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Written Answers

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 8 April 2010

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 8 April 2010

Transport

Bus Services

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport when he plans to regulate audio-visual information systems on local bus services, as set out in the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000. (325887)

Widespread implementation of audio visual systems presents some significant technological challenges. The Department for Transport is conducting research to assess whether these challenges can be overcome before it considers whether to make amendments to the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 to include a requirement for such systems to be fitted to buses. The research has brought together a cross-section of stakeholders, including Guide Dogs, Royal National Institute of Blind People and Royal National Institute for Deaf People. The project is scheduled to report in summer 2010.

Bus Services: Concessions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) Transport for London, (b) local authorities in England and (c) other transport authorities on the time taken to process (i) applications for and (ii) renewals of concessionary travel passes to those aged over 60 years; and if he will make a statement. (325872)

The Department for Transport is not responsible for issuing passes and so does not hold information on the time taken for Travel Concession Authorities (TCAs) to process applications and renewals of concessionary travel passes. The Department has not had any recent discussions with Transport for London, local authorities in England or other TCAs on this issue.

TCAs are responsible for issuing concessionary travel passes to their residents. The maximum life of a pass is five years from the date of issue but there is no recommended minimum life. TCAs are therefore free to set the expiry dates, and renewal arrangements.

All English concessionary travel passes must now conform to a standard design and be ITSO smartcards. London was given until 1 April 2010 to meet these requirements which is why they have recently renewed all of the Freedom Passes in the capital.

The Department would expect TCAs to process routine applications for concessionary travel passes within a reasonable time frame although it is understandable that a bulk reissue of all passes may take slightly longer.

Railways: Construction

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport through which parliamentary constituencies (a) in the present Parliament and (b) in the next Parliament the Government's preferred route for High Speed Two will pass. (325255)

[holding answer 30 March 2010]: HS2 Ltd.'s preferred route option passes through the following parliamentary constituencies in force in the present Parliament:

Aylesbury

Banbury

Beaconsfield

Birmingham Erdington

Birmingham Hodge Hill

Birmingham Ladywood

Brent East

Brent South

Buckingham

Chesham and Amersham

Daventry

Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush

Ealing North

Holborn and St. Pancras

Hampstead and Highgate

Lichfield

Meriden

North Warwickshire

Regents Park and Kensington North

Rugby and Kenilworth

Ruislip Northwood

South West Hertfordshire

Stratford-upon-Avon

Sutton Coldfield

Tamworth

Warwick and Leamington.

HS2 Ltd.'s preferred route option passes through the following parliamentary constituencies that will come into force in the next Parliament:

Aylesbury

Banbury

Beaconsfield

Birmingham, Erdington

Birmingham, Hodge Hill

Birmingham, Ladywood

Brent North

Buckingham

Chesham and Amersham

Ealing Central and Acton

Ealing North

Hammersmith

Hampstead and Kilburn

Holborn and St. Pancras

Kenilworth and Southam

Kensington

Lichfield

Meriden

North Warwickshire

Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

South Northamptonshire

South West Hertfordshire

Sutton Coldfield

Tamworth

Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Westminster North.

Roads

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to establish (a) standards and (b) targets to encourage the adoption of unadopted alleyways; and if he will make a statement. (325874)

Under the Highways Act 1980, local highway authorities may adopt public rights of way that they are not currently responsible for maintaining. Such rights of way may include some types of alleyway or other local access routes. It is for individual authorities to decide whether they wish to adopt an alleyway or not, taking account of local priorities and standards.

The Government have no plans to set national standards or targets for the adoption of unadopted alleyways or other rights of way, as we believe this remains a matter for local consideration and decision.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport under what legislation a local authority can adopt an alleyway; and if he will make a statement. (325876)

Under the Highways Act 1980, local highway authorities may adopt public rights of way that they are not currently responsible for maintaining. Such rights of way may include some types of alleyway or other local access routes. It is for individual authorities to decide whether they wish to adopt an alleyway or not, taking account of local priorities and standards.

Women and Equality

Equality and Human Rights Commission

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will place in the Library a copy of the handbook for staff of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. (323182)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is independent and manages its own affairs; the following is based on information it has provided.

The Commission is in the later stages of developing a full range of human resource policies. The policy is undergoing final consultation with the trade unions and is expected to be completed at the end of April 2010. Copies will be placed in the Library once finalised.

Justice

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been paid in reimbursable expenses to special advisers in his Department since April 2008. (325101)

Since 1 April 2008 a total of £1,102.65 has been claimed in reimbursable expenses by the Department's special advisers.

Magistrates: Age

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons upper age limits for magistrates are in place. (325672)

Magistrates retire on reaching the age of 70, as this is the statutory retirement age for judicial office holders.

It is vital the magistrates reflect the diverse communities they serve. Over 80 per cent. of magistrates are over 50 and the average age is 57. The contribution of magistrates of all ages is invaluable. However, increasing the retirement age for magistrates would take them out of line with other judicial offices and hinder work to redress the age imbalance by reducing the number of available vacancies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has made a recent assessment of the merits of (a) appointing magistrates over the age of 65 and (b) employing magistrates over the age of 70 years. (325673)

No recent assessment has been made on the merits of appointing magistrates over the age of 65 or employing magistrates over the age of 70 and there are no plans to undertake one for the reasons set out below. Magistrates retire on reaching the age of 70 as this is the statutory retirement age for judicial office holders.

Magistrates sit in a part-time capacity and generally have little previous experience of the court system, so will require training, mentoring and the opportunity to gain experience. The Lord Chancellor expects that part-time magistrates will be able to sit for at least five years before retirement. He will, therefore, not normally appoint anyone over the age of 65.

It is vital the magistrates reflect the diverse communities they serve. Over 80 per cent. of magistrates are over 50 and the average age is 57. The contribution of magistrates of all ages is invaluable. However, increasing the retirement age of magistrates, as set out in statute under Section 13 of the Courts Act 2003, would take them out of line with other judicial offices and hinder work to redress the age imbalance by reducing the number of available vacancies.

Prisoners: Ethnic Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners there were of each ethnicity in each (a) prison and (b) young offender institution in England and Wales as at 1 March 2010. (325842)

The following table shows the numbers of prisoners by each ethnicity in all prison establishments including young offender institutions, which are indicated, in England and Wales as at 30 June 2009 (latest published figures).

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.

Prison population of England and Wales by ethnic group as at 30 June 2009

White

Mixed

Asian or Asian British

Black or Black British

Chinese or Other

Not stated

Unrecorded

1991 census codes

Total

All

60,770

2,852

6,011

12,017

1,412

159

14

219

83,454

Altcourse

1,160

21

58

49

18

2

0

6

1,314

Askham Grange

101

4

9

6

2

0

0

0

122

Acklington

890

9

27

10

4

0

0

0

940

Albany

461

6

16

68

0

1

1

1

554

Ashfield1

239

30

16

50

0

1

0

2

338

Ashwell

141

4

26

24

4

0

0

0

200

Aylesbury1

209

34

29

154

4

1

0

1

433

Belmarsh

508

36

73

252

25

0

0

3

897

Buckley Hall

304

7

34

30

1

1

0

0

377

Blundeston

303

22

42

139

6

1

0

1

514

Bedford

309

29

48

70

5

0

0

0

461

Blantyre House

86

1

2

25

2

1

0

1

118

Bristol

502

19

16

56

11

1

0

2

607

Birmingham

908

68

181

263

21

2

0

1

1,444

Bullingdon

769

47

90

147

21

3

0

4

1,081

Brinsford1

340

32

67

77

5

0

0

0

521

Bullwood Hall

51

4

49

73

52

0

0

0

229

Brixton

346

30

71

331

13

0

0

1

792

Bronzefield

308

20

13

80

16

2

0

0

439

Chelmsford

497

22

48

113

11

0

0

1

692

Cardiff

705

24

33

31

17

5

0

5

819

Camp Hill

371

22

32

133

7

1

0

0

566

Cookham Wood1

63

4

0

18

1

0

0

0

86

Coldingley

317

17

27

138

4

3

0

0

506

Castington1

343

5

6

8

6

0

0

3

371

Channings Wood

643

11

15

51

2

0

0

0

722

Canterbury

84

6

55

96

53

0

0

0

295

Dartmoor

526

15

18

56

2

3

0

0

620

Dovegate

590

29

67

153

6

3

0

0

848

Drake Hall

181

12

5

57

6

0

0

0

261

Durham

863

8

17

19

47

0

0

4

958

Doncaster

900

21

68

74

16

2

0

22

1,103

Dorchester

196

3

6

15

3

0

0

3

226

Deerbolt1

395

11

14

11

0

0

0

1

431

Dover

22

0

78

130

80

0

0

0

310

Downview

176

20

16

115

10

3

0

0

340

Erlestoke

364

13

17

70

2

1

0

1

468

Sheppey Cluster (Standford Hill)

304

14

33

86

8

2

0

4

450

East Sutton Park

43

7

3

31

4

0

0

0

88

Everthorpe

582

14

48

28

1

0

0

1

674

Eastwood Park

250

17

14

27

10

0

0

0

317

Exeter

502

6

5

15

0

1

0

3

531

Sheppey Cluster (Elmley)

788

21

38

97

8

1

0

1

954

Forest Bank

911

25

110

87

10

0

0

1

1,144

Ford

355

15

51

102

4

1

0

1

529

Foston Hall

190

8

6

11

2

0

0

0

217

Frankland

627

19

23

54

7

4

0

0

734

Feltham1

188

75

61

322

22

7

0

5

680

Full Sutton

421

26

41

75

3

11

0

0

577

Featherstone

470

28

77

103

4

0

0

0

682

Garth

679

19

58

52

9

0

0

0

817

Gloucester

238

7

12

24

2

0

0

4

287

Guys Marsh

435

22

17

95

4

0

0

1

575

Grendon/Spring Hill

368

27

50

68

0

2

0

0

516

Glen Parva1

576

69

39

95

10

1

0

4

793

Gartree

513

16

54

80

11

3

0

1

678

Hollesley Bay

238

9

17

67

4

0

0

0

334

Huntercombe1

111

26

26

93

3

0

0

1

260

Moorland Open

185

9

31

13

3

0

0

0

241

Hewell

998

39

121

165

20

1

0

0

1,344

Holme House

884

7

29

19

7

0

0

2

948

Hindley1

250

12

12

10

0

0

0

5

289

Hull

934

14

33

18

13

0

0

6

1,018

High Down

659

36

75

278

17

1

0

6

1,073

Highpoint

514

38

79

276

18

3

0

1

930

Haslar

31

4

49

49

18

1

0

0

151

Haverigg

558

10

41

18

2

1

0

0

629

Holloway

259

24

14

106

23

0

0

2

428

Kirkham

489

14

43

19

1

1

0

1

568

Kennet

321

3

1

10

1

0

0

0

336

Kirklevington Grange

216

4

40

9

1

0

0

0

270

Lancaster

208

2

14

5

0

0

0

0

228

Leicester

240

12

62

33

7

0

0

2

357

Leeds

897

38

131

58

22

1

9

1

1,157

Lancaster Farms1

408

29

20

29

1

0

0

6

493

Lowdham Grange

445

32

69

122

15

2

0

0

685

Lindholme

736

38

144

159

35

2

0

0

1,114

Lincoln

609

8

8

24

18

0

0

2

670

Long Lartin

327

23

69

108

6

3

0

1

537

Latchmere House

87

12

23

68

3

0

0

0

193

Low Newton

294

3

1

9

4

0

0

0

311

Liverpool

1,101

25

82

92

35

0

0

2

1,337

Littlehey

526

27

52

97

6

3

0

0

711

Lewes

567

11

17

63

5

0

0

1

664

Leyhill

387

12

37

44

7

0

0

5

492

Moorland Closed

599

37

53

73

5

3

0

0

771

Morton Hall

132

18

8

154

16

1

0

0

328

Manchester

916

38

120

123

18

1

0

10

1,226

Maidstone

409

8

35

125

9

2

0

1

590

Mount (The)

343

46

87

257

24

6

0

0

763

Edmunds Hill

215

14

42

87

11

0

0

0

369

New Hall

326

9

8

14

13

0

0

0

370

Nottingham

393

20

48

69

9

1

0

6

545

Northallerton1

207

8

11

5

1

0

0

0

232

North Sea Camp

250

10

24

18

2

0

0

0

303

Norwich

410

8

17

56

8

0

1

2

502

Onley

491

39

61

96

2

3

0

0

692

Peterborough

740

33

50

101

25

1

0

1

950

Portland1

316

35

29

161

7

1

0

3

553

Parkhurst

346

16

31

86

5

6

0

2

491

Preston

659

9

57

11

7

0

0

3

746

Parc

1,040

27

29

56

9

1

0

13

1,175

Kingston (Portsmouth)

139

7

12

16

1

0

0

0

175

Pentonville

507

47

146

365

34

0

1

7

1,105

Rochester1

340

40

49

210

9

0

0

0

647

Reading1

188

17

14

15

6

0

0

2

242

Rye Hill

406

24

59

153

8

2

0

1

654

Ranby

749

37

108

149

10

0

0

1

1,054

Risley

875

24

90

78

11

1

0

1

1,080

Send

209

8

12

42

7

0

0

0

278

Stafford

572

23

73

58

6

3

0

0

735

Stoke Heath1

460

28

40

50

1

1

0

0

580

Stocken

617

33

63

85

8

1

0

0

807

Sheppey Cluster (Swaleside)

463

29

74

246

9

3

0

2

826

Shepton Mallet

167

1

1

17

1

1

0

0

188

Swinfen Hall1

406

56

43

105

3

1

0

1

616

Styal

381

8

12

28

19

1

0

1

450

Sudbury

379

21

81

85

2

3

0

0

570

Swansea

368

5

11

10

3

0

0

1

398

Shrewsbury

250

2

14

19

5

0

0

0

290

Thorn Cross1

243

13

29

12

1

0

0

3

301

Usk/Prescoed

392

3

9

20

2

1

0

0

426

Verne (The)

235

11

39

287

17

0

0

0

589

Wellingborough

369

28

47

172

8

3

0

0

628

Winchester

588

21

24

40

14

0

1

1

689

Wakefield

588

23

40

70

6

9

0

0

735

Wealstun

394

20

64

37

2

1

0

0

517

Woodhill

581

46

55

104

14

1

1

8

809

Warren Hill1

125

13

9

40

2

0

0

0

188

Wayland

703

39

50

189

18

0

0

1

1,000

Wymott

979

18

70

53

6

1

0

0

1,127

Werrington1

93

14

10

12

1

0

0

0

130

Wolds

338

11

18

20

0

0

0

0

388

Whitemoor

231

26

46

129

8

3

0

1

444

Wormwood Scrubs

606

62

191

399

30

1

1

3

1,293

Whatton

730

6

54

45

3

2

0

0

840

Wandsworth

947

58

158

435

64

6

0

7

1,675

Wetherby1

299

24

15

14

5

0

0

3

360

1 Establishments which serve as Young Offender Institutions

Cabinet Office

10 Downing Street

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many times (a) Mr Derek Draper and (b) Mr Charlie Whelan has visited the Cabinet Office/Downing Street complex since October 2009. (322911)

I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend on 4 February 2010, Official Report, column 508W.

10 Downing Street: Security

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what criteria are used to determine the granting of a Downing Street pass; and how many such passes there are. (318249)

Passes for access to 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street are issued to staff who work in the building and to individuals who require access for business purposes.

Admiralty House

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost to the public purse of (a) rent, (b) utility bills, (c) council tax payments and (d) other running costs for each Ministerial residence in Admiralty House was in each of the last three years. (324725)

Admiralty House is held freehold and no rent is payable. Along with other shared costs, utility costs are calculated on the basis of a share of those for Admiralty House as a whole and are not held separately for individual flats. One flat has been vacant since 27 July 2009; another vacant since 27 June 2007; and another vacant since 30 June 2006. All the flats are in council tax band H.

Business: Essex

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many businesses were registered for value added tax in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point in each year since 1997. (325846)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated April 2010:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning how many businesses were registered for value added tax in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point in each year since 1997. [325846]

Annual statistics on counts of VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises are available for 2009 from the ONS release UK Business: Activity, Size and Location at

www.statistics.gov.uk.

The table below is a subset of this, containing just VAT based enterprise statistics and shows the count of VAT based Enterprises in Essex County and Castle Point for each year from 1997.

Count of VAT based Enterprises in Essex county and Castle Point from 1997-2009

Essex county

Castle Point

1997

42,065

n/a

1998

43,625

2,105

1999

37,705

2,130

2000

38,655

2,160

2001

39,100

2,165

2002

39,395

2,190

2003

39,705

2,205

2004

39,435

2,160

2005

40,090

2,160

2006

40,505

2,215

2007

41,065

2,245

2008

42,475

2,295

2009

42,390

2,235

Central Office of Information: Advertising

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Central Office of Information’s marketing, advertising and public relations expenditure (a) was in 2008-09 and (b) is planned to be in 2009-10; and how much has been spent in 2009-10 to date. (320730)

I have asked the chief executive of the Central Office of Information to write to the right hon. Member.

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 April 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question [320730] asking for COI expenditure on marketing, advertising and public relations from 2008-2010.

The Central Office of Information’s marketing, advertising and public relations expenditure in 2008-09 was £380.8m.

The COI cannot provide planned expenditure for 2009-10 as it is determined by the requirements of our Client Departments.

Expenditure to date for 2009-10 can only be provided once the annual accounts have been fully audited.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much was spent by the Central Office of Information on advertising in the first three quarters of financial year 2009-10. (321715)

I have asked the chief executive of the Central Office of Information to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 April 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question [321715] asking how much was spent by the Central Office of Information on advertising in the first three quarters of financial year 2009-10.

Expenditure to date for 2009-10 can only be provided once the annual accounts have been fully audited.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Central Office of Information has spent on contracts with advertising agencies with registered offices outside the UK in each of the last three years; with which agencies the contracts were with; in which centres the registered offices were located; and if she will make a statement. (325760)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Central Office of Information: Marketing

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office for what reason promotional stress items are included in the Central Office of Information contract referred to in Contract Notice 2009/S 79-113888; what bodies have purchased promotional stress items through the Central Office of Information in the last three years; and at what cost such items were purchased. (322873)

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 April 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question [322873] regarding the Merchandising and Promotional Framework.

No supplier was appointed against Lot1: Label 23: Promotional Stress items print and production of stress items on the merchandising and promotional items framework and therefore no expenditure has been made.

Departmental Lost Property

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what property has been recorded as (a) lost and (b) stolen from her Department in the last 12 months; and what estimate has been made of the cost of the replacement of that property. (322085)

In the last 12 months the Cabinet Office has recorded six departmental assets as being reported as missing or stolen.

The six items are:

two mobile phones;

one Blackberry charger;

one keyboard;

an electric heater; and

an assortment of laptop accessories.

The total cost of replacement is £772.81.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the five most expensive hospitality events hosted by her Department and its agency were in the last three years; and what the (a) cost and (b) purpose was of each. (324655)

Events hosted by the Cabinet Office include official dinners and events for foreign leaders and other dignitaries, receptions for business leaders, community and charity representatives and sportsmen and women.

Information on official and charity receptions held at 10 Downing Street is published by means of an annual list as soon as it is ready at the end of the financial year.

Departmental Responsibilities

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what plans she has to establish a single management team and united press office for 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. (323547)

Management of the three core communications functions in the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Office—press office, strategic communications and digital communications—is being merged into one senior team. This will improve co-ordination and efficiency.

The new management team was agreed in March 2010 and a revised staff structure across the core communications functions will be in place by 1 July.

Government Departments: Internet

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 969W, on the Government departments: internet, (1) if she will list the website address of each of the 479 websites that were committed to be closed but have not yet been closed; (318307)

(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the full Website Review report summary, listing the (a) operational and to be continued, (b) closed and (c) operational but due for closure websites in the case of each public authority for which records are held.

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mark Lund, dated 7 April 2010:

As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question [318307/8] on Government Websites.

A Website Review report summary itemising what is requested will be placed in the Library in April 2010 updating the previous version placed in February 2010.

Government Departments: Private Detectives

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2010, Official Report, column 602W, on Government departments: private detectives, which departments have commissioned individuals from the panel of independent investigators in the last 24 months. (320906)

It has been the policy of successive Governments not to reveal details of specific security matters.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2010, Official Report, column 602W, on Government departments: private detectives, how much expenditure has been incurred on commissioning individuals from the panel of independent investigators in the last 24 months. (320907)

Costs for panel members are incurred by individual Departments. This information is not held centrally.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2010, Official Report, column 602W, on Government departments: private detectives, on how many occasions individuals from the panel of independent investigators have been commissioned to undertake investigations in the last 24 months. (320908)

It has been the policy of successive Governments not to reveal details of specific security matters.

Ministerial Policy Advisers

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office with reference to the written ministerial statement of 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 73W, on special advisers, what criteria are used to determine the pay band of a special adviser. (322882)

The criteria used to determine the pay band of a special adviser are underpinned by a tailored job evaluation scheme.

Music: Licensing Laws

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 10 March 2010, Official Report, column 280, on music licensing levies, what the statutory basis is which requires the arrangements for music licensing levies to apply to church halls. (323541)

I have been asked to reply.

In the UK, the statutory basis for the licensing of music, sound recordings and performances, including in church halls, is set out in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988 (as amended).

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 10 March 2010, Official Report, column 280, on music licensing levies, what the timetable is for discussions with the voluntary sector and the subsequent laying and ratification of secondary legislation. (323543)

I have been asked to reply.

Discussions between PPL and the third sector to find the best possible music licensing system are ongoing, initiated by my ministerial colleagues at the Office for the Third Sector. A number of issues remain to be resolved, and in the circumstances it has not been possible to introduce the planned legislative changes before the dissolution of Parliament prior to the forthcoming general election.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 10 March 2010, Official Report, column 280, on music licensing levies, if she will publish the evidential basis for changes to the original estimate of £20 million cost to the voluntary sector. (323544)

I have been asked to reply.

The impact assessment estimated the average annual cost to the third sector of the repeal of the current exemptions contained in s. 67 and 72(1B)(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be £18.7 million per year for the purchasing of Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) licences. This has not been changed. Full details of the impact assessment were published and are available here:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/govresponse-musiclicensing.pdf

The impact assessment figure of £18.7 million was based on a flat fee of £81 per annum for each music user. PPL have now indicated that they charge most commercial organisations like hairdressers, pubs and offices between £50 and £120 per year and it is likely that most third sector organisations would be charged at the lower end of this range. This would reduce the original estimate of £18.7 million. But the actual cost of repeal would be dependent on the tariffs agreed through negotiation between PPL and the third sector organisations.

National Identity Register

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether the proposed citizen's unique identifier will be linked to the National Identity Register. (324815)

The Prime Minister gave a speech on 22 March 2010 on Building Britain's Digital Future, in which he outlined the need to make it easy and convenient for the citizen to prove identity when using online services. The Digital Delivery Programme is working with others across Government, including the National Identity Service, on how this can be achieved.

The purpose of the National Identity Service is to ensure that citizens can prove their identity in a secure and convenient way when they need to in a range of different situations. It can play an important part in achieving better access to services online. However, no final decisions on how a unique citizen identifier might be reflected on the National Identity Register have yet been taken.

Official Residences

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 13 January 2010, Official Report, column 1002W, on official residences: repairs and maintenance, and with reference to the Cabinet Office's Annual Report and Accounts 2008-09, what the monetary value was of the fixed asset expenditure in relation to Crown Proposal 08/00696/1884; and which suppliers were commissioned to undertake the work. (318311)

I have nothing further to add to the answer given on 13 January 2010, Official Report, column 1003W.

Social Investment Wholesale Bank

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what timetable has been set for the launch of the Social Investment Wholesale Bank announced in Budget 2010. (325809)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Statistics

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what research has been undertaken into the levels of public confidence in Government statistics in the last 10 years. (318124)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Letter from Sir Michael Scholar KCB, dated April 2010:

As Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what research has been undertaken into the levels of public confidence in Government statistics in the last 10 years [318124].

There have been three surveys of public confidence in official statistics undertaken in the last ten years, in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Detailed analyses of the results of these surveys are available at the following links:

2004 survey:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/data/public_confidence/downloads/BritishOfficialStat.pdf

2005 survey:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/data/public_confidence/downloads/OmnibusMarch05.pdf

2007 survey:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/data/public_confidence/downloads/pcos_2007.pdf

Additional information about public confidence in official statistics and the surveys is available at the following link:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=13967

The UK Statistics Authority expects to publish the results of an updated survey of public confidence in official statistics, and related analysis, later this year.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Business: Credit

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department has taken to increase the level of access to credit for small businesses in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands in the last two years. (325767)

The Government have introduced a range of measures to help businesses through the global recession and to promote growth during the recovery. These include:

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG)

This encourages additional bank lending to creditworthy SMEs with viable business cases who do not have sufficient security available to support their borrowing request on a normal commercial basis. Over £1.28 billion of eligible EFG applications from over 11,400 firms have been granted, are being processed or assessed, and over 8,940 businesses have been offered loans totalling nearly £910 million.

Set out in the following table is the information for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee for Coventry and the west midlands.

Number of loans offered

Number of loans drawn

Value of loans offered (£ million)

Value of loans drawn

Coventry

26

19

4.07

2.43

West midlands

812

687

83.07

67.08

The Capital for Enterprise Fund

The fund supports viable businesses with equity or mezzanine investment aimed at releasing and sustaining growth, investing between £200,000 and £2 million where the business has exhausted its borrowing capacity with lenders.

To date the appointed fund managers have made offers totalling £98.7 million to 66 businesses, including three in the west midlands worth £4.8 million. 26 businesses have received investment, including one in the west midlands with a value of £2 million. I am not providing this breakdown by parliamentary constituency as this could make it possible to identify the individual companies that have received, or are under consideration for, support.

The fund is now closed to new applications, although businesses are still receiving investments from existing applications.

HM Revenue and Customs’ Business Support Service

This reviews payment of businesses tax liabilities and tries to come to an arrangement that allows companies to spread payments to help them over temporary difficulties. So far, there have been agreements made with over 200,000 businesses to spread more than £2.5 billion in business taxes. Changes to tax rules allow loss-making businesses to temporarily extend trading loss carry-back from one to three years for losses up to £50,000. In the west midlands, 27,800 arrangements have been made to defer payments of £480 million.

Business Link Health Checks

These provide a free review of businesses with a professional business adviser for hands-on advice and help accessing the full range of Government help. To the end of February 2009, over 128,000 businesses benefitted from a health check, including 15,487 businesses in the west midlands.

Prompt Payment

In the financial year 2009-10, central Government expects to pay an additional £40 billion to suppliers within 10 days (a target set in October 2008) compared to 2008-09, and 19 out of 20 central Government invoices are now paid in 10 days.

The Working Capital Scheme (WCS)

WCS has provided guarantees to two banks on portfolios of short-term loans with good credit risk in order to release regulatory capital to enable those banks to increase lending to businesses. The two banks with WCS guarantees, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, have made lending commitments of £39 billion.

Public Borrowing Review 2009 announced that as the broader Asset Protection Scheme now provides banks with considerably greater capital release, so new portfolios will not be guaranteed under the WCS although existing portfolio guarantees will remain until March 2011. Companies’ access to the WCS was through the banks; they did not apply for it directly.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises located in Coventry on their access to credit. (325768)

Access to credit is a key issue as UK economy moves to recovery. Ministers are in regular contact with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and access to credit continues to be a major topic for discussion. In particular, the Minster for Trade, Investment and Small Business visited Coventry, Birmingham and Worcester in 2009, where he participated in Q and A sessions with businesses of all sizes on a variety of topics. He also attended the 2010 annual FSB conference where access to credit featured in the discussion with the audience.

The Minister for the West Midlands has regularly discussed the issue in his meetings with local business organisations and local business people and it was featured in his speech to the West Midlands Economic Forum which took place in February in Coventry.

Access to finance for SMEs was recognised in Budget 2010 where the Government, building on their support to business through the downturn such as the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, announced measures such as the launch of the UK Finance for Growth, a body responsible for overseeing the Government stock of over £4 billion of SM finance products, including the Growth Capital Fund (announced in PBR 2009), for which £200 million of cornerstone investment has been raised so far from private sector and Government.

In addition, the UK is continuing to work with the EU’s financial institutions (the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund) to stimulate more venture capital and loan support for SMEs. Furthermore, the Budget announced the Small Business Credit Adjudicator (SBCA). Once established the SBCA will hear cases, referred by Business Link’s Financial Intermediary Service (FIS), where a business may have been unfairly denied credit.

To advise on the role and responsibilities of the SBCA the Government have launched a new task force. Enterprise Champion Lord Sugar, outgoing Federation of Small Businesses chairman John Wright and former Lloyd’s TSB deputy chief executive Mike Fairey will comprise the task force. They will build on the work Lord Sugar has been doing with small businesses, FIS and the banks.

Business: Denton and Reddish

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many businesses in Denton and Reddish constituency have received support from his Department since 2008. (325853)

Since April 2008, 1,847 businesses in Denton and Reddish have received business advice through Business Link North West. Five businesses have received grants or loans totalling £336,669.

Business: Government Assistance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the small firms loan guarantee scheme. (325138)

[holding answer 30 March 2010]: In January 2010, the Department published the Economic Evaluation of the Small Firms Loan Guarantee undertaken by the Institute of Employment Studies.

This study rigorously tested the effectiveness and value for money of SFLG and concludes that the basic rationale for SFLG is supported and that it appears to be a cost-effective way of supporting additional economic activity in the small business sector.

More specifically, the majority (81 per cent.) of SFLG recipients receive SFLG on their first loan application. For a majority (76 per cent.) of SFLG recipients, there were no alternative sources of finance available to them.

This is confirmed by 79 per cent. of SFLG recipients reporting the bank would probably, or definitely not, have given them a loan without SFLG. Just under half (49 per cent.) of businesses would definitely, or probably not, have proceeded with their project without SFLG.

A growth in sales, jobs and exports is attributable to SFLG supported lending within the first two years of the loan. The 3,100 SFLG supported businesses in 2006 have created between 3,550 to 6,340 additional jobs in the two years following receipt of the loan, created between £75 million and £150 million additional sales over two years; and were responsible for £33 million exports per annum.

Just within two years of receiving the loan the benefits of the scheme are outweighing the costs.

SFLG appears to be a particularly cost effective way of creating additional employment.

The full report is available via the BIS website:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file54112.doc

The Small Firms Loan Guarantee was replaced by the Enterprise Finance Guarantee in January 2009.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions his Department has had with Royal Bank of Scotland on its administration of the small firms loan guarantee scheme. (325139)

[holding answer 30 March 2010]: The Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG) was replaced by the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) in January 2009.

Ministers have regular discussions with representatives of each of the main UK lenders regarding a range of SME finance issues including via the Small Business Finance Forum.

Capital for Enterprise Ltd. (CfEL), which is responsible for operational delivery of SFLG and EFG on behalf of the Department, maintains a regular dialogue with each of the accredited lenders specifically regarding their administration of these schemes.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many (a) small, (b) medium-sized and (c) large businesses in Birmingham have received assistance under (i) the Working Capital Scheme, (ii) the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, (iii) the Capital Enterprise Scheme, (iv) the Regional Loan Transition Fund and (v) the Phoenix Fund since each scheme's inception. (325338)

The information is as follows:

(i) The Working Capital Scheme (WCS) has provided guarantees to two banks on portfolios of short-term loans with good credit risk in order to release regulatory capital to enable those banks to increase lending to businesses. The two banks with WCS guarantees, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, have made lending commitments of £39 billion.

Public Borrowing Review 2009 announced that as the broader Asset Protection Scheme now provides banks with considerably greater capital release, so new portfolios will not be guaranteed under the WCS although existing portfolio guarantees will remain until March 2011. Companies’ access to the WCS was through the banks; they did not apply for it directly.

(ii) The Enterprise Finance Guarantee is open to SMEs with a turnover of up to £25 million, rather than large businesses. A total of 142 loans worth £16.16 million have been offered to Birmingham businesses under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, of which 118 loans worth £11.40 million have been drawn down. Loans under the scheme are available to firms with a turnover of up to £25 million and are not therefore available to large businesses.

(iii) The Capital for Enterprise fund provides support to SMEs rather than large businesses. To date the appointed fund managers have made offers totalling £98.7 million to 66 businesses, including three in the West Midlands worth £4.8 million. 26 businesses have received investment, including one in the West Midlands with a value of £2 million. I am not providing this breakdown by parliamentary constituency as this could make it possible to identify the individual companies that have received, or are under consideration, for support.

(iv) The Advantage Transition Bridge Fund (ATBF) provided loans worth £2,677,000 to 18 companies in Birmingham. Information breaking these loans down by the size of the businesses is not available. The fund closed for new loans from 1 December 2009.

(v) During the Phoenix fund (which ran from 2002-06) Government provided £1.886 million to Community Development Finance Institutes (CDFIs) operating mainly in the Birmingham area. This capital was onward lent to 130 start up and existing businesses (the vast majority of these will have been in the Birmingham area).

Since the end of the Phoenix fund Advantage West Midlands has provided support to CDFIs and other lenders under the Advantage Small Loan scheme and more recently the Small Business Loan programme. Both have drawn on ERDF funding as well as funds from AWM and local authorities. Between 1 April 2007 and 31 December 2009 Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) and the Arrow Fund (two of the alternative lenders which have received funding under these programmes) made 235 loans totalling £3.574 million to businesses in Birmingham and Solihull.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what additional assistance his Department provided to small and medium-sized enterprises located in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands during the recent recession. (325769)

Copyright: Music

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the new regime of PPL music licensing will remove exemptions from (a) student unions and (b) educational institutions. (323976)

Discussions between PPL and the third sector to find the best possible music licensing system are ongoing, initiated by my ministerial colleagues at the Office for the Third Sector. A number of issues remain to be resolved, and in the circumstances it has not been possible to introduce the planned legislative changes before the dissolution of Parliament prior to the forthcoming general election.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many complaints his Department received regarding difficulties using its website in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (325204)

According to departmental records, no formal complaints have been received in the past year by the Department or its Ministers about difficulties operating the Department's corporate websites (including the websites of the former Departments for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)). No formal complaints on this topic were recorded in the lifetime of the DIUS website. Records of formal complaints to BERR are not available prior to March 2009 when procedures were overhauled.

The Department receives informal feedback from website users on an ongoing basis by email and via contact forms on its websites, including occasional comments on website usability.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much his Department spent on external website design consultants in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (325222)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) on 29 March 2010, Official Report, columns 810-811W.

Departmental Location

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much his Department spent on the relocation of staff from posts in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point constituency in each of the last five years. (321436)

The Department did not relocate any staff from posts in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point constituency in each of the last five years.

Exports: Essex

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many companies in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point made exports in each year since 1997. (325787)

[holding answer 7 April 2010]: HM Revenue and Customs publishes the UK Regional Trade in Goods Statistics, the most recent issue was published on 11 March 2010. A copy can be found at:

https://www.uktradeinfo.com/pagecontent/downloads/RtsPRDataTablesQ409.pdf

These statistics provide data at regional level only so we are unable to confirm the number of exporting companies in the county of Essex or the district of Castle Point.

Foreign Investment: Essex

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of (a) the monetary value of foreign client investment in (i) Essex and (ii) Castle Point in each year since 2003 and (b) the number of jobs created as a consequence in each such year. (325788)

[holding answer 7 April 2010]: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Further Education: Finance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has of the number of colleges in (a) England and (b) London which incurred costs in preparing capital bids to the Learning and Skills Council which were not proceeded with; and what estimate has been made of the total financial effect on those colleges in (i) England and (ii) London of the capital bids not proceeding. (325569)

171 colleges in England, 25 of which are in London, incurred property costs on projects not currently proceeding. All colleges were eligible for normal grant support towards these costs as set out in the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Capital Handbook and additional capital support was also made available to 42 of the colleges experiencing the most serious financial difficulties as a result of their aborted capital programmes. In total, the net cost to colleges was £126 million, with colleges in London incurring costs of £27 million.

Since 2001 LSC grant support to projects has amounted to £3.4 billion.

Imports

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whether measures to limit imports into the UK from countries which have not enacted legislation equivalent to the Climate Change Act 2008 are permissible under Article XX of GATT. (325862)

In accordance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) case law, to comply with Article XX of GATT any such import restriction would need inter alia to:

be primarily aimed at the conservation of exhaustible natural resources;

be the least trade-restrictive method of achieving the desired level of protection of the environment;

take proper account of the different ways in which countries may seek to pursue the same environmental goals and the needs of developing countries;

not constitute a means of unfair discrimination.

Industry: Denton and Reddish

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage private sector investment in industry in Denton and Reddish constituency; and if he will make a statement. (325851)

Support from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has helped to turn Broadstone Mill in Reddish into a state-of-the-art workspace with business incubation facilities, aimed specifically at innovative new businesses in the knowledge economy. Further grants have been awarded to businesses operating within the incubator. Businesses in Denton and Reddish are also eligible for support under the Government’s North West Intensive Startup Support Programme (ISUS) launched in January.

Learning and Skills Council: Sweet Concepts

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 156W, on the Central Office of Information: marketing, what promotional products were purchased from Sweet Concepts Ltd on behalf of the (a) Learning and Skills Council and (b) University for Industry; and at what cost in each case. (324301)

The Central Office of Information purchased promotional food items from Sweet Concepts Ltd. on behalf of:

(a) Learning and Skills Council at a total cost of £6,655

(b) University for Industry (Ufi) at a total cost of £1,498.

Local Press: Competition

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will refer the transfer of Guardian Media Group to Trinity Mirror to the Competition Commission to investigate potential monopolies in media ownership in Cheshire and Surrey. (325147)

[holding answer 6 April 2010]: The responsibility for investigating and making decisions on mergers falls to the UK’s independent competition authorities. In this case, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is investigating the acquisition under the Enterprise Act 2002 which will include whether it creates potential monopolies in markets.

The OFT will announce its conclusions in due course including whether or not to refer the merger to the Competition Commission.

Optics: Technology

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much research funding his Department has provided to the (a) Optic Research and Incubation Centre at St Asaph Business Park and (b) members of the Welsh Opto-Electronic Forum in each of the last 10 years; and how much such funding it plans to provide to each of those organisations in each of the next three years. (325392)

It has not been possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Overseas Students: Entry Clearances

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many places on higher education courses in (a) England and (b) Essex have been awarded to Tier 4 (General) student visa holders; and how many such students did not attend their course. (325839)

[holding answer 7 April 2010]: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Students: Loans

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how long on average the Student Loans Company has taken to process an application for a student loan in each year since 2005; and if he will make a statement. (325150)

Academic year 2009-10 was the first year of operation for the new centralised Student Finance England service when all new students studying in England applied for support to the Student Loans Company (SLC), rather than to their local authority, and therefore we can only provide data for this year. The National Audit Office1 found that the SLC took an average of 12.4 weeks to process new applications.

1 The Customer First Programme: Delivery of Student Finance - Report by National Audit Office, page 5 - point 6, 19 March 2010.

Work and Pensions

Attendance Allowance: Na-h-Eileanan an Iar

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Na-h-Eileanan an Iar constituency received attendance allowance in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2007-08. (325847)

The available information is in the table:

Attendance allowancecases in payment in Na-h-Eileanan an Iar parliamentary constituency

Quarter ending

Number

February 2007

880

May 2007

900

August 2007

930

November 2007

940

February 2008

960

May 2008

980

August 2008

1,030

November 2008

1,090

February 2009

1,090

May 2009

1,110

August 2009

1,150

Notes:

1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Cases in payment show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Carer’s Allowance: Na-h-Eileanan an Iar

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Na-h-Eileanan an Iar constituency received carer's allowance in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2008-09 and (c) 2007-08. (325848)

The information is in the table:

Carer's allowancecases in payment in Na-h-Eileanan an Iar parliamentary constituency

Quarter ending

Number

February 2007

200

May 2007

200

August 2007

200

November 2007

200

February 2008

200

May 2008

200

August 2008

200

November 2008

200

February 2009

200

May 2009

190

August 2009

190

Notes:

1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Cases in payment show the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the consultation document entitled Supporting people into work: the next stage of housing benefit reform, (1) what assessment she has made of the effects of the implementation of local housing allowance on the expenditure on housing benefit; and what estimate she made of the cost to the public purse of local housing allowance at the time of its implementation; (322155)

(2) what her Department's (a) original estimate was and (b) most recent estimate is of the effect on the overall level of expenditure on housing benefit of the introduction of local housing allowance.

On 15 December the housing benefit consultation, ‘Supporting people into work: the next stage of housing benefit reform', was launched. The consultation concluded on 22 February 2010. We are now considering the responses and we will set out how we will take forward our proposals in due course.

In 2004-05 nine Pathfinder local authorities piloted the local housing allowance. In 2005 the pilot was extended to cover a further nine local authorities, so as to cover a total of 18 local authorities.

In the pre-Budget report 2006 it was confirmed that,

‘subject to the successful passage of the Welfare Reform Bill, the Government will introduce the local housing allowance across the private rented sector for all new housing benefit claimants and those who move house from April 2008’.

At this time the estimated impact of the national roll-out of local housing allowance alone, all other external and market factors equal, on the Annual Managed Expenditure (AME) was an additional £20 million in the first year, against a total expenditure in the private rented sector of £4.3 billion for 2006-07.

This estimate is now likely to be out-of-date due to a number of factors, including the impact of the recession on the caseload size and composition, and changes in the boundaries of the areas from which local housing allowance rates are calculated. Due to the complexities involved in adjusting for such factors, and the lack of administrative data covering part of this period, a current estimate of the effect of the introduction of local housing allowance on the overall level of housing benefit expenditure is not available.

Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to address the matter of low pay. (322678)

[holding answer 16 March 2010]: I have been asked to reply.

The Government introduced the national minimum wage (NMW) in April 1999 to ensure a decent minimum rate of pay for all employees. In October 2010, the adult NMW rate will rise to £5.93 per hour. Table 5.1 in Budget 2010 shows the minimum income guaranteed by the combination of working and child tax credits and the NMW once the new rate comes into effect. A family with one child and one person working 35 hours a week will receive a minimum income of £310 per week, a 27 per cent. increase in real terms since April 1999.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Angola: Foreign Relations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the UK-Angolan bilateral relationship. (325463)

Our strategic partnership with Angola is developing well. Given Angola's geo-political importance, it is important that our two governments should consult closely and we are strengthening collaboration on a range of regional and international issues. In line with the Angolan Government's wish to diversify the economy, UK investment is broadening in this, the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The new constitution in February and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' zero-tolerance policy on corruption make it particularly timely to be deepening the relationship. The UK has an important role in supporting Angola's development, building on traditional links but also uncovering new opportunities. Beyond inter-governmental cooperation, UK-based non-governmental organisations and the private sector are key parts of this process. We hope also to develop ideas for working with key constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly, in which support from Members of the House would be valuable.

China: Abortion

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the discovering of 21 foetuses and baby bodies in the Guangfu river, Jining City, China; whether he has made representations to the government of China on this matter; and if he will make a statement. (325867)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

China: Family Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the operation of a one child policy by the government of China; and if he will make a statement. (325868)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of China on its population planning policies; and if he will make a statement. (325879)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions officials in the British Embassy in China have had with Chinese officials on (a) forced abortion and sterilisation and (b) birth control quotas in China; and if he will make a statement. (325880)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of China to relax its population planning policy; and if he will make a statement. (325881)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

China: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in the British Embassy in China have had with the government of China on the case of Chen Guangcheng; and if he will make a statement. (325878)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Crimes of Violence: Females

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role the Minister with lead responsibility for the Government's work to tackle violence against women overseas will have in the Government's cross-departmental strategy to tackle violence against women. (325866)

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost to his Department was of employing press and media officers in the last 12 month period for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of employing such staff in the financial year 1996-97, expressed in real terms. (324807)

This information is not held centrally and could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to (a) the government of Iran and (b) the Palestinian Authority on the fate of the missing Israeli service personnel; and if he will make a statement. (325696)

We consistently call for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. The EU reiterated this call in the December Foreign Affairs Council conclusions and made our collective position very clear in international meetings, most recently during the Quartet meeting in Moscow on 19 March.

Nigeria: Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Nigerian counterpart on the recent violence in Jos. (325462)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary condemned the recent violence in Jos in a joint statement with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and EU High Representative Baroness Ashton on 29 January. I raised UK concerns with former Foreign Minister Maduekwe on 15 March, and my noble Friend the Minister of State for Africa discussed earlier disturbances in Jos with the former Foreign Minister, when she met him on 20 January. Our high commission in Abuja remains in frequent contact with state and federal authorities on this issue, and has continued to urge the Nigerian Government to bring those responsible for crimes to justice, and to address the underlying causes of conflict.

Passports: Fraud

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Oral Statement of 23 March 2010, Official Report, columns 133-4, on UK passports (use in Dubai murder), what the other reasons are for not releasing the report by the Serious Organised Crime Agency. (325103)

The report was compiled as the result of a criminal investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency into the use of counterfeit British passports. Such reports which may lead to, or be relevant to, criminal proceedings in the UK or elsewhere are not released.

Southern Africa: HIV Infection

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to fulfil its commitments under the Achieving Universal Access AIDS Strategy, in (a) Lesotho, (b) Botswana and (c) Swaziland. (325456)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s role under the Government’s Achieving Universal Access HIV strategy is primarily focused on advocacy and lobbying to support the aims of the strategy. In doing this, we work closely with a broad range of partners in relevant countries, including the host government, non-government and multilateral organisations and other major donors.

Given the continued high level of infection rates in Southern Africa, there are several large bilateral and multilateral donors working with the governments in Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. The FCO’s efforts in these countries are therefore focused on providing political support to the major donors and international organisations, as well as providing support to non-government organisations.

For example, in Botswana, our high commission follows the HIV situation and policies closely, maintains links with the National AIDS Coordination Agency and the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS. It also looks for opportunities to support the major bilateral HIV/AIDS donors in addressing sensitive issues.

Our non-resident diplomatic representation to Lesotho or Swaziland is based at our high commission in Pretoria, where our staff monitor and report on developments in country and have a dialogue with a range of relevant partners on HIV/AIDS issues. In Swaziland, for example, we have held discussions with the National Director of the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS as well as a number of non-governmental organisations.

Our high commissions in Pretoria and Gaborone work closely with the Department for International Development (DFID) Southern Africa (based in Pretoria, South Africa), responsible for DFID’s work in Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. Tackling HIV in the region is a priority for DFID Southern Africa. For example, DFID Southern Africa is funding a £23 million Behaviour Change Communication Programme across 10 countries (including Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland), reaching 60 per cent. of the youth population. They are also contributing £18 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Children and AIDS Regional Initiative across six countries (including Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland), helping orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS. At the national level in Lesotho, DFID Southern Africa is providing £2.5 million to the Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) programme, providing HIV prevention, treatment and care services to 48,000 factory workers, 80 per cent. of whom are women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to fulfil its commitments under the AIDS Strategy, Achieving Universal Access in (a) Lesotho, (b) Botswana and (c) Swaziland. (325692)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s role under the Government’s Achieving Universal Access HIV strategy is primarily focussed on advocacy and lobbying to support the aims of the strategy. In doing this, we work closely with a broad range of partners in relevant countries, including the host government, non-government and multilateral organisations and other major donors.

Given the continued high level of infection rates in Southern Africa, there are several large bilateral and multilateral donors working with the governments in Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. The FCO’s efforts in these countries are therefore focussed on providing political support to the major donors and international organisations, as well as providing support to non-government organisations.

For example, in Botswana, our high commission follows the HIV situation and policies closely, maintains links with the National AIDS Co-ordination Agency and the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS. It also looks for opportunities to support the major bilateral HIV/AIDS donors in addressing sensitive issues.

Our non-resident diplomatic representation to Lesotho or Swaziland is based at our high commission in Pretoria, where our staff monitor and report on developments in country and have a dialogue with a range of relevant partners on HIV/AIDS issues. In Swaziland, for example, we have held discussions with the National Director of the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS as well as a number of non-governmental organisations.

Our high commissions in Pretoria and Gaborone work closely with the Department For International Development (DFID) Southern Africa (based in Pretoria, South Africa), responsible for DFID’s work in Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. Tackling HIV in the region is a priority for DFID Southern Africa. For example, DFID Southern Africa is funding a £23 million Behaviour Change Communication Programme across 10 countries (including Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland), reaching 60 per cent. of the youth population. They are also contributing £18 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Children and AIDS Regional Initiative across six countries (including Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland), helping orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS. At the national level in Lesotho, DFID Southern Africa is providing £2.5 million to the Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) programme, providing HIV prevention, treatment and care services to 48,000 factory workers, 80 per cent. of whom are women.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution: Shropshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on air quality in Shropshire. (325438)

There have been no recent discussions between the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for Transport on air quality in Shropshire. Ministers from both Departments met recently to discuss transport measures to improve air quality in the UK, and DEFRA and Department for Transport officials meet regularly to discuss national and local transport measures to improve air quality.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the effects of climate change on the UK's wildlife and habitat. (325614)

Recent discussions with ministerial colleagues include Government's publication “Climate Change: Taking Action”. This brings together the key themes from central Government Departments and is available from the Libraries of the House. The effects of climate change on biodiversity are considered in further detail in DEFRA's Adaptation Plan and the specific supplement on adaptation and the natural environment, available on the DEFRA website.

Coastal Erosion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Environment Agency spent on sea defences in (a) total, (b) East Anglia and (c) Essex in each of the last 10 years. (325454)

The following figures show the Environment Agency’s spend on coastal and tidal schemes in England, East Anglia and Essex.

Sea and tidal schemes in England

£ million

2008-09

84

2009-10 (forecast outturn)

95

Sea and tidal defences capital expenditure figures

£ million

East Anglia

Essex

2000-01

7.9

0.7

2001-02

6.5

1.2

2002-03

10.9

1.5

2003-04

12.6

0.9

2004-05

10.8

0.6

2005-06

11.5

1.6

2006-07

15.2

1.9

2007-08

9.8

0.6

2008-09

38

9.7

2009-10 (forecast outturn)

24

3.5

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to his Department was of employing press and media officers in the last 12 month period for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of employing such staff in the financial year 1996-97, expressed in real terms. (324808)

The total cost of employing staff in the DEFRA press office for the period of 1 April 2009 to 28 February 2010 was £906,316.80. Figures for March 2010 are not yet available.

DEFRA was established in 2001. There are therefore no figures available for press office costs in 1996-97.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints his Department received regarding difficulties using its website in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (325198)

There have been no complaints about the DEFRA website in the last three years through DEFRA’s formal complaints process or via ministerial correspondence.

We do not keep statistics of the ad hoc website feedback received by e-mail through the “Contact Us” option on the site. Where negative comments are received they are generally about the content rather than the operation of the website.

In the month following the September 2009 redesign of the DEFRA website we received about 120 e-mails—many more than usual. This generally arose from unfamiliarity with the new design, and the in-house DEFRA web team followed up and helped overcome any temporary difficulties among users.

In March 2010 DEFRA carried out a random website user survey which invited visitors to the DEFRA website to give a general comment on the website, as well as answer a series of structured questions about what they were using it for. Approximately two thirds of these general comments were negative. Many were not specifically about the website but they are all being followed up by the in- house team.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on external website design consultants in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (325216)

Expenditure on external website design consultants in the last three years is shown in the following table.

Design consultancy costs (£)

2007-08

0

2008-09

59,447

2009-10

56,979

Full external costs for the DEFRA website for this period were provided in the answer given on 27 January 2010, Official Report, column 871W to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps).

Departmental Language Coaching

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months; what expenditure his Department incurred in providing such coaching; and in what languages such coaching was provided. (320417)

In the last 12 months 13 staff members have received foreign language coaching at a cost of £11,643.90. The coaching is provided in French, Spanish and German.

DEFRA has significant involvement in the EU policy agenda and the provision of language training for appropriate staff helps ensure that the Department can engage effectively with its European contacts.

Ministers did not receive foreign language coaching.

Departmental Legal Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its predecessors have spent in (a) legal fees and (b) compensation on legal cases concerning remuneration of its employees in each of the last 10 years. (322059)

There have been no legal cases wholly concerning remuneration of employees brought against the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs or its executive agencies for the past four years. DEFRA is not able to provide data for any period prior to this. There are a number of cases concerning remuneration currently in progress but figures for these are not yet available as proceedings are still active.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the five most expensive hospitality events hosted by his Department and its agencies were in the last three years; and what (a) the cost and (b) purpose of each such event was. (324656)

DEFRA and its agencies conduct many public events throughout the year and the costs of each are carefully managed to ensure best value for money is achieved consistent with the objectives and purpose of the event. No central record is maintained of these events.

DEFRA does not conduct hospitality events, these being precluded by the civil service code. But some hospitality, e.g. refreshments and buffets may be provided at events.

Core financial systems do not always record the specific nature of the events and as all event costs are not directly allocated to a single account, the answer could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

No central records are kept by DEFRA of the events conducted by its eight agencies so to collect and collate answers would also incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 December 2009, Official Report, column 974W, on departmental publications, if he will place in the Library a copy of each of the last 10 editions of his Department’s Landscape staff magazine. (324306)

We have arranged for a copy of each of the last 10 editions of Landscape to be placed in the Library.

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 3 November 2009, Official Report, column 801W, on departmental telephone services, whether contracts were awarded for the provision of services relating to helplines. (324112)

With reference to the answer of 3 November 2009, Official Report, column 801W, and from information held centrally a contract was awarded to Vertex Data Science Ltd. on 18 October 2008 for a period of five years, to expire 17 October 2013. The helpline contract provides a single point of contact for all DEFRA general inquiries.

Farming Link

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) production, printing and distribution costs and (b) circulation figures are of his Department's publication Farming Link. (325315)

[holding answer 6 April 2010]: Farming Link is a 16-page full-colour A4 magazine and is DEFRA's main way of communicating with farmers and growers. It is produced and distributed to 136,462 addresses four times a year. As well as a printed version, an online version is produced which includes a searchable PDF as well as individual articles.

Costs for 2009-10 were as follows:

Edition

Contractor

Cost (£)

July 2009

Postage

Royal Mail

29,874.36

Printing and distribution

Communisis

32,476

Editorial

Specialist

16,354.15

Design

Specialist

5,299.20

Photography

Specialist

3,197

Proofing

Specialist

382.95

Travel

Specialist

253

Bi-monthly online content

Specialist

2,990

Total

90,826

October 2009

Postage

Royal Mail

29,178.91

Printing and distribution

Communisis

32,956

Editorial

Specialist

14,221

Design

Specialist

4,608

Photography

Specialist

2,400

Proofing

Specialist

280

Travel

Specialist

150

Bi-monthly online content

Specialist

2,600

Total

86,394

January 2010

Postage

Communisis/DSA

28,948

Printing and distribution

Communisis

32,219

Editorial

Specialist

14,221

Design

Specialist

4,608

Photography

Specialist

2,400

Proofing

Specialist

333

Travel

Specialist

297

Bi-monthly online content

Specialist

2,600

Total

85,626

March 2010

Postage

Communisis/DSA

28,948

Printing and distribution

Communisis

32,219

Editorial

Specialist

14,221

Design

Specialist

4,608

Photography

Specialist

2,400

Proofing

Specialist

333

Travel

Specialist

297

Bi-monthly online content

Specialist

2,600

Total

85,626

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) homes and (b) businesses are registered to receive warning messages from the Environment Agency’s Floodline Warnings Direct; and how many properties have received such warnings since the Floodline was established. (325838)

There are 950,000 properties registered to receive warnings from the Environment Agency’s Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD) service. Around 840,000 of these are homes and about 110,000 are businesses.

As of 31 March 2010, almost 150,000 properties have received warnings since FWD was established on 25 January 2006.

Horses: Passports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many horses have been issued with passports; (324877)

(2) how many horses have (a) thoroughbred, (b) individual pony and (c) Horse Society passports;

(3) how many horses are recorded on the National Equine Database.

The National Equine Database shows that as of 25 March 2010, 1,204,833 passports have been issued by UK Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs). Of these, 342, 242 were Weatherby's Thoroughbred passports. It is not possible to provide the number of “individual pony” and “horse society” passports as a number of organisations issue passports for both horses and ponies.

As of 25 March 2010 the National Equine Database contains 1,606,680 horse records. These include data taken from passports, old breeding papers issued before the introduction of passports and horse performance records which cannot yet be matched to a passport. Therefore some horses will be dead or duplicated within the system.

Nature Conservation: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on protecting (a) bats and (b) other protected species in the most recent year for which figures are available. (325829)

More than 300 species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, including all species of bats. These will benefit from a diverse range of funding streams and conservation effort involving the DEFRA network of organisations and with the exception of any species-specific projects, figures are not accounted for in this way. I refer to my previous answer of 22 Mar 2010, Official Report, column 138W, on overall biodiversity expenditure, which would include conservation of protected species.

With specific regard to bats, the UK is a party to the Agreement on the Conservation of European Bats (the Eurobats Agreement) which promotes their protection internationally and for which the UK subscription in 2010 was £59,890.68. In addition the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) contributed £87,000 to the National Bat Monitoring Programme in 2009-10. Natural England estimates that it has spent approximately £370,000 on work intended to protect bats in 2009-10.

Oils: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what volume of waste oils has been exported to (a) Germany, (b) Italy and (c) other EU member states (i) in total and (ii) for re-refining in the last three years. (325730)

The following tables show the data requested.

Total exported

Tonnes

Italy

Germany

Other EU member states

2007

0

257.75

6370.41

2008

0

280.24

13104.52

2009

0

5090.89

8588.16

2010

0

324.72

3250.14

Total exported for re-refining

Tonnes

Italy

Germany

Other EU member states

2007

0

257.75

4261.17

2008

0

0

5287.83

2009

0

5090.89

5884.79

2010

0

184.28

0

These data were obtained from the Environment Agency’s National Transfrontier Shipments (NaTS) Database on 1 April 2010. NaTS records the details of all shipments of waste notified under the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC1013/2006/EC).

The data for 2009-10 are currently an incomplete data set so these will be subject to change as data are received.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of the waste oil regeneration industry on promotion of investment in regeneration of waste oils. (325770)

DEFRA continues to maintain regular contact with the waste oil industry on a variety of issues affecting the management of waste oil.

Representatives of the waste oil processing industry are members of the Stakeholder Group relating to the transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), including the provisions in article 4 on the waste hierarchy and article 21 on waste oils. They were also involved in the Hazardous Waste Steering Group, which helped advise on the recently published Strategy for Hazardous Waste Management in England.

Informal discussions with the sector indicate that proposed investors in regeneration continue to watch the market situation in the UK and greater re-refining remains a possibility.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has undertaken a life cycle assessment of the environmental impact arising from the export of waste oils for re-refining. (325771)

DEFRA has not commissioned specific studies on the life cycle assessment of the environmental impact arising from the export of waste oils for re-refining. However, we are aware of the following life cycle studies:

GEIR (Groupement Europeen de l’Industrie de la Regeneration, part of the Independent Union of the European Lubricants industry) report: Ecological and energetic assessment of re-refining used oils to base oils: Substitution of primarily produced base oils including semi-synthetic and synthetic compounds:

http://www.geir-rerefining.org/documents/LCA_en_short_version.pdf

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Waste Prevention and Recycling report: Improving Recycling Markets:

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/24/14/35582045.pdf

The European Commission report: Critical Review Of Existing Studies And Life Cycle Analysis On The Regeneration And Incineration Of Waste Oils:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/oil/waste_oil_xsum.pdf

Poultry: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department plans to take to reduce the incidence of keel bone fractures in laying hens; and if he will make a statement. (325831)

The Government recognise that this is a key welfare concern in laying hens, which is why DEFRA's animal welfare research programme is currently funding a three-year project by the university of Bristol on the impact of keel bone fractures on the welfare of laying hens. The aim of this study is to understand and identify risk factors associated with keel bone fractures in order to consider how to adapt production systems to improve the welfare of laying hens.

Waste Management: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of (a) private finance initiative contracts relating to and (b) Government funding of residual waste plants on the ability of small businesses and community groups to set up residual waste projects. (325115)

DEFRA constantly assesses the financial markets to ensure that waste private finance initiative (PFI) projects are financially viable. This includes meetings with banks, contractors and waste companies as well as individual waste local authorities. In November 2009, Officials from DEFRA's Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme (WIDP) hosted a meeting attended by representatives from some 20 banking institutions.

PFI credits are given to local waste authorities and not to individual businesses and community groups. The local waste authority will then tender for companies within the PFI's criteria.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many improvised explosive devices have (a) been defused and (b) exploded in Afghanistan in each month since 2007. (322516)

Records of incidents for the whole of Afghanistan are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, data are available for activity up to February 2010 concerning Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the area of Helmand Province for which Task Force Helmand has responsibility. This area of responsibility has not stayed constant during the period in question.

Number of IED explosions recorded by Task Force Helmand

2007

2008

2009

2010

January

2

24

29

89

February

6

24

30

164

March

7

30

42

April

9

27

27

May

23

35

57

June

23

52

102

July

32

51

159

August

16

48

114

September

31

43

77

October

24

35

67

November

13

38

69

December

20

39

70

The figures above refer to an explosion that has subsequently been reported by units operating within the Task Force Helmand area of responsibility. The figures include both ‘laid’ IEDs and suicide (both vehicle and person-borne) devices.

Number of IEDs neutralised recorded by Task Force Helmand

2007

2008

2009

2010

January

0

16

44

61

February

0

20

54

107

March

0

14

49

April

1

18

67

May

0

33

36

June

3

12

142

July

2

22

94

August

6

21

113

September

9

32

125

October

3

23

88

November

8

48

90

December

14

31

132

The figures above refer to the recording of a device that has been located and subsequently confirmed as an IED. Action has then been taken to neutralise the device.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether full-time reserve service personnel are accommodated in married quarters at RAF Benson; and what the cost to the public purse has been of accommodating members of the regular Royal Air Force in premises away from RAF Benson in the last 12 months. (325732)

Service family accommodation (SFA) is provided to entitled regular service personnel and full-time reserve service (FTRS) full commitment (FC) reservists. However, there are no FTRS FC personnel occupying SFA at RAF Benson.

FTRS limited commitment (LC) personnel do not have an entitlement to SFA, but are eligible to apply for surplus SFA and pay full market rent for occupancy. There is one FTRS LC occupying surplus SFA at RAF Benson, which was surplus when the officer moved in and attracts a full market rent. Exceptionally, given this officer's key role as a family liaison officer, he has not been required to move.

Substitute service family accommodation (SSFA) is only ever used as a last resort in cases where service accommodation either does not exist, or is not available to entitlement. Families allocated SSFA may be invited to move to SFA should it subsequently become available. Given the associated disruption to families and the potential impact on schooling, personnel and their families are not obliged to move.

There are currently 33 families occupying SSFA in the Benson area. The rental cost to the Ministry of Defence for these families over the last 12 months was around £460,000. A more accurate figure cannot be given as properties are vacated at various times.

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a public announcement when the last US cluster munitions have been removed from the UK. (325695)

The United States has identified the cluster munitions that it holds on United Kingdom territory as exceeding its worldwide operational planning requirements. We expect that all US cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK this year 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 the 8 December 2009, Official Report, column 1020). A statement will be made to confirm the removal of US cluster munitions at that time.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many incidents of the loss of confidential data held by his Department have been reported (a) in each of the last five years and (b) in each of the last 12 months. (321731)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) takes any attacks on, or misuse of, its information, networks and associated media storage devices very seriously and has robust procedures in place to mitigate against and investigate such occurrences. Furthermore, new processes, instructions and technological aids are continually being implemented to mitigate human errors and raise the awareness of every individual in the Department with regards to cyber security.

The following tables provide details of the number of reported losses of confidential and personal data centrally reported within the Department from 2005 to 2010. Figures will continue to be adjusted to incorporate subsequent recoveries of items, the reporting of additional losses and subsequent clarification of historic incidents. The following figures reflect the latest data held as of 10 March 2010.

In a number of these cases the documents were historical and so the original protective marking would have been eligible to be considered for downgrading. This would certainly reduce any risk of compromise. A number of these incidents came to light as a consequence of thorough housekeeping activities and revised MOD data management practices. It is likely that a large number of instances relate to records of the destruction of documents not being accurately maintained, rather than documents actually having gone missing.

Reported incidents of the loss of confidential data in each of the last five years

Total

2005

77

2006

130

2007

52

2008

1099

2009

347

The surge in reported incidents from 2008 is largely attributable to two factors. Firstly, there is an increased awareness of the need to report data loss across the Department. Secondly, since the publication of the Data Handling Review and Burton Report, the MOD is now auditing its holdings of both personal data and removable media. This has identified a number of instances where the location of data could not be verified and has therefore been reported as a possible loss—even though in many cases they may have merely been unaccounted for or incorrectly disposed of.

Reported incidents of the loss of confidential data in each of the last 12 months

Month

Total

2009

March

10

April

34

May

24

June

19

July

20

August

32

September

94

October

25

November

21

December

65

2010

January

23

February

48

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. (320637)

This information is not held in the format requested. Prior to April 2007 all cases were managed locally and data on the number of cases initiated are not available. Information on average time taken to complete each type of procedure is not recorded, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In the Ministry of Defence, if an individual’s performance is identified as unsatisfactory they may be subject to the Restoring Efficiency process, which involves warning the individual, encouraging improvement, and allowing a reasonable opportunity to improve. If a satisfactory performance is not achieved the individual may be dismissed or downgraded.

The number of Restoring Efficiency and disciplinary procedures initiated in each financial year and the number of dismissals in the same period—but which might include cases initiated in the previous financial year—was as follows:

Restoring EfficiencyDisciplinary procedures

Initiated

Dismissals

Initiated

Dismissals

Number of civil servants

2004-05

n/k

12

n/k

59

79,900

2005-06

n/k

12

n/k

47

79,700

2006-07

n/k

12

n/k

58

75,800

2007-08

89

4

87

50

71,400

2008-09

92

2

108

60

66,700

n/k = Not known

These figures include staff in MOD agencies but exclude trading funds and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

There is also a range of disciplinary penalties less than dismissal: Reprimand; Restitution; Loss of one, five or 10 day’s pay; Downgrading with a ban on promotion for up to three years.

Departmental Lost Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what property has been recorded as (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department in the last 12 months; and what estimate has been made of the cost of the replacement of that property. (322073)

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

Departmental Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff of his Department presently employed in Kentigern House in Glasgow are engaged (a) solely on duties relating to military staff based in Scotland and (b) on duties relating to (i) military and (ii) civilian staff based (A) elsewhere in the UK and (B) overseas. (325857)

It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to place in the Library a copy of the most recent report of the Chief of the General Staff’s briefing team. (325551)

In accordance with the conventions which govern the conduct of government during the pre-election period, the report will be placed in the Library of the House as soon as possible in the next parliamentary term.

Gurkhas

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how often the cross-departmental Gurkha working group has met; and what Government departments are represented on the group; (325684)

(2) what (a) written and (b) other information is provided to Gurkha veterans seeking advice at his Department's resettlement office in Kathmandu, Nepal;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to inform the Gurkha veteran population in Nepal of their rights of settlement in the United Kingdom;

(4) how much funding is available for his Department's resettlement office in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2010-11.

The Cross-Departmental Working Group was set up in June 2009 and has met formally on three occasions, twice in 2009 and once so far this year. As well as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for Communities and Local Government, (DCLG), the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are members of the Working Group.

The Working Group has also consulted with a wide range of welfare organisations in the course of its work, including the main Service charities: the Gurkha Welfare Trust; the Royal British Legion; ABF The Soldiers' Charity; the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association; and Veterans Aid.

The Gurkha Settlement Office in Kathmandu opened in October 2009 and to date has had nearly 5,000 visits from ex-Gurkhas and their families. The Government of Nepal and all ex-service organisations were briefed by MOD about the role of the office which is to provide free help and assistance with the settlement process. This includes information and education about life in the UK in order for the ex-Gurkhas to make an informed choice about settlement, and if they decide to apply for a visa help and advice filling out the visa form, help with finding and completing supporting documentation and a fast tracking system for issuing National Insurance numbers which facilitates claiming benefits in the UK. DCLG are setting up a housing advice centre in the UK to help find appropriate housing and will offer a bond to landlords in lieu of the required rental deposit. The UKBA have also introduced a new stamp on the visa which allows DWP to identify ex-Gurkhas who do not need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Test before benefits can be paid.

In November 2009 and January this year several hundred ex-Gurkha representatives in Nepal were briefed by a joint MOD/UKBA team about the benefits of using the Kathmandu settlement office. A further communications exercise and additional consultation and briefings are planned in April. It is also intended to forward base some of the settlement office staff from Kathmandu to the east and west of Nepal to try and reach those who might not be able to travel to Kathmandu.

A booklet in English and Nepali that explains the cost of living in the UK has been produced at the request of the ex-service organisations, and an updated and more comprehensive book about life in the UK will be issued in Nepal in April. The book, developed in association with ex-servicemen, the service charities and local authorities contains a wealth of information about living in the UK.

To date, the cost of setting up and staffing the Settlement Office is some £20,000 and a similar budget has been earmarked for 2010-11.

Illegal Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff his Department and its agencies have appointed who were later discovered to be illegal immigrants since 2005. (320442)

People employed to work in Government Departments and their agencies, either directly or through a contractor, are required to satisfy requirements on identity, nationality and immigration status prior to the offer of employment. Only two employees of the MOD have been convicted of being illegal immigrants over the last five years.

Military Aircraft: Operating Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average total operating cost per flight hour for the (a) Hawk 128 Advanced Jet Trainer, (b) E-3D Sentry AEW1, (c) Hercules C-130J, (d) C-17 Globemaster III and (e) MQ-9 Reaper was in the latest period for which figures are available. (325233)

The average operating cost per hour for E-3D Sentry, Hercules C-130J, and C-17 Globemaster, for financial year 2009-10, is provided in the following table. The cost includes forward and depth servicing, fuel, crew and training costs and the cost of capital charge, depreciation and other overheads.

Aircraft

Approx cost (£ per hour)

E-3D Sentry AEW1

33,000

Hercules C-130J

12,000

C-17 Globemaster III

42,000

The Hawk 128 Advanced Jet Trainer is in the process of being introduced into service and has only flown 450 hours in FY 2009-10. A mature estimate of flying hour costs will only be available once it is fully in-service which is not expected until 2012-13.

The average operating cost per hour for the Reaper Urgent Operational Requirement is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Nimrod Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out details of the transitional arrangements to provide (a) a long range maritime search and rescue capability and (b) a long range anti-submarine warfare capability between the time the Nimrod MR2 was withdrawn from service and the entering into full operational capability of the Nimrod MRA4; and how long he expects that transitional period to last. (325791)

[holding answer 7 April 2010]: The Nimrod MR2 provided a state-of-the-art Long Range Search and Rescue (LR SAR) capability. The Nimrod MRA4 will bring a substantially more capable aircraft into the RAF’s fleet.

In the period of transition until the MRA4 achieves its initial operating capability, we intend to make every effort to ensure that we are able to provide a response to the most serious SAR incidents, using other assets, as available, in the long-range search and rescue role. No specific aircraft has been allocated to the LR SAR task; our response to any particular SAR incident will be dependent on aircraft and crew availability, taking account of other high priority operational tasks.

Nimrod MRA4 deliveries began in March this year and initial operating capability, including for LR SAR operations, is planned to be achieved by October 2012, with some ad hoc capability available before that date.

I cannot comment on long range anti-submarine warfare capability for reasons of national security.

Opposition

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has undertaken costings of the policies of the (a) Conservative Party and (b) Liberal Democrat Party at the request of Ministers or special advisers in the last 36 months. (324239)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on 30 March 2010, Official Report, column 1044W.

RFA Darkdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will take steps to remove the fuel, oil and ammunition from RFA Darkdale after its sinking in James Bay, St Helena; and if he will make a statement; (325669)