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Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the (a) purpose and (b) content of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol to the 2001 Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has assessed the Rail Protocol to the 2001 Cape Town Convention on International Interests on Mobile Equipment, including undertaking both formal and informal consultations of the UK's principal rolling stock companies (ROSCOs) and rail industry. We have concluded that there is no advantage to the UK in ratifying the Protocol.
Paul Clark: The Middlesbrough Local Transport Plan (LTP2) contains aspirations to introduce park and ride facilities. The Department for Transport is making £5.46 million available to Middlesbrough over the three financial years, 2008-11, through their LTP2 integrated transport block allocation. It is for Middlesbrough to determine how best to use this capital funding to deliver the stated outcomes of its plan.
There are also proposals to improve heavy rail services in the Tees Valley through the Tees Valley Metro project. The provision of a new station at Nunthorpe Parkway with associated car parking is an element of this package. The Department is committed to working with the Tees Valley Metro promoters to help them to develop their business case and I look forward to seeing the final document in due course. Funding for part or all of these proposals will need to be identified in the Regional Funding Advice (RFA2) transport investment programme for the North East. In this respect, the RFA2 response from the North East Region is to be submitted to Government at the end of February.
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not micro-manage train franchises. The use of mobile phones on trains is a matter for the individual train operating companies, some of whom have placed restrictions on use by designating quiet coaches'.
Mr. Hutton: I have nothing to add to the answer my predecessor gave on 6 May 2008, Official Report, column 832W, to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) and on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 423W, to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey).
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent in providing counter-narcotics assistance to members of the Colombian armed forces in each year since 2000. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We do not divulge the details of our counter-narcotics work in Colombia, including costs, because of the risk to the people concerned. The parliamentary ombudsman has upheld this approach.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Departments working group on sustainable catering procurement objectives has made; what recommendations it has made; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The original working group, which looked at a range of facilities management services, reported in July 2008, but did not make any specific recommendations in respect of sustainable catering.
Achievements to date include reducing the overall carbon footprint through reductions in storage and transport of ration packs and by amending the frequency of deliveries and routes to military establishments. The Defence Food Services Integrated Project Team has also introduced a range of ethically traded products and increased the proportion of food it sources from UK suppliers; initiatives are under way to increase this further. The team has also held a sustainability launch event which aimed to give small and medium suppliers the ability to improve their own environmental management.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Departments (a) pre Main Gate and (b) post Main Gate (i) category A, (ii) category B and (iii) category C procurement projects were as at 31 March in each year since 2002. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: Details of the Departments pre Main Gate and post Main Gate category A, B and C equipment procurement projects at 31 March 2002, 2003 and 2004 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
I will place a list of the Departments category A, B and C post Initial Gate Pre Main Gate and post Main Gate pre In Service Date equipment procurement projects for years ending 31 March 2005 to 2008 in the Library of the House.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the deployment of armed forces to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan has cost in (i) 2008-09 and (ii) each year since 2003-04; and what projection he has made of the cost in 2009-10. 
Our final estimate for 2008-09 will be set out in the spring supplementary estimates. Our forecast costs for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for 2009-10 will be published in the main estimates in spring 2009.
Mr. Hutton: In line with the time scales set out in the Prime Ministers statement on Iraq on 18 December 2008, Official Report, columns 1233-35, the Merlin Battlefield Helicopter Force will remain fully committed to supporting UK forces in Iraq until circumstances allow for its withdrawal. We are already doing all we can to ensure a swift transition of the Merlin Force to Afghanistan, including the procurement of necessary equipment modifications for operations there. Nevertheless, we envisage a short period of around four months for the force to prepare for operations in Afghanistan after extraction from Iraq.
Mr. Hutton: As the Prime Minister set out on 18 December 2008, Official Report, columns 1233-35, we will complete our remaining military tasks in Iraq by 31 May 2009 and move to a normal bilateral defence relationship. The subsequent withdrawal of our forces will be complete by 31 July. As part of the future relationship, the Government of Iraq have indicated that they would like to continue to receive military training and education from the UK. We will shortly begin discussions to establish the precise scope of this training and education, which will inform the number and breakdown by service of any UK service personnel in Iraq after 31 July. Our current assumption is that this activity would involve around 400 UK service personnel.
Operation Archive is not concerned with the overall withdrawal of UK forces by 31 July 2009. Rather, it is the name given to the periodic removal from Iraq of equipment no longer required by UK forces.
7. Mr. McCartney: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the results of his Department's recent research on levels of aspiration in deprived communities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The Aspirations research, published jointly by the Social Exclusion Taskforce, DCSF and CLG in December 2008, is highly significant and directly informs the new Inspiring Communities programme announced in the New Opportunities White Paper yesterday.
Aspirations have an important influence on young people's educational attainment. This research found that young people in some deprived areas are less likely to develop high aspirations. These areas often feature close-knit social networks; stable populations and isolation from diverse economic opportunities. Government have made great progress in deprived areas but pessimistic attitudes can be formed over generations and are hard to shift.
The Government are investing £10.1 million in a new Inspiring Communities campaign, bringing together local businesses, schools, parents and the wider community to find innovative ways to inspire young people and tackle attitudinal barriers.
8. Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the procedures governing the release or publication of official statistics by civil servants, Government special advisers and Ministers. 
Kevin Brennan: The Government consulted on new rules for pre-release access to statistics in their final form early last year. It introduced secondary legislation into Parliament in the summer and following debate in both Houses the new rules came into force on 1 December. These rules substantially improve the procedures governing the release of official statistics.
Mr. Byrne: The recently published Getting on, getting ahead White Paper demonstrated that while social mobility did not increase in the eighties and early nineties, new evidence suggests this might be beginning to change.
The latest academic research shows there are encouraging signs, with educational results becoming less dependent on a person's social background, more young people from low income backgrounds going to university and evidence that mobility in work is starting to rise.
Kevin Brennan: The Government invest in building the capacity of the third sector through Capacitybuilders and Futurebuilders; both have commissioned independent evaluations of their programmes. The National Audit Office has also been investigating the effectiveness, impact and value for money of Government investment in building the capacity of the third sector, and plans to report early this year.
12. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions he has had with representatives of the third sector on the effect on third sector organisations of the current economic climate. 
Kevin Brennan: After the third sector summit on 24 November 2008, the Government announced their intention to publish an Action Plan. The third sector was asked for input to help inform the plan and more than 80 submissions have been received from third sector organisations and individuals about the impact of the economic downturn and proposed responses. The quality of this input has been high, and we plan to publish the Action Plan in the coming weeks.
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