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Written Answers

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 22 March 2010

Electoral Commission Committee

Bearwood Corporate Services

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission (1) if the Electoral Commission will place in the Library a copy of the report of its investigation into Bearwood Corporate Services; (322794)

(2) if the Electoral Commission will place in the Library a list of the officials and staff of the Conservative party who did not accept the invitation for interview with representatives of the Electoral Commission as part of its investigations into Bearwood Corporate Services;

(3) if the Electoral Commission will place in the Library a copy of the report by forensic accountants commissioned as part of the Electoral Commission's investigations into Bearwood Corporate Services.

I will give the hon. Member a substantive reply as soon as possible.

Substantive answer from Gary Streeter to Gordon Prentice:

The Electoral Commission informs me that, consistent with its disclosure policy, it has published on its website a case summary setting out the issues considered by the Commission during the course of the investigation, the information obtained in relation to those issues, and the legal basis for the conclusions the Commission reached.

The Commission further informs me that, in the interests of effective regulation and having regard to the confidentiality and sensitivity of information provided, and the privacy and confidentiality of those involved, it is not the Commission's practice to release further information obtained during an investigation.

Trade Unions

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission which trade unions have registered with the Electoral Commission as a registered third party in respect of the forthcoming general election to date; and how much Unite has spent as a registered third party to date. (323831)

The Electoral Commission informs me that as of 19 March 2010 seven trade unions have registered with the Commission as recognised third parties. These are Community, the National Union of Teachers, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, Unison, Unite and USDAW. The Commission further informs me that recognised third parties must report their regulated spending to the Commission after the general election.

Wales

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. (323079)

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. (323454)

Scotland

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. (323076)

The Scotland Office does not procure any meat or dairy products, with the exception of small quantities of milk on which we have not logged any particular certification.

Prime Minister

Community Relations

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2010, Official Report, column 1304W, on building resilience, whether the paper from the Civil Contingencies Secretariat entitled “Building Resilience: a new approach to crisis” by M. S. D. Granatt, Head of GICS, Cabinet Office and J. P. Macintosh DSTL, Ministry of Defence, published in July 2001 and revised in February 2002 is classified. (323330)

Departmental Internet

To ask the Prime Minister how many designs for its (a) internal website and (b) intranet his Office has commissioned since 2005; and what the cost was of each such design. (321981)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Tessa Jowell) on 17 March 2010, Official Report, column 866W.

Intelligence and Security Committee

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 861W, when he expects the views of the Intelligence and Security Committee to be published. (322313)

The Government remain committed to publishing both the guidance and the views of the Intelligence and Security Committee as soon as possible.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey for his Department and its agencies. (322573)

The Civil Service People Survey was not carried out within the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). However, a separate NIO staff attitude survey was carried out within the Department in May and June 2009. A copy of the overall results of this survey has been placed in the Library.

Fines: Non-payment

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are in prison in Northern Ireland as a result of non-payment of fines. (323324)

On 18 March 2010 there were 28 persons in prison in Northern Ireland as a result of non-payment of fines.

Magilligan Prison

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are expected to be employed in the (a) construction and (b) running of the new prison at HM Prison Magilligan. (323323)

It is too early to provide specific answers, but it is estimated that between 150 and 300 people could be working on site, depending on procurement method and stage of construction.

The new design would entail more cost effective staffing when the prison is operational.

Youth Custody

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) young adults and (b) women were serving a custodial sentence in prison in Northern Ireland in (i) January 2010, (ii) January 2009 and (iii) January 2008. (323325)

The information for the last Monday in each month is provided in the following table.

Young offenders serving a sentence

Women serving a sentence

25 January 2008

77

21

26 January 2009

85

18

28 January 2010

83

16

Young offenders are defined as being aged 18 to 21 years. Upon attaining 21 years they are deemed to be adults and can be sent to an adult prison.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) maximum and (b) minimum number of years of over-paid council tax is that should be refunded to local taxpayers when a council tax banding error has been identified by the Valuation Office Agency; and what guidance has been issued to local authorities on this matter. (323104)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) on 1 March 2010, Official Report, columns 952-53W. No guidance has been issued to local authorities on this matter.

Council Tax: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 896W, on council tax: empty property, whether the additional revenue raised under the recalculation of the council tax base for the 2011-12 settlement will be retained by local authorities. (323039)

All council tax revenue is retained by local authorities. Each local authority's council tax base is calculated for the purposes of formula grant distribution, and is the number of Band D equivalent properties in their authority.

Departmental Records

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when his Department's headquarters were last reviewed for compliance with the Public Records Acts; and what the results were of that review. (322839)

The Department's headquarters were reviewed by the National Archives for compliance with both the Public Records Acts and Lord Chancellor's Section 46 Code of Practice for Records Management under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in 2007. The outcome of the review was published on the National Archives website. This can be found at:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/dclg-summary -report.doc

The outcome includes evidence of good practice, the challenges faced and recommendations. The Department also has put in place arrangements to ensure that records are managed on a day-to-day basis to comply with the requirements of the Public Records Acts and officials meet regularly with the National Archives to review record-keeping arrangements.

Departmental Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department undertakes equality and diversity monitoring of agency staff recruited to work at its headquarters. (322841)

Our contracted supplier for temporary staff is Reed and, as part of their contract, they are required to monitor the diversity of the staff they provide to the Department. The data include staff provided to the Government Offices and the Government Equalities Office (GEO). They report to us on a monthly basis, with the report covering nationality, ethnicity, gender, age and disability.

Fire Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has provided guidance to fire and rescue authorities on the use of socio-demographic profiling to inform decisions on the provision of fire and rescue services. (308427)

A range of IRMP-related guidance has been issued to FRAs and is available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/developingfuture/integratedriskmanagement/

The guidance, which is non-prescriptive, is designed to provide advice and assistance on IRMP and its associated processes, allowing local authorities and local communities to make appropriate decisions at the local level.

The Department has also provided each fire and rescue service with a suite of software called the fire service emergency cover (FSEC) toolkit. This toolkit allows each fire and rescue service to undertake a risk-based assessment of their area. FSEC is based upon a geographical information system, which takes account of a range of factors including socio-economic and geo-demographic data, and uses bespoke software to calculate the probable losses based on a particular set of response strategies in terms of lives lost and property costs. That then enables the FRA to determine its optimum prevention, protection and response strategies appropriate to its own area.

The Department has also recently published research on socio-demographics and fire risk, which can be found at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/frsperforman ceanalysis

Fire Services: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average response time was for a fire appliance to attend (a) a dwelling fire with persons involved, (b) a dwelling fire with no persons involved, (c) a fire in a non-dwelling building, (d) a road vehicle fire and (e) an outdoor fire broken down by (i) region, (ii) fire service family group and (iii) local authority in each of the last three years. (320846)

Housing: Conferences

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) which (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department attended the MIPIM international property conference in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008 and (iii) 2009; (323282)

(2) how much his Department expects to spend on (a) travel and (b) accommodation for (i) Ministers and (ii) officials attending the MIPIM international property conference in March 2010;

(3) how much he expects to be spent by the Homes and Communities Agency on (a) travel and (b) accommodation for officials attending the MIPIM international property conference in March 2010.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, the MIPIM conference was attended by the following officials from Communities and Local Government:

2007

Director General, Policy Programmes and Innovation

2008

Director General, Housing and Planning

Director General, Tackling Disadvantage

Director General, Finance and Corporate Services

2009

Director General, Housing and Planning

Director General, Regions and Communities

No departmental Ministers or officials have attended the MIPIM conference in 2010, either at the expense of the Department or at the invitation of the Homes and Communities Agency. Therefore, no costs were incurred by HCA for this purpose.

Local Government Act 1976

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will amend section 11 of the Local Government Act 1976 to permit local authorities to sell electricity other than that produced in association with heat. (323160)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government published a consultation document on proposals to allow local authorities to sell electricity they generate themselves from renewable sources on 2 March.

We believe that local authorities should play a full part in the development of renewable heat and electricity. Allowing local authorities to sell electricity generated by them from renewable sources is expected to encourage the development of local renewable electricity projects by those local authorities that are well-placed to undertake such projects either on their own or in partnerships.

The consultation document can be found at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/loc_auth_elec/loc_auth_elec.aspx

and has a closing date for responses of 2 June 2010.

Non-Domestic Rates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his latest estimate is of the take-up rate of small business rate relief in each local authority area. (323033)

The report “Small business rate relief—improving evidence on eligibility and take-up: Methodology”, published on 9 December 2009, provides details of the methodology to estimate take-up of small business rate relief. This methodology can only be applied nationally for England as a whole. Therefore it is not possible to calculate an estimate of take-up for each local authority. This report is available at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/local government/smallbusinessmethod

However, new experimental statistics on the number of hereditaments claiming small business rate relief (SBRR), published on the Communities and Local Government website on 25 February 2010, show that 462,000 hereditaments in England were benefiting from SBRR on 31 December 2008.

By applying that figure to the eligibility estimates made for the 2005 rating list it is estimated that around 80 per cent. of eligible hereditaments in England were claiming SBRR in 2008-09—see table 1.

Relief granted to small businesses has been increasing since SBRR was introduced—from £202 million in 2005-06 to £298 million in 2008-09. This represents a real terms increase of 34 per cent. This suggests that 92 per cent. of the maximum amount of relief that could be claimed is being taken up, up from 69 per cent. in the first year of the scheme—see table 2.

This statistical release is available at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/sbrrfeb2010

The report “Small business rate relief—improving evidence on eligibility and take-up: Methodology” will be updated to take account of these new numbers.

Table 1: Take-up of SBRR—numbers claiming

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Number of hereditaments actually claiming SBRR (thousand)

396

433

462

Number of hereditaments eligible (thousand)

575

575

575

Percentage of estimated eligible actually claiming

69

75%

80

Table 2: Take-up of SBRR 2005-06 to 2008-09—relief

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Relief available (£ million)

295

300

315

325

Relief claimed (£ million)

202

237

259

298

Take-up (percentage)

69

78

83

92

Schools: Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local education authorities will be liable for the carbon dioxide emissions of maintained schools under the Carbon Reduction Commitment process. (323143)

I have been asked to reply.

Maintained schools will be grouped with their relevant maintaining local authority (LEA) for the purposes of CRC qualification and participation. The exception is PFI schools deemed to be responsible for the energy supply under the CRC, which will participate individually or as part of their PFI corporate structure.

This grouping approach brings schools that would not have otherwise qualified into the scheme, thereby enabling the public sector to demonstrate leadership in carbon reduction and realise the cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities across the schools' estate.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which staff from his Department have visited Afghanistan in each month since 2007. (322515)

Military and civilian staff from the Ministry of Defence are required to visit Afghanistan on a regular basis in support of current operations. The number and posts of those visiting in each month since 2007 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Compensation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid to relatives of servicemen killed in action in each of the last five years. (321372)

It is not possible to provide a definitive figure for all aspects of the payments made to bereaved families as benefits are payable under a range of different provisions and, as the information is not held centrally, it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme provides a death- in-service lump sum and the appropriate family forces pensions, including enhanced payments where death is related to service. It is estimated that at least £14 million has been paid in death-in-service lump sums over the last five years to the families of those killed in action.

The War Pension Scheme provides for ongoing payments to families of personnel killed, as a result of service, before 6 April 2005, with the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) making that provision for those who have died since that date. In addition to a Guaranteed Income Payment, a Bereavement Grant of up to £20,000 is payable under AFCS. Payments amounting to some £8.8 million have been made to bereaved families under AFCS since 2005 including those killed in a non-operational environment where death was attributable to service.

Funeral grants are also payable where a service funeral is held or the cost of a private funeral (up to a current maximum of £2,786) will be met. In the region of £112,000 has been paid in funeral costs. In addition costs associated with family attendance at repatriation ceremonies and any pre-inquest and inquest hearings are met by the MOD.

Armed Forces: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife of 22 February 2010, Official Report, columns 7-8W, on armed forces: discharges, how many compulsory drug tests the Army has carried out in each quarter since January 2008; and how many positive tests for (a) cocaine, (b) ecstasy and (c) cannabis there were in each such quarter. (322535)

The number of compulsory drug tests undertaken by the Army in each quarter since January 2008 and the positive results for cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis are shown in the following table:

Period

Number of tests

Cocaine

Ecstasy

Cannabis

2008

1 January-31 March

19,885

92

10

47

1 April-30 June

24,787

152

10

49

1 July-30 September

19,978

95

10

31

1 October-31 December

25,189

88

2

44

2009

1 January-31 March

25,045

65

3

43

1 April-30 June

26,932

70

3

65

1 July-30 September

26,210

55

0

58

1 October-31 December

24,762

47

0

37

Armed Forces: Merseyside

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding has been allocated to (a) cadet forces and (b) the Territorial Army on Merseyside in 2009-10. (322633)

The information is not held centrally.

Funding for the cadet forces in any particular area comes from a wide variety of sources including the single services, the use of subsidised accommodation, and local donations and fundraising efforts. To determine how much funding has been allocated to a specific unit would require a manual search of records and incur disproportionate cost.

Territorial Army (TA) funding is provided not only through the Army but also from different sources dependent on how the infrastructure is shared. For example, funding may be generated by allowing another organisation, such as the Air Training Corps or Sea Cadets, to use the facility when not required for TA activity. This allows for the most efficient use of resources. To determine how much funding has been provided to Merseyside would require the manual search of records ranging from local agreements through to more formal arrangements with the single services, thus incurring disproportionate cost.

The Government remain committed to the TA and the cadet forces. The TA continues to play a vital role in support of the Regular Army, not least on operations in Afghanistan. The Cadet Organisation dates back 150 years. It is one of the oldest and most successful voluntary youth organisations in the world. Today it numbers 131,000 young people, led by 25,000 adult volunteers, in well over 3,000 sites across the country.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many abnormal safety events were recorded at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009; and how many of those events were classified as having the potential to challenge a nuclear safety system. (319191)

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) defines an abnormal event (AE) as any action or series of actions that causes a deviation from the planned course of events. An AE need not cause physical harm to persons, property or the environment, and AEs may cover quality and security issues as well as safety.

AEs are classified into seven different categories; five of these are considered to be related to safety. The total number of AEs in these five categories was 4,020 in 2008 and 3,911 in 2009. Of these, three in each year were assessed as having the potential, in the absence of remedial action, to challenge a nuclear safety system. None of these six actually did, and none resulted in any harm.

All reported AEs are investigated as appropriate; in particular, the six events referred to above were subject to detailed investigations, and all necessary remedial action has been completed to the satisfaction of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

The aim of the AWE reporting system is to identify all AEs, however minor, and the number of AEs is considered to be a reflection of the robustness of the system and the vigilance of the AWE work force.

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department and its non-departmental bodies are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. (323070)

For UK armed forces personnel “in barracks”, when personnel are not being fed under the catering retail and leisure contracts, and those serving on operations and overseas exercises, there is a single food supply contractor, Purple Foodservice Solutions (PFS).

PFS increasingly takes into account ethical and sustainable criteria in their procurement, and is required to seek best value for money in the open market consistent with meeting Ministry of Defence food quality standards which are linked to the Office of Government Commerce food quality standards.

PFS procures meat and dairy proteins in the UK that meet the Red Tractor Scheme (a UK farm assured scheme which is the equivalent to the RSPCA Freedom Foods scheme) and UK animal welfare standards. Any which are purchased outside the UK comply with the EU animal welfare standards.

Dairy products meet the Red Tractor requirements, and eggs meet the Lion Standard, an internationally recognised quality code of practice.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2010, Official Report, column 849W, on departmental internet, what the cost was of the website redesign. (321932)

The costs of the redesigns were as follows:

Website and URL

Cost (£)

2005-06

MOD corporate website http://www.mod.uk

400,000

2007-08

150,000

2005-06

Royal Navy http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk

270,000

2007

110,000

20081

British Army http://www.army.mod.uk

266,500

2006-07

Royal Air Force http://www.raf.mod.uk

119,579

1 The British Army website redesign launched on 30 May 2008; the redesign project launched in 2006 and preparatory design work was carried out between 2006 and 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many designs for its (a) internal website and (b) intranet his Department has commissioned since 2005; and what the cost was of each such design. (321994)

The following designs have been commissioned since 2005.

Date

Work commissioned

Cost (£)

March 2006

Enhancements to publishing templates and introduction of a new “Business Processes” area.

1396,590

December 2007

Re-branding of the intranet to encompass military content.

29,238

July 2009

Complete site re-design as part of upgrade from Microsoft Content Management System (CMS) 2002 to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

2200,000

1 Includes design and code development.

2 Includes requirements capture and design.

A number of other internal websites are run by different parts of the Ministry of Defence, but these are not managed centrally. Information on these sites could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Ministry of Defence is progressively reducing the number of internal websites and migrating their content across to the Defence intranet.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much his Department spent on maintaining its Flickr channel in 2009-10; (322526)

(2) how many people his Department employs to maintain its social media and social networking sites; and at what cost in the latest period for which figures are available;

(3) how much his Department spent on maintaining its Twitter feeds in the latest period for which figures are available;

(4) how much his Department spent on maintaining its YouTube channel in the latest period for which figures are available.

There is no one MOD employee whose main role is to maintain social media and social networking sites, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr, although there are some for whom it is a small part of their role alongside their other duties.

My Department has spent $30 on a single Flickr ‘Pro’ licence, for the Royal Military College Sandhurst.

The official, sponsored and affiliated social media presences of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are listed at

http://www.blogs.mod.uk/homepage.html

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilian staff are employed principally to operate his Department's White Fleet of vehicles. (322848)

A Contract Management Team comprising 15 civilian posts manages the UK White Fleet contract on behalf of the MOD. Other civilian staff are involved in managing White Fleet activity at a local level across MOD; this information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey for his Department and its agencies. (322576)

Yes. The document—October 2009 MOD Your Say Survey results (part of the Civil Service People Survey)—will be placed in the Library of the House.

These results are also available on the MOD website:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FreedomOfInformation/PublicationScheme/SearchPublicationScheme/HrStrategy CivilianContinuousAttitudeSurveys.htm

The document for UK Hydrographic Office results will also be placed in the Library of the House shortly. No other trading funds participated in the 2009 survey.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on travel for its civilian staff between (a) London and Edinburgh, (b) London and Glasgow and (c) London and the rest of Scotland in each of the last five years. (321701)

Travel between London and Scotland may be undertaken by a number of methods of travel (e.g. road, rail, air, coach). This information is not recorded by location and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Devonport Dockyard

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department will make a decision on the future base-porting of frigates currently base-ported in Devonport Naval Base. (323267)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 890W, to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock).

Future Rapid Effect System

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he expects to announce his decision on the preferred bidder for the Future Rapid Effect System armoured reconnaissance vehicle contract; (323169)

(2) what advice his Department received from the Treasury in connection with the choice of design for the Future Rapid Effect System armoured reconnaissance vehicle.

The Future Rapid Effect System programme has been recast from a single programme into a set of constituent projects, namely: the Specialist Vehicles; the Utility Vehicles; and the Manoeuvre Support Vehicles. An announcement on the competition for the Specialist Vehicle project has been made today in a written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Defence.

HM Treasury has provided no advice to the Department regarding the choice of design for the Specialist Vehicle capability. The MOD reached its own decision on the choice of design based on the advice of expert assessment panels.

Group 4 Securicor

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions his Department has had with Group 4 Securicor on its proposals to have outsourced to the private security industry those services which are detailed in the unprinted paper reported to the House by the Defence Committee on 10 February 2010; and if he will make a statement. (322507)

[holding answer 17 March 2010]: The Ministry of Defence has a number of existing agreements with Group 4 Securicor for the provision of Defence services. We are aware of the range of services that the company offers and it is, of course, free to compete for additional Ministry of Defence business through established procedures. My officials engage with Group 4 Securicor on both current business and potential future opportunities as required.

HMS Gannet

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many search and rescue call-outs there were from HMS Gannet between 1 March 2009 and 28 February 2010. (322857)

[holding answer 18 March 2010]: The numbers of search and rescue call-outs from HMS Gannet between 1 March 2009 and 31 January 2010 are as follows:

Month

Callouts

2009

March

33

April

35

May

46

June

35

July

41

August

44

September

36

October

32

November

39

December

42

2010

January

37

Total

445

Official Statistics guidelines do not allow the release of data prior to their official publication. The Official Statistics for February 2010 are due to be released by Defence Analytical Services and Advice on Monday 29 March. Search and rescue statistics can be found at:

www.dasa.mod.uk

Hotels

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on (a) renting accommodation and (b) hotel costs for its civilian staff attending meetings in Scotland in the last 12 months. (321702)

Civilian employees are unlikely to use or stay in rented accommodation for a business meeting. Employees may rent accommodation temporarily as a result of a transfer but information on this or hotel costs for meetings in Scotland is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 4 November 2009, Official Report, column 704W, on helicopters, when he plans to write to the hon. Member for Woodspring. (314287)

Middle East: Military Attachés

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to which countries in the Middle East a UK defence attaché is posted. (320967)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Minister for Veterans (Mr. Jones) on 20 October 2009, Official Report, column 1366W.

Navy: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many naval vessels are permanently based in Scotland; and how many have been permanently based in Scotland in each year since 1997. (317783)

The Royal Navy currently has five submarines and eight surface vessels based in Scotland. The details for each year since 1997 are shown in the following table.

Number of RN vessels base port in Scotland

Surface

Submarine

1997

11

8

1998

11

9

1999

11

9

2000

13

9

2001

14

9

2002

15

9

2003

13

8

2004

13

8

2005

12

8

2006

9

6

2007

8

6

2008

8

5

2009

8

5

2010

8

5

The fluctuations in submarine numbers reflect the gradual drawdown of the Swiftsure class vessels, as they reach the end of their in-service life. Over the next few years, as HM Naval Base Clyde becomes the main operating base for all classes of submarines, there will be a gradual transfer of three Trafalgar class submarines from Devonport to Faslane. In the future, the Astute class and the replacement for the Vanguard class will also be based in Scotland.

The number of surface ships initially increased over this period, reflecting the move of the Sandown class mine counter-measure vessels to Scotland, then decreased reflecting the subsequent disbandment of the Northern Ireland Squadron following the NI Accord. The numbers are commensurate with the reduction in the surface fleet numbers as a whole throughout this period.

Additionally some 23 small boats allocated to the Royal Marines are currently maintained in Scotland. These are not allocated to a base port in the same way as larger vessels; details of the numbers maintained in Scotland since 1997 are not available.

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement on 6 May 2009, Official Report, column 16WS, which provided clarity to future base-porting regarding the three naval bases under the Maritime Change Programme.

Nimrod Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the public purse of the Nimrod MR2 modification programme announced in March 2009. (322845)

The cost of replacing a number of fuel seals and the engine hot air ducts on the Nimrod aircraft, as announced on 9 March 2009, Official Report, columns 1-2WS, together with associated maintenance work, was in the order of £16 million.

RAF Coningsby

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the fast jet test and evaluation advice available at RAF Coningsby is provided in-house. (322787)

On 1 April 2010, the Fast Jet Test Squadron, currently based at MOD Boscombe Down, will complete its merger with 17 (Reserve) and 41 (Reserve) Squadrons. Under this new arrangement, most fast jet test flying will be conducted by the two RAF squadrons at RAF Coningsby. Evaluation advice will be provided jointly by QinetiQ and MOD personnel at RAF Coningsby and MOD Boscombe Down. A fast jet experimental flight, and the fast jets owned by QinetiQ, will remain at MOD Boscombe Down.

Rescue Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to respond to the petition on SAR Chivenor presented to the Prime Minister on 25 February 2010. (322844)

The Ministry of Defence is in receipt of the petition and I will write to the hon. Member, as the petition organiser, shortly.

Rescue Services: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what timetable has been set for signing the search and rescue helicopter contract with Soteria Consortium. (322843)

Subject to finalisation, it is expected that the contract will be signed later in 2010. This is anticipated to be in good time to allow the service to commence in 2012.

Royal Hospital Haslar

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether contractual provisions were included in the documentation for the sale by Defence Estates of the Royal Hospital Haslar to ensure that the vision for the future of the site referred to in the letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence to the hon. Member for Gosport of 16 July 2009 would be fulfilled. (321679)

The future of the site is now a matter for Gosport borough council as the local planning authority.

As I set out in my written ministerial statement on 20 July 2009, Official Report, columns 94-95WS, Our Enterprise has a vision of promoting the quality of life for both individuals residing on the site and for Gosport as a whole and will continue social and health care on the site by providing a “Veterans Village”, student accommodation, community healthcare and a commercial centre as well as residential uses.

Contractual provisions between the Ministry of Defence and the purchaser affecting the development of the site were not included in the sale documentation for the sale of the Haslar site.

University Officer Training Corps

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had on (a) the funding and (b) the participation of students in officer training corps units at universities; and if he will make a statement. (322613)

The Government fully recognise the value of the University Royal Naval Units, the Officer Training Corps, the University Air Squadrons and the Defence Training Undergraduate Scheme. They allow individuals to develop skills that are extremely valuable in a future career either within the armed forces or without.

Each of the services is looking at how best to support the University Training Units; until those decisions are finalised I cannot speculate about future funding levels.

No University Training Units have closed as a result of changes to funding during this financial year. Despite some reduction in attendance by Officer Cadets at University Officer Training Corps they remain oversubscribed against their establishment. The average actual strength in 2009 was around 3,500. This is against an establishment figure of 2,946.

Justice

Arrest Warrants

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what account was taken of each of the criteria in the Government's code of practice on consultation in preparing his Department's consultation on arrest warrants and universal jurisdiction. (323262)

The question of arrest warrants for universal jurisdiction offences is not the subject of a consultation exercise. Given the importance of the issue, however, the Government thought it right to seek views from a small number of interested parties.

Crime: Victims

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the remit of the National Victims Fund will extend to British residents who are victims of crimes committed abroad. (323278)

The Victims Fund is used to provide funding to third sector organisations that support those bereaved by homicide. These services are provided by third sector organisations and are available to British residents in England and Wales regardless of where the homicide takes place.

Applications for the 2010-11 fund are being processed and results will be announced shortly.

The National Victims' Service will provide services to victims of crime who are resident in England and Wales regardless of where the crime takes place.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what services his Department provides for the families of British victims of homicides committed abroad. (323279)

The Ministry of Justice provides funding to the charities Victim Support and SAMM National (Support After Murder and Manslaughter) to deliver services to those bereaved by homicide. The service provided by Victim Support is available to anyone in England and Wales regardless of where the homicide takes place.

The Justice Secretary recently announced the launch of a National Victims' Service. The first part of the service has begun with the introduction of the homicide scheme which will be delivered by Victim Support. This will provide focused support for each bereaved person and a range of commissioned services. Residents in England and Wales who are bereaved are entitled to support under this scheme wherever the homicide takes place.

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) if he will publish the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey relating to his Department; (322308)

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey for his Department and its agencies.

I will arrange for the results from the Civil Service People Survey for the Ministry of Justice and its agencies to be placed in the Library of each House.

Juries: North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people resident in Leeds North West constituency have been summoned for jury service (a) once, (b) twice, (c) three times and (d) four times in each year since 2005. (322699)

The following table shows, on a national level basis for each calendar year from 2000-08, the following:

(a) how many people have been required for jury service

(b) how many people have been supplied to the court for jury service

(c) how many people have been deferred from the original date they were summoned for jury service

(d) how many people have been excused from jury service

(e) how many people have been disqualified from jury service

The Jury Central Summoning Bureau (JCSB) is not able to supply the information for Leeds North West as the data cannot be extracted in this way by the computer system.

The JCSB is also unable to provide information on how many people have been summoned for jury service more than once. This is because jurors are selected on a completely random basis by the JCSB using the electoral voting registers supplied annually by each local authority. As the electoral registers are updated annually and due to the randomness of jury selection there is potential for some members of the public to be called for jury service more than once while some may never be called.

Calendar year end

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total number of summons issues

79,115

579,473

492,561

461,980

431,432

388,154

390,671

412,666

416,689

Total number of jurors supplied to the court

24,907

187,080

197,599

184,833

187,114

185,193

181,966

182,661

183,506

Deferred to serve at a later date

8,860

61,435

59,786

65,754

63,741

61,254

66,174

66.806

Number refused deferral

22

214

297

340

288

286

172

122

103

Excused - by right having served in past two years

4,700

32,368

29,120

28,247

14,887

4,333

4,277

4,518

4,244

Excused - Child Care

3,410

27,685

26,281

24,327

19,497

15,741

15,690

16,118

15,711

Excused - Work Commitments

2,781

26,640

25,628

19,373

14,961

14,419

15,998

16,428

16,857

Excused - Medical

5,650

44,435

40,982

35,061

34,016

32,239

30,332

32,416

31,289

Excused - Travel Difficulties

186

2,394

1,811

1,110

813

672

720

651

690

Excused - Student

736

5,468

5,899

3,979

2,438

2,150

2,209

2,273

2,429

Excused - Moved From Area

1,549

11,073

6,254

3,419

2,498

2,181

2,454

2,988

2,543

Excused - Language Difficulties

849

5,921

5,928

5,260

4,975

4,081

4,030

4,406

4,165

Excused - Other

2,521

20,678

22,354

22,400

23,103

21,658

24,126

27,784

30,606

All excused

22,382

176,662

164,257

143,176

117,188

97,474

99,836

107,582

108,534

Number refused excusal

421

2,494

1,927

3,453

4,344

3,585

2,053

1,641

1,515

Disqualified - residency, mental disorders, criminality

15,248

118,339

105,314

98,045

89,112

77,364

85,061

94,171

96,325

Disqualified - on selection

5,989

48,271

59,892

58,830

55,410

49,765

53,031

58,900

59,017

Disqualified - failed Police National Computer (PNC) check

0

69

160

139

148

193

185

207

225

Lionel Crabb

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make available for public inspection in the National Archives all papers relating to the disappearance and death in 1956 of Commander Buster Lionel Crabb RN, OBE, GM; and if he will make a statement. (322999)

The National Archives hold a number of records relating to the disappearance of Commander Buster Lionel Crabb (PREM 11/2077; CAB21/3887; F0371/122885; and ADM 1/29241), all of which are available for public inspection. Some portions of these records however have been retained by the transferring Departments under section 3.4 of the Public Records Act. Where records are retained, this is the decision of the relevant Department.

Prison Sentences

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many indeterminate sentences for public protection handed down (a) between 14 July and 31 December 2008 and (b) in 2009 were given with tariffs of no more than 23 months. (323013)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 8 March 2010, Official Report, columns 93-94W.

Prisoners: Death

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many deaths of prisoners serving a determinate sentence were recorded in each year since 2005; how many such deaths were self-inflicted; and how many determinate sentenced prisoners there were in each of those years; (323011)

(2) how many incidents of self-harm were recorded by prisoners serving a determinate sentence in each year since 2005.

The information requested is combined in the following table:

Determinate sentenced prisoners1

2005

2006

2007

2008

20092

20103

Population

56,375

56,218

56,120

56,852

n/a

n/a

Deaths in custody

94

94

85

98

78

20

Self-inflicted deaths only

29

36

29

25

20

4

Self-harm incidents

13,128

12,241

10,719

11,730

n/a

n/a

1 Determinate prisoners in this answer are defined as those recorded as serving the following sentences: less than or equal to six months; more than six months but less than 12 months; more than or equal to 12 months but less than four years and more than or equal to four years but excluding life. 2 Population figures for 2009 are not available at the time of writing. 3 Self-harm figures for 2009 remain subject to verification and are not yet available. 2010 figures are not available for similar reasons. Two deaths are currently awaiting further information before classifying.

Any death in prison custody is a tragic event. The Government, Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service, (NOMS) are committed to learning from such events and reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody.

NOMS has a broad, integrated and evidence-based prisoner suicide prevention and self-harm management strategy that seeks to reduce the distress of all those in prison. This encompasses a wide spectrum of prison and Department of Health work around such issues as mental health, substance misuse and resettlement. Any prisoner identified as at risk of suicide or self-harm is cared for using the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork procedures.

Prisons: Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy to record centrally the number of closed visits made on the prison estate. (322861)

The National Offender Management Service records centrally the number of closed visits imposed within the prison estate. In 2008-09 closed visiting conditions were imposed on 1,817 occasions.

These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system. The data are not subject to audit.

Public Sector: Disclosure of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 25 February 2010, Official Report, column 664W, on public sector: disclosure of information, in respect of which of the 57 requests to the Unlocking Service which have been accepted the data requested have been released. (322874)

The Unlocking Service is not primarily concerned with the release of data. Its main purpose is to allow people to resolve issues concerned with re-use and publishing formats of data.

Where requests have been classified as resolved, every issue identified in the original request has been fully addressed. Two of the resolved requests related to the availability of data and in both instances those data have been provided. The remaining resolved requests relate to licensing conditions, copyright notices, publishing formats and charging.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 25 February 2010, Official Report, column 664W, on public sector: disclosure of information, for what reasons each request was given the status of (a) resolved, (b) unresolved and (c) part resolved. (322916)

Requests have been classified as resolved where every issue identified in the original request has been fully addressed and the current state corresponds to the requester's description of “My ideal solution” in the original request. If the request relates to the availability of data in a particular format, those data have been provided. If the request relates to a licensing issue, for example, that issue has been addressed.

Requests have been classified as unresolved where the current state does not correspond to the requester's description of “My ideal solution” and where there has been no substantive change since the request was posted, work will be continuing or the issue is intractable.

Requests have been classified as part resolved if there has been progression towards the requester's “ideal solution” but the current state does not fully meet this. Often in these cases there is continuing work or policy development. For example, a number of the requests relate to Ordnance Survey data, where commitments made in the Smarter Government White Paper address the requester's “ideal solution” but the issues are subject to a public consultation.

Sentencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people serving a custodial sentence had their conviction overturned on appeal in each year since 2005. (322695)

The information requested is not available. Data collected within the central IT systems do not currently hold sufficient detail to allow identification of the type of sentence which is the subject of each appeal against a sentence heard in the Crown Court or Court of Appeal.

Annual statistics on all appeals dealt with in the Crown Court against sentences given in the magistrates' court are published by the Ministry of Justice in table 6.10 of the annual command paper “Judicial and Court Statistics”. Annual statistics on all appeals in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) against sentences in the Crown Court are also published in Table 1.6 of this report. The most recent edition, presenting statistics for 2004 to 2008, was published in September 2009.

Copies of “Judicial and Court Statistics” are available in the Library of the House and from the Ministry of Justice website at:

http://www.Justice.gov.uk/publications/judicialandcourt statistics.htm

Trade Unions

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2010, Official Report, columns 383-84W, on trade unions, how many of the days staff of his Department and its agencies spent on trade union activity were spent in respect of each individual trade union recognised by his Department and its agencies in the last 12 months. (322746)

The number of days that were available to be spent on trade union activity by each of the trade unions in the Ministry in the last 12 months, for which information is available, are as follows:

MoJ (excluding NOMS)

Total FTE

Total days

DTUS

5

1,100

PCS GEC

26.4

5,808

FDA

1

220

Prospect

1

220

Total

33.4

7,348

The days quoted do not include PCS local representatives in MoJ (excluding NOMS). This figure is not known.

NOMS

Total FTE

Total days

PCS

34

7,480

Prospect

2

440

POA

106

23,320

Prison Governors' Association

3

660

Prison Service Joint Industrial Council

18

3,960

Total

163

35,860

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) whether any authorisations of trade unions under section 30 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 have been withdrawn; (322741)

(2) how much has been recovered by trade unions under section 30 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 in each year since 1999;

(3) which trade unions have been authorised under section 30 of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

No authorisations of trade unions under section 30 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 have been withdrawn.

The Ministry of Justice does not collect information on the amounts recovered by trade unions or any other approved membership organisation under section 30.

All trade unions in England and Wales listed by the Certification Officer are covered to provide enhanced legal services to members and their families under the Access to Justice Act 1999. The current list is available at the website at:

www.certoffice.org

Young Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of young offenders supervised by youth offending teams were in full-time training and employment in (a) England and (b) each youth offending team area in each of the last four years; and how many and what proportion of young offenders were on secure remand in each youth offending team area in each of the last four years. (322241)

Data relating to this question have been placed in the House Library.

Education, training and employment: Table A shows the number and the proportion of young people on relevant youth justice disposals in each youth offending team in England who were in full-time education, training and employment (ETE) in each of the last four years. ‘Relevant youth justice disposals' are defined as programmes resulting from a Final Warning with intervention, relevant community-based penalty or the community element of a custodial sentence. Relevant community-based penalties include Referral Orders, Reparation Orders, Action Plan Orders, Drug Treatment and Testing Orders, Supervision Orders (with or without conditions), Community Rehabilitation Orders (with or without conditions) and Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Orders.

Full-time ETE is defined here as 25 or more hours for young people of school age and 16 hours for those above school age.

Secure Remands: The number and proportion of young offenders on secure remand in each of the youth offending team areas in the last four years is not held centrally. However the YJB has figures for the average number of young people aged 10-17 on custodial remands in each YOT area in England in each of the last four years, which is shown in Table B. Custodial remand includes young people who are remanded in custody, convicted awaiting sentence or subject to court ordered secure remand. These data take a snapshot of young people who are on remand at a particular point in time which is then averaged out over the year.

The data have been supplied by the Youth Justice Board and have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing and may be subject to change overtime. Differences in counting rules may mean that figures from other databases are not directly comparable.

Young Offenders: Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to increase the level of training and education provided to young offenders under pre-release schemes. (322996)

Government recently passed legislation through the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 to bring improvements for education and training for young people detained in the youth secure estate. It makes local authorities responsible for learning for young people detained in youth custody and aligns arrangements in custody with the mainstream learning sector for the first time. This aims to increase consistency and continuity of learning for young people entering and leaving youth custody. The Act also includes a new duty on local authorities to make arrangements for education and training provision for the person on their release from custody, when appropriate for them to do so.

Work and Pensions

Children: Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases managed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission relate to absent parents in Banff and Buchan constituency. (321830)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases managed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission relate to absent parents in Banff and Buchan constituency. [321830]

Latest figures show, as at December 2009, the number of cases in Scotland is 111,050; of these 1,820 are in the Parliamentary Constituency of Banff and Buchan. These figures include old scheme cases with a full or interim maintenance assessment as well as current scheme cases with a full maintenance calculation or default maintenance decision. Figures are adjusted to reflect those cases administered clerically.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Cold Weather Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 8 March 2010, Official Report, column 68W, on cold weather payments: highlands of Scotland, in respect of how many weather stations cold weather payments have been triggered in 2010; what payments have been made in respect of each weather station in 2010; and what estimate has been made of the number of potential qualifiers in respect of each weather station in 2010. (323081)

The information requested is given in the table.

Cold weather payments in 2010 for weather stations linked to the Highlands

Weather station

Triggers

Estimated number of potential qualifiers

Estimated number of payments authorised

Aultbea

0

600

0

Aviemore

5

800

4,000

Cassley

5

400

2,000

Kinloss

3

15,200

45,600

Loch Glascarnoch

6

800

4,800

Lusa

2

700

1,400

Machrihanish

1

3,100

3,100

Tiree

0

100

0

Tulloch Bridge

7

2,100

14,700

Wick Airport

2

2,600

5,200

Notes: 1. The Highlands has been interpreted as the unitary authority of that name. 2. Some of the weather stations listed are also linked to areas that are not part of the Highlands. 3. Figures are based on triggers notified in the calendar year 2010 up to and including 17 March. 4. The estimates of potential qualifiers and payments authorised relate to the entire area the weather station is linked to, not just to those in the Highlands. 5. The estimated numbers of potential qualifiers have been rounded to the nearest 100. 6. The estimated number of payments authorised for a weather station has been calculated as the number of triggers multiplied by the estimated number of potential qualifiers for that weather station. Source: DWP records of triggers to weather stations up to and including 17 March 2010 and estimated numbers of potential qualifiers by weather station.

Cold Weather Payments: Angus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) households and (b) individuals in weather station areas covering Angus have received cold weather payments since 1 November 2009. (323342)

The available information is given in the table.

Weather stations covering Angus parliamentary constituency

Weather station

Estimated number of benefit units which have received cold weather payments since 1 November 2009

Braemar

1,600

Dyce

24,900

Leuchars

41,100

Strathallan

10,000

Notes: 1. Cold weather payments are made to benefit units rather than to households or individuals. A benefit unit can be a single person or a couple and can include children. 2. Each of the weather stations listed also covers an area that is not part of Angus parliamentary constituency. 3. The estimated number of benefit units which have received cold weather payments relates to the entire area that the weather station covers, not just to that in Angus parliamentary constituency. 4. Estimated numbers have been rounded to the nearest 100. Source: DWP records of triggers to weather stations up to and including 18 March 2010 and estimated numbers of potential qualifiers by weather station.

The Government provide information about cold weather payments on the Directgov website at:

www.direct.gov.uk

This includes the eligibility rules, details of how payments are made and a postcode search which allows customers to find out whether the weather station that is linked to a specific postcode has triggered.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many designs for its (a) internal website and (b) intranet her Department has commissioned since 2005; and what the cost was of each such design. (321991)

The DWP internal website for staff is called DWP Intranet. No commissions for a redesign of the DWP Intranet have been made since 2005 and therefore no costs have been incurred.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons the departmental expenditure limit for her Department in 2009-10 changed from £9.728 million in her Department's three-year business plan to £9.2 billion in the pre-Budget report. (317618)

The 2009-10 figure of £9.728 billion presented in the Department's three-year business plan represented the total funding available to the Department. This included additional funding agreed at pre-Budget report 2008 and Budget 2009, to support the Department in its response to the recession.

The revised figure of £9.2 billion presented in the pre-Budget report 2009 represented a departmental group which includes the Government Equalities Office.

The Department for Work and Pensions proportion of this funding was £9.090 billion. This was reflected in the winter supplementary estimate laid in Parliament on 24 November 2009.

The Department's final funding position for 2009-10 is set out in the spring supplementary estimate which was laid in Parliament on 23 February 2010.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much (a) Ministers and (b) staff of each grade in (i) her Department and (ii) its agencies spent on first-class travel in the last 12 months. (320392)

The Department has over 100,000 staff operating from over 1,000 office locations across the UK. The Department's travel policy encourages staff to travel using the most cost-effective tickets available at the time of booking and staff must consider travelling standard class where possible.

The spend for first-class travel by DWP for the last 12 months (February 2009 January 2010) is as follows:

DWP first-class travel spend (£000)

Ministers

26

DWP agencies:

Jobcentre Plus

3,134

Pension, Disability and Carers Service

1,822

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

995

DWP Corporate Functions

7,452

Total DWP (excluding Ministers)

13,403

There was no first-class air travel undertaken in the period in question and therefore all of the above figures relate to rail travel.

The split by grade is not available for the required period.

Travel by civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety. The Civil Service Management Code sets outs regulations and instructions to Departments and agencies regarding the terms and conditions of service of civil servants and the delegations which have been made by the Minister for the Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management of Functions) Act 1992 together with the conditions attached to those delegations.

The code can be accessed at:

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/csmc/index.aspx

Paragraph 8.2 of the code deals with travel and under this section Departments and agencies must ensure that staff use the most efficient and economic means of travel in the circumstances, taking into account any management benefit or the needs of staff with disabilities.

Disability Living Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what her most recent estimate is of the number of people aged between 60 and 64 years old claiming the higher rate care component of disability living allowance on the grounds of terminal illness. (322291)

[holding answer 15 March 2010]: The information requested is provided in the table.

Disability living allowance special rules cases in payment receiving the higher rate care component as at August 2009

£

Aged 60 to 64

10,500

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. All recipients under special rules are entitled to the higher rate care component. Information on the mobility component awarded to special rules claimants is included, however this part of the award may not be associated with special rules.

3. Totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excludes people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.

Source:

Work and Pensions Information Directorate 5 per cent. sample.

Caution

The preferred statistics on benefits are now derived from 100 per cent. data sources. However, the 5 per cent. sample data still provide some detail not yet available from the 100 per cent. data sources, in particular, more complete information on the disabling condition of disability living allowance claimants. The Department recommends that, where the detail is only available on the 5 per cent. sample data, or disabling condition is required, the proportions derived should be scaled up to the overall 100 per cent. total for the benefit. The figures have been rated to agree with Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study totals.

Employment and Support Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average waiting time was for a work capability assessment to be conducted for claimants for employment and support allowance in the latest period for which information is available. (319976)

[holding answer 2 March 2010]: The average time from the date an employment and support allowance claim starts to the date that Atos advice is given is shown in the following table. Information is provided from October 2008 (when employment and support allowance was introduced) to June 2009 (the latest data that can be used to calculate a reliable average).

Average calendar days from claim start to Atos assessment

October 2008

148

November 2008

145

December 2008

145

January 2009

135

February 2009

129

March 2009

121

April 2009

112

May 2009

104

June 2009

100

Note:

The actual time that Jobcentre Plus and Atos take to complete a case may be different as we cannot exclude any backdating of a claim or include the time from Atos advice to the Jobcentre Plus decision on entitlement.

Employment Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job point kiosks there are; how much her Department spent on job point kiosks since their introduction; what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of job point kiosks; and what plans she has for the future of such kiosks. (323482)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many job point kiosks there are; how much her Department spent on job point kiosks since their introduction; what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of job point kiosks; and what plans she has for the future of such kiosks. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The number of job points currently being managed under the terms of a commercial agreement between Jobcentre Plus and its current IT provider, Hewlett Packard, is 7,283.

Running costs for the job points have amounted to £16.7 million since August 2007. Detailed costs prior to August 2007 are not available due to the way the Department was invoiced for services at that time.

Our job points continue to form a key part of the Jobcentre Plus self service strategy and have enabled its customers to conduct approximately 89.5 million job searches a year through this key channel. Later this year, Jobcentre Plus will start to replace 5,000 of its current job points with new kiosks. These are specifically designed to improve accessibility, reliability and cost effectiveness and give a much greater opportunity to exploit new technologies to enhance customer service.

Along with this replacement project, Jobcentre Plus is also installing an enhanced central kiosk management system that will provide much greater opportunity to monitor individual kiosk use and therefore continually assess effectiveness and future development.

I hope this information is helpful.

Future Jobs Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the planned duration of the Future Jobs Fund scheme is; and if she will make a statement. (318534)

Details of the Future Jobs Fund were announced in Budget 2009 on page 102, box 5.4. The third bullet point states:

‘funding for local authorities and partners to take forward the creation of 100,000 new jobs in socially useful activity. 10,000 of these will be green jobs;’

and the final paragraph goes on to say:

‘To support communities most affected by rising unemployment, the Government will allocate additional funding for local authorities to provide a further 50,000 jobs in areas of high unemployment across the country.’

A copy of this Budget has been placed in the library and can also be accessed at:

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/bud09_completereport_2520.pdf

We will continue to review the support that is available for jobseekers, and decisions on the Department's future expenditure limits and spending allocations will be taken at the Spending Review.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason tenants aged over 25 years may not as of right receive housing benefit for shared accommodation for amounts less than the sole tenancy amounts they would be entitled to if that is their choice; and if she will make a statement. (322386)

[holding answer 15 March 2010]: Housing benefit is an income-related benefit administered by local authorities to assist people on low incomes who need help to pay their rent. Tenants in the private rented sector have their benefit entitlement restricted to an amount considered to be reasonable for the area and their accommodation needs. As from 7 April 2008 the local authority uses the appropriate local housing allowance rate, based on the area where the person lives and the size of their household, to determine the maximum amount to be included in the housing benefit calculation.

In the case of single people aged 25 years and over and couples with no dependent children, the local housing allowance rate for a one-bedroom properly would normally be used to calculate their benefit entitlement. However, if they choose to live in a property where they do not have either exclusive use of two or more rooms, or exclusive use of one room, a bathroom and toilet and a kitchen or facilities for cooking, the shared room rate would apply.

Income Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons her Department's decision of 8 October 2009 to grant income support in respect of the case with reference NINO YX220262A with effect from 12 August 2008 has not been implemented; and when she expects that decision to be implemented. (322314)

[holding answer 15 March 2010]: The administration of income support is a matter for Jobcentre Plus. I have asked the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh, to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking for what reasons her Department's decision of 8 October 2009 to grant Income Support in respect of the case with reference NINO YX 22 02 62A with effect from 12 August 2008 has not been implemented; and when she expects that decision to be implemented. This is something that falls within my responsibilities as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

As this is a personal matter relating to the individual involved, I will write to you separately.

Jobcentre Plus: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many and what proportion of the 16,000 additional Jobcentre Plus positions announced in the pre-Budget report 2008 and Budget 2009 have been filled; and whether her Department is actively recruiting to fill the remainder of the positions; (322168)

(2) what the average length of time was between an application being received for one of the 16,000 additional Jobcentre Plus positions announced in the pre-Budget report 2008 and Budget 2009 and (a) the (i) offer and (ii) start date of a job and (b) the issue of a letter to an unsuccessful applicant;

(3) how many and what proportion of applicants for the 16,000 additional Jobcentre Plus positions announced in the pre-Budget report 2008 and Budget 2009 have successfully completed the application process and are awaiting appointment;

(4) how many of the additional (a) 6,000 staff announced in pre-Budget report 2008 and (b) 10,000 staff announced in Budget Report 2009 have been recruited.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is the responsibility of the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions concerning the recruitment to 16,000 additional Jobcentre Plus positions announced in the Pre-Budget Report 2008 and Budget 2009. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus began recruiting after the Pre-Budget Report 2008 announcement to deal with increased workloads as a result of the economic downturn. The majority of recruitment took place between April 2009 and September 2009, but Jobcentre Plus has continued making job offers in lower numbers up to December 2009. All of the additional headcount announced in the Pre-Budget Report 2008 and the Budget Report 2009 has now been recruited.

Recruitment was managed through more than 500 local recruitment exercises so as to most effectively recruit this volume of additional resource and to target recruitment activity in alignment with local workload pressures. To provide the level of detail in relation to the average time between application and offer, start date, or rejection notice that you have asked for would not be possible, as to obtain this would be at disproportionate cost.

There are Service Level Agreements within the Department with set targets for the time taken to recruit. The recruitment process from the advertisement to the point that an applicant has successfully passed sift and interview, will be completed in 45 working days. Employment checks should then be completed in 20 working days with a further 7 days where final checks are made if someone has failed initial employment checks. A formal job offer will only be made after the employment checks have been completed. The subsequent start date will depend on each individual applicant's circumstances, such as the requirement to give notice.

Those applicants not successful at any stage of the process will be informed immediately.

All of the additional positions announced have now been filled. Therefore, there is no one awaiting appointment to those posts. However, with over 100,000 applicants to these posts it meant that there were significant numbers of people achieving the required level at interview stage. Where numbers of suitable candidates exceeded demand, these people were put on waiting lists in case future posts became available.

We continue to monitor workloads and have been managing staffing at current levels since January 2010 with further recruitment on hold, apart from a few exceptions where workloads or staff turnover need addressing. We have advised the 8000 or so people that successfully completed the application process and who remain on waiting lists that it is unlikely that there will be many further offers of employment made.

I hope this information is helpful.

Jobcentre Plus: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus staff (a) have been made redundant and (b) have failed to have a fixed-term contract renewed in each month since January 2008. (322172)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is the responsibility of the chief executive, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Darra Singh:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many Jobcentre Plus staff (a) have been made redundant and (b) have failed to have a fixed term contract renewed in each month since January 2008. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

No Jobcentre Plus staff have been made redundant since January 2008.

The table below gives details of the number of people on Fixed Term Appointments (FTAs) that left when their contracts came to an end for each month since January 2008 to September 2009. This is the latest date for which figures have been published.

Please note that this will include people who have already had their contract end date extended, but then leave on their new end date without further extension. The figures exclude people that have left before the end of their contract for various reasons, such as dismissal for poor performance and resignation. Numbers quoted are in full time equivalents.

Number of people on fixed term appointments (FTAs) who left when their contracts came to an end (January 2008 to September 2009)

2008

2009

January

1

2

February

0

4

March

11

7

April

4

5

May

0

5

June

9

5

July

6

11

August

13

6

September

14

15

October

5

November

3

December

4

Source:

Dataview

I hope this information is helpful.

National Employment Savings Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what consideration was given to the scope for the re-use of established systems and IT infrastructure in the procurement process for scheme administration services for the National Employment Savings Trust; (321842)

(2) by what mechanism the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority intends to achieve its strategic aim of re-using existing business services and IT infrastructure for the delivery of services for the National Employment Savings Trust.

A major area of focus of the scheme administration services procurement process was consideration of the benefits of, and possibilities for, the re-use of established systems and IT infrastructure.

At the pre-qualification stage, PADA challenged prospective suppliers on their existing pension administration services, client base and technology assets. Responses on these topics formed part of the consideration which led to four suppliers being short-listed for competitive dialogue.

Throughout the competitive dialogue, PADA worked with the qualified bidders to understand how they would deliver the service using pre-existing, off-the-shelf software and infrastructures.

The winning bidder, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., demonstrated its ability and commitment to using established systems by building a version of the production system, based on its existing IT infrastructure, which demonstrated the strength of its capability to deliver the service requirements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking in the procurement process for scheme administration services for the National Employment Savings Trust to ensure that the preferred solution minimises the administrative burden on businesses and simplifies the contribution mechanism for employees. (321843)

NEST will be one of the schemes employers can use to fulfil their new duties under the work place pension reforms, legislated for in the Pensions Act 2008.

PADA conducted the procurement of the scheme administration services with regard to the principles set out in the Act, one of which is to minimise the burdens placed on employers. For example, producing payment schedules for employers, clearly setting out the amounts to be paid and by when. Also, ensuring that employers and workers wishing to make additional contributions can do so using a range of payment methods.

This principle is reflected in the business requirements for NEST, which were developed with regard to market research with target employers and members. The winning bidder, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., has confirmed it will fully meet these requirements.

New Deal Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Southport of 13 January 2010, Official Report, column 1035W, on New Deal schemes: young people, if she will provide figures for the number of repeat participants by the number of times each repeated for each New Deal programme in each year since its inception. (318391)

Reliable statistics on repeat participants of the voluntary New Deal programmes would be available only at a disproportionate cost.

Pension Credit: Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Leeds North West constituency receive (a) a basic state pension and (b) pension credit; and how much on average such people receive in pension credit each week. (322705)

As at March 2009, there were 15,100 recipients of the basic state pension in Leeds North West constituency.

Notes:

1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample

The information requested on the number of recipients of pension credit in Leeds North West constituency and the average weekly award of pension credit received is in the following table:

Number

Individual beneficiaries

Households recipients

Average weekly award of pension credit (£)

As at August 2009

3,680

3,100

50.55

Notes:

1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves or on behalf of themselves and a partner. Beneficiaries are the number of claimants in addition to the number of partners for whom they are claiming.

3. Pension credit is claimed on a household basis. The average weekly award of pension credit is in relation to the household.

4. Parliamentary constituencies and local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data

Pensioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of active members of defined (a) benefit and (b) contribution pension schemes in each year since 1997. (323483)

The requested information is not available. The following table sets out the number of active members of defined benefit and defined contribution occupational pension schemes for available years from 1995 to 2008.

In addition, individuals may contribute to personal or stakeholder pensions, which are defined contribution pension arrangements between an individual and the pension provider. Some individuals have more than one form of pension provision which means that there will be some double counting between personal and stakeholder pension holdings and the occupational pension memberships presented above. Information on personal and stakeholder pension arrangements are published by the HMRC:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/pensions/menu.htm

Million

Defined benefit schemes

Defined contribution schemes

Total

1995

9.2

1.1

10.3

2000

9.0

1.2

10.1

2004

8.6

1.2

9.8

2005

1.0

2006

8.2

1.0

9.2

2007

7.9

0.9

8.8

2008

8.0

1.0

9.0

Notes: 1. The 2005 survey did not cover the public sector and a total defined benefit figure is therefore not available. 2. Changes to the methodology for 2006 onwards mean that comparisons with 2005 and earlier years should be treated with caution. Source: Occupational Pension Schemes Survey.

Poverty: Birmingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment has been made of the standard of living of (a) families in Birmingham, (b) the poorest 20 per cent. of families in Birmingham, (c) pensioners in Birmingham and (d) the poorest 20 per cent. of pensioners in Birmingham (i) in 1997 and (ii) at the latest date for which figures is available. (321576)

The measurement of living standards is a complex and multidimensional issue and, as such, there are many possible measures. It is generally accepted that income is central to any standard of living measurement.

Income statistics published in the Households Below Average Income series only allow analysis at Government office region level. Therefore, information for Birmingham is not available, although figures relating to the west midlands Government office region are. Three-year averages are used to report regional statistics as single-year estimates are subject to volatility. Weekly income levels are rounded to the nearest pound.

Table 1: Median weekly equivalised incomes for all families and the median equivalised incomes of the 20 per cent. of families with lowest incomes, west midlands, 1997/98-1999/2000 to 2005/06-2007/08, in 2007/08 prices—before and after housing costs

Median income (£ per week)

Before housing costs

After housing costs

Period

All families

20 per cent. of families with lowest incomes

All families

20 per cent. of families with lowest incomes

1997-98 to 1999-2000

336

169

275

122

2005-06 to 2007-08

369

181

315

133

Table 2: Median weekly equivalised incomes for all pensioners and the median equivalised incomes of the 20 per cent. of pensioners with lowest incomes, west midlands, 1997/98-1999/2000 to 2005/06-2007/08, in 2007/08 prices—before and after housing costs

Median income (£ per week)

Before housing costs

After housing costs

Period

All pensioners

20 per cent. of pensioners with lowest incomes

All pensioners

20 per cent. of pensioners with lowest incomes

1997-98 to 1999-2000

262

158

224

131

2005-06 to 2007-08

324

187

301

169

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income data. The Households Below Average Income series is 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 is single financial years. Three sample years have been combined as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility.

4. 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’ 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.

5. The figures are based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development equivalisation factors.

6. Figures have been presented on both a Before Housing Cost and After Housing Cost basis. For Before Housing Cost, housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage interest payments, structural insurance payments and ground rent and service charges) are not deducted from income, while for After Housing Cost they are.

7. Incomes are presented in 2007-08 prices and have been rounded to the nearest pound sterling.

8. Families are defined as a single adult or couple living as married and any dependent children, including same sex couples (civil partnerships and cohabitees) from January 2006. A household is made up of one or more families. Families can include individuals over state pension age.

9. The median income is the income of the middle person in the population, such that half the population have incomes below the median and half the population have incomes above the median. The median is used instead of the mean income because the mean is affected by outlying cases with very high income values. This is consistent with relevant public service agreement indicators and the Households Below Average Income publication.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of (a) the whole population, (b) children and (c) pensioners in Birmingham was living in poverty in each year since 1997. (321577)

Between 1998-99 and 2007-08 some 500,000 children were lifted out of relative poverty. Measures announced in and since Budget 2007 are expected to lift around a further 550,000 children out of poverty. Absolute poverty has been halved.

Addressing pensioner poverty has been a priority for this Government. We have targeted help on the poorest pensioners, those who need it most, while providing a solid foundation of support for all.

With the help of targeted support and additional funding there were 900,000 fewer pensioners living in relative poverty (after housing costs) in 2007-08 than in 1998-99.

Estimates of poverty, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of people in poverty at Government office region level. Therefore, information for Birmingham is not available, though figures relating to the west midlands Government office region are available.

Poverty for all individuals is presented both before and after housing costs. Child poverty is presented before housing costs and pensioner poverty is presented after housing costs, in line with the relevant Public Service Agreements. The most commonly used figures relate to those with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income for the three groups.

Three-year averages are used to report regional statistics as single-year estimates are subject to volatility. Figures are quoted rounded to the nearest percentage point. The following tables show the percentage of all individuals (Table 1), children (Table 2) and pensioners (Table 3) in the west midlands Government office region who have incomes below 60 per cent. of the contemporary median income.

Table 1: Proportion of individuals in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median for the west midlands, before and after housing costs (percentage)

Proportion of individuals (percentage)

Period

Before housing costs

After housing costs

1997-98 to 1999-2000

20

23

1998-99 to 2000-01

20

24

1999-00 to 2001-02

20

24

2000-01 to 2002-03

21

25

2001-02 to 2003-04

20

24

2002-03 to 2004-05

20

23

2003-04 to 2005-06

20

23

2004-05 to 2006-07

20

23

2005-06 to 2007-08

21

24

Table 2: Proportion of children in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median for the west midlands, before housing costs (percentage)

Proportion of children (percentage)

Period

Before housing costs

1997-98 to 1999-2000

28

1998-99 to 2000-01

27

1999-2000 to 2001-02

28

2000-01 to 2002-03

26

2001-02 to 2003-04

26

2002-03 to 2004-05

25

2003-04 to 2005-06

26

2004-05 to 2006-07

26

2005-06 to 2007-08

27

Table 3: Proportion of pensioners in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median for the west midlands, after housing costs (percentage)

Proportion of pensioners (percentage)

Period

After housing costs

1997-98 to 1999-2000

28

1998-99 to 2000-01

28

1999-2000 to 2001-02

27

2000-01 to 2002-03

28

2001-02 to 2003-04

26

2002-03 to 2004-05

23

2003-04 to 2005-06

20

2004-05 to 2006-07

18

2005-06 to 2007-08

18

Notes:

1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income data. The Households Below Average Income series is 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 is single financial years. Three sample years have been combined as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility.

4. 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’ 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.

5. The figures are based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development equivalisation factors.

6. Figures have been presented on both a before housing cost and after housing cost basis. For before housing cost, housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage interest payments, structural insurance payments and ground rent and service charges) are not deducted from income, while for after housing cost they are.

7. Proportions have been rounded to the nearest percentage point.

A local child poverty indicator—including constituency level information—has been developed that captures the number and proportion of children in families in receipt of out of work benefits, or in receipt of tax credits where their reported income is less than 60 per cent. of median income. Details can be found via the HM Revenue and Customs website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/child_poverty.htm

The measure enables local partners to make an assessment of the level and geographical distribution of income deprivation in their area and focuses local partners on taking action to help raise family incomes.

Poverty: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate she has made of the number of children in Salford who have been lifted out of poverty since 1997. (322408)

The Government's declared aim is to eradicate child poverty by 2020. Our determination to do so is as firm as ever and this is demonstrated by introducing the Child Poverty Bill. The Child Poverty Bill will bring new impetus to eradicating child poverty by 2020. It will provide a definition of success and sets a framework to guarantee that Government and their partners at national and local levels make a clear and vital contribution towards ending child poverty.

Between 1998-09 and 2007-08 some 500,000 children were lifted out of relative poverty. Measures announced in and since Budget 2007 are expected to lift around a further 550,000 children out of poverty. Absolute poverty has been halved.

Each year different households are surveyed to produce low income statistics and estimates of poverty that are published in the Households Below Average Income series. Information is therefore available about the net change in the number of children with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income.

However, estimates of poverty, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of people in poverty at Government office region level. Therefore, information for Salford is not available, though figures relating to north-west Government office region are. These are given in the table.

Three-year averages are used to report regional statistics as single-year estimates are subject to volatility. Figures are quoted rounded to the nearest 100,000 children. Child poverty is presented before housing costs in line with the child poverty public service agreements.

Change between 1997-98-1999-2000 and 2005-06-2007-08 in the number of children in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of contemporary median for the north-west, before housing costs (million)Number of children (million)ChangeBefore housing costs1997-98-1999-2000 to 2005-06-2007-080.1 Notes: 1. These statistics are based on Households Below Average Income data. The Households Below Average Income series is 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 is single financial years. Three sample years have been combined as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility. 4. 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' 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. 5. The figures are based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development equivalisation factors. 6. Numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest 100,000.

A local child poverty indicator—including constituency level information—has been developed that captures the number and proportion of children in families in receipt of out of work benefits, or in receipt of tax credits where their reported income is less than 60 per cent. of median income. Details can be found via the HMRC website:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/child_poverty.htm

The measure enables local partners to make an assessment of the level and geographical distribution of income deprivation in their area and focuses local partners on taking action to help raise family incomes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of children in postcode areas L20, L21 and L22 were living in poverty in each year since 2000. (322636)

Estimates of poverty, published in the Households Below Average Income series, only allow a breakdown of the overall number of people in poverty at Government office region level. Therefore, information for the postcode areas L20, L21 and L22 are not available.

Social Security Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether guidance has been issued to local authorities on the application of the provisions of the Contracting Out (Functions of Local Authorities: Income-Related Benefits) Order 2002 to (a) the contracting out of (i) the administration of income-related benefits relating to local housing allowance applications and (ii) functions relating to other income-related benefits and (b) the agreement of a contractual arrangement relating to the administration of income-related benefits without making financial payments for the service; (322504)

(2) what her Department's policy is on the contracting out by local authorities of arrangements for income-related benefits.

[holding answer 16 March 2010]: The policy on the contracting out by local authorities of arrangements for income-related benefits is set out in the Contracting Out (Functions of Local Authorities: Income-Related Benefits) Order 2002 [SI 2002 No. 1888]. This order, which came into force on 25 July 2002, allows local authorities to authorise people other than those directly employed by them, to carry out a wider range of functions connected with the administration of housing benefit (including local housing allowance), council tax benefit and discretionary housing payments. The order does not change local authorities' ultimate responsibility and they remain fully accountable and responsible for the administration of these benefits.

Guidance circular HB/CTB A22/2002 was issued to local authorities in September 2002, giving information about the order. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Social Security Benefits: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of customer claims for (a) attendance allowance, (b) disability living allowance, (c) incapacity benefit and (d) employment and support allowance have been denied in the last five years; how many and what percentage of these denied claims have been appealed against; and in how many cases the appeal has been successful. (315720)

[holding answer 4 March 2010]: Information about the number and percentage of denied claims that have been appealed against and the subsequent number of successful appeals is not available.

Information about the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance claims in Great Britain is available in the Department for Work and Pension's Employment and Support Allowance: Work Capability Assessment Statistic Release (January 2010). A copy of this report is available in the Library and can be found on our website at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/esa_wca_arc.asp

This report contains details of the number of initial assessments carried out since the introduction of employment and support allowance, a breakdown of the result of the assessment, including the fit for work decision and separate information relating to work capability assessment appeals.

The available information on attendance allowance, disability living allowance, and incapacity benefit is in the tables.

Number and percentage of attendance allowance and disability living allowance new claims that are denied

Total number of attendance allowance decisions made

Number of attendance allowance claims denied

Percentage of attendance allowance claims denied

Total number of disability living allowance decisions made

Number of disability living allowance claims denied

Percentage of disability living allowance claims denied

2005-06

408,390

85,660

21

429,290

228,050

53

2006-07

387,960

78,480

20

422,550

226,170

54

2007-08

373,890

67,860

18

456,090

248,820

55

2008-09

388,220

64,060

17

466,680

252,540

54

2009-101

313,480

54,990

18

402,620

223,560

56

1 YTD January. Notes: 1. “Denied” claims has been interpreted to mean claims that have been disallowed. 2. The number of decisions made is not equal to the number of new claims made. This is because there is always a percentage of customers who make a new claim and withdraw their request before a decision can be made. The percentage of disability living allowance and attendance allowance claims denied is defined as the number of claims denied divided by the number of decisions made. Source: Management Information Reports: Report Disability Allowance (RDA) and Report Attendance Allowance (RAA) 60209 and 60205.

Number and percentage of incapacity benefit new claims that are denied

Total claims processed

Total claims refused

Percentage refused of those processed

2006-07

679,160

319,580

47

2007-08

673,770

328,130

49

2008-09

485,220

243,620

50

2009-101

*21,449

14,398

67

1 To January 2010. Notes: 1. Information is only available from 2006-07 as the MISP system holds data only from that date. 2. “Denied” claims has been interpreted as those claims refused at the new claims stage because they did not meet the criteria for incapacity benefit, i.e. they were not sick/incapacitated. This means they either did not have a medical certificate giving a reason for the incapacity from their GP therefore claimed the incorrect benefit or the sick note provided did not state an illness. These figures also include claims from those customers previously disallowed following a personal capability assessment who reclaim incapacity benefit within six months with the same condition. 3. The reduced numbers in 2009-10* are due to the introduction of employment and support allowance. Those refused as a percentage is higher as following the introduction of employment and support allowance, customers claiming incapacity benefit had to have a linking claim in order to qualify. 4. MISP is the departmental performance management, data capture and reporting tool. The statistics presented here have not been subject to the rigorous quality assurance processes that are used for official statistics and as a result they should be used with a degree of caution. Source: Management Information System Programme (MISP).

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people aged over 65 years with each main disability condition received (a) disability living allowance and (b) attendance allowance under special rules in the latest period for which figures are available. (322166)

The information requested is shown in the following tables.

Disability living allowance special rules cases in payment to over 65s by main disabling condition at August 2009

Disabling condition

Cases in payments

Arthritis

500

Muscle/Joint/Bone Disease

Blindness/Visual Disease

Stroke Related

Malignant Disease

5,100

Chest Disease

100

Back Ailments

200

Heart Disease

300

Parkinson's Disease

Diabetes Mellitus

AIDS

Multiple Sclerosis

Other

1,500

Attendance allowance special rules cases in payment by main disabling condition at August 2009

Disabling condition

Cases in payments

Arthritis

100

Stroke Related

100

Mental Health Causes

Malignant Disease

200

Back Ailments

Heart Disease

Frailty

Other1

36,700

1 This figure includes cases that have been identified as terminally ill cases but the main disabling condition has not been recorded.

Notes:

1. Figures have been rated to agree with Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study and rounded to the nearest 100.

2. Caseload totals show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excludes people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.

Caution:

The preferred statistics on benefits are now derived from 100 per cent. data sources. However, the 5 per cent. sample data still provide some detail not yet available from the 100 per cent. data sources, in particular, more complete information on the disabling condition of disability living allowance claimants. DWP recommends that, where the detail is only available on the 5 per cent. sample data, or disabling condition (DLA) is required, the proportions derived should be scaled up to the overall 100 per cent. total for the benefit.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions 5 per cent. sample

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 105W, on social security benefits: fraud, how many ongoing investigations there are into cases of benefit fraud in each of the countries listed; how many of her Department’s investigating officers are based abroad, and in which countries; with which countries her Department has arrangements in relation to benefit fraud; what the total budget is for her Department’s Targeting Fraud campaign; and how much has been spent on the campaign to date. (320158)

[holding answer 3 March 2010]: Information regarding the number of ongoing benefit fraud investigations in other countries has been collected since 1 April 2009. The number of ongoing benefit fraud investigations since then in each of the countries requested is as follows:

Number

Spain

167

USA

54

Cyprus

32

Australia

20

France

40

Greece

11

South Africa

8

Canada

8

Eire

14

Portugal

13

Austria

0

Bahrain

0

Bulgaria

4

Holland

8

India

42

Italy

13

New Zealand

3

Pakistan

138

Thailand

40

Trinidad and Tobago

2

No Department for Work and Pensions benefit fraud investigators are based abroad. However, there are 16 Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff based abroad funded by the Department for Work and Pensions whose duties include undertaking information gathering on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions to assist UK-based fraud investigators in their work.

The Department for Work and Pensions has Memoranda of Understanding with the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Australia and information sharing arrangements with New Zealand and the USA to ensure the correct administration of social security and prevention of benefit fraud.

The budget for the 2009-10 Targeting Benefit Thieves campaign is £5 million. To the end of February the budget committed for 2009-10 is £4,803,420.52.

Social Security Benefits: Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will investigate the situation whereby a non-resident parent in receipt of certain benefits including pensions paid on medical grounds can receive an income of almost £25,000 per annum and the resident parent receives the minimum weekly maintenance payment of £5 per week, irrespective of the number of children involved. (318499)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system.

I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested in respect of the current position and I have seen the response.

I should also add that as part of the development of regulations for the future child maintenance scheme, the policy affecting cases such as these is being reviewed.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will investigate the anomaly whereby a non-resident parent in receipt of certain benefits including pensions paid on medical grounds can receive an income of almost £25,000 per annum and the resident parent receives the minimum weekly maintenance payment of £5 per week, irrespective of the number of children involved. [318499]

Non-resident parents in receipt of prescribed benefits will only be assessed as being able to pay the £5 per week flat rate of maintenance. This is not affected by the amount of benefit paid.

It is possible for the parent with care to apply for a variation on the grounds that the non-resident parent receives other income which has not been taken into account. The Child Support (Variations) Regulations 2000 specifically provides for the initial £5 per week maintenance liability to be varied where the non-resident parent receives other income, which would have otherwise been taken in to account in the initial maintenance calculation process, were it not for the fact that the non-resident parent was receiving a prescribed benefit.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Social Security Benefits: Travelling People

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether (a) council tax and (b) housing benefit may be awarded to Travellers occupying camps without planning permission. (323443)

Council tax benefit is available to anyone who is liable for council tax.

Where a Traveller’s caravan occupies a non-established site or pitch for a period materially less than 12 months, with no sign of likely future use, this will generally be regarded as too transient to establish the pitch as a dwelling. For established sites or pitches, even if the occupier changes often, a banding will apply and a liability to council tax will exist.

It is established rating law, applicable to council tax that a transitory occupation of land does not amount to rateable occupation. Whether the necessary permanence of occupation has been established for liability to arise will depend on the facts in each case.

On the subject of housing benefit I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 8 March 2010, Official Report, column 75W.

State Retirement Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the effects would be on (a) public service and (b) other occupational pension schemes if the level of the basic and additional state pensions were both increased by 1.5 per cent. instead of 2.5 per cent. in April 2010; and how many pensioners would (i) gain and (ii) lose as a result. (319356)

Current social security legislation provides for public service pension to be adjusted by the same rate as the additional pension, and for such adjustments to take place only if there has been an increase in the prices over a given period.

The effect of increasing both the basic state pension and additional pension by 1.5 per cent., compared with increasing the basic state pension by 2.5 per cent., would be to reduce the average increase in state pension overall as a result of uprating in April 2010, from around £2 a week to around £1.50 a week.

More detailed data on pensioners' overall income split by detailed source are not available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the take-up rate of basic state pension was (a) nationally, (b) in Essex and (c) in Southend in the latest period for which figures are available; and what it was in each year since 1997. (320646)

The information requested can be found in the following tables where available. The figures relate to the proportion of the population in receipt of basic state pension, who are estimated to be over state pension age and alive at the end of March 2009.

Pensioners in Great Britain in receipt of basic state pension

Number

Proportion over state pension age (percentage)

2009

11,100,000

94

2008

10,900,000

95

2007

10,800,000

96

2006

10,600,000

96

2005

10,500,000

96

2004

10,400,000

96

2003

10,300,000

96

2002

10,200,000

96

Pensioners in Southend in receipt of basic state pension

Number

Proportion over state pension age (percentage)

2008

33,400

97

2007

33,000

97

2006

33,200

96

2005

33,200

97

2004

33,200

97

2003

33,200

96

2002

33,800

96

Pensioners in Essex in receipt of basic state pension

Number

Proportion over state pension age (percentage)

2008

277,000

95

2007

270,000

96

2006

263,000

96

2005

260,000

96

2004

256,400

97

2003

251,800

96

2002

247,600

96

Notes: 1. The latest population and administrative data are from 2009. The latest population figures for Essex and Southend are from the ONS Mid-2008 Population Estimates. 2. The earliest available regional caseload data only go back to 2002. Figures for Essex relate to Essex local authority district and for Southend relate to Southend-on-Sea unitary authority. 3. GB estimates are rounded to the nearest 100,000 people, those for Essex and Southend to the nearest 100 people. 4. The remaining pensioners not in receipt of a basic state pension, but eligible, will be in the process of deferring their state pension. Following a period of state pension deferral a claimant can either: (i) take a lump sum that will have accrued at a rate of two percentage points above the Bank of England base rate or; (ii) receive extra state pension whereby an additional one per cent. is added to the value of the state pension for every five weeks of deferral.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) men and (b) women in (i) Glenrothes, (ii) Scotland and (iii) the UK qualify for the full basic state pension. (322404)

The available information is in the following table.

Total

Male

Female

Glenrothes parliamentary constituency

11,200

6,000

5,100

Scotland

633,400

316,800

316,600

GB

6,952,000

3,661,200

3,290,700

Notes:

1. Figures are for claimants with a full basic state pension as at March 2009.

2. Figures are subject to a high degree of sampling error and should only be used as a guide.

3. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample

Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will set out, with statistical information related as directly as possible to constituency, the effects on that constituency of the policies and actions of her Department and its predecessor since 2000. (321481)

DWP leads the Government's response to some of the biggest issues facing the country—welfare and pension reform—and is a key player in tackling child poverty1. As the biggest delivery department in the UK, DWP makes a difference to millions of people every day, helping them to lead safer, fairer and more rewarding lives that are free from poverty. We want to give people more choice and control over their lives and are committed to providing greater choice and personalised support to everyone who needs it so they have the opportunity to get into and remain in work. We believe that work works. Even in economically challenging times we know that work works for the most vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

Support to find work

Through Jobcentre Plus, we are promoting work as the best form of welfare for people of working age. Since January 1998, the number of people unemployed in Stroud has increased by 31 per cent. to 1,840, and the number unemployed for more than one year has decreased by 35 per cent. to 200. From August 2000 to August 2009 the number of lone parents claiming income support in Stroud has decreased by 25 per cent. to 660.

Our New Deals have helped lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, disabled people, the over-50s and partners of unemployed people to move from benefit into work. Since their inception, over 2.2 million people in Great Britain have found work with the support of the New Deal, and 2,670 have been helped in Stroud.

Support for children

We introduced a target to halve child poverty by 2010-11 on the way to eradicating it by 2020. Poverty is measured using a headline indicator of the proportion of children in households with an income below 60 per cent. of contemporary household median income before housing costs. This is in line with international best practice.

Statistics on the numbers of children living in poverty are not available at the constituency level.

Support for older people

Since 1997 our strategy has been to target help on the poorest pensioners while providing a solid foundation of support for all.

This year we will be spending over £13 billion more on pensioners than if we had continued with the policies that were in place in 1997. Around half of that money will go to the poorest third of pensioners.

In 1997 the poorest pensioners, who received income support, lived on £69 a week (£98 in today's prices). Today pension credit, which was introduced in 2003, means no pensioner needs to live on less than £130 a week, £198.45 for couples. As of August 2009, 4,790 pensioners in Stroud are benefiting from pension credit.

In 2007-08 there were 900,000 fewer pensioners living in relative poverty in UK compared to 1998-99 (measured as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income after housing costs).

Statistics on the proportion of pensioners living in relative poverty are not available at constituency level. But the latest data for the south-west Government office region show that the proportion of pensioners in poverty (measured as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income after housing costs) fell from 24 per cent. to 18 per cent. since 20002.

Pensioners in the UK also benefit from a range of additional support such as the winter fuel payment which this winter is worth £250 for households with someone aged between 60 to 79 and £400 for households with someone aged 80 or over. These payments provide vital reassurance to older people that they can afford to turn up their heating during cold weather. Prior to winter 1997-98 less than £60 million per year was spent helping pensioners meet their fuel bills—we now spend around £2.7 billion on winter fuel payments alone. In winter 2008-09 (the last winter for which information is available) 25,540 people aged 60 and over benefited from winter fuel payments in Stroud.

We have also taken steps to strengthen and protect the private pensions system to ensure people can continue to have confidence to save for their future through the establishment of the Pensions Protection Fund, the Financial Assistance Scheme and a more powerful and proactive pensions regulator.

The protection system ensures that, unlike in 1997, people are not left without a pension even in the event that their employer becomes insolvent.

In total, 751 people in the south-west Government office region are receiving compensation from the Pension Protection Fund (data not available at constituency level)3.

We have also taken forward a radical package of pension reforms in the Pensions Acts of 2007 and 2008 which will deliver a fairer and more generous state pension and extend the opportunity of workplace pension saving to millions, many for the first time.

The state pension reforms begin to come into effect from 2010 and will mean around three quarters of women reaching state pension age in 2010 are expected to qualify for a full basic state pension compared to half without reform.

Support for disabled people and carers

Since 2001, we have significantly extended and improved civil rights for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, access to goods and services and transport. Disabled people in Stroud will have benefited from these improvements. The Welfare Reform Act 2009 contains powers to increase choice and control for disabled adults, including disabled parents who are entitled to state support, enabling them to choose how certain state support is used to meet their individual needs. This will be trailblazed in eight local authority sites from late 2010. Older and less well off carers have gained extra help through the provisions within the National Carers Strategy.

1 The Department for Work and Pensions was created in 2001 and so information relates to the Department and its predecessors.

2 Based on three-year averages and changes are rounded to the nearest percentage point or 100,000 pensioners between 2000-01 to 2002-03 and 2005-06 to 2007-08.

3 Regional information about assistance payments received by members from the Financial Assistance Scheme could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Vocational Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to ensure that low-incidence sensory-impaired students will continue to be able to access national specialist residential training providers following the introduction of the new contracting arrangements. (323006)

The Government do not prescribe the type of training that should be available to people with specific impairments. However, the new contracts will ensure that this programme will be flexible and tailored to each individual.

We know from evaluation undertaken in 2006 that residential courses tend to exclude some customers, including those who have caring responsibilities. The very limited locations in which provision is currently available exacerbate this. The new contracting arrangements seek to ensure that appropriate support will be available locally to a broader range of customers including women, ethnic minority groups and those who are unable to travel long distances.

However, we recognise that the residential provision is important for some customer groups and so the new contracts will specify that residential training should be available where that is appropriate for the customer.

Winter Fuel Payments: York

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in York with at least one person aged 75 years or over received the winter fuel allowance in 2009-10. (322998)

For winter 2008-09, the latest year for which information is available, 6,500 households in the City of York constituency with at least one person aged 75 years or over received a winter fuel payment.

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent. data.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when she plans to answer Question 316427, on payments to the Government Car and Despatch Agency, tabled on 3 February 2010. (320255)

Home Department

Dogs: Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate he has made of the incidence of the use of dogs in crime. (322945)

These data are not collected centrally. We are aware of the growing concerns about the use of dangerous dogs to harass and intimidate people. This has prompted the Government to introduce the new gang injunction power under the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and launch a public consultation on managing and controlling dangerous dogs.

Immigration Removal Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were being held in immigration removal centres on the latest date for which figures are available. (322955)

As at 31 December 2009, 2,595 people were held in UK Border Agency immigration detention, none of whom were children.

Published national statistics on the number of people detained solely under Immigration Act powers are published quarterly and are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office website.

Antisocial Behaviour

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported in (a) England and Wales, (b) each constituency, (c) each police force area, (d) each local authority area and (e) each of the smallest geographical areas for which figures are available in each year since 1997. (319523)

The number of incidents of antisocial behaviour as defined in the National Incident Category List were requested as part of police forces annual data return in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Collection of National Standard for Incident Recording (NSIR) data through ADR 342 came into force on 1 April 2007. Prior to that, data returns for NISR were not mandatory.

Data are not returned by (b) constituency or (d) local authority area.

A copy of the detailed tables showing the figures for England and Wales, each police force area and the smallest geographical area available (police force basic command unit) in 2007-08 and 2008-09 have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

The data are normally for management information only and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply for 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of police forces in tackling antisocial behaviour. (322950)

We expect all agencies to prioritise antisocial behaviour. ASB is to be tackled not tolerated—police and other agencies must protect victims and punish perpetrators. To that end we have asked all areas to draw up minimum standards of service for the public by the end of this month. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's (HMIC) tough independent inspections on police forces' performance are a welcome addition to our commitment to accountability and transparency in continuing to raise standards.