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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 December 2008

Work and Pensions

Departmental ICT

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what IT (a) infrastructure and (b) systems his (i) Department and (ii) its agencies use. [240410]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department currently has about 140,000 desktops, around 7,000 encrypted laptops, 2,500 servers and 21 mainframes serving its 149 major application systems. The infrastructure falls into three broad categories of services delivered by third party suppliers, desktop (PCs) hosting (mainframe computers and application servers) and network/telephony. The IT systems or applications are linked to two major data centres.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of the asset register of his Department's IT infrastructure and systems. [240411]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department's IT suppliers provide the IT infrastructure used by the Department and own the assets required to deliver the IT services the Department has specified contractually. Consequently, the Department does not maintain a register of those assets.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average useful economic life of departmental IT infrastructure. [240412]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department has a large and complex IT infrastructure consisting of 21 mainframes, 2,500 servers and 149 major applications which it renews and refreshes as necessary. It makes no single estimate of useful economic life.

The Department purchases IT services from suppliers on a consumption basis in order to maximize value for money. Its IT suppliers provide IT infrastructure components as part of these services and have contractual obligations to maintain and refresh these components.

Employee Assistance Programme

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 17 November 2008, Official Report, column 77W, on Employee Assistance Programme, how many requests from staff for services have been received by the Department’s Employee Assistance Programme in each category of reason recorded in each year since the programme was established; and if he will make a statement. [241265]

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Jonathan Shaw: I refer the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central to the answer given on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1970W.

Incapacity Benefit: Bedfordshire

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incapacity benefit claimants there were in the South West Bedfordshire constituency in November 2008. [240406]

Jonathan Shaw: The available information is for May 2008, when there were 2,850 claimants of incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance in South West Bedfordshire constituency.

Jobcentre Plus: Closures

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by what date the review of the closure plan for Jobcentre Plus offices will be completed; and if he will make a statement. [240413]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to him on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1979W.


Olympic Board

Mr. Malins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will place in the Library copies of the agendas, minutes and supporting documents considered by the Olympic Board at its last six meetings. [240441]

Tessa Jowell: I have agreed to provide Parliament with six-monthly progress updates and quarterly financial updates. The next Government Annual Report on the Games will be published in January 2009 and will provide both progress and financial updates.

Summaries of Olympic Board meetings are placed on the London 2012 Organising Committee website

Agendas, minutes and papers of the Olympic Board are not publicly available.

Olympic Games 2012: Facilities

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what effect the reduction in the number of (a) apartments and (b) bed spaces has had on the construction costs of the Olympic village. [240323]

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Tessa Jowell: At this time, both apartment and bed space numbers have not yet been finalised, with final numbers subject to Olympic Board agreement. It is, therefore, not yet possible to comment on the impact of any potential reduction in accommodation on construction costs.

As we have stated previously, we are seeking to reduce costs by only building what is necessary for the Games. Therefore, apartment numbers have reduced, with the number of athlete bed spaces remaining as required by London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. At the same time we are preserving quality and confident we will meet IOC requirements. We are in discussion with our partners and will set out our plans shortly.

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what exclusivity agreements are in force in relation to the Olympic village; and for how long each is to be in force. [240324]

Tessa Jowell: There are a number of exclusivity agreements within the overall Olympic Village deal, the principal one being that between the Olympic Delivery Authority and Lend Lease as developer. The exclusivity agreement officially expires at the end of the year but there is an option to extend to March 2009.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics when she expects to publish the KPMG report on Olympic venues. [240439]

Tessa Jowell: As announced after the Olympic Board in November, the KPMG report will be published subject to ensuring that it does not contain any commercial sensitive material. However, we do not yet have a final copy of the report. I am not therefore in a position to confirm the timing of its publication.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what the cost to the public purse will be of the KPMG report into the suitability of the Olympic venues. [240440]

Tessa Jowell: The review by KPMG is not yet concluded with work ongoing on certain elements of the report. I am therefore not yet in a position to confirm what the full costs of the report will be.

Olympic Games 2012: Per Capita Costs

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what the largest build cost per square foot of the Olympic village is; and how this compares to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors index. [240320]

Tessa Jowell: Commercial negotiations are ongoing regarding the costing of the various elements of the Olympic Village. Therefore, at this stage, it is not possible to provide build cost information whilst commercially confidential negotiations continue.

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Northern Ireland

Museums and Galleries: Royal Ulster Constabulary

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he plans to make a decision about funding for a museum for the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation. [240507]

Paul Goggins: Northern Ireland officials are currently considering the finalised business case for a police museum which the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation submitted to them in November 2008. Decisions on funding will await a full analysis of this business case.


Air Passenger Duty

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the effects of the increase in air passenger duty on the levels of air passenger traffic between the Highlands and islands of Scotland and the rest of the world; whether his Department has performed an economic impact assessment of the amended air passenger duty rate; and if he will make a statement. [240678]

Ann McKechin: Decisions on taxes are a matter for the Chancellor. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my hon. Friend, the Exchequer Secretary, to question number 240702.

Excise Duties: Alcoholic Drinks

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions, on what dates, he had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the contents of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties (Surcharges) and Tobacco Products Duty Order 2008 (S.I. 2008, No. 3026) and the assessment that no impact on the private or voluntary sectors was foreseen. [240686]

Ann McKechin: My right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the Chancellor on a range of issues.

International Development

Development Aid: Food

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much UK overseas development aid was (a) committed and (b) disbursed (i) in total and (ii) under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Assistance Committee creditor reporting system (A) agricultural codes (31110 to 31195), (B) basic nutrition (12240), (C) food aid/food security (52010) and (D) emergency food aid (72040) codes in 2007. [241201]

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Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development’s (DFID) total bilateral programme in 2007-08 was £2,962 million. Details on the amount of DFID’s bilateral expenditure provided in support of each sector in 2007-08 are shown in the following table.

DFID bilateral expenditure, 2007-08

Sector £000


Basic Nutrition, Health



Agriculture Policy and Administrative Management



Agricultural Development



Agricultural Land Resources



Livestock: Agriculture



Food Aid and Food Security Programmes



Emergency Food Aid


The data in the table do not include support to these sectors delivered through General Budget Support and core contributions to multilateral organisations, civil society organisations and general humanitarian funds, such as the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.

Kenya: Internally Displaced Persons

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid he has given to Kenya to assist the resettlement of individuals displaced internally in that country since the elections in 2007. [241328]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for International Development (DFID) is not committing funds directly to the resettlement of internally displaced people in Kenya.

Resettlement is complex and should be handled with care, in line with international guidelines. To address the problems of those internally displaced and prevent future dislocations, the underlying issues of economic and ethnic inequality, land distribution and the culture of impunity in relation to political violence need to be tackled.

DFID is working with the international community and the Government of Kenya to address these underlying issues. This includes the implementation of key activities agreed in the Peace Accord brokered by Kofi Annan, to which DFID is the main donor. DFID has also provided £1.5 million to date in support of the national land reform programme, including the development of a new land policy. In addition, DFID committed £2.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Kenya for those displaced by the crisis.


Dairy Products: Imports

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has taken steps to assess the level of contamination by the industrial chemical melamine in dairy exports from China to the UK. [240685]

Dawn Primarolo: The import of milk and milk products from China is prohibited under Commission Decision 2007/275/EC of 17 April 2007 concerning lists of animals
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and products to be subject to controls at border inspection posts under Council Directives 91/496/EEC and 97/78/EC.

In response to the contamination of milk with melamine the European Commission introduced additional measures restricting the import of products from China containing milk or milk products. These measures require any product containing more than 2.5 mg/kg melamine to be removed from the market and destroyed. Testing by Port Health Authorities and local authorities has found a few products, containing more than 2.5 mg/kg melamine, which, although not considered to be a risk to public health, have been destroyed.

Drugs: Misuse

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many problematic drugs users were estimated to be residing in London in the last year for which figures are available. [240585]

Dawn Primarolo: The estimated number of problem drug users(1) in the London government office region, aged between 15-64, is 74,822. This figure for the latest period available 2006-07.

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