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Written Answers

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 14 January 2010

Wales

Bilateral Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what bilateral meetings he has had with each of his Cabinet colleagues in the last 12 months. (310704)

In the course of my duties I have frequent meetings and discussions with Cabinet colleagues.

Leader of the House

Departmental Public Consultation

To ask the Leader of the House how many citizen juries or summits have been hosted by her Office since October 2008; on what date each event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event. (310777)

The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons has hosted no citizen juries or summits since October 2008.

Departmental Public Consultation

To ask the Leader of the House how many (a) citizens’ juries and (b) summits have been hosted by her Office since June 2007; on what date each event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event. (310236)

Since 2007, the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons hosted one citizens’ jury. A deliberative forum was held on the draft legislative programme which the Leader of the House of Commons attended on 20 October 2007.

House of Commons Commission

14 Tothill Street

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what (a) buildings and (b) rooms on the House of Commons part of the parliamentary estate are vacant; for how many months the offices at 14 Tothill Street have been vacant; and what the cost of (i) rent and (ii) utilities on the offices at 14 Tothill Street has been in that period. (309859)

There are no (a) vacant buildings on the House of Commons part of the parliamentary estate. The number of (b) vacant rooms fluctuates constantly as requirements change or maintenance work is carried out. At present there are 13 unoccupied offices on the estate with a total area of 216m2. Seven of these offices are vacant to enable major roof works to take place in the area known as the “Yellow Submarine” north of Speaker's Court. There are 2,100m2 of open plan offices leased in No 4 Millbank for use as decant space. Of this, 500m2 is currently vacant, awaiting fit-out.

There are also 2,800m2 of vacant, open plan space which is the House of Commons' area of No 14 Tothill Street, and this space has been empty since the building was leased in October 2007. This area will be fitted out and available for use by the Department of Resources in autumn 2010. The Commons share of (i) the total rent paid to date, including the current quarter to 25 March 2010, amounts to some £4.8 million (including VAT); and the Commons share of (ii) utility costs paid to November 2010 has been some £33,000 (including VAT).

Northern Ireland

Chief Information Officer

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what pay band his Department’s chief information officer (CIO) is employed; whether the CIO is employed on a fixed-term or permanent contract; and what the size is of the budget for which the CIO is responsible in the period 2009-10. (307560)

The post of director of communications within the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) is located in senior civil service payband 2 and the current postholder is on a permanent SCS contract.

The 2009-10 budget for NIO Information Services Division is £2.1 million.

Scotland

Departmental Fines

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what powers his Department has to impose administrative penalties; what the statutory basis is for each such power; and how much his Department has recovered in administrative penalties in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. (309266)

Wind Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) who (a) drafted, (b) checked and (c) approved his Department’s press release on the granting of round 3 offshore wind rights, distributed on 7 January 2010; and whether special advisers contributed to the (i) drafting and (ii) approval of that document; (310820)

(2) to which special advisers his Department e-mailed its press release on the granting of round 3 offshore wind rights on 7 January 2010;

(3) for what reasons his Department’s press release on the granting of round 3 offshore wind rights was issued before the expiry of the embargo on the press release issued by the Crown Estate on that matter;

(4) whether his Department’s press release on the granting of round 3 offshore wind rights was sent to the Crown Estate before it was issued.

The press release was drafted, checked and approved by Scotland Office press office staff using information provided by the Department for Energy and Climate Change. Scotland Office press releases are drafted to include the relevant policy advice from officials and the relevant Government Department(s) and advice from special advisers where appropriate.

The release also referred to £3 million of grants to further support the offshore wind supply chain, including £1.5 million to Burntisland Fabrications Ltd. (BiFab) in Fife, from the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The announcement that a licence was to be awarded by the Crown Estate to SeaEnergy Renewables and EDP Renovaveis in the Moray Firth was already in the public domain on the morning of 7 January 2010 having been carried in The Press and Journal. The Scotland Office press office was not made aware of any subsequent embargo.

A link to The Press and Journal article can be found here:

www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1551358

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Billing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in December 2009. (311264)

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the quantity of food waste generated by his Department in each year for which figures are available. (310818)

Departmental Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) area and (b) estimated value is of (i) vacant and (ii) occupied office space (A) owned and (B) rented by his Department. (310531)

The Department rents 13,121 sq m of office space.

9,425 sq m is occupied by the Department

3,537 sq m is sublet to tenants

159 sq m is vacant

As the space is not owned by the Department, valuations are not carried out.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department has allocated for (a) year end and (b) in-year bonuses for staff in 2009-10. (300457)

An element of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) overall pay award is allocated to non-consolidated variable pay related to performance. These payments are used to drive high performance and form part of the pay award for members of staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, for example by exceeding targets set or meeting challenging objectives.

Non-consolidated variable pay awards are funded from within existing pay bill controls, and have to be re-earned each year against pre-determined targets and, as such, do not add to future pay bill costs. The percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is based on recommendations from the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £25,327,000, of which non-consolidated performance payments represents an estimated 2.4 per cent.

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department has paid to public relations companies in each of the last five years; and for what purpose in each case. (309805)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: The costs of the Department’s contracts with public relations consultancies in each of the last five years are as follows:

PR consultancy

Spend (£)

2004-05

Harrison Cowley

117,500.05

2005-06

Harrison Cowley

295,148.25

2006-07

Harrison Cowley

84,600

2007-08

n/a

0

2008-09

Edelman

186,495

These companies provided communications support on Digital Switchover, the implementation of the Licensing Act and C&binet.

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many working days were lost due to illness of employees within his Department in each of the last three years; and how many of these were attributed to stress in each year. (310231)

[holding answer 7 January 2010]: The table shows:

a. The number of working days lost due to illness within the Department for Culture Media and Sport in each of the last three years.

b. The number of days attributed to stress in each year.

Working days lost

Days attributed to stress

2006-07

2,873

373

2007-08

2,085

96

2008-09

1,944

20

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many sessions of media training were organised for Ministers in his Department in each of the last three years. (309914)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) attended one media training session in 2008 when he was Secretary of State. All other Ministers in DCMS are recorded as not having undertaken media training courses in the last three years.

Industrial Tribunals

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many industrial tribunals relating to his Department there have been in each of the last five years; and what the cost to his Department was of such tribunals in each such year. (310749)

Public Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many citizens’ juries or summits have been hosted by his Department since October 2008; on what date each such event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event. (310752)

Television: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many persons over 75 years old received a free television licence in 2008-09. (311232)

Free television licences are administered for people aged 75 or over by TV Licensing as agents for the BBC.

According to the BBC’s annual report and accounts, there were 4 million free television licences issued to pensioners aged 75 or over in 2008-09.

Solicitor-General

Israel

To ask the Solicitor-General what the position was of the Government as presented by the Attorney-General at meetings with representatives of the Government of Israel in January 2010 on the operation of the law of universal jurisdiction in the UK in relation to the possibility of Israeli officials, politicians or military personnel being arrested if they travel to the UK. (310076)

[holding answer January 2010]: The Attorney-General reiterated the statement by the Foreign Secretary that the Government were looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation happening again.

Transport

Freight by Water

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much funding his Department has provided to Freight by Water in each year since 1993; and how much it plans to provide in 2010-11. (310573)

Since it was established in 2003, the following sums have been provided to Freight by Water (and its predecessor Sea and Water) as start-up funding and in order to establish the organisation as the UK’s Short Sea Shipping Promotion Centre.

Financial year

Support

2003-04

120,000

2004-05

120,000

2005-06

120,000

2006-07

120,000

2007-08

120,000

2008-09

120,000

2009-10

80,000

The Department for Transport has undertaken to provide a further £50,000 in 2010-11. In line with the position for other established freight trade bodies, no funding is planned beyond 2010-11.

Inland Waterways: Freight

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to encourage use of inland and coastal waterways for the transportation of goods and materials. (310574)

The Department for Transport supports the transfer of freight from road to water where it is practical and economically and environmentally sustainable to do so. It does this through three specific grants that aim to purchase the environmental benefits of reducing road freight.

Freight Facilities Grants help to offset the capital cost of providing water and rail freight handling facilities. In return, the grant applicant commits to transferring a specified volume of freight from road to water or rail, through the newly constructed freight handling facility, for a period of up to 10 years.

The Rail Environmental Benefit Procurement scheme, which assists companies with the operating costs associated with running rail freight transport instead of road where rail is more expensive than road, now also covers inland waterways transport, and from 1 April 2010 will be replaced by Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) scheme.

Waterborne Freight Grants assist companies with the operating costs, for up to three years, associated with running coastal and short-sea shipping freight services instead of road (where water is more expensive than road).

In addition, the Department has provided £800,000 in start-up funding to Freight by Water and its predecessor Sea and Water since 2003-04, and has undertaken to provide a further £50,000 in 2010-11. It is also promoting the opportunities and benefits for modal shift through the Freight Best Practice programme.

M6: M42

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the average annual consequential carbon dioxide emissions arising from the hard shoulder running schemes on (a) the M6 and (b) the M42. (310142)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: No estimates have been made of average annual carbon dioxide emissions following the introduction of hard shoulder running on the M6 and M42. Desk studies have been carried out by the Highways Agency, based on a calculation of engine characteristics of vehicles using the pilot scheme on the M42. These have shown that emissions have reduced by 4 per cent. per vehicle as a result of a reduction in stop/start traffic conditions.

Motorways: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what (a) research and (b) trial work his Department has undertaken for the purposes of improving the provision of information to drivers on the motorway network on incidents on their routes in the last five years; and what assessment he made of the outcomes of such work. (309473)

The Highways Agency has undertaken a number of trials and carried out research regarding a number of its information services. These include:

Traffic England Website

Prior to the new website being launched in April 2009, customer panels were held to test the functionality and understanding of the new site. Following this feedback, changes were made to the design and functionality of the website.

Atlas Professional Website

(A website aimed at professional users such as Travel News Media) The Highways Agency recently carried out an evaluation of this website with users via an online questionnaire. The Agency also asked users for their comments on new functionality that could be offered on this site, which were received positively and this site is due to be refreshed with new functionality later this year.

Variable Message Signs (VMS)

The Agency undertakes National Road Users Satisfaction Surveys on a regular basis which includes questions regarding the accuracy of messages shown on our VMS regarding incidents ahead and these results are used to inform improvements to accuracy of messages. In addition, we also seek feedback about whether road users receive sufficient information about incidents and how they receive this information. This is then fed back to our teams to improve the way information is disseminated.

Travel Times on Variable Message Signs (TTVMS)

This service was trialled on sections of the motorway network from July 2006 until September 2007. Following customer surveys the majority of respondents thought showing travel and delay time messages was a good idea, found them useful and easy to read and understand. Following this, TTVMS was implemented across the whole HA network.

Highways Agency Information Points

A Highways Agency Information Point (HAIP) is a real-time system, providing road users with a unique platform for receiving information on the state of the road network ahead. An initial HAIP prototype was trialled at Hopwood Services on the M42 in 2005, following this success further HAIPs were installed across motorway service areas and truck stops. Following research into drivers’ reactions to HAIPs, they have now been updated and now contain a non-interactive single display system.

Traffic Radio

Spoken information service trials took place during 2005 and 2007 and this demonstrated the viability of a ‘dip in/dip out’ radio service providing constantly updated traffic information on a national and regional basis.

CCTV

A partnership trial with two companies, MxData and the BBC was held in 2006. The Highways Agency created two accounts to access the existing HANET service allowing each organisation to take, store and forward images to the public. During the trial period, a report from MxData showed an overwhelming positive response.

Offenders

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many employees of his Department and its agencies have been convicted of a criminal offence of each type in each year since 1997. (308519)

The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002 comprising a central Department and seven agencies.

The Driving Standards Agency, Driver and The Vehicle Licensing Agency, The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, The Highway Agency, The Vehicle Certification Agency and the Government Car and Despatch Agency maintain records of staff convictions. To date, since 2002, 17 employees of these agencies have been convicted of criminal offences. Of these there are 11 recorded convictions for fraud. All of these employees have undergone the appropriate disciplinary procedures, including termination of employment where appropriate.

A further breakdown based on the type of conviction is unavailable because, where figures are fewer than five, it is the Department’s policy to withhold details on grounds of individual confidentiality.

The Department for Transport (centre) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency do not keep central records of employees’ convictions or the offences to which they relate. Details of criminal convictions may appear on an individual’s personnel files but such information could be retrieved and provided only at disproportionate cost.

Railway Stations: Parking

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will assess the effect on levels of the use of train services of the level of car parking charges at railway station car parks; and if he will make representations to station management companies to encourage lower car parking fees. (310714)

Charges for car parks operated by train companies are not assessed or monitored by the Department for Transport. Under the terms of franchise agreements, charges at the majority of station car parks are a matter for the train operator, who has a strong commercial incentive not to discourage rail use. The Department has no contractual powers to mandate the level of car park charges.

Railways: Scotland

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress his Department has made in assessing the potential for high-speed rail services to Scotland. (311154)

I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 14 December 2009, Official Report, columns 63-64WS, which sets out the Government plans for high speed rail in the UK.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what research into the effectiveness of traffic policing in reducing numbers of casualties on the roads his Department has commissioned in the last five years (309431)

In 2007 the Department for Transport published a research report on the development of a database to examine the relationship between road policing activity and accident reduction available at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/roadpolicingaccidentreduction/

Roads: Preston

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the percentage change in the number of (a) deaths and (b) serious injury as a result of road accidents has been in Preston between 1997 and the most recent year for which information is available. (311071)

The information requested is shown in the following table:

Reported killed and seriously injured road casualties Preston district authority: 1997 and 2008

1997

2008

Percentage change

Killed

9

9

0

Seriously injured

156

103

-34

Roads: Salt

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he has approved proposals to amend limits on drivers’ hours for the purposes of facilitating the distribution of salt and grit supplies. (310382)

[holding answer 12 January 2010]: Ministers issued delegated authority prior to the Christmas period on a conditional basis to named senior officials to issue relaxations to the EU drivers’ hours rules for the distribution of road salt.

However, a request was not submitted to the Department for Transport by industry until 7 January. A relaxation to the enforcement of the EU drivers’ hours rules was issued and notified to stakeholders on the same afternoon under the delegated authority provided to officials.

The driving time limits and duty limits for ‘gritters’, which fall in scope of the domestic drivers’ hours rules, can be automatically suspended in emergency events such as severe and prolonged adverse weather conditions. Local authorities are aware of this provision and are using it, where absolutely necessary, accordingly.

Roads: Snow and Ice

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps he is taking to seek to ensure that disruption to road transportation caused by adverse weather conditions does not lead to fuel shortages in (a) the north of England and (b) the rest of the country. (310554)

[holding answer 13 January 2010]: On Wednesday 6 January, the Department for Transport convened the Salt Cell—a collaborative task force involving the devolved Administrations, the Highways Agency and local government.

The Salt Cell has been monitoring salt supplies and advising salt suppliers on the priorities for salt distribution to ensure that we keep major routes open across the whole country, including major distribution routes for fuel and food. In particular, it has worked hard with delivery partners to ensure that power stations remain accessible.

The Government have also relaxed enforcement on drivers' hours regulations for drivers involved in the distribution of heating oil and liquid petroleum gas to expedite the delivery of heating and fuel supplies.

Sittingbourne-Sheerness Railway Line

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with (a) Network Rail and (b) South East Trains on the closure of the Sittingbourne to Sheerness line. (310653)

Ministers at the Department for Transport have had no such discussions and we have no plans to close this line. A bus replacement service has run on a temporary basis during recent severe weather.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Birds: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to increase numbers of farmland birds. (310059)

Agri-environment schemes, such as Environmental Stewardship, are one of a number of measures aimed at helping to meet DEFRA's target of reversing the decline in farmland birds by 2020.

Following recommendations from the Review of Progress of Environmental Stewardship (2008), we plan to improve the scheme's delivery of farmland bird habitats by introducing new options, such as extended overwintered stubble, and modifying existing ones. We are also promoting better uptake of options of specific benefit to farmland birds through increased training and information provision for Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) through, for example, Natural England's ELS Training and Information Programme. We have also improved the targeting for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) for which farmland birds are a key priority and the subject of a number of specific projects promoting HLS across England, such as the South West Farmland Birds Initiative. Implementation of the review recommendations has already begun and further changes will be implemented during 2010.

Natural England has a target to increase the total area of agricultural land in England being managed under agri-environment schemes to 70 per cent. by March 2011. This, in itself, should help deliver increased habitats for farmland birds. Natural England also has a target in 2009-10 to deliver a further 4,100ha of key arable farmland bird options through Environmental Stewardship—a 20 per cent. increase above the March 2008 baseline.

The industry-led voluntary Campaign for the Farmed Environment should help to retain and exceed the environmental benefits provided by former set-aside land. The campaign promotes activities by farmers and land managers to secure environmental benefits in relation to farmland birds, resource protection and biodiversity provision. It includes a number of targets for June 2012 which will be of direct benefit to farmland birds, such as doubling the uptake of ELS in-field options, covering 40,000 hectares on top of current levels, and increasing uncropped land by 20,000 hectares from January 2008 levels. Natural England has also recently produced a joint leaflet—Farming for Birds—with the campaign and other partner organisations, such as the RSPB, aimed at improving ELS option selection and location in order to help increase farmland bird populations.

Source:

Natural England targets can be found in Natural England corporate plan (2009-12)—70 per cent. target under 3.2.2 and the 4,100 hectares target (1.2.1)

http://naturalengland.etraderstores.com/NaturalEnglandShop/Product.aspx?ProductlD=16f703f3-5b79-4068-a1cb-dd5ee0cf72b5

Campaign for Farmed Environment targets can be found in the campaign's Memorandum of Understanding (copies laid in House Libraries).

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle were slaughtered as a consequence of bovine tuberculosis precautions in (a) Cumbria and (b) England in each of the last 24 months. (310649)

As data from Vetnet (the Animal Health Database) are produced three months in arrears, figures cannot be provided for the last three months. The following table shows the total of animals slaughtered1 due to a TB incident in (a) Cumbria and (b) England in the last 24 months for which figures are available2 (up to September 2009):

1 Animals slaughtered include monthly numbers of cattle removed for TB control reasons (i.e. test reactors and direct contacts) from herds affected by a TB incident in each jurisdiction.

2 Data from Vetnet are provisional and subject to change as more data become available.

England

Cumbria

2009

September

1,935

<5

August

1,478

<5

July

1,728

<5

June

1,996

5

May

1,618

7

April

2,490

<5

March

2,717

8

February

2,592

<5

January

3,090

6

2008

December

2,502

101

November

2,753

9

October

1,977

25

September

2,224

<5

August

1,587

<5

July

2,189

5

June

2,070

5

May

1,799

<5

April

3,373

89

March

2,185

<5

February

2,185

<5

January

2,526

5

2007

December

2,202

<5

November

2,151

<5

October

1,924

<5

Note:

To protect the anonymity of individual farmers, months with a slaughter count of less than 5 animals are given <5.

Source:

Vetnet—Animal Health Database.

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on Christmas (i) cards, (ii) parties and (iii) decorations in the last 12 months. (303845)

The core Department has produced four e-greetings cards which are environmentally friendly and cheaper than traditional paper cards. Production costs of the e-cards totalled some £156.

DEFRA’s policy is that official funds should not be used for departmental Christmas parties and decorations.

All public expenditure has to be incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury hand book on Regularity and Propriety.

Climate Change: International Co-operation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department attended the Copenhagen climate change conference; and at what cost to the public purse. (309180)

The Secretary of State and three officials attended the Forest Day event in Copenhagen on 13 December, and the Secretary of State and one official remained in Copenhagen to attend the Oceans Day event on 14 December.

One official attended on 11 December to present the Convention on Biological Diversity’s ad hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change report. He chaired the event and was nominated for and supported in this role by DEFRA.

A total of £3,839.34 was spent on attendance. The breakdown of flights, accommodation, subsistence and transport costs is presented as follows. Accommodation covers hotel costs for four people for one night each.

£

Flights

2,032.09

Accommodation

1,224.48

Subsistence

137.77

Transport/car hire

445

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) area and (b) estimated value is of (i) vacant and (ii) occupied office space (A) owned and (B) rented by his Department. (310529)

The Department’s freehold vacant office estate amounts to an area of 1,014 sq m, with an estimated rental value of £53,000 pa. The freehold occupied office estate amounts to an area of 45,044 sq m, with an estimated rental value of £2,770,000 pa.

The Department’s leasehold vacant office estate amounts to an area of 22,433 sq m, with an estimated rental value of £4,717,000 pa. The leasehold occupied office estate amounts to an area of 166,831 sq m, with an estimate rental value of £31,454,000 pa.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding his Department has allocated for (a) year-end and (b) in-year bonuses in 2009-10. (301299)

An element of DEFRA's overall pay award is allocated to non-consolidated variable pay related to performance. These payments are used to drive high performance and form part of the pay award for members of staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, for example by exceeding targets set or meeting challenging objectives.

Non-consolidated variable pay awards are funded from within existing pay bill controls, and have to be re-earned each year against pre-determined targets and, as such, do not add to future pay bill costs. The percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is based on recommendations from the independent senior salaries review body.

The following sections set out the estimated spend on non-consolidated performance payments for the 2009-10 financial year.

CORE-DEFRAIncluding staff in Animal Health, Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Marine and Fisheries Agency

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £200.25 million, of which non-consolidated performance payments represents an estimated 1.5 per cent.

Rural Payments Agency

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £99.3 million, of which non-consolidated performance payments represents an estimated 0.5 per cent.

Centre for the Environment and Aquaculture Science

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £20.46 million of which non-consolidated performance payments represent an estimated 3.9 per cent.

Food and Environment Research Agency

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £31.42 million, of which non-consolidated performance payments represent an estimated 1.25 per cent.

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

The wages/salary budget for 2009-10 is £41,143,891.11, of which non-consolidated performance payments represents an estimated 0.472 per cent.

CEFAS has relatively higher non-consolidated pay when compared as a percentage against the DEFRA Network, because they have specifically worked to structure a total rewards package with a greater non-consolidated pay element that is directly performance based and must be re-earned each year. This places a greater link between performance and reward and while their percentage of non consolidated pay is larger than others this is more than offset by their consolidated pay (i.e. salaries) which is low relative to the DEFRA Network and Whitehall.

Poultry: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it remains his policy to introduce a ban on beak trimming of laying hens in 2011. (311179)

The Government have accepted further advice from The Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent advisory body, that a complete ban on beak trimming of laying hens should not be introduced from 1 January 2011 (as is currently in legislation), but should be deferred until it can be demonstrated reliably under commercial conditions that laying hens can be managed without beak trimming, without a greater risk to their welfare than that caused by beak trimming itself. The Government want to reduce the number of procedures that are defined in legislation as ‘mutilations’ and protect the welfare of laying hens, but a balance has to be struck between reducing the number of procedures carried out and ensuring that the birds do not suffer worse welfare insults, such as feather pecking and cannibalism.

The Government will shortly issue a consultation on proposed amendments to the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended) to remove the total ban on beak trimming, to allow for routine beak trimming of day-old chicks intended for laying to be done using the infra-red technique only.

Recycling: Calderdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much household waste Calderdale Council has recycled in the last five years; and whether the amount recycled in each of those years met his Department’s targets. (310458)

The following table shows tonnages and percentages of household waste sent for recycling, composting and reuse by Calderdale council for the financial years of 2004-05 to 2008-09.

Data for years 2004-05 to 2007-08 are Best Value Performance Indicators 82a (dry recycling) and 82b (composting), while data for 2008-09 are in National Indicator 192, which includes dry recycling, composting and reuse.

Tonnage for 2004-05 could not be provided. WasteDataFlow was introduced that year and data provided by local authorities were unreliable and were not published. The recycling rate for that year is taken from the Audit Commission’s website.

Recycling/composting/reuse (tonnes)

Recycling rate (percentage)

Target (percentage)

2004-05

17.05

1

2005-06

17,717

20.35

18

2006-07

18,952

21.30

1

2007-08

22,011

24.92

20

2008-09

21,279

25.84

1

1 No target set

Source:

WasteDataFlow and the Audit Commission

River Lymington: Ferries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what studies Natural England has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated to secure bathymetric and other data to measure adverse effects of ferry movements on the Lymington river mudflats and the effectiveness of potential mitigation and compensation measures. (310730)

Natural England has evaluated three studies on the risk of impacts of the W class ferry on the Natura 2000 sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Lymington, produced by: ABPmer; H R Wallingford; and Black and Veatch.

Natural England has also commissioned and evaluated technical advice from H R Wallingford on the technical effectiveness of Wightlink’s proposal to mitigate any adverse impacts of the W class ferries on these sites.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what budget has been allocated to the process of evaluating submissions to the consultation on the proposal to deposit dredge material on the Lymington mudflats scheduled to end on 22 January; and if he will make a statement. (310731)

Natural England has an internal team to manage the stakeholder engagement process in relation to Wightlink's mitigation proposals. This team is supported by expert technical advice. No budget has been allocated for this exercise, the costs of which will be met from existing resources.

Sheep

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of records relating to sheep born in the UK that have been lost in each of the last five years. (310647)

No estimate has been made of the number of records relating to sheep born in England that have been lost in each of the last five years.

Sheep inspections and record keeping in Scotland and Wales are a matter for devolved Administrations.

Wood: Government Departments

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an estimate of the proportion of wood-based products procured by the Government and its agencies in the last 12 months which come from (a) Forest Stewardship Council-certified sources, (b) Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme-certified sources, (c) other timber certification schemes and (d) non-certified sources; and what mechanisms are in place to monitor compliance with his Department's Buy Sustainable - Quick Wins minimum environmental product standards. (309673)

From 1 April 2009 all timber and timber derived products purchased by the UK Government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies must comply with the UK Government's timber procurement policy. Only legal and sustainable or FLEGT licensed timber and wood products should be purchased. No distinction is made between forest certification schemes, and also no distinction between certification and other forms of evidence.

Guidance is available on how to ensure purchased timber meets the UK Government legality and sustainability criteria. Please see the document "UK Government timber procurement policy: Definition of 'legal' and 'sustainable' for timber procurement (TPAN April 2009) on the CPET website at:

http://www.proforest.net/cpet/files/TPAN

A recent report, ‘UK Timber Industry Certification' by Timbertrends, concluded that in 2008 the proportion of certified products available to the UK timber supply chain by forest certification scheme was distributed as follows: FSC 51.5 per cent.; PEFC 31.5 per cent.; other schemes 0.5 per cent.; and 33.2 per cent. not certified. We assume that the proportion of certified timber and wood products purchased (with category A evidence) by the public sector reflects availability and with two thirds being FSC and one third being PEFC.

This proportion also corresponds with CPETs experience. It should however be noted that the report quoted assessed the timber industry and for other product groups such as paper and furniture the proportions might not be the same.

Furthermore, a recent study conducted by DEFRA and CPET ‘timber reporting pilot study' published July 2009 and available on the CPET website

http://www.proforest.net/cpet/files/CPET%20Reporting%20pilot%20study%20July%2009.pdf/view

showed that implementation of reporting requirements across mandated bodies is not currently possible, but that assurance of implementation and compliance with the policy is a first step towards achieving meaningful data.

DEFRA in conjunction with CPET has also started an awareness raising campaign and support program across Central Government as well as encouraging local authorities and the remainder of the public sector to voluntarily adopt the UK Government timber procurement policy.

Support for delivery and compliance with Quick Wins, by central government departments, is overseen by the Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement (CESP) in the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

Cabinet Office

Central Office of Information: Consultants

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Central Office of Information has spent on strategic consultancy in 2009-10; and which Departments received services or advice from such consultancy. (309832)

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

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 January 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on COI Strategic Consultancy spend in 2009/10 (309832).

Strategic Consultancy spend for the financial year 2009/10 cannot be provided until the figures have been fully audited and approved.

COI spend figures for 2009/10 will be published in our annual report and accounts this summer.

Central Office of Information: Finance

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Central Office of Information has spent on its cost-benchmarking project. (309845)

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

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 January 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on COI Cost-benchmarking 2009/10 (309845).

The COI Cost-benchmarking project is an internal project and as such any costs associated with this would be internal staff time.

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

Central Office of Information: Publications

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many copies of the Central Office of Information's book, How Public Sector Advertising Works, have been sold; and what income has been derived from these sales. (309844)

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

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7January 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on COI sales of the COI book, How Public Sector Advertising Works (309844).

Sales of the book have so far generated total sales of £52,000.

Copies of the book are also made available educational purposes.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which websites her Department's staff are blocked from accessing on departmental networked computers. (310052)

The Cabinet Office Corporate IT System accesses the Internet via the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) services as provided by Cable and Wireless.

In order to enforce the Cabinet Office HR ‘Appropriate Usage Policy' for our IT systems we additionally use the website blocking system Websense Web Filter. The Websense Web Filter provides a list of categories to be blocked and URLs of sites within the category are updated on a daily basis. We use this to block the categories rather than specific web sites.

Departmental Legislation

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by her Department since 1 May 2008. (307789)

No criminal offences have been created or abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by the Cabinet Office since 1 May 2008.

Health

Cervical Cancer: Vaccination

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vaccinations against cervical cancer were provided in 2009. (310472)

In total, about 2,076,000 doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine were administered between 1 January and 30 November 2009 (December 2009 data are not available currently) as part of the HPV vaccination programme in England. Three doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure sufficient protection.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate has been made of the reduction in the average number of cases of cervical cancer which will be diagnosed each year as a result of the introduction of the policy of offering teenage girls vaccination against cervical cancer. (310476)

Immunising young women with the human papillomavirus vaccine could eventually lower the number of new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in England by approximately 1,300 from recent levels.

Departmental Billing

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in December 2009. (311262)

The proportion of invoices paid within 10 days of receipt to commercial suppliers by the Department in December 2009 was 95.43 per cent.

Departmental Public Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many (a) citizens' juries and (b) summits have been hosted by his Department since June 2007; on what date each event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event; (310237)

(2) how many citizens’ juries or summits have been hosted by his Department since October 2008; on what date each event took place; and which Ministers were present at each event.

The Department recognises the important contribution that the public can make in developing policy and carry out a wide range of activities which allow ministers and officials to listen to and understand the views of the public and stakeholders in developing policy.

Data from 2007 on the number of citizens' juries and consultation with random panels of people to aid decision-making by the Department are not readily available. Supplying the occurrences of citizens' juries and deliberative consultations would require a substantive investigation into all public engagement programmes undertaken by various divisions within the Department at a disproportionate cost.

However, the Department does engage widely with the public using a number of methodologies which feed into the policy making process. These do on occasion include citizens’ juries and summits and other events which can but do not always include ministerial attendance.

Some examples of engagement events which involved Ministers were:

NHS Next Stage Review—led by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Lord Darzi;

(September 2007 events held in each strategic health authority and attended by various Ministers including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson and former departmental Ministers Lord Darzi, Ben Bradshaw, Dawn Primarolo and current minister Ann Keen);

(January 2008 events again held in each SHA and attended by various Ministers including Lord Darzi and Ann Keen); and

Primary and Community Care Review (April 2008 event attended partially by Ben Bradshaw).

Some examples of extensive public engagement which did not involve Ministers include:

Review into the Consequences of Additional Private Drugs for the NHS (2008): workshops with cancer patients, email consultation and the focus groups; and

NHS Constitution (2008-09): A series of focus groups and a deliberative event with patients, the public and stakeholders.

Mental Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people were admitted to mental health units in each primary care trust area in each month of the last two years; (310570)

(2) how many people were admitted into mental health units in each primary care trust area in each of the last five years.

Musculoskeletal Disorders: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make an assessment of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance's report “Joint Working? An audit of the implementation of the Department of Health's Musculoskeletal Services Framework”. (310782)

The Musculoskeletal Services Framework provides good practice guidance for the national health service on delivering care closer to home for people in the UK with bone and joint conditions. It was published as good practice guidance, and as such the Department is not mandating its implementation but continues to support the good practice promoted in the guidance.

The Department has no plans to make a specific assessment of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance's report “Joint Working? An audit of the implementation of the Department of Health's Musculoskeletal Services Framework”.

NHS Litigation Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many organisations achieved level (a) 0, (b) 1, (c) 2 and (d) 3 in NHS Litigation Authority assessments in each of the last three years; and if he will list those organisations in each such category. (310174)

The data requested for each organisation are contained in the documents:

Risk Management Assessment Levels 2006-07.

Risk Management Assessment Levels 2007-08.

Risk Management Assessment Levels 2008-09.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

The data are also available from the Factsheets (No. 4) in the publication section of the NHS Litigation Authority's website: www.nhsla.com

NHS: ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 757W, how much has been paid to each legal firm employed to draft the contracts for the National Programme for IT. (309163)

As part of the total sum for legal and commercial support relating to the national programme for information technology, monies paid to the legal firms in question include among a range of things, fees for the drafting of contracts. Information is not held in a form that makes it possible to identify payments made for work relating specifically to the drafting of contracts.

Between 1 April 2002 and 31 March 2009, the total fees paid to Allen & Overy amounted to £10,309,877 and to DLA Piper UK LLP £28,864,938, although Allen and Overy ceased to advise after 2006.

Obesity: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what proportion of children in each multiple deprivation decile were classified as obese in 2009. (310644)

The information is not available in the form requested.

However, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) provides data on the prevalence of obesity in children aged 4-5 years (reception year) and 10-11 years (year 6). Figures 13 and 14 in the NCMP report for 2008-09 provide information on the prevalence of obese children in reception and year 6 as measured by the index of multiple deprivation 2007. This publication has already been placed in the Library.

Orthopaedics

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) below-knee lower limb amputations and (b) above-knee limb amputations have taken place in each strategic health authority in the NHS in each of the last five years. (309976)

Tables providing the number of finished consultant episodes (FCEs) where there was a main or secondary procedure of below knee amputation; above knee amputations; other amputations; and amputation of foot or toe by strategic health authority (SHA) of treatment, have been placed in the Library.

In 2006-07 there was a SHA configuration change, where 28 SHAs merged into 10. For this reason, data for 2006-07 to 2008-09 are based on the new configuration and the data prior to this are based on the old configuration.

It should be noted that the number of FCEs does not represent the number of patients as a patient may have more than one episode within a year.

Reference should be made to the footnotes and clinical codes when interpreting the data.

Stafford Hospital

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received requesting a public inquiry into Stafford Hospital under the Inquiries Act 2005. (309864)

In the period since the Healthcare Commission published their report in March 2009, the Department has had requests for a public inquiry, for example from local Members of Parliament and from a local patient group, Cure the NHS.

Home Department

Airguns: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures to control the sale of air rifles to children via the internet. (310227)

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 introduced a number of changes to the controls on air weapons which will help prevent the unlawful sale of air weapons to minors The minimum age for purchasing an air weapon was increased to 18 and the final transfer of all air weapons sold by way of trade or business must be conducted on a face-to-face basis. This provides an opportunity to seek proof of identity if there is any doubt about the purchaser's age. These changes were introduced with effect from 1 October 2007 and their impact will be closely monitored together with all other controls on air weapons.

Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence there is that the policy before 2002 of allowing asylum seekers who had waited more than six months for a decision on their claim to apply for permission to work was a pull factor for asylum seekers to come to the UK; and if he will make a statement. (305956)

The Government believe that managed migration is a valuable source of skills and labour to the British economy and there are recognised routes into the UK for those seeking to work. However, entering the country for economic reasons is not the same as seeking asylum, and it is important to maintain the distinction between the two.

Giving asylum seekers or failed asylum seekers permission to work would be likely to encourage asylum applications from those without a well-founded fear of persecution, hence slowing down the processing of applications made by genuine refugees and undermining the integrity of the managed migration system. Indeed, asylum intake has dropped significantly since the policy change in 2002.

This is why we do not generally allow asylum seekers to work while their claim for asylum is under consideration. The only exception is asylum seekers who have been waiting 12 months for a decision where this delay cannot be attributed to them. This is consistent with our obligations under the EC reception directive.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for permission to work were (a) made by asylum seekers and (b) granted in each year since 2000. (305957)

The requested information on the number of applications for permission to work made by asylum seekers and those granted since 2000 is not collated and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost through examination of individual case records.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the potential savings that could be made by allowing asylum seekers who have waited more than six months for a decision on their claim to undertake paid work so that they would not be dependent on support from the public purse. (305958)

No formal estimate has been made to date. However, the Government consider that while allowing asylum seekers to work may increase tax revenue this has to be balanced finely against the very real concern that allowing employment will act as a pull factor, and that the UK may subsequently receive an increase in the number of unfounded asylum applications as a result. We also have to consider the potential that this may have to delay the processing of asylum claims which would lead to more hardship, not less and more demands on the public purse as well as an increase in exploitation by traffickers.

Borders: Personal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his latest estimate is of the date on which the e-Borders programme will be fully operational. (309526)

The e-Borders programme is expected to be fully operational by 31 March 2014, processing 100 per cent. of all passengers and crew into and out of the UK.

e-Borders aims to capture 95 per cent. of passenger and crew movements by December 2010, covering all commercial traffic. It is expected that the remaining 5 per cent. including leisure boaters and the general aviation sector, will be providing travel document information data after 2010.

Capita

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department 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. (303158)

The Home Department does not retain a central register of companies that tender for contracts. A search of individual records for instances where Capita Group plc or its subsidiaries have submitted tenders in each of the last five years could only be undertaken at disproportionate cost, however, six contracts were awarded in this period.

Inclusive of its agencies, the Department’s total spend on Capita Group plc and its subsidiaries contracts in each of the last five years is as follows:

Financial year

£ million

2004-05

46.3

2005-06

53.2

2006-07

60.0

2007-08

62.6

2008-09

68.6

The majority of the spend derives from the Criminal Records Bureau’s Disclosure processing contract with Capita Business Services Ltd. The contract was awarded in 2000 and runs for 10 years from service go-live which occurred in March 2002. This is the only contract held by the Department with Capita Group plc or its subsidiaries which expires after 2010. The outstanding monetary value of the Disclosures processing contract with Capita Business Services Ltd is £249 million.

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Christmas trees were purchased by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years; what the cost was of those trees in each year; from where the trees were sourced; what account was taken of the sustainability of the sources of the trees; and by what process the trees were disposed of. (305639)

My Department does not keep central records on the purchase of Christmas trees. At our Headquarters in 2 Marsham street the Christmas trees have been provided by the facilities management provider at no additional cost to the Department for this year and the previous two years. These are sourced from a company who provide a certificate of origin and environmental benefit. Before that trees were from sourced from the Prison Service. On disposal the trees are chipped and recycled.

Crime Prevention: Milton Keynes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to ensure the continuation of collaborative crackdowns on the illegal use of drugs and pubs in the city of Milton Keynes. (310221)

Investigations into allegations of illegal drug supply and consumption in licensed premises is a matter for the police, who prioritise resources towards tackling crime which causes the most harm.

Many police forces undertake action targeting the night-time economy. This includes sniffer dog operations in and around pubs and clubs and the deployment of drug trace detection machines. The use of trace detection devices can be a deterrent for drug users and dealers, and provides reassurance to the community by showing that a high profile drugs initiative is in operation. The most effective response to tackling drug supply in licensed premises is through a partnership approach between the police, licensing officers and local authorities to identify hotspot bars, pubs and clubs and then working with licensees to reduce drug supply in their premises.

The Government announced in March 2009 that the only central target for the police will be to increase public confidence. The target states that nationally, by 2012 60 per cent. of the public will feel confident that the police and local councils are tackling the crime and antisocial behaviour issues that matter most locally.

Criminal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his most recent estimate is of the number and proportion of white males who have a criminal record. (310367)

[holding answer 12 January 2010]: The Police National Computer (PNC) is an operational tool and is not designed to produce the information requested. To do so would require software to be designed, produced and tested to interrogate the PNC. This would incur a disproportionate cost.

Departmental Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which conferences held overseas have been attended by civil servants based in his Department in the last three years; and what the cost to the public purse was of such attendance at each conference. (305875)

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

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many planned visits by Ministers in his Department within the UK were cancelled within 72 hours of the visit taking place in the last 12 months; and what the planned venue or venues were for each such visit. (309875)

The Home Office does not hold this information centrally, nor will it be able to provide this information without disproportionate cost.

Departmental Electronic Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many plasma screen televisions his Department has purchased since 2001; and what the cost has been of purchasing and installing such screens in each such year. (306075)

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) energy rating and (b) energy band of each building occupied by his Department and its agencies was in each year for which figures are available. (305972)

Display Energy Certificates (DEC) were introduced in 2008. OGC publish central Government Departments’ Display Energy Certificate (DEC) operational ratings on a building by building level twice a year. The most recent data for the Home Office, published on 31 July 2009, include DEC ratings up to and including 28 February 2009 and can be seen via this link:

http://www.ogc.gov.uk/documents/Pan_Govt_DEC_Feb09.xls

This information covers one Home Office Building, 16 UK Border properties and eight Identity and Passport Service buildings.

Data to October 2008 can be seen via this link:

http://www.ogc.gov.uk/documents/Pan_Govt_DEC_Oct08.xls

Data relating to the month ending 30 September 2009 will be published on 18 December 2009.

Departmental Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by his Department since 1 May 2008. (307807)

The following new offences have been created by secondary legislation since 1 May 2008:

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2009

Importation, exportation, production, supply and possession of Controlled Drugs—addition of new Class B and Class C drugs (Article 2).

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2008

Importation, exportation, production, supply and possession of Controlled Drugs—reclassification of certain drugs as Class B drugs (Article 2).

No offences have been abolished by secondary legislation since 1 May 2008.

Departmental Research

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department spent on unpublished research in (a) 2009 and (b) each of the last four years. (301306)

Most Home Office research reports are published except where the Home Office Chief Scientific Advisor decides not to publish in a Home Office series on the grounds of inadequate scientific quality following independent and external peer review, or if the results are badly out of date, or on national security or public interest grounds, or for operational reasons.

The available information for the period 2005-06 to 2009-10 is shown in the following table. It includes the programme costs of the external research projects where a decision has been taken not to publish the research as a Home Office report or where the research has had a limited distribution. We have not included research which is ongoing and where no decision has yet been taken on publication. For 2009-10 around half of the cost is attributed to a project not published on national security grounds.

Costs of external research where a decision has been taken not to publish the research.

Estimated external programme costs (£ excluding VAT)

2005-06

84,000

2006-07

10,000

2007-08

0

2008-09

253,000

2009-10

273,000

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date he last travelled by (a) bus and (b) taxi in the course of his official duties. (302730)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regularly uses public transport and walks to local engagements.

Deportation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many charter flights removing persons with no right to stay in the UK there have been in 2009; what the destination was of each such flight; how many individuals were removed on such flights; and what the cost to the public purse of such flights was. (307036)

The following figures show the total number of charter flights conducted by the UK Border Agency for the purpose of removing those with no right to remain in the United Kingdom, and the total number of individuals removed on those flights, from l January to 8December 2009.

Number of flights—64

Number of persons removed—1,973

These figures do not constitute part of National Statistics as they are based on internal management information. The information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols and should be treated as provisional and subject to change.

In 2009 (to 8 December), charter flights were conducted to the following destination countries:

Afghanistan

Albania

Democratic Republic of Congo

Iraq

Jamaica

Kosovo

Nigeria

However, the UK Border Agency is unable to disclose the number of flights to each destination country, as this information is confidential for operational reasons.

The UK Border Agency keeps records of the overall annual costs of charter flights by financial year. Figures for the financial year 2009-10 are not yet available, as they are subject to audit and may therefore change; however, for the financial year 2008-09, the cost of charter flights was £8,227,553.38.

The Home Office also publishes statistics on the number of persons who were removed or departed voluntarily from the UK on a quarterly and annual basis. Annual statistics for 2008 and the latest statistics for Q3 2009 are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at:

www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html

EC Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 2 December 2009, Official Report, columns 734-5W, on EU law, to which (a) 43 EU measures on asylum and migration and (b) 15 measures on civil law the UK has opted in. (305151)

A list of measures the UK has decided to participate in through the opt-in arrangements under title IV of the treaty establishing the European Communities is shown at annex A placed in the House Library.

Entry Clearances

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what remedies his Department provides for those wishing to contest the decision to place them on the list of individuals excluded from the UK; what steps he takes to monitor the effectiveness of such decisions; and whether those placed on the list are informed of their inclusion. (300385)

An individual may contest a decision to place them on the list of those individuals excluded from the UK by seeking a judicial review of the exclusion decision. Where an immigration decision is taken to refuse or cancel leave, on the basis of the Home Secretary’s decision to exclude, this refusal decision may provide a right of appeal. If evidence can be provided that an individual has recanted their extremist statements in a genuine, credible and public manner, their exclusion may be reconsidered by the Home Secretary.

Decisions to exclude are normally reviewed every three years but otherwise remain in place unless the Home Secretary decides to lift the exclusion. An individual who has been excluded for engaging in unacceptable behaviour is notified of their exclusion where it is possible to do so.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken to process an application was for a (a) Tier 1 (investor), (b) Tier 1 (entrepreneur) and (c) EU Association Agreement business visa for a foreign national whose application to visit the UK on commercial matters was granted in each month of the last three years. (304817)

The following table illustrates by month the average time taken to process requested categories of visa applications over the last three years. Tier 1 of the points based system was introduced on 1 July 2008.

Average days to resolve applications

Endorsement

Issued month

Business—EC associate

Tier 1 (investor) migrant

Tier 1 (entrepreneur) migrant

2007

January

February

0

March

April

1

May

June

July

August

September

October

3

November

December

2008

January

February

March

April

1

May

June

2

July

3

4

August

7

September

11

8

October

25

2

November

14

3

December

5

12

2009

January

29

13

February

16

2

March

10

15

April

9

16

May

8

13

June

9

7

July

12

2

August

12

10

September

10

7

October

11

5

November

15

4

Note: Tier 1 introduced 1 July 2008.

Quarterly information about the performance and processing times of each of our visa sections, against our target agreed customers service standards, is published on the following website:

www.ukvisas.gov.uk.

A guide to current processing times is also available on this website.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2009, Official Report, columns 888-9W, on entry clearances, how many (a) postal and (b) premium applications for further leave to remain have been made under Tier 4 of the points-based system since April 2009; and how much revenue has accrued from fees for applications of each type since that date. (306369)

[holding answer 14 December 2009]: The number of valid postal applications made for further leave to remain under Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system during the period 1 April 2009 to 30 November 2009 is 68,777. The value of these applications is £25,058,389. The number of valid premium applications for further leave to remain made under Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system during the period 1 April 2009 to 30 November 2009 is 10,780. The value of these applications is £6,233,100.

The amount of revenue earned from fees from caseworking activities in respect of postal applications for further leave to remain made under Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system during the period 1 April 2009 to 30 November 2009 is £14,762,673.

The amount of revenue earned from caseworking activities in respect of fees for premium applications for further leave to remain made under Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system during the period 1 April 2009 to 30 November 2009 is £6,030,150.

This information is derived from internal management information systems. All figures from this source are provisional and subject to audit and amendment.

Entry Clearances: Graduates

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many students who completed their qualifications at (a) a further education college and (b) a higher education institution have been granted leave to remain and sought employment under the Tier 1 (Post-study work) visa scheme since the introduction of the points-based system. (308790)

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

Entry Clearances: Overseas Students

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many bogus colleges have been closed in (a) England, (b) Bedfordshire and (c) Luton in the last six months. (304640)

Within the last six months, 76 educational institutions have been found to be non bona fide as per the immigration rules, prior to the introduction of the points-based system. These institutions do not have Tier 4 licences, but being identified as non bona fide would not necessarily result in their closure, although it would result in the refusal of any outstanding overseas student applications.

Since the introduction of the points based system, the UK Border Agency maintains a register of educational establishments that meet the requirements of Tier 4. Establishments that do not meet these criteria will have their application for a sponsor licence refused.

Educational establishments that have been registered as a sponsor but found to no longer meet the requirements of Tier 4 have their licence revoked. As at 21 December, the licences for 14 establishments had been revoked. All of these are in England.

Exclusion Orders: International Cooperation

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the UK’s list of persons who are to be denied travel to and admission into the UK is automatically shared with the border agency authorities of (a) the Netherlands, (b) other European Union member states and (c) other states and jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement. (309980)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: The UK Border Agency holds a watchlist of adverse information drawn from a variety of sources, including visa refusals, the police, SOCA and other Government Departments. The system is used by UK Border Agency staff for the purposes of national security and the detection and prevention of crime. Refusal of entry may be based on information from any of these sources.

The UK Border Agency does not automatically share information held on the UK watchlist with The Netherlands. The only European member state that the UK Border Agency regularly shares information with, including that held on immigration watchlists, is the Irish Government.

This is undertaken on a routine basis in some instances and on a specific, case-by-case in others. We have a longstanding policy not to disclose exactly what information is shared.

Data sharing with the Irish Government remains a key area for increased co-operation between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and was recognised as such in the ‘Strengthening The Common Travel Area’ public consultation and subsequent response.

Decisions as to whether it is appropriate and proportionate to share information held on the watchlist with authorities in other countries are made by the owners of that information, on a case-by-case basis.

As the UK Border Agency does not own all of the data held on the watchlist, we cannot comment on the data-sharing policies of other data owners.

Foreign Workers: Entry Clearances

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many temporary visas have been issued to foreign nationals employed by IBM (India) to fulfil contracts between IBM and Avon and Somerset Constabulary. (306351)

This information cannot be retrieved centrally. It would be necessary to examine individual application forms and we could therefore provide the information requested only at disproportionate cost.

Fraud: Credit Cards

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to reduce credit card fraud. (310835)

Figures published by the payments industry in October 2009 showed that card fraud losses overall fell by 23 per cent. to £232.8 million in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

The Home Office continues to work closely with the payments industry and supports industry initiatives to help prevent card fraud such as Verified by Visa and Mastercard Secure Code, and the Be Card Smart Online Campaign.

The Home Office actively supports the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, a specialist police unit funded by the payments industry which investigates cheque and plastic card fraud where there is an element of organised criminal activity, and provides additional funds to the City of London Police to take on a lead force role in the investigation of serious and organised fraud. In addition the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police have made provision to establish a national police e-crime unit which has been set up to co-ordinate the law enforcement approach to all types of e-crime, including fraud.

Human Trafficking

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals referred to the human trafficking national referral mechanism are (a) being accommodated by a specialist accommodation provider, (b) in an immigration removal centre and (c) in prison. (309624)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: Between 1 April 2009 and 31 December 2009 there have been 348 national referral mechanism referrals where the individual was accommodated by a specialist accommodation provider, 27 cases where the individual was in an immigration detention centre and 22 cases where the subject was in prison or a young offenders institution.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many referrals of potential victims of human trafficking have been made to the national referral mechanism by each first responder agency. (309625)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: Between 1 April 2009 and 31 December 2009 there have been 527 referrals made to the national referral mechanism. The referrals were made by the following agencies:

Number of referrals

UKBA

238

Police

166

Local authorities

57

Poppy

27

Kalayaan

19

TARA

9

Migrant Helpline

8

CPS

2

NHS

1

Total

527

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many referrals of potential victims of trafficking to the National Referral Mechanism made since 1 April 2009 have received a (a) positive and (b) negative reasonable grounds decision; and in respect of how many such referrals (i) a decision is pending and (ii) no decision was made. (309666)

Between 1 April 2009 and 31 December 2009 there have been 527 referrals made to Competent Authorities within the National Referral Mechanism. The breakdown of Reasonable Grounds decisions are as follows:

Number

Positive

301

Negative

131

Suspended

7

Withdrawn

18

No decision recorded

70

Total

527

‘Suspended’ cases are where the individual has either absconded or is missing prior to the reasonable grounds decision being made.

‘Withdrawn’ are where the individual has left the UK prior to the reasonable grounds decision being made.

‘No decision recorded’ means the decision has not been officially logged with UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC). This is where the reasonable grounds decision is either still being considered or where the decision has yet to be recorded on the UKHTC system.

Immigration Controls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Mid Sussex of 2 December 2009, Official Report, column 752W, on immigration controls, which educational institutions have (a) been granted sponsor licences since the inception of the points-based immigration system and (b) had their licences revoked. (305480)

The list of colleges which are currently licensed under Tier 4 of the Points Based System is on the UKBA website at:

http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/pointsbasedsystem/registerofsponsors education

To date, 14 colleges have had their licences revoked. Information on the names of which educational institutions have had their licences revoked cannot be disclosed on grounds of commercial sensitivity.

Islam4UK

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department plans to take steps against the founders of Islam4UK under racial hatred legislation. (309642)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: The actions of this group are of significant concern to the Government and an Order providing that Al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, Islamic Path, Call to Submission and London School of Sharia are to be treated as alternative names for the proscribed organisation Al-Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect was laid in Parliament on Monday 11 January. This action will make membership of the organisation unlawful. The investigation and prosecution of offences under both proscription and race hate legislation are matters for, respectively, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Should members of the public believe that members or supporters of this group have committed a racist hate crime then they should report the matter to the police.

Islam4UK: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to prevent the promotion through Islam4UK websites of the teachings of individuals who have been required to leave the UK as a result of their extremist views. (309640)

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: The Home Office has no powers to remove or modify extremist material on websites. Where websites are identified to contain unlawful material, the police have powers under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to seek the removal or modification of that material.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, on Monday my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary laid an order providing that the name lslam4UK, along with several others, be treated as alternative names for an organisation which is already proscribed under the names Al Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letter dated 16 November 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms N. Anjum. (310495)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letter dated 12 November 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. M. Ishfaq. (310497)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letter dated 25 November 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr E. Diala. (310499)

Missing Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of (a) UK national and (b) non-UK national missing persons of each age have been recorded by the Missing Persons Bureau in each year since 1997; and how many were subsequently found. (308757)

The information requested is given in the tables. 34,972 missing persons cases have been recorded by the Missing Persons Bureau between 1 January 1997 and 16 December 2009. Of these 17,641 are British, 14,365 are non-British. No nationality data are available for 2,966 cases. Note that these figures relate to incidents of missing rather than individuals; the same person can go missing several times.

30,540 (87 per cent.) of these cases have subsequently been marked as ‘closed' on the database (i.e. the missing person has returned or been located). Research suggests1 that 99 per cent. of missing persons are located within one year of going missing. Not all cancellations are received by the Bureau. As force compliance with the code increases the percentage of closed cases on HERMES will increase.

1 Tarling, R. and Burrows, J. (2004) ‘The nature and outcome of going missing: the challenge of developing effective risk assessment procedures', International Journal of Police Science and Management, Vol.6, No. 1, 16-26

Data relating to missing cases by nationality (UK, non-UK or unknown) and age are given in the tables placed in the House Library. ‘Closed' refers to the status of cases where the individual was subsequently found. Data relating to ‘age' are given at the date the person went missing. Ages have been grouped together and where there are small numbers of cases (under five) in individual cells exact figures have not been provided to protect identity and maintain confidentiality.

The HERMES database used for the recording of missing persons data is an operational database used for policing purposes. The data are normally only used for management information and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply to national statistics publications. The data are therefore provisional and may be subject to change.

A code of practice for the collection of missing persons data was introduced in April 2009. Although limited data have been collected as some police forces have implemented the code, it is unlikely that any meaningful and complete national picture of missing persons will be available until early summer 2010, when all police forces will become compliant with the code. Meanwhile the available figures can be regarded as indicative only.

Sexual Offences: Taxis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has made an estimate of the number of incidents of (a) rape and (b) sexual assault attributed to drivers of (i) black cabs, (ii) licensed minicabs and (iii) unlicensed minicabs in the last five years. (310119)

The information requested cannot be provided as data on incidents of rape and sexual assault attributed to drivers of black cabs, licensed minicabs unlicensed minicabs are not reported to the Home Office.

Terrorism: Stop and Search

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been (a) arrested and (b) convicted since the enactment of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 for offences relating to the taking of photographs. (310771)

Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 inserts a new clause (Section 58A) into the Terrorism Act 2000 which relates to the offence, inter alia, of taking photographs of members of the armed forces, police or security and intelligence services. The Home Office collates statistics on the number of terrorism arrests, charges and convictions. However, the data are recorded in a way which shows offences under S58 but does not show convictions under subsections of S58. These statistics were included in a Bulletin published for the first time on 13 May 2009 (Statistics on Terrorism Arrests and Outcomes Great Britain 11 September 2001 to 31 March 2008). The first edition of the Bulletin is available at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/hosb0409.pdf

The second issue of the Bulletin was published on 26 November 2009 and is available via the following link:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs09/hosb1809.pdf

Whistleblowers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been made to his Department by its staff since 6 June 2006. (301486)

It is not Government practice to release information where the numbers of staff involved are small, as to do so could identify the individuals involved.

Civil servants are required to act in accordance with the standards and core values set out in the Civil Service Code. The Civil Service Code also provides for civil servants to raise matters of concern with the independent Civil Service Commissioners if they do not receive what they consider to be a reasonable response following departmental internal procedures. The Commissioners will also consider taking a complaint direct. Further guidance on whistleblowing is set out in the Civil Service Management Code and the Directory of Civil Service Guidance.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of days likely to be taken to (a) deliver general election ballot papers to and (b) return to the relevant returning officer ballot papers completed by members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan to the relevant polling station. (310488)

No specific estimate has been made for the number of days likely to be taken to deliver and return general election ballot papers from members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan to the relevant polling station.

However, we take very seriously the need to ensure service personnel are able to vote. The MOD is working closely with the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Justice to help service personnel understand their options for registering to vote and to support their participation in the forthcoming elections. We advise service personnel serving abroad to vote by proxy.

Air Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement of 15 December 2009, Official Report, columns 801-02, on future defence programmes, what assessment has been made of the effects on the Royal Air Force's elements at readiness strategy of the reduction in Tornado and Harrier squadrons. (309282)

An analysis of defence priorities was carried out which concluded it was possible to drawdown the overall size of our Fast Jet Forces earlier than expected. As a result of this analysis, it was decided to make a reduction in the size of the Harrier force by one squadron and therefore close RAF Cottesmore and consolidate the Harrier force at RAF Wittering.

Reducing the size of the Harrier force earlier than planned will not affect current operations, as the Tornado GR4 (the aircraft that replaced Harrier on Op HERRICK earlier this year) is proving to be extremely effective in Afghanistan.

As announced on 15 December, we plan to reduce our Tornado and Harrier force by a further one or two squadrons but decisions on the make-up of our future force will be taken in the defence review.

The MOD does not comment on the state of readiness of its force elements as this would constitute a risk to operational security.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what percentage of his Department’s housing stock is void or uninhabited; (310250)

(2) how many void (a) single living and (b) service family accommodation units his Department has in (i) the UK and (ii) overseas.

[holding answer 11 January 2010]: The latest number of void Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties in the UK and overseas are:

Location

UK (as at 4 January 2010)

Overseas (as at December 2009)

Total number of SFA

49,828

15,392

Number of void

7,889

2.461

As a percentage

15.8

16

Properties are void for various reasons, such as that they are awaiting routine moves of service personnel, improvement or modernisation work, demolition or disposal. While the Department is working hard to reduce the number of voids, there will always be a need for a management margin of properties to ensure they are available for service families.

In 2008, the proportion of void SFA worldwide reached 21 per cent. Although extremely challenging, the MOD is driving hard to reduce the percentage of voids to the target management margin of 10 per cent. by 2012.

Void Single Living Accommodation is defined as those bed-spaces which are available but not currently required for occupation by single service personnel. The most recent figures we have (December 2008) indicate that of the available 145,000 bed-spaces worldwide, some 18,000 (12 per cent.) were void. Of these some 13,000 (9 per cent.) were in the UK and 5,000 (3 per cent.) overseas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on (a) building and (b) upkeep of armed forces’ housing in each service in each year since 1996. (310254)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 11 October 2007, Official Report, column 695W. The majority of the building of new Service Family Accommodation (SFA) since 1996 has been through Private Finance Initiatives. This has seen 1,391 new houses built by the Private Sector in Great Britain (GB) since 1998. The estimated capital value of these houses was some £212 million. Annual payments are being made to the contractors over the life of the contracts ranging from 20 to 30 years.

In addition, the Department has directly invested in both the new build and major refurbishment of SFA. Due to the changed contractual arrangements and transfer of responsibility between various parts of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), expenditure in GB can be provided only on a consistent basis back to 2001-02.

£ million

Capital expenditure

Maintenance and upgrade

2001-02

25.3

123.0

2002-03

25.5

92.0

2003-04

25.2

103.0

2004-05

12.1

91.6

2005-06

28.0

109.2

2006-07

3.9

134.9

2007-08

1.9

157.3

2008-09

1.1

148.9

Expenditure elsewhere in the world has been through a large number of contractual arrangements managed throughout the MOD and the information could be collated only at disproportionate cost.

The housing stock is not managed on a single service basis.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the NIITEK Husky Mine Detection System. (310489)

While it is planned to assess the NIITEK Husky Mine Detection System as part of a wider assessment, I cannot go into the specific details as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the operational security of our armed forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the armed forces have a requirement for a vehicle-mounted mine detection system. (310490)

A range of equipment is in service to counter the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and mines, but no single piece of equipment can provide complete protection. While it is impossible to protect troops from every eventuality, we do everything possible to tackle the risks posed by IEDs, both in terms of equipment capability, but also the critical areas of tactics and training. I cannot go into the specific details of technical solutions, such as electronic counter-measures, as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the operational security of our armed forces.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) area and (b) estimated value is of (i) vacant and (ii) occupied office space (A) owned and (B) rented by his Department. (310532)

Within Defence, the civil office estate is defined as that which is capable of being shared with other Government Departments. Information in respect of these offices will take some time to collect and verify. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Other office space outside this definition includes facilities within armed forces establishments and buildings. This information is not recorded and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many planned visits by Ministers in his Department within the UK were cancelled within 72 hours of the visit taking place in the last 12 months; and what the planned venue or venues were for each such visit. (309880)

This information is not centrally held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Ministerial visits are made on the basis that they are provisional and subject to parliamentary and Government business. It is not normal practice of Government to report on cancelled visits.

Departmental Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many properties owned by his Department had been unused for between one and five years in (a) England, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK on the latest date for which figures are available. (310650)

Details of all properties of all types on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) estate that are unused and the length of time each has been so is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Further to my answer of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 828W, we have been able to assemble some details of void living accommodation. The following table details Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in the UK that has been unused for between one and five years. It has not been possible separately to identify SFA in England. The majority of these properties are owned by Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL) and are leased to the Department.

Number of SFA properties void between one and five years as at 12 January 2010

Number

England and Wales

1,784

Scotland

173

UK total (including NI)

2,077

SFA properties that have been void for the longest periods are those that are mainly held awaiting large future redeployments of personnel, pending return to AHL or awaiting demolition, or where decisions on the future of MOD sites have yet to be made. SFA may also be void where there is likely to be a long-term (rather than short-term) need for SFA in that area or where major modernisation or upgrade work is to be carried out.

In those areas where void SFA is required in the long-term but not in the short to medium-term, the Department is actively seeking arrangements with local authorities, housing associations and private landlords to temporarily sub let properties.

In 2008 the proportion of void SFA reached 21 per cent. Although extremely challenging, the MOD is driving hard to reduce the percentage of voids to the target management margin of 10 per cent. by 2012.

Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people are being detained by UK authorities (a) under suspicion of and (b) charged with terrorist offences in military operational theatres. (306923)

Members of the UK armed forces detain personnel only in Afghanistan. As of 31 December 2009, 15 people were held in detention by UK armed forces in Afghanistan. The UK is not responsible for charging detainees; this is the responsibility of the Afghanistan authorities once they are transferred from UK custody.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Low-carbon Technologies

15. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions have taken place between his Department and the Department for Energy and Climate Change on policy to support companies developing low-carbon technologies. (310591)

In July last year, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, we published the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, which provides a strategic view of Britain's low-carbon strengths and opportunities for UK-based companies. It included the first investments from £405 million allocated at Budget to low-carbon industries. In December's pre-Budget report, we committed a further £150 million for low-carbon investment. This money will go to sectors such as wind and wave power, low-carbon vehicles and green manufacturing.

Further Education

16. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps the Government plan to take to encourage mature students and part-time students to undertake courses; and if he will make a statement. (310592)

We continue to support a wide range of flexible provision including foundation degrees, e-learning, Train to Gain and employer co-funding to increase participation among mature and part-time students.

Sony Ericsson: Coventry

17. To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with Sony Ericsson on its decision to close a research and development facility in Coventry. (310593)