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Written Answers

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Culture, Media and Sport

Creativity and Business International Network

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what payments have been made to Creative and Business International Network ambassadors to date. (255968)

No payments have been made to ambassadors for the Creative and Business International Network, and we do not expect to make any payments at any point in the future.

Culture: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent on the Find Your Talent pilot projects to date; and how much he expects to be spent on them in each year to 2011. (256086)

The 10 Find Your Talent Pathfinders have been allocated a total of £4,312,070 in 2008-09, £8,030,923 in 2009-10, and £8,030,923 in 2010-11.

To date, the pathfinders have received 50 per cent. of their budget for 2008-09, a total of £2,156,035, and will shortly receive the remainder.

Culture: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of people under the age of 16 who have (a) performed music live to an audience, (b) taken part in a theatre production, (c) visited an art gallery, (d) visited a library and (e) visited an historic building in each of the last three years. (255897)

The Taking Part survey provides data on engagement with a range of cultural activities by children aged 11 to 15. The child element of the survey began in January 2006 and data are therefore available for 2006 and 2007 only.

The following table shows the percentage of children aged 11 to 15 who had participated in the listed activities in the 12 months prior to interview:

Engagement in a selection of cultural activities during the past 12 months, by children aged 11 to 15

Percentage

2006

2007

Played a musical instrument to an audience or rehearsed

21.3

22.2

Rehearsed or performed in a play or drama

37.6

36.2

Visited an exhibition or collection of art, photography or sculpture

17.7

17.2

Visited a library

71.6

72.6

Visited a historic environment site

72.0

73.2

Note:

These figures are survey estimates which each sit within a range. The data have been extracted from the report published in October 2008, ‘Headline findings from the child survey 2007’. The full report and accompanying data workbooks are available from the DCMS website at

http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/publications/5481.aspx

Departmental Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many expert advisers, excluding special advisers, have been commissioned by his Department since June 2007; and on which topics they have advised. (254746)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 899W.

Departmental Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of maintaining the databases owned and managed by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies was in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2008. (256142)

Database maintenance costs in my Department are made up of the cost of the software maintenance from the supplier and the day to day maintenance carried out by our outsourced IT service provider, Atos Origin. The latter is included in the outsourced ICT contract service charges with Atos Origin and it is not possible to disaggregate the cost from the service charges. My Department does not separately identify database management expenditure and aggregate information is not available before 2007-08.

Database maintenance charges paid to software providers by my Department and its agency was £217,448 in 2007/8 and £168,394 so far this financial year.

Departmental Foreign Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals are employed by his Department. (256213)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport does not currently employ any EU or non-EU foreign nationals.

Departmental Lobbying

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether Ministers in his Department received representations from (a) Lord Moonie, (b) Lord Taylor of Blackburn, (c) Lord Snape and (d) Lord Truscott in the last seven months. (255223)

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department paid to the designated moderator at the event which it hosted at the Walker Art Gallery on 20 November 2008. (255966)

No payment was made to the moderator at the event hosted by DCMS at the Walker Art Gallery on 20 November 2008.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to advise staff of pension options available to them in relation to added years or additional voluntary contributions. (253260)

Members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of their pension on retirement if they continue in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement prompts the member to consider boosting their pension and provides details of the civil service pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including options for making additional voluntary contributions and a calculator to work out costs for added pension (previously added years).

New entrants are informed of pension options in the employment offer and are provided with a pension information pack.

Cabinet Office provides leaflets that explain added pension and additional voluntary contributions for members. The information is also available in scheme booklets. These are available on the civil service pensions website or on request from the member's pensions administrator.

Digital Britain Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the Digital Britain Summit in April 2009; and where he expects the event to take place; (254778)

(2) what Digital Britain events are planned to take place in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England in the next 12 months; and how much is planned to be spent on staging each such event.

As set out in the Government’s Digital Britain interim report, focused events will take place in the UK nations ahead of publication of the Government’s final report as well as a summit due to take place in April. These events will provide an opportunity to explain thinking on the key issues as far as possible and allow interested stakeholders to make representations. The details of these events have not been fully developed and the costs are not yet available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what original research has been commissioned by the Digital Britain Review; which organisations and individuals have been commissioned to conduct such research; what the estimated cost of each project is; and what plans he has to publish the outcomes of such research. (254779)

To date the following original research has been commissioned in relation to the Digital Britain Review:

An analysis of the key trends and issues in the UK media and telecoms sector, provided by Enders Analysis;

An audit, commissioned from Ofcom, of their existing research; and

A very small space on an omnibus survey looking at the importance of digital media now and in the future.

The research produced by Enders Analysis and Ofcom was published as Annexes to the Interim Report on 29 January and is available at:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5631.aspx

The responses provided for the omnibus survey will be incorporated into the final report due in the summer.

It would not be appropriate to provide the costs of each individual piece of research for reasons of commercially confidentiality. However, the total cost is estimated at around £21,350.

Economic Situation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions his Department has had with outside organisations to discuss policy on reducing the effect of the recession on matters within his Department’s responsibility. (254052)

I have regular engagements—on a range of issues relating to the economy—with many organisations connected to the sectors for which I have ministerial responsibility. This includes other Government Departments.

Music: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many young people were mentored as part of the Music Mentoring initiative in each of the last three years. (255907)

Youth Music is unable to provide the information in the form requested. However, Youth Music has advised that, in the period 2006-08, a total of 1,627 young people received one-to-one, small group, and large group mentoring; and 166 young people were engaged as peer mentors and were also mentored. In the period 2008-09, a total of 764 young people have so far received one-to-one and small group mentoring, with 81 young people working as peer mentors.

Portable Antiquities Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his policy is on the future of the Portable Antiquities Scheme; and if he will make a statement. (253447)

In recognition of the importance of the portable antiquities scheme, I am pleased to confirm that funding remains committed for 2009 to 2011. In November 2008, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), which provides the largest contribution towards funding the scheme, confirmed allocation of £1.3 million this year (2009-10), which will rise to over £1.4 million in 2010-11. The MLA has also stated that it intends to maintain the scheme at present levels of activity.

Sports: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many organisations have subscribed to his Department's Medal Hopes scheme; and how many are in negotiation to subscribe; (254377)

(2) how much funding for elite sport has been raised by the Medal Hopes scheme to date; and how much he expects to be raised in each of the next three years;

(3) how much funding for elite sport has been raised by the Medal Hopes scheme to date; and how much he expects to be raised by the scheme in each of the next three years.

Negotiations are ongoing with various potential private sector partners and to release further information regarding these negotiations at this time would prejudice commercial interests. However I will make an announcement in due course.

Swimming Teachers' Association

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consideration he gave to including the Swimming Teachers Association in the range of stakeholders consulted on the Free Swimming Programme. (256191)

The Free Swimming programme was designed in close consultation with Sport England, the Local Government Association, the Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers’ Association and the Amateur Swimming Association (as the national governing body for swimming).

My officials recently met the Swimming Teachers’ Association to discuss future work and policy initiatives concerning the programme. We will continue to involve them in future discussions as appropriate.

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed in (a) the Child Support Agency and (b) the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in each quarter since March 2008; and how many are expected to be employed in each quarter to December 2012. (250534)

[holding answer 22 January 2009]: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 11 February 2009:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff were employed in (a) the Child Support Agency and (b) the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in each quarter since March 2008; and how many are expected to be employed in each quarter to December 2012. [250534]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for the Child Support Agency from 1 November 2008, at which point all staff employed by the Agency transferred to the Commission. The table below sets out the number of full-time equivalent employees directly employed by the Agency and the Commission in the last four quarters and the current estimate for the quarter ending March 2009, rounded to the nearest hundred.

March 2008

June 2008

September 2008

December 2008

March 20091

Agency

9500

9500

9400

Commission

5

9300

8900

1 Estimated

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's projected level of staffing for the remaining two years of the current spending review period will continue to be kept under review to ensure that the Commission lives within its allocated funding.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the (a) mean amount and (b) range of individual debts for which the Child Support Agency has obtained liability orders in each region of England was in each of the last three years; (250961)

(2) how many liability orders the Child Support Agency has obtained through the courts in each region of England and Wales in each of the last three years;

(3) how many liability orders were issued by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and the Child Support Agency in each region in each of the last three years.

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) mean amount and (b) range of individual debts for which the Child Support Agency has obtained liability orders in each region of England was in each of the last three years. [250961] and;

How many liability orders the Child Support Agency has obtained through the courts in each region of England and Wales in each of the last three years. [250964] and;

How many liability orders were issued by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in each region in each of the last three years in respect of which its framework document states that he is accountable to Parliament. [256241]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for the child maintenance system including the Child Support Agency from 1 November 2008. Neither the Child Support Agency nor the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has the power to issue liability orders in respect of child maintenance debt; rather an application is made to the Court which grants the liability order.

The Commission routinely publishes Information showing the number of liability orders granted on a national level, in Table 21 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS). The latest version is available in the House of Commons Library or online at the following link:

http://www.childmaintenance.org/publications/xls/csa_dec08_tables.xlslnformation

The additional information you requested on the overall number of liability orders granted, the mean amount of the debt secured as well as the range of debts secured, is only available for each region from 2007. Therefore the information set out in the attached table covers the year from November 2007 to October 2008, the latest data available.

Liability Orders granted in England and Wales from November 2007 to October 2008

Region

Liability orders granted

Mean1 (£)

Minimum2 (£)

Maximum3 (£)

North East

1,500

4,300

0

54,000

North West

3,300

5,000

0

67,000

Yorkshire/Humberside

2,400

5,000

0

66,000

East Midlands

1,800

5,300

100

66,000

West Midlands

2,600

5,700

0

74,000

Eastern

2,000

6,100

100

80,000

London

2,000

7,100

0

69,000

South East

2,800

6,000

0

72,000

South West

1,900

5,400

0

68,000

Wales

1,300

4,800

100

65,000

1 Mean figures are rounded to the nearest £100

2 Minimum figures are rounded to the nearest £100

3 Maximum figures are rounded to the nearest £1000

Notes:

1. Liability Orders granted have been allocated to Government Office regions based on the residential postcode of the non-resident parent at the time of the court hearing

2. A small number of cases exist where the postcode is not recorded on the management information. As such, these can not be allocated to a region

3. Liability Orders granted are rounded to the nearest 100

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on how many occasions the Child Support Agency has taken action to enforce a liability order in each region of England in each of the last three years; (250963)

(2) what steps have been taken to enforce liability orders issued by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and the Child Support Agency in each region in each of the last three years.

[pursuant to the reply, 5 February 2009, Official Report, c. 1419W]: The reply to PQ 250962 was correct but incomplete. I would like to add that up to 1 November 2008, neither the Department nor its Agencies apart from the Child Support Agency used liability orders to recover debt.

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for the Child Support Agency from 1 November 2008. The Commission will therefore continue to apply to the Courts for liability orders in respect of Child Maintenance Debt. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the available information on liability orders relating to child maintenance debt as requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the use of liability orders, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked 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] and:

On how many occasions the Child Support Agency has taken action to enforce a liability order in each region of England in each of the last three years. [250963] and:

What steps have been taken to enforce liability orders issued by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in each region in each of the last three years in respect of which its framework document states that the Secretary of State is accountable to Parliament. [256240]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for the child maintenance system including the Child Support Agency from 1 November 2008. Neither the Child Support Agency nor the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has the power to issue liability orders in respect of child maintenance debt; rather an application is made to the Court which grants the liability order.

The actions open to the Commission to enforce a liability order include referral to bailiffs, applying for a County Court Judgement Order, applying for a Third Party Debt Order or Charging Order, applying for an Order for Sale on the debtors property and referral to the Courts for further consideration of available sanctions at the Court’s discretion which include committal or disqualification from driving.

Information at a national level on the number of liability orders granted and additional enforcement action taken as a result is routinely published in the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics. The latest copy of which is available in the House of Commons library or on online at the following link:

http://www.childmaintenance.org/publications/statistics.html

The additional information you have requested on actions taken to enforce liability orders granted by the Courts in each region is only available from 2007. Therefore the information set out in the attached table covers the year from November 2007 to October 2008, the latest data available.

Actions taken to enforce liability orders in England: November 2007 to October 2008

Region

Number of actions to enforce liability orders

North East

1,600

North West

3,700

Yorkshire/Humberside

2,700

East Midlands

2,100

West Midlands

3,000

Eastern

2,200

London

1,900

South East

3,500

South West

2,400

Notes:

1. Actions include cases referred to bailiffs, where a County Court Judgment Order has been imposed, a Third Party Debt Order or Charging Order application made, or a referral for committal or disqualification of driving licence applied for or Orders for Sale applied for.

2. A small number of actions exist where the postcode is not recorded on the management information. As such, these cannot be allocated to a region.

3. Figures rounded to the nearest 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many representations received by the Child Support Agency were not opened as cases owing to the residence of the non-resident parent being outside the UK in each year since 1999; (254141)

(2) how many cases involving child maintenance payments were not pursued by the Child Support Agency owing to the departure from the UK of the non-resident parent in each year since 1999.

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 11 February 2009:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pension, how many representations received by the Child Support Agency were not opened as cases owing to the residence of the non-resident parent being outside the UK in each year since 1999. [254141] and;

How many cases involving child maintenance payments were not pursued by the Child Support Agency owing to the departure from the UK of the non-resident parent in each year since 1999.[254142]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's jurisdiction is limited to cases where the parent with care, non-resident parent and qualifying child(ren) are all habitually resident in the UK. However, there are exceptions if the non-resident parent is resident overseas but, for example, employed by the Crown, and therefore classed as habitually resident in the UK for child maintenance purposes.

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission holds limited information from 2004, relating to the numbers of cases maintained on the CS2 computer system where the non-resident parent is recorded as not being resident in the UK. The Commission therefore does not hold information on the number of applications that fail to progress as the non-resident parent is not resident in the UK. Neither is it able to identify cases where the non-resident parent is abroad but treated as being habitually resident in the UK for child maintenance purposes.

Such information as is available is set out in the table below, which shows the number of cases with a calculation recorded on the CS2 computer system where the non resident parent is shown as not resident in the UK and in how many of these cases maintenance has not been received in the previous three months.

As at December each year:

Non-resident parent abroad

No maintenance received

2004

9,800

3,400

2005

7,800

2,500

2006

6,700

2,200

2007

6,200

2,100

2008

6,900

2,300

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to enforce payments under child maintenance agreements by non-resident parents living outside the United Kingdom. (254143)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about child maintenance, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department has taken to enforce payments under child maintenance agreements by non-resident parents living outside the United Kingdom. (254143)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to cases where the parent with care, non-resident parent and qualifying child(ren) are all habitually resident in the UK. Although there are exceptions if the non-resident parent is resident overseas but, for example, employed by the Crown, in most cases where the non-resident parent leaves the UK permanently, the Commission’s jurisdiction ceases. This means that the Commission is unable to enforce the payment of child maintenance in these cases, although where the non-resident parent has assets which remain in the United Kingdom, the Commission can take action to enforce any remaining debt in a particular case.

The Official Solicitor and Public Trustee is the authority in England and Wales responsible for the enforcement of maintenance orders overseas. The UK has reciprocal arrangements with more than one hundred countries, which enable maintenance obligations to be established or recognised and enforced if the non-resident parent resides in one of those countries. The parent with care may apply to a magistrate’s court for a maintenance order to be enforced overseas and procedures also exist to enable the parent with care to ask the foreign authorities to create an order for maintenance on their behalf. However this route cannot be used to enforce Child Support Agency debt that was incurred prior to the non-resident parent’s move abroad.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Children: Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children were living in poverty in (a) the City of Southampton, (b) Test Valley borough, (c) the ceremonial county of Hampshire and (d) the UK in each of the last five years. (254016)

Child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of children in relative poverty at Government office region level or for inner or outer London. This means information for city of Southampton, the Test Valley borough and the ceremonial county of Hampshire is not available.

Available information is shown in the following table.

Number of children living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of median, 2002-03 to 2006-07, Before Housing Costs, United Kingdom

Number of children (million)

2002-03

2.9

2003-04

2.9

2004-05

2.7

2005-06

2.8

2006-07

2.9

Notes:

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

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

3. The reference period for Households Below Average Income figures are single financial years.

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

5. Incomes have been equivalised using OECD equivalisation factors.

6. Numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand children.

Source:

Households Below Average Income, 2006-07

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of his Department's effectiveness in contributing towards the achievement of the Government's target to abolish child poverty. (252693)

Parental employment is the single biggest determinant of family income and children in out-of-work families are at a high risk of poverty. Work, therefore, continues to be the most sustainable route out of poverty. Our reforms of the welfare system have focused on helping people move into work, and increased employment has played an important role in reducing the number of children in relative poverty by 600,000 since 1998-99.

In particular, we have reduced the number of children in workless households by around 445,000 since 1997. The proportion of children in workless households currently stands at 15.5 per cent., down by 3.3 percentage points since 1997. We have increased the Great Britain lone parent employment rate which now stands at 56.3 per cent. The lone parent employment rate has increased by 11.6 percentage points since 1997 and this translates into an extra 320,000 lone parents in employment.

In addition to these reforms of the welfare system, the reforms we have already made to the child maintenance system, along with our intention to introduce a full child maintenance disregard, will lift over around 100,000 children out of poverty.

However, we recognise that there is more that we need to do, particularly in these turbulent economic times. This is why we are continuing the process of welfare reform and introducing into legislation our commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency were considered to be living in severe poverty in each year since 1997. (254915)

There is no official or agreed definition of severe poverty. The Households Below Average Income series presents a range of low-income thresholds (based on 50, 60 and 70 per cent. of median income).

Child poverty statistics, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of children in relative poverty at Government office region level or for inner or outer London. This means information for the Tees Valley, and the Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency is not available.

Data are available for England on a single-year basis. Regional data are presented as three-year averages, due to variability in single-year estimates. Figures for England and the North East region looking at the number of children in households below 60 per cent. of median are shown in the following tables. Statistics based on other thresholds are given in the Households Below Average Income publication, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Table 1: Number of children living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of median in 1997-98 to 2006-07, Before Housing Costs, England

Number of children (million)

1997-98

2.9

1998-99

2.8

1999-2000

2.8

2000-01

2.5

2001-02

2.5

2002-03

2.4

2003-04

2.4

2004-05

2.3

2005-06

2.4

2006-07

2.4

Source:

Households Below Average Income, 2006-07

Table 2: Number of children living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of median in 1997-98 to 2006-07, Before Housing Costs, North East England

Number of children (million)

1997-98 to 1999-2000

0.2

1998-99 to 2000-01

0.2

1999-2000 to 2001-02

0.2

2000-01 to 2002-03

0.2

2001-02 to 2003-04

0.2

2002-03 to 2004-05

0.2

2003-04 to 2005-06

0.2

2004-05 to 2006-07

0.2

Notes:

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

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

3. The reference period for Households Below Average Income figures are single financial years.

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

5. Incomes have been equivalised using OECD equivalisation factors.

6. Numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand children.

Source:

Households Below Average Income, 2006-07

Cold Weather Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish the professional advice received from the Met Office on the basis of which it was decided that Bishopton weather station was the most appropriate station for the determination of cold weather payments for East Kilbride. (254884)

The advice received from the Met Office is as follows:

“The Cold Weather Payments scheme involves linking groups of postcode areas to weather stations that report to the Met Office on a daily basis. 76 such stations are currently used in the scheme. Each postcode area is linked to a station with the most similar climate in terms of mean winter temperature (mean for 1971-2000). The linkages that have been made also take account of topography, the extent of built-up areas and the distance from available weather stations.

East Kilbride is linked to Glasgow-Bishopton, approximately 15 miles to the north-west. The winter mean temperature at East Kilbride is 3.3 degrees Celsius and at Bishopton it is 3.7 degrees Celsius. An alternative station used in the Cold Weather Payments scheme is Salsburgh, approximately 12 miles north-east of East Kilbride. There the winter mean temperature is 2.6 degrees Celsius. On that basis, the more suitable linkage is Bishopton, which is used for almost all the Glasgow postcodes.”

Community Care Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the maximum sum payable under the Community Care Grant Scheme for provision of a television set is; (254372)

(2) whether applications may be made under the community care grant for funds to purchase a motor vehicle; and if he will make a statement.

There is no upper limit to the amount that may be awarded for a Community Care Grant. However, discretionary Community Care Grants are awarded within a budgetary framework, and decision makers use a range of prices that reflect this.

An applicant may apply to the Social Fund Community Care Grant scheme for any type of expense including a motor vehicle or television. However, an award may only be made if it contributes sufficiently to the overall aim of supporting care in the community.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to reform the housing allowance scheme in the last five years; what discussions he has had with local authorities on this issue in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (255102)

Local housing allowance was rolled out nationally in April 2008 for customers in the deregulated private rented sector who make a new claim for housing benefit, and for existing customers who move address. It is a new way of calculating the rent element of housing benefit based on the area in which a customer lives and his/her household size. Local housing allowance is paid to the tenant rather than the landlord in most circumstances. Tenants are able to keep any excess benefit up to a maximum of £15 per week that is over and above the cost of their rent.

Local housing allowance was introduced in nine pathfinder authorities in 2003-04 and was subject to extensive and independent evaluation. A further nine authorities implemented the scheme in 2005 to test operational readiness.

We are closely monitoring how the local housing allowance scheme is working in practice and will undertake a review during the first two years of operation following national rollout.

At Budget 2008 the Government announced a review of the working age housing benefit system. This joint DWP/HMT internal review of housing benefit is looking at the effectiveness of the system, particularly in promoting work incentives, efficiency and fairness and to ensure that it represents value for money for the taxpayer.

The December Welfare Reform White Paper, “Raising expectations and increasing support: reforming welfare for the future” provided a formal update on the review outlining our next steps and the key issues we would like to address.

We also announced our intention to launch a public consultation on housing benefit reform this year, a process which will begin with the publication of a housing benefit reform consultation document.

We meet with local authority representatives regularly, both formally, through statutory liaison with the local authority associations, and through regular liaison with individual local authorities. We often discuss the local housing allowance at these meetings.

Housing Benefit: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of housing benefit in (a) West Chelmsford constituency and (b) Essex in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (254717)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: Housing benefit information is not available at constituency level.

The most recent available information is in the table.

Number of recipients of housing benefit in Essex, 2003-07

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Great Britain

3,813,560

3,943,590

3,981,020

4,024,280

4,040,940

Essex

62,080

65,140

66,780

68,420

69,760

Notes:

1. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.

2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Source:

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System. Quarterly 100 per cent. case load stock-count taken in August 2003 to August 2007.

Income Support: Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents are claiming income support; and how many of those have a youngest child under (a) 12, (b) 10 and (c) seven years of age. (252984)

The information requested is in the table.

Number of lone parents claiming income support

May 2008

All

738,640

Youngest child aged under 7

459,690

Youngest child aged 7 to less than 10

114,350

Youngest child aged 10 to less than 12

65,260

Note:

1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10; some additional disclosure control has also been applied.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Income Support: Mortgages

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects of the ending of emergency payments of income support for mortgage interest on vulnerable mortgage holders; and what steps he plans to take through the benefits system to reduce the risk of repossessions among such mortgage holders. (252694)

Customers in vulnerable groups, and those with existing housing costs as defined under the previous rules that existed before 5 January 2009, will receive help with 100 per cent. of their eligible housing costs after a waiting period of 13 weeks under the new rules.

This compares favourably with the previous position because although such customers received 50 per cent. of eligible housing costs after eight weeks under the old rules, they had to wait 26 weeks before receiving 100 per cent. Such customers will now be better off overall by four weeks of full eligible interest in the first 26 weeks of their claims than they would have been under the rules that existed before 5 January. We believe that this more generous help, taken together with the increased capital limit from £100,000 to £200,000, will reduce the risk of repossessions.

Industrial Health and Safety: Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review the effects of the Working at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007 on the normal workplace activities of firefighters employed by fire and rescue services; and if he will make a statement. (254730)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: The Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007 changed the detail of the requirements under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 with respect to certain caving and climbing activities. As such, the 2007 regulations have very limited application to the fire and rescue service and no review is considered to be needed. In 2006, the Department for Communities and Local Government published guidance for the fire and rescue service on the practical application of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 to fire and rescue service activities. The Health and Safety Executive expects that the fire and rescue service itself will keep this practical guidance under review to ensure it continues to represent best practice.

Local Employment Partnerships

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment has been made of the effectiveness of local employment partnerships in assisting jobseekers into employment; and if he will make a statement. (255322)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: Local employment partnerships (LEPs) aim to help 250,000 people into work between now and the end of 2010. So far, over 100,000 people have found work with over 18,000 employers through LEPs. It is too early to estimate the net effect of the policy on the movement of jobseekers from benefit into employment. A full evaluation of LEP will be carried out over the next two years.

Pensioners: Income Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples will become eligible for (i) guarantee credit only, (ii) savings credit only and (iii) guarantee and savings credit as a result of the changes to the minimum income guarantee level announced in the Pre-Budget Report; and if he will make a statement. (246639)

Following the announcement in the pre-Budget report of the proposed basic state pension and pension credit benefit rates for 2009-10, the number of pensioner households eligible to pension credit is forecast to remain broadly constant between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Pensions: Council Tax Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps his Department has taken to (a) increase the take-up of council tax benefit and (b) simplify the procedure for pensioners to claim. (253764)

Council tax benefit makes an important contribution to the financial security of around 2.6 million pensioner households. We therefore want to ensure that, they get the money they are entitled to.

We are making good progress. When pension credit was introduced in October 2003, we invested almost £0.5 billion a year in increasing the amounts on which housing benefit and council tax benefit are based. This meant that around 2 million pensioner households became either entitled to council tax benefit for the first time or qualified for more help.

People on the guarantee credit or guarantee plus savings credit of pension credit (with or without the savings credit) can get maximum council tax benefit. They are treated as having no income or capital. People with savings credit only may still be entitled to some council tax benefit.

All pension credit customers who are identified as having council tax liability are encouraged to claim council tax benefit when they make their initial claim for pension credit.

Since December 2005, people applying for pension credit have been able to access housing benefit and council tax benefit at the same time via one phone call to the Pension, Disability and Carers Service—one phone call, one number, three benefits. Pension, Disability and Carers Service staff completed a short claim form on the customer’s behalf, and sent it to them for signing and returning it to the local authority for processing.

From October 2008, we dispensed with the claim form. Pension, Disability and Carers Service now pass the information direct to the local authority. Previously around 40 per cent. of pre-populated council tax benefit claim forms sent to customers for checking and forwarding to the local authority were never sent to the local authority.

Our longer term aim is to make support for council tax liability as accessible as possible and we will continue to examine ways of achieving this.

Social Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of individual applications to the Social Fund for (a) community care grants, (b) budgeting loans and (c) crisis loans were successful in each month from July to December 2008. (253990)

[holding answer 3 February 2009]: The available information is given in the table.

Discretionary Social Fund in Great Britain from July to December 2008

Percentage of applications processed which were initially successful

Community Care Grants

Budgeting loans

Crisis loans

July 2008

46

68

66

August 2008

45

76

67

September 2008

43

79

67

October 2008

42

79

67

November 2008

41

74

68

December 2008

41

76

70

Note:

Figures do not include awards made after review.

Source:

DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.

Unemployment Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he last reviewed his Department’s procedures for providing assistance to those moving in and out of short-term employment. (255510)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: Jobcentre Plus provides support for all jobseeker’s allowance claimants from day one of a claim. This can include advice on effective job-search strategies, matching people to the many thousands of new vacancies that come up every day and, where appropriate, help with writing a CV, filling in job applications, or with accessing opportunities to refresh or develop new skills.

We have introduced key changes to the jobseeker’s allowance rapid reclaim process. Jobseekers can now apply for benefit under the rapid reclaim process up to 26 weeks after a previous claim to the same benefit, rather than within 12 weeks as before. As much of the relevant information is already held, rapid reclaim cases can be processed more quickly, though this is dependent on the jobseeker’s circumstances remaining the same as when they left benefit.

Temporary jobs can provide valuable work experience and can often be a stepping stone to more permanent employment. Rapid reclaim supports the incentive to take up employment, including short-term periods of full-time work, by easing concerns about reapplying for benefits should the work suddenly come to an end.

Winter Fuel Payments: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost in real terms to the public purse of paying winter fuel allowance in respect of all children under five in receipt of the higher care component of disability living allowance in each of the next five years. (246720)

Winter fuel payments are made to people aged 60 or over. The estimated annual cost of extending winter fuel payments in respect of all children under five in receipt of the highest rate care component of disability living allowance in each of the next five years is in the table.

Estimated annual cost of extending winter fuel payments in respect of all children under five in receipt of the highest rate care component of disability living allowance

Total cost in each year: 2008-09 prices (£ million)

2008-09

4.7

2009-10

3.7

2010-11

3.8

2011-12

3.8

2012-13

3.9

The estimated annual cost is presented in real terms at 2008/9 prices. The estimate for 2008-09 is based on a £250 payment, which includes a one-off additional payment of £50 for this year. The estimates are based on a £200 payment for subsequent years.

Leader of the House

Members of Parliament: Duration

To ask the Leader of the House what the average length of service in the House is for current hon. Members; and if she will make a statement. (255096)

Members of Parliament: Retirement

To ask the Leader of the House how many hon. Members who retired at the (a) 1983, (b) 1987, (c) 1992, (d) 1997, (e) 2001 and (f) 2005 general elections were aged 65 and over at the date of retirement; and how long each had served in the House on retirement. (255100)

In total 258 members aged 65 and over left the House at general elections from 1983 to 2005. The following table summarises the position.

General election

Members over 65 retiring

Length of service

Total

Stood down

Defeated

Under 9 years

9 to under 21 years

21 to under 33 years

Over 33 years

1983

34

31

3

1

8

12

13

1987

46

42

4

2

12

23

9

1992

45

42

3

1

7

29

8

1997

68

56

12

0

15

50

3

2001

33

30

3

3

11

11

8

2005

32

27

5

4

8

13

7

Wales

Departmental Impact Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many equalities impact assessments his Department has undertaken in the last 12 month period for which figures are available; and what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of such assessments. (255063)

Digital Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had on digital inclusion in Wales with the First Minister; and if he will make a statement. (255539)

The deputy Minister for digital inclusion, the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Wayne David) and I have discussed the issue on a number of occasions with the Welsh Assembly Government Minister with responsibility for digital inclusion, to ensure that the actions set out in the UK Government’s Digital Inclusion Action Plan are informed by, and reinforce WAG initiatives.

I know that the Welsh Affairs Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the issue, and I look forward to giving evidence to the Committee.

Olympic Games 2012

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on Wales’ contribution to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and if he will make a statement. (255559)

I regularly meet with the First Minister to discuss a range of issues that affect Wales, including the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Wales has already developed an international reputation as a nation capable of hosting, and winning, successful major sporting events, which has been reflected with the Australian Paralympic Committee’s commitment to be one of the first to confirm their intention of coming to Wales. Wales has already secured Olympic Football for the Millennium Stadium.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) expect to directly procure £6 billion worth of contracts. The Government and the Welsh Assembly Government have actively encouraged small and medium enterprises to register and compete for these contracts through the CompeteFor programme. So far, 1,000 Welsh businesses have registered on the website. I raised the issue of the business opportunities presented by the Games at the National Economic Summit in North Wales on 6 February.

Solicitor-General

Anglo Leasing

To ask the Solicitor-General how much the Serious Fraud Office has spent to date on its investigation into Anglo Leasing. (256273)

The Anglo Leasing investigation cost £48,975.16 between September 2007, when the investigation began, and January 2009 when the investigation was terminated.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions: Agriculture

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what policies his Department has in place to achieve carbon dioxide emissions reductions in the agricultural sector. (255169)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government are currently developing a policy framework to reduce all greenhouse gases (GHG) including carbon dioxide from the agriculture, forestry and land management sectors.

This work will feed into the Government’s response to recommendations made in the Committee on Climate Change’s inaugural report.

Fuel Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) rural and (b) urban households which are in fuel poverty. (241472)

A breakdown based on the rurality of the household, as defined by the National Statistics Definition, is available in the “Fuel Poverty Statistics: Detailed Tables 2006” available online at:

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file48038.pdf

Table 35 holds the following information for England only:

Percentage households in groupNumber households in group (thousand)

Rurality

Not fuel poor

Fuel poor

Not fuel poor

Fuel poor

Total number of households (thousand)

Percentage total fuel poor in group

Urban

89.6

10.4

15,253

1,768

17,022

72.7

Town and fringe

89.1

10.9

1,857

227

2,084

9.3

Village, hamlet and isolated dwellings

79.4

20.6

1,679

437

2,115

18.0

Total

88.5

11.5

18,789

2,432

21,221

100.0

Fuel Poverty: Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his estimate is of the number of individuals in fuel poverty in Peterborough constituency; and if he will make a statement. (244138)

[holding answer 16 December 2008]: Fuel poverty is defined at a household level and as such a figure relating to individuals is not available. The most recently available sub-regional split of fuel poverty relates to 2003, and shows that in Peterborough, there were around 4,100 fuel poor households.

Housing: Insulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what assistance his Department provides to people who are living in hard-to-heat houses to enable them to insulate their homes; (249386)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to encourage people living in hard-to-heat houses to improve their energy efficiency;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to provide energy efficiency tools suitable for hard-to-heat homes.

The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) is the Government's principal policy on insulating homes in Great Britain. Under CERT the major energy suppliers have an obligation to promote household carbon saving measures such as insulation. The most important measures for hard-to-treat homes are solid wall insulation and central heating. Suppliers installed around 80,000 heating measures and around 40,000 solid wall measures under the previous obligation period to March 2008, mostly in partnership with social landlords. We recognise that the high up-front cost of solid wall insulation makes it difficult for suppliers to justify this investment. Under CERT we have therefore introduced specific incentives to help improve the financial viability of these measures, with a particular focus on solid-walled homes which are not on the gas grid.

We also continue to assess innovative products, including solid wall insulation, for inclusion in the Warm Front scheme—the Government's main fuel poverty programme in England (fuel poverty is a devolved matter). There will be a focus on improving the energy efficiency of hard-to-treat properties in the forthcoming Community Energy Saving Programme, the proposals for which will be consulted on shortly.

In addition to insulation, through CERT we also promote other energy efficiency measures, such as low energy lamps and high efficiency appliances. We also recognise the value of providing information and advice on energy use and the best steps to make a home more energy efficient. We already provide an on-line carbon calculator, and will shortly be consulting on new provisions to encourage the deployment of real-time energy displays and home energy efficiency advice under CERT.

Kingsnorth Climate Camp

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on what dates staff transferred from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to his Department have since their transfer communicated with (a) E.ON and (b) Kent Police regarding the Kingsnorth Climate Camp. (240389)

Staff who dealt with the energy sector for the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) transferred to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) following its creation in October 2008. Since their transfer, there has been no communication between DECC staff and E.ON UK or the Kent police regarding the Kingsnorth Climate Camp.

Natural Gas: Falkland Islands

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assistance his Department plans to provide to the Falkland Islands government to extract oil and gas. (247428)

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Gillian Merron), on 21 January 2009, Official Report, column 1526W.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of shots fired by the armed forces in Helmand province in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007; and how many shots were fired in the latest period for which figures are available. (249208)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many rounds of ammunition have been discharged by British forces in Afghanistan in each rotation since 2006. (251707)

Officials are collating and validating the data needed and this is taking longer than anticipated. I will write to the hon. Members when this work is complete and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Apprentices

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 21 May 2008, Official Report, column 308W, on apprentices, how many apprentices his Department employs. (252085)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 21 May 2008, Official Report, column 308W, on apprentices, what progress his Department has made towards the Government’s commitment to employ over 1,000 apprentices in central Government Departments and agencies in 2008-09. (256254)

Government Skills is planning to prepare a central response based on the numbers participating in the National Apprenticeship Pathfinder in 2008-09. This will be in the form of a table showing participating Departments and numbers of apprentices on the programme.

Departmental Foreign Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals are employed by his Department. (256212)

Data on the number of EU foreign nationals employed in the Department are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. There are 46 non-EU foreign nationals currently employed under an alien’s certificate in compliance with the provision of the Aliens Employment Act 1955.

Departmental Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1557-8W, on redundancy, what estimate he has made of the annual payroll savings resulting from his Department's staff exit schemes in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07, (c) 2007-08 and (d) 2008-09 excluding the cost of severance packages; and what estimate he has made of the equivalent figures for 2009-10. (254475)

To provide this information in respect of all exit schemes run across the Department and its agencies would require a Department-wide trawl as information is not held centrally. This could be done only at disproportionate cost. Information on releases made through centrally-funded exit schemes is held centrally, however, and is shown in the following table. Information is shown at individuals' basic rate of pay at the time of departure.

£ million

Early release cost per annum

Estimated salary cost avoided1

2005-06

9.1

10.81

2006-07

16.9

33.14

2007-08

29.5

56.91

2008-09

238.6

75.5

2009-10

349.0

90.42

1 Based on notional cost of salaries avoided for those who have been released. 2 Projected costs, covering two major schemes. 3 Projected costs, covering two major schemes.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 483W, on departmental training, what personal training courses at public expense other Ministers in his Department have undertaken since 1 January 2008. (251323)

Since 1 January 2008 a number of Ministers within the Department have undertaken pre-deployment training in preparation for visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Harmony Guidelines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of personnel in each pinch point trade are exceeding their harmony guidelines for (a) tour intervals and (b) individual separated service in each service and trade type. (253717)

As I stated in my answer on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1521W, information on tour intervals for pinch point trades is not routinely recorded. Data on separated service can not yet be provided for Army personnel until such time as a complete cycle has been recorded and subsequently validated (January 2010).

I am, however, able to provide information on the degree to which Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel, who are in pinch point trades, breach the Single Service Harmony Guidelines and this is shown in the following table. Current individual harmony guidelines are:

The Royal Navy guidelines determine that personnel spend, on average, 60 per cent. of their time deployed and 40 per cent. alongside in their home port during a three-year period. The maximum individual threshold (separated service) is 660 days away from their normal place of work in the same three year period.

The Army guidelines determine that soldiers can be deployed for one six-month tour in every 30 months (six on, 24 off) and during that 30 month period a soldier should not expect to be away from his or her normal place of work for more than a total of 415 days.

The Royal Air Force guidelines determine that personnel should not spend more than 280 days in every 24 months away from their normal place of duty.

Trade

Percentage breaching harmony

Royal Navy operational pinch points

Lieutenant Commander XSM Command Qualified (SMCQ)

1.0

Lt XSM IWC Qualified and SQEP

1.7

Principle Warfare Officers

0.3

Joint Force Harrier—Harrier GR7 Instructors

None

Lieutenant GR7 Harrier Pilots

None

MCD/MWO Lts

None

Strategic Weapon System Junior Rates

1.8

Merlin Aircrew (Pilots)

None

Merlin Aircrew (Observers)

None

Merlin Aircrew (Aircrewmen)

none

Leading Seaman General Service Warfare

1.9

Able Rate 1 Divers

None

Lieutenant XSM Advanced Warfare Qualified

1.7

Able Rate 1 (Seaman)

3.9

Able Rate 1 Warfare Specialist

0.9

Able Rate 1 Communications and Information Systems

0.6

Leading Aircraft Controllers

None

Royal Marine Pte-Cpl

0.6

Able Rate Warfare Specialist Sensor SM

0.2

Sea King and Lynx Avionics Supervisors (LAET)

None

Cat A2 Nuclear Watch Keepers

1.9

Cat B Nuclear Watch Keepers

2.5

LLogs (CS)(Chef)

3.5

Logs(CS)(Chef)

1.9

LLogs (Pers)

None

Logs(Pers)

None

Leading Seaman Mine Warfare

None

Able Rate Warfare Specialist Tactical SM

1.8

Royal Air Force operational pinch points

Pilot (Junior Officer)

6.2

Flying Branch (Career Stream) (Senior Officer)

Not available

Operations Support (Intelligence)

7.3

Operations Support (Regiment)

15.9

Operations Support (Flight Operations)

8.3

Medical

18.6

Med Nursing Officer (formerly Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service)

10.3

Weapons System Operator (Crewman)

3.2

Weapons System Operator (Linguist)

15.7

Mechanical Transport Technician

7.8

Firefighter

9.3

Gunner

18.4

Air Traffic Controller (ATC)

2.9

Flight Operations Manager (FOM)/Flight Operations Assistant (FOA)

4.1

Logistics (Mover) (formerly Movements Operator/Controller)

7.4

Royal Air Force manning pinch points

Weapon Systems Operator (Junior Officer)

5.3

Operations Support (Aerospace Battle Manager) (Formerly Fighter Controller)

5.7

Operations Support (Air Traffic Control)

7.4

Personnel (Support) (Formerly Admin Sec)

9.9

Personnel (Training) (Formerly Admin Training)

14.3

Chaplains

10.8

Dental

0.0

Aircraft Technician (Mechanical)

2.8

Aircraft Technician (Avionics)

3.5

General Technician (Electrical)

2.9

General Technician (Mechanical)

4.9

Intelligence (Analyst)

2.8

Survival Equipment Fitter

5.7

Biomedical Scientist (Formerly Lab Tech)

0.0

Dental Nurse

6.3

Musician

2.6

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the briefing maps for Iraq on his Department’s website to be next updated. (251984)

Of the two Iraq briefing maps on the Department’s website, that showing Iraq’s provinces and the last available population data remains current. The second map, showing Coalition forces’ areas of responsibility has now been updated and placed on the website:

http://www.operations.mod.uk/mapping/20090127-MNDBdys-U.jpg

Merlin Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of Merlin helicopters have been fit for service in each year since 2003. (253219)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: I will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Substantive answer from Quentin Davies to Willie Rennie:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 3 February (Official Report, column 1116W), about percentages of Merlin helicopters ‘Fit for Service’.

The term ‘Fit for Service’ has been taken to mean the Effective Fleet, which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. The information requested is set out in the table below:

Merlin Mk1Merlin Mk3

Departmental fleet number

Percentage of Departmental fleet ‘fit for service’'

Departmental fleet number

Percentage of Departmental fleet ‘fit for service’

2003-04

42

100

21

100

2004-05

41

100

21

100

2005-06

41

100

21

100

2006-07

41

100

21

100

2007-08

41

100

21

100

These figures do not include the six Merlin helicopters acquired from the Danish government as these aircraft were not introduced into service until financial year 2008-09, having been converted to UK standard as Mk3a.

Warships: Wrecks

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions his Department has had with (a) Odyssey Marine Exploration, (b) English Heritage and (c) Ministerial colleagues on the discovery of the wreck suspected to be that of HMS Victory; and if he will make a statement; (255703)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to establish the identity of the wreck reported by Odyssey Marine Exploration suspected to be that of HMS Victory.

Following the notification by Odyssey Marine Exploration of the possible discovery of the wreck of HMS Victory, exploratory discussions have been held by MOD officials with the company. Discussions have also been held at official level with a number of other Government Departments with a potential interest.

The wreck is potentially of significant historic interest and it is important to ensure that we are absolutely confident of the claims being made. English Heritage, who are the Government’s advisers on heritage issues for England, have been invited to provide advice on the historical significance of the wreck and its likely identity, together with an assessment of the risks to its in situ preservation which would be the Government’s preferred approach in such cases.

These considerations are likely to take some time.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Nationality: Torture

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 17 July 2008, Official Report, columns 680-81W, on British nationality: torture, what estimate he has made of the costs involved in the central collation of statistics relating to the allegations of ill treatment or torture made by British nationals. (253909)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has only collected statistics, relating to the allegations of ill treatment or torture made by British nationals, since 1 April 2005.

The FCO has no estimate of the costs involved in collating this information pre-April 2005, as it would require searching through thousands of files on individual cases. To provide this would incur a disproportionate cost.

Cuba

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has met his Cuban counterpart; and whether he plans to visit Cuba to discuss UK-Cuban relations. (254696)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not met the current Cuban Foreign Minister. There are no current plans for him to visit Cuba.

Cyprus: Community Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 365W, on Cyprus: community relations, when he last made representations to Turkey over meeting the award of the European Court of Human Rights in the Arestes case; and if he will make a statement. (252877)

The issue was last discussed at senior official level at the start of January 2009 and at ministerial level during my visit to Turkey in December 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 378-80W, on UN Cyprus Committee on Missing Persons, when he expects to make a final decision as to whether to make further donations to the UN Cyprus Committee on Missing Persons; and if he will make a statement. (252878)

The UK has donated £109,000 to the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) over the past four years. In addition the UK leases the land on which the CMP laboratory is situated for a nominal £1 rent per year. The Government have no plans for further donations at present.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 363W, on Cyprus: community relations; if he will make an estimate of the number of (a) Turkish nationals (excluding the armed forces) and (b) Turkish militia living in northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. (252879)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 362W, on Cyprus: community relations, if he will make an estimate of the (a) number and (b) ages of the enclaved Greek Cypriots living in Karpai; and if he will make a statement. (252880)

There are no Government estimates of the number and average age of anyone living in the Karpas peninsula. We have no means of independently estimating the number in either case.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 361-2W, on Cyprus: community relations, if he will make representations to the Turkish Army in North Cyprus to permit Maronites to visit Agia Marina; and if he will make a statement. (252881)

The Government are aware of the difficulties faced by the Maronite community in Cyprus in accessing their villages of origin, including the villages of Agia Marina. Ultimately, these issues occur as a result of the political situation on the island, and will only be fully resolved by a comprehensive settlement to reunite the island. We will continue to engage with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and all other parties as necessary, including Turkey, to support progress towards a settlement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 362W, on Cyprus: community relations, when he last discussed the issue of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the Karpas in the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe; what representations he made; and if he will make a statement. (252884)

My right hon. Friend has not discussed the problems faced by Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas in the Committee of Ministers. However Ministers’ deputies regularly discuss issues arising out of the 2001 Cyprus v. Turkey judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in their quarterly meetings supervising execution of ECHR judgments. These include property rights of the enclaved. The last such discussion was 2-4 December 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 369W, on Cyprus: press, how much the High Commission has spent on advertising in newspapers owned by Asil Nadir in northern Cyprus in each of the last three years. (252915)

For the period April 2007 to March 2008 the high commission spent GBP £1,315 advertising in Kibris and Cyprus Today which are both owned by Asil Nadir. The sum spent since April 2008 is GBP £1,075.20. The high commission advertises in these newspapers as they are the biggest selling papers in their market. A recent estimate showed Kibris accounting for 49 per cent. of newspaper sales in the north.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in securing additional (a) personnel, (b) resources and (c) airlift capability for the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1843 on 20 November 2008; and if he will make a statement. (253952)

The UN has accepted an official proposal from Bangladesh to provide one infantry battalion, one engineer company and one formed police unit, as well as a proposal from Belgium to provide a C-130 aircraft to the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). In addition, five UN member states have agreed to send the required intelligence experts to MONUC.

Further to this, a number of states have expressed interest in providing the second authorised infantry battalion, two special forces companies, and a second formed police unit. The UN is assessing these expressions of interest.

We will continue to lobby current and potential troop contributing countries until additional personnel are found.

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's average response time to a letter received from (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public was in each of the last three years. (251439)

Guidance for Government Departments handling correspondence from hon. Members is laid down by the Cabinet Office, which has set a target of 20 working days to reply to routine correspondence.

Records do not indicate the average time taken to answer hon. Members’ letters. I can confirm that of the 11,970 letters received from hon. Members in 2006, records indicate that 89 per cent. were answered within the 20 working days target; of the 9,790 letters received from hon. Members in 2007, records indicate that 92 per cent. were answered within the 20 working days target; and of the 10,334 letters received from hon. Members in 2008, records indicate that 87 per cent. were answered within the 20 working days target.

Cabinet Office does not issue guidance for Government Departments answering letters from members of the public. Records of letters received from members of the public until late 2007 are not available and we are therefore unable to provide figures for either 2006 or 2007. However, of the 73,048 letters received from members of the public (including e-mails and campaign postcards), our records indicate that 62,671 were answered within 20 working days.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department were disciplined for (a) bullying and (b) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years. (254087)

The information is as follows:

In 2006, one member of staff was disciplined for bullying. None were disciplined for harassment.

In 2007, one member of staff was disciplined for bullying, one was disciplined for harassment.

In 2008, three members of staff were disciplined for combined bullying and harassment.

These records cover reported disciplinaries of UK-based staff. There are no central records held for locally-engaged staff. This information would be held locally at post and could only be retrieved with disproportionate cost.

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 his Department (a) agreed to and (b) refused (i) in 2006, (ii) in 2007 and (iii) between January and July 2008; (255499)

(2) what the average time was for his Department to respond to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the last 12 months.

The available statistical information regarding FOI requests received by Departments can be found on the Ministry of Justice website at

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/freedomofinformationquarterly.htm

Departmental Impact Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many equalities impact assessments his Department has undertaken in the last 12 month period for which figures are available; and what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of such assessments. (255073)

During 2008 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office undertook nine main equality impact assessments. An estimate of the cost of undertaking these assessments could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1656W, on departmental personnel, how many staff in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are (i) without posts and (ii) within the corporate pool; how many staff without posts were classified as such upon returning from maternity leave; and how many of the staff without posts were classified as such for at least (A) six and (B) 12 months. (250044)

On 22 December 2008 there were 226 members of staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) corporate pool. Of these, 166 were deployed in temporary jobs and 60 were either on training courses or were shortly to go on maternity leave, retire or take up a job. Four members of staff who had recently returned from maternity leave were either deployed in temporary jobs or on training courses. There were no members of staff able to work who were not deployed.

There were 53 members of staff who had been in the corporate pool for more than six months and 25 who had been in the pool for twelve months.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisors

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what expert advisers have been commissioned by his Department and its agencies since 1997; on what topic each was commissioned; and whether the adviser so appointed made a declaration of political activity in each case. (246956)

The detailed information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) sponsors a number of advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) which provide independent expert advice on a number of issues. Statistics concerning NDPBs that are sponsored by the FCO are on the FCO website:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/building-strong-relationships-ol/stakeholder-groups/non-dept-public-bodies

Appointments to NDPBs are governed by the principles set out in the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. Summary information is published in ‘Public Bodies’ which can be accessed online at:

www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public/bodies

or copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

In addition, the Government publish on an annual basis the names and numbers of special advisers in each pay band.

Detainees: Guantanamo Bay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether one of the detainees rendered through Diego Garcia is still being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. (253243)

Both of the individuals rendered through Diego Garcia in 2002 have been returned to their countries of nationality.

Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many serving Ambassadors and High Commissioners were born in (a) Northern Ireland, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) England. (253616)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not collect or hold in its central records details of the place of birth or region of origin of its staff. Their details would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Ethiopia: Eritrea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Answer of 20 October 2008, Official Report, columns 96-7W, on Ethiopia: Eritrea, on how many occasions in the last 12 months (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have raised the issue of the binding verdict of the International Ethiopian Eritrean Boundary Commission with the Ethiopian authorities. (253333)

UK Ministers have consistently said to the Ethiopian authorities that both parties should: avoid any return to war; demarcate the border; and normalise their relations. Ethiopia and Eritrea should agree a way forward to allow demarcation to proceed and for a normalisation process to begin, as set out in the Algiers Agreements of June and December 2000, to which both Ethiopia and Eritrea are signatories.

In the last 12 months, we have raised this issue on four occasions at ministerial level.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also continually reiterate these messages with their Ethiopian counterparts in Addis Ababa, London and New York.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects Ethiopia to dismantle its settlements in Dembe Menga, western Eritrea in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1430 of August 2002. (253334)

We would expect representations regarding settlements believed to be on land awarded to the other party under the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission decision to form part of any demarcation process and normalisation of relations.

We will continue to communicate the UK’s policy to both parties including through the United Nations.

Iraq: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the electoral process for the forthcoming provincial elections in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (253197)

The provincial elections on 31 January 2009 mark another milestone in Iraq’s development as a democracy. Groups who boycotted the last provincial elections and who have turned against violence will participate this time around, and for the first time the Iraqi authorities have been completely responsible for planning and running a democratic election.

The electorate are able to vote for individual candidates, rather than just political groupings, and as an acknowledgment of the important role both minorities and women play in Iraq, the election law provides quotas for both.

The Independent High Electoral Commission, with the assistance of the UN, has been putting in place since the beginning of 2008 the mechanisms to ensure the elections are free and fair. These include voter information and education campaigns, the training of over 49,000 polling station staff, the accreditation of nearly 260,000 election observers and a robust complaints procedure which will allow the investigation of complaints before the final results are certified. In addition, through local non-governmental organisations and civil society, more than 2,000 electoral education activities each month have taken place in recent months.

Further information on the electoral process can be found at:

www.uniraq.org

Mass Media

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of his Department's contracts with press monitoring services was in each of the last five years. (251157)

The monies spent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on press monitoring services in each of the last five years are as follows:

Financial year

£

2004-05

337,943.88

2005-06

323,011.34

2006-07

380,198.72

2007-08

438,178.44

2008-09

1362,042.00

1 Estimate

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department, (c) officials in his Department, (d) the British Ambassador to Egypt and (e) officials in the British Embassy in Egypt have had with the government of Egypt since December 2008 on the smuggling of (i) weapons and (ii) people into Gaza from Egypt via under-border tunnels; what reports he has received on the number of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt that have been (A) discovered and (B) closed; and if he will make a statement. (252969)

We are extremely concerned with the smuggling of arms and people into Gaza. With the number of tunnels discovered changing on a regular basis we are unable to provide a definitive figure.

We have been in close touch with the Egyptian authorities including my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister meeting President Mubarak at the Sharm summit and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary speaking to his Egyptian counterpart. We will continue to work with the government of Egypt and our international partners on ways to help prevent smuggling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the use of tunnels under the border of Egypt and Gaza by Bedouin smugglers to transfer arms to Hamas; what recent representations he has made to the government of Egypt about this issue; and if he will make a statement. (252970)

We are extremely concerned with the smuggling of arms and people into Gaza including through tunnels under the border. We are currently working with the Government of Egypt and our international partners on ways to help prevent smuggling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government has evidence that the government of Israel has used white phosphorus weapons in a way inconsistent with international law; and if he will make a statement. (253010)

We are gravely concerned at the allegations into the misuse of white phosphorous. We expect, and urge, Israel, to investigate allegations of abuses by their forces. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his statement to Parliament on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 501,

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated”.

Occupied Territories

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the alleged suspicious deaths of four Palestinian journalists in Gaza. (249868)

[holding answer 21 January 2009]: We have not received any reports specifically relating to the suspicious deaths of Palestinian journalists.

Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what cars are (a) owned, (b) leased, (c) hired and (d) otherwise regularly used by his Department, broken down by cubic capacity of engine. (250146)

Information about the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) overseas fleet of vehicles is not held centrally. To provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Details of FCO Services owned vehicles are set out in the table below. FCO Services does not lease or hire vehicles for the fleet, all vehicles detailed are ‘owned’.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Hoon) on 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 10W, about cars provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

Vehicle make

Vehicle model

Vehicle Function

Engine cc

Euro Standard

CO2 Emissions (g/km)

Fuel

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

1.8 TDCI (1796cc)

IV

166

Diesel

Renault

Rigid lorry

HGV

10.8 (10837cc)

V

CEE EUR05

Diesel

Renault

Artic lorry

HGV

4.5 (4500cc)

V

CEE EURO5

Diesel

Renault

Artic lorry

HGV

4.5 (4500cc)

V

CEE EUR05

Diesel

Renault

Artic lorry

HGV

11.0 (11116cc)

IV

181

Diesel

Ford

Transit minibus

PCV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit minibus

PCV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit T350

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

IV

215

Diesel

Ford

Minibus

PCV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit jumbo

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

IV

0.396

Diesel

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

IV

0.396

Diesel

Renault

Magnum

HGV

11.9 (11929cc)

V

169

Diesel

Ford

Galaxy Ghia TDI

MPV

1.9 TDI (1998cc)

III

178

Diesel

Ford

Galaxy Ghia TDI

MPV

1.9 TDI (1998cc)

III

178

Diesel

Ford

Transit 350 LWB

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

1.9 TDI (1998cc)

III

178

Diesel

Vauxhall

Corsa van

LGV

1.7 (1698cc)

III

130

LPG/Dual

Toyota

Prius hybrid

Hatchback

1.5 (1497cc)

V

0.18

Hybrid

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.4 TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.3TDI (2200cc)

III

210

Diesel

Vauxhall

Omega saloon

Saloon

2.0 (1998cc)

IV

248

Petrol

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

2.0 (1998cc)

IV

Diesel

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

2.0 (1998cc)

IV

Diesel

Vauxhall

Omega saloon

Saloon

2.2 (2090cc)

IV

233

LPG/Dual

Vauxhall

Signum

Hatchback

1.9 (1938cc)

IV

189

Diesel

Rover 75

75 Vanden Plas

Saloon

2.5 (2400cc)

III

225

LPG/Dual

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

1.9 TDI (1998cc)

Hi

178

Diesel

Ford

Galaxy

MPV

1.9 TDI (1998cc)

III

178

Diesel

Vauxhall

Astra van

LGV

1.3 (1248cc)

IV

131

Diesel

Vauxhall

Astra van

LGV

1.3 (1248cc)

IV

132

Diesel

Vauxhall

Corsa combi

LGV

1.7 (1698cc)

III

130

Diesel

Vauxhall

Astra estate

Estate

1.6 (1598cc)

IV

151

LPG/Dual

Vauxhall

Astra estate

Estate

1.6 (1598cc)

IV

151

LPG/Dual

Vauxhall

Corsa van

LGV

1.3 (1298cc)

V

132

Diesel

Ford

Connect

LGV

1.8 TDCI (1796cc)

IV

171

Diesel

Ford

Transit

LGV

2.4TDI (2300cc)

III

210

Diesel

Palestinians: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Government’s responsibilities under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674 regarding the protection of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories from war crimes. (250659)

[holding answer 26 January 2009]: We are gravely concerned at the allegations made, during the Gaza conflict, by such credible organisations as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN. We have been clear that such allegations must be investigated. We expect, and urge, Israel, to investigate allegations of abuses by their forces.

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding his Department is providing to the AU missions in Somalia; and what assessment he has made of the likelihood of peace in that country. (249348)

Since the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was mandated in February 2007, we have committed around £17.3 million in support of the mission. This has included support for Ugandan and Burundian troop sustainment (fuel, food, rotation costs, airlift), assistance with Burundian troop allowances and supplies to the Ugandan battalions (trucks, vehicle spares etc).

The UK also contributes to the EU's African Peace Facility, which has provided funds of €19.7 million to AMISOM between March 2007 and December 2008. A further €20 million will be provided in 2009.

The security situation in Somalia will only improve if there is a political resolution to the conflict there. We continue to work with Somali and international partners to build political stability, including working closely with the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, and the UN Political Office for Somalia. We welcome the decision of the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia in November 2008 to form a unity government and to continue work on justice and reconciliation issues. We fully support the Djibouti peace process and hope it will deliver a long-term solution for peace and stability in Somalia.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government has taken to prevent piracy (a) in Somalian territorial waters and (b) on the high seas off Somalia; and what assessment he has made of levels of piracy activity in those areas in each of the last three years. (254250)

The UK has taken a comprehensive approach to the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The Royal Navy is combating acts of piracy on the high seas off Somalia, and acts of armed robbery in Somali Territorial Waters. We are providing the Operation Headquarters and Operation Commander for the EU's operation (Atalanta) to protect World Food programme shipping and to deter piracy. We are providing a frigate for the first phase of the operation and we contributed to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counter piracy mission in 2008. We have a leading role in the planning and execution of military counter-piracy operations through the Combined Maritime Forces in the region. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary negotiated a new UN Security Council Resolution (1851) further consolidating the international commitment to deal effectively with piracy. The UK is a member of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia which met for the first time in New York on 14 January 2009, and we will host the Working Group tasked to encourage greater international co-ordination and co-operation. In addition we continue to work closely with the shipping industry, advising on best practice for counter piracy self defence.

Ultimately piracy is a symptom of wider issues. We continue our efforts to address these, and are encouraging the European Commission and other partners to increase targeted support for governance/economic development in Somalia, in particular in coastal areas. In 2007-08, the UK provided over £25 million of humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia. For 2008-09, this was increased to £30 million.

Although there has been a significant increase in the number of successful pirate attacks in the last three years (10 in 2006, 35 in 2007, 43 in 2008 and three so far in 2009), piracy off the Somali coast continues to affect a very small proportion of the shipping that transits the area. Since Operation Atalanta established the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa in December 2008 no vessel registered with it has been successfully pirated.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received reports on the progress made by the Southern Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission on implementing its mandate to (a) oversee the Comprehensive Peace Agreement implementation, (b) facilitate South-to-South dialogue and (c) facilitate people-to-people contact. (254556)

The Southern Sudan Peace Commission (SSPC) has not yet made significant progress in implementing its mandate. It lacks the capacity to execute its recently completed strategic plan and requires assistance in building the analytical, influencing and coordinating skills required to deliver against its mandate.

We are seeking ways to engage with and support the SSPC, as this will be essential to ensure the legitimacy and sustainability of peace-building efforts in the south. The UK is engaged with other partners, both Sudanese and international, in a range of peace building initiatives in Southern Sudan.

Turkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with his Turkish counterpart on recent events in Gaza. (254693)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had regular discussions with Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan on a range of global issues including Gaza.

Since Turkey became a non permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in January 2009, we expect to work even more closely together this year on issues of regional stability, given their important regional role.

UN World Conference against Racism

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what policy his Department has adopted on the latest draft resolution for the UN Durban 2 anti-racism conference; if he will withdraw the UK from the conference; and if he will make a statement. (254672)

The Government remain deeply concerned about the draft outcome document. We have made this clear in our statements at various meetings in the Durban review process.

The United Kingdom delegation was active in the recent negotiations on the draft outcome document for the Durban Review Conference. The negotiations were not concluded at the recent inter-sessional working group, held in Geneva from 19-23 January 2009.

We are assessing progress, taking into account the recently issued draft document issued on 28 January 2009, and will continue to review it against the objectives we have set for the Conference.

Western Sahara: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 381W, on western Sahara, if he will make representations to the new Moroccan ambassador to the UK urging an end to Morocco’s continued occupation of western Sahara. (252860)

The new Moroccan ambassador to the UK has not yet arrived in London. Nevertheless the Government continue to encourage all parties to the ongoing dispute to enter into the UN-led negotiation process in a spirit of realism and compromise and work towards a mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of western Sahara, as called for by the UN Security Council.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to answer Question 247757 about the seminar on stem cell research, tabled on 12 January 2009; what the reason is for the time taken to reply; and if he will make a statement. (254971)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: The question was answered on 4 February 2009, Official Report, column 1205W. The delay in answering was due to administrative error.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to answer Question 242696 about terrorism in Israel, tabled on 8 December 2008; what the reason is for the time taken to reply; and if he will make a statement. (254972)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: This question will be answered shortly. The delay has been caused by an administrative error.

Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the most recent power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change on the political situation in Zimbabwe. (254516)

On 30 January, the Movement for Democratic Change announced the acceptance of the power sharing accord brokered at the Southern African Development Community summit on 26 January. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement in response on 30 January, which can be viewed at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/latest-news/? view=News&id=13022532

We are cautious about the workability of the agreement. But we have also been clear that it is up to Zimbabweans to decide their own future. Our hope is that the parties can make it work and we will judge the new government on its actions. In common with other members of the international community, we will be looking for the government to demonstrate, through its actions, a commitment to reform. We would expect in the coming weeks to see the release of political prisoners, an immediate end to political violence and intimidation, the repeal of repressive legislation, the appointment of a credible finance team and a clear roadmap to the next national elections. Our formal engagement, including the provision of donor support, will depend on how the new government meets these expectations.

Zimbabwe: Sanctions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have imposed sanctions against (a) companies and (b) individuals in Zimbabwe for breaching their international responsibilities. (255739)

We (and all EU member states) are signed up to a set of targeted measures against members of Robert Mugabe's regime—asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo. The measures are carefully targeted against individuals involved in violence and human rights abuses, and state-owned and other companies that are associated with the regime. EU Foreign Ministers last met on 26 January 2009 and agreed to a rollover of existing targeted measures and added a further 65 names and entities to the list. The current range of EU targeted measures now comprises 203 individuals and 40 entities.

Transport

A1: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many road fatalities there have been on the A1 in (a) Tyne and Wear and (b) Northumberland in each of the last 10 years; (255754)

(2) how many road accidents there have been on the A1 in (a) Tyne and Wear and (b) Northumberland in each of the last 10 years.

The following table contains details of the number of road accidents and fatalities on the A1 in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland for each of the last 10 years.

Accident figures are from Department for Transport Stats 19 data, which records accidents resulting in personal injury that become known to the police within 30 days.

The latest year for which validated data are available is 2007.

NorthumberlandTyne and Wear

Accidents on A1

Fatalities on A1

Accidents on A1

Fatalities on A1

1998

80

7

95

2

1999

64

7

109

2

2000

69

4

114

2

2001

53

1

104

0

2002

77

4

111

2

2003

67

3

106

1

2004

54

5

91

1

2005

64

2

111

0

2006

62

4

118

2

2007

47

5

89

1

A419

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the merits of including funding for the resurfacing of the A419 between Cirencester and Swindon in the funding programme to succeed the Ten Year Plan for Transport. (254700)

The A419 is managed on behalf of the Highways Agency by Road Management Services (Gloucester) Limited under a private finance concession. Resurfacing is carried out where there is a maintenance or safety need according to agency standards. Currently, the surface of this section of the A419 is in good condition and is not likely to require resurfacing for the foreseeable future.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) display energy certificates and (b) advisory reports for public buildings issued in respect of each property occupied by (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies. (256052)

The Department for Transport will place in the Library a copy of the display energy certificates and their associated advisory reports in respect of each qualifying property occupied by the Department and its agencies.

Departmental Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many expert advisers, excluding special advisers, have been commissioned by his Department since June 2007; and on which topics they have advised. (254743)

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in his Department were disciplined for (a) bullying and (b) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years. (254095)

10 members of staff in the Department for Transport and its agencies have been disciplined for bullying and/or harassment in the last three years.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) original expected cost, (b) original expected delivery date, (c) actual cost incurred and (d) actual delivery date was of each ICT project undertaken and completed by his Department and its predecessors in each year since 1997; who the contractors for each project were; what the (i) initial estimated and (ii) outturn payment to each contractor was; and if he will make a statement. (251142)

The Department for Transport does not hold centrally records on ICT projects, which are managed locally, but a table has been placed in the Libraries of the House, showing the available information on major projects completed since the Department was formed in 2002.

Departmental Lobbying

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Ministers in his Department received representations from (a) Lord Moonie, (b) Lord Taylor of Blackburn, (c) Lord Snape and (d) Lord Truscott in the last seven months. (255233)

The Department for Transport received one parliamentary question from Lord Snape in October 2008, but no representations.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of members of the Senior Civil Service in his Department received a bonus in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008. (252679)

[holding answer 29 January 2009]: The percentage of the senior civil service (SCS) structure in the Department for Transport who received non-consolidated performance pay in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008 is set out in the following table:

Percentage of SCS receiving non-consolidated performance pay

Non-consolidated performance pay as percentage of SCS paybill

2006

81.1

7.29

2007

78.8

8.42

2008

75.0

8.44

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in his Department and its agencies (a) earned more than (i) £65,000, (ii) £120,000 and (iii) £190,000 in the last 12 months and (b) received a bonus payment in each of the last five years. (255974)

The number of staff the Department for Transport and its agencies who earned more than (i) £65,000, (ii) £120,000 and (iii) £190,000 in the last 12 months is set out in the following table:

Number of staff

Earning more than £65,000

315

Earning more than £120,000

23

Earning more than £190,000

0

The number of staff in each category is based on annual salary as at the 2008 pay award. Earnings data in the last 12 months can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The number of staff who received a bonus payment in each of the last five years is set out in the following table.

Number of staff

2003-04

4,814

2004-05

6,537

2005-06

13,682

2006-07

14,895

2007-08

13,442

The numbers do not include bonuses for:

Senior Civil Servants (SCS) in 2003-04 which is not available;

SCS on fixed term contracts in 2004-05 which is not available;

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for 2003-04 and 2004-05 which could be provided only at disproportionate cost;

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency for 2007-08 which is not yet available.

Departmental Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. (254243)

Information on appointments made by the Department for Transport is published in the Department’s annual report. More detailed information about individual appointments is set out in the relevant body’s annual report. Vacancies may be advertised on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website at:

www.publicappointments.gov.uk.

The process for making a public appointment, including guidance on political activity and eligibility criteria, follows the Cabinet Office publication “Making and Managing Public Appointments”. For appointments regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointments process also complies with the “Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies”. Copies are in the Libraries of the House.