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Written Answers

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Olympics

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether the £95 million forwarded to the Olympic Delivery Authority in October 2008 from contingency funding related to construction of the Olympic Village was from (a) the Olympic Delivery Authority programme, (b) the Funders' Group and (c) another contingency fund; and if she will make a statement. (229336)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: £95 million to fund commencement of construction of the Olympic Village was originally allocated from Funders' Group contingency as an interim measure. The Funders’ Group have now confirmed that up to £22 million that has already been spent will be funded from Funders' Group contingency with the balance being funded by the ODA until funding arrangements are further considered, expected to be early in the new year.

Olympic Games 2012: Flowers

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what consideration the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics have given to providing alternatives to cut flowers for presentation to medallists, competitors, VIPs and others during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. (235060)

In line with the sustainability plan published last year, ‘Towards a One Planet 2012’, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will seek to use natural materials and identify opportunities for using locally sourced plants where possible.

Sustainability is a rapidly evolving field and alternatives will be considered nearer the time when there are likely to be more options available.

Together with LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) I am committed to making the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games as sustainable as possible.

Olympic Games 2012: KPMG

To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will publish the terms of reference given to KPMG in relation to its report on Olympic venues. (233748)

KPMG was instructed by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) with input from the Government Olympic Executive and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to assist in the evaluation of the options analysis for:

venue options for Basketball which would include the final round of the Handball Competition;

review of the value engineering study conducted by the ODA in late 2007;

the use of the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich as the venue for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games Shooting competitions;

the use of Greenwich for the Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events during the Games;

the use of Eton Manor as the possible venue for Wheelchair Tennis, Paralympic Archery and training pools;

considerations stress value for money.

The KPMG report is yet to be finalised and therefore plans for any part of its publication, including the specific terms of reference, are still to be determined.

Wales

Departmental Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of those working in his Department are (a) on a flexible working contract, (b) on a job share employment contract and (c) work from home for more than four hours a week. (233854)

The Wales Office has the following staff working on flexible terms:

(a) 82 per cent. work on a flexi-time basis

(b) no staff work on a job share basis, but some are part-time (3.6 per cent.)

(c) one member of staff (1.8 per cent.) has a formal arrangement to work more than four hours a week from home, and other staff members work on this basis on an ad hoc basis.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) memory sticks, (b) laptop computers, (c) desktop computers, (d) hard drives and (e) mobile telephones were (i) lost by and (ii) stolen from his Department in each year since 1997. (234082)

Since the creation of the Wales Office in 1999 there have been no reported thefts or losses of memory sticks, laptop computers, desktop computers and hard drives, although there have been three reported losses of mobile phones, one in 2004, one in 2006 and one in 2007.

Departmental Official Residences

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 6W, on departmental official residences, what the cost of refurbishment of his London office was; and what the nature of the work undertaken was. (233390)

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) on 14 July 2008, Official Report, column 1W.

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many security passes of staff in his Department were stolen in each year since 2001. (233504)

Since 2001 we have recorded a loss of three security passes, two in 2006 and one in 2008.

These passes solely gain access to the Wales Office and are immediately removed from the internal database.

Prime Minister

Official Hospitality

To ask the Prime Minister what Government expenditure on Ministerial hospitality was in the financial years (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08, expressed in current prices. (234356)

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement I made on 22 July 2008, Official Report, columns 108-10WS, and the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac) on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 1108W. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my predecessor, the right hon. Tony Blair, on 11 October 2006, Official Report, column 788W, and the answer given by my noble Friend the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 21 July 2005, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA261.

Expenditure on other ministerial hospitality is a matter for the relevant Department.

Scotland

Airwave Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. (234695)

Football: Racial Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will hold discussions with the Scottish Executive on recent instances of anti-Irish racism at football matches involving Scottish clubs; and if he will make a statement. (234222)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have had discussions with the Scottish Executive on a number of issues, however none specifically concerning anti-Irish racism at football matches involving Scottish clubs.

Tackling such issues falls to the Scottish Football Association and Scottish football clubs, in conjunction with the police. Sport and policing are devolved matters.

Football: Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has held discussions with the Scottish Executive on pro-terrorism chanting at football matches in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. (234887)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have had discussions with the Scottish Executive on a number of issues, however none specifically concerning chanting at football matches in Scotland.

Tackling such issues falls to the Scottish Football Association and Scottish football clubs, in conjunction with the police. Sport and policing are devolved matters.

Northern Ireland

Abortion Act 1968

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the Government’s policy is on seeking to extend to Northern Ireland the provisions of the Abortion Act 1968. (232787)

Successive Governments have consistently said that extending the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland would need the most careful consultation there and that no change to the current arrangements should be made against the wishes of the people in Northern Ireland.

The Government believe that the best forum for taking decisions on this matter is the Northern Ireland Assembly once it has taken on responsibility for the criminal law.

Access NI

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applicants have raised a dispute with Access NI since 1 April 2008; and how many of these have been upheld. (232880)

While the statistics requested are not available, I can confirm that a number of registered bodies and applicants have queried the information provided on the Disclosure Certificate. In a small number of these cases the certificate has been amended as a result. Statistical information of the kind requested will in future be collated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have lodged complaints with Access NI about the standard of its service since 1 April 2008. (232881)

While the statistics requested are not available, I can confirm that a significant number of letters, e-mails and telephone calls have been received complaining about various aspects of the service. The majority of these are related to the current delays in returning certificates. Statistical information of the kind requested will in future be collated.

Airwave Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. (234696)

No organisation for which my Department is responsible use, or is planning to use Airwave handsets.

Bloody Sunday Tribunal of Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the costs of the Saville Inquiry have been for each calendar month since February 2005, broken down by category of expenditure. (234917)

I am advised that the costs of the inquiry for each calendar month since February 2005 have been as follows:

NIO funding to the inquiry

MOD legal costs

Total

2008-09

April

499,141

25,377

524,518

May

332,889

11,454

344,343

June

189,141

18,812

207,953

July

375,454

21,150

396,604

August

346,626

22,358

368,984

September

406,974

27,884

434,858

Total

2,150,225

127,035

2,277,260

2007-08

April

286,425

20,946

307,371

May

325,249

25,896

351,145

June

300,272

15,978

316,250

July

940,194

27,058

967,252

August

338,424

22,305

360,729

September

507,882

17,983

525,865

October

234,884

25,629

260,513

November

462,529

22,189

484,718

December

239,949

21,362

261,311

January

453,054

25,255

478,309

February

599,295

23,167

622,462

March

365,839

22,194

388,033

Total

5,053,994

269,962

5,323,956

2006-07

April

351,827

22,192

374,019

May

4,033,188

24,689

4,057,877

June

706,742

26,602

733,344

July

353,425

42,161

395,586

August

954,094

18,323

972,417

September

330,117

21,305

351,422

October

219,749

29,300

249,049

November

716,369

25,984

742,353

December

576,040

27,861

603,901

January

415,493

27,826

443,319

February

360,675

20,670

381,345

March

501,147

18,293

519,440

Total

9,518,866

305,206

9,824,072

2005-06

April

551,126

38,093

589,219

May

448,943

27,278

476,221

June

665,401

60,196

725,597

July

762,083

53,926

816,009

August

1,201,478

27,437

1,228,915

September

574,566

11,327

585,893

October

662,000

30,054

692,054

November

488,252

31,803

520,055

December

455,719

47,323

503,042

January

439,321

31,390

470,711

February

456,188

36,448

492,636

March

456,892

26,650

483,542

Total

7,161,969

421,925

7,583,894

2004-05

February

1,629,280

31,696

1,660,976

March

698,762

70,821

769,583

Total

2,328,042

102,517

2,430,559

NIO funding to the inquiry covers expenditure by the Bloody Sunday inquiry, including staff, accommodation, IT, travel and legal costs for some participants.

Departmental Liability

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what dates in each of the last five years his Department informed the House of the creation of contingent liabilities relating to his Department. (232725)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) publishes its annual contingent liabilities and those of its non-executive non-departmental public bodies as part of the Departmental Resource Accounts.

The following table shows the dates on which the NIO's Departmental resource accounts were issued in the last five financial years:

Date of Issue

2007-08

16 July 2008

2006-07

11 July 2007

2005-06

20 July 2006

2004-05

7 November 2005

2003-04

27 January 2005

Details of the Contingent Liabilities of Executive NDPBs are published separately in their respective resource accounts which are laid before the House in accordance with the deadlines set by Her Majesty's Treasury.

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of invoices for goods and services procured from small and medium-sized businesses were paid within 30 days of receipt by (a) his Department and (b) the agencies for which his Department is responsible in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (226504)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), including its agencies, seeks to comply with 'The Better Payments Practice Code' for achieving good payment performance in commercial transactions. Under this code, the policy is to pay bills in accordance with contractual conditions or, where no such conditions exist, within 30 days of receipt of goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice, whichever is later.

The prompt payment results for 2007-08 showed that 91.6 per cent. of departmental and agency invoices were paid in accordance with the terms of the standard; this can be broken down as follows:

Body

Paid on time (Percentage)

Northern Ireland Office

89.9

Northern Ireland Prison Service

92.6

Forensic Science Northern Ireland

96.1

Youth Justice Agency

95.0

Compensation Agency

98.6

Any analysis relating to the size of the business can be completed only at disproportionate cost.

Mentally Ill Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within his Department; and what use has been made of that information. (228551)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within his Department. (234249)

In Northern Ireland, section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 ensures that equality issues, including disability, are integral to the whole range of public policy decision making. Public authorities such as the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) are required to submit equality schemes to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995) (as amended by article 5 of the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006), which came into force on 1 January 2007, introduced the ‘disability duties’ in Northern Ireland to reflect changes to disability legislation in Great Britain.

Under section 49B of the DDA 1995, the NIO is required to submit a disability action plan to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. This plan sets out how it proposes to fulfil the disability duties in relation to its functions and monitor and report on progress.

The NIO is committed to a series of actions which we believe will help remove the attitudinal and environmental barriers experienced by many disabled people. The plan focuses on a number of key areas to help secure improvements: employment; accessibility; communication; and public appointments.

Employee engagement is key to the NIO’s Development and Health and Well Being Strategy and a crucial factor in motivating and retaining our employees.

Since April we have arranged a number of seminars and events which has raised employee awareness of physical and mental health issues and health related articles are published on the NIO’s internal intranet.

In recognising that stress can lead to mental illness we have in place policies on the prevention, recognition and management of stress at work and are currently delivering a “Managing Stress” course mandated for all managers.

The NIO also provides staff with the opportunity to attend the Occupational Health Service, to seek support from the Welfare Support Service or through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). The EAP is complementary to the Welfare Support Service and provides an independent, confidential and professional counselling support service for all staff and their immediate family members. These services are available to all staff, and have benefited and assisted those who are absent because of sickness to return to work, and those who are in work to remain in work.

Those public sector bodies which are sponsored by my department but are separately designated with respect to section 75 are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability action plans.

Transport

A12: Gidea Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work has been undertaken to repair the damage to the flyover at Gallows Corner on the A12 at Gidea Park following its partial closure; and what plans there are for a permanent replacement for the present flyover. (234211)

[holding answer 10 November 2008]: Responsibility for the A12, from central London to the London boundary and the section of the A127 within London, lies with the Mayor and Transport for London. Questions on such operational matters including any works carried out at Gallows Corner or plans for a new flyover should be directed to them.

Air Traffic Control: Illegal Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the extent of disruption of air traffic control communications by illegal broadcasters; and what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues at the Home Office and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on such incidents. (232128)

The Office of Communications is the Government agency responsible for monitoring and prosecuting illegal broadcasters. NATS, the leading air navigation services provider, is a private company and questions concerning the extent of disruption to its air traffic control services should be directed to the company’s chief executive.

Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the minimum recommended length of runway is for a Boeing 747 to land and take-off. (234593)

[holding answer 10 November 2008]: The published take-off field length for a Boeing 747 is 3,200 metres, assuming maximum take-off weight and full thrust, and the published landing distance (for a dry runway) is 2,250 meters.

Airports: Planning Permission

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to publish a national policy statement within the framework envisaged by the Planning Bill on airports. (234351)

[holding answer 10 November 2008]: We intend to publish a National Policy Statement on airports, in due course.

Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what process will be followed if BAA seeks permission to introduce mixed-mode (a) within the 480,000 cap and (b) exceeding the existing 480,000 cap. (232220)

[holding answer 4 November 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the question from the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) on 3 November 2008, Official Report, column 46W.

Aviation: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average change in air fares was in each year since 1997. (232027)

The following table shows the average UK one-way air fare, including taxes and charges, covering domestic and international flights.

Average UK one-way air fare, 1997 prices

Average air fare (£)

1997

203

1998

192

1999

163

2000

158

2001

143

2002

129

2003

112

2004

107

2005

101

2006

103

Notes:

1. ‘Fare’ includes all taxes and charges.

2. Covers domestic and international scheduled flights, but excludes transfer and charter passengers.

3. Domestic component based on a sample of routes where sufficient data available.

Source:

DFT analysis of CAA and IPS data.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 15 October 2008, Official Report, column 46WS, on the post-Gallagher update, what assessment he has made of the effect of slowing down the rate of increase of the renewable transport fuel obligation on levels of investment in sustainable biofuel production in (a) the UK, (b) the EU and (c) other countries and regions. (234980)

The Government are currently consulting on proposals to slow down the rate of increase of obligation levels under the renewable transport fuel obligation. The impact assessment which accompanies the consultation examines the potential effects on investment in biofuel production in the UK only.

This assessment concluded that a slowdown, together with future European targets for biofuels, should still give an incentive to the biofuels industry to invest in new technology and domestic capacity. A 5 per cent. biofuel obligation is still proposed in 2013-14 rather than 2010-11 and the final level of investment in sustainable production is not expected to be significantly affected. However there may be differences in the short to medium term in how fuel suppliers meet the obligation.1

The views of consultees on the impact assessment and estimates of the effects on investment of the proposed slow down shall be taken into account by the Government.

1 Source:

Consultation on the Draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations, (Amendment) Order 2009, Annex D Impact Assessment; page 71.

Driving Tests: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of (a) delegated examiners and (b) driving examiners have been safety checked by Driving Standards Agency quality assurance teams in the last 12 months. (232998)

During the last 12 months, the Driving Standards Agency’s (DSA’s) Quality Assurance Teams (QATs) have quality assured 46.7 per cent. of DSA’s examiners.

The Agency’s QATs have also been used to assure the standards of delegated examiners (who primarily conduct bus and lorry driving tests). Delegated examiners are non-DSA personnel who are permitted, by the Secretary of State, to conduct driving tests. They are used by many police forces, fire and rescue authorities and some bus companies to conduct tests for their employees.

New arrangements were introduced for delegated examiners from 10 September 2008, including revised quality assurance procedures. Since then, DSA have quality assured 3.4 per cent. of them.

Driving: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has analysed on the number of (a) serious injuries and (b) fatalities resulting from accidents involving people driving who should not have held a driving licence due to their health or eyesight; and if he will make a statement. (233146)

There is no such specific research. However, the Department’s annual report “Road Casualties Great Britain” has since 2005 included information on factors that, in the opinion of the reporting officer, may have contributed to a crash. Included in the list of factors that can be reported are “uncorrected, defective eyesight” and “illness or disability, mental or physical”. The figures reported are:

Fatal accidents

Serious accidents

Slight accidents

All

Uncorrected, defective eyesight

2005

10

35

181

226

2006

4

47

158

209

2007

5

41

161

207

Illness or disability, mental or physical

2005

89

380

1316

1785

2006

75

393

1,379

1,847

2007

93

345

1,369

1,807

There is no information on how many of these cases involved drivers who should not have had a licence due to their health or eyesight.

We are currently reviewing the procedures by which health issues are addressed in the driver licensing system. However, all drivers have a duty to ensure they are fit to drive before doing so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to suspend the licences of drivers suspected of causing death or serious injury due to health or eyesight problems until the completion of inquiries into or prosecution of such drivers. (233148)

Where DVLA receives sufficient evidence of a relevant disability the driving licence can be revoked immediately.

There are procedures in place for police forces to inform DVLA where they suspect that a driver is: suffering from a medical condition affecting their fitness to drive. This is not dependent on whether or not a decision is made to prosecute the driver for any related road traffic offence. Where sufficient evidence is not provided immediately, an investigation will be conducted and, if the individual is assessed as unfit to drive, the licence is revoked. There are currently no proposals to change this approach.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it a condition of holding a driving licence that a person consents to his medical records being released to the police in the event of an accident involving the licence-holder resulting in serious injury or fatality; and if he will make a statement. (233167)

The investigation of such accidents is a matter for the police. The introduction of such a condition on the licence is not currently judged to be either proportionate or appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require medical professionals to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency when a person has a medical condition affecting a person’s ability to drive. (233168)

While there is no legal obligation on doctors to notify DVLA, they do have a duty of care, not only to their patient but also to the general public. On this basis, they do have an obligation to report to DVLA instances where they consider a patient unfit to drive.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued guidelines to the effect that doctors should inform DVLA about unfit patients who they have advised should notify DVLA, but have failed to act on that advice.

There is no proposal to change this position.

Greater Manchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding his Department and its agencies has given to the Manchester-based organisations (a) Transport Pool and (b) the Community Network for Manchester in the last 24 months. (233234)

The Department for Transport and its agencies do not directly fund either of the two organisations in question. Community Network for Manchester has received Government funding through Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and Working Neighbourhoods Fund. This funding has been provided through Manchester city council.

Heathrow Airport: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to meet hon. Members representing constituencies which would be affected by Heathrow expansion before announcing a decision on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (234729)

[holding answer 10 November 2008]: Now that the period for public consultation has closed, it would not be appropriate for Ministers to enter into further discussion on Heathrow matters with individual Members. Today's debate will provide a further opportunity for all hon. Members to put on record their views and those of their constituents.

Heathrow Airport: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which organisations were consulted on the adding capacity at Heathrow equalities impact assessment consultation; how the consultation was publicised in West London; and whether the Department held any public meetings or public exhibitions as part of the consultation process. (232221)

[holding answer 4 November 2008]: The adding capacity at Heathrow equalities impact assessment consultation document was published on the Department’s website along with foreign language translations of the executive summary detailing how to respond, and was the subject of a press release.

Around 300 organisations were contacted directly by letter drawing attention to the consultation document and alerting them to the intention to hold discussions with stakeholders. These included among others, local authorities, charities and voluntary sector organisations.

A selected number of organisations identified by our independent consultants representing members of the Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, age and disability sectors were also invited to take part in some additional meetings to discuss the issues. Three of these meetings were held in the local community. No public exhibitions were held.

Monorails

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department has on the number and location of monorails in use in England; and if he will make a statement. (233964)

Railways: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to publish a National Policy Statement within the framework envisaged by the Planning Bill on high speed rail. (234327)

In due course, we intend to publish a National Policy Statement on National Networks, which will include our policy for the development of the national rail network.

Railways: Overcrowding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will gather information on levels of overcrowding on trains in (a) Hertfordshire and (b) England. (231925)

The information requested is currently published annually in aggregated form by the Office of Rail Regulation within its “National Rail Trends Yearbook” and is available on the ORR website. The latest published data relate to passenger counts carried out by train operators in autumn 2006.

Railways: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the minimum statutory space requirement for each rail passenger is; and what estimate his Department has made of how often these space requirements are met. (232023)

Rail statistics are published by the Office of Rail Regulation. The latest data available are for 2006 and are published in the National Rail Trends Year Book for 2006-07, which is available in the Library of the House. The published crowding measure (which was first used by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising in 2000) is based on an assumed standing room of 0.45 metres per standing passenger.

There are two specific variations to the published measure: Class 376 trains, operating on Southeastern services; and for services operated by Stagecoach South West Trains to and from London Waterloo.

New (Class 376) purpose-built vehicles ordered for Southeastern are configured to serve short-distance Metro passenger flows, and the stock has been specifically configured with low density seating and appropriate grab rails for standing passengers, to ensure that passengers can stand in relative comfort for short-distance journeys; the same is true for Class 455 units operated by Stagecoach South West Trains, on services that stop within 20 minutes of leaving London Waterloo. In these cases the standard is varied to 0.35 and 0.25 square metres respectively.

Road Traffic: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2008, Official Report, column 247W, on road traffic: Essex, what major maintenance improvements he is contemplating; which auxiliary lane scheme he will approve for the Hatfield Peverel to Witham section; whether the £24.5 million expenditure is additional to money already earmarked for spending on trunk roads in the East of England; and when the allocation of funding to these projects will be confirmed. (235118)

The Kelvedon Phase 2 major maintenance scheme is already funded and will begin construction on 13 November 2008. The future programme of works for the financial year 2009-10 will include both the Witham Phase 2 works and the Hatfield Peverel Auxiliary Lane scheme, both being programmed for construction concurrently.

The Hatfield Peverel Auxiliary Lane section of the works will involve the construction of a southbound auxiliary lane between Junctions 21 and 20B of the A12, along with improvements to the northbound slip road at Junction 20B. This scheme will take place entirely within the current highway boundary.

There will not be any requirement for additional money for the construction of the schemes as all design and construction costs will be taken from the Highways Agency's regular funding.

Allocation of funding for schemes programmed to start during the financial year 2009-10 will be confirmed early 2009.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) people and (b) children were (i) killed and (ii) seriously injured in road accidents in each of the last 16 years. (234591)

The information requested is given in the table:

Number of casualties

Child (0-15)

Adult (16+)

All

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Total

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Total

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Total

1992

310

7,434

36,443

44,187

3,908

41,144

216,056

261,108

4,229

49,256

257,268

310,753

1993

306

6,670

35,617

42,593

3,493

37,652

216,742

257,887

3,814

45,020

257,301

306,135

1994

299

7,226

37,627

45,152

3,320

38,552

221,960

263,832

3,650

46,540

265,169

315,359

1995

270

6,983

36,536

43,789

3,330

37,866

219,477

260,673

3,621

45,533

261,533

310,687

1996

270

6,719

37,848

44,837

3,304

37,085

229,597

269,986

3,598

44,499

272,481

320,578

1997

255

6,197

38,094

44,546

3,344

36,119

238,193

277,656

3,599

42,984

281,220

327,803

1998

206

5,873

37,366

43,445

3,213

34,315

238,393

275,921

3,421

40,834

280,957

325,212

1999

221

5,478

36,352

42,051

3,183

32,914

234,947

271,044

3,423

39,122

277,765

320,310

2000

191

5,011

34,513

39,715

3,211

32,382

237,129

272,722

3,409

38,155

278,719

320,283

2001

219

4,769

33,281

38,269

3,199

31,559

232,170

266,928

3,450

37,110

272,749

313,309

2002

179

4,417

30,093

34,689

3,221

30,846

226,169

260,236

3,431

35,976

263,198

302,605

2003

171

3,929

27,888

31,988

3,320

29,095

218,477

250,892

3,508

33,707

253,392

290,607

2004

166

3,739

27,095

31,000

3,037

26,790

212,539

242,366

3,221

31,130

246,489

280,840

2005

141

3,331

24,654

28,126

3,051

25,031

207,339

235,421

3,201

28,954

238,862

271,017

2006

169

3,125

22,229

25,523

2,994

25,057

198,442

226,493

3,172

28,673

226,559

258,404

2007

121

2,969

20,717

23,807

2,817

24,285

190,872

217,974

2,946

27,774

217,060

247,780

1 Includes cases where age of the casualty was not reported.

The information is also published in table C on the Department's website at the following web address:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/172974/173025/221412/221549/227755/315281/personaliniury.xls

Thames Gateway Bridge

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) the Mayor of London and (b) Transport for London on the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge; and if he will make a statement. (232929)

Department for Transport officials have regular discussions with Transport for London regarding the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge. The Secretary of State and the Mayor met on 9 July and discussed the matter but further work was needed in order to address the issues raised at the inquiry. The proposed Thames Gateway Bridge is a Transport for London project however, and is therefore a matter for the Mayor. It would be inappropriate for me to make a statement.

Transport: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are being made to make London transport more accessible to disabled people before 2012. (233838)

Transport for the London 2012 Olympic games and Paralympic games is the responsibility of the Olympic Deliver Authority (ODA). The ODA published their Accessible Transport Strategy in May 2008, which outlines the plans for ensuring that disabled persons can make best use of public transport to get to and from games venues and events. This includes the accessibility work streams under way on the London transport network, including improvements in accessibility at key stations such as Stratford Regional station and Stratford International, and other accessibility programmes such as London Underground’s “Step Free Programme”.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) cautions and (b) arrests were imposed for alcohol-related offences in (i) Hertfordshire and (ii) Hemel Hempstead in the last eight quarters for which records are available. (231935)

The information requested in respect of cautions covering the offences of (a) Drunkenness, (b) Drunkenness with aggravation, (c) Offences against the licensing acts, (d) other offences against intoxicating laws, and (e) selected motoring offences, is provided in the table. The Office for Criminal Justice Reform is unable to provide data for Hemel Hempstead as data are not collected at the level required.

The information requested on arrests is not collected centrally. The arrests collection held by the Home Office covers arrests for recorded crime (notifiable offences) only, broken down at a main offence group level, covering categories such as violence against the person and robbery. The alcohol related offences presented in the table are not notifiable offences and do not form part of the arrests collection.

From data reported to the Ministry of Justice, with the exception of these offences, it is not possible to separately identify whether cautions or arrests for other offences were alcohol related.

Number of offenders cautioned1 for alcohol related offences2 and issued with Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs)3 in the Hertfordshire police force area, broken down by quarter, 2005 to 20064,5

2005

2006

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Cautions

17

19

19

11

8

8

10

2

PNDs

64

106

83

105

83

88

89

94

1 From 1 June 2000 the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and final warnings. These figures have been included in the totals.

2 Includes offences of:

(a) Drunkenness simple.

(b) Drunkenness with aggravation simple.

(c) Offences by licensed person.

(d) Other offences against intoxicating liquor laws.

(e) Driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.

3 Includes all alcohol related penalty notices for disorder:

Drunk and disorderly

Selling alcohol to person under 18

Selling alcohol to a person who is drunk

Supplying alcohol to a person under 18

Purchasing alcohol for person under 18 in licensed premises

Purchasing alcohol for person under 18 for consumption in a bar in licensed premises

Delivering alcohol to person under 18 or allowing such delivery

Being drunk in a highway, other public place or licensed premises

Consuming alcohol in designated public place

Consuming alcohol by person under 18 in licensed premises

Allowing consumption of alcohol by person under 18 in licensed premises

Purchase of alcohol by a person under 18

4 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

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

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many penalty notices for disorder in relation to the sale of alcohol to a person under 18 years of age were issued in (a) England and Wales and (b) each police force area in each year since 2004; how many of these resulted in an unpaid fine in each area; and what the average fine levied was. (230640)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were prosecuted for supplying alcohol to people under the age of 18 years in Islwyn constituency in each of the last five years. (231608)

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given on 10 June 2008, Official Report, column 18W.

Information held on the court proceedings database cannot be broken down by constituency.

Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers were living in each constituency in the UK at the most recent date for which figures are available. (226550)

Statistics on the location of asylum seekers in the UK are linked to the available information on the support that the asylum seeker receives. A detailed breakdown by regional location of those asylum seekers not in receipt of support would only be available at disproportionate cost by examination of each of the individual case records.

The numbers of asylum seekers in receipt of support broken clown by parliamentary constituency are published on a quarterly basis and are available from the Library of the House. Tables are placed in the Library of the House on a quarterly basis and are named "Asylum seekers supported in accommodation, by UK Government Office Region and Parliamentary Constituency" and "Asylum seekers in receipt of subsistence only support, by UK Government Office Region and Parliamentary Constituency". These regional breakdowns are available from December 2002.

The numbers of asylum seekers in receipt of support broken down by UK Government Office Region and local authority are also published on a quarterly and annual basis. Copies of these publications are available in the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at:

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

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her most recent estimate is of the number of unsuccessful asylum seekers who are in the United Kingdom without leave to remain. (229903)

[holding answer 27 October 2008]: No Government have ever been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally and this includes failed asylum seekers. By its very nature it is impossible to quantify accurately and that remains the case.

As part of the Government's 10-point plan for delivery, by December 2008 the majority of foreign nationals will be counted in and out of the country. This is part of a sweeping programme of border protection which also includes the global roll-out of fingerprint visas, compulsory watch-list checks for all travellers from high-risk countries before they land in Britain and ID cards for foreign nationals.

On 19 June 2008, the Government set out its plans to more robustly enforce the immigration rules including the removal of those not entitled to be here. Copies of the document are placed in the Library of the House. It is also available to view at:

http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/?requestType=form&vie w=Search+results&simpleOrAdvanced=simple&page=1&content Type=AII&searchTerm=enforcing+the+deal&Submit=Go

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people residing in the UK were originally granted asylum in another EU member state. (233621)

This information is not available and could be obtained by examination of individual case records only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of those asylum seekers required to report to an immigration detention centre while their applications were being processed missed at least one appointment in (a) June and (b) September 2007. (163149)

Records indicate that in both June and September 2007 9 per cent. of those asylum seekers required to report failed to do so at least once. This data is based on management information and is not a National Statistic. It should be treated as provisional as it is subject to change.

The information does not include asylum seekers reporting at police stations or failed asylum seekers who are subject to reporting restrictions. It refers to asylum seekers who have made an application for asylum and have not yet had an outcome.

Asylum: Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications from Iraqis under the (a) locally engaged staff assistance scheme for resettlement in the UK and (b) Gateway Protection programme are awaiting evaluation. (233224)

Under the locally engaged staff assistance scheme UKBA can receive applications from current staff seeking entry under the direct entry scheme or the Gateway Protection programme and applications from former staff seeking entry under the Gateway Protection programme.

(a) Seven applications from current staff, are awaiting evaluation under the direct entry scheme. There are no applications from current staff awaiting evaluation under the Gateway Protection programme.

(b) The Gateway Protection programme is wider than the locally engaged staff assistance scheme. Under Gateway 102 applications from former Iraqi staff are awaiting evaluation and a further 58 from Iraqi nationals who are not nor have ever been employed by HMG. This includes all applications where a final decision in accordance with the Gateway policy has yet to be made.

Border and Immigration Agency: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Parliamentary Business Unit of the Immigration and Nationality Department plans to reply to the hon. Member for Edinburgh West’s correspondence of 17 July on his constituent Felicity Kalingizi. (228835)

e-Borders: Consultancy Fees

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department has spent on consultancy fees related to the e-Borders project. (195135)

The e-Borders programme has spent £36 million on consultancy fees since the inception of the pilot project for e-Borders in 2004.

Prior to contract award the expenditure on procurement was £31.4 million, and on Project Semaphore was an additional £4.6 million. Post contract award (14 November 2007) the cost of consultancy services has been substantially reduced to just £1 million.

British Nationality: Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many tests have been carried out at each of the accredited Life in the UK test centres in the Greater London area. (233687)

[holding answer 6 November 2008]: The following table shows how many Life in the UK tests were taken in each accredited centre in the Government region of London.

Tests taken: November 2005 to September 2008

Centre name

Number of tests

ABAAS Forest Gate

1,896

TBG Tower Hamlets

12,435

Anglo-British Academy of Advance Studies

12,567

Deltaclub Group

11,301

The Learning Line

11,527

Intech Centre

6,757

Southgate College

7,992

Best Computer Training—Whitechapel

6,371

Tottenham Learning Zone

16,475

HALS Wood Green Library

2,669

Exchange Group—Willesden

7,375

Akshar IT Centre

12,565

TBG Camden

3,260

The Sunrise Academy

16,018

PDA (Training) Ltd.

12,316

London Community College

10,668

Greenwich Community College

3,370

Next Education Limited

8,969

Exchange Group—Wimbledon

7,998

A4e Westminster

20,025

Iranian Association

8,299

Exchange Group—Kensington

9,686

Orpington Learndirect Centre

3,764

Learning Curves

13,453

Exchange Group—Ilford

7,379

Harrow College Adult Learners Centre

11,169

Exchange Group—Morden

1,963

Computer Learning Centre

6,890

Training and Assessment Services

11,968

E-Link

10,146

Note:

Data supplied by University for Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason it is proposed to reduce the number of Life in the UK test centres in the Greater London area. (233688)

[holding answer 6 November 2008]: The Life in the UK testing service is provided to UKBA by the University for Industry (Ufi) via a commercial contract. Contractually Ufi are required to maintain a minimum network of 28 test centres in the Government Region of London. As at 31 October there were 30 test centres.

The number and location of test centres is under constant review by Ufi and they have put a proposal to UKBA to reduce the minimum number of centres required in London to 21. UKBA is still considering the proposal and a decision is expected by the end of November.

Ufi are seeking to reduce the network as the number of tests taken has reduced from a peak of 43,000 in June 2007 to an average of 19,000 per month for the quarter ending September 2008.

Coastal Areas: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the key crime indicators are in (a) each of the principal seaside towns in England and Wales and (b) the super output layer ward with the (i) highest and (ii) lowest crime rates within each of those towns. (234940)

Information is not available in the form requested. The Home Office collects and publishes statistics for seven key offences for each local authority area in England and Wales. It is likely that some seaside towns will equate to the local authority area. The local authority data is available at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/laa1b.xls

Although the Home Office does not currently collect recorded crime data at super output area (SOA) level for all police forces in England and Wales, data have been collected at this level for a selection of forces. These data are available on the neighbourhood statistics website at:

http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/

The Home Office intends to extend the coverage of the SOA recorded crime data collection, with full England and Wales coverage expected to be available during 2009-10.

Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the level of public fear of crime involving (a) theft of a car, (b) burglary and (c) a physical attack in each of the last 16 years. (234498)

The British Crime Survey (BCS) asks questions on worry about crime for three crime types: burglary, car crime and violent crime. The level of worry about burglary has been measured since 1992, and levels of worry about car crime and violent crime have been measured since 1998.

The latest figures from the 2007-08 BCS show that 12 per cent. of people report a high level of worry about each of burglary and car crime and 15 per cent. of people report a high level of worry about violent crime. Figures since 1992 are included in table 1 and can also be found in the Home Office statistical bulletin “Crime in England and Wales 2007/08”, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Table 1: Trends in worry about crime, 1992 to 2007-08, BCS

Ints

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Statistically significant change, 2006-07 to 2007-08

Percentage with high level of worry about:

Burglary

19

26

22

19

19

15

15

13

12

13

13

12

Car crime

n/a

n/a

n/a

22

21

17

17

15

13

14

13

12

Violent crime

n/a

n/a

n/a

25

24

22

21

16

16

17

17

15

Unweighted base1

10,044

14,502

7,973

14,925

19,388

32,765

36,427

37,872

45,046

47,713

47,122

46,888

1 Unweighted bases refer to high levels of worry about burglary. Bases for violent crime will be similar but for car crime they will be slightly lower as based on those residing in households owning, or with regular use of, a vehicle only.

Crimes of Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of violence against the person were recorded (a) in total and (b) per 1,000 of the population for (i) England, (ii) the Avon and Somerset Constabulary area and (iii) Bath and North East Somerset in each year from 1997 to 2008. (231456)

The available information is given in the following tables. Bath and North East Somerset is a Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) area. Data for violence against the person at CDRP level are only available from 1999-2000 onwards.

Table 1: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police—1997

Number of offences

Area

Number of offences

Rate per 1,000 population

England

233,441

5

Avon and Somerset

9,614

7

Bath and North East Somerset

n/a

n/a

n/a = Not available

Table 2: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police—1998-99 to 2001-02

Number of offences

Area

England

Avon and Somerset

Bath and North East Somerset

1998-99

Number of offences

470,689

12,333

n/a

Rate per 1,000 population

10

8

n/a

1999-2000

Number of offences

543,114

12,921

1,108

Rate per 1,000 population

11

9

7

2000-01

Number of offences

562,679

15,376

1,198

Rate per 1,000 population

11

10

7

2001-02

Number of offences

613,869

17,686

1,640

Rate per 1,000 population

12

12

10

n/a = Not available

Notes:

1. The coverage was extended and counting rules revised from 1998-99. Figures from that date are not directly comparable with those for 1997.

2. The data in this table are prior to the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard. These figures are not directly comparable with those for later years.

Table 3: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police—2002-03 to 2007-08

Number of offences

Area

England

Avon and Somerset

Bath and North East Somerset

2002-03

Number of offences

781,768

20,739

1,544

Rate per 1,000 population

16

14

9

2003-04

Number of offences

902,732

26,530

2,000

Rate per 1,000 population

18

18

12

2004-05

Number of offences

981,646

31,462

2,685

Rate per 1,000 population

20

21

16

2005-06

Number of offences

992,612

30,496

2,877

Rate per 1,000 population

20

20

17

2006-07

Number of offences

976,369

30,881

3,000

Rate per 1,000 population

19

20

17

2007-08

Number of offences

896,287

27,147

2,857

Rate per 1,000 population

18

17

16

Note:

The data in this table take account of the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002. These figures are not directly comparable with those for earlier years.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2008, Official Report, column 1253W, on departmental data protection, what criteria are applied to decide whether it is in the public interest to comment on breaches of security. (195918)

Except in exceptional cases, when it is in the public interest, it has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on breaches of security or the criteria used to decide such matters.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) her Department, (b) its non-departmental public bodies and (c) its agencies. (230042)

Press and communications officers in the Home Office are employed at the Senior Information, Information and Assistant Information Officer grades. The following table gives details of the staff currently employed by the Department and its agencies in these grades.

Press Officers

Communication Officers

Total

Home Office

32

21

53

UKBA

6

23

29

Total

38

44

82

Other specialist and generalist staff across the organisation may have communications as a core part of their role, as good communication is integral to helping implement Government policy. However information on the numbers of staff in this category is not held centrally and could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Also data on staff employed by non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many full-time equivalent press officers (a) work and (b) provide assistance for her Department. (233519)

Press officers in the Home Office are employed at the senior information (SIO) and information officer (IO) grades. The total number of full-time equivalent press officers currently employed by the Department is 37.89 (this figure includes six regional press officers employed by UKBA).

Ministers undertaking engagements outside of London may also for short periods of time be assisted by press officers employed by the Government News Network (GNN). This assistance is demand led and information on the total amount of time spent in terms of full-time equivalents is not held centrally and cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) page hits and (b) visitors her Department’s website received in 2007-08. (233522)

Page hits and visitors to www.homeoffice.gov.uk and its sub-domains for 2007-08 can be found in the tables placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of maintaining her Department’s website (a) was in 2007-08 and (b) is forecast to be in 2008-09. (233523)

Running costs for www.homeoffice.gov.uk in 2007-08 are £620,000 (excluding staff costs). Running costs for www.homeoffice.gov.uk in 2008-09 are anticipated to be £620,000 (excluding staff costs).

Costs for all Home Office sites are embedded in budgets across the Department and could be extracted only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent on entertainment by her Department in 2007-08; and how much of that was for (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. (233517)

The Home Office systems do not separately identify the costs of food, alcohol, staff and accommodation related to entertainment separately and they could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However we do retain records for hospitality provided by both civil servants and Ministers. The spend for 2007-08, the last 12 month period for which there are audited figures, was £58,156.

Home Office expenditure on official hospitality and entertainment 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. Hospitality is defined as the provision of food, drink and entertainment of non civil servants where it is beneficial to the interests of the Department.

For the Department's agencies, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Identity and Passport Service’s spend could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Deportation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of those listed as being removed from the UK in 2006 were removed at a port; and if she will make a statement. (183008)

Of the 63,865 removals from the UK in 2006, 34,825 (55 per cent.) were persons refused entry at port and subsequently removed. This proves the success and strength of our border and juxtaposed controls. Figures are rounded to the nearest five and are provisional.

National Statistics on immigration and asylum are available from the Library of the House and the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at:

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

Detention Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she plans to introduce mobile detention vans operated by the UK Border Agency on a national basis. (225928)

The pilot of a mobile detention facility started in Northampton on 30 September and lasted for five weeks. The pilot covered the full range of operational scenarios our in-country enforcement officers face to test the facility's usefulness and how it complements, or adds to the existing fleet of vehicles available to the United Kingdom Border Agency.

The benefits will be assessed to determine whether the United Kingdom Border Agency wants to deploy additional vehicles of this specification in the future.

The mobile detention facility itself was adapted for this pilot from this existing fleet of vehicles, and on completion of the pilot it will continue to be available for operational tasking as required on a national basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many sites her Department has identified as suitable for alternative to detention programmes for asylum seeking families; and when she expects those sites to become operational. (227551)

[holding answer 20 October 2008]: One site in Scotland has already been identified as suitable for a future A2D pilot and the location and start date will be announced when contractual negotiations are complete.

Detention Centres: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the cost of detaining (a) an adult and (b) a person under 16 years in an immigration centre for one year, broken down by category of cost. (233310)

We do not differentiate costs between an adult and a person under 16-years-old in our immigration removal centres (IRC). The estimated average cost of holding a single person in an IRC is £130 per day.

Drugs: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people convicted of offences in England and Wales in the last year tested positive for illegal drug use upon arrest. (233220)

The information requested is not available.

The Home Office Drug Interventions programme (DIP) holds data on the number of people who test positive at arrest or charge in DIP intensive areas, and the offences for which they were arrested or charged. No information is available as to whether the individuals were convicted for the offence for which they were arrested or charged.

Drugs: Crime Prevention

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crack house closures have taken place in each county in Wales in the last three years. (231607)

In the last three years, the information returned to the Home Office through the CDRP Survey for England and Wales shows that the county of Glamorgan issued three crack house closures (Cardiff city and county), Caernarfonshire issued one (Conwy county borough council), Monmouthshire issued two (Monmouthshire county council) and Denbighshire issued nine (Wrexham county borough council).

Genetics: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which private firms have successfully applied to use the national DNA database to help them develop computer programmes. (233401)

LGC and Cellmark have successfully applied for use of information from the national DNA database (NDNAD), to develop computer software to enhance use of the NDNAD and thus allow more suspects to be identified. Requests for the release of information must be approved by the NDNAD Strategy Board. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 lays down that DNA samples and the profiles derived from them can only be used for the purposes of prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or, since April 2005, for the purposes of identifying a deceased person. In accordance with this, no information has been supplied to private firms to assist with the development of software for any other purpose. The information supplied from the NDNAD was anonymised, that is, no details that would enable individuals to be identified were supplied to the private companies.

Illegal Immigrants: Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the Answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, column 267W, on illegal immigrants: employment, how many (a) arrests have been made and (b) enforcement actions commenced in respect of illegal migrant workers in each year since 2005. (231274)

[holding answer 28 October 2008]: The information requested is set out in the table at annex A.

Prior to April 2005 the UK Border Agency did not produce regular reports on numbers of individuals arrested. The data provided is management information. It may be subject to change and does not represent published national statistics.

Annex A: Illegal working operational activity

Total enforcement visits

Number of arrests made

2005-06

3,748

3,774

2006-07

5,412

4,001

2007-08

7,178

5,589

Note:

The data provided is management information. It may be subject to change and does not represent published national statistics.

Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign nationals married under Sharia law outside the UK (a) were granted residence and (b) took up residence in the UK during each of the last five years. (231861)

When considering applications for leave to enter or remain staff in the UK Border Agency must satisfy themselves that the applicant is validly married to the sponsor. The type of marriage is not recorded and therefore statistics are not available. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given on 10 November 2008, Official Report, column 803W.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration her Department has given to abolishing unconditional leave to remain. (232981)

We set out in the Green Paper “The Path to Citizenship” that there would be three routes to citizenship—economic, family and protection—and a clear three-stage journey through temporary residence, a new stage of probationary citizenship and then British citizenship or permanent residence. Consideration is being given to each stage.

Immigration: Community Work

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to proposals to allow migrants who take part in community work to serve a shorter period before getting a UK passport, which public sector agencies will monitor the validity of the community work. (233404)

We want migrants who wish to make the UK their long-term home to integrate fully into our society and we want to reward migrants who make an effort to be active citizens with a quicker path to citizenship.

We have established a group with representatives from local government and the third sector to help us identify the most effective and practical way of implementing the proposal, including the most appropriate way we can verify that activities have taken place.

Immigration: Criminal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many non-UK nationals with exceptional leave to remain were (a) granted and (b) refused the right of settlement in the UK in each year since 1997; and in how many cases a refusal was on the grounds of a criminal conviction in the UK. (233094)

[holding answer 4 November 2008]: Grants of settlement 1997-2007 to persons previously granted exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom are published in Table 5.3 of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin "Control of Immigration Statistics United Kingdom 2007".

This publication is available in the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics website at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb1008.pdf

The Home Office does not collate statistics on the number of people with exceptional leave to remain who have been refused settlement in the UK and whether the reason for refusal was on the grounds of having a criminal conviction in the UK. The information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by undertaking a search of case files of all individuals with exceptional leave to remain who have applied for settlement in the UK since 1997.

Table 5.3 Grants of settlement by category of grant, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals1, 2, 1997-2007, United Kingdom

Number of persons

Category of grant

19973

19983

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

20044

2005

2006R

20075, P

Grants in own right or on a discretionary basis (excluding spouses and dependants)

On completion of four/five years6:

in employment with a work permit

2,845

3,155

3,285

4,455

4,335

5,845

9,190

16,205

25,470

11,270

15,165

in permit free employment7

705

855

700

1,415

890

980

1,325

1,325

1,625

670

790

as business or self employed, or as persons of independent means

265

200

130

260

160

115

230

220

320

2,595

75

Commonwealth citizens with a United Kingdom-born grandparent, taking or seeking employment

1,110

1,675

2,240

2,580

3,255

4,060

5,275

4,755

4,795

1,900

1,675

British overseas citizens with special vouchers

220

170

220

160

140

60

*

5

*

*

Refugees and persons given exceptional leave to remain:

4,830

6,675

22,505

25,355

17,965

18,235

12,185

19,025

33,850

19,075

10,250

Of which:

recognised refugees8

2,405

4,270

1522,505

1525,355

1517,965

10,955

4,875

1,695

1,230

40

30

persons given exceptional leave to remain

2,425

2,405

15

15

15

7,280

7,310

8,545

21,840

14,555

8,850

granted under the Family ILR exercise9

8,785

10,780

3,975

215

other asylum-related grants

500

1,155

Other grants on a discretionary basis10

2,160

3,700

2,580

6,150

4,190

6,730

10,860

4,075

4,050

6,155

8,785

Total granted in own right or on a discretionary basis11

12,145

16,435

31,665

40,380

30,935

36,020

39,065

45,615

70,105

41,670

36,745

Spouses and dependants

Husbands:

settled on arrival

15

10

15

25

55

45

85

785

560

445

325

settled on removal of time limit

11,240

13,620

15,370

15,730

17,780

16,640

19,210

11,860

15,195

18,105

17,750

Of which:

on basis of marriage12

10,700

13,010

14,565

14,460

16,850

15,470

17,275

7,985

8,540

15,185

13,495

at same time as wife

540

610

805

1,270

930

1,170

1,935

3,875

6,660

2,915

4,250

Total husbands

11,260

13,635

15,385

15,755

17,835

16,685

19,295

12,645

15,760

18,550

18,070

Wives:

settled on arrival

150

125

150

165

240

190

275

2,450

2,080

1,300

795

settled on removal of time limit

20,250

22,165

24,800

30,750

30,745

30,535

37,480

22,780

28,130

33,170

28,330

of which:

on basis of marriage12

16,160

18,390

19,945

24,100

26,590

24,930

30,560

12,520

15,205

26,365

22,405

at same time as husband

4,090

3,775

4,855

6,655

4,155

5,605

6,920

10,260

12,925

6,805

5,925

Total wives

20,400

22,290

24,950

30,920

30,985

30,725

37,750

25,230

30,210

34,470

29,125

Children:

settled on arrival

1,535

1,430

1,710

1,520

1,730

1,505

1,590

7,485

5,385

5,105

4,390

settled on removal of time limit:

9,985

10,850

17,725

27,485

18,400

19,725

25,800

33,330

40,060

20,560

25,830

Of which:

with parent accepted on basis of marriage

1,395

1,615

2,005

3,580

3,830

3,420

4,560

1,925

2,125

3,315

2,990

other

8,590

9,235

15,720

23,900

14,570

16,305

21,245

31,405

37,935

17,245

22,840

Total children

11,520

12,280

19,435

29,005

20,130

21,235

27,395

40,815

45,445

25,665

30,220

Parents and grandparents joining children or grandchildren:

settled on arrival

295

285

265

265

295

215

90

100

260

405

355

settled on removal of time limit:

885

1,050

815

2,175

1,465

1,530

3,020

1,885

1,185

1,060

645

Other and unspecified dependants13

1,870

3,510

4,380

7,150

6,600

6,940

6,360

8,405

11,520

8,050

5,785

Total spouses and dependants

46,230

53,045

66,225

85,265

77,305

77,335

93,910

89,080

104,380

88,205

84,200

Claim to right of abode upheld and other grants

350

310

230

295

170

120

130

75

70

135

25

Category unknown14

2,490

6,175

4,440

4,565

4,440

3,880

Total

58,725

69,790

97,115

125,945

108,410

115,965

139,280

139,210

179,120

134,445

124,855

1 Swiss nationals are excluded from 1 June 2002—see Explanatory Notes and Definitions, paragraph 10. 2 Data from 2003 also exclude dependants of EEA and Swiss nationals in confirmed relationships granted permanent residence—see Explanatory Notes and Definitions, paragraph 12. 3 Includes a small number of EEA nationals. 4 Includes nationals of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia before 1 May 2004, but excludes them from this date. 5 Excludes Bulgaria and Romania. 6 In 2006, the qualifying period for settlement in all employment-related categories changed from four to five years. See Changes Affecting Statistics of Immigration Control, paragraph 2 (xv). 7 Includes ministers of religion, writers and artists. 8 Includes persons granted settlement under measures aimed at reducing the pre-July backlog as announced in the White Paper in July 1998. 9 Included In “other asylum-related grants” from April 2007. 10 Data for 2007 include persons granted indefinite leave outside the immigration rules under measures aimed at clearing the backlog of outstanding unresolved cases. See Changes Affecting Statistics of Immigration Control, paragraph 2 (xvl). 11 Includes Commonwealth citizens ordinarily resident on 1 January 1973 and for five years. 12 Includes civil and unmarried partners. 13 Data from 27 July 1998 to 2002 include husbands, wives and children of port asylum seekers given indefinite leave to enter. 14 See Explanatory Notes and Definitions, paragraphs 3 and 4. 15 Indicates brace.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when she expects the Minister for Immigration to reply to the letter of 5 February 2008 from the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen on meeting the hon. Member and my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Pope) to discuss the case of Aso Mohammed Ibrahim; (191616)

(2) when she will answer the Question tabled on 28 February 2008 by the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen on the case of Aso Mohammed Ibrahim; and what the reasons are for the time taken to provide a reply.

Offences Against Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) male and (b) female victims of childhood sexual abuse there were in each of the last 10 years. (232302)

The recorded crime statistics are based on legal definitions and the available statistics for sexual offences where the victim can be identified as a child are given in the following tables. We are only able to identify the sex of the victim for offences of rape.

Table 1: Selected sexual offences recorded by the police In England and Wales, 1998-99 to 2001-021

Offence

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

Sexual assault on a male child under 13

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Rape of a female child under 16

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Rape of a female child under 13

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Rape of a male child under 16

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Rape of a male child under 13

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Sexual assault on a female child under 13

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 13

153

181

155

169

Sexual activity involving a child under 13

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16

1,135

1,270

1,237

1,328

Sexual activity involving a child under 16

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Gross indecency with a child

1,293

1,365

1,336

1,654

n/a = not available

1 The data in this table are prior to the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard. These figures are not directly comparable with those for later years.

Table 2: Selected sexual offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, 2002-03 to 2007-081,2

Offence

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Sexual assault on a male child under 13

n/a

n/a

1,227

1,394

1,237

1,118

Rape of a female child under 16

n/a

n/a

3,014

3,153

2,853

2,418

Rape of a female child under 13

n/a

n/a

970

1,388

1,524

1,472

Rape of a male child under 16

n/a

n/a

322

292

261

235

Rape of a male child under 13

n/a

n/a

297

364

458

427

Sexual assault on a female child under 13

n/a

n/a

4,391

4,647

4,245

3,976

Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 13

183

212

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Sexual activity involving a child under 13

n/a

n/a

1,510

1,950

1,936

1,836

Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 163

1,515

1,911

436

138

67

33

Sexual activity involving a child under 16

n/a

n/a

2,546

3,283

3,208

3,100

Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography

n/a

n/a

99

124

101

110

Gross indecency with a child3

1,917

1,987

398

120

64

150

n/a = not available

1 The data in this table takes account of the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002. These figures are not directly comparable with those for earlier years.

2 The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced in May 2004 altered the definition and coverage of sexual offences.

3 A small number of offences continue to be recorded relating to offences repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003; while these may continue to be legitimately recorded for offences committed prior to May 2004 it is also possible that some may have been recorded in these old categories in error, so recent changes based on small numbers should be interpreted with caution.

Offenders: Deportation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign nationals who have been convicted of a crime in the UK are awaiting deportation. (232384)

Case law and existing policy means that the UK Border Agency are only able to give consideration as to whether a foreign national who has committed a crime within the United Kingdom should be subject to deportation action until 12 months before the end of an individual’s sentence, except when their sentence length is shorter. As such the information requested is not available as it is not possible to provide an indication as to the eventual outcome of the case for a foreign prisoner who is currently serving their sentence.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency has regularly written to the Home Affairs Committee with the most robust and accurate information available. Copies of her letters are available in the Library of the House.

Having exceeded the Prime Minister's target of 4,000 deportations or removals of foreign prisoners in 2007, the Agency has now been set an even tougher target and aims to remove or deport more than 5,000 foreign prisoners in 2008. In the first six months of this year, the Agency had deported or removed nearly 2,500 which is a record performance, 22 per cent. higher than for the same period in 2007 and nearly 140 per cent. higher than in 2006.

Offensive Weapons: Arrests

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people aged 16 years and under were arrested for carrying knives in (a) Peterborough, (b) Cambridgeshire and (c) England and Wales in the last year for which figures are available. (234416)

The information requested is not available.

The arrests collection held by the Home Office covers arrests for recorded crime (notifiable offences) only, broken down at a main offence group level, covering categories such as violence against the person and robbery.

From these centrally reported data we are not able to identify knife possession offences from within the main offence groups.

Personal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions in (a) 2007 and (b) 1997 an individual was unable to leave the UK owing to the loss of relevant documents by her Department. (233309)

This information cannot be provided because details of individuals unable to leave the UK owing to missing documents are not held centrally

Police: Licensed Premises

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her Department’s policy is on licensed premises which open late being required to make a contribution to costs of policing those premises; and if she will make a statement. (229429)

[holding answer 27 October 2008]: A licensed premises which is open ‘late’ is not necessarily a problem premises. If a licensed premises is found to be breaching one of the four licensing objectives, then it may be reviewed (following application by a responsible authority such as the police, or an interested party such as a local resident) and conditions may be applied to solve the problem. The premises may also have its licensable activities curtailed if this is deemed necessary e.g. a reduction in hours for the sale of alcohol or, in more serious cases, suspension or revocation of the licence.

However, the Government introduced Alcohol Disorder Zones (ADZs) in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, and the powers were commenced in June 2008. ADZs provide police and local authorities with a measure of last resort for tackling high levels of alcohol related nuisance or disorder in parts of town and city centres where all other voluntary and statutory approaches have been exhausted.

ADZs are designed to allow police and local authorities to agree and implement an action plan with licensees in a designated area, subject to consultation, to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder linked to the misuse of alcohol in the public space. If the action plan is not implemented, charges can be levied for specified enforcement activity by statutory agencies including the police.

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Drug Seizures

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many drugs seizures have been made by officers at the Serious Organised Crime Agency in each of the last two years. (232297)

The data below relate to individual seizures of Class A, B and C drugs, cutting agents and drugs precursor chemicals. If two different commodities are seized at the same time, that counts as two seizures.

SOCA has no powers itself to seize drugs outside the UK, therefore interdictions overseas involve SOCA providing key intelligence and/or operational support to others, not undertaking the physical act itself. At home, SOCA works collaboratively with UK police forces, HMRC and the UK Border Agency. Decisions on the interdiction phases of such joint operational activity are made according to local or operational imperatives, including protecting the use of sensitive intelligence sources.

Seizures in SOCA operations

UK

Abroad/at sea

2007-08

186

360

2008-091

91

198

1 To 30 September 2008

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the budget for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2008-09 is; and what proportion is committed to central administration. (232900)

In 2008-09, the Home Office near-cash allocation to SOCA is £404.5 million and the near-cash spend on general administration, as opposed to operational services, is £25.5 million (6.3 per cent.).

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people the Serious Organised Crime Agency employs; and what proportion are engaged in counter-narcotics activities. (232891)

The number of full-time equivalent staff employed by SOCA at 30 September 2008 was 3,976.

For 2008-09 the SOCA Board has determined that SOCA should aim to apportion about 43 per cent. of its effort to tackling drug trafficking. As of 30 September 2008 the year to date figure exceeded 46 per cent. In addition, other activities undertaken by SOCA, such as work to tackle criminal finances and support given to partners, are helping to tackle this trade.

Shoplifting

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances records of shoplifting offences are kept. (234869)

Police are required to record allegations of crime in accordance with the National Crime Recording Standard and Home Office Counting Rules. These are both public documents available at:

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

Shoplifting is specifically covered under Classification 46 of the Home Office Counting Rules where it states that theft of any property within a shop whether or not it is for sale should be recorded as theft from a shop. Further advice on what constitutes a shop unit, legal definition of theft and appropriate examples are also included.

Speed Limits: Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the maximum retention period is for data collected from automatic number plate recognition cameras operated by her Department and its agencies. (235019)

The current Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy states that automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) data should only be retained for as long as there is an operational need to do so.

In general, ANPR data is retained for the first 90 days after collection, for viewing by authorised persons for post-crime interrogation and investigation. This enables investigations to use the ANPR tool to identify suspects, witnesses or patterns.

Data that are more than 90-days-old may then be retained for up to two years. However, these data are partitioned from general viewing. There is a management mechanism in place which means that a senior officer (Superintendent or above) must authorise any access to data older than 90 days. This authorisation is restricted to serious crime and counter-terrorism investigations only.

ACPO is currently revising its guidance around data retention in the light of advances with regard to the National ANPR Data Centre and the increased use of analytical software tools.

UK Border Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) grades and (b) job descriptions in the UK Border Agency are operating at under their established complement. (226056)

The UK Border Agency has not set staffing complements by (a) grades or (b) job descriptions. The UK Border Agency deploys its personnel according to operational need and business priorities, recruiting where necessary to ensure that there are sufficient employees to meet those needs within agreed budgets.

The UK Border Agency's forecast for active workforce for 2008-09 was 17,700 full-time equivalent workers for the former Border and Immigration Agency, to which should now be added 2,300 UK Visas and 4,700 HMRC employees. The number of full-time equivalent active workforce equivalent to the 17,700, the former Border and Immigration Agency, at the end of September 2008 was 17,510.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the UK Border Agency and its predecessors spent on (a) permanent and (b) casual staff in each of the last five years. (227494)

The amount that the UK Border Agency spent on full-time and casual staff in each of the last five years is shown in the following table. The computerised accounting system does not record the pay of casual staff as a separate item.

Financial year

Pay cost (£)

2007-08

611,598,486.53

2006-07

566,301,623.78

2005-06

513,281,187.52

2004-05

470,275,994

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) permanent and (b) casual staff have been employed by the UK Border Agency specifically to clear the immigration backlog; and at what cost. (227496)

The case resolution directorate (CRD) was set up to deal specifically with the backlog of cases. It has at present no casual staff and the number of full-time equivalent staff that have been employed there are shown in the following table. The budgeted operating costs for CRD for 2008-09 are £28.2 million.

Workforce1

30 September 2008

972.561

31 March 2008

1,013.06

1 April 2007

838.71

1 Full-time equivalent figures, excludes staff on career break, loan to other Government Departments, maternity leave, etc.

Note:

Figures have been taken from the central HO personnel system ADELPHI.

Work Permits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the effect of the introduction of the points-based system on the number of work permits issued to non UK nationals. (233089)

The Government have conducted detailed impact assessments on the proposals outlined in Statement of Intent on Tier 2 skilled Workers under the points based system. Tier 2 will replace the current Work Permit System on 27 November 2008.

Analysis has shown that had Tier 2 of the points based system been in place last year, around 12 per cent. fewer skilled migrants from outside Europe would have been allowed in through the equivalent work permit route.

Both the Statement of Intent and the Impact Assessment are available on the UK Border Agency website and in the Libraries of both Houses.

International Development

Airwave Service

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. (234698)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has no plans to use Airwave handsets, and has no organisations for which we are responsible who either use or plan to use these handsets.

Departmental Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, column 211W, on departmental conditions of employment, how many employees at each location took their two week break away from post (a) within their home country and (b) outside their home country in each year since 2002. (234293)

Employees working in Iraq and Afghanistan are entitled to a two week break away from post for every six weeks worked.

During a posting, employees can use each breather break to either return to their home country or travel to an alternative location.

The following table provides information on the number of visits taken in each of the last three years:

Two week break in home country

Two week break outside their home country

20061

45

17

2007

60

38

2008

61

34

1 Figures from Afghanistan are from March 2006

Information on previous years could be collated only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) of 23 October 2008, Official Report, column 569W, on departmental public relations, what the purpose was of the communications division contract in 2007-08; and to which organisation the contract was given. (233643)

The contract was given to Munro and Forster Communications Ltd, and was for a range of marketing activities aimed at raising awareness among the UK public of the importance of trade and development for reducing poverty.

Lebanon: Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with (a) his Department’s international partners and (b) non-governmental organisations on the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. (233320)

The UK was represented at the donor pledging conference for the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp on 23 June and committed $1 million. The Department for International Development (DFID) has been in contact with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as the agency tasked with leading the response, in recent weeks to discuss the reconstruction, humanitarian situation and how far donors have responded. DFID is providing £100 million over five years from 2007 to support UNRWA’s operations in the region of which approximately £4 million is annually allocated to Lebanon. DFID also engages with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Nahr el-Bared and in Lebanon more broadly. ICRC are one of the key partners providing water to the camp.

The British embassy in Beirut attends UNRWA monthly meetings and ad hoc briefings with other EU donors, most recently in October. The ambassador is in contact with UNRWA and last had an update from the new head of its Lebanon operations on 23 October.

Rwanda: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures are in place to ensure that his Department's aid to the Republic of Rwanda is spent on those purposes for which it was intended. (233622)

Our aid to the Republic of Rwanda is driven by a bilateral development partnership agreement (MOU). This requires the continuous commitment of the Rwandan Government to reducing poverty, honouring international obligations and respecting human rights, and strengthening financial management and accountability. These commitments are monitored closely by staff in-country and any breech could lead to suspension of our programme.

The majority of our aid in Rwanda is in the form of budget support and we monitor how this is spent in great detail. This involves close examination of both budget allocations and budget execution performance. Budget allocations are approved by budget support donors in advance of the passage of the budget law through the Cabinet and Parliament which ensures our money is spent on its intended purpose. Additional safeguards are provided by the examination of audited government accounts, and by periodic public expenditure reviews and public expenditure tracking surveys.

The impact of the resources spent is monitored annually using a broad based common performance assessment framework (CPAF) which has indicators on poverty and development, service delivery, and governance. The CPAF derives its information from surveys and management information systems, and is used by all budget support donors to monitor progress of the implementation of the Government of Rwanda's PRSP (the economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS)).

Yemen: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of people (a) killed and (b) displaced by the recent flooding in Yemen. (233344)

The Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation has estimated that 184 people lost their lives as a result of the floods in south-eastern Yemen from 23 to 25 October 2008, and that 25,000 people were displaced in Hadramaut Governorate alone. There are currently no figures available for the less-affected areas of Chaboua and Al Mahrah. Overall, however, there is little clarity on the exact numbers of those affected.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what humanitarian assistance his Department has provided to Southern Yemen following the recent flooding in the region; and what steps he plans to take to prevent loss of life. (233345)

At present, there is still little clarity about the exact impact of the flooding in south-eastern Yemen on 23 to 25 October 2008, and about the gaps in humanitarian assistance already provided. Early reports suggest that immediate humanitarian needs are being met by the Government of Yemen, and UN agencies and NGOs are already active on the ground and providing emergency relief. A number of Gulf States have already made substantial contributions, including Saudi Arabia which has pledged $100 million.

A UN rapid humanitarian assessment team is due to report back on relief and recovery needs to the Government of Yemen and the international community on 6 November. At this stage, a decision may be taken on whether to launch an emergency appeal for assistance. DFID is in close contact with partners in Yemen, and stands ready to respond to this appeal if necessary. We are also monitoring other ongoing humanitarian needs in Yemen, including the impact of higher food prices and the conflict in Sa’dah earlier this year.

Yemen: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what consideration he has given to the establishment of an assessment team to report on the humanitarian situation in Yemen similar to the one sent to assess the situation in Sri Lanka; and under what circumstances such assessment teams are deployed. (233343)

Following the floods in eastern Yemen from 23 to 25 October 2008, the Department for International Development (DFID) stands ready to provide assistance in response to requests from the Government of Yemen and the United Nations. DFID has not sent its own assessment team to the region, because we are able to rely on reports from UN, the World Bank and NGOs. These organisations are already active in affected areas and have good access to the region. They have sent rapid assessment teams to assess immediate and long term needs; the first of these by the UN Resident Co-ordinator will report back to the Government of Yemen and the international community on 6 November.

Unlike in Sri Lanka, DFID already has an office in country, and our staff are in close contact with the Government of Yemen, the UN and other organisations involved in the relief process.

Decisions to deploy DFID humanitarian assessment teams are made on a case-by-case basis, but we take into account the nature and scale of humanitarian needs, the personal security of the DFID team, and the activities of other international organisations on the ground.

Communities and Local Government

Building Regulations: Water

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to publish the results of the consultation on changes to Part G (Hygiene) of the Building Regulations 2000. (234885)

The analysis of the responses to the Part G consultation is now complete. I am to ensure that the report on the consultation setting out the responses will be published later this month.

Community Relations: Gloucester

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what preventing violent extremism funding has been made available for Gloucester. (234881)

Gloucester city council will receive £100,000 in funding in 2010-11 through their area based grant.

Council Housing: Rents

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reason she proposes that local authority rents should rise to levels set by registered social landlords; and if she will make it her policy to return to pooled historic cost averaging as a basis for rent fixing. (234342)

Rent restructuring has been in place since 2002. Prior to its introduction there was no standard method of setting rents in England, leading to very different rents being charged between neighbouring local authorities and between local authorities and housing associations in the same local area, with no clear justification.

Although we are encouraging social landlords to adopt the reforms, individual housing associations and local authorities remain responsible for rent setting. They can set whatever rents they consider reasonable in discussion with their tenants.

Rent restructuring is intended to make rent setting fair and transparent, it aims to keep rents affordable, well below those in the private sector, and at similar levels for similar properties.

Rents and rent-setting policy is one of the items being looked at as part of our Review of Council Housing Finance. We do not intend to revisit rent policy before this review is complete.

Departmental Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of employees in her Department (a) are on a flexible working contract, (b) are on a job share employment contract and (c) work from home for more than four hours per week. (233824)

All staff in Communities and Local Government can choose to work flexibly, should they so wish. We are committed to flexible working and our flexible working policy sets out a presumption in favour of flexible working patterns—the onus is on the line management to demonstrate where part-time or home working is not appropriate.

The Department does not at present hold data on the specific details of flexible working such as job sharing and home working. We are, however, putting systems in place at present, to record this data electronically.

Housing Starts

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of council houses which will be built in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11; and what steps she plans to take to increase the rate of council house building. (234357)

We have announced our intention to change the revenue and capital rules which apply to new council homes in order to remove financial disincentives to new build by local authorities. On 2 September we announced that we will invite all stock-owning local authorities to compete for grant on the same terms as those with special purpose vehicles, in addition to those who have ALMOs or have set up Special Purpose Vehicles for this purpose.

We have also introduced other measures to make it easier for councils to build and acquire new homes. Section 313 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 provides that councils can keep the full rental income from new council homes (including newly built and newly acquired properties).

We expect to consult shortly on the use of section 313 power and the capital receipts regulations which aim to enable councils to benefit in full from rental income or sales receipts from properties that have been built or acquired since this planned change to these rules.

The Government do not publish forecasts for house-building.

Housing: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new build homes were constructed by local authorities in each year since 1997. (234926)

The following table shows the number of new build dwellings completed by local authorities in each year since 1997.

Number of dwellings

1997

290

1998

250

1999

50

2000

100

2001

170

2002

170

2003

180

2004

140

2005

180

2006

290

2007

350

2008

200

Source:

New build completions from P2 monthly and quarterly returns submitted by local authorities. The local authority level figures are as reported and do not include estimates for missing returns.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many social homes there are in North Devon constituency; and how many there were in each of the last five years; (234414)

(2) how many people are on waiting lists for social housing in North Devon constituency.

Information on the number of social dwellings owned by registered social landlords (RSLs) and local authorities are published on the Communities and Local Government website in Table 115 and Table 116 respectively at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/140879.xls

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/140882.xls

Information is not available at constituency level, but North Devon falls within North Devon local authority area. All social dwellings in North Devon are owned by RSLs, though the local authority reported two dwellings in 2004-05 and one dwelling in 2005-06 in their Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) annual return. The number on number of social dwellings owned by registered social landlords from 2002 to 2006 is given in the following table.

Dwelling stock owned by registered social landlord 2002-06

Number of self-contained units/bedspaces

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

North Devon

3,655

4,192

4,174

4,219

4,213

Source:

Housing Corporation via the annual Regulatory and Statistical Return (RSR)(as found in CLG live table 115)

Information about social housing waiting lists is collected in respect of households rather than individuals. Where local authorities and registered social landlords operate a common register, households registered with the RSL will be included in the data. However, registered social landlords are independent bodies and can keep their own waiting lists. Information on the number of households on local authorities' waiting lists broken down by Government office region and local authority for 1997 to 2007 is published on the Communities and Local Government website in Table 600 at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/144458.xls.

Copies of this table have been deposited in the Library of the House.

At 1 April 2007, the number of households on the local authority housing waiting list in North Devon was 4,340.

Local authorities in England report the number of households on their housing waiting list as at 1 April in their annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns.

The size of the waiting list is not an indicator of absolute need; it is only useful as a broad indicator of housing demand in an area. Not everyone on the waiting list is necessarily in urgent housing need. The waiting list includes those who consider social housing as their preferred or one of a number of housing options, and those who decide to get onto the waiting list ladder before they need or want to move house.

Housing: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities she expects will fail to meet the decent homes target by 2010; and how many authorities have informed her Department that they are selling council housing in order to raise funding to meet the target. (234311)