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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost to his Department is of extending the out-of-service date of the existing fleet of submarines until the in-service date of the Astute class submarines is reached. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The out of service dates of the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines were adjusted during the Department's 2004 planning round to reflect the planned in-service dates of the Astute class submarines and the decision, announced in the July 2004 White Paper Delivering Security in a Changing World-Future Capabilities (Cmd 6269), to reduce the size of the submarine fleet. As a consequence, some submarines had their service lives extended, and others had theirs reduced. No estimate has been made of whether any associated costs are specifically attributable to adjustments to the out of service date of the existing fleet to meet the in-service dates of the Astute class.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The Royal Navy has a total of 75 surface vessels available for operations at various states of readiness ranging from those that are available
immediately to those that may require 365 days or more notice to deploy. I am withholding information about the readiness states of most Royal Navy vessels as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces. The exceptions are for those in refit and the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. Three vessels are currently in refit and at Low or Very Low Readiness (typically between 91 and 365 days notice). HMS Invincible is at a lower readiness state than any other RN vessel and although she is capable of being returned to active duty in the Fleet (at about 18 months notice), there are no plans or requirement at this time to do so.
In addition to the 75 surface vessels available for operations, four vessels are currently available for Government to Government sale; two of these have recently been sold for recycling and three are awaiting sale for recycling.
The vast majority of posts are open to part-time or job share. The MOD also offers flexible working generally to staff (where operational/business constraints permit) as a tool to improve work life balance.
Rob Marris: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps the Cabinet Office (a) has taken and (b) intends to take by (i) 2012 and (ii) 2020 in relation to adaptation to the effects of climate change as they affect the Offices responsibilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: The Cabinet Office is committed to addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change. We will identify priority areas for action in relation to adaptation to the effects of climate change, as they affect the Cabinet Offices responsibilities, once the Climate Change Bill and the cross-Government Adapting to Climate ChangeAdaptation Policy Framework has been published.
Information on all non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) is published annually by the Cabinet Office. Information covering the period 1997-2006
appears in the Cabinet Office Public Bodies publications and can be downloaded from the civil service website at:
Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the average amount of (a) vacant space and (b) total area, in square metres, recorded on the Electronic Property Information Mapping Service (e-PIMS) database for Government Departments and executive agencies for which information was held, in each year since the database was created. 
The Ministry of Justice is leading a cross-Government programme to deliver a package of measures over the next three to five years that will enable public sector organisations to share information to improve personalised public services, increase public safety and tackle social exclusion in an environment of openness and respect for citizens privacy and access rights.
This work will also take account of the findings of the independent review of the scope of sharing personal information and the protections that apply when personal information is shared in the public and private sectors. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner and Dr. Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust who jointly head this review will report their findings in the first half of 2008.
Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he plans to introduce the scheme announced in the 2006 pre-Budget report to reduce tuition fees for students participating in volunteering schemes. 
The Office of the Third Sector commissioned the youth volunteering charity v to conduct research
into young peoples views on the tuition fees scheme. Following the research findings The Office of the Third Sector and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills are considering options for the scheme.
11. Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to help individuals to identify the steps they can take to act on climate change. 
Joan Ruddock: DEFRA and some other Government Departments run information programmes aimed at helping individuals to understand the link between their own actions and CO2 emissions and how they can take action to reduce their carbon footprint.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) intends to take by (i) 2012 and (ii) 2020 in relation to adaptation to the effects of climate change as they affect his Departmental responsibilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Joan Ruddock: The Climate Change Bill, which it is hoped will receive Royal Assent by mid 2008, will provide a strong sustainable framework for adapting to the impacts of climate change. It will require Government to report at least every five years on current and predicted impacts of climate change, and on its proposals and policy for adapting to these.
DEFRA is also leading on the development of a cross-Government Adaptation Policy Framework to be published in the spring. The Framework aims to provide a consistent approach to building adaptation into policies, and a coherent way to identify cross-cutting risks and opportunities and to assist in prioritisation of action across Government.
In October 2008, the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP), will launch the DEFRA-funded UK 21(st) Century Climate Change Scenarios (UKCIP08) programme. This will provide accurate modelling and practical tools to help organisations (like local authorities and businesses) assess and address climate change impacts for the UK up to 2100 at a regional and local level. We will continue to develop the tools and actions to address climate change in the coming decades.
DEFRA is also considering the impacts of climate change for priority sectors. With the prediction of wetter winters and drier summers, water is on the front line of climate change adaptation. We will be launching a new Water Strategy, early in 2008, which will put adaptation at the heart of policy-making and ensure that water management is fit for the future. The increased flood risk from climate change is also one focus of the separate cross-Government long-term flood management strategy, Making Space for Water. The strategy is encouraging a holistic approach to the management of flood risk, together with increasing
awareness and emergency preparedness within communities to help them better cope with flood events when they occur.
In addition, my Department continues to take a strong lead internationally on climate change. For example, we are working to provide a detailed assessment of potential impacts of climate change in India, and to identify and develop adaptation strategies. The project will look to improve climate change scenarios for India up to 2050 and will assess the impact of climate change nationally on water resources, agriculture and forestry.
12. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to discuss joint environmental policy with his counterparts in the governments of Japan and China. 
Hilary Benn: The UK continues to work closely with China and Japan in its ongoing international work programmes. This includes the UK-China Sustainable Development Dialogue and a number of programmes on climate change. With Japan, we are working closely on a number of environmental issues including, climate change, biodiversity, forestry and resource efficiency.
The Prime Minister signalled his commitment to this goal in his speech to the Foreign Press Association on the 19 November. We are actively working on the best means by which we can achieve this objective.
14. Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he last met his counterparts in the devolved administrations to discuss fisheries policy; and if he will make a statement. 
15. Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what policy objectives the Government will pursue at the meeting on international climate change policy at Bali in December. 
UK objectives for Bali are clearwe need to ensure we launch broad and comprehensive
negotiations that include all parties leadingby the end of 2009to a comprehensive global agreement to tackle climate change.
Hilary Benn: Food security is about ensuring consumers have access to a stable and adequate supply of food. This requires effective risk management, security of our energy supplies, access to food from a variety of sources, a strong food chain and infrastructure and the capacity and contingency planning to deal with specific risks to our food supply.
Hilary Benn: Following extensive surveillance work, DEFRA lifted the foot and mouth disease (FMD) restricted zone on Monday 19 November. A Commission decision has allowed the establishment of FMD areas to enable the export of meat and meat products from much of GB.
There have been 66 confirmed cases of bluetongue since 28 September with the latest case on 3 December. However, the rate of new cases has stowed significantly and they have all been confined to the protection zone in the east and south east of England.
18. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the operation of the nitrate vulnerable zones action programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: We have recently conducted a comprehensive assessment of the nitrates vulnerable zone action programme, as part of the four-yearly review required by the nitrates directive. Proposals and supporting evidence to revise the current programme, in light of that review, are set out in a DEFRA consultation issued in August 2007; the closing date for comments is 13 December 2007.
19. Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of changes to his Department's budget on the funding it provides for small organisations. 
I have not been made aware of any changes to the budget that might have had any particular effect on small organisations. However, as planned, the rural social and community programme will close on 31 March 2008. The programme is a two-year investment to develop the capacity of the rural voluntary and community and parish council sectors, to address important social issues and tackle the causes of rural social exclusion. There are strands of work supported under the programme that we hope to develop beyond March 2008. We will set out our plans in greater detail in the very near future.
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