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Whether local authorities incur the costs listed here, will depend in large part on how the schemes are designed. In any case, authorities may be able to avoid or limit many of these costs, through effective planning and communication.
Modelling commissioned by my Department suggests that local authorities could make savings more than sufficient to pay for the costs of waste incentive schemes. These savings arise as a result of less waste for the authority to collect and dispose of.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which organisations have been contacted to tender for the contract to conduct the evaluations into the pilots for new bin taxes. 
Joan Ruddock: There is no timetable for the introduction of the five pilot household waste incentive schemes (including those which have a charging element) announced last year. However, as stated during the Communities and Local Government Select Committee's hearing on waste on 17 December 2007, the earliest the pilots are likely to start (including those which have a charging element) is April 2009. The exact timing will be subject to the parliamentary process.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many full-time equivalent staff in his Department are developing or researching policy in relation to (a) charging for the collection of household waste and (b) the frequency at which household waste is collected. 
Joan Ruddock: One full-time and two part-time members of staff are currently working on the proposals announced last year for pilot waste collection schemes to encourage waste reduction and recycling.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides obligations and powers to local authorities for household waste collection. The Government do not believe it is right to centrally prescribe the frequency with which household waste is collected in different parts of the country. That is a matter for local authorities and the Government are not developing or researching policy in this area.
Joan Ruddock [holding answer 9 January 2008]: There is no timetable for the introduction of the five pilot household waste incentive schemes (including those which have a charging element) announced last year. However, as stated during the Communities and Local Government Select Committee's hearing on waste on 17 December 2007, the earliest the pilots are likely to start (including those which have a charging element) is April 2009. The exact timing will be subject to the parliamentary process.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the maximum charge that can be levied per year by waste collection authorities under the new proposed household rubbish collection tax is planned to be. 
Since local authorities will not be able to keep any revenue which they collect through pilot schemes, they have no incentive to raise the level of the payments beyond what will encourage positive behaviour. Experience in other countries where incentive schemes are in operation also suggests that payments do not need to be high to be effective. For example, variable charges in the region of £30 to £50 have been shown to drive behaviour change overseas.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions and communications (a) his Department and (b) the Waste Resources Action Programme have had with the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment in relation to the Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy 2006-2020 and bringing forward for public consultation proposals to give councils powers to charge for the collection of household waste. 
Joan Ruddock: The Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy 2006-20 contains a commitment to consult publicly on proposals for financial incentive schemes to encourage householder separation of waste. Such schemes would be administered by district councils in Northern Ireland.
We have shared policy thinking on waste management with the Devolved Administrations and have kept them informed about the waste incentive scheme proposals. My Department is in contact with Northern Ireland across the full range of waste regulation issues.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has had no discussions with Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland (DoENI) in relation to financial incentives. However WRAP has had discussions with DoENI about how it might help implement other elements of the strategy.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average water bill in (a) England and Wales and (b) each water company area was for an unmetered household with (i) one, (ii) two, (iii) three and (iv) four bedrooms in the latest period for which figures are available. 
(a) The average unmetered water bill in England and Wales is £325. The following table shows Ofwat's breakdown of the average unmetered household water and sewerage bill for 2007-08 in England and Wales.
|Average unmetered water bill|
(b) Unmetered charges for water are based on the rateable value of the property not number of bedrooms. Ofwat does not collect specific information or average water bills broken down by number of bedrooms.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been conducted by (a) his Department and (b) OFWAT into the relative distributional effects of rateable value for domestic water bills following the publication by his Department of the Cross-Government Review of Water Affordability report in 2004. 
Mr. Woolas: Since publishing the cross Government review of water affordability we have been working closely with water companies and Ofwat on a project looking at the distributional effects of a range of measured and unmeasured tariffs, including under the current regulatory framework. We will be looking at this work in the context of the new DEFRA water strategy which will be published early this year.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has held on the reintroduction of wild wolves into the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of Taliban members who surrendered to ISAF forces then subsequently returned to join anti-western forces. 
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of Taliban commanders who surrendered in Afghanistan as a result of (a) diplomatic and (b) military actions. 
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) commanders and (b) foot soldiers surrendered to (i) the International Security Assistance Force and (ii) the Afghan National Army in each month in 2007. 
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 304, on Afghanistan, what proportion of helicopter missions by British forces are used for (a) military tasks and (b) moving routine freight in Regional Command South; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: ISAF records for helicopter usage do not make a distinction between flights for military tasks and those for moving routine freight because the movement of freightlogistic movementis a military task. To maximise usage of available aviation capacity, helicopter missions invariably move both personnel and freight. Accordingly we do not hold this information centrally and the question could be answered only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 310, on Afghanistan, when he expects the eight Chinook helicopters to be ready for service; and whether any will be sent to Afghanistan. 
Des Browne: As I announced on 18 December 2006, Official Report, column 106WS, we expect the first aircraft to be available for operations in 2009 and all eight from 2010. Decisions on the operational deployment of these aircraft will be taken closer to the time.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 312, on Afghanistan, if he will define the phrase, next period of time, as used with reference to the deployment of Sea King, Chinook and Merlin helicopters to Afghanistan. 
Des Browne: The deployment of additional Sea Kings to Afghanistan will be complete by April 2008. As I announced on 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 106WS, we expect the first Chinooks to be available for operations in 2009 and all eight from 2010. Merlin is currently deployed in Iraq; we are currently examining the balance of our helicopter force levels across theatres, and this will include the deployment of Merlin helicopters to Afghanistan in due course, subject to operational requirements.
Des Browne: UK forces do not undertake medical civic action programmes to provide direct delivery of medical care. UK forces may be involved in providing logistics and security for events carried out by the Government of Afghanistan or other nations and UK military medical personnel may also act as observers during these events in order to identify best practice with regard to the emergency treatment of local nationals.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials have had with the Department of Health to discuss the ongoing care of armed forces veterans with C-leg limb prostheses. 
Derek Twigg: The Defence Medical Services attach a high priority to ensuring a smooth and seamless transition of care upon medical discharge, including for those service personnel with prostheses such as C-leg limbs (an advanced lower-leg prosthetic). Officials are currently working with their NHS counterparts and Department of Health officials to address the feasibility of establishing relationships with a small number of NHS facilities that could offer a service to veterans comparable to that provided to serving members by the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. Two such centres have been visited to date and their response has been very positive. Further visits are planned in the coming months, after which detailed procedures will be drawn up to enable veterans to access these regional centres if they so wish. The Department is also engaged in similar discussions with the devolved administrations.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of providing legal representation for (a) the families of servicemen and women killed on operations which were paid for by his Department and (b) his Department at coroners' inquests in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question (174665) on 17 December 2007, (Official Report, column 1023W) about:
the cost of providing legal representation for the families of servicemen and women killed on operations, the Department and for the Department at coroners inquests in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
With respect to the funding for the families of Service personnel, the Legal Services Commission is responsible for legal aid. Legal aid is not usually available for representation at inquests because an inquest is a fact-finding process to determine who the deceased was and when, where and how he or she died. It is not adversarial. However, as a result of changes introduced by the Government (under the Access to Justice Act 1999) legal aid can now be granted in cases, such as inquests, where it is not normally available, but only where there are exceptional circumstances. There are published criteria that help determine whether a case is exceptional. Applications for exceptional funding must be made to the Legal Services Commission and where the Commission considers that the criteria have been met the application will be passed to the Ministry of Justice for consideration. Where conditions have been met, legal aid has been provided to service families.
For the majority of inquests, MOD does not have legal representation because they are non-adversarial, fact-finding proceedings. However, on some occasions the MOD, as an interested person may engage Counsel to assist the coroner in establishing the relevant facts surrounding the death, particularly in cases which are complex, often involving sensitive matters relating to national security. The presence of Counsel may make the proceedings appear more formal, but it does not change the fact-finding nature of an inquest. The MOD believes that the assistance we can provide to the coroner in these cases, and thus the proceedings more generally, is worthwhile and of benefit to everyone involved. From 1 January 2007 to 14 December 2007, the MOD has been billed for £793,971.66 on legal representation at the inquests of Service personnel and Service related deaths (the majority of which will be for operational deaths).
As mentioned above, legal aid for the families of Service personnel is ultimately the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and it would therefore not be appropriate for the MOD to fund legal representation. Nonetheless, the MOD takes its responsibilities towards the families of deceased seriously. All casualties and deaths suffered by the UK Armed Forces are a source of profound regret. Nevertheless support to families is part of our debt to those who have given their lives, from the time when the tragic news must be conveyed to the next of kin, through to the potentially difficult experience of a Coroners inquest and beyond.
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