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Written Answers

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 23 October 2008

Wales

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what IT projects his Department is undertaking; and what the most recent estimate of (a) the cost and (b) the completion date of each is. (229173)

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent on overnight accommodation by his Department’s civil servants in the last 12 months. (228784)

In the last 12 months my Department has spent £24,875 on overnight accommodation for civil servants.

Departmental Older Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people aged over (a) 55 and (b) 60 years were recruited by his Department in 2007-08; and what percentage in each case this was of the number of new recruits. (228741)

The Wales Office does not require applicants for its posts to provide their dates of birth.

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

The Wales Office has a number of staff in post that are above the ages of (a) 55 and (b) 60 respectively.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Fraud

7. To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what recent discussions the Committee has had with the Electoral Commission on its role in preventing electoral fraud. (229210)

The Speaker’s Committee meets the Electoral Commission regularly to discuss the full range of its activities, including its important work to prevent electoral fraud.

The Commission informs me that it continues to issue detailed guidance and works with returning officers, electoral registration officers, political parties, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police on strategies for preventing and detecting electoral malpractice. The Commission also continues to call for the introduction of individual electoral registration.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of Government-commissioned advertising in the last 12 months relating to matters falling within the remit of his Department. (226513)

Expenditure on Government- commissioned advertising is included within the framework of the Northern Ireland Office’s procurement policy which aims to achieve “best value for money” in the procurement of goods and services over the lifetime of a contract. This allows wider policy objectives to be considered in the procurement process so that it meets the tests of need, affordability and cost-effectiveness and complies with the UK’s EC and international obligations.

Church Commissioners

Metal Theft

6. To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what recent representations the Church Commissioners have received on the levels of theft of lead, copper and other materials from church roofs; and if he will make a statement. (229209)

None. However, the Archbishops Council continues to work with parishes and dioceses, insurers and the police to try to solve this serious problem. By way of a statement, churches not only have to replace the stolen metals; they also have to contend with damage to masonry and timber, and other problems caused by leaking rainwater. It is a serious problem which the Church is working hard to solve.

Bats

8. To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what estimate the Commissioners have made of the number of cases of damage to historic churches caused by bats. (229211)

The Church of England does not hold such figures centrally but I know that the damage and hygiene issues caused by bats remain a concern for some parishes and the Archbishops Council continues to discuss it with other relevant parties.

Transport

Departmental Civil Service Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many agencies were sponsored by his Department in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 1997-98. (228502)

The ‘Next Steps Report 1997’ (Cm 3889) provides information on all executive agencies as at 31 December 1997. Copies are available from the Library of the House. The present Department for Transport was established in 2002. The most up-to-date list of executive agencies is published in the Cabinet Office publication ‘The List of Ministerial Responsibilities’. The latest version, incorporating recent ministerial changes, will be published shortly. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

M1: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason fencing is being erected adjacent to the southbound carriageway south of junction 8 of the M1; and what the cost is of such fencing. (226274)

The fencing to the south of junction 8 of the M1 is an environmental barrier and is a public inquiry commitment. 900 m of 3 m high barrier is being provided to reduce the visual impact to properties on the eastern side of the motorway.

The cost of installing the fencing is £288,000.

Public Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what official visits he and his immediate predecessor undertook using public transport in the last 12 months. (228938)

My predecessor undertook 14 official visits using public transport in the last 12 months to the following locations: Ashford, Manchester (three times), Birmingham (three times), Heathrow Airport (twice), Bradford, Derby (twice), Brussels and La Rochelle. I have, so far, undertaken one, to Luxembourg. Her travel, and mine, will be undertaken by the most efficient and cost-effective means possible, in line with the provisions of the Ministerial Code.

Public Transport: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the timescale is for research to be carried out on the way concessionary travel is administered; who has been commissioned to undertake the research; what methodology will be followed by the researchers; and whom they intend to consult. (229073)

The Department for Transport has commissioned WS Atkins and the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) in Leeds university to carry out research into concessionary fares reimbursement. This work should be completed by the end of 2009. The research will explore the latest evidence on the number of extra trips generated by the free national scheme, the revenue foregone by bus operators and the additional costs. The researchers will work closely with bus operators and local authorities, other stakeholders and academics.

Work and Pensions

Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of staff in (a) his Department and (b) the executive agencies for which he is responsible are disabled; and what the average salary in his (i) Department and (ii) executive agencies is of (A) full-time disabled staff, (B) full-time non-disabled staff, (C) part-time disabled staff and (D) part-time non-disabled staff. (220179)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson), the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, on 8 October 2008, Official Report, columns 651-52W.

Income Support: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new claims for income support on the grounds of incapacity for work for which the claimant did not qualify for the disability premium through income support were awarded to (a) single persons aged under 35, (b) single persons aged 35 to 44, (c) single persons aged 35 to 65, (d) couples with a claimant aged under 35, (e) couples with a claimant aged 35 to 44 and (f) couples with a claimant aged 35 to 65, in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (224157)

National Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many national insurance numbers were issued to dependants of work permit holders in each year from 2002 to 2007; (227448)

(2) how many national insurance numbers have been issued to dependants of work permit holders in 2008.

Winter Fuel Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which areas are covered by each weather station used to assess the temperature for the purpose of cold weather payments. (226184)

Under the cold weather payment scheme, every residential postcode is linked to one of 76 weather stations. I have placed a table of the list of the weather stations used to collect information in order to assess entitlement to cold weather payments and the linked postcode districts in the Library.

Solicitor-General

Fraud

To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria are applied by the (a) Serious Fraud Office and (b) Fraud Prosecution Service to determine whether to accept a case. (229420)

The key criterion used by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) when deciding whether to accept a case is that the suspected fraud appears to be so serious or complex that its investigation should be carried out by those responsible for its prosecution.

Other factors taken into consideration when deciding whether to accept a case are as follows:

Whether the value of the alleged fraud exceeds £1 million;

If the case has a significant international dimension;

If the case is likely to be of widespread public concern;

If the case requires highly specialised knowledge. For example, of financial markets;

If there is a need to use the SFO's special powers, such as section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The SFO could not—and does not—take on every referred case of suspected fraud. SFO resources must be focused on major and complicated fraud. Cases which do not meet the SFO's case acceptance criteria may be referred to other authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The Fraud Prosecution Service (FPS), which prosecutes fraud cases throughout England and Wales, accepts cases which meet one or more of the following criteria: the allegations involve a loss, or risk of loss, of more than £750,000; there is national publicity and/or widespread public concern; highly specialised knowledge is required; a significant element of the case involves inquiries in a foreign jurisdiction.

Defence

Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gibraltarians are serving in the UK armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. (229131)

Deployment figures are currently provided at aggregate levels based on manual returns which do not record the nationality of personnel. They are not available in central individual level databases. As such this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Army: Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the provisions of the Army Terms of Service (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2008, with reference to young people serving for four years beyond their 18th birthday; and if he will make a statement. (228571)

The Army Terms of Service (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2008 came into effect on 6 August 2008. The regulations brought the minimum commitment period for under 18 soldiers back into line with the provisions that existed prior to 1 January 2008, i.e. that they should serve for a minimum of four years from their 18th birthday.

The Department has received one enquiry from an independent researcher with an interest in armed forces recruitment questioning the rationale behind the regulations.

Ballistic Missile Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what direct running costs the UK has incurred to date in the use of RAF Menwith Hill and RAF Fylingdales in the US Missile Defence System. (228389)

Running costs at RAF Menwith Hill and RAF Fylingdales associated with the US Missile Defence System are not identified separately from other functions of the station. We do not anticipate the direct running costs incurred by the UK will increase because of the participation of these stations in the US ballistic missile defence system.

China: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 17 September 2008, Official Report, columns 2250-1W, on armed forces: training, when his Department’s bilateral programme with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army started; what the terms of the programme are; what other activities (a) have taken place and (b) are planned to take place under the programme; how much funding has been allocated for the programme in the next 12 months; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the bilateral programme agreement. (228567)

[holding answer 20 October 2008]: The MOD’s limited bilateral programme with China has been developing on a gradual basis since the then Prime Minister visited China in October 1998. The terms of the programme are: to maintain consistency with HMG policy and international restrictions; to limit the scope of activity; to ensure in-country control through oversight by the UK Defence Attaché, and; to conduct regular policy review. Activities include senior leadership engagement, high-level command and staff training, junior leadership training, low-level military training, exercises (observing), disaster management training, peace support operations training, benefits to the wider military and civil communities and sport. The total amount of funding allocated in support of the programme for financial year 2008-09 is £464.5,000, of which £177,000 comes from the Conflict Prevention Pool. Our complete UK/China bi-lateral programme for FY 2008-09 is subject to continuing discussion, but is expected to comprise a series of high level visits, an annual programming meeting, short term training teams and courses (including English language training) related to Peace Support Operations, a small number of places for Chinese students in defence education establishments, and limited short term exchanges of service personnel.

I am withholding a copy of the bilateral programme agreement as its release would, or would be likely to prejudice international relations.

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government have to ratify the Convention on cluster munitions within the next 12 months. (228737)

The UK plans to sign the Convention when it opens for signature on 3 December 2008 in Oslo and will ratify as soon as feasible after that date.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of (a) entertainment, (b) advertising and promotion and (c) public relations consultancy to his Department in 2007-08. (228143)

Expenditure in 2007-08 by the MOD, including the armed forces on the items listed was:

(a) Hospitality and entertainment—£4.2 million. We report this expenditure in our Annual Report and Accounts each year.

(b) Advertising and public relations—£46.3 million. This represents the cost of public relations services (including sales marketing and advertising), Service and civilian recruitment expenses and expenditure on schools and community relations initiatives.

(c) The level of expenditure on public relations consultancy is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. A summary of MOD’s 2007-08 expenditure on external assistance (which includes public relations consultancy) has been placed in the Library of the House.

The figures quoted do not include expenditure for the MOD Trading Funds which lie outside the Department’s accounting boundary.

All expenditure is subject to audit and the principles set out in Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

Gulf of Aden: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution the UK is making to efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden; and if he will make a statement. (225603)

The Government's stance on piracy has recently been reviewed. This has resulted in a move to a more proactive posture whereby Royal Navy (RN) units in the region will actively seek out pirates, and we have issued them with more robust guidance to deal with any pirates encountered. The RN will contribute to counter-piracy operations through three international efforts:

The UK is already engaged in efforts to combat acts of piracy off Somalia, through the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which has established a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden. CTF 150 units in this area, including RN vessels, are actively conducting operations to counter destabilising activities primarily aimed at deterring and disrupting acts of piracy;

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, including attached RN units, will also be deploying to the region with a mandate which allows them to conduct counter-piracy operations from mid-October. NATO is considering the ways in which this mandate can be implemented including the escorting of World Food Programme shipping into port in Mogadishu; and

We have also supported EU planning for a counter-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, and on 14 October the EU Political and Security Committee decided to accept the offer made by the UK to provide the Operation Commander (Rear Admiral Phil Jones) and the Operation HQ (the Multinational Headquarters at Northwood). A formal decision from the EU member states to allow planning for the operation to proceed to the next stage is expected in the coming days. The UK offer is subject to sufficient forces being generated for an operation likely to begin in December.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to discontinue the Royal Navy role in the Combined Task Force 150 in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden; and if he will make a statement. (226281)

There are currently no plans to discontinue the Royal Navy’s support to Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 countering destabilising activity including piracy in the region. Rather, the Royal Navy’s response to piracy in the region is being strengthened.

The Government’s stance on piracy has recently been reviewed. This has resulted in a move to a more proactive posture where Royal Navy (RN) units in the region will actively seek out pirates, and we have issued them with more robust guidance to deal with any pirates encountered. The RN will contribute to counter-piracy operations through three international efforts:

continued support to CTF 150, which has established a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden; standing NATOMaritime Group 2, including attached RN units, will also be deploying to the region with a mandate which allows them to conduct counter-piracy operations from mid-October. NATO is considering the ways in which this mandate can be implemented including the escorting of World Food Programme shipping into port in Mogadishu; and

we have also supported EU planning for a counter-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, and on 14 October the EU Political and Security Committee decided to accept the offer made by the UK to provide the Operation Commander (Rear Admiral Phil Jones) and the Operation HQ (the Multinational Headquarters at Northwood). A formal decision from the EU member states to allow planning for the operation to proceed to the next stage is expected in the coming days. The UK offer is subject to sufficient forces being generated for an operation likely to begin in December.

Nuclear Disarmament

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government is taking to promote multilateral nuclear disarmament. (228112)

The UK plays an active role in all international forums and treaties related to multilateral nuclear disarmament. In particular, we are working to reinforce and strengthen the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We are pressing for the start of negotiation without pre-conditions in the Conference on Disarmament on a Fissile Material Cut-Off treaty and we continue to call all on all States that have not yet ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to do so, especially those nine for which entry into force is required.

We are also playing a leading and innovative role in several new initiatives. Along with Norway and the non-governmental organisation VERTIC, we are undertaking research into possible technologies which may be of potential use in any future multilateral disarmament treaty or regime. We have offered to host a confidence building and technical conference between the five Nuclear Weapon States to discuss the issues surrounding multilateral nuclear disarmament. We have co-sponsored a major report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the technical and political requirements for a world free of nuclear weapons published in August 2008.

Ottawa Convention

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what further steps the Government intends to take in order to meet the obligations of Article 5 of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. (228572)

The Joint Feasibility Study that we carried out with Argentina into de-mining in the Falkland Islands, completed in October 2007, concluded that clearance is technically possible but it will present significant challenges and risks.

We therefore need to carefully consider how to proceed. The Falkland Islands Government was regularly consulted while the Feasibility Study was being carried out and any future decisions will be made in consultation with the Falkland Islands Government. In compliance with the Convention, we have therefore submitted a request for a 10 year Article 5 extension to our March 2009 clearance deadline. Our request will be considered at the ninth meeting of states parties in November 2008.

In the meantime, in compliance with Article 5 of the Convention, the mined areas are clearly marked, fenced and regularly monitored.

RAF Croughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role RAF Croughton plays in the US missile defence system. (228388)

Somalia: Pirates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of the recent capture of a Ukrainian ship by pirates in Somali waters; what response he has made to these reports; and if he will make a statement. (225963)

We are aware that the MV Faina has been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia carrying a cargo of weapons. There is no direct UK interest in this ship; it is Belize flagged, Ukrainian, Latvian and Russian crewed with a Ukrainian cargo. It is being monitored by the US Navy who are keeping us informed. No Royal Navy units are involved in the monitoring of the vessel but we are engaged in counter-piracy more generally in the region.

The Government's stance on piracy has recently been reviewed. This has resulted in a move to a more proactive posture whereby Royal Navy (RN) units in the region will actively seek out pirates, and we have issued them with more robust guidance to deal with any pirates encountered. The RN will contribute to counter-piracy operations through three international efforts:

The UK is already engaged in efforts to combat acts of piracy off Somalia, through the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which has established a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden. CTF 150 units in this area, including RN vessels, are actively conducting operations to counter destabilising activities primarily aimed at deterring and disrupting acts of piracy;

Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, including attached RN units, will also be deploying to the region with a mandate which allows them to conduct counter-piracy operations from mid-October. NATO is considering the ways in which this mandate can be implemented including the escorting of World Food Programme shipping into port in Mogadishu; and

We have also supported EU planning for a counter-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, and on 14 October the EU Political and Security Committee decided to accept the offer made by the UK to provide the Operation Commander (Rear Admiral Phil Jones) and the Operation HQ (the Multinational Headquarters at Northwood). A formal decision from the EU member states to allow planning for the operation to proceed to the next stage is expected in the coming days. The UK offer is subject to sufficient forces being generated for an operation likely to begin in December.

Territorial Army: Dental Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of provision of dental treatment for members of the Territorial Army. (226122)

All members of the Territorial Army make their own personal arrangements for dental treatment when they are not mobilised. They receive dental checks from the Defence Dental Services when they are due to be mobilised for deployment and are advised of any treatment required within the next six months.

While mobilised, members of the Territorial Army receive free dental treatment from the Defence Dental Services.

Trident Missiles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on progress towards a successor to the D5 missile; and what role UK personnel have played in that work. (228900)

Neither I nor my predecessor have held any negotiations with our US counterparts on a successor to the D5 missile. As explained in the December 2006 White Paper “The Future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994), decisions on whether we wish to acquire a successor to the life extended D5 missile, and what form any successor might take, are unlikely to be necessary until the 2020s.

USA: Military Bases

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at which bases in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) Wales US visiting forces are based. (228387)

US visiting forces occupy the following bases in England, all designated as RAF bases: Alconbury, Cambridgeshire; Barford St. John, Oxfordshire; Croughton, Northants; Fairford, Gloucestershire; Feltwell, Norfolk; Lakenheath, Suffolk; Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire; Molesworth, Cambridgeshire; Upwood, Cambridgeshire; Welford, Berkshire. In addition, there is a USVF presence at the Joint Maritime Facility at St Mawgan, Cornwall. There are no USVF bases in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Warships

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many months and what percentage time each Royal Navy attack submarine in service spent (a) on operations and (b) in maintenance in (i) 2007-08 and (ii) 2008-09 to date; (226980)

(2) how many months and what percentage of time each Royal Navy destroyer in service spent (a) on operations and (b) in maintenance in each year since 2006;

(3) how many months and what percentage of time each Royal Navy aircraft carrier in service spent (a) on operations and (b) in maintenance in each year since 1997.

The months and percentage time spent on operations or in maintenance for the periods requested for Royal Navy carriers, destroyers and attack submarines are as follows:

Ark Royal

Months

Percentage

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

1997

10

0

0

0

1998

10

0

0

0

1999

0

8

0

63

2000

0

12

0

100

2001

1

7

0

58

2002

4

2

31

21

2003

3

4

38

15

2004

10

2

0

9

2005

10

3

0

27

2006

0

9

0

66

2007

3

1

25

8

2008

4

0

33

0

1 HMS Ark Royal at low readiness.

Illustrious

Months

Percentage

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

1997

7

3

62

11

1998

3

7

26

49

1999

4

4

19

23

2000

3

5

40

20

2001

6

4

48

4

2002

3

4

23

27

2003

0

12

0

100

2004

10

9

0

85

2005

4

2

19

15

2006

5

5

37

15

2007

5

3

42

25

2008

5

1

42

8

1 HMS Illustrious conducting post refit trials.

Invincible

Months

Percentage

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

1997

5

4

42

33

1998

5

3

42

25

1999

5

6

42

50

2000

6

4

50

33

2001

1

10

8

83

2002

0

12

0

100

2003

4

1

33

8

2004

6

5

50

42

2005

3

4

25

33

2006

10

0

0

0

2007

10

0

0

0

2008

10

0

0

0

1 HMS Invincible at low readiness in Portsmouth.

Destroyers

2007

2008

Months

Percentage

Months

Percentage

Vessel

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Edinburgh

6

3

50

25

5

2

42

17

Gloucester

1

9

8

75

3

3

25

25

Manchester

7

4

58

33

6

3

58

25

York

4

2

33

17

0

9

0

83

Exeter

4

1

33

8

5

0

42

0

Liverpool

1

7

8

58

8

1

75

8

Nottingham

5

4

42

33

4

0

33

0

Southampton

7

2

58

17

2

5

17

42

Attack submarines

2007

2008

Months

Percentage

Months

Percentage

Vessel

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Op time

Main time

Superb

1

8

10

64

2

4

17

46

Sceptre

7

2

55

13

1

6

12

61

Trafalgar

0

10

0

81

4

2

41

19

Turbulent

2

7

20

57

0

9

0

100

Tireless

5

4

41

29

3

5

28

54

Torbay

0

11

0

92

2

4

17

39

Trenchant

5

3

39

26

4

2

39

23

Talent

5

3

39

22

5

2

53

18

Triumph

0

12

0

100

0

9

0

100

The figures given for 2008 in all tables are for 1 January to 30 September 2008.

Time not accounted for under operations and maintenance in the tables includes periods of basic sea safety training, post refit trials, periods of extended leave and other duties (such as conducting synthetic training, ammunitioning, storing) undertaken while in port.

As I stated in my letter to the hon. Member on 5 November 2007, the figures provided are necessarily approximate because records held centrally do not always distinguish precisely between routine maintenance and other time spent alongside, since the two activities are often intermixed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many days each Type 42 destroyer in service spent at sea in each year since 2003; (227933)

(2) how many days each attack submarine in service has spent at sea in each year since 2003;

(3) how many days each Type (a) 22 and (b) 23 frigate in service spent at sea in each year since 2003.

The number of days at sea for Royal Navy Destroyers, Frigates and Attack Submarines since 2003 are as follows:

Attack Submarines

Vessel

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Sovereign

108

27

52

141

01

0

Spartan

103

98

181

01

0

0

Splendid

164

01

0

0

0

0

Superb

02

0

0

261

75

71

Sceptre

176

123

149

110

217

44

Trafalgar

0

95

148

128

51

156

Turbulent

143

157

135

141

96

0

Tireless

142

152

0

122

159

95

Torbay

212

23

117

209

0

115

Trenchant

104

115

146

0

185

119

Talent

02

0

0

56

189

140

Triumph

221

6

02

0

0

0

Notes:

1. HMS Sovereign, HMS Spartan And HMS Splendid were decommissioned submarines that were running over the period.

2. The figures for HMS Superb, HMS Talent and HMS Triumph reflect their major refit periods.

Destroyers

Vessel

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Edinburgh

157

149

67

111

121

134

Gloucester

129

131

111

141

37

75

Manchester

143

118

128

47

153

132

York

172

54

177

118

97

0

Exeter

61

163

0

96

71

19

Liverpool

188

110

154

126

63

131

Nottingham

0

85

138

126

109

60

Southampton

35

158

109

142

167

44

Type 22 and 23 Frigates

Vessel

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Argyll

91

138

157

135

143

114

Lancaster

150

42

135

146

142

95

Iron Duke

176

140

97

163

22

139

Monmouth

117

162

114

101

170

44

Montrose

24

122

165

139

152

173

Westminster

70

40

135

148

92

150

St Albans

121

148

98

159

41

35

Northumberland

164

14

66

152

137

90

Richmond

167

157

11

46

206

103

Somerset

103

184

83

23

79

127

Sutherland

164

120

97

141

153

0

Kent

183

104

72

169

98

113

Portland

160

99

125

44

184

57

Cornwall

148

105

34

113

159

100

Cumberland

114

178

143

66

23

78

Campbeltown

128

168

137

63

159

114

Chatham

180

110

128

129

94

163

The figures given for 2008 in all tables are for 1 January to 30 September 2008.

These figures do not include time spent in harbour, alongside training, self maintenance and periods of leave.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Post Office Network

6. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on the network change programme for the post office network in Greater Manchester and High Peak. (229221)

Following local consultations, Post Office Ltd announced its decisions on the Greater Manchester and High Peak area plan on 12 August. These confirmed that 316 branches would be retained in the area, and that four closure proposals, including Spotland Road in Rochdale, had been withdrawn. To date, 63 post office closures have been confirmed for Greater Manchester and High Peak with decisions on two other closure proposals still awaited.

7. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on the post office network change programme. (229222)

Local consultations on all 42 of Post Office Ltd's area plans have closed and decisions have been announced on 41 area plans. To date, 87 closure proposals and five outreach proposals had been withdrawn in the light of responses to local consultations. Following the network change programme, on average, over 90 per cent. of customers nationally will see no change to their local post office.

8. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what guidance his Department gave to community groups on participating in the Post Office consultation on network change; and if he will make a statement. (229223)

The arrangements for local consultation on Post Office Ltd's Network Change Programme area plans were the responsibility of the company, operating within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with Postwatch, and monitored closely by the consumer body. I understand that there was extensive participation and levels of response to the network change proposals put forward to local consultation from local authorities and other community and representative groups.

Construction Industry

9. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent assessment he has made of the level of activity in the construction industry. (229226)

I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby some moments ago.

Glass Industry

10. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent assessment he has made of the competitiveness of the British glass industry; and if he will make a statement. (229228)

No such assessment has been made recently, however the most recent figures show that the glass industry contributes £1.2 billion to the UK economy, and employs around 28,000 people directly.

Business Environment: Essex

11. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many meetings Ministers in his Department have had with the Minister for the East of England to discuss the business environment in Essex since 1 July 2007. (229229)

Ministers from the Department regularly meet with my hon. Friend the Minister for the East of England to discuss a range of issues.

Small Businesses

12. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to promote and protect growth in small businesses. (229230)

The Government are committed to promoting enterprise. Our policies have ensured that internationally the UK is now recognised as among the best in the world to start and grow a business. The Government are determined to build on that success. That is why we published a renewed Enterprise Strategy in March that sets out a framework of five drivers to inform and structure the Government’s enterprise policy: Culture, Knowledge and Skills, Finance, Innovation and Regulation. My hon. Friend will also be aware of the package of measures to support small businesses that were announced this week.

Internet Governance Forum

13. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to support the work of the Internet Governance Forum. (229231)

The Government are committed to ensuring the success of the multi-stakeholder Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process. We are a leading donor, with £50,000 committed to supporting the IGF Secretariat this year. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) works in partnership with Nominet in the UK IGF, which is identifying key messages for the third IGF in Hyderabad in December. In addition to promoting the contributions of UK parliamentarians, Nominet and other UK stakeholders in Hyderabad, BERR will hold a workshop on virtual worlds for delivering public service and innovation.

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what assessment he has made of the relationship between the price of alcohol and drinking behaviour; and if he will make a statement; (227293)

(2) what plans he has to regulate the sale of low-cost alcohol as a loss leader in supermarkets; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

The Department commissioned the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), at the university of Sheffield to produce an independent review on the effects of alcohol price, promotion, consumption and harm. The review has two phases:

Phase 1 systematically identified, appraised and synthesised international evidence on the relationship between alcohol price, promotion, consumption and harm. Summary of the first phase, published on 22 July, found significant links between price and youth and heavy drinkers but it has less of an impact on moderate and occasional drinkers; and

Phase 2 explored the potential impact of potential policy changes in this area, especially the population-based impact on health, crime, and wider economy for the population as a whole and also with a focus on: young people under 18 who drink alcohol; 18 to 24-year-old hazardous drinkers; and, harmful drinkers whose patterns of drinking damage their physical/mental health or causes substantial harm to others.

Findings from the review are expected to be published this year and are intended to inform understanding of retail practices, whether they are linked to excessive drinking, and whether Government intervention is likely to be proportionate and have a significant beneficial impact.

Energy: Business

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assistance his Department makes available to help rural businesses meet energy bills. (227739)

I have been asked to reply.

We have a range of support to assist rural SMEs as part of the Government’s support to the SME sector as a whole. We have developed information for our Businesslink.gov portal to consolidate and provide one-stop shop advice to SMEs on energy efficiency. We intend to have measures in place by the end of this year to enable SMEs to access energy efficiency advice and support though information and services provided by all energy suppliers. The Carbon Trust offers a range of interest-free energy efficiency loans and advice.

Retail Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent assessment he has made of the future competitiveness of the retail sector. (229224)

Assessments of the competitiveness of different parts of the retail sector are undertaken from time to time including in the recent Competition Commission investigation into the grocery sector.

It is clear that the grocery sector is still a strong, competitive market. Other parts of the retail sector are facing tougher times.

We are continuing to work through what farther action, Government can take to help all businesses through the current economic downturn.

Small Businesses: Economic Situation

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to protect small businesses in the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement. (229214)

Small businesses are central to the UK economy and the Government are fully committed to supporting business at this critical time.

We have committed to pay firms within 10 days, and to ensure banks make funds available to small businesses.

We also announced this week:

An enhanced training offer through Train to Gain;

Free “Health Checks” through Business Link; and

New finance guides with the Institute of Credit Management.

Communities and Local Government

Community Relations: Islam

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 13 October 2008, Official Report, column 989W, on terrorism, what progress has been made on point 11 of the 12-point plan of 5 August 2005 in respect of consulting Muslim leaders with regard to those clerics who are not British citizens to draw up a list of those not suitable to preach who will be excluded from the UK. (227938)

[holding answer 17 October 2008]: On progress against the 12-point plan, I refer the hon. Member again to the update provided by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 1 September 2008, Official Report, column 1594W. This sets out that all counter-terrorism work has now been subsumed into the United Kingdom’s long-term strategy for countering terrorism (the CONTEST strategy).

On point 11 in the 12-point plan, I refer the hon. Member again to the statement made by the then Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke) on 15 December 2005, Official Report, columns 167-71WS. No further action was taken in respect of drawing up a list of ‘clerics’ to be excluded from the UK.

Since August 2005, 79 individuals have been excluded from the UK on the basis that they have engaged in unacceptable behaviours. The statistics are not broken down according to the professional background of the individuals concerned. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East and Saddleworth (Mr. Woolas) on 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 14W.

Council Housing: South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority-owned, non-decent dwellings there were in (a) the South West and (b) Stroud district in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (229735)

The Department collects figures on local authority non-decent homes through the published annual Business Plan Statistical Appendix. According to the latest returns available, the number of non-decent local authority homes as at 1 April 2007 in South West England as a whole was 27,128 (22 per cent. of stock). The figure for Stroud was 510 (10 per cent. of stock). The regional figure includes non-decent homes in local authorities which had established an arm’s length management organisation to manage their homes.

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much council tax liability was written off by local authorities in each year since 1985; and what proportion of council tax liability this represented in each such year. (229416)

Details of the amount of council tax expected to be collected within the year by local authorities in England since 2002-03 (in £ millions), the amount of council tax written off each year, and the proportion of the amount to be collected this represents are shown in the following table. The data are reported annually by all billing authorities and were first collected in 2002-03.

Amount of council tax to be collected (£ million)

Amount written off (£ million)

Proportion of council tax to be collected written off (percentage)

2002-03

14,624

109

0.75

2003-04

16,574

133

0.80

2004-05

17,730

137

0.77

2005-06

18,576

130

0.70

2006-07

19,554

134

0.69

2007-08

20,609

159

0.73

The amounts written off relate to council tax payable for both the current year and for previous years.

Some authorities net off against write-offs moneys collected that had previously been written off. This can result in a negative total figure for amounts written off in a particular year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of council tax liability was not collected by local authorities in England in each year since 1985. (229417)

Details of the percentage of council tax liability collected in year by local authorities in England, since the introduction of council tax in 1993-94 and 2006-07, are available in table 2.2m of “Local Government Financial Statistics No 18 2008” which is available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/stats/lgfs/2008/lgfs18/

Data for 2007-08 were published in a Statistical Release on 18 June 2008 and are available at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/ctax/cp078.htm.

Collection of council taxes continues once the financial year to which they relate has ended. This means that the percentage collected will eventually be higher than the figure shown.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average Band D council tax increase was in England in each year since 1985. (229418)

Details of the average Band D council tax increase in England since the introduction of council tax in 1993-94, are available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/ctax/data/ctaxtimes.xls

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on overnight accommodation by her Department's civil servants in the last 12 months. (228765)

For the 12-month period from October 2007 to September 2008 the amount spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants in the Department for Communities and Local Government, excluding Government offices, departmental agencies and NDPBs, was £482,887.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many civil servants working in her Department and its agencies have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. (229557)

It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members whose details are shown in the remuneration report in annual resource accounts. A copy of Communities and Local Government’s resource accounts for financial year 2007-8 can be found in the Library or accessed electronically using the following link

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc0708/hc07/0791/0791.pdf

Deprivation Indicators

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 29 April 2008, Official Report, column 313W, on the index of deprivation, whether distance calculations were (a) made by the Oxford University researchers producing the report and (b) contained within the primary source data. (229651)

The distance calculations were made by the University of Oxford using point data from the primary data source and population weighted centroid data from the Office for National Statistics.

Government Offices for the Regions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse of the Government Offices for the Regions was in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. (228623)

The administrative cost to the public purse of the Government offices for the regions was £137,803,159 in 2006-07 and £122,293,471 in 2007-08.

Government Offices for the Regions: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total programme budget managed or influenced by Government Offices for the Regions (a) was in 2007-08 and (b) is in 2008-09 according to the Network Corporate Plan. (229680)

Programme expenditure is the responsibility of each of the sponsor Departments and the GO Network no longer retains annual records of this. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Julia Goldsworthy) on 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2782W, which provided the programme spend breakdown for 2006-07.

Green belt

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 1393W, on the green belt, what her reasons were for approving the Regional Spatial Strategy's proposals to review and develop on the green belt. (229624)

Once the general extent of a green belt has been approved, it should be altered only in exceptional circumstances. However, it is good practice to check, from time to time, that the extent of a particular green belt is still appropriate and justified. The Regional Spatial Strategy is the appropriate vehicle for this.

In general terms, if any alteration is proposed, the Secretary of State will wish to be satisfied that the relevant local planning authority has considered opportunities for development in the urban areas contained by, and beyond, the green belt. National planning policy is a consideration throughout the process, including, especially, Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: “Green Belts”.

Detailed changes to a green belt boundary would be a matter for the local planning authority through the development plan process. The guidance states that boundaries should not be changed unless alterations to the Regional Spatial Strategy have been approved, or other exceptional circumstances make revision necessary.

Home Information Packs

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 8 May 2008, Official Report, columns 37-39WS, on home information packs, in what ways her Department will seek to enhance the current product and quality of the pack. (229650)

The consultation published on 22 July set out our proposals to improve the information provided to consumers as part of the home information pack. A copy of the consultation was placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 322W, on home information packs, how many penalty charge notices have been issued to the responsible person for breaches of home information pack duties to date. (230077)

Homelessness

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many householders have presented themselves to a local authority as homeless in England in each year since 1985; and how many of those presented following (a) mortgage repayment difficulties and (b) rental arrears in each such year. (229415)

Information about English local housing authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected includes all decisions made on applications by eligible applicants, and the number of applicants accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). These households are known as ‘accepted’ households.

The following table shows the total number of decisions from 1991 to 2007, on applications from households eligible for assistance under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Acts.

Total number of decisions made by English local housing authorities under the 1985 and 1996 Housing Act on applications from eligible households1, 1991 to 2007

Total decisions

1991

301,620

1992

305,640

1993

288,250

1994

269,630

1995

271,500

1996

263,900

1997

242,340

1998

245,350

1999

243,290

2000

247,190

2001

255,080

2002

269,330

2003

296,970

2004

281,460

2005

227,260

2006

168,530

2007

137,690

1 Decisions on applications from households eligible for assistance under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Act.

Information on decisions by reason for loss of last settled home (which includes mortgage arrears and rent arrears) is not held centrally. However this information is held for accepted households and this is provided back to 1997 in our quarterly Statistical Release on Statutory Homelessness (table 5), which is published on our website and placed in the Library each quarter.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/xls/963636.xls

Housing Companies: Reorganisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether directors of the Homes and Communities Agency who are also employed by (a) the Housing Corporation and (b) English Partnership will receive remuneration for both roles until the formal amalgamation of the organisations has been completed. (228507)

Directors of the Homes and Communities Agency who are currently employed by either the Housing Corporation or English Partnership will only receive remuneration for their substantive position. When they take up their posting in the HCA, once vesting has occurred, they will be remunerated by that organisation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff are employed by (a) the Housing Corporation and (b) English Partnerships; and how many of these staff she expects to be retained by the Homes and Communities Agency. (228517)

At 1 October, English Partnerships had an establishment of 610 full-time equivalents (FTEs), with 501 staff in post (FTEs). At 1 October, Housing Corporation had an establishment of 556.6 FTEs, with 497 staff in post (FTEs). At Vesting day, the Homes and Communities Agency will inherit 276 staff from the Housing Corporation and the Tenant Services Authority will inherit 250 staff.

In addition to the aforementioned numbers, the Homes and Communities Agency will have 58 posts from CLG and 30 posts from the Academy of Sustainable Communities.

A very small number of staff have decided not to transfer to either the HCA or TSA, and will therefore leave either English Partnerships or the Housing Corporation before the new agencies are created.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much of the public funding available for the provision of affordable housing in the next three years is ring-fenced for such provision in rural areas in (a) Stafford constituency, (b) the West Midlands region and (c) England. (225308)

The Housing Corporation has been set a national target to provide 10,300 affordable homes in smaller rural communities. The Housing Corporation's investment partners can bid for grant funding from the National Affordable Housing Programme. Grant will be allocated to those schemes which meet the needs of local people, the regional strategy and demonstrate strong value for money.

The allocations made to date for units to be completed during 2008-11 for settlements below 3,000 is in (a) Staffordshire (Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Staffordshire and Stafford local authorities): £1.6 million for 27 social rent units and 26 LCHO units, (b) the West Midlands region is £10 million for 208 social rent units and 137 LCHO units and (c) England is £153 million for 3,520 social rent units and 1,572 LCHO units.

Housing: Overcrowding

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 14 October 2008, Official Report, columns 1098-1100W, on housing: overcrowding, what estimate she has made of the number of households living in overcrowded conditions in each local authority area. (228355)

Estimates of overcrowding for individual local authorities are not routinely available because sample sizes at local authority level are too small. However, the results of a one-off model are available based on a combination of three years’ data from both the Survey of English Housing and DWP’s Family Resources Survey for 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03. Based on this model, estimates of the percentages of households in various local authorities that were overcrowded during the three-year period 2000-01 to 2002-03 are set out in table 1 of the publication at the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/overcrowding

Housing: Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effect of current economic conditions on the financial position of private finance initiative housing schemes. (227889)

My Department is monitoring the situation and working closely with all PFI schemes to help support them in finding solutions where difficulties arise. If a local authority were to approach this Department with concerns about a scheme, we would provide advice and support as appropriate.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the capital value of (a) housing association and (b) council housing stock in each year since 1997. (229406)

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much public funding was provided to (a) Stroud District Council and (b) Gloucestershire County Council in (i) non-formula funding and (ii) formula grant in each of the last four financial years. (228870)

The amount of non-formula funding and formula grant provided to Stroud district council and Gloucestershire county council in each of the last four financial years is shown in the following table.

£000

(a) Stroud district council

(b) Gloucestershire county council

(i) Non-formula funding

(ii) Formula grant

(i) Non-formula funding

(ii) Formula grant

2004-05

875

5,420

115,483

329,643

2005-06

1,415

5,600

112,194

352,373

2006-07

2,130

6,459

377,490

92,747

2007-081

1,885

6,792

430,799

95,155

1 Provisional

Source:

Communities and Local Government Revenue Outturn (RO) returns

Figures are as supplied by the local authority to Communities and Local Government.

The estimates for 2007-08 are based on provisional revenue outturn data. The final 2007-08 outturn figures will be available later this year.

Non-formula funding is defined here as specific grants inside aggregate external finance (AEF), i.e. revenue grants paid for a council's core services (e.g. Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)).

Formula grant is defined here as the sum of revenue support grant and redistributed non-domestic rates.

Figures exclude grants outside AEF (i.e. where funding is for an authority's core services, but is passed to a third party, for example, rent allowances and rebates), capital grants, funding for the local authority's housing management responsibilities and those grant programmes (such as European funding) where an authority is simply one of the recipients of funding paid towards an area.

The large change in non-formula funding and formula grant from 2005-06 to 2006-07 is because local authorities now receive funding for schools through DSG rather than as part of formula grant.

Comparisons across years may not be valid owing to changing local authority responsibilities.

Local Government: Bank Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities and other public institutions for which she has responsibility hold accounts in Icelandic banks; and how much is held by each institution in such banks. (227303)

In relation to local authorities, I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 17 October 2008, Official Report, column 1577W, to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles)

The Audit Commission issued a statement on 16 October on its deposits in Icelandic banks, which is on its website at:

www.audit-commission.gov.uk

Officials have contacted agencies, public corporations and non-departmental public bodies for which Communities and Local Government has responsibility and, excepting the Audit Commission, we are not aware of any that have investments in Icelandic banks.

Local Government: By-elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to make an order moving the date of the local elections in 2009; and if she will make a statement. (229311)

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement I made to the House on 7 October 2009, Official Report, column 8WS.

Local Government: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether there are restrictions on local authorities using their powers as laid under Part 2 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to change the timing of their elections, other than the provisions laid out in the primary legislation. (229674)

There are no restrictions on local authorities using their powers under part 2 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to change their scheme of elections, other than those laid out in primary legislation by Parliament.

New Milton Sand and Ballast

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will extend the deadline for responses to her Department in respect of the appeal by New Milton Sand and Ballast to the High Court under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (reference: 82483). (229474)

The deadline has been extended to 7 November, in response to a request from local campaign groups who sought more time to formulate their response.

Ordnance Survey: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff were employed by Ordnance Survey in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. (228402)

The number of permanent staff employed at Ordnance Survey in either a full or part-time capacity on 31 March in each of the 10 years to 2008 was as follows:

Staff

1999

1,864

2000

1,852

2001

1,848

2002

1,790

2003

1,467

2004

1,485

2005

1,433

2006

1,397

2007

1,362

2008

1,357

Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has provided to local authorities on the time it should take to (a) investigate planning transgressions and (b) implement planning enforcement where necessary. (227932)

Guidance on the timing of investigations into allegations of unauthorised development and on the timing of enforcement procedures is given in the Department's publication “Enforcing Planning Control: Good Practice for Local Planning Authorities”.

Paragraph 2.3 of this document recommends that in investigating complaints concerning unauthorised development, a local planning authority should respond to a complaint within 15 working days, explaining what action the authority proposes to take and tell the complainant about the local planning authority's decision to make formal enforcement action within 10 working days of the authority's making that decision.

Paragraphs 5.19-5.25 deal with sections 173-174 of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990 concerning the date on which a planning enforcement notice takes effect and the compliance period for the taking of any remedial action required by the enforcement notice. The provisions of the TCPA 1990 require that the service of an enforcement notice shall not take place less than 28 days before the date on which it is to take effect. But the guidance indicates that it may be prudent to allow a margin of several days above this minimum period so as to ensure that all interested parties receive the notice not less than 28 days before the effective date. The compliance period should be as short as can reasonably be allowed and it should not normally exceed one year. But it will be for the LPA to decide on how long it should be depending on the complexity of the case.

Planning Permission: Castle Point

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the number of planning enforcement files open and awaiting action by Castle Point borough council; and if she will make a statement. (229315)

The Secretary of State has received no representations concerning planning enforcement cases being dealt with by Castle Point borough council. It is for the local planning authority to decide in each case which is the most appropriate course of action, taking account of local circumstances. PPG 18, Enforcing Planning Control offers guidance to local planning authorities on enforcement issues and gives them a wide range of discretion. Paragraph 5(1) states

“Parliament has given local planning authorities the primary responsibility for taking whatever enforcement action may be necessary, in the public interest, in their administrative area”.

The 2006 planning enforcement review confirmed that local planning authorities had sufficient enforcement powers to deal with breaches of planning control.

Planning: Enforcement

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received from local authorities on the likely effect of the provisions of Clause 151 of the Planning Bill, if enacted, on their ability to take enforcement action following complaints regarding alleged statutory nuisance by major infrastructure project developers. (229473)

We have received representations from LACORS (local authority co-ordinators of regulatory services), among other stakeholders, on the likely effect of the provisions of what was Clause 151 of the Planning Bill.

The Government tabled amendments to remove Clause 151 from the Planning Bill, and insert provisions in its place that maintain the current balanced settlement. They allow development of nationally significant infrastructure to go forward while nevertheless ensuring that individuals are able to receive compensation for the effect on their land. These amendments were accepted during House of Lords Committee stage.

Regional Ministers

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost to the public purse is of the work of regional ministers annually; and if she will make a statement. (229053)

The estimated cost of the work of the regional Ministers over the last year is £1.173 million. This figure includes Government office and departmental staff supporting these Ministers in their regional role. It does not cover any further costs incurred by the Ministers’ home Departments as the information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Rented Housing: Carbon Monoxide

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate her Department has made of the number of (a) privately rented student accommodation or houses, (b) student halls of residence and (c) residential care homes which are not fitted with carbon monoxide alarms; (229324)

(2) what representations her Department has received on introducing a mandatory requirement for carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in all forms of rented accommodation.

The Department does not hold information in relation to the number of homes that are not fitted with carbon monoxide alarms.

The Department receives a large number of representations in relation to housing and health some of which relate to carbon monoxide alarms.

There are no current requirements to install carbon monoxide monitors in privately rented properties. However, we are keen to promote good practice and landlords’ organisations are already engaged on safety issues and are involved in the promotion of good practice to their members.

Landlords are responsible for maintaining their properties, including the safety of gas and electrical appliances and the fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided under the tenancy. All private landlords are required by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual gas safety check is carried out by a CORGI-registered tradesman.

Taxis: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) time period and (b) jurisdictions are covered by Criminal Records Bureau checks on (i) British and (ii) foreign national applicants for taxi licences. (229312)

Communities and Local Government has no responsibility for these matters. The licensing of taxis is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The Criminal Records Bureau is an Executive agency of the Home Office.

Travelling People: Regional Planning and Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers the regional development agencies will have in respect of regional planning for Traveller camps from 2010. (229621)

We have yet to issue our response to the consultation on the Review of Sub National Economic Development and Regeneration which included proposals to streamline arrangements at regional level. We do not intend to pre-empt our response by making statements about specific aspects of regional strategy or governance arrangements.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Carbon Emissions: Allotments

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the relationship between the use of allotments and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. (224944)

I have been asked to reply.

No assessment has been made of the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and allotments.

Carbon Emissions: Public Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of annual carbon dioxide emissions arising from bodies recognised as public corporations by the Office for National Statistics; and if he will make a statement. (225005)

I have been asked to reply.

DECC does not hold disaggregated data on CO2 emissions from public corporations.

Greenhouse gas emissions for all sectors of the economy can be found in the Environmental Accounts section of the Office for National Statistics website at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/ssdataset.asp?vlnk =5695&More=Y

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2715W, on the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS): finance, how much he intends to allocate to CEFAS in (a) 2008-09 and (b) each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. (228070)

There have been no formal changes to the response provided on 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2715W.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has re-assessed any of its UK flood mapping timelines in view of the accelerated rate of Arctic summer ice melt of 2007-08 and its significance for the melting of the Greenland ice cap. (225101)

I have been asked to reply.

Recent research findings from the Met Office and the Environment Agency for the Thames Estuary 2100 project indicate that higher ranges for sea level rise are broadly in line with DEFRA's October 2006 published guidance to operating authorities.

DECC is expecting a new set of climate change scenarios from the UK Climate Impacts Partnership (UKCIP) in spring 2009, which will give a better understanding of the uncertainties associated with future sea level rise. DECC will be working closely with UKCIP and other delivery bodies to understand the risks and review policy guidance.

UK research is aimed at improving the representations of ice sheets in climate models and understanding future changes in ice sheet volume and sea level. Early indications suggest that changes in ice sheet volumes could bring a significant contribution to sea level rise. However, further research is needed to shed more light on the risks. DEFRA and DECC will continue to work closely with our science networks to better understand these risks.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) listening exercises and (b) public forums his Department has held in each of the last two years; and what the (i) purpose and (ii) cost was in each case; and who the private contractor was and how much it was paid in each case. (221350)

DEFRA has held one major listening exercise in the last two years. The Citizen's Summit on Climate Change in May 2007 was managed entirely through the Central Office of Information at a total cost of £440,791. These costs were in line with exercises of a similar scale and scope.

The principal objectives and benefits included:

Informing public consultation for the Climate Change Bill;

Talking about the early stages of the Act on C02 campaign to raise public awareness and help citizens to engage with climate change;

Allowing Government, industry and the public to engage in informed dialogue on climate change;

Informing the development of a broader, longer term marketing campaign.

The summit itself was the culmination of a longer term deliberative research process with a representative sample of the population. Members of the public were recruited from across the country, exposed to all sides of the debate and asked about their attitudes and behaviour on climate change.

The final event was a major participative exercise involving the then Secretary of State, the heads of the CBI, TUC and the NCC, policy officials and around 160 members of the public. The event was covered by the media and broadcast over the internet. A full research report was produced and published to capture the key learning from the exercise. This was fed into the formal consultation process of the Climate Change Bill.

The survey of those who participated indicated:

Very high satisfaction with the process;

89 per cent. said that the process had been “very important”;

Levels of feeling better informed about climate change doubled during the process, as did levels of personal engagement with the issue (“I am personally making a lot of effort” from 31 per cent. to 62 per cent.);

The process informed the development of the ‘Footprint’ creative device for the Act on C02 advertising campaign. More than 50 per cent. of those who saw the first phase of this activity said that they had or planned to take action as a result of the campaign.

Insulation: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library the details of the assumptions behind his policy on encouraging savings in household bills from home insulation. (224512)

I have been asked to reply.

The assumptions behind Government policy are based on the findings of the two following reports, both of which are available on the website of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

“Measurement of energy savings and comfort levels in houses receiving insulation upgrades”, Martin and Watson, Energy Monitoring Company, June 2006.

“Review of Differences between Measured and Theoretical Energy Savings for Insulation Measures”, Sanders and Phillipson, Centre for Research on Indoor Climate and Health, December 2006.

Assumptions from these reports have been used to update the Building Research Establishment's BREDEM model for domestic energy usage and to calculate energy savings for the following measures.

The energy savings were converted into cost savings for a standard three-bedroom semi-detached house with gas-dominated heating on a standard heating pattern and energy pricing assumed a price of 3.8p per kWh of energy saved for gas and 13p per kWh for electricity, based on consumer tariffs available in September 2008.

Illustrative value of core measures and annual energy bill savings

£

Cavity wall insulation

Loft insulation (from empty)

Loft insulation (top-up)

Estimated installation costs1

500

500

500

Annual fuel bill savings per household

150

100

30

1 Estimated average overall installation costs to consumer and energy supplier under Carbon Emissions Reduction Target scheme, as published by the Energy Saving Trust.

Ivory

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of China on that country’s involvement in the ivory trade; and if he will make a statement. (225984)

A number of discussions took place between officials about China’s involvement in the ivory trade in the lead up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee meeting, held during July 2008 in Geneva.

Seas and Oceans: Nature Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on whether the UK is empowered to curtail fishing effort in marine conservation zones in UK waters. (221638)

A range of formal and informal discussions take place with the Commissioner on a regular basis covering a wide range of issues. Through these means the Commissioner is kept abreast of developments taking place in the United Kingdom.

Taxis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was claimed in expenses for taxi travel by officials from (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies in (i) 2006-07, (ii) 2005-06, (iii) 2004-05, (iv) 2003-04 and (v) 2002-03; and if he will make a statement. (227055)

From information held centrally by the core-Department’s financial system the VAT inclusive expenditure on taxis for the financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 is as follows:

£

2006-07

268,103.95

2007-08

346,457.63

DEFRA’s total departmental spending in 2007-08 was some £3.7 billion. Information for financial years prior to 2006-07 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department requires any use of taxis to be appropriate to business needs, represent value for money and follow civil service rules for the use of money.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what proportion of written questions for answer on a named day his Department has answered on the due date in the current Session of Parliament to date. (226898)

As at 9 October 2008, we had received a total of 841 named day questions, and we answered 333 on the due date. This equates to approximately 40 per cent.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps will need to be taken for the EU to achieve a 30 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 from a 1990 baseline. (227838)

It will be for EU member states to decide how they best meet their EU commitments in the event of a 30 per cent. greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target. However, this will require a reduction in the EU-wide cap in the EU Emissions Trading System. In addition, the Government already have a wide range of policies in place, including those in the 2006 Climate Change Programme and 2007 Energy White Paper. The framework of binding carbon budgets that the Climate Change Bill establishes will ensure we continue to keep under review the policies and measures needed to meet both our domestic obligations under the Bill and our share of a 30 per cent. European target.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions reductions which should be delivered through the Clean Development Mechanism or Joint Implementation under EU climate change measures. (227863)

The UK Government would like to see project credit access in both the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and greenhouse gas (GHG) effort-share limited to 50 per cent. of absolute effort (in the context of the overarching principle that 50 per cent. of absolute emissions reductions from 2005 must take place within the EU). This, we consider, maintains the correct balance between domestic (EU) abatement, EU leadership on climate change and the cost-effectiveness of the EU’s climate change package.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he plans to publish a revised impact assessment relating to the Climate Change Bill to take account of the amended target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent. (229323)

An updated Impact Assessment for the Climate Change Bill will be published following Royal Assent, and will reflect the final content of the Bill.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether emissions from (a) aircraft, (b) shipping and (c) cement manufacture are included in (a) the targets to be set in the Climate Change Bill for reductions by (i) 2020 and (ii) 2050 and (b) in the target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent. below the 1990 level by 2010. (229698)

Emissions from domestic aviation and shipping, and from cement manufacture in the UK, will be included in the Climate Change Bill’s 2050 and 2020 targets. They are also included for the purposes of assessing progress towards the Government’s goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. against a 1990 baseline by 2010. Emissions from international aviation and shipping are not included in either the Bill’s targets, or the 2010 goal.

Climate Change: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) how much the Government have spent on research into climate change since 1997; (227851)

(2) how much the Government have provided by way of grants or subsidies to organisations, companies and people involved in climate change research in each financial year since 1998.

The UK’s leading role in delivering climate change policy has been built on its world-leading research and the Government are committed to continuing support in this area. The Government support research into a wide range of climate change issues, including climate change science and innovations for mitigation and adaptation, but no centrally-collated figures are available for total expenditure.

The majority of Government expenditure in climate change research is provided through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC receives funding from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). NERC’s funding of climate change research in 2007-08 was about 28 per cent. of its net spend of £389 million, approximately £109 million. In addition, universities also invest funding received from the Higher Education Funding Councils, some of which is invested in this area.

DEFRA’s total expenditure on climate change research (including projects of a cross-cutting nature which are of relevance to climate change) over the last six years was £132.8 million (£13.7 million in 2002-03, £17.7 million in 2003-04, £22.0 million in 2004-05, £23.7 million in 2005-06, £24.7 million in 2006-07, and £31.0 million in 2007-08). Figures for earlier years are not readily available.

Energy Savings Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many of the directors of the Energy Savings Trust are from energy producing organisations. (225995)

[holding answer 13 October 2008]: The Energy Saving Trust currently has four non-executive directors who are from energy producing organisations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what system is in place for ensuring that the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Code of Practice operated by the Energy Savings Trust give appropriate weight to innovative gas saving products. (225998)

[holding answer 13 October 2008]: The Energy Saving Trust does not operate the Code for Sustainable Homes, it is the responsibility of Communities and Local Government.

The Energy Saving Trust operates the “Domestic Energy Efficiency Advice Code of Practice”. This does not specify the absolute weight to be given to advice on any particular class of product or service; rather it emphasises that advice must be based upon, and relevant to, the requirements and circumstances of the recipient.

Fuels: Trade Competitiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to ensure a competitive market for petrol and diesel. (229213)

The Government are committed to the operation of competitive markets, as the most efficient way of ensuring supply. The supply of transport fuels is a commercial matter, which is subject to UK competition law under the Competition Act 1998. The regulation of supply of transport fuels to consumers is therefore the responsibility of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), who continue to monitor the UK petrol market to ensure that these markets remain competitive.

Industrial Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the reliability of the medical assessment procedure in assessing claims under the coal miners' compensation scheme. (229218)

Respiratory specialists and experienced medical practitioners undertake medical assessments in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger respectively. It is important to take steps to ensure consistency of diagnosis and this is done by providing training specific to each condition and also by auditing the Medical Assessment Process assessments. Specialists are trained to understand each assessment form and its objectives to establish the level of disability caused by chronic pulmonary disease or vibration white finger, assess the impact of any other condition and calculate how much of the disability is due to working in coal mines. Required qualifications for the specialist are set out in each claims handling agreement.

Processes are in place, agreed between both the claimants’ solicitors and the Department, to facilitate the independent auditing of the medical assessment process. The audits are carried out firstly by the lead doctor (who delivers the training) and then by the Medical Reference Panel. The audits are done on a monthly basis and look at a sample of six reports from each respiratory specialist or experienced medical practitioner.

A quality review is undertaken by an independent organisation for medical assessments conducted under the Coal Health Compensation schemes. The Medical Review Panel is also available if any solicitor wish to dispute the medical findings in particular claims.

University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much the Government have provided by way of grants or subsidies to the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit in each financial year since 1998. (227854)

The Natural Environment Research Council, which receives funding from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), has made grants and awards to the University of East Anglia, but figures specifically for the Climatic Research Unit are not available.

Home Department

Airports: Biometrics

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on the compulsory (a) fingerprinting, (b) iris scanning and (c) photographing of (i) UK and (ii) other passengers at UK airports. (226479)

Taking biometrics allows UKBA to fix and verify a person’s identity, allowing a more informed decision about a person’s eligibility and entitlement to enter the UK.

Under current policy, an authorised person has powers to require any arriving passenger, regardless of claimed nationality, to provide biometrics in the form of fingerprints and a photograph of their face at all ports of entry, including airports, for the purpose of ascertaining whether a passport or other document is genuine and relates to the person being examined. This may sometimes require both UK and other nationals to provide fingerprints and photographs to enable the UKBA to verify their identity and nationality.

The UK Border Agency will not store the biometric features of British citizens and EEA nationals.

Compulsory fingerprints and facial photographs are required from all visa applicants before arrival in the UK, and we are committed to extending this requirement, so that all foreign nationals from outside the European economic area register their fingerprints and facial photograph before crossing the border.

Antisocial Behaviour

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding has been allocated to tackling antisocial behaviour in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) England and Wales in each year since the inception of such programmes. (228719)

The Home Office has not allocated any direct funding to tackle antisocial behaviour in Jarrow which falls within South Tyneside local authority. Home Office funding allocated to the North East including South Tyneside can be found in the following table.

Between 2003-04 and 2007-08, the Home Office made £34.4 million available in each year specifically and solely to tackle antisocial behaviour. This includes funding for the TOGETHER, then Respect Programmes respectively and a grant for antisocial behaviour co-ordinators.

The antisocial behaviour co-ordinator funding has been renewed for the period 2008-11, and the Home Office contribution to ABG in England amounts to some £61 million, with £3 million available for Wales in each year (the same in cash terms as in 2007-08).

The antisocial behaviour co-ordinator funding forms part of the unringfenced Area Based Grant (ABG) in England. The position in Wales is slightly different, whereby the funding for Community Safety Partnerships has been consolidated into the Crime Reduction and Anti-Social Behaviour National Resource Grant. In both England and Wales, it is for local partnerships to agree how the grants received should be allocated against locally determined priorities, including antisocial behaviour.

There are many funding streams that impact on antisocial behaviour. A more detailed account can be found in the report by the National Audit Office “Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour” (HC99 2006-07, December 2006). Other Home Office led activities also act to tackle antisocial behaviour, for example the introduction of community support officers, but a monetary value cannot be assigned to that contribution. Similarly, other Government Departments fund services that directly bear upon antisocial behaviour. For example the Crown Prosecution Service provides a network of specialist antisocial behaviour prosecutors, and Her Majesty's Court Service provides specialist antisocial behaviour response courts. There are many other programmes and services that contribute, sometimes indirectly, to tackling antisocial behaviour, including diversionary activities for young people, action against enviro-crime such as fly-tipping, neighbourhood wardens, as well as neighbourhood policing and neighbourhood management. A more detailed account can be found in the report of, and evidence to, the Home Affairs Select Committee's report on antisocial behaviour (Fifth Report, Session 2004-05, HC80).

£

Financial year

Total

Area

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Middlesbrough

71,500

132,314

388,060

591,874

Newcastle

84,232

252,411

445,000

781,643

South Tyneside

15,000

199,423

345,000

559,423

Sunderland

196,030

282,698

521,993

1,000,721

Darlington

77,208

268,000

345,208

Derwentside

190,000

190,000

Easington

53,000

60,954

115,000

228,954

Hartlepool

99,068

195,000

294,068

Redcar and Cleveland

315,000

315,000

Gateshead

53,000

60,000

175,000

288,000

Asylum: Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Sudanese nationals have been refused asylum in the UK in each of the last 12 months; and how many are awaiting a decision on an asylum application. (228482)

The following table gives the most recently published figures available and shows the total number of refusals for Sudanese nationals, following initial decisions between July 2007 and June 2008.

The published figure for asylum applications split by nationality for people awaiting an initial decision is not available as the figures are based on an overall manual count which is not broken down into separate categories.

Information on asylum is published annually and quarterly. Annual statistics for 2007 and quarterly statistics for 2008 are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html

Asylum refusals on initial decisions1, 2 in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants July 2007 to June 2008 by month, nationals of Sudan

Sudan

Total refusals

2007

July

30

August

20

September

15

October

10

November

15

December

15

2008

January

10

February

10

March

15

April

5

May

15

June

10

1 Figures rounded to nearest 5.

2 Provisional figures.

Asylum: Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Zimbabwean nationals were refused asylum in the UK in each of the last 12 months; and how many are awaiting a decision on an asylum application. (228481)

The following table gives the most recently published figures available and shows the total number of refusals for Zimbabwean nationals, following initial decisions between July 2007 and June 2008.

The published figure for asylum applications split by nationality for people awaiting an initial decision is not available as the figures are based on an overall manual count which is not broken down into separate categories.

Information on asylum is published annually and quarterly. Annual Statistics for 2007 and quarterly statistics for 2008 are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html

Asylum refusals on initial decisions1, 2 in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants July 2007 to June 2008 by month, nationals of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Total refusals

2007

July

135

August

85

September

65

October

85

November

105

December

70

2008

January

80

February

100

March

90

April

175

May

200

June

255

1 Figures rounded to nearest 5.

2 Provisional figures.

Border and Immigration Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent by the Border and Immigration Agency and its predecessor on (a) taxi fares, (b) hotel accommodation, (c) first class rail travel, (d) domestic and international flights and (e) hospitality in each of the last five years. (205453)

The amounts spent by the UK Border Agency and its predecessors on taxi fares, hotel accommodation, rail travel, domestic and international flights and hospitality in each of the last five years is shown in the following table. Rail travel includes all classes of travel.

£

2007-08

2006-07

2005-06

2004-05

2003-04

(a) Taxi fares

730,729

721,875

472,420

256,357

359,563

(b) Hotel accommodation

4,599,275

5,878,389

2,436,262

1,611,415

1531,452

(c) Train travel

3,208,649

4,505,231

3,145,729

2,066,521

732,135

(d) Air fares

1,688,398

1,965,205

2,405,574

1,775,290

845,104

(e) Hospitality

293,490

346,800

367,376

437,637

60,501

Total

10,520,541

13,417,500

8,827,361

6,147,220

2,528,7551

1 The financial record system in use at that time called BASS did not have a category to record hotel payments alone. This figure includes hotels and all subsistence, such as allowances for meals.

Cannabis: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of (a) murders, (b) assaults, (c) robberies and (d) other crimes committed while under the influence of skunk cannabis in (i) Lancashire and (ii) England and Wales in each of the last five years. (229072)

Departmental Civil Service Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many agencies were sponsored by her Department in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 1997-98. (228514)

The "Next Steps Report 1997" (Cm3889) provides information on all Executive agencies as at 31 December 1997. Copies are available from the Library of the House. The most up-to-date list of Executive agencies is published in the Cabinet Office publication "The List of Ministerial Responsibilities". The latest version, incorporating recent ministerial changes, will be published shortly. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent on overnight accommodation by her Department's civil servants in the last 12 months. (228772)

Expenditure figures for the Home Office on overnight accommodation by civil servants and all Ministers for the financial year 2007-08 (the last 12 months for which audited figures are available) was £5.79 million.

Information on civil servant overnight accommodation expenditure separately could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Expenditure figures on overnight accommodation for the Home Office includes information for the core Home Office and UK Border Agency.

When travelling on departmental business officials are expected to make efficient and cost-effective accommodation arrangements. Departments have authority to reimburse the expenses incurred by their own staff in connection with their employment, subject to the conditions set out in the Civil Service Management Code.

Departmental Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much (a) her Department and (b) the UK Border Agency and its predecessors spent on polling and focus groups in each of the last five years. (226058)

During the past five years, spend on opinion polling by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency and predecessors has been as follows (IND and BIA were the UKBA predecessors):

Spend on opinion polling (£)

2003-04

HO (Inc. IND)

128,850

2004-05

HO (Inc. IND)

124,610

2005-06

0

2006-07

Home Office

97,075

BIA

82,500

2007-08

Home Office

69,700

UKBA

45,000

We are unable to answer the question relating to focus groups on the grounds of disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was of (a) entertainment, (b) advertising and promotion and (c) public relations consultancy to her Department in 2007-08. (228149)

Home Office spend on entertainment and advertising and promotion is set out in the following table. The Department's accounting systems do not identify separately the costs of public relations consultancy and these can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

£000

Entertainment

57

Advertising and promotion

8,144

All Home Office expenditure conforms to departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, which complies with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

Drugs: Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the proportion of Class A drugs sold on the streets of the UK which had originated in Afghanistan in the most recent period for which figures are available. (227930)