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24 July 2006 : Column 796W—continued

Trained Strength

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) actual gains to trained strength and (b) total target gains to trained strength are for each of the Royal Navy pinch point trades identified in his Department’s annual report and accounts 2005-06; [87037]

(2) what the (a) total actual gains to trained strength and (b) total target gains to trained strength are for the Regular Army (i) infantry, (ii) Royal Artillery, (iii) Royal Engineers, (iv) Royal Corps of Signals, (v) Royal Armoured Corps, (vi) Household Cavalry, (vii) Royal Electrical Mechancial Engineers and (viii) Army Medical Services; [87038]

(3) what the (a) total actual gains to trained strength and (b) total target gains to trained strength are for each of the Royal Air Force pinch point trades identified in his Department’s annual report and accounts 2005-06. [87039]

Mr. Watson: It will take a few weeks to validate the requested information to ensure accuracy and consistency. I will write to the hon. Gentleman and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House when this is completed.

Trident Replacement

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure there has been on preparatory (a) studies and (b) infrastructure development on a replacement for the Trident nuclear system. [86947]

Des Browne: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 18 July 2006, Official Report, column 350W, to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws).

US Missile Defence Agency

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the budget is for the UK Missile Defence Centre for each of the next three years. [86668]

Des Browne: The UK Missile Defence Centre was founded on 18 July 2003 with a six-year mandate. It has just begun its fourth year with an approved budget of £5.7 million; the provisional budget allocation for each of the final two years is £5 million.

Weapons Policy

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances weapons are provided to (a) UK and (b) other civilians in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [85301]

Des Browne: The Ministry of Defence does not provide weapons to its civilian employees deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Environment and Heritage Service

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2006, Official Report, column 12W, on the Environment and Heritage Service, what steps he takes to ensure cost-effectiveness of court cases brought on behalf of the Environment and Heritage Service. [87339]

The Solicitor-General: The Public Prosecution Service conducts all cases it prosecutes, including those on behalf of the Environment and Heritage Service, in accordance with the Test for Prosecution. That test is whether there is sufficient available evidence to afford a reasonable prospect of conviction and, if so, whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. If the evidential aspect of the test is met, there is a strong presumption that prosecution is in the public interest; the more serious the offence, or its consequences, the stronger the presumption. The cost of bringing a prosecution does not weigh in that consideration. The PPS may take into account, in assessing the public interest, whether the offence is of such a nature that it is likely that the court will impose only a very small or nominal penalty.

The cost-effectiveness of prosecutions is based on the overall efficiency of the PPS. It is not connected in any way with the fines imposed following conviction. Such fines are not payable to the PPS. Following conviction, the PPS will usually ask for its costs to be paid by the defendant but whether such an order is made, and to what extent, is a matter for judicial determination.

The cost-effectiveness of the PPS and what is being done to maintain and improve efficiency is the subject of the PPS annual report and business plan, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Offences (Prosecution Consent)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will list the offences which may be prosecuted only with the consent of (a) the Solicitor-General and (b) the Director of Public Prosecutions. [87111]

The Solicitor-General: By statute, certain offences require the consent of the Attorney-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in order for there to be a prosecution. The Law Officers Act 1997, section 1, provides that any function of the Attorney-General (which includes therefore the granting of consent to prosecute) may be exercised by the Solicitor-General.

It would involve disproportionate resources to produce a complete list of the many offences requiring Attorney-General’s and DPP’s consent to prosecute. A list of most of such offences is reproduced at appendix A of the Law Commission’s 1998 report, “Consents to Prosecution”.

Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions he has visited each region in an official capacity in the last 12 months. [84008]

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The Solicitor-General: Since June 2006 I have made six visits to the regions. These consisted of three visits to the South East, two visits to the North West and one visit to Yorkshire and the Humber. In addition I have made two visits to Northern Ireland.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department were awaiting a reply on 10 July 2006; which of those had been waiting longer than (a) two and (b) three weeks for a reply; and what the reason for the delay was in each case. [85194]

The Solicitor-General: At the time that this question was asked there were 18 parliamentary questions awaiting an answer. There were two that had been waiting for two weeks and four that had been waiting for three weeks for a substantive answer. All six of these questions have now been answered.

The Attorney-General’s office endeavours to provide a substantive answer on time, although there are occasions when some parliamentary questions can take slightly longer than others to draft because of the nature of the information required.

Public Appointments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General how many public appointments are within the patronage of the Law Officers; what (a) salary and (b) other emoluments are attached to each; and what the comparable figures were in (i) 1976, (ii) 1986 and (iii) 1996. [83171]

The Solicitor-General: None.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General on what occasions a statutory instrument sponsored by his Department has been reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as defective since October 2005. [85176]

The Solicitor-General: None.

Minister for Women

Homophobic Bullying

Lorely Burt: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what plans the Government have to tackle homophobic bullying in (a) schools and (b) the community. [88193]

Meg Munn: The Government plan to introduce regulations later this year under part 3 of the Equality Act 2006 to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions. These measures will empower individuals to challenge unacceptable prejudice in their everyday lives and will reinforce and support the work already being done in many communities by police forces and other bodies to confront and tackle homophobic bullying.

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The regulations will be promoted to raise awareness of people's new rights and responsibilities under the regulations and will be accompanied by detailed guidance for service providers. The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights will play an important role in promoting and supporting the regulations when it opens its doors in October 2007.

We take the issue of homophobic bullying in schools very seriously and the Government gave an undertaking in the White Paper, “Higher Standards, Better Education for All”, published last year, to issue guidance on bullying motivated by prejudice, including homophobia, providing school staff with valuable support in an area they often find challenging. The Department for Education and Skills is currently developing a programme to tackle homophobic bullying and has accepted a tender from Stonewall for the provision of guidance on homophobic bullying. The Department expects to issue that guidance early in 2007, and to follow this with a series of dissemination workshops.

House of Commons Commission

House Facilities

Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will review the rules governing the
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use by hon. Members of House (a) accommodation, (b) telephones and (c) stationery with a view to tightening the restrictions on their use for party political purposes. [86108]

Nick Harvey: Facilities provided for individual hon. Members under the House of Commons: administration estimate, for which the Commission is responsible, are intended for use in connection with their parliamentary and public business. The rules governing their use are kept under review by the House authorities in the light of circumstances, and also in the event of specific complaints alleging abuse. Failure to observe the rules on the use of parliamentary facilities may be a breach of the code of conduct.

Senior Staff Appointments

Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2006, Official Report, columns 8-9W, on senior staff appointments, if the Commission will take steps to ensure that in future the appointments to the three senior posts are made by the House. [87139]

Nick Harvey: These appointments are made by the Crown. Changes would be necessary in legislation for the appointments to be made by the House. The Commission has no plans to seek such changes.

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 24 July 2006

Communities and Local Government

Arm's Length Management

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to measure the impact of arm's length management organisations on tenant satisfaction. [83373]

Yvette Cooper: Tenant satisfaction is one of the best value performance indicators used to measure
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performance by local authorities. To date there are only data available to cover the first two years of operation for the first eight ALMOs. As soon as sufficient data are available we will be able to assess the impact of ALMOs on tenant satisfaction more generally.

City of York Council

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much in (a) rate support grants, (b) business rates and (c) special grants the Government paid to City of York council in each year since its creation as a unitary authority (i) in cash terms and (ii) at current prices; how much will be paid in each category in 2006-07; and what the purpose was of each special grant of £50,000 or more. [86526]

Mr. Woolas: The following table shows the amount of revenue support grant, redistributed business rates and specific and special grants allocated to the City of York council in the period 1996-97 to 2006-07.

£ million
Revenue Support Grant Redistributed Business Rates Specific and Special Grants within Aggregate External Finance (AEF)
Cash terms Current prices Cash terms Current prices Cash terms Current prices














































































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