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Serious Organised Crime Agency: Finance

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the budget for the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2008-09 is; and what proportion is committed to central administration. [232900]

Mr. Alan Campbell: In 2008-09, the Home Office near-cash allocation to SOCA is £404.5 million and the near-cash spend on general administration, as opposed to operational services, is £25.5 million (6.3 per cent.).

Serious Organised Crime Agency: Manpower

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people the Serious Organised Crime Agency employs; and what proportion are engaged in counter-narcotics activities. [232891]

Mr. Alan Campbell: The number of full-time equivalent staff employed by SOCA at 30 September 2008 was 3,976.

For 2008-09 the SOCA Board has determined that SOCA should aim to apportion about 43 per cent. of its effort to tackling drug trafficking. As of 30 September 2008 the year to date figure exceeded 46 per cent. In addition, other activities undertaken by SOCA, such as work to tackle criminal finances and support given to partners, are helping to tackle this trade.


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Shoplifting

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances records of shoplifting offences are kept. [234869]

Mr. Alan Campbell: Police are required to record allegations of crime in accordance with the National Crime Recording Standard and Home Office Counting Rules. These are both public documents available at:

Shoplifting is specifically covered under Classification 46 of the Home Office Counting Rules where it states that theft of any property within a shop whether or not it is for sale should be recorded as theft from a shop. Further advice on what constitutes a shop unit, legal definition of theft and appropriate examples are also included.

Speed Limits: Cameras

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the maximum retention period is for data collected from automatic number plate recognition cameras operated by her Department and its agencies. [235019]

Mr. Alan Campbell: The current Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy states that automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) data should only be retained for as long as there is an operational need to do so.

In general, ANPR data is retained for the first 90 days after collection, for viewing by authorised persons for post-crime interrogation and investigation. This enables investigations to use the ANPR tool to identify suspects, witnesses or patterns.

Data that are more than 90-days-old may then be retained for up to two years. However, these data are partitioned from general viewing. There is a management mechanism in place which means that a senior officer (Superintendent or above) must authorise any access to data older than 90 days. This authorisation is restricted to serious crime and counter-terrorism investigations only.

ACPO is currently revising its guidance around data retention in the light of advances with regard to the National ANPR Data Centre and the increased use of analytical software tools.

UK Border Agency: Manpower

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) grades and (b) job descriptions in the UK Border Agency are operating at under their established complement. [226056]

Mr. Woolas: The UK Border Agency has not set staffing complements by (a) grades or (b) job descriptions. The UK Border Agency deploys its personnel according to operational need and business priorities, recruiting where necessary to ensure that there are sufficient employees to meet those needs within agreed budgets.

The UK Border Agency's forecast for active workforce for 2008-09 was 17,700 full-time equivalent workers for the former Border and Immigration Agency, to which
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should now be added 2,300 UK Visas and 4,700 HMRC employees. The number of full-time equivalent active workforce equivalent to the 17,700, the former Border and Immigration Agency, at the end of September 2008 was 17,510.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the UK Border Agency and its predecessors spent on (a) permanent and (b) casual staff in each of the last five years. [227494]

Mr. Woolas: The amount that the UK Border Agency spent on full-time and casual staff in each of the last five years is shown in the following table. The computerised accounting system does not record the pay of casual staff as a separate item.

Financial year Pay cost (£)

2007-08

611,598,486.53

2006-07

566,301,623.78

2005-06

513,281,187.52

2004-05

470,275,994


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) permanent and (b) casual staff have been employed by the UK Border Agency specifically to clear the immigration backlog; and at what cost. [227496]

Mr. Woolas: The case resolution directorate (CRD) was set up to deal specifically with the backlog of cases. It has at present no casual staff and the number of full-time equivalent staff that have been employed there are shown in the following table. The budgeted operating costs for CRD for 2008-09 are £28.2 million.

Workforce( 1)

30 September 2008

972.56(1)

31 March 2008

1,013.06

1 April 2007

838.71

(1 )Full-time equivalent figures, excludes staff on career break, loan to other Government Departments, maternity leave, etc.
Note:
Figures have been taken from the central HO personnel system ADELPHI.

Work Permits

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the effect of the introduction of the points-based system on the number of work permits issued to non UK nationals. [233089]

Mr. Woolas: The Government have conducted detailed impact assessments on the proposals outlined in Statement of Intent on Tier 2 skilled Workers under the points based system. Tier 2 will replace the current Work Permit System on 27 November 2008.

Analysis has shown that had Tier 2 of the points based system been in place last year, around 12 per cent. fewer skilled migrants from outside Europe would have been allowed in through the equivalent work permit route.

Both the Statement of Intent and the Impact Assessment are available on the UK Border Agency website and in the Libraries of both Houses.


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International Development

Airwave Service

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. [234698]

Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) has no plans to use Airwave handsets, and has no organisations for which we are responsible who either use or plan to use these handsets.

Departmental Conditions of Employment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, column 211W, on departmental conditions of employment, how many employees at each location took their two week break away from post (a) within their home country and (b) outside their home country in each year since 2002. [234293]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Employees working in Iraq and Afghanistan are entitled to a two week break away from post for every six weeks worked.

During a posting, employees can use each breather break to either return to their home country or travel to an alternative location.

The following table provides information on the number of visits taken in each of the last three years:

Two week break in home country Two week break outside their home country

2006(1)

45

17

2007

60

38

2008

61

34

(1) Figures from Afghanistan are from March 2006

Information on previous years could be collated only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Relations

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) of 23 October 2008, Official Report, column 569W, on departmental public relations, what the purpose was of the communications division contract in 2007-08; and to which organisation the contract was given. [233643]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The contract was given to Munro and Forster Communications Ltd, and was for a range of marketing activities aimed at raising awareness among the UK public of the importance of trade and development for reducing poverty.

Lebanon: Asylum

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with (a) his Department’s international partners and (b) non-governmental organisations on the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. [233320]


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Mr. Michael Foster: The UK was represented at the donor pledging conference for the reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp on 23 June and committed $1 million. The Department for International Development (DFID) has been in contact with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as the agency tasked with leading the response, in recent weeks to discuss the reconstruction, humanitarian situation and how far donors have responded. DFID is providing £100 million over five years from 2007 to support UNRWA’s operations in the region of which approximately £4 million is annually allocated to Lebanon. DFID also engages with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Nahr el-Bared and in Lebanon more broadly. ICRC are one of the key partners providing water to the camp.

The British embassy in Beirut attends UNRWA monthly meetings and ad hoc briefings with other EU donors, most recently in October. The ambassador is in contact with UNRWA and last had an update from the new head of its Lebanon operations on 23 October.

Rwanda: Overseas Aid

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures are in place to ensure that his Department's aid to the Republic of Rwanda is spent on those purposes for which it was intended. [233622]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Our aid to the Republic of Rwanda is driven by a bilateral development partnership agreement (MOU). This requires the continuous commitment of the Rwandan Government to reducing poverty, honouring international obligations and respecting human rights, and strengthening financial management and accountability. These commitments are monitored closely by staff in-country and any breech could lead to suspension of our programme.

The majority of our aid in Rwanda is in the form of budget support and we monitor how this is spent in great detail. This involves close examination of both budget allocations and budget execution performance. Budget allocations are approved by budget support donors in advance of the passage of the budget law through the Cabinet and Parliament which ensures our money is spent on its intended purpose. Additional safeguards are provided by the examination of audited government accounts, and by periodic public expenditure reviews and public expenditure tracking surveys.

The impact of the resources spent is monitored annually using a broad based common performance assessment framework (CPAF) which has indicators on poverty and development, service delivery, and governance. The CPAF derives its information from surveys and management information systems, and is used by all budget support donors to monitor progress of the implementation of the Government of Rwanda's PRSP (the economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS)).

Yemen: Floods

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of people (a) killed and (b) displaced by the recent flooding in Yemen. [233344]


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Mr. Michael Foster: The Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation has estimated that 184 people lost their lives as a result of the floods in south-eastern Yemen from 23 to 25 October 2008, and that 25,000 people were displaced in Hadramaut Governorate alone. There are currently no figures available for the less-affected areas of Chaboua and Al Mahrah. Overall, however, there is little clarity on the exact numbers of those affected.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what humanitarian assistance his Department has provided to Southern Yemen following the recent flooding in the region; and what steps he plans to take to prevent loss of life. [233345]

Mr. Michael Foster: At present, there is still little clarity about the exact impact of the flooding in south-eastern Yemen on 23 to 25 October 2008, and about the gaps in humanitarian assistance already provided. Early reports suggest that immediate humanitarian needs are being met by the Government of Yemen, and UN agencies and NGOs are already active on the ground and providing emergency relief. A number of Gulf States have already made substantial contributions, including Saudi Arabia which has pledged $100 million.

A UN rapid humanitarian assessment team is due to report back on relief and recovery needs to the Government of Yemen and the international community on 6 November. At this stage, a decision may be taken on whether to launch an emergency appeal for assistance. DFID is in close contact with partners in Yemen, and stands ready to respond to this appeal if necessary. We are also monitoring other ongoing humanitarian needs in Yemen, including the impact of higher food prices and the conflict in Sa’dah earlier this year.

Yemen: Politics and Government

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what consideration he has given to the establishment of an assessment team to report on the humanitarian situation in Yemen similar to the one sent to assess the situation in Sri Lanka; and under what circumstances such assessment teams are deployed. [233343]

Mr. Michael Foster: Following the floods in eastern Yemen from 23 to 25 October 2008, the Department for International Development (DFID) stands ready to provide assistance in response to requests from the Government of Yemen and the United Nations. DFID has not sent its own assessment team to the region, because we are able to rely on reports from UN, the World Bank and NGOs. These organisations are already active in affected areas and have good access to the region. They have sent rapid assessment teams to assess immediate and long term needs; the first of these by the UN Resident Co-ordinator will report back to the Government of Yemen and the international community on 6 November.

Unlike in Sri Lanka, DFID already has an office in country, and our staff are in close contact with the Government of Yemen, the UN and other organisations involved in the relief process.


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