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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Answers
11 November 2009
Volume 499

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Transport

Bus Services: Concessions

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the administrative cost to the Government of running the national concessionary bus fares scheme has been in each year since its introduction. [298158]

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[holding answer 9 November 2009]: Although the statutory minimum concession is funded by central Government, it is administered by local authorities known as travel concession authorities (TCAs). They have the statutory responsibility for issuing passes to those eligible and ensuring that bus operators offer, and are properly reimbursed for, free off-peak local travel anywhere in England.

The Department for Transport does not hold figures for how much it costs each authority to administer the national scheme.

Christmas

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many Christmas functions arranged by his Department and its agencies (a) the then Secretary of State, (b) officials of his Department and (c) officials of its agencies (i) hosted and (ii) attended in 2008; what the cost to the public purse was; and if he will make a statement. [295456]

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The then Secretary of State for Transport only attended two Christmas functions that were arranged by the central Department (none by agencies). Details as follows:

He hosted Christmas drinks for journalists on 16 December 2008 at a cost of £645.82.

He also attended the Private Office Christmas party on 17 December. There was no cost to the public purse.

No official funds were used for internal departmental Christmas parties/functions attended by officials of the Department in 2008. The information on the number of Christmas functions attend by officials is not held centrally, therefore could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department for Transport's expenditure and acceptance of hospitality is conducted in accordance with the principals of Government Accounting and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on Christmas (i) cards, (ii) parties and (iii) decorations in the last 12 months. [299262]

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The amounts spent by the Department for Transport (central) and its agencies in the last 12 months.

£ (including VAT)

(i) Cards

(it) Parties

(iii) Decorations

(a) Central Department

1,395

0

1,052

(b) Executive Agencies

2,993

0

1,147

Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Tolls

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the change in (a) the average delay time experienced by drivers and (b) levels of carbon emissions resulting from that change as a result of recent changes to the toll payment arrangements at the Dartford Crossing; and if he will take steps to reduce (i) congestion and (ii) carbon emissions on the A282 on the approaches to the Dartford Crossing. [296400]

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Between M25 junction 2 and M25 junction 30, (which includes the Dartford Crossing) the estimated average delay per journey during the period March to August 2009 compared to the same months in 2008 decreased by 0.4 minutes northbound and increased by 0.7 minutes southbound.

The months of March to August have been used for comparison of average delays per journey before and after the revised charges came into effect on 15 November 2008.

The Department has made no specific estimates of the levels of carbon emissions resulting from the revision of the charges in November 2008.

The Department for Transport and the Highways Agency are committed to improving the levels of service experienced by users of the Dartford Crossing.

In the short term the Highways Agency are in the process of implementing a package of measures, including the introduction of average speed cameras and further traffic management technology, to reduce the number of incidents at the Crossing, which will improve journey times.

Additionally, in April 2009, the Department published its initial analysis of the current and possible future capacity constraints at the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing. On the basis of the findings and conclusions of the analysis, we announced further work to investigate what can be done in the short to medium term to improve the level of service provided by the existing Crossing.

The study recommended further work on two possible measures, recognising that each had the potential to generate some small benefits by increasing throughput while avoiding impacts on safety. The first set of measures could see changes to the configuration of the toll plaza, signing and promotion of DART-Tags to see whether this would improve traffic flows. The second set of measures could entail one-way tolling with the removal of the southbound plaza to allow a larger improved northbound plaza. This work is being taken forward and is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.

Departmental Billing

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what percentage of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in (a) September and (b) October 2009. [299563]

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The Department for Transport has paid 91.01 per cent. of valid invoices received in September 2009 within 10 days measured against the total number of 20,406 valid invoices received; and 92.99 per cent. of valid invoices received in October 2009 within 10 days measured against the total number of 21,306 valid invoices received.

Departmental Dismissal

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many staff have (a) been dismissed and (b) had their contract terminated by his Department in each of the last five years; what the reason was in each case; and what the severance costs in relation to (i) dismissal and (ii) contract termination were in each such year. [290591]

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The information requested is as follows:

Dismissals

The total number of employees who have been dismissed in the last five years is broken down by category in the following table together with an indication as to whether severance costs were involved:

Number

2004-05

Discipline (without severance costs)

11

Inefficiency (with severance costs)

12

Inefficiency (without severance costs)

18

2005-06

Discipline (without severance costs)

28

Inefficiency (with severance costs)

11

Inefficiency (without severance costs)

23

2006-07

Discipline (without severance costs)

11

Inefficiency (with severance costs)

12

Inefficiency (without severance costs)

48

2007-08

Discipline (without severance costs)

14

Inefficiency (with severance costs)

19

Inefficiency (without severance costs)

18

2008-09

Discipline (without severance costs)

13

Inefficiency (with severance costs)

7

Inefficiency (without severance costs)

24

In addition there have also been seven other discipline (with costs) dismissals during the period 2004-09. However these cases have not been broken down further by category in order to protect the confidentiality of individuals.

There have also been a further 68 dismissals during the period 2004-09 for which details can not be broken down further. To do so would incur disproportionate cost.

The severance costs for dismissals are as follows:

Dismissals

£

2004-05

21,203.87

2005-06

50,154.11

2006-07

64,930.10

2007-08

170,515.91

2008-09

129,710.00

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency are unable to provide this information as it can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Contract Termination

The total number of employees who have had their contract terminated over the last five years is broken down by category in the following table:

Number

2004-05

Probation

28

2005-06

Failed training

8

2006-07

Failed training

7

2007-08

Probation

11

Failed training

6

2008-09

Probation

21

In addition there have also been seven other dismissals during 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09.

However these cases have not been broken down further by category in order to protect the confidentiality of individuals.

Departmental Energy

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the (a) energy rating and (b) energy band of each building occupied by his Department and its agencies was in each year for which figures are available. [299690]

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I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 10 November 2009, Official Report, columns 200-01W.

Departmental Fraud

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many employees of his Department were convicted of an offence of fraud in each of the last 10 years. [297038]

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The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002. To date 10 employees have been convicted of an offence of fraud.

An annual breakdown is unavailable. Where figures are fewer than five in any year, it is Department for Transport policy to withhold details on grounds of individual confidentiality.

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299129]

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Freedom of information requests are not handled centrally by most parts of the Department of Transport and it is therefore not possible, without incurring disproportionate costs, to say precisely how many staff were employed in the management of those requests, or how much has been spent on such management. The central Department and each of its agencies do however have central teams that advise on the handling of requests, provide guidance and training, and monitor performance etc., and the total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff employed in these teams across the Department is as follows:

Financial year

Number of FTE staff

2005-06

18.36

2006-07

17.68

2007-08

15.86

2008-09

14.82

More detailed information about the staffing of these central teams has, following a recent FOI request, been published on the Department for Transport website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/foi/responses/2009/aug/foi5554/foi5554.pdf

An assessment of the cost of freedom of information within Government can be found in Frontier Economics 2006 report "Independent Review of the Freedom of Information Act". A copy of this report is available in the House of Commons Library.

Departmental ICT

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions his Department has had with UK companies about tendering to supply technology for the forthcoming hard shoulder running projects. [298512]

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[holding answer 9 November 2009]: The Highways Agency has had discussions with a number of potential suppliers (both UK- and overseas-based) regarding a technical solution for monitoring the hard shoulder prior to opening.

A worldwide search of available systems for hard shoulder monitoring has been conducted which included discussions with potential suppliers. There is only one operational UK-based system available and that is currently being used on the M42 Active Traffic Management Pilot.

The Highways Agency intends to review the performance of available commercial off the shelf hard shoulder monitoring technologies in order to produce a functional specification. This specification can then be used to competitively tender for an end to end solution for monitoring the hard shoulder, for both future managed motorway schemes involving use of the hard shoulder as a running lane and the technology refresh of existing schemes.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with which organisations his Department has had exclusivity agreements for information technology (a) hardware and (b) software in each of the last five years; how many such agreements have been breached in each year; and what the cost to his Department was of each breach. [299694]

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The only known case in the Department for Transport is that the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency has a PFI contract with Siemens since April 2005 which includes an exclusivity agreement for the provision of hardware (but not software) to MOT Testing Stations. There have been no breaches associated with it. All other agencies have no such agreements.

No central record is kept for the Department for Transport (Central) and this information can therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, it is felt that the number and scope of such agreements will be very small, if any.

Departmental Manpower

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many staff there were in his Department (a) in 1997 and (b) on the latest date for which figures are available. [292071]

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The Department for Transport was formed in 2002 and the figures used below are Full Time Equivalent as shown in our 2008-09 Annual Report:

Number

March 2003

15,305

March 2009

18,545

Departmental Official Cars

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the cost of provision of Government cars to special advisers in his Department was in the last 12 months. [299594]

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No special advisers are provided with an allocated Government car and driver. As with all civil servants, special advisers may use an official car or taxi in properly defined circumstances. Details of such use is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what his Department's policy is on payment of the London living wage. [295248]

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[holding answer 26 October 2009]: The Department for Transport does not have an HR policy on the London living wage as it does not employ staff in roles where pay rates at or close to the London living wage would be appropriate.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by press officers in his Department and its agencies in 2008-09. [299278]

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The Department for Transport reimburses staff only for expenses necessarily incurred in the course of official business. Expenses reimbursed to press officers in 2008-09 are set out in the following table where readily available:

2008-09

£

Department for Transport - Central

4,208.88

Driving Standards Agency

537.00

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

2,893.33

Highways Agency

14,453.11

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

656.80

The Highways Agency (HA) has seven regional press officers to support its new Traffic Officer service and seven regional control centres. These press officers are employed to raise awareness of the Traffic Officers and the agency's role as network operator for England's motorways and major A roads. These press officers have to travel between the Regional Control Centres, outstations and Highways Agency offices, as well as travelling to media opportunities and to accompany journalists during visits to the HA network and premises.

Press officer activities in most executive agencies are not carried out by staff or units solely dedicated to this purpose. The Government Car and Despatch Agency and the Vehicle Certification Agency have no press officers, and the Marine and Coastguard Agency are unable to identify press officer reimbursements without disproportionate cost.

Departmental Political Activities

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer of 21 October 2009, Official Report, column 1446W, on party conferences, how much Passenger Focus spent sending representatives to attend each of the party political conferences in 2009; and whether prior permission was sought from the Cabinet Office for Passenger Focus to attend. [298715]

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In accordance with Cabinet Office guidance, Passenger Focus sought the Department for Transport’s approval before attending. The cost of attendance is a matter for Passenger Focus itself.

Departmental Postal Services

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with which providers (a) his Department and (b) its agencies had a contract to provide postal services in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) between 1 January 2009 and 1 July 2009 and (iv) since 1 July 2009. [299423]

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The requested information is not available in the format requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Travel

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have travelled by (i) car, (ii) rail and (iii) air on official business in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009. [298712]

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Department for Transport records on travel are not kept by length of journey, and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code.

Immobilisation of Vehicles: Leeds

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many cars have been impounded in Leeds North West constituency in each year since 2005; and at what cost in each such year. [299640]

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The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency does not keep the information in the format requested. However the number of vehicles wheel-clamped and/or impounded by the enforcement team based in Leeds is as follows:

Financial year

Vehicles wheel clamped in Leeds

Vehicles impounded in Leeds

2005-06

1,011

748

2006-07

2,148

1,301

2007-08

2,007

787

2008-09

1,559

562

It is not possible to provide cost information for the Leeds North West constituency.

Motorcycles

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport for what reasons motorcycles were not included in his Department's research project on the future of urban transport; and if he will make a statement. [299545]

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The report by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit on Urban Mobility, which the unit undertook jointly with the Department for Transport and other Government Departments, provided a strategic analysis of the impact of all forms of surface transport, including motorcycles, on people that live and work in cities and towns. It concluded that the impacts went well beyond the benefits of mobility and economic consequences of congestion, with poorly planned transport causing significant adverse impacts in terms of air quality, ill health, noise and road accidents.

The report concluded that a new vision was required to provide greater choice for all travellers and to take better account of the needs not only of those travelling but of residents and businesses. The Department's paper “The Future of Urban Transport” responds by offering a vision of urban transport that envisages enhanced mobility through a wider choice of journey, reduced congestion, better health and enjoyable urban spaces.

Motorway Service Areas

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers), 16 September 2009, Official Report, column 2279W, on motorway service areas, when he plans to publish the detailed valuation study; and if he will make a statement. [299008]

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The Highways Agency commissioned an investigation into whether potential exists for the disposal of the remaining 20 Government owned motorway service area (MSA) sites. The resulting report will be published by the end of the year, and copies placed in the Libraries of the House at that time.

Road Signs and Markings

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has made any recent assessment of the degree to which the meanings of individual road signs are understood by (a) motorists, (b) cyclists and (c) pedestrians. [298401]

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Familiarity and understanding of traffic signs are an integral part of the theory and practical driving test. The Department for Transport last published research on understanding of traffic signs in March 2004 in a report entitled ‘Increasing Understanding of Traffic Signs’. The research considered a limited number of traffic signs and did not provide detailed analysis by road user category.

A further research project has been agreed to inform the ongoing traffic signs policy review. This will include detailed analysis by road user category. We plan to commission this work later this year.

Road Traffic Control and Immobilisation of Vehicles

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions his Department has had with the (a) Association of Chief Police Officers, (b) Metropolitan Police and (c) Secretary of State for the Home Department on the (i) time taken to clear the scene of motorway incidents and (ii) activities of companies which use wheel-clamping to enforce parking restrictions on private property in the last three years. [294769]

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The Highways Agency (HA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have entered into a strategic agreement setting out how they will work together to improve the way road traffic incidents on the Strategic Road Network are managed.

The HA/ACPO Partnership Board meets three times a year when a number of issues, including incident clear-up times, are discussed. The last meeting was held on 4 August 2009.

The Secretary of State for Transport met with ACPO recently.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Gillingham Paul Clark, have met with/spoken to Home Office Ministers. Departmental officials are in regular contact with their opposite numbers in the Home Office about the activities of companies that use vehicle immobilisation and/or removal to enforce parking restrictions on private land.

Roads: Finance

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A11 Fiveways to Thetford improvement, (ii) A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton improvement, (iii) A21 South Pembury to Hastings route improvements, (iv) A21 Tonbridge to Pembury dualling scheme and (v) A23 Handcross to Warninglid improvement; and what the total projected cost of each is; [298819]

(2) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A30 Temple to Higher Carblake improvement, (ii) A38 Derby Junctions scheme, (iii) A45/46 Tollbar End improvement scheme, (iv) A57/A628 Mottram in Longdendale, Hollingworth and Tintwistle bypass and (v) M1 junctions 10 to 13 improvements; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(3) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A5-M1 Link (Dunstable Northern Bypass), (ii) M23 Hooley junction improvement, (iii) A1 Peterborough to Wittering junction improvement, (iv) A453 widening (M1 junction 24 to A52 Nottingham) scheme and (v) Chichester area and A27 transport proposals; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(4) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M6 Bescot Viaduct and (ii) A419 Covingham and Kingsdown noise fences; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(5) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A49 Stapleton Crossroads junction improvement scheme, (ii) A5/A444 Red Gate junction improvement, (iii) M5 junction 3 to Newton farm resurfacing scheme, (iv) A11 Ketteringham Station Lane improvements and (v) A1 Tuxford filter drain refurbishment; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(6) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A20 New Dover Road lay-by improvements, (ii) A56 Haslingden gas pipeline, (iii) A40 Churcham flood relief scheme, (iv) A40 Highnam Woods slope stabilisation scheme and (v) M11 junctions 8 to 9 major maintenance scheme; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(7) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A1 Cawledge Burn wildlife crossing, (ii) A27 Southerham railway bridge refurbishment, (iii) A45/A452 Stonebridge Island Disability Discrimination Acts compliance work, (v) M4 junctions 18 to 19 central reserve barrier replacement and (v) M5 junctions 15 to 17 central reserve barrier replacement; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(8) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M5 junctions 18 to 18a Lawrence Weston overbridge replacement, (ii) A1 Colsterworth to Little Ponton gap closures, (iii) M6 hard shoulder strengthening works, (v) A38 Carkeel Roundabout footbridge and (v) M6 junction 7 to Perry Barr southbound resurfacing; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(9) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M6 junctions 18 to 17 resurfacing works, (ii) A1 Stamford heavy goods vehicles overtaking ban, (iii) M25 junction 24 link overnight safety work, (iv) M5 junctions 25 to 26 Poundisford drainage and resurfacing scheme and (v) A12 Witham major maintenance and improvement scheme; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(10) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M1 junctions 32 to 35a managed motorway scheme, (ii) A2 Kingston Bridleway bridge, (iii) A483 Pant Embankment stabilisation and carriageway repairs, (v) A13-A1089 safety improvements near Thurrock and (v) A21 Pembury Bypass slip road widening works; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(11) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A66 Bowes Interchange, (ii) A1/A69 Denton Interchange, (iii) M5 junction 29 east of Exeter improvement, (iv) M62 junctions 25 to 30 managed motorway scheme and (v) A56 lay-by improvements; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(12) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M25 north viaduct maintenance at junction 28 and the A12 Brook Street interchange, (ii) A160/A180 improvements at Immingham, (iii) A1 East Ancroft to Cat Inn scheme, (iv) A66 Cross Lanes to Lowfields scheme and (v) A66 Southorpe to Hutton Magna scheme; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(13) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A21 Riverhead Bridge refurbishment, (ii) A1 Newlands Burn otter crossing, (iii) A1 Newton Burn otter crossing, (iv) A1 Oxford to Scremerston scheme and (v) A1 River Aln wildlife crossing; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(14) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A66 Viewley Hill to Long Newton scheme, (ii) M1 junctions 28 to 31 managed motorways scheme, (iii) M4 junction 19 to 20 and M5 junctions 15 to 17 managed motorways scheme, (iv) M6 Birmingham Box Phase 3 managed motorways scheme and (v) M25 junctions 17 to 10 controlled motorway scheme; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(15) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A1 Birtley to Eighton Lodge scheme, (ii) A194(M) Whitemare Pool interchange microprocessor optimised vehicle activation scheme, (iii) A184 Whitemare Pool interchange, (iv) A66(M) Darlington Spur scheme and (v) A1 Blaydon to Kenton Bar scheme; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(16) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A50/A500 Queensway Island road marking works, (ii) A63 Castle Street improvement, (iii) A5111 Raynesway River bridge works, (iv) M60 junctions 15 to 12 lane gain and (v) A14 Kettering Bypass widening; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(17) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A1 Belford Bypass road renewal, (ii) M62 junctions 35 to 36 major road renewal, (iii) A19/A1058 Coast Road junction improvement, (iv) A180 Croxton to Ulceby scheme and (v) A27 Southwick Tunnel 2009 closures; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(18) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on (i) M11 junctions 6 to 8 improvements, (ii) M11 and A120 Stansted Generation 2 airport access, (iii) A556 Knutsford to Bowdon environmental improvement, (iv) A1(M) major maintenance at Sawtry and (v) M6 junction 32 to 33 bridge maintenance; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(19) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A27 Southerham Bridge works, (ii) M6 junctions 11A to 19 scheme, (iii) M54 to M6/M6 toll link road, (iv) M1 junction 19 scheme and (v) A1/B6387 Twyford Bridge junction improvement; and what the projected cost of each is;

(20) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) M25 junctions 5 to 7 widening, (ii) M20 junction 10A scheme, (iii) A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst improvement, (iv) A1 Elkesley Junctions improvement and (v) A1 Gateshead and Newcastle western bypass; and what the total projected cost of each is;

(21) how much his Department (a) has spent and (b) plans to spend on the (i) A64 York to Scarborough proposed dualling, (ii) A19/A1067 Seaton Burn junction improvements, (iii) A19 Testos junction improvements, (iv) A47 Acle Straight and (v) M25 junctions 23 to 27 widening; and what the total projected cost of each is.

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A table which gives the estimated costs for the schemes listed above and spend on them as at the end of October 2009 has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

For major schemes, total project costs are given as range estimates in accordance with the Highways Agency’s operating procedures. Start of works and completion dates have been given for the major schemes (where appropriate) which have been used in the assumptions underpinning the range estimates. Range estimates are updated at key stages during the development of a project and will take into account any changes in start or completion dates.

The non-major schemes are a combination of routine and major maintenance projects, local network management schemes (LNMS) and Fiscal Stimulus projects. Forecasts are point estimates based on best information available and are subject to changes in priorities and affordability.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the benefit-cost ratios of all road schemes in the targeted programme of improvements (a) were at programme entry and (b) are at present, taking into account (i) revisions to the Approach to Transport Appraisal guidance and (ii) recent changes to the monetary cost of carbon emissions. [296881]

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This information is not held centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Thameslink

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many additional seats will be available for passengers travelling between Bedford and London St. Pancras International stations during the morning peak period on completion of the Thameslink programme. [299199]

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The Department for Transport is currently evaluating bids for the new fleet of trains that will operate on the Thameslink network. The new trains will be highly reliable and designed to provide an enhanced passenger environment, including air conditioning, state of the art passenger information, and will be fully accessible for mobility impaired passengers.

The actual number of seats on the trains will be determined when the winning bidder is confirmed, but a new 12 car train will offer at least an additional 70 seats over the usual eight car trains operating from Bedford to St. Pancras International. The new trains will have a significantly higher overall capacity compared to the existing rolling stock.

The overall additional seats offered during the peak period will be determined by the exact train service that will operate. This will be determined closer to the completion of the overall programme.

Wheelchairs

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he plans to review limitations on the size of motors in powered wheelchairs to enable children in hilly areas to use them; and if he will make a statement. [299728]

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There is no statutory limit on the size of motors of powered wheelchairs or mobility scooters (referred to as invalid carriages in legislation). They are limited to specific maximum speeds and to maximum unladen weight limits when in use on the public highway.

The use of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs is covered by the Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988. These regulations divide powered mobility vehicles into two main categories. The Class 2 type can travel at speeds of up to 4 mph and is primarily intended for use on the pavement. The unladen weight should not exceed 113.4 kilograms. The Class 3 type can travel at speeds of up to 8 mph and can be used on both roads and pavements. Class 3 scooters must have the facility to be driven at no more than 4 mph when used on the footpath. The unladen weight should not exceed 150 kilograms. The regulations also subject Class 2 and Class 3 vehicles to requirements concerning their means of stopping. They further specify that in order to use a powered mobility vehicle a person must be “suffering from some physical defect or physical disability” and that a Class 3 vehicle must not be used by a person under 14 years.

Olympics

Departmental Home Working

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To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many staff of (a) her Office and (b) the Government Olympic Executive have been authorised to work from home in the last 12 months. [297736]

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My Private Office is based in the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office has a home working policy in place as part of its commitment to flexible working.

The Government Olympic Executive (GOE) is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)—reporting to me through the permanent secretary. DCMS staff are actively encouraged to work alternative working patterns, including working from home. These are mainly arranged at local line management level and DCMS does not hold comprehensive data centrally about the number of staff involved. DCMS has a new human resources information system in place, and when this is fully operational, it will record this information.

Olympic Games 2012

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To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the legacy for the sport of (a) shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks, (b) badminton at Wembley Arena and (c) rhythmic gymnastics at Wembley Arena of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. [294234]

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Government are working closely with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and with the national governing bodies to maximise all possible legacy opportunities for the sports from the games. This will include consideration being given to the relocation of assets and equipment used during the games, including shooting ranges, regardless of the location of the events.

Using the inspiration of London 2012, Sport England has recently invested £750,000 in the development of grass-roots target shooting as part of the Whole Sports Plans 2009-13. The plan will harness the interest in the sport created by the 2012 games and aims to increase participation levels.

In December 2008, Sport England awarded £20.8 million, spread over four years, to Badminton England to help more people play the game at school, club and community level as well as at the elite end of the game.

The Gymnastics England Facilities Fund opened for applications in October 2009. £2.75 million is available for capital projects to develop new gymnastic facilities or to refurbish or improve existing facilities.

The London borough of Greenwich, which will host the London 2012 shooting venue, has previously announced a £10.2 million investment into a “Greenwich 2012” Legacy Fund which will be invested partly in new sports facilities at local schools, parks and playgrounds. Proposals are well advanced to provide a legacy in gymnastics, basket ball, martial arts and an equestrian centre.

Olympic Games 2012: Business

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To ask the Minister for the Olympics what representations (a) she, (b) the current Olympic Executive and (c) the Olympic Delivery Authority has received from local representatives of devolved administrations and regions on promotion of local businesses via the London 2012 Olympics. [273827]

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[holding answer 11 May 2009]: I receive frequent representations via parliamentary questions and correspondence from representatives of the nations and regions on business opportunities associated with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. My officials in the Government Olympic Executive support me in this. Additionally, I receive representations through my 2012 visits to the English regions and the devolved Administrations.

The Government are committed to ensuring businesses across the UK benefit from the Olympics. The London 2012 Business Network was established to ensure that businesses from across the UK have access to contracts in London 2012’s supply chains, and any support they need to win them.

Since its creation in 2006, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has run an ongoing programme of visits across the nations and regions on the business benefits of London 2012. It runs a programme of regional visits in partnership with the nine English regions and the three devolved Administrations to raise awareness of current and future business opportunities generated by the ODA construction programme. London 2012 is planning more regional visits for 2010 to continue to engage businesses in the games.

The ODA has also held various business events and workshops, including events in London for Welsh businesses to be briefed by its procurement team and tier one contractors.

To source all other representations received by the ODA would incur a disproportionate cost, due to the large volume of engagement they have in this area. In all, London 2012 expects to directly procure £6 billion worth of contracts, generating tens of thousands of supply chain opportunities which are benefiting businesses across the UK.

Olympic Games 2012: Human Trafficking

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To ask the Minister for the Olympics what representations she has received on the possibility of an increase in human trafficking in the sex industry in relation to the London 2012 Olympics; and if she will make a statement. [298184]

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Major sporting events can be a magnet for the global sex and trafficking industry, this is wholly unacceptable and taints these events. In the past 12 months, I have had seven representations on this issue and I am determined to help deter traffickers from London 2012 by developing a plan for action based on discussions with all relevant parties.

Scotland

Departmental Data Protection

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department's information assurance procedures have been subject to an independent audit. [299382]

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The Scotland Office is part of the Ministry of Justice, whose internal auditors have specifically reviewed our information assurance procedures.

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299128]

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Since 2005, the management of freedom of information requests submitted to the Scotland Office is undertaken by staff in conjunction with their other duties. As such, a precise breakdown of staff or costs is not available.

The Office has seen a year on year increase in the number of freedom of information requests since 2007, with 2009 already showing a 48 per cent. increase on requests submitted in 2008.

An assessment of the cost of freedom of information within Government can be found in Frontier Economics 2006 report ‘Independent Review of the Freedom of Information Act’. A copy of this report is available in the House of Commons Library.

Departmental Procurement

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether there has been any nugatory cost to his Department on procurement under tender because the tender process had been cancelled prior to the award of the contract in the last 12 months. [299356]

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No such costs have been incurred.

Northern Ireland

Crime

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what definition of cleared crimes is used by (a) the Police Service of Northern Ireland and (b) his Department for official figures. [298889]

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My Department and PSNI follow the counting rules stipulated by the Home Office in defining cleared crimes. Clearances, or detections, can be either sanction or non-sanction. The following methods of clearance involve a formal sanction:

Charging or issuing a summons to an offender;

Issuing a caution to the offender;

Having the offence accepted for consideration in court;

In the case of an offender who is a juvenile, issuing an informal warning, restorative caution or prosecutorial diversion.

A non-sanction clearance can be claimed if:

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) directs no prosecution; or

The case cannot proceed because the offender has died.

Crimes of Violence

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many offences of (a) murder, (b) manslaughter, (c) grievous bodily harm and (d) rape committed in Northern Ireland in each year since 2005 (i) were classified as cleared, (ii) resulted in a conviction and (iii) are still being investigated; [298890]

(2) how many people in Northern Ireland were convicted of (a) murder, (b) manslaughter, (c) grievous bodily harm and (d) rape in each year since 2005.

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Table 1 gives the number of murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm/wounding (including those with intent) and rape offences that were recorded and cleared for the years 2005 to 2008. Table 2 documents the number convicted of the offences requested for the years 2005 and 2006 (the latest year for which figures are available). Convictions for these offences also include attempts.

It is not possible to reconcile PSNI data on the number of offences recorded and cleared directly with conviction data, as the former are offence-based whereas conviction data are offender-based. In addition, PSNI data denote the offence as it has been initially recorded and this may differ from the offence for which a suspect (or suspects) is subsequently proceeded against.

With regard to the number still being investigated, the data requested are not stored in an easily retrievable format. As such an accurate response would require a resource intensive manual trawl which could be conducted only at disproportionate cost.

Table 1: Number of offences recorded and cleared—murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm/wounding and rape 2005-08

2005

2006

2007

2008

Murder

Recorded

26

27

26

20

Of those recorded the number since cleared2

17

22

14

15

Manslaughter

Recorded

3

3

3

4

Of those recorded the number since cleared2

0

2

2

3

Grievous bodily harm/wounding1,

Recorded

1,120

1,238

1,189

1,647

Of those recorded the number since cleared2

446

442

388

545

Rape1

Recorded

383

475

422

396

Of those recorded the number since cleared2

152

82

69

77

1 Includes attempts.

2 Clearance figures are subject to revision as non-cleared offences may be under ongoing investigation and may still be cleared.

3 Figures for grievous bodily harm/wounding include the offences ‘grievous bodily harm with intent’ and ‘wounding with intent’.

Source:

PSNI

Table 2: Number convicted1—murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm/wounding and rape 2005 and 2006

Offence

2005

2006

Murder

14

11

Manslaughter

11

17

Grievous bodily harm/wounding2

152

180

Rape

8

11

Total

185

219

1 Convictions for the above offences include attempts.

2 Grievous bodily harm/wounding includes the offences ‘grievous bodily harm with intent’ and ‘wounding with Intent’.

Note:

Conviction data are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Source:

NIO

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299125]

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The information requested in relation to the numbers of staff employed in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) dealing with the management of freedom of information requests and the cost is listed in the following table.

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Number of staff dealing with FOI for more than 50 per cent. of their substantive role

1

3

4

5

5

Spend (£)

28,836

56,460

72,040

98,298

103,886

This response relates to the core NIO only.

Departmental Rail Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2009, Official Report, column 1W, on departmental rail travel, how many (a) journeys were paid for and (b) people travelled in each year; whether any nugatory expenditure was incurred in each year; and if he will make a statement. [298177]

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The number of journeys paid for and number of people who travelled are shown in the following table.

Single journey equivalents

Number of staff who travelled

2006-07

414

76

2007-08

239

55

2008-08

288

78

My Department receives refunds for unused rail ravel so there was no nugatory expense incurred.

Offensive Weapons

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of knife amnesties in Northern Ireland: [298996]

(2) how many knives were handed in during the three most recent knife amnesties in Northern Ireland;

(3) what work his Department has undertaken together with the Department for Education in Northern Ireland on education of young people in relation to knife crime.

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Two knife amnesties were held in 2006 resulting in over 1,500 potentially lethal weapons being disposed of. Based on feedback from the agencies involved, and given the number of weapons disposed of, my assessment is that the amnesties have been very effective. In the period since I have focused on the development of an educational and preventative strategy including a knife awareness campaign, delivered through schools, on the dangers of carrying knives. In April along with the Department of Education, PSNI and Crimestoppers we delivered a series of drama workshops called 'Choices'. 54 schools, involving around 4,000 pupils took part and were able to use a knife crime information pack as part of the citizenship curriculum. A second programme is running in the week commencing 9 November aimed at year 12 pupils (15 to 16 years of age).

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Retirement

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service of Northern Ireland officers of each grade have been medically retired in each of the last five years. [299418]

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That is an operational matter for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the hon. Member, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service of Northern Ireland officers who have been medically retired have appealed against their percentage disablement in each of the last five years. [299419]

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The number of Police Service of Northern Ireland officers who have been medically retired and have appealed their percentage disablement in the last five years are as follows:

Number

2005-06

69

2006-07

47

2007-08

55

2008-09

61

2009 to date

41

These figures were provided by the Northern Ireland Policing Board as the Northern Ireland Office does not hold this information.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service of Northern Ireland officers who have been medically retired and who have appealed against their percentage disablement have had their appeal heard in each of the last five years. [299420]

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I will write to the hon. Member when the information is available.

Women and Equality

Dignity at Work

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will place a copy of her Office’s Dignity at Work strategy in the Library. [298452]

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I have placed a copy of the Government Equalities Office’s Dignity and Respect at Work Policy in the Libraries of the House.

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality if she will place a copy of the Dignity at Work policy of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the Library. [298453]

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The Commission has not yet finalised its Dignity at Work policy therefore I am unable to place a copy in the Library at this time.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment has been made of the (a) effectiveness and (b) value for money of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. [298448]

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The financial position and performance of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is regularly monitored by the Government Equalities Office (GEO). There are monthly financial reports to the GEO Board and Ministers hold regular review meetings with the EHRC’s accounting officer and chair of the Commission.

The GEO has pushed for savings and improved efficiency from the Commission. The Commission’s budget has been reduced by 10 per cent. in light of these reviews and the Commission is looking further at efficiency in its value for money plan.

Equality Bill

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what role (a) the Audit Commission and (b) other public sector inspectorates will play in monitoring public authorities adherence to the duty to tackle socio-economic disadvantage proposed in the Equality Bill. [298449]

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The Audit Commission and other public service inspectorates will have an important role to play in monitoring performance under the new duty, for the public authorities they inspect. We are working with them to develop suitable mechanisms for this, using information that in most cases they already collect through existing processes.

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality whether the duty to tackle social-economic disadvantage proposed in the Equality Bill will apply to fire and rescue authorities and their targeting of fire resources. [298451]

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The duty will apply to local authorities, and therefore to fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) where these form part of a local authority. We are discussing with the Fire and Rescue Service and other appropriate stakeholders whether the duty should be extended to all FRAs.

Rape: Victim Support Schemes

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what services for rape and sexual abuse counselling there are in Winchester; how much funding has been allocated to refuge and rape crisis centres in Winchester (a) in the last 12 months and (b) for 2009-10; and how many women have been turned away from such centres in Winchester because of the no recourse to public funds rule in each of the last five years. [299014]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: The Government do not collect information centrally on what services are available for victims of rape and sexual abuse. The provision of services to victims of rape and sexual abuse is a local issue; local decision makers are best placed to assess local needs. The majority of services are delivered through local providers who are supported and funded by local bodies, such as local councils and health organisations.

The Government have invested around £11 million over the last five years in specialist services for victims of sexual violence; this is in addition to funding provided locally. Most of this funding has come from the Victims’ Fund.

Refuges: Domestic Violence

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To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many refuges for victims of domestic violence have been opened in the last five years for which figures are available. [289335]

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The Government do not collect information centrally on the number of women’s refuges in England or the provision of staff within refuges.

The provision of services to victims of domestic violence is an issue for local authorities; decision makers in these authorities are best placed to assess the needs of their area. The majority of services are delivered through local providers who are supported and funded by local bodies, such as councils and health organisations.

On 19 March 2009 the Government Equalities Office announced a cross-Government £1.6 million special fund for the sexual violence voluntary sector which will keep open much-needed services to victims of rape and sexual abuse. In addition, the Government Equalities Office is providing £220,000 to the two umbrella bodies, Rape Crisis England and Wales and The Survivors Trust to help member groups build capacity.

The Ministry of Justice is investing £15.6 million over two years to help divert vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody. The Ministry of Justice is investing in existing third sector organisations to enable them to work with courts, police and probation and other agencies to provide support and services to vulnerable women in the criminal justice system.

Leader of the House

Public Consultation: Legislation

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To ask the Leader of the House what steps will be taken to consult the public on the Draft Legislative Programme 2009-10. [299394]

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The Draft Legislative Programme was published for consultation in June 2009 as part of “Building Britain’s Future” and the consultation process was completed on 21 September. The public were invited to submit comments in writing and Ministers hosted events around the UK to seek people’s views and answer questions. The Government have considered all of these comments and responses and a full summary and response to the Draft Legislative Programme consultation will be published alongside the Queen’s Speech on 18 November.

House of Commons Commission

Parliamentary Press Gallery: Catering

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To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission (1) how much public subsidy has been paid in respect of meals provided in the Press Gallery cafeteria since 2004; [298908]

(2) what the notional value was of the facilities used by newspaper journalists in the House of Commons in the latest period for which figures are available;

(3) whether newspapers make payments for the use of facilities provided to them in the House of Commons; and if he will make a statement.

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The information requested is as follows:

(a) The Press Gallery Cafeteria closed in May 2007 and the replacement, Moncrieff’s Cafeteria which opened in October 2007, is open to all pass holders. The House does not provide a subsidy for individual eateries and bars although in common with all others, Moncrieff’s benefits from the House funding arrangements. In 2008-09 the overall net cost incurred by the Catering and Retail Directorate in the Department of Facilities was some £6.1 million, in accordance with the budget approved by the Finance and Services Committee. This represents the difference between income and the cost of the services provided. Food and drink pricing is agreed by the Finance and Services Committee, with advice from the Administration Committee.

(b) There is no equivalent rental value for the facilities occupied by newspaper journalists as the Palace of Westminster is unique and held as freehold.

(c) No payment is made for the use of Press Gallery facilities.

Trade Unions: Political Levy

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To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1212W, on trade unions: political levy, whether the staff handbook has now been amended to inform House of Commons staff of their right to opt out of the political levies of trade unions. [299440]

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An amendment to inform staff of their right to opt out of the political levies of trade unions is one of a number of amendments to the Staff Handbook that are currently going through a consultation process with staff and the unions. The revised Staff Handbook is scheduled to be released in December.

Solicitor-General

Departmental Postal Services

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To ask the Solicitor-General what percentage of postal services provided to the Law Officers' Departments were provided by (a) Royal Mail and (b) other postal service providers (i) in 2007, (ii) in 2008, (iii) between 1 January and 1 July 2009 and (iv) since 1 July 2009. [298734]

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The following tables show the percentage of postal services provided to the Law Officers' Departments by Royal Mail and other service providers in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) between 1 January and 1 July 2009 and (iv) since 1 July 2009.

Percentage of postal services provided to the Law Officers’ Departments by RoyalMail and other service providers

2007

Crown Prosecution Service

Serious Fraud Office

Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office1

Treasury Solicitors' Department2,3

Royal Mail

34.90

1.60

Other providers

65.10

98.40

2008

Crown Prosecution Service

Serious Fraud Office

Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office

Treasury Solicitors' Department2,3

Royal Mail

34.00

3.48

44.00

Other providers

66.00

96.52

56.00

2009 (1 January to 1 July)

Crown Prosecution Service

Serious Fraud Office

Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office

Treasury Solicitors' Department2,3

Royal Mail

36.60

3.44

25.00

Other providers

63.40

96.56

75.00

2009 (since 1 July)Crown Prosecution ServiceSerious Fraud Office4Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office5Treasury Solicitors' Department2,3Royal Mail23.40100——Other providers76.60———1 In 2007, all postal and courier services were provided to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) through contracts which were initiated and maintained by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), formerly HM Customs and Excise. Includes Attorney General's Office (AGO) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).2 he Treasury Solicitor's Department has a number of providers of postal services, including the Royal Mail. It is not, however, possible to provide a breakdown of the sort requested within the disproportionate cost threshold.3 Since July 2009, RCPO's Manchester office has started to use DX for an increasing percentage of its postal services, currently estimated to increase the overall percentage of RCPO non-Royal Mail postal services by no more than 5 per cent.4 The Serious Fraud Office is not in receipt of invoices from other postal service providers for the period since 1 July 2009 and therefore financial records currently attribute 100 per cent. of expenditure for postal services to Royal Mail.5 The National Fraud Authority (NFA), formerly the National Fraud Strategic Authority (NFSA) was established in 2008 as an executive agency of the Attorney-General's Office (AGO). NFA has not held any contracts with postal service providers, including Royal Mail, for the years 2008 and 2009 (1 January 2009 to present). Prior to the NFA's change of accommodation from 26-28 Old Queen Street, SW1H 9HP to 200 Gray's Inn Road, WC1A 9BP in July 2009, it made use of Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate's postal arrangements (accounted for above as part of overall information for the Treasury Solicitor's Department). Since its relocation the NFA has made use of the arrangements put in place by the Serious Fraud Office.Note:Each of the Law Officers Departments has separate arrangements for the procurement of postal services.

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To ask the Solicitor-General with which providers the Law Officers' Departments held contracts to provide postal services (a) in 2007, (b) in 2008, (c) between 1 January 2009 and 1 July 2009 and (d) after 1 July 2009. [298765]

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Details of the providers with which the Law Officers' Departments held contracts to provide postal services in each of the periods (a) in 2007, (b) in 2008, (c) between 1 January 2009 and 1 July 2009 and (d) after 1 July 2009, are provided in the following table.

Contracts with postal service providers

Crown Prosecution Service

Serious Fraud Office

Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office1

Treasury Solicitor's Department2

2007

DX

DX

see note below

DHL

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

DX

2008

DX

DX

DX

DHL

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

DX

1 January to 1 July 2009

DX

DX

DX

DHL

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

DX

Since 1 July 2009

DX

DX

DX

DHL

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

DX

1 In 2007. all postal and courier services were provided to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) through contracts which were initiated and maintained by MM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). formerly HM Customs and Excise. New contracts were set up by RCPO in April 2008 with Document Exchange (DX) and the Royal Mail and continue to date.

2 Includes Attorney General's Office (AGO) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI). For the periods in question, TSol (including AGO and HMCPSI) has held formal contracts with DHL and DX Network Services, as well as with Pitney Bowes for the maintenance and re-charging of franking machines for franked mail which is delivered by Royal Mail. In addition to the contracted

services listed, the Treasury Solicitor's Department (including AGO and HMCPSI) has, for the periods listed, utilised services provided by Royal Mail and the InterDelivery Service of the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

Notes:

1. Each of the Law Officers Departments has separate arrangements for the procurement of postal services.

2. The National Fraud Authority (NFA), formerly the National Fraud Strategic Authority (NFSA), was established in 2008 as an executive agency of the Attorney General's Office (AGO). NFA has not held any contracts with postal service providers, including Royal Mail, for the years 2008 and 2009 (1 January 2009 to present). Prior to the NFA's change of accommodation from 26-28 Old Queen Street, SW1H 9HP to 200 Gray's Inn Road, WC1A 9BP in July 2009, it made use of Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate's postal arrangements (accounted for above as part of overall information for the Treasury Solicitor's Department). Since its re-location the NFA has made use of the arrangements put in place by the Serious Fraud Office.

Offences Against Children: Internet

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To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases of viewing online child abuse images have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in each of the last five years; what proportion of cases relating to the viewing of online child abuse images were not pursued by the CPS in the last five years; and for what reasons such cases were not pursued. [298911]

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The following table shows the number of offences of possessing an indecent photograph of a child, and of making an indecent photograph of a child, in which a prosecution commenced in each of the last five years. It is not possible to identify from CPS sources how many of these offences related to online images and how many to images in other media.

CPS records include no information on the outcome of proceedings at this level of detail, and it is therefore not possible to show either the number of proceedings discontinued or the reason for the decision to discontinue.

Offences charged and reaching a first hearing in magistrates courts

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Criminal Justice Act 1988 (160)

Possession of an indecent photograph of a child

2,742

3,185

2,768

3,079

4,241

Protection of Children Act 1978 (1(1)(a))

Making an indecent photograph of a child

11,434

12,573

10,607

10,832

13,454

Wales

Steel Industry

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9. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the future of the steel industry in Wales. [298048]

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The steel industry is hugely important to the Welsh economy and both Governments are determined to provide as much support as possible to ensure steel industry has a future in Wales.

Economy

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10. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on the state of the Welsh economy. [298049]

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Regular ones.

Together, we have taken action to tackle the global economic crisis.

Youth Employment

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11. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on assisting young people in Wales to find employment; and if he will make a statement. [298050]

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My right hon. Friend and I meet regularly with Welsh Assembly Government colleagues to discuss issues relating to the Welsh economy, including ways of improving access to employment.

Thanks to our initiatives, long-term youth unemployment in Wales is down 17 per cent. from 1997 and down by 67 per cent. from the height of the recession in the 1990s.

Welsh Defence League

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12. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary for the Home Department on the activities of the Welsh Defence League. [298051]

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Both the Home Secretary and I are strongly opposed to the racist, fascist policies of the Welsh Defence League and I commend those Welsh people who united so effectively to drive this vile group out of our communities.

Cross-border Health Services

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13. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the numbers of patients resident in Wales who used acute hospital services in Shropshire in 2008. [298052]

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While there is no official definition of ‘acute hospital services’, according to Shropshire County PCT, ‘17,837’ patients resident in Wales had a period of hospital care under one consultant in Shropshire in 2008-09. I understand that Telford and Wrekin PCT, Shropshire County PCT, and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust carried out a review of the configuration of health services in Shropshire, and that proposals for the future are still being considered.

Ministerial Responsibilities

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14. To ask the Secretary of State for Wales with reference to the list of Cabinet Ministers in the Cabinet Office publication “List of Ministerial Responsibilities”, what assessment he has made of the contribution of his Department to the achievement of the Government’s overall objectives. [298053]

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The Wales Office continues to make a significant contribution to the Government’s objectives, in particular the process of devolution, and the Wales Office is facing its busiest time ever. For example, we have continued to increase the legislative competence of the Welsh Assembly Government, which has gained new powers in 45 areas since GOWA 2006. We have also worked in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government in response to the downturn, co-hosting the All Wales Economic summits, making sure that Wales benefited from schemes such as the Strategic Investment Fund and Future Jobs Fund; and we have led on brokering the new cross-border health protocol which will improve health services for those on both sides of the border.

There is much more to tell and for the full picture I would recommend that you read our departmental annual report.

Broadcasting

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the future of broadcasting in Wales. [298045]

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I have discussed this matter with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and he agrees with me that Wales needs a strong, vibrant, independent, high quality news service, besides BBC. The Digital Britain White Paper outlined the Government’s proposals for a pilot scheme for news in the nations and regions, and Wales is one of the pilot areas. This shows the Government’s commitment to securing a plurality of news provider and viewer choice, which is fundamental to the quality of democracy and accountability of Welsh Assembly Government to electorate in Wales.

Wales has vibrant media both on television and via the internet through local print newspapers, and I want this not only to continue but grow and believe Independently Funded News Consortia can help this. An ideal partnership would involve news delivery on ITV Wales and through other innovative electronic delivery outputs as provided on web by Welsh printed media. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will shortly be announcing the process and timetable for implementing the IFNCs and I look forward to this news.

Departmental Air Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many first-class flights were taken at public expense by Ministers in his Department in 2008-09. [299623]

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Departmental Billing

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in (a) September and (b) October 2009. [299562]

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The percentage of invoices paid within 10 days of receipt for my Department were 94.5 per cent. in September 2009 and 96 per cent. in October 2009.

Departmental Information and Communications Technology

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales with which organisations his Department has had exclusivity agreements for information technology (a) hardware and (b) software in each of the last five years; how many such agreements have been breached in each year; and what the cost to his Department was of each breach. [299693]

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The Wales Office obtains its information technology services through the Ministry of Justice. Consequently, my Department does not enter into agreements or contracts with IT suppliers.

Departmental Official Cars

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cost of provision of Government cars to special advisers in his Department was in the last 12 months. [299595]

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No special advisers are provided with an allocated Government car and driver. As with all civil servants, special advisers may use an official car or taxi in properly defined circumstances. A detail of such use is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Statistics

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of the statistical datasets collected by his Department are published. [299661]

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None, my Department does not produce any statistical datasets.

Shoplifting

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on measures to reduce the incidence of shoplifting in Wales. [298185]

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The Government take shoplifting very seriously. That is why we recently introduced the Home Office driven £5 million "Small Retailers Capital Fund" for both England and Wales.

It was unveiled on 6 August 2009 and identified four priority areas in Wales—Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon and Taf. The fund provides grants of up to £3,000 for small retailers to:

Support work to reduce the risk and occurrence of crime against smaller retailers in priority areas

Strengthen local retail partnerships to work collectively to reduce crime and disorder

Identify and create effective means to tackle crime against small retailers.

Partnership grants of up to £50,000 are also available under the following themes:

Theme 1

Work that reduces the risk and occurrence of crime such as antisocial behaviour, shoplifting, fraud, criminal damage, robbery, burglary, hate crime and violent crime through the installation of equipment within shop(s)/ retail outlet(s).

Theme 2

Work that adds value to existing crime/antisocial behaviour prevention and reduction schemes to improve local shopping districts.

Theme 3

External work that is visible, provides reassurance and builds confidence that shops and shopping areas are safe.

Theme 4

Equipment that helps small business work collectively and in partnership with the police and other statutory agencies such as local authorities and fire and rescue authorities.

Theme 5

Work that supports particularly vulnerable retailers including those in rural and minority communities where crime is a particular problem.

Culture, Media and Sport

Avebury: Conservation

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had on the (a) protection and (b) maintenance of the (i) Avebury and (i) Stonehenge world heritage site. [297244]

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Over the last year, my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) has jointly chaired the Stonehenge Project Board which oversees plans to improve the environment and facilities at Stonehenge including closure of the A344.

The Government recently announced a £10 million contribution to enable English Heritage to build new, environmentally sustainable visitor facilities which will deliver a world class visitor experience at this iconic monument.

There are ongoing discussions between ministers, officials and English Heritage on the protection and maintenance of both Stonehenge and Avebury.

Departmental Air Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many first-class flights were taken by each Minister in his Department in 2008-09; and what the (a) origin, (b) destination and (c) cost was of each such flight. [298756]

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Travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code. Information relating to flights taken by ministers is published in the annual list of Minister's overseas travel costing more than £500. The list for 2008-09 can be accessed at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/226022/travel_2008_2009.pdf

Departmental Billing

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in (a) September and (b) October 2009. [299560]

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In October the Prime Minister announced that all central Government Departments will pay valid invoices within 10 (working) days.

The Department's performance for payment of invoices against this commitment was 91.41 per cent. in September 2009 and 94.94 per cent. in October 2009. The value of invoices paid within 10 days totalled £5.95 million and £2.37 million in September and October respectively.

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299138]

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A dedicated team handling freedom of information requests was set up in April 2008. The staffing levels of the team have varied at different times, but have equated to roughly three full-time equivalent members of staff, with low and variable levels of input from colleagues across the wider Department dependent on the subjects.

As the exact numbers and grade structure of the central team has fluctuated, as have the levels of other input required at any given point, it is not possible to provide accurate costs for this period. It is also not possible to provide staffing numbers or costs prior to April 2008 as duties were spread across the entire Department.

Departmental Official Cars

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of provision of Government cars to special advisers in his Department was in the last 12 months. [299584]

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No special advisers are provided with an allocated Government car and driver. As with civil servants, special advisers may use an official car or taxi in properly defined circumstances. Details of such use is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All travel is in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers.

Departmental Political Activities

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of his Department's non-departmental bodies sent representatives to attend each of the party political conferences in 2009. [298717]

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This information is not held by my Department.

Departmental Procurement

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether there has been any nugatory cost to his Department and its agency on procurement under tender because the tender process has been cancelled prior to the award of the contract in the last 12 months. [299347]

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The Department has cancelled one tender in the last 12 months, in respect of catering services. The nugatory costs involved were small, and in particular included a cost of £180 for setting up two electronic tender-boxes for the deposit of pre-qualification questionnaires and invitations to tender and an additional staff cost of £200 for preparation of documents, meetings and assessments. Our agency the Royal Parks has incurred no nugatory costs in this area.

Departmental Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department travelled by (i) car, (ii) rail and (iii) air on Government business in each year since 1997. [298551]

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The Department does not hold or record any information on miles travelled by car for either ministers or officials centrally. This information could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost. The Department also does not hold any records with reference to mileage on rail and air travel prior to October 2007. However the following information collected since October 2007 can be provided:

October 2007 to March 2008: Ministers travelled 3,102 miles by rail and Officials travelled 74,196 miles by rail.

April 2008 to March 2009: Ministers travelled 7,997 miles by rail and Officials travelled 199,416 miles by rail.

October 2007 to March 2008: A total of 168,544 miles by air was travelled by both Ministers and Officials. We do not have separate figures for Ministers and Officials.

April 2008 to March 2009: A total of 743,851 miles by air was travelled by both Ministers and Officials. We do not have separate figures for Ministers and Officials.

Government Art Collection: Lost Property

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent attempts his Department has made to reclaim works of art lost from the Government art collection. [298221]

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The Government art collection is currently involved in two legal claims on works of art previously registered as lost from its holdings. These are subject to ongoing legal processes and negotiations, which would be prejudiced (and possibly aborted altogether) by the disclosure of any further details at this stage.

Government: Assets

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with local authorities on the Government's proposed sale of public assets. [298932]

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I have had no direct discussions with local authorities on this issue.

The £11 billion of UK local authority asset sales assumed, at Budget 2009, over the period 2011-12 to 2013-14 are a Treasury forecast based on historic performance by the sector and forecast recovery in prices and transactions following the downturn. Outturn and budget data collected from the local authority sector by Communities and Local Government and the devolved Administrations inform the forecasting process.

Internet: Counterfeit Manufacturing

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether he plans to take steps to encourage digital distribution in the entertainment industry as a means of tackling internet piracy. [299533]

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As part of our strategy to tackle Online Copyright Infringement, the Government have consistently encouraged the creative (entertainment) industries to develop new digital business models that offer consumers legitimate sources of digital content in a form and at a price that they find attractive.

Olympic Games 2012: Gun Sports

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for the legacy for pistol shooting of the London 2012 Olympic games. [297373]

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[holding answer 2 November 2009]: I have been asked to reply.

Possessing a pistol is illegal in the UK under the Firearms Act 1968, therefore, no legacy specifically for pistol shooting is being planned. However, the 2012 games will provide the opportunity to showcase shooting as a sport more widely, in an iconic London location and provide a legacy for other shooting disciplines.

After the London games, there is the potential to relocate temporary ranges and assets from the shooting venue at Woolwich. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic games and Paralympic games, the Olympic Delivery Authority and Government are working with British Shooting to deliver the best possible legacy for the sport.

Through using the inspiration of London 2012 Sport England has recently invested £750,000 in the development of grassroots target shooting as part of the Whole Sports Plans 2009-13. The plan will harness the interest in the sport created by the 2012 games and aims to increase participation levels.

Public Buildings: Finance

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much the (a) Tate, (b) British Museum, (c) British Library and (d) British Film Institute will be expected to release from their reserves to fund their building extension plans. [298933]

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The amount released from these bodies' reserves to pay for their extensions is dependent upon a range of factors including the final cost of the project and the amount of funding that can be raised in other ways; for instance, through donations. The Department approves the plans that these bodies produce and monitors the funding sources used throughout the life of the project to ensure that they remain affordable and provide good value for money.

Television: Advertising

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects to publish the outcome of his Department's consultation on product placement on television programmes. [299487]

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My Department published a consultation document about television product placement on Monday 9 November, and this is available on my Department's website at:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/consultations/6421.aspx

I welcome responses to this consultation, which should be sent to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by January 8 2010. I will announce the outcome of the consultation after we have given full consideration to all the responses.

Television: Licensing

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many convictions there have been of Bassetlaw residents for non-payment of a television licence in the last five years. [299302]

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I have been asked to reply.

Information showing the number of persons found guilty at all courts for television licence evasion in the Nottinghamshire police force area from 2003 to 2007 (latest available) is shown in the following table. Information is not available at constituency level nor can the Ministry of Justice separately provide data for Bassetlaw residents; therefore police force area level data have been provided in lieu.

Data for 2008 are planned for publication on 28 January 2010.

Number of defendants found guilty at all courts for television licence evasion, Nottinghamshire police force area, 2003-071, 2

Number

2003

2,416

2004

2,146

2005

2,025

2006

3,621

2007

4,266

1 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice.

VisitBritain: Internet

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many page hits the (a) Visit Britain and (b) Enjoy England website has recorded in each year since its creation. [299214]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: VisitBritain has advised that they recorded the following number of page hits to their website for the following years as outlined in the following table.

Number of page hits (million)

2009

3,662.4

2008

3,073.8

2007

2,223.6

2006

2,136.4

2005

1308

2004

1,220.8

2003

697.6

VisitBritain do not hold data on page hits prior to 2003.

VisitEngland only hold data on page hits to the EnjoyEngland/VisitEngland website from July 2008 to October 2009. Total page hits for this period are as follows:

Number of page hits

July to December 2008

1,289,347,246

January to October 2009

2,313,955,042

World Heritage Sites

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what visits in an official capacity (a) he and (b) his predecessor made to each UK world heritage site in the last 12 months. [297249]

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be visiting UK Heritage Sites as part of a series of regional visits. His predecessor visited the Tower of London World Heritage Site in November last year.

May I remind the hon. Member that the House of Commons itself is part of the Palace of Westminster, St Margaret's Church and Westminster Abbey World Heritage Site, one of the United Kingdom's 28 World Heritage Sites.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Departmental Air Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many domestic flights within Great Britain officials from his Department made in 2008-09; and at what cost. [298252]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: From information held centrally, core-DEFRA officials made 368 domestic flights within Great Britain in 2008-09 at a cost of £59,556.21. Travel by civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Civil Service Management Code.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many first-class flights were taken by each Minister in his Department in 2008-09; and what the (a) origin, (b) destination and (c) cost was of each such flight. [298753]

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Travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code. The Cabinet Office produces an annual list of overseas travel over £500 undertaken by Ministers. The 2008-09 list was published on 16 July and can be viewed at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/226022/travel_2008_2009.pdf

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299141]

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The Department has a small team providing advice, guidance and training to members of staff who respond to requests for information. Some members of the team also spend part of their time advising on other legislation, such as the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the environmental information regulations (EIRs). In particular, the environmental information unit within the team provides guidance to members of the public and other public authorities. The team is flexible in how it handles its day-to-day work load across all its information rights duties, and the percentages of time spent on the various functions can vary considerably over time. The approximate staffing levels in full-time equivalents are therefore as follows:

Full-time equivalent

2005-06

12

2006-07

11

2007-08

9

2008-09

6

Because of this flexibility, it is not possible to give a figure that relates only to the management of freedom of information requests. The approximate figures, as follows, cover staff working on FOI, DPA and EIR requests as well as providing guidance to outside bodies and members of the public on the EIRs. These figures include salary, superannuation and ERNIC payments.

£

2005-06

470,880

2006-07

449,000

2007-08

409,000

2008-09

306,000

An assessment of the cost of freedom of information within Government can be found in the Frontier Economics 2006 report “Independent Review of the Freedom of Information Act”. A copy of this report is available in the House of Commons Library.

Departmental Information and Communications Technology

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with which organisations his Department has had exclusivity agreements relating to information technology (a) hardware and (b) software in each of the last five years. [298328]

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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has not entered into any exclusivity agreements for either hardware or software in the past five years.

Departmental Political Activities

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 3 November 2009, Official Report, column 804W, on party conferences, how much each of his Department’s non-departmental public bodies spent sending representatives to attend each of the party political conferences. [298929]

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I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 3 November 2009, Official Report, column 804W. The actual cost of such attendance is a matter for the non-departmental public bodies concerned and officials have not been able to access the information requested, accurately and consistently for all four bodies, in the time available. I will ask the relevant bodies to write to you with this information.

Departmental Publicity

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what national environment campaigns have been undertaken by his Department since 1997; and what the (a) resource, (b) capital expenditure and (c) staffing costs in 2009 prices were of each such campaign. [288761]

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DEFRA was created in June 2001. Since then DEFRA has undertaken a wide range of various environmentally focussed campaigns through the core Department. This includes Every Action Counts, Climate Change Initiative, Act on CO2, Food Imports, and Muck in 4Life. The total costs for all marketing and communication activity since 2004-05 are as follows:

£

2004-05

4,174,571

2005-06

3,454,786

2006-07

2,084,525

2007-08

6,890,148

2008-09

18,793,329

1This includes the initial Act on CO2 mitigation campaign, now led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Figures before financial year 2004-05 are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Figures for resource costs, capital expenditure costs and staffing costs in 2009 prices could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Rail Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 October 2009, Official Report, column 350W, on departmental rail travel, how many (a) journeys were paid for and (b) people travelled in each year; whether any nugatory expenditure was incurred in each year; and if he will make a statement. [298175]

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From information held centrally, on departmental rail travel, the information is:

Journeys paid for

Refund fees (£)

July 2006 to March 2007

12,992

6,351

April 2007 to March 2008

15,400

11,383

April 2008 to March 2009

13,109

7,199

April 2009 to September 2009

5,260

2,857

Information on the numbers of people who travelled in each year could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Marine Management Organisation

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many Marine and Fisheries Agency staff have asked for a transfer to another department in preference to accepting a position at the new Marine Management Organisation; [298989]

(2) how many Marine and Fisheries Agency staff have accepted (a) permanent and (b) temporary posts in the new Marine Management Organisation.

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All staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency at the time of vesting of the new Marine Management Organisation will automatically transfer to the new organisation under Cabinet Office protocols on transfers in the public sector. The Marine Bill provides that staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency at the time of vesting of the Marine Management Organisation who choose not to transfer to it are deemed to have resigned.

We are not aware of any staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency who have requested a transfer to another Department because their post is being transferred to the Marine Management Organisation.

The Marine and Fisheries Agency headquarters is relocating to Newcastle and will become the new Marine Management Organisation headquarters. Eleven staff are relocating. Sixty-seven staff have chosen not to relocate and have access to posts in core DEFRA or can apply for advertised vacancies in other Departments.

Defence

Afghanistan

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) journalists, (b) television crews, (c) other civilians, (d) officials from his Department and (e) other non-military personnel have visited British troops in Helmand province in each of the last five years; and what (i) assistance and (ii) facilities his Department has provided for them. [299486]

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Between November 2006 and November 2009 the MOD has facilitated 354 media visits to Afghanistan, including to Helmand province. The composition of each group varies and records are not held centrally. I will write shortly to the hon. Member on non media visits.

The MOD provides transport, accommodation, dining and security support to these visits, using facilities already available in theatre.

Information on media visits to Afghanistan prior to November 2006 is not available centrally.

Afghanistan: Armed Forces

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units down to company level have been deployed to Afghanistan (a) once, (b) twice, (c) three and (d) four or more times since October 2001. [297938]

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The following table shows which units at Company level have deployed once, twice, three and four times to Afghanistan since October 2001.

Regular unit name

Number of battalion deployments

Number of 3 Coy deployments

Number of 2 Coy deployments

Number of 1 Coy deployments

40 Commando Royal Marines

1

42 Commando Royal Marines

2

45 Commando Royal Marines

3

1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards

3

1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards

1

1st Battalion, The Welsh Guards

1

1st Battalion, The Royal Scots Borderers, The Royal Regiment of Scotland

1

The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

1

The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

1

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

1

The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

3

2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

1

2

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

1

1

2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

1

2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (formerly Green Howards)

3

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters)

3

1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh (Royal Welch Fusiliers)

2

2

2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh

2

1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment

1

2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment

1

3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment

2

1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles

1

2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles

2

1

1st Battalion, The Rifles, (formerly known as The Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry)

2

2nd Battalion, The Rifles

1

3rd Battalion, The Rifles

1

4th Battalion, The Rifles

1

1

The apparent unevenness in the distribution of deployments between the various units shown reflect the narrow parameters of the question. Over the period that the answer covers, the Army have been committed on operations in not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but also have deployed in the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. When determining which units to allocate to operations, a number of considerations apply, not least the particular capability they offer. For example, those units which have deployed to Afghanistan will predominantly be those that operate in a light role.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK soldiers have (a) died and (b) suffered injury that has required aeromedivac to the UK, due to improvised explosive devices detonated in the course of logistical moves in Helmand Province since 2005. [298421]

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[holding answer 10 November 2009]: The MOD is committed to openly publishing casualty statistics on the number of service personnel killed and wounded on operations. Information on casualties sustained since January 2006 in Afghanistan and information on how each individual was killed is included in their eulogies available on our website at the following link.

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets

I will place a copy of the most up to date statistics in the Library of the House. These statistics are updated fortnightly online. We do not disclose information on how casualties are injured as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

Information on patients from Afghanistan who require treatment at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court is also publicly available on the website of the Defence Analytical Services and Advice.

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index.php?page=48&pubType=0&thiscontent=1350&Publish Time=09:30:00&date=2009-10-30&disText=30%20September %202009&from=listing&topDate=2009-10-30&skipCheck=l

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many limbs have been lost by UK troops in Helmand Province since 2005. [298422]

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I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) on 2 November 2009, Official Report, column 644W. Determining amputations related to action specifically in Helmand would be complex and would at the very least necessitate interrogation of individual records. Even this would not be definitive as wounded could arrive at any one of many field hospitals, potentially including those outside Helmand. At the same time, casualties evacuated from Helmand field hospitals could have been wounded elsewhere. Consequently, obtaining verified data would be problematic and any data provided could not be relied upon.

Afghanistan: Pakistan

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what effect recent steps taken by Pakistan against al-Qaeda have had on the number of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan; and whether he has made a recent assessment of the extent to which co-operation with the Pakistani armed forces could enable UK forces to withdraw from Afghanistan. [296981]

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Current Pakistani military operations in South Waziristan are directed against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), however, we assess that they have placed pressure on other militant groups in South Waziristan.

A number of factors contribute to fluctuations in attack levels in Afghanistan, making it difficult to discern the precise effect that activity in Pakistan is having.

While we work closely with the Pakistani military in building its capacity to conduct counterinsurgency operations within its own borders, we have always been clear that ISAF's mission in Afghanistan will only be complete once the Afghan National Security Forces themselves can take on the conduct of security operations.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the diet provided to troops on active service in Afghanistan. [298958]

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The Institute of Naval Medicine is currently assessing ‘end of deployment’ data on the diet experienced by personnel who were deployed to forward operating bases and patrol bases in Afghanistan.

This data collection is one element of the surgeon general’s armed forces feeding project to provide an evidence base in support of UK armed forces feeding in training, in unit and during overseas operations.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the use of Snatch Land Rovers in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [299044]

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The use by our armed forces in Afghanistan of all equipment types is kept under constant review to ensure that they continue to meet operational requirements. This includes the use of Snatch vehicles. Operational commanders have repeatedly stressed the importance of having a range of vehicles from which they can select the most appropriate for specific tasks. This includes a lighter, smaller and more agile patrol vehicle, such as the Snatch 2A and Snatch Vixen Land Rover. But to ensure that our personnel have the best possible protection, a strengthened variant of the vehicle, Snatch Vixen-Plus, is being procured for delivery to Afghanistan next year. This will be followed shortly thereafter by the new lighter protected patrol vehicle.

Armed Forces: Cadets

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the letter from the Prime Minister to the then Secretary of State of 11 March 2008, reference MSU/10/7/2 serial number 1421/2007, on expansion of the cadet force. [296293]

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[holding answer 28 October 2009]: I am withholding the information requested as its release may prejudice the development of Government policy. However, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 4 November 2009, Official Report, columns 987-988W.

Armed Forces: Deployment

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what deployments have been made by each battalion of the infantry since 1997; and what the intervals were between each tour. [297900]

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Historical data to support the calculation of the average tour interval for each battalion or regiment of the Infantry since 1997 is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The following table shows the last operational Tour Interval for each Infantry unit as at 1 November 2009, based on the unit's last two operational tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Northern Ireland or Cyprus.

Latest InformationPrevious Information

Unit deployed/Infantry

End date

Last operational deployment (as a unit)

Start date

Previous operational deployment (as a unit)

End date

Last unit tour interval (months)

1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Afghanistan

October 2009

Afghanistan

October 2007

24

1st Battalion Coldstream Guards

Afghanistan

October 2009

Afghanistan

October 2007

24

1st Battalion Scots Guards

May 2007

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

April 2005

31

1st Battalion Irish Guards

November 2007

Iraq

June 2007

Northern Ireland

March 2004

38

1st Battalion Welsh Guards

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2009

Balkans

April 2007

24

1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland1

May 2008

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

May 2006

17

2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

September 2008

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

December 2005

28

3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2009

Iraq

January 2005

51

4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

November 2008

Iraq

June 2008

Iraq

May 2006

25

5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

September 2008

Afghanistan

April 2008

Balkans

October 2005

29

1st Battalion The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment

May 2009

Iraq

December 2008

Iraq

December 2006

24

2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment

June 2005

Iraq

January 2005

Northern Ireland

December 2003

12

1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

November 2008

Iraq

June 2008

Iraq

May 2006

25

2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2009

Northern Ireland

November 2003

64

1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment

October 2007

Afghanistan

May 2007

Iraq

October 2005

18

2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment

November 2008

Iraq

June 2008

Iraq

October 2006

20

1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment2

May 2008

Iraq

December 2007

n/a

2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment2

Cyprus (Theatre Reserve Battalion)

July 2009

Iraq

April 2008

27

1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

May 2009

Iraq

December 2008

Iraq

May 2007

18

2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

Afghanistan

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2008

18

3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment

May 2005

Iraq

December 2004

49

1st Battalion The Royal Welsh

Afghanistan

October 2009

Cyprus (TRB)

April 2007

18

2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh

Afghanistan

October 2009

Iraq

November 2007

23

1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment

May 2007

Iraq

December 2007

Iraq

October 2004

37

2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2009

Afghanistan

November 2007

16

3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment

April 2007

Iraq

November 2006

Iraq

October 2005

12

1st Battalion The Rifles3

March 2009

Afghanistan

October 2008

Iraq

November 2006

23

2nd Battalion The Rifles

October 2009

Afghanistan

April 2009

Iraq

May 2007

23

3rd Battalion The Rifles

Afghanistan

October 2009

Iraq

February 2007

19

4th Battalion The Rifles

November 2007

Iraq

June 2007

Balkans

October 2001

67

5th Battalion The Rifles

May 2009

Iraq

December 2008

Iraq

December 2006

24

1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment

September 2008

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

December 2005

28

2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment

September 2008

Afghanistan

April 2008

Iraq

April 2006

24

3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment

September 2008

Afghanistan

April 2008

Afghanistan

October 2006

18

1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Regiment

March 2008

Afghanistan

October 2007

Balkans

March 2006

18

2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Regiment

March 2009

Afghanistan

October 2008

Afghanistan

October 2005

37

1 1 RS and 1 KOSB amalgamated to form 1 SCOTS in August 2006. 1 SCOTS deployed for the first time as a formed unit to Iraq in December 2007.

2 1 KORBR, 1 KINGS and QLR amalgamated in July 2006 to form 1 LANCS and 2 LANCS. Due to the nature of this amalgamation it is not representative to carry forward the unit deployments of 1 KORBR, 1 KINGS and QLR to 1 LANCS and 2 LANCS.

3 1 RGBW and 1 DDLI amalgamated in March 2007 to form 1 RIFLES. 1 RIFLES has deployed for the first time as a formed unit in October 2008 on Herrick 9.

Note:

The deployments listed are by units, defined as a regiment deploying with a regimental headquarters and more than two manoeuvre sub-units for four months or more.

The average tour interval is 26 months. The Army's harmony guidelines recommend that Army units achieve 24 months between each six-month operational tour. Whilst there are necessary exceptions for certain trades and units, the situation continues to improve and we are generally succeeding in this aim.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of each service is currently deployable for operations overseas. [297935]

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This information is not held centrally.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when an improvement plan to reduce risks at Atomic Weapons Establishment sites will be prepared. [298199]

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Effective risk management underpins all activities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), including nuclear operations, technical programmes and construction work. This is undertaken in close consultation with the Ministry of Defence, regulators and other stakeholders.

A formal improvement plan does not exist, but continuous improvement is a fundamental part of safety management, and is embedded in all work relating to safety.

Safety cases have been developed for every nuclear process and activity at AWE sites. These are based on the principle that risks should be as low as reasonably practicable. All AWE risks are managed continuously and proactively with stakeholders, in accordance with AWE's licence under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

Atomic Weapons Establishment: Radioactive Waste

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes in the volume of (a) intermediate and (b) low level radioactive waste held at the Atomic Weapons Establishment are expected to take place over the next three years. [298094]

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The 2007 UK Radioactive Waste Inventory lists the volume of intermediate and low level radioactive waste that is expected, as of 1 April 2007, to arise in future years at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. This document is available from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority website:

http://www.nda.gov.uk/ukinventory/

It includes forecast quantities for the period 2010 to 2014. It states that the volume of intermediate level waste is forecast to be 1,040 cubic metres and the volume of low level waste is forecast to be 6,200 cubic metres.

The forecast for the three years from 2009 is not held separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

AWE Aldermaston

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for submission of all his Department's proposed planning applications at (a) AWE Aldermaston and (b) AWE Burghfield. [298100]

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The following table represents the latest timetable for the submission of planning applications for AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Project description

Site

Timing of planning application

Improved street lighting

Aldermaston

November 2009

Replacement enriched uranium handling facility

Aldermaston

November 2009

Hydrodynamics facility main and support building

Aldermaston

April 2010

Small scale formulations

Aldermaston

Beyond 2010, but not yet determined

Chemical processing

Burghfield

Beyond 2010, but not yet determined

Emergency response capability facility training extension

Burghfield

Beyond 2010, but not yet determined

Combined non metallurgy and material science

Burghfield

Beyond 2010, but not yet determined

High performance computer

Aldermaston

Beyond 2010, but not yet determined

Christmas

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Christmas functions arranged by his Department and its agencies (a) the then Secretary of State, (b) officials of his Department and (c) officials of its agencies (i) hosted and (ii) attended in 2008; what the cost to the public purse was; and if he will make a statement. [295457]

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This response covers the Department and its agencies, but excludes trading funds which are outside the MOD’s departmental boundary for financial reporting purposes.

Departmental policy is that Christmas functions are not an appropriate use of the Defence budget and therefore any functions should be fully funded from non-public funds such as staff subscriptions. No Christmas functions were arranged at public expense in 2008, but public funding of £838 was incurred in transporting MOD and service personnel to a Defence Equipment and Support Christmas Carol Concert in Bath.

Information about the attendance at Christmas functions by officials of the Department and its agencies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on Christmas (i) cards, (ii) parties and (iii) decorations in the last 12 months. [299272]

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This response covers the Department and its agencies, but excludes trading funds which are outside the MOD's departmental boundary for financial reporting purposes.

MOD expenditure on Christmas cards over the last 12 months has been £305.

This figure includes printing, purchase and postage, but excludes a small amount spent by defence attaches, for permitted representational purposes which is not identifiable and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

There was no public money spent on Christmas parties and decorations.

Defence: Research

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated size of the defence research budget is in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13. [292151]

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[holding answer 12 October 2009]: The majority of research expenditure is undertaken under the science, innovation and technology budget which in 2009-10 is £471 million. The current planning assumption is that approximately £439 million will be available in 2010-11. Departmental expenditure limits have not yet been set for the years beyond 2010-11.

Departmental Air Travel

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many first-class flights were taken by each Minister in his Department in 2008-09; and what the (a) origin, (b) destination and (c) cost was of each such flight. [298755]

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A full list of overseas travel by Ministers from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 is published by the Cabinet Office and can be found at the following link.

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/226022/travel_2008_2009.pdf

During this period, the following first-class flights were taken by Ministers in the MOD.

Minister

Origin

Destination

Cost (£)

Right hon. Bob Ainsworth MP

Bahrain

London

13,555.70

Right hon. Bob Ainsworth MP

Bahrain

London

2,641.10

Right hon. Baroness Taylor

London

Kuala Lumpur

24,527.00

1 Including outward business class fare.

2 Return fare.

The Secretary of State has asked that Ministers in my Department do not fly first-class unless there is no alternative option.

Departmental Billing

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in (a) September and (b) October 2009. [299561]

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Performance figures for September and October 2009, against the Government's agreed 10 day payment target, are provided in the following table:

Percentage of invoices paid within 10 days of receipt

September 2009

97.7

October 2009

98.5

The figures provided represent all invoices processed by the MOD financial management shared service centre and the four MOD trading funds; the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Met Office, the Defence Support Group and the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office.

Departmental Disclosure of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which requests for information received by his Department under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in 2008 were (a) classified as not resolvable and (b) refused in full; [286135]

(2) in respect of which requests for information received by his Department in 2008 under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it has received permission to extend the deadline for a response by more than 40 days; and what the reason for the request for an extension was in each case.

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In 2008 the Ministry of Defence received some 2,631 requests for information centrally, under the Freedom of Information Act.

As of 30 January 2009, 258 cases were closed in which the information requested was withheld in full. A further 315 cases were closed and classed as not resolvable.

As at the same date, 49 cases required more than 40 days on top of the statutory 20 working day period and have now been closed. As of 30 January 2009, a further 69 cases remained open in which the statutory 20 working day period and a further 40 working days had passed.

The exact text of each of the 791 requests in the categories listed above, and the detailed reasons for each extension, could be provided at only disproportionate cost. However, I will write to the hon. Member to provide a short summary of each request for information received in 2008 that was classified as ‘not resolvable’ or ‘withheld in full’, and list any exemptions that applied. I will also set out simplified reasons for those that have required more than 40 working days on top of the statutory 20-working day period.

Substantive answer from Mr. Kevan Jones to Dan Rogerson:

I promised to write to you to provide more information in response to the written answer I gave you on 20 July, (Official Report, column 882W). I apologise for the time it has taken to reply to you.

Firstly, I must make a correction to the information provided in the answer to the Parliamentary Questions. My reply included the following statement:

“As of 30 January 2009, 258 cases were closed in which the information requested was withheld in full. A further 315 cases were closed and classed as not resolvable. As at the same date, 49 cases required more than 40 days on top of the statutory 20 working day period and have now been closed. As of 30 January 2009, a further 69 cases remained open in which the statutory 20 working day period and a further 40 working days had passed.

The exact text of each of the 791 requests in the categories listed above, and the detailed reasons for each extension, could only be provided at disproportionate cost.”

The total of 791 requests given in the answer is incorrect. The total number of cases in the categories listed is 691. This was a typographical error, for which I apologise.

In my response to the question, I promised to provide you with a short summary of each request for information received in 2008 that was classified as not resolvable or withheld in full, and list any exemptions that applied. I will place in the Library of the House a spreadsheet showing a brief summary of the 573 requests, but it has proved impossible to list the exemptions that applied or provide a more detailed summary for all these cases as this could only be provided at disproportionate cost. This is because each record has to be individually retrieved from our management system and the information extracted. However, it has proved possible to provide the full information for 202 cases within the cost limit and this information is given within the spreadsheet.

I also agreed to set out simplified reasons for those that have required more than 40 working days on top of the statutory 20 working day period. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to identify reasons for each individual case. There are many reasons why a response might be delayed. These include, for example, difficulties identifying the appropriate part of the Department to respond, difficulties identifying the relevant information, complex discussions about whether information can be released, resource constraints and consultation of third parties including other Government Departments, commercial partners and foreign governments.

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department were employed on the management of freedom of information requests submitted to his Department in each year since 2005; and how much his Department spent on the management of such requests in each such year. [299139]

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The following table shows the number of centrally staffed posts dedicated to the management of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Number of staffed posts

Cost (£000)

2005

12.5

504

2006

13.5

564

2007

13.5

578

2008

12.5

564

2009

12.5

570

In addition, staff in some 50 local FOI focal points spend varying amounts of their time on activities related to the management of FOI requests as part of wider responsibilities. Information on the amount of this effort is not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

FOI related expenditure is also incurred on a range of other non-staff costs such as IT, publicity and training, but information on this expenditure could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Cars

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of provision of Government cars to special advisers in his Department was in the last 12 months. [299585]

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No special advisers are provided with an allocated Government car and driver. As with all civil servants, special advisers may use an official car or taxi in properly defined circumstances. Details of such use is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many medals have been received by members of the Gibraltar regiment in respect of service in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan since 2001. [296911]

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[holding 2 November 2009]: Since 2001 the members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment have received 55 Iraq Medals, one Iraq Medal with clasp and one United States Bronze Star in respect of service in Iraq. For service in Afghanistan one Military Cross, 14 Operational Service Medals with Afghanistan clasp and two United States Commendation Medals have been awarded.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice he received from (a) the Chief of General Staff, (b) operational commanders and (c) other senior Army personnel on the decision to sell the Army's stock of Gazelle helicopters. [299043]

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The advice received from the Defence boards which includes the chiefs of staff, was to dispose of those Gazelle helicopters which no longer have a role in operations.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what offers of helicopters he has received from the private sector in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. [299120]

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The Ministry of Defence occasionally receives offers from industry to purchase or lease helicopters in support of operations. I am withholding the information as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.

Delivering helicopter capability is complex and beyond the immediate procurement of new airframes, additional time and cost is required to modify helicopters to meet specific operational and environmental threats and likely mission requirements, to certify the aircraft, to deliver support arrangements and to train air and ground crew. In order to deliver increased operational helicopter capability quickly, it has often proven more effective to invest in maximising the return from our existing fleets.

Where possible though we have sought to make use of commercial capacity to deliver freight. We have a contract for routine freight movement in Afghanistan, which has allowed our own departmental helicopters to focus on supporting military operations.

Nuclear Weapons: Decommissioning

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 21 October 2009, Official Report, column 1469W, on what dates since October 2008 the specialist technical exchanges referred to in the answer have taken place; which of these involved discussion or demonstration of best practice on warhead disassembly; and whether any transfer of fissile material took place during such exchanges. [298506]

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I am withholding further detail of individual technical exchanges conducted with the US through the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

Puma Helicopters

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the probability of Puma helicopter aircrew surviving crashes of differing severity; and if he will make a statement. [298384]

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We routinely assess the safety of our aircraft to ensure that the equipment remains safe to operate and that the risks to personnel are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable, as is required of us under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As a result we have introduced a number of modifications to the Puma aircraft to enhance its safety through-life, and are planning further enhancements as part of life extension programme for the aircraft which we contacted with Eurocopter on 18 September 2009.

Reservists

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists are deployed on operations overseas. [297941]

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I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 November 2009, Official Report, column 238W.

Territorial Army

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Territorial Army personnel of each rank there were in each year since 1997. [297940]

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The available data are given in the following table.

Territorial Army strength by paid rank: 1997 to 2009

Date

All TA personnel

All TA officers

Brigadier

Colonel

Lt. Colonel

Major

Captain

Lieutenant

Second Lieutenant

April 1997

57,620

6,560

1

70

270

1,990

2,710

960

560

April 1998

57,600

6,780

1

70

300

2,090

2,780

930

600

April 1999

52,210

6,590

1

70

300

2,060

2,680

860

610

April 2000

45,480

6,200

1

70

300

1,940

2,460

860

570

April 2001

41,720

5,780

1

80

280

1,790

2,250

840

540

April 2002

40,660

5,800

1

80

270

1,770

2,220

880

560

April 2003

39,330

5,770

1

80

290

1,640

2,160

880

710

April 2004

38,120

5,900

1

80

320

1,680

2,240

840

730

April 2005

37,260

5,760

1

90

320

1,740

2,160

770

680

April 2006

38,460

5,580

10

90

340

1,680

2,110

810

560

March 2007

36,790

5,320

10

90

340

1,700

2,030

720

430

October 2008

234,330

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

April 2009

235,320

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

September 2009

234,380

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

Date

All TA other ranks

WO1

WO2

Staff Sergeant

Sergeant

Corporal

Lance Corporal

Private

April 1997

51,060

170

1,530

2,410

4,060

6,380

7,320

29,200

April 1998

50,820

200

1,560

2,410

4,020

6,340

7,210

29,070

April 1999

45,620

200

1,590

2,360

3,950

6,100

6,910

24,510

April 2000

39,280

200

1,520

2,130

3,490

5,410

6,110

20,420

April 2001

35,940

190

1,340

1,840

3,080

4,780

5,380

19,340

April 2002

34,860

190

1,320

1,830

2,910

4,570

4,960

19,080

April 2003

33,570

180

1,300

1,760

2,790

4,180

4,550

18,740

April 2004

32,220

180

1,300

1,720

2,760

3,900

4,400

17,960

April 2005

31,490

210

1,310

1,730

2,670

3,680

4,070

17,820

April 2006

32,880

220

1,340

1,720

2,560

3,480

3,760

19,790

March 2007

31,470

230

1,330

1,690

2,420

3,230

3,450

19,110

October 2008

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

April 2009

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

September 2009

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

1 = Zero or rounded to zero.

2 = Denotes provisional.

3 = Denotes unavailable.

Notes:

TA Personnel include Group A and B, Mobilised TA, OTC and NRPS. FTRS are excluded.

April 2003 includes 60 TA soldiers of unknown rank.

After April 2007 Territorial Army Officer and Soldier breakdowns are not included due to JPA data validation issues.

Figures have been rounded to 10; numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

These figures represent the continuation of a process of rebalancing TA strength to the reduced requirement on the Reserves which started as part of the Options for Change process in 1991 when TA strength was 90,068.

Cabinet Office

Departmental Air Travel

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many first-class flights were taken by each Minister in her Department in 2008-09; and what the (a) origin, (b) destination and (c) cost was of each such flight. [298759]

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Information on Ministers’ travel overseas is published on an annual basis. The list for 2008-09 can be accessed at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/226022/travel_2008_2009.pdf

and a copy is available in the Libraries of the House.

Travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code.

Departmental Freedom of Information

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many freedom of information requests under consideration by the Information Commissioner concern information held by her Department; and if she will make a statement. [296761]

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This is a matter for the Information Commissioner. However, my hon. Friend may wish to be aware that the Information Commissioner’s Office has published a list of requests under consideration, as of September 2009, on their website:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/freedom_of_information/research_and_reports/foi_and_eir_caseload_snapshot_september_2009.pdf

A copy of this list has been placed in the Library.

Departmental Procurement

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what use her Department makes of electronic auctions when undertaking procurement exercises. [299474]

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Cabinet Office policy is to always select the procurement strategy most likely to provide best value for money. To date, the Department has not used electronic auctions directly. As a major user of collaborative procurement, the Cabinet Office benefits from contracts placed by other Departments which employ electronic auction functionality.

Departmental Work Experience

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much interns in (a) No. 10 Downing street and (b) the Cabinet Office are paid. [299450]

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The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office pays interns a salary which is commensurate with the grade of the role that the intern is filling.

Disclosure of Information

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) pursuant to the answer of 28 October 2009, Official Report, columns 267-8W, on Operation Miser, if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department's protocol on handling unauthorised disclosures and national security cases; [299254]

(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the Cabinet Office document guidance on leak investigation policy and procedures.

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The guidance document “Official Information: standards of conduct and procedures” is being prepared and will shortly be sent to Departments. It will incorporate protocols for the investigation of unauthorised disclosures. The guidance will be submitted to the chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee and will be placed in the Library of the House.

Publishing details of working methods and investigative techniques would compromise the effective conduct of investigations in future.

Dorneywood

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office by what process the trustees of Dorneywood are appointed. [299417]

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The trustees of Dorneywood are appointed as follows:

One trustee is nominated by the Prime Minister, being a person holding Cabinet or ministerial rank. One trustee is appointed by the Council of the National Trust. One trustee is appointed by a resolution of the trustees on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Fourthly an additional trustee may be appointed by the other trustees.

The three non-ministerial trustees are appointed for a period of five years, renewable for a further period of five years, subject to the agreement of all the trustees.

Electoral Register

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what her most recent estimate is of the number of people eligible to register to vote in (a) local, (b) European and (c) UK parliamentary elections. [299166]

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

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated November 2009:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what the most recent estimate is of the number of people eligible to register to vote in (a) local, (b) European and (c) UK Parliamentary elections. (299166)

ONS publishes the number of people registered to vote in local, European and Parliamentary elections but does not hold data on the number who are eligible to register. The mid-year estimate of the resident population, aged 18 and over, provides an approximation to this although not everybody who is usually resident is entitled to vote. For example, foreign citizens from outside of the EU and Commonwealth are not eligible.

The definition of the usually resident population is closer to the eligibility criteria for the local and European electorate than to those for the parliamentary electorate because the latter exclude EU citizens and include UK citizens resident abroad.

The mid-year estimate of the resident population aged 18 and over for the UK, for 2008 is 48,263,000. This is the most recent year for which estimates are available.

Futurebuilders England

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether she plans to renew the Futurebuilders England Fund Management Ltd. contract on its expiry. [299414]

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The services agreement for the Futurebuilders Programme between the Cabinet Office and Futurebuilders England Fund Management Ltd expires on 31 March 2011.

The Government are not yet in a position to make commitments to programmes which could extend beyond the current spending review period which runs from 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Government Departments: Taxis

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what contracts her Department has with private hire taxi companies; and what information her Department holds on such contracts held by other Government departments. [299762]

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The Cabinet Office has one contract for the provision of taxi services. It is with Addison Lee and it is used for most pre-booked journeys where public transport is deemed unsuitable, for example due to unsociable hours or a lack of available alternatives.

The Cabinet Office has no information on contracts with private taxi companies held by any other Government Department.

Iraq Committee of Inquiry

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many serving Ministers have received requests to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry; and if she will make a statement. [293560]

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I refer the right. hon. Gentleman to the answer given to him by the Prime Minister on 19 October 2009, Official Report, column 1210W.

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many officials from her Department are seconded to work on the Chilcot Inquiry; and if she will make a statement. [293566]

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There are currently 19 staff employed in the Iraq Inquiry Secretariat, comprising both full and part-time staff drawn from Government Departments as follows: Cabinet Office, six; Ministry of Defence, four; Foreign and Commonwealth Office, three; Northern Ireland Office, one; Serious Fraud Office, one; Government Communications Headquarters, one; Department for International Development, one. These staff are either on secondment, loan or attachment. In addition, there are currently two temporary staff engaged from outside Government.

Lone Parents: Females

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many female lone parents there have been in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in each year since 1997; and what proportion of such women lived in council accommodation in each such year. [297380]

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I have been asked to reply.

Estimates of the numbers of households headed by female lone parents with dependent children and the proportions of those households living in social rented accommodation, in the North East and England, for each year since 1997 are provided in the following table. Data are not available at constituency level. Estimates for council accommodation are not available.

Female lone parents with dependent children1

North East

England

Number of female lone parent households (thousand)

Percentage of which are social renters

Number of female lone parent households (thousand)

Percentage of which are social renters

1997

76

63

1,116

56

1998

75

61

1,157

56

1999

77

60

1,158

56

2000

79

60

1,194

55

2001

76

62

1,192

55

2002

73

63

1,233

54

2003

66

62

1,240

53

2004

71

61

1,261

52

2005

72

58

1,264

50

2006

74

55

1,287

50

2007

72

51

1,312

50

1 Due to small sample sizes, figures are based on a three-year rolling average. 1997 represents the average for the period 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Source:

Survey of English Housing

Ministerial Policy Advisers

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many special advisers in the Government are (a) members of the Government Communications Network and (b) primarily involved in the field of communications. [299413]

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The “Code of Conduct for Special Advisers” sets out the nature of work a special adviser may do at their Ministers request. This includes media and communication activities.

Non-Governmental Organisations

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what definition of a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation her Department uses. [299410]

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This is not a formal term used within Government. The term “non-departmental public body”—or NDPB—has been used by successive Governments since 1980 and refers to a body which has a role in the processes of national Government, but is not a Government Department, or part of one, they accordingly operate to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from Ministers.

Public Relations

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what concerns the then Cabinet Secretary raised about the appropriateness of Mr Damian McBride’s conduct when Mr McBride was a civil servant. [290134]

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I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 15 October 2009, Official Report, columns 1038-39W, to the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb).

In relation to Mr. McBride’s employment as a permanent civil servant it is not the Government’s practice to disclose information relating to the employment of individual civil servants which is confidential between the employer and employee.

Smith Institute

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what payments her Department has made to the Smith Institute in the last 36 months. [299461]

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The Cabinet Office has not made any payments to the Smith Institute in the last 36 months.

Home Department

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts: Bexley

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many acceptable behaviour contracts have been (a) agreed and (b) breached in the London Borough of Bexley in each year since their inception. [298113]

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Acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs) are non-statutory, voluntary agreements which are normally made between a perpetrator of antisocial behaviour and an antisocial behaviour agency or school.

Data on ABCs are collected by the Home Office through a voluntary survey of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships' (CDRPs) use of antisocial behaviour tools and powers. The latest published data indicate that 23 ABCs were made in Bexley between October 2003 and September 2008. Data on breach of ABCs are not collected by the Home Office.

Animal Welfare

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines his Department operates to ensure that veterinary surgeons do not have conflicts of interest under section 6(5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [298323]

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Section 3.19 of the guidance of the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (HC321) stipulates that when a named veterinary surgeon (NVS) has under any other statutory role under the terms of the 1986 Act a substantial interest in the scientific outcome of a programme of work, alternative provision should be made for the veterinary oversight of the animals in question.

Where the named veterinary surgeon holds a project licence, a different veterinary surgeon should be nominated to perform the duties of the named veterinary surgeon for that project.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether project licences issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 require the substances or products which may be tested on animals to be specified. [298337]

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It is not Home Office practice to authorise individual studies. Instead, the relevant project licences permit the testing of specified classes of materials, such as medical and veterinary materials and chemicals, using specified methods, generally conducted according to international test guidelines. In addition the licences specify the checks that will be made about what is already known about the substance to be tested and the order in which the tests may be done. Other than in the case of vaccines or other biological materials requiring batch testing, such licences do not usually name each substance in a particular class.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether licensees are required to obtain the specific approval of his Department before testing a particular substance on animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [298338]

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Licensees are not required to obtain the specific approval of his Department before testing a particular substance on animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

It is not Home Office practice to authorise individual studies. Instead, the relevant project licences permit the testing of specified classes of materials, such as medical and veterinary materials and chemicals, using specified methods, generally conducted according to international test guidelines. In addition the licences specify the checks that will be made about what is already known about the substance to be tested and the order in which the tests may be done. Other than in the case of vaccines or other biological materials requiring batch testing, such licences do not usually name each substance in a particular class.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for project licences under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 he has rejected on the grounds that the procedures would cause severe pain or distress which cannot be alleviated in each year since 2004. [297978]

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We do not hold the information requested. A feature of the regulatory regime under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is the discussion that often takes place at an early stage between applicants (or prospective applicants) and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. When serious deficiencies are discovered with the proposals during these early discussions with the local inspectors, or within the establishments’ local ethical review processes, proposals unlikely to meet the Act’s stringent requirements are revised or withdrawn before formal refusal becomes necessary.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department issues guidance on the use of live animals for the purposes of training in (a) cervical dislocation and (b) injecting procedures carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [297979]

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Standard condition 17 for designated scientific procedure establishments in appendix B of the guidance of the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 stipulates that the certificate holder is responsible for assuring competence for a non-regulated procedure such as humane killings by methods listed in schedule 1 of the 1986 Act.

Section 3.12 of the guidance stipulates that the project licence holder must ensure that personal licensees working under their control are adequately supervised and trained and that regulated procedures such as injecting substances are competently performed in accordance with the project licence authorities.

The training framework for those with key responsibilities under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is set out in annex F of the guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Module 2 of the Animal Research Training Course provides training on humane methods of killing appropriate to the relevant species and on the job training provides practical skills which would include injection techniques. The Home Office has also issued a code of practice—The Humane Killing of Animals under Schedule 1 to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Only those with appropriate personal licence authorities may lawfully perform regulated procedures on protected animals and other than a limited range of specialist procedures project licences are not issued for training in manual skills.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bolton South East of 11 November 2003, Official Report, column 232W, on the Home Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that botulinium toxin tested on animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is not used off-label for cosmetic purposes. [297980]

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The Government's position has not changed. Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 the Home Office grants licences for the testing on live animals of botulinium toxin for products licensed for clinical purposes as a prescription-only medicine.

The Home Office does not license the use of animals for the testing of cosmetic ingredients or products.

The off-label use of botulinium toxin products manufactured for therapeutic purposes is not a matter over which the Home Office has any control. Regulation of the uses made of health care products is a matter for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is an executive agency of the Department of Health.

Antisocial Behaviour

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps he has taken to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour. [297982]

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Over the past 12 years we have introduced a wide range of tools and powers to tackle antisocial behaviour which are being used by practitioners to bring relief to communities across the country. We are committed to driving down antisocial behaviour by supporting victims and making all local partners take fast and effective action against it.

On 13 October we announced a package of measures to improve the collective response to ASB, building on the Government's success in driving down antisocial behaviour. These are:

Encouraging Crime and disorder reduction partnerships to make full use of the use of tools and powers;

Challenging all CDRPs to set minimum local service standards so that the public have a clear set of commitments and know what they can hold agencies accountable for;

Stepping up action on breach of ASBOs including through better case management, increased publicity and the use of community impact statements;

Ensuring effective links between neighbourhood policing and neighbourhood management teams to resolve ASB in the community;

A new deal for victims and witnesses of ASB including extension of Victim Support service to victims and witnesses bringing ASB cases in the magistrates courts; funding for 85 new victims champions in pioneer areas, and those where people have high perceptions of antisocial behaviour; and

A national training campaign for ASB coordinators to improve their victim work.

In addition, the Policing Pledge, which puts the police on the side of victims, will be strengthened in the White Paper.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date his Department’s qualitative review of anti-social behaviour orders commenced; which matters are being analysed as part of the review; what estimate he has made of the cost of the review; what methodology is being used; and when he expects (a) the study to be completed and (b) the review to be published. [297148]

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The Home Office has commissioned two pieces of work evaluating interventions to tackle antisocial behaviour. These are:

Research to examine local variations in the use of antisocial behaviour interventions. This work was conducted by Ipsos MORI and comprised a survey sent to all CDRP ASB co-ordinators and multi stakeholder focus groups within eight CDRPs. All sites that participated in the focus groups were informed that the details of areas and individuals involved would remain anonymous to facilitate the open sharing of views and prevent identification of individuals involved.

This research project contract costs were £37,700 and the field work was conducted between February and May 2008. The findings of this study will be published in due course.

An evaluation of the comparative effectiveness of interventions to address antisocial behaviour. This started in December 2008 and results from this evaluation are due in early 2010. A mixed methodology has been used in this study with a quantitative data exercise to meet the PAC recommendation of gathering information on the extent to which individual and situational characteristics influence the effectiveness of interventions to tackle ASB. Qualitative data has been collected through interviews and case files reviews.

Once again all sites that participated in the qualitative research were informed that the details of areas and individuals involved would remain anonymous to facilitate open sharing of views and to prevent the identification of both victims and perpetrators of ASB. Contract costs for the project are £200,463. The research will be published in due course.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-social behaviour orders in each category are in force in relation to residents of (a) Peterborough constituency, (b) Peterborough City Council area and (c) Cambridgeshire. [297790]

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The latest available published data on the number of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) issued covers the period 1 April 1999 to 31 December 2007 and are not available below Criminal Justice System (CJS) area level.

The number of ASBOs issued at all courts in the Cambridgeshire Criminal Justice System area on application and the number issued following conviction is 49 and 103 respectively, a total of 152.

ASBOs can be of a fixed duration (for a minimum of two years) or made until further order. It is therefore not possible to determine from centrally collected data how many ASBOs are in force at a particular point in time except by reference to individual court files which could be achieved only at disproportionate cost.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders: Bexley

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people under the age of 18 years (a) were given and (b) breached an anti-social behaviour order in the London Borough of Bexley in each year since their inception. [298112]

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Data centrally collected by the Ministry of Justice on the number of antisocial behaviour orders issued and breached is not available below Criminal Justice System area level.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders: Children

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he intends to take to implement the automatic issue of parenting orders following the breach of an anti-social behaviour order by a child. [298493]

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We will bring forward legislation to achieve this as soon as parliamentary time allows. Implementation of legislation would entail guidance to the courts and practitioners and would be drawn up in consultation with practitioners and other relevant Government Departments and agencies.

Arrest Warrants

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many European arrest warrants have been issued by the UK police and other authorities in respect of nationals of each other EU member state since January 2004. [295793]

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The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) are the designated authorities in the UK for the receipt and transmission of European arrest warrants (EAWs).

Since 1 January 2004 until 31 March 2009, UK authorities transmitted 836 EAWs to other EU member states. These resulted in 376 people being surrendered to the UK.

It is not possible from current systems to break down this data into the nationality of the subject. A breakdown of data by nationality of the subject could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many European arrest warrants followed by extradition have been issued by each EU member state since 2004. [295864]

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The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) are the designated authorities in the UK for the receipt and transmission of European arrest warrants (EAWs). SOCA cannot comment on the number EAWs transmitted between other EU member states.

SOCA is only able to provide details of EAW requests processed by the agency and formerly by the National Criminal Intelligence Service. These figures were given in a previous reply on 9 June 2009, Official Report, columns 814-15W.

Asylum

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of asylum seekers who will present at the UK Border Agency in Croydon once it becomes the central place of presentation. [295171]

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Prior to Croydon being designated as the single site for the screening of in country asylum applicants, Liverpool ASU completed an average of five to 10 asylum screening appointments per day for main asylum applicants. This is the number of extra people who will be expected now to make their claim in Croydon.

Croydon ASU saw an average of 39 applications daily prior to its designation as the single site for screening of in country applicants.

Since 14 October the highest number of applications seen in a week has been 42.