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Written Answers

Volume 698: debated on Monday 21 January 2008

Written Answers

Monday 21 January 2008

Agriculture: Bluetongue

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs, Jonathan Shaw, on 10 December 2007 (Official Report, cols. 20-21W), whether a decision has been reached concerning the bids from three companies for the production of a blue tongue vaccine. [HL1267]

On 19 December, following a rigorous tender process, Defra announced that it has placed a firm order with pharmaceutical company Intervet to supply 22.5 million doses of bluetongue vaccine for use in England and Wales. This order will ensure that vaccine will be available as soon as possible in early summer.

Agriculture: Climate Change

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they will bring forward to give farmers more opportunities to work to reduce global warming, in view of the National Farmers’ Union estimate that 1,000 hectares of crops absorbs between 30 and 60 tonnes of carbon per annum. [HL1315]

We are working with the Rural Climate Change Forum and the Farming Futures communication project to raise awareness among farmers and land managers and encourage them to change their behaviour. We are working to drive faster growth in anaerobic digestion by farmers, businesses and local authorities in a way that is both cost effective and beneficial to the environment. We are exploring the feasibility of market mechanisms to enable the trading of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and land management. We are looking at how measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be included in agri-environment schemes in future. We also plan to publish shortly a critical review of the potential for organic matter returns and reduced tillage practices to influence soil carbon.

Armed Forces: Pay

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the total number of (a) overpayments, and (b) underpayments made to service personnel for each month in 2007; and [HL1296]

What was the maximum (a) underpayment, and (b) overpayment made to any individual in the armed services through the joint personnel administration scheme in 2007; and [HL1297]

Whether the errors relating to underpayments and overpayments under the operation of the joint personnel administration scheme have been rectified; and, if not, how long they will take; and [HL1298]

Whether service personnel who have been underpaid by the joint personnel administration scheme have been repaid the full sum to which they were entitled; and [HL1299]

Whether action has been taken more quickly to rectify overpayments by the joint personnel administration scheme rather than underpayments; and how overpayments have been rectified. [HL1300]

The number of over and underpayments made to Armed Forces personnel in each month between January and November 2007 is provided in the table below. During this period 2.4 million payments (including supplementary payments) were made via the joint personnel administration system. The notes to the table detail the range of identified over and underpayments, the remedial actions taken, and the associated timescales involved in correcting the errors.

Delays or errors in individual payments can also occur as the result of late or incorrect inputs by individuals or unit human resources staff . We do not hold data on this.

All pay errors are rectified as soon as possible with no difference in priority between over and underpayments. Where an overpayment has occurred the Ministry of Defence will seek to recover the moneys owed in accordance with the Department Managing Public Funds (formerly Government Accounting) regulations. Armed Forces personnel who have been underpaid can request cash supplements equivalent to the underpayments from their units.

Month

Overpaid

Underpaid

Total

Notes

January

161

1,383

1,544

See Note 1

February

70

0

70

March

229

54

283

April

13,908

252

14,160

See Note 2

May

0

1,181

4,521

See Note 3

June

0

90

90

July

2,978

416

3,394

See Note 4

August

0

46,305

46,305

See Note 5

September

0

722

4,971

See Note 6

October

213

50

263

November

1,987

311

2,298

See Note 7

Total

19,546

50,764

77,899

See Notes 3 and 6

Notes (specifically relating to months with 500-plus overpayments/underpayments):

1. Comprised 763 underpayments ranging from £98 to £348 due to a JPA formula error, fixed in month and 620 substitution pay errors (~£150 underpaid) fixed in February.

2. A decision was made not to recover some elements of service debt and miscellaneous charges until data accuracy on transition could be proved (13,908). Some of the underpayments (~100) were caused by non-receipt of payable orders while 121 were caused by Late Entry Majors not being transitioned to their correct pay scale and was corrected in June.

3. The majority of the 1,181 underpayments were caused by University Officer Training Corps input of bounties and training nights; other factors were mess subscriptions and disturbance allowance. The majority of the underpayments were resolved in May and June. There were a further 3,340 minor errors due to migration of some data elements which were mainly resolved in June, though the breakdown of underpayments versus overpayments is unknown.

4. The majority of the overpayments (2,611) were due to double payment of the female clothing grant (£4.50). The underpayments relate to late input of Cadet Force Home to Duty, which was resolved in month.

5. Comprised 35,553 incorrect deductions of £3.00 for the discontinued Royal Navy and Royal Marines Dependants' Fund, and 10,752 underpayments of Home to Duty Travel claims for Royal Navy reservists. The former was re-credited to pay accounts in October, and the latter in September.

6. 4,249 additional cases occurred where an incorrect rank on JPA generated an erroneous payment. The breakdown between underpayments and overpayments is unknown, corrective action was taken in time for the October 2007 pay run.

7. A formula error resulted in 1,978 personnel receiving incorrect refunds of accommodation and CILOT charges. Corrective action was taken in November 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether senior civil servants in the Ministry of Defence are paid through the joint personnel administration scheme; and, if not, whether they are likely to consider any such proposal. [HL1301]

Senior civil servants in the Ministry of Defence are paid through the People, Pay and Pensions Agency's payroll service to Civil Service staff. There are no plans to change that arrangement.

Arts: Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Arts Council England conducts regular assessments of the artistic quality of the work of their regularly funded organisations; if so, how; and on what criteria. [HL1229]

The Arts Council operates at arm's length from the Government and decisions about which arts organisations to fund are entirely for it. In October 2006 the Arts Council published guidance on how it assesses artistic quality. A copy of the guidelines will be placed in the Library of the House. This is also available on Arts Council England's website at www.artscounciI.org.uk/publications/information_detail.php?rid=0&sid=&browse=recent&id=92. Arts Council England is reviewing these guidelines this year following the publication of the McMaster Review.

Banking: Sterling and Euro

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will hold discussions with the United Kingdom banks to promote reduced charges for transfers between sterling and the eurozone, and to allow internal United Kingdom cheque facilities in euros. [HL1161]

The Government regularly liaise with the financial services industry on a wide number of issues. The Payment Services Directive, which was adopted by the EU Parliament on 13 November 2007, aims to achieve a single market in retail payment services in order to create enhanced competition between national retail payment markets. The Government are currently consulting on policy options within the directive ahead of the 1 November 2009 implementation date.

Bicycles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years have been charged with an offence which involved a bicycle; and how many were convicted. [HL1236]

Figures provided in Table 1 are for all road traffic offences where the definition of the offence includes a reference to a cycle, cyclist, cycling or bicycle. While other offences may involve a bicycle these are included in crime statistics such as theft, criminal damage etc.

Table 1 shows the number of persons reported for prosecution in each year. Figures relating to the numbers of persons charged are not available.

Table 1

Year

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Number of Persons Reported

8

4

4

15

8

22

15

15

44

57

Table 2 gives the number of prosecutions and convictions for road traffic offences. It is not possible to provide the total number of prosecutions and convictions for offences which involved a bicycle. Court prosecution and conviction datasets do not include background information, so offences such as criminal damage involving a bicycle cannot be separately identified.

Table 2

Bicycle offences1

Prosecuted

Convicted

1998

5

4

1999

0

0

2000

1

1

2001

0

0

2002

0

0

2003

0

0

2004

0

0

20052

0

0

1 Offences include “no lights on/unlighted pedal cycle”, “drunk in charge of pedal cycle”, “careless riding of pedal cycle” and “furious riding on pedal cycle”.

2 Data cover the calendar years 1998 to 2005 (figures are available only up to 2005) and are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

It is not possible to routinely reconcile the number of people charged for an offence by the PSNI and prosecution and conviction data, as PSNI data denote each offence as it has been initially recorded and this may differ from the offence for which a suspect or suspects are subsequently proceeded against in the courts.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many deaths have been recorded on the roads which involved a bicycle or bicycles in Northern Ireland in each year since 1998. [HL1260]

The following table shows the number of fatalities in Northern Ireland resulting from collisions involving a pedal cycle from 1998 to 2006. Official statistics for 2007 have not yet been finalised.

Pedal cyclists

other road users

1998

7

0

1999

1

0

2000

4

0

2001

2

0

2002

3

0

2003

2

0

2004

2

0

2005

4

0

2006

1

0

Source: PSNI—Central Statistics Unit

British Waterways

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the total funding provided to British Waterways in the past five years; what is its budget for the current year; and what is the proposed funding in 2008-09. [HL1214]

The formal Comprehensive Spending Review settlement for 2008-09 to 2010-11 has been announced and will now be followed by Defra's own financial allocation process, which will take account of the department's full range of priorities. Final allocations will be known in February. At this stage, I am hopeful that the budget for British Waterways will broadly be flat cash over the three-year period.

Core government grant for British Waterways for the current year is £66.9 million comprising £55.5 million from Defra and £11.4 million from the Scottish Government. Other sources of funding include its commercial income of just under £100 million and grants from a range of sources; for example, for freight and regeneration activities.

Year

Defra grant

Scottish Government Grant

Total £m

2006-07

55.5

12.4

67.9

2005-06

62.6

12.0

74.6

2004-05

59.1

12.7

71.8

2003-04

76.6

12.6

89.2

2002-03

71.6

13.8

85.4

Building Regulations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to develop a Code for Sustainable Buildings which applies to non-domestic buildings in the same way that the Code for Sustainable Homes applies to new housing stock. [HL1221]

The Government are committed to dramatically improving the energy performance of new non-domestic buildings and are currently developing their proposals on this for consultation later this year.

In addition, the Government are keen to build on the momentum that already exists in this sector to see a wider improvement in the sustainability of these types of buildings. A number of sustainability assessment tools are already being used by many organisations and we would like to see their uptake increased. Options for achieving this are currently being considered and will be included in our consultation document later this year.

Business Travel: Private Car Allowance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date the 40 pence per mile maximum non-taxable allowance for use of private cars for business travel was fixed by the HM Revenue and Customs; and what they estimate the figure would now be allowing (a) for change in the retail prices index and (b) the change in the AA and RAC calculated cost of motoring. [HL1379]

The tax-free mileage allowance is part of the approved mileage allowance payments (AMAPs) scheme which is a statutory scheme introduced with effect from April 2002. The allowance was set at a rate of 40p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and at 25p per mile thereafter.

AMAPs cater for a wide range of car drivers and the rates are designed to take into account all relevant factors. They strike a balance between allowing the running costs of all cars, large and small, and delivering the Government's environmental policy.

The Government estimate that the increase in the 40p rate using the retail prices index would be 47p per mile for 2007-08. However, this index includes the prices of goods and services that are not directly related to the cost of motoring and it does not take into account the increase in fuel economy of cars manufactured since 2002. It is not possible to compare the rate with the AA and RAC calculated costs of motoring as costs depend on type of car, engine size, fuel type and miles driven.

Civil Service: Ethnicity and Gender Balance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 13 December (WA 78) concerning their policy that the Civil Service should be representative of the population that it serves in respect of gender, black and minority ethnic and disability, what targets they have for male and female heterosexuals, male and female homosexuals, black and other ethnic minorities and disabled persons. [HL1183]

There are targets for the senior Civil Service in relation to black and other ethnic minorities and disabled persons. These targets are found at www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/diversity/monitoring.asp. There are no service-wide targets on black and other ethnic minorities, or disabled people at other grades. There is no service-wide monitoring of sexual orientation. The new diversity strategy for the Civil Service will be published in 2008.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 13 December (WA 78), how they define disabled persons. [HL1184]

The definition of a disabled person used by Her Majesty's Government is the same as that found in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 13 December (WA 78), whether they seek to ensure that the Civil Service is representative of the population as a whole in respect of religious belief. [HL1185]

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will meet Slovenian European Union presidency representatives to discuss the common agricultural policy financial review and the future of farm support payments systems, prior to the proposed European Union Commission responses in the second quarter of this year. [HL1316]

The Commission published a consultation on the mid-term review of the common agricultural policy (CAP), the so-called “health check”, last November. The Commission is due to issue legislative proposals in May and the dossier is scheduled to be completed under the French presidency before the end of 2008. The Government have been discussing the CAP health check with the Slovenian presidency, the European Commission and all other member states since the launch of the consultation and will continue to do so throughout 2008, including at the monthly meetings of the European Agriculture Council.

Commons Act 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which statutory instruments have been made under the Commons Act 2006; and whether they propose to table any further statutory instruments under that Act. [HL1250]

The following statutory instruments have been made under the Commons Act 2006:

The Commons (Severance of Rights) (England) Order 2006 (SI 2006/2145)

The Commons Act 2006 (Commencement No. 1, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (England) Order 2006 (SI 2006/2504)

The Commons Act 2006 (Commencement No. 2, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (England) Order 2007 (SI 2006/456)

The Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2006/457)

The Commons (Severance of Rights) (Wales) Order 2007 (SI 2007/583)

The Commons Act 2006 (Commencement No 1, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (Wales) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2386)

The Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2396)

The Commons Act 2006 (Commencement No. 3, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (England) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2584)

The Commons (Deregistration and Exchange Orders) (Interim Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2585)

The Works on Common Land (Exemptions) (England) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2587)

The Works on Common Land, etc. (Procedure) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2588)

The Deregistration and Exchange of Common Land and Greens (Procedure) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2589).

Regulations have also been made under the Commons Registration Act 1965. Further instruments are expected to be made in due course in connection with the implementation of Parts 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the Act in England and Wales, and the implementation of Part 3 in Wales.

Crime: Drugs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people were charged with drug-related offences in Northern Ireland in 2006 and 2007 respectively; and how many were convicted. [HL1241]

The information is not available in the format requested. Table 1 gives the number of recorded drug offences and the subsequent number that were cleared by means of a charge or summons 2004-05 to 2006-07.

Prosecution and conviction data for 2006 and 2007 are not yet available and therefore figures documented in Table 2 refer to the calendar years 2004 and 2005. Data are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Recorded crime data cannot be routinely reconciled with prosecution and conviction data as the former relate to the number of offences whereas the latter relate to the number of offenders brought before the courts. In addition, recorded crime data denote each offence as has been initially recorded and this may differ from the offence for which a suspect or suspects are subsequently proceeded against in the courts.

Table 1: Number of recorded drug offences and the number cleared by means of a charge or summons 2004-05 to 2006-07

All drug offences

Number recorded

Cleared by means of a charge or summons

2004-05

2,622

1,001

2005-06

2,944

1,201

2006-07

2,411

1,291

Source: PSNI, Central Statistics Unit

Table 2: Number prosecuted and convicted for drug offences 2004 and 2005

Prosecuted

Convicted

2004

663

590

2005

678

612

Source: NIO, Statistics and Research Branch

Crime: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the year-on-year reduction in crime levels in Northern Ireland, whether there has been any comparable improvement in crime detection. [HL1119]

The following table shows the number of offences recorded and cleared by the PSNI.

% cleared

Year

Recorded

Sanction Clearance Rate

Non-sanction Clearance Rate

Total Clearance Rate

2002-03

142,496

13.0%

10.1%

23.0%

2003-04

127,953

14.5%

12.9%

27.4%

2004-05

118,124

15.8%

12.4%

28.2%

2005-06

123,194

17.4%

13.1%

30.60

2006-07

121,144

19.6%

4.0%

23.6%

Source: Central Statistics Unit, PSNI

In April 2006 PSNI adopted a higher evidential standard in respect of non-sanction clearances to bring these clearance types more closely in line with England and Wales. While this has had the effect of reducing the overall clearance rate, sanction clearances (those where a formal sanction is taken against an offender by means of charge, summons, caution or where the offence is taken into consideration at court) remain unaffected.

This year's policing plan includes a specific target to increase the sanction clearance rate by three percentage points by 31 March 2008. Progress against this target is being made by a range of actions, including improving volume crime investigation, developing public protection units within districts, improving working arrangements with the PPS, improving forensic conversion rates and seeking out best practice in other police services.

Elections: Local Government

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress is being made on consulting local authorities, political parties, electors and others on changing the normal polling day for elections to the weekend. [HL1248]

In July 2007 the Government published The Governance of Britain Green Paper which sets out our commitment to consulting local authorities and others on the merits of moving the voting day for general and/or local elections from Thursday to the weekend, and on the best way to do this. Work is currently being undertaken to finalise the consultation process for weekend voting.

Energy: Fossil Fuel Prices

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What effect the increasing cost of fossil fuels from areas of political instability and increasing world demand have on the economic viability of nuclear generated power, taking into account future potential decommissioning costs. [HL1147]

Global fossil fuel prices have increased significantly in the last year due to continued strong growth in demand and supply constraints. This will have increased the costs of generating electricity from fossil fuels—oil, gas or coal. Therefore, in relative terms, nuclear’s cost-effectiveness will have improved. In the cost-benefit analysis of nuclear generation we published a table showing the economic welfare balance under different gas and carbon prices and nuclear costs, which included all waste and decommissioning costs. This is available at www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39525.pdf.

We also estimated the impact of different fossil fuel price scenarios on the economics of different types of electricity generating plant. Since fuel costs account for around two-thirds of the cost of gas-fired generation and about 40 per cent of the costs of coal-fired generation, increases in fossil fuel prices have a significant impact on the cost of generation from these sources.

Energy: Oil and Gas Storage

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the current levels of (a) crude oil; (b) petroleum products; (c) natural gas; (d) liquid natural gas; and (e) liquid petroleum gas currently maintained in strategic storage for United Kingdom use; what is the cost of storing each of these products; and, in the event of disruption to supplies, how long these reserves would last assuming current demand. [HL1203]

The UK does not hold strategic stocks of oil and gas. As a member of the European Union and of the International Energy Agency, the UK is required to hold oil stocks equivalent to 67.5 days' national consumption for release in the event of disruption of international supplies. It meets these obligations by directing oil companies to hold stocks under powers derived from Section 6 of the Energy Act 1976. These stocks are held by companies together with the stocks they hold for commercial purposes and the cost of storage is not separately recorded.

At the end of October 2007 the following stocks were available to the United Kingdom:

crude oil and refinery process oils—7.42 million tonnes;

petroleum products—7.66 million tonnes;

of which

liquefied petroleum gas—0.21 million tonnes.

These stocks were equivalent to 75 days' national consumption.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to increase the levels of strategic storage of (a) crude oil; (b) petroleum products; (c) natural gas; (d) liquid natural gas; and (e) liquid petroleum gas. [HL1204]

Member states of the European Union (EU) are required to hold stocks of oil and oil products equivalent to 90 days' national consumption. Because the UK is a producer of crude oil its obligation is reduced by 25 per cent to 67½ days. As UK production declines, this reduction will be phased out and the obligation will gradually increase to 90 days when UK production ends.

As a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA) the UK is required to hold stocks of oil or oil products equivalent to 90 days' net imports. Unlike the EU, the TEA excludes “tank bottoms” from qualifying as emergency stocks; this effectively means the obligation is equivalent to 99 days' net imports. The UK became a net importer of oil and oil products in 2006 and had an obligation to hold stocks as an IEA member with effect from 2007.

Member states can use the same stocks to meet both sets of obligations. We currently expect the obligation to hold stocks as an IEA member to result in a net increase in the UK obligation from about 2016.

The Government believe that these measures are sufficient and have no plans to increase the levels of stocks held beyond those already referred to.

There are no similar requirements for natural gas or liquefied natural gas and stocks data are not supplied to the department.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any other country maintains strategic stores of crude oil, petroleum products or gas products within the United Kingdom. [HL1205]

The European Union Oil Stocking Directive 2006/67/EC allows member states to hold strategic stocks of oil and oil products in, or on behalf of, other member states provided that appropriate inter-government bilateral agreements are in place to release these stocks in an emergency. At present the UK has bilateral agreements with Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. Currently, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden hold some of their strategic stocks in the UK.

There are no obligations to hold strategic stocks of gas products.

Energy: Renewables

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether electricity providers can contribute to meeting the terms of the renewables obligation by providing financial assistance to renewable energy projects outside the United Kingdom. [HL1364]

The purpose of the renewables obligation is to encourage more renewable generation in the UK. Allowing suppliers to meet their obligation by sourcing renewable supplies from outside the UK would not meet this objective. Therefore electricity suppliers cannot comply with their renewables obligation by providing financial assistance to renewable energy projects outside the UK.

Environmental Protection: Aarhus Convention

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps are envisaged to secure compliance with the requirement in Article 9(4) of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters for private remedies which are not prohibitively expensive; and [HL1084]

Whether the general rule that the loser pays the winner in judicial review proceedings means that in practice those proceedings are “prohibitively expensive”, within the meaning of Article 9(4) of the Aarhus Convention. [HL1085]

The UK is supportive of the goals of the Aarhus Convention. The UK will report on the legislative, regulatory or other measures that the UK has taken to implement the provisions of the convention; and their practical implementation.

EU: Structural and Cohesion Funds

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What administration costs were incurred by HM Treasury in relation to the European structural and cohesion funds for the last financial year for which figures are available. [HL1384]

EU structural funds in the UK are not administered by the Treasury but by the appropriate managing authority.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What administration costs were incurred by the Department for Communities and Local Government in relation to the European structural and cohesion funds for the last financial year for which figures are available. [HL1386]

Communities and Local Government employed a division of 28 people in 2006-07 to administer England's European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant programmes. The staff cost for that year was £1.2 million.

The division has been reorganised during 2007-08 and the number of staff employed is currently being reduced.

Gershon Review: NIO

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the case of the Northern Ireland Office, how many (a) voluntary and (b) compulsory redundancies have been taken to date as a result of the Gershon review; what is the total departmental bill for each type of redundancy; and what is the natural wastage during the Gershon period to date for the department. [HL1062]

On (a) and (b), there have been no voluntary or compulsory redundancies to date as a result of the Gershon review. The department is on course to meet its target under the Gershon efficiency review. During the Gershon period, staff numbers in the Northern Ireland Office have increased from 1,817 in April 2004 to 2,074 in December 2007. However, these figures include staff in the Youth Justice Agency, the Public Prosecution Service and the Northern Ireland Prison Service which are considered front-line growth services and are excluded from Gershon headcount reduction targets. When these staff are excluded, the Northern Ireland Office headcount has reduced by 109, from 1,114 to 1,005.

Government: Composition

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to extend their policy that the Civil Service should be representative of the population which it serves in respect of gender, black and minority ethnic and disability representation to ensuring that the Cabinet and other ministerial ranks are similarly representative. [HL1182]

The Prime Minister of the day organises departments and appoints Ministers as necessary to deliver the Government's objectives and priorities.

Government: Data Transfer Protocols

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the security arrangements and protocols for the transfer of sensitive or confidential data from government departments and agencies to Eurostat and other European Union organisations are adequate; and [HL778]

On how may occasions in the past five years sensitive or confidential data have been transferred from government departments or agencies to Eurostat or other European Union organisations by other than electronic means; and [HL779]

On how many occasions in the past five years sensitive or confidential data have been transferred from government departments or agencies to Eurostat or other European Union organisations in an unencrypted format. [HL780]

The Government use a secure infrastructure for transmission of data to European Union institutions—the TESTA EU Commission network—and the organisation of transfers using this network, or transmission of data by any other means, is the responsibility of individual departments, in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between the European Commission and the UK.

I also refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on 21 November 2007 (Official Report, col. 1179). The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. On 17 December, the Cabinet Office published an interim progress report (Official Report, col. WS 69). Copies are available in the Library. A further report is expected in spring 2008.

Health: MMR Vaccine

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the appropriateness of the legal aid fees of £6 million to Alexander Harris, solicitors, for the measles, mumps and rubella and measles and rubella vaccines litigation. [HL1210]

Decisions about funding in individual civil legal aid cases are entirely a matter for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) or, prior to 1 April 2000, its predecessor the Legal Aid Board. As such, Ministers do not intervene in or comment on decisions made about the grant of funding in individual cases.

Housing: Energy Efficiency

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they will take through the Energy Saving Trust and other bodies to advise the public on home energy savings measurements, within the officially recognised range of 200 kilowatt-hours per square metre (kWh/m²) for a typical untreated dwelling home, down to 15 kWh/m² for a fully adjusted unit with full insulation, solar panels and other energy saving methods. [HL1361]

Measurements of energy performance for dwellings use the Government's standard assessment procedure (SAP). SAP and reduced data SAP (RDSAP), a simplified version which is used to assess existing dwellings, are used in the production of energy performance certificates (EPC), which have to be made available when a dwelling is constructed, sold or rented out. For the owner-occupier sector, EPCs will be provided as part of the home information pack and will contain recommendations for improving the dwelling's energy performance; they also direct the reader to the Energy Saving Trust for further information and advice.

The Government have also developed a web-based carbon calculator, which is available to view on the Directgov website; this uses the RDSAP methodology. The calculator helps individuals and households to work out their carbon footprint and to access advice about the improvements they can make.

Housing: Homes and Communities Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What mechanisms they will put in place to ensure that new housing funded by the Homes and Communities Agency or built on its land is well designed; and [HL1254]

What external scrutiny there will be of design of housing schemes for which the Homes and Communities Agency will be responsible; and [HL1255]

What role the Homes and Communities Agency will have in championing well-designed schemes for homes and communities; and [HL1256]

How the Homes and Communities Agency will ensure there will be expert consultation on design issues for new schemes which it funds or which will be built on its land. [HL1257]

The Homes and Communities Agency will be the national housing and regeneration agency responsible for helping deliver 3 million homes by 2020. The agency will work within the planning policy framework, notably Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing) in delivering good-quality, well-designed housing.

This agency is not just about delivering housing numbers. It is also about regenerating the areas in which these will be built, developing places where people want to live. The agency will champion the highest standards of sustainability, including low and zero carbon technologies and will lead the way in design, facilities and services involving local communities.

The Homes and Communities Agency will be an expert delivery partner working with local authorities, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and developers, to ensure support, tools and guidance are used to assist in the creation of well-designed communities where people want to live, now and in the future.

Local Government: Parish Councils

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will deal with any of the outstanding parish reviews which involve the creation of new parish councils in time for elections to be held on 1 May; and, if so, which ones. [HL1132]

We are currently discussing with the councils concerned and the Electoral Commission which of the eight such outstanding parish cases should be completed in time for elections to the new parish to be held on 1 May 2008. We will confirm shortly with these councils which cases will be dealt with within this timescale.

In seven further cases we have now approved the creation of new parishes and intend to make the orders establishing the parishes in time for elections on 1 May 2008. I will place copies of these orders in the Library of the House.

Northern Ireland Office: Staffing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any proposals to reduce the number of employees in the Northern Ireland Office. [HL1238]

As part of its CSR07 settlement, the Northern Ireland Office is required to make 5 per cent per annum real savings in administration costs from 2008-09 onwards. Detailed plans to achieve these savings are being developed. These include savings in staff costs through natural wastage or redeployment, and savings in non-staff costs. The NIO’s participation in shared services initiatives across the Northern Ireland Civil Service, for example Account NI (for financial services) and HRConnect (for human resources), will contribute to the delivery of these savings.

Pigs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs, Jonathan Shaw, on 10 December 2007 (Official Report, cols. 39-40W), what assessment they have made of the effect of the drop in the number of pigs in breeding herds from 629,915 in 1998 to 374,861 in 2007; and what steps are in place to reduce this decline. [HL1265]

Information on UK breeding pigs and pigmeat production is collected in various forms by Defra; for example the United Kingdom Pig Notice, published quarterly, includes statistics on breeding herds, slaughter and trade.

The number of pigs in breeding herds declined after 1998 for several reasons including the effects on productivity of animal diseases, and also the recovery of the beef market following BSE, the costs of production, exchange rate movements and increased competition from imports. The government-funded Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme of 2000-01 was brought in to help secure the longer-term viability of the sector. The decline in the breeding herds has slowed in recent years although the industry continues to face considerable challenges. It is to be commended for working to secure a sustainable future through market principles and improvements in efficiency and production standards. Defra is supportive of the efforts of the industry and is currently funding a £2 million programme through the Meat and Livestock Commission to aid market recovery in the pigmeat and other red meat sectors affected by last year's foot and mouth outbreak.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the figures for the importation of pig meat into the United Kingdom for each year during the period 1998 to 2007. [HL1266]

The tables below show the volume and value of pigmeat imported into the UK each year since 1998 as recorded in the official trade statistics.

Volume of Pigmeat Imports into the UK

Tonnes

Year

Pork, frozen

Pork, fresh or chilled

Pig offal, fresh, chilled or frozen

Pig meat and offal (other than liver) prepared or preserved

Bacon, ham, etc.

Total volume of pigmeat

1998

56,049

99,850

18,463

53,677

231,397

459,436

1999

66,799

147,654

18,833

41,884

231,303

506,473

2000

72,883

172,651

28,176

45,671

267,925

587,308

2001

71,658

167,521

22,882

45,945

281,305

589,311

2002

74,850

201,077

18,524

45,365

291,634

631,450

2003

107,690

272,815

21,371

43,164

303,181

748,220

2004

95,683

287,800

20,120

52,622

301,721

757,946

2005

85,646

346,343

18,826

50,505

283,413

784,733

2006

81,643

377,125

18,360

53,289

263,961

794,378

Jan-Oct

2007

74,729

302,623

12,863

51,410

227,163

668,787

Value of Pigmeat Imports into the UK

£000s

Year

Pork, frozen

Pork, fresh or chilled

Pig offal, fresh, chilled or frozen

Pig meat and offal (other than liver) prepared or preserved

Bacon, ham, etc.

Total value of pigmeat

1998

51,430

124,343

8,636

105,7061

375,518

665,633

1999

53,493

161,867

5,747

102,778

398,902

722,787

2000

65,698

209,453

5,839

117,000

456,352

854,343

2001

73,051

262,707

10,679

129,366

568,136

1,043,939

2002

66,024

265,004

8,649

118,922

568,519

1,027,117

2003

90,421

373,530

9,104

116,828

622,626

1,212,510

2004

95,145

401,834

9,577

141,440

547,871

1,195,868

2005

103,859

486,213

11,434

159,731

528,036

1,289,273

2006

104,716

577,713

10,927

174,040

550,241

1,417,637

Jan-Oct

2007

91,130

451,714

7,472

156,405

451,810

1,158, 531

© Crown Copyright

Source: H M Revenue and Customs.

Data prepared by Trade Statistics, Agricultural Statistics and Analysis Division, Defra.

2007 data are subject to amendments.

Police: Databases

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many individuals' data are stored on the national fingerprint database; and, of those, how many (a) are convicted criminals; (b) are currently serving a sentence; (c) have not been convicted of a crime; and (d) have never been charged with a recordable offence. [HL1308]

The number of individuals with fingerprints stored on the national fingerprint database is 7,356,285. The database does not store details of convictions. Information relating to the conviction status of those on the database could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Prisons: Overcrowding

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How overcrowding in 81 out of 141 prisons in England and Wales will be reduced; and by when they expect that overcrowding will have been eliminated. [HL1125]

On 5 December in its response to Lord Carter of Coles' review of prisons the Government announced an additional 10,500 prison places. This is on top of the existing 9,500 capacity programme. Our aim is to achieve capacity of 96,000 places by 2014.

As new places are delivered they will ease the pressure on the prison population but crowding—that is, prisons operating at a figure higher than their certified normal accommodation—will not end in the foreseeable future. However, no prison will be expected to operate at a level of crowding beyond that which the Prison Service area manager (or regional offender manager in the case of a contracted prison) considers safe.

Private Finance Initiative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many private finance initiative contracts are currently in place in the United Kingdom; and what debts arising from them are being incurred by the Exchequer. [HL1195]

As of PBR/CSR07, there were approximately 600 signed PFI contracts in place.

The most recent figures for PFI projects can be found in tables 17 to 19 of PBR/CSR 2007: the economy and public finance—supplementary charts and tables, which is available from the Treasury website at www. hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/2/B/pbr_csr07_ economy907.pdf.

Private Finance Initiative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What projections exist for increased private finance initiative contracts in 2008-09 in the United Kingdom; and what are the estimated debts arising from them to be incurred by the Exchequer. [HL1196]

Projections of future PFI projects are published at the Pre-Budget Report and Budget each year. The most recent can be found in tables 17 to 19 of PBR/CSR 2007: the economy and public finance—supplementary charts and tables, which is available from the Treasury website at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/2/B/pbr_csr07_ economy907.pdf.

These tables show the total capital value of the PFI projects, the estimated capital spend in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and the estimated future unitary charge payments.

Religious Organisations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 18 December 2007 (WA 130), whether, in developing their understanding of Muslim communities in the United Kingdom, they will obtain information about the number of mosques and their denominations. [HL1243]

The Government are looking to develop their knowledge of the UK's Muslim communities through working with partner organisations and carrying out their own research. The Faith and Social Cohesion Unit in the Charity Commission, which is part-funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is engaged in an ongoing exercise to map mosques in the UK to ascertain the number of mosques which are charities.

Sport: Horseracing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the total cost to the taxpayer of the recent horserace-fixing prosecution; what is the breakdown of those costs; and why the main prosecution expert witness was someone whose evidence was considered by the trial judge to have very little value. [HL1115]

Three cases emanated from the City of London Police’s investigation into allegations of horserace fixing. The first was R v Rodgers & others. This case was concluded on 7 December 2007, when the judge directed the jury to acquit the six defendants in the case. The prosecution offered no evidence in respect of the two other trials.

The break-down of the prosecution costs in respect of these three cases is as follows:

prosecution counsels' costs (three counsel were briefed): £701,480.37

witness expenses: £14,527.04

ancillary costs, including electronic presentation of evidence: £234,815.91

Total: £950,823.32.

The cost to the taxpayer would also include Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff costs; police costs; defence costs (which are to be paid out of central funds); and court costs. Staff costs are attributable to the operation of the CPS as a whole and cannot be assessed on an individual case basis. I am unable to comment on police, defence and court costs as these figures are not kept by the CPS.

On 7 December 2007, the judge in the R v Rodgers & others case delivered a detailed ruling. In it, he specifically commented that the expert witness's statements were clearly expressed in terms that suggested that he did have appropriate expertise in UK racing rules and practices and that, in 13 out of the 27 suspect races (which formed the basis of the prosecution's case), he had concluded that there was a prima facie case that the jockey in question was in breach of the relevant UK racing rule. The judge further commented that, when giving his evidence in chief, the expert witness said nothing to call into question his expertise in UK racing, either by reference to the rules or the practices of UK racing, and that “remarkably, it was only as a result of and during (the expert's) cross-examination that the very significant limitations and shortcomings in the evidence that he was really able to give first became apparent”. In particular, the judge said that some of the witness's responses during cross-examination were tantamount to the witness disqualifying himself from giving expert evidence in relation to the suspect races. The judge, therefore, concluded that the probative value of the expert's evidence, following extensive cross-examination, was so limited that very little, if any, weight or value could be attached to it. The judge found that in these circumstances he had to direct the jury to acquit the defendants.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the recent horserace-fixing prosecution will have a detrimental effect on the future of horse breeding and horseracing in the United Kingdom; and where the responsibility for management of the prosecution case lies. [HL1116]

The Government believe that horse breeding and horseracing have a secure future in the United Kingdom, particularly in the light of developments such as the establishment of the British Horseracing Authority. Responsibility for the management of the prosecution of the recent case of R v Rodgers & others lies with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Sport: Ticket Prices

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 12 December 2007 (WA 75), what reply is being sent to the further questions posed by the chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust in his letter to the Minister for Sport of 7 January; and what action they will be taking on the questions posed by him. [HL1259]

The Minister for Sport received a further letter from Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporter’ Trust, on 9 January 2008 regarding ticket pricing and the future of football.

The Minister was grateful for the points raised by Mr Drasdo and will reply in full in due course. He intends to meet with Supporters Direct and representatives of supporter trusts (including MUST) in the near future to discuss these issues in more detail.

Suspicious Activity Reports

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the total sum of money collected through the Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) regime since it was created; and [HL1143]

What is the total sum of money collected through the Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) regime in the past 12 months. [HL1144]

SARs make a contribution to a range of outcomes including asset recovery but also harm reduction, the building of intelligence on criminals and terrorists, and criminal convictions. In relation to terrorism, the information contained in SARs has been used to assist in the prevention of further terrorist activity, through being linked to ongoing enquiries, and regularly adds valuable new information.

Because the information contained in SARs is one of many inputs to these results it is not possible to quantify its contribution. It is not possible, nor indeed of any particular significance, to quantify the value of these in terms of amounts of criminal assets recovered.

Waste Management: Reduction Schemes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With which refuse collection authorities in England they have had discussions with a view to running pilot waste reduction schemes. [HL1218]

My department is currently considering the appropriate process for waste collection authorities to express an interest in running a pilot waste incentive scheme to enable discussions to begin. Timings for this process will be subject to parliamentary progress on the Climate Change Bill. In the mean time, we continue to encourage and welcome authorities making enquiries on the implications of the legislation.