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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 450W, on the Institute for Animal Health: waste disposal, what discussions he had with (a) the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and (b) the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the biosecurity of the Pirbright laboratory facility and its drainage system; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Following the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in Surrey, and the subsequent independent reviews by Professor Spratt and the Health and Safety Executive, discussions were held with the Minister for Science and Innovation in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. These discussions focussed on the outcome of those reviews and the Governments response to them.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which laboratories have been licensed by his Department under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998 with conditions that (a) require and (b) do not require routine inspections and risk assessments of drainage facilities; 
(2) pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 450W, on the Institute for Animal Health: waste disposal, if he will bring forward amendments to the Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998 to provide for the drainage systems of laboratories to be routinely inspected; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) on what dates Government research facilities handling animal pathogens for which his Department is responsible had their drainage systems (a) inspected and (b) risk assessed since 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The drainage systems of laboratories licensed by DEFRA to handle specified animal pathogens under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998 are not routinely inspected, nor is this a condition of a SAPO licence.
However, following the recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), DEFRA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a safety alert to all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. The alert relates to issues arising from the independent reviews carried out by Professor Spratt and the HSE into potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright site. It requires all such laboratories to satisfy themselves that their facilities and procedures address all the issues identified by Professor Spratt and the HSE. DEFRA and the HSE will also undertake a programme of inspection at all SAPO Category 3 and 4 laboratories. SAPO licences for those laboratories have also been amended to make clear their responsibilities towards biosecurity.
In addition, we have commissioned a review of the regulatory framework for animal pathogens under Sir Bill Callaghan. This review will include a consideration of the appropriate enforcement standards for animal pathogens, including issues such as drainage.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he received on biosecurity from (a) the Institute for Animal Health, (b) Merial, (c) the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council, (d) the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and its predecessor the Department for Trade and Industry and (e) other sources on the Pirbright laboratory facility prior to August 2007. 
Jonathan Shaw: As lead regulator and licensor of the Institute for Animal Health and Merial under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO) 1998, DEFRA held frequent discussions with representatives from those facilities about biosecurity prior to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Surrey. I am not aware of any representations specifically relating to biosecurity at the Pirbright facility from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Department for Trade and Industry or other sources during this period.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what risk assessments have been carried out at the Pirbright laboratory facility on the drainage system; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA is not aware of any assessments that were carried out on the drainage system at the Pirbright facility prior to the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into potential biosecurity breaches at the Pirbright site. Until then, there was no indication that there was a risk of effluent escaping from the drainage system, although it was recognised that the system was old and some concerns were brought to DEFRAs attention over the possibility of water leaking into the drains via the manhole covers.
On 17 August 2007, the HSE informed DEFRA Ministers that leaks could have occurred from the system and DEFRA immediately contacted the Institute for Animal Health (IAH). That afternoon, IAH put into effect a plan controlling access and strengthening biosecurity measures around the movement of people and vehicles. Work also began immediately on restoring the integrity of the drains and manholes concerned. Further inspections of the site have shown that the work had been completed quickly and to a high standard.
Jonathan Shaw: The Governments draft legislative programme states that we are considering publishing a draft Marine Bill in the next Session of Parliamentwe are working towards doing this in early 2008. Publishing the Marine Bill in draft will allow us to get the legislation right and lead to a better Bill.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on Government policy on the protection of marshes, wetlands and mud and salt flats in and around the Thames estuary and other major rivers. 
Joan Ruddock: The Government are firmly committed to the protection of these habitats, both for the important biodiversity they support and the wider benefits they bring, such as natural flood defences, mitigation of climate change and public recreation. For these reasons, most of our major river estuaries have been designated as protected areas, including parts of the Thames, and development may only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 12 September, Official Report, column 2101W, on basic pensions, if he will estimate how many women aged (a) 60, (b) 61, (c) 62, (d) 63, (e) 64, (f) 65, (g) 66, (h) 67, (i) 68 and (j) 69 years are receiving pensions based on a contribution record of between 61 and 98 per cent. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 8 October 2007]: The following table shows those women who are in receipt of a basic state pension of between 61 per cent. and 98 per cent. at September 2006 based on their own national insurance record.
|Age||Number of females|
1. Data are taken from a five per cent. extract of the Pension Service computer system, therefore figures are subject to a degree of sampling variation. They are also adjusted to be consistent with the overall caseload from the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.
3. Figures include cases residing abroad where the rate of state pension would not be uprated each year.
4. Where a women is entitled to a pension based on a combination of her own and her husband's record only the element from her own record has been used in the compilation of the table, as was the case with the answer of 12 September, Official Report, column 2101W
5. Full basic state pension at September 2006 was £84.25.
DWP Information Directorate
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the reasons are for the time taken to produce the Child Support Agencys Annual Report for 2007; and if he will make a statement; 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the reasons are for the time taken to produce the Child Support Agencys Annual Report for 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
You also asked when the Child Support Agency Annual Report 2007 will be published. 
National Audit Office (NAO) decided before summer recess that they needed to undertake further work on the Child Support Agencys Client Funds Account. This has resulted in a delay in these accounts being finalised. As a result, the Agency was not in a position to lay the Annual Report and Accounts for 2006/07 in the House of Commons, or publish them before recess as planned.
The Agencys Administration Account was finalised with an unqualified audit opinion before recess. This ensured that the Departments resource accounts could be finalised and published.
The Agency has continued to work with NAO over the summer. They have now concluded their work, which has allowed the Agency to complete the Client Funds Account. The NAO have prepared a draft report for inclusion in the Agencys Annual Report which is currently under consideration. Once the
NAO Report has been finalised the Agency will arrange for the Annual Report and Accounts for 2006/07 to be laid in the House of Commons and for their subsequent publication. I am afraid I am unable to give a definitive date for publication at this stage.
The Office for National Statistics published the Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS) on the 24(th) October 2007. It contains the most up date information on the Agencys Performance. I have included details of the internet link below for ease of reference.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
In reply to your Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of the progress of Child Support Agency IT upgrade initiatives. 
The Agency introduced a three year Operational Improvement Plan in 2006; in the first year concentrating on improving customer service and building capacity and capability within the organisation and in the second year focusing on resolving the remaining IT difficulties and increasing compliance and enforcement. Although a great deal of work has already been carried out to improve the stability of the new computer system and operational performance has improved, the Agency plans to make a major IT upgrade within the second year of the OIP, which ends in March 2008.
This upgrade will primarily provide system support for the Agencys new operating model, which introduced client lifecycle segmentation, enabling the Agency to better target its resources to make more difference for more children. The Agency has also developed a new training programme, which will better support its people to make the best use of the improving IT system. This programme will ensure that training can be delivered where and when it is required.
In the final year of the Operational Improvement Plan the Agency aims to reap the benefits of the restructuring, adding incremental system functionality, consolidating the improvements and aiming to collect more than 1bn in maintenance for children.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Caroline Flint: The Departments objectives to eradicate child poverty, promote employment opportunity for all, and ensure pensioners have a secure retirement are some of the most challenging social ambitions ever set by Government. This Department is constantly reviewing its policies to ensure that we meet these challenges, and we keep Parliament fully informed of any changes.
Since 27 June, we have made a number of announcements. For example, on 18 July we published In workbetter off which contains the Governments proposals on the next steps towards its aim of full employment. This was accompanied by a statement in the House. On 26 July, the Pensions Act 2007 received Royal Assent. Reforms in the Act will start to come into effect from 2010 onwards and will make state pensions simpler, fairer and more generous.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the (a) average cost of getting a person back into work in each year since 1997 and (b) the average savings to the Government for each individual that has moved off benefits and into work, including tax uplift and the cost of tax credits and other work-related benefits. 
|Estimates of the average fiscal saving of moving benefit claimants into employment in 2006-07|
These estimates rely on a number of assumptions and are intended to be indicative rather than definitive.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the UK's (a) compliance with and (b) reporting to the European Committee of Social Rights on the European Social Charter. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The United Kingdom ratified the European Social Charter on 11 July 1962. The Government have accepted 60 of the charter's 72 paragraphs and believes that it is compliant with all of those accepted paragraphs. The UK complies with its reporting obligations in regard to the charter and between 1965 and 2006 submitted a total of 26 reports on its application. The United Kingdom's next report, which relates to the theme of employment, training and equal opportunities, will be submitted by the end of this year in line with the reporting timetable.
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