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Written Answers

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 5 February 2009

Transport

Buses: Fares

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timescale has been established for the roll-out of smartcard technology on buses in England; whether it is policy that all buses should be smartcard-enabled; and if he will make a statement. (253907)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: The Department for Transport would like all buses in England to eventually be smartcard enabled. To help achieve this, we have specified that all concessionary travel passes must be smartcards and have announced our intention to pay a higher rate of Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) for buses that use such technology. We anticipate that as a result of these initiatives there will be a transformation in the availability of smart card systems and the use of smart cards over the course of this decade.

Work is under way on a ticketing strategy for England, which will encompass smart ticketing. The intention is to publish a consultation paper in the spring and officials are currently meeting with key stakeholders to inform the development of the consultation.

Carbon Emissions: EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on the implementation of EC Regulations (a) 715/2007 and (b) 692/2008 on replacement catalytic converters. (254119)

None. However, under the terms of directive 98/34/EC, the Department for Transport recently notified the Commission of certain additional domestic provisions which are included in the UK's regulations implementing the EU legislation. These provisions require replacement catalytic converters which are not subject to the EU requirements to be labelled accordingly. The Government consider these provisions to be essential to ensure effective enforcement and hence to fully achieve the objectives of the EU legislation.

Departmental Equality

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which of the milestones set out on page 7 of his Department's human resources Race Equality Action Plan 2005 to 2008 were not achieved. (253566)

Two of the milestones on page 7 of the Race Equality Action Plan 2005 to 2008 were not fully achieved. These were:

“publish analysis (of diversity monitoring data) annually” - some information was not published in year, however, all of the information for the years 2005 to 2008 has now been published.

“ensure that external recruitment agencies ... collect and supply ethnicity-monitoring data...” - information has not been available for external recruitment from one contractor for campaigns run in the year 2007-08.

Departmental Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which of his Department’s bargaining units grant disability leave to staff. (253174)

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Driving Standards Agency and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency grant disability leave to staff. In other bargaining units, requests for time off for disability-related medical appointments and rehabilitation are considered on a case by case basis.

Departmental Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much (a) paper, (b) plastic and (c) other waste has been produced by his Department in each of the last three years; and how much of that waste was recycled. (253292)

The figures for the Department for Transport for the last three years are as follows:

Total waste (Tonnes)

Recycled waste (Tonnes)

Waste recycled (Percentage)

2005-06

4,300

3,014

70.1

2006-07

3,878

2,214

57.1

2007-08

3,711

2,015

54.3

Very few parts of the Department for Transport are able to calculate the specific volumes of paper and plastic waste generated. However, the following data represent the departmental figures for the specified waste streams.

Tonnes

Recycled paper waste

Recycled plastic waste

Other waste recycled

2005-06

1,325

4

1,685

2006-07

1,297

4

913

2007-08

1,227

5

783

Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency: Debts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency on the performance of Moorcroft Debt Recovery Ltd; what conclusions he reached; and if he will make a statement. (253562)

Driving Standards Agency: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Driving Standards Agency spent on alcohol in relation to its operations conference in September 2008. (250790)

The Driving Standards Agency spent £1,429.64 on drinks served at the Operations Conference in September 2008. This amounted to slightly under £10 per delegate.

Driving Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of scheduled driving tests have been cancelled by the Driving Standards Agency in each of the last five years. (253479)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: The proportion of scheduled driving tests that have been cancelled by the Driving Standards Agency in each of the last five years are as follows:

Total cancellations (Percentage)

2003-04

4.4

2004-05

3.7

2005-06

3.0

2006-07

4.1

2007-08

5.8

The majority of these tests were cancelled as a result of bad weather or were cancelled outside of the short notice period.

Infrastructure Policy Statements

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the infrastructure policy statements for (a) ports, (b) surface networks and (c) aviation to be published. (253901)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: I expect to publish a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for ports this summer for consultation, with a view to designation early in 2010; to publish a draft NPS for National Networks (strategic highways and railways, including strategic rail freight interchanges) for consultation this autumn, with a view to designation later in 2010; and to publish a draft NPS for airports by 2011.

Oil: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assumptions on the price of oil his Department used in developing its High Level Output Statement; and whether he plans to revise such assumptions. (253690)

The oil price assumptions used in the High Level Output Statement were taken from the National Transport Model and the Department for Transport (DFT) Appraisal Guidance, details of which are available on the DFT website at

www.dft.gsi.gov.uk.

These forecasts are kept under review and updated as necessary.

Public Transport: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timetable he has set for the transfer of responsibility for concessionary fares from district to county councils. (253902)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: We shall shortly be consulting on possible changes to the administration of concessionary travel. These will include the possibility of moving responsibility for administering concessionary travel from district to county councils or centralising the scheme.

Railways: Freight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the Railfreight Interchange Investment Group on financial support for the development of railfreight interchanges. (254564)

There have been no recent discussions between Ministers with the Railfreight Interchange Investment Group on the provision of financial support for the development of railfreight interchanges.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the development of railfreight interchanges will be subject to a National Planning Policy Statement under the Planning Act 2008. (254565)

The development of strategic railfreight interchanges, as specified under the Planning Act 2008, will be part of a National Policy Statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the process is for reviewing and updating the railfreight interchange policy. (254566)

The policy relating to strategic railfreight interchanges will be updated as part of the appropriate National Policy Statement. This review of the current published policy is being undertaken and will be the subject of consultation when published.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he is holding with the Railfreight Interchange Investment Group on the development of the Department's policy on railfreight interchanges. (254567)

Although there is ongoing contact between officials and the Railfreight Interchange Investment Group, there are no discussions taking place with the group on the development of the Department for Transport's policy on railfreight interchanges at present.

Road Traffic

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the percentage change in traffic levels (a) on English roads and (b) on roads in each county within England was in each year since 1997, taking 1997 levels as 100 per cent. (253845)

A table providing traffic volumes for all motor vehicles on all roads for (a) English roads and (b) each local highway authority in England has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The figures provided in the table are for the period 1997 to 2007 and are indexed to 1997. More recent data for 2008 will be published during summer 2009.

Traffic estimates at local highway authority level are not designated as National Statistics and are therefore not as robust as the national estimates. Some discontinuities exist in the data between various years for certain local highways authorities. These are caused by the Department for Transport collecting an increased number of road counts in particular years, which allows the Department to make traffic volume series in subsequent years more accurate.

Road traffic by local highway authority can be found on the Department’s website at the following web address:

www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/roadstraffic/traffic/rtstatisticsla/

Road Traffic: Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) locations and (b) roads in (i) the Metropolitan police area of London, (ii) Essex and (iii) Hertfordshire are where enforcement cameras to police no overtaking zones (A) are in place and (B) will be in place within the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (252989)

The enforcement of offences is an operational matter for the police; the Department for Transport therefore does not hold the information requested. The Home Office type approve equipment that the police use for enforcement, so that the evidence it produces is admissible in court without corroboration. They do not type approve cameras to enforce no overtaking zones, only speed, red light, bus lane and unlicensed vehicle offences.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much revenue enforcement cameras for the policing of no overtaking zones have generated in Essex in each year since 1997; and how much of that revenue has been spent in Essex. (252990)

The Home Office type approve equipment that the police use for enforcement, so that the evidence it produces is admissible in court without corroboration. They do not type approve cameras to enforce no overtaking zones, only speed, red light, bus lane and unlicensed vehicle offences. Overtaking in a no overtaking zone is an endorsable fixed penalty offence (£60) or can result in a maximum Level 3 (£1,000) fine on conviction. The Department for Transport does not hold any information on the level of fine revenue from these offences.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were killed in (a) West Chelmsford constituency and (b) Essex in drink-driving-related accidents in each of the last five years. (254747)

Estimates of the number of drink-driving-related accidents or casualties are not available below Government Office Region level. The estimates are published as an article 3, entitled “Drinking and driving” in “Road Casualties Great Britain—Annual report 2007”. Copies of the report have been deposited in the Libraries of the House and it is also available at the following web address:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgreatbritain/roadcasualtiesgreatbritain20071

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were (a) killed and (b) seriously injured on roads in the London borough of Bexley in each of the last five years. (254802)

The numbers of casualties that were (a) killed and (b) seriously injured resulting from reported personal injury road accidents in the London borough of Bexley in each of the last five years are given in the following table:

Number of casualties

Killed

Seriously injured

2003

4

115

2004

2

80

2005

6

81

2006

6

97

2007

6

99

Shipping: Piracy and Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold discussions with his European and US counterparts on counter-piracy and counter-terrorism measures aboard passenger cruise ships. (252113)

Currently there are no plans for Department for Transport Ministers to hold discussions with European or US counterparts on improving counter-piracy and counter-terrorism measures on board passenger cruise ships. The Government work with international partners, including the International Maritime Organization, to ensure UK registered cruise ships are given the best advice available to prevent acts of piracy and terrorism. We undertake a programme of inspection to check that our ships are complying with their on board counter-terrorism security plans. Such plans are approved by the Department for Transport as meeting the relevant provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, the International Ship and Port Facility Code and European Regulation. Our advice on preventing pirate attacks, including the measures that can be taken on board ships, is contained in Marine Guidance Note 298.

Speed Limits: Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent guidance his Department has issued on the visibility of speed enforcement cameras; what legislation currently regulates the visibility of speed enforcement cameras; and if will make a statement. (253005)

On 31 January 2007 the Department for Transport issued DfT Circular 01/2007, guidance on the deployment, visibility and signing of speed and red light cameras. The guidance was placed in the Library of the House and is also available on the Department's website. This came into effect on 1 April 2007 and recommends a high visibility approach to speed enforcement that the Department expects road safety partnerships to follow. However there is no legislation in place regulating the visibility of speed enforcement. The Department has always made clear that it remains open to the police to conduct covert enforcement of speed limits.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what legislation speed camera zones must be clearly signposted; what changes have been made to this legislation since its enactment; and if he will make a statement. (253009)

There is no legislation in place mandating the signing of areas where speed enforcement is taking place. Guidance on the deployment, visibility and signing of speed and red light cameras is contained in DfT Circular 01/2007, guidance on the deployment, visibility and signing of speed and red light cameras. The guidance was placed in the Library of the House and is also available on the Department for Transport's website. This came into effect on 1 April 2007 and recommends the use of camera warning signs where permitted and practicable. The signing is contained in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) and its use is not mandatory. However, in order for a speed limit to be enforced all speed limit signing must be lawful and correct and in accordance with TSRGD.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speed cameras were (a) installed on and (b) removed from roads in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Essex and (iii) Southend in each year from 2000 to 2007. (254137)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: The Department only holds figures for 2007 until 31 March, when the National Safety Camera programme ended. The number of speed camera sites installed and removed in England and Wales and Essex is outlined in the following table. Separate information for Southend is not held:

Number of speed cameras installed and removed in England and Wales and Essex

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

England and Wales

Installed

295

379

1116

1165

601

526

289

49

Removed

9

13

81

38

54

55

49

8

Essex

Installed

48

105

10

33

9

48

6

0

Removed

0

8

45

4

3

9

13

0

Transport Innovation Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2009, Official Report, column 1432W, on public transport: Greater Manchester, how many high quality Transport Innovation Fund proposals he has received. (253860)

We continue to work with a number of other authorities as they consider their congestion problems and the role that demand management, including road pricing, alongside better public transport could play in tackling them and, if appropriate, develop proposals.

Prime Minister

India: Ministerial Visits

To ask the Prime Minister whether he has received representations from the Indian Government on the recent visit by the Foreign Secretary. (253705)

I refer the hon. Member to the Press Briefing given my spokesman on 21 January. A transcript of this is available on the No. 10 website at:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page18111

Sir Fred Goodwin: Honours

To ask the Prime Minister if he will recommend to Her Majesty the Queen that the knighthood awarded to Sir Fred Goodwin for services to banking be withdrawn. (253483)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) on 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 542W.

House of Commons Commission

Internet

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 995-6W, on the internet, on what date he estimates the better quality videos of the Parliamentary tour will be available for viewing on YouTube. (254569)

Following the review of the tour videos against editorial standards for quality and accuracy, it has been decided that, in their current form, the videos do not meet the required standards and that some additional filming will probably be required. The films will not therefore be ready to be relaunched in the immediate future. No date has yet been set as the work is still being scoped, but they will be put back on the website as soon as this work has been done.

Members: Pensions

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the House of Commons Commission has set a target for the time within which hon. Members' enquiries regarding their pensions are to be responded to. (253924)

I have been asked to reply.

The administration of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund is a matter for the Trustees. I have asked their chairman, the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir John Butterfill), to write to the hon. Member.

Snow and Ice

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many snow shovels are owned by the House of Commons. (254561)

Snow clearance on the parliamentary estate is the responsibility of the company which holds the main cleaning contract. The company currently has five snow shovels on site. It has been instructed to increase the number to 20. On 2 February other shovels were also used. The problems encountered in clearing the snow were caused by a shortage of staff. Given the circumstances both the contractor's and the House's personnel were used to clear snow but many had been prevented from travelling by the weather.

Church Commissioners

Lead Theft

9. To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the number of churches from which lead has been stolen in the last two years. (254306)

In the last two years, Anglican churches have suffered over 4,500 thefts of metal costing around £18.5 million. These have been by far the worst in the Church’s history for metal theft.

Church of England: Finance

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the effect of the current economic climate on levels of giving to parishes (a) via the collection plate and (b) otherwise; and if he will make a statement. (254221)

Over the last 30 years church members have increased giving as a proportion of net income from 1 per cent. to over 3 per cent., so there is still some way to go to achieve General Synod’s 5 per cent. target. Clearly church members will, like everyone else be affected by the present economic difficulties and the dioceses and Archbishops’ Council are monitoring the situation closely. The high proportion who give by regular standing order provides some measure of resilience, but these are uncertain times, particularly with other sources of Church income also under pressure.

Electoral Commission Committee

Registrar of Members’ Interests

6. To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps the Electoral Commission is taking to share information with the Registrar of Members’ Interests. (254303)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it has agreed with the Registrar the changes necessary to harmonise the Rules relating to the conduct of Members with the statutory requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. These changes are set out in the Fourth Report of the Committee on Standards and Privileges which was published on 2 February 2009.

Early Voting

8. To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of proposals for early voting in elections. (254305)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it believes that paper-based, early voting at polling stations could improve access to the voting process without harming the integrity of the ballot. The Commission believes that the Government should decide how to proceed with early voting as part of a wider electoral modernisation strategy.

Fines

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what administrative financial penalties may be levied by the Electoral Commission. (253588)

The Electoral Commission has powers to issue civil penalties under section 147 of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) where a relevant organisation is late in delivering a statutory report to the Commission. The amount of the civil penalty is calculated in accordance with subsection 3 of section 147, and depends on how late the relevant information is provided to the Commission.

The Electoral Commission is also able to apply to a magistrates court to order the forfeiture of an amount equal to the value of a donation that has been accepted by a registered party or regulated donee, if the donation was impermissible or a court is satisfied that the true amount of a donation was intentionally concealed.

Local Government: Suffolk

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what representations from local authorities in Suffolk concerning its inquiry into the future structure of local government in Suffolk the Boundary Committee for England has received; and if he will make a statement. (252002)

The Electoral Commission informs me that the Boundary Committee received representations from the county council and all seven district councils in Suffolk. All submissions received are available on the Boundary Committee’s website:

www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions there have been in each of the last five calendar years for offences under Part III of the Clean Air Act 1993. (252146)

DEFRA does not maintain or publish details of prosecutions under the Clean Air Act 1993. Information provided by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform on the Court Proceedings Database does not separately identify offences under parts of the Clean Air Act 1993. The following table shows the total number of defendants prosecuted under the Act (excluding offences under section 33) at magistrates courts in England and Wales for the last five years available.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts in England and Wales for offences under the Clean Air Act 19931,2,3 2002-06

Persons4

Other5

Total

England1

2002

7

5

12

2003

14

7

21

2004

12

4

16

2005

9

10

19

2006

17

5

22

Wales2

2002

1

1

2003

1

1

2

2004

1

4

5

2005

2

1

3

2006

1

2

3

England and Wales3

2002

8

5

13

2003

15

8

23

2004

13

8

21

2005

11

11

22

2006

18

7

25

1 Excludes section 33 (cable burning).

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

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

4 Persons data given are for males and females.

5 Other data refer to companies, public bodies, etc.

Source:

Court proceedings database—Criminal Justice Evidence and Analysis—Office for Criminal Justice Reform

Joint Waste Authorities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on whether members of a joint waste authority are entitled to responsibility allowances and salaries; and whether members will be eligible to join the local government pension scheme. (252322)

Origin Marking

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to improve country of origin labelling. (253937)

I have been asked to reply.

The framework European Commission legislation governing general food labelling is currently being revised in Brussels. This includes a consideration of the tightening of criteria around voluntary country of origin declarations. The Government support this move and are actively involved in these negotiations.

In order to help industry meet consumer interest in this issue, the Food Standards Agency has had in place since 2002, best practice guidance. This advises, for example, that bacon products from imported pork should be clearly labelled as such. Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Ministers are holding a series of meetings with industry to promote uptake of the guidance.

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities levy charges for the provision of bags for the collection of household waste. (252440)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to his Department’s consultation on revised waste exemptions from environmental permitting, whether municipal allotments will be charged to have permit or exemption in order to have a compost heap. (252638)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) on Compost: Licensing, on 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 46W.

Treasury

Child Trust Fund: County Londonderry

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Child Trust Fund take-up rates in each ward in East Londonderry constituency were in the most recent period for which figures are available. (254047)

[holding answer 3 February 2009): Information broken down by ward would be available only at a disproportionate cost.

However, constituency-level data, including the number of vouchers issued and parental account opening figures, on Child Trust Fund accounts were published on 6 November 2008 and can be viewed on the HM Revenue and Customs’ website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ctf/cons-stats-oct08.pdf

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many responses to letters received in his Department from hon. Members were outstanding in each month since September 2008. (253812)

This information is not held on a monthly basis. However, the Cabinet Office annually publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members correspondence, which is available in the Library of the House.

Economic Situation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions his Department has had with outside organisations to discuss policy to reduce the impact of the recession on matters within his Department’s responsibility. (254065)

HM Treasury has regular engagements with outside organisations, including relevant Government Departments, on a range of issues relating to the economy.

Foreign Workers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many non-UK born individuals have been in (a) public and (b) private sector employment in each year since 1978; and how many such individuals were in employment in each year. (253923)

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 February 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many non-UK born individuals have been in (a) public and (b) private sector employment in each year since 1978; and how many such individuals were in employment in each year. 253923

The available information is provided in the attached table. Comparable estimates prior to 1995 are not available.

The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The distinction between public and private sector is based on respondents' views about the organisation for which they work. The public sector estimates provided do not correspond to official Public Sector Employment estimates. Those are derived directly from employers and are based on National Accounts definitions, but do not include this detailed age breakdown.

As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

The figures have been derived from the LFS microdata which are weighted using the official population estimates published in autumn 2007. Consequently the estimates from Q3 2006 onwards are not entirely consistent with the figures published in the monthly Labour Market Statistics First Release, or the migrant worker figures published every quarter, which are weighted using more up-to-date population estimates.

Non-UK born people aged 16 and over in employment by public and private sector, three month period ending September, 1995 to 2008, United Kingdom, not seasonally adjustedThousandPrivate sector1, 3Public sector1, 2Total419951,3484491,81819961,3934461,86419971,5394371,99119981,5944642,06519991,6364712,11420001,7384892,23720011,8105062.32720021,9415462,49920031,9965772,59120042,0836282,72820052,2506712.93520062,5616793,25420072,8207063,54920085*2,985*723*3,727 1 It should be noted that public and private sector estimates:are based on survey respondents' views about the organisation for which they work;do not correspond to the National Accounts definition used for Public Sector Employment estimates.2 Includes nationalised industry or state corporation, central government, civil service, local government or council (including police, fire services and local authority controlled schools or colleges), university or other grant-funded educational establishment, health authority or NHS trust and armed forces.3 Includes self-employed and unpaid family workers.4 Includes those whose type of employer was not known.5 Coefficients of Variation have been calculated as an indication of the quality of the estimates, as described below:Guide to Quality:The Coefficient of Variation (CV) indicates the quality of an estimate, the smaller the CV value the higher the quality. The true value is likely to lie within +/- twice the CV—for example, for an estimate of 200 with a CV of 5% we would expect the population total to be within the range 180-220.Key Coefficient of Variation (CV) (%) Statistical robustness * 0 = CV <5 Estimates are considered precise.** 5 = CV <10 Estimates are considered reasonably precise.*** 10 = CV < 20 Estimates are considered acceptable.**** CV = 20 Estimates are considered too unreliable for practical purposes.It should be noted that the above estimates exclude people in most types of communal establishment (e.g. hotels, boarding houses, hostels, mobile home sites etc.)Source:Labour Force Survey

Inheritance Tax: Housing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what internal guidance documents the Valuation Office Agency uses for valuing properties for inheritance tax purposes. (253897)

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) internal guidance for valuing properties for inheritance tax purposes is contained in its Inheritance Tax Manual, which is available electronically on the VOA website at:

www.voa.gov.uk/publications

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters from hon. Members are yet to be answered by his Department; what the average time taken to reply to a letter from an hon. Member has been in each of the last six months; what his Department’s target time for responding to a letter from an hon. Member is; and how many such letters have not been answered within that timescale in the last six months. (251269)

The Cabinet Office annually publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members correspondence, which is available in the Library of the House.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter sent to his Department by the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead dated 29 October 2008, regarding tax credits. (253972)

Pay

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer of 19 November 2008, Official Report, columns 468-9W, in relation to what other groups (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) its predecessor bodies have conducted similar sample surveys. (254108)

Inland Revenue, and more recently HMRC, has carried out similar sample surveys in respect of general practitioners and NHS dentists. Results of recent surveys are published on The NHS Information Centre for health and social care website:

http://www.ic.nhs.uk

Revenue and Customs: Chorley

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date HM Revenue and Customs office in Chorley is planned to be closed. (253941)

As announced in February 2008 HMRC is planning to vacate Lingmell House, Chorley by autumn 2010. No specific vacation date has yet been set. Inquiry centre services will be continued in the locality.

Leader of the House

Offenders: Employment

To ask the Leader of the House what her Office's policy is on the employment of former prisoners. (253809)

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer given by the Cabinet Office on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 872W. The Leader’s Office is part of the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office does not require applicants who have spent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 to provide details of those convictions when seeking employment. Applicants with current convictions are not precluded from taking up employment and each case is considered on the basis of individual circumstances.

Justice

Cannabis: Cumbria

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many successful prosecutions for the possession of cannabis there have been in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland constituency in each of the last five years; (253618)

(2) how many (a) arrests, (b) prosecutions and (c) convictions there were of people from each district council ward in Copeland for (i) the possession and (ii) the supplying of cannabis in the last five years;

(3) how many of the successful prosecutions for the supplying of cannabis in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland involved (i) offenders resident outside of Cumbria and (ii) young offenders in the last five years;

(4) how many successful prosecutions for the supplying of cannabis there have been in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland in each of the last five years; how many of each resulted in a custodial sentence in each year; and how many resulted in offenders taking part in a drug rehabilitation programme in each year.

The information requested is set out as follows:

Court proceedings

Information on the number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for the possession and supply of cannabis in Cumbria for 2003 to 2007, broken down by age is in table 1.

Information on the number of defendants given a custodial sentence and given drug treatment and testing orders for the supply of cannabis are in table 2. Drug treatment and testing orders were replaced in 2006 by community orders (not currently collected by the Ministry of Justice) which can comprise a number of possible requirements including a drug treatment programme.

Information held centrally on the Court Proceedings Database from which the data has been derived does not include information on constituencies and the residence of defendants.

Arrests

The arrests collection held by the Home Office covers arrests for recorded crime (notifiable offences) only, broken down at a main offence group level, covering categories such as violence against the person, sexual offences and drug offences. From these centrally reported data, we are not able to identify specific offences from within the main offence groups.

Data are reported to the Home Office at police force area level only therefore further breakdowns of data by district council ward are not available.

Table 1: Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for the possession and supply1 of cannabis, in the Cumbria police force area, 2003-07, broken down by age 2, 3

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Offence

Age

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Possession

10 to 17

33

26

42

30

14

27

24

40

28

11

18 and over

192

94

78

84

94

178

80

65

75

89

All ages

225

120

120

114

108

205

104

105

103

100

Supply

10 to 17

4

1

1

1

1

4

1

1

1

18 and over

27

15

9

15

20

20

17

4

10

16

All ages

31

16

10

16

21

24

18

5

11

16

1 Includes “Supplying or offering to supply” and “Possession with intent to supply”.

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

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

Source:

Evidence and Analysis Unit, Office for Criminal Justice Reform.

Table 2: Custodial sentences and drug treatment and testing orders for supplying cannabis offences1, Cumbria police force area, 2003-07

Supply

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Immediate custodial sentences

9

6

1

9

Drug treatment and testing order2

19

13

19

1 Includes “Supplying or offering to supply” and “Possession with intent to supply”.

2 Now replaced by community order which can comprise a number of possible requirements including a drug treatment programme, however, these data are not currently collected by the Ministry of Justice.

Notes:

1. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

2. These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems.

3. These data are based on the principal offence basis.

Source:

OMS Analytical Services, Ministry of Justice.

Courts: Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) courts and (b) hearing centres have closed in each year since 1997. (253582)

Up until 1 April 2005 magistrates courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates courts committees who were statutorily independent. They were not required by statute to inform the Department of closures that were not subject to an appeal under section 56(3) of the Justices peace Act 1997 (now repealed).

The following table shows details of court closures within Her Majesty's Courts' Service, (including Crown, magistrates and county courts) since 1997.

Closures

Magistrates court

Crown court (satellites)

County court

Total court

1997

21

1

8

30

1998

25

0

6

31

1999

7

1

2

10

2000

13

0

4

17

2001

30

0

1

31

2002

7

0

2

9

2003

13

0

0

13

2004

2

0

0

2

2005

0

0

0

0

2006

1

0

1

2

2007

2

1

0

3

2008

2

0

0

2

2009 to date

0

0

0

0

Total

150

Courts: Prison Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many occasions court cells were (a) made available for and (b) used for housing prisoners overnight in the last 12 months; and how many prisoners were accommodated on each occasion they were used. (252824)

Court cells were used on 21 nights between the nights of 5-6 and 28-29 February 2008. At any one time a maximum of 164 cells were available for use.

The following table shows the number of places used in each of five courts over this period. Court cells have not been used since 28-29 February 2008.

Date

Total

5 February 2008

66

6 February 2008

71

7 February 2008

56

9 February 2008

32

10 February 2008

32

11 February 2008

99

12 February 2008

87

13 February 2008

71

14 February 2008

95

16 February 2008

26

17 February 2008

26

18 February 2008

63

19 February 2008

9

20 February 2008

44

21 February 2008

69

23 February 2008

39

24 February 2008

39

25 February 2008

61

26 February 2008

40

27 February 2008

63

28 February 2008

27

Total

1,115

Cremation

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will publish guidance to local authorities on (a) the length of time ashes should be retained by crematoria and (b) the methods to be used to dispose of ashes not claimed by the family of the deceased. (253654)

We currently have no plans to issue guidance on these issues. Regulation 30 of the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008, which came into force on 1 January, sets out the duties of cremation authorities in respect of the disposal of ashes. These are that the cremation authority must give the ashes to the applicant for cremation or someone nominated by the applicant for that purpose. If the applicant does not want the ashes and has not nominated anyone, the cremation authority must retain the ashes for burial or scattering within the crematorium grounds. The authority must not inter or scatter the ashes unless it has given 14 days’ notice of its intention to do so to the applicant.

Judicial Appointments Commission: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the budget of the Judicial Appointments Commission was in each of the last three years. (253584)

The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) was officially launched on 3 April 2006. The grant funding for JAC provided by Ministry of Justice in each of the last three years is as follows:

£000

2006-07

6,104

2007-08

7,130

2008-09

8,148

The 2008-09 grant number is based upon the published winter supplementary estimate.

Prison Sentences

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the likely effect of the creation of a Sentencing Council on the level of the prison population in England and Wales. (253583)

The creation of a Sentencing Council has no direct impact on the prison population. This is because there is no requirement in the Coroners and Justice Bill for a sentencer in an individual case to have regard to resources. There is also no requirement in the Bill for the Council to produce guidelines that fit within resource constraints. A key new role of the Sentencing Council will however be to monitor and assess the impact that sentencing guidelines and other factors have, or are likely to have, on the prison population and probation service.

Prisoners: Voting Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether prisoners on (a) end of custody licence, (b) release on temporary licence and (c) home detention curfew are eligible to vote if registered. (252817)

Prisoners who are detained in a penal institution are ineligible to vote in all UK elections under the terms of section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and other related legislation. Prisoners are only granted temporary release for one of the purposes laid down in rule 9 of the Prison Rules 1999 or rule 5 of the Young Offender Institution Rules 2000. Voting is not included in those purposes who have been released from prison under the home detention curfew scheme are eligible to vote unless they are otherwise excluded by statute.

Prisons: Wind Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will commission research on the effect on (a) prison security, (b) the well being and health of prisoners and (c) the safety and health of prison staff from (i) noise from, (ii) vibrations from and (iii) movement of wind turbines sited close to prisons. (253819)

The Departments for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, are responsible for Government policy on wind turbines and therefore for research about their impact on residential property and businesses in close proximity to them. The National Offender Management Service already reviews the security implications of wind turbines sited close to prisons and will conduct appropriate health and safety risk assessments on wind turbines that are already in place.

Victims’ Champion: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the budget of the Victims’ Champion is for the term of the appointment. (253586)

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many additional helicopters have been delivered to forces in Afghanistan as a result of the UK-French Helicopter Fund announced at the March 2008 Franco-British Summit. (254419)

Nations benefiting from the Helicopter Fund will start to deploy helicopters to Afghanistan in September this year. By mid-2010 we anticipate that the first three nations to use the fund to support their theatre-entry equipment and training requirements will have deployed eight helicopters to Afghanistan. Furthermore, three other nations that are considering deploying helicopters to Afghanistan for the first time have made informal enquiries about how the fund may be used to help with the procurement of mission-essential equipment.

Armed Forces: Labour Turnover

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of personnel who left the armed forces in each year since 2002 had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. (253719)

[holding reply 3 February 2009]: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original and (b) revised estimate of the value of defence estates to be sold under package 1 of the Defence Training Review was. (253094)

The Department is continuing to seek planning consents for the proposed sale of the sites programmed to be sold under the current Metrix deal for Defence Training Review Package 1. Anticipated values rise and fall according to market conditions and are continually reviewed in line with HM Treasury guidance. Surplus sites are planned to be sold at market value from 2012 onwards. I am withholding the anticipated values as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests. There is no direct relationship between their disposal and affordability of the Package 1 Project.

Central Africa: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which EU member states are contributing to the EU military mission to Chad and the Central African Republic; and what each is contributing. (253363)

The majority of EU member states are contributing to EUFOR TCHAD/RCA. The specific contribution of other EU member states is a matter for them. Further information on EUFOR TCHAD/RCA can be found on the website of the Council of the European Union:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/

The UK is providing four military officers under standing EU headquarters augmentation procedures as part of the operation: two officers in the operation HQ at Mont Valerien in Paris and two officers in the force HQ in Chad. There is also one British staff officer attached to the French NATO Rapid Deployment Corps which France has recently deployed to Chad.

Cyprus: Military Bases

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British troops have been stationed in the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in each year since 2002. (252911)

A breakdown of figures for the two sovereign areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is not available. The following table shows the total number of UK service personnel stationed in Cyprus as at 1 April each year:

Total in Cyprus

2002

3,460

2003

1

2004

1

2005

3,170

2006

3,040

2007

22,950

2008

22,780

1 Data not available. 2 Provisional due to on-going validation of data.

Location statistics between 2003 and 2004 were suspended due to concerns over data quality.

Data for 2002 include deployed and stationed personnel; from 2005 onwards data are for stationed personnel only.

The UK regular forces stationed location figures are available in UKDS. The latest published figures are available at:

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index.php?page=48&thiscontent=1610&date=2008-10-01&pubType=1&PublishTime=09:30:00&from=home&tabOption=3

EU Battlegroups

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to paragraph 107 of the Explanatory Memorandum of 11 December 2008 on the French Presidency Report on European Security and Defence Policy, European Union Document No. 16686/08, whether the generic preparation guide for EU battlegroups uses NATO standardisation agreements. (254420)

26 EU member states are also members of NATO or NATO Partnership for Peace and therefore use NATO standardisation agreements. The EU battlegroup preparation guide stipulates that

“EU Battlegroup evaluation procedures and standards should, where applicable, be analogous to those defined within NATO, taking into account the specific nature of EU crisis management”

(paragraph 70, page 16).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to paragraph 107 of the Explanatory Memorandum of 11 December 2008 on the French Presidency Report on European Security and Defence Policy, European Union Document No. 16686/08, whether the British armed forces will use the generic preparations guide for EU battlegroups; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the guide. (254423)

The UK contributed to the formulation of the generic preparations guide for EU battlegroups that was agreed under the French presidency for use on a voluntary basis by EU member states in accordance with the battlegroup concept. The UK's contributions to the EU's battlegroup roster are prepared and certified nationally to standards that meet and exceed the ones set out in this and other documents agreed by the council. I will place a copy of the guide in the Library of the House.

EU Rapid Reaction Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which components of the UK's commitment to the Helsinki Headline Goal comprise an (a) armed mechanical brigade and (b) amphibious brigade. (253368)

The United Kingdom currently offers:

Three brigades from the army to HG2010. The three brigades offer a degree of flexibility that allows the UK to provide either an Armoured Brigade (based on Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles and Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks), a Mechanised Brigade (based on Saxon Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks) or an Air Assault Brigade consisting of lightly equipped infantry in the Air Manoeuvre role.

One amphibious brigade from the Royal Navy to HG2010.

A member state's declaration to the Headline Goal indicates the range of forces that could be made available to support potential EU operations. It does not bind the member state to providing the forces declared for any specific mission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to paragraph 106 of the Explanatory Memorandum of 11 December 2008 on the French Presidency Report on European Security and Defence Policy, European Union Document No. 16686/08, what (a) resources and (b) capabilities the UK has declared for the (i) Maritime Rapid Response Concept and (ii) Air Rapid Response Concept for 2009. (254421)

The Maritime Response Concept and the Air Rapid Response Concept are mechanisms to speed up the force generation process in the EU and do not indicate any standing forces. The UK has committed no capabilities or resources specifically to either concept but has set out in its response to the EU Headline Goal 2010 the forces, including maritime and air, that are potentially available for planning purposes for EU missions.

Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest estimate is of the in-service date for the A400M airlift aircraft. (252864)

Airbus Military has announced a series of delays in the development and production of the A400M programme, and has recently indicated that first deliveries to customer nations will be three years after the achievement of first flight of the A400M prototype. Airbus has indicated that first flight will occur no earlier than the second half of 2009, and has also announced a slowdown in its production plans. Early A400M production aircraft will be delivered to some of our partner nations and therefore the first UK delivery would occur at least six months after Airbus delivers the first A400M. This suggests that initial UK deliveries could not start before 2013 and therefore the estimated in-service date of the A400M (defined as acceptance into service of the seventh aircraft) would be 2014.

Navy: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what multi-activity contracts (MACs) the Royal Navy has; and what the (a) scope, (b) monetary value and (c) date of expiry of each MAC is. (254362)

The Royal Navy has 11 commercial agreements that can be described as multi-activity contracts of varying size, value and scope. These range from services provided under a 15-year partnering arrangement to a small contract for catering and cleaning services. Details are provided in the following table:

Contract Title

Contract Scope

Contract Monetary Value

Contract Expiry Date

RN South-West Regional MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £7 million with an initial period of seven years

30 April 2013 with potential for further periods

RN South Central Regional MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £7 million with an initial period of seven years

30 April 2013 with potential for further periods

RM Condor, HMS Gannet and RMR Scotland MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £1.3 million with an initial period of four years

30 November 2012 with potential for further periods

RM Poole MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £2.2 million with a duration of eight years

30 April 2009

Gosport MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £5 million with a duration of seven years

17 November 2009

HMS Caledonia and Rosyth Area MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £1.8 million with a duration of eight years

31 January 2009

Non Fleet Scottish Units MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £0.15 million with a duration of eight years

31 May 2009

RNHQ Northern England and HMS Cambria

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £0.1 million with an initial period of three years

31 July 2011 with potential for further periods

Gosport MAC

Soft Facilities Management

Estimated annual value of £0.3 million with an initial period of three years

17 November 2010 with potential for further periods

RN Partnering Arrangement

Soft Facilities Management, Hard Facility Management

Estimated annual value of £80 million with a duration of 15 years.

30 June 2011

Navy Command Air Engineering MAC

Technical Services Management

Estimated annual value of £8-11 million with a duration of three years

31 March 2011

Notes:

1. Soft Facilities Management may include but is not limited to the provision of catering, retail and leisure, mess and hotel services, establishment cleaning and waste management, graphic and media support, and administration services.

2. Hard Facility Management may include but is not limited to the provision of civil and domestic building/works, infrastructure maintenance, and grounds maintenance.

3. Technical Services Management may include but is not limited to the provision of training and training support, equipment maintenance and technical support, airfield services and support.

Warships

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria were used to determine the successful bidder for the Royal Navy contract entitled Specialist Vessel Requirement S&MO CB/3193; and if he will make a statement. (254449)

The contract for the provision of harbour support and coastal re-supply services to the Falkland Islands was awarded on 23 January 2009 following an open competition that fully complied with MOD guidelines and EU regulations. All bids received were assessed on a fair and equitable basis against stringent operational requirements and criteria to ensure value for money for the taxpayer. The most technically compliant and affordable bidder was awarded the contract.

Public Accounts Commission

National Audit Office: Future Work Programme

7. To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission when he last discussed the National Audit Office's future work programme with the Comptroller and Auditor General. (254304)

The Comptroller and Auditor General is responsible for the selection of topics for the National Audit Office's future work programme. He discusses the actual topics with the Public Accounts Committee. The Commission's role is to ensure that adequate resources are available for the NAO's programme. The Commission last discussed the National Audit Office's work with the Comptroller and Auditor General on 2 July 2008 when it examined the Office's Corporate Plan.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Arms Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what increased resources his Department has dedicated to tackling chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism threats, as referred to on page 12 of his Department's Autumn 2008 Performance Report. (246260)

We are increasing programme spend from £2 million for the financial year 2009-10 to £3 million for the financial year 2010-11. Eight officers within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Directorate for Defence and Strategic Threats cover aspects of work related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism; this represents an increase in the number of staff dealing with the issue. In addition there are officers at posts overseas working on CBRN as part of their portfolios.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of contractors and suppliers to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have reported that they are compliant with the Government’s security standards following publication of the report, Data Handling Procedures in Government, and the accompanying document, Cross-departmental Actions: Mandatory Minimum Action, on 25 June 2008. (245323)

This information is not held centrally in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the cost of collecting it would incur disproportionate cost. The FCO’s Senior Information Risk Owner wrote to the FCO’s main contractors in December 2008 reminding them of their responsibilities under the Data Handling Report in managing data securely. FCO contracts include new security clauses which are applicable to all contracts involving personal data.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many contracts (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; for which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each contract is held; and how many people have their data stored overseas in the case of each such contract. (245344)

The information requested is not held centrally, and the cost of providing it would be disproportionate.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Written Ministerial Statement of 22 July 2008, Official Report, columns 99-102WS, on what date Mr. Ravi Gurumurthy was appointed. (242156)

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department’s central media and communication unit spent on public surveys in each of the last three years. (247920)

Communication Directorate within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office acts as its central media and communication unit. Only a small number of public surveys have been carried out by the directorate in the last three years. Between April 2006 to March 2007, and April 2007 to March 2008, there were none. From April 2008 to January 2009 the directorate spent an estimated total of £25,000 on public surveys.

Embassies: Operating Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the running costs of each British diplomatic mission overseas were in the last financial year for which information is available. (242201)

I will write to the right hon. Member separately with details of the costs of each British diplomatic mission overseas for 2007-08, and will place a copy of these details in the Library of the House.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Billericay dated 28 October 2008 on the subject of the John Williams draft of the Iraq dossier. (248487)

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy on the recent Arab Peace Initiative is. (248125)

The Arab Peace Initiative offers Israel recognition by, and normalisation of relations with, the 22 Arab League States as part of a comprehensive peace. The Government believe that it provides a positive vision for the progress in the Middle East Peace Process. We are working with the Governments of Israel and of the Arab world to pursue a such comprehensive peace.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what agreements there are affecting the use of British military airbases for the transfer of weapons from the United States to Israel; and whether the terms of such agreements have been invoked in the last two months. (249201)

I have been asked to reply.

The Ministry of Defence has a system in place that requires all countries to seek clearance for all aircraft registered as military or state aircraft that wish to enter, fly over or depart from UK airspace or for civilian aircraft wishing to land at military bases. All other types of aircraft are subject to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority. A request for MOD clearance includes the final destination of the flight and details of any dangerous cargo that may be in transit. I can confirm that we have had no such requests for clearance from the US with regards to flights on to Israel in the last two months.

Morocco: Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department has issued to firms about trade with Morocco where such trade draws upon the resources of the Non Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara. (244030)

Commercial deals are a matter for the companies concerned. However, the Government work to ensure that companies are aware of the undetermined status of the non self-governing territory of Western Sahara when trading with Morocco. The UK supports UN efforts to resolve the conflict and urge all parties to achieve a mutually acceptable solution that provides the people of the Western Sahara with an opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination.

Energy and Climate Change

Coal: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much coal was imported in each of the last 10 years; how much he forecasts will be imported in the (a) current year and (b) next three years; and if he will make a statement. (250076)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: The following table shows how much coal was imported into the United Kingdom in each of the last 10 years. Provisional annual figures for 2008 will be published in the March edition of Energy Trends.

Amount (Thousand tonnes)

1998

21,244

1999

20,293

2000

23,446

2001

35,542

2002

28,686

2003

31,891

2004

36,153

2005

43,968

2006

50,529

2007

43,365

Source: Table 2.1.1 Long Term Trends, Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2008.

A range of scenarios for future coal imports implied by scenarios for demand and indigenous production of coal can be found on page 88 of the “Energy Markets Outlook Report” December 2008, produced by Department of Energy and Climate Change. A copy of this publication is available in the House of Commons Library or can be accessed through this link:

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file49406.pdf.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what percentage of contractors and suppliers to his Department has reported compliance with the Government's security standards following publication of the report, Data Handling Procedures in Government, and the accompanying document, Cross-departmental Actions: Mandatory Minimum Action, on 25 June 2008. (245309)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was formed on 3 October 2008, bringing together policy responsibility for energy (formerly with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)) and climate change (formerly with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)). The Department is not at present party to any contracts, as the Transfer of Function Order related to the creation of DECC has not yet come into force. Existing contracts related to energy and climate change matters will remain with BERR and Defra respectively until the Transfer of Function Order comes into force. Given that, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 22 January 2009, Official Report, column 1588W and by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 422W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many contracts his Department has which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; for which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each contract is held; and how many people have their data stored overseas in the case of each such contract. (245333)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was formed on 3 October 2008, bringing together policy responsibility for energy (formerly with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)) and climate change (formerly with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)). The Department is not at present party to any contracts, as the Transfer of Function Order related to the creation of DECC has not yet come into force. Existing contracts related to energy and climate change matters will remain with BERR and Defra respectively until the Transfer of Function Order comes into force. Given that, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 890W and by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 423W.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on how many occasions since the creation of his Department Ministers used their discretion to rule that a parliamentary question for written answer should be answered because it would be in the public interest to do so, even though to do so would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold of £700. (249131)

Since the Department's inception on 3 October 2008, Minister's have not asked for any parliamentary questions to be answered whereby disproportionate costs would have been incurred.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he expects to reply to the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead’s letter of 10 October 2008, that was transferred to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on cavity wall insulation. (247207)

I replied to the hon. Member on 20 January 2009 and apologise for the delay, which was due to departmental reorganisation.

Warm Front Scheme: North Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent representations he has received on the operation of the Warm Front scheme in North Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement. (250353)

The Department for Work and Pensions operates the winter fuel payments. My Department has received representations on the operation of the Warm Front Scheme in North Yorkshire.

I am currently receiving all aspects of the scheme and all such representations are informing the process.

Wind Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2009, Official Report, columns 896-97W, on wind power, what assessment he has made of the contribution of operational wind turbines towards the Government's renewable energy targets. (250721)

[holding answer 26 January 2009]: The UK has a domestic target of 10 per cent. of our electricity coming from renewable sources by 2010. In 2007, all renewables generated 19,664 GWh of electricity, or 5 per cent. of the UK's electricity.

Of this, onshore wind generated 4,491 GWh. The contribution from onshore wind to overall UK electricity generation was 1.14 per cent.

Offshore wind generated 783 GWh in 2007. The contribution from offshore wind to overall UK generation was 0.2 per cent.

The contribution from onshore and offshore wind to overall UK generation was therefore 1.34 per cent.

Source: AEA Technology/RESTATS.

It should be noted, however, that since this data was collated new projects have gone live in 2008—such as the 194MW Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farms and the 322MW Whitelee onshore wind farm. Generation data for these sites is not yet available.

With the construction of Lynn and Inner Dowsing, the UK now has 598MW of offshore wind capacity, overtaking Denmark as world leader in this technology. This extra capacity also takes the UK over the 3GW mark of total installed onshore and offshore wind capacity.

We are committed to increasing the use of wind power far beyond 3GW over the next few decades. The step change in the policy and measures necessary to achieve this are already in train or being developed.

The UK Government support the agreement that has been reached between the Council and European Parliament following the Council in December 2008 that 20 per cent. of EU energy consumption should come from renewable energy sources by 2020. In the UK this equates to a 15 per cent. target by 2020.

To meet this target, we consulted on a draft UK Renewable Energy Strategy last summer. We sought stakeholders' views on a wide range of measures, including further development of wind power, to help meet our share of the EU target. We will publish our finalised Renewable Energy Strategy later this year.

We also have a range of measures already in place to bring on more renewables development, including onshore and offshore wind, in order to meet our targets. For example, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in the pre-Budget report that we would be extending the Renewables Obligation (RO) until 2037. This will ensure that investors can plan with confidence for the future so that over the next decade the market will continue to deliver the renewables projects that we need to achieve our 2020 target.

This Department will also be launching an Office for Renewable Energy Deployment (ORED), one of a suite of new low-carbon offices, as a one-stop-shop for business and other stakeholders aimed at removing supply chain barriers to renewables deployment. ORED will also have a strong role to play in tackling other deployment barriers related to grid, planning and raising public awareness.

Other measures include the launch this year of tenders under the Offshore Transmission Regime, to enable more offshore wind power to be connected to the grid. The Transmission Access Review will also enable more onshore wind to get early connection dates.

In summary, we are working across policy areas to increase wind developments: planning, financial incentives, business development and grid infrastructure. These measures will ensure wind power plays a full part in meeting our carbon budgets and energy supply needs in 2020 and beyond.

Olympics

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Minister for the Olympics when she plans to reply to the letters of 6 November 2008 and 14 January 2009 from the hon. Member for Forest of Dean on Olympic events for women cyclists, reference SP2318. (254529)

Northern Ireland

Departmental Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how much his Department has spent on advertising in the last five years; (243249)

(2) with reference to the Answer of 12 November 2008, on departmental marketing, how much his Department spent on advertising in the last five years.

The following table provides details of the Northern Ireland Office’s advertising expenditure, excluding agencies and NDPBs, in the last five years.

Advertising expenditure (£)

2003-04

372,922

2004-05

548,451

2005-06

159,146

2006-07

190,204

2007-08

454,075

The increase in 2007-08 was largely due to a public advertising campaign for fireworks safety, funded by Firearms and Explosives Branch. Expenditure in this campaign included creative, agency and production costs as well as media advertising, promotion, education packs and initiatives for schools.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what expenditure his Department has incurred in providing transport for Ministers between Parliament and departmental premises in each of the last five years. (251871)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 5W, in relation to the Government Car and Despatch Agency. Other transport costs for Ministers between Parliament and departmental premises could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code.

Culture, Media and Sport

Advertising: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent steps his Department has taken to regulate the advertising industry. (253800)

[holding answer 4 February 2009]: Advertising in the UK is strictly controlled through a system of co-regulation and self-regulation, which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This regulatory system is independent of Government and is ultimately responsible for setting the standards in advertising.

The bodies responsible for writing and maintaining the advertising codes, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), are currently undertaking a full review of all the advertising codes. CAP and BCAP will hold a public consultation on proposed changes to the advertising codes in 2009.

Arts Council England: Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding Arts Council England provided to (a) the Hayward Gallery, (b) the London Philharmonic Orchestra and (c) the Saison Poetry Library in each of the last five years; and how much came from (i) Exchequer funding and (ii) the National Lottery in each such year. (249420)

Arts Council England has advised that it has provided funding to the Hayward Gallery and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in each of the last five years as set out in the table. Regular funding towards the ongoing running costs of the Hayward Gallery and the Saison Poetry Library is included in the overall allocation for the South Bank Centre. The Saison Poetry Library has received no lottery funding.

£

Arts Council England funding to:

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

(a) Hayward Gallery

(i) Exchequer funding other than regular funding via South Bank Centre allocation

500

(ii) Lottery funding: grants for the Arts

30,000

(b) London Philharmonic Orchestra

(i) Exchequer funding

1,618,362

1,741,681

1,916,615

1,969,322

2,023,478

(ii) Lottery funding: grants for the Arts

30,000

269,694

10,928

BBC: Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what information his Department holds on the cost of relocation of BBC staff to Media City, Salford; what discussions he has had on the subject with (a) the Director General of the BBC and (b) the BBC Trust; and if he will make a statement. (254032)

The cost to the licence fee payer of relocating BBC staff to Media City in Salford was estimated by the BBC at the time of the licence fee settlement announcement at £200 million over the current licence fee period, which is from April 2007 to March 2013.

The BBC director general and the chair of the BBC Trust update me regularly on BBC-related matters, including the relocation to Media City.

Broadband

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he plans to respond to the Review of Barriers to Investment in Next Generation Broadband. (242071)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government have been considering the recommendations from the Caio Review into the barriers to investment in Next Generation Access carefully, particularly in relation to the recently announced Digital Britain Report, which will provide a strategy for a fully digital Britain. The Government will fully respond to these recommendations in due course.

Digital Broadcasting: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of campaigns to inform people about the switchover from analogue to digital television. (253802)

[holding answer 4 February 2009]: DigitalUK is responsible for informing the public about switchover. The DigitalUK tracker survey Q3 2008 shows that public awareness now stands at almost 90 per cent. and Digital Television take-up at 87 per cent.

Public Service Broadcasting: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure quality of service from public service broadcasters. (253799)

[holding answer 4 February 2009]: Within the framework of the Communication Act 2003 and the BBC's Charter and Agreement, day-to-day responsibility for ensuring quality of Public Service Broadcasting rests with the broadcasters and the broadcasting authorities.

The Government are looking at how the quality of Public Service Broadcasting can be sustained in the future, as part of the current Digital Britain review, due to published in the summer of 2009.

Television: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much TV Licensing spent on public relations in each of the last three years. (249805)

The BBC has a statutory responsibility for the administration of the television licensing system. Under contract to the corporation, TV Licensing carries out the day to day administration of these duties.

“TV Licensing” is a trading name used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system. TV Licensing's marketing and public relations activities are carried out by the AMV consortium, which is made up of the following four companies: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd, Fishburn Hedges Boys Williams Limited (who are responsible for TV Licensing's public relations activities), PHD Media Limited and Proximity London Ltd.

The BBC considers that release of the information requested would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of parties within, and connected to, this arrangement, as well as the BBC itself, as it would reveal valuable information on pricing structures, business structures and operations to these companies' competitors.

Television: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether he received any representations from viewers regarding the use of language in Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare programme broadcast on Channel 4. (254555)

My Department has not currently received any representations from viewers referring to the use of language in Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare programme.

Tourism

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans his Department has to encourage foreign visitors to the United Kingdom over the next 18 months; and if he will make a statement. (247213)

VisitBritain (VB) is currently formulating a new three-year strategy on the back of the many recommendations of the recent British Tourism Framework Review. The strategy will set out the steps that VB will take between 2009 and 2012 to increase the visitor economy to £133 billion by 2018. The strategy is due to be launched on 11 February.

Overseas visitors demand the highest levels of customer service and we believe that despite the global economic downturn, they are willing to spend on good quality products. VisitBritain therefore announced a new marketing campaign ‘Value for Money’ at the Liverpool Tourism Summit on 8 January 2009 costing £6.5 million. This will include the promotion of London as a more affordable destination at the present time. In addition, the Government will continue to invest in skills and in tourism product itself. This will include the quality of accommodation; the Olympics and Paralympic Games; the Cultural Olympiad; free museums and galleries; heritage and seaside resorts, which are all critical to meeting visitor expectations and their demand for an exceptional experience.

Tourism: EU Grants and Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans his Department has to bid for EU funding schemes for tourism in England during the current financial year. (253233)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: The Department has no current plans to bid for EU funding schemes for tourism in the current financial year. Bids for funds from the European Regional Development Fund Objective 2 and the European Social Fund for Tourism are usually submitted by the Regional Development Agencies.

Work and Pensions

Carer’s Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the public purse of an annual increase in carer’s allowance of (a) £3, (b) £4, (c) £5, (d) £6, (e) £7, (f) £8, (g) £9 and (h) £10 a week in each of the next six years. (246725)

The estimated additional annual cost of increasing carer’s allowance by the specified amounts is shown in the following table. The increase in carer’s allowance is represented as a cash amount in the given years. The costs are given in nominal terms.

Estimated additional annual cost of increasing carer's allowance

£ million

Increase in carer’s allowance amount

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

£3

40

42

44

45

47

48

£4

54

56

58

60

62

64

£5

67

70

73

75

78

80

£6

80

84

87

90

93

96

£7

94

98

102

105

109

113

£8

107

111

116

120

125

129

£9

121

125

131

135

140

145

£10

134

139

145

151

156

161

These figures represent the best estimate we can provide given the limitations of the data. However, they are likely to under estimate the total costs. This is because they do not include any costs for carer’s allowance recipients who are in a household where a member receives an income-related benefit, as we are unable to estimate the costs of increasing carer’s allowance for this group.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what enforcement action his Department and its agencies have taken to recover debts in respect of which they have obtained liability orders in each region of England in each of the last three years. (250962)

Council Tax and Housing Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many outstanding unprocessed council tax benefit claims there were in each local authority area in each (a) quarter of each year from 1999 to 2008 and (b) of the last 12 months; (249428)

(2) what the average number of days taken to process council tax benefit applications was in (a) each quarter of each year from 1999 to 2008 and (b) each of the last 12 months;

(3) what the average number of days taken to process housing benefit applications was in (a) each quarter of each year from 1999 to 2008 and (b) each of the last 12 months;

(4) how many outstanding unprocessed housing benefit claims there were in each local authority area in (a) each quarter of each year from 1999 to 2008 and (b) each of the last 12 months.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which websites are operated by his Department in addition to its main website; and what the operating budget for those websites is. (251212)

The following tables detail the websites currently operated by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the costs associated with them.

DWP websites are mostly operated by the Department’s own in-house Digital Media team.

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

However, for the financial year 2007-08, the latest available figures, it was not possible for us to quantify internal staff costs, because in most cases, staff were engaged in more than one role. In addition, we were unable to establish accurately our infrastructure costs because they formed part of a wider departmental IT contract. We have therefore detailed only quantifiable costs for each site—these include payments to suppliers for services such as research, testing and site builds. Figures for the jobcentre plus website include the costs of maintaining some online services, since these figures are quantifiable.

Table A lists those websites operated by Department for Work and Pensions where the Department is responsible for the content:

Website name and address

Quantifiable costs financial year 2007-08 (£)

Department for Work and Pensions

www.dwp.gov.uk

25,666

Jobcentre Plus

www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk

Employer Direct Online

390,684

Internet Job Bank

1,645,752

Tactical e-services

1,014,816

Site Accessibility

58,000

Total

3,109,252

The Pension Service

www.thepensionservice.gov.uk

10,429

Directgov Disabled People and Carers Sections

www.direct.gov.uk/disablity

614,848

www.direct.gov.uk/carers

Directgov Over 50s Section

www.direct.gov.uk/over50s

Directgov Jobseekers

www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Jobseekers

Age Positive

www.agepositive.gov.uk

Office for Disability Issues

www.officefordisability.gov.uk

149,466

European Social Fund

www.esf.gov.uk

Now Let’s Talk Money

www.nowletstalkmoney.com

163,612

Table B lists those websites operated by the Department for Work and Pensions where the Department is not responsible for the content:

Website name and address

Quantifiable costs financial year 2007-08 (£)

Independent Case Examiner

www.ind-case-exam.org.uk

Industrial Injuries Advisory Council

www.iiac.org.uk

Social Security Advisory Committee

www.ssac.org.uk

Ethnic Minority Employment Task Force

www.emetaskforce.gov.uk

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working at his Department and its agencies in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008; and how much was spent on such bonuses in each of those years. (249849)

The information is as follows:

End of year performance bonuses

Senior civil service individual performance bonuses reward the delivery of in-year personal and business objectives or targets.

For the senior civil service end-of-year bonuses are determined on an individual basis by the relevant DWP SCS pay committee. The number of bonuses awarded to senior civil servants in DWP and its agencies and totals paid in 2007 and 2008 are shown in the following table:

DWP and its agencies

Number of bonuses awarded to senior civil servants

Total paid (£million)

2007

202

1.73

2008

208

1.82

Notes:

1. Some individuals may have received more than one type of bonus payment in the year.

2. The total amount paid includes employers national insurance contribution (ERNIC).

Special bonus and voucher payments

Individuals may also be entitled to special bonus payments either as cash or vouchers. These are one-off recognition awards, payable at any time during the performance year and are not linked to the annual pay award. Information on special bonus and voucher payments is not collated separately for the senior civil service and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Electronic Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the accessibility of Government websites; and if he will make a statement. (243868)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Central Office of Information. I have asked the chief executive to reply.

Letter from Alan Bishop, dated December 2008:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question [243868] on what assessment has been made of the accessibility of Government websites.

Standards for websites across government are the responsibility of the Central Office of Information (COI). Guidance on website accessibility was issued to Departments in June 2008 following public consultation. Departments are required to have central government website accessibility plans in place by 1 January 2009. Plans must be implemented and all websites must comply with the double-A W3C web accessibility standard by 1 January 2010. Departments will be requested to report their compliance with these measures.

EU Grants and Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what allocation the UK has received from the European Union Globalisation Fund for the next 12 months; and what allocations of that funding have been made by his Department. (252128)

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, or EGF, does not operate through making allocations to member states. It is a contingency fund as such and a member state has to make a specific application for matched funding from the EGF. There is no ring fenced EGF budget: rather, the fund can draw on up to €500 million per year from within the EU budget where there may be underspends or decommitted funds.