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Written Answers

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Olympics

CompeteFor

To ask the Minister for the Olympics which companies tendered for the CompeteFor website contract. (251302)

The London Development Agency (LDA) commissioned specialist support to identify the most appropriate sourcing strategy for the electronic brokerage service which is now known as CompeteFor. The Office of Government Commerce's Catalist framework was used to ensure an efficient procurement process.

CompeteFor, primarily a web portal, would also contain substantial e-transactional and customer relationship management elements. Seven suppliers met all three of these requirements, these were:

Deloitte MCS

Electronic Data Systems Ltd

Fujitsu Services

Hedra

LogicaCMG

Parity Solutions

Serco Ltd.

Both Hedra and Parity Solutions were later ruled out. Of the five remaining bidders four expressed an interest in bidding and tenders were received from Deloitte and Serco.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether the procurement process for the CompeteFor website contract took place in accordance with the European Union's competitive dialogue procurement procedure. (251303)

The procurement was undertaken through a mini-competition using the Office of Government Commerce's (OGC) Catalist framework. This was undertaken in accordance with the OGC's guidance and in line with European Union requirements; however, the approach did not use the competitive dialogue procedure. The competitive dialogue process is normally used when a specification may be unclear, and ongoing engagement is needed with potential suppliers. In this instance a specification was sufficiently developed and so a competitive dialogue was unnecessary.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether the CompeteFor website will continue to operate after all the contracts for the London 2012 Olympics have been awarded; and if she will make a statement. (251739)

The Government have accepted the recommendation made in Anne Glover's report, published alongside the pre-Budget report 2008, that there should be a single, free, and easy to search online portal for Government procurement. The Department for Business is looking at what companies want from a single portal and whether this matches the CompeteFor specification. This will influence the future of CompeteFor beyond 2012.

Departmental Press Officers

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) her Department and (b) the Olympic Delivery Authority. (250431)

The information is as follows:

(a) The Government Olympic Executive has responsibility for ensuring the London 2012 games are delivered, established a communications team in June 2008. Currently four full-time officers are employed.

In addition, the Minister’s press support is provided by the DCMS communications department where three press officers are employed to work on the Olympics desk.

(b) As answered in October 2008, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) communications team employs 25 members of staff. This consists of permanent staff, fixed term contract staff and secondments.

The ODA communications team are responsible for all elements of communication and stakeholder engagement activities across the entire ODA programme. These activities include:

Dealing with public inquiries about the ODA’s work;

Engagement with the local people in the five boroughs in and around the Olympic Park, including reactive and proactive community relations work;

Stakeholder engagement with external groups for example the design, transport, construction, political and sporting communities;

Statutory consultation for planning applications;

Communication with a wide range of national, international, specialist, trade, regional and local media;

Filming and photography of the work on the Olympic Park; including internet and new media.

Of the aforementioned, there are four press officers and one head of media dealing specifically with the press.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what the cost of her Office’s contracts with public relations consultancies was in each year since its establishment. (251536)

The Government Olympic Executive Communication function began in June 2008. Since this date, it has spent £1,175.00 on contracts with public relations consultancies.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what her assessment is of the extent to which Aggregate Industries Ltd is meeting the contractually stipulated target of delivering 99 per cent. of aggregate materials to the Olympic Park by sustainable means. (250419)

[holding answer 27 January 2009]: The Olympic Delivery Authority's target that at least 50 per cent. of all materials, by weight, be transported to the Olympic Park by non-road methods is being exceeded. Aggregate Industries Ltd is currently achieving a performance level of 84 per cent. against that target.

Aggregate Industries' own target is that 99 per cent. of materials be transported by non-road methods.

Olympic Games 2012: Contracts

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether companies tendering for contracts at the Olympic site are required to have business continuity plans in place as part of their tenders. (250569)

Companies tendering for contracts on the Olympic Park site are required to have business continuity plans in place, the details of which are reviewed during the procurement process.

Olympic Games 2012: Finance

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the likely effects of recent sterling exchange rates on budgetary provision for the London 2012 Olympics. (250905)

The Government’s assessment is that current sterling exchange rates will not have significant effects on budgetary provision for the 2012 Olympics. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) receives its revenues, and makes its payments, in sterling. It is the responsibility of the ODA tier one contractors to manage exchange risks as defined by their contractual arrangements with the ODA. The ODA is reviewing the current exchange rate fluctuations with its Delivery Partner and the tier one contractors to assess the level of impact on future procurement. To date, no call has been made on the contingency in relation to exchange rate fluctuations. The contingency (within the £9.325 billion funding package) does, however, include provision for identified risks with the potential to impact on projects across the ODA programme such as exchange rate fluctuations.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is due some revenues in both US dollars and euros. As a result, LOCOG has taken steps to effectively minimise exposure to exchange rate shifts and it is expected that recent movements in both currencies against sterling will have no significant impact on LOCOG’s revenues. As the majority of LOCOG’s costs are sterling-based, it is expected that recent movements in both currencies against sterling will have no significant impact on LOCOG’s costs.

Olympic Games 2012: Peterborough

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what her latest assessment is of the legacy which will accrue to Peterborough constituency as a result of the 2012 London Olympic Games; and if she will make a statement. (250947)

We are fully committed to ensuring a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games which spreads to all communities in the UK.

At a regional level this work is being taken forward by the Nations and Regions Group (NRG) who are working hard to ensure the benefits of 2012 reach across the UK. The east of England representative is Councillor Stephen Castle who also chairs Nations and Regions East (NRE). NRE is the partnership, which includes representation from both Peterborough city council and Cambridge county council, set up to provide strategic direction and support to county level working groups to take forward relevant and appropriate activity to maximise the benefits of 2012.

The east of England launched its regional plan to maximise the benefits of the Games on 13 November 2007. This can be found on the east of England regional development website:

http://www.eeda.org.uk/1607.asp

I am delighted to say that progress on legacy in the east of England and Peterborough is already being made. For example, of the 48 local authorities in the east of England, 26 are offering free swimming to both those aged 16 or under and 60 or over (including Peterborough). 65 facilities from the east of England, including Grange Farm Equestrian Centre in Peterborough are included in the official London 2012 Pre-Games Training Camp Guide; 22 events took place in the region during the Cultural Olympiad ‘Open Weekend’ and 60 special ‘handover flags’ were raised.

Furthermore, 353 schools and colleges covering 220,507 students in the east of England have registered on ‘Get Set’, the London 2012 education programme launched in September last year. Get Set provides a whole range of flexible, interactive learning resources and is designed to give expression to Olympic and Paralympic values.

Culture, Media and Sport

10 Downing Street: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what advice English Heritage has provided in connection with the work in 10 Downing Street associated with Westminster city council planning application reference 08/00696/1884. (252478)

Westminster City Council planning application reference PT/08/00696/1884 refers to an application dated 10 January 2008 for listed building consent to refurbish ground floor lavatories off the Inner Lobby of 10 Downing Street. English Heritage was notified on 29 January 2008 of the application and replied to Westminster on 7 February 2008 with a ‘non-intervention’ letter. This authorised the city council to determine the application for listed building consent as it saw fit.

Creativity and Business International Network

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) meetings, (b) events and (c) other activities are planned for the Creativity and Business International Network between now and October 2009. (250246)

Ministers and officials in my Department regularly hold meetings concerning the content and planning for the Creativity and Business International Network (c&binet) with a range of stakeholders in the public and private sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent on producing branded ampersands for the meeting of the Creativity and Business International Network in Liverpool on 20 November 2008. (250248)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend, the Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism, gave him on 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 1210W. The cost of the ampersands is included within the £1 million allocated towards the running of the World Creative Business Conference in each of the next three years, including 2008-09.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent on food and drink for the meeting of the Creativity and Business International Network in Liverpool on 20 November 2008. (250249)

The total cost of food and drink at the reception and dinner held for the Creativity and Business International Network on 20 November 2008 was £3581.

Culture: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions Ministers from his Department have had with ministerial colleagues in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on funding for media and cultural studies research in the last 12 months; and what the outcome of those meetings was. (252932)

Departmental Administration

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of his Department’s outturn expenditure on administration for 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. (240338)

The Department’s outturn expenditure on administration for 2008-09 is estimated to be £56.029 million according to the management accounts produced to 31 October 2008.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on ministerial hospitality in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08, expressed in current prices. (241234)

The Department’s accounting system does not separately record information on expenditure on ministerial hospitality and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

All expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance, based on the principles set out in Managing Public Money.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guests attended the dinner hosted by his Department at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on 20 November 2008. (250250)

The following people attended the launch event for the Creativity and Business International Network on 20 November 2008.

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture and Creative Industries and Tourism

Jon Zeff, Director, Media, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Martha Kearney, Journalist (acting as moderator)

Andy Duncan, Chief Executive, Channel 4

Boko Inyundo, Global Sector Manager Linklaters LLE

Chris Clarke, CEO, Nitro Group

Ian Findlay, Director, Ariadne Capital

Jatin Das, Artist

Jocelyn Stevenson, Creative Director, TT Animation

John Smith, Chief Executive, BBC Worldwide

Julia Barfield, Founder Director, Marks Barfield Architects

Laurence Green, Founding Partner and Chairman, Fallon London

Lorna Tilbian, Executive Director, Numis Corporation plc.

Lucian Grainge, Chairman and Chief Executive, Universal Music Group International

Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC

Martin Lambie-Naim, Founder ML-N Brand Consultancy

Nicholas Coleridge, Managing Director Condé Nast Publications UK, and Vice-President Condé Nast International

Patrick McKenna, Chief Executive, Ingenious Media

Paul Bennett, Managing Partner, Europe and Chief Creative Officer IDEO

Peter Molyneux, Founder and CEO, Lionhead Studios

Phil Redmond, Chair of National Museums Liverpool

Spencer Hyman, Chief Operating Officer, Last.fm

Tony Orsten, Chief Executive Officer, twofour54

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was paid to ML-N for its work in creating the brand for the Creativity and Business International Network. (247418)

I refer to the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 18 December 2008, Official Report, column 950W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of his Department’s contracts with public relations consultancies was in each of the last five years. (251262)

The costs of the Department’s contracts with public relations consultancies in each of the last five years are as follows:

PR consultancy

Spend (£)

2004-05

Harrison Cowley

117,500.05

2005-06

Harrison Cowley

295,148.25

2006-07

Harrison Cowley

84,600

2007-08

n/a

0

2008-09

Edelman

186,495

Departmental Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent by his Department on (a) agency and (b) temporary staff in each financial year since 2005-06. (251289)

The information relating to the spend on agency staff by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in each financial year since 2005-06 is shown as follows. The information on the cost of temporary staff could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

£

2005-06

1,147,516

2006-07

1,671,119

2007-08

2,226,899

Digital Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the take-up rates were for digital television in each region on the latest date for which figures are available. (253277)

The following table shows the percentage of households in each region that have taken up digital television.

Region

Percentage

Border

84

West Country

87

Wales

90

Granada

89

West

87

STV North

85

STV Central

92

Central1

80

Yorkshire1

93

Anglia1

89

Meridian1

84

London

84

Tyne Tees1

97

Ulster

n/a

1 Very small base size—data should be viewed as indicative only.

Digital Switchover

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of households in each region who will not receive a full service from Freeview after digital switchover. (251299)

The following table shows Ofcom's estimate of the number of households that will be able to receive the full six multiplex Freeview service of approximately 40 channels following digital switchover.

Region

Percentage

Anglia

86

Border

53

Central

98

Granada

97

London

95

Meridian

84

STV Central

93

STV North (Grampian)

79

Tyne Tees

96

Ulster

78

Wales

73

West

94

West Country

74

Yorkshire

97

Digital Switchover: Wales

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1085W, on Digital Switchover: South Wales, (1) whether the Core Receiver Requirements set in November 2008 in respect of audio description will apply to all equipment supplied through the Helpscheme for digital changeover in South Wales; (252947)

(2) whether the Core Receiver Requirements set in November 2008 in respect of audio description will apply to all equipment supplied through the Helpscheme for digital changeover in Mid and West Wales;

(3) whether the Core Receiver Requirements set in November 2008 in respect of audio description will apply to all equipment supplied through the Helpscheme for digital changeover in North Wales.

As detailed within the Scheme Agreement (Chapter 3, 20 (3)), the Core Receiver Requirements in respect of audio description only apply to Most Cost Effective Offer equipment in North Wales, South Wales and Mid and West Wales.

English Heritage: Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what non-heritage (a) buildings and (b) land are leased by English Heritage; and what estimate has been made of the value of these assets. (250258)

English Heritage has advised that it owns one building, Brooklands in Cambridge, which is not part of its historic properties portfolio, and no non-heritage land. No part of Brooklands is leased in any way.

Hotels: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the size of the regulatory burden for (a) bed and breakfast establishments and (b) hotels; and if he will make a statement. (250493)

Visit Britain (VB) have advised that during the British Tourism framework review, they received a number of submissions from stakeholders in the tourism sector about the burden of regulation. The cost is not quantified, and, indeed, individual regulations are rarely mentioned other than the ‘overall’ effect. However, there has been a clear sense of concern among accommodation providers about fire risk assessments introduced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The former Minister for Tourism, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Margaret Hodge), met with the then Fire Minister, Parmjit Dhanda and one of VB's quality managers to press the case for clearer interpretation of rules across fire authorities and it was agreed that DCLG would look at it again and issue new guidance.

DCLG have provided a new guidance briefing for accommodation providers. VB is delivering these with its magazine, “Quality Edge”, which was circulated on Monday 19 January to businesses that are quality assessed by VB.

ICT: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on increasing levels of digital literacy. (250640)

[holding answer 27 January 2009]: The Government and a number of other bodies have undertaken work on various aspects of digital and media literacy. In the Communications Act 2003, we gave Ofcom a statutory duty to work with others to promote media literacy in the UK. My Department works closely with Ofcom on its media literacy priorities and contributes annual funding to Ofcom's work in this area, which includes the periodic audit of changes in media literacy skills across the UK. Their audit has demonstrated that progress has been made, but we recognise that there is more work to be done.

The new BBC Charter and Agreement also places a specific duty on the BBC Trust to promote media literacy. Furthermore, a wide range of activity is being undertaken by both education providers and industry—such as the Media Literacy Task Force—aimed at increasing levels of media literacy.

In addition, the Government have set out a range of cross-departmental strategies that will further enhance media literacy. The Prime Minister has appointed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales as Minister for Digital Inclusion and he has recently consulted on a Digital Inclusion Action Plan, aimed at improving access and skills to encourage the best use of digital technologies, building on the success of the 6,000 UK online centres in England. Furthermore, as one of the key recommendations from the Byron Review on internet safety, we have established the UK Council for Child Internet Safety which is developing a strategy including education and awareness for parents, carers and children.

The interim Digital Britain report (Cm 7548) identifies the skills and literacy challenges to a fully digital Britain. We have therefore asked Ofcom to make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media Literacy Plan as a contribution to the final Digital Britain Report in the summer.

Mass Media

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of his Department’s contracts with press monitoring services was in each of the last five years. (251214)

The Department has a press cuttings contract with EDS Media that began in April 2008. The cost to-date is £36,283.33.

The Department pays an annual subscription charge to the Media Monitoring Unit (this is part of the Central Office of Information, previously part of the Cabinet Office). This includes a number of media monitoring services—the cost of press monitoring is not charged separately.

National Lottery: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many disputes between a National Lottery player and a retailer referred to (a) Camelot and (b) the Lottery Commission were resolved in favour of (i) the player and (ii) the retailer in each of the last three years. (253085)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: The Department does not hold information on disputes between National Lottery players and retailers. The National Lottery Commission (NLC) have advised that neither Camelot nor the NLC record the requested information in the requested format.

Public Bodies: Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) buildings and (b) land is owned by (i) Arts Council England, (ii) the Big Lottery Fund, (iii) the Heritage Lottery Fund, (iv) UK Sport and (v) the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; and what recent estimate has been made of the value of those assets. (249813)

The information as follows has been provided by the bodies in question.

Arts Council England

Buildings owned:

21 Bond Street, Dewsbury

Land owned:

Arts Council England own the freehold on a section of land in the London South Bank area covering the area of the South Bank Centre and British Film Institute, and an area covering the Royal National Theatre. All the land is passed back to the South Bank Centre, British Film Institute or Royal National Theatre at no cost to them and the leases run for 150 years.

Value:

£600,000 open market value of Bond Street, Dewsbury, established by a valuation at 31 March 2005. It is Arts Council England accounting policy to refresh the valuation of this freehold property once every five years.

As the land on the South Bank is leased for 150 years, it has no bankable value.

The Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and UK Sport do not own any land or buildings.

Public Libraries: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how long each local authority took to replenish to Public Library Service Standard 10 its library lending stock on open access or available on loan in each of the last three years. (251741)

The information requested is not collated centrally. The appendix to Public Library Statistics, a report published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), shows the time taken by each local authority to replenish its lending stock. It may therefore be possible to calculate how long each local authority took to replenish to Public Library Service Standard 10 its library lending stock by comparing issues of the report for the period in question. The House of Commons Library holds copies.

Public Libraries: Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to his answer of 21 January, Official Report, column 1456W, what statistical information his Department gathers relating to library services. (252956)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport gathers statistical information relating to library services through its Taking Part survey. This is a continuous household survey providing national data on participation in culture, leisure and sport by adults aged 16 and over.

In relation to libraries, Taking Part asks respondents whether they have visited one in the past 12 months and, if so, how often. It also asks about their experiences during their last visit; their satisfaction with the library's services, and whether they would repeat the visit. The survey also tries to find out why respondents have not visited a library. The latest available data for libraries, which includes demographic breakdowns of attendance, can be found at:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/publications/5396.aspx

In April 2008, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport added questions to Sport England’s Active People survey to collect data for participation in cultural activities for the purposes of the National Indicator Set. Respondents are asked whether they had used a public library service in the past 12 months. Baseline estimates of attendance for all upper-tier local authorities can be found at:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/research_and_statistics/5607.aspx

South Bank Centre: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding (a) his Department and (b) Arts Council England provided to the South Bank Centre in each of the last five years; and how much came from (i) Exchequer funding and (ii) the National Lottery in each such year. (249415)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s funding to the South Bank Centre is made through Arts Council England according to the arm’s length principle. Arts Council England distributes the Department’s funding for the arts. Arts Council England has advised that it has provided funding for the South Bank Centre as set out in the following table.

Arts Council England funding for the South Bank Centre

£

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

(i) Exchequer funding

Regular funding

16,596,012

17,393,525

17,948,586

18,442,200

18,949,300

Other

150,500

7,000

2,000,000

3,000,000

50,300

Creative partnerships

20,000

(ii) Lottery funding

Grants for the Arts

10,680

25,717

100,000

Note:

In addition, Arts Council England advises that between 1995-96 and 2007-08, the South Bank Centre received £37,369,643 towards the costs of its redevelopment.

Swimming: Elderly People

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1073W, on swimming, which local authorities made representations on plans for free swimming for those over the age of 60; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each such representation. (252208)

Local authority responses are still being collated ahead of the launch of the Free Swimming programme on 1 April 2009. To date we have received approximately forty representations from local authorities on plans for free swimming for those over the age of sixty. We are taking account of these representations and are in continuing discussion with authorities in the run-up to the start of the scheme. At this stage I have no plans to put in the Library copies of local authority correspondence regarding the Free Swimming programme.

Swimming: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of local authorities he expects will take part in the initiative to provide free swimming for under 16 year olds. (251837)

Of the 354 local authorities 211 (59.6 per cent.) have signed up to offer free swimming to under 16-year-olds. I am arranging for a list of participating authorities to be deposited in the Library of the House.

Tourism: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what budget his Department provided for Visit Britain in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007 and (d) 2008; what budget he proposes for Visit Britain in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011 and (iv) 2012; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of such funding spent on promoting the UK as a tourist destination (A) within the UK and (B) overseas in each year. (251201)

The information requested is as follows:

Budget provided for VisitBritain by the Department for Culture Media and Sport since 2004-05

£ million

Total

Overseas Budget

Domestic1 Budget

2004-05

48.4

35.5

12.9

2005-06

48.9

35.5

13.4

2006-07

49.9

35.5

14.4

2007-08

250.6

35.5

15.1

2008-09

47.9

335

312.9

2009-10

45.4

4

4

2010-11

40.9

4

4

2011-12

5

5

5

1 Domestic budget denotes VisitBritain's budget to market England domestically.

2 For the period 2007-08, DCMS also gave £750,000 to VisitBritain to support a campaign to promote rural England following the floods and outbreak of foot and mouth of 2007.

3 Estimated figures.

4 Budget allocation due to be finalised following outcomes of VB Strategic framework review and discussions between VisitBritain and VisitEngland.

5 Not available—outside current HMT spending review round.

World Creative Business Summit

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many firms bid for the contract to deliver the World Creative Business summit. (250247)

A total of 12 firms were invited to bid to deliver the World Creative Business conference (now the Creativity and Business International Network) of which six moved to pitch after a pairing process. All the firms were on the Central Office of Information (COI) framework of approved agencies.

Northern Ireland

Apprentices

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 8 July 2008, Official Report, column 1521W, on apprentices, what progress has been made in increasing the number of apprentices in his Department; and how many apprentices his Department employs. (251928)

The Northern Ireland Office currently has 12 staff completing apprenticeships, and 33 staff have already completed. The Department will offer 16 new places to staff each year.

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his Department’s average response time to a letter received from (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public was in each of the last three years. (251446)

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members correspondence. The report for 2007 was published on 20 March 2008, Official Report, columns 71-74WS. Information for 2008 is currently being collated and will be published as soon as it is ready. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

With respect to correspondence from members of the public, this information could not be provided within disproportionate costs limits but the Northern Ireland Office aim to respond to all written correspondence within 15 working days. The Department publishes statistics annually on ‘answering letters quickly and clearly’ in the departmental report, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which ICT projects initiated by his Department were abandoned before completion in each year since 1997; what costs were incurred on each project; who the contractors were; what the date of (a) commencement and (b) abandonment was in each case; and if he will make a statement. (251134)

There has been one ICT project abandoned by the Northern Ireland Office before completion since 1997. The Product Logging ICT Project was cancelled by the Forensic Science Agency at a cost of £8,500. The contractors were ICS Computing. The project commenced in June 2006 and was abandoned in November 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2008, Official Report, column 773W, on departmental ICT, what his most recent estimate of the (a) cost and (b) completion date of each of the projects referred to is; and if he will make a statement. (251242)

The information requested is provided in the following table.

Project name

Completion date

Estimated cost (£ million)

Causeway Programme

March 2011

61

Prisoner Record Information System (PRISM): Technical Refresh

March 2010

1.3

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which websites his Department maintained other than its main departmental website in the last five years; and what the operating budget for each was in each year of its operation. (251278)

The websites maintained by the Northern Ireland Office, excluding the main departmental website, and their associated operating budgets for the last five financial years are set out in the following table.

£

Operating budget by financial year

Website

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Youth Justice Agency

www.youthjusticeagencyni.gov.uk

11,338.75

1,938.75

12,069.96

3,125.50

7,252.69

www.youthconferenceserviceni.gov.uk

7,637.50

0

193.88

0

0

Northern Ireland Prison Service

www.niprisonservice.gov.uk

0

12,000

25,000

20,500

6,000

Organised Crime Task Force

www.octf.gov.uk

1,457.00

423

14,092.95

4,674.15

2,294.78

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of his Department’s contracts with public relations consultancies was in each of the last five years. (251251)

The following table provides details of the Northern Ireland Office’s expenditure on contracts with public relations companies (excluding agencies and Executive NDPBs) in each of the last five years:

Financial year

Value of contracts (£)

2003-04

160,397

2004-05

153,723

2005-06

91,858

2006-07

146,906

2007-08

121,504

These companies have been used to provide goods and services in relation to newspaper and television advertising, such as crime prevention campaigns, and the production of leaflets and DVDs which were issued to the public.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department spent on digital media training courses provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau in 2008; how many such training sessions were held in 2008; and how many staff in his Department attended at least one such training course. (252239)

Staff within the Northern Ireland Office have not undertaken any digital media courses provided by the Intranet Advertising Bureau in 2008.

Saville Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 886W, on the Saville Inquiry, (1) which firms have worked for the inquiry; for how many hours they have worked; and whom they have represented; (243241)

(2) how much each legal firm has received.

I am advised that the expenditure on legal representatives (both Counsel and solicitors' firms) by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry up to the end of December 2008 is:

Payments made (£)

Counsel for the inquiry

Christopher Clarke

4,488,266

Jacob Grierson

394,879

Alan Roxburgh

2,978,989

Cathryn McGahey

2,268,093

Bilal Rawat

2,203,633

Solicitors employed for the taking of witness statements

Eversheds

13,253,720

Senior counsel representing the families

Lord Gifford

803,040

Arthur Harvey

1,326,426

Michael Lavery

678,191

Barry J. McDonald

1,203,275

P. T. McDonald

120,144

Michael Mansfield

743,421

Eilish McDermott

1,405,133

Seamus Treacy

1,008,703

Eoin McGonigal

134,556

Kevin Finegan

551,815

Senior counsel representing NICRA

Sir Louis Blom Cooper

587,746

Junior counsel representing the families

John Coyle

812,614

Fiona Doherty

641,326

Ciaran Harvey

673,951

Richard Harvey

679,869

Brian Kennedy

661,153

Philip Magee

83,175

Kieran Mallon

823,196

Brian McCartney

874,398

Karen Quinlivan

571,548

Patricia Smyth

360,927

Michael Topolski

159,915

Mary McHugh

424,524

Junior counsel representing NICRA

Paddy O'Hanlon

442,732

Solicitors representing the families

Barr and Co.

696,319

Brendan Kearney and Co.

953,451

Desmond Doherty and Co.

1,449,837

MacDermott and McGurk

1,503,840

Madden and Finucane

12,968,409

McCann and McCann

707,652

McCartney and Casey

1,483,283

Solicitor representing NICRA

Francis Keenan

594,328

Legal representatives for other witnesses

Various solicitors and counsel

3,173,210

I am advised that payments made by the Ministry of Defence for legal representation up to the end of December 2008 are:

Payments made (£)

Senior counsel representing HM armed forces

Edwin Glasgow QC

4,065,817

Edmund Lawson QC

942,943

David Lloyd Jones QC

1,095,966

Gerard Elias QC

1,795,752

Peter Clarke QC

958,853

Sir Allan Green QC

1,522,441

Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC

677,874

Sir Sydney Kentridge QC

52,875

Anna Worrall QC

100,457

Senior counsel representing MOD

Ian Burnett QC

231,386

Philip Havers QC

7,138

Junior counsel representing HM armed forces

Alexander Milne

409,121

Bridget Petherbridge

126,197

Huw Davies

361,638

Ian Leist

965,146

Michael Hick

253,895

Gaby Bonham-Carter

277,393

Pamela Morrison

131,378

Kristian Mills

56,929

Nicholas Moss

991,892

Sam Grodzinski

1,877

Stephen Requena

88,161

Alan May

299,009

Andrew Hurst

590,803

David Bradly

1,291,966

Michael Bools

990,071

Nicholas Griffin

1,195,062

Thomas Quinton

426,072

Junior counsel representing the MOD

William Hoskins

49,892

Sacha Ackland

2,776

Jonathan Hough

4,488

Solicitors representing HM armed forces

Devonshires

2,727,581

Kingsley Napley

1,943,586

Payne Hicks Beach

3,789,748

Jacqueline Duff

175,163

Treasury Solicitor

3,915,980

Given the volume of legal representation involved throughout the lifespan of the inquiry, information on hours worked is not readily available, particularly where final settlements were negotiated. A comprehensive and accurate breakdown of the number of hours worked by each legal representative would require a manual trawl of thousands of claims, and could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 886W, on the Saville Inquiry, what the reasons are for increases in expenditure on legal fees. (243243)

The figure for expenditure on legal fees provided in my answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 886W, included payments to lawyers working for the inquiry and to lawyers representing interested parties and witnesses before the inquiry (including those funded by the Ministry of Defence).

I would expect some further increase in this figure as the final few settlements are reached in respect of fees for work already carried out. The vast majority of such fees have already been settled, but there remain a small number to be resolved. There will also be a continuing need for some legal work, particularly by lawyers working for the inquiry on preparation of its report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what reasons Lord Saville has given for his discussions to set the date for delivery to him of the report of the Saville Inquiry in autumn 2009. (243377)

In Lord Saville’s letter to me of 4 November 2008, notifying me of the delay in submission of his report, he gave me the following explanation:

“Since I last wrote to you, my colleagues and I have continued our work on the report, but I regret to say that it is now clear that the indication that I then gave of the time that was likely to be required for its completion was a substantial underestimate. As you know, we have always found it difficult, given the scale and complexity of the material with which we are dealing, to predict accurately how long it will take us to complete our task. We are however most anxious to ensure that any further estimate is realistic, and with that in mind we now think it right to say that we expect to deliver the completed report to you in the autumn of next year.”

Copies of this letter were placed in the Libraries of both Houses last year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the Answer of 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 261W, on the Saville Inquiry, what the basis is for the estimate that the final cost of the inquiry will be £191 million. (243444)

The estimate provided in my answer of 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 261W, that the final cost of the inquiry would be approximately £191 million was based on the inquiry’s own estimate of the remaining costs (including an estimate provided by the Ministry of Defence for the remaining costs falling to that Department). That estimate has now been reduced to approximately £190 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 261W, on the Saville Inquiry, what the reasons are for the differences between the estimated final cost of the Inquiry and the original estimated cost. (243445)

In a statement to this House on 29 January 1998, the then Prime Minister set out his intention to establish the inquiry into Bloody Sunday and said:

“It is not possible to say now exactly how long the Inquiry will take but it should be allowed the time necessary to cover all the evidence now available thoroughly and completely.”

At this early stage, there was limited information on which to base projections of the likely total cost. The inquiry initially anticipated that its work would last about two years and £11 million was allocated for this in the Government spending review. However the unprecedented scale of the inquiry was not predicted, in terms of number of witnesses identified and available to give oral evidence, the number of legal challenges, and the ensuing increase in legal costs.

At this late stage in the inquiry’s lifespan, future spend is for the most part limited to running costs and the final total is therefore easier to predict with more certainty.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answers of 17 November 2008, Official Report, column 3W and 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 261W, on the Saville Inquiry, what the evidential basis is for the statements that (a) the final cost of the Inquiry will not exceed £191 million and (b) the Inquiry’s final report will be delivered by autumn 2009. (244058)

The estimate of £191 million provided in my answer of 18 November 2008, Official Report, column 261W, for final cost of the inquiry was based on the inquiry’s own estimate of its remaining costs and an estimate provided by the Ministry of Defence for the remaining costs falling to that Department. That estimate has now reduced to approximately £190 million.

Lord Saville notified me in a letter dated 4 November 2008 that he expected to deliver the report in autumn 2009.

Scotland

Banks

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the future of the banking industry in Scotland. (253173)

My right hon. Friend is in regular contact with the Chancellor and discusses a variety of issues. The Scottish banking sector has benefited from the significant intervention by this Government to stabilise the market.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff in his Department were disciplined for (a) bullying and (b) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years. (254076)

There have been no complaints of bullying or harassment in the Scotland Office during the period requested.

Prime Minister

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Prime Minister how many civil servants in his Office have been (a) investigated, (b) suspended and (c) dismissed for (i) losing and (ii) deliberately disclosing (A) data stored on departmental equipment and (B) confidential information in each year since 1997. (242913)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Watson) on 15 January 2009, Official Report, columns 867-68W.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Iran

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many young people in Iran the British Council have helped to learn (a) English or (b) about the UK. (249292)

[holding answer 22 January 2009]: The British Council does not work directly with young people in Iran. However, by working with leaders in the field of education, the British Council has helped young Iranians develop both a more international outlook and connections with the UK that lead to better understanding of our country and culture.

In 2007-08:

8824 people participated in a range of British Council educational and cultural programmes;

2000 students from Iran studied in further and higher education in the UK;

17,406 educational enquiries were answered by the British Council in Tehran;

78,000 people visited the British Council website www.britishcouncil.org/iran.

Rashid Rauf

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any official in his Department was given notice by any representative of (a) the Pakistan government and (b) the US administration of the US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on or before 22 November 2008. (245651)

It is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on operational intelligence matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he was first informed of the suspected death of Mr. Rashid Rauf following the US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on 22 November 2008. (245658)

Ukraine: Anti-Semitism

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Ukraine on (a) levels of anti-Semitism and (b) anti-Semitic (i) organisations and (ii) publications in Ukraine since July 2008; and if he will make a statement. (247759)

Our embassy in Kiev regularly raise issues relating to anti-Semitism with the Ukrainian authorities and remains in close contact with local human rights organisations and representatives of the Jewish community. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the International Commission Combating Anti-Semitism are co-hosting a high level meeting in the UK on the 16 and 17 February 2009 to which we are inviting a broad range of countries, including Ukraine. We continue to work with our EU partners to keep these issues under close review.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions: Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the cumulative effect on UK carbon dioxide emissions of returning to 2005 levels of emissions from aviation between now and 2050, as a proportion of total UK carbon dioxide emissions. (250713)

The Government have asked the Committee on Climate Change to advise by December 2009 on the basis for measurement of the Government’s target to reduce UK aviation emissions in 2050 below 2005 levels.

Once aviation joins the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) in 2012, carbon dioxide emissions from all flights departing and arriving at airports in the EU will be capped at 97 per cent. of average 2004-06 levels, with the cap tightening to 95 per cent. of average 2004-06 levels from 2013 onwards. Any aviation emissions above this cap will need to be matched by airlines securing reductions from other sectors within the EU ETS. 95 per cent. of UK aviation emissions in the 2004-06 period is estimated to be 35.6 million tonnes.

At present there is no clear relationship between international aviation emissions and the UK’s greenhouse gas inventory, as there is no internationally-agreed methodology for assigning emissions from international aviation to individual countries. The UK continues to press internationally for agreement on measures to address aviation emissions.

Carbon Emissions: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what each of the offsetting projects is that EEA Fund Management subsidises as part of the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund; and what the location of each project is. (250507)

The following projects are currently part of the approved pool of projects from which EEA Fund Management will deliver Certified Emission Reduction credits to the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund:

Horizonte Wind Power Generation Project

Average annual emission reductions: 6,227 t CO2e

Location: Brazil

The Horizonte project became operational and started generating electricity in 2004. The wind farm consists of eight turbines of 600 kW each for a total generation capacity of 4.8 MW. The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by substitution of energy from fossil fuel power plants as it generates electricity with clean wind energy. Energy from the plant is sold to the Brazilian South-Southeast-Midwest Grid.

Sri Balaji 6 MW Non-Conventional Renewable Sources Biomass Power Project

Average annual emission reductions: 28,590 t CO2e

Location: India

The project installed a 6 MW biomass-fired power plant that utilises surplus biomass waste residues usually burnt in the local area. The electricity generated by the project is sold to the grid, reducing reliance on fossil fuel power generation as well as creating benefits and job opportunities to the local community. The project reduces local pollution by avoiding uncontrolled burning of waste in the fields.

Cucaú Bagasse Cogeneration Project (CBCP)

Average annual emission reductions: 2,082 t CO2e

Location: Brazil

This project increases the energy efficiency of bagasse cogeneration at Cucaú sugar mill through the installation of more efficient boilers. The project also allows the mill to increase the steam efficiency in the sugar and alcohol production processes. Cucaú is thus able to generate surplus steam and use it exclusively for electricity production. This electricity is then sold into the national grid, avoiding the dispatch of the same amount of energy generated from fossil fuel-fired thermal plants.

6 MW renewable energy project for a grid system by Gayatri Agro Industrial Power Ltd., India

Average annual emission reductions: 23,738 t CO2e

Location: India

The project activity will utilise surplus biomass residues such as rice husk, paddy straw, castor stems, pulse stalks and other renewable woody biomass (Juliflora) materials to generate electricity for a grid system owned by the state owned power utility, Central Power Distribution Company Ltd.

6 MW renewable energy project for a grid system by Sri Indra Power Energies Ltd., India

Average annual emission reductions: 29,100t CO2e

Location: India

The project activity utilises surplus biomass residues to generate electricity for a grid system owned by the state power utility, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd.

Gansu Zhouqu Shimenping 15 MW Hydropower Station Project

Average annual emission reductions: 66,8171 CO2e

Location: China

The Gansu Zhouqu Shimenping Project is a small hydropower plant using water from the Bailong River in Zhouqu County in China. This project generates clean electricity, reducing reliance on fossil fuel power generation as well as creating job opportunities to the local community.

Further details of these projects can be found on the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to which 100 firms of solicitors his Department and its predecessors has paid the most in costs in respect of the coal health compensation scheme. (252851)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: The following table shows the top 100 claimants' representatives who have earned the most under the Coal Health Compensation Schemes.

Claimants' representatives

Total costs (£)

Beresfords Solicitors

130,055,137

Thompsons Solicitors

119,912,048

Hugh James

100,259,520

Raleys Solicitors

77,949,197

Mark Gilbert Morse

57,593,099

Browell Smith and Co

54,998,663

Avalon Solicitors

40,244,425

Watson Burton LLP

26,336,328

Graysons Solicitors

25,106,393

Barber and Co

23,538,872

Union of Democratic Mineworkers

23,121,615

Randell Lloyd Jenkins and Martin

18,199,775

TLW Solicitors

15,911,685

Ingrams Solicitors

13,875,567

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

13,228,092

Delta Legal

13,026,272

Towells Solicitors

12,642,096

Moss Solicitors

12,541,779

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

11,872,714

Corries Solicitors

10,771,536

Kidd and Spoor Harper Solicitors

10,013,285

BRM Solicitors

9,543,665

Birchall Blackburn

9,266,868

Gorman Hamilton Solicitors

9,135,712

Wake Smith and Tofields Solicitors

8,571,250

Corries York

8,085,834

Atteys

7,751,534

O H Parsons and Partners Solicitors

6,639,240

Hilary Meredith Solicitors

5,652,110

Shaw and Co Solicitors

5,182,627

Furley Page

4,377,089

Ryan Carlisle Thomas Lawyers

4,263,565

Simpson Millar Solicitors

4,219,485

Mortons Solicitors

3,668,028

Thompson and Co Solicitors

3,618,008

Marrons Solicitors

3,580,330

T S Edwards and Son Solicitors

3,462,860

Onyems and Partners

3,414,000

Morisons Solicitors

3,358,130

1 Legal Solicitors

3,335,346

Meloy Whittle Robinson

3,037,416

Latham and Co Solicitors

3,012,486

Proddow and Mackay Solicitors

3,007,600

Hopkins

2,955,018

Bailey Bravo Jobling

2,792,226

Kingslegal

2,777,928

Hickmotts Solicitors

2,481,773

Cordner Lewis Solicitors

2,371,372

Recompense Limited

2,291,948

Keeble Hawson Moorhouse

2,158,034

McConville O'Neill Solicitors

2,143,472

Saffmans Solicitors

2,112,594

BHPLAW

2,077,369

Oxley and Coward Solicitors

2,072,521

Hindle Campbell Solicitors

2,055,823

Gorvin Smith Fort Solicitors

1,889,313

Morgan Cole

1,836,341

Pannone and Partners Solicitors

1,831,419

J M Skinner Solicitors

1,705,843

Wheelers Solicitors

1,470,108

Gabb and Co

1,379,845

Emsleys Solicitors

1,300,966

MLM Solicitors

1,206,965

McLeish Carswell

1,194,862

Canter Levin and Berg Solicitors

1,149,222

J Keith Park and Co Solicitors

1,135,502

DMH Stallard

1,120,278

Farleys Solicitors

1,113,987

SIS Law

917,862

Colemans Solicitors

903,171

Campbell Smith W.S.

890,268

Lopian Wagner Solicitors

855,162

Keeble Hawson

842,308

Ben Hoare Bell and Co Solicitors

788,029

Elliot Mather Solicitors

784,560

Stripes Solicitors

632,696

Pinto Potts Solicitors

605,268

Mincoffs Solicitors

543,040

Foys Solicitors

537,242

Mills Donkin and Co

533,391

Morrish and Co Solicitors

530,065

Russell Jones and Walker Solicitors

529,492

Oakley and Davies

506,434

MK Legal LLP Solicitors

499,297

Branton Bridge

477,943

Holmes and Hills Solicitors

466,209

Houseman and Hails Solicitors

450,849

Endlars Solicitors

438,747

Lloyd Green Solicitors

389,320

Stuart Bell and Associates

387,839

BBH Solicitors

385,834

St Davids Solicitors

377,498

Hayward Baker

344,701

Ibbotson Brady Solicitors

324,578

Peace Revitt Solicitors

319,899

Robinson King Solicitors—ceased trading

303,378

Richard J. Knaggs and Co

265,050

DMH

254,855

Treanors Solicitors

246,740

Chappell Pascoe Solicitors

235,880

The figures take into account monies recovered under the LOROS costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which 20 firms of solicitors are handling the most unresolved claims under the coal health compensation scheme; and how many unresolved cases each such firm is handling. (252852)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: The following tables shows the 20 claimants’ representatives handling the most unresolved claims for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and vibration white finger (VWF) under the coal health compensation schemes.

The table also indicates the number of claims that may potentially be ‘struck out’ under the COPD scheme. These are claims which are denied or withdrawn, or have failed a hard cut-off.

COPD

Claimant’s representatives

Total outstanding claims

Potential for strike out

Beresfords Solicitors

2,769

1,026

Raleys Solicitors

2,562

846

Hugh James

2,135

1,189

Thompsons Solicitors

1,961

880

Browell Smith and Co.

1,251

565

Mark Gilbert Morse

654

227

Barber and Co.

593

273

Ryan Carlisle Thomas Lawyers

567

42

Randell Lloyd Jenkins and Martin

553

394

Avalon Solicitors

530

283

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

470

334

Moss Solicitors

446

276

1 Legal Solicitors

442

389

Graysons Solicitors

414

193

TLW Solicitors

350

284

Watson Burton LLP

320

119

BRM Solicitors

288

222

Corries Solicitors

270

114

Union of Democratic Mineworkers

252

142

McConville O’Neill Solicitors

183

47

VWF

Claimant’s representatives

Total outstanding claims

Thompsons Solicitors

209

Raleys Solicitors

91

Browell Smith and Co.

37

O H Parsons and Partners Solicitors

31

Corries Solicitors

26

Graysons Solicitors

21

Kidd and Spoor Harper Solicitors

20

Watson Burton LLP

20

Hugh James

18

Towells Solicitors

15

Ashton Morton Slack LLP

13

Morisons Solicitors

11

Thompson and Co. Solicitors

11

Moss Solicitors

10

Randell Lloyd Jenkins and Martin

9

Beresfords Solicitors

8

Kingslegal

6

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

5

Shaw and Co. Solicitors

5

T S Edwards and Son Solicitors

4

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the amount to be paid by his Department to solicitors in costs under the coal health compensation scheme in the next 12 months. (252853)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: The Department estimates that the sum to be paid to claimants’ solicitors under the coal health compensation scheme for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is £1,047.2 million, of which £28 million is due to be paid in 2009.

The estimate for the vibration white finger scheme is £192.43 million, of which £6 million is due to be paid in 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many unresolved surface worker coal health claims for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease there are relating to men who are (a) still alive and (b) dead. (252140)

[holding answer 28 January 2009]: As at 26 January 2009, 5,842 of the 591,767 claims registered under the British Coal Respiratory Disease Litigation (BCRDL), have been identified by claimant representatives as being from those who worked on the surface in coal preparation plants. 2,334 of these claims are from living miners; the remaining 3,508 are from families of deceased miners. Resolution of the issue of liability for these cases is subject to the outcome of the trial of a sample of four cases, due to be heard in November 2009. From these cases, we aim to identify generic issues that allow the issue of British Coal’s liability to compensate to be resolved one way or the other.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much his Department and its predecessors have paid Nabarro Nathanson in fees for cases relating to industrial disease claims in the mining industry since 1995. (252143)

[holding answer 28 January 2009]: From April 1999 to October 2008, BERR and its predecessors spent £28.7 million plus VAT in relation to Nabarro’s fees across all mining-related industrial disease claims. But note this excludes all counsel costs, expert fees, cost draftsman’s fees and foreign lawyer’s fees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on behalf of how many individual miners Beresfords Solicitors have submitted claims under the coal health compensation scheme. (252883)

Government records show the total number of miners represented by Beresfords Solicitors under the coal health compensation schemes is 85,382 claims.

Industrial Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will estimate the number of miners who developed beat knee while working in the mining industry. (252141)

[holding answer 28 January 2009]: It is not possible for the Department to estimate the number of miners who developed beat knee. However, the Department received nearly 15,000 claims for beat knee as a result of litigation which was not pursued beyond 2005. The Department currently faces litigation for osteoarthritis of the knee and meniscal damage but not for beat knee which is a separate condition.

International Renewable Energy Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for what reasons the Government has not supported the proposal for an International Renewable Energy Agency; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the work of the International Energy Agency in the area of renewable energy; and if he will make a statement. (252132)

We have fully supported the proposal for an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). During 2008, we participated in the process for establishing the IRENA and we have also participated at the Founding conference on 26 January and the first session of the Preparatory Commission of IRENA on 27 January 2009.

To achieve our climate change and energy goals, we need to accelerate rapidly the deployment of renewable sources of energy and have greater co-ordination. IRENA has the potential to make a significant contribution to this work.

We have been very keen on joining and have been in close contact with the German Government on the details of the new organisation. For example, we have been talking to Germany about how IRENA can contribute to the roll-out and deployment of renewables and how we can help to get other countries such as Canada, China, Japan, India and the US to join. We are also talking about how we can make sure that IRENA works closely with, and avoids overlap and duplication with, other international bodies and organisations, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the renewable energy and energy efficiency partnership (REEEP), of which the UK is already a member.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he plans to reply to the letter to him dated 3 November 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. D.J. Fraser. (246529)

I apologise for the delay in responding. This was due to departmental reorganisation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change replied on 20 January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he plans to reply to the letter of 27 October 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Mrs. Doreen Henley, transferred to him by the Prime Minister. (247852)

I apologise for the delay in responding. This was due to departmental reorganisation. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Edward Miliband), replied on 28 January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he plans to reply to the letter of 3 November 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Mr D J Fraser. (250870)

I replied to my right hon. Friend on 17 January. My officials have been in contact with my right hon. Friend’s office which has confirmed the response has been received.

Warm Homes Act 2000

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of paragraphs 34 and 35 of the adjudication of the High Court on 17 October 2008 in respect of a case brought by Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth on enforcements of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, in terms of the duty placed upon the responsible Secretary of State under section 3 of the Act. (245457)

Paragraphs 34 and 35 of the judgment refer to section 3 of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000. Provisions like that section are commonly included in Bills, and therefore in Acts of Parliament, without any intention that they should have a substantive legal effect. The explanation for their inclusion relates to the procedure of the House of Commons where a provision of a Bill introduced in that House may give rise to public expenditure. This is not a matter that is specific to the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, but raises wider issues relating to parliamentary procedure and Bill drafting practice generally. The Government are considering those issues in the light of the judgment.

Treasury

Banks

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department, (c) special advisers and (d) officials in his Department have had with each UK bank since September 2008; what was discussed; who was present at each meeting; what agreements have been reached between his Department and each bank at each such meeting; and if he will make a statement. (252995)

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Banks: Iceland

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Financial Services Authority was first informed of risks associated with investing in Icelandic banks. (252483)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 1083W.

Debts

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much household debt there was in the UK in December 2008. (253087)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: I have been asked to reply.

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 3 February 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how much household debt there was in the UK in December 2008. (253087)

The most recent data available are for the end of September 2008, when total financial liabilities were £1,568 billion. (Strictly, these figures include non-profit institutions serving households, for example, charities, trade unions and churches, as well as households proper. But their liabilities are small in relation to the total.)

Data for the end of December 2008 will be included in the next Quarterly National Accounts release, due on 27th March 2009.

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters he has received on the subject of his Department's package of assistance for banks. (253155)

Equitable Life

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what timetable he has agreed with Sir John Chadwick for presentation of (a) an interim report and (b) a final report of his investigation into the scope of compensation for Equitable Life policy holders; when he expects the first payments to policy holders to be made; and if he will make a statement. (253446)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the statement of 15 January 2009, Official Report, columns 377-80, on Equitable Life, what timetable he has set for Sir John Chadwick to provide his advice to his Department; and if he will make a statement. (253460)

The Government have asked Sir John Chadwick to advise as quickly as he is able, including providing interim updates.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many localities there are in each billing authority area in England. (252422)

I have been asked to reply.

I have placed in the Library of the House a table detailing the number of localities delineated by the Valuation Office Agency, by billing authority area in England.

Northern Rock: Mortgages

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information (a) his Department and (b) the Financial Services Authority holds on the number of people who have a mortgage with Northern Rock at its standard variable rate. (252413)

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is operationally independent from the Government and such questions should be addressed directly to the FSA. In respect of information held by the Treasury, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) on 21 July 2008, Official Report, column 728W.

Public Sector: Procurement

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a public authority advertising a contract in the Official Journal of the European Union may specify that preference will be given to a bidder who can demonstrate delivery of a local multiplier effect in the local economy; and if he will make a statement. (254181)

Advertisements placed in the Official Journal of the European Union must be compliant with our EU and other international obligations. These are in place to open up markets and to prevent discrimination across the Community. Any contract notice which states a local preference would not be consistent with those legal obligations.

Royal Bank of Scotland

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many meetings Ministers in his Department held with (a) staff and (b) directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland in (i) each month in 2008 and (ii) January 2009. (253091)

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Taxation: Self-Assessment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to reduce HM Revenue and Customs’ 6.5 per cent. interest charge for late returned self-assessment tax returns. (254001)

Interest is not charged on late returned self-assessment returns, but rather on any tax shown as due on a return and unpaid at the due date.

HM Revenue and Customs recalculates its interest rates following any change in the Bank of England base rate in line with procedures laid down in legislation. The legislation sets out how the rates for various taxes and duties should be calculated and when they apply from. In accordance with the legislation the rate of interest charged on underpaid income tax is currently 3.5 per cent. This rate has applied since 27 January 2009.

Thoresen Review

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration his Department has given to the findings of the Thoresen Review of Generic Financial Advice. (253298)

The Government accepted the Thoresen Review's central recommendation to pilot the Money Guidance service through a large-scale regional pathfinder on 3 March 2008, alongside publication of the Thoresen Review's final report. As announced at PBR 2008, the £12 million pathfinder, jointly funded by HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority, is on track to launch this spring in the North East and North West of England. The pathfinder will inform Government decisions on roll-out of a national Money Guidance service.

Valuation Office: Electronic Equipment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Weybridge of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1889W, on departmental electronic equipment, to what use the Valuation Office Agency has put the (a) flat screen televisions and (b) stereo equipment it purchased in the years concerned. (252403)

The information is as follows:

(a) 14 flat-screen televisions are used for video-conferencing, one to relay information messages to staff, one to show 24-hour news programmes to visitors, one for PowerPoint and other computer-based presentations in the boardroom and one for development of staff training material.

(b) The stereo equipment is used for audio presentations in VOA offices.

Valuation Office: South East

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 6 November 2008, Official Report, column 682W, on housing: valuation, if he will rank each individual locality reference in each valuation area in the South East according to value significance. (252213)

A list of locality reference numbers, ranked in order of value significance by valuation area within the Valuation Office Agency's South East Group, has been placed in the Library. The list is based on data extracted between 9 and 10 September 2008.

Information that identifies the extent and location of each locality, relative to the list of numbers that ranks each individual locality, is commercially confidential.

Welfare Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent steps the Government have taken to increase the uptake of tax credits by those entitled to them. (253248)

Paragraph 5.40, Chapter 5 in the pre-Budget report 2008 set out the steps the Government are taking to increase the uptake of tax credits, which includes HMRC working in partnership with other organisations to promote working tax credit in innovative ways. Since then coverage through partnership marketing has increased from 500,000 employees at 40 organisations to 660,000 employees at 44 organisations.

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many bankruptcy orders have been issued in respect to the recovery of tax credit overpayments (a) in each year since 2003-04 and (b) in each month in 2008-09 for which information is available; and what the average level of overpayment was. (249235)

The information requested is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. HMRC's policy is to attempt to make personal contact in all cases before legal proceedings are commenced including at least one visit to the last known address of the claimant.

HM Revenue and Customs will only initiate insolvency action through the courts as a last resort and it would be unusual to commence insolvency proceedings solely in respect of tax credit debts.

International Development

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff posts (i) have been and (ii) are planned to be ended in each division as part of the restructuring in his Department referred to in his Department's Annual Report 2008, chapter 10, point 10.16; and what reduction in expenditure is expected to arise from this restructuring. (246921)

Details of headcount reductions at the Department for International Development (DFID) since 2004 are available in the 2008 Annual Report, Chapter 10, point 10.23. This is available in the Library of the House and on the DFID website:

www.dfid.gov.uk.

For the 2008-09 to 2010-11 period there are no headcount targets.

Workforce planning and staff needs by division are continually under review.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his latest estimate is of his Department's underspend for the financial year 2008-09. (253976)

The Department for International Development (DFID) estimates that it will spend its budget in full for the financial year 2008-09.

Developing Countries: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with CDC on its role in private sector investment in developing countries during the global economic downturn; and if he will make a statement. (252400)

Officials at the Department for International Development (DFID) have had discussions on the financial crisis with CDC in the context of the company's new investment policy announced in November 2008. This policy will focus CDC further on poorer countries that still have substantial need for investment capital during the crisis. A copy of the policy has been placed in the Library of the House.

With access to private credit in developing countries reducing as a result of the economic downturn, capital flows from development finance institutions such as CDC must be maintained or increased. Access to these funds will encourage private sector investment and the jobs that that helps to protect and create.

CDC therefore has an important counter-cyclical role to play in continuing to make commitments to funds which focus on its target geographies in low income countries and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

However, CDC on its own can have only a small impact. A coordinated response is necessary and we are also encouraging CDC to coordinate closely with other Development Finance Institutions such as the IFC which is preparing a package of facilities and initiatives in response to the global financial crisis.

International Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department will attend the forthcoming Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Global Conference on establishing resource transparency; what his Department's objectives for the conference are; and if he will make a statement.[Official Report, 12 February 2009, Vol. 487, c. 17MC.] (252866)

The UK Government have been a leading supporter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). DFID has committed £10.043 million to EITI and has so far provided £5.077 million of this since November 2002. Increasing transparency and knowledge of revenues from the extractive sectors empowers citizens to hold governments to account, so that mismanagement of funds away from sustainable development purposes becomes more difficult. In line with the EITI Global Conference's objectives, we will work with other stakeholders to take stock of EITI’s progress; to address the challenges which EITI faces; and to consider the next steps for taking forward the initiative.

The composition of the UK's delegation to the EITI Global Conference is yet to be finalised.

Palestinians: International Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent assessment is of the humanitarian situation in Gaza; what continued financial contribution the UK plans to make; and if he will urge the international community to make a substantial contribution to deal with the humanitarian situation in the region. (253933)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The United Nations estimates that over 90 per cent. of Gaza's population is at least partly dependent on food aid and one fifth of people have no access to running water. Access through crossings between Gaza and Israel remains severely restricted although some deliveries of emergency food aid, medicines and medical supplies have been allowed in but is not adequate to fully meet the needs of the population. The UK continues to urge Israel to immediately allow full and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies so supplies can get in.

The UK Government have made an additional pledge of up to £26.8 million to help meet immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza. Of this over £12 million has already been allocated. For the remaining funds, we are prioritising support to those agencies well placed to respond to immediate humanitarian assistance and protection needs. The UK will continue to meet needs through our five year £100 million commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. We also provide funding through the European Community's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) which has allocated €3 million for urgent humanitarian relief work in Gaza, of which the UK contributes about 16 per cent. (€482,000).

We are in contact with other Governments on ensuring that the contributions made by the international community are adequate to meet humanitarian needs in Gaza. The continued restrictions on access into Gaza for humanitarian supplies are a serious problem that must be dealt with so that humanitarian assistance can reach those who need it.

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid he has made available to the population of Gaza in the last two years. (248169)

In 2007-08 the Department for International Development provided £63.6 million to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). This included £15.6 million to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in the region; £3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, and £35.5 million to the PA which helped it provide essential public services in both Gaza and the West Bank.

In 2008-09 the UK has already provided £19 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to help Palestinian refugees in the region, including the 70 per cent. of Gazans who are refugees. We have also given £23.5 million to the Palestinian Authority for delivery of public services in Gaza and the west bank.

As announced on 18 January 2009, the UK has pledged an additional £20 million to help meet needs in Gaza, bringing the total UK response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to nearly £27 million since the conflict started.

I also refer my hon. Friend to the answer provided to the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) on 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 613-14W.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take to provide assistance to the people of Zimbabwe in the next 12 months. (253099)

The Department for International Development's (DFID) programme in Zimbabwe is focused on providing immediate humanitarian support and broader livelihoods assistance to meet the essential needs of the people of Zimbabwe. This year we have provided: £9 million to the World Food programme for food aid; £10 million to support the growing season; and £9 million to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. We also recently made £10 million available to tackle the cholera outbreak and support life-saving essential health systems. The UK is one of the largest donors giving £45 million last year in aid. We anticipate a total spend of £47 million this financial year across these areas of life-saving need. Our aid is channelled through the UN and NGOs and not the Government of Zimbabwe.

We anticipate the need for sustained large-scale humanitarian support from the international community for the foreseeable future and we are monitoring the situation very closely. However, a sustainable and credible political solution is required to really address Zimbabwe's problems. In principle, we are ready to support economic and social recovery in Zimbabwe but the nature of our support will be contingent on a new administration’s commitment to change, including: commitment to macroeconomic stabilisation; restoration of the rule of law; commitment to democracy and respect for human rights and full humanitarian access.

Work and Pensions

Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of his Department's local offices to assist people made redundant. (253034)

Jobcentre Plus is well prepared: it is increasing its staffing levels and ensuring it has the office and infrastructure capacity it needs to respond to the current economic situation.

For those under threat of redundancy, we are doubling the resources available to the Jobcentre Plus rapid response teams who offer immediate advice to affected employers and individuals to help them with their next steps.

Bereavement Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the target processing period is for applications for bereavement benefit. (249683)

[holding answer 20 January 2009]: There is no national target for the processing of applications for bereavement benefits although we aim to deliver bereavement allowance within 15 days and bereavement payment within 10 days.

Payment of bereavement benefits has now been centralised nationally into two benefit delivery centres at Arbroath and Dover in order to improve the service to our customers. Between April and December 2008 new bereavement allowance claims were processed in just over 15 days on average and new bereavement payment claims in just over nine days on average.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many parents with care were owed Child Support Agency maintenance arrears in each month since May 1997; (242094)

(2) what the average amount of Child Support Agency maintenance arrears owed to parents with care was per case in each month since May 1997;

(3) what the average amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding was on all Child Support Agency cases with maintenance outstanding in each month since May 1997.

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, how many parents with care were owed Child Support Agency maintenance arrears in each month since May 1997 [242094];

What the average amount of Child Support Agency maintenance arrears owed to parents with care was per case in each month since May 1997 [242095]; and

What the average amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding was on all Child Support Agency cases with maintenance outstanding in each month since May 1997. [242192]

The analysis required to respond to your questions is only available on information held from March 2007. Such information as is currently available is provided in the attached table.

It should be noted that the majority of child maintenance cases will have some debt. In particular all new cases will accrue debt unless the non-resident parent provides support while the liability is being assessed. In addition around a third of non-resident parents fail to regularly pay the maintenance they should and this debt will continue to accrue. Therefore where there are maintenance arrears the average amount owed to parents with care is around £2,600, although in fact around a quarter of all cases with arrears owe less than £170 or less than two monthly maintenance payments.

In the twelve months to September 2008 the Agency collected £1,088 million in child maintenance, of which £149 million was arrears. In the month of September 2008 alone, the Agency collected or arranged £98.7 million in maintenance of which £14.6 million was arrears. This is the highest level of maintenance and arrears collected or arranged by the Agency in one month ever.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act strengthens the range of enforcement and debt management powers available to the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. These will be used to enable the Commission to more effectively recover outstanding debt.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Open cases with outstanding maintenance arrears from March 2007 to September 2008. This includes those cases without outstanding arrears at September 2008.

Month

Cases without outstanding arrears1

Cases with arrears due to parent with care2

Average arrears owed to parent with care2 (£)

Average total arrears3 (£)

March 2007

636,500

2,700

3,700

June 2007

656,600

2,700

3,700

September 2007

670,600

2,700

3,600

December 2007

686,800

2,600

3,600

March 2008

697,100

2,600

3,500

June 2008

711,800

2,600

3,500

September 2008

563,000

718,800

2,600

3,500

1 Refers to open cases including those without a current liability.

2 Information provided only includes open cases including those without a current liability where debt is owed to the parent with care. This excludes debt owed to the Secretary of State as well as some cases where the parent with care owes money.

3 Includes total debt on open cases including those without a current liability which is owed by non resident parents to the parent with care and/or Secretary of State. This excludes debt where money is owed to the non-resident parent.

Notes:

1. Data only available from March 2007 onwards.

2. All figures rounded to nearest 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears outstanding on a single case with the Child Support Agency was in each month in each year since May 1997; (242195)

(2) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears which the Child Support Agency has requested be settled in full was in each of the last 24 months.

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 is the largest amount of maintenance arrears outstanding on a single case with the Child Support Agency in each

month in each year since May 1997 [242195] and

What is the largest amount of maintenance arrears which the Child Support Agency has requested be settled in full in each of the last 24 months. [242196]

The Agency cannot comment on individual cases and this extends to an individual not being able to identify themselves in public statistics. As data disclosure exemptions prevent the supply of information on an individual case being published in the public domain, information is provided in the attached table on the average debt owed by non-resident parents, taken from the top five per cent of cases in each month from March 2007. This includes a small enough percentage of cases to accurately represent the highest debt cases but a high enough number of cases not to disclose an individuals details.

Information is not available on the largest amount of arrears requested to be settled in full as this is not routinely recorded by the Agency.

The average debt owed by non-resident parents, taken from the top 5 per cent. of cases in each month from March 2007.

Number of cases

Average debt (£)

March 2007

49,500

32,400

April 2007

50,000

32,300

May 2007

50,600

32,200

Jun 2007

51,000

32,000

July 2007

51,300

32,000

August 2007

51,800

31,800

September 2007

52,100

31,800

October 2007

52,500

31,700

November 2007

52,800

31,600

December 2007

53,200

31,500

January 2008

53,300

31,500

February 2008

53,000

31,500

March 2008

53,900

31,400

April 2008

54,200

31,300

May 2008

54,500

31,300

June 2008

54,800

31,300

July 2008

55,100

31,200

August 2008

55,000

31,300

September 2008

54,600

31,400

Notes:

1. Only includes cases with a positive debt owed by the non-resident parent. Some cases have a 'negative' debt where money is owed to the non resident parent.

2. Figures are extracted from the Agency's debt book. This is only available from March 2007.

Crisis Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people were subject to (a) a county court claim by his Department and (b) a county court judgement as a result of such a claim for defaulting on repayments of a (i) crisis loan and (ii) budget loan in each year since 1997; (249339)

(2) how many people have had items repossessed following default on repayments of (a) a crisis loan and (b) a budgeting loan in each year since 1997;

(3) in how many instances bailiffs have been used to recover repayments of (a) a crisis loan and (b) a budgeting loan in each year since 1997;

(4) how many bankruptcy orders have been issued following default on repayments of a (a) crisis loan and (b) budgeting loan in each year since 1997.

Where a person is in receipt of benefit, recovery is by means of deductions from benefit only.

Court action is only taken against those no longer receiving benefits. Such action is taken only should a voluntary arrangement not be possible, or if there is a default on that arrangement. The Department does not seek repossession of items in default cases, neither does the Department take bankruptcy action.

The information relating to the number of occasions bailiffs have been used is not available.

The number of people subject to a county court claim by the Department for Work and Pensions for defaulting on Social Fund repayments is set out as follows. The information cannot be separated between Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans. No action has been taken to enforce recovery of outstanding loans through the courts since 2005-06.

Number of court claims in social fund cases

Number

1997-98

14,417

1998-99

12,005

1999-2000

15,619

2000-01

10,688

2001-02

7,861

2002-03

5,878

2003-04

6,009

2004-05

3,792

2005-06

1,076

Note:

Data prior to 2003-04 has been supplied by the courts.

As part of the Department’s programme to bring increased focus to the management and recovery of debt generally, the decision was made to transfer the management and recovery of social fund off-benefit cases to the Department’s specialist Debt Management unit. This commenced in 2005. Referring the outstanding social fund loans to Debt Management has enabled the use of their specialist skills in pursuing recovery from customers who are no longer in receipt of benefit.

This transfer of cases to Debt Management has already resulted in significant recoveries on loans from those no longer in receipt of benefit, without a need to refer for court enforcement.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process a housing benefit claim was in each year since 1997. (253119)

The available information is in the table:

Average days to process housing benefit claims—2001-02 to 2007-08

Average days

2001-02

59

2002-03

53

2003-04

50

2004-05

45

2005-06

37

2006-07

33

2007-08

27

Notes:

1. Housing benefit claim processing times are measured in calendar days from the day a claim is received to the date a decision is made.

2. Claim processing performance data is supplied to DWP by local authorities and is un-audited.

3. Not all local authorities provide all four quarters worth of data. Where a local authority has not provided data in a particular quarter, the data they have provided is multiplied to cover the appropriate period; this is then used to calculate the national average.

Source:

Local authority management information returns to DWP

Pension Credit: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of pensioners in (a) Castle Point constituency, (b) Essex and (c) England claim pension credit. (249688)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: The answer is in the following table.

Castle Point constituency

Essex

England

Households in receipt of pension credit

4,150

55,410

2,275,670

Individual beneficiaries

5,330

68,310

2,780,470

Total pensioner population

23,172

324,950

11,063,010

Proportion of pensioners claiming (percentage)

18

17

21

Notes:

1. The number of households in receipt are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.

3. Individual beneficiaries includes both claimants and their partners.

4. Pensioners have been defined as anyone aged 60 or over.

5. Percentages of pensioner population have been calculated using the ONS mid year population estimates (2007) for the age group 60 and over.

6. Percentages of pensioner population at constituency level have been calculated based on the ONS mid year population estimates (2006) at constituency level which are experimental data and therefore not part of the National Statistics. These experimental statistics are still under evaluation by ONS and should be interpreted with caution. The population estimates are published at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=15095

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data, Office for National Statistics

Pension Disability and Carers Service: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions he has met with representatives of the Pension Service to discuss its performance; and if he will make a statement. (252767)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions meet regularly with colleagues from the Pension, Disability and Carers Service to discuss a range of matters.

Pensioners: North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in each constituency in the North East claimed pension credit in each year since its introduction. (250060)

The information is in the following table.

Household recipients of pension credit in each constituency in the north-east, November 2003 to May 2008

Parliamentary constituency

November 2003

May 2004

May 2005

May 2006

May 2007

May 2008

Berwick-upon-Tweed

3,110

3,850

4,120

4,160

4,210

4,250

Bishop Auckland

4,770

5,520

5,830

5,830

5,890

5,760

Blaydon

3,680

4,710

4,970

5,010

4,980

4,940

Blyth Valley

3,200

4,090

4,390

4,380

4,380

4,270

City of Durham

3,250

3,820

4,040

4,080

4,060

4,020

Darlington

4,010

4,610

4,970

5,020

5,070

5,070

Easington

4,010

4,800

5,070

5,150

5,160

5,140

Gateshead East and Washington West

4,120

5,010

5,330

5,260

5,360

5,330

Hartlepool

5,070

5,940

6,300

6,270

6,250

6,180

Hexham

2,200

2,780

2,950

2,940

2,940

2,960

Houghton and Washington East

4,070

5,030

5,360

5,420

5,430

5,420

Jarrow

4,640

5,460

5,800

5,870

5,900

5,880

Middlesbrough

4,970

5,760

6,010

5,960

5,940

5,990

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

3,960

4,710

5,030

5,130

5,120

5,190

Newcastle upon Tyne Central

3,820

4,320

4,510

4,530

4,510

4,480

Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend

4,820

5,560

5,850

5,770

5,740

5,590

Newcastle upon Tyne North

4,200

4,890

5,190

5,250

5,180

5,210

North Durham

4,310

5,090

5,450

5,470

5,510

5,520

North Tyneside

4,690

5,570

6,040

6,070

6,100

5,930

North West Durham

4,950

5,790

6,010

6,010

5,980

5,880

Redcar

4,200

5,000

5,290

5,300

5,350

5,340

Sedgefield

4,020

4,720

5,030

5,040

4,980

4,980

South Shields

4,960

5,780

6,200

6,190

6,140

6,050

Stockton North

4,040

4,790

5,100

5,180

5,180

5,200

Stockton South

3,150

3,760

3,990

4,080

4,110

4,050

Sunderland North

5,100

5,930

6,300

6,360

6,350

6,300

Sunderland South

5,180

6,080

6,400

6,430

6,430

6,370

Tyne Bridge

5,110

5,860

6,060

6,030

5,980

5,900

Tynemouth

3,760

4,460

4,770

4,830

4,820

4,800

Wansbeck

2,920

3,910

4,330

4,380

4,400

4,360

Total

124,280

147,570

156,680

157,430

157,440

156,350

Notes:

1. The number of households in receipt is rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data

Post Office Card Account: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what compensation he has agreed to pay to the unsuccessful bidders for the Post Office Card Account tendering process. (244564)

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly) on 10 December 2008, Official Report, column 105W.

Recovery from Estates Debt Management Unit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was recovered by his Department’s Recovery from Estates Debt Management Unit in each year since 1997 for which information is available; and what the cost of running the Unit was in each such year. (249375)

Recovery from Estates (RFE) is responsible for the recovery of overpaid benefit from the estates of deceased customers in England and Wales. This involves:

checking records of deceased customers against probate records and taking action to recover money incorrectly paid; and

recovering any overpayments that were outstanding on the death of a customer.

RFE do not recover:

Overpayments made after death;

Official error overpayments

RFE recovery data is only available from 2003, costing data from 2005.

Recovery

RFE (£)

2003-04

20,832,955

2004-05

20,846,483

2005-06

18,267,983

2006-07

13,698,328

2007-08

23,283,557

Costs

RFE (£ million)

2005-06

1.4

2006-07

1.3

2007-08

1.4

Social Security Benefits: Disabled People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support is available through the benefits system to parents with disabled children between the ages of 16 and 18 to help them with childcare costs. (249346)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Jobcentre Plus pays childcare costs within the limits set under the child care element of the working tax credit, on behalf of parents who are claiming out of work benefits who have a disabled child.

For children in receipt of disability living allowance or who are registered blind, child care costs can be paid up to, but not including, the first Tuesday in the September following the child's 16th birthday.

Parents are eligible to claim the cost of registered child care when they are undertaking certain activities in connection with their search for work or when they are attending work focused training. To qualify for child care payments, all activities must be approved by a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

Parents can claim tax credit for a child who lives with them, up to 31 August after the 16th birthday. Child care costs can be claimed through the child care element for a disabled child until the last day in which 1 September falls, following the child's 16th birthday. The age limit is otherwise the child's 15th birthday.

The Aiming High for Disabled Children review found that more needed to be done to co-ordinate services for disabled young people in transition to adult life, and to ensure young people and families can access high quality information at key points. To address this the Government announced £19 million over the period 2008 to 2011 to develop a ‘Transition Support Programme’ for young disabled people, which will seek to raise the standards of transition support and provision and achieve greater consistency in all local areas.

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people were subject to (a) a county court claim by his Department and (b) a county court judgement as a result of such a claim for repayments of overpayments of (i) jobseeker’s allowance, (ii) income support, (iii) incapacity benefit, (iv) carers allowance, (v) attendance allowance, (vi) pension credit and (vii) the state pension in each year since 1997; (249340)

(2) how many people have had items repossessed following default on repayments of overpayments of (a) jobseeker’s allowance, (b) income support, (c) incapacity benefit, (d) carers allowance, (e) attendance allowance, (f) pension credit and (g) the state pension in each year since 1997;

(3) how many instances bailiffs have been used to recover repayments of overpayments of (a) jobseeker’s allowance, (b) income support, (c) incapacity benefit, (d) carers allowance, (e) attendance allowance, (f) pension credit and (g) the state pension in each year since 1997;

(4) how many bankruptcy orders have been issued against individuals following their default on repayments of overpayments of (a) jobseeker’s allowance, (b) income support, (c) incapacity benefit, (d) carers allowance, (e) attendance allowance, (f) pension credit and (g) the state pension in each year since 1997 for which information is available;

(5) in how many cases his Department has pursued repayment of overpayments of benefit following the death of a claimant through a county court claim in each of the last five years, broken down by benefit type.

In cases where there is an overpayment of benefit outstanding, court action is only taken against those no longer receiving benefits. Such action is taken only should a voluntary arrangement not be possible, or if there is a default on that arrangement. The Department does not seek repossession of items in default cases, neither does the Department take bankruptcy action.

The information relating to the number of occasions bailiffs have been used is not available.

There are two types of actions the Department takes in county courts, depending on whether or not recovery is sought from an estate of a deceased customer.

1. Where recovery is sought from the person overpaid:

The action the Department takes in county courts to recover overpayments of benefit is to seek an Order for Recovery of Money Awarded by a Tribunal. This does not result in a county court judgment.

Between 2005 and 2008, no civil action in county courts was initiated by the Department in cases of this type. During this period, resources were concentrated on establishing the newly created Debt Management unit, with new processes, a new structure and new IT. This succeeded in increasing the total amount recovered from £180 million in 2005 to 2006, to just under £272 million in 2007 to 2008.

Some limited court action was taken by the Department’s private sector partners during this period. They obtained charging orders in nine high value overpayment cases.

The Department recommenced county court action in overpayment cases from January 2008, and during 2008 1,700 orders were sought from the court. Information relating to the breakdown between benefits is not available.

Information for the period prior to 2005 is not available.

2. Where recovery is sought from an estate of a deceased customer:

In cases where there is an overpayment outstanding at a customer’s death, or where an overpayment is identified after death based on information that comes to light after death, such as undeclared occupational pensions or under declared savings, recovery is sought from the estate. In certain cases, where repayment is not made, the Department may take the executor to the county court on the basis of maladministration of the estate. Such actions can result in county court judgments.

The Department does not take action through the court to pursue recovery of overpayments arising as a result of a payment made directly into a bank account after death.

Details of the number of cases where county court action has been taken are in the table. We are not able to say how many resulted in county court judgments, or say which benefits they related to.

Information prior to April 2005 is not available.

Number

2005-06

47

2006-07

57

2007-08

56

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the monetary value was of repayments of overpayments requested by his Department following the death of a claimant in circumstances where such repayments were not mandatory under social security legislation and where the family members of the deceased claimants challenged the requests and did not subsequently make the repayments in each of the last five years, broken down by benefit type; (249353)

(2) what the monetary value was of repayments of overpayments of benefits requested by his Department following the death of a claimant, where such repayments were not mandatory under social security legislation in each of the last five years, broken down by benefit type;

(3) in how many cases overpayments of benefit have been reclaimed following the death of a claimant where such repayments were not mandatory under social security legislation in each of the last five years, broken down by benefit type;

(4) in how many cases his Department has not pursued requests for repayment of overpayments following the death of a claimant in circumstances where the repayment was challenged by family members and where the repayment was not mandatory under social security legislation in each of the last five years;

(5) in how many cases where his Department requested repayment of overpayments following the death of a claimant where such repayments were not mandatory under social security legislation, such requests were not challenged by family members in each of the last five years.

Unfortunately, through no fault of any individual, overpayments of benefit can arise following the death of a benefit recipient. Such overpayments normally arise as a result of the Department being notified of the death too late to stop an automated payment being made into the deceased’s account.

We are doing all we can to improve the current process. We now receive electronic notifications of death from the Office for National Statistics on a daily basis. This will assist in enabling a prompt cessation of payments following death and reduce the number of these overpayments occurring.

The Department has a duty to seek recovery of all overpaid funds where it is reasonable and cost effective to do so. However, we seek to do this as sensitively as possible, taking account of the fact that this will be a stressful time, particularly if the person contacted is a close friend or family member. Overpayments are written off if the deceased has no estate or there are insufficient funds in the estate.

The Department does not have records to answer all the questions in the format asked. However, we do have data on the value and volume of cases of overpayments where recovery has been made, and data on those that have been written off. The details are in the following tables.

Direct payments after death—debts written off. These data are only available from 2006, and by benefit only from 2007.

Volume of cases

Value written off (£ million)

2006-07

157,722

27.3

2007-08

198,516

27.4

Write off by benefit for fiscal year 2007-08 is in the following table:

Benefit type name

Count of transactions

Transaction amount (£)