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Written Answers

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Home Department

Anti-Semitism

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-Semitic incidents or attacks have been reported in (a) England, (b) Chipping Barnet constituency and (c) the London Borough of Barnet in the last 14 days. (247156)

[holding answer 14 January 2009]: The information requested is not collected centrally in the recorded crime statistics.

The recorded crime statistics only hold data for racially or religiously aggravated offences as defined by law. Specific details relating to the victim or alleged offender are not collected.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders: Glasgow

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-social behaviour orders were issued in Glasgow North West constituency in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008. (248539)

The information requested is not held by the Home Office.

Data on the number of ASBOs issued in Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Executive.

Community Policing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the mechanism is for ensuring that neighbourhood policing teams spend at least 80 per cent. of their time visibly working on their patch. (247096)

All police forces across England and Wales have now implemented the Policing Pledge. The Pledge gives the public a clear minimum standard of service and states that neighbourhood policing teams will spend at least 80 per cent. of their time visibly working on behalf of the public in their neighbourhood.

The Policing Green Paper explained the new relationship between the Government, police and public. The Home Office has now adopted a more strategic role allowing for grassroots accountability and an enhanced role for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in providing public assurance about the quality and standard of policing in all forces. Police authorities will wish to be satisfied that the Pledge is being delivered for local people and HMIC will validate the delivery of the Pledge through their inspection process.

Additionally, if the public do not feel the standards within the Pledge are being met they can raise it locally with the police themselves or through their police authority.

Crime: Maps

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police forces provide crime maps on their websites which plot individual crimes at street level. (247091)

The Information Commissioner does not recommend plotting individual crimes at street level because of the potential identification of individuals and premises. All 43 forces in England and Wales therefore publish crime maps to, at least, ward level, with information on burglary, robbery, theft, vehicle crime, violent crime and antisocial behaviour incidents.

Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new offences were created by Home Office-sponsored legislation between (a) 1979 and 1996 and (b) 1997 and 2008. (248639)

The number of criminal offences created in Home Office sponsored legislation since 1979 is not held centrally, and could be produced only at disproportionate cost in time and resources.

Metropolitan Police: Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the monthly cost, including opportunity cost, of suspending a Metropolitan Police commander on full pay and expenses is. (247303)

The information requested is not held centrally. This is an operational matter for the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Metropolitan Police: Racial Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information her Department holds on the progress made in the investigation of complaints made by the Metropolitan Black Police Association against members of the Metropolitan Police Authority. (247681)

The Home Office does not hold this information. This is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Police: Disclosure of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has issued on whistle blowing policy in relation to individuals working in child protection in police authorities; and if she will make a statement. (247813)

The Home Office does not issue guidance on internal police policy; this is a matter for chief officers and their police authorities.

However, the general practice is for police officers working in a multi-agency team who have concerns about work practices or the conduct of colleagues within the team, to raise these concerns through their usual management channels or with their Professional Standards Department, which they may contact through a confidential line if necessary.

If police officers suspect a fellow officer of acting in a way that could result in disciplinary or criminal proceedings, and feels unable to raise these concerns through usual procedures, they may raise their concerns within their force or directly to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, using their dedicated report line.

Police: Horses

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mounted police there are in the Metropolitan Police. (247695)

There were 145 full-time equivalent police officers whose primary function was listed as “mounted” in the Metropolitan Police Service as at 31 March 2008.

Police: Misconduct

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reasons the Metropolitan Police Authority gave to her Department for its decision not to conduct a full case review of Operation Helios. (247678)

The implementation of the recommendations from the Morris Inquiry is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which commissioned the inquiry.

The Inquiry recommended that there should be an independent full case review of Operation Helios, to examine the issue of race discrimination. This coincided with an investigation conducted by Essex police, with Independent Police Complaints Commission oversight, into Operation Helios, which included in its terms of reference that “allegations of racism made by the complainants will be fully addressed”.

On receipt of the report from Essex police, the Metropolitan Police Authority considered that no further action was required to meet the Morris Inquiry recommendation.

Police: Road Traffic Control

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many traffic police officers are assigned to duties in each London borough. (247037)

The Metropolitan police employed 612 officers (full-time equivalent) whose primary function was listed as traffic as at 31 March 2008. City of London police employed 26 such officers on the given date. The requested data are not collected by London borough.

Police: Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police (a) officers, (b) constables, (c) sergeants and (d) community support officers were working in Romford constituency in (i) 2007 and (ii) 2008. (247692)

Police strength data are not collected by parliamentary constituency areas. Data are collected at the basic command unit (BCU) level and at the force level. Romford is within the Havering BCU.

The information requested is published annually in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin “Police Service Strength, England and Wales” copies of which are available online and in the Library of the House.

BCU data are not collected by police rank and so data relating to Havering BCU for all officers and for PCSOs are given in the following links:

31 March 2007

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb1307add_tab.xls.

31 March 2008

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0808add_tab.xls.

Data for the police ranks requested are collected at the force level and so data relating to the Metropolitan Police Service for each officer rank (Table 4) and for PCSOs (Table 10a) are given in the following links:

31 March 2007

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb1307.pdf

31 March 2008

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0808.pdf.

Police: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what costs she estimates would be incurred in holding elections for crime and policing representatives across England and Wales as proposed in the Policing Green Paper. (244188)

The Government have announced that they do not intend to proceed with their proposals for directly elected crime and policing representatives at this time.

Procedures Relating to Soham Murders Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the next progress report on the implementation of the Bichard Inquiry recommendations will be published. (247212)

The Government reported on the outstanding Bichard Inquiry recommendations as part of their full response to the Magee Review of Criminality Information, which was presented to Parliament on 4 December 2008.

Future updates on progress will be provided as part of reporting on the broader improvement agenda for criminality information recommended in the Magee Review.

Prostitution

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests for offences in relation to brothels there were in each of the last five years. (248024)

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, burglary, robbery and sexual offences. From these centrally reported data we are not able to identify specific offences from within the main offence groups.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the Tackling the Demand for Prostitution Review of November 2008, what programmes have been carried out in order to raise awareness among sex-buyers about the extent of trafficking for sexual exploitation. (248038)

During the course of the Tackling Demand Review, a pilot marketing campaign, was conducted in Westminster and Nottingham. The experience of this campaign led to the Review's recommendation that the Government should consider running a marketing campaign aimed specifically at sex buyers to raise awareness about trafficking for sexual exploitation. The Government have accepted this recommendation and will run this campaign to support the implementation of the Review's other recommendations.

Terrorism: Detainees

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the date was of the most recent arrest under counter-terrorism legislation following which a suspect was held in pre-charge detention for over (a) 14 days and (b) 28 days. (247162)

[holding answer 14 January 2009]: The dates of arrest are as follows:

(a) Over 14 days: 30 June 2007

(b) 27-28 days: 23 August 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the date of arrest was for each individual who has been held in pre-charge detention under anti-terrorism legislation for more than 14 days. (247164)

[holding answer 14 January 2009]: The dates of arrest are as follows:

Six individuals were arrested on 9 August 2006;

Three individuals were arrested on 10 August 2006;

One individual was arrested on 23 August 2006; and

One individual was arrested on 30 June 2007.

Terrorism: Stop and Search

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been stopped and searched under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 since it came into force. (247688)

There are no powers contained within the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 to stop and search. Stops and searches are conducted under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Information on the number of these searches conducted from 2000-01 to 2006-07 (latest available) are provided in the table. Information for 2007-08 is due to be published in April 2009 and information for 2008-09 (when the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 came into force) is due to be published before the end of 2009-10.

Searches of pedestrians, vehicles and occupants under sections 44(1) and 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 20001) England and Wales, 2000-01 to 2006-07

Number

Stops and searches in order to prevent acts of terrorism (Total searches)

2000-01

6,400

2001-02

10,200

2002-03

32,100

2003-04

33,800

2004-052

37,000

2005-06

50,000

2006-07

41,900

1 Formerly sections 13A and 13B of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 and repealed under the Terrorism Act 2000 (which came into force on 19 February 2001).

2 Figures updated since publication of the 2004-05 Bulletin.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Languages

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months; what expenditure his Department incurred in providing such coaching; and in what languages such coaching was provided. (248076)

The Northern Ireland Office has not commissioned or delivered coaching to Ministers or civil servants in a foreign language in the last 12 months.

Driving Under Influence: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many road traffic accidents which resulted in one or more fatalities in 2007 there were in Northern Ireland in which excessive alcohol was assessed to have been a contributory factor. (248116)

That is an operational matter for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the hon. Member, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

International Monitoring Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the next International Monitoring Commission report is expected; and whether he expects it to include a section on the seizure in County Meath in the Irish Republic of Semtex during December 2008. (248113)

The next Independent Monitoring Commission report is expected in May 2009 in line with its six monthly reporting cycle. The IMC is an independent body and the contents of reports are a matter for the Commissioners. Their practice has been to refer to any events in the period reported on which they judge to be relevant to their remit.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects the 50/50 recruitment policy regarding the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland to be concluded and replaced with the merit principle of recruitment. (248112)

As reaffirmed by the St. Andrews Agreement, our commitment to the continuation of the 50:50 provisions is strictly time bound and is focused on our objective of reaching 30 per cent. Catholic composition in the PSNI regulars by 2010-11. We remain on target to achieve this and ending the provision at that time.

Probation Board for Northern Ireland: Labour Turnover

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people (a) were recruited to and (b) retired from the Probation Board in Northern Ireland in 2008. (248424)

This is an operational matter for the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, which operates independently of Government. I would encourage the hon. Member to write directly to Brian McCaughey, Director of Probation, PBNI, 80-90 North Street, Belfast, BT1 1LD.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect Afghani parliamentarians who speak out in favour of the rights of women, children and other vulnerable populations from threats made against them; and if he will make a statement. (246544)

[holding answer 12 January 2009]: Together with our EU partners, the UK is committed to improving the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government and judiciary are obliged by law to respect these commitments. As part of our broader efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan, we are spending some £31 million on policing and rule of law activities during 2008-09.

The duty of protecting Afghanistan's citizens, including legislators, lies first and foremost with the Government of Afghanistan. Our continued presence in Afghanistan, providing both military (over 8,000 troops) and development/reconstruction assistance, helps to improve security for all of Afghanistan's citizens. As part of our wider efforts to improve the overall security situation and respect for law and order, we encourage the Afghan authorities to take seriously any credible threats against human rights defenders. Where appropriate, we also raise individual human rights cases with the government of Afghanistan, both publicly and in private. We also provide financial support to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which promotes, protects and monitors human rights.

Colombia: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department records the (a) location at and (b) unit with which Colombian military personnel serve once they have completed a period of training in the UK; and whether it records the type of activity undertaken by such personnel in the course of their military career. (244626)

[holding answer 17 December 2008]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 999W.

Serbia: Entry Clearances

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on proposals for the liberalisation of the EU visa regime for Serbian citizens; when he expects a decision to be taken on these proposals; and if he will make a statement. (240841)

The UK does not participate in the EU common Schengen acquis or in decisions to liberalise the Schengen visa regime, including in respect of Serbia.

Serbia's progress towards liberalisation of the Schengen visa regime for Serbian citizens will be determined by the fulfilment of all criteria specified in the EU Visa Liberalisation Roadmap which the government of Serbia agreed with the EU in June 2008. The EU intends to report annually on the progress made by Serbia against the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap.

Serbian nationals have been subject to a UK visa regime since 1991. The UK Border Agency undertook a comprehensive review of the UK's visa regimes, the Visa Waiver Test, in 2007. The results of this review, in the context of Serbia, mean the Government have no plans at present to lift the visa requirements for Serbian citizens.

USA: Capital Punishment

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the US Administration on behalf of the death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. (244985)

[holding answer 12 January 2009]: To date there have been no representations made on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. While we and our EU partners continue to oppose the use of the death penalty around the world, including in the US, this case has not been brought to the attention of the EU as a case which violates the minimum standards—as set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty—which the EU uses to determine when to intervene in individual cases.

Scotland

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the salary bill for the Scotland Office was for its staff in all locations in each quarter since 1999. (248511)

The Scotland Office does not hold records showing the breakdown of the salary bill by quarter, however the full year costs are shown in the following table.

£000

SO and OAG

1999-20001

1,976

2000-01

3281

SO only

2001-02

2,459

2002-03

2,842

2003-04

2,571

2004-05

2,182

2005-06

1,888

2006-07

1,889

2007-08

2,250

1 Part year, the Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: Access

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps are being taken to increase the accessibility of high culture to working-class people. (244824)

My Department continues to work closely with sponsored bodies responsible for culture to ensure that funding over the SR08 period is used to support the Government’s objective to increase participation in culture by adults from a lower socio-economic background.

Arts Council England is conducting audience segmentation analysis to gather fresh data about which groups engage with the arts and will use this as the basis for a national campaign to encourage the broadest range of people to do so. English Heritage is also looking at barriers to engagement with the historic environment experienced by people in lower socio-economic groups. Through the Renaissance in the Regions programme the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) is seeking to increase participation and achieve greater diversity amongst the visitors to regional hub museums across England. Entry to DCMS-sponsored national museums and galleries has been free for all since 2001.

In September last year, 10 pathfinder Find Your Talent projects were set up with an investment of £25 million to test various ways to deliver a five-hour cultural offer to ensure that all children and young people aged 0-19 can access a wide range of high-quality artistic and cultural experiences. In November 2008, my Department announced the Free Theatre initiative which offers free tickets to young people up to age 26. Evaluations of the annual ‘Heritage Open Days’ initiative, indicate a significant increase in visitors from the lower socio-economic groups in 2006 and 2007 to those sites where records allow comparison with previous years.

The DCMS ‘Taking Part’ survey is being used to measure participation by adults from the priority groups. The most recent results, published in December 2008, indicate that the proportion of adults from lower socio-economic backgrounds attending a museum or gallery during the previous 12 months was 30.6 per cent., a 2.3 per cent. increase compared to the baseline established in 2005-06. For visits to historic environment sites the comparable figures were 59.4 per cent. attendance, an increase of 2.3 per cent. on the 2005-06 baseline. Attendance at arts events was 18.3 per cent. of this group with no significant statistical change on the baseline.

Arts: Apprentices

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people have enrolled on Creative Britain apprenticeships; and if he will make a statement. (247495)

My Department’s strategy for the creative economy, Creative Britain—New Talents for the New Economy, includes the ambition of working with employers and sector skills councils to establish up to 5000 apprenticeships in the creative industries by 2013.

To date, over 160 employers have signed up to offer the Creative Apprenticeship, a mix of on the job and off the job training with 13 apprenticeships started and a further 130 due to start later this year. There are also pilots with the BBC at Mediacity:uk and the Savile Row Tailors.

Once established, the National Apprenticeship Service will monitor starts and completions of all approved apprenticeships.

Creative Britain Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of the Creative Britain Review was to his Department; what financial contributions were made by other Government departments; and what staff costs were involved. (247435)

[holding answer 14 January 2009]: In January 2007, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned the Work Foundation to produce Staying Ahead, a report analysing the economic performance of the Creative Industries in the UK. The cost of producing this report was approximately £84,000.

Following this report, DCMS, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) produced Creative Britain in February 2008, which outlined 26 commitments seeking to maximise the contribution of the Creative Industries to the UK economy. The costs of producing this document were approximately £74,000. Of this, BERR provided £30,000. It is difficult to estimate the staff costs as most of the officials from each Department involved (DCMS, BERR and DIUS) were engaged on other projects at the same time.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) directly-operated and (b) franchised catering outlets his Department and its agency provides for staff. (249070)

The Department has one directly operated catering outlet for its staff. The Royal Parks Agency, the Department's one executive agency, does not have any directly operated or franchised catering outlets for its staff.

Gaming: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what changes he plans to make to licensing guidelines concerning gaming codes. (249092)

The Gambling Commission have advised that on 1 October 2008 following an extensive consultation exercise, they published a revised version of their Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which came into effect on 1 January 2009.

The LCCP can be viewed at the following web link:

http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Client/detail.asp?ContentId=103

Since the publication of LCCP, the Gambling Commission has consulted on proposals to add a new licence condition and code of practice provision to LCCP. These proposals set out the requirement that holders of different categories of premises licences ensure that the gambling activity which corresponds to the licence type is actually offered as the primary activity at those premises. A supplement to LCCP setting out any new conditions and codes relating to this consultation will be published in due course.

ICT: Reviews

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what dates the Digital Britain Steering Board has met; what dates have been set for future meetings; which members of the Board were present at each meeting; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the most recent meeting. (248893)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: The Digital Britain Steering Board has met on the following dates: 14, 21, 28 November 2008, 5, 12 December 2008 and 9, 14 January 2009.

Further meetings are scheduled for: 23 January, 29 January, 13 February, 27 February, 13 March, 27 March, 10 April, 24 April, 8 May and 22 May 2009.

The meetings are confidential and it would therefore not be appropriate to publish attendance or the Minutes.

Sport England: Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) buildings and (b) land Sport England owns; and what estimate he has made of the value of such assets. (248891)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Sport England does not own any land or buildings outright. The Sports Council Trust Company, of which Sport England is a member and controlling share holder, owns the following land and buildings:

National centres: Bisham Abbey; Lilleshall and Plas y Brenin.

Regional offices: Ashland House, Crewkerene, Somerset; Caversham lake and boathouse facility and the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

The approximate net book value of land and buildings owned by the Sports Council Trust Company, as shown in the Sport England 31 March 2008 financial statements, is £107 million.

Sport England: Reorganisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects the organisational changes within Sport England to be implemented. (249408)

Sport England have advised that they are planning to complete their organisational change process by the end of March 2009, and they are currently on schedule to do so. However, some posts will be externally advertised and depending on their notice periods successful candidates may not all be in place.

Sports: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans his Department has to increase participation amongst under-16 year olds in (a) athletics, (b) badminton, (c) basketball, (d) cricket, (e) cycling, (f) gymnastics, (g) hockey, (h) netball, (i) rugby league, (j) rugby union, (k) squash, (l) tennis and (m) volleyball. (248592)

The Government's investment in PE and sport in schools has had significant success in increasing participation in these sports.

Schools were asked to indicate the range of sports provided by their school during the academic year. Details of the percentages of schools which provided the indicated sports are provided in the following table, highlighting the progression of school participation annually (academic year).

Percentage

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Athletics

90

91

92

93

93

Badminton

31

32

35

37

39

Basketball

65

63

67

69

69

Cricket

85

85

89

90

90

Cycling

21

27

34

42

46

Gymnastics

94

93

95

95

94

Hockey

77

74

77

78

77

Netball

84

81

81

81

81

Rugby League (inc tag rugby)

12

11

12

133

34

Rugby Union (inc Tag Rugby)

67

71

74

66

68

Squash

5

5

6

7

7

Tennis

70

71

76

79

79

Volleyball

27

25

28

30

30

1 Surveys prior to 2006/07 did not include ‘tag rugby’ in definition.

Base:

All schools (2003/04—6,574; 2004/05—11,498; 2005/06—16,898; 2006/07—21,745; 2007/08—21,631).

The following table shows the sports or activities which schools had club links to during the academic year.

Percentage

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Athletics

32

33

38

40

43

Badminton

10

10

12

14

17

Basketball

27

25

28

28

30

Cricket

45

46

52

56

57

Cycling

4

5

6

8

10

Gymnastics

24

26

31

35

40

Hockey

20

19

22

23

25

Netball

26

26

29

30

32

Rugby League (inc. tag rugby)

10

9

10

118

20

Rugby Union (inc. tag rugby)

39

41

46

44

48

Squash

3

3

4

5

6

Tennis

27

30

36

39

40

Volleyball

3

2

2

3

4

1 Surveys prior to 2006/07 did not include ‘tag rugby’ in definition.

Base:

All schools (2003/04—6,574; 2004/05—11,498; 2005/06—16,898; 2006/07—21,745; 2007/08—21,631)

Our PE and Sport Strategy for Young People will continue that success story, and we are investing over £780 million to 2010-11 to offer five hours of sport a week. The National Governing Bodies of Sport will receive ring-fenced funding as part of their Whole Sport Plan budgets, aimed at developing further links between schools and clubs, and increasing the number of young people involved in volunteering and leadership in sport.

Badminton and volleyball are also among the four sports which will benefit from ‘Premier League 4 Sport’, a new scheme launched this month, which will drive participation among young people in partnership with the 20 Premier League football clubs.

The challenge for all these sports is to make themselves attractive to young people, so that young people choose to take them up.

UK Sport: Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) when UK Sport's annual athlete survey will be carried out; and when it will report; (249357)

(2) when UK Sport's annual athlete survey will be carried out; when it will report; and for what reason it has been delayed.

UK Sport have advised that they will next carry out an athlete survey in the autumn of 2009 and would expect to report the headline findings by the end of the year. Although they had previously planned to conduct a survey early this year for March publication, UK Sport are now seeking to strategically align their athlete survey with the end of year reviews of sport that are conducted as part of Mission 2012—after the summer competition season. In addition UK Sport are now seeking to supplement findings with focus groups and other data gathering across the year.

The decision not to carry out a survey in 2008 was taken by UK Sport as a result of the uncertainty about the number and range of athletes that would be available to survey at that time. UK Sport will of course be able to benefit from the post-Games athlete survey carried out by the British Athlete Commission and they are confident that the other activity planned will inform Mission 2012 up to and until the next survey in 2009.

United Utilities: Sports

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if he will discuss with United Utilities the effect on (a) Darwen Cricket Club and (b) other sports clubs of recent increases in water charges; (249164)

(2) what representations he has received on the increases in water charges being imposed by United Utilities on (a) sports and (b) other clubs in the north-west; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of this issue and will—along with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who is responsible for the natural and marine environment be seeking a meeting with Ofwat to establish what options are available to ensure community sports clubs are not disproportionately affected by these charges.

I have also asked Sport England to see whether there is any systematic help they can provide to ensure community sports clubs' water charges have been calculated correctly.

Olympics

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how much has been spent on (a) maintaining, (b) decorating and (c) otherwise improving her Office’s buildings since its inception; how much has been spent on wallpaper since 2001; and what plans there are for further spending on departmental decoration. (248049)

My office in 26 Whitehall was redecorated as part of the redecoration programme covering the whole of the building (26 Whitehall). Further additional costs specifically relating to the relocation into the building by the Office of the Minster for the Olympics were incurred to a value of £8,485 plus VAT.

Since then, my office has moved to co-locate with officials from the Government Olympic Executive in 2-4 Cockspur Street to enable more integrated and efficient work. Here a new office was constructed and furnished between July and September 2008, at a cost of £40,625 plus VAT. These costs cover both my own ministerial office and that occupied by my private office and special advisers.

No money has been spent on wallpaper in any of my offices since the inception of the Minister for the Olympics role.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what use has been made of the advice of the London Fire Brigade in the designing out of fire and other catastrophic risks in the construction and operation of Olympic venues. (248587)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: There are several levels of engagement with the London Fire Brigade (LFB), much of it facilitated by the secondment of a member of the LFB to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)—a secondment that has been in place for over a year and ensures excellent co-operation and communication between the organisations.

The LFB is party to the development of designs for both venues and the Olympic Park—through a technical officers team, of which they are part, which is associated with the Safety Advisory Group established by the host boroughs (led in this case by London borough of Newham). This team reviews, comments on and assists in the development of designs which are aimed at reducing fire and other related risks for the venues for London 2012.

Finally, there is a Blue Light Liaison Group which ensures that emerging plans for operational responses to emergencies, both during construction and subsequently, are co-ordinated between the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade and other relevant parties including the ODA.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what discussions she has had with the Olympic Delivery Authority on contracts for landscaping relating to the site of the London 2012 Olympics. (248995)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Landscaping contracts are the responsibility of the Olympic Delivery Authority and are awarded following a competitive tendering process. The Authority is a public body whose procurements are subject to the public contracts regulations.

The landscaping management contract for the north of the Olympic Park has been awarded to BAM Nuttall Ltd., a UK-based company with offices in Surrey. The landscaping contract for the south of the Olympic Park is due to be awarded in 2009.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics on what date the construction of the temporary roads and bridges required for traffic access to the Olympic Park was completed. (249431)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Construction of the temporary roads, hard standings and bridges giving access and lay out space at the Olympic Park construction site was completed up to August 2008 until the installation of the fifth (and final) temporary bridge. The completion of this work, including the establishing of the two main entrance plazas—one in the North and one in the South—fulfilled one of the 10 published key milestones set by the ODA (in Demolish, Dig, Design) to be delivered by the Beijing 2008 games.

The positioning of temporary roads and hard standings onsite, however, will continue to change in response to the needs of each of the individual venue and infrastructure construction areas within the Olympic Park construction site. This will ensure the safe, secure and efficient movement of people and materials to, through and around the Olympic Park site throughout the construction period as work develops.

Olympic Games 2012: Disadvantaged

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether there are targets to encourage people living in the most disadvantaged areas to volunteer to work on preparation for and during the London 2012 Olympics. (248368)

The Personal Best Programme, formerly known as the Pre-Volunteer Programme, uses the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to inspire the most disadvantaged people to acquire and develop their skills for work through volunteering.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has identified that up to 70,000 Games-time volunteers will be required. It has committed to recruiting up to 10 per cent. of these through Personal Best.

It is hoped that 20,000 disadvantaged people from London will be involved in Personal Best. So far, this programme has been trialled in 11 boroughs with 875 Londoners taking part. This includes the five host boroughs which are areas of significant disadvantage. Over the next six months the programme will be rolled out to every London borough. Building on the success in London this is now being offered to regions, the South East and North East being the first.

Although not all graduates of the scheme will become Games-time volunteers, they will build self esteem through community volunteering, work experience and gain transferable job skills through a nationally recognised qualification.

LOCOG has recently launched its Trailblazer volunteer scheme giving volunteers the opportunity to work within LOCOG itself. The scheme began with a three month pilot with 23 volunteers on 19 January 2009 and has been promoted in the host boroughs. If successful, LOCOG intends to involve 60-70 volunteers over the year, increasing the number of participants in the run up to 2012.

Olympic Games 2012: Security

To ask the Minister for the Olympics when she expects the costed security plan for the London 2012 Olympics to be published. (247591)

I have been asked to reply.

Due to security considerations, the costed security plan for the London 2012 Olympics is necessarily a classified document. As such, the Home Office is considering proposals for publishing an unclassified version later in 2009.

Olympic Games 2012: Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what mechanisms are in place to encourage existing volunteer organisations to take part in work in preparation for and during the London 2012 Olympics. (248371)

The Government, through the Office of the Third Sector and the Government Olympic Executive, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have been encouraging volunteering organisations to take part in work in preparation for, during and after London 2012 since the early stages of the bid to win the games, through hosting a number of events at both ministerial and official level.

The Government’s ambition to maximise the opportunities for a volunteering legacy from the games is reflected in our legacy promise to get thousands more young people giving time to their communities as a result of 2012. This has recently translated into my launch of the “2012 Challenge” in December 2008, a public commitment by Government and key third sector organisations to work together to ensure this ambition is realised.

House of Commons Commission

Industrial Health and Safety

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what measures have been undertaken to address the moth infestation in T block; and when the operation is expected to be completed. (247327)

Significant numbers of the Common House Moth (Tineola bisselliella) were first reported in the House in early 2008 and preventative treatment has been undertaken since then. In order to minimise the use of pesticides and the consequent risk of exposure to potential toxicants, a process involving moth pheromone has been employed.

Monitoring of moth activity shows that moth numbers within the House of Commons estate are generally reducing. However, activity in T block remains an issue and alternative methods of eradication are being considered. Measures are likely to involve spraying within offices and heat treatment of items contained in them in order to kill larvae. Members with offices in areas affected will be consulted in due course.

Pay

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much has been spent by the House of Commons Commission on staff reward and recognition schemes in each of the last three years. (248726)

The amounts spent on staff reward and recognition schemes have been:

£

Actual

Forecast

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Non-consolidated performance pay

572,254

548,217

642,242

Staff recognition schemes

2,739

3,985

5,173

Total

574,993

552,202

647,415

In addition, there are long service and other staff awards, which include non-cash rewards. The amounts involved are not collated centrally, but are modest in nature.

Wales

Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and (b) the Welsh Assembly Government on (i) the future of public sector broadcasting and (ii) the implementation of digital switchover in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (246810)

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, and I regularly meet ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government colleagues to discuss issues affecting Wales, including broadcasting and digital switchover.

As Minister with responsibility for digital inclusion, I am keenly aware of the various issues that surround these subjects and have also met with representatives of various stakeholders—such as the Office of Communication (Ofcom), the BBC, ITV and S4C—to hear their views.

In addition, my officials are actively involved in a number of cross-Government groups, which include representation from the Welsh Assembly Government, that discuss and monitor the ongoing Switchover process. The Wales Office was also involved in discussions that surrounded the recent review of public service broadcasting being undertaken by Ofcom. Through this work, we will continue to ensure that Wales has a strong voice in these important issues.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much has been spent on (a) maintaining, (b) decorating and (c) otherwise improving departmental buildings in the last five years; how much has been spent on wallpaper since 2001; and what plans there are for further spending on departmental decoration. (248050)

Care and maintenance of the Wales Office's two offices (one in London and one in Cardiff) were, until 2005-06, managed by the Welsh Assembly Government. Specific costs for the Wales Office were not systematically identified.

Since 2005, the premises have been managed within the Ministry of Justice (previously the Department for Constitutional Affairs). The following tables give the available information by year for maintenance, decoration, and other improvements.

Maintenance (including electrical and mechanical engineering and plumbing works)

£

2004-05

97,388

2005-06

42,972

2006-07

59,707

2007-08

35,843

Decoration (the 2006-07 figure includes carpet tile replacement on health and safety grounds, and renewed sanitation)

£

2003-04

5,121

2005-06

2006-07

65,364

2007-08

Improvement works (the 2005-06 figure includes £79,809 to replace a lift to meet health and safety and disabled access standards. The 2007-08 figure includes the cost of specialist exterior stonework cleaning of the listed London building, which was recommended on heritage preservation grounds).

£

2005-06

85,238

2006-07

13,819

2007-08

77,042

We have no wallpaper. There are no plans for further spending on departmental decoration at this time.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which (a) food and (b) drinks companies have supplied his Department in each of the last three years; and how much was paid to each of those suppliers in each of those years. (248793)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) directly-operated and (b) franchised catering outlets his Department provides for staff. (249085)

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many members of staff in his Department have been (a) investigated, (b) suspended and (c) dismissed for losing (i) memory sticks, (ii) laptop computers, (iii) desktop computers and (iv) mobile telephones belonging to his Department in each year since its inception. (248258)

Since the inception of the Wales Office in 1999, there have been four losses of mobile telephones. After ascertaining the facts, the Department had no reason to take action against the individuals concerned. There have been no losses of laptop computers, memory sticks, or desktop computers.

Departmental Languages

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months; what expenditure his Department incurred in providing such coaching; and in what languages such coaching was provided. (248071)

The Wales Office has not provided coaching in any foreign language to either Ministers or staff in the last 12 months. However, my Department has paid £335 for two civil servants to learn the Welsh language.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what expert advisers have been commissioned by his Department since its inception; on what topic each was commissioned; and whether the adviser so appointed made a declaration of political activity in each case. (246965)

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make it his policy that temporary and permanent employees of his Department employed at the same grade receive the same hourly rate of pay. (248421)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer to him on 14 January 2009, Official Report, columns 584-85W.

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department's central media and communication unit spent on public surveys in each of the last three years. (248032)

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on how many occasions in the last 12 months Ministers in his Department have used their discretion to rule that a parliamentary question for written answer should be answered because it would be in the public interest to do so, even though to do so would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold of £700. (249127)

Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many former prisoners are employed by his Department; and what his Department's policy is on employing former prisoners. (246335)

The majority of staff working in the Wales office are seconded from other Government departments. Therefore, the individual’s home department under The Civil Service Management Code carries out the necessary security checks. Sections 1.1.5 and 1.1.6 deal specifically with checks before appointment.

Leader of the House

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Leader of the House how many members of staff in her Office have been (a) investigated, (b) suspended and (c) dismissed for losing (i) memory sticks, (ii) laptop computers, (iii) desktop computers and (iv) mobile telephones belonging to her Office in each year since 1997. (248254)

There have been no further losses following the answer I gave on 12 November 2008, Official Report, column 1262W, namely that since June 2007, one laptop has been reported stolen from the Leader of the House of Commons Office. The laptop was used to update the office website and did not contain any personal data or other sensitive information. No data have been lost. No members of staff in the Leader’s Office have been investigated, suspended or dismissed for losing memory sticks, laptop computers, desktop computers and mobile phones.

Following a machinery of government change, information prior to 2006-07 is available only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Leader of the House how much has been spent by her Office on staff reward and recognition schemes in each of the last three years. (248723)

The amount spent by the Leader’s Office on staff reward and recognition schemes for the year 2007-08 was £192.

Following a machinery of government change, information prior to 2006-07 is available only at disproportionate cost.

Parliamentary Privilege

To ask the Leader of the House what steps she plans to take to ensure the protection of parliamentary privilege; and if she will make a statement. (247967)

The precise nature of parliamentary privilege has been regularly and hotly debated over the centuries and is a key factor of our parliamentary democracy. The prime responsibility for parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons lies with the Speaker and the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Defence

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what effect the decision to delay the in-service date of the new aircraft carriers by up to two years will have on the procurement of aircraft to operate from the carriers. (248364)

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel have been declared unfit for front line duty in each service in the last 12 months. (245113)

The MOD collates, on a quarterly basis, management information on “fit for task”, which provides a measure of the medical fitness of all trained armed forces personnel. These figures are broken down into three categories: Medically Fully Fit, Medically Not Fully Fit and Medically Unfit. It should be noted that the majority of those personnel who fall under the category of Medically Not Fully Fit remain fit enough to work in some capacity and therefore continue to make a contribution to operational effectiveness, often within theatres of operation.

Information from the last four quarterly returns of those personnel within the Naval Service and RAF are shown as follows. Personnel numbers are rounded to the nearest 10, and percentages rounded to one decimal point:

Naval ServiceRAF

Number

Percentage of total trained strength

Number

Percentage of total trained strength

2007-08

Q3

Fully Fit for Task

31,350

89.6

36,880

89.0

Not Fully Fit for Task

3,530

10.1

4,330

10.5

Unfit for Task

100

0.3

200

0.5

Q4

Fully Fit for Task

31,130

88.9

36,010

88.9

Not Fully Fit for Task

3,790

10.8

4,290

10.6

Unfit for Task

90

0.3

210

0.5

2008-09

Q1

Fully Fit for Task

30,610

88.1

35,540

88.7

Not Fully Fit for Task

3,970

11.4

4,340

10.8

Unfit for Task

100

0.3

160

0.4

Q2

Fully Fit for Task

30,330

88.0

35,010

88.5

Not Fully Fit for Task

4,060

11.8

4,390

11.1

Unfit for Task

80

0.2

180

0.4

The Army currently collates quarterly figures only for its deployable elements, rather than for its total trained strength. This provides snapshot figures of Personnel Unable to Deploy (PUD), though many of these will be able to undertake non-deployed duties. The following table provides the figures for 2008 of the number of personnel recorded as unable to deploy for medical reasons. Personnel numbers are rounded to the nearest 10, and percentages rounded to one decimal point:

1 March 2008

1 June 2008

1 September 2008

1 December 2008

Personnel in Deployable Units

70,230

69,700

72,780

73,240

Medical PUD

3,810

3,610

3,780

3,900

Percentage of Deployable Element

5.4

5.2

5.2

5.3

The MOD is in the process of introducing a new and more accurate data-capture system, which will enable it to report validated, comparable data on a tri-service basis.

Armed Forces: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel were stationed in Northern Ireland on 1 January 2009. (248114)

Defence Equipment: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he made of the utility of Dragon Runner to his Department's operation; whether his Department has allocated funds to purchase Dragon Runners; and if he will make a statement. (247849)

We have recently assessed that the Dragon Runner Micro-Remote Control Vehicle (RCV) is the most suitable solution available to meet particular requirements for Explosive Ordnance Disposal. The Department has allocated no funds to the purchase of Dragon Runner Micro-RCVs as these costs are attributable to current operations. Such additional costs of current operations are funded from the Reserve.

Defence Medical Services: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) inflow and (b) outflow was of personnel in the Defence Medical Services in each year since 1997, broken down by (i) service and (ii) type; (245110)

(2) what the (a) inflow and (b) outflow was of personnel in the Defence Medical Services in each month in 2008, broken down by (i) service and (ii) type.

I am placing the available data of the type requested covering the period up to September 2008 for the Royal Navy and RAF in the Library of the House. The data for the Army is only available within proportionate costs, in the summary form shown up to 2006.

Defence: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals to ensure that a certain proportion of all expenditure on defence procurement is spent on products produced by UK-based companies. (248676)

In considering procurement decisions, the Ministry of Defence needs to ensure that it secures the best equipment available for our armed forces whilst at the same time ensuring value for money for the taxpayer. Open and fair competition is the most effective method of making sure that we achieve this. Therefore, the MOD does not mandate that a certain proportion of all expenditure on defence procurement is spent on products produced by UK-based companies. Furthermore, any such action would be against EU law, which forbids the provision of preferential treatment to any company, except in respect of essential security interests which is covered by Article 296 of the European treaty.

Departmental Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many houses owned by his Department are rated as grade (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four. (248855)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Worldwide, Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties are at the following Grade for Charge (GfC)—an assessment of the chargeable condition of accommodation, along with other factors such as its size, location and closeness to amenities.

GfC

Number of properties

G1fC

11,305

G2fC

27,043

G3fC

21,136

G4fC

9,393

SFA properties are either owned by Annington Homes Ltd. (the majority in England and Wales), the MOD (in Scotland and Northern Ireland) or provided by the host nation as is the case overseas.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use (a) his Department and (b) service providers under contract to his Department make of (i) 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers and (ii) revenue-sharing telephone numbers for calls from members of the public; for which services such numbers are used; what prefixes are used for revenue-sharing numbers; how much revenue has accrued from revenue-sharing numbers in each of the last five years; what consideration his Department has given to introducing 03-prefixed telephone numbers for calls to all such services; and if he will make a statement. (247339)

The use of 0844, 0845, revenue-sharing telephone numbers and those with an 03 prefix is determined at local level in accordance with individual business requirements and obtained directly from the supplier. Records of such numbers are not held centrally and information relating to them, including any revenue accrued, could be provided at disproportionate cost.

Estonia: Defence Sales

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the Estonian government paid for the three British Sandown-class minehunters; and what Treasury guidelines were followed in this case. (248809)

The sale price for the three Sandown class ships to Estonia was £32 million (the gross return to MOD). The net return to MOD, however, will be adjusted by costs for regeneration of the vessels and training of crew prior to delivery. Regeneration is being carried out under incentivised arrangements and thus the final costs will not be known until completion of the work. In accordance with HM Treasury delegations, a business case was prepared and scrutinised by the appropriate authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on the three Sandown-class minehunters in the year prior to their sale to Estonia; and whether their sale was conditional on this work being carried out on them. (248810)

No work was undertaken, other than normal decommissioning activities, on these three vessels, in the year prior to the signature of the sales agreement in September 2006. Therefore no additional costs were incurred.

Ex-servicemen: Homelessness

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former servicemen and women are homeless in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. (247726)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 484W. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) does not collect this information. Independent research was commissioned from the University of York by MOD and its colleagues in the Ex-Service Action Group on Homelessness (ESAG), the research found that the percentage of veterans among London’s homeless population was 6 per cent. in 2007 compared with 22 per cent. in separate research in 1997. We are exploring opportunities for further research to find out the extent of veterans homelessness in the rest of the country.

Ex-servicemen: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what facilities are provided to former servicemen and women with post-combat stress disorder living in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. (247727)

The health care of all veterans has been the responsibility of the NHS since 1953. Former service personnel with mental health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder will benefit from the Government’s decision to extend priority treatment to all veterans whose condition is considered by their GP to be due to service. Veterans are also designated as a Special Interest Group (SIG) in the Department of Health’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Programme. This will train 3,600 new therapists by 2010-11 in England. Additionally, five NHS trusts across the UK are piloting a new model of mental health care for veterans, one of which is located in Camden and Islington, and another one is based at the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. These will provide a holistic service with social support networks complementing health care. Since 1996, the NHS Trauma Service in Hull has worked with veterans to develop and raise awareness of a suitable care pathway.

The MOD also provides a Medical Assessment Programme at St. Thomas’s hospital for those that have concerns about their health due to service, since 1982.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in each of the last three years in (a) London and (b) North Yorkshire. (247728)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in (a) Hemel Hempstead, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) England in each of the last three years. (249058)

The health care of veterans is a matter for the national health service and the four UK health Departments. Information is not held by the MOD on how many veterans have been treated for post-combat stress disorder in each of the last three years in London and North Yorkshire.

Hercules Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft in the Hercules C-130 fleet are currently unfit for operational use; and if he will make a statement. (248052)

The numbers of Hercules C-130J and C-130K that are not fit for purpose (FFP) are provided in the following table. The figures shown reflect the position on 13 January 2009.

Aircraft type

Total fleet

Numbers of Hercules not FFP

C-130J

24

7

C-130K

19

111

1This figure includes 4 retired aircraft which are awaiting disposal.

Aircraft are classed as not FFP if they are undergoing scheduled maintenance, modification programmes and any other unforeseen rectification work that can arise on a day to day basis or awaiting disposal. The figures do not reflect the fact that an aircraft assessed as not FFP may be returned to the front line at very short notice to meet the operational need.

Met Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) coverage and (b) accuracy of radar monitoring of rainfall for catchment areas of (i) rivers in England and (ii) the River Severn by the Met Office; and if he will make a statement. (248201)

Weather radar coverage over England was reviewed in 2001. As a result new weather radars have been installed in Kent and County Durham. The density and coverage quality of the network in England is considered to be among the best in the world.

The catchment of the River Severn mainly falls under the coverage of the weather radar on Clee Hill, Shropshire. The coverage quality is assessed as being in category one (the highest of three categories used to classify network coverage) for that part of the catchment lying between Newtown and Gloucester, and category two above and below these points.

The Met Office routinely assesses the accuracy of rainfall estimates derived from radar. The assessment is made by comparing rainfall accumulations recorded by rain gauges with accumulations derived from the collocated radar data.

The Met Office does not routinely derive statistics which are catchment specific.

Millen Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in addressing the issues identified in the Millen Report. (243964)

All the recommendations from the Service Pension Taxation Inquiry (Millen Report) have been implemented. Identified Armed Forces Pension Scheme underpayments and overpayments have been rectified. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has paid back tax to those affected by the incorrect taxing of invaliding pensions and compensation payments have also been made.

To prevent further issues, business process and legislation recommendations have also been implemented or subsumed by wider changes. These changes include the creation of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, and the introduction of Armed Forces Pensions Scheme 2005 (AFPS 2005), the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the Compensation and Pensions System (CAPS).

Russia: Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times Russian military aircraft approached British airspace in (a) each month in 2008 and (b) each year since 2006. (249732)

The following table details how frequently Quick Reaction Alert aircraft have been launched to identify Russian military aircraft approaching the NATO Air Policing Area for which the United Kingdom has responsibility, in each month of 2008.

2008

Number

January

2

February

0

March

1

April

1

May

1

June

0

July

1

August

1

September

1

October

1

November

0

December

1

The following table details how frequently Quick Reaction Alert aircraft were launched to identify Russian military aircraft:

Number

2006

1

2007

19

2008

10

All Russian military Aircraft have remained in International airspace and have not entered UK airspace.

White Phosphorus

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the size of the stockpile of white phosphorus shells held by the armed forces is; and what criteria control the use of such shells. (249206)

UK armed forces possess white phosphorus munitions for the purpose of producing a smoke screen to provide cover and thus protection for our soldiers on the battlefield. These are conventional munitions that are not outlawed or banned by any convention or protocol. I am withholding information on the size of the stockpile of these munitions on the grounds that its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces. UK training in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should be used solely for its intended purpose and not as an anti-personnel weapon.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of (a) penalties and (b) enforcement procedures for non-payment of council tax. (248948)

No specific assessment has been made of council tax penalties and enforcement, but collection rates have improved every year for the last eight years, underlying the efforts of all councils and the effectiveness of the system.

Gypsies and Travellers

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will revise the guidance to local authorities in respect of the application of race relations legislation to planning applications involving Gypsy and Traveller sites to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the police and local authorities in managing such sites. (248949)

The Government have no plans to revise the guidance contained in ODPM Circular 1/06 as suggested by the hon. Member. Local authorities have a general duty under the Race Relations Act 1976, as amended, to actively seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote good race relations in all they do. We will be publishing good practice guidance on the management of Gypsy and Traveller sites shortly.

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has for the future of Gypsy and Traveller site provision. (248958)

Planning policy for the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites is set out in ODPM Circular 01/2006: “Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites”. Local authorities have a duty to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and identify enough land to meet the number of pitches set out in the regional spatial strategy. The Homes and Communities Agency will continue to provide funding for the provision of new public sites.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department next plans to review its planning guidance and circulars relating to Travellers. (248951)

The Independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement concluded the Government's planning policies for Gypsy and Traveller sites in England are sound. The Government have committed to keeping Parliament informed on the work undertaken to address the issues they highlighted. We will publish a progress report later this year.

Community Cohesion

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to achieve community cohesion; and if she will make a statement. (248950)

In 2007 we announced a renewed commitment to community cohesion with a £50 million investment over three years and a new public service agreement to build cohesive, active and empowered communities. We continue to support local authorities in delivering improvements in cohesion by providing a framework of guidance and targeted local support. We are also working with faith communities to build interfaith work and support social action.

Financial Assistance: Local Authorities

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department plans to take to assist local authorities in the current economic climate. (248952)

People need their council to offer real help through improved services and low tax. We have given them billions of pounds of extra funding, and financial freedoms, to help them do so, including putting in place the first-ever three-year settlement last year which gave councils an extra £8.9 billion.

Council Housing Waiting Lists

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of trends in the number of families on council house waiting lists since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (248953)

Our latest figures show 1.67 million households registered on local authority waiting lists in England in April 2007 compared to 1.02 million in April 1997.

Business Start-ups

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to encourage provision of low-cost retailing space in town centres for small, local and start-up businesses through the rating and planning systems. (248954)

Our forthcoming refinements to town centre policy will make clear that councils should plan proactively to secure a mix of units in new developments to provide for small businesses including starter premises.

In addition, small business rate relief, introduced in 2005, offers up to 50 per cent. reductions in rates bills for businesses occupying only one property.

Statutory Services: Over-60s

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what statutory services for which her Department is responsible borough councils will be required to provide to those aged over 60 in 2009; and if she will make a statement. (248955)

The Government, through their Supporting People programme, fund a variety of non-statutory services for older people, through local authorities. The SP programme, created in 2003, is administered through top tier local authorities, many of which are borough councils. Over 800,000 older people are supported to live independently through this programme, and services provided include home improvement agency and handyperson services, and wardens. However, it is for local authorities to determine how to best meet the support needs identified in their communities and the Department for Communities and Local Government does not prescribe any particular model of support or services.

In addition, the Disabled Facilities Grant is a mandatory grant used to provide adaptations to the homes of disabled people and older people to live independently in their homes. Adaptations include improving access to a home, and to the basic facilities within a home, for example by providing ramps, door widening, stair lifts and level access showers. Each year, around 35,000 people benefit from a Disabled Facilities Grant. This Government have substantially increased the Government funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant programme from £57 million in 1997 to £156 million in 2009-10. Local authorities also contribute towards the cost of adaptations from their own resources.

Council Housing Rents

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of allowing local authorities to retain all monies raised from council house rent receipts. (248956)

The retention of council house rent receipts is being considered as part of the Review of Council Housing Finance and Rents Policy which is being undertaken by my Department and Her Majesty’s Treasury. The review is currently in its final stages and will report to the Chief Secretary and Communities and Local Government Ministers this spring. It will inform the spending review and will be followed by a period of formal consultation.

South-west Spatial Strategy

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent progress has been made towards agreement of the draft south-west regional spatial strategy. (248957)

The Secretary of State received around 35,000 responses from individuals and organisations to the consultation on her proposed changes to the south-west regional spatial strategy. This is the largest number ever received to such a consultation. My officials at the Government office for the south west are currently assessing the responses and the Secretary of State will consider proposals for a revised timetable shortly.

Energy Efficiency

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. (248959)

This Department has various policies and programmes for example the Decent Homes Programme, Building Regulations and Energy Performance Certificates that already address energy efficiency in existing homes. The Government will shortly be consulting on a Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, to provide a route map to greener, warmer homes, which will save energy and help householders reduce their fuel bills.

Infrastructure: West Sussex

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Government plans to grant to local authorities in West Sussex for infrastructure spending in the next three years; and if she will make a statement. (248960)

Local authorities in West Sussex are set to receive at least £36.4 million in 2009-10 and £47.6 million in 2010-11 in grants from central Government which can be spent on local infrastructure. Figures for 2011-12 will be dependent on the outcome of the next spending review. In addition, local authorities in West Sussex will receive at least £6.3 million in PFI credits in each of these three years.

Local Area Agreements

23. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the credit crunch on the ability of local authorities to meet their local area agreement targets. (248961)

We are working closely with local authorities as part of the current LAA annual review to address delivery issues and ensure that priorities and targets remain the right ones for each local area in the light of the economic downturn. This will lead to refreshed LAAs in the spring.

New Housing Estimates

24. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of houses to be built in (a) the growth areas and (b) Northamptonshire in 2009-10. (248962)

Planned housing numbers are set out in the published regional spatial strategies, local development frameworks and the associated annual monitoring reports.

Temporary Accommodation

25. To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households are in temporary accommodation. (248963)

As at 30 September 2008 there were 72,130 households in temporary accommodation. This is 13 per cent. lower than at the same time last year. The number of households in temporary accommodation has now fallen for 12 consecutive quarters and is 29 per cent. lower than the peak of 2004.

Building Regulations: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received on the building regulations as they apply to resilience of properties to flooding; and if she will make a statement. (248996)

Officials in my Department have ongoing discussions with a large number of bodies including representatives from local authorities, product manufacturers and the development and insurance industries on this and other issues relating to the building regulations.

Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the summer 2007 floods recommended that

“Building Regulations should be revised to ensure that all new or refurbished buildings in high flood-risk areas are flood resistant or resilient”.

The Government’s response, published in December last year, indicated the Government’s support for this recommendation.

Parts A and C of the building regulations, and the associated guidance, address the requirements on structure and on resistance to contaminants and water (but not currently flooding) that have to be satisfied by most new and refurbished buildings. The Government are currently considering these requirements and how best ‘flood performance’ could be included within amended building regulations. We plan to consult on this in the summer.

Domestic Visits: Wellingborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what capacity she visited Wellingborough constituency on 5 December 2008; whether the costs of her travel were met by the public purse; and whether she travelled by ministerial car. (249681)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited Wellingborough in a non-ministerial capacity. The cost of travel was not met by the public purse and a ministerial car was not used.

Greenbelt: North Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hectares of greenbelt land there were in North Yorkshire in each year since 1997. (247614)

The area of Green Belt land in North Yorkshire for each year for which data is available is presented in the following table.

North Yorkshire

Hectares

1997

56,040

2003

56,730

2004

56,730

2006

58,410

2007

58,450

The first robust estimates of the area of Green Belt land at local authority level were for 1997. In 2003 it was decided to collate Green Belt estimates on an annual basis to monitor the department’s Spending Review 2004 Public Service Agreement 6 indicator. However, figures were not published for 2005 due to the extensive quality assurance necessary in that year.

Home Information Packs

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will use her powers under the Housing Act 2004 to suspend home information packs. (248877)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 322W.

Homelessness: Eastbourne

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in the Eastbourne borough council area were recorded as (a) homeless and (b) rough sleepers in the months of (i) December and (ii) January in each year since 1997. (248829)

Information about English local authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

The hon. Member's question asks for figures for the months of December and January. The total number of households accepted as owed a main homelessness duty (‘acceptances’) are collected on a quarterly rather than monthly basis, and numbers in temporary accommodation are a snapshot as at the end of each quarter. Monthly data are therefore not available, but data are provided in the following tables for the last (October to December) and first (January to March) quarters of each year since 1997:

October to December quarter

Acceptances October to December quarter

Temporary accommodation as at December 31

1997

130

322

1998

133

386

1999

73

327

2000

113

404

2001

79

356

2002

46

327

2003

73

331

2004

73

285

2005

55

144

2006

36

169

2007

46

152

January to March quarter

Acceptances January to March quarter

Temporary accommodation as at March 31

1997

109

252

1998

96

346

1999

119

326

2000

108

339

2001

138

392

2002

52

351

2003

76

274

2004

70

246

2005

35

137

2006

38

145

2007

50

136

2008

28

159

Mid-year rough sleeping estimates have been published annually since 1998, and give a snapshot of the number of people sleeping rough on a single night, based on local authority street counts in those areas where there is a known or suspected rough sleeping problem. Rough sleeping estimates for Eastbourne borough council are shown in the following table.

Number of rough sleepers in Eastbourne borough council (mid-year estimate)

1998

11

1999

3

2000

1

2001

0

2002

0

2003

0

2004

3

2005

3

2006

6

2007

6

2008

0

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless (a) children and (b) adults in the Eastbourne Borough Council area were placed in temporary accommodation in each of the last five years. (248830)

Information about English local authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level, about households rather than individuals.

Data collected includes the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Information on the number of households housed in temporary accommodation is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. The figures include: those households which have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty; those for which inquiries are pending; those being accommodated for a limited period because they have been found intentionally homeless and in priority need; those being accommodated pending possible referral to another authority, and those being accommodated pending the outcome of a local authority review or county court appeal.

The number of dependent children (or expected children) in these households is also collected, but data on the number of adults is not. Figures for total households, households with dependent children and total children reported by the Eastbourne borough council over the last five years are shown in the following table.

Households, households with children, and children in temporary accommodation, as at end March each year

Total households in TA arranged by local authority

Total households in TA arranged with dependent (and expected) children

Total children (and expected children) within these households1

2003-04

246

205

2004-05

137

54

82

2005-06

145

67

100

2006-07

136

76

127

2007-08

159

96

163

1 Children in TA was not collect until the 2nd quarter 2004.

Homes and Communities Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the expected running cost of the Homes and Communities Agency will be in (a) 2008-09 and (b) each of the two subsequent years; how many staff the Agency will employ; how many staff will work on cohesion-related issues; and if she will make a statement. (245525)

The forecast full year running costs for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in 2008-09, and planned budgets for 2009-10 and 2010-11, are £86 million per annum; in addition £4 million is being provided to the HCA in 2009-10 for transitional costs. The HCA has 789 permanent staff (‘full-time equivalent’) currently in post plus 30 staff on secondment to the HCA from my Department, from an establishment of 972 (‘full-time equivalent’). It is not possible, however, to provide an estimate of the number of HCA staff working on cohesion-related issues, as many staff working on housing and regeneration will address cohesion-related issues to some extent in their work as part of the mainstreaming of cohesion into discussions with local partners.

Local Government: Mortgages

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will enable local authorities to advance loans to first-time buyers in the mortgage market. (249475)

Local authorities have existing powers under the Housing Act 1985 to advance loans to people for the purpose of acquiring, constructing or improving a house.

Local Government: VAT

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of local authorities which have adjusted their relevant charges in order to pass on the temporary reduction in value added tax. (249453)

London Pensions Fund Authority: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the annual administration costs of the London Pensions Fund Authority are. (245991)

On the basis of annual statistical returns made by the London Pension Fund Authority, in 2007-08, £14,404,000 was charged to the Authority’s fund to cover the cost of scheme administration.

Non-domestic Rates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether automated valuation model techniques are to be utilised in the proposed business rates revaluation in 2010. (245987)

Automated analytical techniques have been used to a limited extent to assist Valuation Office Agency staff with preparatory work for the 2010 non-domestic rating revaluation. All final valuations are produced by Valuation Office staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Valuation Tribunal Service has a non-domestic rates manual equivalent to that which it has regarding council tax. (246381)

The Valuation Tribunal Service does not have its own non-domestic rates manual, instead it subscribes to, and uses as its reference work for national non-domestic rating, the commercial publication “Ryde on Rating and the Council Tax” published by Lexis Nexis, ISBN 978-1-4057-3119-5.

Non-domestic Rates: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she expects the 2010 business rates revaluation to be revenue-neutral. (246546)

We expect the 2010 business rate revaluation to be revenue-neutral in real terms. The overall national multiplier is reset to ensure the total yield from business rates is unaffected by the revaluation.

Non-domestic Rates: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under what circumstances automated teller machines are liable for empty property business rates. (246388)

An automatic teller machine (ATM) located within a property, which forms part of that operator’s usual business and is controlled by that business, such as an ATM within a bank, is not separately assessed for rates. However, an ATM can be a separately assessed hereditament for rates where it is located in a property and does not form part of that operator’s usual businesses and the operator does not have paramount control over the ATM, such as an ATM at a garage shop.

Any separately assessed hereditament consisting of, or of part of, any building, together with any land ordinarily used or intended for use for the purposes of the building, or part, it may be liable for empty property rates.