality in news reporting in public service broadcasting; and if he will make a statement. (212193)

This is a matter for Ofcom. Accordingly, my officials have asked the Chef Executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Library of both Houses.

Departmental Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's (a) chart of accounts and (b) resource account codes and usage descriptions for the current financial year. (210979)

The chart of accounts for 2008-09 reflects the Department's structure for the year and will not necessarily reflect the 2007-08 structure or that for future years. The chart shows the relationship between parent codes (used for preparing resource accounts) and child codes (used for more detailed management purposes). Each code has a brief description. I am arranging for copies of this document to be deposited in the House Libraries.

The Department intends to review its chart of accounts during the summer, which may result in changes to the chart or the descriptions used.

Football: Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will publish the UK statement of intervention in (a) FIFA's challenge to the European Commission's re-verification of the Belgian listed events regime and (b) FIFA's and UEFA's challenges to the re-verification of the UK listed events regime. (212382)

I do not intend to publish the UK's Statement in Intervention in relation to FIFA's challenge to the European Commission's re-verification of the Belgian list of events. The content of pleadings before the Court of First Instance is confidential and no third party may have access to this without the authorisation of the President of the Court of First Instance after the parties have been heard.

The UK has indicated its intention to intervene in the FIFA and UEFA challenges to the re-verification of the UK's list of events. However, Statements in Intervention in those cases are not yet due to be submitted to the Court.

Queen Elizabeth II: Anniversaries

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what funds his Department has allocated to events to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in 2012; (209290)

(2) what plans his Department has made for the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.

We are in discussions with the Royal Household as to how to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.

Television: Sight Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to encourage the introduction of talking menus for television services provided from digital platforms to assist the visually impaired. (209718)

A range of organisations and TV manufacturers are working on the technical development of talking menus for the mainstream TV market. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is supportive of this work and BERR, through their Usability Action Plan, will help in the promotion of products at the appropriate time.

Scotland

Departmental Furniture

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) chairs, (b) desks and (c) other office furnishings have been purchased by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years; and at what cost in each case. (211760)

The Scotland Office does not separately record the purchase of desks and chairs from other office furnishings; the total expenditure on office furnishings was:

£

2003-04

9,085

2004-05

32,236

2005-06

33,077

2006-07

15,989

2007-08

13,347

Electoral Commission Committee

Absent Voting

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what consideration the Commission has given to proposals to increase the integrity of postal ballots at elections. (212154)

While the Commission believes that recent legislative changes have resulted in improvements in postal ballot integrity, it maintains that further reform is necessary. Specifically, the Commission considers that individual electoral registration will provide a more secure foundation for postal voting in Great Britain. The Commission will continue to issue detailed guidance to all those involved in the electoral process.

Leader of the House

Departmental Home Working

To ask the Leader of the House how many staff in her Office are authorised to work from home. (212519)

Staff and managers are able to consider various forms of flexible working, including home working. Arrangements for home working are made locally by individual line managers and no record is held.

Church Commissioners

Ministers of Religion: Pay

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners when the Church Commissioners last met the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss the stipendiary pay of parish priests in rural areas. (212131)

The Church Commissioners met with the Archbishop only yesterday at the Annual General Meeting of the Church Commissioners at Lambeth Palace where I took the opportunity to discuss stipend levels.

I would advise the hon. Lady that the national stipends benchmark is £20,980 but dioceses set their own policy on the application of national recommendations.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on the Government's biofuels policy. (211876)

We have received a number of representations from a range of stakeholders, including hon. Members, environmental and industry bodies, the food sector and the public on various issues concerning biofuels.

Carbon Emissions: Advisory Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many enquiries the green homes service pilot has dealt with since 2 April 2008, broken down by type of enquiry. (211017)

The number of inquiries dealt with by the Green Homes Service for April and May 2008, (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland but not Scotland), are shown in the following table:

April

May

In-bound telephone calls

31,586

23,019

Total verbal customer contacts

45,737

42,822

Overall customers receiving advice

91,595

70,512

As well as telephone contacts, figures for in-bound telephone calls include face-to-face contact at promotional and awareness-raising events.

The overall figures for customers receiving advice includes those who have completed a home energy check and received feedback, and those who have contacted the service electronically.

The type of inquiries are listed as follows:

By inquiry type:

Inbound calls 34 per cent.

Commit campaign participants 30 per cent.

Completed Home Energy Check 26 per cent.

Questionnaires 7 per cent.

Outbound call 3 per cent.

Letter/e-mail <1 per cent.

By inquiry topic—not mutually exclusive:

Energy efficiency 94 per cent.

Transport 8 per cent.

Renewables 4 per cent.

Waste/water <1 per cent.

Climate Change: Arctic

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what forecasts his Department has made of the area of Arctic summer sea ice in each year from 2008 to 2013; on what evidential basis these forecasts have been made; and if he will make a statement. (211214)

Coastal Areas: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research on the potential effect of the digging of a deep channel in the Thames adjacent to (a) the Canvey Island sea defences and (b) the Sir Richard Montgomery ammunition ship wreck; and if he will make a statement. (209630)

The dredging of the Thames to provide navigation, manoeuvring and berthing depth for the ships using the new port, will be carried out under Tidal Works Approval from the Port of London Authority (PLA). An application for Tidal Works Approval is to be submitted to the PLA shortly. The Environment Agency will be consulted on this application and will consider the impact of the dredging work on the flood defence structures as part of its assessment of the application.

The navigation channel, which will be deepened to accommodate vessels using the new port, is approximately 2 km from the wreck. D. P. World, the developer of the London Gateway Port, is aware of the existence of the wreck and the company’s dredging contractor will have no need to work in close proximity to it.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what training courses were (a) available to and (b) taken up by civil servants in his Department in the last 12 months. (210576)

DEFRA encourages staff to develop their skills and capability outside of traditional training courses. Over the past 12 months DEFRA staff had access to a range of management training aligned to the organisation's strategic objectives. Management Information shows that 2,436 core DEFRA staff attended internal training courses in the last financial year.

Dry Stone Walls

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the length and proportion of dry stone walls in each of the national parks in England that is in a ruinous state. (211470)

I have made no estimate of the length and proportion of dry stone walls in each of the National Parks that are in a ruinous state.

Environment Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons contractors have replaced the Environment Agency’s electricians, carpenters, welders and divers at its in-house craft workshop in the Thames Region. (208429)

The Environment Agency has contracted out craft work of a non-emergency nature. Craft posts required for emergency response at critical assets remain in-house.

The reasons for contracting out work include:

contractors are better able to use specialist craft skills;

reorganisation will provide better value and a more rational structure;

contractors do this work every day as it is their core business and are more likely to innovate;

Thames’ craft teams are generally small and there were difficulties recruiting and maintaining skills; and

long-term contractual arrangements provide more certainty about maintenance standards.

Thames region has largely been able to use current contractors to undertake the work which was previously undertaken in-house. The review has led to no forced redundancies.

Fertilisers: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to try to mitigate the effects of rising fertiliser prices on farmers. (211987)

We are aware that current high energy prices are having a knock-on effect on the price of manufactured ‘inorganic’ fertilisers. Hilary Benn recently discussed this issue when he met the Agricultural Industries Confederation, which represents the UK fertiliser sector. We are alert to the potential impact high fertiliser prices may have on farmers and we will continue to monitor the situation.

Farmers will need to make greater use of best practice to ensure efficient fertiliser use. Some farmers will also need to consider increased use of ‘organic’ fertilisers such as manures. Other options include the use of digestate from Anaerobic Digestion.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the National Flood Emergency Framework set out in the Pitt Review on the summer floods of 2007; and when he expects the framework to be implemented. (210428)

DEFRA is preparing the timetable and a project plan with support from the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) and have drawn together a Project Board and terms of reference with a view to implementing a National Framework for flooding over the coming two years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent in the last 18 months on improving flood defences; and on which defences. (210430)

Between 1 November 2006 and 31 May 2008 the Environment Agency spent approximately £720 million in England on flood defence related activity including asset maintenance, flood warning, mapping, development control and capital projects. The total capital expenditure was around £316 million, the majority being used to build new defences and improve existing ones.

Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the level of public awareness of the need for flood kits and practical home improvements in case of a flood; and if he will make a statement. (211899)

According to DEFRA’s own research, only about one-third of flooded households and less than one in 10 non-flooded households have taken any measures to mitigate the effects of flooding and very few have purchased protection measures for their home.

DEFRA has funded six pilots (at a cost of £500,000) to examine the feasibility of developing a grant scheme for householders on flood resilience. These pilots have just completed and we are expecting their final reports in the near future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the implementation of a telephone flood warning scheme; and if he will make a statement. (211901)

The Environment Agency has delivered a telephone flood warning service since 1996. Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD), implemented in 2006, sends flood warnings by telephone, fax, text, pager, or e-mail to customers registered on the system.

This system is supported by the Floodline service, operational since 1999, which provides the public with an alternative telephone route to gaining localised flooding information.

Since June 2007, 73,390 people have registered with FWD. The total number of people now registered on the system is 328,336.

The Pitt Review interim report recommended that the Environment Agency should work urgently with telecommunications companies to roll-out ‘opt-out’ telephone flood warning schemes to all homes and businesses liable to flooding, including ex-directory households.

The Environment Agency is working closely with British Telecom and Ofcom to progress efforts to transfer data from the Emergency Services Database to Flood Warnings Direct. This database has been identified as the most appropriate information source to deliver an ‘opt-out’ approach for Flood Warnings Direct.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for the development of the (a) draft and (b) final National Flood Emergency Framework. (211904)

DEFRA is preparing the timetable and a project plan with support from the civil contingencies secretariat (CCS) with a view to implementing a National Framework for flooding over the coming two years.

While an initial document is expected to be ready to share before the end of the year, the timetable has yet to be finalised. We must ensure that not only a document is produced, but moreover, that each attribute of the framework is delivered during this time frame.

Floods: Utilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made to safeguard the critical infrastructure of utility companies from flooding. (210429)

In response to the Interim Pitt Report, the Government have agreed to set up a Natural Hazards team, dedicated to reducing the disruption caused by natural events to national infrastructure.

Insulation: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions resulted from illegal disposal of plastic foam insulation containing ozone-depleting substances in each year since 2004. (210481)

The Environment Agency have advised that there have been no prosecutions resulting specifically from the illegal disposal of foam insulation containing ozone-depleting substances since 2004.

Livestock: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) his Department and (b) the Rural Payments Agency has power to impose further sanctions on farmers convicted for cruelty to farm animals. (211237)

[holding answer 16 June 2008]: Anyone may take a prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. On conviction, the maximum penalties available for an offence of unnecessary suffering are a fine of £20,000 or six month's imprisonment, or both. The maximum penalties for failing to provide for the welfare of an animal are a fine of £5,000 or six month's imprisonment, or both.

The court may, in addition to any other punishment on conviction, deprive a person of ownership of an animal. The court may also disqualify the person convicted from having custody of any animal for such a period as it thinks fit. This could mean a lifetime ban from keeping animals. Additionally, DEFRA may refuse authorisation to transport animals to farmers within three years of conviction for such an offence.

If Animal Health finds that animal welfare is compromised on the farm of a single farm payment claimant, they may report this as a breach to the RPA (in England), who may apply a penalty reduction in the calendar year in which the breach occurred. While civil (via cross compliance) and criminal proceedings could arise out of the same offence, penalties cannot be applied retrospectively by the RPA in response to the conviction of a claimant for animal welfare offences.

Marine Management Organisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) for what reasons the proposed Marine Management Organisation will not have responsibility for the registration of fishing vessels; (211557)

(2) what consideration he has given to transferring (a) regulation of offshore oil and gas licensing, (b) regulation of ship-to-ship oil transfer, (c) regulation of merchant shipping and (d) registration of fishing vessels to the proposed Marine Management Organisation; and if he will make a statement.

The proposed Marine Management Organisation will be the Government's regulator of most activities in the marine environment—with some exceptions, as set out in the policy document published alongside the draft Marine Bill.

The Marine Bill White Paper published in March 2007 explained that the current system of licensing oil and gas infrastructure and activity works well, and there is no compelling evidence that integrating it with others would achieve any benefits. The Government therefore intend the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) to remain responsible for delivering this service.

Similarly, careful consideration has been given by DEFRA and the Department for Transport (DFT) to the relationship between the MMO and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)—an executive agency of the Department for Transport, responsible throughout the UK for implementing the Government's maritime safety policy, including the co-ordination of search and rescue at sea, ensuring that ships meet UK and international safety rules, and the environmental control of shipping in UK waters.

It is important to maintain the MCA as a separate organisation with a clear, single focus on shipping and maritime safety. The regulation of merchant shipping (including ship-to-ship oil transfer) sits firmly within the MCAs remit.

DEFRA and DfT officials are currently considering whether the MMO should take on responsibility for the registration of fishing vessels which is currently delivered across the UK by MCA alongside the registration of non-fishing vessels.

Part 1, chapter 3 of the draft Marine Bill provides flexible arrangements to enable the delivery of marine functions by the MMO. This provides a flexible tool which could enable any Secretary of State to enter into an arrangement with the MMO to deliver any marine functions in the future were this considered the most effective and efficient delivery mechanism.

The MMO will need to develop effective working relationships with a range of other bodies with responsibilities in the marine area—including the MCA and BERR. We envisage Memoranda of Understanding being drawn up between the MMO and these other bodies to clarify how they will work together.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to employ consultants to advise on the creation of the Marine Management Organisation. (211558)

DEFRA is seeking to follow best practice in establishing the Marine Management Organisation, taking into account the lessons learned from the establishment of other non-departmental public bodies, including Natural England. This includes ensuring appropriate expertise is available and may include the use of consultants if appropriate.

Consultants are currently engaged in providing an independent recommendation on the location of the headquarters office of the Marine Management Organisation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he plans to take to protect staff of the proposed Marine Management Organisation from personal litigation arising from their discharge of Government functions; (212010)

(2) what assessment he has made of the implications for staff of the proposed Marine Management Organisation of being post holders in the organisation rather than Crown servants; and if he make a statement.

The proposed Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will be an Executive non-departmental public body (NDPB) and its staff will be public servants. Staff within core Departments and the Marine and Fisheries Agency delivering functions that will transfer to the MMO are civil servants.

Staff transferring to the MMO would do so under the Cabinet Office Statement of Practice using TUPE principles and there would therefore be no detriment to pay or terms of employment at the point of transfer. Any future changes would only happen through proper consultation with the relevant trade unions.

The staff of the MMO will have the opportunity to work within an organisation making a significant contribution to the sustainable management of our seas—through the first marine planning system of its kind in the world, streamlined, modern and fit for purpose licensing regimes and effective, joined up enforcement. The Marine and Fisheries Agency is working to prepare itself as an organisation and its staff to form a solid foundation for the MMO.

When acting in the course of their duties for the MMO employees will be unlikely to face personal litigation, in the same way that civil servants are unlikely to. Decisions taken are on behalf of the MMO so any potential claim would lie against the MMO not an individual officer. Civil servants only enjoy immunity where Crown immunity applies in specific circumstances—they have no general immunity.

The draft Marine Bill does however give specific immunity to Marine Enforcement Officers appointed by the MMO and other enforcement officers. These officers need to be protected when they carry out inspections and investigations out at sea and on land to prevent their freedom to perform their duties being hampered by a fear of legal action being taken against them. The immunity applies so long as the enforcement officers are acting lawfully within their powers.

This mirrors the position for existing officers, for example, British Sea Fisheries Officers (BSFOs).

Noise: Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish the National Noise Strategy for England; and if he will make a statement. (208874)

The Government plan to publish for consultation a combined National Noise Strategy for England, covering ambient and neighbourhood noise, later this year.

Pesticides: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will support proposed EU legislation to ban crop protection products that are carcinogens, mutagens, reprotoxic, endocrine disrupters or bio-accumulating toxins. (212254)

The Government agree that plant protection products should be properly controlled, and supports much of the proposed regulation, particularly where it would improve harmonisation and help level the playing field in pesticide availability. The Government are, however, concerned that these proposals for hazard ‘cut-off’ criteria could remove some active substances which are very important for agriculture and horticulture, but without securing any meaningful benefit in terms of consumer safety. We are pressing for changes to address these concerns.

Pigs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support his Department is providing to pig farmers and the pig industry; and what account he has taken of soya and grain prices in determining the level of such support. (211937)

The economic difficulties faced by pig producers in the last year have been driven by a number of factors, in particular the rising cost of feed ingredients. On feed, the UK has supported the Commission’s measures aimed at reducing market pressure, including the suspension for a further year of import duties on feed grains, the re-selling of the remaining intervention stocks of grain and the removal of the requirement for farmers to set-aside land for the 2008 harvest.

DEFRA has been supportive of the pig industry and we worked together to reopen markets outside the EU following the FMD outbreak in 2007. DEFRA also provided, after that outbreak, a £12.5 million aid package to the livestock farming sector, including £2 million to promote the marketing of pork and other red meat.

However, the long-term sustainability of the pig sector will depend on its ability to compete successfully in the market place, with performance, quality and welfare standards as essential factors. The price for pig products is a matter for the market to decide, as long as competition law is being complied with.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with Scottish counterparts on assisting pig farmers with input costs; and if he will make a statement. (211938)

My Department is in regular contact with Scottish counterparts on issues affecting the pig and livestock issues, including UK support for Commission measures to ameliorate market pressures on the cost of feed.

Pitt Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether the £34.5 million commitment to implement the recommendations of the Pitt Review on Flooding is in addition to or included in the cost of implementing the urgent recommendations of the Pitt Review; (211833)

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the cost of implementing each of the recommendations of the Pitt Review on Flooding; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how much his Department has spent to date on implementing the urgent recommendations of the Pitt Review on Flooding.

The initial provision of £34.5 million has been set aside to fund work arising from the Pitt Review. This will not necessarily cover all the recommendations, and is subject to further review. We will determine how this should be spent when we see the final Pitt Report and the priorities which it contains.

None of the £34.5 million has so far been allocated. The costs spent to date on implementing the urgent recommendations have been absorbed by the bodies to which they fell so it is not possible to provide a precise figure.

Welsh Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the level of demand for the services provided by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies and non-departmental bodies to be provided in the Welsh language; and if he will make a statement. (210545)

Our current assessment is that the level of demand for the services provided by core DEFRA and its agencies and non-departmental public bodies to be provided in the Welsh language is falling slightly. This assessment is based on a comparison of the number of requests received by DEFRA’s Translation Section to translate documents into Welsh in financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08, set out in the following table:

Number of requests received

Financial year

Core department

Agencies and NDPBs

Total

2006-07

32

46

78

2007-08

22

38

60

World Environment Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department took to mark World Environment Day on 5 June 2008. (210729)

World Environment Day 2008 focused on moving towards a low carbon economy, complementing DEFRA’s Act On CO2 campaign, which encourages behavioural change and increased understanding of the link between CO2 emissions and climate change. The Act On CO2 calculator helps people to work out and reduce their carbon footprint. To coincide with World Environment Day, DEFRA announced that the calculator received its one millionth unique visitor.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) attended the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg. Discussions focused on EU-wide emissions targets, the Carbon Trading scheme, and vehicle emissions targets.

To mark World Environment Day, I attended and spoke at the UK Final of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, a global award scheme for young British entrepreneurs who are engaging with climate change.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste (Joan Ruddock) attended the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and Birmingham city council’s joint climate change festival and gave a speech welcoming the launch of the city council’s Climate Change Strategy. The Minister also visited one of the 38 schools in Birmingham that marked World Environment Day by showing first hand how teachers were integrating messages about climate change into the national curriculum.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the modifications which could be made to Land Rovers to give greater security to troops operating in Afghanistan and Iraq. (211425)

The protection available to the Land Rover fleet is under constant review. A number of improvements have been made to provide ballistic and blast protection and further programmes are under way to provide additional protection enhancements within the limits of the vehicle capability. I am withholding the details of these measures as release would or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many armed forces personnel were placed on standby for deployment prior to the planned firefighters' strike in 2005; (211963)

(2) how many armed forces personnel were deployed in support of responses to the foot and mouth outbreaks in (a) 2001 and (b) 2007.

During the national fire fighters' strikes in 2002 and 2003 approximately 19,000 members of the armed forces, drawn from the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force were deployed to provide fire cover at the request of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).

In 2005, armed forces were deployed to provide fire cover at the request of ODPM during two industrial disputes. In Suffolk, 115 personnel were deployed and in the west midlands 451 personnel were deployed to provide fire cover.

Armed Forces: Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many courts martial have taken place in each year since 2001. (211960)

The following table shows the number of individuals who have been tried by court martial in each calendar year since 2001.

Number

2001

810

2002

625

2003

610

2004

635

2005

800

2006

730

2007

760

20081

320

1 As at 31 May.

Note:

Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

Armed Forces: Dorset

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which military units of company strength or larger are based (a) temporarily and (b) permanently in the county of Dorset. (212467)

The following military units of company strength, and above, are based in Dorset:

Serial

Unit

Location

1

‘A’ Squadron Royal Wessex Yeomanry

Bovington

2

233 Transport Squadron, 155 Transport Regiment (V)

Poole

3

Defence College of Command and Information Systems

Blandford

4

Royal School of Signals

Blandford

5

11 Signal Regiment

Blandford

6

HQ Blandford Garrison

Blandford

7

HQ Signal Officer in Chief

Blandford

8

Defence Fuels Group and School of Petroleum

Wimbourne

9

HQ Bovington Garrison

Bovington

10

HQ Armoured Centre and Royal Armoured Corps Training Centre

Bovington

11

Gunnery School and HQ Lulworth Station

Wareham

12

Armoured Support Company (Royal Marines unit)

Bovington

13

1 Assault Group Royal Marines

Poole

14

Detachment Royal Marines Reserve

Poole

All the units listed are permanently based at the locations shown.

Armed Forces: Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects of an interruption in fuel supply arising from industrial action on the armed forces; (211529)

(2) what contingency plans his Department has made for interruptions in supply of fuel arising from industrial action; what collaboration with other Government Departments his Department has undertaken in developing such plans; and whether such plans include further collaboration with other Departments.

Officials regularly undertake assessments of the Department's predicted fuel usage and assess the impact on Defence outputs of any shortages. In the event of extreme disruptions to the fuel supply, Defence activities would be considered alongside wider Government priorities and fuel supplies would be allocated accordingly.

Defence has a standing contingency plan to ensure that it is able to maintain its core outputs in the event of fuel disruption, regardless of its cause. Defence officials are in regular contact with officials in other Government Departments, in particular the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) who are the lead Government Department for these types of incidents. The contingency plans are currently being updated to reflect the latest version of the National Emergency Plan for Fuel which has been published by BERR.

The Cabinet Office's Civil Contingencies Secretariat co-ordinates the Government's approach to planning for and responding to all civil contingencies. As a central Government Department, the MOD routinely takes part in this work.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Congleton on 5 March 2008, Official Report, column 2553W, on armoured fighting vehicles, on which date his Department signed the contract to procure Ridgeback vehicles. (211991)

The vehicles are being supplied under a Foreign Military Sales case and the US Marine Corps Systems Command is responsible for the contract with Force Protection Industries Inc. The contract for the base vehicles was awarded on 19 May 2008.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Spare Parts