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Written Answers

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Wednesday 23 July and Friday 29 August 2008

Transport

Airports: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average time taken to pass through security checks at each London airport was in the latest period for which figures are available. (218658)

The Department for Transport's report on improving the Air Passenger Experience (November 2007) provided some indications of security waiting times at Heathrow and Gatwick based on BAA data. Average daily queues were less than 10 minutes for 95 per cent. or more of the time at Heathrow in August 2007.

No Government published data are currently available on average time taken to pass through security checks. The Department has also commissioned the Civil Aviation Authority to collect data on the average time taken through security checks at four selected UK airports.

Aviation: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how she plans to measure the emissions from UK aviation when the sector is included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. (218791)

The UK reports annually to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFGCC) estimates of emissions from UK sales of aviation fuels—known as "bunker fuels"—for domestic and international aviation. In doing so, the UK follows guidelines published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Estimates of emissions from fuel used for international aviation do not form part of the UK's national emissions inventory, as there has been no international agreement on how to allocate them to individual countries.

The Government will continue to press internationally for an approach that would allocate responsibility for international aviation emissions, and therefore require action to be taken globally to address them. Such allocation may be, for example, to countries or to the international aviation sector as a whole.

The inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) will not change directly international reporting arrangements. The Government do not believe that inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS will provide a suitable emissions allocation methodology. Responsibility for meeting the cap will be placed directly on airlines; responsibility for regulating airlines will be placed on member states, in a process designed to achieve administrative simplicity. As a result, the UK regulator will be responsible for administering airlines from the UK and other countries, some of whose flights will not pass through UK airspace or land at a UK airport.

The EU ETS will cap emissions from flights arriving in, or departing from, the EU. Any growth in emissions above that cap will require airlines to pay for equivalent emissions reductions from elsewhere within the scheme, thereby maintaining total emissions below the cap. The UK's reports to the UNFCCC on emissions from bunker fuels would not reflect achievement of the EU ETS cap. The differences between the UNFCCC and EU regimes reflect the different purposes for which they were established.

Aviation: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the financial (a) incentives and (b) disincentives to (i) airport operators and (ii) airlines to provide good passenger service. (216323)

Currently, airlines compete for customers on a number of factors including price, route and passenger service. They must also comply with the EU regulation on denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights (Reg (EC) 261/2004) by providing passengers with the requisite refreshments, accommodation, re-routing or compensation.

The Secretary of State for Transport announced a review of the economic regulation of airports on 22 April 2008, Official Report, columns 149-50WS. Among other aims this work will look at how best to provide incentives to improve passenger experience.

In addition, in November 2007 the Secretary of State for Transport wrote to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in its capacity as the Government's expert aviation adviser and in accordance with section 16(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, requesting advice on passengers' experience in two areas where responsibility for delivering a good passenger service lies with a combination of bodies. These areas were passage through airports, with particular reference to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, and the resilience of airports to recover from problems such as extreme weather conditions. Work by the CAA is under way.

Departmental Appeals

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions her Department and its predecessor instructed the Treasury Solicitor to seek leave to appeal to the House of Lords from (a) the Court of Appeal and (b) the House of Lords itself in each of the last 10 years; and on how many occasions the application was rejected. (220814)

This information is not held in the form requested and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her Department’s policy is on improving the energy efficiency of the buildings which it (a) rents and (b) owns; what changes there have been in the energy efficiency of such buildings in the last (i) five and (ii) 10 years; and whether her Department has adopted targets on energy efficiency improvements in the buildings it occupies over the next (A) five and (B) 10 years. (221091)

The Department for Transport is committed to achieving the published Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets, which include improving the energy efficiency of its estate by 15 per cent. by 2010 and by 30 per cent. by 2020. The target does not differentiate between rented and owned buildings.

The Department for Transport can confirm that by 2006-07 its energy efficiency performance had not improved in comparison to our baseline year of 2002-03. However, we fully expect the 2007-08 figures to show an improvement of at least 10 per cent. against the baseline, in the next Sustainable Development Commission annual report. The Department for Transport was formed in its current format under Machinery of Government changes in 2002. We therefore do not have figures prior to financial year 2002-03.

An initial step towards achieving the SOGE targets was the commissioning of a Carbon Management Energy Efficiency report by the Carbon Trust. This report centred on the five major areas of the Department which will give the highest reduction in Carbon emissions and subsequent improvement in energy efficiency. The Department is currently developing detailed implementation plans from the recommendations of this report.

Some of the specific steps being taken include:

The introduction of Smart metering at a number of the departmental sites;

The aim of achieving Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) “Excellent” rating on all new builds and “Excellent” or “Very Good” ratings for all major refurbishments;

The adoption of Office of Government Commerce (OGC) “Quick Win” standards as a minimum requirement as part of our sustainable procurement action plan;

Extending Environmental Management Systems;

Improving Building Management System controls; and

Exploring the opportunities for self generated energy.

In addition the Department for Transport is actively participating in the Display Energy Certificate initiative being implemented by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account her Department takes of the level of energy efficiency of buildings before entering into agreements to (a) rent and (b) purchase those buildings. (221107)

The Department is committed to purchasing new freehold offices with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of A or B and aims to do the same for leased offices wherever practicable.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which organisations have received (a) free and (b) discounted room hire from (i) her Department and (ii) its agencies in each of the last five years; and what the commercial value of the discount was in each case. (221589)

The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, during the last five years the following organisations have received free accommodation at Department for Transport buildings:

Benenden Healthcare

Charities Trust

Civil Service Benevolent Fund

Civil Service Healthcare

Civil Service Motoring Association

Institute of Civil Engineers

Medifit Healthcare

National Blood Service

PCS Trade Union

Prospect Trade Union.

The Driving Standards Agency provided the Friends of Cardington free use of the cinema at the Cardington training facility (Bedford) on 4 July 2008. The commercial value of hiring the cinema for an evening would be £275.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s Richard Ley Development Centre (Swansea) offers a Government/public sector 25 per cent. discount rate for use of its facilities. During the last five years the discounted rate has been offered to the following external organisations:

Arts Council of Wales

Environment Agency Wales

Mid and West Wales Fire Service

National Assembly

South Wales Police Authority

Swansea City Council

Swansea Council for Voluntary Services

Swansea Local Health Board

Swansea Local Education Authority.

Departmental Communications

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in (a) her Department and (b) its agencies (i) are classified as Government communicators and (ii) have access to the Government Communication Network. (215110)

The information is as follows:

(i) Government Communicators

The Department does not have a ‘communicator’ grade. Figures shown are for communications specialists engaged in a range of communications activities including news media, marketing, publicity, strategic communications, internal communications, e-communications and speechwriting. The full-time equivalent (FTE) number employed is estimated as follows using information readily available and dated February 2008.

Estimated communicators February 2008

DFT Central

57.9

DSA

15

DVLA

34.3

GCDA

1

HA

24.8

MCA

5.5

VCA

2.5

VOSA

9

DFT agencies

92.1

The DFT(C) figure is only for relevant staff working in the Department’s Communication Directorate. DFT(C) also employs other staff who may perform communication roles but numbers are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

(ii) Government Communication Network

All civil servants in the Department may register to access services of the Government Communication Network and those in a communication role may become a member and access additional network resources.

Departmental Overtime

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost of overtime payments paid to staff in her Department was in each of the last 12 months, broken down by pay grade. (221289)

Departmental Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of paper used (a) for photocopying and (b) in printed publications by her Department was from recycled sources in each of the last two years. (220733)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 2 May 2007, Official Report, columns 1672-73W, for percentage figures relating to 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07.

The following tables show the percentage of paper containing recycled content used in 2007-08:

Percentage of photocopier paper with recycled content

2007-08

DFT(C)

99.94

DVLA

100

DSA

99

GCDA

100

HA

100

MCA

100

VCA

100

VOSA

99

Percentage of paper with recycled content used in printed publications

2007-08

DFT(C)

1100

DVLA

91

DSA

100

GCDA

95

HA

100

MCA

100

VCA

100

VOSA

75

1 Figure refers to publication work carried out by central Communications Directorate only.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by press officers in her Department in each of the last three financial years. (221166)

The Department reimburses staff only for expenses necessarily incurred in the course of official business. Expenses reimbursed to press officers in the last three financial years are set out as follows where readily available.

£

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

DFT Central

1,776

1,528

4,247

DSA

1,925

1,883

1,620

HA

12,387

13,978

14,568

VOSA

696

859

711

The Highways Agency has seven regional press officers to support its new traffic officer service and seven regional control centres. These press officers are employed to raise awareness of the traffic officers and the agency’s role as network operator for England’s motorways and major A roads. These press officers have to travel between the regional control centres, outstations and Highways Agency offices, as well as travelling to media opportunities and to accompany journalists during visits to the HA network and premises.

Press officer activities in most Executive agencies are not carried out by staff or units solely dedicated to this purpose. GCDA and VCA have no press officers, and DVLA and MCA are unable to identify press officer reimbursements without disproportionate cost.

Departmental Planning Applications

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Horsham of 7 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1184-86W, on departmental planning applications, what licensing hours the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (a) applied for and (b) was granted. (221273)

The times the licence authorises the carrying out of licensable activities is:

Supply of Alcohol

Monday to Saturday—10.00 hours to 23.00 hours

Sunday—12.00 hours to 22.30 hours

As far as we are aware this is what the DVLA applied for and was granted.

Departmental Postal Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department has taken to monitor the cost of its mail services in the last 12 months. (221485)

The Department for Transport actively monitors the cost of its mail services on a regular basis, using the most economical delivery service wherever possible, with the default for outgoing mail being second class post. Listed as follows are some examples of actions undertaken:

The Highways Agency monitors on a monthly basis locational spend against forecasted expenditure and has also reviewed the internal mail delivery service in order to ensure best value.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has already implemented a combination of software and mechanical sorting equipment to increase the volume of outbound mail discounts. Over the last 12 months DVLA has ensured that mail services contracts have been, managed robustly, and worked closely with Royal Mail and DX Group to ensure effective products have been utilised, and that both volume and price discounts have been maximised.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has undertaken a review of processes and highlighted potential for savings via improved supplier processes and shared best practice. VOSA's business design authority, will, in possession of these data, develop an improvement project which will deliver:

a single contract supplier of postal services

a single contract supplier of parcel services

centralised invoicing for parcels and franking machines

a best practice guide for all areas

reduced process costs

an opportunity to reduce spend by about £100,000.

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her Department's policy is on requesting discounts from its suppliers in return for swift payment of invoices. (220423)

The Department for Transport will consider on a case by case basis whether requesting a discount for accelerated payment terms is appropriate. However, the department is committed to prompt payment and states that it will pay valid invoices within 30 days of receipt so tenderers base their pricing in the knowledge of swift payment.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) listening exercises and (b) public forums her Department has held in each of the last two years; and what the (i) purpose, (ii) cost, (iii) private contractor and (iv) amount paid to the private contractor was in each case. (221340)

The Department engages with the public and its stakeholders on a wide range of subjects in a variety of ways. The Department is committed to further improve its engagement with its stakeholders and with transport users. In this engagement activity, sometimes private sector contractors are used and sometimes not.

Because of the wide range of engagement carried out by the Department and its agencies, this information is not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will list (a) the reviews and (b) public consultations initiated by her Department since 27 June 2007. (221366)

Details of the consultations and reviews initiated by the Department for Transport since 27 June 2007 have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Responsibilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which projects her Department has commissioned from (a) think tanks and (b) charities in each of the last two years for which figures are available; what the aim of each project was; which think tank or charity was commissioned; and how much was paid. (221617)

The information requested is not held centrally and the collation of the information could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many sick days were taken by employees in (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders in each of the last 10 years; what proportion of sick days taken this represented in each case; and if she will make a statement. (216169)

The Department for Transport, established in 2002, recorded the following annual returns in respect of sickness absence due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders:

Total days

Stress

Mental health and behavioural

Stress (Percentage)

Mental health and behavioural (Percentage)

2003

164,127.00

13,977.50

23,385.50

8.52

14.25

2004

176,444.00

19,721.00

24,305.00

11.18

13.77

2005

185,137.00

21,916.00

26,679.70

11.84

14.41

2006

190,574.00

19,944.70

28,941.70

10.47

15.19

2007

203,360.00

21,760.30

29,194.80

10.70

14.36

The Government Car and Despatch Agency and The Vehicle Certification Agency could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

The information requested from the Department for Transport's non-governmental bodies can be provided only at disproportionate cost also.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility have taken sick days due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders in each of the last 10 years; what proportion of staff of each body this represented in each year; and if she will make a statement. (216170)

The Department for Transport, established in 2002, recorded the following annual returns in respect of sickness absence due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders:

Number of staff absence for stress

Number of staff absence for mental health/behavioural

Total employees

Stress (Percentage)

Mental health/behavioural (Percentage)

2003

408

511

17,513

2.33

2.92

2004

514

577

19,791

2.60

2.92

2005

637

600

19,418

3.28

3.09

2006

636

715

19,824

3.21

3.61

2007

688

730

20,046

3.43

3.64

The Government Car and Despatch Agency and The Vehicle Certification Agency could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

The information requested from the Department for Transport's non-governmental bodies can be provided only at disproportionate cost also.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average duration of single periods of sick leave taken by staff in (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility who gave (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders as the reason for their absence was in each of the last 10 years; and if she will make a statement. (216171)

The Department for Transport, established in 2002, recorded the following average periods of sickness for stress and mental health and behavioural disorders related absence.

Stress

Average duration (days)

DfTc

DSA

DVLA

HA

MCA

VOSA

2003

27.3

19.0

24.8

81.0

18.8

33.3

2004

38.8

27.0

27.8

88.9

27.8

26.9

2005

16.3

28.2

27.4

49.2 .

52.6

30.9

2006

20.1

24.2

22.7

55.2

44.2

34.0

2007

34.3

19.6

21.1

43.6

25.6

38.8

Mental health and behavioural disorders

Average duration (days)

DfTc

DSA

DVLA

HA

MCA

VOSA

2003

38.9

18.0

44.2

58.1

14.4

29.2

2004

48.9

22.6

31.7

80.0

16.5

24.8

2005

56.5

20.5

35.2

44.7

30.5

33.4

2006

27.0

27.6

33.5

40.5

47.6

35.8

2007

22.1

32.1

25.5

38.3

26.9

35.1

The Government Car and Despatch Agency and The Vehicle Certification Agency could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

The information requested from the Department for Transport’s non-governmental bodies can be provided only at disproportionate cost also.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average duration of single periods of sick leave taken by staff in (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility was in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. (216172)

The central Department and its agencies recorded the following average durations of single periods of sick leave taken by staff in each of the last five years:

Average duration (days)

DfTc

DSA

DVLA

HA

MCA

VOSA

2003

n/a

5.1

6.8

6.0

4.2

5.9

2004

8.5

6.2

7.0

7.0

4.7

5.7

2005

5.4

6.3

7.2

6.0

5.1

6.5

2006

4.6

7.3

7.5

7.0

6.1

7.6

2007

3.8

7.7

7.5

6.0

6.0

8.0

The Government Car and Despatch Agency and The Vehicle Certification Agency could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

The information requested from the Department for Transport’s non-governmental bodies can be provided only at disproportionate cost also.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what percentage of staff in her Department have had more than two periods of sickness absence of less than five days in each of the last three years. (218694)

The Central Department and its agencies recorded the following employees who have had more than two periods of sickness of less than five days in each of the last three years:

Number of staff with two or more periods of sickness of less than five days

Number of staff

Percentage of staff

2005

3,431

19,618

17.49

2006

3,206

20,080

15.97

2007

3,309

20,293

16.31

These figures exclude those of the Government Car and Despatch Agency who could provide this information only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in her Department have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last five years. (218974)

The Central Department and its agencies recorded 682 employees who have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last five years.

This figure excludes the Government Car and Despatch Agency who could provide the information only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Sick Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in (a) her Department , (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility have received sick pay for sick leave due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders in each of the last 10 years; what the average length of time was for which sick pay was paid in these cases; and if she will make a statement. (216173)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was paid in sick pay to staff in (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility in each of the last five years; what proportion of the staffing expenditure of each body this represented in each year; and if she will make a statement. (216174)

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department travelled (i) by car, (ii) by rail and (iii) by air on Government business in each year since her Department’s formation. (220513)

Driving Tests: Vetting

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were removed from the approved driving instructors register following a criminal conviction for a sexual offence in each of the last two years. (219454)

[holding answer 17 July 2008]: In February 2007, the Home Office added the profession of ‘driving instructor’ to its Notifiable Occupation Scheme. This means that the Registrar of Approved Driving Instructors should be notified by the police when an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) is convicted of an offence and therefore has an early opportunity to take appropriate action.

Since March 2007, Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs) have been required to undergo criminal records checks when applying to start the qualifying process. At the same time, the Driving Standards Agency began checking criminal records of existing ADIs.

From October 2007 ADIs applying to re-register or renew their registration have had to undergo criminal records checks. (This system was in full operation by April 2008).

Eight ADIs have been removed from the register since March 2007 as a result of a criminal records check revealing a conviction for a sexual offence.

Information on ADIs removed from the register as a result of a conviction for a sexual offence where identification of the offence was not the result of a criminal records check could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Driving Under The Influence

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the proposals by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer that a zero alcoholic drink driving limit should be set for drivers under the age of 20 years. (220445)

We have made no specific evaluation of this proposal, but the Government do not consider it feasible to introduce a zero alcohol limit for drivers of any age because it is possible for some alcohol to be present in the body from sources other than alcoholic drinks.

We are currently considering a range of options to make further progress in tackling drink driving and intend to publish a consultation document in the next few months.

East Coast Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the performance of rail services on the East Coast Main Line; and if she will review the National Express franchise against that assessment. (217280)

The Franchise Agreement specifies performance benchmarks which are continuously monitored by the Department for Transport. National Express East Coast is currently meeting its contracted commitments.

High Speed Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the environmental effects of modal shift arising from the creation of a new high-speed rail line to run alongside the current route of the (a) West and (b) East Coast Main Line. (219416)

In developing the July 2007 rail White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway, the Department for Transport commissioned work on various inter-urban capacity options. One element of this work sought to establish how much shift from air to rail would be needed to make up for the emissions generated by a high speed line. It concluded that the scale of the transfer required depended on the route of a new line.

The recently announced Network Rail New Lines Programme, in examining options for increasing rail capacity, will assess the likely transfer of passengers to any new line. It will also consider whether if there is a need for new lines in the future and whether it would make sense to design these for conventional or high speed use.

Lost Working Days

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many working days have been lost due to industrial action by employees for which her Department is responsible in each year since 1997. (218040)

Mayor of London

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings she had with the Mayor of London in the last 12 months. (217775)

The Secretary of State has had three meetings in total with the Mayor of London in the last 12 months. For clarity, two of these were with the former Mayor and the other was with the present Mayor.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 538W to the hon. Member for Romsey, on cars: Hampshire, what the information is on car registrations in each local authority in the United Kingdom. (217523)

A table showing the numbers of licensed cars at the end of 2007 registered in each local authority in Great Britain with carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the present Band F (186 to 225 g/km) and Band G (over 225 g/km) has been placed in the House Libraries.

Figures are not held centrally for Northern Ireland.

Motor Vehicles: Rural Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will develop policies to assist rural motorists who have no alternative to car transport in areas where petrol prices are particularly high. (219134)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury in response to the same question on 22 July 2008 (UIN 219135).

Motorway Service Areas: Public Lavatories

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance her Department provides on the (a) provision and (b) cleanliness of public toilets at motorway service areas. (214209)

Department for Transport Circular 01/2008 requires motorway service area operators to provide toilets and hand washing facilities for all road users, free of charge, every day of the year. The number of toilets operators are required to provide is linked to the traffic flow on the motorway which the facility serves.

Circular 01/2008 encourages motorway service area operators to comply with the Charter of the British Toilet Association.

Parking: Fines

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will establish a mechanism whereby members of the public can request independent investigation of car park operating companies in respect of (a) alleged breaches of the relevant code of practice and (b) appeals against the issuing of parking fines. (218336)

The Secretary of State has no power to establish such a mechanism relating to the use of private land for parking.

The independent British Parking Association publishes the voluntary code of practice for car park operating companies. Details are on the Association’s website at:

www.britishparking.co.uk

I am aware that the Home Office and the Security Industry Authority are currently considering the regulation of companies involved in vehicle immobilisation on private land.

Railways: Chorley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to ensure an increase in the (a) number of trains stopping per day and (b) number of carriages per train stopping at (i) Chorley and (ii) Adlington. (214099)

There are currently no plans to increase the level of services calling at Adlington. However, from December, First TransPennine Express will provide one additional service to Manchester calling at Chorley, together with additional capacity on two evening services.

Tamworth to Birmingham Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will take steps to facilitate an increase in the number of trains travelling between Tamworth and Birmingham. (215773)

The service planned by Arriva Trains Cross Country (ATCC) to operate from 14 December 2008 complies with the Department for Transport’s specification for services on this route.

From this date, ATCC will provide a half-hourly service between Birmingham and Tamworth as part of the half-hourly Birmingham—Nottingham service, supplemented by one call every two hours in the Plymouth—Edinburgh service.

Communities and Local Government

Allotments: Gloucestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many allotments there are in each local authority area in Gloucestershire. (218170)

We do not require local authorities to provide figures for the number of allotments in their area, so it is not possible to easily provide the answer. Allotments can be in the control of many different parties: borough, district, parish, town councils, church bodies and private societies.

However, we have been able to obtain some information, which is summarised in the following table.

Authority

Findings

Gloucester City Council

11 sites found on web, unable to find information on number of plots.

Tewkesbury BC

No information available.

Cheltenham BC

18 sites: Two church owned, one with unknown number of plots and one with ten. One private site with 80 plots. Remaining 15 sites contain 810 plots.

Cotswold DC

Allotments are managed by town and parish councils, no central data available.

Gloucestershire County Council

No reply within available time.

Forest of Dean DC

Allotments are managed by town and parish councils, no central data available.

Stroud DC

Allotments are managed by town and parish councils, no central data available.

Arm’s Length Management Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation a local authority is required to undertake before any significant change is made to management arrangements with an arm's length management organisation; what consultation is required before an arm's length management organisation is established; and if she will make a statement. (219788)

Under s105 of the Housing Act 1985 local authorities are required to consult with their tenants on any significant change in housing management arrangements. We would expect any such consultation to be as comprehensive as that undertaken to set up the ALMO. Tenants will have been fully involved in the decision to set up an ALMO, both as part of the options appraisal process and the consultation on the ALMO option itself.

We debated during passage of the Housing and Regeneration Bill whether a statutory ballot of tenants should be part of this consultation process. I did pledge during the passage of the Bill, that, although I disagreed with the amendments relating to this topic, when we look at the renewal of guidance, we might need to look at this issue again.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she issues to local authorities on the resolution of failings in an arm's length management organisation through discussions between the organisation and the Audit Commission. (219789)

Departmental ALMO guidance, updated in June 2006, and the “Review of Arms Length Management Organisations”, also published in June 2006 together with two other relevant documents, the “ALMO re-inspection framework”, and the “ALMO support framework” set out the Department's expectations around failing services in ALMOs.

The Audit Commission is one of a range of stakeholders who may be able to offer help should performance be an issue of concern to either the parent local authority or the ALMO itself. Local authorities can request this assistance on behalf of their ALMOs. The Commission has experience of offering such services to a wide range of local housing authorities that are looking at ways to improve their performance.

The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 establishes the Tenant Services Authority (TSA). Initially, the TSA will only regulate housing associations but the Bill includes an enabling power to allow it to regulate across the social housing domain via secondary legislation. In the longer term ALMOs will, via their parent local authority, be subject to the same regulatory regime as all social housing providers.

Carers

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to paragraph 3.11 in the Carers at the heart of 21st-century families and communities report, how much of the £150 million funding for breaks for carers of disabled children will be provided by her Department over each of the next two years. (220302)

Community Relations: Extremism

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what forums on extremism have been established by her Department in the last five years. (221535)

Forums on extremism established since the commitment made in the 2006 Local Government White Paper, were listed in an answer given to the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman) on 30 June 2008, Official Report, columns 619-20W. However, we recognise that local partners need arrangements suited to the needs and circumstances of their areas and that there are many approaches that can be adopted to engage effectively with communities. Many areas are taking forward alternative arrangements that involve forums which tackle broader issues linked to preventing extremism, some of which were listed in the answer of 30 June.

Council Housing: Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield, of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1629W, on council housing: offenders, what advice has been given on housing such individuals near residential areas with family dwellings. (221307)

Relevant advice was included in guidance issued to local housing authorities in November 1999 about their role in the management of risks presented by sex offenders. This was placed in the Library of the House in November 2000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield, of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1629W, on council housing: offenders, if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter to the housing authorities. (221308)

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what guidance has been provided to local authorities on the application of the Limitation Act 1980 to repayments by local billing authorities for council tax bills in cases where there has been an error in the banding of a domestic dwelling; (221223)

(2) what her Department’s policy is on the limiting of backdated claims for over-paid council tax in cases where the domestic property was incorrectly banded by the Valuation Office Agency.

Communities and Local Government has issued no guidance to local authorities on this matter. Decisions about the payment of backdated claims for over-paid council tax are a matter for individual billing authorities.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's policy is on improving the energy efficiency of the buildings which it (a) rents and (b) owns; what changes there have been in the energy efficiency of such buildings in the last (i) five and (ii) 10 years; and whether her Department has adopted targets on energy efficiency improvements in the buildings it occupies over the next (A) five and (B) 10 years. (220469)

The Department's policy on improving energy efficiency of the buildings it rents and owns is included in its Sustainable Operations Policy, a copy of which can be found in the Library of the House.

Numerous changes have been made to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings occupied over the last five to 10 years. Our records do not identify the years during this period in which specific measures were taken.

In 2006-07, the Department reported an energy efficiency improvement of 4 per cent. and 18 per cent. in the buildings occupied by its London HQ and its Executive agencies respectively, compared to 2002-03 levels.

The Department has mandatory energy efficiency targets which apply to all central Government Departments and their Executive agencies. These targets for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate require the Department to:

increase energy efficiency per m2 by 15 per cent. by 2010 and by 30 per cent. by 2020, relative to 1999-2000 levels; and

reduce carbon emissions by 12.5 per cent. by 2010-11, and by 30 per cent. by 2020 relative to 1999-2000 levels.

The Department also intends to act upon those opportunities identified in the Advisory Reports for its Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates as a further means to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings it rents and owns.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information technology projects initiated by her Department and its predecessors have been cancelled prior to completion in the last five years; and what the cost of each such project was to the public purse. (221715)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable), of 18 December 2006, Official Report, column 1644W. The Department has nothing further to report by way of cancelled information technology projects since.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by press officers in her Department and its agencies in each of the last three financial years. (221183)

The amount claimed in travel and subsistence by press officers in the Department and its predecessor Department, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, for each of the financial years has been:

Financial year

£

2005-06

13,951

2006-07

3,022

2007-08

2,676

1 ODPM

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's policy is on requesting discounts from its suppliers in return for swift payment of invoices. (220439)

The primary Departmental Procurement Policy is to achieve value for money.

Procurement therefore considers a range of measures to achieve value for money, including the attainment of discounts in return for prompter payment of invoices.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead, of 8 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1499-1500W, on departmental publication participation, if she will place in the Library a copy of the research and reports produced in relation to (a) the code for sustainable homes, (b) home information packs, (c) accountability of local services and (d) employee engagement workshop. (221306)

The following have been placed in the Library:

Code for Sustainable Homes, trade interviews

Home Information Packs, attitudes among buyers, sellers and estate agents

Accountability of Local Government Services omnibus poll, tables of the responses

Employee Engagement workshop: The workshop was part of a wider employment engagement survey with the Cabinet Office. The workshop outcomes were debriefed verbally to the Cabinet Office as an aid to the design of the questionnaire for the survey.

Eco-towns: Nature Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) by what means the Eco Towns Challenge Panels plans to take account of expertise in biodiversity and wildlife management and protection in the course of its work; (219527)

(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that the establishment and development of eco-towns does not undermine the preservation and protection of biodiversity.

The preservation of important wildlife and landscape assets is one of the key criteria for new eco-towns. The Eco-town Challenge Panel is an independent group of people with expertise in various aspects of urban and sustainable development. The Panel exists to encourage bidders by challenging them to improve and develop their proposals to the point where they can be regarded as truly exemplary projects, which fit well within their surroundings, demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development and represent a ‘step change’ beyond what would currently be regarded as best practice. Of the members of the Challenge Panel, three are experts in environmental issues.

Natural England, Government's agency working to conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment, was fully involved in the initial assessment and shortlisting of the eco-town proposals. Furthermore, there will shortly be a second Government consultation on a sustainability appraisal, which provides a more detailed assessment of locations, and a draft Planning Policy Statement, before we identify a final list. These locations will then need to go through the planning process and be subject to full public scrutiny, where impacts on biodiversity and natural assets will be key considerations at all stages.

The sustainability appraisal will consider the environmental, economic and social impacts of eco-towns policy both nationally and in the proposed locations. This will take account of work that local authorities may have already undertaken to test development options in their area and as part of the testing process we will also consider the habitats directive.

Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what reports her Department has received of cases of intentional property demolition to avoid empty property business rates in the latest period for which figures are available; (221222)

(2) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield, of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1637W, on non-domestic rates: empty property, if she will list each of the possible incidences reported to her Department, including the location and the nature of the alleged deliberate dilapidation.

As I indicated in my answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1637W, the Government have asked local authorities to provide information about how reforms to the empty property rate are working. The information provided will be based on the informed judgment of individual local authority officers and is being gathered as a broad indicator of the scale of possible avoidance activity and not a detailed survey. We will set out in an appropriate form our general findings in due course.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes are planned to be built in (a) North Northamptonshire and (b) England in the next five years. (206832)

Over 2008-12, the adopted East Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy sets out plans for 13,405 net additional dwellings in North Northamptonshire. Regional Spatial Strategies are currently under review to ensure delivery against the national target of 240,000 additional homes a year by 2016, as set out in last year's housing Green Paper.

Housing: Bournemouth

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the housing density is of Bournemouth. (220397)

Information on housing density is not compiled centrally.

We do however have the density of new build dwellings averaged over a four-year period. These are provided at local authority level on the CLG website in Live table P232. The web address for Live table P232 is:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/plariningandbuilding/xls/822906.xls

The average density of new build dwellings for the period 2003 to 2006 for the unitary authority of Bournemouth was 70 dwellings per hectare.

Housing: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local planning authorities can meet their house building targets by proposing development of land in other counties; and what powers they have of compulsory purchase in such circumstances. (221508)

[holding answer 22 July 2008]: The regional strategy preparation process, which involves input from local authorities, sets housing numbers for districts. These take into account the need and demand for housing within housing market areas and the strategic availability of land within individual districts. Therefore these numbers should be planned for by individual districts but we encourage joint working between districts in doing this.

The Local Government Act 1972 gives local authorities a qualified right to purchase land compulsorily outside their areas. Whether this is possible in any given case will depend on the specific enabling power to be used.

Housing: Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of economic migrants entering the UK in each of the last five years have been housed in the (a) owner-occupied, (b) social rented and (c) private rented sector. (219524)

Information on the current housing tenure of economic migrants who entered the UK during the past five years is not available.

However, the Department has information from the Survey of English Housing for 2005-06 and 2006-07 on the total number of recent migrant householders by housing tenure. It is estimated that of all migrant householders who arrived in the UK during the past two years and are currently living in England: 3 per cent. are in owner occupation; 7 per cent. are in the social rented sector; and 90 per cent. are in the private rented sector.

Housing: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department has taken to assist first-time buyers with property purchase; and which of these are available to those seeking to buy property in West Lancashire constituency. (221743)

The Government's Low Cost Home Ownership programme helps to make home ownership more affordable to first time buyers, and enables purchasers get a foot on the property ladder through its HomeBuy products: New Build HomeBuy, Open Market HomeBuy and Social HomeBuy.

New Build HomeBuy enables people to buy a minimum 25 per cent. share of a newly built property, paying a rent on the remainder. This includes the First Time Buyers Initiative.

Open Market HomeBuy enables people to buy a property on the open market with the help of an equity loan of up to 50 per cent.

Social HomeBuy enables tenants of participating local authorities and housing associations to buy a minimum 25 per cent. in their current home at a discount and pay rent on the remainder.

We have helped over 65,000 people into home ownership over the last three years, and as set out in the Housing Green Paper, we aim to help 75,000 more householders on to the property ladder over the next three years. The Government have recently announced a package of new initiatives to help more first time buyers, nationally, into affordable home ownership.

From 1 April two new equity loan products have been available through the Government's Open Market HomeBuy scheme. The loans provide first time buyers with more flexibility in the percentage of the value of their home that can be borrowed—to a maximum of 50 per cent., and more choice in the mortgage they can take out.

A new cash grant of £1,500 is available to the first 2000 purchasers who take-up the new equity loans to help with the costs of purchasing their first home. From 14 May we:

expanded the Open Market HomeBuy scheme to help 2,500 first time buyers to purchase a new build home in 2008-09;

introduced flexibility for purchasing unsold stock from housebuilders for social rent or low cost home ownership;

expanded the flexibility criteria so that all first time buyers with a household income under £60,000 will be eligible for our HomeBuy scheme.

Finally, last week we announced a new ‘Rent to HomeBuy’ scheme to support first time buyers into affordable home ownership by renting first and buying later.

Our Low Cost Home Ownership products, including the recent package of new initiatives, are available to first time buyers in West Lancashire.

Housing: Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes were built in (a) Leeds West constituency and (b) Leeds Metropolitan District which were heated by (i) gas and (ii) electricity in the latest period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (220769)

Data are not available for Leeds, West constituency but the Department publishes new build completions by district on its website. The number of new build completions as reported for the Leeds local authority area in 2007-08 is 3,052. The Department's statistics for new home completions do not include details of the form of heating used.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of social housing in each London borough is not of Decent Homes standard. (219277)

The Department collects information on non-decent social sector homes from local authorities through the Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA) annual return. Figures are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Non-decent homes owned by local authorities1 at 1 April 2007, by London borough

Non-decent homes

Percentage of total local authority stock non-decent

Barking and Dagenham

6,727

34.2

Barnet

3,388

30.5

Bexley

2

2

Brent

0

0.0

Bromley

2

2

Camden

11,321

47.7

City of London

679

35.9

Croydon

2,117

15.0

Ealing

4,439

32.1

Enfield

2,864

24.1

Greenwich

9,446

38.2

Hackney

8,776

37.5

Hammersmith and Fulham

4,183

31.7

Haringey

7,099

42.7

Harrow

3,680

72.5

Havering

3,397

31.4

Hillingdon

918

8.6

Hounslow

0

0.0

Islington

11,996

44.8

Kensington and Chelsea

1,657

23.9

Kingston upon Thames

1,129

23.2

Lambeth

8,528

29.2

Lewisham

12,152

46.8

Merton

1,289

20.1

Newham

10,842

58.1

Redbridge

1,357

28.8

Richmond upon Thames

2

2

Southwark

13,608

33.1

Sutton

4,088

56.2

Tower Hamlets

9,257

59.0

Waltham Forest

6,846

64.4

Wandsworth

138

0.8

Westminster

0

0.0

1 Retention authorities and Arm’s Length Management Organisations only. 2 LSVT—Large Scale Voluntary Transfer. One of the three options set out by Government for those authorities that need extra funding to meet the required Decent Homes standard. LSVT aims to deliver improved performance and services ensuring the extra money is spent cost-effectively. The council is free to focus on more strategic housing functions. Source: Communities and Local Government Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA).

These data are published by Communities and Local Government and can be obtained from the Department's website:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/localauthorityhousing/dataforms/357553/databyregion/

Equivalent figures for registered social landlords (RSLs) are displayed in Table 2. These figures are published and available on the Housing Corporation's website:

http://www.rsrsurvey.co.uk/

Table 2: Non-decent homes owned by RSLs at 31 March 2007, by London borough

Non-decent homes

Percentage of total stock non-decent

Barking and Dagenham

67

2.1

Barnet

444

6.5

Bexley

1,216

9.5

Brent

949

6.5

Bromley

4,348

23.7

Camden

757

7.0

City of London

52

9.6

Croydon

1,073

10.9

Ealing

398

4.1

Enfield

483

7.4

Greenwich

1,470

13.8

Hackney

1,033

4.8

Hammersmith and Fulham

1,319

10.7

Haringey

1,333

12.7

Harrow

328

9.1

Havering

194

8.3

Hillingdon

254

4.6

Hounslow

650

9.9

Islington

1,546

11.0

Kensington and Chelsea

1,611

12.1

Kingston upon Thames

110

4.7

Lambeth

4,372

21.6

Lewisham

1,380

12.6

Merton

268

5.7

Newham

912

7.8

Redbridge

302

6.6

Richmond upon Thames

662

6.8

Southwark

1,464

10.2

Sutton

280

7.6

Tower Hamlets

3,974

16.6

Waltham Forest

828

7.8

Wandsworth

956

9.7

Westminster

1,703

10.8

Source:

Housing Corporation's Regulatory Statistical Return (RSR) Part O.

Housing: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will incorporate accessible housing standards into her definition of sustainable communities. (219797)

Accessible housing is already reflected in our current definition of a sustainable community which includes a place that is inclusive to all and meets the diverse needs of all residents. Our commitment to this is reflected in our national planning policy in Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing) which is clear about creating places, streets and spaces which are inclusive and respect the diverse needs of communities and the special needs of particular sectors of the community.

In February 2008, we published, “Lifetime Homes. Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society”, which sets out a clear strategy for encouraging the development of ‘Lifetime Homes Standards’ (LHS). LHS aim to make housing accessible for all by making it more functional for everyone including families, disabled and older people and adaptable to peoples changing circumstances throughout the whole lifetime of the home. Our aspiration is to see all homes built to Lifetime Homes Standards by 2013 and we will ensure that all publicly funded housing is built to Lifetime Homes Standards by 2011. It is currently a mandatory element of the Code for Sustainable Homes at code level 6 and will become mandatory at code levels 4 and 5 from 2010 and code level 3 from 2013. We will continue to work with stakeholders to encourage take up of the standards across all sectors and progress will be reviewed in 2010.

Local Government: Administration

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the introduction of new leadership models in local government by (a) tier and (b) type of council. (221524)

The timetable, specified by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, for the introduction of new leadership models in local government, provides that in any council with the old style leader and cabinet model, the new model must be implemented three days after the ordinary election day in the year shown in the following table.

Type of local authority

Year for introduction of new model

County council

2009

Metropolitan district council

2010

London borough council

2010

Non-metropolitan district council

2011

The Act also provides that a council operating the mayor and council manager model must implement a new leadership model in 2009, and that councils operating alternative arrangements may choose to adopt a new leadership model and introduce it in 2011.

In addition, where a council is introducing a new leadership model following a referendum, the model is implemented three days after the first ordinary election of councillors to the authority held after the council resolves to adopt the model, which must be within 28 days of the referendum being held.

Local Government: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the Office of Government Commerce monitors local authorities’ compliance with its relevant codes of practice during the tendering process for local government contracts. (221687)

Subject to their legal duties local authorities are responsible for taking their own procurement decisions. In doing so, they must work within the legal framework governing public procurement. They also have regard to policy and guidance on public procurement set out by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), as appropriate. The OGC does not directly monitor local authorities’ compliance with the legal framework or with its policy and guidance.

Non-Domestic Rates: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1361W, on non-domestic rates: valuation, how sub-location is quantified; and what geo-spatial datasets and neighbourhood modelling is used for (a) business rate valuations and revaluations and (b) the new Automated Valuation Model for business rates. (221157)

A sub-location for a class of property for non-domestic rating is an area within which values are related and a valuation scheme can be applied. They vary in size depending on class of property and locality. The geo-spatial datasets used for non-domestic rating and revaluations are (i) Property Address and Postcode and (ii) Sublocation.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 1301W. A new automated valuation (AVM) model is not being used by the VOA for business rate valuations or revaluations.

Planning Permission: Appeals

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial assistance from the public purse is available to individuals who wish to challenge planning decisions. (221657)

There is no financial assistance from the public purse available to individuals wishing to appeal against planning decisions to the Secretary of State or third parties wishing to put forward representations in relation to these appeals. In these cases, parties are expected to meet their own costs.

Although it does not provide financial assistance, Planning Aid offers free, independent planning advice to individuals and community groups (including small charities, voluntary groups and tenants' organisations).

Individuals who wish to challenge planning decisions in the courts may be able to receive financial assistance from Legal Aid, if they are eligible to do so.

Regional Planning and Development: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the expenditure of (a) regional assemblies and (b) the English regions network was in 2007-08. (221216)

Central Government grant to regional assemblies in 2007-08 was £21,192,290. Grant to the English Regions Network was £244,000. Most regional assemblies receive additional funding through local authority member subscriptions. Total expenditure will be reflected in their published accounts.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department and its agencies have given to local authorities on the use of powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 for planning enforcement purposes. (221227)

None. Local authorities' access to communications data and use of directed surveillance and covert human intelligence sources is governed by secondary legislation made under the 2000 Act. This restricts local council access and use of these techniques to the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or disorder in the carrying out of their functions. RIPA requires that their use is necessary and proportionate with regard to human rights and that the information they are designed to obtain cannot be obtained by less intrusive means.

Valuation Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the minutes of the Valuation Office Agency local authority liaison group meeting of 17 May 2007, if she will place in the Library copies of each edition of the BA Newsletter from the last 36 months. (221224)

These IT Newsletters to Billing Authorities are available on the Valuation Office Agency website www.voa.gov.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agency's E-Bars Project Post Implementation Review report as sent to members of the local authority liaison group. (221225)

A copy of the Electronic BA Reports (E-BARS) Post Implementation Review Report has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the Valuation Office Agency local authority liaison group meeting of 23 July 2008 when they are available. (221226)

Minutes of the Local Authority Liaison Group meetings are already available on the VOA website at

http://www.voa.gov.uk/publications/index.htm.

Valuation Office: Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to page 54 of the Valuation Office Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08, HC 583, to which organisations council tax information is sold; and what categories of property data is sold. (221532)

All of the income from Sale of Rating/Council Tax information reported on Page 54 of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 is derived from the sale of compilations of the published non domestic rating list and summary valuation data.

Valuation Office: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield of 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1365W, on Valuation Office: databases, whether the property information being scanned in includes (a) the plot size of a property, (b) dimensions of gardens and (c) internal layouts of domestic dwellings. (221152)

Such information is included in the scanning only to the extent that it appears on the hard-copy record being scanned. This may include details about the internal layout of dwellings but it is rare for information about plot size and/or the dimensions of gardens to feature in individual records.

Duchy of Lancaster

Business: Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much the Office of National Statistics' survey into business spending cost; what the cost per question was; how many responses have been received; and what action is being (a) taken and (b) planned as a result of the survey. (218590)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 1 September 2008:

As national statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question concerning how much the ONS Business Spending on Capital Items Survey (BSCIS) cost; what the cost per question was; how many responses have been received; and what action is being (a) taken and (b) planned as a result of the survey.

(218590)

The BSCIS is one of the measures introduced by ONS to improve the quality of official statistics as part of the departmental spending review (DSR) package of surveys agreed in 1998-99. The survey was set up to monitor spending on capital expenditure in more detail. It is a small annual survey consisting of a sample of 2,500 businesses covering most sectors of the economy. Questionnaires are not sent to businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Table of survey information:

Number

Questionnaires sent per year

2,500

Questionnaires received per year (Approx 80 per cent. response)

2,000

Questions per questionnaire

101

Table of survey costs

Total

To business

To ONS

Cost per survey1 (£'000)

270

140

130

Cost per questionnaire (£)

105

55

50

Cost per question (£)

1.0

0.5

0.5

1 Business cost as published for 2006-07

The information collected from the BSCIS is used to improve the estimate of gross domestic product (GDP). The information is used to break down capital expenditure estimates to a product level to allow more accurate deflation, seasonal adjustment and supply-use balancing of the national accounts. There is no alternative data source that can be used to produce the consistent and coherent detail required.

The results from the survey are published in January of each year on the ONS website at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=8167&Pos=l&CoIRank=l&Rank=272

Cancer: Buckinghamshire

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many people were diagnosed with cancer in (a) Milton Keynes and (b) Buckinghamshire in each of the last five years. (214948)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated June 2008:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many people were diagnosed with cancer in (a) Milton Keynes and (b) Buckinghamshire in each of the last five years. [214948]

The latest available figures for newly diagnosed cases (incidence) of cancer are for the year 2005. Figures requested are given in the table below.

Numbers of newly diagnosed cases of cancer1 registered in Milton Keynes unitary authority and Buckinghamshire county, 2001 to 2005

Persons

Milton Keynes

Buckinghamshire

2001

837

2,149

2002

793

2,170

2003

779

2,171

2004

915

2,340

2005

820

2,236

1 All cancers, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, are classified according to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10): C00-C97 excluding C44

Source:

Office for National Statistics

Civil Service: Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he will publish the 2007-08 resource accounts for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. (221172)

The 2007-08 Resource Accounts for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme will be laid after the House returns in the autumn.

Cost of Living

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has made of the average increase in (a) fuel prices, (b) food prices, (c) house prices and (d) salary in each English region in each of the last five years. (219579)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated July 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the average increase in (a) fuel prices, (b) food prices, (c) house prices and (d) salary in each English region in each of the last five years. (219579)

Fuel and food prices for items included in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) are collected each month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Estimates are not produced at a regional level. Average increases at a national level for the last five years can be found at the following link:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/tsdtablesl.asp?vlnk=mm23

Average increases in house prices are recorded and published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). This information can be found via Live Table 593 at the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/housingmarket/livetables/

Average levels of earnings are estimated from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), and are provided for all employees on adult rates of pay whose pay for the survey period was not affected by absence. The ASHE, carried out in April each year, is the most comprehensive source of earnings information in the United Kingdom. It is a sample of all employees who are members of pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) schemes.

A table showing the percentage increase in median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in each English region for the years 2003-2007 is attached. A table giving mixed-adjusted house price inflation is available from the House of Commons Library.

Percentage increase in median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in each English region for the years 2003-07

North East

North West

Yorkshire and The Humber

East Midlands

West Midlands

East

London

South East

South West

2003

1

3

4

5

3

4

4

4

5

2004

7

5

5

3

5

4

5

4

3

2005

4

3

2

6

3

2

3

1

2

2006

4

4

3

4

3

4

3

4

4

2007

2

4

3

0

4

2

2

3

3

Source:

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Office for National Statistics

Council Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Blaby of 8 July 2008, Official Report, column 1569-70W, on cost of living, what assessment the UK Statistics Authority has made of the effect of higher council tax on the cost of living since 1997. (221284)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 1 September 2008:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary question asking what assessment has been made of the effects of council tax on the cost of living since 1997. (221284)

Retail Prices Index (RPI) and the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), both measure the change in the prices of goods and services bought for the purpose of consumption by the vast majority of households in the UK. Of these the RPI is the only measure which includes council tax and rates.

For the period between June 1997 and June 2008 the council tax and rates increased by 95.9 per cent. Over the same period the RPI increased by 37.7 per cent.

Departmental Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what measures are in place in the Cabinet Office to monitor expenditure on alcohol for hospitality purposes; (219606)

(2) what purchasing process is used by his Department for the procurement of alcohol for hospitality purposes.

All proposals to purchase alcohol for hospitality purposes need the prior approval pf the Cabinet Office Finance Director. The purchase of alcohol, which may be via the Government Procurement Card, by invoice or by a staff claim is monitored by the Cabinet Office Financial Management Team.

Departmental Energy Efficiency

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what his Department’s policy is on improving the energy efficiency of the buildings which it (a) rents and (b) owns; what changes there have been in the energy efficiency of such buildings in the last (i) five and (ii) 10 years; and whether his Department has adopted targets on energy efficiency improvements in the buildings it occupies over the next (A) five and (B) 10 years. (221081)

The Department’s energy policy is to meet the sustainable operations in government SOGE targets and ensure value for money.

The Cabinet Office has participated in the Carbon Trust Carbon Management programme for all buildings that it has influence or control over. It has developed an ongoing action plan which includes projects such as installing lighting controls and improving insulation.

Any major refurbishment or new build the Cabinet Office undertakes will endeavour to meet BREEAM excellent standard wherever this is possible in the context of the historic listed nature of much of the Department’s estate.

It currently purchases either green or CHP energy for all its buildings.

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what account his Department takes of the level of energy efficiency of buildings before entering into agreements to (a) rent and (b) purchase those buildings. (221097)

The Cabinet Office has no plans to acquire any new freehold or leased property. In the event that this was to be considered energy efficiency would be an important factor in the decision-making process.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information technology projects initiated by his Department have been cancelled prior to completion in the last five years; and what the cost of each such project was to the public purse. (221718)

The Cabinet Office initiated one major IT project that was cancelled prior to completion in the last five years. For information regarding this project I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger) on 14 December 2005, Official Report, columns 2057-58W, by the then Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Murphy).

In respect of the SCOPE Programme I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 862W by the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Hilary Armstrong). However, we have recently informed the Phase 2 contractor of SCOPE that a different approach to the delivery of those capabilities is needed.

Departmental Marketing

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the cost was of (a) internet and website design and hosting, (b) print media design and (c) broadcast media of each of his Department’s public information campaigns since 1997. (214679)

The Cabinet Office’s records do not distinguish the cost of internet web design and hosting; and print media design from our overall budget. This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Significant advertising campaigns in support of specific policies are managed centrally through Cabinet Office Communications and placed through the Central Office of Information (COI).

Details of campaigns involved broadcast media are shown in the following table:

£

Preparing for Emergencies 2004-05

Gross television airtime budget

2,009,550

Gross radio airtime budget

532,606

Direct Gov—Consumer Campaign

Gross television airtime budget 2005-06

343,869

Departmental Overtime

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the cost of overtime payments paid to staff in his Department was in each of the last 12 months, broken down by pay grade. (221299)

The cost of overtime payments paid to Cabinet Office staff in each of the last 12 months broken down by grade is detailed in the following table:

£

2007

2008

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

A

14,541

16,392

4,368

8,917

15,585

14,293

10,833

9,823

10,704

12,981

9,882

10,200

B2

12,237

10,859

10,501

11,361

21,696

14,163

20,254

13,585

17,423

17,364

14,543

17,136

B-Fst

1,973

1,709

2,604

1,261

2,338

3,154

2,611

3,334

3,897

1,998

1,915

2,749

B1

27,547

27,480

20,791

20,669

41,266

29,857

30,011

28,669

33,449

31,015

33,220

34,265

C

21,778

22,508

23,044

19,635

24,575

21,218

26,278

19,269

22,186

21,560

24,043

29,453

TIS

13,425

14,264

16,010

12,381

13,234

12,223

14,635

12,053

11,496

14,335

9,647

13,173

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many hours of overtime were worked by staff in each pay grade in the Prime Minister's Office in each of the last 12 months. (221236)

The Prime Minister's Office forms part of the Cabinet Office. The number of hours overtime worked by the Cabinet Office staff in each month from April 2007 to March 2008 broken down by grade is detailed in the following table:

Number

2007

2008

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

A

954

781

733

1,457

1,025

781

585

1,217

662

937

1,144

1,239

B2

1,481

1,212

1,387

1,842

1,858

1,283

1,345

1,918

1,387

883

1,948

1,538

B-Fst

160

141

212

243

121

31

210

597

215

337

296

288

B1

2,192

1,800

2,143

2,658

2,881

1,821

1,940

2,457

2,370

1,621

2,510

2,506

C

1,352

1,704

1,929

2,040

1,985

1,882

1,530

2,311

1,815

1,691

1,852

1,729

TIS

855

724

710

877

880

505

697

889

538

428

675

785

Government Communications

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what externally accredited qualifications are included in the development programme available to Government Communication Network members. (215154)

National School of Government

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much remuneration (a) Cabinet Ministers, (b) Ministers of State, (c) Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and (d) Parliamentary Private Secretaries received in respect of lectures given to the National School of Government and its predecessors in each of the last 10 years, broken down by department. (220070)

[holding answer 21 July 2008]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National School of Government. I have asked the National School’s Chief Executive and Principal to reply.

Letter from Robin Ryde, dated 28 July 2008:

In the Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 9 January 2007 (Official Report Col 5WS), the then Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Pat McFadden MP) announced that the National School of Government was now a Non Ministerial Department. Consequently, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has asked me to reply to your Parliamentary Question about the National School of Government.

No serving Ministers (Secretaries of State, Ministers of State or Parliamentary Secretaries) have been paid to contribute to events run by the National School since its establishment in 2005. This is also true for predecessor organisations for the period 1998-2005.

No Parliamentary Private Secretaries have been paid to contribute to events run by the National School since its establishment in 2005. The then Civil Service College paid £120 to one Parliamentary Private Secretary to contribute to a course in 1999. This is the only instance of which we are aware in 1998-2005.

Voluntary Organisations: Learning Disability

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the potential contribution that third sector organisations can make to the delivery of public services for those with learning difficulties. (221676)

I have been asked to reply.

The extensive consultation we carried out for Valuing People Now included members of the public and third sector organisations. We are planning to publish the final “Valuing People Now” in the autumn after everybody’s responses have been fully considered. This policy is in line with the Department’s work to promote a greater plurality of provision (including service providers from the third sector) to increase capacity, encourage innovation, improve user responsiveness and ultimately improve health and wellbeing.

A great deal of work has been undertaken by the Department to remove barriers to third sector organisations entering the market and ensuring that there is a fairer playing field through the work of the Third Sector Commissioning Taskforce.

The National Director for Learning Disabilities chairs the learning disability task force, which includes representatives of the nation forum for people with learning disabilities and key third sector groups, including MENCAP.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Foreign Companies

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he has made an estimate of the number of foreign-owned businesses in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (217550)

I have been asked to reply.

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated July 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question concerning the number of foreign-owned businesses in the United Kingdom. (217550)

At March 2007 there were approximately 25,400 enterprises live in the UK owned by a foreign company. This estimate is taken from the UK response to the 2007 Eurostat Registers Questionnaire, submitted to the European Commission. Analysis is based on the national identity of the ultimate owner of an enterprise group.

Defence

Afghanistan: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the value is of illegal drugs seized by British troops in Afghanistan in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (221396)

The Afghan authorities have the lead for counter-narcotic activity, but under the terms of the current NATO Operational Plan (OPLAN), ISAF forces may support them, including through support to interdiction operations. ISAF forces hand over any drugs, associated equipment, and traffickers to the Afghan authorities at the earliest possible opportunity.

In the absence of any ISAF requirement to record details of narcotic seizures, UK forces have to date not retained a central record of drug seizures, and any attempt to provide one would come at disproportionate cost.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 June 2008, Official Report, column 62W on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, what types of projects were covered by the term ‘other’ in the table; and whether each project is completed, ongoing or planned. (210912)

The projects listed as ‘other’ in my previous answer referred to projects involving bridge construction, bazaar regeneration, water towers, repair or construction of Government buildings, repair or provision of essential services, and projects aimed at supporting social and economic development. Of these projects, 61 per cent. are completed, 10 per cent. are on-going and 29 per cent. are planned.

In researching this answer it was identified that the table in my previous answer to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood) was incorrect. The correct number of projects is shown in the following table:

Location

Type of Project

Status

Lashkar Gar

Gereshk

Sangin

Musa Qal'eh

Education

Completed

6

4

1

0

Ongoing

2

1

1

1

Planned

0

4

0

1

Security and Rule of Law

Completed

20

4

1

0

Ongoing

8

6

4

2

Planned

5

3

1

1

Health

Completed

8

3

0

1

Ongoing

1

1

0

1

Planned

2

2

1

0

Roads

Completed

0

1 (25km)

0

1 (6.4km)

Ongoing

2 (4km)

1 (5km)

1 (0.3km)

1 (0.6km)

Planned

0

2 (2km)

1 (2.2km)

0

Mosques/religious centres

Completed

1

1

0

5

Ongoing

1

1

1

1

Planned

0

4

0

0

Other

Completed

27

13

7

2

Ongoing

1

1

1

5

Planned

0

14

8

1

Total

Completed

62

26

9

9

Ongoing

15

11

8

11

Planned

7

29

11

3

Grand total

84

66

28

23

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his NATO counterparts on an increased deployment of their armed forces in Afghanistan. (220073)

[holding answer 21 July 2008]: I discuss regularly with my NATO counterparts force levels in Afghanistan, including at a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers on 12-13 June.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions live munitions have been launched from MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by the RAF over Afghanistan; and how many (a) combatants have been killed and (b) non-combatants have been killed and injured as a result of such launches. (220468)

UK Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles operating over Afghanistan have been used successfully to launch munitions on seven occasions. I am withholding details of these engagements as disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flying hours have been recorded by unmanned aerial vehicles in (a) Iraq, (b) Afghanistan and (c) elsewhere in each of the last four quarters, broken down by vehicle type. (220476)

The flying hours recorded for unmanned aerial vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan are shown as follows.

Hermes 450

Reaper

Iraq

Q3 2007

1,143

Q4 2007

1,270

Q1 2008

1,113

Q2 2008

1,127

Afghanistan

Q3 2007

270

500

Q4 2007

1,351

500

Q1 2008

1,412

500

Q2 2008

1,582

500

The figures shown for Reaper are average figures.

The Army also operates Desert Hawk III unmanned aerial vehicles, but flight times are only recorded as a total figure and not in the format requested. The total hours flown in each theatre for the same period are 1,871 in Iraq, and 1,217 in Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent reports he has received on the impact of attacks on convoys to Musa Qala, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on water supplies for British troops serving in that Province. (221395)

I have received no reports suggesting that attacks on convoys to Musa Qala, Helmand Province, have had an impact on drinking water for British troops serving in that Province.

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what quick impact projects have been undertaken by the Royal Engineers and the Army in Afghanistan since 2001. (218450)

The Royal Engineers, through their construction supervision cell, have managed 201 Quick Impact Projects since 2001, including building schools, medical clinics, roads, irrigation channels and electrical networks.

Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what companies contribute to the running costs of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme; and how much each contributed in the last period for which figures are available. (220704)

We are grateful to the sponsors of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Augusta Westland and their predecessors) who have contributed £45,000 each for this year, and to Sir Neil Thorne for the very considerable moral and financial support he has lent the scheme since inception in 1989.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme cost to run in the last financial year; and how much external sources of funding contributed towards this cost. (220756)

The MOD receives no outside funding assistance for its activity in support of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. The costs to the Department of running the scheme are not recorded separately.

Armed Forces: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reconsider his Department’s decision to award the contracts for (a) the Future Rapid Effects System and (b) the Defence Training Rationalisation to US firms in the light of the US Administration’s decision to reopen the US Air Force air tanker contract. (220852)

[holding answer 21 July 2008]: The US decision is a matter for the US Government. Contract awards for FRES and the DTR were based on the best value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Armed Forces: Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans there are to use armed forces personnel in the event of a (a) fire service strike, (b) terrorist incident and (c) influenza pandemic; and what changes have been made to those plans since the coming into force of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. (221392)

The armed forces provide assistance to the civil authorities at their request and primarily when the civil authorities lack the necessary capabilities. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has mandated that civil authorities should have contingency plans in place to deal with a range of civil crises. As a result civil authorities have developed their capabilities to deal with a wide range of challenges.

In relation to strikes in the fire and rescue service, responsibility for contingency planning rests with the fire and rescue authority, and not the Secretary of State for Defence. Fire and rescue authorities are required to have in place a contingency plan which does not rely upon support from the armed forces. Accordingly the armed forces do not have any contingency plans in place, but Defence Ministers would consider any requests from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the lead Government Department responsible for the Fire and Rescue Service on a case by case basis.

The Home Secretary is primarily responsible for the safety and security of the UK population including protecting the public against terrorism. The police and other first responders have a wide range of capabilities to deal with terrorist incidents. The armed forces do provide some niche capabilities, for example Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, and have contingency plans in place to make specialist capabilities available should they be required by the police or other civil authorities.

Planning for the effects of an outbreak of pandemic influenza is ongoing and cross government plans are being developed. The magnitude of Defence assistance that could be provided during any outbreak would of course be dependent on how badly the armed forces have been affected by the outbreak.

Armed Forces: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment has been made of the effects of the Pay As You Dine scheme on nutrition of young soldiers; and what steps he is taking to ensure that young soldiers reliant on the Pay As You Dine scheme consume an adequate diet; (207569)

(2) what assessment has been made of whether the Pay As You Dine scheme has promoted healthy eating;

(3) what customer satisfaction surveys of the Pay As You Dine scheme have been undertaken and if he will publish the results of the surveys.

I will write to the hon. Member.

Substantive answer from Bob Ainsworth to Andrew Murrison:

My colleague, the Under Secretary of State for Defence, undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Questions on 2 June 2008, (Official Report, column 669-670W) about Pay As You Dine (PAYD) for Service personnel. I am responding as the Duty Minister.

Prior to the introduction of PAYD, all Service personnel living in Single Living Accommodation paid a fixed food charge to cover three meals per day, irrespective of the number of meals that they actually ate. Inspection showed that on average 50 percent of meals or less were being taken. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body during their annual round of discussions with Service personnel identified strong support, particularly from amongst the junior ranks, for a replacement system which would enable personnel to pay only for food that they ate. In 2005, the MOD gave approval for each of the Services to implement PAYD and this they are now doing in a manner appropriate to meet their individual Service needs. PAYD is part of a concept of integrated catering, retail and leisure services that aims to improve the quality of life for Service personnel. It gives our Service personnel greater freedom by giving them the choice over when, where and how they eat and promotes fairness by ensuring that Service personnel pay only for the meals that they consume.

The PAYD scheme incorporates a core menu which conforms to the Tri Service Menu Policy. Indeed, the three core meals under PAYD are designed to be broadly to the same standard (ie to provide the required calories and nutritional balance if all three meals are taken) as those specified under the old regime with the cost of the core menu being exactly the same as the current Daily Food Charge. The MOD undertakes to provide a variety of healthy palatable food and beverages to all military personnel to enable them to adopt healthy eating habits, a balanced diet and to ensure optimal fitness and performance. Contract Caterers who deliver PAYD are required to provide food at the point of service that meets these requirements. In addition we continue to encourage all personnel to eat in a healthy and balanced manner. However, whether Service personnel are at a PAYD site or not, the ability to ensure that young serving personnel eat a healthy and balanced diet is somewhat limited. The menus at each meal offer healthy options but we do not have the ability to force people to choose that option. With the introduction of PAYD and choice there comes with it a certain degree of personal responsibility in terms of what they eat. There is also a mechanism in place to ensure that nobody is denied a meal if they run out of funds and special dietary and religious eating needs continue to be accommodated.

Your first question referred to the impact on young soldiers. Due to the special circumstances of the nutritional needs of young trainees (of all the Services), Phase one trainees and some Phase two trainees do not participate in PAYD, but continue to pay the Daily Food Charge and are entitled to the core menu to ensure they receive a balanced and nutritional diet which includes appropriate supplements to cater for high activity levels (although it is still the individual's choice as to what they put on their plate at meal times). Trainees receive specifically targeted booklets, lifestyle lectures and guidance during training to ensure that they appreciate the importance of adequate and appropriate eating habits in relation to their professional and personal activities. In addition new recruits are also taught how to budget for PAYD.

In terms of assessing whether or not the PAYD scheme has promoted healthy eating—all contract Caterers are required to provide healthy options at each core meal. Contracts provide for cereals, yoghurt and fruit as part of the breakfast menu and for lunch and dinner salads and fresh vegetables are available. Where concerns are raised, these are addressed directly with the Contractor and alternative healthier options to various meals are introduced. PAYD was introduced to give people choice; it does this by offering a wide variety of meals at varying prices. Healthy options (as part of the core meal) are available if chosen by the individual.

In addition, Defence Food Services has issued all Commanding Officers with a pan-Service booklet "A Guide to Healthy Eating" to complement and reinforce the policy. The Expert Panel of Armed Forces Feeding (EPAFF), in consultation with QinetiQ, has also produced and issued a Recruits Guide to Nutrition, a Servicewoman's Guide to Health and Performance, and an Armed Forces Personal Guide to Nutrition. All of these publications recognise the potential change to individual food choice as a result of the introduction of PAYD and are designed to provide individuals with the necessary guidance and advice to enable them to choose the right foods so that they can more easily cope with the physical demands of military training, operations and competitive sports. The single Services continue to reinforce the healthy eating message through various single Service publications.

The single Services monitor the PAYD scheme through a regular programme of meetings between the Services and Contractor both locally and at HQ level. For the Royal Navy, the contracts require that the contractors undertake regular Customer Surveys and provide returns for assessment by the Royal Navy commercial branch and the Catering Services subject matter experts. The Army has a survey under way which began in late April 2008, the responses to which are still being received. Over 4,000 questionnaires were distributed with the results becoming available over the next few months. The RAF which has only three PAYD sites has monitored feedback on its trial sites via customer feedback forms. However since the start of 2008, focus groups have been held and are currently being completed to indicate consumer views. In addition, a sample of RAF personnel has been completing food diaries over a period of a month to gauge eating patterns. A formal independent assessment by a Market Research company is currently being carried out at comparable PAYD and non PAYD units. Centrally, feedback is received via the various Continuous Attitude Surveys undertaken by the Single Services. The first UK Tri-Service Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2007 was published on 9 July 2008 and is available at:

http://www.mod.uk/NR/donlyres/E4D829FFFD4D46F8B9B403837353F6B1/0/afcasresults_2007.pdf.

A copy is also available in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Fuel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of increases in the cost of fuel on the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (217238)

I refer the hon. Member to my letter of 23 July to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to Liam Fox:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 19 June 2008, (Official Report, column 1095W) about fuels. I apologise for the delay in replying, but the way we purchase and account for fuel is complex, and it has taken some time to assemble the information you requested.

In my reply on 7 February 2008, (Official Report, column 1492W) I stated that fuel price changes (predominantly affecting maritime and aviation fuel) were estimated to have added outturn costs of around £80 million over the period 2005-06 to 2007-08 to the Department's fuel bill. This figure was based on a costing model. More up-to-date information now available indicates, through this cost model, that the additional cost incurred by the Department over the period 2005-06 to 2007-08 through fuel price rises was some £120-130M.

The table below provides the amount the MOD spent on fuel in each year from 2005-06 to 2007-08, broken down by type of fuel. The information is derived from Top Level Budget Holders' submissions to the overall Departmental Resource Accounts.

£ million

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Aviation fuel1

255

265

270

Fuels (non-utility)2

200

255

305

Totals

455

520

575

1For 2005-06 and 2006-07, some aviation fuel expenditure was accounted for in the Stock Consumption line of the published Departmental Resource Accounts for those years. 2 Defined as petroleum-based liquid fuels meeting internationally recognised specifications that are used to power ships and vehicles.

I would stress that these figures cannot be comprehensive, as local purchase arrangements are not always visible at higher levels of accounting: for example, while systems are in place to ensure propriety by recording local purchase of fuel for military vehicles at commercial petrol stations, these do not feed into higher financial management systems. Additionally, the figures do not include utilities (for example, natural gas and heating oil used to heat buildings), which are accounted for separately. There may also be other, smaller elements of fuel expenditure which Departmental financial management systems do not enable us to identify.

Assuming that volumes consumed in core Defence activity such as non-operational exercising have remained broadly constant or increased only marginally over the period, a large proportion—possibly around two-thirds—of the estimated outturn cost increase of £120-130M is likely to be attributable to Request for Resources 2 (RfR2—the Department's claim against the Reserve for operations). I would stress that this is an estimate, not an absolute measure of the impact of fuel price increases on either Defence or the Exchequer.

Where fuel prices increase, there will naturally be an impact on the cost of operations, depending on the volume of consumption at the time and the extent to which any local purchasing arrangements reflect global $ price increases: a broad estimate suggests that this effect could be around £1-2M for every US $1 increase in the price of crude oil.

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what expenditure incurred on fuels for the Armed Forces and Defence Fuel Groups was in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; (219234)

(2) what estimate he has made of the financial effects on the defence budget of a rise in crude oil price of $1 per barrel.

I refer the hon. Member to my letter of 23 July to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to Liam Fox:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 19 June 2008, (Official Report, column 1095W) about fuels. I apologise for the delay in replying, but the way we purchase and account for fuel is complex, and it has taken some time to assemble the information you requested.

In my reply on 7 February 2008 (Official Report, column 1492W) I stated that fuel price changes (predominantly affecting maritime and aviation fuel) were estimated to have added outturn costs of around £80 million over the period 2005-06 to 2007-08 to the Department’s fuel bill. This figure was based on a costing model. More up-to-date information now available indicates, through this cost model, that the additional cost incurred by the Department over the period 2005-06 to 2007-08 through fuel price rises was some £120-130M.

The table below provides the amount the MOD spent on fuel in each year from 2005-06 to 2007-08, broken down by type of fuel. The information is derived from Top Level Budget Holders’ submissions to the overall Departmental Resource Accounts.

£ million

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Aviation fuel1

255

265

270

Fuels (non-utility)2

200

255

305

Totals

455

520

575

1 For 2005/06 and 2006/07, some aviation fuel expenditure was accounted for in the Stock Consumption line of the published Departmental Resource Accounts for those years.

2 Defined as petroleum-based liquid fuels meeting internationally recognised specifications that are used to power ships and vehicles.

I would stress that these figures cannot be comprehensive, as local purchase arrangements are not always visible at higher levels of accounting: for example, while systems are in place to ensure propriety by recording local purchase of fuel for military vehicles at commercial petrol stations, these do not feed into higher financial management systems. Additionally, the figures do not include utilities (for example, natural gas and heating oil used to heat buildings), which are accounted for separately. There may also be other, smaller elements of fuel expenditure which Departmental financial management systems do not enable us to identify.

Assuming that volumes consumed in core Defence activity such as non-operational exercising have remained broadly constant or increased only marginally over the period, a large proportion—possibly around two-thirds—of the estimated outturn cost increase of £120-130M is likely to be attributable to Request for Resources 2 (RfR2—the Department’s claim against the Reserve for operations). I would stress that this is an estimate, not an absolute measure of the impact of fuel price increases on either Defence or the Exchequer.

Where fuel prices increase, there will naturally be an impact on the cost of operations, depending on the volume of consumption at the time and the extent to which any local purchasing arrangements reflect global $ price increases: a broad estimate suggests that this effect could be around £1-2M for every US $1 increase in the price of crude oil.

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

Armed Forces: Holiday Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of annual leave was not taken by service personnel in each year since 2001. (215837)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 May 2008, Official Report, column 175W, to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department may lease properties where the freehold is owned by Annington Homes to civilians; whether the terms of his Department's contract with Annington Homes prevent long-term leases; and what other restrictions there are on the terms upon which his Department may lease such properties to tenants. (218007)

Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in the UK is primarily provided to house entitled Service personnel and their families. Ministry of Defence (MOD) civilian key staff and some members of the MOD Police also have an entitlement to occupy SFA.

The MOD supports the leasing of temporarily surplus SFA to eligible civilians in accordance with wider Government policies on empty homes, however this can only be done where it does not prejudice the need to provide homes for entitled personnel. The rules on eligibility can be found in the Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations, available online at:

www.defence-estates.mod.uk/publications/jsp

In addition to this, the MOD is currently exploring options regarding the leasing of temporary surplus accommodation.

Where there is no long term requirement for SFA, the properties would be returned to AHL and are normally sold on the open market. The onward sale or disposal of these properties is a matter for the company.

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) requirement and (b) actual number of (i) unit welfare officers and (ii) padres in each service is. (219997)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State gave on 21 April 2008 to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey).

The Royal Navy has a requirement for 70 chaplains and by the end of the financial year will have 65 in post.

The Army has a requirement for 159 chaplains and have 146 in post.

The RAF has a requirement for 76 chaplains and currently have 64 in post.

Armed Forces: Olympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces competed in each Olympic Games for which records are available. (220298)

The following tables show the number of personnel from each service who competed in the summer and winter Olympic games for which records are available:

Summer

Royal Navy

Army

Royal Air Force

1948

1

19

8

1952

1

12

2

1956

0

8

11

1960

0

6

3

1964

0

5

0

1968

2

7

1

1972

2

3

2

1976

2

3

0

1980

1

1

1

1984

2

3

3

1988

1

7

2

1992

0

2

0

1996

0

3

0

2000

1

1

1

2004

0

2

0

Winter

Royal Navy

Army

Royal Air Force

1964

1

7

1

1968

1

7

3

1972

1

8

2

1976

1

6

0

1980

1

15

0

1984

1

15

2

1988

0

12

3

1992

1

11

0

1994

0

9

0

1998

1

4

1

2002

1

7

3

2006

3

3

2

1 No record.

Armed Forces: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people under 18 years old serving in the armed forces have been court-martialled in each of the last five years; and what charges were brought at each court-martial where proceedings have been completed. (220314)