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4 Nov 2004 : Column 440W—continued

Sustainable Communities Plan

Brian White: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps (a) his Office and (b) its agencies are taking to ensure the Sustainable Communities plan meets or exceeds the Government's energy objectives of achieving a low carbon economy. [195182]

Phil Hope: The Sustainable Communities plan will encourage an energy-efficient built environment through changes to building regulations—including better boiler standards—and our Decent Homes programme. We are also supporting exemplary development schemes and research in the Growth Areas, and will pilot the new Code for Sustainable Buildings in the Thames Gateway and elsewhere. In addition, English Partnerships requires residential building on its land to reach the BREEAM EcoHomes "very good" standard, which includes an assessment of energy efficiency and transport CO 2 impacts. From 2005–06, the Housing Corporation will require funded affordable housing schemes to reach the EcoHomes "good" standard.

Sustainable Energy (CHP Provisions) Order

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures his Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake to comply with the Sustainable Energy (CHP Provisions) Order 2003. [194428]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister presently has Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installations operating in two if its London HQ buildings. These units have a capacity of 960 kWh of electrical energy, the "waste" heat from the CHP units is used to supplement building heating in winter and cooling in summer.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and its agencies have adopted the target to source at least 15 per cent. of electricity from Good Quality Combined Heat and Power by 2010 and continues to explore viable schemes for embedded electrical generation. Until such time as suitable systems can be incorporated, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be working with the Office of Government Commerce to obtain sufficient energy from accredited suppliers to meet the targets required by the Sustainable Energy (CHP Provisions) Order 2003 and detailed in specific terms in the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate (Chapter E4).

Temporary Staff

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many agency temporary staff have been working for the
 
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Department in each of the last five years, excluding those working for agencies for which no data is kept centrally. [196051]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was formed on 29 May 2002. Records are not kept centrally of the recruitment and termination of temporary staff within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. However at any one time the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister employs approximately 120 temporary staff through the employment agencies with whom we have contracts.

PRIME MINISTER

Arctic Medal

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Prime Minister if he will create an Arctic Medal for those who sailed in the Russian convoys. [196209]

The Prime Minister: The sacrifice of those who sailed in the Russian convoys is of course undisputed. Those who took part in the wartime convoys to Russia were honoured at the time with the award of the Atlantic Star. Indeed, the Command Paper that set out the criteria for the Atlantic Star explicitly included the convoys to North Russia, as recognition of their importance. This remains the position, though these matters are kept under review.

ADVOCATE-GENERAL

Devolution

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Advocate-General what devolution issues she has considered since 25 October. [194533]

The Advocate-General for Scotland: Since 25 October, 23 devolution issues have been intimated to me. 19 of these issues were in the civil sphere and concerned personal injury actions in respect of prison conditions. The remaining four devolution issues related to criminal matters, including pre-trial delay, self-incrimination under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the use of lay justices to determine criminal proceedings in the district courts and one case which raises issues about both the lack of an appeal to the House of Lords in extradition proceedings in Scotland under the Extradition Act 2003, and a challenge to Ministers of the Scottish Executive in relation to extradition proceedings.

MINISTER FOR WOMEN

Pregnant Workers

22. Ms Drown: To ask the Minister for Women what steps she is taking to ensure that (a) employers and (b) employees are informed of women's rights at work when pregnant. [195883]


 
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Jacqui Smith: Government provide a range of guidance for employers and employees. Additionally, free confidential advice is available from the Acas national telephone helpline.

Women's Pensions

23. Ms Keeble: To ask the Minister for Women what assessment she has made of proposals in the Turner Report relating to women's pensions. [195884]

Ms Hewitt: The Government welcome the Pensions Commission report, and are well aware that women make up 64 per cent. of the pensioner population. Tackling specific problems that women face in retirement is therefore high on our agenda.

Pension Inequalities

25. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Minister for Women what assessment she has made of the findings of the First Report of the Pensions Commission in relation to pension inequalities between men and women. [195886]

Ms Hewitt: For today's female pensioners we have introduced pension credit, two thirds of those entitled to pension credit are women. And for future women pensioners, state second pension extends second-tier pension right for the first time to people without earnings who are caring for young children or a disabled adult.

However, we have acknowledged there is more to be done and will be looking at options in advance of the Pension Commission's final report in autumn 2005.

Non-traditional Work

Julie Morgan: To ask the Minister for Women what plans she has to encourage women to go into non-traditional areas of work. [195882]

Ms Hewitt: I was delighted to participate with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Equal Opportunities Commission's Gender and Productivity Summit last week, where I launched a cross Government plan to encourage women (and men) into non-traditional areas of work.

This plan will be taken forward in the context of the Women and Work Commission announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 24 July.

Women Priests

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Minister for Women what discussions she has had on encouraging the appointment of women priests to the highest offices in the Church. [195885]

Jacqui Smith: I fully endorse the views expressed on an earlier occasion by my hon. Friend the Minister for Women. This is a matter for the Church of England, but I am in principle against any kind of glass ceiling—stained glass or otherwise.
 
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SCOTLAND

Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 23 August from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. J. A. Higham. [193574]

Mr. Darling: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 3 November.

Temporary Staff

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many agency temporary staff have been working for the Department in each of the last five years, excluding those working for agencies for which no data is kept centrally. [196055]

Mrs. McGuire: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. Since that date the Office has had a number of individuals under contract from companies that provide staff on a temporary basis. They were engaged to fill vacancies in the complement of the Office and were not additional to the staff numbers reported in the Departmental and Annual Reports of the Office. Many individuals were employed for a short period only; some posts were filled by a succession of individuals. The figures in the table represent the total number of individuals employed:
Number of individual temporary staff
1999–200013
2000–0116
2001–0219
2002–0315
2003–0420


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