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7 Nov 2006 : Column 1391W—continued

Operation Oyster Catcher

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) objectives and (b) results were of Operation Oyster Catcher. [99806]

Mr. McNulty: Exercise Oyster Catcher was a routine exercise involving a number of the emergency services. The objective was to test the response to a major terrorist incident in Wales. The results of the exercise will be fed into classified contingency plans for responding to a wide range of emergencies. It is important that these plans are regularly tested, reviewed and updated but it is not in the national interest to comment on the detail of those plans or the exercise itself.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the cost was of Operation Oyster Catcher; [99807]

(2) what additional resources he has made available to (a) Dyfed Powys police, (b) Pembrokeshire county council, (c) Mid and West Wales Fire Authority and (d) the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to meet costs incurred by Operation Oyster Catcher; [99803]

(3) what expenditure was incurred by (a) Dyfed Powys police, (b) Pembrokeshire county council, (c) Mid and West Wales Fire Authority and (d) the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in respect of Operation Oyster Catcher. [99808]

Mr. McNulty: Exercise Oyster Catcher was a classified government exercise to test the response to a major terrorist incident. It is not normal practice to disclose the level of funding allocated to specific counter-terrorist measures.

The agencies referred to are all category one responders within the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and as such have civil protection duties to produce plans to deal with a wide range of emergencies. Exercises are an important element in ensuring that those plans are fit for purpose and are jointly funded as part of existing major incident planning. The Home Office makes a contribution to the costs incurred by the police force which hosts the exercise. Other costs are met by the individual agencies as part of their duties as category one responders.

Opinion Polling

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library copies of all opinion polling commissioned by his Department in the last 15 months. [93743]

John Reid: The Home Office undertakes a wide range of research activities that support the
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development of information-led policy, including surveys of public opinion that consider Home Office issues and its related areas of responsibility.

The Department commissions such work only when it is justified by the specific needs of a particular policy or programme and when this is the most economic, efficient and effective way to achieve the purpose. Consulting and involving the public helps inform both policy formulation and delivery of better quality public services.

Copies of completed reports involving opinion polling since June 2005

have been placed in the Library. A list of the work is as follows:

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to provide substantive answers to questions (a) 68948, (b) 68802, (c) 68947, (d) 68950, (e) 68795, (f) 68887 and (g) 68801, tabled on 3 May by the hon. Member for Woking. [73604]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 25 May 2006]: I replied to the hon. Member as follows:

The Under-Secretary of State, my hon, Friend the member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker) replied to

The Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) replied to

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to question 67768, tabled on 27 April 2006 by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, which sought substantive replies to questions 61153, 61154 and 61155, tabled by the hon. Member for Aylesbury on 16 March 2006. [76701]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 14 June 2006]: I replied to the hon. Member on 4 October 2006, Official Report, column 507W.


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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to question 80134, on the Sex Offenders Register, tabled by the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead on 21 June for answer on 26 June. [83533]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I replied to the hon. Member on 7 August 2006, printed on 26 October 2005, Official Report, column 2145W.

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to question 73527, on the illegal migrant population, tabled by the hon. Member for Ashford for answer on 24 May 2006. [88234]

Mr. Byrne: I replied to the hon. Member on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 605W.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will answer question (a) 84854, on prisons, tabled on 10 July 2006, (b) 82996, on foreign criminals, tabled on 4 July 2006, (c) 67476, on foreign national prisoners, tabled on 26 April 2006 and (d) 58657 on prisons tabled on 9 March 2006 by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. [89711]

Mr. Byrne: The information is as follows:

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many written parliamentary questions tabled to his Department before (a) 25th July and (b) 2nd October remained unanswered on 9th October. [93559]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 16 October 2006]: As of 9 October, 134 questions remain unanswered of which 86 dated before 25 July and a further 48 before 2 October.

The Home Secretary has instructed both the Permanent Secretary and I to review the current PQ delivery mechanisms. In addition to this, he has identified the Department's obligations to Parliament as one of the performance measures that should result from his plan to reform the Home Office. The improvements will not happen overnight but I am reassured that considerable effort has occurred throughout the summer recess to reduce the backlog of unanswered questions. This work remains ongoing although I am pleased to reassure you that for the months of July, August and September the Department answered 1,245 questions with approximately 70 per cent. answered within agreed timescales.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will answer question 71762
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tabled by the hon. Member for Eastleigh on 16 May 2006; and if he will make a statement on the Department’s policy on the time taken to answer questions. [96760]

Mr. McNulty: The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality replied to the question on the 18 October 2006, Official Report, column 1291W.

The Home Secretary has instructed both the Permanent Secretary and I to review the current PQ delivery mechanisms. In addition to this, he has identified the Department’s obligations to Parliament as one of the performance measures that should result from his plan to reform the Home Office. The improvements will not happen overnight but I am reassured that considerable effort has occurred throughout the summer recess to reduce the backlog of unanswered questions. This work remains ongoing although I am pleased to reassure you that for the months of July, August and September the Department answered 1245 questions with approximately 70 per cent. answered within agreed timescales.

Penalty Notices (Traffic Offences)

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for which traffic offences fixed penalty notices can be issued. [97299]

John Reid: Under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (the Act) the Secretary of State may by order provide for any offence in respect of a vehicle to be a fixed penalty offence.

Fixed penalties are currently available for over 200 different offences. A detailed list is included at annex A of the Home Office’s Revised Guidance on the Operation of the Fixed Penalty System for Offences in Respect of a Vehicle. This is available on the Home Office website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Pensions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the arrangements are for the payment of pensions to people who retire early through ill-health for each pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; what the incidence of ill-health retirement was as a percentage of all retirement for such schemes for each year since 1988-89; and if he will make a statement; [96019]

(2) what the current rate of ill-health retirement is for each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; and if he will make a statement. [96058]

Mr. McNulty: A police authority may medically retire an officer if he or she is assessed by a medical practitioner selected by the authority to be permanently disabled for the ordinary duties of a member of the force. An officer who is a contributing member of either the Police Pension Scheme 1987 or the Police Pension Scheme 2006 and who has two years' qualifying service at the time of retirement will receive an ill-health pension which is index-linked and payable immediately. The ill-health pension under the Police Pension Scheme 1987, to which most officers belong, is based on the pension rights the officer has
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accrued up to retirement, but where the officer has at least five years' pensionable service the pension will be enhanced to compensate at least in part for the additional service he or she was unable to go on to complete.

The Police Pension Scheme 2006, which applies to those who have joined the police service on or after 6 April this year, provides two levels of ill-health pension: a standard ill-health pension which is not enhanced and is payable to those who are permanently disabled for the ordinary duties of a member of the force but who can undertake other regular employment, and an enhanced top-up pension, which is payable in addition to the standard pension where the officer is also assessed as permanently disabled for all regular employment.

Information about the rate of ill-health retirement for police officers is not available in the form requested for all the years that the hon. Member has asked for. A table follows with information from 1990-91 to 2004-05. From 2001-02 the rate of ill-health retirement has not been recorded as a percentage of the number of retirements but as a proportion of the number of officers in service, expressed in terms of ill-health retirements per 1,000 officers. This is a more stable measure since the number of ordinary retirements is liable to change from year to year. The figures show a very clear downward trend which started in the mid 1990s but which has been given added impetus following the Police Negotiating Board Agreement of 2002 which resulted in the issue of joint guidance to forces in 2003 on the better management of ill-health. The effective management of ill-health continues to be a priority for the police service. Improvements in sickness management and rehabilitation and better incentives for making appropriate use of ill health retirement (e.g. by introducing more than one tier of ill-health benefits) have been a key part of public service reform.

Police Officer Medical Retirements
Percentage of medical retirements of all retirements Number of medical retirements per 1,000 officers in service

1990-91

62

1991-92

62

1992-93

60

1993-94

53

1994-95

53

1995-96

46

1996-97

45

1997-98

38

1998-99

39

1999-2000

31

2000-01

31

9.8

2001-02

8.8

2002-03

6.2

2003-04

3

2004-05

3

Notes:
1. This table contains full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
2. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

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