Written Answers to Questions
Thursday 25 March 2010
Departmental Written Questions
Rape Complaints Review
It is important to make clear that Baroness Stern's Review of Rape Reporting recognises that there has been real progress made to tackle sexual violence in our society. However, it also recognises that more still needs to be done and the UK Government are carefully considering the report and its twenty three recommendations to determine the best way forward. We will be establishing an action plan to address the issues raised by Baroness Stern and will be discussing this plan with all stakeholders, including the Welsh Assembly Government.
I, and my office, remain committed to ensuring that all parties continue to co-operate and build upon the good foundations that have already been laid; and that we continue to support victims, challenge attitudes and further improve the response of the criminal justice system and health service.
Departmental Written Questions
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) 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, Official Report, column 15WS.
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: Pay
Animal Welfare Advisory Committee
Armed Forces: Eyesight
(2) whether members of the armed forces who have had laser eye surgery to achieve the required level of sight attainment are allowed to continue in service.
The following methods of surgical correction of myopia or hypermetropia are considered suitable for entry on an individual, case by case basis for non-specialist employment groups and subject to single service requirements:
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)
Laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK)
Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
Intrastromal corneal rings (ICRs), otherwise known as intrastromal corneal segments (ICSs)
Recruits must fulfil certain criteria, including that at least 12 months have elapsed since the last procedure, that there are no significant visual side effects, and that refraction has stabilised.
Entry will not be considered for radial keratotomy (RK), or astigmatic keratotomy (AK), or any other form of incisional refractive surgery, other than those procedures listed above. All invasive intraocular surgical procedures remain a bar to entry.
The methods of surgical correction of myopia listed above for recruits may be considered suitable for serving personnel on an individual, case by case basis.
However, potential complications of the procedure may result in them being re-graded at a lower level of fitness, and significant deterioration in vision may require them to be re-graded as undeployable.
Exceptions to the above general policy apply in the case of some specialist employment groups, most notably aircrew. Aircrew are normally recruited before ocular maturity and at an age when Corneal Refractive Surgery (CRS) may not provide long-term refractive stability. Furthermore, the long-term outcome of CRS in trained aircrew needs to be evaluated before considering the procedure for potential aircrew. Therefore, candidates for recruitment to the armed forces as aircrew who have had CRS are rejected. There are no current plans to change this policy.
Serving aircrew in all three services are permitted to undertake certain forms of CRS currently including PRK or LASEK corrective surgery, with the consent and support of medical officers.
Armed Forces: Health Services
Detailed data will no longer be published where this would highlight potential pinch points within the armed forces, including the Defence Medical Services. I am withholding the information requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
In order to maintain appropriate external scrutiny of such data, the Department will continue to provide comprehensive manning data to the House of Commons Defence Committee on a confidential basis.
Armed Forces: Housing
(2) what defects there are in service family accommodation at (a) Calvary Crescent, (b) Broom Farm Estate and (c) Gratton Drive in Windsor; and what the (i) timetable and (ii) budget is for repairs to each;
(3) how often Modern Housing Solutions carries out customer satisfaction surveys; and when Modern Housing Solutions last conducted customer satisfaction surveys in Windsor;
(4) what assessment he has made of the effects of Modern Housing Solutions on the level of maintenance of service family accommodation.
The Housing Prime Contract (HPC), which covers the maintenance and repair of some 45,000 Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties in England and Wales, has been delivered by Modern Housing Solutions (MHS) since 2006.
MHS provides a comprehensive service and continues to show a sustained level of performance against contractual targets. Over the last 12 months the following percentage of emergency, urgent and routine repairs were completed within the agreed contractual timescales.
Repair type Agreed timescale Percentage completed in timescale Emergency Attend within three hours 99 Urgent Attend within five working days 85 Routine Attend within 20 working days 91
Percentage completed in timescale
Attend within three hours
Attend within five working days
Attend within 20 working days
The HPC streamlines the number of contracts and the supply chain, provides consistent processes and standards, allows for a single set of management data to assess performance, and the introduction of a 24-hour 365-day free phone helpdesk to provide a single point of contact for occupants.
MHS regularly surveys occupants by phone, via its website and through the completion of written questionnaires. Over the last 12 months, some 94 per cent. of occupants surveyed were satisfied with the service provided by the helpdesk and over 90 per cent. with the repair and maintenance service.
A breakdown by location of the number of complaints received, the level of customer satisfaction, the time taken to complete repair jobs and the budget or actual cost in each case cannot be readily identified from the overall data.
A list of all defects reported for SFA at the requested locations in Windsor is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
(2) what performance indicators have been set for Modern Housing Solutions in respect of its work on defence properties; and what assessment his Department has made of its performance against these targets in the last 12 months;
(3) what assessment has been made of the performance of Modern Housing Solutions in relation to its work at RAF Benson in the last 12 months.
Modern Housing Solutions (MHS) undertake a wide variety of repair and maintenance work on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Key performance indicators relate to agreed contractual timescales for repairs. MHS are required to attend all emergency repairs within three hours and to make safe within 24 hours, to attend all urgent repairs within five working days and all routine repairs within 20 working days.
MHS regularly publish details of their performance against these and other targets on their website under ‘Progress Info for Occupants’:
In addition, MOD staff in Defence Estate, MHS and Station representatives meet at RAF Benson on a regular basis to review overall performance and any issues or areas, concerns or problems with specific locations would be discussed at that time.
While MHS record all complaints received, a breakdown by location cannot be readily identified from the overall data.
Armed Forces: Pensions
The applicability of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 to widows who remarry, and are subsequently divorced does not differentiate between Scottish law and the rest of the United Kingdom.
In order for an earlier pension, which has ceased due to remarriage, to restart the separation must be recognised in legal terms as divorced, dissolved or widowed and those administering the scheme with the authority of the Defence Council must be satisfied that the pension should become payable to the beneficiary for reasons of hardship.
Armed Forces: Rail Travel
Officers who hold the paid rank of OF3 (Lieutenant Commander, Major or Squadron Leader) and above, when travelling on duty, are entitled to travel first class.
However, restrictions are currently in place and regardless of entitlement, rail travel should be standard class, not first class. The exception, to be authorised by line managers, is if by booking ahead a first class fare can be obtained for less than the flexible standard fare.
Armed Forces: USA
The storage of US munitions on bases made available to the US Visiting Force is governed by a UK/US Memorandum of Agreement dated October 1997, entitled “The Import, Export, Transportation, Safety, Security, Storage and Disposal of US Explosives and Weapons in the UK and the Approval, Use and Safety of Ground Ranges”.
Since the UK adopted the convention on cluster munitions in May 2008 there have been ongoing discussions with the US with regard to their cluster munition stockpiles and necessity of having stockpiles on UK territory. The US has identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding their worldwide operational planning requirements. Baroness Kinnock during the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill Second Reading in the House of Lords on 8 December 2009, Official Report, column 1020, announced that these cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013.
The United States stores various weapons in the UK. The US inventory of weapons is declared annually to the Ministry of Defence who ensure that all weapons are appropriately licensed and stored. It would be inappropriate to disclose the numbers, types and locations of such weapons. Therefore, I am withholding the detailed information as its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another state.
However, I can confirm that the US has identified their cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding their worldwide operational planning requirements. Therefore, these cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013, as declared by Baroness Kinnock during the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill Second Reading in the House of Lords on 8 December 2009, Official Report, column 1020.
The US has identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding their worldwide operational planning requirements. Baroness Kinnock during the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill Second Reading in the House of Lords on 8 December 2009, Official Report, column 1020, announced that these cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013.
The only UK cluster munitions in service on 30 May 2008 were the Extended Range Bomblet Shell (ERBS) L20A1 M85 and the CRV-7 Multi-Purpose Sub Munition (MPSM). All other UK cluster munitions were withdrawn from service prior to this date.
Destruction of the CRV-7 MPSMs was completed in July 2009. We are in the process of competing the contract for the disposal of the ERBS L20A1 M85s and these are therefore awaiting destruction.
Departmental Freedom of Information
Statistics on requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are published by the Ministry of Justice. Statistics for the quarter 1 October to 31 December 2009, and annual statistics for 2009, will be published by the Ministry of Justice on 29 April 2010. Releasing these statistics before this date would contravene the provisions of the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order which came into effect on 1 December 2008.
Statistics for the first three quarters of 2009 have been published by the Ministry of Justice, and relevant extracts are shown in the table. Information is collected on the number of requests which receive a response within the statutory response time of 20 working days, those which receive a response within permitted extensions to this period (“in time”), and those which have not been answered at the time of reporting to the Ministry of Justice. Information on the number of responses sent within 40 working days is not collected and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Period Requests received Full response sent within 20 working days Full response sent “in time” Response outstanding at time of reporting January to March 758 477 27 133 April to June 670 428 31 137 July to September 766 307 70 306
Full response sent within 20 working days
Full response sent “in time”
Response outstanding at time of reporting
January to March
April to June
July to September
Departmental Press Releases
The central MOD Media and Communications unit records press releases by calendar year and in 2009 issued 296 press releases.
Records of press releases issued from other areas of the Department are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Departmental Written Questions
The disproportionate cost threshold, which is the advisory cost limit at which Departments can refuse to answer a written PQ, is £800. It is calculated by reference to the cost to the Department of those involved in answering the question, specifically the personnel costs calculated on hourly rates. Answering questions of this formulation did not exceed this level.
Group 4 Securicor
(2) which Gurkha charities have received funding from his Department following the decision to grant ex-Gurkhas UK settlement rights; and how much such funding each of those charities has received.
The Ministry of Defence has met with a number of service charities to discuss the mechanisms put in place to support those Gurkha veterans and their dependants who decide to come to settle in the UK under the new immigration rules. These meetings included the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which is the only charity established specifically for the relief of poverty and distress among Gurkha ex-servicemen of the British Crown and their dependants in Nepal. The Ministry of Defence has provided an annual grant to the Gurkha Welfare Trust since it was established in 1969. This grant, which currently amounts to just over £1 million per year, contributes towards the administrative costs of the trust's field arm operating in Nepal, the Gurkha Welfare Scheme.
The transfer of most fast jet test flying and some evaluation activities, including 11 military and three QinetiQ posts, from Boscombe Down to RAF Coningsby is expected to result in a range of time, cost and performance benefits across Defence, including the more efficient use of flying hours, and an enhanced ability to meet the requirements of the front-line user, through the integration of developmental and operational test and evaluation activity.
Work and Pensions
Departmental Translation Services
The DWP provides a range of language translation services for customers across Great Britain (as Northern Ireland is excluded), namely:
1. Face to face.
3. Translating by a range of services which includes the translation of departmental information leaflets and other documents that are provided to customers in a range of ethnic languages, audio and Braille, as well as all publications for Welsh-speaking customers living in Wales.
4. We are also able to offer an ad-hoc service to convert documents into Easy Read format. Spend for Easy Read has in the past been included within other category spend and so cannot be identified without incurring disproportionate cost.
The contractual arrangements for the services have been developed over a number of years and as a result spend has not been applicable for some of these services in each of the last five years or data have not been able to be gathered for spend during some years. Disproportionate cost would be incurred in trying to identify such spend.
We are unable to identify spend for specific geographic areas, such as the Ribble Valley and Lancashire, without incurring disproportionate cost.
The total spend information is given in the following table:
Type of translation service 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Face to face and telephone 2,967,756 3,443,334 4,496,008 3,515,722 3,761,765 Ethnic document translation n/a 120,720 267,500 134,945 1459,554 Welsh 30,855 20,766 50,759 65,789 66,755 Braille n/a n/a n/a 45,309 59,522 Audio n/a n/a n/a 35,572 33,397 Easy Read n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Total 2,998,611 3,584,820 4,814,267 3,797,337 4,380,993 n/a = not available without incurring disproportionate cost as data not held centrally or is combined within other category data and not possible to separate. 1 This figure includes all translation spend for the International Pensions Centre (IPC) which previously was not held centrally—total £381,370.59 for 2008-09.
Type of translation service
Face to face and telephone
Ethnic document translation
n/a = not available without incurring disproportionate cost as data not held centrally or is combined within other category data and not possible to separate. 1 This figure includes all translation spend for the International Pensions Centre (IPC) which previously was not held centrally—total £381,370.59 for 2008-09.
Foreign Workers: EU Countries
Under UK health and safety legislation, employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment for all workers under their control, including those from EU member states. Any workers from EU member states working as self-employed will also be subject to these requirements. Workers must take reasonable care for their own and others' health and safety at work, and cooperate with their employer to enable compliance. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are responsible for enforcing the requirements in the majority of UK workplaces, and use inspection, investigation, enforcement, advice and guidance to secure compliance.
Pensioners: Social Security Benefits
A wide range of services and benefits in kind are available to older people and these are administered both centrally and locally. As a result, the information is not available in the format requested: some information is not collected and some could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information which is available is given as follows.
(i) NHS services
People aged 60 and over are able to claim free prescriptions and eye tests on the grounds of age. Detailed information on prescription charges is not held in the format requested.
In financial year 2008-09, 90,380 free NHS sight tests were given to people aged 60 and over within the North Yorkshire and York PCT area, costing an estimated £1,789,524.
There is no automatic entitlement for adult pensioners to NHS optical vouchers or free dental treatment. Individuals may qualify for these benefits if they are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, or if they have been assessed as eligible for assistance under the NHS Low Income Scheme. Information on the value of such NHS services provided to patients of pensionable age who qualify on the basis of their personal economic circumstances is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
(ii) Social services
The gross current expenditure by York council on social services for people aged 65 or over for the financial year 2008-09 was £30.8 million1.
(iii) Travel concessions
The statutory minimum travel concession, introduced in April 2008, gives those aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people free off-peak local bus travel in any part of England. The Government provide around £1 billion a year to fund the concession.
Travel concession schemes are provided through local authorities, which have flexibility to enhance their schemes to offer more than the statutory minimum, so there are local variations in what is offered and take-up of concessionary travel also varies from one area to another. Therefore it is not possible to quantify the value of the benefit in kind in a specific local authority area.
(iv) Television licences
Free television licences for people aged 75 or over were introduced in November 2000. TV Licensing, who administer free licences as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of licences issued. However, figures are available for the number of households with at least one person aged 75 or over receiving winter fuel payments in York local authority. These people would be eligible for a free television licence. 12,180 households received winter fuel payments in York local authority in the year 2008-09.
The television licence fee for the year 2009-10 is £142.50 for a colour television licence, and £48.00 for a black and white television licence.
The Warm Front Scheme is the Government's main programme for tackling fuel poverty in vulnerable households in the private sector in England. Warm Front provides grants for heating, insulation and energy efficiency measures. For the year 2009-10, 132 single pensioner households and 100 two-pensioner households received Warm Front assistance in the York local authority area, and the average spend on each of those households was £1,870.08 and £1,675.20 respectively.
RO3 and PSS EX1 returns.
Gross expenditure includes income from client contributions, but excludes capital charges and certain income items which count as expenditure elsewhere in the public sector, such as contributions from primary care trusts. This is to avoid double counting within the aggregate public sector accounts of the money involved.
Social Security Benefits: Fraud
Fraud can occur when a person is sent to prison and they do not notify the Department. If this is the case there can be a short delay before benefit payments are stopped.
The Department matches its data with that held by the Ministry of Justice to identify prisoners who may still be in receipt of benefit. This data match now takes place weekly instead of four-weekly and we are detecting prisoner fraud more quickly than ever before, thus reducing the size of any overpayments.
Over the last five years this type of fraud has only arisen in income support. Fraudulent overpayments to prisoners have remained consistently low accounting for no more than an estimated 0.1 per cent of income support benefit expenditure.
The available information is in the table.
Amount of income support overpaid1 (£ million) 2004-052 6 2005-06 4 2006-07 7 2007-08 4 2008-09 6 1 Estimates of customer fraud committed by prisoners are collated and published only for income support, jobseeker's allowance and pension credit. The levels for jobseeker's allowance and pension credit were £0 million in each of the last five years. 2 Improvements to the methodology were introduced in 2005-06 which created a discontinuity between the estimates up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06 onwards. Therefore comparisons over time should be made with caution. Source: Published National Statistics Reports—Fraud and Error in the Benefit System.
Amount of income support overpaid1 (£ million)
1 Estimates of customer fraud committed by prisoners are collated and published only for income support, jobseeker's allowance and pension credit. The levels for jobseeker's allowance and pension credit were £0 million in each of the last five years. 2 Improvements to the methodology were introduced in 2005-06 which created a discontinuity between the estimates up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06 onwards. Therefore comparisons over time should be made with caution. Source: Published National Statistics Reports—Fraud and Error in the Benefit System.
Women and Equality
Departmental Lost Property
Over the past 12 months the Government Equalities Office has recorded two items as missing. The first item was a laptop with an estimated value of £2,000. The laptop cannot be used without a security key, which was not lost. The second item was a set of blank travel tickets with a nominal value of £4,000, which in practice could not have been used by others.
The Government Equalities Office has not recorded any items as stolen.
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) will be publishing its staff survey results as soon as practicable. Given the Department’s small size, we need to give full and careful consideration to ensure in publishing results that individuals cannot be identified. Once the results are published on the GEO website, we will ensure a copy is placed in the Library.
My officials, colleagues and I have received a number of representations on a range of issues from both individuals and religion and belief organisations since the introduction of the Equality Bill in April last year.
The main issues raised were:
whether the Bill curbed religious freedom of expression;
restriction of freedom of conscience;
a perceived hierarchy of rights where some protected characteristics take precedence over the rights of the religious;
Catholic adoption agencies;
the occupational requirement employment exception for organised religion; and
faith-based care homes.
Such discussions and representations are ongoing as it is always important for Government to maintain a dialogue.
International Women's Day
The Government are marking International Women’s Day in a number of ways:
a breakfast meeting at No. 10 with women executives on 8 March;
a Commonwealth Parliamentary Seminar Reception (10 March); and
a Parliamentary topical debate marking International Women’s day in the House of Commons on11 March; and
a reception for International Women’s Day at No. 10 hosted by Sarah Brown on 18 March.
In addition, individual Departments undertook the following to coincide with International Women’s Day:
The Government Equalities Office published:
‘What the Government has done for women’ factsheet;
‘Women’s Representation’ factsheet:
Research report and findings on public attitudes to the representation of women in business and Government;
Government's Response to the Speaker’s Conference; and
Report on the regional ‘Women in Focus’ events which promoted best practice in diverting women from crime (with Ministry of Justice).
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
Welcomed the appointment of Minister of State, Baroness Kinnock, as Women’s Officer. Baroness Kinnock will be responsible for leading the Government’s work to tackle violence against women overseas. These are in addition to her responsibilities as Minister of State.
Published a newly developed poster and leaflet designed to raise awareness of FGM. A new e-mail address has also been set up (firstname.lastname@example.org) for those who have concerns or questions about FGM to use.
The Department for Schools, Children and Families:
Published the report of the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Advisory Group and the Government’s response, including plans to revise training for new teachers and to include VAWG issues in the PHSE curriculum for 2011.
The Home Office:
Announced that a series of laws to protect vulnerable women by reducing the demand for prostitution, including the police no longer having to show kerb-crawlers are “persistent” before arresting them, will come into effect on 1 April.
Held an internal ministerial event on delivering the Gender Equality duty with stakeholders.
The Department for International Development (DFID):
Welcomed Andrea Cornwall, Director of the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Programme, to DFID to share key research findings. Pathways is an international research and communications programme that links academics, activists and practitioners across the globe to explore ways to enhance women’s empowerment.
Screened video clips giving ground level insights and testimonials from women in Ghana and posted these on the DFID website.
Ellen Wratten, Director of Policy and Head of Profession for Social Development at DFID, will be giving a presentation at Plan International’s celebration in Westminster Hall on 8 March on the new joint DFID/NIKE Foundation ‘Girl Hub’ programme that focuses on empowering adolescent girls in developing countries.
Intelligence and Security Committee
House of Commons Commission
(2) when the application for listed building consent in connection with the proposed creation of a day nursery at 1 Parliament street was submitted; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the application.
The commercial competition for a nursery operator is currently in progress which will provide information relevant to the operating costs for the nursery. In order to avoid undermining the House’s position in the commercial competition, it is not possible to disclose any further information at this stage. According to childcare experts, there is likely to be a build up of usage over a period: the average use of the first 12 months of a new nursery is likely to be around 40 per cent. The intention in the longer term is to recover the full operating costs through the charges made to users.
Olympic Games 2012: Construction
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is committed to transporting 50 per cent. of materials to the Park, by weight, using sustainable methods, i.e. rail or water. The ODA is currently exceeding this target with almost 64 per cent. of material transported to the Park by sustainable methods.
The ODA will continue to actively encourage its supply chain to utilise rail and water facilities. While it is not within the ODA's remit to stipulate how many deliveries should be made to the Olympic Park by its supply chain, it is expected that there will be at least three barge movements per week as fit out work on the venues increases.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) constructed a temporary wharf on Waterworks river for the construction phase of the programme to provide contractors with the opportunity to move material into and out of the Park by water. It is currently intended that this temporary wharf will be decommissioned in the spring of 2011. However, the ODA is currently exploring potential usages for sections of the Wharf during the games and this work is ongoing.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Colombia: Human Rights
The mass graves in La Macarena were first brought to the attention of our embassy in Bogota in November 2009.
Our ambassador asked the Colombian Government, namely Carlos Franco, Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme in Colombia, for information on the alleged mass graves. We received a reply on 16 February 2010, which I shared with Carolina Hoyos, a human rights activist whom I met on 16 March. According to Mr. Franco there are 650 corpses properly identified in their graves buried during the last 20 years. There are approximately 350 corpses not identified during the same 20 years. The burial of non-identified people at La Macarena's cemetery has been properly registered in the control books kept by the municipal authorities and the officers in charge of the cemetery's administration. We will continue to monitor developments in the investigation into these mass graves.
I was dismayed to learn of the killing of Mr. Hurtado in the La Macarena region, who was President of the Human Rights committee of La Catalina. Our ambassador in Bogota raised Mr. Hurtado's assassination with the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme and the Head of the International Relations Unit at the Colombian Prosecutor's Office.
For the current financial year (2009-10) the UK has provided over £100,000 of financial support to promote coexistence projects in Israel. The Government will look to fund several projects which will promote human rights in Israel in the next financial year. We cannot, as yet, confirm how much will be allocated to coexistence projects next financial year.
Middle East: Peace Negotiations
The UK regularly raises concerns regarding equality issues. I discussed the issue of Israeli minorities in a meeting with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister on 9 February. We also highlighted the issue in the 2009 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report on Human Rights, which was published on 17 March.
We condemn the act of vandalism against the monuments at the former Plaszow concentration camp and all instances of persecution and discrimination against individuals and groups wherever they occur.
Polish politicians have spoken out strongly against this act. Polish Foreign Minister Sikorkski said:
“The people who did this deserve the highest condemnation. This is something which ruins Poland and which I personally am ashamed of.”
Polish Cardinal Dziwish has apologised to Jewish people on behalf of all Christians for what happened.
Our embassy in Warsaw was in touch with non-governmental organisations and relevant Government representatives that deal with and monitor anti-Semitism on 16 April 2009. The Polish Government highlighted some of their initiatives in their interim report, responding to a 2007 memorandum, to the Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights. This can be found on the Commissioner's website:
Culture, Media and Sport
My Department's policy on internet usage is as follows:
Do not access the internet during working hours for purposes other than those for which you are employed. Any personal use should be limited, carried out in non-working hours and should not interfere with the performance of your duties nor with the Department's IT/networking systems and services.
Access to tobacco-related websites is blocked because they have no relevance to the work of the Department.
I have been asked to reply.
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Ministers do not monitor Ofcom's performance because the regulator is independent of Government and is accountable directly to Parliament. Ofcom is required to report annually to Parliament through the annual plan and report and accounts.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
A change in the definition of municipal waste will not alter local authority responsibilities on commercial waste. The vast majority of commercial waste is managed by the private sector and we do not expect this to change. However, we do want to promote more sorting and recycling of commercial waste and have a number of measures in place including funding for pilot trade waste recycling points and collection schemes.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate yesterday issued an authorisation for a tuberculosis vaccine for use in badgers. This has been made possible by the hard work of the researchers at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Food and Environment Research Agency and reflects 10 years and £11 million of DEFRA-funded research and development. This injectable vaccine will be used in the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project to commence in six areas in England from July.
Recommendations from the October 2009 progress report of the TB Eradication Group for England have been implemented, including enhanced TB surveillance and control and additional support to farmers under TB restrictions.
Common Fisheries Policy
The UK’s response to the Commission’s Green Paper on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy sets out our objectives to achieve prosperous, sustainable exploitation of fish stocks. This response makes clear that there must be more regionalised decision-making; genuine integration of fisheries with other marine policies; longer-term management planning; greater flexibility and certainty in the system; and a mechanism to ease the transition to a sustainable and profitable future.
Lost Life Report
Following DEFRA’s consultation on non-agricultural diffuse pollution in 2007, we made a decision to progress each policy option separately. For example, we have recently consulted on options for legislative mechanisms to control phosphates in domestic laundry cleaning products in the UK. We have also proposed a requirement for developers to consider sustainable drainage systems for surface water for all new developments in the Flood and Water Management Bill.
As part of this, the use of a legislative approach based on general binding rules (GBRs) is another of the options which we are developing. While we are not in a position to hold a consultation in the near future, as policy develops and further evidence of the impact of GBRs is gathered, we may hold a consultation. To commit to any policy on further development of GBRs we must be confident that any action would be of benefit to the environment, and that the economic and social impacts of the action are assessed.
More information about policy work is available on our website at:
Food Supply: Government Assistance
Government are taking a number of steps to support the UK food industry which is our biggest manufacturing sector, including the Food 2030 Strategy, more investment in research and development, consulting on a supermarket ombudsman, the agri-skills plan and the work of the task forces to assist the pig sector and to encourage more production and consumption of fruit and vegetables.
I am content that the Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004 provides an effective regulatory framework, allowing the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to take a robust approach in enforcing its provisions.
We have recently laid revised regulations which clarify when a licence is required and correct an anomaly in the application of the Gangmasters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations 2006 which was identified following recent representations made by my hon. Friend.
Marine Conservation Zones
(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effectiveness of the establishment of marine conservation zones in protecting the full range of biodiversity in UK waters.
The UK has and is making progress in reducing its environmental footprint in the marine area.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an integral part of our comprehensive marine policy. We are committed to designating enough MPAs by end 2012 to ensure we have contributed to a UK ecologically coherent network of sites.
We consider that the concept of Good Environmental Status should guide the minimum level acceptable for Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) objectives, as far as that is an appropriate measure for a site-based conservation tool. This will be defined through implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
(2) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the East of England in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(3) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in Greater London in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(4) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the South East in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(5) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the South West in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(6) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the East Midlands in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(7) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in Yorkshire and the Humber in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(8) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the North West in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
(9) how much waste was recycled in each (a) district council, (b) borough council, (c) unitary authority and (d) other local authority area in the North East in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;
A table showing tonnages of waste sent for recycling, composting or reuse for all local authorities in England in the first quarter of financial year 2009-10 has been placed in the Library. The most recent full financial year data, which would take account of any seasonal changes, are available in Table 1 of the 2008-09 results for all authorities published on the DEFRA website:
River Thames: Angling
To ensure compliance with the European Eel Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007, the Eels (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 (No. 3344) establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel came into force on the 15 January 2010.
As part of the Eels Regulations, close seasons have been introduced to curtail fishing effort at times of particular pressure on the stock: 26 May 2010 to 14 February 2011 for eels 12 centimetres or less, and 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2011 for all other eels.
The 2010 close seasons were set nationally and coincide with peak runs for elvers and with the main silver eel net fishing season. The close seasons will be in force for one year to provide time to assess stocks in each river basin.
In 2011, both adult eel and elver close seasons will be set through Environment Agency (EA) byelaws and will be specific to individual river basins to match local circumstances. The EA met with representatives of Thames eel fishermen in January this year to discuss the revision of byelaws.
A copy of the Statutory Instrument together with the Explanatory Memorandum, which provides information to support the measures introduced through the Eels (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, has been placed in the Library.
Waste and Resources Action Programme
I have arranged for copies of all the tender invitation documents that were published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) over the last three years to be placed in the Library of the House. Copies of all other tender invitation documents produced by WRAP over this period, including those with a value below the threshold for publication in the OJEU, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
DEFRA recognises the role water efficiency can play in reducing energy use, especially through reduced hot water consumption. Last September the Department launched a water efficiency campaign under the Act on CO2 banner which highlighted the energy and carbon implications of water use. DEFRA officials are in ongoing discussions with Department of Energy and Climate Change counterparts to coordinate the delivery of programmes to improve energy and water efficiency.
Each water company in England and Wales has had a duty to promote the efficient use of water by its customers. Ofwat is responsible for enforcing this duty and reports on progress in its annual Service and Delivery reports, available from its website. Following discussions within the Government-led Water Saving Group, Ofwat has introduced water efficiency targets for water companies from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
Energy and Climate Change
Boilers: Government Assistance
Carbon Emissions: Housing
Domestic heating products make up 6 per cent. of savings to date towards the 185 million tonne lifetime carbon dioxide savings target (April 2008-March 2011 time frame). This compares to some 62 per cent. of savings to date achieved through insulation products. There are seven heating product types eligible under CERT, but suppliers are not required to report the number of each installed until the end of the scheme. However, suppliers do report on a quarterly basis to Ofgem the number of microgeneration units installed (approximately 1,000 to December 2009) and the number of properties switched from coal or oil to gas central heating (approximately 100,000).
An independent assessment is commissioned at the end of each three year phase of the Supplier Obligation (now termed the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target), building on the cost-benefit assessment undertaken and published at the launch of each scheme. Independent analysis of the three year supplier obligation scheme ending March 2008 showed it to have been extremely cost effective in delivery—that for every £1 added on to GB household bills to pay for the obligation, benefits equate to an average saving of £9 per household bill over the lifetime of the measures. Equally, the present supplier obligation, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target which ends in March 2011, is also believed to be highly cost-effective. Annual benefits (net of costs) are expected to be around £649 million for the lifetime of the measures, with around £228 benefits per tonne of carbon dioxide saved in the traded sector and £153 benefits per tonne of CO2 saved in the non-traded sector. Insulation measures make up over 60 per cent. of savings to target—equivalent to some 4 million households receiving insulation measures.
Departmental Temporary Employment
Since its inception on 3 October 2008 my Department spent a total of £374,939 on temporary staff in the financial year 2008-09. The latest available figures for financial year 2009-10 show an expenditure of £1,603,259 on temporary staff.
The information on the numbers of temporary staff and companies from which the staff was sourced can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The Department has building access monitoring and control measures in place in accordance with Cabinet Office policy; requires all staff to wear passes while in the office; issues staff awareness guidance on its intranet; has a clear desk policy in place and provides secure storage for its staff.
Ongoing security awareness activities are undertaken to ensure that DECC assets and information are handled appropriately and securely.
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 power that can damage or disrupt unprotected electronics. It also outlines the new governance structures and workstreams which are now building on existing work to take forward the Government's plan for reducing the impact on and vulnerability of the UK's interests from cyber attacks.
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) provides advice on electronic or cyber protective security measures to the businesses and organisations that comprise the UK's critical national infrastructure, including public utilities, companies and banks. CPNI also runs a CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) service which responds to reported attacks on private sector networks. In addition, CESG provides Government Departments with advice and guidance on how to protect against, detect and mitigate various types of cyber attack.
It would not be in the interests of national security to provide information about specific vulnerabilities, assessments or protective measures relating to electromagnetic pulse attack.
The Government believe they have done all that is required to implement the Internal Market in Electricity and Gas directives. The Commission was notified of the implementation of the directive (except for provisions relating to the requirement for electricity companies to disclose their fuel mix to final customers and the requirement for Ofgem to act as dispute settlement authority between energy undertakings) in October 2004. No assessment has been made of the effects on energy prices of the timing of the implementation of each directive.
The Government's UK Low Carbon Transition Plan published in July 2009 covered energy use and CO2 emissions from the domestic sector. It highlights that the energy used in our homes for heating water (excluding that for heating our homes) is 25 per cent. of the overall domestic energy use.
The Environment Agency have carried out extensive research on the CO2 emissions from domestic hot water use. Their latest research suggests that annual emissions from heating water in a typical home are approximately 900kgCO2. This at the UK level these represent ~23MtCO2/yr of the 140.7MtCO2/yr attributable to energy end use in homes (including emissions from electricity use in homes).
Further information can be found in the Environment Agency report here:
The Government's Household Energy Management Strategy ‘Green Homes, Warmer Homes’, published on 2 March:
focuses on cutting carbon emissions from the household sector through energy efficiency and other measures. In developing the strategy, my Department met representatives of a variety of organisations, including Waterwise who campaign on water efficiency.
Wind Power: Compensation
The general principles of arrangements for compensation for fishermen adversely affected by wind farm development have been discussed at length in the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group on which my Department, wind developers and the fishing industry are represented. The group, which includes a representative from the inshore fishing sector, has produced best practice guidance that can be found at
This guidance includes an appendix dealing with issues concerning assessing the value of fishing activities and related compensation, disruption or displacement payments.
The contractual obligations that apply to Connect Plus for the cleaning and collecting of rubbish and litter from the A13/A1089 highway and its embankments require the contractor to perform routine services in respect of sweeping and cleaning.
The general requirement is to comply with the standards of cleanliness set out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990: Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, for the sweeping and cleaning of all channels and hard shoulders, verges, central reservations, lay-bys, slopes, removal of litter and sweeping of footways and cycle tracks.
Performance against these sweeping and cleaning obligations is measured and reported to the Highways Agency for review on a monthly basis.
East Coast Railway Line
East Coast is a revenue generative business which returns a surplus to the public purse. Payments are made on a rail period rather than monthly basis. The following table shows the payments that East Coast is contracted to make in its first five periods of operation which show that the business will return some £47 million to the public purse during this time.
Rail period Amount (£) Period 9 (part period) 13 November 2009 to 12 December 2009 112,636,157 Period 10 13 December 2009 to 9 January 2010 2(4,630,742) Period 11 10 January 2010 to 6 February 2010 114,183,011 Period 12 7 February 2010 to 6 March 2010 113,786,696 Period 13 7 March 2010 to 31 March 2010 111,112,614 Total 147,087,736 1 Payment to DFT. 2 Payment to East Coast.
Period 9 (part period)
13 November 2009 to 12 December 2009
13 December 2009 to 9 January 2010
10 January 2010 to 6 February 2010
7 February 2010 to 6 March 2010
7 March 2010 to 31 March 2010
1 Payment to DFT.
2 Payment to East Coast.
It is not possible to estimate the likely cost to the public purse of the failure of National Express's East Coast franchise at present. The final cost is dependent on the resolution of outstanding issues with National Express, the level of ticket revenue generated by East Coast and the value achieved for the franchise when it is re-let.
No jobs were lost either directly or indirectly as a result of the failure of National Express's East Coast Mainline franchise.
Some changes were made to the executive team with a new Managing Director appointed before the handover and three new Directors since.
First Capital Connect
[holding answer 4 February 2010]: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 877W.
Ministers have not had any meetings with the Office of Rail Regulation about First Capital Connect during that period. However, Ministers have regular meeting to discuss the performance of all train operating companies, including First Capital Connect.
The Secretary of State had a further meeting with the Chief Executive of First Group and the Managing Director of First Capital Connect on 2 February.
Infrastructure: National Policy Statements
No Ministers have received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months.
The following table provides a break down of Civil Servants within the Department for Transport and its agencies who have received coaching in a Foreign Language:
Foreign Language(s) Number of civil servants receiving foreign language coaching Expenditure incurred Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, BSL and Welsh 13 1,304
Number of civil servants receiving foreign language coaching
Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, BSL and Welsh
Network Rail: Finance
(2) what budget was allocated to Network Rail in respect of (a) station maintenance, (b) track maintenance, (c) vegetation and tree management, (d) signal maintenance, (e) points, switches and crossings maintenance, (f) drainage maintenance, (g) fencing maintenance, (h) bridge and other structure maintenance, (i) buildings maintenance, (j) litter collection and policing, (k) graffiti removal and policing and (l) CCTV in each year since its inception;
(3) what the projected budget allocation is for Network Rail in each of the next 10 years;
(4) what Network Rail’s budget allocation was in each year since its inception.
Information about the funding available to Network Rail in the coming years is published by the independent Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in its document, “Periodic review 2008, Determination of Network Rail’s outputs and funding for 2009-14”. The document is available on ORR’s website at:
Details of Network Rail’s historic budget allocations are published in the company’s annual Regulatory Financial Statements, which are available on its website at:
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browseDirectory.aspx?dir=\ Regulatory%20Documents\Regulatory%20Compliance %20and%20Reporting\Regulatory%20 Accounts&pageid=2893&root
The introduction of yellow line parking restrictions or controlled parking zones are matters for individual local authorities, following appropriate consultation. No central record is kept of these local decisions, and the Government have made no estimate of the proportion of households affected.
Railway Stations: Greater London
There are currently 38 stations in London boroughs in the Access for All Programme. Of these, 10 are complete or will be complete by the end of this financial year. Work is under way on a further three. According to Network Rail’s latest delivery plan, there are seven stations where work is due to start on site in 2010-11, 11 in 2011-12, six in 2012-13, and one from 2013 onwards. A document listing the stations which are at each stage has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme sets out proposals to help certain home-owners who may be affected by blight following publication of the Government’s response to HS2 Ltd’.s recommendations. The scheme is not a “project” for the purposes of Council Directive 1985/337/EEC on the assessment of effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Accordingly, no environmental impact assessment is required.
If a decision is taken to proceed with high speed rail, the appropriate environmental assessment would form part of any preparations for the introduction of a Hybrid Bill.
Buckinghamshire county council is regarded as a consultee. The leader and chief executive were sent copies of all the relevant materials following the Statement on high speed rail by the Secretary for State for Transport. Any individual or organisation can request copies of and respond to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation. Copies are available from DFT Publications at
or telephone 0300 123 1102.
“High Speed Rail” was published on 11 March 2010. Prior to this Ministers and officials in the Department held no meetings with interested parties outside the Government at which HS2 Ltd. proposed routes from London to the West Midlands were discussed. Following the publication of the Command Paper, the Secretary of State for Transport, has held meetings with various hon. Members, and other stakeholders, to discuss high speed rail in general and/or in relation to constituency or local interests.
The Department consulted the HM Government “Code of Practice on Consultation”, which recommends that consultations should not generally be launched during election periods. The consultation on the Exceptional Hardship Scheme was launched on 11 March, while Parliament was sitting. The Government recognise the importance to affected property owners of introducing the scheme, should they decide to do so, as quickly as is practicable. The timing of the launch was determined accordingly. In addition, the duration of the consultation was shortened—to 10 weeks instead of the recommended 12—for the same reason.
The estimate of the annual percentage change to the cost of travelling by rail in each year since 2000 is shown in the following table, next to the percentage change in disposable income for comparison.
Rail fares (£) Percentage change Disposable income (£) Percentage change 2000 102.97 1.03 109.36 4.11 2001 105.45 2.41 114.29 4.51 2002 106.88 1.36 116.57 1.99 2003 108.24 1.27 120.05 2.98 2004 110.49 2.08 121.01 0.79 2005 114.55 3.67 124.37 2.77 2006 112.58 -1.72 126.17 1.45 2007 114.1 1.35 126.29 0.09 2008 116.54 2.14 n/a n/a
Rail fares (£)
Disposable income (£)
As Minister of State the current Secretary of State for Transport, my noble Friend (Lord Adonis), met or spoke with Richard Bowker, the then chief executive of the National Express Group, on 23 October 2008, 28 November 2008, 18 February 2009 and 21 April 2009. Since becoming Secretary of State he had one meeting with Mr. Bowker on 9 June 2009.
The previous Secretary of State for Transport met with Mr. Bowker on 20 January and 25 February 2009.
Some of these meetings were specifically to discuss issues relating to National Express Group plc or its subsidiaries; others were wider events involving other transport stakeholders.
The Department for Transport consulted on draft amendments to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 between September and December 2009. These include proposals to permit portable pedestrian facilities. Officials at the Department are considering the responses received and will be revising the draft regulations to address the issues raised.
The Government have already ruled out national road pricing in this or the next Parliament. However the Government are contractually committed to funding up to December 2010 the ‘Demonstrations’ projects that look at the technological, operational and organisational challenges around widespread Time/Distance/Place road pricing. The Government have no plans to undertake further ‘Demonstrations’ projects.
Social Security Benefits
My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation in the House of Commons with the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) in June 2009 about the East Coast Main Line. The Secretary of State does not recall the precise date (although it cannot have been before 8 June, his first full week in office).
The Department for Transport has not received any correspondence from the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) on the operation by National Express of the East Coast Rail subsidiary franchise.
My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation in the House of Commons with the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) in June 2009 about the East Coast Main Line.
As this was a conversation in the House of Commons there is no official note. However, the Secretary of State has stated for the record that they discussed the right hon. Member's experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express the Secretary of State told him that despite the company's difficulties he had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company, as the company was seeking in its approaches to the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State also told the right hon. Member that in his view such a move would undermine the rail franchise system and would not be in the best interests of tax payers.
At the instigation of the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers), my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation with him about the East Coast Main Line in the House of Commons in June 2009. The Secretary of State does not recall the precise date (although this cannot have been before 8 June, his first full week in office), and as this was a conversation in the House of Commons there is no official note.
However, the Secretary of State has stated for the record that they discussed the right hon. Member's experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express, the Secretary of State told him that despite the company's difficulties he had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company, as the company was seeking in its approaches to the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State also told the right hon. Member that in his view such a move would undermine the rail franchise system and would not be in the best interests of tax payers.
The Permanent Secretary of the Department for Transport was informed of the conversation shortly after it took place.
Transport Innovation Fund
Arrest Warrants: War Crimes
(2) if he will list all the interested individuals and organisations to which a copy of the paper was sent.