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Mrs. McGuire: Since 1997, the number of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming jobseeker's allowance has fallen by two fifths and those with six months plus durations is down by more than 75 per cent. This has contributed to a £5 billion fall in the cost of unemployment-related benefits compared to a decade ago.
The number of young people staying on in education has continued to rise since 1997 and the Government are planning to raise the learning participation age to 18. In addition, through policies such as New Deal, the Government has sought to improve labour market outcomes for all those who can face problems in finding and progressing in work, including young people.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to answer question 162346, tabled by the hon. Member for Hertsmere on 6 November, on national insurance numbers. 
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial assistance is available to farmers to enable them to clear ditches and other watercourses for which they are responsible; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 31 January 2008]: The flood risk operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and, in areas of special drainage need, internal drainage boards) undertake prioritised programmes of maintenance work on watercourses, including cleaning and dredging where appropriate. Otherwise responsibility for clearance lies with the land owner.
Total central and local government spend on management of flood and coastal erosion risk will be some £600 million this year, rising incrementally to £800 million in 2010-11. This is invested primarily in works on the ground carried out by the aforementioned operating authorities.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund has awarded to offsetting or renewable energy projects in the UK in each year since inception. 
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding has been provided by his Department for programmes run by (a) central Government, (b) local authorities, (c) other public bodies and (d) non-governmental organisations to (i) mitigate and (ii) assist adaptation to climate change; and how much was spent on such programmes in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Woolas: DEFRA has provided funding for various programmes run by central Government, local authorities, other public bodies and non-governmental organisations to mitigate and assist adaptation to climate change.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the value of assets (a) dependent in 2008 and (b) which will be dependent in 2028 on the retention and maintenance of existing sea defences between Pagham and East Head. 
Mr. Woolas: The economic assessment within the Pagham and East Head Coastal Defence Strategy is being developed by the Environment Agency in accordance with DEFRA project appraisal guidance and the Treasury Green Book. This assesses the damage avoided by protecting existing assets from flooding and coastal erosion. By 2108, without maintenance of all the existing defences, it is estimated that damage in the order of £334 million (at todays prices) would occur. This figure is not the same as the total value of assets, nor does it include damage to non-housing infrastructure, for which no figures are available.
In terms of total asset value and based upon the work completed to date, there are currently 1,028 residential properties at risk of flooding, with an estimated value of around £250 million. Due to sea level rise, this figure is expected to increase to 1,230 properties by 2028 and 3,960 properties by 2108. These equate to estimated values of £300 million in 2028 and £960 million in 2108 at todays prices.
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has received £5.9 million from the European Union for flood risk management work (including flood defences) over the last 20 years and will continue to look at the possibility of applications to the European Union for flood defence. Flood risk management is a devolved matter and information from the Environment Agency relates to England and Wales only.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent from the public purse in dealing with (a) flood recovery and (b) repair of flood damage in Gloucestershire in 2007. 
Mr. Woolas: The Department for Communities and Local Government is leading co-ordination of the wider Government flood recovery effort to help communities return to normality following the flooding last summer. To date, £14.8 million has been awarded by various Government Departments to councils within Gloucestershire to support their recovery efforts.
The Environment Agencys estimated annual spend in Gloucestershire on controlling development, flood warning and awareness, flood risk mapping, maintenance of flood defences and watercourses is £1.5 million. The Environment Agency has spent an estimated extra £400,000 in Gloucestershire since the summer floods of 2007 on flood recovery, data collection, watercourse maintenance and repairs to flood defence assets.
Mr. Woolas: DEFRA grant in aid to the Environment Agency for flood risk management has increased significantly in recent years and currently stands at £436 million for 2007-08. Total central and local government spend for flood and coastal erosion risk management across all operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards) will increase to a minimum of £650 million in 2008-09, £700 million in 2009-10 and £800 million in 2010-11 but specific allocations within these totals have not yet been finalised.
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency's flood mapping data, which provide information on flood risk from rivers and the sea, is already publicly available on the internet. Additional flood mapping data and flood defence information are available from the Environment Agency in response to requests for access, subject to the Environment Agency's standard licence terms and conditions.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 21 January 2008, Official Report, column 1493W, on floods, on which regional boundaries the (a) regional flood defence committees and (b) regional flood risk appraisals are based. 
Mr. Woolas: Regional Flood Defence Committee boundaries are based on hydrological catchment boundaries, with the exception that the westerly boundaries of the Regional Flood Defence Committees adjoining Wales follow the boundary between England and Wales.
Similarly, strategic level flood risk assessments are undertaken by river catchment rather than by regional boundary. The Environment Agency is currently preparing catchment flood management plans for all of England and Wales.
Flood risk assessments for smaller areas may be aggregated to administrative boundaries. However, risk will vary greatly within administrative areas and may be significantly influenced by activities outside these boundaries. Appraisals are therefore not normally based on administrative boundaries.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which areas covered by the draft Regional Spatial Strategy and designated by the Environment Agency as at risk of flooding have had houses built on them since 1997; on which of those areas development is planned; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency and the Local Government Association have produced reports on High Level Target Five since 2000. Information is provided on development plans, planning applications, and appeals where the Environment Agency sustained its objections on flood risk grounds through to a known decision.
Historically, the Environment Agency has not been informed of the outcome of every individual planning application that it objected to. However, this is now a requirement under Planning Policy Statement 25.
Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken since the summer 2007 floods to reduce the risk of flooding in residential areas; what steps he is planning to take; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Environment Agency spent on flood protection measures in the lower Severn area in 2006-07; how much it is spending in 2007-08; and how much it intends to spend in 2008-09. 
Mr. Woolas: For the section of the lower Severn that falls within Gloucestershire and the Environment Agency's midlands region, the agency spends estimated sums of £750,000 annually on activities such as development control, flood warning and awareness and risk mapping and £750,000 on maintaining river channels, flood banks and control structures. Spending will be maintained at similar levels in 2008-09.
Levies on local authorities are used to fund further works which have a high priority locally but do not currently meet national prioritisation criteria for funding from DEFRA grant in aid. In 2006-07 £725,000 was spent on work at Cornham and Alney Island. Levy funding for 2008-09 is yet to be formally agreed.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness and (b) reliability of genetic use restriction technologies as a biosafety tool. 
Mr. Woolas: In 2006 DEFRA published a study that reviewed the various technologies that might be used to achieve biological containment and as biosafety tools for crops. This study assessed the current state of play of (a) the effectiveness and (b) the reliability of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) as well as other containment technologies for potential use as biosafety tools. The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) also provided advice on the findings of this report. Both the study and the ACRE advice are available on the DEFRA website.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 January 2008, Official Report, column 522W, on Home Information Packs, if he will place in the Library copies of each of the written representations made by the Environment Agency. 
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the estimated volume of emissions of hydrogen fluoride was from (a) energy industries, (b) manufacturing industries and construction, (c) road transport, (d) residential housing, (e) agriculture and forestry fuel use, (f) fugitive emissions from fuels, (g) industrial processes, (h) solvent and other product use, (i) agriculture, (j) waste disposal and (k) other sources in each year since 1997; 
(2) what the estimated volume of emissions of hydrogen chloride was from (a) energy industries, (b) manufacturing industries and construction, (c) road transport, broken down into (i) passenger cars, (ii) light duty vehicles and, (iii) mopeds and motorcycles, (d) residential housing, (e) agriculture and forestry fuel use, (f) fugitive emissions from fuels, (g) industrial processes, (h) solvent and other product use, (i) agriculture, (j) waste disposal and (k) other sources in each year since 1997; 
(4) what the estimated volume of emissions of ammonia was from (a) energy industries, (b) manufacturing industries and construction, (c) road transport, (d) residential housing, (e) agriculture and forestry fuel use, (f) fugitive emissions from fuels, (g) industrial processes, (h) solvent and other product use, (i) agriculture, (j) waste disposal and (k) other sources in each year since 1997. 
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated volume of emissions of sulphur dioxide was in (a) large combustion plants and (b) total in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Woolas: Information on the total emissions of sulphur dioxide is held in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) and is publicly accessible via the NAEIs website. The latest year for which verified data is available is 2005, although 2006 data will be available shortly.
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