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16 July 2008 : Column 415Wcontinued
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much Government funding has been allocated to each port in Wales in each of the last five years. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: None. In general, ports in England and Wales operate in a competitive market without need for Government funding.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 1 July 2008, Official Report, column 746W, on traffic offences: cameras, if she will issue guidance to local authorities; and what her policy is on footage being made available on the internet. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Making traffic camera footage available over the internet is a matter for the relevant local authority. The Department for Transport has no plans to issue guidance to local authorities on this subject.
Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will urge local authorities to stop the introduction of shared surfaces schemes until the completion of her Departments research in this area. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 15 July 2008]: We neither encourage nor discourage shared surfaces. We will reconsider this position in the light of evidence from wide-ranging research, which will take into account the work of others in this area. Our aim is to use the research findings to inform the preparation of a comprehensive guidance document on the design of shared surfaces.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements there are for taxi licensing authorities to perform Criminal Records Bureau checks on applicants for taxi licences. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: I refer to the answer I gave on 10 June 2008, Official Report, column 169W, to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather).
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations she has received on the necessity of acute toxicity studies in animals to ensure the safety of medicines prior to first clinical trials on humans; what plans she has to amend the conditions under which licences under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 are issued; and if she will make a statement. 
Meg Hillier: We have received representation from the Dr. Hadwen Trust, and have taken note of the conclusions of the European pharmaceutical company initiative challenging the regulatory requirement for acute toxicity studies in pharmaceutical drug development reported in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 50 (2008) 345-352.
A recent review of the use of single dose acute toxicity studies in the UK confirms that single dose acute toxicity studies prior to first clinical use in humans is no longer routinely conducted. However, in some specific instances, it may be possible to justify such studies on a case-by-case basis; for example, prior to microdose studies in humans.
In view of this, and the fact that the conclusions of the European pharmaceutical company report largely reflects current UK practice, I see no need and have no plans to amend the conditions under which project licences for the purpose of conducting regulatory toxicology and safety evaluation studies have been granted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will introduce legislative proposals to prohibit the use of great apes for experimental and other scientific purposes, in the context of the revision of Directive 86/609 ECC; and if she will make a statement. 
Meg Hillier: We have no plans to do so. It is too early to say what changes may be required to United Kingdom legislation before a proposal for a revised directive 86/609/EEC has been published and adopted. Great apes have never been used as laboratory animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and in 1997 we gave a commitment that we will not allow their use in the future. That remains our position.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 587W, on statistics of scientific procedures on living animals, what progress has been made on the project to make her Department's RDSD database searchable by the public. 
The Home Office is continuing to look at ways to improve the search facility across the departmental website and this may provide additional
tools to improve the searchability of the abstracts database. For the longer term, work currently under way to improve the project licence application process under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 will also look at improvements to project licence abstracts. Other work in hand aimed at providing improved IT support for the licensing process will also provide an opportunity to seek ways to improve their searchability.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what proportion of people whose details are recorded on the Criminal Records Bureau database have not been charged, convicted of or otherwise received a penalty or sanction in relation to a criminal offence; and how many such people are aged 16 years or under. 
Meg Hillier: In processing disclosure applications the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) collates information which is held, owned and maintained by the police service, the Department for Children Schools and Families and the Department of Health respectively. Therefore, the CRB database does not hold the information requested.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many organisations submitted tenders to operate the Criminal Records Bureau contract when it was last renewed; and when the contract is next due to be renewed. 
Meg Hillier: The contract with Capita Group plc to operate the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) information systems is next up for renewal on 11 March 2012.
In June 1999, following a tendering exercise, 95 organisations expressed an interest in joining a partnership arrangement with the CRB. In December 1999, it was announced that Capita Group plc, PricewaterhouseCoopers and eCRES were the short-listed bidders.
On 20 July 2000 the CRB announced that Capita Group plc had been selected as its private sector partner in the public private partnership to operate the Bureau, and the main agreement signed on 3 August 2000.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of records of offences committed outside the United Kingdom held by the UK Central Authority were made available to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and used in CRB disclosures in the most recent period for which figures are available; whether there are data on categories of offences held by the UK Central Authority which may not be passed to the CRB for use in its disclosures; and whether she plans to introduce proposals to make all records of crimes and offences held by the UK Central Authority available to (a) the CRB and (b) other law agencies. 
Meg Hillier: I refer the hon. Member to my written answer of 9 June 2008, Official Report, columns 72-73W.
Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department has taken to prevent the sale of stolen passports. 
Meg Hillier: The Identity and Passport Service provides, on a regular basis, details of all processed reports of lost, stolen and destroyed British passports to Interpol and the UK Border Agency. It also offers a passport validation service (PVS) to approved organisations that are subject to UK money laundering legislation. PVS enables these organisations to confirm that a British passport, which is presented by the holder to support a transaction, is current and has not been reported lost, stolen or recovered. When applications for passport renewals are received by IPS, there is an automatic check that the expiring passport has not previously been reported lost or stolen. Steps such as these reduce the value of stolen British passports, because they are more likely to be identified should they be used to operate financial services to enable travel or to be used to obtain a new passport in a false identity. This reduces the value and hence demand/sales of lost and stolen British passports.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the UK's participation in the Schangen SISNet system is. 
Meg Hillier: SISNet is the established communication infrastructure for the Schengen Information System (SIS), enabling communication between the member states and the central system (C-SIS). Although the UK is not connected to the current SIS, we have established access to SISNet, which provides the technical capacity to receive communication from other member states.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether payments are required for each Criminal Records Bureau check on an individual seeking to perform one or more roles during the same time period within the same geographical area; 
(2) for what reasons the results of Criminal Records Bureau searches on individuals are not transferable between organisations in circumstances where the individual concerned has given consent. 
Meg Hillier: Disclosures are primarily designed to be used by an employer at the point of recruitment for a particular position. Ultimately it is for each employer, and not the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), to decide whether a new disclosure should be applied for, bearing in mind their legal and other responsibilities and subject to any statutory requirements.
There are a number of reasons why an employer may not wish to accept a disclosure that has been processed for a previous employment position, including:
The disclosure may not be at the right level (there are two different levels of CRB check; standard and enhanced);
The older a disclosure is the less reliable the information is, because the information it contains may not be up to date;
Information revealed through a CRB check reflects the information that was available at the time of its issuea person may have committed a crime in the intervening period;
The disclosure process may also include a search to establish whether an individual is subject to a direction under section 142 of the Education Act 2002, or a check against the Protection of Children Act and Protection of Vulnerable Adults PoCA and PoVA) lists.
Each disclosure is specific to the circumstances of a particular job application and any decision to disclose any non-conviction information held by individual police forces is unique to that position.
Payment is required for each CRB check, regardless of whether an individual has had a previous disclosure. The CRB charges £31.00 for a standard disclosure and £36.00 for an enhanced disclosure. The CRB continues to process disclosure applications for volunteers free of charge.
All applications are processed individually and the fee was last prescribed in 2006. This is in accordance with part V of the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002 which states that a disclosure shall be issued to any individual who makes an application in the prescribed format and pays the prescribed fee.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the volume of opium produced in Afghanistan in each of the last five years; and what proportion is estimated to have been produced in Helmand province in each such year. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 15 July 2008]: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts annual surveys of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. In the North and East of Afghanistan, where security, alternative livelihoods and governance are improving, poppy cultivation fell in 2007. The number of provinces free from poppy doubled from six to 13. In 2008, the Government of Afghanistans target is for over half of all provinces to become poppy-free. While we remain concerned by sustained opium production figures in the insecure South, we welcome the UNODCs prediction that overall poppy cultivation will decrease slightly in 2008. We continue to work with the Afghan Government, donors and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to sustain success in the North and East and to target operations against the drugs trade in the South.
The data as follows are drawn from the UNODC surveys.
|Potential volume of opium produced in Helmand province in the last five years|
|Potential volume of opium produced in Afghanistan in the last five years (Tonnes)||Tonnes||Percentage|
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of the Stabilisation Unit are working in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 15 July 2008]: The Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence agreed in June that the unit should take on responsibility for recruiting, training and deploying all civilians in delivery roles in the Helmand Integrated Civilian/Military Mission (formerly the Helmand provincial reconstruction teamPRT) except the head and one of the deputies. This currently represents 37 of the 55 civilian posts. Of these, 22 are filled: six by core staff from the unit and 16 on contract. The remaining 15 posts have only recently been established and are under recruitment. The unit also provides a contracted civilian expert to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-led International Security Assistance Forces Regional Command (South) headquarters in Kandahar.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the value of his Departments computer systems (a) was at the time of purchase and (b) is now. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices fixed asset register currently shows, for items categorised as information systems, a total purchase cost of £135.4 million and a current gross value, before depreciation, of £110.7 million.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Departments staff have access to the Departments IT infrastructure at home. 
Meg Munn: Approximately 370 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff currently have access to secure facilities enabling comprehensive remote connection to the FCOs information technology infrastructure. A further 140 have been provided with a system providing more limited access.
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