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Written Answers

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 21 January 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

To ask the Prime Minister what items in the Donated Asset Reserve 10 Downing Street holds; and what use it is making of (a) jewellery, (b) watches and (c) other items in the holding. (249181)

The Government have published an annual list of gifts received by Ministers in an official capacity valued at more than £140 since 2001. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. The list makes clear which gifts are held by Government Departments. The arrangements for the handling of gifts are set out in chapter 7 of the Ministerial Code.

Church of England

To ask the Prime Minister what recent representations he has received from Church of England bishops on Government economic and social policy. (249640)

I have regular discussions with a wide range of organisations and individuals, including the clergy.

Domestic Visits: Costs

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what the cost to the public purse of the hotel accommodation for (a) the Prime Minister and (b) his special advisers was during visits around the UK between 7 and 9 January 2009; (247931)

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the three day tour he undertook between 7 and 9 January 2009.

The information requested is not yet available. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code.

To ask the Prime Minister whether entry fees were charged for events held during his UK tour between 7 and 9 January 2009. (248047)

Ministers

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to conduct exit interviews with Ministers leaving Government; and if he will conduct an exit interview with Lord Jones of Birmingham to discuss the noble Lord's experiences as a Minister. (249500)

Specialist Schools and Academies Trust

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make publicly available a full transcript of his speech to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust on 24 June 2008. (248512)

A transcript of my speech is available on the No. 10 website:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page16129

House of Commons Commission

Members: Offices

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many (a) hon. Members and (b) staff of hon. Members have an office in (i) 1 Parliament Street, (ii) Norman Shaw North, (iii) Norman Shaw South, (iv) the Palace of Westminster, (v) 7 Millbank and (vi) Portcullis House. Full information on accommodation allocations on the House of Commons estate was given in the Third Report of the Select Committee on Administration Session 2005-06 HC1279 in June 2006. Updated information is as follows:

Hon. Members:

Parliament Street: 59 Members

Norman Shaw North: 103 Members

Norman Shaw South: 45 Members

Palace of Westminster: 238 Members

Portcullis House: 208 Members

Staff of hon. Members are not allocated rooms. Some have desks in rooms allocated to their employing Member, some have desks in suited rooms adjoining those of their employing Member and some have desks in shared accommodation occupied by the staff of more than one Member. The number of Members' staff fluctuates constantly and it is therefore difficult to give an exact figure for the number accommodated on the parliamentary estate. The figures for the number of desks occupied by Members' staff stated in the Administration Committee's report are as follows:

1 Parliament Street: 125

Norman Shaw North: 267

Norman Shaw South: 145

Palace of Westminster: 288

Portcullis House: 405

Hon. Members and their staff are not accommodated in 7 Millbank. (248140)

Energy and Climate Change

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will make it his policy to ensure that those temporary and permanent employees at the same grade in his Department who are paid at an hourly rate are paid at the same rate. (244394)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which was formed on 3 October 2008, will consist of posts transferred from the existing Departments for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The detail is still being worked on, but staff will come to DECC from Energy Group in BERR and Climate Change Group in DEFRA. All DECC staff, including those in the corporate centre, are currently on either the BERR or DEFRA terms and conditions. Given that, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) on 13 January 2009, Official Report, column reference 594W and by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 14 January 2009, Official Report, column 757W.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many people were required to make contributions towards the cost of work carried out under the Warm Front scheme in Essex in each of the last five years; and what the average contribution was. (243816)

The information requested is available from the beginning of the current phase of Warm Front, which commenced in 2005. The figures shown as follows are from 1 June 2005 until end of October 2008.

Number of customers in Essex who made an additional contribution

Average customer contribution (£)

2005-06

304

412.95

2006-07

948

519.02

2007-08

2,114

608.02

2008-09

1,429

640.45

Nuclear Power: Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which external consultants have been engaged by (a) the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and (b) the Nuclear Directorate in connection with the generic design assessment. (242506)

I have been asked to reply.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has engaged the following main group of external consultants in connection with the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) work:

IAEA

Washington E&C Ltd.

EPRI

Health Protection Agency

Morson International

Imperial College London

OECD-NEA

AMEC

Atkins Nuclear

A number of individuals have been engaged to form the Project Review Board, namely Mr. David Hughes, Professor John Raine, Mr. Bernard Whittle and Mr. Phillip Woodward. Additionally Mr. James Furness has been engaged as Project Assurance Officer.

It is the intention of the HSE's NII to employ other Technical Support Contractors throughout the GDA process to aid in the provision of supplementary data and information on the reactor designs. HSE are currently undertaking an open procurement process in line with EU guidance/regulations to identify and appoint such contractors.

Warm Front Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many contractors have left the Warm Front scheme in each of the last six months. (243463)

Transport

Aviation: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds for benchmarking purposes on restrictions imposed by other countries on passengers carrying liquids on aeroplanes. (248505)

Liquid restrictions are in place at all EC airports as required under EC aviation security regulations. In late 2006 the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) issued a recommendation to each of its 190 contracting states that restrictions on the hand carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) through security search points should be imposed. Most major states have applied such restrictions, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many appeals bus operators have made in respect of the rate of reimbursement for concessionary fares since April 2008; how many of these appeals (a) have been successful, (b) have been rejected and (c) are still outstanding; and what estimate he has made of the average cost to his Department of (i) processing and (ii) resolving an appeal of this type. (249539)

There were 100 appeals by bus operators about reimbursement arrangements in 2008-09, of which five were not valid and 52 were later withdrawn. Of the 43 appeals remaining, by 19 January, 11 appeals have been determined by independent adjudicators appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. Of these appeals, five were upheld and six were dismissed. A further 32 appeals remain to be determined. It is intended to issue the majority of those determinations by the end of January.

The average cost of processing and resolving an appeal takes account of four officials working full-time for about half of the year on casework, the fees of consultants and the two independent adjudicators. The cost per appeal determined is estimated to be approximately £6,000.

Commuters: Hemel Hempstead

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what incentives are offered to people travelling to work in Hemel Hempstead to reduce the environmental impact of that travel. (249472)

The policies and objectives in Hertfordshire county council’s Local Transport Plan aim to encourage the use of alternatives to the car in order to protect the environment. Implementation is carried out through a variety of methods, including the improvement of public transport, the development of new cycling routes and working with local employers to encourage their staff to travel more sustainably. The Hemel Hempstead Urban Transport Plan includes a number of proposed measures including the development of travel plans for Hemel Hempstead railway station and the hospital, proactively encouraging the development of car clubs and establishing a project to provide individual households with travel planning advice.

Cycling: Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure the protection of pedestrians from cyclists. (249825)

We advise all road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, of the need to be aware of others and be considerate of their needs. The main source of this advice is the Highway Code, which sets out road traffic law and advice for safe road users. It includes specific sections for cyclists and for pedestrians. The rules for cyclists make clear that they must not cycle on the pavement as this is an offence. It also provides advice on taking care of pedestrians in those areas where cyclists and pedestrians share space, such as unsegregated cycle tracks. In addition the Department for Transport provides local authorities with guidance on the planning and design of facilities used by pedestrians and cyclists including shared use.

Departmental Languages

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport 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. (248073)

The central Department and its agencies recorded no instances where Ministers have received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months.

The following table provides a break down of civil servants within the Department and its agencies who have received coaching in a foreign language.

Delegates attendedLanguage(s)Cost (£)

DFT (C)

Not available

French, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian and German

£6.50 -£8.00 per hour

DVLA

0

HA

1

Dutch

700.00

MCA

1

Spanish

314.00

VGA

0

VOSA

1

Welsh

144.00

GCDA

0

Driver Information Systems: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what conditions his Department has applied to the issue of licences for dynamic route guidance systems. (249322)

Those seeking licences have been obliged to submit to an independent assessment, commissioned by the Department for Transport, of the adequacy of the drivers’ interaction with the equipment (with the aim of ensuring that the risk of driver distraction has been minimised). Assurance that the relevant product categorises roads appropriately for routeing has also been required and the licences issued have themselves included various requirements regarding for example record-keeping.

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many instances of misuse of government procurement cards within the Government Car and Despatch Agency have been recorded since 1 January 2006; what the amount involved in each such instance was; and which disciplinary measures have been applied as a result of such instances. (247513)

The Government Procurement Card (GPC) was introduced into the Government Car and Despatch Agency on 1 April 2006. Since that time the following incidents of misuse of the GPC have been recorded:

Number of incidents

Value

Action taken

13

Less than £10

Monies recovered and warning letters issued

5

£10 to £20

Monies recovered and warning letters issued

2

£20 to £50

Monies recovered and warning letters issued

1

£20 to £50

Charged with Gross Misconduct, monies recovered

1

£50 to £100

Monies recovered and warning letters issued

2

More than £100

Monies recovered and warning letters issued

1

More than £100

Charged with Gross Misconduct, monies recovered

Great Western Railway: Electrification

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the time frame is for the electrification of the Great Western main line from London, Paddington to Bristol (a) Temple Meads and (b) Parkway stations. (249691)

The Department for Transport is working closely with the rail industry to examine the case for further rail electrification. A decision on the electrification of the Great Western Main Line will be announced later this year, alongside decisions on the deployment of the new Intercity Express trains.

Heathrow Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department’s assessment of the economic case for expansion at Heathrow takes account of projected income from air passenger duty. (249317)

The economic case for expansion is set out in the recently published document Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport—Impact Assessment (January 2009). This assessment includes among other things the air passenger duty revenues from additional non-transfer passengers that are forecast to use the additional capacity.

A copy of the impact assessment is available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/heathrowconsultations/heathrowdecision/impactassessment/.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account his Department has taken of (a) mineral reserves contained within the proposed Heathrow Expansion Area and (b) the possible impact upon the supply of sand and gravel for London’s construction industry in its consideration of plans for a possible third runway. (249324)

A thorough assessment of historic mapping, aerial photographs and visual appraisal, found that around 43 per cent. of the proposed site area had been quarried for gravel extraction. This assessment is set out on page 31 of the “Adding Capacity at Heathrow - 2008 Historic Environment Appraisal”, available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/heathrowconsultations/heathrowdecision/historicenvironment/

No formal assessment has been made of the impact of additional capacity on the supply of sand and gravel for London’s construction industry. The impact assessment includes estimates of the costs of construction of a third runway. This is a comprehensive assessment, which includes the cost of sand and gravel, and is available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/heathrowconsultations/heathrowdecision/impactassessment/

Olympic Route Network

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which roads in Wandsworth have been identified as part of the Olympic Route Network (ORN), broken down by (a) core ORN, (b) venue specific ORN, (c) alternative routes ORN and (d) preferred training venues ORN. (248051)

The following table lists the roads in the London borough of Wandsworth that are part of the proposed Olympic Route Network (ORN). Each road is categorised according whether it is part of the venue specific ORN or alternative routes ORN. None of the roads in Wandsworth are part of the core ORN or the preferred training venues ORN.

London borough of Wandsworth

Venue Specific ORN

A217

Armoury Way

all

Fairfield Street

Swandon Way

Wandsworth High Street

Old York Road

Armoury Way

Fairfield Street

Swandon Way

all

A219

Wimbledon Park Side

West Hill

Parkside

Parkside

Wimbledon Park Side

Borough boundary with Merton

A3

Wandsworth High Street

Fairfield Street

West Hill

West Hill

Wandsworth High Street

Wimbledon Park Side

A3205

York Road

all

Parry Street

Borough boundary with Lambeth

Nine Elms Lane

Nine Elms Lane

all

Battersea Park Road

all

A3209

Putney Bridge Road

West Hill

Armoury Way

Alternative Route ORN

A205

Clapham Common West Side

all

The Avenue

Clapham Common North Side

Clapham Common South Side

A218

Merton Road

Buckhold Road

Granville Road

Buckhold Road

all

A219

Tibbett's Ride

all

Putney Hill

all

Putney High Street

all

Putney Bridge Approach

Borough boundary with Hammersmith and Fulham

Putney High Street

A3

Huguenot Place

all

North Side Wandsworth Common

all

Battersea Rise

all

Clapham Common North Side

Borough boundary with Lambeth

Battersea Rise

East Hill

Marcilly Road

East Hill

A3036

Queenstown Road

Borough boundary with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea

Battersea Park Road

A3216

Queen's Circus

all

Church Road

Borough boundary with Merton

Wimbledon Park Road

Granville Road

Wimbledon Park Road

Merton Road

Marcilly Road

all

Wimbledon Park Road

Granville Road

Church Road

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the average level of peak hour overcrowding on trains into the cities of (a) London, (b) Manchester, (c) Leeds, (d) Sheffield, (e) Liverpool, (f) Birmingham, (g) Glasgow, (h) Bristol, (i) Cardiff and (j) Nottingham in each of the last five years. (248626)

Data are only collected and routinely provided to the Department for Transport by train operators serving the London and South East commuter market. Crowding data have not been consistently collected for the other cities mentioned for the period sought and are not available.

The information requested for train operators serving the London and South East commuter market is currently published annually in aggregated form by the Office for Rail Regulation within its “National Rail Trends Yearbook” and are available on the Office of Rail Regulation website at:

www.rail-reg.gov.uk.

The latest published data relate to passenger counts carried out by train operators in autumn 2007.

Railways: Adlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what reasons Network Rail have provided to his Department for re-routing more trains from Adlington to Manchester Victoria as opposed to Manchester Piccadilly under the new timetable introduced on 13 December 2008. (248370)

The Department for Transport in conjunction with Northern Rail, worked through timetable solutions with Network rail, to accommodate the enhanced West Coast timetable. Moving trains to Manchester Victoria was as a result of extra capacity at this station, becoming available. This is seen as an overall improvement which has led to an increase of 45 per cent. in additional capacity on long distance services.

Railways: Delays

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the financial effect on the economy of delays to rail services in (a) England and (b) Yorkshire and the Humber in 2008-09. (247314)

Railways: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans he has to increase capital expenditure on rail links as part of the Government's plans to create up to 100,000 new jobs through public works; (248743)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of jobs that will be created by increased funding for new rail links in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011 under the Government's plans to create up to 100,000 new jobs through public works; and what proportion of those jobs he estimates will go to British workers.

The July 2007 Rail White Paper set out the Government's commitment of £10 billion towards increasing capacity on the rail network over the next five years, including improvements to the infrastructure.

In the pre-Budget report in November, the Government announced that they are bringing forward £3 billion of capital spending from 2010-11 to 2008-09 and 2009-10. The package included £300 million to accelerate the delivery of up to 200 new carriages to expand capacity on the rail network and an extra £54 million to help enhance the North London rail line to increase the long-term freight capacity of this vital cross-London rail route.

It is not yet possible to say how many jobs will be created in developing rail links in the next three years but British suppliers will be well placed to compete for this work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 1097W, what the reasons are for the differential treatment of light rail and non-light rail local transport schemes; and if he will make a statement. (249327)

The reason for the difference in local contribution requirements is due to the scale, complexity and cost of light rail projects and the importance of ensuring commitment from promoters.

Railways: Freight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps his Department has taken to encourage support for projects of strategic national importance, with particular reference to rail freight interchanges. (249769)

The Planning Act 2008 creates the framework for a clearer and more efficient system for considering the development of strategic rail freight interchanges. The Department for Transport also makes available capital grants for such infrastructure through the Freight Facilities Grant scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and HM Treasury on financial support for rail freight interchanges. (249770)

None. Investment in rail freight interchanges is a matter for the private sector. However, the Sustainable Distribution Fund makes funding available through the established Freight Facilities Grant scheme for rail freight interchanges where they remove lorry journeys from the roads.

Railways: Police

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how British Transport Police apply the provisions of section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 to railway property; and if he will make a statement. (249332)

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport police who can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, E-mail:

parliament@btp.pnn.police.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of stops made by British Transport Police on railway property between October 2007 and September 2008 resulted in (a) an arrest and (b) a conviction. (249333)

This information is not held by the Department for Transport, but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, E-mail:

parliament@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Railways: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the financial and planning implications of the recently announced improvements to the rail system from London to Scotland. (249548)

“High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd.” will help consider the case for new high speed services from London to Scotland. As a first stage, the company will develop a proposal for an entirely new line between London and the West Midlands, and will report to Ministers by the end of the year. This will include costs and benefits of a proposed route, and financing options.

The Government intend to work closely with the devolved administrations in respect of the implications of the proposal.

Statutory consents for any type of cross-border rail project would be handled in accordance with the devolution settlement.

Road Signs and Markings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department issues to local highway authorities on the use of No Pedestrians signs. (249320)

The Department for Transport’s Traffic Signs Manual (Chapter 3—Regulatory Signs) provides detailed guidance to local highway authorities on the correct design and use of the ‘pedestrians prohibited’ sign. The document is on the Department’s website at the following address:

www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tss/tsmanual/tsmchapter3.pdf

Road Traffic: Gloucestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions the Department has had with Gloucestershire County Council on the latter's lorry strategy. (248240)

The Department for Transport has had no discussions with Gloucestershire county council regarding its lorry strategy.

Rolling Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new carriages have been procured for (a) Northern Rail, (b) London Midland and the preceding franchise covering the West Midlands and (c) the franchises that provide commuter services in London and the South East in each of the last five years. (248629)

The following number of new carriages have been procured for (a) Northern Rail, (b) London Midland and the preceding franchise covering the West Midlands and (c) the franchises that provide commuter services in London and the South East in each of the last five years.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

(a)

0

0

0

0

0

(b)

120

0

0

219

0

(c)

0

180

220

84

96

The total number of new vehicles procured for commuter services operated by franchises or concessions in England between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2008 is as shown in the following table.

Train operator

Class

Ordered

Number of vehicles

Entry into service

Silverlink (now London Midland)

350/1

August 2004

120

2005

Chiltern Railway

168/2

May 2005

6

2006

SET

395

June 2005

174

2009

South West Trains

450

February 2006

68

2006

TfL

378

August 2006

152

2009

Southern

377/5

May 2007

48

2009

London Midland

350/2

August 2007

148

2008

London Midland

139

November 2007

2

2009

TfL

378

November 2007

36

2010

London Midland

172

December 2007

69

2010

Chiltern Railway

172

January 2008

8

2010

TfL

172

January 2008

16

2010

Southern

377/5

March 2008

44

2009

TfL

378

April 2008

28

2010

Trams: Sheffield

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimates he has made of the cost of the tram-train trial on the Sheffield to Huddersfield line. (248678)

Network Rail will spend £15 million in track improvements and alterations to stations as part of the trial and the Department for Transport will contribute £9 million to fund the operation of the trial.

Travel: Leisure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of leisure journeys in Great Britain were taken by those aged (a) under 16, (b) between 18 and 19, (c) between 20 and 24, (d) between 25 and 34, (e) between 35 and 44, (f) between 45 and 59, (g) 60 and 64, (h) between 65 and 69 and (i) 70 years or over in each year since 1997. (249319)

Data from the National Travel Survey on the percentage of leisure journeys made in Great Britain by age from 1996-98 to 2006 are given in the following table.

Age (years)

0-16

17-19

20-24

25-34

35-44

45-59

60-64

65-69

70 and over

Total

1996-98

21

4

7

17

13

19

5

5

9

100

1997-99

21

4

7

16

14

19

5

5

9

100

1998-2000

21

4

7

16

14

19

5

6

9

100

1999-2001

21

4

7

15

14

19

6

6

9

100

2002

22

4

7

13

15

20

6

5

9

100

2003

23

4

6

14

15

19

6

5

9

100

2004

22

4

6

12

15

19

6

6

9

100

2005

23

4

6

13

15

19

6

5

9

100

2006

22

4

6

13

15

20

6

5

9

100

Note:

Leisure includes: Visiting friends at private home, Visiting friends elsewhere, Entertainment/public activity, Sport: participate, Holiday: base, Day trip and Other inc. just walk.

Waterloo Station

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his most recent estimate is of the cost of the track works outside Waterloo station required to bring the old Eurostar platforms into use for commuter services; and what the annual cost of maintaining these platforms is. (249043)

Network Rail is currently developing the options and undertaking the detailed cost analysis of carrying out the works to bring the old Eurostar platforms into use for domestic services. The cost analysis should be available in the spring.

The platforms at Waterloo International are an integral part of the terminal building which is operated and managed by BRB (Residuary) Ltd (BRBR) as a single site. As such it is not possible to accurately determine the cost of maintaining the platforms on a stand alone basis. The total annual costs of managing the entire facility are in the order of £2.5 million. These costs are partially offset by rental income of approximately £340,000 per annum and BRBR are looking for further opportunities to generate income while the terminal is non-operational.

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Debt Collection

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government takes to monitor the debt collection strategies of bailiffs appointed by the Child Support Agency. (241926)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government takes to monitor the debt collection strategies of bailiffs appointed by the Child Support Agency. (241926)

All bailiff firms, including those providing services to the Child Support Agency, must comply with the National Standards for Enforcement Agents, a set of common standards produced by the Government as a code of practice.

The Child Support Agency also has a framework agreement with its bailiff service providers. This agreement set out the performance standards expected by the Agency and covers operations, compliance and complaints. In addition to a series of formal quarterly contract meetings, to review performance, the Agency remains in close contact with its bailiff service provider in order to resolve issues as they arise.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Child Support Agency: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects the transfer of historical child maintenance cases on to the Child Support Agency's new system for calculating maintenance payments to be complete. (249016)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he expects the transfer of historical child maintenance cases onto the Child Support Agency's new system for calculating maintenance payments to be complete. [249016]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for all Child Support Agency functions, assets and people from 1 November 2008. All existing Agency clients have the option either to agree a private maintenance arrangement or to remain within the current schemes until the new gross income statutory maintenance scheme is introduced.

The Commission expects to introduce the new gross income statutory maintenance scheme in 2011 and all Agency clients on both schemes will then be invited either to apply to the new gross income scheme or to make a private arrangement. It is currently planned that this process will take around three years.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) mean and (b) median number of days was for child maintenance to be sent to parents with care after the non-resident parent had made payment (i) in the most recent period for which figures are available and (ii) over the last three years. (245228)

[holding answer 18 December 2008]: The administration of the child maintenance system is a matter for the Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) mean and (b) median number of days was for child maintenance to be sent to parents with care after the non-resident parent had made payment in (i) the most recent period for which figures are available and (ii) all such periods over the last three years. [245228]

The information requested is provided in the attached table, which sets out the time between a receipt arriving in the Agency’s bank account and the Agency forwarding payment to the parent with care for all cases held on the current computer system (CS2). The table shows at September 2008, the mean and median number of days it has taken for receipts received between September 2006 and September 2009 to be paid out by the Agency to the parent with care. This represents 70% of the Agency caseload. Management information is not available for the 30% of cases held on the old computer system (CSCS).

The table also shows improvements made since the introduction of the Agency’s Operational Improvement Plan in 2006, on the length of time it takes the Agency to allocate maintenance, which includes the minority of payments where there has been significant delay.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

The mean and median number of days for child maintenance to be forwarded to the parents with care after the non-resident parent made payment, from September 2006-09

Receipt received

Mean days

Median days

September 2006

13.2

2

October 2006

12.0

2

November 2006

11.9

2

December 2006

11.5

2

January 2007

9.9

2

February 2007

9.7

2

March 2007

9.2

2

April 2007

9.3

2

May 2007

8.5

2

June 2007

7.5

2

July 2007

7.4

2

August 2007

7.3

2

September 2007

7.4

2

October 2007

6.9

2

November 2007

5.8

2

December 2007

5.3

2

January 2008

4.7

2

February 2008

4.3

2

March 2008

4.4

2

April 2008

3.9

2

May 2008

4.1

2

June 2008

3.5

2

July 2008

3.4

2

August 2008

2.9

2

September 2008

2.2

1

Notes:

1. Only includes receipts and payments for cases held on the current computer system (CS2) and represents 70 per cent. of the Agency caseload. Management information is not available for the 30 per cent. of cases held on the old computer system (CSCS).

2. Information provided calculates time between receipt arriving in Agency’s bank account and the Agency forwarding payment to the parent with care.

3. Mean—the average number of days taken, which will take into account all payments, including the minority of payments where there has been a significant delay, and as such can be significantly altered by a few extreme cases.

Median—the middle figure in a series.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what proportion of new claims for (a) income support and (b) jobseeker's allowance by parents with care the applicant opted to apply to the Child Support Agency for child maintenance in each of the last three years. (249026)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 21 January 2009:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in what proportion of cases of new claims for (a) income support and (b) jobseeker's allowance by parents with care the applicant opted to apply to the Child Support Agency for child maintenance in each of the last three years. [249026]

Section 6 of the Child Support Act 1991 made provision for a claim to relevant benefits by a parent with care to be treated as an application for child maintenance. Therefore, all parents with care making a new claim to Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance would be classed as opting to also apply to the Child Support Agency for child maintenance.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 repealed Section 6 of the Child Support Act 1991, removing this compulsion for all new claims to benefit from 14 July 2008 and for all existing cases from 27 October 2008. Information on the proportion of parents with care who have made a new claim to Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance since 14 July 2008 and who subsequently decide to make an application for child maintenance is not yet available.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Crisis Loans: Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what proportion of calls to the Crisis Loan Helpline have been dropped or cut off before being answered in each of the last 12 months; (248605)

(2) how long it has taken to answer calls to the Crisis Loan Helpline on average in each of the last 12 months.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons his Department's customer information system does not meet Cabinet Office rules for personal data. (249656)

The Cabinet Office's requirements for accreditation apply only to IT systems which were introduced after 1 July 2008.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place a copy of his Department's IT strategy in the Library. (246678)

The Department's IT strategy is available to the public, and will be placed in the Library. It consists of two documents:

(1) The IS/IT Strategy brief—this document provides the overarching principles the Department will apply to all IT decisions and answers questions regarding how the Department will deliver its IT.

(2) The Strategy for Business IT Services—this document provides a view of the IT capabilities that are required for the Department's business over a 10-year period and answers questions regarding what the Department will be delivering.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place a copy of his Department's skills framework for IT staff in the Library. (246679)

The Department uses the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), which has been adopted by the Government IT profession. A copy of the current (December 2008) version will be placed in the Library.

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of invoices for goods and services procured from small and medium-sized businesses were paid within 10 days of receipt by (a) his Department and (b) the agencies for which his Department is responsible in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (243360)

Until October 2008 the Department for Work and Pensions was required to monitor and publish payment performance against a 30-day payment target and does not therefore currently publish information about payment within 10 days. However, following the PM's commitment of 8 October that central Government Departments will make payment within 10 days, we will additionally report 10-day payment performance from the period January to March 2009.

The Department for Work and Pensions does not currently publish information about size of suppliers. We do not discriminate by size because many SMEs can be found within larger supply chains.

The Department for Work and Pensions welcomes the statement by the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions on 8 October 2008 and the Department has made changes to its payment process in order to meet this commitment as soon as possible.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether representations will be invited from officers in local authorities’ strategic housing and homeless services when the local housing allowance is reviewed by his Department. (248700)

[holding answer 20 January 2009]: As part of the two year review of the local housing allowance, we have begun to engage with local authorities, including on issues of homelessness. If there is specific written evidence that officers in local authorities’ strategic housing and homeless services would like to submit, then this will be welcomed.

Industrial Health and Safety: Arthritis

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will commission research into the effects on expenditure on benefits of patients with rheumatoid arthritis receiving treatment that enables them to continue to work or return to work. (247295)

I refer the hon. Member to the oral answer I gave her on 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 4.

Industrial Health and Safety: Qualifications

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the recommendations of the 2006 Carpenter Report, if he will support a set of core criteria for health and safety pre-qualifications, as a baseline for recognising competences across different pre-qualification schemes. (246829)

The Government already support a set of core criteria for assessing the competence of individuals and organisations prior to their appointment to carry out construction work. They are set out in the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) which provides advice on compliance with the provisions of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM2007). These core criteria are based on the criteria recommended in the Carpenter Report. As well as forming part of the practical advice that the ACoP provides on compliance with the competency provisions of CDM2007, the core criteria aim to provide a basis for simplifying the wide variety of competence assurance schemes operated by the construction industry. Since publication of the ACoP, the Government have supported the work the industry is doing to both raise standards and simplify assessments in this area.

Pension Funds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on pensioners of the Government Actuary’s decision to reduce draw-down rates from pension funds; and if he will make a statement. (247211)

I have been asked to reply.

Tables drawn up by the Government Actuary’s Department on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) determine the rates for income withdrawal rates from pension funds. The current tables took effect on 6 April 2006 and have not subsequently been changed by the Government’s Actuary. The tables are used to calculate the maximum level of unsecured pension or alternatively secured pension that may be paid in light of the pensioner’s age, gender and the prevailing yield figure on UK gilts. The rates of pension that can be provided using these tables have changed along with movement in gilt yields.

Flexibility in the withdrawal rules allows pension schemes to pay between 0 and 120 per cent. of amounts shown by the Government Actuary’s tables to members under the age of 75, and so, in most cases, to pay as much income as if an annuity had been purchased.

Poverty: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to reduce levels of relative child poverty in (a) the Vale of York and (b) England. (247608)

We have made substantial progress in tackling child poverty. 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty since 1998-99. As a result of the support we have introduced, families with children in the poorest fifth of the population, including those in the Vale of York, are, on average, £4,100 a year better off than in 1997. The measures we announced in the pre-Budget report 2008 will increase this to £4,400 from April 2009. In addition, Government measures over the past two years will result in lifting around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty. Our plans for reducing levels of child poverty in England were set out in ‘Ending child poverty: everybody's business’ which is available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children classified as being in relative child poverty were of (a) white, (b) Pakistani or Bangladeshi and (c) black non-Caribbean ethnicity in (i) the Vale of York and (ii) England in the latest period for which information is available. (247611)

Available information is given in the table. Child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of children in relative poverty at Government Office Region level or for Inner or Outer London. This means information for the Vale of York is not available.

Numbers of children living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of median from 2004-05 to 2006-07 for white, Pakistani/Bangladeshi and black non-Caribbean ethnic groups, before housing costs, England

Ethnic group of household reference person

Number of children (million)

White

1.7

Pakistani/Bangladeshi

0.2

Black non-Caribbean

0.1

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income, sourced from the Family Resources Survey.

2. Small differences should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.

3. The reference period for Households Below Average Income figures are single financial years. Three sample years have been combined as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility.

4. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication 'Households Below Average Income' series, which uses net disposable household income, adjusted (or "equivalised") for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.

5. Incomes have been equivalised using OECD equivalisation factors.

6. Numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 children.

7. Children have been classified according to the ethnic group of the household reference person. The household reference person is classified as the highest income householder without regard to gender. This is consistent with the Households below Average Income publication.

Source:

Households Below Average Income, 2006-07

Social Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the contribution credit unions can make to the delivery of the Government's social fund; and what discussions he has had on this matter. (248161)

An informal consultation paper, “Social Fund: A New Approach” was published on 1 December 2008 discussing a number of reforms to the social fund. One of the reforms on which initial views were sought was contracting with credit unions or other external organisations to provide credit in place of social fund loans. The intention is to move from a scheme that provides only loans to people on benefit to one that also connects our customers to organisations with whom they can maintain a relationship when they move off benefit and into work which could include better financial advice and support. The views expressed through the consultation, including those from the Credit Union movement, will inform the next steps in developing this type of scheme.

In the mean time the Government are taking the opportunity offered by the Welfare' Reform Bill to take powers to work in partnership with organisations capable of delivering interest free external provider social loans.

Social Fund: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each London borough received a crisis loan in each of the last five years. (247033)

Social Fund: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was for decisions to be taken on crisis loan applications in Lancashire in each month of 2008; and if he will make a statement. (247430)

The information requested is not available.

Crisis loan applications for Lancashire are processed at Chorlton benefit delivery centre. However, Chorlton benefit delivery centre does not only process applications from Lancashire.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Targeting Benefit Thieves section of his Department’s website costs to run each year; and what the initial implementation cost of this section of the website was. (249019)

There are no separately quantifiable set-up or running costs for the Targeting Benefit Thieves section of the Department’s website.

Maintenance of DWP websites is mostly carried out by the Department’s own in-house digital media team. It is not possible for us to quantify internal staff costs, because in most cases, staff are engaged in more than one role. In addition, we are unable to establish accurately our infrastructure costs because they form part of a wider departmental IT contract.

DWP is currently working with the COI to develop a standardised method for quantifying website costs across Government. We will be implementing this standard from March 2009 in line with the current timetable.

Social Security Benefits: Overseas Residence

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 15 December 2008, Official Report, columns 419-20W, on social security benefits: overseas residence, what the outcomes of his Department’s consideration of the implications of the European Court’s decision are for UK citizens who live in another EEA state area or in Switzerland and who wish to claim a disability benefit; and if he will make a statement. (249398)

We expect to set out entitlement conditions for those wishing to claim from abroad shortly. The Directgov website will be updated at that time. The site can be found at:

www.direct.gov.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 15 December 2008, Official Report, column 420W, on social security benefits: overseas residence, how many of the 1,700 requests for payment of (a) disability living allowance (care component), (b) attendance allowance and (c) carers' allowance made by people who previously lived in the UK and are now living in another EEA state or Switzerland have been granted; and if he will make a statement. (249454)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 982W.

Working Conditions: Temperature

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to issue guidelines to employers on reducing exposure of employees to high temperatures in the workplace. (249053)

[holding answer 15 January 2009]: Guidance is already available to employers in ‘Heat stress in the workplace. What you need to know as an employer’ and in detailed supporting information which is on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Northern Ireland

Fuel Smuggling

5. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the quantity of fuel smuggled between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. (248303)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent estimate he has made of the trends in the level of fuel smuggling into Northern Ireland. (248304)

Latest HMRC figures indicate that the amount of fuel used but not sourced in NI is reducing. However, the OCTF is not complacent, during 2007-08 HMRC seized 0.82 million litres of fuel, disrupted eight laundering plants and seized 844 vehicles.

Unemployment

6. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the most recent Northern Ireland quarterly employment survey findings on levels of unemployment in Northern Ireland. (248305)

While this is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland Ministers, I understand from the statistics that have been published today that the seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in Northern Ireland stands at 35,900 which represents an unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent.

Saville Inquiry

7. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent estimate he has made of the final cost of the Saville inquiry. (248306)

I have taken urgent steps to ensure the remaining running costs are kept as low as possible. A package of measures has been agreed with the inquiry to reduce the projected cost by approximately £1 million—a 20 per cent. reduction for the remaining stages. The revised estimated final cost is now £190 million.

Security Situation

8. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the threat to security in Northern Ireland arising from the recent threat by the Real IRA to fight the long war. (248307)

As the Chief Constable and Garda Commissioner have indicated, dissident republicans remain a serious and continuing threat with a determination to kill or injure police officers. These criminal gangs are isolated within the wider community and law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border remain resolute in their determination to tackle such criminality.

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland. (248310)

Dissident republicans remain active and committed to killing or injuring police officers. Progress from loyalists towards decommissioning has been disappointing and I would again encourage them to take advantage of the extension to the decommissioning amnesty.

Public Spending

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions the Government had in June 2008 with representatives of the Democratic Unionist party on public spending in Northern Ireland. (248308)

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions the Government had in June 2008 with representatives of the Democratic Unionist party on public spending in Northern Ireland. (248309)

I have regular meetings with all the Northern Ireland political parties which cover a range of issues relating to Northern Ireland. These discussions have included the post-devolution policing and justice budget. However, public spending on devolved matters is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Offenders

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent steps he has taken to strengthen the supervision of offenders following their release from prison. (248311)

The statutory arrangements for the supervision of offenders are kept under regular review. I am introducing a range of new measures to strengthen the management of offenders and protect the public. This includes: tightening the framework for managing dangerous offenders; increasing the scope of offender supervision; and implementing new technology.

Policing and Justice: Devolution

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what account he plans to take of the discovery of Semtex and detonators in the Republic of Ireland in December 2008 in his plans for devolution of policing and justice responsibility. (248312)

While I have no reason to believe this find is inconsistent with the previous comments made by the IMC, the Commission will wish to consider carefully the outcome of the Garda investigation when it is complete.

Economic Situation

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the economic situation in Northern Ireland. (248313)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with Northern Ireland Ministers on a wide range of subjects including economic matters, which are of course devolved. I met the Minister for Finance and Personnel yesterday to discuss economic matters relating to Northern Ireland.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 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 1997. (248257)

Electronic Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 12 November 2008, Official Report, column 1211W, on electronic equipment, for what reasons electronic equipment with a value of more than £1,000 is classed as capital expenditure. (243437)

Electronic equipment with a value of more than £1,000 is classed as capital expenditure in line with the departmental accounting policy which sets the threshold for capitalising items at £1,000.

Prisoners: Per Capita Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average daily cost of keeping a person in prison in Northern Ireland was in the last period for which figures are available. (247044)

Scotland

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland 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. (249126)

The Scotland Office has not answered any written questions when the cost of preparing the answer would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold as the Minister did not believe it to be in the public interest to answer such questions irrespective of cost.

Defence

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the strength of reserve units in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces based in Ashford constituency is; and how many personnel from such units have been deployed on operations overseas in the last 12 months. (249189)

There are two Territorial Army sub-units of 103 Battalion REME in Ashford, namely 133 Workshop Company, REME and 103 Battalion REME Stores Section RLC. The units have a strength of 79 and nine personnel respectively. During the last 12 months, five members from those units were deployed on operations overseas.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) directly-operated and (b) franchised catering outlets his Department and its agencies provides for staff. (249071)

This information is not held in the format requested. Catering in MOD establishments is usually provided as part of facility management multi-activity contracts, or is contracted out under the Pay As You Dine initiative. Details of the outlets are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. (249137)

European Fighter Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when firm orders will be placed for Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft; in what respects their capabilities will differ from Tranche 1 aircraft; and if he will make a statement. (248632)

The contract for Typhoon Tranche 2 was signed in December 2004 and the first deliveries of aircraft from that tranche commenced in October 2008.

Tranche 1 aircraft are optimised for air-to-air combat; an air-to-surface capability has also been integrated and was declared combat ready by the RAF in July 2008. In common with the Tranche 1 specification, Tranche 2 aircraft have air-to-air capability, and an enhanced air-to-surface capability is scheduled to be integrated on Tranche 2 aircraft from 2012. Negotiations with partner nations and industry are continuing on the Typhoon Tranche 3 contract and decisions will be taken once these negotiations are complete.

NATO Response Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units form the British commitment to the NATO Response Force in 2009. (249734)

From January to June 2009, the UK’s commitment to the NATO Response Force is a Maritime Component Command Flagship with Destroyer/Frigate escort, Mine Hunter and associated logistic support (an Auxiliary Repair Ship, Support Ship and Logistic Ship Dock (Auxiliary) with Boarding Team); and a Deployable Air Operating Base, four Air Defence Aircraft, four Fighter Bomber Aircraft and four Close Air Support Aircraft together with two Transport Aircraft and up to two Airborne Early Warning Aircraft.

From July to December 2009, the UK will contribute a Destroyer/Frigate Escort Ship and a Maritime Patrol Aircraft; a Land Component Command Headquarters and associated support, and a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company; six Fighter Bomber Aircraft, six Close Air Support Aircraft, two Air-to-Air Refuelling Aircraft, two Transport Aircraft and up to two Airborne Early Warning Aircraft.

Navy: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average unit tour interval was for each ship type in the Royal Navy over the last eight years. (249708)

The average tour unit interval by surface ship type, defined as a ship being away from its base port for more than three months, from 2003 for which information is available is as follows (rounded to the nearest month):

Months

Land Platform Dock

17

Landing Platform Dock Helicopter

20

CVS

33

Destroyers

T42

16

Frigates

T22

14

T23

14

Mine Counter Measures Vessels

14

HMS Endurance

5

Exceptions

Survey Vessels have up to two and a half year deployments.

River Class Patrol Vessels on Fishery Protection undertake eight week (approx) taskings.

Falkland Island Patrol Vessel permanently deployed.

Spearhead Land Element

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which regiment or battalion forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE); whether it is fully equipped; whether the present SLE is deployed; and when the future SLE will take over from the present SLE. (249726)

The 3rd Battalion The Rifles forms the Spearhead Land Element (SLE), which is not currently deployed. The SLE is currently fully equipped in accordance with the Joint Rapid Reaction Force Directive and operational mounting instructions. The next SLE will be provided by the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, who will assume this role from 1 March 2009.

Culture, Media and Sport

Beaches: Naturists

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his policy is on the provision of naturist beaches. (248130)

My officials have consulted colleagues in DEFRA, the Department responsible for beaches, who have advised that there is no specific policy on the provision of naturist beaches.

However, The Marine and Coastal Access Bill will provide for a new right of access to the English coast and the expectation is that most beaches will be included within this, which will not affect any existing rights or permissions for naturists that may exist on the coast.

DEFRA officials are arranging a meeting with British Naturism to hear their views on the coastal access proposals.

Byron Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of his Department's staff provided support for the Byron Review. (247419)

Two members of staff (one at Grade A and one at Grade B) provided support for the review as it was conducted.

Departmental Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent by his Department on advertising in the last 12 months. (243725)

In the period from 1 December 2007 to 30 November 2008, the amount spent by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on advertising was as follows: (a) public appointments £142,595; (b) communications £14,340; and (c) recruitment £24,343.

Mass Media: Economic Situation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received on (a) recent reductions in advertising revenues to (i) television companies, (ii) radio companies and (iii) newspapers and (b) recent job losses in the media industry; and if he will make a statement. (248976)

I have received a number of representations from the television, radio and press sectors on a variety of issues affecting the media industry, including advertising revenues and employment. Full details of recent correspondence in these areas could be identified only at a disproportionate cost.

Public Libraries

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what the aggregate scheduled duration of opening for all libraries per 1,000 population in each local authority was in each of the last three years; (247577)

(2) what proportion of static libraries provided access to (a) internet services, (b) broadband internet services and (c) wi-fi internet services in each local authority area in each of the last three years;

(3) how many electronic workstations with access to the internet there were in library service outlets per 100,000 population in each local authority area in each of the last three years;

(4) how many library visits were made per 100,000 population in each local authority area in each of the last three years.

This information is not held centrally. However, the Public Library Statistics, published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), contain similar data to that being sought. The House of Commons Library holds copies for the period in question.

Public Libraries: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what proportion of requests for books from library service points were met within (a) seven, (b) 15 and (c) 30 days in each local authority area in each of the last three years; (247580)

(2) what proportion of library users aged 16 years and over viewed their library service as very good or good in each local authority area in each of the last three years;

(3) what proportion of library users aged under 16 years viewed their library service as good in each local authority area in each of the last three years;

(4) how many items were added through purchase to library service outlets per 1,000 population in each local authority area in each of the last three years.

The information requested is published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in Public Library Statistics. The House of Commons Library holds copies for the period in question.

Sports: North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking in conjunction with Sport England to promote sport participation projects in the North East to meet regional priorities on health and well-being. (245859)

The Legacy Action Plan commits to getting 2 million people more active by 2012, and Sport England will deliver 1 million of these through sport. The remaining 1 million is a cross Government target, and Sport England will contribute by making wide links with those involved in promoting physical activity, such as primary care trusts and local authorities, as a platform for many people to become involved in sport.

Sport England is also funding a Facilities Improvement Service designed to assist selected local authorities with their planning tools and ensure that they take a strategic view of facility provision. This service is currently working with Middlesbrough and Gateshead councils. Sport England will additionally invest up to £10 million per year of capital funding in projects to promote a sustainable approach to community facilities throughout the country, including the north east region.

Sports: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will take steps to (a) increase levels of participation in sport and (b) improve the provision of sporting facilities, with particular reference to the North East. (244671)

The information is as follows:

(a) Sport England have developed a strategy to create a world leading community sport system. This strategy will deliver 1 million more people playing sport by 2012. As part of this process Sport England have been working closely with 46 national governing bodies (NGBs) to develop new Whole Sport Plans, giving the experts in each sport the opportunity to shape its strategic direction.

(b) Sport England are also funding a Facilities Improvement Service designed to assist selected local authorities with their planning tools and ensure that they take a strategic view of facility provision. This service is currently working with Middlesbrough and Gateshead councils. Sport England will additionally invest up to £10 million per year of capital funding in projects to promote a sustainable approach to community facilities throughout the country, including the north east region.

Tourism

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what reports he has received on the expected level of tourism to the UK in April 2009. (247740)

VisitBritain produced a Forecast Report in December 2008 which looks ahead to 2009 and considers what is likely to happen to the volume and value of inbound tourism to the UK. The report can be viewed at the following web link:

http://www.tourismtrade.org.uk/Images/Foresight%2OIssue%2062_tcm12-44469.pdf

Tourism: Coastal Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assistance the Government is providing to coastal towns to increase tourism to such towns in 2008-09. (249777)

[holding answer 20 January 2009]: VisitBritain is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to promote Britain overseas as a tourist destination and co-ordinate the domestic marketing of England, with VisitEngland which includes the promotion of coastal towns. In addition, this Department has made available a funding package of £45 million (£15 million p.a. over three years) through the Sea Change Programme which aims to catalyse the regeneration of seaside resorts in England through cultural and heritage projects. This programme will not only benefit the local community, but also help boost the visitor economy of resorts. £14.6 million has been made available to 15 resorts through the programme in 2008-09.

Women and Equality

Local Government: Equality

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality which local authorities have not yet (a) undertaken and (b) completed an equal pay review. (247674)

I have been asked to reply.

It is for local authorities, as employers, to work actively with the unions to deal with equal pay in an affordable way. Central Government do not have direct involvement. The Local Government Employers organisation monitors progress in local government towards implementation.

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality which local authorities have been permitted to borrow to fund equal pay deals in the last two years; and how much was borrowed in each case. (247786)

I have been asked to reply.

On 26 September 2008, £455 million of capitalisation directions were issued to 34 authorities to enable them to make equal pay back-payments and speed up progress on delivering equal pay. The 2008-09 announcement builds on the £500 million of capitalisation directions allocated to 46 authorities in 2007.

The full list of authorities awarded capitalisation in 2007-08, including the amount of capitalisation used by individual authorities is available at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/capital/equalpay0708.pdf

The list for 2008-09 is available at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/977615

however, the amount of capitalisation used by individual authorities in 2008-09 will be published on the Department's website in September 2009.

In order to avoid prejudicing ongoing local negotiations details of the amounts sought by authorities or directions issued, have not been published.

Health

Autism: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what services are available for adults with autism in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. (249821)

This information is not held centrally.

At a local level, it is for local health and social care service providers to ensure that people with autism and their carers receive the necessary information and support they require.

We plan to publish commissioning guidance to support local authorities this spring. It will build on the 2006 document

“Better services for people with an autistic spectrum disorder: A note clarifying current Government policy and describing good practice”, which clarified the nature and intent of Government policy as it relates to adults with an autistic spectrum condition.

Dementia

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he has taken to facilitate early diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on the part of GPs in the last three years; (249399)

(2) what recent steps he has taken to provide rapid access to effective drug treatment to those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The importance of early diagnosis, intervention and care options for people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, will be emphasised in the national dementia strategy, which will be published shortly.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published technology appraisal guidance on drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in September 2007. The guidance recommends a number of drugs for use in the moderate stage of the disease and national health service organisations are now statutorily required to make funding available to implement NICE’s recommendations. NICE has also published a clinical guideline on dementia, which we expect NHS organisations to implement over time.

Dementia: Care Homes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) care homes and (b) care home places for people suffering from dementia there were in each local authority area in Kent in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (249188)

We are informed by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) that it does not register care homes according to the number of people from a specific client group, such as those suffering dementia. CSCI will register a home as being able to care for at least one person from a particular client group. CSCI is able to produce data from 2004 when it was first established. Information from earlier years is not available centrally.

The following table shows the numbers of care homes and registered places in Kent county council. Data for other areas within Kent are not available separately.

Care homes and places in Kent

As at 31 March:

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Homes

Places

Homes

Places

Homes

Places

Homes

Places

Homes

Places

All homes

792

15,907

774

15,763

759

15,642

748

15,485

746

15,673

Homes registered to care for people with dementia1

122

4,554

125

4,699

127

4,860

131

5,050

134

5,218

1 Homes do not register the actual number of places they have for each client group. They indicate which groups they can provide at least one place for. The number of registered places shown is the sum of all places in the care home that indicated they provide care for at least one person with dementia.

Source:

CSCI database as at 2 May 2008

Dental Services: Hertfordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dentists in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire provide NHS treatment to (i) children and (ii) adults; and how many and what proportion of (A) children and (B) adults in the area received NHS treatment from such dentists in the last 12 months. (249087)

Information is not available in the format requested.

The numbers of dentists with national health service activity during the years ending 31 March, 2007 and 2008 are available in table G1 of annex 3 of the “NHS Dental Statistics for England: 2007/08” report. Information is provided by strategic health authority (SHA) and by primary care trust (PCT). This information is based on the new dental contractual arrangements, introduced on 1 April 2006.

Following a recent consultation exercise, this measure is based on a revised methodology and therefore supersedes previously published work force figures relating to the new dental contractual arrangements. It is not comparable to the information collected under the old contractual arrangements. This revised methodology counted the number of dental performers with NHS activity recorded via FP17 claim forms in each year ending 31 March.

This report, published on 21 August 2008, has already been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre website at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/dental0708

These figures relate to headcounts and do not differentiate between full-time and part-time dentists, nor do they account for the fact that some dentists may do more NHS work than others, or between treatments for adults and children.

Under the new dental contractual arrangements, patients do not have to be registered with an NHS dentist to receive NHS care. The closest equivalent measure to ‘registration’ is the number of patients receiving NHS dental services (‘patients seen’) over a 24-month period. However, this is not directly comparable to the registration data for earlier years.

The number of patients seen in the previous 24 months in England, as at quarterly intervals, from 31 March 2006 to 30 June 2008 is available in table D1 of annex 3 of the “NHS Dental Statistics, Q1 2008-09” report. Table D2 contains information on the numbers of patients seen as a percentage of the population. Information is provided by PCT and SHA and is available by adult and child patients seen.

This report, published on 27 November 2008, has already been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre website at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/dentalstats0809q1

Health Services: Elderly

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many elderly people have received services under the quality care and support system in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in each of the last five years. (249655)

The NHS Information Centre for health and social care collects and publishes information on the number of people receiving local authority funded social care in a domiciliary or residential setting in England.

Information is collected from councils with adult social services responsibilities (CASSRs). Data are not collected centrally at constituency level.

The following tables show the number of individuals in England aged 65 and over who received domiciliary or residential care funded wholly or in part by councils with adult social services responsibilities as at 31 March of each year.

Number of people aged 65 and over receiving care funded wholly or in part by councils with adult social services responsibilities at 31 March 2008, England

Rounded numbers

2004

2005

2006

Councils with social services responsibilities

Domiciliary care1

Residential care2, 3

Domiciliary care1

Residential care2, 3

Domiciliary care1

Residential care2, 3

England

5

213,100

641,900

204,600

652,200

199,300

North East

5

15,000

44,400

14,350

45,550

14,300

Darlington

5

585

1,425

625

1,410

625

Hartlepool

5

550

1,765

505

1,820

490

Middlesbrough

5

725

3,130

670

3,085

645

Redcar and Cleveland

5

855

2,175

740

2,665

660

Stockton on Tees

5

1,045

2,590

1,050

2,775

1,035

Rounded numbers

2007

20081

Councils with social services responsibilities

Domiciliary care1

Residential care2, 3

Domiciliary care1

Residential care2, 3

England

646,500

190,300

661,400

182,200

North East

47,850

13,200

45,750

12,650

Darlington

1,385

530

1,415

590

Hartlepool

1,790

460

1,815

440

Middlesbrough

2,950

630

3,050

655

Redcar and Cleveland

2,495

680

2,675

680

Stockton on Tees

2,805

960

2,885

855

1 Data for 2007-08 is provisional.

2 Excludes other unstaffed homes and adult placements.

3 Data includes clients formerly in receipt of preserved rights.

4 Data includes Boyd loophole residents.

5 Not available. Guidance was restated for 2004-05 referrals, assessments and packages of care (RAP) collection and data are not comparable.

Source:

RAP form P2s & SR1 form Table S4

Health Services: Ethnic Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government plans to take in response to the Healthcare Commission's finding in its report, Count Me In, that people from an ethnic minority are more likely to be misdiagnosed, overmedicated and placed in seclusion. (249514)

The Healthcare Commission published its report on the 2008 Count Me In census on 27 November 2008. Count Me In does not collect information about patients’ diagnosis or medication. The census reports since 2005 show that there is no consistent picture of differential treatment with regard to seclusion. Different ethnic groups have been recorded as more or less likely to be subject to seclusion each year.

In 2005 the Department launched ‘Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care’ (DRE). DRE is a five-year action plan designed to improve black and minority ethnic (BME) communities’ experience of mental health services.

Hospitals: Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what instructions he has given to trusts to (a) allow families to reclaim the cost of hospital car parking charges incurred when visiting their children and (b) provide free car parking bays in hospitals for parents visiting their children. (249783)

Car parking arrangements, including charges, are a matter for individual national health service bodies, based on their own local circumstances. However, guidance from the Department to support trusts in implementing parking policies, issued in December 2006, strongly recommends NHS bodies to provide free or discounted car parking to those patients and their relatives or primary visitors who have to use the car park regularly. The Department reminded NHS bodies of this in November 2008.

Mental Health Services: Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Caernarfon of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1245W, how many of the 926 prisoners with mental illness who were transferred from prison to hospital in 2007 (a) remain in hospital, (b) were returned to prison and (c) absconded. (245964)

This information is not collected by the Department. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have supplied information in respect of individual patients with mental illness transferred from the prison service to hospital.

Further to the answer to the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Hywel Williams) of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1245W, the MoJ have revised their data and report that the number of prisoners with mental illness and who were transferred to hospital in 2007 was 934, not 926.

Of these 934 patients, 301 remain in hospital, 167 were returned to prison and one patient absconded and is still at large. Of the remaining 465 individuals, 219 were remitted to a court to deal with as unsentenced prisoners who were awaiting a court appearance when transferred to hospital. A further 242 were either not subject to restrictions at the time of transfer, or saw their restrictions expire after transfer, and would have remained in hospital only so long as their mental condition required it. Of the remaining four individuals, one has been deported and three have died.

These figures include six people who absconded at some point during their stay in hospital and later returned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department has spent on mental health services for prisoners in each (a) prison and (b) health authority area in each of the last five financial years; and how many prisoners received such treatment in each of these years. (247068)

Information on spending on mental health services in each prison and health authority between 2002-03 and 2006-07 is shown in the tables, which have been placed in the Library. As of 2007-08, this allocation was baselined to form part of the overall prison health allocation and spending on offender mental health services is no longer referred to separately.

In addition to this recurrent funding, the Department has made two non-recurrent payments totalling £4.2 million in 2007-08 and 2008-09 to targeted establishments for mental health in-reach services.

Information on the number of prisoners receiving mental health services is not collected centrally.

Mid Essex Primary Care Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what reasons were reported to him by the Chief Executive of NHS Mid Essex for the decision to change the name of the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust; and if he will make a statement. (249899)

The information requested is not held by the Department.

Primary care trusts (PCTs) have the freedom to choose whether or not they make the transition to the new identity, ‘NHS Local’ (rather than ‘Local’ PCT). In order to keep costs to a minimum, we advise that the transition is made when it is practically and economically feasible to do so through planned replacement programmes. This may be by, for example, exhausting existing supplies of stationery and updating property signage.

You may wish to inquire with your local PCT for further information.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total number of people who are affected by long-standing musculoskeletal problems, broken down by (a) condition and (b) age group; and what his Department's definition of a long-standing musculoskeletal problem is. (249248)

A long-standing musculoskeletal problem is defined as a non time-limited medical condition which predominately affects the muscles, joints and skeleton.

We have made no estimate of the number of people living with long-standing musculoskeletal problems, broken down by condition and age group.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate he has made of the proportion of primary care consultations which relate to musculoskeletal complaints, broken down by the proportion relating to (a) rheumatoid arthritis, (b) osteoarthritis, (c) osteoporosis and (d) other complaints; and what assessment he has made of future trends in this proportion. (249252)

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Carers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to train those carers caring for people with musculoskeletal conditions through (a) the Caring with Confidence programme and (b) other means. (249277)

At a national level the training provided by Caring with Confidence is in two forms—generic and ‘tailored’. The generic training is relevant to any carer (i.e. including those caring for someone with a musculoskeletal condition) and has been available since August 2008, the ‘tailored’ training will meet the needs of specific carers i.e. those who are caring for someone with dementia, or caring for someone of black or minority ethnic background, and will become available over the coming months.

The determination of the carer groups to be provided ‘tailored’ training was made following consultation with the national carers' charities and providers of training to carers—those with musculoskeletal problems were not identified in this process. Should the need for ‘tailored’ training for carers of those with musculoskeletal conditions emerge there is flexibility to meet this need within Caring with Confidence's delivery arrangements.

Carers can also access NHS Choices, which has much information on musculoskeletal conditions.

At a local level, it is for local health service providers to ensure that people with musculoskeletal conditions and their carers receive the necessary information and support they require.

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Employment Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people with musculoskeletal problems have participated in condition management programmes under the Pathways to Work scheme in each year since 2006-07; and what proportion of such participants he estimates returned to work after participation. (249273)

The number of referrals from Jobcentre Plus to the NHS Condition Management Programmes of individuals who had musculoskeletal problems are as follows:

Referrals

2006-07

2,801

2007-08

5,974

2008 to November 2008

4,485

Job outcome figures are not collected for the Condition Management Programme.

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Health Professions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the extent to which NHS units treating musculoskeletal conditions in England include representatives of the (a) rheumatology and (b) orthopaedics medical specialties; and if he will make a statement. (249249)

The Department does not collect centrally information on the representation of different disciplines in musculoskeletal departments. It is for local organisations to decide on the staffing structure of their individual departments. The national musculoskeletal coordinating group includes representation of both the British Society for Rheumatology, British Orthopaedic Association as well as other professional bodies.

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many clinical assessment and treatment services for musculoskeletal conditions there were in the NHS in (a) 2006 and (b) 2008; and if he will make a statement. (249250)

The Department does not collect centrally information on the number of clinical assessment and treatment services for musculoskeletal conditions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage faster referral from GPs to specialists of patients with serious musculoskeletal problems. (249276)

The Department has developed five orthopaedic commissioning pathways which pertain to musculoskeletal conditions hip pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, chronic pain back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. These were published as part of 43 18-week commissioning pathways that reflect national good practice. These pathways highlight the types of conditions that need to be referred for specialist assessments as well as stressing clinical urgent conditions (often referred to as red flag patients) that need emergency treatment. A further pathway is currently in development for arthritis.

The pathways are high-level service models to help support and enable commissioners and service providers to challenge existing practice, utilise service improvement tools and techniques, maximise opportunities for transformational change, provide a catalyst for local discussion and challenge in order to deliver 18-week pathways.

From the 1 January 2009, the minimum expectation of consultant-led elective services will be that no one should wait more than 18 weeks from the time they are referred to the start of their treatment, unless it is clinically appropriate to do so or they choose to wait longer.

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Surgery

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what proportion of patients with musculoskeletal problems were listed for surgery by a clinical assessment and treatment service in each year since 2005. (249242)