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Written Answers

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 1 March 2010

Wales

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the estimated (a) amount and (b) cost was of energy used in his Department in each year since 1997; what proportion of the energy used was generated from renewable sources in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. (317234)

The Wales Office holds records on energy usage since 2006-07; on the cost of electricity from 2002-03; and on the cost of other fuels since 2005-06. The available information is given in the following tables. Figures before these periods are not held centrally and can be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Energy used

Electricity (kwh)

Other fuels (kw)

2006-07

65,233

105,430

2007-08

69,780

58,980

2008-09

68,291

74,080

Estimated cost

Electricity (£)

Other fuels (£)

2002-03

14,440.37

2003-04

9,180.72

2004-05

4,368.05

2005-06

4,132.43

8,505.35

2006-07

8,054.06

15,586.45

2007-08

4,007.14

13,746.23

2008-09

7,415.72

8,531.26

In 2003-04 and 2004-05, 10 per cent. of the Department's electricity was derived from renewable sources. Since 2005-06 this has risen to 100 per cent.

Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of staff in his Department are disabled; and what the average salary in his Department is of (a) full-time disabled staff, (b) full-time non-disabled staff, (c) part-time disabled staff and (d) part-time non-disabled staff. (317899)

The Wales Office is a small Department and in the interests of maintaining confidentiality we are unable to disclose the figures requested.

Scotland

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many designs for its website his Department has commissioned since 2005. (318643)

Departmental Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many thefts from his Department have been recorded in the last two years. (318997)

House of Commons Commission

Departmental Energy

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what steps the House of Commons Commission plans to take to enable the House to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319087)

The Commission has decided that the House will participate in campaigns only in exceptional circumstances and there are therefore no plans for the House to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. The event is understood to be taking place at 8.30 pm on a Saturday evening, so the potential for significant reductions in the House’s emissions during the event will be very limited. An action plan and targets for reducing the House’s carbon dioxide emissions are currently being drawn up.

Members: E-mail

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission with reference to the answer of 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1211W, and pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2010, Official Report, column 434W, on Members: email, whether Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption is now compatible with Parliament’s current version of VPN (remote access) software; what methods of email encryption are compatible with the PICT IT system; whether (a) S/MIME and (b) Steganos can be used on hon. Members’ computers; and whether hon. Members and their staff can choose to install PGP encryption software on their computers without PICT exercising its right to remove it. (318316)

The House of Commons Commission does not release information relating to software configuration. For more information regarding Members’ rights to install software on parliamentary computers I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to him on 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1211W.

Members and their staff may install their own software on their parliamentary computers. Members are responsible for the licensing and maintenance of any software that they install and, as the conditions of supply provide, PICT reserves the right to remove any software that is found to interfere with the proper operation of the hardware concerned, or the parliamentary network.

Members: Expenses

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the House of Commons Commission has for the office space presently occupied by staff of the Department of Resources dealing with allowances of hon. Members following the transfer of such functions to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. (319206)

The staff who will transfer to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority currently occupy space on the third floor of 7 Millbank. The whole of the third floor will be freed up later in the year when other staff in the Department of Resources move to accommodation in Tothill Street. This will begin a series of moves which will involve moving Department of Information Services staff from 1 Derby Gate into 7 Millbank, and will culminate in the conversion of 1 Derby Gate into accommodation for use by Members and their staff.

Leader of the House

Departmental Internet

To ask the Leader of the House how many designs for its website her Office has commissioned since 2005. (318646)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 25 January 2010, Official Report, column 534W, to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps). In addition to that reply, no designs for the Leader of the House of Commons website have been commissioned since 2007.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many designs for its website his Department has commissioned since 2005. (318645)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to end the illegal drugs trade in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (319543)

UK support is focused on building Afghan counter-narcotics law enforcement capacity, strengthening Afghan institutions, and providing alternative livelihoods for farmers. We are seeing progress. The number of narco barons being arrested and convicted, often by Afghan institutions mentored by UK experts, is increasing, This year, in Helmand, Governor Mangal has overseen the distribution of wheat seed to over 40,000 households in the ‘Food Zone' and is overseeing the distribution of seed for summer crops to 27,000 households.

There have been dramatic falls in opium cultivation in Afghanistan in recent years—19 per cent. in 2008 and a further 22 per cent. in 2009. Although we cannot be complacent, we believe farmers are at least in part responding to improvements in governance and security.

The UK remains committed to the fight against the Afghan drugs trade, as a key component of our Afghan counter-insurgency and state-building effort. The drugs trade creates and funds the corruption which undermines the legitimacy of the Afghan state and provides a critical source of revenue for the Taliban.

Africa: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the political situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa. (319454)

Levels of conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have dropped since late 2008, and improved relations between the DRC and Rwandan Governments have contributed to a stabilisation of the regional situation. However, violence, human rights abuses and displacement remain prevalent in eastern DRC in particular. The Government continue to work closely with the Governments in the region, as well as the UN and partners in the international community, to address these challenges.

British Nationality: Convictions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department has made representations to a foreign government on behalf of a UK citizen convicted of crimes involving (a) drugs, (b) sexual offences, (c) violence and (d) computers in each of the last three years. (318590)

We will consider making representations to the local authorities, with the permission of the individual concerned, in any case where a British national detainee has not been treated in line with internationally-accepted standards. This may include cases where the trial does not follow internationally-recognised standards, or where there is a justified complaint about mistreatment or discrimination. We will make representations irrespective of the nature of the charges: our aim is to treat everyone in detention the same, no matter what they are being held for. However, we do not keep records in a way which can be readily searched to extract an overall figure for representations made on behalf of British nationals convicted of crimes overseas.

Colombia: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2010, Official Report, column 416W, on Colombia: political prisoners, if he will make representations to the Government of Colombia on the fate of human rights defender Carmelo Agamez Berrio. (319463)

I have asked our embassy in Bogota to raise Carmelo Agamez Berrio's case with the Colombian Vice President's Office.

Commonwealth: Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) Canadians, (b) Australians, (c) New Zealanders and (d) Indians used UK consular facilities in absence of representation of their country in (a) each of the last three years and (b) 2010 to date. (319583)

From April 2008 we do not have figures available for third country nationals assisted by our missions overseas. Prior to this, our overseas posts were asked to provide, as part of an annual survey, the number of assistance cases handled, including how many cases involved unrepresented commonwealth nationals. These figures were not broken down by nationality. The figures for financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 are as follows:

Number

2006-07

Total assistance cases

34,874

of which:

unrepresented Commonwealth nationals

200

2007-08

Total assistance cases

25,092

of which:

unrepresented Commonwealth Nationals

155

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department plans to take to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319093)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has arranged to switch off the lights in its UK offices, and has encouraged its overseas network to follow suit, subject to local operational concerns.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many designs for its website his Department has commissioned since 2005. (318651)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has commissioned two designs for its departmental website since 2005. The design was changed in March 2008 and again in October 2009.

Departmental Plants

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies has spent on pot plants in 2009-10 to date. (319211)

Since April 2009 there has been no identifiable spend on the purchase of pot plants within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Diplomatic Service: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the potential effects on (a) security and (b) levels of fraud in respect of his Department's operations of the replacement of management officers in UK overseas missions as part of the Corporate Services Programme; and if he will make a statement. (319446)

The localisation of management slots under the Corporate Services Programme has been extensively discussed with relevant departments at home and overseas. We are satisfied that the implications for our security and incidence of fraud remain manageable. We continue to work with all our missions overseas to support them in ensuring the right controls are in place to handle risk effectively.

Government Hospitality: Wines

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 216W, on Government hospitality: wines, at which events between 25 November 2009 and 25 December 2009 wine from the Government wine cellar was served; and which of those events was attended by the Minister for Europe. (319372)

Between 25 November 2009 and 25 December 2009 Government Hospitality (GH) organised the following events at which wines from the GH cellar were used:

Date

Event

Host Department

25 November

Dinner for Kids Task Force

Department for Children Schools and Families

25 November

Dinner for Chinese Transport Minister

Department of Transport (DoT)

26 November

Lunch for European Ambassadors

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

26 November

Reception for COI

Government Equalities Office

30 November

Reception for Asia Task Force

FCO

30 November

Reception for Corporate Alliance

Attorney-General's Office

3 December

Reception for Global Health Security

Department of Health (DoH)

3 December

Dinner for European Parliament Transport Committee

DoT

3 December

Dinner for Global Health Security

DoH

6 December

Dinner for Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister

FCO

7 December

Dinner for Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister

FCO

8 December

Reception for FCO Stakeholders

FCO

8 December

Dinner for FCO Ministerial Team

FCO

9 December

Reception for London Diplomatic Science Club

Department for Business Innovation and Skills

9 December

Reception for Overseas Territories Consultative Council

FCO

10 December

Dinner for London Business School

HM Treasury

11 December

Lunch for GH Advisory Committee

FCO

14 December

Reception for Hon CBE Presentation

Department for Energy and Climate Change

I hosted the lunch for European Union Ambassadors on 26 November and the Reception for the Overseas Territories Consultative Council on 9 December 2009. I also attended the reception for FCO Stakeholders and the dinner for the FCO ministerial team on 8 December.

India: Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the (a) dates and (b) location of each terrorist attack in India in the last three years; how many casualties were sustained in each such attack; and if he will make a statement. (318681)

We do not have detailed records of all terrorist incidents in India for the period requested. However the significant terrorist incidents (for which we have information) since February 2007 are as follows:

On 13 February 2010, a bomb exploded in Pune, Maharashtra. Nine people were killed and up to 53 were injured.

On 16 October 2009, a bomb exploded in the town of Margao, Goa, killing one person.

From 26-29 November 2008, terrorists attacked a number of sites in Mumbai, including luxury hotels, a railway station and a restaurant. Over 190 people were killed and more than 325 were injured. British nationals were among the casualties.

On 30 October 2008, 11 bombs exploded in Assam. Areas affected were Guwahati and the Barpeta, Bongaigoan and Kokrajhar districts. 77 people were killed and over 300 were injured.

On 21 October 2008, a bomb exploded in Imphal, Manipur killing 17 people and injuring many others.

On 27 September 2008, a bomb exploded in New Delhi. Two people were killed and 24 were injured.

On 13 September 2008 five bombs exploded in New Delhi, 30 people were killed and 90 were injured.

On 26 July 2008, a series of bombs exploded in Ahmadabad, Gujarat and the surrounding area resulting in up to 49 fatalities and over 100 injured.

On 25 July 2008 there were a series of bomb blasts in Bangalore, South Eastern India resulting in at least two fatalities and multiple injuries.

On 13 May 2008, there were a series of bomb blasts in Jaipur, western India, resulting in 60 fatalities and 200 casualties

On 13 December 2007, a train travelling from Dibrugarh to Guwahati was the target of a bomb blast, which resulted in five deaths.

On 23 November 2007, there were a series of explosions in the state of Uttar Pradesh resulting in at least 13 fatalities with multiple injured.

On 26 September 2007 a number of bombs were discovered in the Andheri suburb of the city of Mumbai near areas where large crowds gathered to welcome home the returning Indian cricket team following their victory at the Twenty20 World Championship tournament in South Africa.

On 25 August 2007 at least 40 people were killed and 56 injured when two bombs exploded in Hyderabad.

On 19 February 2007 explosions occurred in two carriages of the Samjhauta Express, travelling from Delhi to Lahore. 66 people died and over 50 passengers were injured.

Accurate records of casualties incurred are often difficult to obtain. Therefore in many cases we can only provide estimates. The UK is working closely with the Indian authorities to address the terrorist threat to India and the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to support the Government of India in combating terrorism in the subcontinent; and if he will make a statement. (318682)

The UK works with India to reduce the risk to India and to the UK and its interests overseas from international terrorism, through a range of operational and technical co-operation on counter-terrorism. We are closely engaged with India on tackling terrorism and developing our CT relationship, particularly in light of the devastating attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

At my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's Summit in January 2008, the UK and India agreed to co-operate on security for major sporting events, particularly on preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi this year. Indian officials visited the UK in July 2009 where a number of areas for co-operation were agreed, including assistance on crowd control and venue security management. A UK team subsequently travelled to Delhi in September for a Commonwealth Games security conference in Delhi. UK Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, John Yates, visited Delhi in January 2010 to discuss security preparations for the Games and offer UK support.

Indonesia: Christianity

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has made to the government of Indonesia on the treatment of Christians in Jakarta. (319653)

In general, there is a high degree of religious freedom in Indonesia, including for those practising Christianity.

We are aware of problems surrounding the forcible closure of and occasional attacks on places of religious worship, both Christian and Islamic. Our ambassador to Jakarta raised freedom of religion most recently when he met the chair of the Indonesian Parliament's Commission III on Law, Human Rights and Internal Security on 1 December 2009.

We, along with our EU partners, raise human rights concerns with the Indonesian Government and have pressed the authorities to ensure the rights of all religious minorities. We will continue to call for religious tolerance across Indonesia.

Iran: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the political situation in Iran; and if he will make a statement. (318946)

The political situation in Iran remains unsettled and many Iranians continue to believe that their political rights are not being respected. The Iranian authorities continue to clamp down on civil liberties and legitimate protest, and intimidate demonstrators, including using the death penalty against those accused of political dissent.

These problems are entirely of the Iranian government's own making and suggestions that others, such as the UK, are responsible are both disingenuous and wrong.

Iran: Sanctions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2010, Official Report, columns 836W, on the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Bill, what discussions he has had with (a) his EU counterparts, (b) the High Representative and (c) the European Commission on the proposed extraterritorial legislation; and whether a common position has been agreed. (318804)

The EU's opposition to extraterritorial legislation has been made clear on many occasions. There has been regular dialogue with my EU counterparts, including the High Representative's office on this matter, although as any legislation has yet to be finalised, there has been no EU common position adopted.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether sales of refined petroleum products sold to Iran by companies registered in the UK or with headquarters in the UK will be affected by the US-Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Bill; and what guidance his Department has issued to UK companies on the matter. (318806)

We have been closely monitoring progress of different draft Iran sanctions Bills through the House of Representatives and Senate. The two Houses of Congress have not agreed a final version to send to the President. As this legislation is yet to be finalised, it is too early to determine the extent of the effect it may have on UK companies. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provides clear guidance for exporters on extraterritorial legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2010, Official Report, column 836W, on the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Bill, what concerns he has about the use of extraterritorial legislation in respect of Iran's nuclear programme. (318807)

The UK and the US are united in their determination to address the challenge posed to the international community by Iran's nuclear ambitions. We are in constant dialogue with the US Administration to ensure that all our efforts are targeted on that rather than interrupting the sovereign right of nations to regulate activities within their own territory and interfere with the freedom of countries to conduct their own independent economic policies.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter of 6 November 2010 from the hon. Member for Woking concerning his constituent Mr. Brett. (319788)

We did not originally receive the hon. Member for Woking's letter of 6 November 2009, but have now had a copy faxed to us from his parliamentary office and will reply as soon as possible.

Overseas Residents: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is provided by (a) British consulates and (b) his Department to assist the next of kin of persons who have died whilst working overseas; and if he will make a statement. (319757)

When we are aware of the death of any British national abroad we will try to contact the person's next of kin as soon as possible. If the next of kin is in the UK we will ask the UK police to inform them. If they are overseas, our staff will try to contact them. We provide information about funeral options and on returning bodies and belongings to the UK. We provide a list of local and international funeral directors. While we cannot pay expenses, we can advise on how best to transfer money from the UK to pay any necessary costs. We advise families how to register a death and put them in touch with other organisations that offer help and support.

We also provide our publication ‘Guide for bereaved families'

http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/2855621/bereaved-families

which brings together information that may be useful to families and friends of British nationals who die overseas.

Pakistan: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has (a) received recent representations on (i) child labour and (ii) access to the justice system for (A) minority groups and (B) those in poverty in Pakistan and (b) had recent discussions with the Government of Pakistan on child labour in that country; and if he will make a statement. (318617)

The UK is committed to working with the Government of Pakistan to address the challenges that are faced surrounding the issue of child labour. Together with our EU partners, the UK regularly raises child labour and has lobbied the Government of Pakistan to implement existing legislation which protects children from such abuse. The most recent EU demarche on this subject was in December 2009. The issue of child labour will also form part of the forthcoming EU-Pakistan Human Rights dialogue.

Peacekeeping Operations: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UN peacekeeping missions (a) do and (b) do not have a mandate to monitor human rights. (318503)

The following UN Peacekeeping missions are specifically mandated to monitor human rights:

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)

The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT)

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI)

The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

The following UN Peacekeeping missions are not specifically mandated to monitor human rights:

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)

The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)

The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)

In Resolution 1244 the UN Security Council mandated the protection and promotion of human rights in Kosovo. While much of this work has now passed from the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to local and other international institutions, the UN Secretary General continues to routinely report on human rights.

Additionally all UN missions provide regular in-country reporting which may include monitoring of human rights. Significant progress has been made in integrating the UN's human rights work: for example all resident co-ordinators of UN country teams must now receive human rights training.

Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the proposed creation of a UN expert panel to investigate allegations of abuse of internally displaced persons by the Sri Lankan army. (318583)

We are not aware of any specific proposals for the creation of a UN expert panel to investigate allegations of abuse of internally displaced persons by the Sri Lankan army. We support the EU's call for an independent inquiry into allegations of violations of international law by both sides in the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. This could play an important role towards genuine national reconciliation. We continue to support the work of the UN in this regard, and have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to work constructively with them.

Sweden: Anti-Semitism

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on anti-Semitic hate crimes in Malmö; what recent discussions he has had with the government of Sweden on anti-Semitism in Sweden; and if he will make a statement. (318687)

While our embassy in Stockholm monitors the domestic scene in Sweden closely, they have, to date, not seen specific reporting on this issue nor have representations been made to our embassy in Stockholm.

Electoral Commission Committee

Constituency Organisation: Regulation

To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission undertakes impact assessments of its regulatory policies on small constituency associations. (318117)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it is mindful of the likely impact of its regulatory work on all those it regulates, including small parties and constituency associations staffed by volunteers. The Commission further informs me that when it brings forward substantive regulatory policy proposals that have not been considered in a previous impact assessment, it prepares an initial impact assessment and invites comments on this.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what reports he has received of the alleged killing by NATO forces of 10 people including eight schoolchildren in the village in Ghazi Khan, Narang District in the eastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan in late December 2009; (318431)

(2) what discussions he has had with NATO allies on the reported killing by NATO forces of 10 people including eight schoolchildren in the village in Ghazi Khan, Narang District in the eastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan in late December 2009;

(3) what discussions he has had with representatives of the Government of Afghanistan on the reported killing by NATO forces of 10 people including eight schoolchildren in the village in Ghazi Khan, Narang District in the eastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan in late December 2009.

The International Security Assistance Force, of which the UK is an integral part, is deeply saddened by any incident involving civilian deaths. However, this incident occurred outside of the UK Area of Operations and no UK troops were involved. In light of this, and the ongoing investigations into the incident, it is not appropriate for me to comment further.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of his Department's budget has been spent on Afghanistan in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (318696)

The net additional costs incurred on military operations in Afghanistan (Operation Herrick) are met by the Reserve and are in addition to the defence budget. The costs that the Department would have incurred regardless of the operation taking place, such as wages and salaries, are not included. Savings on activities that have not occurred because of the operation—for example training exercises—are taken into account in arriving at the net figures. The costs of operations in Afghanistan over the last 12 months fall into two financial years, as set out in the table:

£ million

FY2008-09

FY2009-10

Resource Type

Final outturn

Estimate (as per winter supplementary estimates)

Total resource DEL

1,655

2,209

Total capital DEL

968

1,545

Total all DELs

2,623

3,754

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of those who completed a course at the Defence Academy in the last five years (a) are serving in the armed services and (b) are working as civilian staff for his Department. (319260)

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

Colombia: Military Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 11 January 2010, Official Report, column 742W, on Colombia: military aid, how many UK service personnel are assigned to conducting counter narcotics capacity building activities in Colombia. (317580)

I am withholding the information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Defence: Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of gross domestic product is spent on defence. (319546)

An estimated 2.6 per cent. of UK gross domestic product was spent on defence in the financial year 2008-09.

Departmental Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has a procedure for (a) recording and (b) investigating complaints from members of the public. (319188)

Yes. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has a complaints handling procedure that follows the Parliamentary and Health Services ombudsman best practice guidance.

Details can be found on the MOD website at the following link:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/Help/ModComplaints Procedure.htm

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has standards of service for responding to correspondence from (a) members of the public and (b) hon. Members. (319187)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) follows the Cabinet Office guidelines for answering correspondence from members of the public and hon. Members. The Cabinet Office target is for ministerial correspondence to be answered within 20 working days. However, the MOD has undertaken to respond to 90 per cent. of letters from MPs and Peers within 15 working days. The MOD also aims to respond to all correspondence from members of the public within 15 working days.

The Cabinet Office publishes on an annual basis, a report on Departments' and agencies' performance on handling ministerial correspondence, and the report for 2009 will be published once figures have been collated.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department plans to take to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319091)

Ministry of Defence establishments will be encouraged to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010, subject of course to operational and security considerations.

Departmental Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department received from the sale of housing stock in Scotland in each of the last five years. (319353)

The Ministry of Defence has received the following receipts from the sale of surplus housing stock in Scotland in each of the last five financial years:

Financial year

Number of service families accommodation sold

Receipts received for service families accommodation sold (£ million)

2005-06

238

14.9

2006-07

242

21.0

2007-08

107

16.0

2008-09

407

23.4

2009-10

134

14.6

1 To date.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many designs for its website his Department has commissioned since 2005. (318654)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the armed forces collectively maintain four corporate websites. There have been the following designs commissioned across the four sites since 2005:

The MOD corporate website was completely redesigned in 2005-06 and re-launched on 1 February 2006. A series of minor design enhancements were made between June 2007 and March 2008:

www.mod.uk

The Royal Navy website was redesigned in late 2005 and re-launched on 6 February 2006. An additional refresh was carried out in 2007:

www.royalnavy.mod.uk

The British Army website was redesigned in 2008:

www.army.mod.uk

The Royal Air Force internet site was redesigned in financial year 2006-07:

www.raf.mod.uk

Information on designs commissioned for MOD websites other than the four corporate sites is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines his Department uses on public consultation; and whether those guidelines are published on his Department's website. (319054)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is committed to following best practice in conducting public consultations, and therefore follows the Government's Code of Practice on Consultation, which first came into effect from 1 April 2004.

The MOD's external website provides a link to the most recent version of the code, which is now displayed on the website of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Met Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Met Office Review Group continues to meet. (319152)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department last met the Shareholder Executive to discuss the future of the Met Office; and when he expects the next such meeting to take place. (319153)

MOD officials met with the shareholder executive and discussed the future of the Met Office on 23 February 2010. MOD officials and the shareholder executive meet on a regular basis to discuss the future of the Met Office.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will meet representatives from the private weather sector to discuss the future of the Met Office. (319154)

The Secretary of State for Defence has no current plans to meet representatives from the private weather sector to discuss the future of the Met Office. However, Shareholder Executive officials have met private sector weather companies as part of the Met Office Operational Efficiency Programme review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has made a recent estimate of the contribution of the private weather sector to the economy. (319155)

The Secretary of State for Defence has not made a recent estimate of the contribution of the private weather sector to the economy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what business models the Met Office Review Group is considering for the Met Office. (319156)

The recommendations of the Operational Efficiency Programme Asset Portfolio Document published in December 2009 outlined that the Met Office should pursue a range of value enhancing opportunities in terms of commercial business growth, improvement to its business model and efficiency through cross-government collaboration. There remains an option in the medium term that status should be kept under review as conditions and opportunities change.

Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2010, Official Report, column 209W, on the Ministry of Defence Guarding Service Agency, if he will ensure that the Ministry of Defence Police remains part of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency. (318618)

The agency status of the MOD Police and Guarding Agency is currently under review. Any changes to the structure of the agency would require ministerial agreement and also consultation with the trade unions and staff associations.

Trident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether, as part of the programme to develop a successor to the Trident nuclear weapons system, his Department is carrying out any studies into the feasibility of using Astute class submarines as a platform for the launch of nuclear armed cruise missiles. (319193)

No. The 2006 White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm6994) concluded that a submarine launched ballistic missile system was the most cost-effective replacement for our existing nuclear deterrent. Cruise missiles have a number of disadvantages compared to ballistic missiles including smaller range and payload and increased vulnerability, and we are planning to replace the Vanguard class of SSBN by a new “successor” class of ballistic missile submarines.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many performance reviews were undertaken in respect of staff of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years; in how many cases performance was rated as unsatisfactory or below; how many staff left as a direct result of such a rating; and what percentage of full-time equivalent staff this represented. (313836)

DEFRA and its Executive Agencies have undertaken annual staff performance reviews for all permanent staff over the last five financial years. These comprise formal reviews at mid-year and end-year and informal reviews on an ad hoc basis. Staff appraisal information is held as individual records; this means that collated data cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

A review of 'unsatisfactory' or similar rating does not directly lead to dismissal: DEFRA and its Executive Agencies have a specific process in place to manage under or poor performance which can be implemented at any time of the year and is not necessarily triggered by the performance marking.

The number of staff dismissals in DEFRA and its Executive Agencies, due to underperformance, over the last five years is in the table and also expressed as a percentage of FTE staff.

Number

Percentage

2004-05

5

0.04

2005-06

6

0.04

2006-07

10

0.07

2007-08

1

1

2008-09

29

0.26

1 Suppressed on grounds of confidentiality

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of staff of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies managed out in the last five years who remain working in the public sector. (313856)

The term 'managed out' is not used within the civil service, so we have considered this question as applying to redundancies.

Neither DEFRA nor its agencies record whether staff who have been made redundant have remained working in the public sector. We are therefore unable to provide the estimate requested.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural 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. (312428)

The Department spend was as follows:

£

New furnishings

Works of art

New vehicles

2007-08

117,190

Nil

170,078.65

2008-09

1,593,976

23,236

714,327.51

The notable increase in furnishings for the 2008-09 year includes major new build and refurbishment projects throughout the DEFRA estate including:

Lion House, Alnwick

Dragonfly House, Norwich

Foss House, York

Refresh of the London Estate (smart-working programme)

Various Animal Health refurbishments.

Delivery and payment for new vehicles in 2007-08 was delayed into 2008-09, hence the increase in total spend.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to the public purse of international travel undertaken by his Department has been since May 2007. (318009)

From information drawn from the core Department's central booking system, the cost of international travel, which includes air, rail and hotels, is as follows:

£

2007-08

2,130,227

2008-09

1,602,431

2009-10 (April to November 2009)

1,007,791

The cost of international travel booked outside the central booking services could be determined only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what average time his Department took to answer questions for (a) ordinary written answer and (b) written answer on a named day in the last 12 months. (313666)

It is not possible to provide an average time taken to answer parliamentary questions. During the period 1 January to 31 December 2009 DEFRA received 562 named day questions, 327 of which were answered on the named day and 2,387 ordinary written questions, 2,148 of which were answered within 10 days.

The Department strives to provide hon. Members with answers to all parliamentary questions as quickly as it can.

With effect from the current Session of Parliament, each department will provide the Procedure Committee with sessional statistics on the time taken to answer written questions. This implements recommendation 24 of the third report from the Procedure Committee, Session 2008-09.

Foxes: Urban Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers local authorities have to manage the number of foxes in urban areas. (318488)

There is no statutory duty on local authorities, or anyone else, to control foxes in their areas. In so far as authorities are owners and occupiers of property, they have the same powers to control foxes as any other owner or occupier. They also have a general discretionary power under the Local Government Act 2000 that enables them to take any action to promote social, economic or environmental well-being as long as there is no specific statutory prohibition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance his Department provides to local authorities to tackle problems caused by urban foxes. (318489)

Natural England has published an advisory leaflet on urban foxes that describes a number of different approaches to control that are suitable in urban situations. The leaflet is available on the Natural England website or by contacting its Wildlife Management and Licensing Service.

If a local authority requested advice from DEFRA, we would recommend non-lethal methods to resolve fox problems (as territories made vacant by culling resident foxes are rapidly colonised by new individuals) and suggest the authority seeks further technical advice from a wildlife management adviser in Natural England if required.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints regarding urban foxes his Department received in each year of the last five years. (318490)

DEFRA occasionally receives complaints regarding urban foxes among a large quantity of correspondence about foxes more generally. This information has been held only since 2007 and it would not be reasonable or cost effective to undertake a manual search of our records to distinguish those cases that are specifically complaints about urban foxes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to prevent instances of rabies among urban foxes. (318491)

The UK has strict controls on importing rabies susceptible animals from other countries—six-months quarantine for some cases, or vaccination followed by a six-month waiting period for certain travelling pets. These controls offer good protection against a rabies outbreak, whether in domestic animals, livestock or wildlife, including urban foxes.

DEFRA, with the Food and Environment Research Agency and other partners, maintains contingency planning arrangements for a rabies outbreak in wildlife, which are currently being reviewed and updated. Measures to tackle the disease in urban foxes would include targeted vaccination programmes, although specific control measures would be determined by expert veterinary and other advice in response to any rabies incident.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the email from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 11 January 2010, on litter and fly-tipping. (319458)

I replied to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire on 22 January and have arranged for a copy of the response to be sent to him.

Parrots: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2010, Official Report, column 394W, on parrots: animal welfare, if he will bring forward proposals to establish minimum cage sizes and standards for parrots. (319256)

We consider that the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to provide for the welfare need of animals, including a suitable environment, are sufficient to ensure the proper welfare of pet parrots. Therefore we have no plans to bring forward further proposals.

Renewable Energy: Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on what dates the joint working group on energy from waste policy has met; (318392)

(2) what consideration the joint working group on energy from waste policy has given to end-of-waste fuels.

The Energy from Waste Project Board held its first meeting on 27 January 2010.

The project is intended to provide clarity and guidance to those in local authorities and industry involved in waste management. In particular we shall be developing a more explicit hierarchy of energy recovery, seeking to define more clearly what constitutes “the right energy from the right waste”. End-of-waste fuels are one of the materials the project will consider.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the three month period for consideration of comments made on the draft end-of-waste protocol under Article 8(2) of the Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC) will conclude; and if he will make a statement. (318394)

On 23 and 26 November 2009 the European Commission and Austria respectively commented under article 8(2) of the technical standards directive on the draft end-of-waste protocol for fuel produced from waste lubricating oil that the UK notified under article 8(1) of the directive. The UK responded to both sets of comments on 15 February 2010. In doing so, it was confirmed that the UK intended to adopt the end-of-waste protocol on the basis notified to the Commission on 27 August 2009 and that the UK would communicate the definitive text to the Commission in compliance with article 8(3) of the directive. The Environment Agency expects to publish the definitive text before the end of March 2010.

Sky Lanterns

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department has collated on the risks posed by air-released Chinese lanterns for (a) grazing livestock and (b) ripening crops; and if he will make a statement. (318578)

DEFRA has made no formal assessment of the risks posed by air-released Chinese lanterns. However, we recognise there has been concern among farmers and livestock keepers about the effect of these lanterns on grazing livestock. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while few animals have been affected, the impacts can be severe.

We are not aware of evidence that Chinese lanterns have caused damage to ripening crops, but we appreciate concern over potential risks including fire, contamination, and litter.

We will be working with interested parties to consider how the risks may be mitigated.

Veterinary Services: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 49W, on veterinary services: complaints, if he will (a) invite the group Rights 4 Pets (PrOtEcT) vets to participate in the meeting on 2 March 2010 and (b) meet that group to discuss its representations on the investigation of complaints against veterinary surgeons. (319020)

[holding answer 26 February 2010]: I am meeting representatives of the Action Group Against the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on 2 March 2010. Rather than invite the Rights 4 Pets group to this meeting at this late stage, I would be happy to meet the group on a separate occasion to discuss their concerns.

Transport

Airports: Sales

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what progress has been made on the sale of (a) Glasgow and (b) Edinburgh airports by BAA; when each such sale is expected to be completed; and if he will make a statement; (319595)

(2) when he last met representatives from (a) BAA and (b) the Competition Commission to discuss the sale of (i) Edinburgh and (ii) Glasgow airport.

The Competition Commission's market inquiry into BAA's ownership of seven UK airports included a recommendation that BAA should sell one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports. I have had no meetings with either BAA or the Commission on this matter. The Commission's decisions are currently the subject of legal process and it would not therefore be appropriate to comment further at this time.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much the Government has spent on concessionary bus travel for pensioners (a) in England and (b) in the City of York in each year since such schemes were introduced. (318579)

Before 1 April 2008, funding for the statutory minimum bus concession was provided exclusively through the formula grant system. Formula grant is an unhypothecated block grant and as such it is not possible to identify how much formula grant has been allocated to local authorities for any particular service, such as concessionary travel.

When the statutory minimum concession increased from half-fare to free fare in April 2006, additional funding of £350 million in 2006-07 and £367.5 million in 2007-08 was added to formula grant to fund the additional burden to local authorities.

From April 2008, the Department for Transport has provided additional special grant funding to local authorities to cover the extra costs of providing England-wide travel of:

(a) £212 million in 2008-09 and £217 million in 2009-10 to the whole of England;

(b) £1,112,199 in 2008-09 and £1,138,431 in 2009-10 to the City of York council.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) continues to provide the bulk of concessionary travel funding to local authorities through formula grant.

The following table shows how much was spent on concessionary travel by all local authorities in England and by the City of York council since 2000, when the Government first introduced a statutory minimum bus concession. These figures include spending on both older and disabled travel concessions and include any discretionary enhancements offered by local authorities.

£ million

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

England

468

487

487

510

539

532

783

873

990

City of York council

0.853

1.078

1.130

1.171

2.098

1.891

2.942

3.258

4.579

Departmental Empty Property

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough of 5 January 2010, Official Report, column 90W, on departmental buildings, what the (a) book value and (b) estimated annual rental value is of vacant residential properties owned by the Highways Agency. (315966)

Property owner-occupiers who are unable to sell their homes because they are directly affected by a proposed Highways Agency road scheme (i.e. likely to have land acquired in the future) and are unable to sell it at a normal market price because of the scheme, can serve a blight notice on the Highway’s Agency under the blight provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts. If the notice is accepted, the agency has to purchase the property in advance of its operational requirement. These properties cannot be sold immediately because any new owner would be able to serve another blight notice on the agency requiring it to purchase the property again. The properties could also not be sold at a normal market value. These properties are therefore held by the agency while the scheme is in the major projects programme and the route is protected from development. In some cases this can be for a number of years.

The potential annual rental income from the Highways Agency’s residential properties would be £3.4 million, if all the properties were let and in good tenantable condition. The net book value of the agency’s properties that are currently let is £67.3 million; the net book value of the empty properties is £22.9 million. This valuation takes into account current condition and the effect of the planned road improvement on the property.

The values and potential rental income are broken down in more detail in the following table.

£

Net book value

Potential annual rental income

Beyond economic repair

1,335,200

97,200

In sale process

8,282,000

258,504

Currently under repair/refurbishment

5,377,000

225,900

Seeking tenants

1,515,000

58,380

Awaiting demolition

362,500

23,400

Held vacant for consideration for refurbishment next financial year

6,045,000

248,940

Total for empty properties

22,916,700

912,324

Total for occupied properties

67,258,250

2,534,787

Total

90,174,950

3,447,111

Departmental Housing

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the (a) potential annual rental and (b) total book value of (i) empty and (ii) occupied residential properties owned by his Department. (313740)

Information in respect of the Driving Standards Agency and the Highways Agency is provided as follows.

The Driving Standards Agency owns the freehold of the land for its Bournemouth Driving Test Centre. Above the centre are two residential flats. Both are occupied. The Driving Standards Agency receives a peppercorn rent of £20 per annum in total. The occupiers of the flats each own the leasehold of their flat.

Property owner-occupiers who are unable to sell their homes because they are directly affected by a proposed Highways Agency road scheme (i.e. likely to have land acquired in the future) and are unable to sell it at a normal market price because of the scheme, can serve a blight notice on the Highway’s Agency under the blight provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts. If the notice is accepted, the agency has to purchase the property in advance of its operational requirement. These properties cannot be sold immediately because any new owner would be able to serve another blight notice on the agency requiring it to purchase the property again. The properties could also not be sold at a normal market value. These properties are therefore held by the agency while the scheme is in the major projects programme and the route is protected from development. In some cases this can be for a number of years.

The potential annual rental income from the Highways Agency’s residential properties would be £3.4 million, if all the properties were let and in good tenantable condition. The net book value of the agency’s properties that are currently let is £67.3 million; the net book value of the empty properties is £22.9 million. This valuation takes into account current condition and the effect of the planned road improvement on the property.

The values and potential rental income are broken down in more detail in the following table.

£

Net book value

Potential annual rental income

Beyond economic repair

1,335,200

97,200

In sale process

8,282,000

258,504

Currently under repair/refurbishment

5,377,000

225,900

Seeking tenants

1,515,000

58,380

Awaiting demolition

362,500

23,400

Held vacant for consideration for refurbishment next financial year

6,045,000

248,940

Total for empty properties

22,916,700

912,324

Total for occupied properties

67,258,250

2,534,787

Total

90,174,950

3,447,111

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many driving offences of each type were committed by drivers of the Government Car and Despatch Agency while on duty in each of the last three years. (319168)

The Government Car and Despatch Agency does not hold information on driving offences.

The agency conducts an annual inspection of all driving licences of its drivers. Any driver with six or more points on his or her licence is reminded that the maintenance of a valid licence is a requirement of the job.

Hackney

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to Hackney, North and Stoke Newington constituency, the effects on that constituency of his Department's policies since 1997. (318375)

The Department for Transport (DFT) does not routinely hold transport statistics on a parliamentary constituency basis. The Department provides Transport for London (TfL) with a block grant to fund transport delivery in London. This grant has more than doubled in the last nine years, rising to almost £3 billion in 2009-10. Drawing on these and other resources, the Mayor is responsible for publishing and, through TfL, implementing a transport strategy for London, while the boroughs are required to publish local implementation plans which set out how they will contribute to the Mayor's strategy.

The additional funding that has been made available has helped deliver 1,089 million passenger journeys on the tube in 2008-9, the highest ever. London Underground's scheduled service is now its largest ever, and in 2008-09 96.4 per cent. was run, the best annual result for 14 years.

Bus services in London have also improved. 2,247 million passenger journeys were made in 2008-09 and patronage grew by almost 47 per cent. between 1997-98 and 2007-08.

Rail routes serving Hackney, North and Stoke Newington have also improved. Served by National Express East Anglia, this franchise has seen punctuality increase from 85 per cent. to 91 per cent. since 2004, over 450 carriages have been refurbished and many stations have been upgraded.

On the roads, national targets to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 40 per cent. and reduce the number of “slight” casualties by 10 per cent. (compared to the period 1994-98) by 2010 were largely exceeded by TfL by 2004, leading to TfL setting themselves new targets of 50 per cent. and 25 per cent. respectively.

There have also been improvements to cycling across London. In May 2010 TfL will launch its cycle hire scheme and construction of the cycle superhighways is now under way; one route will run from Tottenham to the City through Hackney. TfL report that cycling now accounts for 2 per cent. of trips in London compared to 1.2 per cent. in 2000, and between 2000-01 and 2007-08 TfL's automatic cycle counters reported an increase in cyclists of 91 per cent.

Motor Vehicles: Lighting

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what research (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have undertaken on the effectiveness of (i) halogen and (ii) bi-xenon headlights. (318636)

The Department for Transport has commissioned two studies related to the effectiveness of halogen and bi-xenon headlights.

TRL carried out a review of existing research on gas discharge (i.e. bi-xenon) headlights in 1994 to assist in the development of European regulations on the subject.

In 2000, ICE ergonomics at Loughborough University studied headlight glare and driver vision to help establish a basis against which future headlamp performance requirements might be assessed.

Railway Network

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many new miles of railway track have been (a) brought into use and (b) laid at each location since 1997. (319072)

[holding answer 26 February 2010]: The Department for Transport does not hold information on when and where railway track has been added to or taken away from the national network.

This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The hon. Member should contact Network Rail's chief executive at the following address for a response to this question:

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

Kings Place

90 York Way

London, N1 9AG.

Railways

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, columns 199-201W, on railways, if he will have discussions with the Association of Train Operating Companies on amending National Rail Conditions of Carriage to permit surfboards to be transported on trains. (319691)

Wider discussions are already taking place between the Department for Transport and the Association of Train Operating Companies about the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. At the same time a general review of the Conditions of Carriage is under way to ensure that they are in accordance with current consumer law.

The Association of Train Operating Companies has reviewed in particular the table in Section II Appendix B relating to the carriage of specified articles, including surfboards. The outputs of this review will be a proposal from the Association of Train Operating Companies on behalf of their members for the approval of the Secretary of State.

Roads: Flooding

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much his Department has spent on repairs to flood-damaged roads and related infrastructure in each of the last five years. (318661)

Following the 2007 summer floods this Department allocated £41 million funding to 10 local authorities to assist them to repair damage to their local highways caused by flooding. In 2009 this Department allocated £2.6 million to Northumberland to assist them repair damage to their highways caused by flooding.

This Department is currently working with Cumbria county council to assist them to identify the full damage to their highways network caused by flooding in November. To date, the authority have been allocated £4.6 million to cover the costs of establishing a temporary road bridge in Workington over the River Derwent to replace those damaged or destroyed. In addition the Army erected a temporary footbridge also over the River Derwent in Workington at a cost to the Government of £1 million.

This Department has agreed to contribute £30,000 towards the costs of short-term project management for Cumbria county council to develop their transport infrastructure recovery plan.

Because of the closure of the road bridges in Workington a temporary rail station at North Workington has opened and additional rail services have been put in place to allow transport across the River Derwent. The estimated cost to this Department of funding the additional rail services until May 2010 is £1.2 million.

Prime Minister

Binyam Mohamed

To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the report on Binyam Mohamed which the Intelligence and Security Committee has made to him. (318917)

This will be published alongside the Intelligence and Security Committee's views on the consolidated guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel on standards during the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas.

Bullying

To ask the Prime Minister with reference to the answer of 1 September 2009, Official Report, column 1815W, on Civil Service: bullying, how many complaints of bullying in the workplace have been made by Downing Street employees in each year since 2007. (318322)

I refer the right hon. Member to the press briefing given by the official spokesman on 22 February 2010. A transcript of this is available on the No. 10 website at:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page22576

Departmental Internet

To ask the Prime Minister how many designs for its website his Office has commissioned since 2005. (318644)

Detainees

To ask the Prime Minister with reference to the statement of 18 March 2009, Official Report, columns 55-56WS, on detainees, when he expects to publish guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel on standards during the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas; and for what reason its publication has been delayed. (318802)

The Government remain committed to publishing the guidance as soon as the views of the Intelligence and Security Committee have been received.

To ask the Prime Minister with reference to the statement of 18 March 2009, Official Report, columns 55-56WS, on detainees, whether the Intelligence Services Commissioner has conducted his first annual review of compliance with the guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel on standards during the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas; and if he will make a statement. (318803)

Sir Peter Gibson's role in monitoring compliance with the guidance will commence when the consolidated guidance is published and in operational use.

Electoral Systems: Referendums

To ask the Prime Minister if he will consider the merits of including in any referendum held on electoral reform questions to include public support for (a) the Lisbon treaty and (b) Trident replacement. (319669)

Health

Autism

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account will be taken of the mental health needs of adults with autism in the forthcoming adult autism strategy. (318965)

The autism strategy aims to ensure that mainstream public services become more inclusive of people with autism. This will mean ensuring that individuals’ needs—including mental health needs—are assessed and that people with autism get the right kind of support to address their assessed needs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish the delivery plan for the adult autism strategy. (318973)

The delivery plan, scheduled for publication in March 2010, will set out in more detail the timescale for delivery in the first year. Further delivery plans will be prepared for the second and third years of the strategy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has commissioned an autism prevalence study; and if he will make a statement. (319257)

The NHS Information Centre (IC) issued invitations to tender to short list potential providers, to deliver much clearer information on the prevalence of autism in the population.

The procurement exercise is now nearing its conclusion and the NHS IC is looking to award the contract by the end of the month. The Department hopes to publish the findings in spring 2011.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2010, Official Report, columns 1042W, on autism, when he plans to publish the delivery plan for the adult autism strategy to be produced under section 1 of the Autism Act 2009. (319640)

The delivery plan, scheduled for publication in March 2010, will set out in more detail the timescale for delivery in the first year. Further delivery plans will be prepared for the second and third years of the strategy.

Blood: Contamination

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people there are with bleeding disorders infected with (a) hepatitis C and (b) HIV as a result of being treated with contaminated blood products. (318623)

Based on historical data on clotting factor exposure, the United Kingdom Haemophilia Centre Doctors’ Organisation estimates that there were 2,807 patients with bleeding disorders still living on 31 March 2009, who had been exposed to hepatitis C through contaminated blood products. Of these, around 15 per cent. would be expected to have cleared the virus naturally.

Source:

UK Haemophilia Centres Doctors’ Organisation Annual Report 2009 and Bleeding Disorder Statistics for the Financial Year 2008-09 (September 2009), table 15.

The number of patients with bleeding disorders infected with HIV, who were still living on 31 March 2009, is 346.

Source:

The Macfarlane Trust Annual Financial Report for the Year Ending 31 March 2009.

Care UK: Greater Manchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have been assessed and treated by the Greater Manchester clinical assessment and treatment centre operated by Care UK since its inception. (319687)

Since service commenced in February 2009, 24,596 patients have been discharged by the Greater Manchester clinical assessment and treatment service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has made an estimate of the cost to the public purse (a) per annum and (b) per patient of treatment of each type at the clinical assessment and treatment service operated by Care UK in Greater Manchester. (319833)

The estimated per annum cost of treatment of each type undertaken by the Greater Manchester clinical assessment and treatment service (CATS) is shown in table 1 as follows.

Table 1. Estimate of cost per annum of treatment of each type

£

Treatment type

Year 11

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7

Clinical Triage

968,323

1,482,222

1,521,951

1,514,881

1,505,759

1,544,764

1,585,301

Direct Access Diagnostics2

15,433

0

0

0

0

0

0

Direct Access General Surgery2

549

0

0

0

0

0

0

Direct Access Gynaecology2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Direct Access Time Limited Therapy2

237,964

0

0

0

0

0

0

Direct Access Urology2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Ear, Nose and Throat2

2,379,146

3,633,748

3,731,336

3,714,158

3,693,705

3,789,692

3,888,273

General Surgery

5,567,095

8,524,021

8,752,884

8,713,044

8,666,296

8,891,610

9,125,552

Gynaecology

3,249,429

4,963,103

5,096,377

5,072,916

5,045,033

5,176,203

5,310,547

Musculoskeletal

3,160,486

4,826,638

4,956,208

4,933,808

4,906,547

5,034,089

5,165,362

Time Limited Therapy

1,717,056

2,985,771

3,065,880

3,051,895

3,034,978

3,113,875

3,195,184

Urology

1,941,798

2,965,459

3,045,030

3,031,689

3,014,594

3,092,928

3,173,063

Total

19,237,280

29,380,961

30,169,666

30,032,392

29,866,912

30,643,162

31,443,282

1 Year 1 shows actual costs; subsequent years are nominal contract values.

2 Includes direct access activities performed as non-contracted activity.

The cost of treatment per patient for each treatment type is shown in table 2 as follows.

Table 2. Estimate of cost of treatment per patient by treatment type1

Treatment type

Estimated cost1 (£)

Clinical Triage

18.36

Direct Access Diagnostics

233.84

Direct Access General Surgery

549.36

Direct Access Gynaecology

Direct Access Time Limited Therapy

239.64

Direct Access Urology

Ear, Nose and Throat

233.89

General Surgery

339.84

Gynaecology

308.21

Musculoskeletal

336.01

Time Limited Therapy

259.77

Urology

343.82

1 The costs shown are per patient. A patient may have multiple procedures during their treatment pathway.

Departmental Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department plans to take to participate in the Earth Hour event on 27 March 2010. (319094)

The Department will be alerting its staff to the Earth Hour as part of our wider sustainable development communications. However, since it occurs on a Saturday evening when most of our buildings have very low occupancy levels, we have no plans to mark it across our estate. In line with our standing practice, lighting will be dimmed in all our buildings and only lit where it is absolutely essential.

Departmental Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many arm’s length bodies for which his Department is responsible there have been at the start of each financial year since 1997-98; how many staff each such body employed in each year; and what the annual budget was of each such body in each year. (318182)

The details requested are available in published documents, including the “Annual Reports and Accounts” of the individual non-departmental public bodies, special health authorities and executive agencies.

The Cabinet Office published a detailed overall public bodies document, covering the whole of central Government, for each of the financial years 1997-1998 to 2005-2006. The documents are available from the civil service website at:

www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/ndpbs.aspx

These publications list the Department’s executive non-departmental public bodies and special health authorities, and provide details of funding, expenditure and staff employed. The Department’s annual “Departmental Reports” also list its agencies for each year. These documents are available from the Department’s website:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/AnnualReports/index.htm

From 2006-07 onwards, the Cabinet Office has published an overall summary public bodies document, without the previous level detail. However, the Department has published its own public bodies document annually containing this detailed information. Copies of the Department’s public bodies documents for 2007, 2008 and 2009 have been placed in the Library. “Public Bodies 2007, 2008 and 2009” are also available from the following website at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_113099

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many designs for its website his Department has commissioned since 2005. (318650)

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Health 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. (312819)

The Department and its agencies use grading structures which do not necessarily exactly equate to management layers. Within the Department and its agencies there are 11 separate grades. Details of each grade, full-time equivalent staff, and annual pay bill costs for the core Department and its agencies are given in the following tables.

Core Department of Health

The following figures given are for equivalent numbers of full-time staff (FTE) and are a ‘snapshot’, reported to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as at 31 March 2009.

Grade

FTE as at 31 March 09

Permanent Secretary

3.0

Director General

14.0

Director

53.7

Deputy Director and equivalents

184.9

Grade 6

252.8

Grade 7

450.8

SEO

367.1

Fast Stream

61.0

HEO

302.6

EO

382.2

AO

114.1

Miscellaneous1

72.4

Total

2,258.5

1 The miscellaneous category includes spot rate staff, fee paid staff, Ministers, special advisers and miscellaneous grades.

The staff figures have been published by ONS and can be found in the Civil Service Statistics 2009 (Table 11) on the following website:

www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=2899

The pay bill figures as follows are for the full financial year 2008-09 and the following table was also part of the Department's Resource Accounts for 2008-09.

The overall pay bill for each grade in the table includes: salary, employer's national insurance contribution, employer's superannuation contribution, non-consolidated performance-related payments, allowances and, where appropriate, overtime.

Grade

2008-09 Pay bill (£000)

Permanent Secretary

659

Director General

2,260

Director

9,848

Deputy Director and equivalents

23,093

Grade 6

22,783

Grade 7

31,327

SEO

17,569

Fast Stream

2,652

HEO

12,223

EO

12,804

AO

3,381

Miscellaneous

2,478

Total

141,077

Please note that there are compositional differences between the two data sets presented above: ONS numbers provided for staff full-time equivalents (FTE) give the best measure of how many people work at the Department and at what level. Some individuals working within the Department are not on payroll, for example they are secondees in. The second table includes payroll costs of secondments and loans out (but not income associated with secondments out), whereas secondments and loans out are excluded in the ONS definitions for staff numbers. Additionally, payroll costs are for the whole year while ONS figures are snapshot.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The following table has been produced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's (MHRA) finance division in accordance with the principles used to publish the MHRA's 2008-09 accounts.

Grades

Average FTE

Annual salary and associated employment costs (£000)

Director General

2

387

Director

5

884

Deputy Director

101

11,572

G6

88

8,798

G7

105

3,013

SEO

186

6,979

HEO

79

7,383

EO

203

6,340

AO

119

2,861

Totals

888

48,217

NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA)

Analysis of numbers and salary cost by grade, as at 1 January 2010

Salary cost

Grade

FTE at 1 Jan 2010

December 2009 month

Annual equivalent (£000)

SCS

1

9,385.85

113

G6

11

24,762.14

297

G7

3

60,666.55

728

SEO

8

73,294.45

880

HEO

20

27,759.15

333

EO

17

41,608.98

499

AO

5

8,101.62

97

Total

66

245,578.74

2,947

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the copyright on the Platt Review on the establishment of a social care journal is owned by his Department. (318222)

Copyright for the Raising the Status of Social Care report in 2007 rests with Dame Denise Platt CBE.

General Practitioners: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) median and (b) mean salary of a GP in each region was in (i) nominal and (ii) real terms in each year since 1997. (318690)

The information is not fully available in the format requested.

Average (mean) information before 2004-05 at strategic health authority (SHA) and Government office regional (GOR) level and before 2001-02 at England level is unavailable.

Median information is unavailable at SHA/GOR and England levels.

Such data as are available have been combined into a table, which has been placed in the Library.

Health Services: Channel Islands

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many individuals from (a) Guernsey and (b) Jersey have had emergency admission and received treatment from an NHS hospital since the cancellation of the reciprocal health agreement between the Channel Islands and the UK on 1 April 2009; and how many such individuals (i) have been charged the costs of treatment and hospitalisation, (ii) have been billed for costs of treatment and hospitalisation but have yet to make payment, (iii) were exempt from charges by virtue of (A) being in receipt of a UK state pension and having lived in the UK for 10 continuous years, (B) being a spouse or civil partner visiting the UK with an exempt UK state pensioner and (C) being a child visiting the UK with an exempt UK state pensioner; and if he will make a statement. (319359)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what method costs have been recouped in respect of charges incurred in emergency hospital admission and treatment of visitors to (a) the UK and (b) England from (i) Guernsey and (ii) Jersey since the cancellation of the reciprocal health agreement between the Channel Islands and the UK health services on 1 April 2009; and if he will make a statement. (319361)

This information is not held centrally. It is for individual trusts to decide how charges are recouped in terms of methodology. This will depend on the circumstances of individual cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been recouped in charges from visitors from Guernsey and Jersey since the cancellation on 1 April 2009 of the reciprocal health agreements between the Channel Islands and the UK consequent upon their emergency admission and receipt of treatment in UK NHS hospitals; and if he will make a statement. (319696)

Health Services: Feltham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on NHS healthcare in Feltham and Heston constituency in each year since 1997. (318597)

The following table shows the amount spent on healthcare services by Hounslow Primary Care Trust (PCT) from 2002-03 to 2008-09, which are the only years for which information is available by organisation.

Hounslow PCT—purchase of healthcare 2002-03 to 2008-09

£000

Primary healthcare

Secondary healthcare

Other healthcare

Total healthcare

2008-09

77,753

219,184

0

296,937

2007-08

74,844

211,213

209

286,266

2006-07

74,258

201,055

1,020

276,333

2005-06

64,351

197,277

210

261,838

2004-05

56,090

206,485

8,093

270,668

2003-04

51,332

182,177

236

233,745

2002-03

37,303

160,932

1,263

199,498

Source:

Audited summarisation schedules 2002-03 to 2008-09

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS (a) doctors and (b) nurses were employed in Feltham and Heston constituency in each year since 1997. (318598)

The information requested is contained within the following table.

All doctors and qualified nursing staff in selected area, as at 30 September 1997 to 2008

numbers (headcount)

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Hounslow Primary Care Trust (PCT)

All Doctors1

122

137

143

149

124

138

154

Of which:

Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) Doctors1

2

3

3

4

1

9

13

General Practitioners (GPs)

*

*

*

*

*

120

134

140

145

123

129

141

Total Qualified Nursing Staff2

*

*

*

*

*

292

303

300

286

265

269

249

Of which:

Qualified Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Staff

*

*

*

*

*

213

208

221

200

190

190

184

GP Practice Nurses2

*

*

*

*

*

79

95

79

86

75

79

65

West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

All Doctors1

166

163

180

197

200

198

220

248

248

257

288

238

Of which:

HCHS Doctors1

166

163

180

197

200

198

220

248

248

257

288

238

GPs

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Total Qualified Nursing Staff

604

710

619

559

704

820

817

857

765

815

888

904

Of which:

Qualified Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Staff

604

710

619

559

704

820

817

857

765

815

888

904

GP Practice Nurses

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“*” = Denotes not applicable.

1 Data exclude Medical Hospital Practitioners and Clinical Assistants, most of which are GPs working part-time in hospitals.

2 In 2006 GP Practice Nurse headcount data for Hounslow PCT were estimated using the national average ratio of full-time equivalent (FTE) to headcount.

Notes:

1. Workforce data are not available by constituency. Feltham and Heston constituency is contained within and serviced by Hounslow PCT and West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

2. Hounslow PCT was formed in 2002. It is not possible to accurately map workforce figures for this organisation prior to the formation of the PCT.

Data Quality:

The NHS Information Centre for health and social care seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality where changes impact on figures already published. This is assessed but unless it is significant at national level figures are not changed. Impact at detailed or local level is footnoted in relevant analyses.

Sources:

1. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

2. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care Medical and Dental Workforce Census

The NHS Information Centre for health and social care Non-medical Workforce Census

Health Services: Greater Manchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has made an estimate of the average unit cost per patient of (a) orthopaedic, (b) ear, nose and throat and (c) gynaecology and urology (i) assessment and (ii) treatment by (A) NHS hospitals and (B) the clinical assessment and treatment service operated by Care UK in Greater Manchester. (319834)

The Department does not hold the information in the format requested. We will arrange for the information to be prepared and a table will be placed in the Library as soon as possible.

Health Services: Isle of Man

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions he has had with his counterpart in (a) Scotland, (b) Northern Ireland and (c) Wales on the modalities of and method for (i) recording and (ii) collecting charges from visitors from the Isle of Man who are detained and in receipt of emergency treatment in hospitals in (A) England, (B) Scotland, (C) Wales and (D) Northern Ireland consequent on the cancellation of the reciprocal health agreement between the Isle of Man and each UK health service with effect from 1 April 2010; and if he will make a statement; (319357)

(2) by what means he proposes to identify those visitors from the Isle of Man who are exempt from charges by virtue of (a) being in receipt of a UK state pension and having lived in the UK for 10 continuous years, (b) being a spouse or civil partner visiting the UK with an exempt UK state pensioner and (c) being a child visiting the UK with an exempt UK state pensioner following the cancellation of the reciprocal health agreement; and if he will make a statement;

(3) by what means it is proposed to (a) identify and (b) collect charges from visitors from the Isle of Man who are hospitalised whilst in the UK following the cancellation of the reciprocal health agreement on 1 April 2010; and if he will make a statement.

Under the national heath service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended, trusts have a legal duty to identify and charge those overseas visitors to the United Kingdom who are not exempt from charges, and to make and recover from them charges for their treatment.

The Department has produced comprehensive guidance for the NHS to use when implementing these regulations, and most trusts have an Overseas Visitors Manager in post to oversee this. Trusts are advised to ask baseline questions to each patient to quickly identify if they have not lived lawfully in the UK for the past 12 months, and if they have not, to then interview them to establish if charges apply. It is a matter for individual trusts how they collect any charges that are due. The Department is contacting every trust informing them of the need to treat residents of the Isle of Man as overseas visitors from 1 April 2010 following the termination of the reciprocal healthcare agreement.

Following discussions with departmental officials, the Devolved Administrations are putting in place their own arrangements in order to inform their organisations of the changing circumstances.

Hospitals

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) general acute hospitals, (b) multi-service hospitals, (c) short-term non-acute hospitals, (d) long-stay hospitals, (e) specialist hospitals and (f) community hospitals there were in England according to the most recent Estates Return Information Collection data in each financial year from 1997-98 to 2008-09. (318186)

The available information is shown in the following table but comes with a heavy caveat that definitions have changed over the years and a new category of ‘Community Hospitals’ has been introduced. These changes will have a significant effect on the numbers in categories and direct comparison year on year therefore will not be valid.

Number of sites

General acute hospitals

Multiservice hospitals

Short-term non-acute hospitals

Long-stay hospitals

Specialist hospitals

Community hospitals

Total

2000-01

392

390

394

1,176

2001-02

335

165

384

400

161

1,445

2002-03

312

209

376

426

192

1,515

2003-04

280

231

397

364

176

1,448

2004-05

290

221

414

331

170

1,426

2005-06

277

237

413

343

168

1,438

2006-07

270

139

252

295

174

404

1,534

2007-08

258

135

229

294

161

402

1,479

2008-09

274

135

219

273

185

428

1,514

Data on national health service sites were not collected by the estates related information collection before 2000-01. Data on multi-service hospitals and specialist hospitals were not collected before 2001-02 and community hospital data were not collected before 2006-07. With the introduction of additional categories, hospitals in one category may have been moved to another.

Until 2003-04, the provision of these data was mandatory for all NHS organisations. From 2004-05 onwards, provision of these data was mandatory for NHS organisations but voluntary for NHS foundation trusts, therefore, the data for this period may be incomplete.

The data are presented as provided by the NHS and have not been amended centrally. Any inherent errors in the data will not have been corrected and questions regarding their accuracy should be addressed to the organisations concerned.

Since 2000, 118 new hospital schemes have opened.

Modernising Scientific Careers Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Health who will be responsible under the Modernising Scientific Careers programme for (a) funding and (b) delivering audiology training courses. (318254)

Higher education institutions in partnership with strategic health authorities and service providers will provide the new education and training programmes.

NHS: United Health Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contracts the NHS has with the United Health Group and its subsidiaries. (318827)

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many sexual health clinics in each primary care trust have obtained accreditation under his Department’s “You’re Welcome” scheme. (318585)

The following table outlines how many sexual health services in each primary care trust (PCT) have “You’re Welcome” accreditation, and how many have met the criteria but are awaiting accreditation.

PCT

Number of “You’re Welcome” accredited sexual health clinics/services

Number of sexual health clinics/services meeting the “You’re Welcome” criteria and awaiting accreditation

Barnet

1

Blackburn and Darwen

1

Blackpool

1

Bolton

1

Bradford and Airedale

3

Greenwich

6

Lambeth

2

1

Liverpool

1

Manchester

1

Middlesbrough

1

Milton Keynes

1

Northumberland

2

Newcastle

1

Oldham

1

Portsmouth

1

Stockport

1

Westminster

1

1

Spectacles: Irlen Syndrome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will bring forward proposals to provide the spectacles required by (a) children and (b) those on low incomes who have Irlen syndrome at no cost to the recipient. (318663)

Optical vouchers to help with the purchase of glasses or contact lenses with a prescription power are available to children and to those on low incomes or in receipt of benefits.

Where a child experiences symptoms associated with descriptions of Meares Irlen syndrome the child’s parents or carer should discuss the problem with the school and consult an optometrist to ensure that they do not overlook the possibility of refractive error or eye disease underlying the difficulty. If, after a sight test (and supply of glasses if necessary), a child is still experiencing difficulties then a wider assessment is called for.

The best interests of children are likely to be served by a scheme of assessment and treatment, provided in agreement between local health and education services, which takes into account the full range of possible ways of helping children with the symptoms associated with descriptions of Irlen syndrome.

International Development

Bangladesh: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the outcomes were of his recent discussions with the government of Bangladesh, with particular reference to the £60 million of Government funding for mitigation of the impact of global warming in Bangladesh. (318611)

Officials of the Department for International Development (DFID) are in regular contact with representatives of the Government of Bangladesh. A senior official represented DFID at the Bangladesh Development Forum meeting, held in Dhaka on 15 and 16 February. During this meeting the Government of Bangladesh confirmed their wish to establish a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Climate Change. Decisions on how the fund will be allocated will be led by the Government of Bangladesh, which will also be responsible for implementing projects supported by the fund. The World Bank will provide technical advice and financial management. The UK, the European Union and Denmark will provide grants to the fund.

Bangladesh: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development to what projects and programmes he has allocated funding for the development of micropayment transaction systems in Bangladesh in the last five years. (318912)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has funded the £13.4 million Remittances and Payments Partnership (RPP) project since 2006. RPP is helping to modernise Bangladesh's payment systems, including supporting the legal framework for micropayment transactions and reducing the costs of remittances for the poor. A challenge fund under RPP has supported both piloting and scaling up of innovative micropayment transaction systems.

DFID has not supported any other such projects or programmes in Bangladesh in the last five years.