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Written Answers

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Wales

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 his Department received in 2008; and how many of these received a substantive response within 20 days. (305487)

In 2008-09 the Wales Office received 49 requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 42 of these were answered within 20 days.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what changes to senior officials in his Department there have been during his present appointment as Secretary of State. (305095)

A new director has been appointed and three senior civil servant posts have been filled substantively.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many posts at each grade in his Department are unfilled. (305184)

There are six posts vacant currently. One at band A (grade 7), one at band C (higher executive officer), three at band D (executive officer) and one at band E (administrative officer).

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many security passes his Department has issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months. (303957)

Solicitor-General

BAE Systems

To ask the Solicitor-General whether the Attorney-General has had recent discussions with ministerial colleagues on the Serious Fraud Office's announcement that it intends to seek the Attorney-General's consent for prosecution in relation to charges against BAE Systems. (304096)

Departmental Assets

To ask the Solicitor-General what assets of the Law Officers' Departments are planned to be sold in each year from 2009-10 to 2013-14; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each such asset is; what the expected revenue from each such sale is; and if she will make a statement. (300207)

The Law Officers' Departments hold only minimal freehold assets, and in line with core Government policy actively manage their estates with a view to operational efficiency. Currently there are no plans to sell any assets in the years 2009-14.

The Government have stated their intention to realise £16 billion in asset disposals over the period 2011-14 and will publish further details of opportunities to commercialise business assets in the coming weeks.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Solicitor-General what security requirements are made by the Law Officers' Departments in respect of (a) people employed to provide audio transcription services to his Department from home, (b) the premises in which work to provide such services is carried out and (c) arrangements for the transfer of data between such premises and the Law Officers' Departments. (302692)

The Attorney-Generals' Office, the Serious Fraud Office, Treasury Solicitors, the National Fraud Office and HM Crown Prosecution Services Inspectorate do not employ people to provide this service.

In the case of the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Service any such services used are supplied by HM Revenue and Customs, who are responsible for ensuring that their security requirements are complied with.

The CPS has contracts with the providers of audio transcription services that require the greatest possible degree of security commensurate with the value of the data and the risks, so as not to compromise the confidence of the vulnerable and intimidated witnesses who have provided the evidence, and to prevent misuse of the recordings, or transcripts for criminal or other unauthorised purposes.

The contract states that “the contractors shall store or process data only at sites specifically agreed in writing by the CPS”. No permission has been sought or granted to any supplier to work outside their sites, or for any of their staff to work from home.

The four suppliers used by CPS set out their physical security arrangements for the premises as part of the tender. The details met the requirements of the CPS. The sites have subsequently been inspected and approved by staff from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

All transfer of data between such premises and the CPS is carried out by Royal Mail—Special Delivery or Tracked Document Exchange (DX) or by hand in exceptional circumstances. This accords with the conditions set out in the Cabinet Office Security Policy Framework.

Departmental Leave

To ask the Solicitor-General how many days off in lieu (a) the Law Officers' Departments and (b) its agency granted to staff for working (i) during their lunch breaks and (ii) at other times outside contracted working hours in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. (303734)

The exact figures for time taken in lieu within the Law Officers' Departments and agency could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Sentencing: Northern Ireland

To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions sentences handed down in courts in Northern Ireland have been subject to a referral to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney-General on grounds of undue leniency in the last five years; and on how many such occasions the sentence was amended as a result. (304585)

The matter falls to me to answer as the power to make a reference to the Court of Appeal rests with the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland.

The figures requested are as follows:

Number of offenders with sentence unchanged

Number of offenders referred to Court of Appeal

Number of offenders with sentence increased by Court of Appeal

Court found sentence to be unduly lenient

Court found sentence not to be unduly lenient

Number of offenders with reference withdrawn

2005

14

7

5

2

0

2006

6

3

1

1

1

2007

0

0

0

0

0

2008

9

5

2

1

1

20091

10

6

2

0

1

1 One case referred in 2009 awaits hearing

Terrorism: USA

To ask the Solicitor-General (1) when Law Officers were informed by the Crown Prosecution Service that there was no or insufficient evidence to maintain a prosecution against Lotfi Raissi with regard to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001; (304137)

(2) when Law Officers and officials of the Law Officer's Departments discussed with representatives of the security services, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the US Federal Bureau of Investigation progress in the criminal investigation into the alleged activities of Lotfi Raissi with regard to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001;

(3) when Law Officers and officials of the Law Officer's Departments were informed of the contents of the Crown Prosecution Service report on its conduct of the case relating to the alleged involvement of Lotfi Raissi in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001;

I will answer the three questions together. Due to the passage of time which has elapsed since the events in question, it has not been possible to establish when communications passed between the CPS and the Law Officers, or their officials, about the case of Lotfi Raissi in 2001-02. Given the high profile and sensitive nature of the case, the Law Officers would have been kept informed and told promptly of any significant developments. The Law Officers were informed in September 2008 of the contents of the CPS report.

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

To ask the Prime Minister what records are archived on the premises of 10 Downing street. (304999)

The arrangements for the retention of records for the Prime Minister’s Office are informed by “Operational Selection Policy OSP 12 (Records of the Central Direction and Oversight of Government Policy and Programmes, 1970-2000)” issued by The National Archives and available on The National Archives’ website.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many external consultants work for his Department. (303239)

As at 27 November 2009, the Northern Ireland Office core and its Executive agencies employed five consultants on a full-time equivalent basis.

Departmental Disabled Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's guidelines in relation to the recruitment and employment of disabled people in the Northern Ireland Office. (303474)

As the majority of staff in the Northern Ireland Office are Northern Ireland civil servants on secondment from the Department of Finance and Personnel, the Northern Ireland Office follows the NICS policy on the recruitment and employment of disabled people, which is a devolved matter.

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many security passes his Department has issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months. (303941)

The Northern Ireland Office has not issued any security passes to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date he last travelled by (a) bus and (b) taxi in the course of his official duties. (302728)

In accordance with advice the Secretary of State does not travel by bus or taxi for security reasons. All of my travel arrangements are undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

Prisons: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions illicit alcoholic beverages have been found in the Sperrin unit of HM Prison Magilligan in the last five years. (305000)

There have been no illicit alcoholic beverages found in Sperrin House during the last five years.

Racially Aggravated Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were convicted of a racially-motivated crime in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years. (305007)

The information sought on convictions for racially-motivated crimes is not available. Conviction would be for the simple offence (e.g. assault) without reference to any racial motivation. Court conviction data do not contain background information in relation to offences committed, and it is therefore not possible to separate out the number of convictions for offences with a racial motivation.

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency in Northern Ireland. (303468)

I have been asked to reply.

The purpose of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is to prevent and detect serious organised crime and to mitigate its harms by other means throughout the UK. It discharges these functions in Northern Ireland as it does in the rest of the UK and reports its results in its annual report each year.

Sexual Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were (a) prosecuted for and (b) convicted of (i) assault and (ii) sexual assault on teachers in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years. (305245)

The information requested is not available. Court prosecution and conviction data do not contain background information in relation to offences committed, and it is therefore not possible to separate out the number of prosecutions and convictions for assault and sexual assault on teachers.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure sufficient agriculture engineers are trained to service the UK agricultural and food industry markets. (303802)

The issue of improving skills in the farming industry is best managed by the industry itself. Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the Environmental and Land based industries, which includes the agricultural sector, has the role of representing the needs of the industry to Government.

DEFRA is working with a number of industry stakeholders, including Lantra, on an industry led action plan called Skills for Farming. This action plan has recently been discussed directly with the Secretary of State and work is ongoing. The action plan will cover all skill areas in the industry, including technical skills, as well as business, environmental management and low carbon farming skills.

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on administering non-compliance penalties issued under the Single Payment Scheme in each of the last five years. (303614)

Penalties, reductions and exclusions may be applied to Single Payment Scheme applications for a number of reasons if an application is found to be non-compliant. In answering this question we have taken ‘non-compliance penalties’ to mean all cases where a reduction has been made to farmers' payments under the Single Payment Scheme.

It is not possible to identify separately the costs of administering non-compliance penalties from overall administrative costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he made of the costs associated with the Rural Payments Agency's practice of resizing fields in each of the last three years. (303624)

The Rural Payment Agency's (RPA) annual business as usual running costs of maintaining the Rural Land Register (RLR) mapping system by adjusting fields are as follows:

£ million

2008-09

2.9

2007-08

2.9

2006-07

4.3

In addition to the business as usual costs, RPA has projected a budget of £21.4 million (covering the period January 2007 to April 2010) to complete the programme of work which includes updating the RLR data with the latest mapping information and confirming the link between each land parcel and a specific claimant.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the average amount of personal debt incurred by farmers due to late Single Payment Scheme payments; (303626)

(2) what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect on farmers of late payments under the Single Payment Scheme.

Since the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) was introduced in 2005, the timing of payments to English farmers has improved year on year. That progress continued under the 2009 scheme when over 80 per cent. of farmers received payment on the opening two days of the regulatory seven month payment window.

Regrettably, some farmers are paid after the end of the payment window, but only under the 2005 scheme has the amount concerned exceeded the 4 per cent. 'franchise' in EU regulations that triggers late payment penalties. The 4 per cent. franchise exists in acknowledgment that some claims are particularly complex or involve legal issues, such as probate, which take additional time to resolve. Payments made after the end of the payment window may have an impact on individuals' financial position, but the Department is not aware of any data that would identify specifically related cases of debt. In order to minimise any such impacts, the Rural Payments Agency will continue its efforts to make outstanding payments as early as possible and pay interest in lieu of compensation, above a deminimis of £50, in cases where this is not possible until after the end of the payment window.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department (a) has been required and (b) is likely to be required to pay in financial penalties for non-compliance with European Commission requirements in respect of the Single Payment scheme in each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement. (304016)

To date, financial penalties of order of £64 million for late payments and £5 million for a shortfall in cross-compliance inspections have been imposed in respect of the 2005 Single Payment scheme. In addition, provisions have been made in DEFRA's accounts for potential ‘disallowance’ totalling £205 million in respect of the 2005 and 2006 Single Payment schemes combined. However, the European Commission has yet to complete its deliberations on this issue. No penalties/disallowance have been imposed or provisions made in respect of subsequent scheme years.

Agriculture: Wales

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the financial implications for farming incomes in Wales of the interpretation by (a) the European Court of Auditors and (b) the European Commission of the rules regulating EU agri-environmental schemes. (305183)

Welsh agri-environment schemes are funded by the Rural Development Plan (RDP) for Wales. The RDP for Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government and as such, any decisions on the implications for farming incomes in Wales are a matter for them.

Dangerous Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the reasons for trends in the number of cases of people attacked by dogs in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (304118)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many arrests have been made for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in (a) Merseyside and (b) England since the Act came into force. (304119)

The information requested on arrests is not collected centrally.

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. Offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 are not notifiable offences and do not form a part of the collection.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) genetic and (b) other factors affecting the likelihood of different breeds of dogs being involved in attacks on people. (304120)

We have made no such assessment. However in April this year we commissioned new research into dog aggression against humans. The project will last for 15 months and will entail an analytical study into the risk factors associated with past aggressive dog behaviour towards people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people have been convicted for offences related to attacks by their dogs on (a) children and (b) other people in the last five years. (304121)

Information from the court proceedings database held by the Ministry of Justice provides information on the number of defendants proceeded against and found guilty for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The database does not hold specific information on offences beyond descriptions provided by the statutes under which prosecutions are brought, and for this offence cannot separately identify whether the individual attacked was a child or adult.

Defendants found guilty for selected offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, England and Wales, 2003 to 20071, 2

Number

Offence description

Section of the Act

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Owner or person in charge allowing dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place injuring any person

S.3(1)

302

350

403

458

456

Owner or person in charge allowing dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place, no injury being caused

S.3(1)

171

167

168

160

205

Owner or person in charge allowing dog to enter a non-public place and injure any person

S.3(3)

33

25

25

29

27

Owner or person in charge allowing dog to enter a non-public place causing reasonable apprehension of injury to a person

S.3(3)

10

5

9

11

15

1 The number proceeded against and number found guilty statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. 2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by police forces and the courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice (Ref: IOS 578-09).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many dogs have been seized and put down in (a) Southport constituency, (b) Merseyside and (c) England in the last 12 months. (304122)

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to give the Fire Service a statutory duty to carry out flood rescues as recommended in the Pitt Report. (304334)

Following completion of the Flood Rescue National Enhancement Project, for which £2,000,000 has been allocated from DEFRA's funding to implement Sir Michael Pitt's recommendations, the Government will assess the improved flood rescue capability. We will also consider whether there is a need for a statutory duty to underpin the role of any of the agencies involved.

Land: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what proportion of maps issued have been returned due to error during the course of the 2009 update of the Rural Land Register; what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of work arising from maps returned due to error; and if he will make a statement. (302807)

[holding answer 1 December 2009]: The Mapping Update project was undertaken to update the land information held on the Rural Land Register (RLR) by improving the quality of data and providing farmers with an accurate and up-to-date record of their land in respect of subsidy claims.

As at 27 November 2009, more than 107,000 maps have been sent to farmers and we have received 44,360 requests for changes. This represents some 41 per cent. of the maps issued and remains within the project's expectations.

The cost of making the requested edits and re-issuing maps is included in the overall RLR programme cost of £21.4 million was set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) 21 July 2009, Official Report, column 1167W.

While the latest Ordnance Survey data and recent aerial photography have been used, the maps will not show any changes to the land carried out more recently by farmers and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) ask farmers therefore to confirm that the maps are correct, or what changes are necessary.

Each year the Rural Payments Agency receives about 25,000 business as usual requests for land changes from farmers. In 2009 many of these will be included in the Mapping Update requests.

Livestock: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what proportion of ships departing from UK ports carrying live animals have been subject to inspection for animal welfare purposes in each of the last five years. (303611)

All livestock vessels (other than roll-on, roll-off vessels which are exempt from the need to be formally approved) are inspected and approved prior to use. This is a requirement of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. It is not possible to provide figures for the previous five years since these data are not available centrally.

River Tame: EU Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure the Tame River catchment meets the requirements of the EC Water Directive. (302895)

The consultation on the Humber River Basin Management Plan, which covers the River Tame catchment, ran from 22 December 2008 to 22 June 2009. The responses were used to further develop the plan which was sent to Ministers for approval on 22 September 2009.

There are a number of pressures on the Tame catchment, such as physical modifications due to urbanisation, flood protection, point source discharges from sewage works and diffuse run-off from urban areas.

Some of the key actions that will be implemented in the River Tame, subject to the River Basin Management Plan being approved, include:

Improvement to the quality of the final effluent from sewage treatment works, to reduce levels of nutrients in the catchment, including phosphorus via the Asset Management programme.

Targeted pollution prevention campaigns around industrial areas throughout the catchment.

Targeted discussions with local authorities on their contribution to the required actions.

Investigations into sources of poor water quality in water bodies and the impact of any abstractions within the catchment. Projects include “It's a Washout”—a study on identifying and tackling areas of urban diffuse run-off in the Upper Tame catchment.

Tackling diffuse pollution across the catchment with the use of projects involving local communities, local authorities and water companies.

Initiatives include the Washwood Heath Brook improvement project and the Thimble Mill Brook improvement project.

Tackling historic industrial pollution issues, for example, the leaching of heavy metals from contaminated land to the Rough Brook and also at Bentley Mill Way.

Projects for the improvement of fish populations within the River Tame catchment include creating refuges to shelter fish from pollution and flooding and improving the river—habitat, for example, by re-profiling projects at Tamworth and Croxall.

Feasibility reports for fish passes to allow fish to migrate to spawning habitats and re-colonise the river.

River restoration projects along the Tame and its tributaries, including channel braiding, gavel introduction, tree planting, floodplain habitat creation and reconnecting the river to its floodplain.

The first set of River Basin Management Plans for the period 2009-15 are due to be published on 22 December 2009.

Rural Payments Agency: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) full-time, (b) part-time, (c) permanent and (d) temporary staff have been employed at the Rural Payments Agency in each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement. (304015)

Table 1 details the number of permanent and temporary staff employed at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in each year since 2005.

Table 1

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Permanent1

2,555

2,666

2,344

2,829

Temporary2

1,949

1,801

1,953

871

1 Includes only civil servants with permanent employment contracts.

2 Includes all staff who do not have permanent employment contracts, for example fixed-term and casual civil servants, employment agency workers and contractors.

Table 2 shows how many full-time and part-time civil servants were employed at RPA in each year since 2005. RPA has not historically kept records on whether agency staff or contractors are full or part time.

Table 2

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Full time civil servants

2,854

2,812

2,966

2,991

Part time civil servants

237

275

574

348

Sewers: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the proposed provisions of the Private Drains and Sewers Transfer Bill on the drainage contracting industry. (305348)

At each stage of the Review of Private Sewers DEFRA has published Impact Assessments to accompany consultations and decisions. The latest Impact Assessment accompanied Hilary Benn's announcement of the decision to proceed with transfer in November 2008 and is available at:

www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/water/industry/sewers/documents/impact-assessment-private-sewers.pdf

The Small Firms Impact Test within this Impact Assessment acknowledged that some smaller independent drainage contractors perceive transfer as a threat. Some do see opportunities, such as CCTV work for example, because of course the work on sewers and laterals will still need to be undertaken.

A further Impact Assessment will accompany the consultation on proposals for implementation regulations on which I anticipate consulting this winter (2009-10), prior to presenting the final regulations to Parliament for approval.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultation his Department undertook with the drainage contracting industry regarding the transfer of private drains to water companies in 2011. (305349)

In July 2003 DEFRA published the ‘Review of Existing Private Sewers and Drains in England and Wales’ consultation paper that sought views on a range of strategic options to deal with the problems of private sewers. The Government published a response to this consultation in October 2004. 81 per cent. of stakeholders favoured a change of ownership, and of these, 90 per cent. held the view that sewerage undertakers should take over responsibility. DEFRA acknowledged the strength of support for this solution and undertook to look at it in more depth.

Subsequently, representatives of 50 stakeholder groups were invited to a private sewers seminar in January 2005. This included a workshop looking at the potential impacts on small businesses.

Because of the drainage industry's fragmented nature and the fact that no national body specifically represents the views of smaller drainage companies it has been particularly difficult to seek contractors' views. However, following the workshop DEFRA undertook a telephone survey of over 130 contractors to identify the potential impacts of any transfer on them. DEFRA has also included the Society of British Water and Wastewater Industries and the National Sewerage Association, together with the Enterprise Directorate (formerly the Small Business Service), on a stakeholder steering group. These organisations have consistently made representations about the potential impact of transfer on smaller drainage businesses.

In February 2007 the Government published their decision paper and committed to consult on options for the implementation of transfer. A consultation paper on implementation options was published in July 2007, and Hilary Benn announced on 15 December 2008 the Government's decision to proceed with transfer from 2011.

Copies of the 2003 and 2007 consultation papers and the Government's 2004 response to the review were placed in the Library of the House on publication. A Summary of Responses to the 2007 Consultation on Implementation Options was published in March 2008 and is available from DEFRA.

Further consultation on the content of regulations to implement transfer will be published this winter and DEFRA continues to work closely with a range of interested stakeholders in developing proposals for implementation.

Water Charges: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 14 October 2009, Official Report, column 950W, on water charges, in which financial year he expects such concessionary schemes to commence; and what prior steps he is taking to assist voluntary organisations which are subject to surface water drainage charges. (305259)

Legislation to enable water and sewerage companies in England and Wales to operate concessionary schemes for community premises for the purpose of surface water drainage charges was included in the Flood and Water Management Bill. This was presented to Parliament on 19 November.

Currently four of the 10 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales have switched to site area charging for surface water drainage for non-household customers. Most of the problems originally occurred with United Utilities and it is currently looking at options to ensure that community groups do not face unaffordable surface water drainage charges ahead of the Government’s legislation being in place.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on (i) alcohol and (ii) entertainment in the last 12 months. (305543)

All expenditure on entertainment is incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

The overall expenditure on entertainment by the Department in the last 12 months (to November 2009) was £126,470. It is not possible to disaggregate the spend on alcohol except at disproportionate cost.

The Royal Parks, the Department's agency, does not record information against these expenditure headings and it would incur disproportionate cost to obtain it by manually reviewing the year's underlying paperwork.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what payments Digital UK has made to (a) Weber Shandwick and (b) Fishburn Hedges in the last 12 months; for what purpose; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the contracts under which such payments have been made. (305136)

The information you have requested is not held centrally and is a matter for Digital UK.

Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive to write to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood. Copies of the reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what payments the British Museum has made to Weber Shandwick Public Affairs in the last 12 months for which figures are available; for what purpose; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the contracts under which such payments have been made. (305145)

The information you have requested is not held centrally and is a matter for the British Museum.

Accordingly, I have asked the director to write to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood. Copies of the reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many security passes his Department has issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months. (303950)

While the Department holds a record of security passes that have been issued to contractors, this is not broken down into those providing consultancy services and those who are not.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many telephone lines with the prefix (a) 0870, (b) 0845 and (c) 0800 his Department (i) operates and (ii) sponsors; how many calls were received to each number in the last 12 months; and whether alternative numbers charged at the BT local rate are available in each case. (305219)

My Department operates one of these, an 0800 number, and 1,422 calls were made to that number in last 12 months. No alternative number charged at the BT local rate is available as it is not necessary.

Holiday Accommodation: Overseas Visitors

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his latest estimate is of the use by overseas visitors of self-catering holiday accommodation in this country in each of the last three years. (303360)

VisitBritain makes available data from the Office for National Statistics' International Passenger Survey. The data capture the number of inbound visitors, the number of nights spent in Britain by inbound visitors, and the amount spent on trips within the UK broken down by accommodation categories, though not specifically self-catering holiday accommodation. This information can be accessed at:

http://www.visitbritain.org/Images/acomm08pivot_tcm139-167995.xls

Horserace Totalisator Board

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in preparations for the sale of the Tote. (305045)

The Government are preparing for the sale of the Tote in line with my right Hon. Friend the Prime Minister's announcement on 12 October 2009. The current intention is that a sale process would start in summer 2010 and be completed around March 2011.

Leisure: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many (a) playing fields and (b) swimming pools there are in each (i) district council and (ii) unitary authority area in the East of England; (304577)

(2) what information his Department holds on expenditure on running costs for sports and leisure facilities at district and unitary council areas in the East of England.

Sport England has supplied the information in the following table for the number of grass pitches and swimming pools in each district council and unitary authority area in the East of England.

District/Unitary Authority (UA)

Green Fields

Swimming Pools

Babergh

137

8

Basildon

179

14

Bedford

322

16

Braintree

175

15

Breckland

155

9

Brentwood

112

14

Broadland

137

14

Broxbourne

112

9

Cambridge

169

17

Castle Point

93

8

Chelmsford

256

18

City of Peterborough (UA)

158

14

Colchester

245

24

Dacorum

288

24

East Cambridgeshire

141

5

East Hertfordshire

219

22

Epping Forest

169

14

Fenland

112

5

Forest Heath

54

4

Great Yarmouth

91

9

Harlow

95

7

Hertsmere

185

17

Huntingdonshire

223

13

Ipswich

140

11

King's Lynn and West Norfolk

179

13

Luton (UA)

179

14

Maldon

59

6

Mid Bedfordshire

242

14

Mid Suffolk

176

7

North Hertfordshire

199

14

North Norfolk

155

15

Norwich

100

11

Rochford

109

8

South Bedfordshire

195

10

South Cambridgeshire

262

13

South Norfolk

212

14

Southend-on-Sea (UA)

193

14

St. Albans

284

17

St. Edmundsbury

157

18

Stevenage

95

5

Suffolk Coastal

243

13

Tendring

114

18

Three Rivers

134

7

Thurrock (UA)

164

10

Uttlesford

141

10

Watford

87

6

Waveney

134

11

Welwyn Hatfield

141

10

Sport England does not collect the running costs for sports and leisure facilities in each district and unitary council. This information would have to be requested from each individual local authority.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Tamworth of 16 October 2009. (303774)

Museums and Galleries: Yorkshire and Humberside

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people visited each of the national museums in Yorkshire and the Humber in each year since 1996-97. (304513)

The number of visits to the national museums which fall within the Yorkshire and Humber region are as follows.

National Coal Mining Museum For England1

National Media Museum2

National Railway Museum, York

Royal Armouries Leeds

Total

1997-98

n/a

298,901

420,079

349,000

1,067,980

1998-99

n/a

83,613

434,566

296,000

814,179

1999-2000

n/a

962,899

467,880

173,500

1,604,279

2000-01

65,802

969,822

485,785

185,710

1,707,119

2001-02

60,032

823,309

587,862

280,867

1,752,070

2002-03

107,282

768,161

767,299

302,527

1,730,705

2003-04

121,822

723,273

740,217

277,105

1,862,417

2004-05

116,553

658,991

885,406

301,809

1,962,759

2005-06

119,627

615,431

744,472

244,469

1,723,999

2006-07

128,960

677,029

903,188

225,417

1,934,594

2007-08

135,699

737,857

824,106

267,624

1,965,286

2008-09

116,186

672,951

782,430

264,973

1,836,540

1 Visit figures for National Coal Mining Museum England for years prior to 2000-01 are not available.

2 The National Media Museum was partially closed in 1997-98 and 1998-99 for refurbishment.

Tourism: Cumbria

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support (a) his Department and (b) the Regional Development Agency is providing to assist Cumbria's tourism industry to recover from the recent flooding. (305044)

The information requested is as follows.

(a) My Department is part of the Government's Flood Recovery group and is monitoring the situation closely. We have been working with our partners to provide assistance for the tourism industry in the area. For example, Cumbria Tourism has set up a helpline to provide advice to visitors (01539 825070) and web pages to detail events going ahead. This will be supported by a pre-Christmas marketing campaign. English Heritage has ensured that one of their Historic Buildings advisors is free to provide specialist advice: it is still too early to know the full extent of the damage or the scale of response required, but this will become clearer over the coming weeks.

(b) The North West Development Agency (NWDA) announced a £1 million Flood Recovery Grants package for small and medium enterprises which includes support for tourism businesses. It was announced that this would be supplemented with an additional £100,000 to support the national marketing campaign, noted above, led by Cumbria Tourism. NWDA has also placed adverts in national papers promoting tourism businesses in the area and the NWDA tourism marketing team is pursuing similar lines to promote tourism in Cumbria. This activity is all in addition to the ongoing funding of Cumbria Tourism which will receive core funding of £1.4 million from NWDA in 2009-10.

Transport

Buses: Safety

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many buses were subject to (a) pre-notified and (b) un-notified safety inspections by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency in each of the last five years; and what proportion of these were issued with (i) immediate and (ii) suspended prohibition notices. (304686)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) have conducted the following tests on passenger service vehicles over the last five years:

Number of checks

Number prohibited

2008-09

16,503

3,370

2007-08

14,362

2,853

2006-07

18,849

3,200

2005-06

17,516

2,772

2004-05

17,746

2,840

Note:

VOSA does not separately record (a) pre-notified and (b) un- notified safety inspections.

These data and further information are available in VOSA's effectiveness report available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/publications/corporatereports/2008-2009reportsuite/2008-2009reportsuite.htm

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of each report of research projects conducted by (a) his Department, (b) the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and (c) the Traffic Commissioner on safety risks to the public in respect of the bus industry in the last 10 years. (304783)

Any research conducted by the Department for Transport concerning safety risks to the public in respect of the bus industry would already be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Any research conducted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is sponsored by the central Department. VOSA's enforcement figures regarding all public service vehicles are published in its Effectiveness report, a copy of which can be found in the Libraries of the House.

The Traffic Commissioners do not conduct research but may inform VOSA of any specific areas of concern they have. Any reference to safety risks by the bus industry would be found in the Traffic Commissioners Annual Report, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much funding his Department allocated through the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency for the monitoring of performance in relation to bus services in each of the last three years; and how much funding he plans to allocate for such purposes in each of the next three years. (304784)

Funding allocated by the Department to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency for bus punctuality enforcement for the last three financial years is set out in the following table. Decisions about funding for the next three years are still to be taken.

Financial year

Funding (£)

2007-08

650,000

2008-09

713,750

2009-10

790,000

Capita Group

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether any contracts between Capita Group plc and his Department and its predecessors have been cancelled before completion since 1997; and whether Capita Group plc has been liable for any penalties arising from failings in the administration of contracts since 1997. (303091)

Since the Department for Transport was formed in May 2002, there have been no contracts prematurely terminated with Capita Group plc. During this period Capita Group has been liable for settlements in respect of assorted delays incurred on projects to the aggregated value of £2.738 million.

Departmental Assets

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what assets of his Department are planned to be sold in each year from 2009-10 to 2013-14; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each such asset is; what the expected revenue from each such sale is; and if he will make a statement. (300208)

The Government have stated their intention to realise £16 billion in disposals over the period 2011-14 and will publish further details of opportunities to commercialise business assets in the coming weeks.

The Department for Transport is considering a number of opportunities for asset sales. However, the timing of any sale is subject to market conditions being right.

Details on value cannot be released due to the need to protect the Department's position in future sale negotiations.

Two high profile examples are Dartford Crossing and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1).

Dartford Crossing

The A282 Dartford Crossing comprises the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which provides four southbound lanes, while two tunnels under the Thames provide a four-lane northbound facility. Use of the crossing is subject to a congestion charge in both directions paid at a plaza located to the south of the Thames.

The Department is working with HM Treasury and the Shareholder Executive to consider the commercial options for realising value for the taxpayer from the Dartford Crossing. No estimate of the saleable value of the Dartford Crossing has been made. Any such valuation would depend on the nature of any commercial agreements for a sale, including, but not exclusively, the length of those arrangements, the level of future charges and forecast future traffic volumes. The Department is planning to provide initial views from the analysis on future capacity options in early 2010. This will provide a basis for deciding which commercialisation option to pursue.

It is not possible to say when a sale might be finalised.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link—High Speed 1 (HS1)

High Speed 1 (formerly known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) is the high speed line which operates between St. Pancras International Station and the Channel Tunnel. It is operated by HS1 Ltd which is owned by London and Continental Railways (LCR).

The Department is currently engaged in a restructuring of London and Continental Railways. Following this, it is the Department's intention, as market conditions allow, to sell a long-term concession for High Speed 1 in such a way as to maximise value for money for the taxpayer. The Government would not wish to publish its estimate of the expected proceeds at this stage; to do so might condition the competitive sale process and damage value.

It is not possible to say when a sale might be finalised.

London City Airport

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have had with (i) National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and (ii) the Civil Aviation Authority on the decision to modify the flight routings of aircraft using London City Airport; and for what reasons such revised routings did not form part of the further public consultation on the NATS Terminal Control North proposal. (303851)

The revised standard instrument departure (SID) routings at London City airport were implemented in accordance with the independent airspace change process under which it is for the airspace change sponsor to develop and consult upon proposals. It is then for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the independent airspace regulator, to assess the proposals against regulatory requirements and either approve or reject the proposal.

The Terminal Control North (TC North) proposals, of which the London City SID changes originally formed a part, are a package of measures designed to reduce delay whilst maintaining safety and improving environmental performance in one of the most complex areas of airspace in the world. Following the outcome of last year’s public consultation, NATS decided to review the TC North design options. However, the London City airport SID change element was aimed at meeting already established International Civil Aviation Organisation design standards. In the circumstances, the London City SID changes were removed from the TC North proposals and progressed as a stand alone proposal. The CAA considered that further consultation on the London City airport SID changes were not needed as they had already been included in the full TC North consultation.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many people renewed their vehicle excise duty online in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009 to date. (304531)

During 2008 the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s Electronic Vehicle Re-licensing and SORN service completed 16,299,242 successful transactions, broken down into 14,141,505 re-licensing transactions and 2,157,737 SORN transactions.

To date in 2009, there have been 18,107,026 successful transactions. 15,794,997 of these were re-licensing transactions and 2,312,029 were SORN transactions.

Network Rail

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with train operating companies on proposals that they take control of the railway network from Network Rail. (301226)

The Department for Transport has not had any recent formal discussions with train companies on proposals that they take control of the railway network from Network Rail.

Norwich-London Railway Line

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on how many occasions Ministers in his Department travelled on the Norwich to London railway line in the course of their official duties in each of the last 10 years. (304214)

The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) how many (a) road traffic accidents, (b) road traffic fatalities, (c) accidents involving motorcyclists, (d) fatalities involving motorcyclists, (e) accidents involving cyclists and (f) fatalities involving cyclists there were in (i) Berkshire and (ii) Reading East constituency in each of the last five years; (304632)

(2) how many road traffic accidents in (a) Berkshire and (b) Reading East constituency involved motorbikes in each of the last five years; and how many of these resulted in loss of life in each of those five years;

(3) how many road traffic accidents which occurred in (a) Berkshire and (b) Reading East constituency involved loss of life in each of the last five years.

The information requested is given in the following tables:

Reported personal injury road accidents and fatalities in Berkshire: 2004-08

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

All injury accidents

2,528

2,480

2,532

2,448

2,323

Fatal accidents

36

39

32

34

27

Fatalities

39

44

34

35

27

Accidents involving motorcycles

334

311

296

300

284

Fatal accidents involving motorcycles

5

9

5

7

6

Fatalities in accidents involving motorcycles

5

11

5

8

6

Accidents involving pedal cycles

276

270

286

293

302

Fatal accidents involving pedal cycles

7

0

2

3

0

Fatalities in accidents involving pedal cycles

7

0

2

3

0

Reported personal injury road accidents and fatalities in Reading East constituency1: 2004-08

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

All injury accidents

319

317

335

301

302

Fatal accidents

1

0

4

2

4

Fatalities

1

0

4

2

4

Accidents involving motorcycles

44

40

47

46

35

Fatal accidents involving motorcycles

0

0

1

0

1

Fatalities in accidents involving motorcycles

0

0

1

0

1

Accidents involving pedal cycles

55

66

64

59

55

Fatal accidents involving pedal cycles

1

0

0

0

0

Fatalities in accidents involving pedal cycles

1

0

0

0

0

1 Based on 2004 constituency boundaries.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) how many fatal road traffic accidents there have been in Reading, East constituency where the major contributory factor was (a) speed, (b) excess alcohol and (c) failure to maintain the vehicle in each of the last five years; (304635)

(2) how many individuals were injured as a result of road accidents attributed to (a) road surface defects, (b) road works and (c) defective road signs in (i) Berkshire and (ii) Reading, East constituency in each of the last five years.

Information on contributory factors to road accidents is not available below Government office region level.

Information about contributory factors can be found in Article 4 in the Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008 Annual Report, copies of which have been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what statistics his Department collects on road traffic accidents involving newly-qualified drivers; and how many such accidents occurred in Reading, East constituency in the last five years. (304636)

Information regarding the length of time individuals involved in road accidents have held a driving licence is not routinely collected by the Department for Transport.

The Department has published research into new and learner drivers, Road Safety Research Report No. 81—Cohort II: A Study of Learner and New Drivers, part of which looked at their involvement in road accidents.

A copy of this report has been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

Siemens

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has entered into any contracts with Siemens or its subsidiaries since February 2009. (303762)

The Department for Transport has awarded one contract through the Highways Agency for Regional Control Centre Operational Telephony Service Management to Siemens plc on 20 August 2009. The value of the contract on award was £3,320,000.

Siemens has several hundred subsidiary companies and to carry out a search across the Department for contacts with all of these companies would incur disproportionate costs.

Defence

Afghanistan: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of the number of soldiers of the Afghan national army who are fully trained; and what proportion of these are serving in Helmand province. (303910)

The total number of Afghan national army currently stands at approximately 96,000. This total includes soldiers that have completed training and those who are still going through training.

As announced by the Prime Minister on 14 October 2009, Official Report, column 300, there were only 4,200 Afghan soldiers in Helmand last year; this year there are already an extra 50 per cent, more than 6,000, and more on the way.

As recently made clear by the Prime Minister, we will continue to work closely with the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community to build the capacity of the Afghan national security forces.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to improve the energy efficiency of forward operating bases in Afghanistan. (304477)

Work is in hand to ensure equipment deployed at forward operating bases in Afghanistan is configured, managed and used to minimise energy consumption as far as is practicable. This includes monitoring and analysing energy use, insulating operational accommodation, and making more efficient use of diesel generators. We are also exploring options such as the use of solar power, advanced thermoelectric generators and energy storage devices. A number of the proposals are being evaluated for potential deployment to further reduce energy use and vulnerability at forward operating bases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce groin protection plates as an addition to personal body armour for armed forces personnel deployed in Helmand province. (304727)

We are continually seeking ways to further protect our personnel, and work is well under way to research ways of providing additional protection including for the whole of the perineal area.

Air Force: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average unit tour interval of each Royal Air Force regiment was at the latest date for which information is available. (304375)

The average unit tour interval for the RAF Regiment Field Squadrons, i.e. the interval between overseas deployments, is 15 months as at 3 December 2009. This figure continues to improve reflecting increased recruitment and action taken earlier this year to increase the RAF Regiment. An additional Force Protection Wing and Force Protection Squadron have been added to the Regiment’s strength, bringing the total to seven Force Protection Wings and Squadrons.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planned in-service dates are for the two new aircraft carriers. (304348)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 2 November 2009, Official Report, column 649W, to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis).

The latest cost and time estimates are currently going through the Department's approval process. As is normal practice, we will not make any announcements until this process has completed.

Armed Forces: Absence Without Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel have been absent without leave in each month of 2009 to date. (304366)

The information is not held in the format requested. Centrally held information relates to the number of Absent Without Leave incidents and not to the number of personnel. Additionally, data are only available by month in respect of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. In respect of the Army, only the year to date total is held centrally and to obtain this information by month will require a manual search of records which could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The available figures are provided in the following table.

AWOL statistics are recorded by the number of incidences reported, because the figures may include Service Personnel who have been AWOL on more than one occasion. Furthermore, following the reporting of an incidence of AWOL, information may later come to light of extenuating circumstances for that unauthorised absence, such as compassionate, hospitalisation or travel delays beyond the individual's control. In such cases a service person may not be formally charged but the incidence is still recorded.

Royal Navy

Army

Royal Air Force

January

5

1

February

10

0

March

10

0

April

5

0

May

10

0

June

10

0

July

10

0

August

5

1

September

10

0

October

10

1

November

5

3

Total

80

11,695

6

1 This is the number of recorded incidences, not the number of people AWOL or the number of charges brought.

Note:

Figures for the Royal Navy and Army rounded to nearest 5.

Armed Forces: Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the amount of energy consumed by HM forces in the last year. (304479)

The estimated energy consumed across the MOD in financial year 2008-09 and the associated CO2 emissions are provided in the following table.

In many areas of Defence, civil servants work alongside serving members of the Armed Forces. This makes it impossible to distinguish between energy used by HM Armed Forces and that used by civil servants. As such, the figures provided are for the MOD as a whole.

Motive fuel

Estate energy

Ground

Aviation

Marine

Business administrative travel

Total

Energy (TWh)

6.0

0.9

10.3

2.7

n/a

19.9

CO2 (Mt)

1.8

0.2

2.7

0.7

0.2

5.6

These data have been calculated using the DEFRA 2008 conversion factors. This is to ensure that Estate emissions data are comparable with previous years, enabling us to demonstrate a 12.5 per cent. reduction against our 1999-2000 baseline—thus meeting the Government target two years early.

The DEFRA conversion factors do not provide a mechanism for converting miles travelled on business into TWh so the data have only been provided as CO2 emissions.

Further information about the calculation of MOD energy use can be found on the UK Defence Statistics Website at the following link;

http://bravo.dasa.r.mil.uk/modintranet/UKDS/UKDS2009/c7/sec1intro.html

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will bring forward proposals to build new soldier accommodation in (a) Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, (b) the Highlands and (c) Scotland. (304650)

The Department is in the process of finalising its 2010 Planning Round which sets out its plans for the coming years. It would be premature to provide details but the building of new accommodation in Scotland will be given due consideration in the context of other defence priorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many houses owned by his Department in (a) Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, (b) the Highlands and (c) Scotland are rated as grade (i) one, (ii) two, (iii) three and (iv) four. (304652)

Service family accommodation (SFA) is assessed by Standard for Condition (SfC), an objective assessment of the physical condition of the property. Properties are rated from S1fC (the highest) to S4fC (the lowest). The Ministry of Defence (MOD) no longer allocates properties at S4fC, and no family is required to live in properties at S4fC other than by personal choice.

Properties at S3fC are only allocated where no other property is available. The MOD aims to have all UK SFA at Standard 1 or 2 for Condition by 2013, and all properties at S1fC by 2020. It is not possible to provide the information in the format requested, however, current SfC data for Scotland are provided in the following table:

Standard for Condition (SfC)

Number

S1fC

3,102

S2fC

123

S3fC

1

S4fC

0

Total

3,226

In addition, SFA is assessed by Grade for Charge (GfC), an assessment that sets the level of charges that families pay. This assessment takes into account not only the physical condition of the property but also environmental factors, such as noise and proximity to local amenities. It is therefore possible for SFA to have a high SfC assessment but a low GfC. Again, it is not possible to provide the information in the format requested, however SFA in Scotland is at the following GfC:

Grade for Charge

Number

Grade 1

1,116

Grade 2

1,336

Grade 3

481

Grade 4

293

Total

3,226

Armed Forces: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) overpayments and (b) underpayments of salary there were to armed forces personnel resident in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency in each month since January 2008; and of what amount in each case. (304648)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 October 2009, Official Report, column 1363W, to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Willie Rennie).

Armed Forces: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many veterans receive pensions under the provisions of the (a) Gurkha Pension Scheme, (b) Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 and (c) Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975; and if he will make a statement. (304770)

As at 30 September 2009 the number of members and dependants receiving pensions under the Gurkha Pension Scheme was 24,164, the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 was 1,281 and the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 was 371,140.

British Atomic Veterans’ Claimants Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received from the British Atomic Veterans’ Claimants Group. (303470)

I received a letter dated 11 November 2009 on behalf of the British Atomic Veterans Claimant Group. I understand that a similar letter was sent to all Members of Parliament with one or more atomic veterans in their constituency.

The letter explains that many of the veterans view recognition as more important than substantial compensation. I should therefore like to reiterate the statement I made in the House on 22 October 2008, Official Report, columns 421-24, which is that the Ministry of Defence recognises the debt of gratitude we have to the servicemen who took part in the nuclear tests. They were important tests that helped to keep this nation secure at a difficult time in terms of nuclear technology. There is a memorial to British Nuclear Test Veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

At the conclusion of his judgment Mr. Justice Foskett said

“The Government is, of course, pledged to settle legal cases by alternative dispute resolution in all suitable cases whenever the other party agrees to it. In my view, this is such a case”.

The Ministry of Defence has adhered to the judge’s wish but, unfortunately, I cannot reveal the contents of the negotiations because this would breach the confidentiality agreement between the parties. However, I can say that genuine negotiations have taken place between the parties respective counsels and a settlement proposal was made by the Ministry of Defence (although I cannot disclose the amount). To date, no response has been received from the claimants’ counsel or the law firm representing them (Rosenblatts). This is obviously disappointing, but we remain open to meaningful discussions. In the meantime, we have been left with no option but to proceed with our appeal for which the High Court judge has given us permission. I understand the appeal is listed for a three week window starting on 4 May 2010.

Capita

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any contracts between Capita Group plc and his Department have been cancelled before completion since 1997; and whether Capita Group plc has been liable for any penalties arising from failings in the administration of contracts since 1997. (303084)

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions Capita Group plc tendered for contracts let by his Department in each of the last five years; how many such tenders were successful; how much his Department paid to Capita Group plc for the execution of contracts in each such year; how many contracts which terminate after 2010 Capita Group plc hold with his Department; and what the monetary value is of all outstanding contracts between his Department and Capita Group plc. (303154)

Information regarding how many occasions Capita Group plc has tendered for contracts let by MOD in each of the last five years, and how many such tenders were successful, is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

In the last five complete financial years, the amount of money paid to companies that are part of the Capita Group plc is provided in the following table:

£ million

2004-05

4.4

2005-06

4.6

2006-07

3.3

2007-08

3.5

2008-09

4.2

Note:

Rounded to nearest £100,000

The MOD Financial Management Shared Service Centre (FMSSC) contracts database currently shows seven contracts with Capita Group plc that are expected to terminate after 31 December 2010 at a current total value of £52 million (rounded to the nearest million).

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether cluster munitions are stored at (a) RAF Lakenheath and (b) other RAF bases occupied and controlled by US visiting forces. (303581)

The United States Visiting Force (USVF) stores various weapons in the UK. The USVF inventory of weapons is declared annually to the Ministry of Defence who ensure all weapons are appropriately licensed and stored. For operational and security reasons, and to ensure relations between the UK and US are not prejudiced, it would be inappropriate to disclose the numbers, types and locations of such weapons.

Defence Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many equipment failure reports (a) were filed in each year since 2003 and (b) have been filed for each armoured vehicle type in (i) 2008 and (ii) 2009. (304373)

As reported by the users, the approximate number of equipment failure reports filed in each year since 2003, for each armoured vehicle types are provided in the following table.

Vehicle type

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009 (so far)

AS90

408

237

179

101

56

136

119

AFV430 Mk2

447

480

363

325

289

262

246

Bulldog

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

165

278

89

Challenger 2

2,467

1,737

1,629

1,369

1,148

1,503

1,359

CRARRV

139

356

304

226

166

148

127

CVR(T)

445

252

194

372

304

465

333

Fuchs

29

5

8

19

1

0

0

Mastiff

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

163

317

206

Panther

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

124

561

Ridgback

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

51

Saxon

45

66

21

10

4

1

0

Shielder

6

3

15

8

9

11

2

Stormer

67

54

59

30

50

62

38

Snatch

48

211

380

362

117

21

20

Titan

n/a

n/a

n/a

153

418

333

141

Trojan

n/a

n/a

n/a

131

677

469

597

Vector

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

56

189

59

Viking

0

71

52

48

122

59

9

Warrior

590

668

576

899

603

738

530

The Equipment Failure Reporting System (EFRS) is the mandated system for equipment users to report failures, such as accidental damage, maintenance related failures and breakdowns, or the failure of an item fitted to the vehicle. It does not incorporate the results of subsequent investigations and therefore does not differentiate between what might later prove to have been a problem caused by operator error or damage sustained as a result of operations. Nor do these dates record the severity of a failure which might have no discernible impact on operational capability or safety.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what equipment over the value of £100,000 his Department has authorised the armed forces to gift to other nations in each of the last five years. (305055)

The following equipment gifts to other nations, valued above £100,000, were authorised by the Department in the last five years:

2009-10

Four permanent structures and contents, located within the contingency operating base, Basra, were gifted to the United States of America on the withdrawal of UK forces. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 8 May 2009. Value £456,886.

2008-09

Military equipment gifted to the Pakistani Government. Value £174,712.

Non-lethal equipment including vehicles and Barrett radios to the Government of Sierra Leone. Value £101,300.

2007-08

49 Jaguar spares and a Challenger 2 Loader Trainer to the Government of Oman. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 24 April 2007. Value £1,174,178. This is £50,000 less than reported to Parliament in the departmental minute. This is because the value of the Challenger 2 Loader Trainer was reduced from £150,000 to £100,000.

15 x Up-armoured light protected vehicles (High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs)) and a support package to the Government of Afghanistan. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 10 July 2007. Value £1,620,000.

25 field ambulances to the Government of Afghanistan. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 4 March 2008. Value £1,516,320.

Corrimecs, ablution units and associated accommodation stores to the European Union force (EUFOR). Value £105,000.

Ammunition to the Afghan Territorial Force Helmand Province. Value £180,000.

3 x Search Equipment Sets to the Lebanese Government. Value £115,345. Infrastructure, accommodation and miscellaneous stores to the Iraqi Palace Protection Force. Value £178,079.

Demining equipment to the Sudanese mine action office. Value £166,789.

2006-07

Three infrastructure projects and equipment to the Iraqi Government. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 18 April 2006. Value £20,363,000.

Camp Smitty and Camp Driftwood infrastructure to the Government of Iraq. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 21 June 2006. Value £314,000.

Camp Abu Naji (Maysan) Infrastructure to the Government of Iraq. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 28 June 2006. Value £291,000.

Up to 50 type 110 Landrovers to the Lebanese armed forces. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 9 October 2006. Value £1,000,000.

Cash gift to the Afghan Government to equip Afghan Territorial Force in Helmand Province. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 30 October 2006. Value £500,000.

Non-lethal military equipment for the Palestinian presidential guard. Details of the transfer were notified in a departmental minute dated 8 February 2007. Value £375,627.

Non-lethal military equipment to the Government of Nepal. Details of the transfer were notified in a departmental minute dated 12 February 2007. Value £850,000.

2005-06

Infrastructure, vehicles and communication equipment to the Government of Iraq. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 12 October 2005. Value £15,500,000.

Infrastructure and police vehicles to the Government of Iraq. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 11 January 2006. Value £19,600,000.

Non-lethal explosive ordnance device (EOD) equipment to the Government of Nepal. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 25 May 2005. Value £376,260. (This replaced the withdrawn proposal originally notified on 20 January 2005.)

Operational ration packs to the Government of the USA in aid of Hurricane Katrina. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons retrospectively in a departmental minute dated 6 February 2006. Value £3,114,845.

2004-05

Non-lethal military equipment to the Government of Nepal. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 10 May 2004. Value £3,530,000.

Non-lethal military equipment to the Government of Sierra Leone. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 23 June 2004. Value £4,476,000.

Military equipment and infrastructure to the Iraqi Interim Government. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 10 November 2004. Value £2,500,000.

Military equipment to the Iraqi Interim Government. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 2 December 2004. Value £15,000,000.

Military equipment to the Iraqi Interim Government. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 15 December 2004. Value £3,600,000.

Non-lethal equipment to the Palestinian Authority. Value £450,000. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 20 December 2004. Value £450,000.

Military equipment to the Iraqi Interim Government. Details of the transfer were notified to the House of Commons in a departmental minute dated 25 January 2005. Value £6,200,000.

Defence Medical Services: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in each medical and dental personnel division in the Defence Medical Services are (a) required and (b) trained. (304825)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 December 2009, Official Report, columns 906-07W.

Defence: International Cooperation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flights the United Kingdom have used under the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution since March 2006; and what the (a) total cost and (b) cost per flight has been. (303000)

Since March 2006 there have been 141 one way flights undertaken using the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution, at a total cost of £25 million. The estimated cost per flight is £178,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) pallets and (b) tonnes of military equipment and cargo have been shipped to Afghanistan by (i) the Royal Air Force and (ii) aircraft leased under the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution. (303001)

Information regarding the number of pallets airlifted is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Between 1 November 2008 and 31 October 2009 a total of 7,726 tonnes of freight have been airlifted to Afghanistan by RAF transport aircraft.

In the same time period 2,460 tonnes have been delivered using aircraft chartered under the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution.

Departmental Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria his Department uses in determining the award of contracts; and how much his Department has spent on the advertisement of tenders for Government contracts since 1997. (303130)

The Ministry of Defence uses the most economically advantageous tender as the criterion for determining the award of contracts. This includes sub-criteria such as quality, price, technical merit, functional and environmental characteristics. Straightforward, low-value purchases may, however, be made on the basis of the tender that meets our requirement and offers the lowest price.

The Ministry of Defence has not spent any money on the advertisement of tenders for Government contracts since 1997, when following a competition the Department placed a contract to provide this service, which is funded by subscriptions from potential tenderers.

EU Battlegroups

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what unit will form the UK’s commitment to the EU battle group in the first half of 2010. (304370)

The UK’s commitment to one of the two EU Battlegroups on standby in the first half of 2010 will be formed from 42 Commando and the Joint Force Headquarters.

Ex-servicemen: Radiation Exposure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of service veterans who were present at atomic weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s who have died of conditions connected to their service in each of the last five years. (305185)

The War Pensions Scheme provides no-fault compensation to all former service personnel where illness, injury or death is caused by service before 6 April 2005.

Although the war pension computer system contains details of medical conditions relating to claims for war disablement pensions, details of the specific causes of these medical conditions are not recorded. Therefore to provide the information requested would require the manual search of many thousands of files and this could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Germany: British Forces Post Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent assessment is of the future of the British Forces Post Office in Germany. (304328)

From September 2010, BFPO 109 (Ramstein) will see an adjusted service. Armed forces personnel will no longer fulfil the postal functions and some counter services will cease, however, we will employ dependants and civilians locally to run a basic postal receipt and despatch facility. Critically, the BFPO number, which is so useful for administrative purposes such as banking and internet shopping, will be retained. No further changes to British Forces Post Offices in Germany are currently planned.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of allegations of rape involving members of (a) UK forces and (b) private security firms registered in the UK in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan since 2001; and what steps he has taken in response to those reports. (304055)

In respect of UK Forces only, the information is not held in the format requested.

Any allegation of an offence involving UK Forces is fully investigated by the relevant Service Police authorities and if there is sufficient evidence to refer a disciplinary or criminal charge they will do so in accordance with the Armed Forces Act of 2006.

Private security firms are not the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and as such are not subject to military law where the service police have jurisdiction.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) court cases and (b) courts martial remain outstanding regarding accusations against British troops involved in the Iraq conflict. (303567)

15 judicial review proceedings have been issued relating to accusations of mistreatment and challenging the extra-territorial application of the ECHR in Iraq. In addition, proceedings have been issued in 46 personal injury claims. The MOD has also been notified of 36 potential judicial reviews, and letters of claim have been received in 21 personal injury claims. Some of these cover the same alleged incidents and claimants. All allegations are investigated as fully as possible.

There are no such cases where courts-martial are outstanding.

Kentigern House

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff were employed at his Department’s Kentigern House site in Glasgow in each of the last 10 years. (305280)

The approximate number of staff working at Kentigern House in Glasgow over the past 10 years is shown in the table.

Total

2009

1,400

2008

1,510

2007

1,800

2006

1,750

2005

1,740

2004

1,660

2003

1,750

2002

1,700

2001

1,800

2000

1,540

Roughly 60 per cent. of staff work for the Army personnel centre and the remainder are either attached to various other MOD organisations or contractors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maintenance costs were for his Department's Kentigern House site in Glasgow in each of the last 10 years. (305282)

The following table illustrates the maintenance costs for the Kentigern House site since Financial Year (FY) 2004-05.

£

2004-05

820,616

2005-06

930,733

2006-07

450,475

2007-08

312,072

2008-09

425,701

Records of specific maintenance costs prior to 2003 which were provided under a different system are not available.

Reserve Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings or efficiency measures are being made from the (a) Royal Naval Reserve and (b) Royal Auxiliary Air Force budgets in 2009-10. (304376)

The budget for training Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marine Reserve for financial year 2009-10 has been reduced by £0.189 million. The reduction is being managed by individual units.

The budget for RAF Honnington, which runs eight Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons, has been reduced by £0.5 million for financial year 2009-10. This has been achieved by reducing the number of training days.

Neither of these reductions will affect bounty payments, or support to current operations.

Scientists

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions he has met (a) the Government chief scientific adviser and (b) his Department's chief scientific adviser in the course of his official duties in the last 12 months. (303963)

I have not met the Government chief scientific adviser since my appointment. As with other senior departmental advisers, I meet with the Ministry of Defence chief scientific adviser as required in the course of my official duties.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference for Operation Atalanta are; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation to date; how many war ships from each country are involved in the operation; and if he will make a statement. (300485)

Operation Atalanta does not have terms of reference as such. The tasks of the mission, set out in a mandate agreed by member states, are the protection of vessels of the WFP (World Food Programme) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia; the protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast; and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

The conduct of the mission is governed by an operation plan (OPLAN) drawn up by the operation commander (currently Rear Admiral Peter Hudson Royal Navy) and agreed by member states.

Our assessment is that Operation Atalanta continues to be an effective counter piracy operation. Pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden has dramatically reduced and we are seeing unprecedented coordination between international navies and merchant shipping. Furthermore, as at 13 November 2009 the EU naval force had successfully escorted 51 World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, carrying 290,000 tons of aid to Somalia.

The number of warships assigned to Operation Atalanta (as of 20 November) are as follows:

Country

Number of ships

France

1

Germany

1

Netherlands

11

Belgium

1

Greece

1

Norway

1

Spain

21+1

1 Flag ship

2 The second Spanish frigate is available to the operation commander.

Trident Missiles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to modify the gas transfer system of the Trident warhead as part of the Mk4A refurbishment programme; and in which country the gas transfer system will be manufactured. (304340)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence on 3 December 2009, Official Report, column 911W. As for any modifications planned for this system, it is Ministry of Defence policy not to comment on details of UK warhead design as to do so would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security and defence in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected cost is of the Mk4A refurbishment programme for Trident warheads; and what proportion of this expenditure he expects to be incurred in the United States. (304341)

The overall cost to the UK of procuring the Mk4A component was an element of the estimated future costs of the Atomic Weapons Establishment as set out in chapter five of the White Paper ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cmd 6994), published in December 2006.

I am withholding further details on the costs of the Mk4A programme as their release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security and defence in the UK.

USA: Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason (a) the classification guidelines CG-UK-2 for the exchange of material between the UK and the US were produced in 2006 and (b) the new classification guidelines CG-US-UK-NUC-1 were produced in 2008. (303887)

Both of these documents were produced jointly by the UK and US in an effort to harmonise security classification guidance relating to sensitive nuclear information.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has had recent discussions with the devolved administrations on steps to reduce levels of crime by reducing the availability of cheap alcohol. (304208)

The Home Office has not had any recent discussions with devolved Administrations relating to the impact of cheap alcohol on levels of crime.

Antisocial Behaviour: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make an assessment of the likely effects on the level of anti-social behaviour of a minimum unit price for alcohol. (304206)

We understand that there is a real concern about the possible links between cheap alcohol and antisocial behaviour. However, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether the introduction of a minimum unit price would reduce alcohol related crime and disorder. While there is evidence that cheap alcohol is linked to people drinking more and subsequent harm to their health, it is important that any Government interventions reduce harm without impacting unduly on the majority of responsible drinkers. We will look to develop further the evidence base in this area with a view to identifying concrete proposals for action which reduce irresponsible, harmful and/or binge drinking without impacting unduly on the majority of responsible drinkers.

Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department from which 50 parliamentary constituencies the UK Border Agency received the highest number of enquiries regarding asylum cases that are (a) legacy cases, (b) non-legacy cases and (c) out-of-country visa applications ranked from highest to lowest in each of the last four years. (302097)

The information requested is not available in the format required and could be obtained only by the detailed examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

British Nationality: Assessments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the administration of the citizenship tests has cost since the inception of such tests. (303110)

UKBA have a commercial contract with the Ufi (formerly University for industry) to provide the Life in the UK test. Candidates taking the Life in the UK test pay a fee of £34 to the test centre. There is no limit on how many times a candidate may take the test and the fee is payable each time a test is taken. The fee is set at a level to meet the costs of delivering the overall testing service, there are no costs incurred by UKBA.

Burglary

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many burglaries were recorded by police in (a) England and (b) North East Cambridgeshire in each of the last 10 years. (303641)

Information on the number of burglaries recorded by the police in England is given in the following tables. Data for North East Cambridgeshire are not collected centrally.

Table 1: Offences of burglary recorded by the police in England—2000-01 and 2001-02

Number of offences

1999-2000

869,704

2000-01

803,144

2001-02

846,301

Table 2: Offences of burglary recorded by the police in England—2002-03 to 2008-091

Number of offences

2002-03

851,988

2003-04

783,970

2004-05

649,973

2005-06

617,726

2006-07

594,297

2007-08

556,259

2008-09

555,137

1 The National Crime Recording Standard was introduced in 2002/03 and data before and after that date are not directly comparable.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reports of burglary were received by the police in (a) Ashford constituency and (b) Kent in each year since 2005. (304924)

Information on reports of burglary received by the police is not available centrally. The available information relates to offences of burglary recorded by the police in the Ashford local authority area and the Kent police force area and is given in the following table.

Offences of burglary recorded by the police in the Ashford local authority area and the Kent police force area

Number of offences

Ashford

Kent

2005-06

987

16,518

2006-07

971

16,708

2007-08

970

14,591

2008-09

877

12,822

Crime and Disorder Act 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people under the age of 16 years have been convicted of an offence under section 1(10) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1988 in each of the last five years. (301794)

Information is provided by the Ministry of Justice on how many people under the age of 16 years have been convicted of an offence under section 1(10) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1988 in each of the last five years.

Centrally collected data on breaches of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) are currently available for ASBOs issued between 1 June 2000 and 31 December 2007. The available published data show that during that period 3,853 persons aged between 10 and 17 were convicted of breaching their ASBO on at least one occasion. No breakdown by year is available.

Crime: Offensive Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes involving the use of a knife were recorded by police in (a) England and (b) North East Cambridgeshire constituency in each of the last 10 years. (303187)

The Home Office has collected data on knife and sharp instrument offences since April 2007 via a special additional data collection. Data are therefore only available for two years. The data are collected at force level only, so data for North East Cambridgeshire are not available.

In 2007-08, the data collection covered the following offences: attempted murder, GBH and robbery. The total number of offences involving the use of a knife/sharp instrument recorded by the police in England in 2007-08 was close to 24,000.

In 2008-09, the collection was expanded to include threats to kill, ABH, rape and sexual assaults. Therefore, the figures between the two years are not comparable. The total number of offences involving the use of a knife or sharp instrument recorded by the police in England in 2008-09 was close to 35,000.

There is a further reason why the figures are not fully comparable. Some forces in 2007-08 included, for technical reasons, a number of ‘unbroken’ bottle offences, which is outside the defined scope of the collection. For 2008-09, the majority of forces within England could supply data excluding unbroken bottles, with four Home Office forces still unable to remove them from their returns.

These figures do not include homicide, as these are collected from the separate Homicide Index. In 2007-08, there were 259 knife or sharp instrument homicides in England. Figures for 2008-09 are pre-announced to be published on the 21 January 2010.

DNA: Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether any Government Ministers have a record on the National DNA Database; (304025)

(2) how many (a) hon. Members, (b) police officers, (c) children, (d) old age pensioners, (e) members of the House of Lords and (f) judges have records on the National DNA Database.

The National DNA Database (NDNAD) is an intelligence database which matches DNA found at crime scenes with DNA profiles of individuals. It also provides police with potential leads on the identity of an offender. An individual may have their DNA profile loaded onto the NDNAD if they have been arrested for a recordable offence or if they have volunteered their DNA to assist in a criminal investigation and also provided separate written consent for the resulting profile to be loaded onto the NDNAD.

The NDNAD stores only limited personal information about the identity of those with a profile held on it. Only an individual's name, date of birth, gender and ethnic appearance are recorded. Details of occupation are not held therefore it is not possible to say how many Government Ministers, hon. Members, Members of the House of Lords or judges have a DNA profile held on the NDNAD.

As with the other occupations listed in the question, it is not possible to give the number of police officers with a profile held on the NDNAD. A police officer may have voluntarily given a DNA sample for the NDNAD, or, like any other citizen, a police officer arrested for a recordable offence may have a DNA sample taken as a result.

However, there is also a separate DNA database known as the Police Elimination Database (PED) which holds the DNA profiles of serving police officers, who are potentially capable of leaving DNA at a crime scene in the course of their duties. PED searches are carried out only if a senior investigating officer requests a comparison of DNA profiles from a specified officer or officers with a DNA profile from a specified crime, unlike NDNAD searches which compare all profiles from crime scenes with all profiles from known individuals. Since 1 August 2002, all new recruits to the police service have been required to give a DNA sample as a condition of employment. As at 30 September 2009 there were 118,699 records held on the PED for England and Wales police forces. However, as the PED also holds the profiles of certain police staff such as scenes of crime officers and vehicle examiners and does not contain the details of people's professions, we are not able to state how many of these records relate to police officers.

As the date of birth of an individual is recorded alongside their profile it is possible to provide information on the number of profiles belonging to children and over 65s held on the NDNAD. This information (for England and Wales police forces only) is provided in the table and reflects the individual's age on 16 October 2009.

The number of profiles is not the same as the number of individuals. This is because some of the profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates, that is, an individual may have more than one profile held on the NDNAD. This may happen if, for example, an individual gives a different name on different arrest occasions. The existence of replicates does not affect the integrity or effectiveness of the NDNAD. The current replication rate across the entire NDNAD is 13.8 per cent.

The data presented are based on a snapshot of the NDNAD as at 16 October 2009. The data on the NDNAD are constantly changing as records are added and removed, hence the figures are a snapshot of the records at a single point in time. The data are management information and have not been formally assessed for compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Table showing number of profiles belonging to children aged under 18 and adults aged 65 and over held on the NDNAD at 16 October 2009 (England and Wales forces only)

Age

Number of profiles1

Under 10

0

10-15

117,266

16-17

190,897

65 and over

117,450

1 Due to replication on the NDNAD the number of profiles is not the same as the number of individuals. The replication rate across the whole NDNAD (all forces) is estimated at 13.8 per cent.

Source:

National DNA Database, NPIA, as at 16 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the report of the Human Genetics Commission entitled Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, whether he has received evidence of people being arrested for the purposes of adding their DNA samples to the National DNA Database; and if he will make a statement. (304027)

There is no objective evidence to suggest that the police are arresting people for the purpose of obtaining their DNA. The taking of a person's liberty by arresting them is not undertaken lightly. That is why the power of arrest is subject to a test of necessity, set out in section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). Police officers are also required to have regard to the statutory guidance in the exercise of the power of arrest, which is set out in Code of Practice G, one of the codes of practice issued under PACE.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of (a) black, (b) Asian and (c) white males aged between 18 and 35 years have records on the National DNA Database. (304060)

It is not possible at present to calculate accurately the proportion of members of ethnic groups in the population as a whole who are on the NDNAD. This is because the data held on the NDNAD are not directly comparable with census population data. The NDNAD does not hold self-reported ethnicity data on arrested persons who have a DNA sample taken, but on their ‘ethnic appearance’. The ethnic appearance data is based on the judgment of the police officer and is recorded for police intelligence purposes to assist in subsequent identification. It uses six broad ethnic categories (plus ‘unknown’) whereas census data are based on 16 ethnic groups self-reported by individuals.

Estimates of the proportion of different ethnic groups on the NDNAD calculated by simply dividing the number of profiles by the population data will give an inaccurate estimate as a number of other factors also need to be taken into account. Examples of these factors are the number of profiles from persons of mixed race, the number of profiles of unknown ethnicity, the number of replicate profiles and the use of comparable up-to-date population data. The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is working to produce an estimate which is as accurate and robust as possible.

Data are available on the number of DNA profiles from people with black, asian or white ethnic appearance aged between 18 and 35 years on the NDNAD. The following table displays the number of subject profiles retained on the NDNAD as at 16 October 2009 for males aged 18-35 inclusive (based on current age as at 16 October 2009) for England and Wales police forces, including the British Transport Police (BTP). The figures cover all subject profiles.

The number of profiles is not the same as the number of individuals. This is because some of the profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates, that is, an individual may have more than one profile held on the NDNAD. This may happen if, for example, an individual gives a different name on different arrest occasions. The existence of replicates does not affect the integrity or effectiveness of the NDNAD. The current replication rate across the entire NDNAD is 13.8 per cent.

The data presented are based on a snapshot of the NDNAD as at 16 October 2009. The data on the NDNAD are constantly changing as records are added and removed, hence the figures are a snapshot of the records at a single point in time. The data are management information and have not been formally assessed for compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Table showing the number of DNA subject profiles from black, asian and white males aged 18-35 inclusive (based on current age as at 16 October 2009) on the national DNA database (England and Wales forces only, including BTP).

Ethnic appearance category

Number of DNA profiles

Asian

172,846

Black

193,593

North European

1,817,035

South European

54,630

Source:

National DNA Database, NPIA, as at 16 October 2009

Domestic Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people reported incidents of domestic abuse in each of the last three years. (304223)

Information on how many incidents of domestic abuse are reported to the police is not centrally available because it is not possible to identify cases of domestic violence reported to and recorded by the police; such offences are not specifically defined by law and details of the individual circumstances of offences are not collected.

However, the British Crime Survey (BCS), which includes crimes not reported to the police, routinely provides information on the number of incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales; that is, violent incidents perpetrated by a partner, ex-partner or family member. The 2008-09 BCS estimates 293,000 incidents of domestic violence, 343,000 in the 2007-08 BCS and 407, 000 in the 2006-07 BCS (representing a statistically significant fall between 2006-07 BCS and 2008-09 BCS). Of these incidents, the proportion where the victim reported the incident to the police was 47 per cent. in the 2008-09 BCS, 40 per cent. in 2007-08 and 44 per cent. in 2006-07 (no statistically significant change in proportions).