|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter dated 10 February from the hon. Member for North Down in relation to the tail docking of dogs. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the comments on the programme for the endorsement of forest certification scheme in the Environmental Audit Committee's second report of Session 2005-06 on sustainable timber; and if she will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The Government note that the Committee had some concerns with the Government's decision to accept the programme for the endorsement of forest certification scheme (PEFC) as giving assurance of legal and sustainable timber sources. The Government's response to the Committee focused on the Committee's recommendation that the central point of expertise on timber (CPET):
"should make clear to PEFC that it would be desirable for it clearly and simply to set out the minimum standards it expects all its national members to conform to if it wants continued approval of its scheme.
The Government are generally satisfied that PEFC, having made changes to its scheme, now has a set of requirements that, if implemented by the national schemes endorsed by PEFC, will adequately assure compliance with Government contract requirements for legal and sustainable timber. However, this assessment was made prior to the process of implementation by national schemes being complete, and therefore a public commitment was made to assess the adoption of these changes by the national schemes endorsed by PEFC within a reasonable timeframe.
The assessment of changes made is under way but not complete. It has raised concerns with the interpretation some national schemes have made of the PEFC requirement for achieving consensus in the development and revision of standards. In particular, it is not clear that the voting procedures adopted by some of the schemes reviewed would ensure that decisions could be made only in 'the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests'the definition of consensus adopted by PEFC. In the light of further discussions with interested parties the Government have decided that these interim findings merit further scrutiny before resolving the probationary status of PEFC. This will be done as part of a review of the five forest certification schemes first assessed by CPET in 2004. In the meantime, the Government are continuing to accept the PEFC scheme as assuring compliance with Government contract requirements for legal and sustainable timber.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on tackling fuel poverty in England and Wales during 2005-06; how much is proposed to be spent during 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: In 2005-06 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was funded, and spent, over £190 million to tackle fuel poverty. In 2006-07 this figure will increase to over £300 million.
Fuel poverty is a devolved issue, and responsibility in Wales lies with the Welsh Assembly Government. The primary scheme to assist vulnerable households at risk of fuel poverty is the home energy efficiency scheme, which the Assembly Government funded to the order of £14.1 million in 2005-06 and will fund to the order of £19.6 million in 2006-07.
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 11 May 2006]: Enhanced Combat Body Armour (ECBA) is standard issue for all personnel serving on operations in Iraq. All civilians visiting Iraq, such as journalists, who are hosted by the Ministry of Defence are afforded the same force protection measures as UK forces and are, therefore, issued with the same ECBA.
Mr. Watson: The Ministry of Defence does not employ counsellors within the armed forces. Advice and support to personnel is available from within the chain of command as well as from specialists such as chaplains, medical staff, uniformed and civilian welfare officers and voluntary agencies.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people in his Department have been (a) disciplined and (b) dismissed for (i) inappropriate use of the internet while at work and (ii) using work telephones to access premium rate numbers in each of the last five years. 
Des Browne: Information is not held centrally on the number of civil servants in the MOD that have been disciplined and dismissed for inappropriate use of the internet while at work and using work telephones to access premium rate numbers in each of the last five years. Because action on investigating and dealing with
disciplinary offences has been delegated to line management in individual MOD business units, it would incur disproportionate cost to collate the requested data. Data for armed forces personnel are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. John Reid) announced the UK force package for Afghanistan on 26 January 2006, Official Report, column 1529; however, we work in a multi-national environment, in both theatres, and therefore other helicopter assets are available to UK forces. To provide the total number of air assets in each theatre would likely prejudice the security of British forces.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for a permanent commemorative memorial to (a) the crew of HMS Sheffield and (b) other Royal Navy personnel on the 25th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Sheffield; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watson: There are currently no plans for a permanent commemorative memorial for HMS Sheffield, or for the other ships or Royal Navy personnel, lost in the south Atlantic conflict. All those who fell during the conflict will be remembered as part of the official commemorations in 2007. Furthermore, there are plans to construct an armed forces memorial dedicated to members of the UK armed forces killed on duty or by terrorist action since the second world war.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the countries which sent students to attend (a) the joint school of photographic interpretation and (b) the international intelligence directors course in 2004-05. 
Des Browne: The Operation Rockingham cell is working on residual issues relating to Iraqi WMD and analysing the lessons learned from the Iraq survey group deployment. It consists of three people (two part-time and one full-time).
Mr. Ingram: RNAS Yeovilton is the main operating base for the Royal Navy's Lynx and commando helicopter forces and, despite the departure of the Sea Harrier in March of this year, it is still the UK's largest (by aircraft number) and busiest military airfield.
In 2004 the RAF-led defence airfield review (DAR) identified irreducible spare capacity at RNAS Yeovilton which could be exploited. Following publication of the review's report in May 2004, a number of working groups were formed to take the detailed work forward. The issue of spare capacity at RNAS Yeovilton is being considered by the programme belvedere working group. programme belvedere is responsible for the joint helicopter command basing element of DAR and is currently examining options for the basing of all of the Department's current and future battlefield helicopters. No decisions have yet been made, but the effect of any changes on the local community will be taken into consideration as part of the analysis.
The Royal Navy has recently announced the relocation of 727 Naval Air Squadron from Plymouth Roborough airport to RNAS Yeovilton. As part of its task, the squadron provides air experience flying (AEF) opportunities for younger members of the public. A recent review of AEF concluded that the relocation to RNAS Yeovilton will offer a greater selection of AEF to a much wider audience. The relocation will also result in a small increase in employment opportunities in the local area.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Sea King helicopters are serving with the Royal Navy; how many are fully operational; how many are non-operational; and what time period is required to bring those which are non-operational into front-line service. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 3 May 2006]: As at April 2006 the number of Sea King helicopters serving with the Royal Navy was 69, of which 50 were operational and 19 non-operational. Operational is defined as those Sea King helicopters that are in the forward fleet and non-operational as those in the depth fleet. The time period to bring individual Sea King helicopters through depth maintenance ranges from three to six months.
It is our policy not to have the whole fleet available to support the front line at all times. An ongoing programme of maintenance and repair is necessary to ensure that helicopters are kept in an appropriate state of repair to meet operational requirements.
Des Browne [holding answer 27 April 2006]: Our priority is to provide the most appropriate medical care to injured personnel, and to give them the peace and quiet needed to allow a speedy recovery. We recognise that the emotional support provided by friends and family is of key importance to our injured soldiers, and visit arrangements for their relatives are managed by the welfare officer of the individual's unit.
The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), Birmingham, has allocated six rooms in one wing of the hospital for relatives of service personnel who are listed "Very Seriously Ill" (VSI) or "Seriously Ill" (SI) where relatives can stay whilst visiting a patient. These rooms are provided free. Depending on availability, RCDM also allow families and/or relatives of non-listed patients to stay in these rooms, but the priority is of course for the relatives of VSI/SI-listed patients.
One exception to this is that the University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust do not allow children under 16 to stay in this accommodation. This is in line with the practices of the trust concerning child protection issues, since the accommodation contains communal facilities which are deemed inappropriate for children as they are used by other adults staying in the accommodation. RCDM therefore can also provide a list of local bed-and-breakfast accommodation which has been inspected by Defence Medical Welfare Services. If there is a medical recommendation that relatives of a patient should stay with them, the MOD provides travel and subsistence costs for two relatives for up to seven days, although this can be extended if medical advice recommends it. If patients are not listed as VSI or SI, the individual's regiment can also pay for family travel. Such decisions are made at individual regiment level.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the levels of radioactive pollution on foreshores close to the locations of Z berths (a) in Portsmouth harbour and (b) elsewhere; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Environmental Sciences Department monitors the level of radioactive pollution on foreshores
close to the locations of Z berths as part of its wider marine environmental survey programme, the findings from which are published annually. Z Berths are monitored on a regular basis of between one and five years depending on their location. The Portsmouth Z berth is normally monitored every two years.
DSTL's November 2005 report, entitled Marine Environmental Radioactivity Surveys at Nuclear Submarine Berths 2004, includes information on samples taken in Portsmouth harbour. The report concluded that there was no radiological hazard to the public during 2004 as a result of operational nuclear-powered submarines. Copies of the report will be made available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Ingram: We shall publish figures as soon as they are available. Provisional figures will appear in the Public Expenditure Provisional Outturn which will be published around the middle of July and audited figures in our Annual Report and Accounts which is planned for publication before the summer recess.
Mr. Lammy: The percentage of staff in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who are (a) male, (b) female and (c) disabled as at 31 December 2005, broken down by grade is as follows. (Data on disability are collected on a voluntary self-declaration basis.)
|(1) As the Department has less than five disabled members of staff within the grades SCS to C we are unable to give further information on grounds of confidentiality.|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|