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Written Answers

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 29 October 2009

Work and Pensions

Charities

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what grants her Department made to charitable organisations in each of the last five years. (292659)

The only grant payments made to a charitable organisation by the Department for Work and Pensions are those made to Motability, which is a charitable organisation with overall responsibility for the Motability scheme. More information about Motability can be found at:

www.motability.co.uk

Grant payments to Motability for the last five years are shown in the table.

£000

2004-05

2,551

2005-06

2,640

2006-07

2,809

2007-08

2,960

2008-09

3,814

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria have been agreed with examining doctors for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee in coal miners and former coal miners; and what steps her Department has taken to advise examining doctors of these criteria. (295709)

[holding answer 28 October 2009]: ATOS Healthcare has provided guidance to the examining doctors about the diagnosis and assessment of osteoarthritis of the knee in underground coal miners which takes account of the recommendations of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council.

Following receipt of a claim, a Jobcentre Plus decision maker will decide whether the claimant satisfies the occupational criteria for the prescribed disease. If the prescription is satisfied, a referral is made to ATOS Healthcare who will request any previous X-rays and/or any relevant hospital letters relating to the condition. All claimants are subsequently examined by a doctor working for ATOS Healthcare. The doctor will, through a combination of history and examination findings, provide advice to the decision maker as to whether the condition is diagnosed, and if it is, on the level of disablement with reference to a person of the same age and sex whose physical and mental condition is normal.

Industrial Health and Safety: Materials Handling Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will make a statement on the frequency of the checks made on cranes by crane operators. (294633)

[holding answer 20 October 2009]: Cranes are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; these two sets of legislation between them provide a regime requiring inspection, maintenance and thorough examination of cranes.

A thorough examination of a crane is required before first use, and thereafter at least every 12 months (six months if the crane is used for carrying people) unless alteration, damage or any other conditions make an increased frequency of examination necessary. The examination must be carried out by a competent person who is appropriately qualified and experienced. Where, during a thorough examination, a serious defect is detected, a report has to be sent by the competent person to the enforcing authority within 28 days.

Inspection and maintenance checks must also be carried out, between thorough examinations. The frequency and extent of the checks are not specified by the regulations; these will depend on the potential risks from the equipment, the crane manufacturer's recommendations and the conditions encountered on site.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the frequency with which crane operators undertake checks on the cranes under their control; whether self-erected cranes are to be included in the register; and if she will make a statement. (294634)

[holding answer 20 October 2009]: All cranes used at work are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; these two sets of legislation between them provide a regime requiring inspection, maintenance and thorough examination of cranes. Health and Safety Executive inspectors consider routinely compliance with this regime when undertaking both planned inspection and incident investigation.

A consultation document setting out proposals for a statutorily-based registration scheme for tower cranes was published on 13 July this year. The consultation closed on 16 October 2009 and the responses are being analysed. The HSE Board will consider the results of the consultation at its meeting on 25 November 2009, including whether self-erected tower cranes should be included in its scope.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what qualifications persons carrying out pre-use checks on cranes are required to hold; and if she will make a statement. (294635)

[holding answer 20 October 2009]: Under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998, a thorough examination of a crane is required before first use, and thereafter at least every 12 months (six months if the crane is used for carrying people) unless alteration, damage or any other conditions make an increased frequency of examination necessary. The examination must be carried out by a competent person who is appropriately qualified and experienced.

The Approved Code of Practice under LOLER requires that the person carrying out the thorough examination has appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined, but does not specify particular qualifications to be held by the competent person.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Health and Safety Executive plans to introduce its statutory register for tower cranes; and if she will make a statement. (294636)

[holding answer 20 October 2009]: The HSE is committed to having a statutorily-based scheme for tower crane registration in place by the date of common commencement in April 2010.

A consultation document setting out proposals for a statutorily-based registration scheme was published on 13 July this year. The consultation closed on 16 October and the responses are being analysed. The HSE Board will consider the results of the consultation at its meeting on 25 November.

Pensioners: Social security benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 21 July 2009, Official Report, column 1321W, on pensioners: social security benefits, if she will update her estimate based upon the rate of capital disregard to be introduced in November 2009. (296540)

The following table shows the estimated cost of assuming different illustrative Bank of England rates of around 0.5 per cent. and 5 per cent. (averaged over a year), with and without the £10,000 capital disregard for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Estimated annual cost of tariff income set at approximately 1 per cent. higher than Bank of England base rate for pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit (2009-10 prices)

Illustrative BoE rate (percentage)

Rate applied to income above the disregard (percentage)

(i) Cost keeping current disregard (£ million)

(ii) Cost removing current disregard (£ million)

0.5

1.5

300

170

5

6

130

-220

Notes:

1. These estimates have been calculated using the Policy Simulation Model (PSM) which uses data from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). Estimates are subject to sampling and modelling uncertainty.

2. Estimates are given for two possible average rates to illustrate their sensitivity to actual Bank of England base rates.

3. Income taken into account is rounded up to the next £1.

4. In column (i) the interest rate is applied to capital above the capital disregard.

5. Estimates do not include the cost of applying the rules to those in care/nursing homes.

6. Costs have been rounded to the nearest £10 million.

Prime Minister

Devolution

To ask the Prime Minister how many times he met in a formal capacity the (a) First Minister of Scotland, (b) First Minister of Wales, (c) First Minister of Northern Ireland and (d) Leader of the West Midlands Regional Assembly in (i) 2004-05, (ii) 2005-06, (iii) 2006-07, (iv) 2007-08 and (v) 2008-09; and how many times he has so met the Minister for the West Midlands since his appointment. (293897)

Employment: EC Law

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with representatives of trade unions on implementing the EU Agency Workers Directive in the UK in 2011; (295056)

(2) what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and (b) the Minister for Employment Relations on implementing the EU Agency Workers Directive in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011;

(3) what discussions he has had with (a) members and (b) representatives of (i) the CBI, (ii) the EEF and (iii) British Chambers of Commerce on implementing the EU Agency Workers Directive in the UK in 2011.

I have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues and a variety of organisations, representing employees and employers, to discuss a wide range of matters, including employment issues. I have made clear my commitment to legislate on the implementation of the agency workers directive.

Solicitor-General

Animal Welfare: Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions for offences of cruelty to animals were brought by (a) the Crown Prosecution Service and (b) the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the last five years. (296531)

The figures at Table 1 show the number of offences of cruelty to animals in respect of which a prosecution was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in each of the last five years.

Also, at Table 2, are figures showing the number of defendants (not offences) prosecuted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) over the same period. RSPCA prosecutions are broken down to show the number and the proportion resulting in conviction and in dismissal, but no comparable analysis is available for the figures recorded by the CPS.

Table 1: Crown Prosecution Service—Offences of Cruelty to Animals in which a prosecution commenced

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total animal cruelty offences charged1

222

214

227

273

240

1 Source:

CPS Management Information System

Table 2: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—Defendant prosecuted for Cruelty to Animals

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Convictions

870

95.8

980

96.7

898

95.7

1,104

97.2

1,222

97.6

Dismissals

38

4.2

33

3.3

40

4.3

32

2.8

30

2.4

Total defendants prosecuted1

908

1,013

938

1,136

1,252

1 Source:

RSPCA

Domestic Violence

To ask the Solicitor-General how many (a) arrests, (b) prosecutions and (c) convictions of (i) men and (ii) women for acts of domestic violence there were in (A) Twickenham constituency, (B) Richmond-upon-Thames and (C) London in each of the last five years. (296233)

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

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data in London are only available at borough level and cannot be broken down further. We are therefore unable to provide the data for the Twickenham constituency as requested, as this would incur disproportionate cost (Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, part 2, clause 9).

In the London borough of Richmond there were 15 domestic violence prosecutions in 2005-6, 74 prosecutions in 2006-7, 92 prosecutions in 2007-8, 101 prosecutions in 2008-9 and in the first 6 months of 2009-10 there have been 82 prosecutions for domestic violence.

During the course of these last five years, there have been 364 cases prosecuted. Of these, only 13 cases have involved female defendants; 350 have involved male defendants; and in one case the gender was not recorded. There were 226 successful prosecutions out of the 364 cases prosecuted.

In the CPS London Area in 2005-6 there were 4,968 prosecutions for domestic violence, in 2006-7 there were 6,292, in 2007-8 there were 6,688, in 2008-9 there were 7193 and in the first six months of 2009-10 there have been 4,035 prosecutions for domestic violence.

Of these 29,176 prosecutions, 1,320 relate to female defendants; 27,847 relate to male defendants; and in nine cases the gender was not recorded. There were 16,753 successful prosecutions out of the 29,176 cases prosecuted.

Fraud: Convictions

To ask the Solicitor-General how many convictions for offences of fraud in relation to corporate tax there were in (a) the UK, (b) the East of England region, (c) Essex and (d) Castle Point constituency in each of the last 10 years. (296071)

Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office was established in April 2005 as an independent prosecuting authority in England and Wales.

We are therefore unable to provide information prior to that date nor earlier than that indicated below. Nor can we provide statistics relating to the whole of the United Kingdom since we do not prosecute in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In our reply we have defined fraud in relation to corporate tax as prosecutions for VAT and Direct Tax offences.

The following table indicates the number of convictions in England and Wales, the East of England region and Essex. We are unable to provide details relating specifically to Castle Point constituency.

England and Wales

East of England1

Essex

2009-102

55

14

7

2008-09

150

28

15

2007-08

226

32

21

2006-07

172

8

7

1 Prosecutions conducted in courts in the following counties: Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

2 This information covers the 6 month period April to September 2009 only

It should be noted that simply because a conviction is recorded in the East of England or Essex, it does not follow that either the crime or the defendants are linked with that area. For example, a case could have been moved there by HM Court Service for logistical reasons.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biodiversity Targets

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress his Department has made towards meeting its 2010 biodiversity targets; and if he will make a statement. (296315)

We have made good progress on all of our biodiversity priorities. In particular, 89 per cent. of Sites of Special Scientific Interest are now in favourable or recovering condition; agri-environment schemes are leading to significant improvements; we have made great strides on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill; and internationally we continue to support a wide range of conservation projects through our Darwin Initiative.

Household Waste

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking together with local authorities to ensure household waste is dealt with effectively. (296317)

We have worked with local authorities to make great improvements in effectively managing household waste over the last 10 years: recycling rates have more than quadrupled.

We recognise there is still much more to do and the Government will continue to work with local authorities, and others, to move towards a zero waste nation.

Grain Farmers: Income

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the average income of grain farmers in each of the last three years. (296319)

The average farm business income for cereal farmers in England was £73,400 in 2007-08, up from £45,900 the year before.

Figures for 2008-09 are published today.

Bovine Tuberculosis

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis were slaughtered in the most recent month for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (296320)

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle were slaughtered following a diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis in the most recent month for which figures are available. (296321)

In July 2009 2,350 cattle in GB were slaughtered as TB reactors or inconclusive reactors. A further 45 were slaughtered as direct contacts.

It should be remembered that TB is a chronic disease, and as such, the long-term trend is more significant than looking at any short-term trends.

European Habitats Directive

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what responsibility he has for enforcement of the provisions of the European Habitats Directive; and if he will make a statement. (296322)

The Secretary of State’s powers to enforce the implementation of the European Habitats Directive are set out in the 1994 Habitats Regulations. These include powers under regulations 22 and 23 to make Special Nature Conservation Orders specifying operations likely to destroy or damage sites protected under the directive, and to serve a notice on any person carrying out or proposing to carry out such an operation which has the effect of prohibiting such an operation.

Bluefin Tuna

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on preservation of bluefin tuna. (296324)

Bluefin tuna was the subject of a Commission presentation and statements by member states at the October Council of Fisheries Ministers in preparation for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. I have stated previously that UK supports CITES listing for this species. However, in line with the common EU position, I look forward to ICCAT coming forward with appropriate management measures to reflect the latest stock position. I have made clear to EU colleagues that this is a critical issue and a test of ICCAT’s credibility.

Departmental Catering

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1595W, how much subsidy his Department received in respect of externally contracted catering services for staff in each of the last five years. (289071)

From information held centrally, the subsidy paid in respect of externally contracted catering services for staff in the core-Department in each of the last five years is as follows:

April to March each year

£

2005-06

172,440

2006-07

172,440

2007-08

192,594

2008-09

169,372

2009-10

186,072

The year on year figures are not a comparable series because over the periods identified there have been changes to the number of sites offering catering services to staff, changes to catering facilities to accommodate increased throughput and rationalisation of suppliers down to one for all current core-DEFRA sites.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the Navigator waste infrastructure study results. (294563)

A copy of the Navigator waste infrastructure study results will be made available in the House Library.

Food: Packaging

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of categories of products which are presented for sale in unnecessary packaging; and if he will make a statement. (295593)

There is no fixed definition of what constitutes ‘unnecessary packaging’; decisions have to be made on a case by case basis and as such these decisions will only be relevant to that particular product.

However, one way of identifying opportunities for packaging reductions is to use benchmarking tools such as the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s “Best in Class” database. This database compares a range of packaging solutions used for the same product and ranks them from the lightest to the heaviest. We encourage all users of packaging to make use of this data when specifying packaging. Action on the basis of this information is often taken at the sector level through voluntary agreements e.g. the Courtauld Commitment, or can be taken by individual packaging producers.

Greyhounds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for a central database to trace the lifespan of each greyhound bred for racing. (296281)

[holding answer 28 October 2009]: We have no plans to bring forward such proposals. However, we will be introducing a requirement that all racing greyhounds must be micro-chipped, with the details of the owner placed on one of the existing microchip databases.

Ragwort

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to remove ragwort (a) in Eddisbury constituency and (b) nationally in 2009; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of ragwort which has been removed. (295608)

Natural England investigates complaints about injurious weeds on behalf of DEFRA. During 2009, Natural England has issued 189 enforcement notices under the Weeds Act 1959 requiring occupiers to take action to prevent injurious weeds spreading to neighbouring land. Of these 189 enforcement notices, 15 were issued by the Natural England office in Worcester which covers the Eddisbury constituency area. It is not possible to be specific about the number issued for the Eddisbury constituency, nor is it possible to provide an estimate of what proportion of ragwort has been removed because this information is not held centrally.

Recycling: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of its targets for recycling waste each London borough achieved in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. (296129)

For the period in question, local authorities had one statutory recycling target consisting of two parts: Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) 82a (household dry recycling rate) and 82b (household composting rate). Statutory recycling targets were set for 2005-06 and 2007-08, but not for 2006-07.

The tables show the recycling and composting rate; the target for these combined rates; and whether it met the target or not and by how much for each of the 33 local authorities in London, for 2005-06 and 2007-08.

2007-08

Authority

Dry recycling rate (BVPI 82a)

Com posting rate (BVPI 82b)

Recycling rate (82a+b)

Recycling and Composting Target

Met target

Percentage gap

Bexley LB

24.03

17.62

41.64

30

Exceeded

11.64

Tower Hamlets LB

12.89

0.15

13.04

20

Not met

-6.96

City of London

33.02

0.38

33.39

20

Exceeded

13.39

Westminster City Council

21.88

0.84

22.72

20

Exceeded

2.72

Redbridge LB

17.39

5.00

22.38

20

Exceeded

2.38

Newham LB

12.34

2.06

14.40

20

Not met

-5.60

Havering LB

16.16

7.82

23.98

27

Not met

-3.02

Barking and Dagenham LB

14.83

5.58

20.41

20

Met

0.41

Waltham Forest LB

19.69

10.05

29.74

20

Exceeded

9.74

Islington LB

20.92

5.41

26.33

20

Exceeded

6.33

Haringey LB

19.11

6.57

25.68

20

Exceeded

5.68

Hackney LB

15.85

6.53

. 22.38

20

Exceeded

2.38

Enfield LB

18.08

10.11

28.19

27

Exceeded

1.19

Camden LB

23.89

3.23

27.12

30

Not met

-2.88

Barnet LB

18.26

12.42

30.68

27

Exceeded

3.68

Southwark LB

16.01

4.02

20.02

20

Met

0.02

Lewisham LB

21.40

0.58

21.99

30

Not met

-8.01

Greenwich LB

25.74

4.78

30.52

20

Exceeded

10.52

Sutton LB

22.61

9.86

32.48

30

Exceeded

2.48

Merton LB

23.33

3.75

27.08

21

Exceeded

6.08

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

18.96

6.66

25.62

30

Not met

-4.38

Croydon LB

16.42

6.29

22.71

30

Not met

-7.29

Bromley LB

27.62

6.84

34.46

21

Exceeded

13.46

Richmond upon Thames LB

24.60

11.54

36.14

20

Exceeded

16.14

Hounslow LB

17.49

4.26

21.75

30

Not met

-8.25

Hillingdon LB

21.17

12.58

33.76

21

Exceeded

12.76

Harrow LB

21.35

18.20

39.55

24

Exceeded

15.55

Ealing LB

21.08

7.86

28.94

30

Not met

-1.06

Brent LB

12.08

8.90

20.98

20

Exceeded

0.98

Wandsworth LB

24.37

0.29

24.66

24

Exceeded

0.66

Lambeth LB

22.54

2.58

25.12

30

Not met

-4.88

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

27.03

0.90

27.93

21

Exceeded

6.93

Hammersmith and Fulham LB

25.39

1.50

26.89

24

Exceeded

2.89

2005-06

Authority

Dry recycling rate (BVPI 82a)

Composting rate (BVPI 82b)

Recycling rate (82a+b)

Recycling and composting target

Met target

Percentage gap

Bexley LB

21.5

16.21

37.71

30

Exceeded

7.71

Tower Hamlets LB

8.85

0

8.85

18

Not met

-9.15

City of London

18.1

0

18.1

18

Met

0.1

Westminster City Council

17.79

0.5

18.29

18

Met

0.29

Redbridge LB

12.79

4.55

17.34

21

Not met

-3.66

Newham LB

8.63

1.5

10.13

18

Not met

-7.87

Havering LB

11.85

5.96

17.81

27

Not met

-9.19

Barking and Dagenham LB

12.18

4.42

16.6

18

Not met

-1.4

Waltham Forest LB

13.44

8.41

21.85

18

Exceeded

3.85

Islington LB

15.7

2.59

18.29

18

Met

0.29

Haringey LB

16.08

3.15

19.23

18

Exceeded

1.23

Hackney LB

11.84

4.37

16.21

18

Not met

-1.79

Enfield LB

16.92

10.37

27.29

27

Met

0.29

Camden LB

22.24

4.9

27.14

30

Not met

-2.86

Barnet LB

17.98

9.4.9

27.47

27

Met

0.47

Southwark LB

11.55

3.41

14.96

18

Not met

-3.04

Lewisham LB

11.96

0.24

12.2

18

Not met

-5.8

Greenwich LB

18.16

3.5

21.66

18

Exceeded

3.66

Sutton LB

20.21

8.86

29.07

30

Not met

-0.93

Merton LB

19.35

3.24

22.59

27

Not met

-4.41

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

17.41

6.56

23.97

30

Not met

-6.03

Croydon LB

12.99

3.18

16.17

30

Not met

-13.8

Bromley LB

22.79

4.46

27.25

21

Exceeded

6.25

Richmond upon Thames LB

21.06

7.53

28.59

30

Not met

-1.41

Hounslow LB

15.74

3.51

19.25

30

Not met

-10.8

Hillingdon LB

16.3

11.4

27.7

21

Exceeded

6.7

Harrow LB

13.66

13.04

26.7

24

Exceeded

2.7

Ealing LB

15.36

3.92

19.28

30

Not met

-10.7

Brent LB

10.89

9.12

20.01

18

Exceeded

2.01

Wandsworth LB

20.63

0.33

20.96

24

Not met

-3.04

Lambeth LB

18.96

3.19

22.15

21

Exceeded

1.15

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

19.29

0.65

19.94

30

Not met

-10.1

Hammersmith and Fulham LB

21

0.49

21.49

24

Not met

-2.51

Source:

WasteDataFlow

Rivers: Canoeing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase access to rivers for canoeists. (296318)

We have been working, through our agencies, to provide better access to inland water for canoeists and other users.

The Environment Agency’s work on four pilot rivers aimed to increase understanding of access agreements and develop a toolkit for others to use, and shows what can be achieved by agreements. Over time there is scope for voluntary agreements to significantly increase the amount of inland water accessible to all.

Transport

Aviation: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the carbon footprint of an air passenger when travelling from London to New York in (a) first, (b) business and (c) economy class. (296605)

No estimates of the carbon footprint of an air passenger when travelling from London to New York in (a) first, (b) business and (c) economy class have been made.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in partnership with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, published guidance for businesses and organisations on how to measure and report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in September 2009.

Indicative emission factors, by seating class, were developed on the basis of the average area occupied compared to an economy class passenger. The factors are available at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/business/reporting/conversion-factors.htm

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on whether funding allocated to his Department is to be re-allocated to the Department for Communities and Local Government to help implement the housing policies announced in the Draft Legislative Programme for 2009-10. (290488)

The Secretary of State for the Department for Transport discussed his Department’s contribution to the housing policies announced in the Draft Legislative Programme with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, as part of the process of publishing Building Britain’s Future.

Eurostar: Cleaning Services

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) when the Eurostar Carlisle Cleaning Group contract is to be renewed; (295905)

(2) what payments have been made by Eurostar to Carlisle Group in the last five years; and what payments are expected to be made in the next three years.

The Department for Transport is not a party to the contract between Carlisle and Eurostar. However, details of the contract are publicly available from the Official Journal of the EU (218/2008). This indicates that a six-year contract was awarded on 2 October 2008 with a value of £14 million. The document is on the internet at the following address:

http://www.dgmarket.com/tenders/np-notice.do~3237100

In relation to payments made prior to that date, as the Department is not party to these contracts it has no information regarding their value.

Fire Services: Working Hours

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent guidance his Department has issued to fire and rescue services on the application of European Road Transport Working Time Regulation (EC) 561/2006 in respect of retained firefighters who drive vehicles and who also (a) work as commercial drivers and (b) work in other occupations. (296495)

The EU Regulation on drivers' hours (Regulation (EC) 561/2006) prescribes maximum limits on driving time and minimum requirements for breaks and rest periods.

The then Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick) met with the Retained Firefighters Union in November 2008 and explained that time spent on duty as a retained firefighter outside a driver's regular employment counts as other work rather than rest. As a result, the driver is required, in common with other drivers who have a second job, to declare it as a period of other work and ensure that the required daily and weekly rest periods are taken.

Local Transport Plans: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with reference to the guidance issued in July 2009 to local transport authorities on the production of local transport plans, by what percentage or other amount local transport authorities are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a result of their local transport plans; and what proportion of those reductions is expected to be attributable to (a) policies implemented under local transport plans and (b) other factors. (296417)

The performance of local authorities on transport, including CO2 emissions, is managed through the National Indicator Set and through Local Area Agreements. Of 152 local authorities, 102 have already selected National Indicator 186—measuring the per capita reduction in CO2 emissions—as a priority in their Local Area Agreement, demonstrating their commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Recent local transport plan guidance recognises that local authorities are particularly important partners in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with our climate change goal for transport. The Government have a policy of devolving responsibility to local transport authorities so they can make the right choices for their local areas. It would therefore not be appropriate for Government to specify the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reductions expected from each authority.

Motor Vehicles: Norwich

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many vehicles were registered for (a) personal and (b) business use in Norwich, North constituency in (i) 1997, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2009. (296020)

The following table provides the number of privately- and company-owned vehicles in the Norwich, North constituency that were licensed at the end of the year in (i) 1997, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2008. Data for 2009 are not available:

Privately-owned vehicles

Company-owned vehicles

Total

1997

40,349

8,342

48,691

2007

51,323

9,283

60,606

2008

51,685

8,324

60,009

There are a number of vehicles in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database which have incomplete or inaccurate postcodes and therefore cannot be allocated to any constituency.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) passenger cars and (b) light vans (i) were de-registered and (ii) had their registration certification annulled in the latest year for which information is available; and how many certificates of destruction were issued for end-of-life vehicles in the latest year for which information is available. (296414)

The information sought is not held in the format requested. Separate figures are not recorded for passenger cars and light vans.

In the financial year 2008-09:

(a) the total number of vehicles destroyed was 1,109,574;

(b) the total number of certificates of destruction issued was 1,026,054;

(c) the total number of vehicles de-registered on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency vehicle register was 909,653.

Railways: Environment Protection

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what procedures are in place to encourage train operating companies to improve their environmental efficiency demands. (296044)

In the 2007 rail White Paper “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, the Government committed to setting an environmental target for the railway in Control Period 5 (2014-19). This is under development.

In addition, the Department for Transport has included environmental objectives in recent rail franchise specifications requiring operators to report on environmental performance and put in place measures to reduce environmental impacts. The rail industry also reports its total energy consumption and carbon emissions to the Office of Rail Regulation on an annual basis.

West Coast Railway Line: Speed Limits

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether there are plans for the improvement of the West Coast Main Line track north of Preston to increase running speeds. (296830)

The recently completed modernisation of the West Coast Main Line maximised the opportunities for line speed improvements north of Preston. While the curvature of the line limits speeds in a number of places, significant sections of 125 miles per hour running have been delivered bringing greatly reduced journey times for passengers.

Wales

Digital Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what discussions he has had with telecommunications providers on the loss of ITV channels as a result of digital switchover in Wales; (294317)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the loss of ITV channels as a result of digital switchover in Wales.

The “loss” of television channels to some viewers has occurred not because of the digital switchover, but because of a national re-tune. The Broadcasters decided to go ahead with the re-organisation of the Freeview platform in order to make space for the introduction of new technology to enable High Definition services on the digital terrestrial television (or Freeview) platform. It has also increased the availability of Channel Five to the point where it can now be received in almost all households across the UK—98.5 per cent. An estimated 500,000 Freeview homes will be able to see Channel Five for the first time after re-tuning.

Around 78,000 viewers in Wales, who receive their transmissions via a relay station, may have lost access to ITV 3 or ITV 4 following the re-tune but many viewers will of course have gained Channel Five and HD capability. These channels are not necessarily permanently unavailable as there are alternative means of accessing both. Viewers can find out how to do so by contacting Digital UK via their website at:

www.digitaluk.co.uk

or the helpline on 08456 505050 or by investing in alternative platforms such as Freesat, cable or satellite—not all of which require a subscription.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Territorial Army in each region who have served in Afghanistan have been awarded the Military Cross in each of the last seven years. (296498)

Three members of the Territorial Army who have served in Afghanistan have been awarded the Military Cross in the last seven years (2003-09), one in 2007 and two in 2009.

Armed Forces: Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former service personnel who left the armed forces as a result of injury since 1997 were from (a) England, (b) Teesside and (c) Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency. (296393)

This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost as residential address information for former service personnel is not held with reference to country, county or parliamentary constituency. Further, there are significant questions over the accuracy and completeness of what is held; for example, some ex-service personnel do not provide a valid contact address on leaving the services or do not notify the MOD of a change of address if they move.

Armed Forces: Somalia

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are assigned to operations (a) in and (b) related to Somalia; and whether any increase in such assignments is planned. (295174)

The UK armed forces have provided a colonel to the UN political office in Somalia. We have also provided staff officers on request for short periods of time to support the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and we provide training assistance to AMISOM forces before deployment. The UK is also carrying out training and support activity with countries in the region in order to reduce the threat of terrorist activity.

We are providing considerable support to counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. The Royal Navy is contributing two frigates and a support tanker, as well as sizeable contributions to all of the operation headquarters. Some 320 members of the armed forces are specifically engaged in countering piracy as part of the EU operation ATALANTA and NATO Operation OCEAN SHIELD. A further 560 are contributing to maritime security in the region within NATO and the combined maritime forces, including countering smuggling and piracy.

MOD is looking to enhance international operations underway in and around Somalia, and is working with our international colleagues on the best way in which we can support security sector development for the Somali Transitional Federal Government. These considerations include manpower enhancements in niche capacities where UK expertise can make a difference.

Ascension Island

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made in his discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on future funding arrangements for Ascension Island. (295620)

The decision by the Ascension Island Government to remove a variation in the Ministry of Defence's annual property tax liability, which had the effect of almost doubling the amount, is currently being disputed. The MOD, therefore, has not paid this new tax liability in full.

Discussions are ongoing in order to seek an agreement that is fair and equitable, and assurance that the services received from the Ascension Island Government represent best value for money. The Ascension Island Council has commissioned an HMRC-led study, supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, into tax arrangements on Ascension Island. The Ministry of Defence is being consulted as part of this study.

Departmental Postal Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies are under contract to his Department to provide mail services; and when each such contract expires. (296080)

The MOD contracts solely with Royal Mail Group for provision of mail services through the Forces Mail Settlement. The terms of the contract, which ran until 1 April 2009, continue to operate pending agreement and signature of a new contract.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on (a) members of his Department and (b) uniformed members of the armed forces using first class travel on official business; and if he will make a statement. (295682)

[holding answer 26 October 2009]: When movement is by commercial airline, as opposed to MOD charter or part-charter, class of travel is determined by the length of flight and the rank or civil service grade of the passenger. The majority of armed forces and civilian personnel will travel economy, tourist or budget class. Only when flights are longer than 2.5 hours will the passenger be entitled to travel club, executive, new economy, ambassador or premier economy. Two star officers and above and two star senior civil service and above, will mostly travel by club, executive, business, new economy, ambassador or premier. However, when this class of travel is not available, the flight is longer than 2.5 hours, and this is the only method of travel available to meet with designated service priorities, then the passenger is entitled to travel first class.

For rail and sea travel, most will travel by standard class. However, officers and civil servants who are Lieutenant Commander, Major, Squadron Leader, pay band C2 and above, travelling on duty, are entitled to first class travel.

Regardless of entitlement, though, all personnel are strongly encouraged to use the most economic means of travel at all times.

Gurkhas: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there have been any recent changes to the Gurkha pension plan; and whether any changes are expected to take effect in the next five months. (296831)

The last changes made to the pension arrangements affecting Gurkha personnel were in October 2007 when the MOD initiated the Gurkha offer to transfer for serving and recently retired Gurkhas to allow them to transfer their pension benefits to one of two armed forces pension schemes. This offer was limited solely to service after 1 July 1997. There are no plans to make changes to the current Gurkha pension arrangements.

Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft of each type are assigned to the (a) 12 Squadron, (b) 14 Squadron, (c) XV Squadron, (d) 617 Squadron, (e) 42 (R) Squadron, (f) 120 Squadron, (g) 201 Squadron, (h) 43 Squadron, (i) 111 Squadron and (j) 202 Squadron D Flight. (296034)

The number of aircraft assigned to particular squadrons may vary on a daily basis. As at 23 October the information requested is provided in the following table:

Squadron

Aircraft type

12 Squadron

Nil Tornado GR4 (Squadron currently on post operational leave)

14 Squadron

9 Tornado GR4

XV Squadron

19 Tornado GR4

617 Squadron

11 Tornado GR4

42(R) Squadron

All use Nimrod MR2 aircraft from a pool of 11

120 Squadron

As above

201 Squadron

As above

43 Squadron

Disbanded on 13 July 2009

111 Squadron

13 Tornado F3

D Flight, 202 Squadron

2 Sea King Mk3

Military Decorations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of servicemen eligible for a medal to mark their service in the armed forces since 1945; and what estimate has been made of the cost of issuing such a medal. (296799)

There are no plans to institute a medal solely for being a member of the armed forces. Medals are primarily awarded for campaign service, for individual acts of gallantry and for long and meritorious service.

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2009, Official Report, column 1400W, on nuclear submarines, how many such incidents resulted in fatalities. (295434)

There were two fatalities as a result of an explosion onboard HMS Tireless in March 2007, the fire from which was categorised as Medium Scale in the earlier answer given on 2 April by the then Minister for the Armed Forces, my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth) There have been no other fatalities as a result of fires since 1987.

Territorial Army

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Territorial Army units the Armed Forces Minister has visited since his appointment. (296191)

[holding answer 27 October 2009]: I visited 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital (Volunteers) in Cardiff in August 2009 and 4th Battalion the Mercian Regiment at Camp Bastion in July.

Trident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make the initial gate decision on the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system; and what immediate costs are associated with initiation of the project. (295390)

The Defence Board will consider the work required during the Concept Phase later this year.

Work on replacing our deterrent submarines was initiated on April 2007 with the start of the project's Concept Phase. Since the beginning of April 2007 to the end of September 2009 some £320 million has been spent. The Initial Gate decision marks the end of the Concept Phase. The final spend on reaching Initial Gate cannot be calculated until after that point is reached.

Until Initial Gate decisions are made it is too early to say what the likely expenditure will be for the period between that time and the Main Gate decision point, which is when the principal contracts with industry will be signed.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the (a) number of those eligible to vote and (b) level of turnout in each district of Helmand province in the recent Presidential elections in Afghanistan. (295622)

460,811 people registered to vote in Helmand in 2004 and 156,662 in 2008. Holders of voter registration cards from both 2004 and 2008 were eligible to vote in the 2009 elections.

The final certified numbers of votes in the first round of the presidential elections, following the completion of the election audit process by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), for each Helmand district are as follows:

Lashkar Gah—28,992

NahriSaraj—16,895

Nad-e-Ali—3,374

Sangin—399

Kajaki—313

Musa Qala—4,580

Nowzad—0

Nawa—2,612

Garmsir—4,528

Khaneshin—260

Vashir—2,563

The number of votes for each district was reduced after the IEC and ECC completed their process to exclude fraudulent votes (on 19 October 2009).

Afghanistan: Foreign Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the report of the Afghanistan Electoral Complaints Commission for the Government’s policy towards that country; and if he will make a statement. (295193)

[holding answer 26 October 2009]: We welcome the audit process, completed on 19 October, conducted by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which was robust and transparent and we are confident in their findings. On 20 October 2009, the IEC set a date for the second round of the presidential elections and President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah confirmed that they will both run in this.

We are also confident that a second round, due to be held 7 November 2009, can be carried out. Planning for the eventuality that a second round would be required has been taking place for some time and we will continue to provide support for the ongoing preparations. The IEC and Afghan security forces, with UN and International Security Assistance Force support, are working to maximise the opportunities for people to vote.

Afghanistan needs a credible second round and a credible conclusion to this process, resulting in a government that represents the legitimate will of the Afghan people. Our policy to support this process through to the end, and to encourage all parties to respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and Electoral Law, remains consistent and firm.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the terms of reference for the latest review of the Helmand road map are; and in what way they differ from the terms of reference for previous reviews. (295619)

We review the Helmand road map regularly, monitoring the delivery of stabilisation work in response to operational changes. The road map is designed as a living document, constantly reviewed and updated in light of lessons learned. Our stabilisation work in Helmand in support of the Afghan Government is a fundamental part of the campaign.

Aung San Suu Kyi

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the conditions under which Aung San Suu Kyi is being held; what recent discussions he has had with the government of Burma on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (296494)

Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest term of 18 months under house arrest began with the conclusion of her sham trial on 11 August 2009. The terms of her detention were stated by the court to be:

she must remain on her compound;

she would be permitted medical treatment from her own doctor when required;

she could read state and private Burmese newspapers (subject to censorship) and watch the two state TV channels ;

she could communicate with others in writing, with prior consent by the authorities;

she would be permitted visitors, subject to approval by the authorities; and

she could make requests to the authorities to meet any other needs she might identify.

Aung San Suu Kyi has asked the regime for clarification on the terms of her detention and the processes that need to be observed but has not yet had a response. It is not yet clear whether these terms will be honoured in full by the Burmese authorities, but our ambassador to Burma, as local EU presidency, was allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi together with diplomats from the US and Australian embassies on 9 October 2009. This was a small, but welcome, development. We urge the authorities to allow her regular and unfettered access to her party and other democratic and ethnic leaders, and to embark on a genuine and inclusive process of dialogue and national reconciliation. We continue to call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of the more than 2,000 political prisoners detained alongside her.

Our ambassador raised the conditions of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest with Burmese Ministers most recently on 16 October 2009, and will continue to do so at every opportunity.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to implement the efficiency recommendations of the Operational Efficiency Programme relating to his Department; and what training is available to (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department in respect of the delivery of value for money savings. (296004)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to playing its part in the further efficiency savings targets announced in the 2009 budget as part of the wider Government drive to deliver an additional £5 billion in savings for the Operational Efficiency Programme in 2010-11.

The FCO contribution to this target (including BBC World Service and British Council) is £20 million. The FCO will meet its part through further efficiencies in procurement, corporate services and FCO Services costs.

There are no specific financial training courses for FCO Ministers. Financial training available for officials includes a number of different targeted courses which includes elements covering value for money savings.

Embassies: Civil Partnerships

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil partnerships have been celebrated in British consulates. (296863)

Since the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act on 18 November 2004, 487 civil partnerships have been registered at British consulates overseas. The following table provides information on the countries where British consulates can register civil partnerships and the number registered since the introduction of the Act.

Countries where civil partnerships can be registered

Registrations

Argentina

7

Australia (except Tasmania1)

308

Austria

2

Bulgaria

1

Canada1

1

Colombia

19

Costa Rica

0

Croatia

1

Czech Republic1

3

Guatemala

3

Hungary1

4

Ireland

17

Israel

1

Japan

22

Latvia

0

Malta

0

Moldova

0

Mongolia

0

Panama

4

Peru

7

Philippines

0

Portugal

7

South Africa1

19

Switzerland1

5

Turkmenistan

0

Uruguay

0

Venezuela

7

Vietnam

49

Total

487

1 Have subsequently introduced their own civil partnership legislation.

Iran

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the members of the United Nations General Assembly who (a) applauded and (b) protested against the speech of the President of Iran in (i) 2008 and (ii) 2009; and if he will make a statement. (296557)

The Government have consistently condemned the Iranian President's inflammatory comments about the state of Israel and his repeated offensive statements about the holocaust. We cannot ignore what the leader of a significant country says during his speech at the UN General Assembly, and there was widespread international criticism of President Ahmadinejad's comments at the UN General Assembly in 2008.

During his speech to the 2009 UN General Assembly, President Ahmadinejad again made anti-Semitic assertions. This immediately prompted UK officials to leave the room, alongside representatives from Australia; Argentina; Costa Rica; Denmark; France; Germany; Hungary; Italy; New Zealand; Palau; Poland; Slovenia; Uruguay; and the USA. The Canadian and Israeli delegations had left the room before the speech had started.

British officials did not make a note at the time of the countries whose representatives applauded the speech.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps at the United Nations he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take in respect of statements about Israel made by the President of Iran at the United Nations General Assembly; and if he will make a statement. (296565)

We made clear our condemnation of the Iranian President's speech during the UN General Assembly by leaving the room. Prior to this speech at the UN, President Ahmadinejad had given a similarly outrageous speech at Friday Prayers at Tehran University, during which he again denied the Holocaust and warned that “the Zionist regime was doomed to destruction”.

In response to this speech my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement denouncing his claims as “abhorrent as well as ignorant”, and calling on the world community to “stand up against this tide of abuse”. It is totally unacceptable that one member of the UN should repeatedly threaten the existence of another.

The Government have consistently condemned the Iranian President's inflammatory comments about the State of Israel and his offensive statements about the Holocaust. Such rhetoric is a recipe for instability and only serves to undermine international confidence in Iran's willingness to act as a respectable member of the international community. We will continue to speak out in response to such deplorable and ignorant comments.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken in the last six months and (b) plans to take in the next 12 months to assist the Egyptian Government to stop the smuggling of offensive weapons into Gaza; and if he will make a statement. (296575)

Since the Gaza conflict, officials from nine countries (Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the US) have met several times to discuss how to support action against arms smuggling. Officials met most recently in Ottawa on 10-11 June 2009. However, the tools the international community has at its disposal are limited and the challenges of interdiction high.

We continue to discuss all aspects of the situation in Gaza—including arms smuggling and action to combat it—with international partners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the number of rocket attacks from Gaza aimed at southern Israel; and if he will make a statement. (296626)

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs there have been 122 rockets fired from Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. The UK condemns all such attacks and continues to call on those responsible to renounce violence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the allegations of war crimes made in respect of each party to the recent conflict in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. (296640)

There are allegations of serious concern which cannot be ignored. Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeted at innocent civilians in southern Israel constitute a breach of international humanitarian law. There are also serious allegations about Israeli conduct and we urge the Israeli Government to carry out full, credible and impartial investigations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of military action against Iran by (a) Israel and (b) other states in the event of Iran making further progress towards the development of (i) long range missiles and (ii) nuclear weapons; and if he will make a statement. (296652)

We regularly review and monitor a range of threats to security in the middle east. We are aware of speculation about military action against Iran. This underlines the urgency of finding a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear programme and we are working intensely with international partners to achieve this.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which members of his Department attended the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council to (a) discuss and (b) vote on the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict; and if he will make a statement. (296572)

The UK was represented by our Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Mr. Peter Gooderham.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of progress in bringing Fatah and Hamas together to create a unified Palestinian negotiating position; and if he will make a statement. (296617)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, on 16 October 2009. We understand, despite Fatah agreeing to Egypt’s proposals, Hamas has not. The Foreign Minister stated that the original deadline and further repeated deadlines for reaching agreement among the Palestinian factions will not be met.

The UK continues to favour any reconciliation which supports peace negotiations and enhances efforts to improve governance, security and the economy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the UK did not vote in the UN Human Rights Council on the motion relating to the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict; and if he will make a statement. (296619)

We have made absolutely clear that the Goldstone report raised very serious issues that we wanted to see addressed. We also made clear that the resolution did not adequately address Hamas’ actions and Israel’s right to protect its citizens.

We did not vote because we were in the middle of detailed discussions about three key issues: the establishment of an independent inquiry, access for humanitarian aid to Gaza and how to restart the peace process. We were pursuing these at the highest level, between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. The vote was called in the middle of those discussions and we did not wish to compromise the detailed work on those fundamental issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of (a) Iran and (b) Syria on their support for Hezbollah and Hamas; and if he will make a statement. (296627)

We have made clear on a number of occasions to Iran, and will continue to do so, that we have serious concerns about their ongoing support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Such support is unacceptable and only serves to undermine regional security.

With Syria, we raise regularly at ministerial and senior official meetings that support for Hezbollah and Hamas is inconsistent with regional stability and peace. I raised this during my visit in August 2009. The issue is also raised frequently by our British ambassador to Syria in the course of his meetings with Syrian Ministers and officials, most recently on 27 October 2009.

Middle East: Water

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on proposals to share water supplies from the River Jordan; and if he will make a statement. (296629)

Monitor Group: Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Ministers or officials in his Department have had (a) meetings, (b) communications and (c) other contacts with the Monitor Group in the last five years. (295113)

Occupied Territories: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Israel on the building of settlements in the West Bank; and if he will make a statement. (296639)

Settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace. We raise the issue frequently with Israeli Ministers. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pressed the Israeli Prime Minister on this several times, most recently in his joint letter of 16 October 2009 with French President Sarkozy. I also raised settlements with my counterpart on 27 October 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of progress in negotiations on the matter of Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank; and if he will make a statement. (296641)

We are extremely concerned by ongoing settlement activity both in the west bank and east Jerusalem, including the Israeli Government's approval in September of new tenders for settlement projects.

We wholeheartedly support the US effort to restart peace talks. Settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pressed the Israeli Prime Minister on this several times, most recently in his joint letter of 16 October 2009 with French President Sarkozy. However, it will be for the US to announce what they have agreed with the parties.

Russia: Foreign Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his Russian counterpart to discuss UK-Russian relations and global issues. (296497)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is travelling to Moscow on 1 November 2009. As part of his visit, he will meet Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks on 2 November 2009.

Sri Lanka: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government plan to take in response to the EU report on Sri Lanka's human rights record. (295476)

I have been asked to reply.

As stated in the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Department for International Development statement of 20 October, the European Commission's report on Sri Lanka's implementation of international human rights conventions raises serious concerns, which we share. We are continuing at every opportunity to strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate action to address the issues outlined in this report.

The report is a precursor to the Commission's recommendation to EU member states on whether Sri Lanka should continue to benefit from the GSP+ trade preference scheme. We expect to receive this recommendation by the end of the year and, once such a recommendation is presented, we will assess it on its merits. We are clear that in order to retain its GSP+ preferences Sri Lanka must respect its international human rights obligations under GSP+.

Temple Mount

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on recent incidents of disorder on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem. (296628)

We are extremely concerned by recent disturbances on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Our Consulate General in Jerusalem is monitoring the situation on the ground extremely closely. We call on all parties to show restraint, and refrain from provocative actions in order to prevent the situation escalating. The EU presidency made this clear to both Israeli and Palestinian authorities on 26 October 2009.

Turkey: Israel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for UK policy of the state of relations between Turkey and Israel; and if he will make a statement. (296616)

Relations between Israel and Turkey are primarily a matter for those two countries. We work closely with both on a wide range of issues and will continue to do so. In particular, achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains one of UK's top priorities and both Israel and Turkey have key roles to play in achieving this.

Yvonne Fletcher

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Metropolitan Police officers are working on the investigation into the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. (294130)

I have been asked to reply.

The investigation into the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher has always remained open and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) remains committed to identifying those people responsible for murdering WPC Fletcher by deploying the resources necessary to pursue the investigation. Detectives from the MPS inquiry team have visited Libya several times and met officials from the Libyan investigation team. The MPS remains ready to deploy officers to return to Libya in the future so that they can progress the inquiry further.

House of Commons Commission

Copyright

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the House of Commons Commission will (a) place in the Library and (b) publish on the parliamentary website a copy of the Review of the Management of Parliamentary Copyright dated July 2009. (296496)

This internal paper has been prepared for the Printing and Publishing Management Group of officials (PPMG) which advises on parliamentary copyright. It has not yet been considered by that group and so will not be published for the time being. However, I will ensure that the hon. Member is kept up to date with developments.

Lighting

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what estimate the Department of Facilities has made of the cost of compliance with legislation on incandescent light bulbs; and how many such light bulbs are installed in (a) the Chamber, (b) the Press Gallery, (c) areas open to the public and (d) elsewhere on the part of the Parliamentary Estate for which the House of Commons Commission has responsibility. (296123)

Incandescent lighting on the parliamentary estate has been gradually replaced with lower energy lighting over the last five years, mostly during routine lamp changes. Therefore, the only cost of compliance has been the cost of the bulbs themselves which is offset by their increased life and will begin to produce savings within 500 hours of use. Due to the size and complexity of the estate, detailed records of light bulbs are not kept, but virtually no incandescent lighting remains within areas (a) the Chamber and (b) the Press Gallery. In (c), areas open to the public, the vast majority of incandescent light bulbs have been replaced over the last 12 months with halogen lamps which consume some 30 per cent. less power. On (d), the remainder of the Commons part of the estate, the only incandescent light fittings that the House has been unable to replace are those using small bayonet caps as these are not currently available. LED lighting is also currently being evaluated in several locations and low energy induction lighting is used widely such as in the Chamber and courtyards.

Members’ Staff

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost to the public purse was of the production of the House of Commons Commission’s Report on Employment of Members’ staff by the House, HC 1059 of session 2008-09. (296837)

Portcullis House: Energy

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission when the energy performance certificate for Portcullis House was last updated; what the most recent measurement of the energy performance of Portcullis House was; and if he will make a statement. (296212)

The current display energy certificate for Portcullis House dates from October 2008. In line with the regulations, the energy rating of the building is currently undergoing annual reassessment and the replacement certificate is expected to be available for display in November 2009.

Early indications show that the energy rating for Portcullis House has improved; from a rating of 203 in 2008 to 192 in 2009.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Independent Monitoring Board

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the operational cost of the Independent Monitoring Board for Prisons in Northern Ireland has been in each year since its inception. (295796)

This information is not available prior to financial year 2009-10. The total cost from 1 April 2009 for the year to date is £87,551.45.

Prisons: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many complaints the Independent Monitoring Board for Prisons in Northern Ireland has received in each year since its inception; how many such complaints were (a) upheld and (b) dismissed; and of those dismissed, for what reasons they were dismissed. (295794)

It is not possible to quantify the number of complaints in any one year as many complaints are raised and dealt with on the day of members' rota visits and not always recorded. Complaints and requests dealt with by IMB are not subject to a formal resolution process but rather are addressed through local discussion with the relevant governor and consequently not formally recorded as being upheld or dismissed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prison officers have been given the right of reply by the Independent Monitoring Board for Prisons (IMB) in Northern Ireland to a complaint made about them in each year since the IMB's inception. (295795)

The IMB has no jurisdiction to investigate complaints about prison staff. Where such a complaint is raised with the IMB, it would be immediately forwarded to the Prison Service for investigation.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Postal Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which companies are under contract to his Department to provide mail services; and when each such contract expires. (296077)

Pitney Bowes Managed Services provide the mail room services for the Department. This contract is now due to expire in January 2010.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to implement the efficiency recommendations of the Operational Efficiency programme relating to his Department; and what training is available to (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department in respect of the delivery of value for money savings. (296060)

In the light of the recommendations in the Operational Efficiency programme report, published on 21 April 2009, the Department is taking forward a number of strands of work to achieve greater efficiency across all its operations and arm's length bodies, including:

1. My appointment as the VFM Minister;

2. Benchmarking of back-office functions within sponsored bodies with over 250 staff;

3. Mapping and reviewing the current IT provision;

4. Securing collaborative procurement; and

5. Developing an estates strategy.

Formal training is available to both Ministers and Department officials should they identify a business need for it. Further to this, best practice is shared between officials, for example through networking events organised by HM Treasury and the National Audit Office.

Departmental Responsibilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) meetings he has had with representatives of (i) his Department's sponsored bodies and (ii) outside organisations or individuals and (b) events he has attended in his capacity as Secretary of State since June 2009. (296049)

The meetings that I have had with representatives of (i) his Department's sponsored bodies and (ii) outside organisations or individuals are detailed on the DCMS website

www.culture.gov.uk

http://www.culture.gov.uk

The events I have attended in my capacity as Secretary of State since June 2009 are as follows:

Richard Long exhibition, Tate Britain

AEGON Tennis Championships

Art Prize Fund for Museums and Galleries

UK Music reception

Darwin Centre Launch

Wimbledon Championships

Launch of National School Sport week

Tate Britain summer reception

Visit to the Artist rooms and Oil Tank exhibition, Tate Modern

Rock the Boat

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Barber of Seville - Royal Opera House

Jerusalem - Royal Court

England -v- Australia test match

Latitude festival

Special event to celebrate the first quarter of ANLO figures with ACE at Royal Court

Visit to Celtic Manor resort in Newport

Opening of Corby swimming pool

Royal and Demgate Theatre in Northampton

Hamlet - Wyndhams theatre

Bayreuth festival in Germany

British Council - UK Young Creative Entrepreneur awards

Glyndebourne

Tour of Torre Abbey and Anthony Gormley exhibition in Torquay

Exeter -v- QPR

Modern Pentathlon Championships

Bigga Fish

British Youth Opera performance

Launch of Street Games

Manchester Velodrome

Contact Theatre - Manchester

Visit to Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse Library

Find Your Talent project in Liverpool

PL4Sport project in Liverpool

RTS convention in Cambridge

National Football Museum - Hall of Fame Award Dinner

London Fashion week - Carolyn Massey show

Visit to the BRIT school

Tristan und Isolde - Royal Opera House

Man Booker Prize awards 2009-10-26

2009 PM's Better Public Building Award and British Construction Industry awards

Othello project in Birmingham

School Sports Partnership conference

Electric Proms

The Turn of the Screw - ENO

Football Foundation: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress his Department has made in the forthcoming round of Football Foundation funding allocation; and if he will make a statement. (296542)

Both the Government and Sport England remain completely committed to the ongoing work of the Football Foundation and continuing to invest £15 million a year.

However, any funding decisions beyond 2011 will be subject to the next comprehensive spending review.

The 2009-10 funding agreement between Sport England and the Football Foundation for this year's £15 million investment has been agreed.

Sport England

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for which public bodies the sports division of his Department is responsible; which individuals his Department has appointed to each such body; and what the duration of appointment of each is. (296541)

The Sport Team within the Department is responsible for the Football Licensing Authority, Sport England and UK Sport. The tables set out the individuals appointed to these bodies by Ministers, as regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. In addition, the Department is in the process of establishing UK Anti-Doping as the UK's independent national anti-doping organisation.

Football Licensing Authority

Name

Role

Start date

End date

Terms

Paul Darling

Chair

April 2009

September 2011

1

Brendon Batson MBE

Member

January 2007

January 2010

1

John Woodrow

Member

June 2004

May 2010

2

Julie Summerell

Member

January 2007

January 2010

1

James Dickie

Member

January 2007

January 2010

1

Dr. Pauleen Lane CBE

Member

July 2009

July 2012

1

Ronald Wilkie

Member

July 2009

July 2012

1

Peter Rowley

Member

July 2009

July 2012

1

Derek Wilson

Member

July 2009

July 2012

1

Sport England

Name

Role

Start date

End date

Terms

Richard Lewis

Chair

April 2009

March 2013

1

Dr. Jack Rowell OBE

Member

January 2006

December 2009

2

Karren Brady

Member

March 2005

March 2010

2

Jill Ainscough

Member

April 2007

April 2010

1

Martin Thomas

Member

April 2007

April 2010

1

Philip Lemanski

Member

April 2007

April 2010

1

James Stewart

Member

April 2007

April 2010

1

Mich Stevenson OBE

Member

April 2007

April 2010

1

Michael Farrar CBE

Member

March 2005

March 2012

2

UK Sport

Name

Role

Start date

End date

Terms

Baroness Campbell CBE

Chair

March 2005

March 2013

2

Philip Carling

Member Wales

February 2004

January 2010

2

Louise Martin CBE

Member Scotland

June 2008

June 2011

1

Rodney Carr OBE

Member

September 2005

September 2011

2

Christopher Holmes MBE

Member

September 2005

September 2011

2

Jonathan Vickers

Member

October 2008

October 2011

1

Dominic Walsh

Member Northern Ireland

March 2008

March 2012

2

Nigel Walker MBA DL

Member

July 2006

July 2012

2

Philip Kimberley

Member

March 2009

March 2012

1

Richard Lewis

Member

May 2009

May 2012

1

UK Anti-Doping

Name

Role

Start date

End date

Terms

David Kenworthy

Chair

July 2009

February 2013

1

The recruitment of UK Anti-Doping board members is currently ongoing.

Sports: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to encourage school students to participate in competitive sport. (296819)

Competition is an integral part of the PE and Sport Strategy for Young People and the Government's commitment to offer every child aged five to 16 the chance to do five hours of PE and sport per week, with three hours for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Between 2008-11, Government are investing approximately £25.5 million into a new network of 225 Competition Managers (CMs), all of which have been recruited. The new network of CMs will provide better opportunities for young people to take part in competitive sport; and ensure that school-based opportunities are more integrated with national governing bodies' competition pathway priorities and club competitions. Their objective is to increase the number of young people engaged in regular high quality inter-school competitive events.

Government are also investing approximately £3 million between 2008-11 into an intra-school competition programme called ‘yoURsport’. This is being implemented by the 450 school sport partnerships and is targeted at less sporty pupils to encourage them to participate in competitive sporting activity. The programme's objectives are to increase participation in intra-school competition for all young people aged 11 to 16, by providing a competitive experience which is appealing and accessible. The programme also provides opportunities for young leaders to deploy their leadership skills in organising, staging and officiating in intra-school competition for their peers.

Young Offenders: Princes Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will provide funding to the partnership of the Prince's Trust and the Football Association football initiative in helping young adults in young offender institutions. (296046)

The Prince’s Trust works with, and is funded by the Premier League, Professional Footballer's Association and the Football Foundation. The Football Association is currently not one of its partners.

The Government invest £15 million each year in the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports' charity. Funded by the Premier League, the Football Association and Government, the Foundation directs £40 million every year into improving grass roots sport facilities to help increase participation in football and other sports, a key departmental priority, and address some of society's key challenges, such as social inclusion, health, education and equalities.

The Department has no current plans to provide direct funding to this initiative.

Olympics

Domestic Christmas Trees

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how much has been allocated for spending on (a) imported and (b) domestic Christmas trees for the main Olympic site in 2009. (293759)

[holding answer 16 October 2009]: None of the ODA's budget has been allocated to provide Christmas trees for the Olympic Park.

International Olympic Committee

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many officials from (a) her Office and (b) the Government Olympic Executive attended the International Olympic Committee conference in October 2009; and at what cost to the public purse. (295294)

No officials from my office or the Government Olympic Executive attended the International Olympic Committee congress in Copenhagen in October.

Olympic Games 2012: Barking and Dagenham

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. (294228)

My officials consulted with CLG officials on the legacy proposals for the London borough of Barking and Dagenham in advance of the Olympic Board making final decisions in respect of the venues for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many Olympic construction contracts have been awarded to firms based (a) in Scotland, (b) in Wales, (c) in Northern Ireland, (d) in England and (e) elsewhere. (289486)

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is responsible for developing and building the venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Games. To date in total 1,063 businesses, including those involved in construction, have won £5 billion of work directly supplying the ODA and hundreds more have won work in the supply chains.

The numbers of the ODA's direct suppliers by nation (according to their registered address) are as follows:

(a) Scotland: 17

(b) Wales: 4

(c) Northern Ireland: 3

(d) England: 1,022

(e) Outside UK: 17.

The ODA estimates that there is over £1 billion worth of direct procurement to be completed. This may be in the form of new contracts or amendments to existing contracts. These direct procurements will generate thousands of business opportunities in the supply chains. The ODA is currently conducting research in its supply chains with initial results due later this autumn. This will show the names of companies across the UK that are already benefiting from 2012-related work.

Olympic Games 2012: Gun Sports

To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether she has had discussions with the (a) Olympic Delivery Authority and (b) Secretary of State for Defence on safety arrangements for the Olympic and Paralympic shooting event due to be held at the Royal Artillery Barracks in relation to (i) military personnel, (ii) the families of military personnel and (iii) the general public; and if she will make a statement. (294229)

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have agreed plans for hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic shooting events at the Royal Artillery Barracks with the Ministry of Defence. These plans will be submitted as part of the planning application in the coming weeks. Safety is paramount and has been at the forefront of discussions about the design for the venue.

Olympic Games 2012: Transport

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the implications of the closure of a lane of the Blackwall Tunnel for the purposes of Olympic Family transport services for the fulfilment of the Olympic commitment on transport during the London 2012 Olympics; and if she will make a statement. (294233)

The Olympic Delivery Authority and Transport for London are working on the detailed designs of the Olympic Route Network and will be consulting local residents and businesses over the coming months. As part of this work, all the implications of potential road or lane closures will be assessed in detail. This detailed design work will be completed next summer.

Olympic Games: China

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what expenditure the Olympic Delivery Authority incurred on (a) hospitality, (b) accommodation and (c) other expenses in relation to attendance at the Beijing Olympics. (289242)

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) incurred the following costs in attending the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Observer Programme:

£

(a) Flights

57,350.40

(b) Accommodation

24,358.44

(c) Other expenses

8,865.72

Total

90,574.56

This paid for 33 ODA staff to take up places on the accredited observer programme.

Attendees obtained valuable information to inform, for example, the detailed design of the venues and the management of the transport operations for which the ODA is responsible.

Communities and Local Government

Community Development: Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many grants to voluntary groups Communitybuilders has made since January 2008. (293365)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 14 October 2009, Official Report, column 964W.

Council Housing: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the amount of housing debt in each local authority. (292890)

The assumed Housing Debt, the Subsidy Capital Financing Requirement, for each authority is calculated annually by my Department using data supplied by the local authorities themselves on their HRA Subsidy base data forms. The information is published, after consultation, in annual HRA Subsidy Determinations. The 2009-10 Determination is available on the Communities and Local Government website at this address:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/hrasubsidydeterminations0910

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) special and (b) policy advisers work for each Minister in his Department. (295701)

The Secretary of State is supported by two special advisers, and the Minister of Housing and Planning by one special adviser. All civil servants in the Department provide policy advice to Ministers as necessary.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 21 July 2009, Official Report, column 1353W, on public expenditure, from which of his Department’s capital programmes funds will be transferred as part of the £340 million anticipated capital underspends transfer. (292984)

The Department for Communities and Local Government continues to monitor its capital programmes to identify any potential underspends for transfer to the £1.5 billion housing pledge announced in “Building Britain’s Future”.

Disabled Facilities Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much Disabled Facilities Grant funding was (a) applied for and (b) received by each local authority in each year since 2001. (294094)

Details of the level of funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant which the local authorities in England applied for since 2001 is available through the Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix and can be found on the Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/localauthorityhousing/dataforms

Details of the level of Disabled Facilities Grant received by each local authority in 2001-02 have been placed in the library of the House. Details of the level of Disabled Facilities Grant received by each local authority in England since 2002-03 can also be found on the Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.communities.gov.Uk/housing/supportandadaptations/housingadaptations/localauthoritydfgallocations

Employment Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many agency staff were employed by (a) the Homes and Communities Agency, (b) the Tenant Services Authority, (c) the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, (d) the Homes and Communities Agency Academy and (e) his Department in each of the last 12 months. (296606)

The tables show the number of agency staff employed by (b) the Tenants Services Authority, (c) the National Housing and Planning Unit, (d) the Homes and Communities Agency Academy and (e) Communities and Local Government in each of the last 12 months.

Figures for agency staff employed in each of the last 12 months by (a) the Homes and Community Agency are not available other than at disproportionate cost. Details of the average number of temporary staff they have employed will be published shortly in their annual report and accounts.

Tables showing agency staff employed in the last 12 months from October 2008 to September 2009

(a) Homes and Communities Agency

Figures for agency staff employed in each of the last 12 months by the Homes and Community Agency are not available other than at disproportionate cost. Details of the average number of temporary staff they have employed will be published shortly in their annual report and accounts.

(b) Tenants Services Authority

The TSA has provided figures for staff employed via a third party e.g. recruitment agency from 1 December to week ending 23 October.

Number of agency staff

December 2008

19

January 2009

19

February 2009

25

March 2009

23

April 2009

19

May 2009

19

June 2009

18

July 2009

19

August 2009

18

September 2009

16

October 2009

15

(c) National Housing and Planning Unit

Number of agency staff

October 2008

2

November 2008

2

December 2008

2

January 2009

0

February 2009

0

March 2009

0

April 2009

0

May 2009

0

June 2009

0

July 2009

0

August 2009

0

September 2009

0

(d) Homes and Communities Agency Academy

Number of agency staff

October 2008

n/a

November 2008

n/a

December 2008

1

January 2009

1

February 2009

1.8

March 2009

1.8

April 2009

1.8

May 2009

1.8

June 2009

1.8

July 2009

2

August 2009

2

September 2009

2

(e) Communities and Local Government

Number of agency staff

October 2008

155

November 2008

155

December 2008

178

January 2009

163

February 2009

161

March 2009

161

April 2009

162

May 2009

160

June 2009

156

July 2009

153

August 2009

138

September 2009

116

Fire Services: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to amend the Firefighters Pension Scheme entitlements in respect of high earners who are members of the scheme. (295787)

There are no current plans to introduce tiered contribution rates in the firefighters' pension schemes.

Government Office for the North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many times the Regional Director for the Government office for the north-west has visited Chorley since her appointment. (296365)

The Regional Director has visited Chorley once since her appointment in February 2008. This was on 4 September 2009 to meet with Lancashire chief executives or their representatives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many overseas visits the Regional Director for the Government office for the north-west has made since her appointment; and what the purpose was of each of the visits. (296366)

The Regional Director for GONW has not made any overseas trips since her appointment in February 2008.

Government Office for the North West: Allowances

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Regional Director of the Government office for the north-west has claimed in travel and accommodation expenses in each year since her appointment. (296387)

The Regional Director of the Government office for the north-west (GONW) is on detached duty from the Department for Communities and Local Government to GONW. In addition to travel expenses in the region, she therefore claims for rental of a one bedroom flat in central Manchester and return train tickets (standard class) for trips between Manchester and London most weekends. Details are in the following table:

£

Financial year 2007-08

Financial year 2008-09

2009-101

Business expenses2

Accommodation

207.02

555.41

Travel

118.50

15,533.40

4,517.08

Total

118.50

15,740.42

5,072.49

Detached duty3

Accommodation—Rent

10,760.00

5,950.00

Accommodation—Other

3,045.94

1,333.28

Travel

4,811.69

1,950.62

Total

0

18,617.63

9,233.90

1Year to date: April to September. 2 Mainly in the north west region. This also includes frequent meetings in London, for example in connection with national roles on social exclusion and cohesion or Government Office Network business. 3 Detached duty is a period of service at a new, temporary work place other than on permanent transfer.

Local Government: Chorley

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what average time was taken by Chorley borough council to pay invoices to their private business suppliers in each of the last 12 months. (296384)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many meetings the Regional Director of the Government office for the north-west has had with the (a) Chief Executive and (b) other officers of Chorley Borough Council in the last 12 months. (296386)

The information is as follows:

(a) None

(b) None—however Chorley officials have been in larger regional or sub-regional meetings with the Regional Director.

Local Government: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has to limit the pensions of members of the Local Government Pension Scheme who earn high salaries; what limits he intends to put in place; what estimate he has made of the effect on the Exchequer of introducing such limits in each of the next 10 years; and what estimate he has made of the (a) costs to and (b) savings for local government pension scheme funds in each of the next 10 years. (295678)

The benefit provisions of the Local Government Pension Scheme are kept under regular review to ensure their affordability and fairness. Changes to the pension entitlements of any members, as set out in the scheme's regulatory framework, will be subject to statutory consultation in the usual way. The next actuarial valuation exercise takes place as at 31 March 2010. It will set future employer contribution rates with effect from 1 April 2011.

Non-Domestic Rates: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate his Department has made of the average liability of businesses in London for business rates before the application of transitional relief in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. (293159)

Estimates of the average liability of properties in London in 2009-10 and 2010-11 are respectively £20,600 and £22,600 (values rounded to the nearest hundred pounds). For 2010-11, the estimate is before transitional arrangements, inflation and other reliefs. For 2009-10, the estimate is before transitional arrangements and other reliefs but after inflation.

Estimates of the total number of properties and their total liability for business rates broken down by region, for financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11, i.e. before and after revaluation, have been published in table 1 of the transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation consultation paper published on 8 July 2009 at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/nndrrevaluation2010

Planning Obligations: Chorley

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish all correspondence between the Government office for the north-west and Chorley Borough Council on section 106 monies for Chorley in the last 12 months. (296385)

At the request of my hon. Friend, Government office for the north-west sought information from Chorley borough council on Section 106 agreements and arranged a meeting on 30 July 2009 with him to discuss these. Details of all Section 106 monies were provided to my hon. Friend at this meeting. Subsequently Government office for the north-west sent a follow up e-mail to my hon. Friend and Chorley borough council clearing the matters arising from the meeting. The correspondence relating to Section 106 issues will be placed in the Library of the House.

Regional Planning and Development