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Written Answers

Volume 507: debated on Monday 15 March 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 15 March 2010

Prime Minister

Departmental Internet

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 862W, on departmental internet, what the cost was of the website redesign. (321925)

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

East of England

To ask the Prime Minister which constituencies he has visited in the East of England in 2009; and what the date was of each such visit. (322383)

I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement of 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 76WS. A list of my UK visits for 2009-10 will be published in the usual way.

Envoys and Special Representatives

To ask the Prime Minister which (a) envoys and (b) special representatives personally appointed by him have (i) resigned and (ii) been dismissed. (320719)

I refer the hon. Member to the Press Notices issued by my office, which can be found at:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/press-notices

A current list of Government appointed tsars, envoys, champions and ambassadors has been published on page Ev 41 of the Public Administration Select Committee's Eighth Report of Session 2009-10: Goats and Tsars: Ministerial and other appointments from outside Parliament. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

Intelligence Services

To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the (a) current and (b) former guidelines issued by his Department to officers of those intelligence services which fall within his responsibilities on interviewing prisoners abroad and on co-operating with interviews conducted by other countries; and if he will make a statement. (321501)

The consolidated guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel on standards during the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas will be published shortly. We will not be publishing previous documents.

Reading Berkshire

To ask the Prime Minister (1) when he informed the hon. Member for Reading, West of his visit to Reading on 1 March 2010; (321540)

(2) when he informed Reading borough council of his visit to Reading on 1 March 2010;

(3) when he informed Thames Valley police of his visit to Reading on 1 March 2010.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the level of the administrative burden on the agriculture industry. (322311)

In DEFRA's recent Simplification Plan ‘Simplifying the Business Environment: Driving Burdens Down’, published in December 2009, DEFRA reported that it was on target to achieve a 20 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens by May 2010. The report details measures that affect the agriculture industry. Between the simplification measures already implemented and other activities currently in progress, we anticipate DEFRA will meet and may even exceed the 25 per cent. target by May 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage retailers to purchase domestically-produced agricultural products. (322312)

The purchasing decisions of retailers are a commercial matter for them, and EU state aid guidelines on advertising specifically preclude publicly subsidised “Buy British” campaigns.

However, we recognise the importance of providing consumers with information on a food’s production and its provenance to enable them to make informed choices about the food they buy. That is why we have been encouraging retailers to comply with the Food Standard Agency’s best practice guide on origin labelling, and recent evidence from the agency has shown that compliance has increased in recent years. More specifically, the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force which we established bringing together producers, processors, retailers, the food service industry, and a consumer representative has developed a voluntary industry code on the labelling of pork and pork products. This code, which was launched at the National Farmers Union conference last month, covers origin labelling, the use of breed names on labels and product definitions. Support from both the retail and food service sector has been strong.

Retailers are putting in place policies aimed at sourcing more domestically-produced food and drink products. This in turn provides opportunities for UK farmers to capture a greater market share by becoming more competitive.

We also appreciate the need to improve our food and drink producers’ access to market in order to meet the growing demand for more food with a regional provenance. We have done this by providing funding for a range of measures including “meet the buyer” events with retailers and the encouragement of food hubs and shared distribution facilities.

Biodiversity

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the UK's progress towards reaching the EU target to halt biodiversity loss by 2010; and if he will make a statement. (321448)

The European Commission and member states are currently compiling data to allow an assessment of progress against the targets in the EU Biodiversity Action Plan. We measure our progress towards the EU's 2010 target to halt biodiversity loss through the UK Biodiversity Indicators. Progress was reported in the National Statistics publication ‘Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2007’, which was updated most recently in April 2009. Statistics for wild birds were updated in October 2009 and those for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are updated monthly.

Overall, 23 (72 per cent.) of the 32 measures that comprise the UK Biodiversity Indicators are “improving” or show “little or no overall change” since the year 2000. In particular, almost 91.2 per cent. of SSSIs are in favourable or recovering condition, agri-environment schemes are leading to significant improvements, and we have made great strides with the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Common Agricultural Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to discuss with the devolved administrations his Department’s policy on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013. (322310)

DEFRA have ongoing discussions with the devolved Administrations on a wide range of agricultural issues of shared interest, including the UK’s ambitions for the future of the common agriculture policy after 2013.

Dangerous Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people resident in each local authority area were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (i) between the date of entry into force of the Act and 1997 and (ii) in 2009. (321963)

The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, England and Wales 1991 to 1997 and 2008 (latest available) has been placed in the House Library.

Court Proceedings data are not available at local authority area level.

The Ministry of Justice advise that court proceedings data for 2009 are planned for publication in the autumn of 2010.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood of 9 February 2010, Official Report, columns 924-25W, on departmental information officers, what the (a) title and (b) division is of each of the seven embedded communicators working within the business; and on what date each of these positions was first established. (320912)

The information requested is as follows:

Title

Work area

Date established

Stakeholder Engagement Communications

Food Chain Programme

Summer 2009

Communications manager

Public Value Programme

Autumn 2009

Communications manager

Performance Programme

Spring 2009

Communication manager

UK location Programme

Early 2008

Communications adviser

Customer and Citizen insight team

Summer 2009

Communication manager

Chief Information Officer’s team

Spring 2008

Segmentation and Consumer Insight

Sustainable Behaviours Unit

Early 2007

Departmental Public Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of contracts with public relations consultancies was for each non-departmental public body within his Department’s remit in each of the last five years. (320489)

This information is not held centrally and there is no specific procurement category or account for expenditure with public relations consultancies. To obtain the information for each of the last five years from each non-departmental public body would incur disproportionate cost.

Greater Manchester

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Manchester, Gorton constituency, the effects on that constituency of the policies of his Department and its predecessors since 1997. (322140)

Due to the broad nature of the question and the wide range of DEFRA and its predecessor’s policies implemented in Gorton, it is not possible to provide a detailed answer in the form requested.

Gorton is obliged through statute to comply with central Government legislation. DEFRA’s policy responsibilities are summarised in its departmental strategic objectives (DSOs) that have been agreed with the Treasury:

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

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

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

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

To champion sustainable development.

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

To encourage a sustainable, secure and healthy food supply.

To provide socially and economically sustainable rural communities.

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

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

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

Past reports are available online in the National Archives.

For information on a specific DEFRA policy in Gorton, the Government office for the North West is able to provide information on implementation and the benefits to the area.

Textiles: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tonnes of (a) carpet and (b) mattresses were sent to landfill in each of the last five years; and what proportion of annual landfill each such figure represents. (322023)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: DEFRA does not hold this information. The Environment Agency publishes data on wastes to landfill from permitted site returns, recorded by the European Waste Code (EWC). The EWC classification does not allow the identification of individual product categories, such as those requested.

Wetlands: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons Natural England has declined to consider evidence on damage to the Lymington Marshes Ramsar site presented by the Lymington River Association; and if he will make a statement. (322345)

Natural England has not declined to consider evidence presented by the Lymington River Association on damage to the Lymington Marshes Ramsar site.

This evidence was presented as part of the Wightlink/Natural England stakeholder engagement exercise which finished on 5 February. Natural England is currently reviewing the points made by all those who responded, and will respond to the Lymington River Association in the next few weeks to enable discussion at a meeting which has already been agreed.

Wildlife: Birds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department consulted with (a) the RSPB, (b) the Hawk and Owl Trust and (c) other animal welfare groups on its assessment of the European Eagle Owl as an invasive non-native species which should not be introduced into the wild. (321914)

Between November 2007 and January 2008, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government held a public consultation on proposals to review schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (‘the Act’), and to ban the sale of certain non-native species in England in Wales. Schedule 9 lists species which, under section 14 of the Act, are prohibited from being introduced into the wild.

The European eagle owl was included amongst the species being consulted upon, and on 21 December 2009 the Government announced that it would be added to schedule 9 in April this year.

This was a general public consultation and organisations directly contacted about it included the RSPB and the Hawk and Owl Trust as well as a number other organisations concerned with animal welfare and conservation. The full list of consultees is available on the DEFRA website.

As part of the process for collating evidence to support policy decisions on management of invasive species, full risk assessments are being developed for a number of species. When risk assessments (including that for the eagle owl) are published for expert comment, the GB Non-native Species Secretariat notifies all the stakeholders on its database who have shown an interest in invasive non-native species policy. This includes the RSPB and a wide range of other organisations; however the Hawk and Owl Trust is not recorded among the organisations in the database.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department spent on office refurbishments in each of the last 10 years. (320469)

The amount spent on office refurbishment is not separately costed or invoiced and could be answered only at disproportionate cost.

Expenditure on all maintenance and minor works for each financial year since 1999-2000 is shown in the following table. These figures include the cost of refurbishments, fit out of new accommodation, reactive and planned maintenance, health and safety works, repairs to mechanical and electrical systems, and associated professional fees.

£000

1999-2000

1,085

2000-01

1,465

2001-02

2,211

2002-03

2,131

2003-04

2,057

2004-05

2,727

2005-06

2,234

2006-07

2,600

2007-08

1,792

2008-09

2,760

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) disciplinary and (b) capability procedures have been (i) initiated and (ii) completed in his Department in each of the last five years; how much time on average was taken to complete each type of procedure in each such year; how many and what proportion of his Department's staff were subject to each type of procedure in each such year; and how many and what proportion of each type of procedure resulted in the dismissal of the member of staff. (320626)

Details for 2009 and 2010 are shown in the following table.

A breakdown of the information required for the years 2005 to 2008 is not held centrally. We are unable to specify the time taken to complete each type of procedure as this is not recorded.

Number

2009

2010

Disciplinary

67

21

Capability

4

5

Initiated

71

26

Completed

69

21

Dismissal

2

0

Departmental Domestic Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of travel for his staff between England and Northern Ireland was in each of the last six years. (321269)

The cost of flights and ferries for staff from my Department between England and Northern Ireland in each of the last three years is shown in the following table. We do not have complete information for the other three years.

Other expenditure associated with travelling between England and Northern Ireland, such as rail or taxi fares to the airport, can be provided only at disproportionate cost. All travel by staff is undertaken in line with departmental policy.

£

2008-09

760,184

2007-08

790,947

2006-07

991,808

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2010, Official Report, column 1489W, on the Afghan Campaign Medal, whether he has agreed to the proposed change to the criteria for Aero-Medical personnel Afghan campaign medals; and whether the service chiefs have approved the proposed change. (321623)

The Ministry of Defence is aware of the situation regarding Aero-Medical personnel and their eligibility to receive the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. The eligibility of this group and others is currently under active consideration. We hope to reach a conclusion shortly.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to his speech in Portsmouth on 25 February 2010, what recommendations of a future defence review could lead to the cancellation of the future aircraft carrier programme. (321413)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: I cannot foresee an outcome of the Strategic Defence Review that could lead to the cancellation of the future carrier programme.

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of whether the armed forces are able to undertake a military operation on the scale and complexity of that undertaken for the Falklands War. (321374)

We take our responsibility to defend the Falkland Islands and the other UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic very seriously indeed. We maintain a permanent garrison in the Falkland Islands in order to deter any aggression and regularly deploy other military assets to the region to demonstrate military capability and political resolve. The level of forces required is reviewed regularly. We retain both the commitment and the capability to defend the UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic.

Armed Forces: Drinking Water

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will provide funding for production of the water purification systems ordered by the US administration for deployment in prototype form to Haiti and Afghanistan. (321376)

We have not received any requests from the Haiti or Afghanistan authorities, or from the US administration, for UK funding for production of water purification systems.

Armed Forces: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the nutritional value of food provided to military personnel serving in combat operations abroad. (320751)

The Military Dietary Reference Values published by QinetiQ in 2008 are used as the basis of input for in-barrack feeding in the UK, as the nutritional basis for operational feeding, the future development of operational ration packs, and as a benchmark when assessing the current nutritional value of armed forces feeding.

As part of the benchmarking process, the Surgeon General-sponsored Armed Forces Feeding Project is conducting an evaluation of the actual food and energy intake, and the efficacy of nutritional education, in trained military personnel while in-barracks and on operations. Gender, ethnic and cultural differences in relation to nutritional requirements, intake and dietary habits will also be investigated. The study is due to report in December 2010.

Armed Forces: Private Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on education in independent schools for the families of members of the armed forces in each of the last 12 years. (321669)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: Details are only held for financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09. Financial information for earlier years prior to the implementation of the Joint Personnel Administration System is held on single service legacy systems, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In the armed forces, the allowance paid to service personnel to fund the education of their children in independent schools is known as the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA). The purpose of the CEA is to allow children of armed forces personnel to achieve a stable education against a background of frequent parental postings both at home, and overseas.

In financial year 2007-08, the total cost to the Ministry of Defence was £162,189,373. This includes tax and national insurance on the benefit paid to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs by the Department on behalf of individuals. In financial year 2008-09, the total cost to the MOD was £172,844,735.

Limits apply in respect of the amount that can be claimed per school term by the service person, and all claims are subject to a parental minimum contribution of 10 per cent. per child, per term.

Armed Forces: Rescue Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what other aircraft his Department has with the capability equivalent to a Nimrod MR2 in (a) co-ordinating major off-shore incidents and multi-agency rescues and (b) locating vessels that are in distress during adverse weather and low-light conditions. (321325)

The Aeronautical Air Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (ARCC), based at RAF Kinloss, is responsible for co-ordinating major off-shore incidents and multi-agency rescues. The ARCC works in consort with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, an Executive agency of the Department for Transport, who has a statutory duty under the coastguard Act 1925 for the initiation and co-ordination of civil maritime search and rescue within the United Kingdom Search and Rescue Region. All requests for assistance from the other emergency services throughout the United Kingdom—police, fire, ambulance and coastguard—are handled by the ARCC.

An on the scene co-ordinator may be designated, if required, by the ARCC. If appropriate, this could be an RAF aircraft. All large aircraft are capable of contributing to a search and rescue operation and are equipped with the long and short-range radios required to communicate with the ARCC. The UK has a range of air assets fitted with radars that can be used to support search and rescue tasks in adverse weather and low-light conditions over water. Additionally C-130 and Sea King Mk 3/3A aircraft can carry crew members equipped with night vision goggles.

Armed Forces: Reserve Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what proportion of the membership of the (a) Territorial Army, (b) Royal Navy Reserve, (c) Royal Marine Reserve and (d) Royal Auxiliary Air Force was available for deployment on the most recent date for which figures are available. (314473)

Availability for mobilisation is dependent on a number of factors, in particular which section of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 is being used to make a call-out order. Therefore, while reservists may be unavailable for mobilisation under one section of the Act, they will be available under another. This effectively means that nearly all reservists remain available for mobilisation, dependent upon the nature of the operation.

Army: Lost Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many army weapons have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen in each of the last 12 months. (319720)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 30 November 2009, Official Report, columns 419-20W, to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Willie Rennie).

Army: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) required, (b) actual and (c) fit-for-task strength is of each corps of the Army; (312658)

(2) what the (a) required, (b) actual and (c) fit for task strength of each corps of the Army (i) was in 1997 and (ii) is in 2010.

Manning in the Army is currently strong. As at 1 January 2010, the trained strength of the Army, including full-time reserve service personnel, was 101,500, This is the highest figure since 1 January 2006. This good position is due to a greater number of recruits entering training and passing out into the Field Army, coupled with an improvement in retention. While this may be attributed in part to the economic climate, a combination of financial incentives and other retention measures have also had an impact. In September 1998 trained strength was 100,490.

In the following table “required strength” and “actual strength” figures are shown as “funded liability” and “trained strength” respectively.

The latest liability figures are as at 1 January 2010. Comparative figures from 1997 are no longer available. The earliest liability data held are as at 1 September 1998.

1 January 2010 figures have been taken from the Army Personnel Statistics Report (APSR). APSR data is derived from the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system.

Figures for the Regular Army are as follows:

1 September 19981 January 2010

Organisation

Funded liability

Trained strength1

Funded liability

Trained strength1

Staff

687

710

763

840

Royal Armoured Corps

5,954

5,680

5,772

5,880

Royal Artillery

8,605

8,020

7,476

7,610

Royal Engineers

8,564

8,640

9,529

9,480

Royal Signals

9,101

8,210

8,319

7,570

Infantry

27,242

25,020

24,519

24,720

Army Air Corps

1,669

1,540

2,047

2,140

Royal Army Chaplains Department

144

140

148

140

Royal Logistics Corps

16,240

15,360

15,848

15,170

Royal Army Medical Corps

2,684

2,460

3,190

3,060

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

10,054

9,780

9,820

9,700

Adjutant General’s Corps

Provost

26,915

27,090

1,756

1,700

Staff and Personnel Support

2

2

3,911

3,650

Military Provost Service

2

2

101

100

Educational and Training Services

2

2

344

330

Army Legal Services

2

2

114

120

Unknown3

2

2

0

20

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

174

130

222

330

Small Arms School Corps

138

140

151

150

Royal Army Dentistry Corps

465

350

380

436

Intelligence Corps

1,191

1,130

1,648

1,470

Army Physical Training Corps

388

390

448

490

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps

870

670

1,136

900

Corps of Army Music

1,177

1,060

901

810

1 Trained strength figures are rounded.

2 Indicates brace.

3 These are trained members of the AGC who, due to data input errors in the JPA system, are not allocated to a sub Regimental Corps.

“Fit for Task” has been interpreted as fit to deploy for any form of duty on deployment, including personnel listed as having limited deployability. Data are calculated from Personnel Unable to Deploy (PUD) which is derived from unit returns and includes Gurkha manpower. As at 1 January 2010, Infantry Fit for Task strength was 20,439. Royal Armoured Corps Fit for Task strength was 4,475. No Fit for Task data are available prior to 2007. Similar figures for other corps are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defence Academy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what part of his Department is to provide the support for operational design presently given by the Defence Academy's Advanced Research and Assessment Group following its closure, with particular reference to operational support for UK intervention in Afghanistan. (321472)

The Defence Academy's Research and Assessment Branch (R and AB) formally known as Advanced Research and Assessment Group has never provided extensive or critical support to operational design.

The Ministry of Defence Operations Directorate, which comprises both civilians and military staff, has and will continue to provide advice to Ministers and senior officers and officials within MOD and across Government on strategy and policy for operations. In the case of Afghanistan, the Operations Directorate works closely with other teams both within MOD and across other Government Departments, e.g. Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Cabinet Office, in providing advice.

Departmental Languages

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months; what expenditure his Department incurred in providing such coaching; and in what languages such coaching was provided. (320415)

No Ministers have received any coaching in foreign languages over the past 12 months. Information on civil servants is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many full-time equivalent staff of each grade are employed by his Department to assist special advisers. (321133)

The two special advisers in the Ministry of Defence are supported by one full-time civil servant at band C2 level.

Departmental Vetting

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions applications for employment in (a) the Ministry of Defence and (b) the Armed Forces have not passed beyond vetting procedures due to (i) suspected al-Qaeda sympathies and (ii) other suspected extremist views in each year since 1997. (318337)

Ex-servicemen: Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what methodology his Department uses to determine the number of veterans in prison in England and Wales. (321207)

The number of veterans in prison in England and Wales, which has been estimated at just over 2,200, was determined by matching a database of all remand and sentenced prisoners aged 18 and over from the Ministry of Justice, around 81,000 offenders as at November 2009, against a database of Service leavers (Regulars only) from my Department, some 1.3 million records. The variables available for matching were surname, forename, middle name, date of birth and gender.

The full report of the matching by the Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) is available in the Library of the House or the following website:

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index .php ?page=48&thiscontent=540&pubType=3&date=2010-01-25&disText=Single%20Report&from=historic&topDate =2010-01-25 &PublishTime=16:00:00

Met Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often the Met Office Review Group has met in the last 12 months. (321861)

The Operational Efficiency Programme Met Office Review Group has met regularly in undertaking the review in the last 12 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department’s officials next plan to meet the Shareholder Executive to discuss the future of the Met Office. (321862)

Ministry of Defence officials and the Shareholder Executive meet on a regular basis to discuss the future of the Met Office. The next formal Review Group meeting is due in May 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there have been any changes in membership of the Met Office Review Group since it was established. (321863)

No. Membership of the Met Office Review Group has remained the same since it was established and comprises of officials from Ministry of Defence, Met Office, Shareholder Executive and HM Treasury.

Met Office: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Met Office staff are paid more than £100,000 per year. (321643)

Details of the remuneration of the Met Office's Executive Directors are disclosed in the Remuneration Report in the Met Office Annual Report and Accounts. This shows that in 2008-09, four members of the Executive were paid more than £100,000. Outside of the Executive, no Met Office staff are paid more than £100,000.

Middle East: Navy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will use the assets of the Royal Navy to protect Free Gaza ships in international waters. (321680)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ivan Lewis) on 11 March 2010, Official Report, column 428W.

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the concept design for the Trident successor submarines to be finalised; and what effect the delay in this process will have on the timetable for the delivery of the Trident successor submarines. (321415)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: We need a few more months to ensure we take design decisions based on robust information. We do not expect this extension of the concept phase to affect the timetable for delivery of the successor submarine.

Work and Pensions

Employment and Support Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of claimants of employment and support allowance who have moved into paid employment in the last 12 months. (321782)

Specific information on employment and support allowance is not available. However, between October 2003 and April 2009, Pathways has helped over 189,000 people into work.

Pensioner Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps she plans to take to reduce the level of pensioner poverty. (321794)

We have a good track record.

Today there are 900,000 fewer pensioners living in relative poverty than in 1997. We continue to look at ways to further improve pension credit take up and have taken forward radical reforms which will deliver a fairer, more generous state pension and enable millions more to save for their retirement.

Age Concern: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 8 March 2010, Official Report, columns 76-77W, on the Pension Service: Torbay, whether she plans to provide additional support to Age Concern Torbay to enable it to provide face-to-face advice surgeries. (322087)

PDCS Local Service is working closely with Age Concern in Torbay in order to offer a range of services to pensioners in the Torbay area. The Age Concern office is an accredited alternative office, which offers customers an alternative channel to access benefits and services.

PDCS Local Service provides additional support to Age Concern by undertaking regular reviews and delivering training sessions for staff. This enables Age Concern staff to be accredited to accept claims from people aged 60 or over for Social Security benefits, or from a person under age 60 for disability and carers benefits.

In addition PDCS Local Service accepts referrals directly from Age Concern to undertake home visits to pensioners. Ongoing support with complex cases is also provided.

The PDCS Local Service manager in the area regularly meets with the manager of Age Concern Torbay to discuss the joint service offering and explore ways in which Local Service and Age Concern can work together in partnership to their mutual benefit to offer access to services in the community.

Carer's Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will review the requirement that a carer must provide at least 35 hours of care a week to receive the carer's allowance for the purposes of taking into account the work of young carers. (320289)

The Government acknowledged in the revised National Carer Strategy, published in June 2008, that the current system of carers' benefits is not flexible enough to adapt to the wide variety of circumstances, responsibilities and needs that carers face.

The 10-year strategy has a long-term commitment to review the structure of benefits available to carers in the context of wider benefit reform and the fundamental review of the care and support system.

It highlighted, as a priority, that children and young people will be protected from inappropriate caring and have the support they need to learn, develop and thrive, and to enjoy positive childhoods. We are committed to young carers having the same access to education, career and life choices as their peers and to enabling and encouraging them to attend and enjoy school and further or higher education.

The Government's vision for young carers is one where active prevention—protecting young people from falling into inappropriate caring—is the priority and a guiding principle behind the planning and delivery of services to support them and their families.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the carer's allowance on the standard of living of carers and their dependants. (320307)

The Department for Work and Pensions has commissioned the Centre for Research into Care, Labour and Equalities, based at the University of Leeds, to conduct a detailed investigation into the circumstances of carer's allowance recipients. This involves a survey of 1,600 carers who receive the allowance, followed by in-depth interviews and focus group meetings with 90 individuals, selected as representative of the overall carer's allowance population, as well as discussions with professionals working with these customers. We expect to publish the research in summer 2010.

The Department for Work and Pensions is also assisting the Department of Health in carrying out a large-scale survey of carers in England. This includes a number of questions designed to yield information about carer's allowance recipients. Headline results are expected in July 2010, with a full report in autumn 2010.

In addition to carer's allowance, carers on low incomes can also receive a carer premium or additional amount for carers with income-related benefits such as income support and pension credit. The premium has been progressively increased from £14.15 a week in April 2000 to its current level of £29.50.

We are also providing further help for carers who are able to combine some paid employment with their caring responsibilities by increasing the carer's allowance weekly earnings limit from £95 to £100 in April 2010.

Council Tax Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the monetary value of (a) claimed and (b) unclaimed council tax benefit by each client group in 2008-09. (321120)

The information is not available for the year requested.

Estimates of the value of claimed and unclaimed council tax benefit are provided in the National Statistics series ‘Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-Up’.

The latest available report provides information for 2007-08. A copy is available in the Library and online at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/irb.asp

The report provides the following information in relation to council tax benefit for Great Britain in 2007-08:

£ million

Family type

Total amount claimed

Total range unclaimed

Pensioners

2,010

Between 1,240 and 1,690

Couples with children

220

Between 70 and 130

Singles with children

700

Between 30 and 110

Non-pensioners without children

830

Between 180 and 320

Source:

National Statistics series ‘Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-Up’

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department spent on office refurbishments in each year since its inception. (320472)

The Department occupies the vast majority of its properties under the terms of a PFI contract for which it pays a unitary charge in return for fully fitted and serviced accommodation. The unitary charge includes works carried out over the life cycle of the accommodation which contain an element of refurbishment that cannot be disaggregated from overall expenditure.

Some refurbishments are not covered by the unitary charge and are funded separately as capital expenditure, which would include major projects, and the fit out of new buildings. Expenditure increased from 2002 when the Department embarked on a major programme funded by the Treasury to improve the services delivered to the public, including those provided by Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service and Debt Management Services. The Department's expenditure on these major refurbishment projects since its creation in 2001 is set out in the following table.

£ million

2001-02

77.8

2002-03

170.0

2003-04

282.3

2004-05

117.3

2005-06

278.9

2006-07

162.2

2007-08

48.2

2008-09

22.6

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) disciplinary and (b) capability procedures have been (i) initiated and (ii) completed in her Department in each of the last five years; how much time on average was taken to complete each type of procedure in each such year; how many and what proportion of her Department's staff were subject to each type of procedure in each such year; and how many and what proportion of each type of procedure resulted in the dismissal of the member of staff. (320623)

The information sought is not available prior to April 2007. Such information as is available for subsequent years is as follows:

Table 1: Number of staff in respect of whom disciplinary procedures were completed

Number of staff at year end

Discipline procedures completed

Percentage of headcount

2007-08

113,972

903

0.79

2008-09

106,963

1,081

1.01

2009-101

120,944

1,212

1.00

1 To end February 2010.

Table 2: Number of staff in respect of whom capability procedures were completed

Number of staff at year end

Capability procedures completed

Percentage of headcount

2007-08

113,972

109

0.10

2008-09

106,963

77

0.07

2009-101

120,944

87

0.07

1 To end February 2010.

Table 3: Number of staff dismissed as a result of capability/discipline action

Dismissed on grounds of capability

Percentage of capability procedures undertaken

Dismissed on grounds of discipline

Percentage of disciplinary procedures undertaken

2007-08

17

16

178

20

2008-09

15

19

233

22

2009-101

22

25

300

25

1 To end February 2010.

The figures in table 3 do not include staff dismissed for health related reasons.

Departmental Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in her Department were responsible for each instance of fraud or attempted fraud attributable to such staff (a) against the benefits system and (b) in other areas in each of the last five years. (316400)

[holding answer 8 February 2010]: The figures in the following table show the number of staff involved in instances of attempted or actual fraud where the investigation was completed in the year stated. The figures relate to all the benefits administered by DWP, theft of assets and financial irregularities. This analysis is consistent with the way in which the Department reports information on staff investigations to HM Treasury.

Number of staff

Benefit fraud

Other fraud

Total staff in post

2004-05

4

48

126,988

2005-06

52

118

119,972

2006-07

51

93

114,500

2007-08

62

110

107,998

2008-09

42

156

102,374

While recognising that only a very small number of our staff commit fraud, the Department has a robust approach to the detection, prevention and deterrence of staff fraud consistent with HM Treasury guidance. Where fraud is proven, staff are subject to disciplinary action and, in the case of criminal offences, the Department will normally seek to prosecute, engaging the police where necessary.

The Department has a whistleblowers’ hotline to enable staff to report suspicions of fraud.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the losses from (a) the benefits system and (b) other areas attributable to fraud committed by staff of her Department, in each of the last five years. (316401)

[holding answer 8 February 2010]: Information is not available in the exact format requested from 2004 as losses were only broken down into the specified categories from April 2005. Overall totals are therefore provided for 2004-05.

The following tables contain the estimated losses arising from attempted or actual fraud by staff where the Department’s investigation was completed in the year stated (not including the value of the fraud arising from false employment applications where the loss to the Department is notional).

All fraud: Value of loss (£)

DWP total expenditure (£ billion)

2004-05

52,857

118.9

Value of loss (£)

Benefit fraud

Other fraud

DWP total expenditure (£ billion)

2005-06

83,135

109,895

123.6

2006-07

435,452

72,782

126.7

2007-08

346,527

195,151

133.3

2008-09

301,528

216,149

142.7

While recognising that only a very small number of our staff commit fraud, the Department has a robust approach to the detection, prevention and deterrence of staff fraud consistent with HM Treasury guidance. Where fraud is proven, staff are subject to disciplinary action and, in the case of criminal offences, the Department will normally seek to prosecute, engaging the police where necessary.

The Department has a whistleblowers’ hotline to enable staff to report suspicions of fraud.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in her Department and its agencies have the status of (a) embedded communicators or (b) are members of the Government Communications Network but are not listed in the Central Office of Information White Book. (315596)

The DWP's communications professionals include press office, internal and stakeholder communication, and digital media. They work right across the breadth of the Department's responsibilities and also provide services for Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service and Directgov.

The work includes communicating with staff, the public, business and stakeholders on the help and support available, eligibility for entitlements, pensions, additional help and support as well as the detailed work on pension reform. The Directgov website provides extensive help and information on the public services available to citizens across national and local government.

From a total of 119,625 members of staff, DWP has 155 embedded communications staff outside of its central communications function. From 1 April 2010 that will reduce to 119, the majority working for Directgov which is the Government website for public services in the UK. Others work on internal communications in central Directorates and delivery businesses. Staffing figures are provided as Staff in Post figures rather than whole time equivalents as to do otherwise would incur disproportionate cost.

Government Communications Network (GCN) membership data are not held by individual departments. Therefore accurate information cannot be produced without incurring disproportionate cost.

Employment Schemes: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations she has received on provision of Jobcentre Plus services through the private sector. (321770)

DWP receives numerous representations from both individuals and organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to deliver a range of welfare to work services. All opportunities to tender for the provision of employment programmes are advertised on the Supplying DWP section of our website. This is to ensure open and fair competition in accordance with public procurement policy and EU regulations. We also have strict criteria for those wishing to apply to deliver services through our Right to Bid procedure.

Employment Schemes: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2010, Official Report, columns 1028-29W, on employment schemes: young people, which (a) Jobcentre Plus districts, (b) local authorities and (c) constituencies have no Future Jobs Fund jobs; and in which (i) Jobcentre Plus districts, (ii) local authorities and (iii) constituencies elements of the young person's guarantee are (A) available and (B) not available. (321467)

Any organisation in England, Scotland and Wales can bid to the Future Jobs Fund. However, details of specific locations where Future Jobs Fund jobs have been created can be obtained only at disproportionate cost at (a) Jobcentre Plus district and (b) local authority level. Details of the location of Future Jobs Fund are not broken down by (c) constituency and are therefore not available.

The Young Person's Guarantee has been available in (a) all Jobcentre Plus districts, (b) all local authorities and (c) all constituencies, since 25 January 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department has taken to obtain the support of businesses for its work to assist young people into employment. (321788)

The Department has actively sought the support of businesses and other employers to assist young people into employment. Over 920 organisations from business, public sector, and third sector have signed up to the Backing Young Britain campaign to provide more opportunities for young people to gain apprenticeships, jobs and work experience. Over 110,000 jobs have been created by a variety of employers, mainly for long term unemployed young people, through the Future Jobs Fund.

Many employers have responded by agreeing to work with Government through local employment partnerships, to open up employment and training opportunities to unemployed jobseekers. Over 70,000 employers across the country have recruited through local employment partnerships since they were introduced in 2007, and more than 567,000 people have been helped into work during that time.

Future Jobs Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobs have been provided by the Future Jobs Fund in each local authority area; what estimate she has made of the range of administrative charges made by local authorities by the management of the fund; and if she will make a statement. (318166)

Details of the availability of the Future Jobs Fund at local authority level can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Job start information can be classified by Jobcentre Plus district level. However, this information would detail which Jobcentre Plus district processed the job, not the actual location of the job itself.

We did not set specific targets for the costs of administration as we wanted organisations to be free to deliver the jobs fund and to tailor jobs to the needs of the client group. Therefore, the Department for Work and Pensions does not have an estimate of the administrative charges made by local authorities in connection with the Future Jobs Fund. The key specifications are that the jobs should be of a minimum of 25 hours per week; that they should be paid at least at the National Minimum Wage; provide enhanced training and support to the employee, as well as cover other costs incurred in the delivery of the Future Jobs Fund. This is required to be delivered within the maximum unit cost of £6,500 provided by the Government.

Jobcentre Plus provides administrative support to local authorities and other lead bidders by putting forward suitable candidates to fill Future Jobs Fund vacancies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobs have been created under the Future Jobs Fund by (a) local authorities and (b) third sector organisations to date. (318532)

Of the 110,000 Future Jobs Fund jobs we have agreed to fund from the first seven rounds of bidding, there have been 56,000 jobs from bids where a local authority has been the lead bidder and over 41,000 jobs from bids where a third sector organisation has been the lead bidder.

Other jobs have been created in local authorities and third sector organisations, where these organisations were not the lead bidder. However, the data have not been captured and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Jobcentres: Courier Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department spent on sending customer documents by courier between jobcentres and benefit delivery centres in the last financial year for which figures are available; which courier companies were used; how much was paid to each; and if she will make a statement. (316961)

[holding answer 22 February 2010]: TNT UK Ltd. is DWP's contracted courier provider that delivers a single dedicated network service that is accessed jointly by DWP and HMRC. In 2008-09 DWP courier service expenditure with TNT was £9.5 million.

Our latest volume information confirms that TNT transport around 13 million items per year for DWP alone—around 11 million standard service (undocumented) where items are not recorded or tracked; and around two million consignments fully tracked (documented) where they are recorded at all stages of their transfer from collection to delivery through the TNT network. DWP has recently moved to a combined DWP/HMRC dedicated courier service which now carries both standard and fully tracked mail. This new service was introduced on 18 January 2010 . This service provides an industry standard and more secure courier service, provide improved value for money and will reduce the risk associated with the transfer of our courier mail.

Our MI data do not provide specific details of the courier traffic between Jobcentre Plus and Benefit Delivery Centres—although Jobcentre Plus accounts for approximately 90 per cent. of all DWP business courier transfers. However, please note that the level of information available does not detail courier transfers between Jobcentres and Benefit Delivery Centres.

Jobseeker's Allowance: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) claimants and (b) claimants aged 16 to 24 years registered as new claimants in respect of jobseeker’s allowance following the completion of their period on the New Deal without finding employment in each year since the inception of the New Deal. (311758)

The available information can be found in tables (a) and (b).

We are currently in the process of introducing the Flexible New Deal which replaces the existing New Deals with more flexible, tailored support. The Flexible New Deal will be available in most areas of the country by October 2010.

The small number of people who may finish the Flexible New Deal without finding sustained work, normally at the 24-month point of unemployment, will return to Jobseeker’s Allowance at the Supported Work Search stage (Stage 3). This will allow the claimant to make the best use of their experience with the Flexible New Deal provider while being required to actively seek work.

From November this year, we will also be testing two new types of support for those who finish the Flexible New Deal without finding sustained work.

In two pilot areas—Greater Manchester and Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire—people who complete Flexible New Deal without securing employment will undertake either the Work for Your Benefit programme or the Jobcentre Plus based Enhanced Support Period.

Work for Your Benefit is a programme of full-time work experience backed with additional employment support for up to six months. This is designed to help them to build up their work habits and gain practical experience which will be of value to themselves and to employers.

In addition, a new Jobcentre Plus based Enhanced Support Period will deliver more intensive one to one adviser support backed up with a ring fenced Personal Support Fund of £500 per person.

Table (a): New deal: leavers and leavers to jobseeker's allowance: time series—year of leaving

As at May:

Total leavers

Leavers to jobseeker’s allowance

1998

79,790

3,250

1999

200,500

25,050

2000

202,510

27,670

2001

217,330

27,650

2002

272,340

49,800

2003

286,980

56,020

2004

268,870

48,580

2005

244,320

52,530

2006

264,580

58,610

2007

314,700

70,040

2008

276,300

71,300

2009

134,170

47,060

Total

2,762,370

537,550

Table (b): New deal for young people—leavers (spells): immediate destination on leaving by time series—year of leaving

As at May:

Total leavers from new deal for young people

Leavers to jobseeker’s allowance

1998

79,790

3,250

1999

200,500

25,050

2000

202,510

27,670

2001

179,720

21,970

2002

168,370

20,050

2003

174,040

21,030

2004

169,190

20,900

2005

153,570

24,320

2006

176,300

28,880

2007

194,120

32,810

2008

159,260

29,930

2009

87,390

25,360

Total

1,944,760

281,210

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

2. Total leavers in table (a) include leavers from New Deal for Partners, New Deal for 25 Plus and New Deal for Young People.

3. Table (a) does not include New Deal for Disabled People, New Deal for Lone Parents and New Deal for 50 Plus for which leavers data is not available.

4. Year of leaving is the calendar year of leaving New Deal.

5. Immediate destination is measured within two weeks of leaving New Deal, using information from the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

6. Latest data are to May 2009.

7. The measure used for New Deal for Partners is Leavers (individuals) as spells are not available.

8. The New Deal for Young People pilots began in January 1998 and full national roll-out occurred in April 1998.

9. The New Deal for 25 Plus programme was introduced in July 1998.

10. Data for New Deal for Partners are available from April 2004 (programme started in May 1999).

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate

Oil: Storage

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what reports she has received on alternatives to oil storage tanks at the Oikos site in Haven Road, Canvey; what representations she has received from the Health and Safety Executive on such alternatives; and if she will make a statement. (321603)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: The Secretary of State has received no reports on alternatives to oil storage tanks at the Oikos site on Canvey Island or representations from the Health and Safety Executive on such matters.

Consent for the storage of hazardous chemicals at this site, or any alternative sites, is the responsibility of the local planning authority, which for Canvey Island is Castle Point borough council.

HSE's role is to monitor safety at this site. HSE will continue to do this and will assess any significant changes made to the site and to the site's COMAH safety report as a result of any changes that Oikos may propose.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment the Health and Safety Executive has made of possible risks to local residents and businesses from the operation of the Oikos Canvey Island site. (321962)

[holding answer 22 March 2010]: Oikos Oil Storage Ltd. are responsible under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as amended) for assessing any risks to local residents and businesses from the operations at their Canvey Island site, and for implementing all necessary measures to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences for people and the environment.

Oikos Oil Storage Ltd. has an existing Hazardous Substances Consent from Castle Point borough council to store at its Canvey Island site up to 232,501 tonnes of highly flammable liquids which may include petrol and petroleum mixtures. When the consent was granted in 1992, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assessed the risks to people off-site from the consented quantity of hazardous substances for the purpose of providing land use planning advice to the borough council. A more detailed assessment was conducted in 2002 to set the current land use planning zones around the site.

Following the explosion and fire at the Buncefield fuel storage terminal, HSE introduced precautionary arrangements to strengthen development controls in the areas closest to sites engaged in filling large storage tanks with petrol at a specified rate.

Petrol is not currently stored at the Oikos Canvey Island site. HSE will review its risk assessment and, if necessary, revise its land use planning advice to Castle Point borough council once Oikos Oil Storage Ltd. provides details of its arrangements for receiving and storing petrol at the site.

Personal Accounts Delivery Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information her Department holds on the number of jobs under the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority contract for scheme administration services to be based in (a) the UK and (b) each other country. (321405)

[holding answer 9 March 2010]: Staffing numbers required to administer NEST on an ongoing basis will depend upon the number of scheme members.

All the public facing elements of service provision are due to be carried-out by staff based in the UK. Back-office, administrative processing and IT functions are due to be delivered in India. Once fully established, we estimate that between 40 and 45 per cent. of staff will be based in the UK.

Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of those aged 16 to 24 years old were classed as living in poverty in each financial year since 1996-97. (313162)

In response to the recession, the Government have put in place significant additional support for young people through the Young Person's Guarantee and Backing Young Britain campaign. In December 2009, we published ‘Investing in Potential’, the cross-Government strategy to increase the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds in education, employment and training.

For young people claiming jobseeker's allowance the New Deal has helped almost 900,000 people into work. Independent evaluation found that without New Deal, there would be twice as many young people claiming jobseeker's allowance for six months or more than at present.

The requested information is given in the following table, for periods where data are available.

16 to 24-year-olds living in households with less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median income, 1996-97 to 2007-08

Before housing costs

Million

Percentage

Great Britain

1996-97

1.2

19

1997-98

1.1

18

1998-99

1.0

17

1999-2000

1.1

19

2000-01

1.1

18

2001-02

1.1

18

United Kingdom

2002-03

1.2

18

2003-04

1.1

18

2004-05

1.2

17

2005-06

1.4

20

2006-07

1.3

18

2007-08

1.4

19

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income, sourced from the Family Resources Survey. Both of these documents are available in the Library.

2. Small changes should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.

3. The reference period for Households Below Average Income figures are single financial years.

4. Figures are for the United Kingdom from 2002-03 onwards. Earlier years are for Great Britain only, as such there is a slight discontinuity between the figures pre-and post-2002-03.

5. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication ‘Households Below Average Income’ (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or ‘equivalised’) for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.

6. For the Households Below Average Income series, incomes have been equivalised using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) equivalisation factors.

7. Number and percent of 16 to 24-year-olds in low-income households have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand individuals, or whole percentage point respectively.

Source:

Households Below Average Income, DWP

Social Security Benefits: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what criteria recipients of (a) disability living allowance and (b) attendance allowance under special rules are required to meet; (322178)

(2) whether recipients of (a) disability living allowance and (b) attendance allowance under special rules are required to qualify for support through the social care system in order to be eligible to claim each benefit.

The Special Rules provision applies to individuals who are in the last stages of a progressive disease and who are expected to die within six months. The individual's GP or other health care professional submits a medical report to the Department confirming the diagnosis. Those who meet this criterion do not need to serve the normal qualifying periods for attendance allowance and disability living allowance before receiving benefit assistance. There is no requirement to qualify for support though the social care system in order to be eligible to claim these benefits.

Social Security Benefits: Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding her Department has allocated to increase access to (a) benefits and (b) back-to-work schemes for low-paid and unemployed adults with children in 2009-10. (320795)

The Budget 2008 introduced the Child Poverty pilots, which are jointly funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the Department for Work and Pensions. For 2009-10, the Department for Work and Pensions contribution is £9.7 million.

One of the objectives of the pilots is to look at new and innovative ways to support parents into and to remain in work, as well as helping those out of work. The pilots include outreach work for Jobcentre Plus around Children’s Centres and schools, as well as providing help back into work for those with younger children.

These are in addition to mandatory and voluntary programmes such as jobseeker’s allowance, Flexible New Deal and the New Deals for Lone Parents and Partners, active labour market interventions such as Lone Parent Obligations and Progression to Work and infrastructure measures such as child care investment. Financial support may also be available including working tax credit aimed at ensuring that work pays and In Work Credit to help make the transition into work.

From October 2010 the Department for Work and Pensions will be implementing an enhanced Better off in Work Credit so that everyone who has been unemployed for 26 weeks or more will receive an income of at least £40 a week more on moving into work. The credit is expected to be available nationally from January 2011.

Social Security Benefits: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many 18 to 25-year-olds are claiming jobseeker's allowance or other benefits. (321787)

As at August 2009, there were 988,780 young people aged 18 to 25 claiming DWP-administered benefits in Great Britain, of which 491,060 were claiming jobseeker's allowance.

Unemployment Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment she has made of the effect on benefit claimants of the period between which they move into work and have their benefit stopped and their first payment from their employer; what steps she is planning to take to help deal with this issue for benefit claimants; and whether she has considered allowing providers more flexibility to cover this gap using their service fee. (315695)

We keep the transition of claimants from benefits to employment under regular review and have put in place a number of schemes that give people extra financial support on returning to work. For example, we introduced the job grant to specifically help customers who move into work manage until they receive their wages. It provides eligible customers a non-taxable payment of £100 for single people and couples without children, and £250 for lone parents and couples with children. In addition, housing costs are paid for four weeks after returning to work to customers who have been on income support or jobseeker's allowance for 26 weeks or more. As benefits are generally paid two weeks in arrears, this goes some way to filling any gap before payment of first wages.

For all customers leaving jobseeker's allowance for work, Jobcentre Plus staff can help them make claims to working tax credit using a special fast track procedure, which means that in many cases tax credit is paid in advance of first wages. As a last resort, in cases of very urgent financial need, customers can apply for interest-free crisis loans from the social fund.

Flexible New Deal providers already have the flexibility to use their service fee to provide help and support tailored to the needs of each jobseeker's allowance customer, to enable them to move into and stay in work.

Unemployment Benefits: Medical Examinations

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many and what proportion of people claiming (a) incapacity benefit and (b) employment and support allowance attended a medical assessment in the latest period for which figures are available; (317621)

(2) how many and what proportion of people who made a successful claim for (a) incapacity benefit and (b) employment and support allowance attended a medical assessment in each year since 1997.

Incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance customers are not medically assessed by the Department, they are assessed to determine their functional capability. All claims must be assessed in order to qualify for continued entitlement. Information on the number of initial awards following these assessments is not available. The available information for incapacity benefit is provided in the following table:

Incapacity benefit scrutiny and completed examinations, Great Britain

Number

September 2005 to August 2006

816,043

September 2006 to August 2007

985,598

September 2007 to August 2008

1,068,920

September 2008 to August 2009

717,250

September to December 2009

140,423

Notes: 1. Management Information held by the Department does not separately identify Personal Capability Assessments in respect of initial claims to benefit, as all referrals were in respect of customers in receipt of incapacity benefit. 2. Excludes Work Focused Health Related Assessments. 3. Data relate to the number of completed medical examinations and paper scrutiny clearances completed by Atos Healthcare. Source: DWP medical services contract management information.

For employment and support allowance claims we have data on claims from the introduction of employment and support allowance on 27 October 2008 to May 2009. The main data relating to Work Capability Assessment claims are published at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/esa_wca_19012010.pdf

A copy of this report has also been placed in the Library.

Winter Fuel Payments: British Nationals Abroad

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many winter fuel payments were made to persons living outside the UK in 1996-97; and what estimate she has made of the number of winter fuel payments made to persons living in (a) Spain, (b) Italy, (c) Greece, (d) Portugal and (e) other countries outside the UK in the last financial year. (320314)

Winter fuel payments were first introduced in winter 1997-98 and paid to eligible people living in the United Kingdom (UK).

Since 2002 winter fuel payments have been made to eligible former UK residents living elsewhere in the European Economic Area or Switzerland provided they qualified for a winter fuel payment before leaving the UK. Under European Union law some benefits acquired in one member state must be paid to people who live outside that state but within the European Economic Area. Winter fuel payments are one of these benefits and the UK is bound by European Union law.

Information for winter 2008-09 (the last year for which information is available) is in the following table.

Winter fuel payments (WFPs) paid to people living in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland outside UK

WFPs by country

2008-09

Spain

31,145

Italy

1,114

Greece

1,111

Portugal

1,510

Other countries within the EEA and Switzerland

30,409

Note:

The figures are for automated payments which account for the great majority of payments made.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many retailers have been convicted of an offence of persistent sale of alcohol to a person under 18 years in each year since 2006. (315154)

The number of defendants found guilty at all courts of an offence of persistent sale of alcohol to a person less than 18 years, England and Wales can be viewed in the following table. Data are only available for 2008, when the offence came into force. Court proceedings data for 2009 are due to be published in autumn 2010.

Number of defendants convicted of an offence of persistently sale of alcohol to a person less than 18 years, 2006 to 20081,2

Offence

2006

2007

20083

Persistently selling alcohol to children Licensing Act 2003 as added by Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 S.147A

*

*

7

‘*’ = Not applicable—the Act came into force in 2008.

1 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

3 Excludes convictions data for Cardiff magistrates court for April, July, and August 2008.

Source:

Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice

Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) with reference to the answer of 26 June 2009, Official Report, columns 1204-5W, on crime, how many incidents related to public safety/welfare were recorded in each category in 2008-09; (313815)

(2) how many incidents with the qualifier hate/discrimination were recorded in each category in 2008-09;

(3) how many incidents relating to administration were recorded in each category in 2008-09;

(4) how many incidents with the qualifier (a) alcohol, (b) critical incident, (c) domestic abuse, (d) drugs, (e) firearms, (f) weapons, (g) youth-related aged under 10 and (h) youth-related aged 10 to 17 were recorded in 2008-09.

[holding answer 2010]: The number of incidents recorded by police forces in each category classified as public safety/welfare as defined within the National Incident Category List (NICL) for 2008-9 is attached in Table A. The data are normally for management information only and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply to National Statistics publications. They are provisional and may be subject to change. The data represent calls for service as recorded by police forces under the relevant categories and may be subject to local variation in reporting and classifying.

A reliable figure for incidents with the qualifier hate/discrimination for England and Wales is not available. More than 10 per cent. of police forces were not able to return qualifier data for 2008-091. The data are normally for management information only.

The administration data categories are for local management purposes only and were not required from police forces for the Annual Data Return in 2009. The Home Office continues to review the data required from police forces and to balance user needs against burdens on police forces.

A reliable England and Wales figure for incidents with the qualifiers requested is not available. More than 10 per cent. of police forces were not able to return qualifier data for 2008-091. The data are normally for management information only.

1 It was only mandatory for police forces to return data until June 2009.

Table A: Number of incidents in each category classified as public safety/welfare as defined within the National Incident Category List (NICL) in 2008-09

Category

Total

Abandoned Call

500,613

Absconder/AWOL

4,903

Alarm: Monitoring Station—False-Active

194,294

Alarm: Monitoring Station—False-Withdrawn

8,894

Alarm: Police Installed

19,752

Alarm: Premises Audible only

106,117

Breach of Injunction/Court Order

4,974

Civil Disputes

185,887

Collapse/Illness/Injury/Trapped

142,810

Concern for Safety

899,449

Domestic Incident

583,537

Firearms

23,187

Immigration

9,561

Industrial Incident/Accident

3,886

Insecure Premises/Vehicles

35,781

Licensing

7,905

Missing Person-High Risk

39,549

Missing Person-Medium Risk

122,493

Missing Person-Low Risk

40,703

Missing Person-Unauthorised Absence

37,599

Natural Disaster/Incident/Warning

5,484

Pets/Domesticated Animals

50,824

Protest/Demonstration

2,228

Sudden Death

75,728

Suspicious Circumstances

1,324,821

Suspicious Package/Object

9,260

Truancy

2,606

Wildlife

15,204

Public Safety/Welfare Total

4,458,049

Crime Prevention: Retail Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with shopkeepers and representatives of small businesses to identify methods of enhancing the security and safety of their properties and staff. (321469)

I chair the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) which was set up by the Home Office in partnership with the British Retail Consortium in 2007. The NRCSG provides a forum for representatives from Government, law enforcement agencies, the larger retailers and business and trade organisations such the Association of Convenience Stores and Federation of Small Businesses to discuss and devise strategies for tackling crimes of concern to retailers and includes addressing the security and safety of staff and premises.

The NRCSG published a joint Retail Crime Action Plan which details a range of work to tackle crime. For details of the plan see:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/retail-crime-action-plan.html

Both the Home Office and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fully support USDAW 's Freedom from Fear campaign to promote the safety and well-being of shop workers. We are working with the HSE to help reduce the incidence of work-related violence in the retail sector. In October 2008, the HSE published a toolkit to help employers cut the risk of violence against shop workers. The toolkit provides practical advice on how to conduct a risk assessment and how to take action to prevent or control work-related violence. It contains information on a wide range of possible control measures and good practice that other businesses have found effective.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with representatives of the security industry on the provision of cheaper and more up-to-date security systems for shops and small business premises. (321470)

I chair the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG), which provides a forum for representatives from Government, law enforcement agencies, the larger retailers and business and trade organisations such the Association of Convenience Stores and Federation of Small Businesses to discuss and devise strategies for tackling crimes of concern to retailers.

My advice on security systems and equipment is provided by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch which is a key member of the NRCSG. They are preparing a CCTV standards leaflet for small shops and for licensed premises to contain all the basic information on what to expect from a CCTV system, and provides a list of key requirements such as minimum image quality, recording, camera placement.

We are currently distributing the Small Retailers Capital Grants Fund which is designed to help fight crime and is being allocated to around 1,000 small retailers in 50 priority areas across England and Wales. The grants are being used for a variety of purposes including purchasing security equipment for individual retailers such as CCTV; infrared security cameras; security shutters and rollers; safes; alarms; anti-fraud equipment such as UV markers to detect counterfeit notes, and anti-graffiti paint.

Crimes of Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reports of (a) violent crime and (b) serious violent crime there were in (i) Jarrow constituency, (ii) South Tyneside, (iii) the North East and (iv) England and Wales in each year since 1997. (321592)

The term 'violent crime' is no longer used. Data are supplied for violence against the person offences. The requested information is shown in the table. Recorded crime statistics at constituency level are not collected centrally.

Table 1: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police, 1997

Number

South Tyneside CDRP

1

North-east region

9,242

England and Wales

250,882

1 Not available.

Table 2: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police, 1998-99 to 2001-02

Number

Offence

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

South Tyneside CDRP

1

1

1

1,686

North-east region

20,391

21,984

21,086

25,579

England and Wales

502,778

581,034

600,913

650,326

1 Not available. Notes: 1. The coverage was extended and counting rules revised from 1998-99. Figures from that date are not directly comparable with those for 1997. 2. The data in this table are prior to the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard. These figures are not directly comparable with those for later years.

Table 3: Offences of violence against the person recorded by the police, 2002-03 to 2008-09

Number

South Tyneside CDRP

North-east region

England and Wales1

2002-03

2,568

39,164

845,078

2003-04

2,500

40,561

967,228

2004-05

2,252

41,537

1,048,095

2005-06

2,637

46,206

1,059,583

2006-07

2,711

48,194

1,046,167

2007-08

2,289

41,085

961,099

2008-09

2,023

37,244

903,442

1 Includes British Transport police from 2002-03. Note: The data in this table take account of the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002. These figures are not directly comparable with those for earlier years.

Identity Cards: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department paid to each management consultancy for client-side advice in relation to the Identity and Passport service National Identity Scheme Procurement programme; how much time was taken (a) to complete the pre-procurement process and (b) between issue of prior indicative notice and the award of contracts; what the value was of each contract awarded; what requirements there were on bidders in respect of the presentation of their bids; and how many submissions bidders were required to make. (314812)

The information is as follows:

(a) The information is not held in a format easily available to answer the question. The external consultancy cost relating to projects for both passport and identity card projects were approximately £16 million in 2007-08 and approximately £40 million in 2008-09 as published in the agency’s annual report and accounts. Costs for external consultancy in 2009-10 will be published in the IPS annual report and accounts for 2009-10.

(b) It took eight months to create the Strategic Supplier Group Framework from which the Transforming Customer Experience, National Identity Assurance Service (NIAS) and the Critical Workers Identity Card (CWIC) contracts were awarded. For the Passport Book Design Production contract the pre-procurement process was eight months.

No Prior Indicative Notices were published in relation to the award of the Strategic Supplier Framework Contract or the National Identity Service contracts let from the Framework.

The values of the contract awarded are-Transforming Customer Experience (TCE) £385 million, National Identity Assurance Service (NIAS) £265 million, Critical Workers Identity Cards (CWIC) £18 million and Passport Design Production (PDP) £400 million.

Dialogue sessions were held with bidders to help inform the finalisation of the requirements and to help the bidders understand the agency’s needs. Formal presentations were made to senior officials.

The number of submissions that bidders were required to make were as follows:

Number

TCE

3

NIAS

2

CWIC

1

PDP

2

Motor Vehicles: Seized Articles

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cars were seized by Lancashire Constabulary for (a) crushing and (b) other means of disposal in each of the last five years. (322021)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: The police are empowered to remove and store vehicles under various provisions, in particular the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (vehicles illegally, obstructively or dangerously parked or broken down or abandoned), the Road Traffic Act 1988 (vehicles driven without appropriate licence or insurance) and the Police Reform Act 2002 (vehicles causing alarm, distress or annoyance).

The police must return these vehicles on payment of prescribed charges and satisfaction of any other prescribed conditions. If payment is not made or relevant conditions are not satisfied, the police may dispose of the vehicle concerned as they consider most appropriate, usually by crushing or sale. Information on the numbers of vehicles removed under the different powers and what subsequently happens to each of them is not collected centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much revenue was raised from (a) crushing and (b) other means of disposal of cars in (i) Lancashire and (ii) England and Wales in each of the last five years. (322022)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: Any vehicle seized by the police can be reclaimed on payment of charges prescribed by statute to meet police costs and on satisfaction of any other prescribed requirements. If a vehicle is not reclaimed, the police may dispose of it as they consider appropriate. Any proceeds of the disposal are used to meet the prescribed charges; any surplus is returned to the owner. Information is not collected centrally on these transactions.

National Identity Register

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2010, Official Report, column 817W, on the National Identity Register, what the estimated total monetary value is of contracts in each of the framework agreements. (318321)

The suppliers that comprise the IPS Strategic Supplier Framework agreement for the National Identity Service (NIS) are: Computer Sciences Limited (CSC), Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Fujitsu Services Ltd. (Fujitsu) IBM United Kingdom (IBM) and Thales UK Ltd. (Thales). IPS signed contracts with three out of these five suppliers for the delivery of the NIS. They are Thales, CSC and IBM. The breakdown is as follows:

Thales UK Ltd.

Thales UK Ltd. was awarded a contract in July 2008 for the technology and process for the early releases of the NIS which is worth £18 million. It has been awarded for four years with four successive 6-month options to extend.

CSC

CSC was awarded a contract in April 2009 for the Application and Enrolment of passports and Identity (ID) Cards which is worth £385 million. The contract is awarded for a period of 10 years.

IBM

IBM was awarded a contract in May 2009 to operate the biometric database for passports and to support ID Cards, which is worth £265 million. The contract is awarded for a period of seven years with one three-year option to extend.

Each of the above values exclude any subsequent contract variations.

Transport

Cycling: Safety

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what priority his Department gives to increasing safety for cyclists; (321903)

(2) if he will arrange a press conference to publicise the report commissioned by his Department on the potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury;

(3) what the cost to his Department was of publishing the report on the potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury; and to whom and by what means it was distributed;

(4) if he will bring forward proposals to make it compulsory for children aged 14 years and under to wear cycle helmets when cycling on the public highway;

(5) what estimate he has made of the number of (a) lives that could be saved and (b) serious injuries that could be prevented if the wearing of cycle helmets by children when cycling on public highway was made compulsory, as recommended by the recent report commissioned by his Department, “The potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury”.

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: The Department for Transport’s proposals for policies to improve road safety for all road users, including cyclists, were set out in our consultation paper “A Safer Way: Consultation on Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World”, which was published in April 2009.

The Government want to see more people cycling, while at the same time minimising the risks of cycling. There are a number of initiatives under way at present, aimed at improving cycle safety. These include:

promoting bikeability cycle training for children;

using the Highway Code and the Think! road safety campaign to provide advice to child and adult cyclists on safe road use, including use of protective equipment such as high visibility clothing and cycle helmets;

providing more safe cycle routes to schools and other locations;

providing guidance to local authorities on the design of safer road infrastructure, including effective cycle-specific measures, as well as more general measures that benefit all road users, such as 20 mph zones;

improving motor vehicle driver testing and training;

enacting new measures on lorry mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists and pedestrians.

There are no plans to arrange a press conference in respect of the report commissioned by this Department on the potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury. The Department publishes numerous reports throughout the year and it is not usual practice to facilitate a press conference for each report’s publication.

The total cost of the research programme on Road Safety and Cycling is £527,719 excluding VAT. The report on cycle helmets was published by TRL on 15 December 2009 alongside a report providing an understanding of the key causes of collisions involving cyclists. Research findings for both reports are available to download from the Department for Transport website and direct links to the full reports, which are free to download from TRL's website, are provided.

Pre-publication copies of the reports were sent to the road safety and cycling research project’s advisory group a week before publication. This group is made up of a wide range of road safety, health, and cycling interest groups. An e-mail link was sent to the advisory group and a wider group of stakeholders on the day of publication.

TRL’s research confirms conclusions from earlier work showing that cycle helmets can help to protect cyclists in the event of a collision. That is why the Department for Transport encourages cyclists—especially children—to wear helmets when cycling.

However, the Department has no plans to introduce legislation to make cycle helmets compulsory for children or for adults. Taking into account the practicalities of enforcing such an offence—particularly among children—as well as the possible impact on levels of cycling and the potential loss of wider health benefits, the Department is not persuaded that making helmets mandatory is the right option.

TRL’s research project estimated that between 10 and 16 per cent. of cyclist fatalities with a certain type of head injury could have been prevented if they had worn an appropriate cycle helmet. This estimate is based on an assessment of cyclist fatality reports and includes both adults and children. It is not possible to use this to estimate specific casualty savings for children.

The Department for Transport’s statistics show that a total of 12 cyclists aged 15 or under were killed in road accidents in Great Britain in 2008. The statistics do not show how many of these were due to head injuries, or how many were, or were not, wearing cycle helmets.

TRL’s research also found that of the on-road serious cyclist casualties admitted to hospital in England, 10 per cent. suffered injuries of a type and to a part of the head that a cycle helmet may have mitigated or prevented. 405 child cyclists aged 0 to 15 were recorded as seriously injured in road accidents in Great Britain in 2008, although this definition of serious injury includes a much wider range of injuries that were not sufficiently serious to lead to admission to hospital.

The report also found that a further 20 per cent. of cyclists admitted to hospital suffered ‘open wounds to the head’, some of which are likely to have been to a part of the head that a cycle helmet may have mitigated or prevented.

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many of his Department's staff (a) are seconded to BAA and (b) were so seconded in each of the last five years; what the roles were of such personnel; and if he will make a statement. (320136)

The Department for Transport's records indicate that no staff are currently seconded to BAA. One member of staff was seconded to BAA for 10 months in 2005. His role was to plan and deliver BAA's surface transport strategy for Heathrow airport. No other staff have been seconded to BAA in the last five years.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many full-time equivalent staff of each grade are employed by his Department to assist special advisers. (321143)

Two civil servants support the special advisers—one at EO grade, one at HEO grade. Both provide support of a non-political nature in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what plans his Department has to consult trade unions when considering the funding and spending priorities of his Department for 2009-14. (309068)

The Department for Transport uses the Whitley system as the framework for negotiation, consultation and exchanges of views and information. If the trade unions wish to discuss the funding and spending priorities for the Department, this is the framework for doing so.

Derby-Manchester Railway Line

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will assess the effect of reopening the Derby to Manchester rail line to passenger rail traffic; and what recent discussions he has had with the Peak District National Park Authority in respect of their plan to open up closed tunnels to cyclists. (311177)

A full assessment of re-opening the Matlock to Buxton and Chinley section of the Derby to Manchester rail line was carried out in 2004 by the Strategic Rail Authority and Derbyshire county council. It concluded that re-opening would costs between £84 million and £123 million. None of the options considered offered value for money and services under all options would require ongoing subsidy.

We have been in discussions with the Peak District National Park about their plans to improve facilities for cyclists, including the opening and upgrading of some routes through tunnels. We have agreed to provide funding to contribute to this project as part of Cycling England's Finding New Solutions—the Role of Leisure programme.

First Capital Connect: Fixed Penalties

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on how many occasions First Capital Connect has been issued with a financial penalty for not providing enough seats for rail passengers in each of the last six months. (321498)

[holding answer 10 March 2010]: No financial penalty for not providing enough seats for rail passengers has been issued to First Capital Connect in the last six months.

The Department for Transport is currently working with First Capital Connect to alleviate overcrowding of short formation trains by introducing more coaches to lengthen trains.

Greater Manchester

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Manchester, Gorton constituency, the effects on that constituency of the policies of his Department and its predecessors policies since 1997. (322133)

The Transport Act 2000, as amended by the Local Transport Act 2008, has provided a new policy framework benefiting all local transport authorities. The framework gives greater certainty of funding, while encouraging more strategic transport planning with local consultation, and increasing local flexibility and discretion over resources. It was accompanied by a significant increase in capital funding: support from my Department for transport investment in the City of Manchester, within which transport authority the Gorton constituency falls, has more than doubled over the last decade.

Investment in Greater Manchester's Joint Local Transport Plan, to which Manchester city council is a partner authority, has delivered a number of improvements to the quality, safety and accessibility of the local transport network. Between 2004 and 2008, bus patronage per head of population increased by 7 per cent. and the number of people killed or seriously injured on the local highway network decreased by 28 per cent. in the period 2001-07.

In May 2004, Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) launched the Local Link flexible transport service in Gorton, Beswick and Openshaw, following a successful bid for £788,400 to the Department's Urban Bus Challenge fund. Local Link is a fully accessible demand-responsive bus service which provides access to health, education, retail and leisure facilities throughout the area seven days a week. In August 2004, an additional vehicle was allocated to the service due to exceptionally high demand.

It was announced in July 2006 that the Department had approved Greater Manchester ITA's major scheme business case for the £575 million Manchester Metrolink Phase 3a expansion. The project will expand the existing Metrolink network to Droylsden, Rochdale and Chorlton. The 3.9 mile extension to Droylsden will provide high quality public transport links between areas of deprivation in East Manchester and the major employment and leisure sites at Manchester Piccadilly and the City of Manchester Stadium. It is anticipated that construction of the Droylsden extension will be completed in spring 2012.

In 2009, the Greater Manchester ITA submitted a successful bid to the Department's Green Bus Fund. The £3.1 million award will support the purchase of 66 low carbon vehicles, including a fleet of 20 diesel-electric hybrid buses to operate Metroshuttle services in Manchester City Centre, 16 hybrid Yellow School Buses, and 30 hybrid single deck vehicles for use on subsidised services in the city.

Kemble-Swindon Railway Line

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2010, Official Report, columns 456-7W, on the Kemble-Swindon railway line, whether the discussions with Network Rail on re-doubling of the Swindon-Kemble railway line have been concluded; and when he expects to make an announcement on their outcomes. (321908)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: At present, Network Rail quotes a cost of £52.4 million for the redoubling of the Swindon-Kemble section of route. Officials in the Department for Transport are working with Network Rail to determine and agree ways in which this cost can be reduced to a level at, or within, the budget of £45 million available from the south-west region.

A number of opportunities have been found that could potentially lead to savings being achieved, but these will take some weeks to resolve. I will make an announcement in due course.

Railways: York

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what estimate he made of the number of passengers who began journeys at York railway station in (a) 1996-97 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available; (322096)

(2) what estimate he made of the number of passengers who travelled by train between York and (a) London, (b) Leeds and (c) Scotland in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available.

The Department for Transport does not hold this information.

Statistics on individual station usage, journey and revenue information by three sectors of operators, “Long Distance”, “London and South East”, and “Regional” can be found in “National Rail Trends”, published by the Office of Rail Regulation on a quarterly basis, at

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1529

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many trains a day ran between York and (a) London, (b) Leeds and (c) Scotland each day in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. (322099)

The following table shows the number of passenger trains operating between York and (a) London, (b) Leeds and (c) Scotland each day in (i) 1996-97 and (ii) the current rail timetable. The figures include open access and franchised passenger trains.

NorthboundSouthboundDifference

Day

June 1996

March 10

Difference

June 1996

March 10

King's Cross - York

Mon-Fri

27

34

7

27

35

8

Sat

25

31

6

24

31

7

Sun

19

25

6

19

29

10

York- Edinburgh

Mon-Fri

21

33

12

21

33

12

Sat

22

36

14

22

36

14

Sun

17

32

15

18

32

14

York - Leeds

Mon-Fri

73

85

12

73

81

8

Sat

74

83

9

71

83

12

Sun

53

67

14

55

68

13

Total

331

426

+95

330

428

+98

Rapid Transit Systems: Luton

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport from which budget the Luton Dunstable busway funding announced on 10 March 2010 will come. (322385)

The Department for Transport's funding contribution towards the Luton Dunstable busway will be provided from the Regional Funding Allocation for the east of England.

Roads: East Sussex

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the timetable is of the decision-making process for confirmation of the compulsory purchase and side road orders for the Bexhill to Hastings link road. (321919)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: The inquiries into the side roads order and compulsory purchase order for the Bexhill to Hastings link road, which commenced on the 10 November 2009, have now closed. The Inspector has yet to submit his report to the Secretary of State; once received the report will be considered by the Secretary of State and a decision taken as to whether or not to confirm the orders.

Roads: Tolls

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 3 March 2010, Official Report, column 1196W, on roads: tolls, when the most recent discussions referred to in the answer took place. (321965)

The Chancellor had a number of discussions with transport Ministers in the lead up to the Budget, during which a range of transport issues were considered. The Budget 2008 was held on 12 March 2008.

Snow and Ice

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with representatives of local authorities on the gritting of roads during the recent severe weather conditions. (321011)

[holding answer 9 March 2010]: On 6 January 2010 the Government and the devolved Administrations, with the support of the Local Government Association re-introduced the Salt Cell. Prior to the Salt Cell being re-introduced Ministers and officials were in close contact with Local Government representatives, in particular the Local Government Association, with whom a number of discussions were held throughout the period of severe weather.

The Salt Cell brings together the Department for Transport, the devolved Administrations (in Scotland and Wales), the Highways Agency, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), Met Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Office. The aim of the Salt Cell is to provide advice to suppliers on priorities for deliveries.

The Salt Cell arrives at its decisions by considering information provided by local authorities on their salt stocks and on weather forecasts provided by the Met Office.

Officials have also had a number of ad hoc discussions with local authorities about specific local issues.

Southeastern

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the contribution by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of 6 January 2010, Official Report, column 99WH, on what date he expects to announce the outcome of his full review of Southeastern's timetable early in 2010. (321672)

The start of Southeastern's timetable review was delayed by over three weeks due to the adverse weather. Therefore, it is anticipated that Southeastern will conclude their review by the end of April 2010. We would expect Southeastern to communicate the outcome of this with its passengers.

Stroud

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to Stroud constituency, the effects on that constituency of the policies and actions of his Department and its predecessors since 2000. (321480)

The Transport Act 2000, as amended by the Local Transport Act 2008, has provided a new policy framework benefiting all local transport authorities. The framework gives greater certainty of funding, while encouraging more strategic transport planning with local consultation, and increasing local flexibility and discretion over resources. It was accompanied by a significant increase in capital funding: support from my Department for transport investment in Gloucestershire, within which transport authority Stroud falls, has risen threefold over the last decade.

Investment in the Gloucestershire Local Transport Plan has delivered a number of improvements to the quality, safety and accessibility of the local transport network. Between 2004 and 2008, bus patronage per head of population increased by 24 per cent., and the number of people killed or seriously injured on the local highway network decreased by 36 per cent. in the period 2001-07.

In 2002, Gloucestershire county council received a total of £631,500 from the Department's Rural Bus Challenge fund to establish the Village Link rural bus service. Village Link is a demand-responsive bus service for the elderly, and those with disabilities or mobility problems, who have difficulty accessing employment, education, health care and leisure services due to a lack of transport.

The Stroud Valleys Car Club was launched in June 2003 with grant funding from the Countryside Agency, Gloucestershire county council and Stroud district council. The Car Club is designed to reduce unnecessary car use by giving members flexible access to cars without the costs of car ownership.

In April 2009, the Cotswold Lorry Management Zone Trial came into force. The scheme, developed by Gloucestershire county council, sets clear routes for lorries to use through the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes a 7.5 tonne weight restriction on all routes throughout the zone other than the two designated 'through-routes' (the A417 and A419). The scheme aims to achieve a 30 per cent. reduction in heavy goods vehicle flows on the B4008 between the junction 12 of the M5 and the A419, and on the A46 at Painswick near Stroud.

Trade Unions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many days staff of his Department and its agencies spent on trade union activity in the latest year for which figures are available; and what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of such activity. (320615)

The Department for Transport does not hold this information centrally, and it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Traffic Commissioners

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the budget of the Office of the Traffic Commissioners is for 2009-10; where each of their offices is; and what powers local authorities have to (a) object to a heavy goods licence being granted by the Commissioners and (b) call for an existing licence to be amended or revoked. (319615)

The budget of the Office of the Traffic Commissioners in 2009-10 is £6.53 million. The Traffic Commissioners have offices based in:

Edinburgh

Eastbourne

Bristol

Birmingham

Warrington

Leeds

Cambridge.

Local authorities' powers to object to heavy goods licences being granted by the commissioners or to call for an existing licence to be amended or revoked are set out in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995. A copy of the Act has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The relevant legislation is available to the public and more details can be found at:

www.opsi.gov.uk

Women and Equality

Equality and Human Rights Commission

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has had with the Treasury on its response to the recommendation of the recent Public Accounts Committee report on the Equality and Human Rights Commission on clear guidelines to the Commission on (a) how future business cases should demonstrate the achievement of value for money and (b) at what point the GEO expects to be brought into these decisions; and when she expects the Treasury Minute in response to the report to be issued. (322344)

Following publication of this Committee of Public Accounts' Report on 4 March, the Government Equalities Office has discussed with Treasury the process for preparing the Government response to the report as a whole. The Government's response will be set out alongside responses to the other Committee of Public Accounts' conclusions and recommendations from its Fifteenth Report in a Treasury Minute in due course.

Official Engagements

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what her official engagements are in March 2010. (321457)

I have accepted a speaking engagement on 11 March. It is not usual practice to release details of future engagements other than confirmed speaking engagements.

Culture, Media and Sport

Cinemas: Hearing Impaired

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate he has made of the number and proportion of cinemas equipped to show films with subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired. (321649)

The most recent assessment of the number of cinemas able to provide subtitled screenings of films suggested that at the end of 2008 there were 316 suitably equipped sites in the UK. This equated to 40 per cent. of UK cinema sites, providing around 24,000 subtitled screenings in 2008.

Since that time a number of cinemas have installed digital projectors, which means that the number of sites equipped to show subtitled screenings is likely to have increased significantly.

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been paid in reimbursable expenses to special advisers in his Department in each of the last five years. (320583)

Expenses incurred by special advisers are reimbursed in accordance with the principles set out in Civil Service Code, Civil Service Management Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers and the Department's guidance on travel and subsistence.

The information requested is set out in the table.

Financial year

£

2008-09

1,050

2007-08

680

2006-07

1,340

2005-06

1,150

2004-05

1,550

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what categories of his Department's expenditure generate a Barnett consequential for Wales. (321955)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: The Department's expenditure that generates a Barnett consequential for Wales can be found in the Statement of Funding Policy on the Treasury's website at:

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/pbr_csr07_funding591.pdf

The categories of expenditure listed for DCMS are:

Administration

Arts

Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission

Libraries

Museums and Galleries

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

Museum Reserves and GIS—Museums and Galleries

Occupied Palaces/Other Historic Buildings

Regional Cultural Consortia

Research Surveys and Other Services

Royal Parks

Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Sport and Recreation

Tourism (England).

National Heritage Memorial Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the proposed 50 per cent. reduction in the budget of the National Heritage Memorial Fund on the operation of the Fund. (321667)

[holding answer 11 March 2010]: None. The budget of the National Heritage Memorial Fund has not been reduced by 50 per cent. Over 2009-10 and 2010-11 the NHMF will receive its expected level of funding which is £20 million.

Theatre: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many tickets have been (a) made available and (b) used in relation to each theatre participating in the free theatre tickets scheme. (317186)

Arts Council England has provided a regional breakdown of the number of tickets allocated and distributed to the 'A Night Less Ordinary' scheme between February 2009 and November 2009. Further information will be available in April. Details for individual theatres are commercially sensitive and therefore cannot be provided.

Region

Ticket allocation

Ticket distribution

East

3,721

2,033

East Midlands

7,751

7,125

London

61,165

38,942

National

3,008

2,247

North East

4,575

2,540

North West

30,579

15,083

South East

19,281

13,929

South West

10,549

7,770

West Midlands

22,818

20,208

Yorkshire

16,834

12,147

Total

180,281

122,024

This is an updated table which includes data from three venues that had not reported when figures were announced in January.

Tourism: Olympic Games 2012

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding his Department plans to provide to promote the tourism opportunities provided by the London 2012 Olympics. (321916)

[holding answer 12 March 2010]: The Department is providing £130 million between 2008-09 and 2010-11 to VisitBritain (VB) and VisitEngland (VE) for marketing Britain as a tourist destination overseas and England as a tourist destination to the domestic market (and some overseas markets). In addition, public funding support for UK tourism from the Regional Development Agencies, local authorities, the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Executive also need to be taken into account. This is likely to exceed £2 billion in the current spending review period.

VB has recently launched its marketing strategy for 2012 which is currently resourced from the above allocation. In addition, public funding support for tourism supports programmes that focus on improving training and skills within the industry, the quality of accommodation and our welcome to the world. These are an integral part of the Government's strategy to help tourism maximise the opportunities presented by the 2012 games.

House of Commons Commission

Members’ Staff: Pensions

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what discussions the House of Commons Commission has had with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on the system of pensions for staff of hon. Members; and if the Commission will make it its policy to continue the Portcullis Pension Plan for staff alongside any new system of allowances and expenses for hon. Members brought in by the Authority. (322025)

The Speaker, on behalf of the Commission, discussed the future of the Portcullis Plan with the Interim Chief Executive of IPSA, Andrew McDonald, at their meeting on 16 February. The Commission has agreed that the House Service will continue to administer the Portcullis Pension Plan, including making it available to new members of Members’ staff, subject to review when IPSA takes on some responsibility for Members’ pensions. Members will fund the employer’s contribution from their staffing budgets and the Chair of IPSA has said these will be set at a level which allows for appropriate pension contributions to be made. IPSA will make the necessary deductions from the staff payroll. IPSA has agreed to follow the House’s current arrangements for the plan, under which a single standard employer contribution rate of 10 per cent. of total salary is paid; and staff are automatically enrolled in the plan unless they opt out. The House’s Pensions Unit will liaise with IPSA officials to ensure co-ordination of their work. The Commission believes this agreement will provide reassurance to existing and new Members’ staff, and to Members themselves.

Members: Allowances

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 837W, on Members: expenses, what the estimated cost is of each change of use of offices referred to in the answer; and from which budget this expenditure will come. (320974)

Planning for the series of moves which will culminate in the conversion of 1 Derby Gate into accommodation for use by Members and their staff is only at an early stage, and costs for the later projects in the series have yet to be worked up. The first leg, involving the move of the Department of Resources to Tothill street, will involve prior building work of around £3.9 million. The cost of removals is expected to be £77,000.

Nurseries

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2010, Official Report, column 185W, on nurseries, whether the full business case for the replacement of Bellamy’s Bar, the Astor Suite and Bellamy’s Clubroom by a day nursery will be submitted to (a) the Finance and Services Committee and (b) the House of Commons Commission before any decision is taken to proceed with the works. (322376)

No. Neither the Finance and Services Committee nor the House of Commons Commission considers business cases. The Commission’s decision that a nursery facility should be established is subject to the business case being approved by the Clerk of the House as Accounting Officer.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the works proposed to convert Bellamy's Bar, the Astor Suite and Bellamy's Clubroom into a day nursery will be subject to competitive tender. (322398)