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Written Answers

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Electoral Commission Committee

Local Government: Suffolk

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission how many Boundary Committee employees have visited Suffolk for the purposes of their work on the reorganisation of local government in Suffolk; what the duration of the stay was of each such visit; and what the cost was of (a) accommodation and (b) subsistence in respect of each such visit. (314863)

The Electoral Commission informs me that seven Boundary Committee staff visited Suffolk in connection with the structural review of local government in Suffolk.

The Commission further informs me that as the reviews of Suffolk and Norfolk were closely linked in the Secretary of State's request for advice, meetings in the two counties were frequently held on the same day, or on consecutive days. Accommodation and subsistence costs relating to these meetings were recorded together.

The total accommodation and subsistence cost of the visits to Suffolk, calculated where necessary on a pro rata basis according to the proportion of time spent at Suffolk meetings, was £1564.38. I will write to the hon. Member with a detailed breakdown of these costs and will place a copy of my letter in the Library.

Postal Votes

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what recent estimate the Electoral Commission has made of the average proportion of returned postal votes sent back to local authorities within 24 hours of close of poll in each of the last five years. (308783)

The Electoral Commission informs me that there is no requirement for returning officers to record the number of postal ballot packs received in any period before the close of poll. Returning officers are required to report the number of postal ballot packs returned in the 25 days after the close of poll, including those which were deemed undeliverable by the Royal Mail, and the latest figures are available on the Commission website at:

www.electoralcommission.org.uk

Returning officers are not required to provide information relating solely to the period of 24 hours after close of poll.

Defence

Armed Forces: Expenses

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces received annual remuneration, including benefits, of at least £100,000 in the latest year for which figures are available. (316375)

There are currently 800 out of 174,890 members of the armed forces who are paid in excess of £100,000. 674 of these are in the medical and dental professions reflecting the special skills they are required to hold. The remainder are senior officers in a variety of strategic leadership and senior command appointments.

Armed Forces: Furniture

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on household furniture for properties occupied by members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above. (316373)

The information is not held in the format requested.

Furniture is made available for all members of the armed forces who occupy public accommodation if it is requested and a charge for its use is reflected in the rent deducted from the occupant. There is no requirement to separately account for the furniture provided to all officers of 1 Star status and above.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on accommodation for members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above in each of the last 12 months. (316391)

[holding answer 8 February 2010]: The information is not held in the format requested.

Members of the armed forces are entitled to live in publicly funded accommodation. Where this is not available, accommodation will be provided through either substitute service single accommodation or substitute service family accommodation. There is no requirement to separately account for the accommodation provided to all officers in the group requested.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on hotel accommodation for members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above in each of the last 12 months. (316392)

[holding answer 8 February 2010]: The information is not held in the format requested.

Hotel accommodation is required when a member of the armed forces is on temporary duty away from their parent unit and there is no Service facility that can accommodate them locally.

The majority of the MOD's hotel bookings are made through the Defence Hotel Reservation Service. However, this is not exclusive, as hotel accommodation may be included in a residential training course or privately arranged at very short notice.

To determine how much has been spent by this specific group would require a manual search of a number of records which could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many troops are stationed at each location in Northern Ireland. (316410)

As at 1 November 2009 the number of regular service personnel stationed at regular military locations in Northern Ireland was as follows:

Location

Number

Abercorn Barracks, Ballykinler

680

Joint Helicopter Command Flying Station, Aldergrove

850

Duke of Connaught Unit, Belfast1

50

Kinnegar Base

360

Massereene Barracks, Antrim

510

Palace Barracks, Holy wood

690

Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn

1290

1As MOD announced in a written ministerial statement on 26 November 2009, Official Report, column 89, DCU will close by 1 April 2010.

In addition there were some 100 regular service personnel serving at Reserve Forces locations throughout Northern Ireland.

Armed Forces: Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on hired cars for members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above in each of the last 12 months. (316376)

This information is not held in the format requested.

When a member of the armed forces is required to travel on duty the most economical mode of travel is to be utilised. When travel by road is necessary, pool cars will be used. However, when this is not available a hire car will be authorised. There is no requirement to separately account for the hire cars provided to those officers in the group requested. To do so would require the manual search of all requests which could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Visits Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on overseas travel for members of the armed forces with a rank of Brigadier or equivalent and above in each of the last 12 months. (316377)

The information is not held in the format requested.

When there is a need to travel overseas, MOD charter aircraft will be used where possible. When this is not available, overseas travel will be arranged through Hogg Robinson Travel, under contract to the MOD, to ensure the best value for money is obtained. However, this is not exclusive, as overseas travel may be included as part of a training course or privately arranged at very short notice.

There is no requirement to account for the rank of brigadier or equivalent and above separately and to do so would require a manual search of records thus incurring a disproportionate cost.

Greater use of video and telephone conferencing is being encouraged to reduce the time and money expended on overseas travel.

Depleted Uranium: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times depleted uranium shells have been test-fired in Scotland in 2009 at each test-firing location. (316751)

No depleted uranium shells were test-fired in Scotland in 2009. The last test firings took place on 11 and 12 March 2008, when a total of 20 rounds were fired at the Kirkcudbright Range in Scotland

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many problems have been reported with the Brimstone missile system (a) in operational situations and (b) during testing since it entered service. (316510)

There have been no reported problems with the original Brimstone missile system since it entered service in 2005. A variant, known as Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone, was developed as an Urgent Operational Requirement; it entered operational service in 2008. Since then, two problems have been reported and these are being addressed in consultation with the prime contractor. Neither prevents the DMS Brimstone missile system being used operationally.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft: Cost

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to date of development of the Brimstone missile system has been. (316511)

The cost of developing the original Brimstone Missile System was £370 million. Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone was developed as a variant of the original Brimstone system. Development costs specifically for the DMS variant amounted to about £10 million.

RAF Lyneham: Weather

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many days RAF Lyneham was closed as a result of recent adverse weather conditions. [Official Report, 22 February 2010, Vol. 506, c. 4MC.] (315787)

Between 1 and 17 January, RAF Lyneham closed only once on 6 January between 2.40 am and 3.12 pm, a total of 11 and a half hours. This was to enable the runway to be cleared of snow and ice. This limited period of closure was due to the fact that Lyneham has a short runway and clearance could be completed quickly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the effect of meteorological differences between RAF Lyneham and RAF Brize Norton on their operational sustainability. (315788)

An assessment of weather factors at various RAF airfields during the period 2004-09 indicated that while neither station was closed for flying operations on a frequent or regular basis, RAF Lyneham was unavailable to aircraft, because of poor weather conditions, on marginally more occasions than RAF Brize Norton.

Careful consideration of all relevant factors was made in coming to the decision to base the Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Fleet at RAF Brize Norton.

The runway at RAF Lyneham is not long enough to facilitate all of the aircraft in the RAF’s Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Fleets. RAF Brize Norton is assessed to be fully capable of operationally sustaining the Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Fleets.

Scotland

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department paid to the Government Car and Despatch Agency in each of the last five years; how much it has spent on such payments in 2009-10; and what proportion of such payments was made in respect of the Government Car Service. (316426)

The cost for Scotland Office ministerial cars are reported annually to Parliament by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport through written ministerial statements and are available in the Libraries of the House.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) empty and (b) occupied residential properties his Department owns; and what recent estimate he has made of the (i) potential annual rental and (ii) total book value of those (A) empty and (B) occupied residential properties. (313793)

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) currently owns three residential properties of which one is empty and two are occupied.

The empty residential property is currently for sale at a value of £180,000. There is no potential annual rental figure available for this property.

One occupied residential property has a fixed asset register value of £366,827. Annual rental figure for this property is £12,000 per annum.

The third residential property has a fixed asset register value of £288,260. There is no potential annual rental figure available for this property.

Potential rental value for the two occupied properties is kept under regular review.

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff in his Department have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last three years. (316457)

There were 118 employees in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) who have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last three years. The Northern Ireland Office robustly monitors and takes appropriate action in the management of all sickness absence.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to ensure that the outputs from publicly-funded research related to agriculture are available for on-farm use. (315972)

Research is commissioned to inform policy development and dissemination for on-farm use is through specific policy areas. All DEFRA-funded research is publicly available on the DEFRA website. In addition, DEFRA joint funds research with industry through Farming and Food LINK programmes.

Cabinet Committees: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates the Cabinet Sub-Committee on food has met since its creation; and who attended each meeting. (315006)

The sub-committee has met four times since its creation. However, further information is not available in the form requested, as the proceedings of Cabinet Committees are not generally disclosed. The membership of the sub-committee and its terms of reference are available at:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/secretariats/committees/daf.aspx

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many layers of management reporting from the most senior to the most junior there are in his Department and each of its agencies; how many officials are employed in each such layer; and how much was spent on salaries and associated employment costs of staff at each such layer in the latest year for which information is available. (312826)

The information is as follows:

Core DEFRA (including Animal Health, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Marine Fisheries Agency)

The following table shows the number of staff at those grades which hold line management responsibility as at 31 December 2009, expressed as full-time equivalents, along with the average annual pay costs for each grade for a single individual. Pay costs include salary, allowances, non-consolidated performance related variable pay, National Insurance contributions and superannuation charges. Further associated employment costs are only available at disproportionate cost. Staff numbers include permanent and fixed-term appointments.

Senior Civil Service figures shown include staff in the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).

Grade

Staff in post (FTE)

Average annual pay cost (£)

EO

890.41

32,559

HEO

896.14

39,593

SEO

374.38

48,770

Grade 7

807.67

65,860

Grade 6

153.28

79,310

SCS Deputy Director

137.56

110,246

SCS Director

22.79

144,966

SCS Director General

5.36

187,684

Permanent Secretary

0.89

237,490

Rural Payment Agency

RPA has seven layers of management from the SCS (Director) level to Executive Office (EO). In the 2008-09 financial year this equated to 1,622.55 people (FTE).

The amount spent on salaries and associated employment costs of staff in each management layer below the SCS are shown in the following table:

Grade levels

Staff Number (FTE)1

Cost (£000)2

Grade 6

26.67

2,161

Grade 7

83.79

5,462

SEO

162.94

7,988

HEO

390.66

15,240

EO

951.13

30,354

Grand Total

3338.77

101,419

1 Staff numbers include all permanent and fixed term employed staff shown as full time equivalent (FTE)

2 Costs include salaries, employer national insurance contributions, superannuation, social security costs, and early retirement/severance expenditure.

Note:

Information has been taken from the 2008-09 Annual Report

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

The following table summarises staff in post, expressed as full-time equivalents, for each relevant grade. It also shows the total pay by grade for the month of December 2009 and the average cost per grade for the same.

Grade

FTEs as at 31 December 2009

Pay by grade for December, 2009 (inc ERs Pension and NIC) (£)

Average pay cost by grade for December, 2009 (£)

PB3 (EO)

85

150,499

1,777

PB4 (HEO)

123

266,726

2,166

PB5 (HSO)

111

324,146

2,916

PB6 (SSO)

96

343,930

3,580

PB7 (Grade 7)

49

246,258

5,013

PB8 (Grade 6)

20

132,529

6,571

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

The following table summarises the number of staff by grade, expressed as full-time equivalents, and the salary and associated costs for the 2008-09 financial year for each grade. Costs include overtime, sale of annual leave and bonus payments.

Pay band

Headcount by pay band FTE

Salary and associated costs 2008-09 FY (£)

Pay Band A (G6)

19.39

2,013,415

Pay Band B (G7)

42.98

3,383,888

Pay Band C (SEO)

161.43

7,830,307

Pay Band D (HEO)

158.09

6,320,099

Pay Band E (EO)

259.35

8,134,704

Food and Environment Research Agency

The following table summarises non-SCS staff in post as at 31 December 2009, expressed as full time equivalents. It also shows the average paybill cost for an individual in each grade. Paybill costs include salary, employer's national insurance contributions and employer's superannuation payments.

Grade

FTE in post as at 31 December 2009

Average paybill cost (£)

Band 3 (EO)

218.6

28,329

Band 4 (HEO)

219.6

36,658

Band 5 (SEO)

111.7

45,417

Band 6 (G7)

73.3

63,119

Band 7 (G6)

16.5

79,173

Feltham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to Feltham and Heston constituency, the effects on that constituency of changes to his Department's policies since 1997. (316676)

Due to the broad nature of the question and the wide range of DEFRA policies implemented in Feltham and Heston, which falls under Hounslow council, it is not possible to provide a detailed answer in the form requested.

As a local authority, Hounslow is obliged through statute to comply with central Government legislation. DEFRA's policy responsibilities are summarised in its departmental strategic objectives (DSOs) that have been agreed with the Treasury:

To promote a society that is adapting to the effects of climate change, through a national programme of action and a contribution to international action.

To promote a healthy, resilient, productive and diverse natural environment.

To promote sustainable, low carbon and resource efficient patterns of consumption and production.

To promote an economy and a society that are resilient to environmental risk.

To champion sustainable development.

To promote a thriving farming and food sector with an improving net environmental impact.

To encourage a sustainable, secure and healthy food supply.

To provide socially and economically sustainable rural communities.

To be a respected Department delivering efficient and high quality services and outcomes.

DEFRA publishes annual departmental reports which set out progress against its public service agreement targets and DSOs. The 2009 report is available at:

www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/how/deprep/2009-report.htm

Past reports are available online in the National Archives.

For information on a specific DEFRA policy in Hounslow, the Government Office for London is able to provide information on implementation and the benefits to the area.

Floods: Cumbria

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding has been made available to clear debris and polluted material from farmland following the 2009 floods in Cumbria; and if he will make a statement. (316539)

DEFRA has made £500,000 from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) available to farmers affected by the Cumbrian floods, to help bring their land back to agricultural use. This will provide up to £6,800 per applicant and is being delivered by the RDPE Local Action Groups. The deadline for applications for this funding has been extended until 26 February 2010.

Hotels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on hotel accommodation for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials of his Department in each of the last five years. (305663)

A centralised booking service contract was introduced in the core department in late 2006-07, from which the information stated has been taken and therefore only covers the period January to March 2007 of the 2006-07 year. Information prior to this date and hotel accommodation used but not reserved through the central booking service contract could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

£

April 2006 to March 2007

87,950

April 2007 to March 2008

358, 866

April 2008 to March 2009

541,311

April 2009 to November 2009

399,140

Information on the split of hotel expenditure between Ministers, special advisers and civil servants could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Travel by Ministers and special advisers, and civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code respectively. The Cabinet Office produces annual lists of overseas trips undertaken by Ministers costing over £500.

These can be accessed at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/ministers/travel_gifts.aspx

The list for 2008-09 was published on 16 July 2009. This and earlier lists are available in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many hotel room nights were booked by officials in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies in each year since 2007; and how much (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies spent on the fees of third party agents in booking hotel accommodation in each of those years. (309061)

A centralised booking service contract was introduced in late 2006-07, from which the information stated has been taken and therefore only covers the period January to March 2007 of 2006-07.

The number of hotel room nights booked over this period by officials in the core-Department, and the agencies for which such information is held, are in the table.

The significant number of nights in 2007-08 for Animal Health relates to the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks.

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-101

Core-DEFRA

971

3,840

6,108

4,343

Animal Health Agency

623

20,515

682

2

Rural Payments Agency

5,510

13,149

9,887

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

23

301

390

259

1 April to November.

Bookings made by officials outside the centralised booking service could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Fees were not paid to third party agents for the bookings.

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will put in place supporting measures for fishermen not permitted to fish in ancestral grounds following the entry into force of the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 establishing Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Conservation Zones. (316931)

Special Areas of Conservation (SACS) are not designated as a result of the provisions in the Marine and Coastal Access Act. They are created through the Habitats Regulations 1994 and Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007, transposing the EC Habitats Directive. Fishing activity is not necessarily entirely prohibited in these areas, or in Marine Conservation Zones.

We want to work with the industry to minimise the impact of designations on fishing activity, and to develop a package of mitigation and adaptation support. There are real opportunities for the fishermen affected to be involved in this work. The European Fisheries Fund offers opportunities for financial support to the industry in order to assist with adaptation. Additionally, the Sustainable Access to Inshore Fisheries Project aims to set out proposals for long term sustainability in the fleet later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 establishing Special Areas of Conservation and Marine Conservation Zones to enter into force. (316932)

Part 5 of the Act (Nature Conservation) commenced in England on 12 January 2010. On this date Lundy Island, originally designated as a Marine Nature Reserve under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, automatically became our first MCZ. The Government have asked the statutory nature conservation bodies to come forward with advice by autumn 2011 on sites to be designated as Marine Conservation Zones. They will then consult interested parties in 2012 before taking final decisions on designation later in that year.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated under the provisions of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 and the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007, which transpose the EC habitats and wild birds directives, not under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Under these directives, member states are required to nominate sites to the European Commission. The Government expect to nominate an additional 10 SACs, and two further Special Protection Areas under the wild birds directive, to the Commission in October 2010. Stakeholders are consulted on the scientific case before nominations are put forward to the Commission.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Detainees

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the US administration on the closure of Guantánamo Bay. (316864)

The UK has long called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Ministers and officials continue to discuss with the US Government how best we can work with them to achieve this goal, most recently in January 2010. The UK has already made a significant contribution to reducing the number of detainees in Guantanamo Bay by taking back 14 individuals. We will continue to share our experience in accepting former Guantanamo detainees with our European partners and others to help support the closure of the facility.

British Overseas Territories: EC Grants and Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether overseas territories are eligible to apply for funding from EU research programmes. (316607)

In accordance with Article 58 of the Overseas Association Decision (OAD), the instrument which determines the relationship between the EU and the overseas countries and territories (OCTs), Territories are eligible for funding from EU research programmes.

Territories have found it difficult in practice to access this and other funding streams to which they are eligible. This is an area which I and my officials have raised regularly with the Commission and it is something which we want to address in the re-negotiation of the OAD.

Burma: Arms Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has had discussions with the government of (a) Canada, (b) New Zealand and (c) Brazil on an arms embargo against Burma. (316244)

The Government maintains a dialogue with a wide range of international partners on Burma, including the governments of Canada and New Zealand. In recent weeks we have also shared details of our position on Burma with Brazil, which became a non-permanent member of the Security Council in January.

In August 2009, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his fellow UN Security Council members underlining that no one should be selling arms to a military regime with an appalling human rights record. A global arms embargo remains a priority for this Government, and we will continue to press for progress in our bilateral contacts and in relevant multi-lateral fora.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of arms trading with Burma, with particular reference to arms from (a) India, (b) Russia and (c) China; and what assessment he has made of the effects of such trade on the situation in Burma. (316582)

The Government believe that no one should be selling arms to the Burmese regime in view of their appalling human rights record and the high likelihood arms supplied will be use for internal repression. An EU arms embargo has been in place since 1996, and we are working to build support for a global arms embargo. To this end, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to the UN Secretary General and all members of the Security Council in August 2009.

Reports suggest that India, China and Russia have all supplied arms to Burma. China is believed to be the leading arms supplier and in early January 2010, media reports suggested Russia had agreed to supply $600 million of combat aircraft and arms to the Burma regime. In response to these reports, our embassy in Moscow raised our concerns with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ability of Burma to continue to purchase arms from a wide range of suppliers has helped to reduce their defence and security costs and modernise an army responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses.

Burma: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had in the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations General Assembly on reports of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. (316245)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with (a) his EU counterparts, (b) the United Nations Human Rights Council and (c) the United Nations General Assembly on reports of crimes against humanity in Burma. (316378)

The Government remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma and we regularly raise the issue with EU and other international partners, and in the UN's human rights bodies. At the last session of the Human Rights Council in September 2009, and at the UN General Assembly in November 2009, we helped to secure strong resolutions condemning the Burmese regime for ongoing and systematic human rights abuses. We will be looking to raise the issue again, and secure a further resolution, at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2010. In addition, we continue to give our full support to the efforts of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Thomas Ojea Quintana, who is due to visit the country soon.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aims and objectives he has set for the outcome of the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting on Burma. (316380)

At the 13th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2010 we will work to secure a further, strong resolution condemning the continuing human right abuses in Burma. In our national intervention, and in the resolution text, we will seek to emphasise that the dire human rights situation, including the continued detention of 2100 political prisoners, child labour and the treatment of displaced people remain cause of significant concern. Burma's treatment of political leaders and suppression of freedom of expression undermine the credibility of elections planned for later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to secure EU targeted sanctions against the government of Burma until the human rights situation in Burma improves. (316581)

The Government continue to believe that targeted EU sanctions against the military regime in Burma are an important means of maintaining pressure for political reform and respect for human rights. Sanctions introduced in 1996 have been strengthened over time, notably after the Saffron Revolution in 2007, and in August 2009 in response to the guilty verdict in Aung San Suu Kyi's trial. They are now among the EU's toughest autonomous measures against any country. The UK will not support any easing of sanctions in the absence of tangible progress on the ground.

Burma: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions in the United Nations Human Rights Council on the arrest of pro-democracy activist Nyi Nyi Aung in Burma in September 2009. (316241)

We are deeply concerned at the arrest and imprisonment of Nyi Nyi Aung and are monitoring his case closely.

We continue to take every opportunity to raise the detention of Burma's 2100 political prisoners in the UN's Human Rights bodies. At the last session of the Human Rights Council in September 2009, and at the UN General Assembly in November 2009, we helped to secure strong resolutions calling for the release of all of political prisoners. We will be looking to raise the issue again, and secure a further resolution, at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the Burmese authorities on permitting the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume its inspection of prisons in Burma. (316242)

The refusal of the Burmese authorities to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) independent and unsupervised access to political prisoners remains a grave concern, particularly as the number of prisoners of conscience has doubled to over 2100 since the 'Saffron revolution' in autumn 2007. We continue to urge the military government to co-operate fully with the ICRC and allow an immediate resumption of prison visits.

The UN General Assembly highlighted their concern at the condition of prisons and urged the regime to comply with human rights law in a resolution passed in November 2009. Our Ambassador in Rangoon last raised the issue of independent prison access for the ICRC to the Burmese government in August 2009 during the last visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma. Our Ambassador regularly raises the plight of political prisoners with Burmese ministers, and we remain in close contact with the ICRC on this issue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received reports on the recent sentencing and imprisonment of a journalist who worked with the Democratic Voice of Burma. (316243)

We are aware that Democratic Voice of Burma journalist Ngwe Soe Lin was sentenced to 13 years in prison on 27 January 2010 by a Burmese military court for offences under the Electronic and Immigration Emergency Provisions Acts. This case follows the recent sentencing of two other journalists from the Democratic Voice of Burma to 20 and 26 years imprisonment respectively. At least 13 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in Burma, as the Burmese authorities seek to prevent the free flow of information in advance of elections planned for later this year.

The Government have consistently called on the military authorities to release all of Burma's over 2100 prisoners of conscience. Without their release, elections planned for later this year can have no international credibility.

Burma: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will request the United Nations Security Council to undertake a review of the 2008 Burmese constitution together with representatives of (a) pro-democracy, (b) ethnic and (c) other groups in Burma. (316379)

In November 2009 the UK helped to secure a UN General Assembly Resolution on the human rights situation in Burma, which called on the Burmese authorities to undertake a transparent, inclusive and comprehensive review of the Constitution while fully engaging with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups. We believe that a process of dialogue involving all actors in Burma will ensure a sustainable transition to democracy. This view is shared by other members of the EU and the United States of America.

In the UN Security Council, we regularly test the level of consensus for action on Burma, and have succeeded in securing discussion and a number of important Presidential Statements since autumn 2007. We do not judge, however, that an attempt to secure a Security Council review on the 2008 Constitution now would be successful. A resolution on Burma tabled in January 2007 was vetoed by two Permanent Members of the Council and any attempt to invalidate the Constitution will suffer the same fate.

China: Christianity

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Chinese authorities on the case of the Alimjan Himit. (316240)

The case of Alimjan Himit (who is also known as Alimujiang Yimiti) was last raised at the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2009 as part of an individual case list. At that time we urged the Chinese to consider freeing Alimjan, and to ensure he had access to a defence lawyer. The Chinese replied then that Alimjan was being detained in Kashgar Detention Centre, that his physical conditions were normal and that he enjoyed the rights to family visits and to hire a defence lawyer. We will continue to monitor his case and raise it wherever appropriate.

Departmental Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any written instructions have been provided to his Department's Accounting Officer in accordance with paragraph 5.5 of the Ministerial Code since May 1997. (315562)

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UK embassies provide office space to officials of the Department for International Development; and how much is charged to that Department for that provision. (314181)

Co-location is the preferred option for both the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

We have 27 co-locations (Kabul, Luanda, Sarajevo, Brazilia, Rangoon, Phnom Penh, Kinshasa, Addis Ababa, Georgetown, Baghdad, Kingston, Amman, Nairobi, Lilongwe, Chisinau, Islamabad, Moscow, Kigali, Belgrade, Dushanbe, Dar Es Salaam, Bangkok, Kampala, Hanoi, Sana'a, Lusaka and Harare), which include locations where DfID occupy office space supplied by the FCO, share the same building as the FCO (all the named above except Kabul, Kinshasa, Addis Ababa, Islamabad, Moscow, Kampala, and Hanoi) or where DfID own properties on land provided by the FCO. We have a further 11 co-location projects in various stages of planning.

In 2008-09, the FCO charged DfID a total of £648,000 on the basis of office space occupied and services consumed.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people his Department employs to maintain its social media and networking sites; and at what cost. (315937)

One full-time member of staff maintains the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's blog platform at:

http://blogs.fco.gov.uk

and free social media channels such as Twitter:

www.twitter.com/foreignoffice

It is not possible to separate out the cost of the blog platform from the cost of the global web platform.

Departmental Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) meetings and (b) other contacts (i) Ministers and (ii) officials in his Department have had with (A) Niall Fitzgerald, (B) Keith Craig, (C) Sir Rod Eddington, (D) Sir Kieran Prendergast, (E) Robert Webb QC and (F) Mark Getty since 1 January 2009. (313776)

Ministers and officials meet many people as part of the process of policy development. It is not normal practice to disclose details of such meetings. A record of all individuals met by Foreign and Commonwealth officials and Ministers is not held centrally.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) new furnishings, (b) works of art and (c) new vehicles in each of the last two years. (312430)

I refer the hon. Member to the response provided by my hon. Friend. Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) on 17 November 2008, Official Report column 190W, in relation to 2007-08.

As my hon. Friend explained in her response, furnishings are not recorded in the fixed assets register. It would not be possible to provide the information required without incurring a disproportionate cost.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spend on motor vehicles in 2008-09 was £15,463,000. The majority of spend was for vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. These require additional security features that significantly increase costs. FCO Services spend on motor vehicles in 2008-09 was £179,000.

There was no spend on works of art.

Diplomatic Service: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2010, Official Report, column 239W, on departmental manpower, what the annual salary is of each (a) ambassador and (b) high commissioner serving overseas. (316233)

[holding answer 8 February 2010]: Our ambassadors and high commissioners (heads of mission) abroad are appointed from a range of civil service grades.

The pay ranges for staff in the senior civil service are determined centrally and based on the findings of the independent senior salaries review body.

For staff below the senior civil service, Departments are responsible for setting their own salary ranges following guidance issued by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

The average salary for a head of mission is £80,852. Information on the number of heads of mission receiving salaries over £90,000 is provided in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual departmental report, which can be viewed at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/4103709/5476465/departmental-report/dept-report-vol2-2

EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the scope and application of Article 122 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; whether he has sought legal advice on the scope and application of Article 122; what assessment he has made of any financial liability arising from the use of Article 122 to provide financial assistance to an EU member state in financial difficulties; and if he will make a statement. (315693)

The scope and application of Article 122 were subject to extensive debate during the passage of the Lisbon Treaty Bill. Any request for financial support in accordance with Article 122 would need to satisfy the specific criteria set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and would be considered on its individual merits by the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council, where it would be voted upon by qualified majority.

G20: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many companies tendered for the contract for the supply of public relations services for the London Summit with the heads of the G20 in April 2009; and to which company the contract was awarded. (315328)

As stated in my reply to the hon. Member on 16 September 2009, Official Report, column 2232W, no external public relations or public affairs firms were contracted to provide support for the London G20 summit. Eight companies submitted bids.

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department paid to the Government Car and Despatch Agency in each of the last five years; how much it has spent on such payments in 2009-10; and what proportion of such payments was made in respect of the Government Car Service. (316428)

Costs to Departments of ministerial cars are reported annually to Parliament by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport through written ministerial statement and are available in the Libraries of the House. Any other costs incurred with Government Car and Despatch Agency are not recorded centrally and are available only at disproportionate cost.

Government Hospitality: Wines

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 January 2010, Official Report, column 101W, on Government hospitality: wines, if he will publish the most recent (a) paper and (b) electronic copy of the Government wine cellar database. (314170)

[holding answer 29 January 2010]: The Government hospitality wine database contains sensitive commercial details about the pricing of wines as well as subjective comments on individual stock items, which could prove both commercially and reputationally damaging to suppliers and producers if released. I will place an illustrative list of wines held in the cellar in the Library of the House.

Haiti

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to visit Haiti in an official capacity. (315916)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary continues to follow the situation in Haiti closely and is in regular contact with our ambassador, the UN Secretary General and other counterparts, including Secretary Clinton. He has no plans to visit at this time.

Hakluyt

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 5 November 2009, Official Report, columns 1112-13W, on Hakluyt, what contacts Ministers in his Department have had with Hakluyt and Co since 1 January 2009; on what dates such contacts took place; and what form such contacts took. (312788)

Ministers and officials meet many people as part of the process of policy development. It is not normal practice to disclose details of such meetings. A record of all individuals met by Foreign and Commonwealth officials and Ministers is not held centrally.

Legal Services Commission: Billing

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Legal Services Commission has undertaken to observe the prompt payment code. (316110)

I have been asked to reply.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) is not a formal signatory of the Prompt Payment Code—a Government initiative introduced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to tackle the issue of late payments to businesses. However, the LSC has already taken its own steps to regulate and accelerate payments to legal aid providers. Standard monthly payments (SMP's) are made in advance for advice work completed under contract and in addition, weekly payments are made on bills submitted for civil representation work.

Newspaper Licensing Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what payments (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies made to the Newspaper Licensing Agency in each of the last 10 years. (315594)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) made the following payments to the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). Records are not available for the period 2000-02.

Total cost including VAT (£)

2009-10

82,595

2008-09

33,185

2007-08

7,257

2006-07

2,402

2005-06

2,209

2004-05

2,239

2003-04

2,068

2002-03

1,779

Prior to 2007 the FCO had a paper cuttings service. When we moved to the more environmentally friendly digital service, the NLA increased its fee as the digital information can now be provided across the whole of the FCO's worldwide network rather than just in the UK.

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the upholding of democratic principles through its activities. (315914)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in regular contact with his counterparts in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and will, as appropriate, discuss the OSCE's democratisation related activities.

Most recently, he spoke to Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister, Kanat Saudabayev, on 8 January 2010. The Foreign Secretary welcomed Kazakhstan's Chairmanship of the OSCE for 2010. He underlined the importance the UK attaches to the OSCE's work across all three dimensions—politico-military, economic and environmental and the human dimension which includes human rights and good governance. I reiterated these points during my 28 January meeting with Foreign Minister Saudabayev.

Palestinians

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visits to Gaza have been made by officials of his Department in the course of their duties in the last 12 months. (316213)

Our officials based in Jerusalem and, to a lesser extent, Tel Aviv, have visited Gaza on more than 20 occasions since January 2009. Our consulate general in Jerusalem also has two members of local staff permanently based in Gaza.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much the Government has spent on measures to combat piracy around the Horn of Africa in the last 12 months. (315918)

Piracy off Somalia is being tackled comprehensively across Government Departments in line with the Government's Somalia Strategy and in close co-ordination with international partners.

Over the last 12 months, the UK has contributed to three international counter-piracy operations: this has included the provision of the operation Headquarters and Operation Commander to the EU Naval Force (Operation ATALANTA); The common funded budget for Op ATALANTA in 2009-10, which is paid through the Athena mechanism, currently amounts to €17.64 million, with the UK share approximately £1.15 million. The UK also provides a frigate, tanker, the Deputy Commander and staff to Combined Maritime Forces; and a frigate to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Operation OCEAN SHIELD. Furthermore the UK also provides the UK Maritime Trade Organisation, co-ordinating the movement of merchant shipping and acting as a first point of contact for any ships attacked in the region. The cost of all Ministry of Defence counter piracy activity is not recorded centrally.

It is widely recognised that the solution to piracy lies on land in Somalia through security, economic, and judicial development. As part of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has led and funded two regional needs assessments missions including all key donors to discuss with Somali representatives and others in the region the priorities for capability development in the legal, judicial, penal and maritime security sectors. In line with the internationally agreed outcomes of these needs assessments, the UK and other partners are supporting security sector reform in the region, including assistance to coastguards that will improve maritime security in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. The FCO has also funded the participation of Somali representatives in CGPCS-related activity.

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account is taken of the views of Sri Lankans resident in the UK in formulating UK foreign policy on Sri Lanka. (316580)

In formulating its policy towards Sri Lanka the UK takes into consideration all relevant factors, including the views of the Government of Sri Lanka and other international partners. The views of British nationals of Sri Lankan origin are also considered. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly meet with representatives from Sri Lankan communities. Ministers and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Des Browne), have also had meetings with them. The UK's view remains that lasting peace in Sri Lanka can only come about through a fully inclusive political process that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. Following the recent presidential election in Sri Lanka my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to President Rajapakse urging him to use his mandate to take forward that process. Genuine reconciliation between Sri Lanka's communities will depend in large part on the Government protecting and promoting the rights of all Sri Lankans.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the proposed appointment of a mediator for Sudan. (316358)

We have pressed for strong UN and African Union (AU) leadership as Sudan enters this crucial period, for example in my joint statement on 9 January 2010 with Hilary Clinton and Jonas Store on the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock and the UK Special Representative for Sudan discussed these issues during the AU summit in January with Haile Menkerios, the new Special Representative of the Secretary General for the UN Mission, and Ibrahim Gambari, the new AU/UN Joint Special Representative for the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur. We are also working closely to support the efforts of Djibril Bassole as AU/UN Chief Mediator on Darfur, and Thabo Mbeki as chair of the AU High Level Panel. In liaison with international partners, we will continue to press too for maximum co-ordination and efficiency between them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed with the Secretary of State for International Development the matter of the end of the Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement. (316361)

The Foreign Secretary, International Development Secretary and other Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID) Ministers work very closely together on Sudan, drawing on the work of the Joint DFID-FCO Sudan Unit. My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development gave a joint press briefing on 6 January 2010 ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=21534511

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for a more proactive mandate for the United Nations Mission in Sudan at the meeting of the UN Security Council in April 2010. (316357)

We have consistently pressed for a proactive, robust approach by the UN Mission (UNMIS) in Sudan. My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock and the UK Special Representative for Sudan discussed these issues with the new UNMIS Special Representative of the Secretary General, Haile Menkerios, and UN officials at the African Union Summit on 27-28 January 2010. During Security Council consultations on 26 January 2010 we urged the Council to prioritise protection of civilians in the UNMIS mandate. This will remain a priority for the UK in the lead up to the mandate renewal in April.

Sudan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed Sudan with the (a) US administration, (b) Chinese government and (c) African Union. (316359)

At the African Union (AU) summit on 27-28 January my noble Friend Baroness Kinnock discussed Sudan with US Special Envoy Scott Gration and senior State and National Security Council officials, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and the AU Peace and Security Commissioner. We will continue to engage with them and with others both in the region and internationally.

Prime Minister

Departmental Internet

To ask the Prime Minister what redesigns of websites operated by his Office have taken place since 27 June 2007; and what the (a) cost to the public purse and (b) date of completion of each such redesign was. (306191)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 888W.

Dissolution

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what progress has been made on his proposal that the approval of the House of Commons should be sought for a request for a dissolution of Parliament since 3 July 2007; (316337)

(2) whether he plans to seek the approval of the House before exercising his power to request a dissolution of Parliament.

Wales

Rural Economy

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the First Minister to discuss the prospects for the rural economy in Wales. (315873)

A strong rural economy is vital to Wales as a whole, even more so as we exit the recession and look to continue to grow over the coming year.

Employment

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of levels of employment in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (315874)

Latest figures show that the employment level in Wales increased by 6,000 on last quarter, to 1.304 million, an increase of 94,000 since 1997.

The Government’s extra investment in jobs, education and training is making a real difference in Wales, helping people through the recession and preventing the kind of unemployment we saw haunt Wales in the eighties and nineties. This fragile recovery would be wrecked by the Tories.

ProAct and ReAct

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the ProAct and ReAct programmes in Wales. (315876)

Since the start of the economic crisis we have worked in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government through the regular All Wales Economic Summits, where initiatives such as ProAct were born.

One of the main focuses of the next All Wales Economic Summit which I will attend tomorrow in Llanelli will be the ProAct initiative.

South Wales Police

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on levels of public confidence in South Wales Police. (315877)

South Wales Police have an excellent record on dealing with crime and antisocial behaviour. I would therefore like to see higher levels of public confidence, though I am pleased to note that latest figures from the British Crime Survey do show the number of respondents expressing confidence in delivery has increased by over 22 per cent. since last year.

The Policing White Paper contains a raft of measures aimed at improving public confidence in the Police across England and Wales. Where a force, such as South Wales, is performing well on dealing with crime but public confidence remains low, this could be due to a number of reasons. For example more work might need to be done to ensure the successful work taking place is being communicated effectively to the public. The commitments to information provision and holding public forums within the policing pledge should assist with this.

Knowledge Economy

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the development of the knowledge economy in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (315875)

I have regular discussions with the First Minister on the Welsh economy and he and I both recognise the importance of developing the knowledge economy in Wales.

Now that the UK economy has returned to growth it is vital that we ensure our workforce and our innovative businesses are equipped to face the challenges of the recovery.

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff in his Department have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days in two or more of the last three years. (316453)

Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the new First Minister on means of encouraging greater voter participation in Wales in the forthcoming general election. (316222)

I discuss a range of issues including means of encouraging voter participation with the First Minister. The level of turnout in recent elections have been disappointing and the Government and the Electoral Commission are always looking at ways of addressing this issue.

Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what the monetary value was of high technology sector exports from Wales (a) in total and (b) to China in the last five years; (315789)

(2) what the monetary value was of exports from each (a) sector and (b) industry in Wales in each of the last five years;

(3) what estimate he has made of the monetary value of financial services provided from Wales to overseas in the latest period for which figures are available; and what proportion of UK exports (a) in total and (b) to China such services accounted for in each of the last five years;

A breakdown of total Welsh exports by product sector is provided in Table 1 and similar data for exports to China are provided in Table 2.

No breakdown exists that details high technology products although some of the industries in the tables do have high technology as a feature of their activity. For exports to China, information can be provided only for the top four industries and no breakdown of the export of financial services is available.

These figures clearly demonstrate the vibrancy of Welsh exports and their strength in new markets with total exports to China in creasing by over 60 per cent. in the last year for which figures are available.

Table 1: Value of Welsh exports to all countries, latest data

Value (£ million)

Year ending:

Product sector

Q3 2005

Q3 2006

Q3 2007

Q3 2008

Q3 20091

Energy

1,248.5

1,732.0

1,649.6

2,339.8

1,933.6

Engineering

1,433.7

1,441.1

1,169.6

1,170.6

1,865.7

Metals

1,654.7

1,855.2

2,204.8

2,397.8

1,649.3

Chemicals

1,319.5

1,108.6

1,075.3

1,168.8

1,093.9

IT and electronics

490.5

458.6

397.8

661.3

554.4

Automotive

845.3

888.4

792.0

562.0

402.3

Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals

103.0

145.4

292.5

429.1

362.1

Household goods

446.9

349.3

337.2

294.3

248.4

Healthcare

182.7

188.8

177.6

206.2

193.3

Paper and packaging

197.0

153.7

190.4

184.2

187.7

Telecommunications

221.8

325.3

141.8

145.5

146.5

Giftware

129.8

101.3

96.0

111.4

135.6

Agriculture

123.0

146.7

117.2

96.4

115.2

Recreation and leisure

57.2

97.3

95.7

98.0

103.6

Food and drink

56.5

43.7

36.2

65.0

76.5

Oil and gas

29.8

51.3

58.1

68.2

75.6

Building

83.3

92.1

86.8

85.6

73.7

Environment

29.5

27.2

29.1

35.8

39.5

Textiles

46.2

48.3

38.7

35.8

33.6

Clothing

15.9

16.3

21.6

25.4

29.6

Security

22.7

20.3

23.4

26.6

23.6

Creative and media

41.5

22.3

14.1

14.2

18.0

Transport

9.8

16.6

10.0

9.0

12.4

Unknown

0.3

0.7

12.1

22.4

23.4

Total

8,788.9

9,330.5

9,067.6

10,253.5

9,397.7

1 Provisional

Source:

Statistics and Analysis of Trade Unit, HM Revenue and Customs, 25 November 2009

Table 2: Value of Welsh exports to China, latest data

Value (£ million)

Year ending:

Product sector

Q3 2005

Q3 2006

Q3 2007

Q3 2008

Q3 20091

Top 4 sectors by value in latest year

Engineering

123.3

101.3

58.1

68.7

153.8

Chemicals

10.7

13.8

14.2

13.5

19.0

Metals

38.1

29.6

28.3

26.8

19.0

Automotive

1.5

2.1

4.0

4.4

5.5

Other

13.4

12.0

12.1

18.8

17.0

Total

187.0

158.8

116.7

132.2

214.4

1 Provisional

Source:

Statistics and Analysis of Trade Unit, HM Revenue and Customs, 25 November 2009

Iron and Steel: China

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what the (a) quantity and (b) monetary value of (i) iron and (ii) steel was exported from Wales to China in the last five years; (315792)

(2) what proportion of exports from Wales (a) in total and (b) to China was accounted for by exports of (i) iron and (ii) steel in each of the last five years.

The following table shows the total quantity and monetary value of iron and steel exports from Wales both in total and to China for each of the last five years. Figures for iron and steel are not available separately.

Iron and steel accounted for the following proportions of (a) total exports and (b) exports to China:

Percentage

(a) Total exports

(b) Exports to China

Year to Q3 2005

13.5

16.8

Year to Q3 2006

13.2

13.0

Year to Q3 2007

16.5

17.7

Year to Q3 2008

17.2

18.3

Year to Q3 2009

14.0

8.5

Stress

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will place in the Library a copy of any advice issued to staff of his Department on stress recognition and management. (316478)

The Wales Office is a small Government Department, which operates under the Ministry of Justice and does not therefore issue independent advice to staff on stress recognition and management.

Upon joining the Wales Office all staff are made aware that they have access to the Ministry of Justice intranet site, which contains a detailed section on stress awareness and management.

Trade Promotion: China

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps his Department has taken to promote high technology and value-added (a) manufacturing and (b) services from Wales in China in the last five years. (315791)

Promoting Welsh exports is principally the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government through International Business Wales.

The Welsh Assembly Government's activity in China is demand led and, in recent years, its trade missions and International Trade Opportunities programme has focused on general activity in response to the needs of its clients. However, through their association with the China Britain Business Council, the Welsh Assembly Government remains well placed to help companies with specific interest in high technology opportunities.

Olympics

Olympic Games 2012: Apprentices

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many people have completed apprenticeships on the Olympic site since construction began; and how many are in full-time employment. (310360)

Olympic Delivery Authority figures show that in November 2009 there were 120 apprentices in full-time employment on the London 2012 apprenticeship programme. Many apprentices will continue their training after they leave the Olympic site, and so the ODA and its partners aim to offer 350 apprenticeship places by 2012. Since the programme commenced in May 2009, a total of six apprentices have completed their training.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what volume of freight of each type of material has been (a) delivered to and (b) removed from the London Olympic site by water. (314099)

As part of its investment in sustainable transport, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has made a significant investment in the waterways in and around the Olympic Park, improving the environment and increasing the functionality to enable the use of the waterways for freight and recreation. This has been assisted by the construction of Three Mills Lock which opened in June 2009.

Between January and December 2009, the volume of freight traffic using the waterways, both into and out of the Olympic Park construction site is as follows:

Barges have transported off the Olympic Park site, 300 tonnes of general waste and timber for recycling, and 1,750 tonnes of residual material from the soil washing plants.

In addition, 600 tonnes of shingle and lightweight aggregate and 460 tonnes of pile cage reinforcement and pipework.

The ODA has an aspiration to transport 50 per cent. of construction material (by weight) by sustainable means to the Olympic Park by rail and water. It is currently achieving 63 per cent.

To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many construction vehicles were in use on all Olympic construction sites on 1 January 2010; and how many such vehicles were fitted with carbon particulate filters. (314733)

The ODA and its contractors currently have approximately 1,650 plant and vehicles on the Olympic Park.

Of these, 1,320 are plant (considered as 'non road mobile machinery') and 330 are road vehicles. The figures exclude road haulage vehicles delivering construction materials to site.

The ODA has a number of measures in place to address the effects of the works on air quality. These measures include the use of ultra low sulphur diesel in all plant, laying hard surface haul roads around site, using dust suppressants and managing the timing and location of works to minimise air quality impacts. Air quality monitoring reports are published monthly on the London 2012 website.

All commercial road vehicles and construction plant used on the Olympic Park, including stationary plant, must comply with any legislative requirements. The ODA does not have data for road vehicles that are not permanently based on the Olympic Park, and the ODA has confirmed that the permanent machinery (non road mobile machinery) do not have filters fitted. However, a study is being undertaken currently that will consider the case for fitting of carbon particulate filters as well as establishing cost effectiveness of installation against other measures. The study is due to be completed in February 2010.

New EU legislation will require that emissions of particulate pollutants are reduced in new machinery across industry. One of the methods of reducing particulates could be to introduce filters. This legislation is being introduced in a phased approach dependent on engine size over the next four years.

All commercial road vehicles and construction plant used on Olympics venues outside the Park must comply with the same legislative requirements; however the ODA does not hold statistics of similar depth for these venues.

Olympic Games 2012: Food

To ask the Minister for the Olympics (1) if she will direct the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games to ensure that over half of the chicken and egg products on sale at the London 2012 Olympic Games are procured from producers which adhere to high animal welfare standards; (316045)

(2) if she will require catering outlets and franchises awarded contracts for the London 2012 Olympic Games to undertake to (a) use (i) non-cage and (ii) domestically-produced eggs and (b) procure other food produced to high animal welfare standards.

Animal welfare is extremely important and this is a central part of the London 2012 Food Vision.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), a company limited by guarantee, is responsible for staging the London 2012 Games.

In line with the recently published sustainability plan ‘Towards a One Planet 2012’, LOCOG has now published ‘For Starters’, its policy for food. This proposes benchmark and aspirational standards for how it will source food for the Games. LOCOG has set out that the Red Tractor standard will be the benchmark standard across meat, fruit, vegetables, salads, cereals and dairy.

Red Tractor is a food assurance scheme, run by the Assured Food Standards organisation. It covers production standards developed by experts on safety, hygiene, animal welfare and the environment; this means that all dairy products, beef, lamb and poultry must be British. In addition, eggs must be British Lion mark free range.

Olympic Games 2012: Timber

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what her most recent assessment is of the likely effect on businesses of the decision of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic games to create a different timber procurement policy to that of the Olympic Delivery Authority. (315582)

Both the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) are committed to a sustainable London 2012, including procuring timber from sustainable sources.

LOCOG and the ODA have worked closely with the timber industry, including the Timber Trade Federation, and relevant NGOs such as WWF on the development of both organisations' approach to procurement and the application of sustainability.

LOCOG's approach is broadly in line with that of the ODA in that both organisations require certified timber products, although their needs and by definition their supply chains differ, with LOCOG largely focused on items such as furniture, merchandise and publications while ODA procured raw materials for construction.

Many businesses have directly benefited from the £5 billion of contracts let by the Olympic Delivery Authority so far, 98 per cent. of which are UK companies. Businesses will continue to benefit from the remaining ODA contracts and the contracts which LOCOG will be procuring. When deciding which of the Government-approved policies to follow in the procurement of timber, LOCOG took a business decision taking into account ethical and operational considerations including ease of monitoring and verification. UK businesses are well placed to bid for the various timber contracts for London 2012.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to how many (a) emails and (b) letters from members of the public his Department has responded since May 2007. (317075)

Since May 2007 my Department has responded to (a) 9,926 emails and (b) 7,928 letters from members of the public including requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on Ministerial hospitality in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06, (c) 2006-07 and (d) 2007-08, expressed in current prices. (317073)

The Department's accounting system does not separately record information on expenditure on Ministerial Hospitality and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

All expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance, based on the principles set out in Managing Public Money.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department has spent on international travel since 2007. (317076)

All travel by Ministers and civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code respectively.

The information requested is set out in the table.

Expenditure on international travel

£

2009-101

81,220

2008-09

286,360

2007-08

298,590

1 To January 2010

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much his Department paid to the Government Car and Despatch Agency in each of the last five years; how much it has spent on such payments in 2009-10; and what proportion of such payments was made in respect of the Government Car Service. (316789)

The information requested is set out in the table.

Financial year

Payments to the Government Car and Despatch Agency (£)

Proportion of spend on the Government Car Service (percentage)

2009-10 (to January 2010)

284,330

96.6

2008-09

317,840

95.5

2007-08

337,310

95.1

2006-07

418,900

96.2

2005-06

388,790

96.3

2004-05

368,930

95.4

All travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the ‘Ministerial Code’.

Music: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the typical financial cost to (a) charities, (b) places of worship and (c) voluntary groups of the recent changes to public performance rights exemptions in sound records and performers' rights. (312268)

I have been asked to reply.

As part of the Government’s consultation process we commissioned a final impact assessment from independent consultants, Europe Economics. It was published on 12 November with the Government response and a summary was placed in the House Library. This assessment estimated the impact on broad groupings which would be affected. Voluntary groups may also be charities and it is not possible to separate them out further.

The exact impact will be determined by the outcome of consultations between Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) and organisations concerned on licence fee levels. However, PPL has stated that its current equivalent commercial fees range between £54 and £108 per year and it envisages that most organisations will pay fees at the lower end of this range or even lower. They have also confirmed that they will not charge in a number of circumstances including music used as part of divine worship and family occasions such as weddings.

National Lottery

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding has been provided to each National Lottery distributor in each year since 2006-07 (a) in real terms and (b) in cash terms. (316771)

The information requested is set out in the table:

£000

2006-07 actual

2006/07 real terms1

2007-08 actual

2007-08 real terms1

2008/09 actual2

Heritage Lottery Fund

231,040

243,705

217,043

222,519

207,632

Big Lottery Fund

630,507

665,071

651,124

667,522

612,508

Arts Council England

149,330

157,516

151,450

155,271

144,887

Arts Council Wales

10,797

11,389

10,849

11,123

10,382

Scottish Arts Council

16,886

17,812

16,799

17,223

16,071

Arts Council Northern Ireland

6,752

7,122

6,081

6,234

5,814

UK Film Council

26,302

27,744

29,344

30,084

28,071

Scottish Screen

2,537

2,676

2,517

2,581

2,408

Sport England

124,985

131,837

134,565

137,960

128,733

Sports Council of Wales

9,462

9,980

9,767

10,013

9,344

SportScotland

18,503

19,517

17,580

18,023

16,818

Sport Northern Ireland

6,261

6,604

5,643

5,785

5,398

UK Sport

53,921

56,877

49,485

50,734

49,813

Olympic Lottery Distributor

115,759

122,105

151,229

155,045

211,029

1 Using 2008-09 = 100. 2 Net of transfers totalling £73 million between NLDF and OLDF.

National Lottery: Operating Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate his Department has made of the expenditure on administration of each of the National Lottery distributors in the latest period for which figures are available; and what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce such costs. (316729)

Lottery distributors' administration costs can be found in their annual reports and accounts. These costs are not comparable, however, as administration costs vary considerably depending on the type and size of grant given and the amounts that applicants receive.

My Department has encouraged the national lottery distributors to keep their administration costs as low as possible and to share best practice.

As part of the Operational Efficiency Programme the lottery distributors are working closely with my Department to identify savings through greater collaboration in back-office functions.

Sports: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate he has made of the number of children in each school year participating regularly in competitive (a) intra-school and (b) inter-school sport. (316732)

The 2008-09 School Sport Survey showed that 99 per cent. of schools hold their own sports days; 69 per cent. of pupils are playing competitive house or league sport within their own schools (up from 66 per cent. in 2007-08 and 58 per cent. in 2006-07); and 44 per cent. of pupils are playing competitive sport against other schools (up from 41per cent. in 2007-08 and 35 per cent. in 2006-07).

We aim to increase the regularity with which children play competitive sport and have included new questions in the School Sport Survey to measure how regularly pupils compete (both within schools and between schools). 28 per cent. of pupils from years three-13 regularly participated in intra-school competition whilst 19 per cent. of pupils from years three-13 regularly participated in inter-school competition.

The tables outline (a) the percentage of pupils who regularly participated in intra-school competition during the academic year 2008-09 by year group:

Academic year

Percentage of pupils involved

Year 3

30

Year 4

34

Year 5

41

Year 6

45

Year 7

28

Year 8

27

Year 9

25

Year 10

20

Year 11

16

Year 12

7

Year 13

6

Base: All pupils in years three-13 where information given (5,472,339) and (b) the percentage of pupils who regularly participated in inter-school competition during the academic year2008-09 by year group:

Academic year

Percentage of pupils involved

Year 3

10

Year 4

15

Year 5

27

Year 6

36

Year 7

21

Year 8

21

Year 9

20

Year 10

17

Year 11

14

Year 12

9

Year 13

9

Base: All pupils in years three-13 where information given (5,472,635) From 2008-11, the Government are investing over £25 million into a network of 225 competition managers to increase the number of young people engaged in regular high quality inter-school competitive events.

Furthermore, the Government are making universal access to regular competitive sport a key part of its new pupil guarantee, which will enshrine in law our commitment to provide competitive sport for all.

Streatham

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to Streatham constituency, the effects on Streatham constituency of changes to his Department's policies since 1997. (313399)

My Department's aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries. The impact of bodies and policies of my Department on the Streatham constituency since 1997 include:

£364,206 given from Arts Council England to organisations based in Streatham in 2008-09 through the Grants for the Arts programme.

Digital Switchover is due to take place in Streatham in 2012. By the time switchover is complete at the end of 2012, 98.5 per cent. of households nationwide will be able to receive digital TV—the same number that can currently receive analogue.

£4,990 of Exchequer investment to the Streatham constituency provided through Sport England between 2002-03 and 2009-10.

Over £18 million of national lottery grants made to applications from the Streatham constituency since 1997.

The Streatham constituency has also benefited from other policies and spending whose impact cannot be broken down by constituency. This includes:

£4 billion of Exchequer funding spent on culture.

More than £5.5 billion invested in sport by the Government and the national lottery since 1997.

Almost 1 million free swims taken in London in the first six months of the Free Swimming programme.

A 68 per cent. increase in national museum visits from 1998-99 to 2008-09—10 per cent. of which were by adults from lower socioeconomic groups.

£416.6 million in grants allocated by English Heritage since 1997.

48 per cent. of buildings on the original 1999 Buildings at Risk Register having their future secured.

90 per cent. of all pupils taking part in at least two hours of high quality PE or sport per week in 2008 from an estimated 25 per cent. in 2003-04—exceeding our target.

Swimming: Concessions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding his Department has allocated for its free swimming schemes in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12. (316731)

The Free Swimming Programme (FSP), launched in April 2009, is a £140 million package comprising contributions from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The scheme is guaranteed to run for at least two years—the period covered by the Government's current spending review (2009-10 and 2010-11) and applies in England only.

For 2010-11, the DCMS has allocated £5 million in resource funding and £10 million in capital funding.

Decisions on the extent of future spending on the programme have not yet been made.

Treasury

Child Care Vouchers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest assessment is of the effectiveness of the Childcare Voucher scheme; and if he will make a statement. (316224)

Research by the National Centre for Social Research, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/research/research-report23.htm

estimates the proportion of employers that offer employer supported childcare (ESC) and the proportion of eligible employees that were using ESC at the end of 2005.

Departmental Training

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many sessions of media training were organised for Ministers in his Department in each of the last three years. (309910)

HM Treasury provides training to Ministers on a range of issues, including handling the media if required, in order to carry out their duties effectively under the ministerial code.

Inheritance Tax: Greater London

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2010, Official Report, columns 215-6W, on inheritance tax: Eltham, how many estates paid inheritance tax in (a) Greenwich, (b) each other London borough and (c) the area most closely corresponding to the parliamentary constituency of Eltham in each of the last five years; (316415)

(2) how many estates would have been required to pay inheritance tax had the threshold been set at (a) £1 million and (b) £325,000 in (i) Greenwich, (ii) each other London borough and (c) the area most closely corresponding to the parliamentary constituency of Eltham in each of the last five years;

(3) how many estates in Eltham constituency for which the postcodes in respect of completed inheritance tax returns are available would have been required to pay inheritance tax had the threshold been set at (a) £325,000 and (b) £1 million in each of the last five years;

(4) how many estates in Eltham constituency for which the postcodes in respect of completed inheritance tax returns are available paid inheritance tax in each of the last five years.

HM Revenue and Customs estimates that in 2007-08 around 5,000 estates paid inheritance tax in the Government office region (GOR) of London. Information at a sub-regional level is available only at disproportionate cost.

Reliable information for other years is not available due to the large proportion of missing postcodes on inheritance tax returns.

Information on how many estimates would be required to pay inheritance tax if the threshold were £1 million is available at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/foi_inheritance_costing.pdf

Information on the impact of this policy other than at a national level is not available.

PAYE

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the outcomes were of the HM Revenue and Customs annual review of errors in respect of automatically-processed Pay-As-You-Earn in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009; (312150)

(2) what the all-cases accuracy rate was for (a) self-assessment and (b) Pay-As-You-Earn for (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009;

(3) how many (a) self-assessment and (b) Pay-As-You-Earn cases were processed manually in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009;

(4) what the accuracy rate was for (a) Pay-As-You-Earn and (b) self-assessment cases processed (i) automatically and (ii) manually in (A) 2006, (B) 2007, (C) 2008 and (D) 2009;

(5) what the tax effect accuracy rate was for (a) self-assessment and (b) Pay-As-You-Earn for (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009;

(6) what the causes were of the tax effect errors in the (a) self-assessment and (b) Pay-As-You-Earn system in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009;

(7) how many P35s were manually processed in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009;

(8) what the tax effect error percentages for the collection of national insurance through PAYE were in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009.

The number of self assessment (SA) and Pay as You Earn (PAYE) returns processed manually is set in the following table.

Tax return yearPAYE End of year returnsSA

P35

P14

Individuals

2005-06

539,150

3,798,120

4,988,969

2006-07

370,736

3,413,174

4,118,006

2007-08

277,045

2,039,303

2,314,728

2008-09

197,592

1,766,424

1

1 Not yet available

The requested information on accuracy rates is set out in the following table. HM Revenue and Customs do not use the concept of ‘tax effect errors’ in the context of national insurance contributions.

Percentage

PAYE

All cases accuracy

Automatic process accuracy

Manual process accuracy

Tax effect accuracy1

2005-06

94.7

n/a

79.9

79.9

2006-07

95.1

99.8

82.1

82.1

2007-08

95.1

99.8

83.4

83.4

2008-09

96.2

99.8

83.5

83.5

1 The PAYE tax effect accuracy results relate to those cases which require a manual intervention and which have been accurately processed to within £1.

Many of the SA cases recorded as not processed accurately will be due to the coding number not being reviewed. In the majority of cases, the coding error is corrected when the SA return is submitted and the taxpayer's tax calculation will ensure the correct amount of tax has been paid.

Percentage

SA

All cases accuracy

Automatic process accuracy1

Manual process accuracy

Tax effect accuracy2

2005-06

75.3

n/a

75.3

96.5

2006-07

78.1

n/a

78.1

96.5

2007-08

80.5

n/a

80.5

97.6

2008-09

81.5

n/a

81.5

97.0

1 There is no information available for SA cases processed automatically because the assumption is that they process with near 100 per cent. accuracy.

2 The self-assessment tax effect accuracy relate to those self-assessment taxpayers whose tax bill is accurate to within £1.

The main causes of tax effect errors is provided on page 20 of the National Audit Office publication “Accuracy in processing Income Tax”, available at:

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/accuracy_in_processing_income.aspx

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has made an assessment of the merits of collecting income tax from state pensions through the PAYE system. (316502)

No such assessment has been made.

The majority of pensioners have their state pensions appropriately taxed through the operation of Pay-As-You-Earn on their other sources of income.

Public Finance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish his long-term projections based on principal projections made by the Office for National Statistics in the same terms as those set out in table 4.1 of the 2008 Long-term public finance report. (316369)

The 2009 Long-term public finance report sets out long-term spending projections, using most recent 2008-based population projections made by the Office for National Statistics. This can be found on the HMT website:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/prebud_pbr09_longtermfinances.htm

Revenue and Customs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if HM Revenue and Customs will publish its roadmap to show how component programmes contribute to the achievement of its strategic objectives, with reference to paragraph 3.6 of the National Audit Office's 2008 Report on HM Revenue and Customs Transformation Programme. (316115)

HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) Business Plan for 2009-10 was published on April 2009, and is available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/business-plan-vision.pdf

The Business Plan sets out how the Department intends to deliver its corporate Vision and to achieve the six strategic objectives that underpin it. It also sets out details of HMRC's major change and transformation programmes and explains how these contribute to the delivery of both the strategic objectives and other legislative and policy commitments.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has carried out research to establish the reasons for the reduced demand for face-to-face interviews at HM Revenue and Customs enquiry centres; and if he will make a statement. (316250)

HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) analysis suggests that a range of factors are leading to a reduction in customers using the face-to-face channel. These include:

increasing take-up of online filing services (around 75 per cent. of self assessment customers filed online this year); and

increasing use of HMRC’s website (with over 80 million hits in 2009-10 compared to around 44 million hits in 2006-07).

HMRC has supported this trend, for example by encouraging customers to renew their tax credits over the telephone and by pointing customers who are able to do so to use the telephone and online services as their first point of call for advice.

Taxation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many (a) P45s and (b) P46s HM Revenue and Customs received from employers in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009; (316117)

(2) how many user errors occurred in filling out (a) P45s and (b) P46s during (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009;

(3) how many employment history enquiries relating to P46s were (a) sent to individuals and (b) received back by HM Revenue and Customs in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009.

The information requested is available only at disproportionate cost, as the data are not centrally held by HM Revenue and Customs' systems.

Taxation: Self-assessment and PAYE

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were on (a) self-assessment and (b) Pay-As-You-Earn in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009. (312151)

The information requested is provided in the following table. Some individuals may be in both Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and self assessment.

Estimated number of individuals (million)

Tax year

Self assessment

PAYE

2005-06

9.0

35.6

2006-07

9.1

36.0

2007-08

9.3

37.3

2008-09

9.3

37.7

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many (a) Pay-As-You-Earn and (b) self-assessment cases remained open during (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008 and (iv) 2009; (312333)

(2) when the most recent audit of open P14 cases was undertaken; and what statistics were collected for the purposes of that audit;

(3) when the most recent audit of open PSN cases was undertaken; and what statistics were collected for the purposes of that audit.

The terms “open PSN case” and “open P14 case” are not used by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

PAYE open cases arise when HMRC is unable to match the pay and tax details submitted by their employer on form P14 to an individual's tax record or a match is made but the pay and tax do not reconcile and further work is needed to establish the correct tax position. This is a normal part of the PAYE process.

The most recent internal audit review of PAYE open cases took place in March 2009, and reviewed the accuracy of clearance of 2007-08 PAYE open cases. HMRC's internal audit function checked a sample of cases and found that the accuracy achieved in clearing open cases was 95 per cent.

HMRC do not use the term “open cases” in relation to self-assessment. Under self-assessment a case is cleared once the self-assessment tax return has been filed.

Information on the number of open PAYE cases is available at:

For 2005-06 and 2006-07—25 June 2007, Official Report, column 388W.

For 2007-08 and 2008-09 in HMRC's Annual Accounts:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-dep-acct0708.pdf

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-accs-0809.pdf

From 2009, the introduction of the new National Insurance and PAYE Service (NPS) will automate matching and processing of data sufficient to reduce the number of cases needing clerical intervention (exception cases) to less than 4.5 million each tax year. HMRC aims to clear these cases during the same year in which they occur so backlogs should no longer accrue.

For the open cases existing when NPS went live HMRC have three pieces of work planned to reduce the existing open cases:

1. An Open Case Clearance Project in PAYE/SA Processing that deploys software to identify cases where an under or overpayment is due, or where the record is accurate and can be closed.

2. HMRC is working with an independent firm, on those open cases which are open because they do not appear to match to an existing record, to data match open cases with a wider range of data.

3. The Department will risk assess the remaining cases, prioritising those where repayments may be due, before starting a clerical review of the remaining cases in April 2010, which will continue until all backlogs have been worked.

Women and Equality

Blaydon

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Blaydon constituency, the effects on Blaydon of the policies and actions of the Government Equalities Office since it was established. (315297)

The Government Equalities Office operates at a strategic level across Government to promote policies which address discrimination. It is not possible to provide statistical information about the effects on Blaydon of the policies and actions of GEO since it was established.

Departmental Electronic Equipment

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality whether any (a) mobile telephones and (b) BlackBerries have been provided to (i) Ministers and (ii) special advisers in the Government Equalities' Office since its establishment. (307574)

The Government Equalities Office has not provided any mobile phones or Blackberry devices to its Ministers or Special Advisers. The Special Adviser to the Minister for Women and Equality is provided with a BlackBerry by the Cabinet Office as part of communication arrangements for the Minister's Private Office.

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality with reference to the answer of 12 October 2009, Official Report, column 33W, on Public Sector: procurement, whether a small firms impact assessment has been produced in relation to their new public procurement duties on contracting authorities; what the timetable is for the production of the non-legislative toolkit; and whether small firms will be consulted before its introduction. (315617)

A regulatory impact assessment has been produced on the creation of a single set of specific equality duties to underpin the new integrated public sector equality duty and to regulate procurement by some public authorities. This was published as part of the specific duties consultation document; Equality Bill: Making it work, Policy proposals for specific duties: A consultation.

http://www.equalities.gov.uk/pdf/Specific%20Duties%20Consultation%20DocumentWEB.pdf

It is important to note that the specific duties fall on the contracting authority and not on the private sector, and also apply only to above EU threshold contracts and to the lead contractor.

The non-legislative Toolkit is being produced by the Office of Government Commerce. The Toolkit will update and build on OGC's existing guidance, 'Make Equality Count', to provide more detailed and accessible advice to procurers on when and how they can incorporate equality considerations in their public procurement activities in line with procurement law. The Toolkit is designed to be a 'living' tool, allowing for new content, for example, best practice case studies and any changes in relevant legislation and other material to be added in future to ensure that public procurers are provided with up to date advice and guidance. An initial draft is currently available for consultation until 12 March on the OGC website and small firms are welcome to contribute.

Departmental Recruitment

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many job vacancies at the (a) Government Equalities Office and (b) Equality and Human Rights Commission were filled through external recruitment agencies in the latest year for which figures are available. (315531)

The information requested is as follows:

(a) The Government Equalities Office has not filled any job vacancies using external recruitment agencies.

(b) The Equality and Human Rights Commission has filled four job vacancies using external recruitment agencies between 3 February 2009 and 3 February 2010.

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how much the (a) Government Equalities Office and (b) Equality and Human Rights Commission spent on external recruitment consultants in the latest year for which figures are available. (315532)

The information requested is as follows:

(a) The GEO has spent £91,796 including VAT on recruitment consultants to run the public appointment of Commissioners for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (£62,333) and the Women's National Commission (£29,463).

(b) The Equality and Human Rights Commission has spent a total of £111,749.19 inclusive of VAT on external recruitment consultants between 3 February 2009 and 3 February 2010.

Disabled: Candidates

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government has taken to encourage more disabled people to (a) apply for and (b) present themselves as candidates for election to public office. (309445)

The Government are committed to increasing diversity of representation in political life at both national and local level and firmly believe that to achieve a genuinely fair and just society their political decision makers need to reflect the population.

The Equality Bill contains new provisions allowing political parties to reserve places on electoral shortlists for individuals including disabled people. The Bill also allows a wide range of voluntary activities by parties to reduce inequalities in representation.

These include provisions enabling political parties to; set up separate forums dedicated to a specific protected characteristic; reserve seats for people with a protected characteristics on any forum, including electoral shortlist, representative groups, panels, committees etc; and adopt whatever forms of mentoring or shadowing parties themselves choose.

In direct response to a recommendation of the Speaker's conference, the Government have tabled their own amendment to the Equality Bill to require registered political parties to report on the diversity data to be collected in a systematic way at a national level for the first time.

This amendment could ultimately result in greater diversity in political parties. It may also increase participation in elections and in public office of those from under-represented groups.

Hotels

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many separate bookings at hotels graded at five star or above were made through the Expotel booking service by (a) Government Equalities Office and (b) Equality and Human Rights Commission in the latest year for which figures are available; and at what cost such bookings were made. (315547)

The information requested is as follows:

(a) The GEO did not make any bookings through Expotel for stays at five star hotels or above.

(b) The Equality and Human Rights Commission state that they booked a total of 16 nights' accommodation at five star hotels through the Expotel booking services in the 2008-09 financial year at a total cost of £2,098.

Human Trafficking: Gloucestershire

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what mechanisms are in place to identify people in Gloucestershire who have been trafficked into the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. (315883)

As part of our implementation of the Council of Europe Convention, we have enhanced our victim care arrangements by creating a national referral mechanism (NRM) to improve identification and protection of trafficking victims. The NRM is a multi-agency framework that allows for the systematic identification of victims, and provision of support. Central to the NRM process are the competent authorities based within UK Borders Agency and the UK Human Trafficking Centre which are the bodies that decide on whether a referred person is a victim of human trafficking. All forces including Gloucestershire Constabulary have been made aware of the process and the necessary contact details of the decision making bodies.

Members: Correspondence