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Written Answers

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 20 April 2009

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Bank Services: Fees and Charges

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has made in investigating unfair bank charges; and when he expects the OFT to report. (269800)

The OFT has written to banks with its provisional view on the fairness of unarranged overdraft and returned item fees, setting out its concern that they may be unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999. The OFT announced on 3 April 2009 that it is to streamline its investigation into unarranged overdraft charges by focusing on the terms of three banks in particular in order to progress the case in the shortest and most efficient way possible. The OFT expects to reach final conclusions on fairness later this year.

China

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether officials from his Department have held discussions with colleagues in the Scotland Office on the Secretary of State for Scotland's forthcoming visit to China as part of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry's trade delegation; and whether officials from his Department will accompany the Secretary of State for Scotland on the visit. (267018)

Officials from this Department have been in contact with colleagues in the Scotland Office regarding the Secretary of State for Scotland's visit to China.

Officials from this Department did not accompany the Secretary of State for Scotland on his visit. However, officials at our missions in China supported both the trade mission and the visit.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what properties his (a) Department and (b) Department's (i) executive agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies have sold in each of the last five years; and how many of these have been sold for housing development. (266497)

This Department has not sold any land from its HQ estate over the last five years.

I have approached the chief executives of Companies House and the Insolvency Service and they will respond to you directly.

Information for those non-departmental public bodies overseen by BERR who have sold properties in each of the last five years is as follows:

UK Atomic Energy Authority

The Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorset was sold to the Urban Regeneration Agency (doing business as English Partnerships) on 31 March 2004. Associated with the sale of the Winfrith Technology Centre, six plots of adjoining agricultural land were sold in financial year 2006-07 in accordance with the Crichel Down rules. Two areas of agricultural land to the west of the Winfrith site were sold in financial year 2005-06. The final plot of this agricultural land was sold in financial year 2006-07. None of these were sold for housing development.

In summer 2006 two plots of land were sold in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire associated with the former water treatment works at Harwell: an angling lake; and a plot of land with planning permission for two residential dwellings.

Information for the regional development agencies (statistical information only due to volume involved) is as follows:

Advantage West Midlands

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

24

1

2006-07

6

0

2005-06

5

2

2004-05

12

5

2003-04

3

0

East of England Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

5

0

2006-07

1

0

2005-06

3

0

2004-05

3

0

2003-04

4

0

East Midlands Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

2

0

2006-07

0

0

2005-06

38

0

2004-05

4

0

2003-04

5

0

London Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

4

0

2006-07

8

1

2005-06

3

2

2004-05

3

2

2003-04

2

1

North West Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

2

0

2006-07

54

0

2005-06

27

0

2004-05

13

0

2003-04

48

0

One North East

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

0

0

2006-07

0

0

2005-06

0

0

2004-05

0

0

2003-04

0

0

South East England Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

0

0

2006-07

0

0

2005-06

0

0

2004-05

0

0

2003-04

0

0

South West England Development Agency

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

18

0

2006-07

17

1

2005-06

25

2

2004-05

19

1

2003-04

18

0

Yorkshire Forward

Number

Properties sold

Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

1

0

2006-07

0

0

2005-06

2

0

2004-05

2

0

2003-04

0

0

The information given for the RDA's are actual buildings mainly for regeneration purposes. It does not include land or larger regeneration sites. The RDAs are not involved in direct housing provision.

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 13 April 2009:

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 23 March 2009, UIN 266497, to the Minister of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Companies House has not sold any properties in the last five years.

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 13 April 2009:

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has asked me to reply to you directly on behalf of the Insolvency Service in respect of your question, what properties (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental public bodies it oversees have sold in each of the last five years; and how many of these have been sold for housing development The Insolvency Service leases its properties and therefore have not been and will not be in a position to sell any.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington of 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 895W, on departmental carbon emissions, whether his Department has adopted the Carbon Trust's Carbon management programme. (269274)

BERR has had two recent reviews carried out by the Carbon Trust, on its headquarters estate. The second, run in April to May 2008, was a follow-on to previous work done under the energy efficiency accreditation scheme (EEAS) which closed in March 2008. As a result of the second review, BERR was given certification under the new Carbon Trust Standard; this was awarded to the Department on 2 July 2008. On the basis that these reviews had been done, the Department did not feel it necessary to take up the Carbon Trust management programme.

Departmental Electronic Equipment

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was spent on (a) the purchase of and (b) bills for (i) Blackberrys and (ii) mobile phones for (A) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in his Department in each year since 2005. (266328)

The information requested is as follows:

(i) The Department has deployed Blackberry services to staff since 2006 through the Office of Government Commerce’s mobile telecommunication services contract. From the records available the cost of purchasing the Blackberry hardware each year since 2006 has been:

£

Ministers

Special advisers

Other staff

2006

16,800

2007

1,120

1,120

68,880

2008

280

280

8,400

2009

280

27,695

The 2009 figure includes the costs of recent hardware upgrades.

The operating costs for BERR’s Blackberry service is only held from 2008 and includes costs for Ministers and special advisors:

Other staff (£)

2006

n/a

2007

n/a

2008

132,128

2009

154,902

n/a = Not available.

(b) The Department uses the Office of Government Commerce’s mobile telecommunication services contract to provide official mobile telephones to staff. No cost information is available on the provision of mobile hardware. No detailed information is available on the cost of the services that have been deployed to Ministers and their special advisors. During this period all Ministers and special advisors have had access to mobile telephones from a central pool of handsets operated by the ministerial support office. The only information available is the total cost of the mobile telephones services operated by the ministerial support office and for those services provided to other BERR staff for each year since 2008.

£

Mobile telephone costs for ministerial support office

Total cost of staff mobiles provided

2008

23,541

218,317

2009

24,541

192,868

Departmental Energy

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent progress his Department has made towards its target for the energy efficiency per square metre of its estate; and if he will make a statement. (266866)

BERR are continuing to work towards achieving the energy efficiency targets expressed in the Sustainable Operation of the Government Estate (SOGE) framework. Our main strategy has been to gain efficiencies through a reduction in the physical size of its estate and the number of buildings occupied. As a result the whole BERR estate has been reduced by 58 per cent. and its overall carbon footprint by 26 per cent. since the baseline year of 1999-2000.

As we are working the remaining buildings harder, through better space optimisation, energy use has risen slightly. We are addressing this through improved utilisation of building management systems; installing new environmental and lighting controls during 2008-09, together with introduction in January 2009 of new automated monitoring and targeting systems, which will give significant savings over the next few years.

Furthermore, in mid-February 2009, BERR installed two sets of photovoltaic arrays on the roof of its 1 Victoria Street HQ building and carried out a thermal imaging study. We are currently evaluating the latter study to see if there are additional means of improving the performance of the HQ building.

BERR's HQ estate recently received the Carbon Trust Standard certification.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much (a) electricity, (b) gas and (c) other fuel was used by (i) his Department and (ii) each of its agencies since the establishment of his Department; and how much was used by each of the regional development agencies in each of the last 10 years. (267342)

Since the inception of BERR in June 2007, the Department has used the following amounts of electricity and gas on its HQ estate up to the end of February 2009.

kWh

Electricity

19,706,096

Gas

9,264,323

I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency Service and Companies House and they will respond to you directly.

The following tables contain details of the amounts spent by each regional development agency on electricity, gas and other fuels during the past 10 years. Where there is a blank entry (—), figures are unavailable and would incur disproportionate cost to produce. The RDAs do not record units used.

Advantage West Midlands

£000

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

67

12

0

2006-07

51

6

0

2005-06

72

9

0

2004-05

50

7

0

2003-04

42

7

0

2002-03

34

4

0

2001-02

29

3

0

2000-01

1999-2000

1998-99

Total

345

48

0

East of England Development Agency

£000

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

44

7

0

2006-07

76

9

0

2005-06

46

2

0

2004-05

24

3

0

2003-04

28

2

0

2002-03

18

2

0

2001-02

13

2

0

2000-01

8

1

0

1999-2000

1998-99

Total

257

28

0

East Midlands Development Agency

£000

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

53

24

0

2006-07

50

25

0

2005-06

61

16

0

2004-05

43

13

0

2003-04

23

5

0

2002-03

32

7

0

2001-02

2000-01

1999-2000

1998-99

Total

261

90

0

London Development Agency

Total fuel cost (£000)

2007-08

128

2006-07

145

2005-06

115

2004-05

2003-04

2002-03

2001-02

2000-01

1999-2000

1

1998-99

1

Total

388

1 LDA not established.

The LDA does not record fuel expenditure in the manner requested. As a result, it would be unable to break down its energy spend into separate components without incurring disproportionate cost. Figures for 2001-02 to 2004-05 are not available as during this period fuel bills were included within a general service charge.

North West Development Agency

£000

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

53

49

0

2006-07

112

47

0

2005-06

68

40

0

2004-05

70

20

0

2003-04

49

39

0

2002-03

46

1

0

2001-02

35

4

0

2000-01

9

1999-2000

1998-99

Total

442

200

0

One North East

Total fuel cost (£000)

2007-08

160

2006-07

169

2005-06

165

2004-05

106

2003-04

98

2002-03

44

2001-02

46

2000-01

45

1999-2000

57

1998-99

Total

890

One North East does not record fuel expenditure in the manner requested. As a result, it would be unable to break down its energy spend into separate components without incurring disproportionate cost.

South East England Development Agency

£000

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

105

29

0

2006-07

87

12

0

2005-06

79

11

0

2004-05

48

5

0

2003-04

45

7

0

2002-03

44

7

0

2001-02

39

6

0

2000-01

35

6

0

1999-2000

32

5

0

1998-99

Total

514

88

0

South West England Regional Development Agency

Total fuel cost (£000)

2007-08

106

2006-07

93

2005-06

87

2004-05

29

2003-04

14

2002-03

16

2001-02

2000-01

1999-2000

1998-99

Total

345

SWRDA does not record fuel expenditure in the manner requested. As a result, it would be unable to break down its energy spend into separate components without incurring disproportionate cost.

Yorkshire Forward

Electricity

Gas

Other fuel

2007-08

70

14

0

2006-07

71

7

0

2005-06

60

10

0

2004-05

63

9

0

2003-04

48

9

0

2002-03

56

9

0

2001-02

51

9

0

2000-01

Total

419

67

0

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 13 April 2009:

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 25 March 2009, UIN 267342, to the Minister of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Since the inception of BERR in 2007, Companies House has used the following amounts of fuel:

kWh

Financial year

Electricity

Gas

2007-08

5,315,618

1,708,260

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 13 April 2009:

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has asked me to reply to you directly on behalf of The Insolvency Service how much (a) electricity, (b) gas and (c) other fuel was used by (i) his Department and (ii) each of its agencies since the inception of his Department; and how much was used by each of the regional development agencies in each of the last 10 years.

The Insolvency Service has consumed the following energy to date since the formation of BERR in June 2007:

kWh

Electricity

2,109,082

Gas

934,211

Other Fuel

0

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his latest estimate is of his Department’s capital expenditure in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10, (c) 2010-11 and (d) 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. (268112)

The latest estimate of capital expenditure for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) is as follows:

Capital expenditure in £ million

2008-09 forecast outturn

2009-10 budgets allocated

2010-11 CSR07 settlement figures

Capital expenditure

143.800

131.054

166.325

Less capital income from launch investment

(129.000)

(120.000)

(184.500)

Net capital expenditure

15.800

11.0540

(18.175)1

1 Planned receipts are in excess of expenditure in 2010-11.

The Department’s settlement from the 2007 comprehensive spending review (CSR07) included use of end year flexibility (EYF) stocks and other flexibilities, subject to agreement by HM Treasury. The planned expenditure for 2009-10 includes use of £43 million, the balance of a loan made to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), which is due to be repaid in 2009-10. There remains considerable volatility in the planned income received from launch investments in the aerospace sector, which will impact on BERR’s future capital expenditure plans, particularly in 2010-11.

Plans for 2011-12 have not yet been formulated, pending the outcome of the next spending review.

Departmental Redundancy

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the answer of 12 January, Official Report, columns 462-63W, on redundancy, how many staff left his Department under staff exit schemes with a severance package worth (a) between £100,000 and £125,000, (b) between £125,001 and £150,000, (c) between £150,001 and £200,000, (d) between £200,001 and £250,000, (e) between £250,001 and £500,000, (f) between £500,001 and £1,000,000 and (g) over £1,000,000 in each year since 2005-06. (264315)

The following table sets out details of staff who left the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform under staff exit schemes with a severance package.

Severance package

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Total

£100,000-£125,000

9

12

4

25

£125,000-£150,000

2

2

3

7

£150,000-£200,000

3

10

4

17

£200,000-£250,000

1

6

3

10

£250,000-£500,000

0

5

3

8

£500,000 plus

0

0

0

0

Total

15

35

17

67

For staff leaving on compulsory or flexible early severance terms, or in receipt of a statutory redundancy payment, the size of the package is simply the lump sum compensation payment made.

For staff leaving on compulsory, flexible or approved early retirement terms, the size of the package includes any lump sum compensation payment made on departure (compulsory terms only) and also the capitalised cost of paying a pension or annual compensation payment (ACP) before pension age, the cost of any pension enhancement (compulsory and flexible terms only) and the cost of bringing forward the payment of the pension lump sum (for those in classic). These figures are therefore the initial provision for the early departure liabilities caused by the staff departures. They will include any cash payments made during the period.

Departmental Responsibilities

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 25 March 2009, Official Report, column 523W, on the Corporate Governance Unit, when his Department’s Corporate Law and Governance Directorate was established; what the remit of the Directorate is; what the cost to the public purse has been of the Directorate in each year of its operation; what the job title is of each member of staff of the Directorate; and which Ministers other than the Secretary of State have had responsibility for the Directorate since its establishment. (268956)

BERR and its predecessor Departments have been responsible for company law issues since the 19th century. The name “Corporate Law and Governance Directorate” (CLG) was adopted in 2005 when responsibility for company investigations transferred to the Insolvency Service. Highlights of CLG work appear on the Department’s annual report (Sections 2.91-2.94)

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file47097.pdf

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State currently has responsibility for company law issues in succession to my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Development and Consumer Affairs. The directorate also houses BERR’s Better Regulation Unit, which reports to the Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting in succession to the Minister for Competitiveness and Small Business. In 2007-08 the running costs of the directorate were £2,198,000.

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many staff in his Department were recorded as having been on sick leave for over 12 months on 31 December in each of the last five years. (256636)

The total number of staff recorded as having been on sick leave for over 12 months on 31 December over the past five years is 12.

It is not possible to give a breakdown for each individual year in order to avoid possibly revealing the identity of the individual staff members.

Departmental Standards

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of measuring compliance with its targets under its public service agreements in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (266563)

BERR leads delivery of three CSR 07 public service agreements, (PSA 1—Raise the productivity of the UK economy; PSA 6—Deliver the conditions for business success in the UK; PSA 7—Improve the economic performance of all English regions and reduce the gap in economic growth rates between regions), and two PSAs outstanding from SR 04, (PSA 6—Enterprise; and PSA 10—Maximising potential in the workplace.)

Compliance with BERR’s PSAs is measured as progress against a number of indicators. Costs to BERR of measuring progress against these PSAs are as listed. In most cases progress is measured against externally produced data, provided at no cost to BERR.

Progress against the CSR 07 PSA 1 is measured wholly against externally produced data, provided at no cost to BERR.

Costs to BERR of producing data for measuring progress against the CSR 07 PSA 6 are estimated at £66,000 in the last 12 months.

Costs to BERR of processing data for measuring progress against the CSR 07 PSA 7 are estimated at £43 in the last 12 months.

Costs to BERR of producing data for measuring progress against the SR 04 PSA 6 are estimated at £144,550 (excluding VAT) in the last 12 months.

Costs to BERR of producing data for measuring progress against the SR 04 PSA 10 are estimated at £1,000 in the last 12 months.

Total costs to BERR of producing data for measuring progress against these PSAs are estimated at £211,593 in the last 12 months.

EU Internal Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent assessment he has made of the steps necessary to implement the Mutual Recognition Regulation (EC) 764/2008; and what timetable he has set for taking such steps. (268449)

The Mutual Recognition Regulation places two main obligations on EU member states—to ensure that specified fair and transparent procedures are followed when enforcing rules which exclude from their market products lawfully marketed elsewhere in the EU, and to establish a contact point to provide information on these rules.

An exercise to identify affected UK rules has been completed. Officials have been working with other Departments and enforcement authorities responsible for these rules in order to ensure that their procedures are in line with the requirements of the regulation.

The product contact point for the regulation is being established within the Businesslink.gov.uk website, including new guidance pages within the international trade area of the site. Guidance pages on individual regulations are being amended or expanded as necessary to provide the additional information specified in the regulation.

The regulation comes into effect on 13 May 2009. New enforcement procedures will take effect from this date, and the new section on Businesslink.gov.uk is expected to go live by this date.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many cases the Action Single Market/UK SOLVIT centre had handled on the latest date for which figures are available. (268450)

The latest figures available for the number of cases handled on SOLVIT is for the period January to December 2008. During that period the Action Single Market/UK SOLVIT centre dealt with 247 cases.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether his Department has designated a product contact point in respect of the Mutual Recognition Regulation (EC) 764/2008. (268451)

The product contact point for the Mutual Recognition Regulation will be located within the Businesslink.gov.uk website. Businesslink.gov.uk already provides the majority of the information on technical rules required by the regulation, so locating the contact point here minimises the cost and takes advantage of the site's high brand recognition and traffic.

India: Overseas Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to increase trade between the UK and India; how much his Department and its predecessor spent on the promotion of trade between the UK and India in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (268503)

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is the principal Government organisation for the promotion of trade and investment with India. In 2007 UKTI increased its staff in India by 18 per cent. to better support British business and inward investment. In 2007-08 and 2008-09 UKTI allocated grant funding to the newly created UK India Business Council (UKIBC)—a business-led organisation specifically tasked with supporting Government in the promotion of bilateral trade, business and investment with the two countries. We have also refreshed the UK-India Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO) dialogue, which my noble Friend the Secretary of State co-chaired with Minister Nath this January as part of a wider trade and investment visit to India.

We continue actively to develop trade and investment links, through the ongoing work of our team in India and the UK, and have commissioned research by the UKIBC into the opportunities represented by India’s second tier cities—the results of which will be released shortly. We are also recruiting a supply chain specialist and have put in place a new initiative, Fiscal Compass, which will help UK companies capitalise on overseas business opportunities arising from fiscal stimulus spending, including in India. My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Investment is planning to visit India later this year, to further promote trade and investment.

UKTI annual programme expenditure (£)1 on the promotion/support of trade with India over the last 5 years was:

£

2008-09

22,033,261

2007-08

1,964,507

2006-07

1,842,356

2005-06

1,213,472

2004-05

872,234

1 Figures may slightly under-report the total programme expenditure on India as they do not take account of UKTI multi-market initiatives where the India costs are not specifically identified.

2 Estimated outturn.

Staff and establishment costs,1, 2 for the UKTI team in India over the last 2 years were:

£

2007-08

7,018,563.28

2006-07

5,028.766.97

1 2008-09 figures are not yet available.

2 Staff and establishment cost for UKTI in the years prior to 2006-07 were included in the general FCO compliment in India and are therefore not specifically identifiable.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many officials in his Department at each grade work on the promotion of trade between the UK and India; and what the equivalent numbers were for the Department of Trade and Industry in (a) 1983, (b) 1987 and (c) each year between 1998 and 2007. (268510)

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is the principal body concerned with promoting trade and investment with India. The network in India consists of officials (full-time equivalent) at the following grades:

AA

AO

EO

HEO

SEO

Grade 7

Grade 6

SCS

Total

Present

1.9

9.3

32.1

34.95

0.7

3.7

1.7

1.95

86.3

2007

6.35

34.99

8

23.85

1.7

1.95

1.8

1.78

80.42

2006

3.1

35.35

7.8

20.63

2.65

2.05

0.8

1.6

73.98

2005

4.1

37.48

7.35

20.26

2.7

1.95

0.55

1.95

76.34

Historical staffing levels for the period 1998 to 2004 are not available in a format that provides a meaningful comparison with the subsequent data.

The South Asia Team in International Group, UKTI consists of seven officials and is predominantly focused on India but it also has responsibility for trade and investment issues in other South Asian markets.

Similarly other officials in UKTI and BERR contribute towards the promotion of trade between the UK and India but it is not possible to quantify exact staffing levels as this is only part of their role.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was allocated by his Department to the UK-India Business Council in each of the last two years; for what purposes; and if he will make a statement. (268516)

In each of the two financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09 we paid to the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) a grant of £1,000,000.00.

The purpose of the grant is to finance the UKIBC’s advice and assistance to UK businesses doing or seeking to do business in India. This complements the services offered by UKTI in the UK.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assistance his Department provides to Indian businesses wishing to (a) invest in the UK and (b) take part in joint ventures with UK companies; how much was made available for these purposes in each of the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (268517)

UKTI, within BERR, provides services to companies not only from India, but across the globe. This includes: promoting the attractiveness of the UK to investors; a free consultancy service to foreign owned companies wishing to locate in the UK; direct access to Government Departments (and HMG policy) and introductions to private sector advisors wherever possible. Relationships between UKTI staff in London and overseas and with the UK regions provide a seamless service to clients.

UKTI, working with the regional development agencies and the devolved Administrations, maintains links with strategic companies once they have invested in the UK via the Investor Development programme. UKTI systematically gathers feedback on issues of concern to established inward investors, bringing these to the attention of relevant Government Departments and Ministers as appropriate.

UKTI does not offer specific services around joint ventures or mergers and acquisitions but provides services to assist with the trade and expansion efforts of companies that establish in the UK. UKTI does not provide finance to companies locating in the UK, but does provide strategic and operational advice via the UKTI/RDA/private sector networks.

Israel: Overseas Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps (a) he has taken since September 2008 and (b) plans to take during the next 12 months to increase trade between the UK and Israel; how much his Department (i) has spent since September 2008 and (ii) plans to spend during the next 12 months on the promotion of trade between the UK and Israel; what recent representations he has received on increasing trade between the UK and Israel; and if he will make a statement. (268504)

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) provides a range of support services to British companies wishing to trade with or invest in Israel, through commercial teams based in both the UK and the British embassy in Tel Aviv.

UKTI support focuses, in particular, on business opportunities in high technology sectors, including biotechnology, health care, aerospace, information and communication technology, the environmental industries and financial and legal services. Information on commercial events in Israel is posted on the UKTI website (www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk) along with details of specific business opportunities in the market.

UKTI supports the work of the Israel British Business Council (IBBC) including bi-annual meetings in Tel Aviv and London, and also supports a broad range of activities aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investment, including trade missions to Israel, inward missions by Israeli firms to trade fairs in the UK and promotional events aimed at encouraging Israeli companies to list in London and do business which brings benefits to Britain.

Information on annual expenditure on trade promotion is unavailable due to the length of time it would take to research these figures.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much trade with Israel contributed to the UK’s gross domestic product in each of the last two years; what recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on increasing trade between the UK and Israel; and if he will make a statement. (268505)

The benefits of international trade to gross domestic product (GDP) result from greater economic efficiency due to a combination of increased competition in markets, relative comparative advantages, economies of scale, increased opportunities for learning, and greater incentives for innovation. Due to the difficulty of differentiating between the impact of trade and other factors on growth, it is not possible to quantify precisely the impact of trade with another country on GDP.

The following table indicates the scale of UK trade in goods and services to Israel for the years 2006-07 as a proportion of GDP:

2006

2007

UK exports to Israel: % of UK GDP at market prices

0.13

0.12

UK imports from Israel: % of UK GDP at market prices

0.10

0.10

Geographical data for trade in 2008 are due to be published at the end of July.

I have not met my Israeli counterpart but there are regular exchanges between officials.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much was allocated by his Department to the Israel Britain Business Council in each of the last two years; for what purposes; and if he will make a statement. (268513)

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) allocates £25,000 annually for the activities of the Israel-Britain Business Council (IBBC). This funding supports UKTI’s efforts to increase trade and investment with Israel. UKTI officials work closely with both the director of the IBBC and other UK members, to try to ensure the best fit between the activities of the Business Council and UKTI’s strategic priorities for business with Israel, including the financial services, health care and high technology sectors.

Kenya: Overseas Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the monetary value of trade between Kenya and the UK was in 2008. (269481)

According to HM Revenue and Customs Overseas Trade Statistics, in 2008 UK exports of goods to Kenya were worth about £194 million and UK imports of goods from Kenya were worth about £316 million.

The Office for National Statistics is likely to publish its first estimates of 2008 UK trade in services with Kenya on 31 July. Their Balance of Payments Pink Book estimates for 2007 trade in services were UK exports to Kenya worth about £136 million and UK imports from Kenya worth about £182 million.

Legal Opinion

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the cost was of external legal services engaged by his Department in each year since its establishment. (251361)

Since this Department was established in July 2007, it has spent the following on external legal services:

£ million

2007-081

9.8

2008-092

8.2

1 From July onwards.

2 Up to 22 January 2009.

Lord Jones of Birmingham

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which countries were visited by Lord Digby-Jones in a Ministerial capacity during his time as a Minister in his Department; and what the cost of each visit was. (268521)

Since 1999 the Government have published the total cost of all overseas travel by Ministers and a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. From 2008 the list included details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. This information for the last financial year was published in July 2008. Details for the last financial year will be published as soon as possible. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Ministerial Code”.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 29 January 2009, transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government on 9 February 2009, on business diversification grants. (264880)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 12 February regarding a constituent. (265186)

[holding answer 20 March 2009]: This matter falls under the responsibility of the Insolvency Service and I have asked the chief executive to reply direct to my hon. Friend.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to reply to the letter of 16 January 2009 from the hon. Member for Northavon, sent on behalf of Mr. C Simpson of Pucklechurch, on Royal Mail. (269021)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 24 February 2009 with regard to a constituent; and what the reason is for the time taken to reply. (269038)

I responded to my hon. Friend on 31 March. I apologise for the delay caused by the current high volumes of correspondence.

Minimum Wage

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of people in (a) the UK, (b) the West Midlands and (c) Tamworth constituency whose income rose following the introduction of the national minimum wage. (268387)

The national minimum wage was introduced in 1999. The following numbers relate to the number of workers who were earning below the national minimum wage before its introduction.

Information on earnings is taken from the ONS’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) dataset for 1998. Information for individual parliamentary constituencies is not readily available in the ASHE dataset. However, information is available on a Government office region basis.

(a) The number of workers in the UK that stood to benefit directly in the form of higher hourly wages from the introduction of the national minimum wage in April 1999 is estimated to be around 1,000,000.

(b) In the West Midlands, 100,000 workers were estimated to benefit directly from higher hourly wages as a result of the introduction to the national minimum wage in April 1999.

Morocco: Overseas Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what advice his Department issues to UK firms on trade with Morocco which involves exploitation of resources located in Western Sahara. (268194)

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is able to provide British companies with detailed advice concerning business opportunities in Morocco when requested. They would also be advised of the sensitivities in respect of Western Sahara.

Motor Industry: France

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions the Secretary of State has had with the European Commission on the compatibility with state aid rules of proposals by the French Government to provide loans to the French motor industry. (261372)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State has discussed state aid matters with Commissioner Kroes on a number of occasions. On each occasion he has stressed the need to take enforcement action against abuses of the state aid rules by any member state.

Post Offices

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post office branches were (a) opened and (b) closed in each year since 1979; and if he will make a statement. (269164)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. (POL). I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Copies of the letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Royal Mail: Pensions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what proportion of the (a) membership and (b) estimated deficit of the Royal Mail pension scheme is accounted for by employees of Post Office Ltd. (268189)

Over time there have been a number of changes in the organisation and structure of the Royal Mail group of companies. This makes a clear and accurate split of the past membership and deficit of the pension scheme for Post Office Ltd. difficult to establish.

Under Government proposals to support the pension scheme (as part of the package of measures currently before Parliament in the Postal Services Bill) members of the scheme who do, or did, work for Post Office Ltd will be treated on an equivalent basis to other Royal Mail employees.

As at 31 March 2008 out of a total 181,276 permanent Royal Mail employees, 9,163 were engaged on Post Office Ltd. business. This represents approximately 5 per cent. of the current workforce.

Royal Mail: Reorganisation

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent estimate he has made of the expenditure incurred to date on (a) consultants and (b) other companies engaged to advise on aspects of the proposed sale of parts of Royal Mail. (264318)

The estimated expenditure incurred to the end of March 2009 on external advisers providing legal, financial and accountancy advice in relation to the partnership proposals for Royal Mail is £3.6 million.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent estimate he has made of the expenditure incurred on legal fees associated with the proposed sale of parts of Royal Mail. (264319)

It is not appropriate for commercial reasons to reveal the costs incurred by a specific external adviser which would be the case in this instance. The total estimated expenditure incurred to the end of March 2009 on external advisers providing legal, financial and accountancy advice in relation to the partnership proposals for Royal Mail is £3.6 million.

South West Regional Development Agency

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what reductions in (a) capital and (b) resource funding for the South West of England Regional Development Agency his Department has made in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (268641)

The following reductions were made to the indicative allocations given to the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) at the start of the comprehensive spending review 2007 period:

£ million

SWRDA contribution

Programme1

Resource

Capital

£20 million Flood Work and Climate Change (2008-09)

1.5

£25 million HomeBuyers Direct Initiative (2009-10)

220.0

£275 million HomeBuyers Direct Initiative (2010-11)

2

£17 million Fuel Efficiency Initiative (2008-09)

1.1

£25 million Small Business Finance Scheme (2009-10)

33.5

£25 million Small Business Finance Scheme (2010-11)

3

£10 million Equity Fund (2009-10)

0.7

1 Figures represent total for the regions

2 Indicates brace

3 Indicates brace

Zimbabwe: Overseas Trade

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the monetary value of trade between the UK and Zimbabwe was in the last five years. (269490)

Data on recorded trade in goods with Zimbabwe are shown in the following table:

£ million

UK exports of goods to Zimbabwe

UK imports of goods from Zimbabwe

2004

26

48

2005

22

44

2006

20

27

2007

23

20

2008

21

37

Source:

HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics

Estimates of trade in services are not available for the full five years. ONS data published in the UK Balance of Payments Pink Book 2008 were:

£ million

UK exports of services to Zimbabwe

UK imports of services from Zimbabwe

2006

21

31

2007

32

37

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many second homes there were in each council tax band in each region in England in each year from 1997 to 2008. (269502)

Details of the number of second homes in each council tax band in each region in England since 2004 are given in the following table. Information for previous years is not available. The data are a snapshot taken in the autumn of each year and are as reported to Communities and Local Government by all billing authorities in England on their annual council tax base (CTB) returns.

Bands

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

Total

1 November 2004

North East

2,661

1,116

1,041

696

372

170

112

21

6,189

North West

5,299

3,097

3,273

2,292

1,527

877

734

89

17,188

Yorkshire and the Humber

4,778

3,047

2,911

1,988

1,204

463

297

48

14,736

East Midlands

4,163

1,908

1,626

1,050

504

322

249

37

9,859

West Midlands

3,070

1,759

1,409

988

727

400

327

72

8,752

East of England

7,664

5,312

5,753

3,762

2,352

1,351

1,104

165

27,463

London

1,135

4,241

9,280

9,365

8,328

6,537

8,851

4,736

52,473

South East

6,797

6,516

9,033

7,146

5,040

3,232

3,411

954

42,129

South West

9,819

8,590

9,813

8,447

6,394

3,680

3,103

551

50,397

10 October 2005

North East

3,221

1,238

1,204

791

418

178

119

19

7,188

North West

5,674

3,376

3,462

2,398

1,611

955

730

89

18,295

Yorkshire and the Humber

5,367

3,353

3,189

2,205

1,281

496

330

46

16,267

East Midlands

4,041

1,940

1,725

1,038

563

331

277

53

9,968

West Midlands

6,064

3,151

2,153

1,410

1,038

499

385

74

14,774

East of England

8,191

5,242

5,797

3,816

2,373

1,416

1,159

187

28,181

London

1,156

3,997

8,924

8,861

7,982

6,074

8,330

4,496

49,820

South East

6,849

6,294

8,713

7,382

5,079

3,113

3,235

923

41,588

South West

9,493

8,607

9,937

8,498

6,471

3,624

3,065

555

50,250

9 October 2006

North East

3,279

1,315

1,262

783

430

184

127

19

7,399

North West

5,459

3,385

3,589

2,477

1,632

971

775

97

18,385

Yorkshire and the Humber

5,380

3,471

3,325

2,196

1,305

537

325

46

16,585

East Midlands

3,973

2,140

1,823

1,102

554

320

281

59

10,252

West Midlands

6,247

3,390

2,414

1,640

1,122

546

409

88

15,856

East of England

8,212

5,343

5,895

3,830

2,385

1,414

1,159

195

28,433

London

1,233

4,253

9,316

9,063

7,992

5,972

7,868

4,284

49,981

South East

6,915

6,376

8,745

7,326

5,160

3,144

3,137

931

41,734

South West

9,821

8,871

10,170

8,708

6,537

3,686

3,080

586

51,459

8 October 2007

North East

3,167

1,305

1,275

811

429

191

120

22

7,320

North West

5,326

3,660

3,837

2,660

1,725

1,031

788

104

19,131

Yorkshire and the Humber

5,607

3,659

3,417

2,276

1,321

563

328

48

17,219

East Midlands

3,971

2,185

1,832

1,093

551

333

280

60

10,305

West Midlands

5,739

3,706

2,566

1,513

1,081

510

413

87

15,615

East of England

8,123

5,326

5,996

3,858

2,421

1,416

1,161

193

28,494

London

1,264

4,132

8,846

8,808

7,763

5,707

7,209

3,993

47,722

South East

6,839

6,383

8,895

7,444

5,253

3,177

3,138

948

42,077

South West

9,415

8,728

10,145

8,848

6,538

3,646

3,141

592

51,053

6 October 2008

North East

3,225

1,384

1,322

832

477

215

141

22

7,618

North West

5,767

3,968

4,121

2,900

1,852

1,059

804

106

20,577

Yorkshire and the Humber

5,877

3,978

3,643

2,360

1,353

582

337

44

18,174

East Midlands

3,881

2,194

1,850

1,177

603

339

283

59

10,386

West Midlands

5,771

3,885

2,667

1,636

1,134

522

401

79

16,095

East of England

7,986

5,375

6,012

3,929

2,533

1,492

1,171

197

28,695

London

1,325

4,189

8,837

8,860

7,835

5,666

7,209

3,928

47,849

South East

8,749

6,399

8,996

7,540

5,387

3,253

3,255

979

44,558

South West

9,321

8,790

10,204

8,915

6,643

3,779

3,175

605

51,432

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many chargeable dwellings in each council tax band there were in each region in each year from 1997 to 2008. (269503)

Details of how many chargeable dwellings in each council tax band there were in each region in each year from 1997 to 2008 are shown in the following table. The data are a snapshot taken in the autumn of each year and are as reported to Communities and Local Government by all billing authorities in England on their annual council tax base (CTB) returns.

Numbers of chargeable dwellings in each council tax band for England, but only at an all England total level, are published by the Department in statistical releases, most recently on 26 November 2008, and in the annual publication ‘Local Government Financial Statistics’.

Band A

Band B

Band C

Band D

Band E

Band F

Band G

Band H

Total

3 Nov 1997

North East

643,320

150,105

148,150

70,694

34,751

15,904

9,074

978

1,072,976

Northwest

1,250,413

531,964

489,673

265,402

149,441

74,112

51,491

5,033

2,817,529

Yorkshire and the Humber

957,203

398,112

331,569

167,896

104,013

50,245

30,161

2,480

2,041,679

East Midlands

661,857

382,774

303,997

166,851

93,681

44,902

27,420

2,396

1,683,878

West Midlands

693,484

533,196

407,559

221,355

135,103

72,913

44,452

4,314

2,112,376

East of England

308,973

468,062

587,394

375,910

223,799

119,720

82,455

9,434

2,175,747

London

99,663

396,249

794,043

755,314

454,595

220,519

180,911

46,860

2,948,154

South East

268,492

527,829

839,359

644,487

431,715

256,957

207,112

27,155

3,203,106

South West

346,213

507,392

478,489

319,604

209,978

106,429

63,987

5,865

2,037,957

3 Nov 1998

North East

642,130

150,072

149,472

72,289

35,566

16,167

9,247

1,019

1,075,962

North West

1,251,929

534,893

492,203

268,428

152,468

75,294

52,015

5,076

2,832,306

Yorkshire and the Humber

955,819

400,337

333,824

170,687

106,085

51,338

30,604

2,518

2,051,212

East Midlands

664,304

385,230

306,290

170,094

96,196

46,134

27,853

2,439

1,698,540

West Midlands

695,245

535,583

409,645

223,866

137,510

74,336

45,335

4,370

2,125,890

East of England

311,895

470,380

591,095

380,063

227,426

122,088

83,855

9,578

2,196,380

London

99,898

399,541

797,675

759,098

456,573

222,216

182,861

47,565

2,965,427

South East

271,015

531,573

843,715

649,088

436,184

260,392

210,047

27,551

3,229,565

Southwest

349,852

510,573

481,321

323,165

214,203

108,376

64,728

5,935

2,058,153

3 Nov 1999

North East

639,023

150,718

150,904

74,063

36,637

16,508

9,411

1,027

1,078,291

North West

1,252,849

538,633

495,747

272,237

155,700

76,755

52,726

5,158

2,849,805

Yorkshire and the Humber

954,716

402,689

336,028

173,869

108,770

52,562

31,122

2,573

2,062,329

East Midlands

666,867

387,752

308,713

173,482

99,188

47,623

28,449

2,458

1,714,532

West Midlands

694,748

538,693

412,393

226,690

140,267

76,058

46,235

4,451

2,139,535

East of England

314,029

472,670

594,105

383,948

230,976

124,608

85,503

9,791

2,215,630

London

99,822

403,437

800,302

763,560

458,530

224,683

184,624

48,467

2,983,425

South East

273,059

534,023

847,352

653,850

440,279

264,115

212,813

27,950

3,253,441

South West

352,418

512,905

484,904

327,053

217,863

110,300

65,677

6,020

2,077,140

1 Nov 2000

North East

642,988

152,230

152,632

76,352

37,765

16,833

9,639

1,031

1,089,470

North West

1,267,869

543,069

499,671

276,183

159,247

78,605

53,863

5,270

2,883,777

Yorkshire and the Humber

959,073

405,337

339,040

177,965

111,960

54,200

31,944

2,675

2,082,194

East Midlands

672,131

391,759

310,703

177,005

102,310

49,246

29,244

2,490

1,734,888

West Midlands

698,557

541,822

415,384

229,974

143,387

77,892

47,470

4,603

2,159,089

East of England

318,408

476,872

598,660

389,136

234,349

127,024

86,991

10,046

2,241,486

London

102,759

406,922

804,719

768,933

462,610

228,074

187,070

49,702

3,010,789

South East

277,204

537,514

852,739

659,164

444,525

267,773

216,085

28,449

3,283,453

South West

356,792

516,509

488,900

330,922

222,221

112,315

66,834

6,105

2,100,598

1 Nov 2001

North East

640,555

152,622

154,073

78,328

39,079

17,151

9,967

1,050

1,092,825

North West

1,262,039

545,560

502,403

279,428

162,976

80,228

54,717

5,315

2,892,666

Yorkshire and the Humber

957,100

407,530

341,342

182,037

115,299

55,683

32,820

2,726

2,094,537

East Midlands

676,053

394,126

313,497

180,544

105,607

50,780

30,041

2,538

1,753,186

West Midlands

697,713

543,614

417,443

232,745

145,975

79,451

48,439

4,711

2,170,091

East of England

320,443

479,398

601,712

392,594

237,562

129,072

88,384

10,213

2,259,378

London

102,493

408,413

807,709

773,498

466,479

230,640

189,012

50,421

3,028,665

South East

278,908

539,435

856,349

663,625

448,620

270,574

218,552

28,775

3,304,838

South West

359,736

519,985

492,367

334,555

225,712

114,104

67,700

6,170

2,120,329

1 Nov 2002

North East London

638,449

153,658

155,272

80,258

40,271

17,617

10,254

1,070

1,096,849

North West

1,260,057

548,719

505,452

283,133

166,609

81,646

55,735

5,462

2,906,813

Yorkshire and the Humber

956,417

409,505

343,719

185,535

118,565

57,150

33,525

2,792

2,107,208

East Midlands

676,573

396,177

316,302

183,716

108,707

52,392

30,840

2,578

1,767,285

West Midlands

697,269

546,602

420,415

236,018

149,042

81,319

49,450

4,740

2,184,855

East of England

321,675

481,420

604,936

396,891

240,864

131,599

89,740

10,406

2,277,531

London

101,830

410,338

812,695

778,663

469,813

233,049

190,424

51,035

3,047,847

South East

279,835

542,597

861,170

668,722

452,888

273,676

220,894

29,208

3,328,990

South West

361,351

522,925

495,692

338,112

228,809

115,987

68,520

6,254

2,137,650

3 Nov 2003

North East

638,476

154,253

156,193

81,769

41,264

18,078

10,489

1,067

1,101,589

North West

1,260,433

552,435

508,912

287,413

169,563

82,908

56,703

5,542

2,923,909

Yorkshire and the Humber

956,015

411,557

345,459

189,173

121,171

58,038

33,983

2,823

2,118,219

East Midlands

679,912

397,581

318,872

187,210

111,098

53,657

31,314

2,623

1,782,267

West Midlands

698,976

548,618

422,615

239,396

151,545

82,619

50,287

4,790

2,198,846

East of England

322,972

483,885

607,580

401,016

244,093

133,231

90,951

10,505

2,294,233

London

102,278

412,658

817,281

783,347

472,513

235,496

191,969

51,641

3,067,183

South East

281,481

545,939

865,094

673,561

455,931

276,122

222,397

29,590

3,350,115

South West

364,349

525,884

498,945

341,817

230,885

117,532

68,878

6,280

2,154,570

1 Nov 2004

North East

636,777

155,272

157,213

83,398

42,297

18,457

10,677

1,087

1,105,178

North West

1,257,266

556,992

512,713

291,900

172,407

83,966

57,361

5,639

2,938,244

Yorkshire and the Humber

956,778

414,827

348,671

193,265

123,109

58,977

34,476

2,820

2,132,923

East Midlands

682,896

400,625

322,179

190,847

113,177

54,841

31,762

2,668

1,798,995

West Midlands

698,950

551,918

425,498

242,350

153,602

83,651

51,035

4,807

2,211,811

East of England

324,269

486,517

611,663

405,720

247,419

134,906

91,716

10,613

2,312,823

London

101,358

413,781

822,322

787,709

475,586

236,983

192,703

52,062

3,082,504

South East

281,744

549,690

870,304

679,986

459,170

278,502

224,026

29,923

3,373,345

South West

366,459

529,753

503,191

345,433

233,257

118,978

69,336

6,359

2,172,766

10 Oct 2005

North East

634,129

156,349

158,402

84,778

43,215

18,800

10,886

1,109

1,107,668

North West

1,254,347

561,954

515,601

295,454

173,968

84,877

57,864

5,705

2,949,770

Yorkshire and the Humber

958,244

417,874

351,499

196,221

124,541

59,610

34,783

2,844

2,145,616

East Midlands

685,552

402,936

325,204

193,365

114,872

55,789

32,158

2,671

1,812,547

West Midlands

700,260

555,330

428,103

245,147

154,999

84,364

51,533

4,864

2,224,600

East of England

327,129

489,843

616,137

409,404

249,765

136,238

92,445

10,783

2,331,744

London

102,532

416,823

830,604

793,973

478,914

238,947

193,653

52,598

3,108,044

South East

285,267

553,001

876,949

685,906

462,406

280,440

225,149

30,163

3,399,281

South West

368,870

532,582

506,523

348,088

235,104

119,964

69,752

6,403

2,187,286

9 Oct 2006

North East

632,961

158,976

160,182

85,965

44,064

19,159

11,081

1,131

1,113,519

North West

1,255,835

569,290

520,222

299,247

175,927

85,819

58,287

5,792

2,970,419

Yorkshire and the Humber

958,349

421,400

355,550

199,251

126,030

60,450

35,178

2,870

2,159,078

East Midlands

688,108

406,786

328,616

196,019

116,395

56,686

32,510

2,678

1,827,798

West Midlands

701,781

560,082

431,911

248,081

156,546

85,128

52,063

4,920

2,240,512

East of England

329,921

494,319

620,889

413,944

252,314

137,569

93,475

10,952

2,353,383

London

103,689

420,576

838,414

801,104

481,844

240,976

194,630

53,218

3,134,451

South East

287,938

559,505

885,158

692,453

466,099

282,466

226,670

30,516

3,430,805

South West

373,075

537,894

511,618

351,508

237,375

120,974

70,091

6,503

2,209,038

8 Oct 2007

North East

632,818

161,789

161,857

87,415

44,627

19,460

11,237

1,153

1,120,356

North West

1,256,151

577,480

525,575

303,378

177,357

86,606

58,421

5,879

2,990,847

Yorkshire and the Number

957,629

426,086

359,033

201,990

127,215

61,133

35,360

2,897

2,171,343

East Midlands

692,315

411,573

333,043

198,676

117,779

57,274

32,815

2,696

1,846,171

West Midlands

703,364

564,508

435,558

250,299

157,990

85,546

52,409

4,941

2,254,615

East of England

333,156

501,053

627,039

418,635

255,285

138,999

94,351

11,145

2,379,663

London

105,114

424,253

848,734

807,723

484,579

242,674

194,779

53,655

3,161,511

South East

292,255

567,195

894,039

699,785

468,902

284,584

227,535

30,920

3,465,215

South West

378,907

544,380

516,405

355,170

239,242

121,845

70,374

6,565

2,232,888

6 Oct 2008

North East

631,311

164,191

163,628

88,801

45,203

19,681

11,355

1,179

1,125,349

North West

1,257,746

586,683

529,579

306,230

178,223

87,091

58,548

5,987

3,010,087

Yorkshire and the Humber

962,094

432,791

363,736

204,986

128,453

61,829

35,596

2,962

2,192,447

East Midlands

697,725

417,325

336,626

201,260

118,935

57,880

33,052

2,713

1,865,516

West Midlands

703,807

569,909

439,121

252,297

159,351

86,235

52,697

4,981

2,268,398

East of England

336,033

508,049

632,710

422,724

257,393

140,006

94,841

11,393

2,403,149

London

105,677

428,235

860,363

816,303

487,682

243,822

195,240

54,142

3,191,464

South East

297,754

575,802

903,921

706,279

471,469

285,858

228,545

31,327

3,500,955

South West

385,144

551,064

521,628

359,108

241,176

122,673

70,793

6,671

2,258,257

Councillors

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1072-3W, on councillors: Arun, whether the Audit Commission plans to obtain bank account information from councillors in other local authorities during its next National Fraud Initiative national data matching exercise. (268732)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I will ask the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 20 April 2009:

Your Parliamentary question on whether the Audit Commission plans to obtain bank account information from councillors in other local authorities during its next National Fraud Initiative national data matching exercise has been passed to me to reply.

All local authorities will be required to provide payroll data relating to a salary, members' allowance or other remuneration for the next scheduled exercise, NFI 2010/11. The fields required for data matching are set out in a 'data specification'. The bank account and sort code are included on the payroll data specification. This information is required under powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for how long her Department has followed the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Management programme. (269287)

Communities and Local Government signed up to the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Management Programme in April 2006. Since then, the Department has continued to work with the Carbon Trust to identify opportunities to reduce further carbon emissions.

In 2007-08, the Department reduced its electricity and gas consumption in its main headquarter building by 22 per cent. and 37 per cent., respectively, compared to 2006-07.

Departmental Computers

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many laptop computers have been provided to (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in her Department in each year since 2005; and at what cost. (268271)

The information is as follows.

Ministerial Team

The costs of laptops in 2005 to 2007 are not recorded separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Number

Cost (£)

2005

1

n/a

2006

1

n/a

2007

1

n/a

2008

1

1,047

2009

1

1,047

n/a = Not available.

Special advisers

The cost and numbers of any laptops provided to special advisers in 2005 and 2006 are not recorded separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Number

Cost (£)

2005

n/a

n/a

2006

n/a

n/a

2007

1

1,178

2008

2

11,047

2009

0

n/a = Not available.

1 Plus one laptop reused.

The Department as a whole (figures include those above). Cost information for 2005 and 2006 is not centrally held and can be provided only at disproportionate cost. A further 31 laptops were purchased during 2007 as part of a wider project to upgrade the CLG network and costs cannot be disaggregated from the overall project costs.

Number

Cost (£)

2005

237

n/a

2006

140

n/a

2007

61

72,089

2008

123

182,582

2009

159

285,227

n/a = Not available.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of her Department's staff were employed to work on housing-related matters in each of the last five years. (265004)

The following table shows the numbers of staff employed in Housing Directorates in each of the last five years. There may be other staff engaged in housing-related matters, though it is not possible to ascertain this without incurring disproportionate cost.

Number

Current Directorate Title

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Housing Delivery and Homelessness

102.54

108.49

114.01

110.62

138.12

Housing Management and Support

57.18

61.49

64.66

50.76

73.85

Housing Markets

38.77

40.61

43.39

49.63

66.55

Grand Total

198.49

210.59

222.06

211.01

278.52

Departmental Mobile Phones

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been spent on (a) the purchase of and (b) bills for (i) BlackBerrys and (ii) other mobile telephones for (A) Ministers, (B) special advisers and (C) civil servants in her Department in each year since 2005. (268254)

This information is not held centrally and could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. However, details of our total spend on mobile devices (hardware and running costs) for the last five years are in the following table:

Total (£)

2004-05

94,487

2005-06

94,904

2006-08

112,650

2008-09

166,985

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) BlackBerrys and (b) other mobile telephones have been provided to (i) Ministers, (ii) special advisers and (iii) civil servants in her Department in each year since 2005. (268298)

This information is not held centrally and could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

However, the Department currently has 684 mobile devices on contract from our supplier; 284 of these devices are BlackBerrys.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the system for the remuneration of (a) board members and (b) special advisers in her Department includes an incentive or bonus element. (268835)

The Communities and Local Government board consists of eight executive board members and five non-executive board members (although one non-executive board member post is vacant at present). There is no system of incentives or bonuses for the non-executive board members.

The eight executive board members are all senior civil servants and therefore eligible to be considered for annual performance bonuses under senior civil service pay arrangements. Our senior civil service staff members are assessed against a range of factors, such as:

The achievement of their Prime Objective which focuses on the way in which they lead, manage and develop their staff;

Degree to which business objectives are met;

Delivery for Ministers;

Demonstration of skills such as judgment, leadership and the PSG skills;

Effective resource management

There is no system of incentives or bonuses for special advisers in the Department.

Eco-Towns: Publicity

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost was of producing the eco-town video on the directgov website; and which organisation produced the video. (268830)

The cost of producing the video ‘Animated eco-town walkthrough—what might an eco-town look like?’ on the Directgov website was £21,500 excluding VAT. It was produced by Smoothe, a design agency procured through the COI.

Empty Property: Essex

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many residential dwellings were vacant in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point in each of the last five years. (268429)

The number of empty residential dwellings in Castle Point and Essex in each of the last five years are shown in the following table.

Castle Point

Essex

1 November 2004

664

14,541

10 October 2005

712

15,697

9 October 2006

811

16,331

8 October 2007

862

16,045

6 October 2008

877

18,365

Data for Essex are the sum of all vacant dwellings in the individual billing authorities including Castle Point but excluding figures for Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock unitary authorities.

The data are as reported annually to Communities and Local Government on the CTB and CTB (Supplementary) forms that are completed by all billing authorities in England. The data relate to particular dates in the autumn of each year.

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 11 March 2009, Official Report, column 483W, on the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, for what reasons the British Humanist Association was funded from the fund. (268692)

The British Humanist Association received £25,000 in order to establish and support a network of grassroots humanists to work and build relationships with statutory bodies and participate in groups that advise local authorities on matters of religion or belief, or encourage dialogue between people with different beliefs. The project aimed to enable local humanists to network with faith and ‘interfaith’ groups and participate in groups convened by local authorities, and thus contribute towards good relations and community cohesion.

The Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund was designed to increase the capacity of all religion and belief communities to engage with each other and with wider society. The guidance notes for the fund included the following definition:

“For the purpose of this fund, a faith organisation is defined as one where the majority of its members adhere to the same faith. They share a world view or ‘life stance’ that involves a set of moral and spiritual values and beliefs about the nature of life and the world. They will usually, but not always, believe in a god or gods.”

The application was made under the “relationships with local, regional or national Government” category—one of the capacity building categories of the fund. In its application, the BHA described their faith tradition as: “Humanist (though we do not think of ourselves as a ‘faith’, we meet the definition of ‘faith’ given in the guidance)”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 11 March 2009, Official Report, column 483W, on the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, what funding her Department and its agencies have allocated to the British Humanist Association other than through the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund; and for what purposes. (268693)

Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her estimate is of the number of fires prevented in each (a) region and (b) fire authority area in the most recent year for which figures are available. (268797)

There is no mechanism that allows Communities and Local Government to access how many fires have been prevented. However the latest provisional figures show that in 2007-08, fire and rescue services in England attended a total of 293,900 fires, a 32 per cent. reduction on the 2001-02 figure of 431,800.

Fire Services: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many fire stations in each fire and rescue authority area were staffed in (a) whole and (b) part by retained fire fighters in the latest period for which figures are available. (268922)

The number of fire stations in England by type of staffing system is set out as follows.

As at 31 March 2008 there were 774 fire stations staffed wholly by retained duty firefighters in England. Stations with the Day-crew, Nucleus and ‘Wholetime-other duty’ system staffing typically use both whole-time and retained firefighters.

Fire stations in England as at 31 March 2008

Type of fire station

Number

Whole-time 2:2:4 shift

551

Day-crew

97

Wholetime-other duty system

14

Nucleus

3

Retained duty system

774

Total

1,439

Fire Services: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average cost was of employing a full-time equivalent (a) fire fighter and (b) retained fire fighter in the latest period for which figures are available. (268921)

The latest available data for average costs of employing fire fighters are for 2007-08 and are shown in the table.

Average costs of employing fire fighters1, England, 2007-08

Whole-time

Retained

Headcount (31 March 2008)

30,824

14,166

Full-time equivalents (31 March 2008)

30,580

n/a

Cost (£ million)

1,276

110

Average cost per full-time equivalent (£)

41,738

n/a

n/a = Not applicable

1 Costs are collected as totals covering all roles from Fire Fighter to Brigade Manager.

2 Pay, employer pension contributions and employer national insurance contributions.

Source:

Annual returns to Communities and Local Government

Homes and Communities Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Homes and Communities Agency and its predecessor bodies spent on staff in each year since 1997. (266191)

The predecessor bodies of the HCA were English Partnerships, the investment arm of the Housing Corporation, and the Academy for Sustainable Communities. A range of programmes previously delivered by Communities and Local Government (CLG) also transferred to the Agency.

The last 10 years spending on staff for English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation can be found in their published Annual Report and Accounts. The spend for the Academy was consolidated within the Annual Report and Accounts of its parent organisation, Yorkshire Forward. The salary costs for ASC staff were £42,000 in 2005-06, the year of its establishment, £972,000 in 2006-07 and £1.28 million 2007-08. The costs of CLG staff that transferred to the Agency were included within Departmental Annual Reports and could be disaggregated only at disproportionate cost.

The HCA is responsible to Parliament for ensuring public funds are properly used. The Agency is also subject to scrutiny by the National Audit Office. Information on staff costs for the year ending 31 March 2009 will be published in the HCA's Annual Report and Accounts which will be laid before Parliament later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the (a) the Homes and Communities Agency and (b) Tenants Service Authority have spent on IT since their inception. (266193)

Since their establishment the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has spent approximately £0.8 million on IT for former English Partnerships, Academy for Sustainable Communities and transferred CLG staff. The spend for the Tenants Services Authority (TSA) is £0.9 million which covers the costs of IT relating to former Housing Corporation staff. This cannot be disaggregated between those staff that transferred to the HCA and those that transferred to the TSA.

Housing: Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the social effect on communities of the Government's target of building 3 million new homes by 2020 not being met. (268745)

The Housing Green Paper “Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable” published in July 2007 set out the Government’s ambition to increase housing supply. This step-change in housing delivery is necessary to ensure adequate housing supply that is crucial in order to improve housing affordability, ease the pressure on social housing waiting lists and improve economic productivity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new units of social housing have been built in (a) Stafford constituency, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England in the last 12 months. (269725)

Information on new build social housing by constituency is not available. The following table shows the number of new build for social rent in Stafford local authority, the West Midlands region, and England in 2007-08.

Area

2007-08

Stafford local authority

60

West Midlands region

2,060

England

25,390

The social rent new build figures are from the Homes and Communities Agency Investment Management System (IMS), and Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) returns and P2 house building returns submitted to CLG by local authorities and the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

Not all social rented housing is provided by new build completions, as some supply can come from acquisitions. An additional 3,980 social rented homes were acquired in England in 2007-08; these are not included in the table. The social rent figures differ from the number of affordable homes provided, because the affordable housing figures also include intermediate rent and low-cost home ownership, as well as social rent.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the difference was between (a) the actual rate of (i) inflation, (ii) wage inflation, (iii) discount rate for scheme liabilities and (iv) increase for pensions and (b) the assumptions of each made by the Homes and Communities Agency and its predecessors in each of the last three years; (264985)

(2) what assumptions about (a) inflation, (b) wage inflation, (c) discount rate for scheme liabilities and (d) rate of increase for pensions were made by the Homes and Communities Agency and its predecessors in each of the last three years.

Homes and Communities Agency employees are covered by three pension schemes. The English Partnerships Pension scheme was renamed the Homes and Communities Agency Pension scheme with effect from 1 December 2008, when the Homes and Communities Agency replaced English Partnerships as the Principal Employer. It was adopted as the scheme of choice for the Homes and Communities Agency and is used to provide benefits for new employees of the Agency. Due to legacy arrangements on the formation of the Agency, some employees are covered by the Westminster Pension Fund or the West Sussex Pension Fund, both Local Government Pension schemes.

An actuarial valuation of each of the schemes is carried out every three years to assess the value of liabilities and future funding requirements. The assumptions used for the valuation are set by the Trustees or Administering Authority after taking actuarial advice. As part of the valuation, an analysis of the experience over the previous three years is carried out. The assumptions used to value each Scheme's liabilities are long term assumptions and are intended to reflect experience over the lifetime of the scheme. Details of the most recent available actuarial valuation for each of the schemes are as follows:

The experience for the three years following the valuation of the Homes and Communities Agency Pension scheme as at 31 March 2005 was as follows (the Trustees’ long-term assumptions at 31 March 2005 are shown in brackets):

Percentage p.a

(a) average inflation

3.4 (2.8)

(b) average wage inflation

4.5 (4.8)

(c) average investment return/discount rate

6.2 (6.2)1

(d) average rate of pension increase

3.4 (2.8)

1 This figure is a weighted average, assuming a return of 6.7 per cent, on assets backing pre-retirement liabilities and 5.2 per cent. on assets backing post-retirement liabilities.

The approximate impact on the Scheme's ongoing liabilities due to actual experience differing from the assumptions over the three years to 31 March 2008 is as follows:

Increase/decrease

(a) average inflation higher than assumed (includes impact on pension increases)

increase by £1.1 million

(b) average wage inflation lower than assumed

decrease by £0.7 million

(d) rate of pension increase higher than assumed

increase by £0.8 million

The next actuarial valuation has an effective date of 31 March 2008 and is currently being finalised.

The experience for the three years following the valuation of the Westminster Pension Fund as at 31 March 2004 was as follows (the long-term assumptions at 31 March 2004 are shown in brackets):

Percentage p.a

(a) inflation

3.1 (2.9)

(b) wage inflation (estimate)

5.4 (4.4)

(c) investment return/average discount rate

13.0 (5.7)

(d) rate of pension increase

3.1 (2.9)

The financial impact for the (then) Housing Corporation over the three years to 31 March 2007 is as follows:

(a) change in financial assumptions: reduced funding position by approximately £2.5 million.

(b) investment returns greater than expected: improved funding position by approximately £16.9 million.

The assumptions used to determine the value of the ongoing liabilities of the Westminster Pension Fund for the triennial actuarial valuation of the Fund as at 31 March 2007 were as follows:

Percentage p.a

(a) inflation

3.2

(b) wage inflation

4.7

(c) (i) discount rate for members whilst in service

6.2

(ii) discount rate for members other than whilst in service

5.2

(d) rate of pension increase

3.2

An analysis of the experience over the three years following the valuation is not yet available. The next actuarial valuation will have an effective date of 31 March 2010.

The experience for the three years following the valuation of the West Sussex County Council Pension Fund as at 31 March 2004 was as follows (the long-term assumptions at 31 March 2004 are shown in brackets):

Percentage p.a

(a) average inflation

2.9 (2.9)

(b) average wage inflation

13.5 (4.4)

(c) average investment return/discount rate

14.1 (6.3)

(d) average rate of pension increase

2.9 (2.9)

1 This is an average figure for the Fund as a whole, based on average pensionable salaries at 31 March 2004 and 31 March 2007.

A breakdown of the impact on the Fund's ongoing liabilities due to actual experience differing from the assumptions is not disclosed in the actuarial valuation report. However at a high level the financial impact for the whole fund over the three years to 31 March 2007 is as follows:

(a) change in financial assumptions: reduced funding position by £156 million.

(b) investment returns greater than expected: improved funding position by £278 million.

The assumptions used to determine the value of the ongoing liabilities of the West Sussex county council pension fund for the triennial actuarial valuation of the fund as at 31 March 2007 were as follows:

Percentage p.a

(a) inflation

3.2

(b) wage inflation

14.7

(c) discount used to value liabilities

6.1

(d) rate of pension increase

3.2

1 Plus allowances for promotional increases

An analysis of the experience over the three years following the valuation is not yet available. The next actuarial valuation will have an effective date of 31 March 2010.

Housing: Sales

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of first-time home buyers there were in each year between 1987 and 1996. (269793)

The numbers of first-time buyers purchasing a home with a mortgage in the UK in each year between 1987 and 1996 are presented as follows. This shows between 1987 and 1996 there were 4,689,400 first-time buyers. There were 5,272,500 between 1997 and 2008.

Number of first-time buyers purchasing with a mortgage, UK

1987

523,700

1988

580,300

1989

455,200

1990

409,200

1991

336,200

1992

447,600

1993

519,500

1994

532,100

1995

420,300

1996

465,300

Source:

Council of Mortgage Lenders

Infrastructure Planning Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the number of applications for judicial review of discussions taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission which will be made in the first three years of its operation. (268833)

The number of judicial reviews the Infrastructure Planning Commission is likely to face in the first three years of its operation depends on a number of unknown variables. As such it is not possible to make a meaningful estimate of their number. However, I am confident that the Commission will ensure its decisions are robust and would be able to defended legal challenges vigorously.

Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a) employment and (b) classes of employment are incompatible with source as a councillor in a local authority where the authority is or, is deemed to be, the employer. (269089)

A person who is employed by a local authority is disqualified for being a member of that local authority whatever their occupation.

Local Government: Bank Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 9 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1695-6W, on local government finance, if she will seek to obtain information on the levels of exposure of local authorities to the Madoff hedge fund. (268729)

I have no plans to seek further information on levels of exposure on local government finance due to investment in the Madoff hedge fund.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what capitalisation directions to local authorities have been issued by her Department for back pay for equal pay claims to date; and for what value in each case. (269681)

Since 2006, the Government have issued over £1.1 billion in capitalisation directions to provide support for councils to deliver equal pay for thousands of employees.

In 2006-07, Communities and Local Government approved capitalisation directions for equal pay for 35 authorities totalling £160.5 million. A full list of these authorities and the sums they received is available at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/capital/cap0607appls.xls

The actual amount of capital expenditure used by individual authorities is available from their accounts.

In 2007-08, 46 applications for equal pay capitalisation were approved, totalling £500 million. The full list of authorities who received capitalisation directions, including the amount of capitalisation used is available at:

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

A further £455 million approved for 34 councils in 2008-09. The amount of capitalisation used by each individual authority will not be published until September 2009. However, a list of the councils who received directions is available at:

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

Local Government: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what guidance has been provided to local authorities on (a) the setting of investment strategies in respect of the local government pension scheme and (b) appropriate levels of exposure to equities; (268829)

(2) what requirements there are on trustees of local government pension schemes in relation to maximising returns on their investments.

Investment decisions in the local government pension scheme in England and Wales are the responsibility of designated administering authorities whose decisions are subject to the provisions governing the management and investment of funds. Authorities are required to publish a Statement of Investment Principles, including their policy on the expected rate of return on investments, the types of investments to be held and the way in which risks are measured and managed. Decisions must be taken on the basis of expert advice, and comply with the regulations and with each authority’s published Statement of Investment Principles and Funding Strategy Statement. Authorities must have regard also to guidance issued by CIPFA on the preparation of these statements and on funding and investment issues.

Those responsible for investment decisions in the scheme are also required to act within general legal principles relating to their fiduciary duty and the investment of monies held in trust.

Local Government: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on redundancy payments to local authority staff. (268834)

The Department issues no general guidance on redundancy payments. All decisions to terminate a local authority employment, for any reason, are matters for the local authority involved.

Mobile Homes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 24 February 2009, Official Report, column 550W, on mobile homes, if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department's ad hoc survey on local authorities in England. (268828)

The 2006 ad hoc survey of park home sites in England has now been placed in the Library. The data were provided by local authorities and my Department is not responsible for their accuracy.

Mortgages

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information her Department and its agencies hold on the amount of mortgage lending which has funded mortgages (a) for new build, (b) for first-time buyers and (c) with high loan to property value ratios in the last (i) six and (ii) 12 months. (268933)

The Department holds data on completed mortgages used for house purchase via the Regulated Mortgage Survey (RMS) which is supplied by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. The RMS covers about 60 per cent. of the UK mortgage market and includes details on whether the mortgage was used to purchase a new build property, whether the buyer was a first-time buyer and the loan amount and the purchase price of the property.

From this survey we have the following information on the amount of mortgage lending which has funded mortgages for house purchase (a) for new build, (b) for first-time buyers and (c) with high loan to value ratios in the (i) six months to February 2009 and (ii) the 12 months to February 2009:

Mortgage lending for house purchase (based on amount loaned) as a percentage of all mortgage lending for house purchase

Six months to February 2009 (Percentage)

12 months to February 2009 (Percentage)

New build

6.8

7.3

First-time buyers

30.0

30.0

High loan to value ratios (90 per cent. or over)

17.1

24.0

Total gross mortgage lending for house purchase (£ million)

25,624

67,841

Notes: 1. These data are not necessarily representative of all mortgage lending as they are based on the Regulated Mortgage Survey data that Communities and Local Government hold which include only mortgages for house purchase and cover only about 60 per cent. of the market. 2. The total gross mortgage lending for house purchase is published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Mortgages: Government Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households in each local authority area have received assistance under her Department's mortgage rescue scheme in circumstances where a housing association has purchased a property that would otherwise have been repossessed; and if she will make a statement. (269068)

As part of the monitoring arrangements for the Government mortgage rescue scheme, headline data will be published on a monthly basis on the Department’s website starting this month. We plan to publish data for January, February and March 2009 on 21 April 2009.

Non-Domestic Rates: Small Businesses

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's announcement of 31 March 2009 on business rates, what the estimated cost to the Exchequer will be of the proposed changes. (268889)

The impact assessment, which will be prepared alongside the necessary secondary legislation, will set out details of the cost to the Exchequer and include costs to local government which are being considered as part of the Government’s new burdens rules.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's announcement of 31 March 2009 on business rates, (1) whether an impact assessment of the proposals has been prepared; (268890)

(2) what estimate she has made of the likely take-up rate of the deferred business rate scheme.

There are approximately 1.7 million hereditaments in England that could potentially be eligible for deferring the increase in their business rate bills. An impact assessment will be undertaken as part of the process of making the necessary secondary legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's announcement of 31 March 2009 on business rates, what funding will be provided to local authorities to cover the costs of rebilling. (268891)

Any policy which increases the cost of providing local authority services is subject to the new burdens principle. The Government are committed to ensuring that all net new burdens falling on local authorities are fully and properly funded. The business rates announcement is covered by the new burdens principle, and the potential net impacts on local authorities will be fully funded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the eligibility criteria are for small business rate relief in (a) England outside London and (b) London. (268838)

The information is as follows:

England—Small Business Rate Relief Scheme

The eligibility rules for small business rate relief can be found at:

www.businesslink.gov.uk

and are summarised in the following table:

Rateable value threshold criterion

Multiplier payable

Relief granted

Note

Below £5,000—England and London

Small business rate multiplier for 2008-09 is 48.1p

50 per cent. rate relief on liability

This relief is available for occupiers of one property.

But other properties with a rateable value under £2,200 can be disregarded in deciding whether the single occupancy criterion has been met.

However, the rateable value(s) of such properties are included in determining whether the threshold criterion has been met.

Between £5,000 and £10,000—England and London

As above

Relief is on a declining sliding scale from 50 per cent. to zero reducing at 1 per cent. per £100 of rateable value

Between £10,000 and £21,499 in London or £10,000 and £14,999 elsewhere

As above

No relief granted

Above £14,999 in England and £21,500 in London

National non-domestic rate multiplier for 2009-10 is 48.5p

No relief granted

The small business rate relief scheme is funded by businesses that pay the national non-domestic rates multiplier.

Planning: Gardens

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers local authorities have to exclude gardens from brownfield designation within their local development framework. (269501)

Residential gardens are contained within the definition of previously-developed land in Annex B of Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3). However, paragraph 43 of PPS 3 says that local authorities can, when deciding the priority for the location of new housing, set out in their local development framework the contributions expected from different categories of previously-developed land. This could include residential gardens. If garden development is a particular issue for an authority, then they could also introduce a plan policy on development in gardens which, for example, could set out the circumstances and type of development that would or would not be acceptable.

On the 2 April the Government announced, via a response to a parliamentary question from the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, a review into the evidence on the extent and impact of housing development on garden land in order to establish whether there was a genuine problem. Further details can be found at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090402/text/90402w0048.htm#0904032000060

Regional Government: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 6 March 2009, Official Report, columns 1885-86W, on joint economic commission, what funding has been given to each regional economic commission; what the remit of each is; who the members of each are; and how each was appointed. (268730)

As part of the Government’s response to the economic downturn, the Ministers for each English region have established regional economic fora, which they co-chair with the chair of the regional development agenda. These short-term, ad hoc advisory groups, whose members are unpaid, have no dedicated budgets and are supported by secretariats provided by their Government offices. The members come from a variety of bodies with an interest in the regional economy, including public sector bodies, local authorities, business organisations, unions and the third sector and were invited to take part in the meetings by the co-chairs of the fora.

Details of the remits and members of each forum have been placed in the Library.

Sheltered Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in each (a) region and (b) local authority area (i) live in and (ii) are on a waiting list for sheltered accommodation. (268472)

Information is collected on sheltered housing schemes for older people that are in receipt of Supporting People funding. The information collected does not include a count of people but shows the number of household units that can be accommodated in the sheltered housing. A household unit can be one or more persons. A table has been placed in the Library which includes the number of household units that can be accommodated in such sheltered housing services, by region and administering authority area as at 31 December 2008.

No information is collected centrally on waiting lists for sheltered accommodation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many sheltered accommodation (a) units and (b) schemes there are in each (i) region and (ii) local authority area. (268473)

Information is collected on sheltered housing schemes for older people that are in receipt of Supporting People funding. The information collected includes the number of household units that can be accommodated in the sheltered housing. A household unit can be one or more persons.

A table has been placed in the Library showing (a) the number of household units that can be accommodated and (b) the number of sheltered housing services for older people in receipt of Supporting People funding as at 31st December 2008, by region and administering authority area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department issues to local authorities on the employment of wardens and care workers in sheltered accommodation schemes. (268474)

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not issue any guidance on the employment of wardens and care workers in sheltered accommodation.

However Communities and Local Government has recently refreshed the Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) which is a voluntary scheme that sets out the standards expected in the delivery of housing-related support services, including staff quality and competence—although not mandatory, the majority of administering authorities continue to use the QAF to continue to drive up the quality standards of service providers and to ensure that services adapt to meet the changing needs of clients.

Social Rented Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many social homes there are expected to be in (a) London, (b) Birmingham, (c) Liverpool, (d) Leeds, (e) Sheffield, (f) Bristol, (g) Manchester, (h) Leicester, (i) Coventry, (j) Kingston upon Hull, (k) Bradford, (l) Stoke-on-Trent, (m) Wolverhampton, (n) Nottingham, (o) Plymouth, (p) Southampton, (q) Reading, (r) Derby, (s) Dudley and (t) Newcastle upon Tyne in 2010; (268570)

(2) how many social homes there were in (a) London, (b) Birmingham, (c) Liverpool, (d) Leeds, (e) Sheffield, (f) Bristol, (g) Manchester, (h) Leicester, (i) Coventry, (j) Kingston upon Hull, (k) Bradford, (l) Stoke-on-Trent, (m) Wolverhampton, (n) Nottingham, (o) Plymouth, (p) Southampton, (q) Reading, (r) Derby, (s) Dudley and (t) Newcastle upon Tyne in (i) 2007 and (ii) 2008; and how many there were on 1 March 2009.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) on 2 April 2009, Official Report, column 1510W. A table has already been placed in the Library to provide the number of social homes owned by local authorities and registered social landlords in 2008, for every local authority area.

A new table showing the number of social homes owned by local authority and registered social landlords in 2007, for every local authority area has been deposited in the Library.

Information on local authority (LA) owned housing stock is collected from local authorities on the Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) return. This information is recorded as at 1 April and is published on the Communities and Local Government website in Table 116 at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/140882.xls

Information on Registered Social Landlords’ (RSL) stock is collected through the Tenant Services Authority’s Regulatory and Statistical Return (RSR) and is recorded as at 31 March.

Figures for RSLs are for social housing stock owned in England only and include general needs, supported housing and housing for older people accommodation. Both self-contained units and bed spaces are included because a split for local authority areas is not available.

Information is not available for the expected number of social homes in 2010 or for the number of social homes on 1 March 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance the Tenant Services Authority gives to housing associations in respect of the affordability to tenants of rent increases. (269061)

On 29 January 2009, the Tenant Services Authority issued a guidance note to housing associations entitled “Guideline limit for rent increases”—it can be found on their website at:

http://www.tenantservicesauthority.org/server/show/ConWebDoc.16647

The guidance note refers to a circular (04/08) from the former Housing Corporation entitled “Rent, Rent Differentials and Service Charges”. This is available to download at:

http://www.housingcorp.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.156337PHPSESSID8beeecea4f3ff072063dbe6c96d431a4

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many responses to its consultation on Traveller sites the South East England regional assembly has rejected because the views in the response are considered by the Assembly to be discriminatory. (268153)

The regional assembly held this consultation and took decisions on how to treat responses. It has not yet submitted the outcome to the Secretary of State.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking on the provision of sites for Travellers in those districts adjoining Sevenoaks district council. (269751)

The provision of pitches for the Gypsy and Traveller community throughout the south-east of England is currently being reviewed as part of the region’s spatial strategy. The review is being undertaken by the South East England regional assembly, as the regional planning body. The next stage in the Gypsy and Travellers regional spatial strategy review will be a public consultation, followed some months later by an examination in public.

Health

Abortion

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of abortions which will take place in each year to 2015; and if he will make a statement. (268524)

No assessment has been made of the number of abortions which will take place in each year to 2015. The reasons women seek an abortion are complex and may be subject to a number of different factors, and this means that it is very difficult to formulate robust estimates.

Abortion: Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cost to the NHS was of providing abortions up to nine weeks of pregnancy in the latest period for which figures are available. (268588)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cost to the NHS was of providing morning-after pills in the latest period for which figures are available. (268589)

The cost of emergency contraception (morning after pills) for the latest period for which figures are available is given in the following table. The cost is for drugs listed in the British National Formulary (BNF) under paragraph 7.3.5, emergency contraception.

This figure is taken from the prescription cost analysis system, supplied by the prescription pricing division of the Business Services Authority, and covers prescriptions dispensed in England. It is based on an analysis of prescriptions dispensed in the community i.e. by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered in England. The data do not cover drugs dispensed in hospitals (including mental health trusts), private prescriptions, or community contraceptive services.

£000

2007

1,892.3

Cost is the net ingredient cost and is given in thousands.

Accident and Emergency Departments: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the causes of death at accident and emergency departments in (a) England and (b) the North East in each of the last 10 years. (268362)

The information requested is not collected centrally. The hon. Member may wish to approach local national health service organisations for further information.

Alcoholic Drinks: Health Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to inform people of the effects on health of excessive alcohol consumption in (a) England, (b) the North East and (c) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. (268356)

The Department has invested £6 million per year in a national communications campaign, launched in May 2008, to improve the public's understanding of units of alcohol and alcohol related health harm. The campaign's purpose is to give clear information about how many units are in alcoholic drinks and to raise awareness of the risks to health of regularly drinking too much. Its messages are being released across television, press, outdoor, radio and on-line channels.

We intend that this campaign should be sustained over a number of years. The key tasks in 2009-10 will be to optimise the unit messaging, by continuing to focus on the recommended unit guidelines and to communicate the health risks associated with drinking regularly in excess of these guidelines through media channels such as television and print.

We also provide web-based support and advice and an enhanced helpline available nationally.

We have recently completed an innovative pilot to target information to neighbourhoods, individuals and their families and encourage those most affected to seek advice and support, including help from health professionals locally. Initial results are promising and development work will continue in 2009. The aim is to develop an evidence base for effective local action by national health service bodies.

The north-east has launched a regional alcohol office, which is committed to changing the drinking culture in the north-east by informing, influencing and educating people about the health and other dangers caused by alcohol misuse, both to themselves as individuals and to the wider community and by encouraging evidence-based NHS interventions.

Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust has received £150,000 in additional funding in 2008-09, as an Early Implementer of the Alcohol Improvement Programme, to implement high impact changes and other measures, which will address health problems caused by alcohol misuse. This includes providing £32,000 funding for extra identification and brief advice sessions in hospitals, accident and emergency departments, and primary care.

Ambulance Services: Airwave Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish each document concerning Airwave which he has sent to ambulance trusts since November 2008. (267881)

No formal documentation has been issued to ambulance trusts with regards to Airwave although regular communication takes place between the Department and ambulance trusts; this includes planning documentation related to the implementation of the radio project and regular reports to ambulance chief executives on progress to date.

Antidepressants

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many prescriptions for each selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor were dispensed in each of the last five years; and how many were dispensed to persons aged over 65 years; (269729)

(2) how many prescriptions for each selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor were dispensed to persons aged (a) under 10, (b) 10 to 15 and (c) 16 to 25 years in each of the last five years.

The number of items of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) dispensed in England is available by calendar year from the Prescribing Cost Analysis database.

The number of items dispensed for each formulation is given in the following table.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) prescription items dispensed in the community in England, 2003 to 2007

Thousand

Drug name

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Citalopram Hydrobromide

4,210.1

4,615.7

5,077.9

6,265.5

7,830.7

Escitalopram

627.6

1,033.5

1,358.8

1,466.3

1,373.9

Fluoxetine Hydrochloride

4,288.0

4,409.8

4,394.5

4,690.1

5,045.7

Fluvoxamine Maleate

31.6

30.4

29.6

29.8

29.9

Paroxetine Hydrochloride

2,869.3

2,388.3

2,040.2

1,864.9

1,765.9

Sertraline Hydrochloride

1,790.3

1,834.3

1,845.1

1,910.7

2,032.8

Total1

13,816.9

14,312.0

14,746.1

16,227.1

18,078.9

1 Totals may not match individually aggregated figures due to rounding.

Notes:

1. SSRI drugs listed are those classified within the British National Formulary paragraph 4.3.3.

2. Information is not available on the age of a person receiving a particular drug or group of drugs.

Source:

Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system

Autism: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many providers of NHS services for people with autism are (a) direct NHS, (b) private, (c) voluntary and (d) independent providers; and how many such providers are classified as social enterprises; (269523)

(2) how much funding his Department provided for the commissioning of autism services in the last year for which figures are available.

National health service services are commissioned locally and information on the types and numbers of providers of NHS services for people with autism is not held centrally.

For 2007-08, and also for the Comprehensive Spending Review 07 (2008-11), the Department did not provide grants for the commissioning of autism services.

A statutory duty of partnership requires primary care trusts and NHS trusts to participate in local strategic partnerships and the development of local area agreements when agreeing commissioning plans for the delivery of autism services in their locality. The Department published on 2 April this year “Services for adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC): good practice advice for primary care trust and local authority commissioners”, which reminds commissioners of the need to plan for autistic services and provides best examples of how they may be implemented. A copy of this publication has been placed in the Library.

Blood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what records (a) his Department and (b) NHS bodies hold on the (i) source of individual blood batches used in the NHS and (ii) destinations to which blood batches used in the NHS have been forwarded; and on how many occasions his Department has sought to trace the (A) origin and (B) destination of blood batches in the last 12 months. (268663)

The Department holds some records on the source of individual donations of blood and blood components given by donors who subsequently developed variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, these records contain no information that identifies the patients concerned.

The Department holds no records on the hospitals or other destinations to which individual units of blood components are sent, or on the number of occasions the Department sought information on the origin and destination of blood components.

In England and North Wales, the collection, processing, testing and issue of blood products to hospitals is the responsibility of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

In accordance with the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations (2005), records kept by NHSBT uniquely identify each donor, each blood unit collected, and each component prepared, whatever its intended purpose. These records contain sufficient information to ensure each donation, unit and blood component can be identified and traced at each processing stage, and as far as the hospitals which receive the products. The time limit for retention of records is for a period of not less than 30 years.

Cardiovascular System: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what funding is available for measures to reduce extreme vascular malformations in children in Gloucestershire; (269331)

(2) what guidance his Department has issued to primary care trusts on the reduction of extreme vascular malformations in children.

The majority of cases of congenital heart disease are isolated defects and not associated with any other disease. Many cases have no clear cause. However, the Department and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence have issued advice and guidance to help reduce known risk factors. This covers: vaccination against rubella; ensuring that diabetic women achieve good glycaemic control prior to conception and throughout the pregnancy; encouragement to women to seek the advice of their family doctors before conception if they are taking any medicine, as some prescription drugs increase the likelihood of congenital heart disease; and advice to avoid alcohol during pregnancy.

Funding is a matter for the national health service locally.

CJD: Screening

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2009, Official Report, columns 756-7W, on CJD: screening, what the criteria are for validation of a test for variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease. (269064)

Any item of equipment for a variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease test kit must meet the essential safety requirements specified in the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive.

The device must perform as intended by the manufacturer and meet criteria relating to sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, repeatability and reproducibility.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what rights family members of those who have died of variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) have in relation to the use of their relatives' blood samples for the purposes of (a) research into and (b) validation of a blood screening test for vCJD. (269218)

Such samples can only be used for the purposes for which consent was given. Consent may be withdrawn at any time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2009, Official Report, column 757W, on blood donation screening, if he will make an assessment of the merits of giving access to blood samples of those who have died of variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) to companies which have developed a blood screening test for vCJD. (269219)

A process, overseen by the independent OD Resource Centre Oversight Committee, is already in place to enable appropriate access to the small number of blood samples from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vGD) disease patients. Companies developing vCJD screening tests are already participating in this process.

Congenital Abnormalities: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much compensation the Government has paid out to people who had birth defects caused by the side-effects of pharmaceutical treatment in the last 30 years. (269030)

The Department’s financial records indicate that no such compensation has been paid in the period since 2001-02.

Information prior to this date could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Contraception

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) evaluated to determine whether there is a relationship between access to emergency contraception and teenage sexually-transmitted infection rates; and if he will make a statement. (268436)

The Department has not undertaken or evaluated any research on the relationship between access to emergency contraception and teenage sexually transmitted infection rates.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which schools are taking part in the project to allow girls to ask for emergency contraception by text message; on which basis each school was selected; and if he will make a statement. (268522)

This information is not collected centrally. However, the Department supports innovative approaches to ensuring that young people have access to sexual health advice.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has adopted the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management Programme. (266733)

The Department's consultant, Clouds Environmental Consultancy Ltd., is currently working with the Department and the Carbon Trust to produce a report recommending the appropriate scope for the full Carbon Management Programme. Once this is completed we intend to commence the full programme by early summer 2009.

Departmental Computers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many laptop computers have been provided to (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in his Department in each year since 2005; and at what cost. (268265)

The Department issues laptop computers to individuals conducting work on behalf of the Department based upon business need. No distinction is made between the allocation of such devices to Ministers, special advisers, civil servants or other staff working on behalf of the Department. Historical records of the allocation of laptops to specific individuals are not kept.

Based upon current allocation we can state the following:

Ministers, three laptops;

Special advisers no laptops allocated currently; and

Civil servants and others, working on behalf of the Department have 2,346 laptops.

The costs of the specific laptops allocated to individuals are not held.

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times (a) he and (b) each other Minister in his Department has visited his Department’s offices at Quarry House, Leeds since June 2007. (268233)

Ministers of this Department have had a number of meetings with Leeds departmental staff in Leeds and by videoconference. The Department makes as much use as possible of technology in holding meetings between Ministers and staff based in Leeds to help reduce both travel costs and carbon emissions. In 2007, the Secretary of State for Health, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) and the Minister of State my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo) and met staff at an all-staff event at a conference venue in Leeds. In 2008, the Secretary of State my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Islesworth, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Ann Keen), the Minister of State my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo) and the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) met staff at the next all-staff event in Leeds, which was also based at a conference venue. In 2009, Ministers attended the Leeds all-staff event by videoconference. The dates on which Ministers have had meetings within Quarry House itself are in the following table.

Date of visit

Minister

15 August 2007

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health services (Ann Keen)

20 September 2007

Secretary of State (Alan Johnson)

6 March 2008

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Ara Darzi)

28 August 2008

Secretary of State (Alan Johnson)

Departmental Energy