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Written Answers

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2009

Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Tuesday 15 September and Wednesday 16 September 2009

Business, Innovation and Skills

Billing

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps the Government are taking to help small and medium-sized enterprises whose customers do not pay in accordance with agreed contractual terms. (285671)

The UK was one of the world's first countries to introduce late payment legislation in November 1998. It provides all businesses with the right to claim interest for the late payment of commercial debt, and where there are no pre-agreed payment terms, the legislation provides that the payment period is 30 days from the later of either delivery of goods or receipt of invoice.

Over half of UK business transactions are not covered by pre agreed payment terms so we are also equipping business to better manage customer relationships and cash flow management through a series of guides developed in partnership with the Institute of Credit Management, the CBI, IoD, FSB, FPB and BCC.

Further advice on this legislation and claiming interest for late payments can be found at:

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file37581.pdf.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps the Government have taken to encourage (a) private sector companies and (b) public sector organisations to sign up to the prompt payment code. (285672)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State and for Business, Innovation and Skills has written to over 1,500 UK businesses and the Minister for Economic Competitiveness, Small Business has hosted prompt payment events with businesses, supported by the Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Business and the British Chamber of Commerce.

All central Government departments have signed the prompt payment code and my officials are working with the regions to promote the code to the wider public sector and to businesses.

Regional Ministers are taking a strong lead in driving prompt payment. For example, the Minister for the West Midlands acted in March 2009 to encourage public sector organisations in the region to sign up to a 10 day payment pledge; 44 have done so thus far and further action is now being taken to encourage more to do so.

Building Colleges for the Future Programme

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with representatives of further education colleges on the Building Colleges for the Future programme. (288229)

With regards to the Building Colleges for the Future programme, I have met and discussed the current issues with the sector body—the Association of Colleges and the 157 Group. In terms of the programme’s implementation, this is the responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC, in its work to resolve the current funding pressures with the programme, has consulted widely. This consultation has been in-line with the recommendations of Sir Andrew Foster, and has included the Association of College’s capital reference panel. I have subsequently been kept informed of progress.

My predecessor and I have held meetings to discuss the positions of individual colleges. Importantly, such meetings must be without prejudice to the statutory responsibility of the LSC for determining capital approvals.

Business: Government Assistance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1341W, on business: Government assistance, what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of borrowing by small businesses in the next 12 months of the operation of the Working Capital scheme. (261653)

We have taken steps to help improve cash flow, to increase the availability of the credit businesses need, and to encourage investment so that businesses come through the recession ready to grow.

In particular, we obtained bank lending commitments from RBS and Lloyds to lend £27 billion additional lending to businesses this year. This includes lending guaranteed under the Working Capital scheme.

In addition, we introduced a Trade Credit Insurance top-up scheme which provides protections for firms suffering a reduction in cover.

We have also taken steps to assist small businesses to overcome short-term cash-flow problems—for example the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and also measures to ensure prompt payment by both public and private sectors.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what support his Department is providing to small and medium-sized businesses in Milton Keynes. (280879)

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills support to small and medium-sized businesses in Milton Keynes is provided through South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

SEEDA provides a full range of support mechanisms to small and medium-sized businesses operating in Milton Keynes. The support falls into two broad categories:

1. Strategic Business Development and Engagement—comprising the Sub Regional Partnership and Employment and Skills Board (MKELP) and Milton Keynes Science and Innovation, for example.

2. Business support—primarily through Business Link, Manufacturing Advisory Service, Continuous Employment Support Service, and Financial Assistance.

More detailed information can be found in the attached SEEDA-produced background information.

1. SEEDA Specific Milton Keynes Strategic Business Development and Engagement

Sub Regional Partnership and Employment and Skills Board (MKELP)

SEEDA funds the Milton Keynes Economic and Learning Partnership (MKELP) with the purpose of bringing together business and the public sector in Milton Keynes to agree and align priorities and investment at local and sub regional level. MKELP is also financially supported by Milton Keynes Council and the Homes and Communities Agency.

MKELP specifically:

Works to align regional and local economic strategy to benefit businesses and local stakeholders in Milton Keynes.

Understands employer issues in Milton Keynes and makes regional partners aware of these issues and challenges.

Identifies key growth/economically important sectors and works closely with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) to help them raise employer demand and investment in skills and encourage employers to engage with and drive the work of their SSC.

Development of the Partnership's approach to the knowledge economy and the Science and Innovation agenda, encompassing, for example, the Innovation Growth Team, Electric Vehicle infrastructure for the city and inward investment, as well as supporting the bid for Milton Keynes to be a host city in the 2018 Football World Cup and developing a strong higher education offer for local businesses.

Milton Keynes Science and Innovation (MKSI)

Local partners in Milton Keynes are developing a vision to “create the most exciting habitat in the UK for knowledge intensive business” in Milton Keynes. SEEDA is a key stakeholder in this steering group, drawing on its ‘know how’ and expertise in developing and implementing science and innovation activity elsewhere in the region. SEEDA is also funding a full time project manager to drive the initiative forward.

Milton Keynes South Midlands (mksm) Growth Area

SEEDA (with East of England Development Agency and East Midland Development Agency) has been working with Local Authorities and stakeholders to support the mksm growth area. An Economic Development Plan is being produced focussing on supporting key growth business sectors across mksm with an underpinning skills strategy. The aim is to ensure the jobs target for mksm and Milton Keynes is achieved and includes high quality jobs in the knowledge economy and growth sectors.

Progress has been presented to the mksm local authority Leaders group and mksm is aiming to have a final Economic Development Plan by October 2009. This plan will feed into a developing Multi Area Agreement which will include Transport objectives and actions.

2. Direct Support to Businesses in Milton Keynes which is also available to all businesses in South East

Business Link and Enterprise Gateway

MK Businesses support interventions1

Number

2006-09

12,857

2006-07

4,118

2007-08

4,442

2008-09

4,297

1 Companies are able to receive the Business Link service as often as they need and are counted once per annum

MK intensive assists1

Number

2006-09

1,550

2006-07

409

2007-08

530

2008-09

611

1 Action plan agreed

MK Business healthchecks since October 2008: 384

MK, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire businesses helped in 2008/09 through Enterprise Gateway scheme: 163

Business Link provides business support and advice for all individuals and businesses already trading or thinking of starting. Benefits include:

Free Business Health Checks, including maximising cash flow, marketing and business planning, debt management, new market and product development.

Access to finance advice, credit crunch presentations and finance clinics.

Guidance and events on how to survive and thrive in difficult times, including advice on reducing energy consumption and costs.

Access to the SEEDA funded Resource Efficiency programme.

Access to advice and signposting to skills and training opportunities through the ‘Train to Gain’ service.

Analysis and information on new business opportunities and markets.

In addition the Enterprise Gateway service (delivered through Business Link) offers impartial, professional advice to individuals from under-represented communities facing barriers to enterprise. Business Link also delivers sustainable business advice.

Investor Development Manager (IDM)

The SEEDA IDM is currently working with seven companies who are making redundancies, five companies linking to train to gain and a further 10 companies on a variety of other support needs.

SEEDA funds an Investor Development Manager (IDM), Guy Hawking, who works with strategically important companies in Milton Keynes.

Innovation and Growth Teams

Operational from summer 2009

On 1 June 2009 a new support service started in Milton Keynes aimed at providing tailored, specialist and technical business expertise to high growth businesses. This sendee will be delivered by an Innovation and Growth Team directed by a consortium of local partners and managed by the Open University. The aim of this service is to create communities of innovation and growth ultimately generating substantial local and regional economic benefits that improve the global competitiveness of the South East.

Continuous Employment Support Service

In the last nine months 12 companies were supported in Milton Keynes, 761 people were helped.

Companies thinking about making staff redundant or undertaking a redundancy programme can access the free ‘Continuing Employment Support Service’ run by Jobcentre Plus in partnership with SEEDA. CESS offers a free in-house package of support to all affected workers before they leave their employment, offering tailored advice on future options.

Inward Investment

In 2008/09 SEEDA referred 34 inquiries to Invest MK.

SEEDA has an inward investment team who aim to attract business from other countries to locate in the South East.

Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS)

Between 2006/09 40 companies were assisted through MAS

MAS South East aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturers in the region to create sustainable improvements. Businesses can access hands-on advice and tailored support from experts to suit the individual requirements of their business to produce real results.

Grants for Business Investment (GBI)

There has been one grant offered

The GBI scheme has recently been extended to be available to all South East eligible SMEs with long-term viability whose investment plans are being held up by current economic conditions. The scheme aims to assist businesses to increase productivity by funding capital investment in equipment and technology. It is for businesses looking to expand, modernise, rationalise, diversify and increase productivity in order to maintain or establish sustainable growth and provide skilled jobs.

Grant for Research and Development

There have been and grants for R&D in MK between 2006-09 (totalling £951,000)

The SEEDA managed grants for R&D are focused on encouraging businesses to carry out projects that they would not necessarily undertake without the grant and lever in to these projects finance from reluctant private investment sources.

Finance South East (FSE) Accelerator Fund

One company in Milton Keynes has been offered the accelerator fund

The accelerator fund is a loan fund which supports small and medium sized companies in the South East with the potential for significant growth (early stage or established companies). It is a response to the needs of entrepreneurial businesses who require the level of growth investment provided by risk capital, but which are reluctant to relinquish an equity stake in the company at an early stage.

Commercialisation Fund

One company has been offered the commercialisation fund (worth £29,000)

This new fund of up to £3 million supports businesses with high growth potential to bring new products and services to market.

Transition Loan Fund

The fund has not yet been allocated to any MK businesses

SEEDA is providing up to £3 million in a new Regional Transition Fund known as the Bridging Mezzanine Debt Fund to be directed at fully established, viable and growing businesses that are currently facing difficulties in obtaining credit through banks and other traditional routes.

Funding is provided at commercial rates for these unsecured loans, and interest is rolled up and paid at maturity, thereby making the Fund attractive to some businesses urgently needing to address liquidity problems.

Milton Keynes Area Programme

There were 87 businesses supported between 2006-09

The overall emphasis of interventions within Milton Keynes was capacity building, particularly in line with skills, learning and employability with a focus on NEET young people (not in employment, education or training). The largest project was ‘Routes to Success’ which was based on the development of transparent progression routes for residents, including outreach links, IAG in local communities, then leading to open days, short skills sessions and courses, finally moving to specialist training.

Rural

There were two Farm Diversification Grants between 2006-09

There were three businesses supported within the European Rural Development programme (ERDP) between 2006-08

£2.4 million has been allocated to the Leader area, however, projects are not yet operational

SEEDA funds rural programmes in Milton Keynes including Farm Diversification and Rural Redundant Building schemes. In addition SEEDA manages £60 million Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) EU Programme (previously termed ERDP).

The rural Leader programme for Milton Keynes is within the North Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes area. This wholly EU funded programme is aimed at farmers and forestry diversification with a strong element of community projects.

“Immerse” Initiative

Businesses not yet supported as a new programme

SEEDA is introducing and funding a new programme, Immerse, which provides intensive, extended design support to selected larger businesses. Immerse is part of the ‘Designing Demand’ programmes.

UKTI International Trade Sector Specialists

These are senior executives seconded to UK Trade and Investment from industry spearheading the Government’s export drive, helping small and medium-sized enterprises and larger companies to win business around the world. They are available for free consultations and can offer practical exporting advice, information on specific opportunities in markets and sectors.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many businesses in Perth and North Perthshire constituency (a) have sought access to funds under and (b) are receiving assistance from the Working Capital Scheme. (284202)

None. The working capital scheme provides guarantees to banks on portfolios of short-term loans: businesses cannot apply for guarantees under this scheme.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many businesses in Perth and North Perthshire constituency (a) have sought access to funds under and (b) are receiving assistance from the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme. (284203)

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee was launched on 14 January. Set out in the following table is the information for the constituency of Perth and North Perthshire as of 19 August.

Perth and North Perthshire

Number of loans offered

5

Number of loans drawn

4

Value of loans offered (£ million)

0.85

Value of loans drawn (£ million)

0.42

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many businesses in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire (i) have sought access to funding under and (ii) are receiving assistance from the Working Capital Scheme. (284562)

None. The Working Capital Scheme provides guarantees to banks on portfolios of short-term loans: businesses cannot apply for guarantees under this scheme.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent steps the Government have taken to assist small businesses to pay their business rates. (291299)

I have been asked to reply.

On 31 July 2009 the Non-Domestic Rating (Deferred Payments) (England) Regulations 2009 came into force to enable businesses to defer until 2010-11 and 2011-12 payment of 3 per cent. their total 2009-10 business rate bills and, additionally, 60 per cent. of the increase in bills caused by the ending of the transitional relief scheme for the 2005 revaluation period.

Billing authorities sent all ratepayers a flyer about these regulations. This also contained information about the Small Business Rate Relief scheme which allows eligible businesses to claim up to 50 per cent. relief on their rates bills.

Corporate Hospitality

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many times the Secretary of State has received hospitality from representatives of the (a) automotive, (b) aerospace, (c) financial services, (d) fast moving consumer goods, (e) digital media, (f) mail service, (g) cleantech and (h) the music industries since his appointment to post; on what dates such hospitality was received; and who attended each such event. (291358)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State notifies his permanent secretary of any hospitality he receives and as necessary declares it in the Register of Peers’ Interests, in accordance with the provisions of the ministerial code.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies paid in end-of-year performance bonuses to (i) all staff and (ii) senior Civil Service staff in 2008-09; and how many such payments were made. (275263)

Performance-related pay is designed to help drive high performance and support better public service delivery. Performance awards reward high performance sustained throughout the year, and are non-pensionable and non-consolidated.

Based on the information available, the number of staff receiving these awards is shown in the following table.

Performance awards SCS1Performance awards: below SCS1

Financial year2

Number of staff receiving

Total value (£)

Number of staff receiving

Total value (£)

2008-09

141

1,210,000

2,930

31,114,592

1 The annual performance awards are paid on a non-consolidated, non-pensionable basis and do not increase the Department’s pay-bill costs each year. For the SCS, the Senior Salaries Review Body determines the level of expenditure to cover bonuses.

2 Financial year running from 1 April to 31 March.

3 Includes staff who were transferred from BERR to DECC as part of the October 2008 machinery of government changes as these staff received a BERR pay award in 2008.

Performance awards make up 1.8 per cent. of the Department’s pay bill of £127,434,847

I have approached the chief executives of the Department’s Executive agencies and they will respond to you directly.

Employment Agencies: EU Law

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans the Government has to implement the provisions of the EU Agency Workers Directive in the UK; and what timetable has been set for implementation of those provisions. (290707)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The recent Consultation, which closed on 31 July, invited views on proposals for implementing the Agency Workers Directive in a way which meets the Government’s twin objective of ensuring appropriate protection for agency workers while maintaining a flexible labour market. The Consultation also invited views on when the implementing legislation should come into effect, and why. Following the Consultation, we will publish the Government’s response setting out how we intend to proceed, and invite views as appropriate, as well as consult on the draft regulations.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with trade union representatives on the EU Agency Workers Directive since October 2008; which trade unions were represented in each such discussion; and on what date each such discussion took place. (290708)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: I have had no meetings with trade unions on the specific topic of the EU Agency Workers Directive since October 2008, however, officials have spoken to both the TUC and business organisations in the development of our consultation document on this issue.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills when the Government plans to announce its decisions following its consultation on the EU Agency Workers Directive. (291236)

Following the consultation which closed on 31 July, we are evaluating all the responses before any key decisions are taken. We will shortly publish the Government’s response to the consultation and seek views on draft implementing legislation.

Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications have been made to the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme; and how many of these have met the eligibility criteria. (280004)

As of 12 August, of the over 6,600 cases which have been logged on the Enterprise Finance Guarantee web portal, more than 6,000 firms have been granted, being processed, or assessed, over £680 million. So far, over 4,500 businesses have been offered loans totalling over £450 million.

Businesses may apply for a loan from one of the participating lenders who will assess which form of lending, including the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), is most appropriate. EFG is open to small and medium enterprises with a turnover of less than £25 million and is designed to operate at the margins of banks' normal lending activity to SMEs, allowing lenders to provide additional loans to viable companies that are at the margins of commercial lending, because they have insufficient security or their proposal involves a higher risk of loss at default.

We do not hold figures for those businesses which are instead offered a normal commercial loan, or are rejected for failing to meet the lender's commercial criteria.

Meetings

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many discussions the Secretary of State has had with representatives of the (a) automotive, (b) aerospace, (c) engineering, (d) fast moving consumer goods, (e) cleantech, (f) mail service and (g) music industries since his appointment to post; on what dates such discussions took place; and who the industry representatives were on each such occasion. (291356)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State has frequent discussions with representatives of all kinds of business sectors.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what the Secretary of State’s engagements are for the period 14 to 20 September 2009. (291357)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State has various internal and external engagements in this period.

Overseas Trade: Libya

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate UK Trade and Investment has made of the number of occasions on which representatives or agents of UK business have had discussions with (a) the government of Libya and (b) Libyan businesses and their representatives in the last two years. (290820)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The information requested is as follows:

(a) UKTI estimates such contacts with the Government of Libya would be in the region of 500 to 1,000.

(b) UKTI’s estimate is that such contacts in the last two years would be in the thousands. The British Business Group in Libya now numbers some 100 members, about half of which are resident in Libya. There have been a series of trade missions by UK business associations over the past two years.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on how many occasions employees or representatives of UK Trade and Investment have had discussions with representatives or agents of (a) the Libyan Government and (b) Libyan businesses in the last two years. (290821)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The information requested is as follows:

(a) There were UKTI organised visits to Libya by the Duke of York as Special Representative for International Trade and Investment in November 2007, the then Lord Mayor of the City of London in March 2008 and the then Minister of State for Trade and Investment in May 2008, all involved various contacts with the Libyan Government. Mr Shokri Ghanem, Chairman of the Libyan NOC was hosted by UKTI during his visit to the UK in November 2008. UKTI arranged an event in London on 20 July 2009 where Dr Bashir Saleh Bashir, Chairman of the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio and delegation addressed and met a range of British companies.

There have been regular UKTI visits to Libya, as well as meetings with representatives of the Libyan Government visiting the UK. There have been very regular contacts with the Libyan Government by the UKTI team in Tripoli. It is not possible to place a figure on the number of times there have been such contacts without a very detailed analysis, the costs of which would exceed the limit for answering parliamentary questions.

(b) The UKTI team in Tripoli have several contacts daily with Libyan businesses in the course of their work to support British companies seeking business in Libya. Contacts by other members of UKTI would number around 50 to 100.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what contribution UK Trade and Investment has made to each ministerial visit to Libya in the last two years. (290822)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The then Minister of State for Trade and Investment visited Libya in May 2008. UKTI arranged his programme, briefing and the follow up. For other ministerial visits the UKTI team in Tripoli assisted with arrangements for relevant parts of the programme and UKTI HQ in London provided standard written background briefing on trade and investment.

Polly Toynbee

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what payments his Department and its predecessors have made to Ms Polly Toynbee in the last five years; and for what purposes. (290997)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: A payment was made to Polly Toynbee in July 2007 in the sum of £587.50 for chairing the women's Entrepreneur Ambassadors Event at Lancaster House in London.

There are no other recorded payments to her in the last five years.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what payments regional development agencies have made to Ms Polly Toynbee in the last five years; and for what purposes. (290999)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: Ms Toynbee chaired the EEDA annual meeting in September 2006. The meeting is an open annual public meeting to report on the activities of the agency. The focus of the event was growth through successful partnerships. A payment of £2,500 was made to an agency.

She was a speaker at the 2007 Prowess Conference at Brighton Racecourse 7-8 February 2007, which was part sponsored by SEEDA. No direct payment was made to her by SEEDA.

Public Sector: Procurement

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what progress his Department has made in implementing the recommendations of the Glover Report on Accelerating the SME economic engine in its procurement processes. (287132)

The Department is working closely with the Office of Government Commerce, who are leading on implementation of the Glover recommendations, to ensure that all 12 are delivered on time and in a way that is effective for SMEs. We expect to deliver the majority of the measures later this year. The recommendation of a free, single, easy-to-search portal is on course to be delivered by 2010.

Regeneration: Finance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much each regional development agency spent on land reclamation projects in each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement. (265242)

The following table shows RDAs expenditure on land reclamation projects in each year since 2000. Figures are not yet available for 2008-09.

The figures provided include funds allocated to the ‘Land Reclamation Programmes’ inherited by RDAs from English Partnerships and, following their conclusion, any new environmental improvement programmes which have succeeded them.

£ million

RDA

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

AWM

40

50

44

102

80

56

59

46

EEDA

1

13

21

24

37

25

11

EMDA

5

13

13

3

7

2

4

5

LDA

103

149

140

108

129

122

131

144

NWDA

20

23

20

18

15

6

17

39

ONE

22

20

14

3

2

5

2

0.6

SEEDA

6

1

21

11

40

17

11

5

SWRDA

1

1

32

21

17

27

22

32

YF

12

5

6

4

1

0.5

0.7

0.2

1 Due to a change in management recording system during 2002-03, producing figures before 2002-03 would incur disproportionate cost.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many land reclamation projects regional development agencies (a) started and (b) completed in each year since 2000. (265278)

The following tables shows land reclamation projects started and completed by RDAs in each year since 2000 to 2008. Figures are not yet available for 2008-2009.

The figures provided include funds allocated to the ‘Land Reclamation programmes’ inherited by RDAs from English Partnerships and, following their conclusion, any new environmental improvement programmes which have succeeded them.

Projects started

RDA

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

AWM

6

9

37

8

5

4

8

4

EEDA

5

2

16

15

4

8

13

2

EMDA

30

71

28

9

4

5

15

42

LDA

50

8

4

4

10

1

2

0

NWDA

56

49

52

43

20

12

28

33

ONE

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

SEEDA

5

9

13

12

13

0

0

0

SWRDA

A

A

1

0

4

2

4

7

YF

B

28

13

6

4

0

1

0

Projects completed

RDA

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

AWM

0

0

3

11

12

18

9

16

EEDA

2

4

9

9

6

6

7

12

EMDA

22

61

71

60

48

52

38

32

LDA

10

12

13

10

8

12

9

5

NWDA

9

15

27

36

36

30

28

36

ONE

23

27

21

21

0

2

0

6

SEEDA

3

2

6

10

0

3

4

6

SWRDA

A

A

2

0

5

3

1

1

YF

B

25

21

21

13

1

2

0

Notes:

1. A new programme management recording system was introduced. To separate out this data would incur disproportionate cost.

2. To separate out this data would incur disproportionate cost.

Support for Business: Finance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what the proposed budget is for each programme within the Support for Business portfolio in each year up to 2011. (291365)

Solutions for Business is the Government’s portfolio of support to business. 2009/10 is the transitional year during which all Government funded business support schemes must migrate to the Solutions for Business portfolio or be under notice of closure by 31 March 2010.

The amount of money spent on Solutions for Business products varies according to local and regional need for particular forms of business support and the wider economic context. The total spend on business support within the Solutions for Business portfolio in 2008/09 is estimated to be £2.3 billion.

Train to Gain Programme

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much has been spent on the Train to Gain advertising campaign in 2009-10. (288844)

Figures for Train to Gain advertising spend are shown in the following table. These comprise national and regional spend, and include VAT. Figures for the current financial year are not yet available.

Media spend £ million

2006-07

2.24

2007-08

5.02

2008-09

5.01

Cabinet Office

Central Office of Information: Expenditure

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Central Office of Information spent on (a) office parties and (b) staff bonuses in the last 12 months. (291385)

I have asked the chief executive of the Central Office of Information to reply to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 14 September 2009:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on how much the COI has spent on (a) office parties and (b) staff bonuses in the last 12 months (291385).

(a) The Central Office of Information (COI) does not hold office parties funded by the organisation, other than those listed below.

An event in the summer is held to coincide with the publication of the Annual Report and Accounts to review the year’s activity and to acknowledge any outstanding contributions from staff during the year.

An all staff event is also held at Christmas. This event is seen as an efficient way for the organisation to acknowledge the festive season.

The cost of these events is in line with guidance issued by the HMRC. This guidance states that no more than £150 per person, per year should be spent on such events. In the last 12 months COI spent £42.82 per person.

(b) The COI do not pay a corporate bonus to its employees.

COI paid eligible staff a non-consolidated performance pay award for the 2008/9. This amounted to 5.36% of the regular monthly salary.

This recognised that COI achieved its Ministerial targets for 2008/9 and COI also secured record savings for our government and public sector clients.

Its payment, together with the achievement against the targets, is audited by the National Audit Office.

Charities Act 2006

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether the Charity Commission plans to undertake a review of the implementation of the provisions of the Charities Act 2006. (291332)

Section 73 of the Charities Act 2006 requires the Minister for the Cabinet Office to appoint a person to review the operation of the Act within five years of Royal Assent, and for a report of the review to be laid before Parliament. The review will take place in 2011.

Charities: Fraud

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what assessment the Charity Commission has made of the effectiveness of the distribution of the Give With Care leaflet in reducing donations to bogus charities. (291333)

The “Give with Care” campaign was an initiative of the Office of the Third Sector which the Charity Commission supported, along with other key stakeholders. 500,000 leaflets were printed for distribution to households. Neither the Office of the Third Sector nor the Charity Commission plans to formally assess the effectiveness of the distribution of the leaflet.

Death: Hypothermia

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate her Department has made of the number of people over 65 years who have died of hypothermia in their homes in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. (291372)

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

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated September 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what estimate has been made of the number of people over 65 years who have died of hypothermia in their homes in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. (291372)

Although hypothermia may be mentioned on a death certificate as contributing to the death, according to International Classification of Diseases rules it cannot be recorded as the underlying cause. An event that led to the death such as ‘Exposure to excessive cold’, or ‘Accidental fall’ may be recorded as the underlying cause, with hypothermia recorded as a contributory factor. If hypothermia were considered to be the main contributory factor, it would be reported as the ‘secondary cause’.

The table attached provides the number of deaths where (a) hypothermia was the secondary cause of death, and (b) hypothermia was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, for persons aged over 65 years dying at home, in England and Wales, from 1999 to 2008 (the latest year available).

Table 1: Number of deaths of persons aged over 65 years who died at home, where (a) hypothermia was the secondary cause of death, and (b) where hypothermia was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate1, 2, England and Wales, 1999 to 20083

Deaths (Persons)

(a) Secondary cause

(b) Any mention

1999

26

36

2000

15

21

2001

16

27

2002

17

21

2003

18

22

2004

18

26

2005

17

27

2006

15

20

2007

14

21

2008

21

23

1 Hypothermia was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) code 991.6 for the years 1999 to 2000, and the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code T68, for the years 2001 to 2008.

2 Deaths reported as (a) secondary cause are included in those reported as (b) any mention.

3 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

Employment: West Sussex

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many and what proportion of (a) people and (b) young people were unemployed in (i) East Worthing and Shoreham and (ii) West Worthing constituency in (A) 2007 and (B) at the latest date for which information is available; and what estimate has been made of the number of employees in each of those constituencies who have moved from full-time to short-time working in the last 12 months. (291340)

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

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated September 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many and what proportion of (a) people and (b) young people were unemployed in (i) East Worthing and Shoreham and (ii) West Worthing constituency in (A) 2007 and (B) at the latest date for which information is available; and what estimate has been made of the number of employees in each of those constituencies who have moved from full-time to short-time working in the last 12 months. (291340)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles unemployment statistics for local areas from the Annual Population Survey and its predecessor the annual Labour Force Survey (LFS) following International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions.

However, estimates of unemployment for the requested geographies are not available. As an alternative, in Table 1 we have provided the number and percentage of persons claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in July 2007 and July 2009. Table 2 contains the number and percentage of persons aged 18-24 claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the requested geographies.

Estimates of the number of employees who have moved from full-time to short-time working are not available for parliamentary constituencies.

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at:

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk

Table 1: Number of persons resident in East Worthing and Shoreham and Worthing West claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance

East Worthing and Shoreham

Worthing West

Date

Number1

Percentage2

Number1

Percentage2

July 2007

670

1.2

630

1.3

July 2009

1,950

3.6

1,890

3.9

1 Data rounded to nearest five.

2 Percentage of working age (males 16-64, females 16-59) claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Source:

Jobcentre Plus administrative system.

Table 2: Number of persons aged 18-24 resident in East Worthing and Shoreham and Worthing West claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance

East Worthing and Shoreham

Worthing West

Date

Number1

Percentage2

Number1

Percentage2

July 2007

190

3.2

155

2.8

July 2009

590

9.8

505

9.1

1 Data rounded to nearest five.

2 Percentage of 18-24 year-olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Source:

Jobcentre Plus administrative system.

Government Departments: Consultants

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what guidance her Department provides to government departments on the appointment of non-party political policy advisers to Ministers who are not special advisers. (291334)

Recruitment into the civil service is based on the principle of selection on merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the civil service recruitment principles (known previously as the civil service recruitment code).

Government Departments: Standards

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 475W, on Government departments: standards, if she will place in the Library a copy of the handouts and presentations produced for the participants in the avoidable contact workshops. (258670)

I have been asked to reply.

The workshop meetings in question were part of a process of dialogue between Cabinet Office officials, representatives of central Government. It is judged that publication of these materials would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs. It is the intention of the Cabinet Office to publish baseline figures for the four Departments present at this meeting before the end of summer 2009 along with a statement relating to progress in meeting the Service Transformation Agreement commitment of a 50 per cent. reduction in avoidable contact.

Government Departments: Telephone Services

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will meet representatives of mobile telephone companies to discuss reducing the cost of calling Government services from a mobile telephone. (283824)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government recognise that the issue of fair and easy access to public services is a very important one, and the Cabinet Office has already worked with Ofcom to establish the 0300 telephone number range which offers a fairer tariff regardless of the line from which citizens call (including mobiles).

The Cabinet Office, through the Contact Council, is currently conducting a comprehensive survey of the different number types, such as 0845, 0870 or 0800, used by central Government Departments and agencies, including consideration of their mobile telephone access. The Council intends to use the results of its survey to steer a future cross-Government approach to the use of phone numbers that ensures fair and easy access to public services for all, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Officials leading this work are already engaging with mobile telephone providers. A meeting with Ministers may be appropriate once the Council's research is complete.

Ministers: Visits Abroad

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office for what reasons (a) paragraph 10.7 and (b) paragraph 10.8 of the 2005 Ministerial Code, on overseas visits, were removed when the Ministerial Code was revised in 2007. (291056)

The Ministerial Code published in July 2007 focuses on the key principles that should govern Ministerial conduct so that Ministers and others can be clear about the standards required.

Polly Toynbee

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what payments Ms Polly Toynbee has received from her Department in the last five years; and for what purposes. (291215)

There is no record in the Department’s accounting system of any payments made to Ms Toynbee over the last five years.

Origin Marking: Israel

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if her Department will publish the voluntary guidance issued by her Department on the labelling of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (291395)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government have been exploring the possibility of improving the clarity of labelling of produce from the West Bank. Earlier this year, the Cabinet Office held a meeting with a group of interested parties to discuss the possibility of introducing some voluntary guidance, so that consumers could better understand which products came from occupied Palestinian territories. The Government are carefully considering the next steps following that discussion.

Communities and Local Government

Conservatories

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many dwellings in England have a conservatory. (291274)

The latest data available is from the 2006 English House Condition Survey, which estimates there are 3.4 million dwellings (16 per cent. of the total stock) in England with a conservatory.

To count as a conservatory in the survey, the roof must be at least 75 per cent. glass or plastic and the walls must be at least 50 per cent. glass or plastic.

Council Housing: Fire Prevention

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assistance has been provided to local authorities for expenditure on fire safety measures in council housing following the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell. (291159)

The resources local authorities receive for management and maintenance and major repairs should enable them to implement necessary fire safety measures in council housing.

Council Housing: Waiting Lists

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of people on local authority housing waiting lists had been born outside the UK in each year since 1994. (291207)

Council Tax: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under what circumstances the Valuation Office Agency classifies a garden shed as an outbuilding for the purposes of its value significant and dwellinghouse coding system for council tax valuations. (291052)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The Valuation Office Agency does not classify a garden shed as an outbuilding for the purposes of its value significant and dwellinghouse coding system.

Energy Performance Certificates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 September 2009, Official Report, columns 1837-8W, on housing: energy, how many energy performance certificates in respect of properties (a) of each tenure type and (b) in each region have been issued to date. (291114)

The number of energy performance certificates (EPCs) registered for all homes in England and Wales up to and including 9 September 2009 (the latest date for which figures are available) and broken down by tenure type and region is as set out in the following table.

Transaction type

Eastern region

East midlands

London

North-east

North-west

South-east

South-west

West midlands

Yorkshire and Humber

Wales

Marketed sale

88,562

65,951

86,443

37,573

99,442

130,358

90,312

73,427

73,155

44,606

New dwelling

5,514

4,901

4,521

1,782

5,168

7,711

6,054

3,856

3,703

2,945

Not recorded

2,156

1,868

2,460

1,009

3,064

4,841

1,946

1,206

1,598

610

Non-marketed sale

2,851

2,736

3,697

3,125

7,313

4,384

2,960

2,953

3,508

1,108

Not recorded

116,707

85,393

137,289

56,746

149,493

179,032

124,020

90,837

102,404

47,043

Not sale or rental

346

355

1,407

136

653

1,103

254

269

384

144

Rental (private)

75,217

57,340

142,702

27,946

75,997

123,075

72,038

53,772

62,049

26,092

Rental (social)

30,604

26,471

45,213

26,669

54,783

37,023

22,296

38,475

34,746

15,037

Note:

These figures exclude a small number of homes for which no postcode information was included at the time that the EPC was lodged on the register.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to page 41 of his Department's proposed recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, how many individual energy performance certificates have been checked and verified for accuracy to date; and how many and what proportion of such checks identified an inaccuracy in the certificate. (291152)

Accreditation schemes are responsible for conducting quality audits of the energy performance certificates (EPCs) produced by the energy assessors (EAs) they accredit in accordance with CLG requirements—we recommend that a minimum sample of 2 per cent. of all EPCs should be assessed. Accreditation schemes are required to report on the outcome of their quality audit procedures in the annual reports they submit to CLG and which can be viewed online at the following address:

https://www.ndepcregister.com/schemeAnnualReports.html

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to paragraph 64 on page 41 of his Department’s publication on Recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, what procedures are used to verify the accuracy of energy performance certificates. (291266)

Accreditation Schemes are responsible for conducting quality audits of the energy performance certificates (EPCs) produced by the energy assessors (EAs) they accredit in accordance with CLG requirements as set out in the guidance document which can be viewed online at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/doc/newlyconstructeddwellings.doc

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will place in the Library a copy of the response sent by the Energy Saving Trust to his Department's consultation The Next Steps: EPCs and the establishment of the Green Homes Service. (291273)

A copy of the Energy Savings Trust's response to the Consultation Paper "The Next Steps: EPCs and the establishment of the Green Homes Service" has been placed in the Library of the House.

Energy Performance Certificates: East Midlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many energy performance certificates have been issued in relation to buildings in the East Midlands; how many accredited energy assessors there are in the East Midlands; and how many properties in the East Midlands do not meet required energy performance standards. (291051)

Up to and including 9 September, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of:

Energy performance certificates (EPCs) lodged in relation to buildings in the east midlands region is 250,707; and

Accredited energy assessors whose primary postcode information is listed on the EPC Register as being in the east midlands region is 1,214.

The Government have not set minimum energy performance standards other than for new buildings, all of which are required to meet the requirements of Part L of the Building Regulations.

Housing: Disabled People

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of newly-built, disability-adapted properties; and if he will make a statement. (291373)

The National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society last year stated that all new publicly funded homes will be built to Lifetime Homes Standards from 2011. We will be reviewing the take-up of accessible housing standards, such as Lifetime Homes Standards, across all sectors in 2010. We will decide at that time whether further measures may be required to increase the supply of accessible and adaptable properties in new build housing. In the meantime, we continue to promote the Lifetime Homes Standards as a part of the Code for Sustainable Homes where they are currently mandatory at Code level 6.

Housing: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homebuyers have received assistance under the HomeBuy Direct Scheme. (291235)

Provisional estimates put completed sales under the HomeBuy direct scheme at over 600 sales.

Housing: Public Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the hon. Member for Meriden of 21 July 2009, Official Report, column 1662W, on LLM Communications, in which (a) regions and (b) localities the regional housing debates were held. (291272)

The regional housing debates were held in the following regions and locations:

An East of England debate took place in Cambridge on 26 October 2006;

A South East of England debate took place in Reading on 22 February 2007;

A South West of England debate took place in Bristol on 29 March 2007;

And the final debate took place in London on 24 July 2007.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties with each (a) dwellinghouse and (b) value significant code in the local authority area of Solihull are recorded on the Valuation Office Agency's electronic records. (291087)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The number of domestic properties with the codes requested, as at 2 September 2009, in the local authority area of Solihull is as follows:

(a) Dwellinghouse codes (group type)

Dwellinghouse code

Number of properties

01

291

02

313

03

266

04

701

05

61

06

36

07

110

08

236

09

362

10

131

13

<5

14

14

19

186

20

1,435

21

12,260

24

1,659

25

131

30

4,391

31

37,677

32

8,957

35

325

36

846

37

93

39

5

40

54

41

91

42

40

43

13

44

41

45

<5

46

38

48

41

50

<5

51

5,754

52

0

55

<5

56

8,016

60

714

61

16

62

662

70

<5

71

165

72

<5

80

43

81

20

82

24

90

0

91

0

92

0

94

0

95

0

96

0

97

0

98

0

99

37

(b) Value significant codes

Value significant code

Number of properties

A

9

AM

12

AO

6

AV

0

AW

<5

B

91

BA

11

BB

19

BC

16

BD

31

C

0

CB

<5

CH

<5

CI

0

CN

0

CO

<5

CP

18

CS

38

D

0

DS

5

EF

0

F

0

FC

0

FG

<5

FO

41

FP

0

GG

<5

GN

0

HO

<5

I

0

L

86

LE

<5

LF

14

LR

38

LS

11

LT

27

M

0

NA

0

OS

<5

P

0

PL

21

PS

<5

Q

<5

QA

0

QB

0

QC

0

QD

<5

R

0

RC

<5

S

0

SC

0

T

0

TM

5

TQ

146

TU

<5

U

0

UC

78

UL

<5

UN

0

UO

<5

UP

<5

UR

7

US

58

V

0

VC

0

VE

0

VH

0

VI

0

VL

<5

VM

0

VO

17

VP

16

VR

0

VS

<5

WK

6

X

14

YG

96

ZH

107

ZI

36

ZJ

1,373

ZL

21,278

ZN

35

For both (a) and (b) above, where a value of ‘<5’ is displayed, this is to prevent individual properties being identified.

Of the dwelling house codes, only group type has been provided. Information about the number of domestic properties recorded against other dwellinghouse codes is commercially confidential.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties with each (a) dwellinghouse and (b) value significant code in the local authority area of Welwyn Hatfield are recorded in the Valuation Office Agency's electronic records. (291150)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The number of domestic properties with the codes requested, as at 2 September 2009, in the local authority area of Welwyn Hatfield is as follows:

(a) Dwellinghouse Codes (Group Type)

Dwelling Codes

Number of properties

01

110

02

206

03

379

04

369

05

16

06

41

07

34

08

29

09

17

10

93

13

0

14

12

19

29

20

463

21

5,162

24

1,098

25

30

30

52

31

22,061

32

3,336

35

150

36

964

37

140

39

<5

40

20

41

0

42

27

43

<5

44

19

45

0

46

37

48

<5

50

28

51

2,606

52

0

55

70

56

6,460

60

557

61

25

62

91

70

20

71

140

2

0

80

14

81

6

82

99

90

0

91

0

92

0

94

0

95

0

96

0

97

0

98

0

99

12

(b) Value Significant Codes

Value significant codes

Number of properties

A

0

AM

<5

AO

<5

AV

0

AW

0

B

56

BA

74

BB

241

BC

14

BD

6

C

0

CB

<5

CH

<5

CI

<5

CN

126

CO

<5

CP

50

CS

27

D

0

DS

6

EF

0

F

0

FC

0

FG

<5

FO

0

FP

0

GG

<5

GN

0

HO

0

I

0

L

74

LE

0

LF

<5

LR

18

LS

6

LT

<5

M

0

NA

0

OS

0

P

0

PL

<5

PS

0

Q

0

QA

0

QB

0

QC

0

QD

<5

R

0

RC

0

S

0

SC

0

T

0

TM

<5

TQ

24

TU

0

U

0

UC

14

UL

0

UN

<5

UO

<5

UP

<5

UR

<5

US

<5

V

0

VC

0

VE

0

VH

0

VI

0

VL

0

VM

0

VO

<5

VP

<5

VR

0

VS

0

WK

171

X

0

YG

7

ZH

439

ZI

108

ZJ

2,399

ZL

21,722

ZN

5

For both (a) and (b) above, where a value of '<5 is displayed', this is to prevent individual properties being identified.

Of the dwellinghouse codes, only Group Type has been provided. Information about the number of domestic properties recorded against other dwellinghouse codes is commercially confidential.

London City Airport: Public Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will undertake an investigation into whether Newham Council followed appropriate procedures for consulting residents affected by proposals to increase the number of flights using London City Airport. (291367)

It is for Newham council, as local planning authority, to decide the extent to which local residents are consulted about planning applications. This is set out in their Statement of Community Involvement.

Mortgages: Government Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households are participating in the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme; and how many households have used the scheme since 3 December 2008. (291224)

Homeowners Mortgage Support was launched in April 2009 as part of the range of support available at every stage for households struggling with their mortgage. We aim to publish information on households who have been helped through Homeowners Mortgage Support later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households have received assistance under the Mortgage Rescue Scheme. (291234)

The Mortgage Rescue Scheme has been operational across England since January 2009. As part of the monitoring arrangements for the scheme, headline data provided by local authorities operating the scheme and broken down by Government Office Region, are available on the Department’s website. The figures can be assessed using the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/mortgagerescuestatistics

Non-Domestic Rates: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will undertake a cumulative impact assessment on business rates in 2010-11 of the 2010 rates revaluation in empty property rates threshold changes supplementary rates in respect of Crossrail with post-revaluation rateable values and deferred increases from 2009-10. (291086)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: There are no plans to undertake a cumulative impact assessment. Impact assessments relating to individual policy changes to the business rates system will be published alongside the implementing regulations.

Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish instructions given by Ministers to the Valuation Office Agency since 1999 on the separate business rating of port businesses; and in cases where separate rating was introduced, on what date (a) that separate rating took effect and (b) the existing system of paying business rates for those businesses was stopped. (291226)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 20 July 2009, Official Report, column 824W. Ministers at Communities and Local Government or its predecessor departments have not given any instructions to the Valuation Office Agency on the separate rating of properties within or outside of Ports.

The principles concerning separate rateability of properties where there is “exclusive occupation” and “paramount control” are long established and have not been recently introduced by the Government. The leading case on the subject is a House of Lords decision from 1936—Westminster Council v. Southern Railway Company and W.H. Smith and Son.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations he has received on retrospective payments of business rates by port businesses from (a) foreign governments, (b) ferry operators, (c) car importers, (d) port businesses, (e) hon. Members with ports in their constituencies and (f) local authorities with ports in their areas. (291227)

The Department for Communities and Local Government has received correspondence from:

(a) no foreign governments;

(b) no ferry operators;

(c) one car importer;

(d) four port businesses;

(e) 12 hon. Members; and

(f) no local authorities with ports in their areas,

concerning the issues arising from the rating review of ports since 1 July 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many applications have been made by port businesses for a fast-track review of their new business rating assessments; how many reviews have (a) been begun and (b) completed; and what changes have been made as a result of each completed review. (291228)

As at 9 September 2009, the Valuation Office Agency has applied the fast track arrangements to 703 appeals made by port businesses, 355 of which relate to new business rating assessments with an effective date of 1 April 2005.

Of the 355 appeals, 154 have now been settled, 48 by agreement and 106 withdrawn. Where agreement has been reached this has resulted in a reduction in the rateable value. The outstanding appeals are in various stages of discussion depending on the facts of each case.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many port businesses have (a) made and (b) not made payments towards (i) their new rating assessments and (ii) their retrospective payments back to 2005; and how many in each case have applied to use the scheme for staging retrospective payments. (291229)

The Government do not hold information on individual payments of ongoing business rates liabilities. With regard to the backdated business rates liabilities for the port properties affected by the Valuation Office Agency review of rating, local authorities have reported that businesses occupying 209 properties within ports have fully paid their backdated liabilities and that businesses occupying a further 201 properties have been granted a schedule of payments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects to complete his review of retrospective payments of business rates from port businesses newly assessed for business rates. (291230)

Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what analysis of his Department's expenditure by parliamentary constituency has been commissioned in the last 12 months. (291151)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: No analysis of the Department's expenditure by parliamentary constituency has been commissioned in the last 12 months.

Culture, Media and Sport

Betting: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department takes to inform consumers of the jurisdiction in which individual betting websites are licensed. (291341)

Remote gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission are subject to strict operating conditions, including the requirement to display on their website their licensed status, licence number and a link to the Gambling Commission's website. Operators are also required to clearly distinguish which parts of their website or link from their website are regulated by the Commission from those which are not.

The Secretary of State currently has limited power to require websites run by operators licensed overseas to state the jurisdiction in which they are licensed.

My Department is currently conducting a review of the existing system of remote gambling regulation in Great Britain, and the review's findings will be announced to Parliament before the end of the year.

English Folk Dance and Song Society

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether he has had discussions with the English Folk Dance and Song Society on inclusion of England's traditional folk dances as an option within the dance programme to be promoted by the recently-appointed Dance Tsar; and if he will make a statement. (291287)

I have been asked to reply.

We have recently announced the establishment of the Dance Champions Group as set out in Physical Activity Plan, “Be active, be healthy” published earlier in the year. We are also planning to launch the group in the autumn.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society is represented by the Central Council for Physical and Recreational on the Dance Champions Group.

Horse Racing: Betting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment has been made of the effects on the Horserace Betting Levy Board 49th Levy scheme of the location by betting operators of parts of their operations overseas. (291240)

No formal assessment has been made by my Department. The Levy Board's own assessment of the impact is in the region of a potential loss of £4.2 million to the 49th Levy scheme.

We support the Levy Board's aim of securing contributions from gambling operators to ensure the continued health of racing. The Department's Review of remote gaming, which is examining this issue along with many others, will report to Ministers by the end of the year who will report the findings to Parliament.

Swimming

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many local authorities are providing free swimming for over 60 year-olds; (291390)

(2) how many local authorities in England are seeking to introduce free swimming for under 16 year-olds.

259 local authorities in England have opted into the Free Swimming programme for those aged 60 and over; 190 local authorities have agreed to take part in both the aged 60 and over and 16 and under elements of the Free Swimming programme.

Defence

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2009, Official Report, column 743W, on armed forces: training, what the percentage shortfall of each type of armoured vehicle used for pre-deployment training was in the latest period for which figures are available. (289092)

Our priority is to get new equipment to the front line as quickly as possible for use by personnel facing the greatest danger. However, we look to ensure that whenever possible new equipment is also provided for troops during pre-deployment training so that they can use it safely and effectively on arrival in theatre. In practice, where shortfalls occur due to prioritising equipment to the front line, sufficient equipment is still made available for training to ensure personnel meet the minimum safety and operating standards. We have recently introduced measures to reinforce this, and all Urgent Operational Business cases now include a clear requirement that sufficient numbers of pre-deployment vehicles are procured and delivered for training before they are deployed operationally.

The last period for which figures are available was the Mission Rehearsal Exercise for 11 (Light) Brigade in July 2009. The availability of armoured vehicles for this period was as follows:

Snatch-Vixen: 100 per cent.

Ridgback: 34 per cent.

Mastiff: 54 per cent.

Vector: 53 per cent.

Warrior: 100 per cent.

Viking: 18 per cent.

CVR(T): 100 per cent.

Panther: 100 per cent.

Armed Forces: Uniforms

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures were used to establish the requirement for the future army dress; what the estimated cost of its introduction and procurement is; whether he has received any representations about the quality of tailoring of the dress; and if he will make a statement. (291412)

In 2003, the Army Board directed that the Army's orders of dress were to be reviewed with a view to updating the current suite of uniforms which had been designed in the 1960s. In 2005, the Army Board accepted the recommendations of the review and directed that the uniforms were to be produced.

Future Army Dress is funded from within the existing clothing budget and will cost approximately £9.7 million.

The uniform is produced in the UK, using modern manufacturing processes, and we have received no defect reports to date.

Guided Weapons: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times UK forces undertook missile firing tests in the Falkland Islands in each of the last 10 years; and what missiles were fired on each occasion. (291292)

The MOD does not test missiles in the Falkland Islands. However, training exercises are conducted which include firing live missiles against aerial targets.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who is responsible for deciding where missile testing is carried out. (291293)

Missile testing is conducted on behalf of individual project teams who have the opportunity to select the trial venue based on criteria such as suitability for the trial in questions, availability, and cost.

However, in order to secure value-for-money, projects are expected to use one of the facilities provided under the Long Term Partnering Agreement between MOD and QinetiQ and look elsewhere only if these are unable to meet their requirements.

NIDAR Radar System

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions the NIDAR radar system on St. Kilda has been used in each of the last seven years. (290694)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: Details for NIDIR Radar usage on the island of St. Kilda during the past seven years are as follows:

Date

NIDIR radar runs

2003

69

2004

13

2005

32

2006

67

2007

50

2008

17

2009

114

1 To date

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2009, Official Report, column 1400W, to the hon. Member for Moray, on nuclear submarines, on what nuclear submarines the 21 medium scale fires were reported; what the location was of each such submarine at the time of the fire; and when each fire occurred. (290794)

Royal Navy submarines are operated to the highest possible safety standards. Personnel are rigorously trained to deal efficiently and effectively with all safety incidents.

Three fires requiring both ship and external resources are recorded as occurring on Royal Navy submarines since 1 January 1987. Details of these are provided in the following table:

Vessel

Location where fire took place

Date of fire

HMS Renown

Clyde

17 February 1992

HMS Turbulent

Devonport

30 April 1992

HMS Trafalgar

Devonport

24 October 2003

In the same time period, there were 20 medium scale fires and details of these are provided in the following table.

Vessel

Location where fire took place, if known

Date of fire

HMS Courageous

Alongside

10 December 1984

HMS Sceptre

Not recorded

29 July 1987

HMS Conqueror

Alongside

26 August 1987

HMS Renown

Not recorded

15 November 1987

HMS Renown

Clyde

10 October 1988

HMS Valiant

Clyde

5 August 1989

HMS Valiant

Alongside

22 December 1989

HMS Trenchant

At sea

21 November 1991

HMS Superb

At sea

3 November 1992

HMS Tireless

At sea

11 January 1993

HMS Revenge

At sea

29 July 1993

HMS Tireless

Alongside

22 October 1993

HMS Sovereign

Rosyth

7 April 1994

HMS Sovereign

Rosyth

22 August 1995

HMS Victorious

Alongside

16 October 1995

HMS Talent

Devonport

18 January 1999

HMS Sovereign

Clyde

17 June 2001

HMS Victorious

At sea

22 April 2002

HMS Vigilant

Clyde

11 October 2006

HMS Tireless

At sea

21 March 2007

For those incidents where the vessel was either ‘alongside’ or ‘at sea’, the exact location of the vessel is not recorded centrally.

On behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence, I have written to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) to correct the previous statement made on this subject—2 April 2009, Official Report, column 1400W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reactor design has been selected by the Strategic Deterrent Programme Board for the successor submarine; what other decisions have been made by the Board in 2009; and what further decisions are scheduled to be made by the Board prior to May 2010. (291176)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: A decision on reactor design for the future deterrent has not yet been taken. Like other key decisions on the future deterrent, this decision will ultimately be taken by Ministers. The Defence Board will consider the work required during the Concept Phase later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the programme to build the successor to the Vanguard class submarine is on schedule; and when the initial gateway decision for the programme will be made. (291177)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The In Service Date is planned for 2024, as set out in the 2006 White Paper. The Defence Board will consider the work required during the Concept Phase later this year.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional unmanned air systems his Department plans to purchase with funds from the Urgent Operational Requirement budget for 2009-10. (290786)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: We have no current plans to purchase further unmanned air systems under the Urgent Operational Requirement mechanism in the current financial year.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Trust: Stoke-on-Trent

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what funding the Carbon Trust has provided to (a) local authorities, (b) NHS organisations and (c) higher and further education institutions in Stoke-on-Trent North constituency since its establishment. (290817)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: The Carbon Trust has worked with a range of public sector organisations in Stoke-on-Trent including schools, local authorities and NHS organisations to provide carbon management and energy efficiency advice.

The Carbon Trust has advised me that it is not possible to provide a funding breakdown at a constituency level.

Energy: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what representations the Energy Saving Trust made for (a) an increase in council tax in respect of and (b) a prohibition upon the sale or rent of homes with an F to G energy efficiency rating. (291210)

The Energy Saving Trust have made no representations for an increase in council tax in respect of, or a prohibition upon, the sale or rent of homes with an F to G energy efficiency rating.

From autumn, the Energy Saving Trust will be able to contact people moving into homes rated F and G on the Energy Performance Certificate to give free, impartial energy efficiency advice. EST’s research shows home owners can move EPC grade by doing non-major energy saving improvements starting for less than £1,000. There are schemes such as council tax discounts already available to encourage householders to undertake energy efficiency improvements to their homes, a number of which are motivated by energy suppliers in support of their Government obligated carbon emissions reduction target.

Fuel Oil: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment has been made of the potential effects of a petrol embargo on Iran on the UK economy, with particular reference to oil prices. (291269)

As part of DECC’s responsibility for the security of energy supplies, we assess a range of supply disruption scenarios, including disruptions to Iranian petroleum exports. However, the content of this analysis is market sensitive and cannot therefore be made public.

Fuel Poverty: Pensioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate his Department has made of the (a) number and (b) percentage of pensioners living in fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement. (291374)

The Department’s latest estimates for fuel poverty are for 2006, available online at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/consumers/fuel_poverty/strategy/annual_report/annual_report.aspx

These show that in 2006, there were around 2.4 million households in fuel poverty in England. Of those, around 1.3 million contained somebody over the age of 60, around 17 per cent. of all households containing somebody over 60.

Fuel poverty statistics are published at the household level and are not calculated at an individual person level. Figures on the number and percentage of individual pensioners in fuel poverty are therefore unavailable.

Nuclear Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the efficiency of high burn-up fuel used in nuclear power plants. (291346)

The Department has not assessed the efficiency of different burn-up1 levels for nuclear fuels.

The fuel and its burn-up efficiency is a matter for the commercial operators to address, whilst ensuring that regulatory requirements are met.

1 Burn-up is measured by the amount of energy extracted for a given mass of uranium-units GWd/tU.

Warm Front Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what criteria are used under the Warm Front scheme to determine whether households are in fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement. (291264)

To be eligible for Warm Front the applicant or their spouse must be a homeowner or tenant in the private sector and in receipt of a qualifying disability or income related benefit.

These qualification criteria were selected because they were considered to provide an effective proxy for assessing the likelihood of an applicant being at risk of fuel poverty.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Calor Gas: Canvey Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with Calor Gas on the designation and provision of a receiving tank as an overfill receiver for its Canvey Island liquefied natural gas terminals; and if he will make a statement. (290857)

[holding answer 9 September 2009]: DEFRA has not had any discussions with Calor Gas on the designation and provision of a receiving tank as an overfill receiver for its Canvey Island LNG terminals.

The Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are the joint competent authorities for regulation of the Canvey Island Calor Gas site under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH). I understand the hon. Member has had a number of recent discussions with the HSE about the safe operation of this site.

Cattle: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the percentage of dairy cows which are kept in zero-grazing conditions. (291386)

No official estimates are available, though previous industry estimates indicate about 5 per cent. of herds have some cattle that are housed all year round.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the (a) Committee of Investigation for Great Britain, (b) Expert Group on Cryptosporidium in Water Supplies, (c) Family Food Committee, (d) Financial Management and Policy Review of the Commons Commissioners, (e) Hill Farming Advisory Committee, (f) National Expert Group on Transboundary Air Pollution, (g) National Rural Development Forum, (h) National Statistics Quality Review on Sustainable Farming and Food Regulation Task Force, (i) Review of Fishing Vessel Licensing, (j) Review of Funding Mechanisms for Food and Coastal Defence, (k) Review of Marine Nature Conservation Working Group Science Advisory Group, (l) Sustainable Consumption and Production Business Taskforce, (m) Sustainable Development Taskforce, (n) Sustainable Farming and Food Implementation Group and (o) Sustainable Farming and Food Research Priorities Group in each of the last five years. (291099)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The following table sets out the costs of a number of the bodies listed. Officials are currently preparing figures covering the remaining bodies and I will write to the hon. Member with this information when it is available.

£000

Actual

Body

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

(a) Committee of Investigation for Great Britain1

0

0

0

0

0

(d) Financial Management and Policy Review of the Commons Commissioners2

0

0

0

0

0

(e) Hill Farming Advisory Committee3

0

0

0

0

0

(f) National Expert Group on Transboundary Air Pollution+

0

0

0

0

0

(h) National Statistics Quality Review on Sustainable Farming and Food Regulation Task Force5

0

0

0

0

0

(i) Review of Fishing Vessel Licensing6

0

0

0

0

0

(j) Review of Funding Mechanisms for Flood and Coastal Defence7

0

0

0

0

0

(k) Review of Marine Nature Conservation Working Group Science Advisory Group8

0

0

0

0

0

(l) Sustainable Consumption and Production Business Taskforce9

0

0

275

339

0

1 The committee was dormant before the start of the period covered by this table and was disbanded in 2006.

2 All costs were incurred prior to the period covered by this table.

3 The committee was dormant before the start of the period covered by this table and was disbanded in 2006.

4 The Group published its final report in 2001 and disbanded.

5 All costs were incurred prior to the period covered by this table.

6 The Fishing Vessel Licence Review Working Group (LRWG) published one report in the period covered by the table, in 2006. Costs to the Department were minimal.

7 All costs were incurred prior to the period covered by this table.

8 The final report of this Group was published in July 2004. Costs were minimal.

9 The Taskforce was established in February 2006. It completed its work and was disbanded in March 2008.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 17 November 2008, Official Report, column 98W, on domestic wastes, if he will place in the Library a copy of each document provided by Chelgate for the Waste and Resources Action Programme as part of its contract. (291306)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy) gave to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) on 6 March 2009, Official Report, column 1880W.

The requested data concerns the detailed operational activities of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and is not therefore held by DEFRA.

Flood Control: Sheerness

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the effectiveness of the sea defences at Sheerness was last assessed. (291239)

The Environment Agency carried out its annual inspection of the sea defences at Sheerness in late February. The rock groyne and rock face of the sea wall were found to be in good repair. The defences are designed to provide those living and working in the area with a 1 in 200 year standard of protection, a 0.5 per cent. chance of flooding in a year. This is the standard level of protection to which new sea defences are constructed.

Non-Departmental Public Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011 of each non-departmental body it sponsors. (291098)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: The following table sets out the budgets—comprising administration, programme and capital spend—of the Executive and Tribunal Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), Public Corporations and other bodies sponsored by the Department in the years (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11.

Officials are currently preparing a set of figures covering the remaining NDPBs sponsored by the Department, including Advisory NDPBs. I will write to the hon. Member with this information when it is available.

£ million

Body

2008-09 Actual

2009-10 Budget

2010-11 Budget

Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales

0.16

0.20

0.20

Agricultural Wages Committee

0.01

0.01

0.01

Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board1

0.00

0.00

0.00

Commission for Rural Communities

6.30

6.40

6.08

Consumer Council for Water2

0.00

0.00

0.00

Environment Agency3

715.70

762.60

799.90

Food From Britain4

10.70

0.00

0.00

Gangmasters Licensing Authority

3.12

4.29

4.02

Joint Nature Conservation Committee5

1.90

1.90

1.87

National Forest Company

3.60

3.60

3.51

Natural England6

223.74

213.46

168.23

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

26.60

28.50

25.50

Sea Fish Industry Authority

0.30

0.28

0.27

Sustainable Development Commission

2.88

3.06

2.00

Tribunal Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Agricultural Land Tribunal (England)

0.04

0.28

0.28

Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal7

0.00

0.00

0.00

Public Corporations

British Waterways8

62.65

58.34

48.55

Covent Garden Market Authority9

0.00

0.00

0.00

Other Bodies

British Wool Marketing Board10

0.00

0.00

0.00

National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority

46.72

47.58

48.89

1 The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board is industry-funded.

2 The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) is funded by water consumers through a charge to water and sewerage companies in England and Wales by Ofwat. The amount is then passed to DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government (joint sponsor) to fund CCW’s operations.

3 Excludes Closed Pension Fund. £20 million of capital grant was brought forward from 2010-11 to 2009-10 for flood risk management work as part of the Government’s fiscal stimulus initiative.

4 The body was closed on 31 March 2009.

5 Represents costs only of DEFRA-funded JNCC work on reserved matters such as marine work beyond territorial waters, overseas territories and international conventions. Further funding is received from the Devolved Administrations.

6 Represents DEFRA core funding including (other than for 2010-11 where these are not yet due to be addressed) annually agreed elements for cost neutral recharges for common services such as IT and HR support.

7 The Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal is not currently active.

8 £5 million of capital grant was brought forward from 2010-11 to 2009-10 for infrastructure projects under the Government’s fiscal stimulus initiative.

9 The Covent Garden Market Authority is industry-funded.

10 The British Wool Marketing Board is self-funded through the sale of graded wool.

Origin Marking: Israel

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what timetable he has set for consultation on the labelling of goods originating in Israeli settlements. (291396)

The Government have been exploring the possibility of improving the clarity of labelling of produce from the West Bank. Earlier this year, the Cabinet Office held a meeting with a group of interested parties to discuss the possibility of introducing some voluntary guidance, so that consumers could better understand which products came from occupied Palestinian territories. The Government are carefully considering the next steps following that discussion.

Water Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the proposed charge allowed by Ofwat for water companies in the 2009 Price Review is for (a) staff costs and (b) other costs. (291352)

The table sets out what Ofwat has assumed in its draft determinations for water companies’ employment costs and other operating expenditure for all water companies in England and Wales for the period 2010 to 2015.

Costs (£ million)

Employment costs

2,194.9

Other operating expenditure

16,268.3

Total

18,463.2

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the recent elections in Afghanistan were free and fair. (291267)

The 20 August 2009 Presidential and Provincial Council elections in Afghanistan were the first Afghan-run elections for over 30 years. That the insurgents were unable to disrupt this important day is a tribute to the Afghan National Security Forces and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s International Security Assistance Force. The Afghan people want and deserve the right to decide the future of their country and we and the international community are committed to helping them achieve this. Credible elections, that represent the will of the people, demonstrate that the Afghan Government have the authority to rule.

We and the rest of the international community are following the elections result process closely. There have been allegations of fraud but it is important that we wait for the Election Complaints Commission to complete their investigation processes into allegations of fraud, and for the election observation missions to report their conclusive findings. In this intervening period, we call on all parties to exercise patience and respect the process for which so many Afghans made their support clear on polling day.

The UN, the relevant Afghan authorities and international observation missions have taken every possible measure to prevent fraud. The Afghan Independent Election Commission, the UN and the international community worked hard to ensure that there was a level playing field for candidates, and that these elections could be as credible and inclusive as possible. Multiple safeguards such as photographs and fingerprints were in place to minimise fraudulent registration and voting.

There were over 400 international observers on the ground, including 100 from the EU. 7,000 independent monitors were also registered with the Independent Electoral Commission by the Afghan Free and Fair Elections Association. The UK has helped fund election observation missions and 23 of our staff participated in the EU observation mission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions on the subject of Mr. Al-Megrahi he has had with the Scottish Executive Justice Minister in 2009. (291327)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any discussions with the Scottish Executive Justice Minister on the subject of Mr. Al-Megrahi.

Africa: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the activities of the Lords Resistance Army in (a) Sudan, (b) the Democratic Republic of Congo and (c) the Central African Republic; and if he will make a statement (291403)

On 28 August, the UN reported that an estimated 125,000 people had been displaced by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the Haut Uele district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the last three weeks. The LRA has also forced an estimated 8,000 Congolese to flee to neighbouring Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

There has also been a recent increase in LRA attacks in Southern Sudan, close to the DRC border, which have displaced thousands of Sudanese, adding to the severe humanitarian situation in the region. Since March 2008, mere have been reports of periodic LRA incursions into the South East of CAR.

UN teams are monitoring the situation and assisting the refugees and internally displaced people. The UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. MONUC, has increased its presence in the DRC region where the LRA is active and is helping the Congolese army with logistics. Regional cooperation on this issue is ongoing.

British Nationality: Torture

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department follows in response to reports of British nationals having been tortured abroad. (291421)

Consular staff are specifically trained on what action to take in response to any allegation of mistreatment, and there is clear guidance for such cases.

This guidance includes the identification of possible signs of torture and mistreatment, as well as the procedures to be adopted in such circumstances. The first step when a British national is detained overseas is to seek and secure access by our consular staff. Our staff are instructed to ask our nationals whether they have suffered abuse or mistreatment, and to look out for signs of mistreatment even where an individual does not raise it. They are required to follow up all reports of mistreatment whether they come from the individual themselves, from their friends, family or representatives, or from other sources. What form this follow up action will take will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Most obviously, we can raise our concerns with the relevant authorities. Whatever action we take the objective remains the same: to end the mistreatment, and have the incident investigated and the perpetrators of any abuse brought to justice.

In many countries we also raise more general concerns around the mistreatment and abuse of detainees as part of our wider human rights dialogue.

Consular Posts

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to monitor the response of consular posts to reports of British nationals abroad since 2004. (291419)

There are a number of ways in which cases of British nationals alleging mistreatment are monitored. Since the rollout of an effective electronic case management system between 2002 and 2005, Consular Directorate in London has been able to monitor cases in real-time.

Posts have been required since 1 April 2005 to collate statistics on the number of cases where we have raised concerns with the detaining authorities over allegations of torture or abuse.

Finally, we are currently in the process of deploying Consular Regional Directors around the world, whose responsibilities include monitoring the performance of posts in their regions, including on the response of these posts to allegations of mistreatment.

G20: Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what external (a) public relations and (b) public affairs firm were contracted to provide support for the London G20 Summit; and at what cost to the public purse. (289084)

No external public relations or public affairs firms were contracted to provide support for the London G20 Summit.

However, a temporary unit was created within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to support posts in their engagement with overseas media, help organise local events during the run up to the summit, as well as providing information for the London summit website.

This was staffed by FCO and externally contracted staff who acted as project co-ordinators and content developers, rather than in a public affairs capacity.

Indonesia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the Indonesian Government taking steps against former members of the Indonesian Kopassus Special Forces named in 2007 by the Coroner of New South Wales in her findings in relation to the deaths of British citizens Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters in 1975 in East Timor; and if he will make a statement. (291435)

The Australian Federal Police have announced their intention to launch an investigation on the basis of the findings of the 2007 inquiry by the Coroner of New South Wales. We shall consider our position carefully in the light of the results of the Australian Federal Police investigation. The British Government hopes that the investigation may succeed in shedding light on the circumstances in which Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters died, thereby bringing some comfort and greater certainty to their families. We do not intend at this stage to raise the issue with the Indonesian authorities.

Israel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Israeli Prime Minister on issuing building permits for new housing in Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev and other Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in advance of a settlement freeze. (291394)

We are extremely concerned by the recent approval by the Israeli Government of new illegal settlement construction permits. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made this clear in a recent telephone conversation with Ehud Barak.

The Government's position on Israeli settlements has been consistent and robust: they are illegal, a clear violation of international law, and an obstacle to peace. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made this clear during his 25 August 2009 meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister.

Libya

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many official visits to Libya were made by officials from his Department in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009; and what the purpose of each such visit was. (291199)

There is no central record of the number of official overseas visits made by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials to Libya. However officials from various parts of the FCO, both in the UK and overseas, visit Libya regularly in the course of their official duties.

Senior officials hold an annual meeting with Libyan government officials which alternates between Tripoli and London. No senior officials meeting has taken place in 2009.

During the course of their visits officials work to deliver Government objectives in the fields of security, trade, co-operation in the UN and African Union, visas, consular matters and the safety, security and wellbeing of FCO officials and their families living and working in Tripoli.

Lockerbie: Bombings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times he has discussed the case of Mr. Al-Megrahi with his US counterpart since Mr. Al-Megrahi’s conviction. (291198)

I hold regular discussions with my US counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a range of issues, such as the case of Mr. Al-Megrahi. The content of these discussions remains confidential as is normal practice.

UK and US officials worked closely together following the Lockerbie bombing to bring Mr. Al-Megrahi to justice. My officials have remained in close contact with US colleagues both before and since Mr. Al-Megrahi’s conviction.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions Ministers and officials from his Department have had with their Libyan counterparts since March 2004. (291251)

Since 2004 there have been a number of ministerial visits to Libya made by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministers: two in 2004, one in 2005, two in 2006, one in 2007, one in 2008 and two in 2009. During the same period, Ministers from Libya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have visited the UK for meetings with their UK counterparts on a number of occasions: one in 2004, three in 2008 and six in 2009.

Ministerial discussions since 2004 have covered the full range of UK-Libyan bilateral relations, including co-operation in the fields of security, trade, at UN and with the African Union: as well as, visas, consular matters and the safety, security and wellbeing of FCO officials and their families living and working in Tripoli.

There is no central record of the number of official overseas visits made by FCO officials to Libya. However officials from various parts of the FCO, both in the UK and overseas, visit Libya regularly in the course of their official duties. Senior officials hold an annual meeting with Libyan Government officials which alternates between Tripoli and London. No senior officials meeting has taken place in 2009. Issues discussed since 2004 covered the full range of UK-Libyan bilateral relations.

Naheem Hussain: Rehan Zaman

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the reasons were for the time taken for his Department to respond to reports of Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman being tortured in Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. (291418)

When consular staff from our High Commission in Islamabad first visited them in prison on 29 July 2004, Mr Naheem Hussain and Mr Rehan Zaman raised allegations that they had been mistreated while in initial police custody. This was reported back to London. We failed to seek an explicit view at the time from them as to whether they wanted us to raise their concerns with the local authorities.

Staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London subsequently advised the High Commission in Islamabad to seek such a view on their next visit to Mr Hussain and Mr Zaman. However, once it was realised that this would not be until October 2004—prison visits to British nationals in Pakistan are usually done on a three monthly cycle—a decision was taken to seek their view via their lawyer which we did in early September 2004. As the right hon. Member will be aware, their lawyer subsequently confirmed that they did not want the matter raised with the local authorities.

It should not have taken five weeks from our first visit to Mr Hussain and Mr Zaman to obtain their view. Our consular guidance has developed since 2004 and we have taken steps to ensure such a delay would not happen now. This has included giving clear guidance to our consular staff both overseas and in London that where we have reason to believe a British national has been mistreated in detention overseas, this should be raised urgently with the relevant authorities. Our immediate objective in these cases is to have the allegations investigated and, if there is a possibility that mistreatment is continuing, to ensure that it is stopped. By reacting promptly in this way we also hope to deter abuse in future cases.

Pakistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether guidelines were in place in British posts in Pakistan in July 2004 which set out procedures to respond to allegations of the torture of British nationals. (291420)

In 2004, guidance for consular staff made clear the importance of responding to such allegations, including the need to report such cases to the Consular Directorate in London, and to ask the individuals concerned whether they wished us to raise them with the relevant authorities.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) progress in relation to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan and (b) the long-term outlook for Sudan, with particular reference to recent reports of resources from sharing oil revenues. (291402)

The UK welcomes progress that has been made in recent months towards implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This includes acceptance by both the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in relation to the Abyei area and both parties’ commitment to implement the decision.

The UK also welcomes the signing by the SPLM and NCP. under the facilitation of US Envoy General Gration, of the “Points of Agreement” document on the outstanding CPA milestones. We are concerned however that further progress is required on several critical issues, including agreement of the census results, preparations for the elections in April 2010 and for the referendum on self-determination for South Sudan in 2011. The UK is working closely with both parties and with international partners to press for implementation of the outstanding issues.

Health

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the alcohol industry on reducing the availability of cheap alcohol. (291375)

No such recent discussions have taken place.

However, Government have just finished a consultation on a mandatory code for alcohol retailers. This proposed restrictions on very cheap alcohol sold below cost, and on irresponsible promotions such as “all you can drink” type offers.

The Government announced in May its decision not to proceed with any measures concerning a minimum unit price at a national or local level.

While there is good evidence that cheap alcohol is linked to people drinking more and the subsequent harm to their health, it is important that any Government interventions reduce harm without impacting unduly on the majority of adults who do drink responsibly.

Government will look to develop further the evidence base in this area with a view to identifying concrete proposals for action, which reduce irresponsible, harmful and/or binge drinking without impacting unduly on the majority of responsible drinkers.

Allergies

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 20 July 2009, Official Report, column 965W, on allergies: consultants, what steps he plans to take to inform primary care staff of the National Occupational Standards on Allergy developed by Skills for Health. (291337)

The National Occupational Standards on Allergy developed by Skills for Health are available on the Skills for Health website at:

www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Guidance setting out their use is also freely available to employers organisations and staff across the sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2009, Official Report, column 685W, on allergies, whether his Department has taken steps to increase the number of posts advertised in open recruitment for entry into allergy. (291338)

Pursuant to the answer given on 7 July 2009, no additional posts have been established by the Department for open recruitment into allergy. The Department created an additional five centrally funded allergy training posts and five immunology posts in 2007. The national health service and deaneries are responsible for establishing whether there is a local need to commission more local training posts.

Cancer: Prescriptions