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Fuels

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the capacity of storage facilities for (a) petroleum products and (b) natural gas is owned by his Department; and how much of the capacity is in use. [234411]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The petroleum product storage facilities for active sites, comprises 2.04 million cubic metres capacity. Additionally, a number of sites are held in reserve for contingency use as part of the United Kingdom’s critical national infrastructure. I am withholding information on the current utilisation of strategic storage capacity for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

The Ministry of Defence does not own any natural gas storage facilities.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many miles of pipeline for (a) petroleum products and (b) natural gas his Department owns; and how much of the capacity is currently being utilised. [234412]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence owns 1,620 miles of pipeline for petroleum products. Current utilisation of the core network that connects import locations and refineries from which spur pipelines are connected to military establishments is approximately 80 per cent. of capacity.

The Ministry of Defence does not own any natural gas pipelines.

Kenley Airfield

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 2174W, on Kenley Airfield, what the monetary value of the portion of the fencing stored at Kenley Airfield that will not be used under the revised planning application is; and what plans he has to dispose of the surplus fencing. [234661]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The monetary value of the fencing stored at Kenley airfield, which will not be used in the new planning application, is in the region of £87,000. No decision has yet been made on the future use of the surplus fence.

Mentally Ill Staff

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within (a) his Department and (b) the public sector bodies for which he has responsibility; and what use has been made of that information. [228556]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Under the disability equality duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the Department and its public sector bodies listed in the associated regulations are required to publish and implement disability equality schemes. In April 2008, the Ministry of Defence published a revised overarching equality and diversity scheme 2008-11, encompassing the armed
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forces, civilian and Ministry of Defence police, which incorporated our respective disability equality schemes (DES). The armed forces scheme includes the specific exemption from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. These plans set out how we will carry out the disability equality duty, monitor and report on progress. In particular, they include our arrangements for gathering information on the effect of our policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of our disabled civilian employees, including those with mental health conditions, and making use of that information.

The following arrangements are set out in the Department’s disability equality scheme:

The public sector bodies sponsored by the Department that are subject to these requirements are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability equality schemes.

Navy

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential of using commercial vessels in support of Royal Navy operations, in respect of (a) cost, (b) crewing arrangements and (c) numbers of vessels available for charter; [234759]

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the complementary roles in support of the Royal Navy which can be fulfilled by (a) the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and (b) commercial vessels. [234760]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD uses a combination of commercial, auxiliary and military vessels. It does so after considerable consultation and analysis of the most efficient and effective means of meeting the requirement to ensure that we deliver value for money, taking into account of factors such as the potential threat level and the availability and capability of suitable assets including crews. While commercial vessels have expertise and equipment to suit their own specific trades, they do not have the training and skills for military operations and consequently there are limitations to their use, particularly in higher threat environments.

Culture, Media and Sport

Airwave Service

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what organisations for which his Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. [234705]

Mr. Sutcliffe: None of the organizations for which my Department is responsible currently use Airwave. Discussions about the potential use of Airwave to support 2012 are under way but no decisions have yet been taken.


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BBC

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many times he has met the director general of the BBC in the last month. [233888]

Andy Burnham: I met the director general once, on 5 November.

BBC: Internet

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions the Government have had with the BBC on its plans for local video sites. [234762]

Andy Burnham: I have regular meetings with the BBC at which we discuss a range of issues. This has included the local video proposal.

The BBC's plans for local video sites are a matter for the BBC Trust. There is no provision for the Government to intervene in the day-to-day operational or editorial matters.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions the Government has had with news organisations on the BBC's plans for local video sites. [234763]

Andy Burnham: officials in my Department and from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform meet from time to time with representatives from the newspaper industry who have raised this issue on a number of occasions.

Departmental Manpower

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff in his Department did not achieve an acceptable assessment grade in their annual report in the latest reporting year for which figures are available. [235228]

Mr. Sutcliffe: In DCMS only three staff out of 424 received a ‘needs to improve' assessment in the latest reporting year (2007-08).

Digital Switchover Help Scheme: Gwent

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of (a) people aged over 75 and (b) disabled people who have received assistance from the digital switchover help scheme in Islwyn. [231605]

Andy Burnham: Digital switchover does not take place in Islwyn until the first quarter in 2010 and the Digital Switchover Help Scheme roll out has therefore not yet reached the stage where these data are available. The Digital Switchover Help Scheme has estimated however that about 5,000 people aged 75 and over and 3,000 disabled people in Islwyn are potentially eligible for assistance.


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Gambling: Internet

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what internet gambling companies are registered in the UK. [233567]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 6 November 2008]: The Gambling Commission publishes two public registers of all remote and non-remote gambling operators licensed by the Commission. These provide details of the licences granted and category of licence they hold.

These registers are updated daily and can be found at the Gambling Commission’s website:

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent steps he has taken to regulate internet gambling. [233885]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) enabled internet gambling, as well as other forms of gambling and betting provided remotely, to be licensed and regulated effectively in Great Britain for the first time. Any operator who wants to offer remote gambling facilities and has remote gambling equipment located in Great Britain, must obtain a ‘remote operating licence’ from the Gambling Commission.

To secure the three licensing objectives of the Act, the Gambling Commission is responsible for setting the licence conditions and codes of practice that all licensees, including remote licensees, must meet.

Gambling: Regulation

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with jurisdictions where remote gambling companies which are allowed to advertise in the UK operate on the adequacy of their regulatory regimes; and if he will make a statement. [234948]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Ministers and officials have had discussions with a number of jurisdictions whose operators are allowed to advertise gambling in the United Kingdom. In some cases those discussions included an assessment of the regulatory regimes of those jurisdictions.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he was first made aware of current levels of failure of the Gambling Commission's mystery shopper test for gambling operations; and what steps he has taken in response. [234985]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have not had any specific discussions with the Gambling Commission with regards to the levels of failure of the mystery shopper test.

As the independent regulator for most commercial gambling in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission is best placed to assess the measures required where deficiencies are identified. However, to date, there have been no serious failures or complaints. Should the Commission find evidence of such failures, it has a wide range of regulatory sanctions that it may apply to an operating licensee in addition to its normal compliance
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activity. Such sanctions include warnings, additional conditions, financial penalties, suspension or revocation of licence and prosecution.

If the Gambling Commission's mystery shopping exercises reveals failings in respect of operators licensed in overseas jurisdictions permitted to advertise gambling in Great Britain, I may consider making regulations to remove those jurisdictions from the list.

Gambling: Young People

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether all jurisdictions which have been placed on the gambling whitelist have procedures in place that ensure age verification can be conducted within 72 hours. [234896]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It is not a specific requirement of the Government’s published criteria that jurisdictions have in place procedures where age verification checks are conducted within 72 hours. However, they must have in place measures to prevent under-age gambling and be able to demonstrate that their licensing and regulatory regime is sufficiently robust to protect children and vulnerable adults.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the adequacy of existing legislation on remote gambling in preventing children from gambling. [234946]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It is an offence under the Act for any operator to invite, cause or permit children to gamble, punishable by a large fine or imprisonment. Operators of internet gambling sites which are licensed by the Gambling Commission must comply with tough social responsibility measures to prevent underage gambling. If operators fail to comply with these requirements they are subject to regulatory action from the Gambling Commission. At present, the Government have seen no evidence that warrants changing the new protections brought in by the Gambling Act 2005.

Mass Media

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent steps the Government have taken to promote local and regional media organisations. [234761]

Andy Burnham: The UK Film Council provides funding to nine regional screen agencies in England to support film making and media activities within their area with funding and vital specialist expertise and advice.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice and assistance has been offered to aid workers in Afghanistan following the recent murder of Gayle Williams. [232836]


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Bill Rammell: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) make a vital contribution to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. There are significant risks working in Afghanistan, as recent tragic events have demonstrated. The travel advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is regularly updated and gives our best general assessment of the conditions on the ground. We regularly update NGOs who have registered with our embassy in Kabul on threats to security—it is then up to them to make their own judgments regarding their operations, often in consultation with the umbrella security organisation, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.

Arms Trade

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards an international arms trade treaty. [228201]

Bill Rammell: Together with Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan and Kenya, we have been pressing for an International Arms Trade treaty (ATT) to be agreed at the United Nations. At this year’s First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the UK together with these six other states co-authored a resolution proposing further work at the UN in 2009 aimed at establishing an ATT. The resolution was adopted on 31 October by an overwhelming majority (147 states in favour, and only two votes against (the US and Zimbabwe). Achieving an ATT is a complex process, which will take time, but we have made good progress, and we will continue to work actively towards achieving our goal.

On the domestic front, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary launched a new phase of the UK’s campaign towards an ATT by hosting a meeting of key stakeholders from industry, civil society, academia and the media in London on 9 September. In addition, I hosted a briefing on 9 October for the London-based Diplomatic Corps, setting out the UK’s support for an Arms Trade treaty and encouraging active international engagement in the UN process.


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