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24 July 2006 : Column 727W—continued


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether members of his Department with responsibility for the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (a) have visited and (b) have plans to visit (i) Malaysia, (ii) Finland and (iii) Tasmania; and if he will make a statement. [85505]

Barry Gardiner: An official from the Department with responsibility for the Central Point of Expertise on Timber has visited Finland and Malaysia on official business. There are currently no arrangements for a visit to Tasmania.

Warm Front

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households in England are eligible for assistance under the Warm Front programme; and how the overall number of eligible households has changed as a result of revisions to qualifying benefits in each year since 2000. [82896]

24 July 2006 : Column 728W

Ian Pearson: According to the eligibility criteria for 2004-05, around 2.8 million households in the private sector were eligible for Warm Front.

Approximately 40 per cent. of these households were in receipt of disability benefits only. The eligibility criteria have stayed broadly the same since 2000, with major changes only occurring because of changes to the benefits or tax credit system, for example the replacement of income support for those of pension age with pension credit, and the replacement of working families and disabled persons tax credit with working and child tax credits. These changes had a minimal impact on the overall number of eligible households.


Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work has been carried out to establish the background levels of fluoxetine in the aquatic environment; and what estimate he has made of the amount of residues from (a) antidepressant and (b) other drugs in the (i) livers, (ii) brains and (iii) muscle of fish. [84064]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency has developed analytical methods for the detection of fluoxetine to levels of 0.002 microgrammes per litre (g/l) and norfluoxetine to 0.005 g/l. Monitoring was undertaken during 2005 downstream of a number of sewage works across England and Wales and fluoxetine (including norfluoxetine) was detected in 90 per cent. of the 39 samples. The average concentration detected was 0.017 g/l. An Environment Agency briefing on fluoxetine is available at:

As a follow-up to studies commissioned by the Environment Agency, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) has investigated the presence of pharmaceutical products, including the antidepressant Lofepramine, in the liver and muscles of a small number of pike in the Grand Union Canal. Pike are predatory fish and thus exhibit the highest levels of any residues likely to enter the food chain. Lofepramine was not detected in any of the samples.

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of (a) levels of pre-tax profits and (b) increases in water charges imposed by water companies. [80614]

Ian Pearson: Water companies made profits of £2.1 billion in 2004-05. The Government recognise that companies have to pay a return on their capital. However, water companies can only increase their profits by becoming more efficient and delivering all their services at less cost. These savings are also passed to customers in lower bills when the next price limits are set.

Average water and sewerage bills for household customers in England and Wales increased by 5.5 per cent. (including inflation) in April 2006. Customers' bills rose by an average of £15, from £279 to £294. The increases are in line with the price limits set by the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) for 2005-10 and will contribute towards a total capital investment programme of £16.8 billion for environmental and service improvements.

24 July 2006 : Column 729W

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much water on average was consumed by each person in England in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by water company. [84126]

Ian Pearson: Ofwat provides the Government with water consumption figures for England and Wales via the annual security of supply, leakage and the efficient use of water report. Household water consumption is expressed in litres per head per day.

The following table provides company estimates of average household consumption for 2004-05.

Water and sewerage companies (WaSC)



Dwr Cymru


Northumbrian North


Northumbrian South


Severn Trent








United Utilities






WaSC Average


Water only companies (WoC)

Bournemouth and West Hampshire






Dee Valley


Folkestone and Dover


Mid Kent




South East


South Staffordshire


Sutton and East Surrey


Tendring Hundred


Three Valleys


WoC Average


Industry Average


Notes: 1. Averages are weighted by population of unmeasured households. 2. Excludes underground supply pipe leakage. 3. The 2004-05 report can be accessed on the Ofwat website at: Title/leakage04-05.pdf/$FILE/leakage_04-05.pdf

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much water consumption per head of population was planned by each water company in 2005-06. [84954]

Ian Pearson: All water companies in England and Wales prepared new water resources plans in 2004. The plans provided forecasts of per capita consumption (pcc) from 2005-06 to 2029-30. The following table shows pcc forecasts for 2005-06. These represent the theoretical average demand for water in a dry year, excluding the impact of any restrictions on water use.
24 July 2006 : Column 730W
These numbers have been calculated from water companies’ forecasts of measured and unmeasured pcc.

Water company Forecast pcc in 2005-06 (litres/head/day)

Anglian Water


Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water


Bristol Water


Cambridge Water


Cholderton and District Water


Dee Valley Water


Dwr Cymru Welsh Water


Essex and Suffolk Water


Folkestone and Dover Water


Mid Kent Water


Northumbrian Water


Portsmouth Water


Severn Trent Water


South East Water


South Staffordshire Water


South West Water


Southern Water


Sutton and East Surrey Water


Tendring Hundred Water


Thames Water


Three Valleys Water


United Utilities


Wessex Water


Yorkshire Water


Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much water was lost as a result of water leaks in London in each year since 1997. [87724]

Ian Pearson: Ofwat is the economic regulator for the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. It collects leakage information from companies on their performance against these targets. This information is published annually in Ofwat’s ‘Security of supply, leakage and the efficient use of water report’.

Thames Water is the water supply company for the majority of customers in London. Some customers are supplied by Three Valleys Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, or Sutton and East Surrey Water. Ofwat collects leakage on the basis of company supply area only. Specific figures relating to London are not available.

Wildlife Sites

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards bringing 95 per cent. of all nationally important wildlife sites into favourable condition by 2010. [85460]

Barry Gardiner: As of 3 July 2006, 72.7 per cent. of the area of England covered by sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) was in favourable or recovering condition, compared with 56.9 per cent. in March 2003. This is good progress towards England’s public service agreement target for SSSIs and in line with our trajectory to achieve 95 per cent. by 2010.

24 July 2006 : Column 731W

Leader of the House


Mr. Amess: To ask the Leader of the House how many divisions were called off in each of the last three sessions due to failure to provide tellers; what the (a) date and (b) subject under discussion was in each case; and if he will make a statement. [87222]

Mr. Straw: The Journal Office of the House of Commons has supplied the following information for the last three Sessions, and for the current Session to date:

Session Date Business


20 May 2003

Criminal Justice Bill (Report stage)






31 January 2006

Racial and Religious Hatred Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

(1) To 18 July 2006.

Early-day motions (E-tabling)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Leader of the House whether he has examined the merits of enabling e-tabling of Early Day Motions; and if he will make a statement. [87730]

Mr. Straw: This is essentially a matter for the House. The Government are however aware of concerns about the principle of electronic tabling for parliamentary proceedings without strong safeguards to ensure that any new system is not open to abuse, and that the Member concerned is personally responsible at each stage. I understand that the Procedure Committee is currently examining matters relating to EDMs, including the procedures for their tabling. I look forward to the Committee's recommendations.

Parliamentary Questions

Anne Main: To ask the Leader of the House what steps he is taking to ensure that ministerial answers to parliamentary questions address the terms of the questions being asked. [87753]

Mr. Straw: In answering parliamentary questions, as in other areas, Ministers are subject to the obligations set out in the Ministerial Code, which states that:

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