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Written Answers

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Solicitor-General

Climate Change

To ask the Solicitor-General how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants from the Law Officers Departments will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in an official capacity. (300987)

No Ministers or civil servants from the Law Officers Departments will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in an official capacity.

Fraud: Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make an assessment of the effectiveness of the co-ordination of arrangements for the prosecution of cases of fraud. (300756)

England and Wales have an established network of specialist anti-fraud prosecutors. The Attorney General and I keep their effectiveness under review. Our most recent assessment, coordinated by the Serious Fraud Office and the National Fraud Authority and involving the Association of Chief Police Officers, City of London Police, Metropolitan Police Service, Serious Organised Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Companies Investigation Branch, Office of Fair Trading, Financial Services Authority, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, the Home Office and the Attorney General's Office, has resulted in further work, being planned to strengthen multi-agency collaboration on the detection, disruption, investigation and prosecution of fraud. Details of this work will be set out in a report on progress against the National Fraud Strategy which will be published shortly.

Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General what recent progress has been made on national implementation of integrated prosecution teams. (300729)

The Integrated Prosecution Team (IPT) project, which has been introduced across London, will create an integrated process that brings together pre-trial and case-build functions of the police and the CPS. The aim of the project is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of casework handling between the police and the CPS. Teams will be mostly located in police stations. IPT is functional in 16 Boroughs (50 per cent.) across London. A further five boroughs have commenced the IPT implementation process. The remaining eleven Boroughs will co-locate during the period December 2009 to July 2010. The project includes provision for a post implementation review. The outcome from this review will enable the CPS to consider whether this London initiative has wider application across England and Wales.

Transport

M18: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the reasons were for the closing off of one lane on the southbound carriageway of the M18 motorway on 24 October 2009, north and south of junction six; and what work was undertaken on that carriageway on that date. (300572)

[holding answer 24 November 2009]: The closure was to carry out advance works for the M18 J6-J7 north bound carriageway resurfacing scheme. The works comprised the installation of closed circuit television systems and average speed measuring systems which will mitigate the risk to road workers during the main works. The scheme will be completed before Christmas.

M5: Cameras

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the purpose is of fixed cameras on the M5 motorway. (300573)

[holding answer 24 November 2009]: On the M5 motorway the Highways Agency has three types of fixed camera in use.

CCTV Cameras allow real-time traffic conditions to be monitored by the Highways Agency's National and Regional Traffic Control Centres, enabling an efficient response to be made to incidents. The cameras also feed traffic information to a variety of information and media services for drivers to plan their journeys.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras link to a system which converts and anonymises number plates to ‘tag' codes for each passing vehicle at each camera location. The ‘tag' codes are then used to calculate traffic flows and speed between camera locations in order to inform our understanding of network performance.

Average speed cameras are positioned temporarily at major roadwork sites to improve safety for road users and the workforce on the motorway. The cameras monitor vehicle speed between two points and check the average speed compliance with the speed limit.

Network Rail: Consultants

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much Network Rail has spent on consultants in each year since the company was placed in the public sector. (300498)

Network Rail is a private sector not-for-dividend company limited by guarantee. The Department for Transport does not hold the information requested.

This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. My hon. Friend should contact Network Rail's Chief Executive at the following address for a response to her question:

Iain Coucher

Chief Executive

Network Rail

Kings Place

90 York Way

London, N1 9AG.

Ports: Liverpool

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he plans to seek advice from the European Commission on his Department's decision on whether to approve proposals on the relaxation of restrictions on the use of the Liverpool cruise terminal. (300743)

The Department for Transport is assessing the competition issues associated with the request to relax the restrictions.

If the conclusion is that there would be no distortion of competition, Government Office for the North West would further examine state aid implications, before seeking advice from the European Commission.

Railways: Finance

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what level of Government subsidy has been available to each train operator in each of the last five years. (300497)

This information is published annually by the Office of Rail Regulation in National Rail Trends. Copies are available in the Library of the House and online at:

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1863

Road Signs and Markings: Bridges

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what proposals his Department has issued on making metric measurements mandatory on road signs warning of or imposing height restrictions; and what the (a) status of and (b) evidential basis for such proposals is; (300974)

(2) what information his Department holds on the nature of the signage in place at locations where vehicles have struck bridges;

(3) what research has been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by his Department on the adequacy of the signage in place at locations where vehicles have struck bridges; and whether any such research has been taken into account in the formulation of proposals to make metric measurements mandatory on road signs warning of or imposing height restrictions.

[holding answer 23 November 2009]: The Department for Transport is currently consulting on amendments to Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) which include the mandatory use of both imperial and metric units on road signs warning of or imposing height restrictions. These signs are currently prescribed in TSRGD but the use of dual-unit signing is discretionary.

The consultation document is on the Department's website at the following address and the consultation closes on 24 December 2009:

www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/trafficsignsamendmentregs/

Evidence presented by Network Rail suggests that 10-12 per cent. of bridge strikes involved foreign lorries and this is disproportionately high. Current policy has also been informed by a 2004 TRL research report ‘Measures to Reduce the Frequency of Over-Height Vehicles Striking Bridges: Final Report', which covers signing issues. The report is on the Department's website at the following address:

www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tss/research/educevehiclesstrikingbridges/urestoreducethefrequency4172.pdf

The consultation proposals are intended to help reduce the risk of bridge strikes by foreign lorry drivers who may misunderstand imperial-only measurements.

There are no centrally-held records on the nature of traffic signs placed for all locations where vehicles have struck bridges.

Speed Limits: Cameras

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport, how many speed cameras there were in Norwich, North constituency on the latest date for which information is available. (301703)

Separate information about cameras operating in Norwich, North is not held. The number of camera sites operating in Norfolk at the end of the National Safety Camera Programme, which ended on 31 March 2007, was 37. Since then, the deployment of safety cameras has been the responsibility of individual local partnerships. The number of cameras currently in place will therefore be a matter for Norfolk county council and the local road safety partnership.

Scotland

Health Care and Housing: Armed Forces

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will discuss with the Secretary of State for Defence the provision of healthcare and housing for members of the armed forces based in Scotland who are returning from active service overseas. (300135)

The principles underlying the provision of healthcare and housing to members of the armed forces returning from operational deployment to Scotland are no different from those for other parts of the UK. I do however have regular discussions with Defence and Scottish Ministers about armed forces personnel in Scotland.

Devolution

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues on the recommendations of the final report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution; and if he will make a statement. (300136)

I have had many discussions with Cabinet colleagues during preparation of Government proposals for future of Scotland within the United Kingdom. I will make a statement shortly.

Digital Economy Bill

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the application of the provisions of the Digital Economy Bill to Scotland. (300137)

The Secretary of State for Scotland is in regular contact with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on a variety of issues.

Small Businesses: UK Financial Investments

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on assistance for small businesses in Scotland from banks in which UK Financial Investments is a major shareholder. (300138)

I have regular discussions with my ministerial colleagues on a range of matters. Both Lloyds and RBS reaffirmed their commitment to lend an additional £39 billion over the 12 months from March 2009.

Departmental Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which (a) individuals other than Ministerial colleagues and officials of his Department and (b) organisations he met in an official capacity in the week commencing 9 November 2009. (301153)

In its response to a report by the Public Administration Select Committee, “Lobbying: Access and influence in Whitehall”, the Government agreed to publish on-line, on a quarterly basis, information about ministerial meetings with outside interest groups. Information for the period 1 October to 31 December 2009 will be published by Departments as soon as the information is ready.

Departmental Rail Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. (301193)

Departmental Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of providing official cars for the use of (a) Ministers and (b) officials in the last 12 months. (301177)

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Gillingham (Paul Clark), on 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 80WS.

Immigration: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary regarding immigration into Scotland. (301049)

The Secretary of State for Scotland works in partnership with the Home Office, UKBA, the Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector groups across Scotland to ensure that immigration levels are monitored appropriately. The greatest number of those who choose to move to Scotland to live and work, reside in other parts of the UK.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (a) was allocated to each local authority in 2008-09 and (b) has been so allocated in 2009-10; whether his Department keeps a record of the purposes to which such funding is put; and what assessment he has made of the (i) past and (ii) future use of such monies in accordance with the objectives set for the fund. (301347)

In total, £3 million from the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) has been allocated to local authorities in each financial year of 2008-09 and 2009-10. The funding was allocated to the 18 local authorities with the highest aggregates production, in proportion to production levels in each of those authorities. A full breakdown is provided in the following table.

Local authority

£000

Somerset

330

Derbyshire

330

Leicestershire

330

North Yorkshire

308

Staffordshire

210

Cumbria

150

Lancashire

143

Devon

120

Essex

112

Lincolnshire

107

Durham

107

Doncaster

107

Shropshire

107

Cornwall

107

Nottinghamshire

107

Gloucestershire

107

North Somerset

107

South Gloucestershire

107

In addition, £500,000 was allocated in each year to ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) to support projects in the remaining local authority areas.

Funds are provided to local authorities via an area-based grant which gives them freedom over how to spend money locally. There is no requirement for local authorities to report directly to DEFRA, but some, including Derbyshire, do put data about their projects onto DEFRA's ALSF database. Reports reviewing ALSF, including local authority funding, were undertaken in 2003 and 2006 and a further review is planned for early 2010.

Dogs: Electric Shock Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the research project commissioned by his Department on the effects of electronic training aids on the welfare of dogs to be completed; how much the research has cost; when he expects to announce his decision on the regulation of the use of electronic shock collars; and if he will make a statement. (301024)

The research project on electronic training aids for dogs is due to be completed at the end of February 2010. The cost of the research project will be £469,000. We will not be able to announce any decision on the future use of such devices until the results of the research have been peer-reviewed, and we have had the time to fully consider the results.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many genetically modified food trials the Government has licensed (a) in each region and (b) for each species in each of the last five years; how much his Department has spent on genetically-modified food trials in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. (301025)

In the last five years DEFRA has issued three consents for GM crop trials as follows:

Consent ref.

Applicant

Crop

Date of consent

Release site

06/R42/01

BASF Plant Science GmbH

Potato

1 December 2006

Girton, Cambs.

07/R42/01

BASF Plant Science GmbH

Potato

14 May 2007

Trial did not proceed—no material grown

07/R31/01

University of Leeds

Potato

9 May 2008

Bramham, Leeds

The trials by Leeds university formed part of a wider research project on the control of potato cyst nematodes, funded mainly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and with a contribution from DEFRA under a Government Partnership Award programme. DEFRA’s contribution to the overall project costs was £41,000 in 2005 and £18,000 in 2009. Specific cost figures just for the field trial component of the project are not readily available. The BASF trials were entirely funded by the company.

Horses: Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the compatibility of the horse-riding activities which form part of the Appleby Horse Fair with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. (301213)

It is DEFRA’s understanding that the RSPCA are present at the Appleby Horse Fair and work closely with participants to encourage adherence to good standards of horse welfare.

If anyone has any evidence of unnecessary suffering or if animal welfare is being compromised, then they can either report it to the appropriate authorities or take forward a prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Nature Conservation: Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that police are trained to enforce EC regulations 338/97 and 865/2006 on the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in respect of the requirement for Article 10 certificates, with particular reference to endangered primates. (300311)

The police service is primarily responsible for training its officers in those areas where it has enforcement responsibility.

In addition, members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) provide assistance and support in this specialist area of enforcement, including training opportunities. Members of PAW include the UK Border Agency and the UK’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Scientific Authorities.

Animal Health (an Executive agency of DEFRA) also provides advice and information on CITES to police officers on request.

Pets: Retail Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities provide evidence to his Department on the enforcement of the Pet Animals Act 1951 Model Standards for Pet Shop Licence Conditions; and what mechanisms his Department uses to verify compliance with those conditions by (a) local authorities and (b) pet shop owners. (300310)

Local authorities are required to enforce the Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended, 1983). However, local authorities are not bound to use the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health’s Model Standards as guidance. If anyone considers that a particular authority is not enforcing the 1951 Act or is not applying appropriate standards they can report it to the local government ombudsman.

Sewers: Private Sector

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps he has taken to enable private sewers to be transferred to water and sewerage undertakers; and if he will make a statement. (301133)

On 15 December 2008 the Secretary of State announced the Government's decision to transfer all private sewers and lateral drains linked to the public sewerage system from 2011. Since that announcement officials have been working to prepare proposals to prevent the proliferation of new private sewers as a precursor to the transfer of the existing stock. The proposals are contained in the Flood and Water Management Bill, which was presented to Parliament on 19 November.

The Bill's provisions will ensure that, in future, all new sewers and lateral drains connecting to the public sewerage system will be required to be built to a mandatory standard and will be automatically adopted by water and sewerage companies as public sewers.

Officials have also been developing detailed proposals for regulations to implement the transfer of existing private sewers and lateral drains that will be the subject of consultation this winter, prior to the regulations themselves being presented to Parliament for approval.

Wildlife: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities applied to his Department for funding to support local wildlife facilities in each of the last five years. (300771)

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 17 January 2008, Official Report, column 1394W, by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock), to the same question. We do not directly fund, or keep a national register of, small community-led projects tackling the local environment, important though these are. My hon. Friend is welcome to write to me with a more specific request and I will respond to him.

Wildlife: Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect of revisions to the schedule of restricted species of dangerous wild animals on the level of non-compliance with licensing requirements under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. (300309)

No assessment has been made since the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was amended in 2007 with regard to the levels of non-compliance.

Treasury

Banks: Pay

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislative proposals to limit the remuneration of directors of banks with deposit-taking licences to 10 times the average wage paid to employees of that bank. (300726)

The Government have taken steps to ensure that remuneration paid at systemically significant financial institutions is commensurate with a prudent approach to risk and leads to long-term value creation. The FSA code, which comes into force on 1 January 2010, includes requirements for deferral and clawback from significant banking and other institutions. In addition, the Government are taking legislative measures in the Financial Services Bill that will strengthen the FSA's hand and enable improved disclosure of remuneration, which in turn will facilitate better shareholder oversight of risk.

Christmas

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (300865)

The Treasury does not plan to host any Christmas parties in 2009. Where parties are held within the Department, these are arranged and paid for by staff themselves.

Corporation Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the revenue which would be raised by treating all capital gains accruing to companies as income and taxing them at the appropriate corporate tax rate in 2009-10. (300725)

No additional revenues would be raised. Companies capital gains are charged to corporation tax as part of their total profits, at the same rate as any income profits. Consequently companies’ chargeable gains are already taxed at the relevant rate of corporation tax for 2009-10. It is highly probable that there would be a fall in net receipts once account is taken of any accumulated capital losses which are currently only given relief against future capital gains, rather than income.

Departmental Assets

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assets of his Department are planned to be sold in each year from 2009-10 to 2013-14; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each such asset is; what the expected revenue from each such sale is; and if he will make a statement. (300209)

The Government have stated their intention to realise £16 billion in asset disposals over the period 2011-14 and will publish further details of opportunities to commercialise business assets in the coming weeks.

The Treasury’s Asset Management Strategy was published in December 2007 on the Treasury’s website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/vfm_deliveryagreement

It stated that with the disposals in 2007-08, the Treasury Group will have met the Government’s aim that each Department should dispose of at least 10 per cent. of its asset stock in the period 2004-05 to 2010-11. There will be limited opportunities to make any further disposals in the remainder of the period through to 2010-11.

Departmental Coordination: Economic Situation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what mechanism the activities of HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to tackle the recession are co-ordinated. (300223)

HM Treasury Ministers and officials are in constant contact with colleagues in BIS on economic policy matters including those activities designed to tackle the recession.

The National Economic Council is a full Cabinet Committee introduced in October 2008 to provide a new approach to managing economic policies across Government in the context of the immense challenges created by recent global financial and economic uncertainties.

The Chancellor and the First Secretary of State—as well as other HMT and BIS Ministers—are members of the National Economic Council, which meets frequently to assess the implications of the ongoing challenges in the financial markets for the wider economy, at both a global and national level.

In addition, both HM Treasury and BIS are jointly responsible for public service agreement 1 (PSA 1)—to raise the productivity of the UK economy. This mechanism provides a forum for coordinating action across member departments.

Departmental Cost Effectiveness

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what efficiency savings projects (a) his Department and (b) its agencies put in place under the Operational Efficiency Programme; on what date each such project was initiated; how much each such project was expected to contribute to Departmental savings; how much had been saved through each such project on the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300940)

HM Treasury Group’s Value for Money Delivery Agreement, revised in July 2009, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House, sets out how it is aiming to deliver £35 million of VfM savings by 2010-11, including £5 million increased at Budget 2009 as a result of work on the Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP).

The Treasury Group will provide an update on progress towards delivering its VfM target in its Autumn Performance Report. Details of VfM plans beyond the current spending review period are not yet available.

Departmental Disclosure of Information

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been made to his Department by its staff since 6 June 2006. (301488)

Since 6 June 2006 there have been no official allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing by Treasury staff.

Departmental Food

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300181)

The following table shows the information requested, where such food products were procured by contractors supplying food to HM Treasury during 2008-09.

Food procured from within UK: 1 April 2008 To 31 March 2009

Percentage

(a)

Mutton and lamb

87

(b)

Beef and veal

92

(c) and (e)

Poultry meat, including chicken and turkey

35

(d)

Bacon

15

Other Pork

95

(g)

Unprocessed potatoes

90

Processed potatoes

82

Roots and Onions (including carrots, parsnips, onions, turnips and swedes)

70

Brassica (including Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower)

75

Legumes (including beans and peas)

55

Protected vegetables (including tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, celery and sweet peppers)

35

Other vegetables (including asparagus, celery, leeks, lettuce and watercress)

45

(h)

Orchard fruit (including apples, pears and plums)

20

Soft fruit (including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blackcurrants)

35

Departmental Legal Costs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) cost and (b) purpose was of legal (i) representation and (ii) advice sought by his Department and its agencies in each year since May 1997. (300374)

Departmental Meetings

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which (a) individuals other than ministerial colleagues and officials of his Department and (b) organisations he met in an official capacity in the week commencing 9 November 2009. (301167)

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by his Department in each of the last three years. (300651)

The Department does not normally pay bonuses to consultants or contractors. Performance incentives may be included within contracts, where appropriate, and paid according to the terms of those contracts. However, analysis of all the contracts in each of the last three financial years to determine whether incentives were paid could not be provided within the disproportionate costs threshold.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible in each of the last three years. (300652)

The Debt Management Office have not paid any bonuses or provided any incentives to consultants or contractors.

Departmental Rail Travel

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. (301206)

Departmental Taxis

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contracts his Department has with private hire taxi companies; and what expenditure his Department has incurred under each such contract in each of the last three years. (300827)

HM Treasury has had contracts with two taxi companies in the past three completed financial years. The following table sets out the total expenditure on each.

£000

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Premier Despatch Ltd., London1

168

139

216

1st Goldstar Taxis, Norwich

8

13

1 Premier Despatch Ltd was acquired by Addison Lee in February 2009

Departmental Working Hours

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of staff of his Department, its executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies work flexibly or part-time; and what his Department's policy is on making jobs available on a job-share or flexible basis. (301332)

The Treasury and OGC offer flexible working and job share to staff, where operational constraints permit, as a tool to improve work/life balance. Many flexible working arrangements including job share are made informally between managers and staff and are not formally recorded. This information could only therefore be provided at disproportionate cost.

The UK Debt Management Office has thirteen staff who work either flexibly or part-time, representing proportionately 13.13 per cent. of staff. The UK Debt Management Office has an “Alternative Working Arrangements” policy by which staff may make an application for working either flexibly or on a part-time basis. Decisions are taken on the basis of statutory and business requirements and on a case by case basis.

Financial Services: Regulation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his assessment is of the proposals in the Financial Services Authority's Retail Distribution Review, with particular reference to their effects on independent financial advisers; and if he will make a statement. (301436)

The Retail Distribution Review is a matter for the FSA, as the independent regulator. The FSA published a cost-benefit analysis alongside its latest proposals, as well as further analysis by independent consultants, on the FSA website.

Generic Financial Advice Review

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent steps his Department has taken to implement the findings of the Thoresen Review of generic financial advice which the Government have accepted. (301222)

The Government are testing the Thoresen Review's blueprint for a generic financial advice or ‘Money Guidance' service through a large-scale pilot or pathfinder in the North West and North East of England. The £12 million pathfinder is jointly funded and delivered by HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority. Launched in April, it is on track to meet its target to reach over 500,000 people by March 2010, through the Moneymadeclear website, helpline and face- to-face services provided by a wide range of local partners. The Moneymadeclear website and helpline is also available UK-wide.

Interim evaluation findings from the pathfinder indicate that the Money Guidance service can be effective and the Money Guidance service will therefore be rolled out nationally from spring 2010. The Financial Services Bill introduced in the Commons on 19 November includes provisions for a new consumer financial education body which will lead and direct funding to national implementation of Money Guidance.

Government Securities

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what cost-benefit analyses his Department carried out to assess the value for money of the issuance of a sterling sukuk; and if he will make a statement. (300292)

The Government have looked carefully at the case for issuing sovereign sukuk and concluded that it would not offer value for money at the present time but it will keep the situation under review.

Housing: Valuation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many properties are recorded with each individual (a) dwellinghouse code and (b) value significant code in the local authority area of South Cambridgeshire; and what the category for (i) type, (ii) number of rooms, (iii) number of bedrooms, (iv) number of bathrooms, (v) number of floors, (vi) floor level, (vii) parking, (viii) garaging, (ix) conservatory type, (x) age, (xi) outbuilding and (xii) modernisation code was according to electronic records held by the Valuation Office Agency. (300362)

A table showing the number of properties with each individual dwellinghouse code and each value significant code, for all local authority areas, has been placed in the Freedom of Information Disclosure Log on the Valuation Office Agency's website in Excel format. A link to the information is as follows:

http://www.voa.gov.uk/publications/access-to-information/Disclosure_Log_Internet_vB_publish6.doc

Income Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the tax revenues likely to be raised as a consequence of the treatment for income tax purposes of all capital gains accruing to individuals as income. (301502)

Due to the difficulties of assessing the large behavioural responses, which would result from a change of this kind, a reliable estimate can be determined only at disproportionate cost.

Monetary Policy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent assessment is of the effects of quantitative easing on levels of high street credit; and if he will make a statement. (300291)

The Bank of England has operational responsibility for monetary policy, including use of the Asset Purchase Facility. The Bank publishes quarterly reports on the APF, the first of which was published on 27 April with subsequent reports published on 27 July and 26 October. The Bank also reports on the APF in its Inflation Report and Quarterly Bulletin and regularly publishes operational information for the APF on its website.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation is planned for the implementation of the Clear Line of Sight Project. (300354)

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill contains two clauses in Part 8 of the Bill that relate to implementation of the Clear Line of Sight project.

Clause 57 makes provision to include the spending of non-departmental public bodies, and other central Government bodies so designated by HM Treasury, in the Supply Estimates and resource accounts of the responsible Government Department. Clause 52 makes corresponding provision by amending part 5 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 to enable the Welsh Assembly Government to include in their annual Budget motions information on the use of resources by bodies funded by the Assembly.

Both clauses provide for a statutory instrument to contain an order listing the bodies to be designated.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with each of his Cabinet colleagues on plans for the next comprehensive spending review; when he expects to announce the arrangements for the next comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. (301533)

Departmental budgets have been set to financial year 2010-11. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce the timing of the spending review process to set budgets from financial year 2011-12 in the normal way. The Chancellor will set out more detail on the Government's spending plans at the pre-Budget report 2009.

Tax Allowances: Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the tax revenue which would be raised by limiting tax relief on pension contributions to the basic rate of income tax only for all taxpayers in 2009-10. (300728)

Latest detailed estimates of the annual cost of tax relief in relation to registered pension schemes are available in Table 7.9 on HM Revenue and Customs website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/pensions/menu.htm

Tax Allowances: Professional Organisations

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the tax revenues likely to be raised as a consequence of the ending of tax relief on professional subscriptions paid by accountants and lawyers. (301504)

Information on the tax relief given for payments made for professional fees and subscriptions is not available by industry or professionalism.

Taxation: EU Countries

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the effect of tax competition in the European Union on revenues to the UK Exchequer; and if he will make a statement. (300316)

Tax developments in all EU member states are continuously monitored and taken into account when deciding tax policy.

The comparisons we make illustrate that the UK remains a competitive place to do business with the lowest corporation tax rate of the major G7 economies.

The Government remain committed to maintaining the competitive position of the UK.

Ulster Bank

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received recent representations on the foreclosure by Ulster Bank on (a) building contractors and (b) small businesses. (300910)

Treasury Ministers and officials receive representations from a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such representations.

Olympics

Olympic and Paralympic Games

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what proportion of the £9.325 billion public sector funding package for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been spent since 2005-06. (301017)

33.8 per cent. of the £9.325 billion public sector funding package has been spent to the end of September 2009.

Further information is provided in the latest London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games quarterly economic report (published 23 November 2009). I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

Operational Efficiency Programme

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what efficiency savings projects her Office put in place under the Operational Efficiency Programme; on what date each such project was initiated; how much each such project was expected to contribute to the Office's savings; how much had been saved through each such project on the latest date for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (300936)

My ministerial portfolio requires my office to operate out of the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Both Departments have Operational Efficiency Programmes, the details of which are outlined in the answers provided by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport and the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, respectively.

Third Sector Organisations

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what funding her Office has allocated to third sector organisations to develop their sporting facilities as part of the plans for the legacy from the London 2012 Olympics; and if she will make a statement. (300321)

An element of the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) budget has been allocated for upgrading local host borough sporting facilities for use as Games-time training venues, and some of these facilities may be owned by third sector community organisations. It is expected that such facility developments will remain as a benefit in legacy.

Works to enhance existing facilities for the Games have been agreed at a number of venues including Eton Dorney (for rowing and flat water canoeing events) and at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (for sailing events).

As agreements are being reached with each individual facility, the value of the budget available for these works is commercially confidential.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to his contribution of 15 October 2009, Official Report, column 466, how many Mastiff 2 and Ridgeback armoured vehicles military forces will receive in (a) the UK for re-deployment training and (b) Afghanistan for actual combat missions; and when he expects such vehicles to be issued to forces personnel. (301526)

I am withholding the information requested about how many armoured vehicles military forces will receive in Afghanistan as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

However, I am able to confirm that there are currently 51 Mastiff 2 and 59 Ridgback vehicles available for pre-deployment training in the UK. Under existing procurement, a further 22 Mastiff 2 for training purposes are due for delivery in third quarter 2010.

A further procurement package is being planned which will provide additional Mastiff 2 and Ridgbacks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many troops are involved in the training of Afghan security forces in Helmand province. (301528)

While there are currently approximately 440 UK troops directly involved in the training of Afghan National Security Forces in Helmand Province, over the coming year, as the UK re-configures its force structure in Helmand to fully support COMISAF's partnering plan, the proportion of UK troops in Helmand involved in the training of Afghan Security forces will increase significantly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to increase the amount of training forces personnel receive in counter-insurgency measures relevant to combat operations in Afghanistan. (301530)

All forces deploying to Afghanistan receive a comprehensive training package that incorporates up-to-date tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). These TTPs are constantly informed by a Lessons Learned process ensuring that current counter-insurgency measures being used in Afghanistan are taught to those about to deploy. The amount and content of such training is continuously reviewed and adjusted as and when operational requirements dictate.

Armed Forces: Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 10 November 2009, Official Report, column 223W, on armed forces: accommodation, what the maximum sum payable under (a) food and incidental allowance, (b) get you home travel allowance, (c) home to duty travel allowance and (d) recruitment and retention allowance (London) was in the latest period for which figures are available; how many personnel at each (i) staff officer rank and (ii) equivalent civil service payband claimed each allowance in that period; and what the single (A) highest and (B) lowest claim for each allowance as at each rank or payband in that period. (300247)

[holding answer 23 November 2009]: The allowances mentioned are paid only to Service personnel who meet the relevant eligibility criteria, and not to civilians. Rates of allowances are reviewed annually.

Food and Incidental Allowance is paid at a daily rate of £12.78 (£383.40 per month, pro rata). This is paid to assist single and unaccompanied Service personnel in the UK to meet the necessary costs of food and incidental expenses when they are without access to Service accommodation/messing facilities, but have self-catering facilities, and does not require submission of receipts.

Recruitment and Retention Allowance (London) is paid at a daily rate £3.76 for all Service Personnel who work within five miles of the statue of King Charles I at Charing Cross. This is paid to counter reluctance to serve in designated London locations by contributing to the higher costs encountered during a permanent assignment in London and by compensating for the reduced quality of the supporting infrastructure.

Get You Home Travel, the rate of which is determined by the distance from a family home and the place of duty. The minimum amount payable is £1.07, commencing at 20 miles, and the maximum amount payable is £13.39 per day. The latter represents a family home being 530 miles away from a place of duty. It is paid to support the mobile nature of the Services and improve retention by reducing the financial impact of separation on Service personnel.

Home to Duty (Public) is paid to those eligible service Personnel who reside in Forces Family Accommodation, to assist with the daily cost of travel between their home and place of duty. In certain circumstances, Service personnel in receipt of Get You Home Travel will not be eligible for concurrent payment of Home to Duty (Public). Dependant on the distance and method of travel used the following maximum rates are payable:

Miles/£

Distance each way from Place of Duty (miles)

70

Automatic motor vehicles - daily rate (£)

25.81

Manual motor vehicles - daily rate (£)

43.61

Automatic pedal cycles - monthly rate (£)

12.43

Manual pedal cycles - monthly rate

21.00

Home to Duty (Private) is payable to those eligible Service Personnel who do not occupy Service Accommodation, to assist with the daily cost of travel between their home and place of duty. Service personnel in receipt of Get You Home Travel will not be eligible for concurrent payment of Home to Duty (Private). Dependant on the distance and method of travel used the following maximum rates are payable:

Miles/£

Distance each way from Place of Duty (miles)

70

Automatic motor vehicles - daily rate (£)

15.24

Manual motor vehicles - daily rate (£)

25.75

Automatic pedal cycles - monthly rate (£)

7.34

Manual pedal cycles - monthly rate (£)

12.40

Most allowances are payable on qualifying criteria other than rank held. The status of ‘staff officer' has a number of different meanings and could be applied to a specific appointment undertaken by a Junior Military Officer or those officers of starred rank. As a result it would be difficult to obtain information on recipients of ‘staff officer' status, as it would require the application of varied parameters to a number of different searches which could be provided only at disproportionate cost. All of these allowances are applicable to commissioned and non-commissioned personnel.

Armed Forces: Body Armour

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the protection offered to servicemen’s testicles by body armour in current use; (300545)

(2) whether his Department is assessing or commissioning research on the protection which can be provided for servicemen’s testicles with relation to blast injuries on operations; and if he will make a statement.

All of the protective personal equipment provided to armed forces personnel is constantly under review. The Osprey body armour systems are considered to be among the best in the world, and the survival rates are testimony to that. However, a direct by-product of that is that personnel are now surviving with other associated and sometimes life-changing injuries. We are continually seeking ways to further protect our personnel, and work is well under way to research ways of providing additional protection including for the whole perineal area.

Armed Forces: Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what medical service and readjustment programmes were provided to wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan in each year since 2001; what his planned expenditure on these services is in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. (301445)

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) provide an extensive range of medical treatment and wider support for wounded Service personnel. Since 2001 we have made numerous clinical and administrative improvements to the treatment that we provide, all of which are intended to improve the quality of care that our wounded personnel receive. Where these are a consequence of operational requirements, they have been funded from the Reserve (Conflict Prevention Fund). The Government have also funded many improvements from within the Defence budget, such as £24 million of additional funding over four years for the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), Headley Court, announced in 2008.

For personnel on operations, the care starts in the operational theatre, with life-saving medical treatment on the frontline and in our field hospitals. Those who need further specialist care back in the UK are normally returned to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, which is at the leading edge in the treatment of multiple trauma injuries as commonly sustained by our battle casualties, and has since 2006 had a military-managed ward.

If patients require further rehabilitation care they may be referred to Headley Court, or for outpatient treatment at one of MOD's 15 military Regional Rehabilitation Units. We also provide mental healthcare for those who need it, primarily through our 15 military out-patient Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK (plus centres overseas); in-patient care is arranged for those who need it.

Wider support to those who are injured is overseen by a Welfare Coordinator, who will work with appropriate specialists to offer support and advice in such areas as housing, access to services and counselling if required, as well as providing support through key transition points, such as a move to or from Headley Court.

Medical policy for the DMS is overseen by the Surgeon General's Department. However, the organisational structure of the DMS means that comprehensive budgetary planning information on medical care could be provided only at disproportionate cost as substantial elements are disaggregated and embedded in the budgets of the single Services, individual military units, and overall operational budgets.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many servicemen have lost one or both testicles as a result of injuries received on operations in the last five years. (300546)

The Ministry of Defence publishes the numbers of personnel categorised as Very Seriously Injured and Seriously Injured as a result of Operations Telic and Herrick on its website at:

www.mod.uk

The figures are updated fortnightly. In addition, we are committed to publishing on a quarterly basis the numbers of service personnel who have suffered limb amputations as a result of injuries sustained while on operational deployment. However, in order both to protect the identities of small numbers of patients and to maintain operational security for the effectiveness of our protective countermeasures, we do not routinely publish VSI and SI sub-classified by other types of physical injury.

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (300877)

In accordance with internal departmental guidance, staff Christmas meals and parties and service mess functions must be paid for by non-public funds or by staff subscription.

Departmental Legal Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure his Department and its agencies have incurred on external legal advice and representation in each year since 1997; and for what purposes such services have been commissioned. (300579)

The information with regard to expenditure my Department and its agencies have incurred on external legal advice and representation in each year since 1997 is not held centrally, and due to re-organisation over the period in question could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding his Department has allocated for (a) year-end and (b) in-year bonuses for staff in 2009-10. (300723)

The total paybill for some 50,000 non-industrial and 11,000 industrial staff below the Senior Civil Service (SCS) (excluding Trading Funds) covered by the main pay awards is £1.827 billion of which 2.7 per cent. has been allocated for non consolidated performance awards for year end 2009-10.

The total paybill for permanent members of the SCS is £19.3 million of which 8.6 per cent. has been allocated for non consolidated performance awards for year end 2009-10. This does not include Fixed Term employees at SCS level, who are employed on individual contracts.

0.4 per cent of the total paybill for staff (excluding Trading Funds) has been allocated for in year Special Bonus Payments for year end 2009-10.

European Defence Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the role is of the European Defence Agency; and if he will make a statement. (300503)

The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in July 2004. The mission of the EDA is to support the European Council and the member states in their effort to improve the EU's defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) as it stands now and develops in the future. The agency was tasked by the council to:

Develop European defence capabilities;

Promote armaments co-operation in the EU;

Improve the European defence industrial and technological base; and

Promote collaborative defence research across the Union.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has responded to the European Defence Agency’s Capability Development Plan. (300506)

The Ministry of Defence supports the European Defence Agency’s Capability Development Plan (CDP), which focuses the Agency’s and participating member states’ efforts on developing European military capabilities in 12 selected priority areas. We participated fully in the development of the CDP and we are currently engaged in a number of the CDP programmes. We will continue to support the CDP as a mechanism for addressing military capability shortfalls across Europe and participate in projects where we see military benefit to the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding from the public purse has been provided to the European Defence Agency in each year since 2005; what assessment he has made of its performance; and if he will make a statement. (300507)

The European Defence Agency (EDA) does valuable work developing European military capabilities and works successfully with participating member states on collaborative programmes and projects. The amount paid by the Ministry of Defence to the EDA in each year since 2005 is provided in the following table:

Calendar year

£ million

2005

2.36

2006

2.09

2007

1.95

2008

3.11

2009

3.03

The figures in the table relate to the amounts paid for each calendar year. It should be noted that the answers provided previously to this question on 6 March 2009, Official Report, column 1857W and 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 65W referred to financial years (April to March) but the amounts detailed actually related to calendar years.

Military Aircraft: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effects of the creation of a European air transport fleet on (a) jobs, (b) income and (c) military operational effectiveness in the UK. (300504)

The European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) aims to address shortfalls in military strategic air transport capability, for example through the pooling of aircraft or shared procurement. The UK will indirectly benefit from the improved aircraft availability across Europe for support to operations through increased burden sharing. The UK procures military aircraft according to our national requirements and does not have spare capacity to contribute to the EATF. Therefore, we do not currently plan to participate in the programme. As such we have not carried out any detailed assessments of the potential wider benefits to the UK. We will continue to monitor the EATF programme and keep our position under review.

Ministerial Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. (301194)

Warships: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the UK will play in relation to the European initiative on naval interoperability; and what the principle objectives are of this initiative. (300505)

There are two principal European initiatives on naval interoperability, the European Amphibious Initiative (EAI) and the European Carrier Group Interoperability Initiative (ECGII). Both initiatives seek to enhance European interoperability and capability in Amphibious and Carrier Strike Group operations respectively through greater cooperation and combined training and exercising at both the tactical and operational level. The main objective of these initiatives is that, by working more closely together in peacetime, it will allow for a more rapid and effective deployment of a multinational Amphibious or Carrier Strike Group force, when required, in the framework of NATO or EU-led operations.

As a permanent member, along with France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, and with its well developed and balanced Amphibious forces, the UK plays an important part in the EAI. The UK provides the Permanent Secretariat and in 2010 will assume the chair, which is rotated on an annual basis between its members.

The UK, as a lead nation in operating Vertical and Short Take Off aircraft (VSTOL) from the sea, also plays an important role in the ECGII as one of its permanent members, along with Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Wales

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (300864)

I plan to host a Christmas reception in London and another in Cardiff this year. We will not be serving food, only snacks and drinks will be provided. I would estimate the cost of each reception to be around £250, although the final amount will not be known until after the events are held.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants from his Department will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in an official capacity. (300914)

Departmental Air Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many domestic flights within Great Britain officials of his Department took in an official capacity in 2008-09; and at what cost to the public purse. (300970)

Departmental Cost Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what efficiency savings projects his Department put in place under the Operational Efficiency Programme; on what date each such project was initiated; how much each such project was expected to contribute to Departmental savings; how much had been saved through each such project on the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300942)

The Wales Office falls outside the remit of the Operational Efficiency Programme as it is a small office of around 60 staff. However, we are currently reviewing the scope for delivering additional efficiency savings.

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300177)

The Wales Office does not have any in-house catering. External caterers supply food and drink for meetings and receptions in London and Cardiff. Catering for functions and meetings in London and Cardiff includes, where possible and consistent with value for money, a mixture of fair trade or locally sourced produce.

Departmental Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) page hits and (b) visitors his Department's website received in 2008-09. (301842)

The Wales Office has an English and Welsh website:

www.walesoffice.gov.uk

and

www.swyddfa.cymru.gov.uk

The combined number of page hits for 2008-09 was 71,315.

The combined number of visitors for 2008-09 was 21,150.

Departmental Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which (a) individuals other than Ministerial colleagues and officials of his Department and (b) organisations he met in an official capacity in the week commencing 9 November 2009. (301157)

In the week of 9 November I met a range of individuals and organisations who have an interest in Wales and I attended the British-Irish Council.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by his Department in each of the last three years. (300734)

Departmental Rail Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. (301196)

I travel by train between my constituency, office in Cardiff and London on a weekly basis.

Northern Ireland

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (300868)

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300183)

The Northern Ireland Office does not record procurement of meat, vegetables and fruit by country of origin and the information would be available only at disproportionate cost. Where possible, the Department always aims to use local Northern Ireland produce.

Police: Devolution

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his most recent estimate is of the cost under each budget heading of implementing his Department’s proposals for devolution of policing and justice powers in Northern Ireland. (300911)

The Northern Ireland Office established a Devolution Programme team in April 2007 which up to the end of October 2009 has cost £633,961. Other staff across the Department have also been involved in implementing proposals for the devolution of policing and justice but quantifying these costs could not be done within the disproportionate cost limit.

Work and Pensions

Bereavement Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of bereavement benefit in 2008-09; what the total amount paid was; and in what percentage of cases the benefit was subsequently reduced. (300619)

[holding answer 23 November 2009]: Outturn expenditure, in cash terms, on bereavement benefits for 2008-09 was £675 million.

The available information on the number of recipients is in the following table.

Number of people in receipt of bereavement benefits as at each quarter in 2008-09

Number

May 2008

59,850

August 2008

59,400

November 2008

59,190

February 2009

60,720

Note:

Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

There is no information available about the percentage of cases where the benefit was subsequently reduced.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of housing benefit in Norwich North constituency on the latest date for which information is available. (301696)

Winter Fuel Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will estimate the tax cost of doubling the winter fuel allowance for people who have retired. (301506)

The current per household amounts for the winter fuel payment are £250 for those aged 60-79 and £400 for those aged over 80 (including the additional payment of £50 and £100 respectively). The additional public expenditure consequences of making winter fuel payments at double these rates, to only those who have reached state pension age, would be around £2 billion for 2009-10.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Canada: Embassies

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Canadian citizens have sought the protection or assistance of British embassies and high commissions in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (301879)

We hold figures for the number of Commonwealth nationals who have sought the protection or assistance of British missions overseas, but make no further breakdown by nationality. In 2007-08 (the latest year for which figures are available) our overseas Posts provided 423 services, including advice and self help, to Commonwealth nationals.

Christmas

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (300874)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold this information centrally, and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost.

Colombia: EU External Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to oppose a free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia unless human rights in Colombia are judged to meet international standards. (301877)

Yes, the UK is leading efforts within the EU to ensure that any agreement with Colombia is linked to a human rights clause. This clause will enable us to suspend the agreement if it is breached, and will act as a catalyst for frank dialogue with Colombia on the issue.

Departmental Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300180)

The latest period for which figures are available is April 2008 to March 2009. Details have been provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for publication by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/awareness.htm

The proportions of foods procured by the FCO that were produced in the UK are as follows:

Meats:

lamb and mutton - 50 per cent.

beef and veal - 80 per cent.

chicken - poultry meat - 75 per cent.

pork - 45 per cent.

turkey - included in poultry meat

other meats - 0 per cent.

Vegetables:

Ware potatoes - whole, unprepared - 99 per cent.

Processed potatoes - for prepared both whole and cut - 100 per cent.

Roots and Onions - for example carrots, parsnips, onions, turnips and swedes - 82 per cent.

Brassicas - for example brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower - 65 per cent.

Legumes - for example beans (broad), beans (runner and dwarf), peas (green for market), peas (green for processing), peas (harvested dry) - 52 per cent.

Protected vegetables - for example tomatoes (round, vine, plum and cherry), tomatoes (cold), cucumbers, lettuce, celery, sweet peppers - 25 per cent.

Other vegetables - for example asparagus, celery, leeks, lettuce, watercress - 55 per cent.

Fruit:

Orchard fruit - for example dessert apples, culinary apples, pears, plums - 50 per cent.

Soft fruit - for example strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants - 31 per cent.

Departmental Legal Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what expenditure his Department and its agencies have incurred on external legal advice and representation in each year since 1997; and for what purposes such services were commissioned. (300580)

The amount spent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on external legal advice and representation from counsel and solicitors in private practice by way of disbursements paid via the Treasury Solicitor (which form the bulk of the FCO's external legal costs) in each year since 1998 is as follows:

(£)

1998-99

54,667.70

1999-2000

50,963.21

2000-01

117,117.11

2001-02

124,641.66

2002-03

697,878.22

2003-04

204,366.75

2004-05

331,731.68

2005-06

328,378.29

2006-07

387,591.16

2007-08

294,497.06

2008-09

362,177.08

The figure for such spending for the financial year 1997-98 is no longer held by the FCO.

The FCO does not hold information on aggregate amounts of external fees paid other than via the Treasury Solicitor.

These professional services are commissioned for the purposes of legal representation in court proceedings and obtaining legal advice.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by his Department in each of the last three years. (300653)

The information is as follows.

(a) Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, its Executive agencies (FCO Services and Wilton Park) or its non-departmental public bodies make bonus payments to consultants or individual contractors.

(b) Incentive regimes are rarely used for contracts with consultants and individual contractors. If incentives are included in a contract they are negotiated on a case- by-case basis taking care to ensure value for money. No central record is maintained of such contractual provisions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what bonus schemes for its staff his Department operates; and what the purpose is of those schemes. (301559)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) operates two types of bonus scheme.

The main scheme is purely performance related, based on the previous year’s appraisal. The purpose of the scheme is to encourage excellent individual performance and achievement during the year.

We also operate an in-year bonus scheme for staff below the senior civil service only.

The scheme is designed to give managers scope to recognise specific examples of good performance, which contribute towards the achievement of the FCO, directorate general, directorate or mission’s objectives.

Departmental Property: Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Department's officials have (a) been reprimanded, (b) had their contract of employment terminated and (c) been prosecuted for theft of departmental property in each of the last three years; and what items were stolen in each case. (300963)

Central records show that no members of staff have been reprimanded, had their contract of employment terminated or been prosecuted for theft of departmental property in each of the last three years.

Departmental Rail Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. (301201)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last travelled by train to and from Brussels for the European Council on 29 and 30 October 2009.

Departmental Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what weight of paper his Department recycled in each of the last five years. (300780)

The total weight of paper recycled on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) UK estate during the last five financial years was:

FY

Tonnes

2004-05

153.88

2005-06

76

2006-07

130.4

2007-08

137

2008-09

148

In 2008-09 the total waste arisings of the FCO on its UK estate were 960 tonnes of which 59 per cent. was recycled. This compares to a figure of 48 per cent. for 2007-08.

Diplomatic Relations: Parliament

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for the UK of the report on promoting parliamentary diplomacy produced by the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe, AS/POL (2009) 18 rev; and if he will make a statement. (301244)

The report on “Promoting Parliamentary Diplomacy” is still in draft and has not yet been approved by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or communicated to the Committee of Ministers. We will contribute to the Committee of Ministers’ response in due course, if the Parliamentary Assembly requests such a response.

Gibraltar: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Gibraltar on (a) the application of the European Convention on Human Rights to Gibraltar and (b) applications for citizenship by Moroccans resident and working in Gibraltar. (301422)

While the Government continually monitor Gibraltar’s compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, there have been no recent discussions on the specific application of the convention.

The issue of citizenship by Moroccan residents in Gibraltar has been recently discussed by officials of the Governor’s Office and the Government of Gibraltar. Processes which lead to the acquisition of British Citizenship in Gibraltar come under the responsibility of the Governor’s Office on behalf of the Government. The Government of Gibraltar are responsible for regulation covering immigration to Gibraltar.

Government Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to which functions the Government Hospitality Fund provided services in 2008-09; and which Department hosted each such event. (300432)

In the financial year 2008-09 Government Hospitality managed 213 functions hosted by Ministers or permanent secretaries for the following Government Departments:

The Office of the Prime Minister; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Ministry of Defence; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; the Ministry of Justice; the Department for International Development; the Home Office; the Department for Children Families and Schools; the Department for the Energy and Climate Change; the Department of Health; HM Treasury; the Cabinet Office, and the Office of the Attorney-General.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by Government Hospitality in 2008-09. (300705)

In the financial year 2008-09 Government Hospitality in Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recorded the following: expenditure on functions, equipment, laundry, porterage, flowers, wines, spirits and soft drinks was £488,044.

Iraq: Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of higher than usual (a) birth and (b) other health defects in the population of Fallujah, Iraq. (300528)

Officials in the Department for International Development (DFID) have received reports from the Child Victims of the Iraq War Foundation of high rates of foetal abnormalities and infant deaths in Fallujah. At present, the situation remains unclear due to discrepancies in the data available from a range of sources on this topic. DFID has requested further information on this issue from various international medical organisations operating in Fallujah.

Iraq: Iran

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of conditions in Camp Ashraf, Iraq, with particular reference to (a) access for (i) doctors and (ii) fuel tankers and (b) the consequences of Iraqi action against the camp’s residents in July 2009; and if he will make a statement. (300259)

We understand that since the events at Camp Ashraf on 28 July, the situation is generally calm and the camp residents have continued access to food, water, medical and essential supplies. Officials from our embassy in Baghdad have met with the Iraqi government Ashraf Committee and the UN to discuss the situation. During these meetings they confirmed that necessary supplies were able to enter the camp unimpeded.

Our ambassador in Iraq wrote to the Iraqi Human Rights Minister to ask for a review of the events that took place at the camp on 28 July. The Iraqi government are undertaking a review and we have asked to be kept informed of progress.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department’s assessment is of the status in international law of the residents of Camp Ashraf, Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (300305)

Camp Ashraf is in a sovereign and democratic Iraq and the camp residents subject to its laws. The UK is of the view that the residents of Camp Ashraf, as with all people in Iraq, enjoy rights and protections under the Iraqi constitution and applicable international obligations to which Iraq is a signatory. We do not consider that they have ‘protected persons’ status.

We do not feel a ministerial statement is necessary at this time.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy at the UN General Assembly on the Goldstone report on the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is; what his voting intention on the report in the UN Security Council is; and if he will make a statement. (300327)

We made clear that the Goldstone report raised very serious issues. We worked hard before the vote at the UN General Assembly in New York on 5 November to reach a consensus on calling for independent investigations. In the end we had to abstain, with France and 42 others, because voting for would have meant endorsing the report and ignoring its flaws. But the issues are serious and the parties should address them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the United Kingdom abstained from the vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution endorsing the findings of the report of the UN Fact-finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict; who instructed the UK representative to abstain; who was consulted on the decision; and if he will make a statement. (300883)

The UK worked hard before the vote at the UN in New York, on 5 November, to reach a consensus on calling for independent investigation. In the end we had to abstain, with France and 42 others, because voting for would have meant endorsing the report and ignoring its flaws. But the issues are serious and the parties should address them. The UK representative voted in accordance with Ministers' instructions.

National Independent Electoral Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of (a) the effectiveness of the National Independent Electoral Commission and (b) the adequacy of its operational resources. (300227)

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) was able to hold the first Afghan-led elections for over 30 years. In the face of insecurity and threats to its 160,000 staff across Afghanistan, it enabled millions of Afghans to come out and make their voice heard in choosing the future leadership of their country. While there were minor complaints about the quality of some of the materials it used, such as the hole punches to mark the voter cards, the operation overall was well resourced. The UK contributed £16.5 million to the UN basket fund for elections, which included recourses and capacity building for the IEC.

Clearly there are lessons to be learned for future elections. But the processes in place provided for an independent audit of the results that came through the IEC. The audit process, conducted by the Electoral Complaints Commission, in co-operation with the IEC following election day on 20 August, was robust and transparent: flaws in the process were reported, investigated and decided on, and fraudulent ballots removed. Following the conclusion of this process, we are confident that the result of the 2009 presidential elections reflects the will of the Afghan people.

Somalia: Human Trafficking

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on levels of human trafficking in Somalia; and what discussions he has had with his Somali counterpart on the matter. (301266)

We have not received any reports on the levels of human trafficking in Somalia. The extremely fragile security situation in Somalia means that the UK does not have any presence on the ground with which to monitor issues such as human trafficking. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not held discussions with his Somali counterpart on the matter.

The February 2009 report of the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Somalia identified human trafficking, along with many other human rights issues and criminal acts, as an important challenge to be addressed. The report recommends that the Transitional Federal Government make human rights the foundation of its transitional period and that the UN address the root causes of smuggling and trafficking of people across the Gulf of Aden. The UK works closely with the UN Political Office for Somalia to progress the UN-led Djibouti peace agreement.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 2 November 2009, Official Report, column 666W, on Somalia: piracy, if he will place in the Library a copy of the final report of the regional needs assessment mission to the Horn of Africa in September 2009. (301968)

I have placed a copy of the final report of the regional needs assessment mission to the Horn of Africa in the Library of the House.

United Arab Emirates

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aims and objectives he has set for UK foreign policy in respect of the United Arab Emirates. (301972)

The UK aims to strengthen relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in all fields to our mutual benefit.

We work closely with the UAE to promote support for enhanced regional and global security, we aim to improve cultural, sporting and scientific co-operation including supporting the creation and promotion of large scale renewable energy programmes by the UAE.

Our work also aims to support British citizens in the UAE and to foster effective trade and economic co-operation that will further enhance links between British and Emirati businesses to operate successfully.

Whistleblowing