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Written Answers

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Electoral Commission Committee

Labour Party: Donors

To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission with reference to the Electoral Commission’s press release of 7 May 2009, on the Crown Prosecution Service decision on Labour Party donations, whether the Electoral Commission made an assessment of the merits of initiating its own investigation into the donations after the Crown Prosecution Service decision. (323704)

The Electoral Commission informs me that following the Crown Prosecution Service decision in May 2009, the Commission considered what, if any, further action might be appropriate. The Commission concluded that in view of the investigation conducted by the police and the CPS decision, further investigation into the same matters would not be in the public interest.

Political Parties: Finance

To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 26 October 2009, Official Report, column 6W, on political parties: finance, from which (a) legal firms, (b) Queen’s counsel and (c) other sources the Electoral Commission sought advice in connection with its investigation into Mr. Michael Brown and Fifth Avenue Partners; how much was paid for such advice in each case; and what the total cost was to the Electoral Commission of the investigation. (323601)

The Electoral Commission informs me that, in addition to legal advice from its in-house legal counsel, it also obtained legal advice from Queen’s counsel, Michael Beloff QC; and from junior barristers, Jane Collier, Tom Hickman and Michael Nield. Payments to Queen’s counsel amounted to £33,625 and payments to junior counsel amounted to £26,650.

The Electoral Commission further informs me that it does not record the precise direct and indirect costs associated with any particular case but, now that the investigation is closed, can estimate that the staff and incidental costs incurred, including the above legal costs, amounted to approximately £170,000.

House of Commons Commission

Charlie Whelan

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether Mr. Charlie Whelan holds a House of Commons security pass. (324210)

Members: Allowances

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands) of 2 March 2010, Official Report, column 1006W, on Members: expenses, how much the (a) budget and (b) approved purchase order is for the use of Detica to undertake investigations in 2009-10; and what it was in 2008-09. (323956)

An invoice for £15,640, inclusive of VAT, has now been received in line with the original budgetary provision. This was for a piece of work in support of the internal inquiry into the unauthorised disclosure of information about Members' allowances. No payment for such work was made in 2008-09.

Nurseries

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the oral answer of 11 March 2010, Official Report, column 428, on the day nursery, what items of expenditure referred to as having being spent on Bellamy's Bar will be reused in the new scheme; and what estimate has been made of the monetary value of those items. (323949)

Of the £480,000 spent on the refurbishment of Bellamy's Bar, Bellamy's Club Room, and the Astor Suite (including fees and furnishings) it is estimated that approximately £168,000 of the work would be of continuing benefit in the new child care facility. Items include carpets, carpentry and joinery, plasterwork, decorations, mechanical and electrical engineering. In addition, efforts will be made to reuse the furniture elsewhere on the parliamentary estate, which was provided at a cost of £66,000.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the oral answer to the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Peter Luff) of 11 March 2010, Official Report, column 423, on the day nursery, when consultation with experts and providers began; when he expects that consultation to finish; and what consultation is being undertaken with those who will be relocated from 1 Parliament street. (323951)

Consultation with child care experts has been continuous since November 2009, and is expected to continue throughout the duration of the project. Consultation with providers took place to help inform the options paper presented to the Commission in December, but is now in abeyance until completion of the procurement process. Management are consulting with Trade Unions and regularly briefing those staff who are to be relocated from 1 Parliament street.

Wales

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many smoking shelters have been built for his Department’s staff in the last five years; and at what cost. (324345)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has spent on rooms for staff leisure in each of the last five years. (324429)

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will place in the Library a copy of the benchmark results of the Civil Service People Survey for his Department. (322575)

I will arrange for the results from the Civil Service People Survey for the Wales Office to be placed in the Library of each House.

Scotland

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what methodology his Department used to determine whether answers to questions in the formulation “if he will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member's constituency the effects on that constituency of his Department's policies since 1997” could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. (323872)

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel of each sex were injured in Afghanistan (a) between the deployment of special forces in 2001 and the deployment of the armed forces and (b) since the deployment of the armed forces in that country. (323352)

[holding 22 March answer 2010]: Between October 2001 and February 2010, 1,116 service personnel were injured in action in Afghanistan, of which six were female.

This figure does not include personnel treated by coalition medical facilities before the establishment of the Afghan Field Hospital in March 2006. It is not possible to distinguish on the basis of gender between personnel injured between April and October 2006.

Between April 2006 and February 2010, 2,217 service personnel with non-battle injuries or diseases were admitted to a field hospital in Afghanistan, of which 116 were female.

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he takes to ensure the welfare of animals used in scientific procedures as a result of a decision by his Department. (323215)

The Ministry of Defence has always taken the issue of animal health and welfare seriously and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) complies fully with all of the UK legislative requirements.

All Dstl staff who wish to work with animals are required to attend internal Dstl courses prior to their application for a personal licence. Following the successful completion of the required internal and legislative training, staff continue to undertake on the job training; individual training records are maintained to ensure required competence for procedures.

In order to maintain high welfare standards and share best practice Dstl staff are encouraged to visit other facilities and attend appropriate conferences e.g. meetings of the Institute of Animal Technologists, the Laboratory Animal Science Association and the Laboratory Animal Veterinary Association.

Information gathered is then shared within Dstl via dedicated internal forums.

Armed Forces: Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on funding standard operational requirements for kit and equipment for the armed forces. (323002)

The core Equipment Programme, funded from the Defence budget, delivers the capabilities our armed forces need now and in the future against a range of contingencies and threats. Priorities are reviewed regularly as part of the Ministry of Defence’s annual planning round. In addition, Urgent Operational Requirements respond to urgent requirements specific to particular operational theatres and are funded by the Treasury Reserve.

Armed Forces: Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officers at each rank at or above the rank of colonel there were in the British Army, including the Territorial Army and Reserve, in (a) 1990, (b) 1997, (c) 2005 and (d) the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (323708)

[holding answer 23 March 2010]: The information requested is provided in the following table:

As at April each year

General

Lieutenant General

Major General

Brigadier

Colonel

Total

Regular officers

1990

10

9

65

236

657

977

1997

16

10

43

172

478

709

2005

7

11

46

179

584

827

2009

5

17

43

190

597

852

Territorial Army (TA) officers

1997

2

70

72

2005

4

87

91

1 Includes one Field Marshal

Notes:

1. “—” denotes zero.

2. April 2009 figures for Regular Officers are provisional because of Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system data validation issues.

In addition, in April 2005 there were three full-time Reserve service colonels, and in April 2009 there were four full-time Reserve service colonels and one brigadier. The 2009 figure is also provisional.

Data on the Territorial Army are not held before January 1993. After April 2007 Territorial Army officer and soldier breakdowns are not included due to JPA data validation issues.

The changes of Army officers numbers is in line with the Army's operational commitments over this period, therefore since 1997 there has been a significant increase in the number of senior officers being deployed on operations. Modern conflict has seen UK Armed Forces deploying an increased number of senior officers in support of NATO and other coalitions far more than in the recent past; moreover, there has also been the requirement for senior officer support for host nations in a variety of advisory roles. Appropriate military representation is required at many levels to command operations, provide staff support in coalition headquarters, and effect coordination. Our operational commitments have demanded increased number of officers at the rank of colonel and above to deploy, and hence numbers have increased in these higher ranks.

Armed Forces: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has sought legal advice on the status of the Minute of Separation under Scottish Law as the equivalent of the Decree for Judicial Separation in applying the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975. (323555)

Yes. Departmental legal advisers referred questions regarding the status of a Minute of Separation under Scottish Law to a Scottish firm of solicitors in April 2006. The advice given by the Scottish firm of solicitors was subsequently applied by the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (“the AFPS 1975”) scheme administrators in deciding an individual’s entitlement to restoration of widow’s pension under the AFPS 1975 rules.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what differences there are between the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 and the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 in respect of pension payments following the subsequent remarriage or co-habitation of widows. (323556)

Where a widow has been granted a non attributable pension under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (“AFPS 1975”), i.e.: in circumstances where the death of her husband was not attributable to service, and that widow subsequently marries or co-habits with another person, then the pension is no longer payable.

In cases where a widow has been granted an attributable pension under AFPS 75 where her husband’s death on or after 31 October 2000 was attributable to service, and that widow subsequently marries or co-habits with another person, her pension will remain in payment.

Under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (“AFPS 2005”), where a widow in receipt of a pension remarries or co-habits with another person, the pension payable under AFPS 2005 is unaffected.

Departmental Location

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what locations his Department's officials are based together with (a) Army, (b) Navy and (c) Royal Air Force staff. (322847)

The site level location data for service and civilian personnel are not held in a format that allows cross comparison. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. (323560)

On the announcement of a general election, the Cabinet Secretary issues guidance to Departments on their activities during the pre-election period. This will be published on the Cabinet Office website.

Regular statistical releases and reports will continue to be issued and published during the election period on dates which have been pre-announced.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma: Asylum

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of displaced people who have fled from Burma to Thailand since January 2010; whether he has had discussions with the government of Thailand on the safety and welfare of those people; and if he will make a statement. (323617)

We received reports of people fleeing from Burma to Thailand since January 2010 but the numbers are unconfirmed. Following news that Thailand was intending to force 3,000 refugees to return to Burma, our ambassador to Thailand raised this matter with the Thai authorities stressing the importance of adherence to international standards and to Thailand's international obligations. We understand that the Royal Thai Government decided not to deport the 30 families it had initially identified for removal. We continue to closely monitor the situation are coordinating closely with UN High Commission for Refugees, US and EU partners and will continue to raise the issue with Thai authorities.

Burma: United Nations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how often he receives reports from the EU Special Envoy on Burma on his activities; and if he will make a statement. (323621)

The EU Special Envoy for Burma, Piero Fassino, regularly reports to EU member states including on his 20 November 2009 meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation of Burma and his engagement with regional parliamentarians and officials in Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, also in November 2009. More recently, Mr. Fassino reported on the EU Troika meeting with the Burmese Foreign Minister in December 2009 and on his meetings with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and other partners, at the United Nations at the end of January 2010.

There are currently no plans to make a statement but the UK welcomes Mr. Fassino's continued efforts to communicate the EU's position to the Burmese authorities, countries in the region and international partners to try and bring positive change to Burma.

Israel: Foreign Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the Israeli ambassador the matter of adherence to diplomatic protocol in commenting on proceedings in Parliament and internal British political activities. (322131)

I have no plans to discuss these matters with the Israeli ambassador. He, like everyone else, is entitled to his views on proceedings in Parliament.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: Israel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the consideration by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development of Israel's application for membership. (322896)

The UK supports Israel's bid for accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. However, there remain a small number of issues, such as the scope of statistical data, which are being resolved in the course of the accession process.

Sudan: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the security situation in the Nuba mountain region of Sudan; and if he will make a statement. (323618)

We remain concerned by the ongoing instability and humanitarian suffering in the Nuba mountains region of Southern Kordofan. We continue to monitor the situation closely, including through visits to the area. The forthcoming elections period will be crucial: we note that the voting for Governor and the State Assembly in Southern Kordofan has been delayed until a new census can be carried out.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement provides for popular consultations to be held in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. These will be essential to ensuring a lasting peace in Southern Kordofan and across Sudan as a whole. The dates and format of these consultations, and the referendum in Abyei (the third of the Three Areas) are yet to be finalised by the parties. It is essential that this process is inclusive and takes account of the legitimate concerns of the regions' populations.

The UK continues to support projects to mitigate conflict and foster peace in the Three Areas and has committed £30 million over the next three years to provide basic services to households.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department will make the Single Payment Scheme payment to Mrs. Mary Wilkinson of Little Hadham, Hertfordshire for 2007; and if he will make a statement. (321616)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average cost was of processing a single payment in the latest period for which figures are available; and how many payments of less than that amount were made in that period. (322338)

The National Audit Office calculated the average cost for administering a Single Payment Scheme claim for the 2008 scheme year (England only) as £1,743.

29,897 claims under the Single Payment Scheme for 2008 scheme year (England only) had values equal to or less than £1,743. The values of claims could be adjusted however following the application of penalties or for over claims.

Carbon Emissions: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 9 February 2009, Official Report, column 1578W, on carbon emissions: waste disposal, what the reference number is of the research project; which body undertook the research; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the research report on estimating carbon dioxide emissions from domestic burning. (323085)

Research project ED431843 was undertaken by AEA Technology, and provides estimates of dioxin emissions from domestic burning. A copy of the research report has been placed in the House Library.

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to reply to correspondence from Richard D. Hall dated (a) 4 December 2009, (b) 6 December 2009, (c) 15 December 2009 and (d) 2 March 2010 on animal mutilation. (323907)

Neither DEFRA nor its agency, Animal Health, hold a record of having received correspondence of the dates referred to by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Anderson).

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) disciplinary and (b) capability procedures have been (i) initiated and (ii) completed in his Department in each of the last five years; how much time on average was taken to complete each type of procedure in each such year; how many and what proportion of his Department’s staff were subject to each type of procedure in each such year; and how many and what proportion of each type of procedure resulted in the dismissal of the member of staff. (320632)

The following tables show the number of disciplinary and capability procedures initiated and completed in each of the last five years. In this instance we are referring to capability as performance. They also show the number of staff dismissed in each of the years and percentage of staff subject to procedures who were dismissed for each of the procedures.

The following information is provided for DEFRA and its agencies:

Disciplinary

Initiated

Completed1

Proportion of staff2

Dismissed

Percentage dismissed

2009-10

69

55

0.7

6

9

2008-09

58

51

0.5

5

9

2007-08

43

43

0.4

12

30

2006-07

50

50

0.4

20

40

2005-06

34

34

0.3

11

32

1 Completed disciplinary cases short of dismissal would have concluded that the offences were either minor or serious misconduct and an appropriate warning or penalty would have been applied under DEFRA’s disciplinary procedures. Alternatively the Decision Officer would have determined that the evidence did not support, or the offence did not warrant, a formal disciplinary warning.

2 The proportion of total DEFRA staff where disciplinary cases have been initiated.

Capability

Initiated

Completed

Proportion of staff1

Dismissed

Percentage dismissed

2009-10

33

27

0.3

5

15

2008-09

35

28

0.3

5

23

2007-08

38

38

0.3

9

24

2006-07

30

30

0.2

10

34

2005-06

22

22

0.2

9

41

1 The proportion of total DEFRA staff where capability cases have been initiated.

Average time

Information for this element of the questions is not available in all cases, we are therefore unable to provide the information requested.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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. (322615)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on maintaining its (a) Flickr channel, (b) YouTube channel and (c) Twitter feed in the latest period for which figures are available. (322618)

The annual licence fee for DEFRA's Flickr channel is $24.95 (US dollars). There is no licence fee for DEFRA's YouTube channel. There are no other costs and both channels are maintained by in-house staff. DEFRA does not have a Twitter feed.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. (323461)

On the announcement of a general election, the Cabinet Secretary issues guidance to Departments on their activities during the pre-election period. This will be published on the Cabinet Office website.

Regular statistical releases and reports will continue to be issued and published during the election period on dates which have been pre-announced.

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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. (322567)

The 2009 People Survey results for the Department and its agencies are now available in the Library. The results for core DEFRA and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate are also available on their respective websites, as follows:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/work/staffsurvey/index.htm

http://www.vmd.gov.uk/About/StaffSurvey.htm

Departmental Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many thefts from his Department have been recorded in the last two years. (318987)

The following tables show items of official property reported as lost or stolen in 2008-09 and 2009-10 (to 24 February 2010 only).

Item

2008-09

2009-10

BlackBerrys

13

6

Cameras

6

1

CD/DVD writers

1

Docking stations

2

Hard Drives

5

Laptops

66

33

Mobile telephones

2

3

Projectors

8

3

Spider phone

6

Wacom Bamboo A5 Pen and tablet

1

Keyboard

2

Monitors

7

Tom Tom Device

2

Desktop PC

4

Binoculars

2

DEFRA takes the loss of equipment very seriously and advice and guidance is issued regularly about security in an effort to minimise losses.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) Ministers and (b) staff of each grade in (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies spent on first class travel in the last 12 months. (320401)

The following tables show the expenditure for first class air and rail travel for (a) Ministers and (b) staff of each grade, for core DEFRA and the agencies that use the Corporate Travel Framework contract, for the 12-month period of February 2009 to January 2010.

To identify spend by those agencies that do not use the Corporate Travel Framework or where it has been incurred outside these arrangements can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

(a) Ministers travel—February 2009 to January 2010

Expenditure (£)

Core DEFRA

14,850.64

(b) Staff travel—February 2009 to January 2010

Grade

Expenditure (£)

Animal Health Agency

5

535.14

6

2,162.26

7

3,474.50

AO

9,019.78

EO

1,261.14

HEO

803.22

SCS

2,096.14

SEO

1,188.11

Animal Health Agency total

20,540.29

Core DEFRA

5

36,832.46

6

88,169.88

7

257,929.78

AA

885.00

AO

6,375.38

EO

13,683.44

HEO

132,837.21

SCS

130,380.13

SEO

105,905.87

Core DEFRA total

757,281.32

Rural Payments Agency

5

4,281.12

6

73,242.89

7

123,106.59

AO

17,508.27

CX

79.00

EO

17,993.47

G6

3,343.88

G7

15,884.63

GR7

515.32

GRA

4,310.98

HEO

70,184.61

HMI

92.52

SCS

30,490.98

SEN

106.35

SEO

133,752.07

SHM

2,143.08

TEA

1,020.64

Rural Payments Agency total

498,056.40

Government Decontamination Service

5

38.82

6

801.10

7

1,439.68

AO

61.00

HEO

155.14

SEO

53.52

Government Decontamination Service total

2,365.76

Marine and Fisheries Agency

5

378.00

6

3,045.10

7

4,428.54

AO

854.64

EO

65.32

HEO

2,070.80

SCS

1,412.47

SEO

2,996.07

Marine and Fisheries Agency total

15,250.94

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Studies

7

1,363.65

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Studies total

1,363.65

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to remove the regulatory provisions which restrict councils collecting recyclable and residual waste from nearby household and business premises at the same time. (323152)

There are no regulatory provisions that prohibit local authorities collecting waste from household and business premises at the same time. However, we are aware that the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) has been cited as a barrier to the collection of waste from business premises by local authorities.

The consultation ‘Meeting EU Landfill Diversion Targets’ published on 18 March asks for views on the effectiveness of existing policies, including LATS. Responses from this consultation and further work by DEFRA will inform a second consultation later in the year on the most effective combination of policies to ensure that England meets its landfill diversion targets. We anticipate that the impact of LATS on council provision of waste services for businesses will be a consideration in this wider assessment of the policies needed to ensure England meets its landfill diversion targets.

Meanwhile, DEFRA is looking at ways to encourage greater recycling of waste from business premises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. In particular, we are funding the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to test a number of trade waste ‘Bring Banks’ and trade waste collection schemes to establish how some of the barriers to higher recycling can be most effectively overcome.

Foxes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the extent to which urban foxes cause (a) hygiene and (b) litter problems. (323135)

National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of each meeting of the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group in the last 24 months. (323151)

The National Fly-tipping Prevention Group consists of the representatives of landowner organisations, enforcement bodies and Government. It meets on a quarterly basis to advise and influence Government and to share best practice on the prevention of fly-tipping on public and private land.

The group recently created a website which provides information to anybody who wishes to prevent or deal with fly-tipping:

http://www.tacklingflytipping.com/

The most recent available sets of minutes have been placed in the House Library.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent to which the recycling industry can contribute towards meeting Courtauld II recycling targets in local authority areas; and if he will make a statement. (323701)

Phase II of the Courtauld Commitment includes a new target for a 10 per cent. reduction in the carbon impact of grocery packaging: an estimated 1.1 million tonne CO2 equivalent emissions reduction through reducing the weight, increasing the recycling rates and increasing the recycled content of grocery packaging.

This new target is a key contribution to our aim of optimising packaging reductions, wider eco-design and increasing recycling, as set out in the Packaging Strategy. It will encourage companies to take up recycled contents in their packaging—another objective of the Packaging Strategy.

Separate from the Courtauld Commitment, DEFRA and the devolved Administrations have recently published a consultation document proposing higher producer responsibility targets for packaging, covering 2011-20. The consultation seeks views on the extent to which the recycling industry (among others) can help achieve local recycling targets. The consultation can be found at

www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/packaging-regs/index.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authorities did not meet their targets for recycling waste in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what percentage of waste was recycled in each such area in that period. (323703)

During the 2008-09 period, 21 local authorities did not meet their target for recycling household waste in line with National Indicator 192. The targets and percentages of waste actually recycled in each of these authorities are shown in the following table:

Percentage

Local authority

Target

Actual

Bradford City MDC

29

26.31

Bristol City Council

37.3

35.52

Bury MBC

28

26.87

Croydon LB

28

27.71

Greenwich LB

43.4

42.09

Hammersmith and Fulham LB

28

27.84

Haringey LB

28

22.13

Hillingdon LB

35.5

35.32

Hounslow LB

25

23.6

Manchester City Council MBC

24

20.28

Newham LB

20

15.4

Plymouth City Council

31

30.04

Slough

26

25.68

South Gloucestershire Council

43

39.84

South Tyneside MBC

28.5

27.62

St. Helens MBC

30

28.78

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

28.7

26.84

Sunderland City Council MBC

28

25.59

Tameside MBC

30

28.78

Waltham Forest LB

34

27.84

Westminster City Council LB

25

23.04

Reptiles: Smuggling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many reptiles were seized by HM Revenue and Customs under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species in each year 2000; and how many were seized in each seizure. (322454)

The numbers of live reptiles seized by officers of HM Revenue and Customs under the convention of international trade in endangered species (CITES) for the financial years 2005-06 to 2008-09 are given in the following table.

Information on all CITES seizures made by the former HM Customs and Excise prior to 2005 is available on the DEFRA website at:

www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/wildlife/trade-crime/cites/action-uk.htm#enforcement

Seizures

Number of specimens

Seizures include

2005-06

27

1,336

501 Leopard tortoises

220 Caiman crocodiles

149 Royal pythons

170 Terrapins

2006-07

38

1,313

325 Terrapins

294 Spiny tailed lizards

138 Leopard tortoises

2007-08

21

347

200 Tortoises

2008-09

32

1,044

356 Turtles

111 Leopard tortoises

100 Hingeback tortoises

98 Spiny tailed lizards

Rodents

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the most recent survey on rodents derived from data from the English House Condition Survey to be published. (323150)

The next report covering the period up to 2007 will be available soon. Final revisions are under way and we aim for it to be available by the end of May 2010.

Trade Unions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many days staff of his Department and its agencies spent on trade union activity in the latest year for which figures are available; and what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of such activity. (320612)

We have interpreted ‘Trade Union Activity’ as the facility time DEFRA and our agencies provide to our trade union representatives.

DEFRA and our agencies currently provide trade union representatives with approximately 6,805 days facility time annually.

For the year 2009-10 the cost to the Department has been estimated as £1,200,000.

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of each response to his Department's consultation on household waste incentive scheme (a) application and designation guidance, (b) technical issues guidance, (c) finance guidance, (d) coverage and disadvantaged groups guidance and (e) unauthorised deposit or disposal guidance. (323053)

Copies of responses received to the Department's June 2008 informal consultation on draft guidance for waste reduction schemes will be made available in the Library in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who the respondents were to his Department's consultation on (a) incentives for recycling by households of May 2007, (b) draft guidance on household waste incentive schemes of June 2008 and (c) statutory good recycling service guidance of September 2008. (323054)

The list of respondents for the Consultation on the Incentives for Recycling by Households, May 2007, can be found in the summary of responses which is available on DEFRA's website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/strategy/incentives/documents/incentives-responses-summary2007.pdf

The respondents to the informal consultation on draft guidance, June 2008, are as listed. Some respondents submitted more than one response.

Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association

Association of Charity Shops

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Birmingham City Council

Bromsgrove District Council (did not comment on consultation documents)

Cambridgeshire County Council

Campaign for Real Recycling

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

County Surveyors Society

Coventry City Council

ESRC BRASS Centre, Cardiff University

GMB Union

Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority

Hampshire County Council

Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee

London Borough of Sutton

Norfolk County Council

Paediatric Continence Forum

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

Responses from private individuals

South Gloucestershire Council (did not comment on consultation documents)

Waste Watch

The list of respondents to the formal consultation on statutory Good Recycling Service guidance, September 2008, can be found in the summary of responses which is available on DEFRA's website:

www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/strategy/incentives/documents/summary-consultation-responses.pdf

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2010, Official Report, column 322W, on waste disposal: fees and charges, if he will place in the Library a copy of each response received to the informal consultation on draft guidance except the responses received from private individuals. (323532)

Copies of responses received to the Department’s June 2008 informal consultation on draft guidance for waste reduction schemes will be made available in the House Library in due course.

Waste Disposal: Public Opinion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been commissioned by (a) his Department, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) the Waste and Resources Action Programme on public attitudes to (i) waste collection and (ii) waste disposal in the last three years; and what the (A) title and (B) completion date of each such research project was. (323180)

DEFRA commissioned the following projects on public attitudes to waste collection and waste disposal in the last three years:

Building Greater Understanding of the Techniques and Processes Required to Promote Sustainable Waste Management through Behaviour Change Programme—completed June 2008.

The Organic Waste Use Collection—completed October 2007.

Enhancing Participation in Kitchen Waste Collection—completed March 2010.

Attitudes to the Use of Organic Resources on Land—completed February 2009.

Tracker Survey of Public Attitudes and Behaviour Towards the Environment—completed September 2009.

Testing Innovative Approaches for Achieving Sustainable Behaviours - Maiden Lane Gardens Food-Loop project—ongoing.

The Environment Agency has not carried out any research in this area.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) undertook the following projects:

Consumer Attitudes to Waste and Recycling Services. The conclusions from this research were used to inform the development of the Waste Collection Commitment—completed in September 2009.

Barriers to Recycling at Home—completed in August 2008.

Transport

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much his Department and its agencies have spent on rooms for staff leisure in each of the last five years. (324427)

Departmental Food

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport 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. (323072)

The Department for Transport conducts its procurement in accordance with UK Government's value for money policies and principles, utilising collaborative arrangements where these are available and in accordance with the legal and regulatory framework.

The Department and its agencies generally provide staff catering and vending services via either an estates private finance initiative or facilities management contracts. These provisions are typically provided on a commercial basis and are not directly subsidised, and they operate in a competitive environment.

For example, the Department's HQ facilities management contract requires the contractor to comply with Government guidance on sustainable food and farming in the delivery of the contract. The contract requires the contractor to take account of the various Government food initiatives, and directs them to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs websites, where the contractor is encouraged to consider higher level schemes such as The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Freedom Foods standards.

Another example is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's estates private finance initiative contract, which requires the service provider to comply with the sustainable food procurement initiative and other Government guidance on food and farming in delivery of the service.

As and when each of the Department's catering contracts needs to be renewed, consideration will be given to emerging higher level welfare standards when specifying replacement contracts.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether the dates of publication of any regular statistics or reports by his Department have been affected by planning for the forthcoming general election. (323455)

On the announcement of a general election, the Cabinet Secretary issues guidance to Departments on their activities during the pre-election period. This will be published on the Cabinet Office website.

Regular statistical releases and reports will continue to be issued and published during the election period on dates which have been pre-announced.

Departmental Theft

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to deter theft from within the Department. (322655)

The Department for Transport has in place access control measures in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance, issues staff awareness guidance on its Intranet and provides lockable pedestals and personal lockers. It operates a clear desk policy, ensuring that all personal or sensitive material is locked away at the end of each working day. Reminders on security awareness are disseminated to employees via security liaison officers within the Department teams and 24/7 security staff are employed at principal sites within the Department.

Electronic Warfare

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of an electromagnetic pulse strike caused (a) deliberately and (b) through solar activity on the critical infrastructure of his Department. (321758)

The Government's Cyber Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, published alongside and reflected in the National Security Strategy update of June 2009, considers a number of methods of cyber attack, including those that generate high levels of radio frequency power that can damage or disrupt unprotected electronics.

In addition, the Communications Electronic Security Group (CESG) provides Government Departments with advice and guidance on how to protect against, detect and mitigate various types of cyber attack.

It is not in the interests of the UK's national security for this Department to confirm whether it holds information about assessments of the effects of an electromagnetic pulse. Such disclosure could undermine the integrity and security of the UK's critical national infrastructure and thereby expose it to potential threats, which is not in the public interest.

High Speed Two

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent representations he has received on the route for the High Speed Two rail link; and if he will make a statement. (323478)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has spoken to a number of stakeholders, including representatives of the Chilterns Conservation Board and the National Trust, as well as Members of this House whose constituencies lie on the recommended route. The Department for Transport also receives general correspondence covering many policy areas, including high speed rail and the conurbations it may serve, from a number of individuals, organisations and companies.

In identifying its recommended route for a high speed rail line from London to the west midlands, HS2 Ltd. held confidential discussions with relevant county and local planning authorities regarding specific options. A summary list and the full text of various detailed submissions which stakeholders submitted during the engagement process undertaken by HS2 Ltd. was published alongside the Command Paper.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what costs his Department has incurred in the preparation of High Speed Two proposals for a new rail line linking London with the West Midlands. (323699)

HS2 Ltd.'s budget for the period between 14 January 2009 and the end of the 2009-10 financial year is £8.6 million.

In addition, existing staff and budget resources within the Department for Transport were deployed in the preparation of the Command Paper, ‘High Speed Rail’.

High Speed Two: Job Creation

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the likely number of construction jobs that will be created by High Speed Two. (323712)

HS2 Ltd.’s report, published by the Government on 11 March 2010, estimates that around 10,000 jobs could be created during construction, with a further 2,000 permanent jobs through operation of High Speed Two.

Should High Speed Two be taken forward, Government will work with industry to draw up a High Speed Rail Industrial Strategy, including the establishment of a high level supply chain forum. Further details can be found in chapter 12 of the High Speed Rail Command Paper (CM 7827), copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Network Rail: Industrial Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) employees and (b) contractors of Network Rail have been (i) killed and (ii) injured at work in each year since its inception; and what cause was attributed to each incident. (323728)

Accidents and incidents on the railways are reported to the independent Office of Rail Regulation under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR 95).

Table 1 lists the number of Network Rail employees and its contractors fatally injured while undertaking railway operations reported to the independent Office of Rail Regulation. These data exclude such employees fatally injured in road traffic accidents and fatalities arising out of a railway under construction, the latter being reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

The data also exclude other railway employees (e.g. train crew) that have been fatally injured on Network Rail infrastructure. Table 2 lists all reportable railway employee fatalities that have occurred on Network Rail infrastructure since Network Rail was formed in October 2002 to the end of 2008.

Injury data for Network Rail employees and contractors, and information on the cause of each incident could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Table 1: Fatalities to Network Rail employees and contractors October 2002-08

Network Rail employee

Network Rail contractor

Total

2002 (October to December)

0

0

0

2003

0

4

4

2004

0

8

8

2005

0

3

3

2006

0

1

1

2007

2

0

2

2008

0

2

2

Table 2: Fatalities to railway employees on Network Rail infrastructure October 2002-08

Number

2002 (October to December)

0

2003

4

2004

10

2005

5

2006

3

2007

2

2008

2

Network Rail: Manpower

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many staff were employed at Network Rail in each year since its inception. (323722)

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

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

Kings Place

90 York Way

London, N1 9AG.

Railway Signals

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many signals passed at danger incidents have occurred in each of the last five years. (323718)

The number of signals passed at danger incidents that have occurred in each of the last five years are shown in the following table.

Number of signals passed at danger

2005

338

2006

349

2007

325

2008

330

2009

261

Since the introduction of the Train Protection and Warning System, there has been a significant and sustained reduction in the risk from signals passed at danger.

Railway Signals: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many signals passed at danger incidents were attributable to (a) driver error, (b) defective signals, (c) obscured signals or (d) another cause in each of the last five years. (323730)

There have been no fatalities or injuries caused by signals passed at danger on Britain's railways in the last five years, and the numbers of signals passed at danger are decreasing year on year. Information on specific causes of these incidents could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) fatalities, (b) injuries and (c) incidents of damage to property have been caused by signals passed at danger incidents in each of the last five years. (323731)

There have been no fatalities or injuries caused by signals passed at danger on Britain’s railways in the last five years.

Data for incidents of damage to property caused by signals passed at danger are not held.

Railways: Accidents

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) drivers, (b) conductors or other train staff and (c) passengers have been (i) killed and (ii) injured in railway accidents that did not occur within railway stations in each of the last 10 years; and what cause was attributed to each incident. (323727)

Accidents and incidents on the railways are reported to the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR 95). Under these regulations, the geographical location of the accident/ incident is recorded. There is no further breakdown of location into a sub-category, e.g. station, signal box, on the line. Therefore, the breakdown of the data for accidents that have not occurred at stations and the cause of each accident could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, the number of fatal injuries and non fatal injuries for the period 1999 to 2008 for all railway employees, including contractors, and passengers that have occurred on railway infrastructure can be provided and is shown in Tables 1 and 2. The data for railway employees have been broken down into train drivers, conductors and other train crew and other railway employees.

Table 1: Fatal injuries, passengers and railway employees 1999 to 2008, all railways

Passengers

Train drivers

Conductors and other train crew

Other railway employees

Total

1999

54

2

0

3

59

2000

15

0

0

4

19

2001

17

2

2

5

26

2002

23

0

0

4

27

2003

13

1

0

4

18

2004

13

1

0

9

23

2005

10

2

0

2

16

2006

8

2

1

1

12

2007

6

0

0

2

8

2008

5

0

0

4

9

Table 2: Non-fatal injuries, passengers and railway employees 1999 to 2008, all railways

Passengers

Train drivers

Conductors and other train crew

Other railway employees

Total

1999

2,737

426

182

1,875

5,220

2000

2,697

401

164

1,958

5,220

2001

2,564

409

141

1,884

4,998

2002

2,485

380

151

1,953

4,969

2003

2,550

372

167

1,809

4,898

2004

2,627

327

280

1,693

4,927

2005

2,800

326

258

1,695

5,079

2006

2,539

291

241

1,215

4,286

2007

2,801

209

263

959

4,232

2008

2,489

247

225

836

3,797

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) fatalities, (b) injuries and (c) incidents of damage to property on the railways have been recorded in each of the last five years; and what cause was attributed to each incident. (323729)

The number of fatalities and injuries on the railways for the period 2004-08 is shown in Tables 1 and 2. The information is based on accidents notified to the independent Office of Rail Regulation under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR 95).

Table 1: Fatal injuries, 2004-08

Number

Category

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Passengers

13

10

8

6

5

Railway employees1

10

6

4

2

4

Other members of the public

12

17

11

14

19

Trespassers and suicides

253

281

320

287

291

Total

288

314

343

309

319

1 Includes contractors.

Table 2: Non-fatal injuries, 2004-08

Number

Category

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Passengers

2,627

2,800

2,539

2,801

2,489

Railway employees1

2,300

2,279

1,747

1,431

1,308

Other members of the public

69

60

73

51

58

Trespassers and suicides

132

127

140

122

156

Total

5,128

5,266

4,499

4,405

4,011

1 Includes contractors.

The number of incidents of damage to property is neither reported or held by the independent Office of Rail Regulation.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the last 100 railway incidents reported to the Office of Rail Regulation, Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate and the Health and Safety Executive were in each constituent part of the UK. (323733)

In line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is unable to provide information on the last 100 incidents reported to them.

Statements of how ORR is following the code can be found on its website at:

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1862

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) individuals, (b) firms, (c) companies and (d) other organisations have been prosecuted for breaches of (i) health and safety and (ii) other legislation in respect of railway incidents in each year since its inception. (323734)

Since its inception as the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways on 1 April 2006, the independent Office of Rail Regulation has brought 20 successful prosecutions for breaches of health and safety legislation in respect of railway incidents. Details of these prosecutions can be found on the independent Office of Rail Regulation’s website at:

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk

The independent Office of Rail Regulation has not brought any prosecutions for breaches of other legislation.

Details of prosecutions taken by the Health and Safety Executive prior to 2006 can be found in the Health and Safety Executive annual reports on railway safety, copies of which are available from the Libraries of the House.

Railways: Fares

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent progress has been made on the provision of through tickets; and if he will make a statement. (323600)

Each train operator's passenger licence requires them to be a party to, and comply with, arrangements for through tickets approved by the Secretary of State.

The arrangements are contained in an inter-operator agreement called the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement and ensure that through tickets are available to all other rail destinations in Great Britain. There are also arrangements for through tickets to other networks including, for example, the London Underground.

Road Traffic: Severn Bridge

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport when his Department last assessed the traffic flows across the Severn crossings. (323583)

The Highways Agency reviews traffic flow data on a monthly basis which is collected by Severn River Crossing plc, the operator for the crossings.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what information his Department holds on the volume of traffic moving across the Severn crossings at different times of the day. (323584)

The Highways Agency holds traffic data broken down into hourly, daily and monthly flows for westbound traffic on the Severn crossings.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the average number of vehicles using the Severn crossings at each time of day; and if he will make a statement. (323585)

Vehicle numbers are counted in the westbound direction as part of the toll collection, which is in that direction only. The average numbers of westbound vehicles using the Severn crossings during 2009 for each hour of the day are given in the following table:

Severn crossings: Average hourly vehicle flow during 2009 (westbound)

Time

Vehicle flows

00:00-01:00

344

01:00-02:00

240

02:00-03:00

200

03:00-04:00

180

04:00-05:00

214

05:00-06:00

365

06:00-07:00

841

07:00-08:00

1,663

08:00-09:00

1,891

09:00-10:00

1,864

10:00-11:00

1,958

11:00-12:00

2,140

12:00-13:00

2,269

13:00-14:00

2,356

14:00-15:00

2,478

15:00-16:00

2,776

16:00-17:00

3,384

17:00-18:00

3,555

18:00-19:00

2,867

19:00-20:00

1,821

20:00-21:00

1,345

21:00-22:00

1,004

22:00-23:00

757

23:00-24:00

530

Total

37,042

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many vehicles in each charging category travel across the Severn crossings on average each day at each time of day. (323586)

Vehicle numbers are counted in the westbound direction as part of the toll collection, which is in that direction only. The average hourly flows of vehicles in each charging category travelling westbound during 2009 across the Severn crossings are detailed in the following table.

Severn crossings: average hourly flows during 2009 (westbound)

Time

Class1 (£5.50)

Class2 (£10.90)

Class3 (£16.40)

Exempt

00:00-01:00

242

20

80

3

01:00-02:00

136

18

83

3

02:00-03:00

93

17

88

2

03:00-04:00

70

19

89

1

04:00-05:00

78

23

110

2

05:00-06:00

133

51

177

4

06:00-07:00

421

156

257

7

07:00-08:00

1,101

285

260

16

08:00-09:00

1,401

238

237

15

09:00-10:00

1,416

201

233

14

10:00-11:00

1,519

189

232

18

11:00-12:00

1,694

193

236

19

12:00-13:00

1,795

206

246

22

13:00-14:00

1,857

227

249

23

14:00-15:00

1,952

254

247

26

15:00-16:00

2,221

295

228

31

16:00-17:00

2,807

329

202

47

17:00-18:00

3,087

250

167

52

18:00-19:00

2,525

164

142

36

19:00-20:00

1,573

106

122

20

20:00-21:00

1,147

77

109

12

21:00-22:00

836

54

104

10

22:00-23:00

618

39

93

7

23:00-24:00

415

27

84

3

Total

29,137

3,438

4,075

393

Roads: Tolls

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what funding his Department has received for (a) the road pricing demonstration projects and (b) other funds associated with national road pricing in each of the last five years; and how much he expects to receive for such projects in each of the last five years. (319660)

The Department for Transport has received no funding in connection with the Demonstrations Project or with any other work it has done on road pricing.

Speed Limits

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress his Department has made on the development of a digital road map containing speed limit data; and when he expects such a map to be available to the public. (323934)

The Department for Transport has completed development of a draft technical document that gives traffic authorities guidance on how to collect and manage digital speed limit data in a nationally consistent way. This draft is being tested through pilots, first in Lancashire as part of a Road Safety Partnership Grant-funded project looking at an advisory form of Intelligent Speed Adaptation, and more recently through a second pilot with Greater Manchester, building on work they have started as part of their review of A and B road speed limits. The technical document will be made available to authorities to use following any necessary post-pilot revisions.

Transport Innovation Fund: Reading Berkshire

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what correspondence his Department has had with Reading borough council on its bid for funds from the Transport Innovation Fund in each month of 2010. (324024)

The Department for Transport exchanged correspondence with Reading borough council in January 2010 about economic appraisal issues relating to their proposal for a Low Emission Zone, which formed part of the council’s bid to the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) submitted at the end of January 2010.

The Department also received in January 2010 a request from the council for additional pump-priming funding for work on modelling and the economic and environmental appraisal of options relating to development of their TIF proposals. The Department replied in February 2010 confirming the award of funding for this work.

The Department wrote to Reading borough council about their TIF bid in March 2010 following the announcement that a new Urban Challenge Fund will replace TIF. A copy of the letter sent to the council is available on the Department’s website under the heading ‘Transport Innovation Fund’ at:

www.dft.gov.uk/foi/responses/2010.

Unite

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what (a) facilities and (b) staff time (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies provide to trade union staff representatives of Unite; and at what annual cost to his Department. (323960)

The Department for Transport has staff represented by Unite at the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA).

In relation to VOSA:

(a) Unite staff have access to and use of the same standard office facilities as other staff

(b) 129 days (equal to 0.59 full-time equivalent) were allocated in year 2009-10

The estimated salary costs were £15,400 for 2009-10

GCDA allow official trade union representatives paid time off to carry out union duties relating to GCDA and relevant training to carry out official duties. GCDA can provide further information relating to annual costs only at disproportionate cost.

Work and Pensions

Departmental Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department has spent under each budget heading on the recruitment of additional staff in response to the recession in each of the last two years. (322176)

The amount spent on recruitment by the Department in response to the recession in the last two years cannot be provided, as recruitment costs are not recorded separately within our financial systems.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 3 November 2009, Official Report, column 816W, on departmental telephone services, whether her Department awarded contracts for the provision of services relating to its main customer contact number. (324117)

All telephony services are provided to the Department under a contract with BT; this contract covers all customer contact numbers.

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what methodology her Department used to determine whether answers to Questions in the formulation “if she will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member’s constituency the effects on that constituency of her Department’s policies since 1997” could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if she will make a statement. (323876)

When deciding whether a response to a parliamentary question is likely to incur disproportionate cost, DWP staff follow the guidance set by the Cabinet Office which is as follows:

Disproportionate cost

7.26 There is an advisory cost limit known as the disproportionate cost threshold (DCT) which is the level above which Departments can refuse to answer a PQ. The current disproportionate cost threshold for written questions (the limit does not apply to oral questions) is £800 (from 20 January 2010)6.

7.27 Since 1991 the disproportionate cost threshold (DCT) has been set by HM Treasury at eight times the average marginal cost of answering Written Parliamentary Questions. Marginal cost is judged as the direct cost of civil servants’ time. Average marginal cost is based on a one-month sample of all Written parliamentary Questions answered by those departments with the highest volume of questions. Such samples are taken on a quinquennial basis. In years between quinquennial samples, the Treasury applies indexation to the DCT, but only increases it in £50 steps to avoid the need for frequent small changes. HM Treasury has established the average cost of answering of a written PQ as £154.00 and an oral question as £425.00.

7.28 Where officials are recommending that a question is not answered due to disproportionate cost, a note setting out the reasons, justifications and the full costs should be provided to the responsible Minister. The cost estimate should be based on a calculation of the cost of civil servants of the relevant grade working for the required length of time to assemble the information. Cabinet Office guidance for officials drafting answers to PQs refers to the fact that ‘where information is being refused on the grounds of disproportionate cost, there should be a presumption that any of the requested information which is readily available should be provided.’ A Minister may still decide to answer a question, even if providing the answer results in costs above the DCT, for example, on public interest grounds.

7.29 It is practice in some departments to agree to provide a Member information initially refused (on disproportionate cost grounds) by paying the balance over the disproportionate cost threshold. However, this option may not be available if the relevant officials would not in practice be available to do the work.

7.30 It should be noted that the ‘disproportionate cost’ answer is intended to be used where the information is held in an accessible form but is expensive to identify. It is not for cases where the information is not held at all (in the latter case the answer would say ‘the information is not held’ or similar).

7.31 The suggested wording for a disproportionate cost answer is:

“The information is not readily available/held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.”

Newspaper Licensing Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what payment from (a) her Department and (b) each of its agencies to the Newspaper Licensing Agency was made in each of the last 10 years. (315587)

The Department for Work and Pensions was created in June 2001. The payments made to the Newspaper Licensing Agency (excluding VAT) in each full year since then are set out in the following table. The press cuttings to which they refer cover the whole range of the Department's businesses including the Pension, Disability and Carers Service, and Jobcentre Plus.

The volume of cuttings has increased considerably throughout the recession as mentions of the work of Jobcentre Plus have increased. Since December 2008 this has also included coverage from regional titles. A review of the Department's licensing arrangements for press cuttings is currently under way.

£

2002-03

33,959

2003-04

63,471

2004-05

70,578

2005-06

93,781

2006-07

90,141

2007-08

94,631

2008-09

153,189

2009-10

208,027

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many and what proportion of those employed in the (a) public and (b) private sector were contributing to a pension plan in each of the last 10 years; (321491)

(2) how many and what proportion of (a) public and (b) private sector employees had no pension provision in each of the last 10 years.

The available information is set out in the following tables. These estimates relate to employee pension participation in employer-sponsored pension schemes and the data are presented at the employee jobs level rather than an individual level, as an individual may have more than one job and the pension provision may vary between jobs. In the circumstances, there may be some double counting both within and between sectors for those employees with more than one job.

(a) Number of public sector employee jobs by pension provision

Total with pension provision1 (thousand)

Percentage

Total without pension provision (thousand)

Percentage

1997

4,855

79

1,259

21

1998

4,954

79

1,306

21

1999

5,158

81

1,234

19

2000

5,230

82

1,179

18

2001

5,170

82

1,156

18

2002

5,216

81

1,220

19

2003

5,427

82

1,162

18

2004

5,257

84

970

16

2005

5,543

84

1,085

16

2006

5,556

84

1,040

16

2007

5,703

84

1,055

16

2008

5,755

84

1,063

16

2009

5,930

84

1,116

16

1 All employees including those whose pay was affected by absence.

Notes:

1. 1997 is the first year for which ASHE pension membership data are available.

2. Public sector includes central Government, local authorities, public corporations and nationalised industries.

3. Figures will include some employees who are members of a pension scheme but not making an employee contribution, for example through a salary sacrifice scheme.

4. Figures for number of jobs are for indicative purposes only and should not be considered an accurate estimate of employee job counts.

Source:

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), United Kingdom.

(b) Number of private sector employee jobs by pension provision

Total with pension provision1 (thousand)

Percentage

Total without pension provision (thousand)

Percentage

1997

7,854

46

9,128

54

1998

8,034

46

9,427

54

1999

8,220

46

9,592

54

2000

8,363

46

9,763

54

2001

8,530

46

9,911

54

2002

8,872

48

9,537

52

2003

8,637

47

9,734

53

2004

8,007

44

10,007

56

2005

7,861

42

10,694

58

2006

7,942

43

10,722

57

2007

7,845

41

11,291

59

2008

7,576

39

11,764

61

2009,

6,957

37

11,655

63

1 All employees including those whose pay was affected by absence.

Notes:

1. 1997 is the first year for which ASHE pension membership data are available.

2. Private sector includes employees from private companies, sole proprietors, partnerships, and non-profit institutions serving households.

3. Figures will include some employees who are members of a pension scheme but not making an employee contribution, for example through a salary sacrifice scheme.

4. Figures for number of jobs are for indicative purposes only and should not be considered an accurate estimate of employee job counts.

Source:

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), United Kingdom.

Unemployment Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new claims there were for (a) incapacity benefit and (b) employment and support allowance in each year since 1997. (317648)

We are currently looking closely at the process of migrating incapacity benefits customers to employment and support allowance, to develop a detailed strategy.

We are using the work capability assessment in employment and support allowance to fairly and accurately assess an individual's functional capability and therefore their entitlement to benefit. The assessment will correctly identify those people who have limited capability for work because of a physical or mental health condition, and will ensure that people who are able to undertake work related activity receive the support they need to help them prepare to get into work.

The available information is in the tables.

Number of incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance commencements—Great Britain and abroad since 1997

Number of commencements

1997

981,100

1998

849,700

1999

815,400

2000

791,900

2001

762,600

2002

726,300

2003

707,500

2004

673,700

2005

626,100

2006

603,900

2007

619,000

2008

560,700

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Years are based on the sum of four quarters ending February, May, August and November.

3. Employment and support allowance replaced incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008.

4. Data will include those claimants who make another claim to incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance within 90 days of their previous claim terminating.

Source:

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

Number of employment and support allowance commencements—Great Britain and abroad

Number of commencements

2008

54,150

Total 2009 (year to date)1

466,970

1 Provisional

Source: Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate 100 per cent. Work and Pensions Longitudinal Survey

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest ten.

2. Data published at

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

3. Employment and support allowance replaced incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008.

4. Data are only available for the first three quarters of 2009, so the 2009 total is the total in the year to date.

5. The figures relating to employment support allowance have been thoroughly quality assured to National Statistics standard. However it should be noted that this is a new benefit using a new data source which may not have reached steady state in terms of operational processing and retrospection. Hence most recent data shown are provisional.

Vocational Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations she has received on the introduction of a local student, local provider approach to residential training centres; and what recent assessment she has made of the likely effect of the introduction of this approach on (a) the employment prospects of participants with a disability and (b) the level of funding provided for residential training centres. (323003)

Residential training college providers were first informed in January 2009 that their current contracts are due to finish in 2011, and that future contracts will be awarded following an open competition.

Department officials have engaged with existing and potential providers on numerous occasions to discuss the future provision. We are also actively considering how best to engage customers (service users) as we progress this work.

We know from evaluation undertaken in 2006 that residential courses tend to exclude some customers, including those who have caring responsibilities. 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.

Currently coverage is uneven; there is no provision in Scotland, Wales and the North West of England. The new contracts offer an important opportunity to provide a better geographical coverage, which will be an important aim of the open competition. It will also help ensure that potential customers of this expensive provision are not disadvantaged because of where they live. We want to use this opportunity to increase the focus on employment, seeing more people helped into work, as well as obtaining better value for money.

Following open competition and a broadening of the supplier base, we anticipate that more customers will be able to access this provision locally, which in turn will enable a significant reduction in the unit cost.

The Department is responsible for ensuring it achieves the best value for money for any provision it contracts for. This is done through its Commissioning Strategy and by using open competition to procure any new provision. We recognise that the existing residential training providers funding may be affected by the open competition but, in the same way as other potential providers, they will be able to submit a bid to deliver the provision if they wish to do so. We have given current residential training providers over two years notice so that they can plan ahead.

International Development

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what methodology his Department used to determine whether answers to questions in the formulation “if he will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member's constituency the effects on that constituency of his Department's policies since 1997” could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. (323868)

No such parliamentary questions have been tabled to the Secretary of State for International Development.

Developing Countries: Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to seek to ensure adequate levels of funding for research and development of new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to reduce the number of cases of MDR and XDR tuberculosis in developing countries. (323670)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is providing £24.5 million, from 2006 to 2013, to the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development (TBA). The TBA is a not-for-profit public private partnership developing new tuberculosis drugs that will shorten treatment, be effective against susceptible and resistant strains of tuberculosis and be compatible with antiretroviral therapies for those patients who are co-infected with HIV and tuberculosis.

DFID is also providing £12 million to the Tropical Disease Research special programme at WHO, from 2008 to 2013. The work of this programme has included accelerating the development of new diagnostics, including tuberculosis, and gaining evidence about how best to combine therapy for HIV and tuberculosis co-infection.

Iraq: Depleted Uranium

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will place in the Library (a) a copy of the letter from the Minister of State of 3 September 2009 on depleted uranium and (b) other material held by his Department relevant to a possible connection between the use of depleted uranium and alleged increases in the incidence of (i) birth defects and (ii) cancer in Fallujah; (323357)

(2) what assessment he has made of claims that the incidence of (a) birth defects and (b) cancer has increased amongst residents of Fallujah as a result of the use of depleted uranium; and if he will make a statement.

I will place in the Library a copy of the letter by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) of 3 September 2009.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has consulted a number of international and Iraqi organisations with expertise in the health sector in Fallujah about alleged increases in birth defects in Fallujah. These organisations have confirmed to DFID that they are not aware of any reliable data that show such an increase in birth defects. DFID is not aware of any reliable data that demonstrate an increase in cases of cancer in Fallujah and has not carried out an assessment.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many smoking shelters have been built for his Department’s staff in the last five years; and at what cost. (324362)

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what methodology his Department used to determine whether answers to Questions in the formulation if he will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member’s constituency the effects on that constituency of his Department’s policies since 1997 could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. (323860)

The Department seeks to answer all parliamentary questions that do not incur disproportionate cost. Disproportionate cost is determined via a disproportionate cost threshold (DCT). The current DCT is £800, announced in Parliament by the Treasury on 20 January 2010.

A standard template was devised for use in response to all such questions. This standard template drew on a pre-existing central repository of departmental information, with contributions from NDPBs where appropriate. Using a standard template, which could be modified depending on the constituency, ensured that relevant information could be provided but in a format and content that did not incur disproportionate cost.

Energy and Climate Change

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 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. (323069)

This Department adheres wherever possible to the key objectives of the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI), which advises public sector bodies how they can specify higher animal welfare standards, including farm assurance schemes and higher level schemes such as the RSPCA's Freedom Foods standards. BaxterStorey, our contracted catering supplier for DECC, are committed to buying 100 per cent. British meat, both reared and processed, and are accredited to the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Scheme, demonstrating robust support for enhanced animal welfare, environmental responsibility, quality produce and supporting British producers.

All eggs used by and provided by BaxterStorey to DECC are British and free range, and all milk used in the kitchens, cafes and hospitality service is British.

Information about the Department's non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Fossil Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the levies on fossil fuels necessary to fund the Renewable Heat Incentive in each of the next five years. (321461)

[holding answer 10 March 2010]: Government are looking at options of how best to fund the Renewable Heat Incentive and we will make a further announcement at Budget 2010. At this stage we cannot say for sure what the impact upon fossil fuels will be.

Based on the current proposals for the Renewable Heat Incentive, our estimates of the costs of the RHI financial support for the next five years are:

£56 million in 2011;

£136 million in 2012;

£263 million in 2013;

£456 million in 2014;

£717 million in 2015.

Note:

2009 prices: undiscounted

Gas and Electricity Markets Authority: Finsbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 929W, on the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority: public relations, what documents Finsbury has produced for Ofgem as part of its contract in the last 12 months. (324305)

None. Ofgem has made no payment to Finsbury for communications related activities since 2004-05.

Radioactive Waste: Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what quantity of high activity radioactive waste has been returned to each port in each country of origin in 2010; and whether all of the radioactive waste in each consignment arose directly from the reprocessing of imported spent nuclear fuel. (323346)

Two shipments each consisting of 28 high level waste (HLW) canisters in one transport flask, with each canister (vitrified waste and stainless steel) weighing up to 550 kg, have been returned to date in 2010. One shipment was made to Mutsu Ogawara in Japan the other to Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

The HLW being returned is a blend of the HLW arising from the reprocessing of overseas and UK spent nuclear fuel. The amount being returned to each country, in an overall programme expected to last some 10 years, is commensurate with the relevant amount of spent fuel sent to Sellafield for reprocessing.

In accordance with the UK's policy of waste substitution, overseas intermediate and low level waste will remain in the UK and an additional radiologically equivalent amount of HLW will be substituted and returned in its place.

In the case of the shipment to the Netherlands, as this was the only shipment of HLW due to be returned there, it included this additional amount of substituted HLW.

Over the programme to return HLW to Japan, the return of substituted HLW will take place.

The details of the status of individual customers' HLW returns is a commercial matter between the parties involved.

Wind Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many wind farms there are in each county in England. (321369)

There are a total of 128 wind farms in England spread over the following counties.

County

Wind farms

Buckinghamshire

1

Cambridgeshire

10

City of Bristol

1

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

13

Cumbria

15

Derbyshire

1

Devon

3

Durham

14

Essex

1

Gloucestershire

2

Greater London

1

Kent

1

Lancashire

5

Lincolnshire

13

London

1

Merseyside

3

Norfolk

5

Northamptonshire

1

Northumberland

3

Nottinghamshire

2

Oxfordshire

1

Berkshire

1

Shropshire

1

Somerset

2

Staffordshire

1

Suffolk

2

Tyne and Wear

3

Wiltshire

1

Worcestershire

2

Yorkshire

18

Justice

Alcoholic Drinks: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many retailers have been prosecuted for selling (a) alcohol and (b) cigarettes to minors in England in each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement. (323633)

I have been asked to reply.

The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts in England for ‘sale of, or allowing the sale of, alcohol to a person aged under 18' and ‘sale of tobacco to underage persons' in England from 2005 to 2008 (latest available) can be viewed in Tables 1 and 2.

Court proceedings data for 2009 will be available in the autumn of 2010.

Table 1: Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts for sale, or allowing the sale, of alcohol to a person under 181, England, 2005-082, 3

Number

2005

997

2006

1,084

2007

630

2008

412

1 Data include the following offence descriptions and corresponding statutes: Selling etc. intoxicating liquor to person under 18 for consumption on the premises—Licensing Act 1964 S. 169 A and B as added by Licensing (Young Persons) Act 2000 S. 1 Licensing (Occasional Permissions) Act 1983 S.3 (Sch. Para. 4(1)). Sale of alcohol to person under 18—Licensing Act 2003 S. 146. Allowing sale of alcohol to person under 18—Licensing Act 2003 S. 147. Wholesaler selling intoxicating liquor to a person under 18—Licensing Act 1964 S. 181A(1) as added by Licensing Act 1988 S. 17. Persistently selling alcohol to children—Licensing Act 2003 S. 147A as added by Violent Crime reduction Act 2006. 2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police forces and courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. 3 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice.

Table 2: Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts for selling tobacco to underage persons, England, 2005-081, 2, 3

Offence description

Statute

2005

2006

20073

2008

Sale of tobacco etc. to persons under 16 years

Children and Young Persons Act 1933, section 7, as amended by Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991

77

69

67

117

1 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. 2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by police forces and the courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. 3 The Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007 raised the age of sale from 16 to 18 on 1 October 2007. These figures are included in the table. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice.

Children in Care: Child Trust Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly) of 17 March 2010, Official Report, column 853W, on children in care: Child Trust Fund, from which provider child trust funds managed by the Official Solicitor or Accountant of Court on behalf of looked-after children have been re-allocated. (323710)

The poorest performers were the Scottish Friendly Managed Growth UK and Engage Investment Growth Fund. In addition funds held in Druids Sheffield Fund were also recommended for switching as limited information regarding performance was available.

Prison Sentences

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of prisoners in England and Wales are serving sentences following conviction for offences related to (a) fraud, (b) other financial sector crime and (c) other white collar crime. (323238)

At the end of June 2009, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 1,875, or 3 per cent. out of a total of 68,375 prisoners serving sentences for fraud and forgery in all prison establishments in England and Wales.

While statistics are held on the numbers of prisoners serving sentences for fraud and forgery, they cannot be broken down further to show which of these convictions specifically related to the commission of financial sector or “other white collar” crime.

These figures 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.

Training: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether employees of the National Offender Management Service are remunerated through his Department's Pay and Pensions Service. (323807)

Employees of the National Offender Management Services (NOMS) are remunerated through the Home Office Pay and Pensions Service. This arrangement came about because the Prison Service, which is a part of NOMS, was previously part of the Home Office. There are no plans to alter these arrangements.

Treasury

Departmental Written Questions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what methodology his Department used to determine whether answers to questions in the formulation “if he will set out with statistical information related as directly as possible to the tabling hon. Member's constituency the effects on that constituency of his Department's policies since 1997” could be provided without incurring disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. (323874)

HM Treasury seeks to answer all parliamentary questions that do not incur disproportionate cost. Disproportionate cost is determined via a disproportionate cost threshold (DCT). The current DCT is £800, announced in Parliament by ministerial statement on the 20 January 2010.

The calculation of DCT is based on eight times the average marginal cost of answering written PQs. Marginal cost excludes the fixed costs of parliamentary branches and departmental overheads.

Government Departments: Bank Cards

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Government procurement cards are in circulation; and how much was spent on such cards in the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available. (323515)

During the period January to December 2009 there were 141,693 Government procurement cards in circulation.

For the same period £995,872,758 was spent on these cards.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of (a) unauthorised and (b) fraudulent transactions using Government procurement cards there have been to date; and who is responsible for assessing the risks of fraud within the scheme. (323517)

In the period January-December 2009 no incidents of card misuse were reported by card issuers on the Government procurement card (GPC) framework agreement. Each Department or organisation using GPC is responsible for controlling and monitoring its own card programme and is not required to report incidents centrally.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Government procurement card transactions there were in the last year for which figures are available. (323518)

During the period January to December 2009 there were a total of 6,565,825 transactions made on Government procurement cards.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of his Departments' officials have a Government procurement card; and what the approval mechanisms to authorise expenditure on such cards are. (323519)

The current numbers of officials within the HM Treasury family using a Government procurement card are as follows:

HM Treasury: 620

Treasury Solicitors: 46

OGC: 367

Buying Solutions: 340

Debt Management Office: 0

Each organisation has its own rigorous approval mechanism to authorise expenditure on such cards.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the average cost of processing a transaction on a Government procurement card. (323520)

This information is not available and in any event would vary by Department or organisation dependant on their internal processes.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which public bodies participate in the Government procurement card scheme. (323521)

There are currently 1,649 UK public sector organisations utilising the Government procurement card service. A full list has been deposited in the Library of the House.

Revenue and Customs: Debt Collection

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will discuss with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the alignment of the (a) criteria and (b) guidance used to determine hardship when considering the recovery of monies owed. (323203)

Debt recovery decisions are made on the basis of the specific facts of each case and the statutory framework within which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) respectively operates.

In my statement to the House on 14 September 2009, Official Report, column 141WS, I set out details of the collaboration between HMRC and DWP on debt recovery. This collaboration has not yet identified alignment on hardship as a priority area for supporting the Departments’ debt recovery objectives.

Tax Allowances: Part-time Employment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals for a pilot scheme to implement an earnings disregard of £50 a week to assist people who are on benefits to take jobs of 16 or fewer hours a week. (322239)

I have been asked to reply.

Within the benefits system, some groups can already earn £50 per week or more without any loss of benefit. These include people on employment and support allowance and incapacity benefit who have access to a permitted work rule which allows them to earn up to £93.

The progression to work pathfinders will operate in four Jobcentre Plus districts. They will come into effect from the date of claim for people claiming after 25 October 2010 and from April 2011 for people already on benefit at that date.

The pathfinders will build on the existing regime for lone parents of regular work-focused interviews and action planning and require customers to undertake work-related activities which will aim to move them closer to the labour market and, ultimately, into work, when they become ready to do so. A £50 financial incentive/disregard was announced during the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill.

The Government believe that we should improve work incentives for lone parents and intend to include an enhanced earnings disregard for them in the pathfinders. We are currently considering the level and structure of this disregard with a view to providing the most effective incentive for lone parents to try out work.

Home Department

Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government has to reduce the frequency of inspections carried out under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. (322470)

There are no plans to reduce the frequency of inspections carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. In line with the Government’s principles for Better Regulation, inspections are performed with a frequency based upon a risk assessment of each designated establishment. The risks are regularly reviewed by the local inspector in the light of fresh information such that the frequency of inspections to each establishment may be altered at any time to match the perceived risk. Overall, it is not expected that this will result in a significant change in the total number of inspections carried out by an inspector over the course of a year.

Animal Welfare: EC Action

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects his Department's response to its consultation on EU proposals for a new Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes to be published. (322469)

We expect the response to the consultation on the proposals for the revision of EC Directive 86/609 to be published by early April 2010.

Asylum: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 25 January 2010, Official Report, column 630W, on asylum: housing, how many asylum seekers are housed in dwellings that were formerly vacant social housing. (323198)

The UK Border Agency contracts with a number of local authorities for the provision of accommodation for eligible asylum seekers. The agency's contracts with local authorities do not stipulate what type of housing they use to fulfil their contractual requirements.

British Nationality

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for British nationality through naturalisation were made in each of the last three years. (322988)

The following table provides the number of naturalisation applications that were made in the last three years.

Applications for naturalisation as a British citizen received, 2007-09

Case type

Number of persons

2007

Naturalisation

113,595

2008

Naturalisation

115,890

2009

Naturalisation

1142,615

1 Provisional figures. Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.

The information has been provided from local management information and is not a National Statistic. As such, it should be treated as provisional and therefore subject to change.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which British nationality application forms may be requested over the telephone. (322989)

Of the 16 application forms used for British nationality only forms AN and MN1 may currently be requested by telephone. The others are available by downloading from the UK Border Agency website.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications by children for British nationality were made in each of the last three years. (322990)

The following table provides the current number of children applying for British nationality made in the last three years.

Minor applications for British citizenship received 2007-09

Case type

Number of persons

2007

Minor children

38,340

2008

Minor children

36,565

20091

Minor children

47,385

1 Provisional figures.

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

2. Minor children are all children under 18 years old.

The informat