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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 27 October 2008

Church Commissioners

Churches: Theft

Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the prevalence of theft of lead from church roofs; and what estimate has been made of the value of lead stolen in the last 12 months. [230723]

Sir Stuart Bell: I understand that in 2007, the last full year for which figures are available, Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most Church of England churches, received 2,300 claims relating to the theft of metal from Anglican churches with a total value of £9 million. This compares with 80 claims totalling £300,000 in 2005. By the end of September this year, they had already received claims for more than £8 million so 2008 will clearly be the worst year yet for the theft of metals (predominantly lead) from churches.

This is a serious and widespread problem and the Church continues to work with insurers and the police to find a solution to it. I would draw parishes’ attention to guidance provided by the Archbishops Council:

and by Ecclesiastical Insurance:


Departmental Pensions

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of civil servants in his Department are members of the (a) classic, (b) classic plus, (c) nuvos and (d) premium civil service pension schemes. [229523]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Information on pension details is provided by the Ministry of Justice payroll services. The split between classic plus and premium cannot be distinguished in all cases.

Pensions within my Department are split as follows:

Pension scheme Percentage of staff Number of employees i n pension s cheme




Classic plus and Premium









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Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many civil servants working in his Department have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. [229542]

Mr. Paul Murphy: It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members, whose details are shown in the Remuneration Report in annual Resource Accounts for the Ministry of Justice.

A copy of the Resource Accounts for financial year 2007-08 can be found in the Library, or accessed electronically using the following link:

Departmental Training

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what personal training courses at public expense he has undertaken since his appointment. [230947]

Mr. Paul Murphy: None.

National Assembly for Wales: Legislative Competence

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the Government's policy is on the inclusion of clauses limiting the scope of the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales within draft Orders in Council; and if he will make a statement. [230105]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Draft Orders in Council presented by the Government to Parliament for approval should set out clearly and unambiguously the scope of legislative competence being conferred on the National Assembly for Wales.

The scope of such draft Orders is informed by pre-legislative scrutiny of proposals by the Welsh Affairs Committee, the House of Lords Constitution Committee and the National Assembly for Wales.

Plain English

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many documents produced by his Department were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. [230502]

Mr. Paul Murphy: None.

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has spent on Plain English Campaign training courses in each year since 2005. [231239]

Mr. Paul Murphy: No expenditure was incurred.


Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2008, Official Report, column 1385W, on referendums, what his policy is on the application of section 104 of the Government
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of Wales Act 2006 to requests received from the Welsh Assembly Government during the present term for a referendum under Part IV of the Government of Wales Act 2006. [230106]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 would apply to any request made by the Welsh Assembly Government for a referendum.


Blue Badge Scheme

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether an impact assessment has been conducted for those proposals in the Blue Badge Reform Strategy relating to local authorities’ ability to charge badge application fees; and if he will make a statement. [230109]

Paul Clark: The Blue Badge Reform Strategy contains an impact assessment for all of our proposals.

The application fee has been capped at £2 since 1983 and no longer reflects modern costs and income. We estimate that the average application processing cost is now £14.47 per badge.

We plan to legislate to enable local authorities to set their own fees, which cover these costs more appropriately. The legislation will protect against any excessive charging.

Any future charges will be far outweighed by the financial benefits that badge holders receive in being able to park for free across the UK.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timetable he has set for bringing forward legislative proposals to enact the commitments made in the Blue Badge Reform Strategy to extend the scheme to certain groups hitherto excluded; and if he will make a statement. [230110]

Paul Clark: The strategy contains a broad suite of commitments, which will be implemented over the next five years. We are in the process of developing a project implementation plan, which will set out our time line for delivery in full. Our progress in delivering on our commitments will be overseen by a high level steering group comprised of independent representatives from outside of Government.

Departmental Information Officers

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) his Department, (b) its NDPBs and (c) its agencies. [224546]

Mr. Hoon: The most recently compiled press officer and communications staff numbers in the central Department and Executive agencies are set out in the following table. Figures shown are for communications specialists engaged in a range of communications activities including news media (press officers), marketing, publicity, strategic communications, internal communications, e-communications and speechwriting. All figures are average or estimated full-time equivalent (FTE) staff employed.

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Staff FTE 2007-08 press officer activities Estimated communicators February 2008

DfT Central
























DfT agencies



The DfT(C) figure is only for relevant staff working in the Department's Communication Directorate. DfT(C) also employs other staff who may perform communication roles but numbers for these and NDPBs are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on overnight accommodation by his Department's civil servants in the last 12 months. [228782]

Mr. Hoon: Figures for overnight subsistence expenditure for the Department and six of its agencies are contained in the following table. The remaining agency, The Government Car and Despatch Agency, is unable to separate accommodation from other costs, and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Overnight accommodation, October 2007 to September 2008
















(1) The figure for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency largely represents costs associated with surveyors performing the agency's statutory function. These costs are reclaimed from customers. (2) The figure for the Highways Agency is based on accommodation booked through the agency's contracted booking agent, and covers the 11 months October 2007 to August 2008 inclusive, as the September figure is not yet available.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duty

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to recover vehicle excise duty payments outstanding from the registered keepers of vehicles who do not have an address in the UK; how much was spent on such recovery in the last year for which figures are available; how much was recovered; and if he will make a statement. [228811]

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Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 21 October 2008]: DVLA operates a strategy of education, warning and direct enforcement to help tackle non-compliant unlicensed foreign vehicles. Education activities have involved presentations to community leaders, articles in the media, the issue of information leaflets and warning notices placed on vehicle windscreens. Vehicles circulating in breach of the rules are subject to enforcement action including wheel clamping and impounding. Since 2006, nearly 1200 non-compliant foreign vehicles have been subject to direct enforcement action.

Every year, the overall costs incurred and revenues generated from DVLA’s enforcement activities are published in the Agency’s Annual Report and Accounts. Activities relating to foreign vehicles are not accounted for separately.

In terms of offences committed by drivers of foreign registered vehicles, under new provisions in the Road Safety Act 2006 the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency will, in future, be able to issue fixed penalties to offenders as well as prohibiting vehicles and drivers for various offences. In addition, any driver who does not have a satisfactory address in the UK will be required to pay an immediate deposit equivalent to the amount of the fixed penalty—or the level of fine the offence would be likely to attract if prosecuted in court. The police will also be able to require the immediate payment of such deposits.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he has issued on whether replacing the EU flag on a car number plate with a British flag may lead to an MOT failure; and if he will make a statement. [225265]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The current MOT Inspection Manual states that a test failure should not result where a registration plate includes a distinguishing sign of the UK, the Union flag, Scottish Saltire, Cross of St. George, Red Dragon and their respective national identifiers.

Parking Offences: Personal Records

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures are in place to ensure that personal details made available to parking enforcement companies may not be accessed by terrorist organisations. [229789]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Parking companies may obtain data from the DVLA vehicle record where they have reasonable cause. Legislation providing for reasonable cause disclosure has been in existence for over 40 years, predating the establishment of the DVLA. On application for disclosure, all relevant information must be provided to enable checks to be made to establish the veracity of the applicant and the reasonable cause claimed. If approved, the vehicle keeper’s name and address are released together with the make, model and colour of the vehicle. A record is kept on the vehicle register of all such disclosures enabling the applicant to be identified if there are later inquiries.

The details disclosed are sent directly to the address associated with the company requesting those details—and never disclosed over the phone or to PO box addresses—and there is a programme of audit to ensure that the application, use and disposal of the data are appropriate and legal.

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