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Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many sorties British personnel have participated in flying in (a) SAMA CH2000 and (b) SB7L Seeker aircraft flown by Iraqi pilots; [127024]

(2) how many sorties have been flown in support of British ground operations by Iraqi air force aircraft; [127025]

(3) whether helicopters supplied by the UK to the Iraqi air force will be available to support British ground operations. [127028]

Mr. Ingram: While some UK personnel have flown in Seeker aircraft this is not a regular occurrence and no record of such activity is kept. In the last two months some 70 sorties have been flown in support of British ground operations by Iraqi air force aircraft. No helicopters have been supplied by the UK to the Iraqi air force.

Living Accommodation

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the procedures are for assessing the cleanliness and habitability of armed forces personnel housing before a new tenant moves in; and how many complaints were lodged upon moving in about unclean or ill-equipped housing in each year since 2004. [103744]

Derek Twigg: I apologise for the delay in replying to the hon. Member's question. For Great Britain the procedures for assessing the cleanliness and habitability of service families accommodation (SFA) are laid down in the MOD's Housing Management Manual. A number of separate checks for levels of cleanliness and inspections on equipment are carried out prior to a service family moving into SFA. The standards are set out in the contracts with the service providers for SFA and incorporated in the Guide to Living in Service Family Accommodation.

In England and Wales, there are more than 20,000 move-ins each year. Prior to the rolling-out of the Housing Prime Contract (HPC) in 2006, there were no separate complaints recorded for the level of cleanliness. Under the HPC, in 2006 there were 573 separately recorded complaints about cleanliness. This level of complaints was due to the early problems experienced with the HPC. There is no separate recording process for ill-equipped housing.

In Scotland, houses are maintained through a regional prime contract. There are some 1,500 move-ins each year in Scotland and the number of overall complaints in Scotland were three in 2004, four in 2005 and two in 2006.

Marines: Criminal Records

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Marines were allowed to return to the service in 2006 having served a prison sentence. [128384]

Derek Twigg: In 2006 14 Royal Marines were subject to military detention at Military Corrective Training Centre Colchester and all continued in service
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following completion of sentence. Additionally, three Royal Marines were imprisoned following conviction by civilian courts. One of these was retained in service on completion of sentence.

Puma Helicopters: Procurement

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to announce his decision on the proposal to acquire eight Puma AS 330 SI helicopters from Eurocopter; and if he will make a statement. [126042]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 12 March 2007]: We are considering a number of options to increase the flexibility and capability of our helicopter fleet.


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what names have been selected by the Ships’ Names and Badges Committee for the future (a) seventh and eighth Type 45 destroyers and (b) the fourth Astute class submarine. [128580]

Mr. Ingram: No names have been selected by the Ships’ Names and Badges Committee for the seventh and eighth Type 45 destroyers. The name for the fourth Astute class submarine has been approved by Her Majesty the Queen and an official announcement will be made once the order has been placed.

House of Commons Commission


Mr. Doran: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the Commission has decided where smoking will be permitted on the House of Commons part of the parliamentary estate after 1 July 2007. [128314]

Nick Harvey: The Health Act 2006 introduces a ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed or substantially enclosed public places from 1 July 2007. While the Act does not formally apply on the parliamentary estate, the Commission, on the advice of the Administration Committee, has decided that the House should comply with the principles of the legislation, as it is not desirable that those who work on or visit the parliamentary estate should be treated differently in this respect from those in other workplaces and public places. The Commission recognises, however, that many who work on the estate are unavoidably present for long periods, particularly when the House is sitting. It is therefore desirable to make reasonable provision for those who wish to smoke to do so, provided that the health and safety of other users of the estate is not adversely affected.

With these principles in mind, the Commission has decided that smoking should cease to be permitted from 1 July 2007 in all internal areas of the House of Commons estate, including in bars and private offices. From that date smoking will, however, be permitted in four designated external areas: the Terrace, Commons
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Court (North West corner), North Terrace (between Portcullis House and Norman Shaw South), and in a designated area on the west side of Canon Row courtyard. Cigarette receptacles will be provided in these areas. “No Smoking” signs will be displayed at entrances to the buildings. I understand that the House of Lords Administration and Works Committee will report its recommendations shortly on the smoking policy for the Lords part of the parliamentary estate.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agricultural Wages Board

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is the Government’s policy to retain the Agricultural Wages Board. [126010]

Barry Gardiner: Retention of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is a Labour party manifesto commitment. This was re-affirmed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett) at the Labour party conference in September 2005. We considered the future operation of the AWB before Christmas and agreed that no changes should be made at the present time.

Departments: Orders and Regulations

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Electricity and Gas (Energy Efficiency Obligations) Order 2004 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. [126615]

Ian Pearson: The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the Electricity and Gas (Energy Efficiency Obligations) Order 2004 estimated that the cost to energy suppliers of meeting their energy efficiency obligations for 2005-08 would be around £1,200 million. If passed on in full to their domestic customers, this would be no more than about £9 per fuel bill per customer per year. We do not anticipate any recurring costs for energy suppliers (other than complying with subsequent obligations). On average costs will be more than outweighed by the benefits to householders in terms of reduced fuel bills or increased comfort from the installation of energy efficiency measures. The RIA estimated that overall lifetime-discounted savings would amount to a net present value of around £1,000 million by 2010, £3,400 million by 2020 and £5,400 million over the lifetime of the measures. Ofgem has estimated that its direct costs of administration for the three-year programme will be around £1.2 million.

DEFRA is committed to regulating better and has a target of a 25 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens. The implementation of a more risk based approach to regulation, in conjunction with tougher penalties combined with improved effectiveness via focus on outcomes, and simplification where possible, is fully consistent with this.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the costs of (a) manufacturing and (b) disposing of (i) an energy friendly light bulb and (ii) an incandescent light bulb. [127592]

Ian Pearson: The Department does not hold information on the costs of manufacturing and disposal of either energy friendly or bayonet light bulbs. This commercial information is held by the companies concerned.


Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to implement his plans to transfer responsibility for private sewers to sewerage companies; and if he will make a statement. [128606]

Ian Pearson: I announced on 22 February the Government’s decision to proceed with the transfer to water and sewerage companies of private sewers and lateral drains in England draining to the public sewerage system. This offers the most comprehensive solution to the problems faced by householders whose properties are connected to a private sewer or lateral drain.

The Government will now consult on a range of ways transfer can be implemented. The consultation will also be used to examine how to prevent the proliferation of new private sewers, in order to prevent the reoccurrence of existing problems. The responses to consultation will inform the drafting of regulations to provide for Water and Sewerage Companies (WaSCs) to make ‘schemes’ to effect transfer. The earliest date these regulations could be in force is likely to be summer 2008.


East Coast Railway Line

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what priority has been given to the redevelopment of existing station facilities in the advice given to bidders for the East Coast Mainline franchise. [128600]

Mr. Tom Harris: Bidders for the InterCity East Coast franchise have been advised of the need to enhance station facilities. These include improving facilities for cyclists, additional car parking spaces and improvements to accessibility for passengers to and from stations. An important dimension is the need for security at stations for passengers and staff through the retention of the present secure station accreditation at all stations where the franchisee is the station facility owner (SFO).

The plan for improving station facilities is given equal weighting to other plans required from the bidding parties.

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Galileo Project

Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which countries have put in bids for the Galileo satellite navigation project; [123596]

(2) what progress has been made at a European level on the Galileo satellite navigation project. [123597]

Dr. Ladyman: The European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) is the EU agency that will own Galileo on behalf of the Community and be responsible for regulating and overseeing it. It has been set up in Brussels initially and is currently being staffed. Eleven member states are bidding to provide it with a permanent location: Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK—with a bid for Cardiff. Germany has not made a decision on the location of the GSA a priority during its current presidency of the Union.

The technical development of the system is a joint project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Contracts have been let to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. for a test satellite, successfully launched in December 2005, and to European Satellite Navigation Industries for another test satellite and for the first four operational satellites that will validate the system.

It is intended that a private sector concessionaire will manage and operate the Galileo system under a 20 year concession, in a public-private partnership (PPP). The GSA has been negotiating with a consortium bidding for this role. The Commission target is for the contract to be signed by end 2007. Full operational capability of the Galileo system is currently expected in 2011-12.

Lighthouses: Ireland

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the basis is in international law for the UK's contribution to the Irish lights fund. [127962]

Dr. Ladyman: Regulation 13 of Chapter V of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea places a general responsibility on contracting Governments for the adequate provision of aids to navigation in and around each of their respective coastal areas. Under Part VIII of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, responsibility for the provision of marine aids to navigation has been given to the general lighthouse authorities (GLAs). These are Trinity House Lighthouse Service, the Northern Lighthouse Board and the Commissioners of Irish Lights, which provides aids to navigation around the coast of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act, the expenses incurred by all three GLAs are paid out of the general lighthouse fund (GLF), into which are paid light dues collected in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The GLF is administered by the Secretary of State. Under an agreement signed in 1985, the Irish Government agreed to contribute to the provision of aids to navigation in the Republic. There is no contribution from the UK Government to the GLF nor is there a separate Irish lights fund.

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Official Cars

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 381W, on official cars, how many Cabinet Ministers have chosen the (a) Jaguar and (b) Prius. [128092]

Dr. Ladyman: Ministerial official cars are provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. Currently, six Cabinet Ministers use the diesel powered Jaguar XJ and five use the Toyota Prius.

Official Cars: Driving Offences

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving offences were committed by drivers while working for the Government Car and Despatch Agency in each year since 1997. [126905]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

The Government Car and Despatch Agency conducts an annual inspection of all driving licences of its drivers. Any driver with six or more points on his or her licence is reminded that the maintenance of a valid licence is a requirement of the job.

Ports: Fees and Charges

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost, including harbour dues and pilotage costs, of access for ships to (a) British ports and (b) continental ports. [127963]

Dr. Ladyman: This Department has not carried out its own detailed assessment of these costs. In the United Kingdom, harbour dues and pilotage charges are set by individual harbours according to commercial decisions under their own harbour acts and under the Pilotage Act 1987. Harbour dues and pilotage charges in other countries are set similarly within their respective legislative and financial frameworks.

Ports: Northern Ireland

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the date was of each safety inspection carried out on a ship or an aircraft using a port or airport in Northern Ireland in the last three years for which figures are available; what the country of registration of the vessel or aircraft involved was in each case; and what the outcome was of the inspection in each case. [128131]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the countries of registration were of ships and aircraft using Northern Ireland’s ports and airports in the last three years for which information is available. [128132]

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Dr. Ladyman: The following list shows the various countries of registration of ships which used Northern Ireland’s ports for the last 18 months. It is the only information available.

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