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10 Dec 2009 : Column 556W—continued

Departmental Taxis

Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what contracts his Department has with private hire taxi companies; and what expenditure his Department has incurred against each such contract in each year since his Department was established. [300842]

Joan Ruddock: The Department has no contracts with private hire taxi companies.

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what hospitality officials in his Department and its predecessors with responsibility for the two miners' compensation schemes have received from Capita Group plc since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [302087]

Mr. Kidney: Capita became the Department's claims handling contractor in 2004. Information held by the Department on hospitality received since 2004 related to officials in the Coal Liability Unit (CLU) is provided in the following table:

Hospitality received by officials responsible for the Coal Health Schemes
Date received Section Staff by grade Hospitality received Total value (£)

October 2005

CLU

SCS plus staff below SCS (x 3)

Dinner

120.00

23 June 2006

CLU

SCS

Lunch

10.00

26 July 2006

CLU

SCS plus staff below SCS (x 1)

Dinner

45.00

August 2006

CLU

SCS

Dinner

25.00

29 March 2007

CLU

SCS

Lunch

10.00

18 September 2007

CLU

SCS plus staff below SCS (x 1)

Lunch and dinner

50.00

13 December 2007

CLU

Staff below SCS (x 3)

Lunch

90.00

30 July 2008

CLU

Staff below SCS (x 3)

Lunch

90.00

22 September 2008

CLU

Staff below SCS

Meal

20.00

22 July 2009

CLU

Staff below SCS

Dinner

25.00


Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether Capita Group plc receives a financial benefit from reducing (a) the total money paid out and (b) the amount of money paid to individual claimants under each of the two miners' compensation schemes. [302089]

Mr. Kidney: I can confirm that there is no financial benefit to Capita in respect to (a) or (b) under the Department's contractual arrangements for claims handling for the vibration white finger and respiratory disease schemes.


10 Dec 2009 : Column 557W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what evaluation his Department has made of the effectiveness for claimants of the Coal Health Compensation Scheme. [304683]

Mr. Kidney: The Coal Health Compensation Schemes have been closely scrutinised by a range of reviews including the Boys Smith Review conducted in 2005 for the then Minister for Energy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Malcolm Wicks); the Trade and Industry Select Committee Review in 2005; and the National Audit Office report in 2007 on the schemes and the subsequent Public Accounts Committee hearing in 2007 and Committee's Report in 2008.

I am proud that we are now moving towards the conclusion of these schemes under my ministerial 'watch'. We believe these are the biggest personal injury schemes in British legal history. They are complex schemes that were set up in agreement between the Department and the miners' solicitors' representatives following the original judgments in the 1990's and then endorsed by the High Court. This ensured that miners and their families received the level of compensation to which they might reasonably have been entitled had they pursed their claim in common law.

I believe that objective has been achieved as we now draw near to the completion of the vibration white finger (VWF) and respiratory disease schemes. In all almost 760,000 miners' claims have been processed and compensation now totalling £4.1 billion has been paid out.

The VWF litigation was wound up in the High Court on 1 May 2009 following the completion of processing nearly all the 170,000 claims. There are now fewer than 10 VWF general damages and 20 special damages scheme claims left to settle. There are also a small number of claims involving individual mediations or court actions to be concluded. For the respiratory scheme where we had nearly 590,000 claims there are now less than 2,000 active claims left to be settled and we are on track to achieving settlement of the majority of these by mid 2010.

However, it has not all been plain sailing. Clearly we have all learnt lessons from the operation of these schemes.

One of the key issues remains the conduct of solicitors in making deductions from compensation. I continue to hold regular meetings with the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) and Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) and I know that this work remains an important focus for both organisations. I welcome recent developments both in terms of action taken against individual firms of solicitors and actions being taken by solicitors to offer repayment of deductions. I would urge firms that have not taken such actions to co-operate with the LCS.

I also recognise that despite the scale of these schemes it has taken too long for some claimants to receive the compensation they were entitled too. I apologise to those people who have had to wait so long. The key lesson here is about making sure information required to process claims is obtained at an early stage and the use of tight and binding timescales for all parties to manage the claims to be settlement. The successful fast track risk offer scheme has also demonstrated how claims can be settled more rapidly for some claimants.


10 Dec 2009 : Column 558W

In overall terms, I believe settling the claims has been a major achievement for this Government delivering over £4.1 billion in compensation to miners and their families. I would also like to pay tribute to those that have contributed to delivery of the schemes on behalf of the Department.

Nuclear Power

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the merits of including in his Department's report, Appraisal of sustainability of the draft national nuclear policy statement: main report, published on 9 November 2009, an appraisal relating to the uranium mined for the nuclear fuel used in new reactors. [305241]

Mr. Kidney: The Appraisal of Sustainability is intended to assess the environmental and sustainability impacts of the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement and therefore focuses on those impacts which arise from the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement itself. The draft Nuclear National Policy Statement provides guidance to the Infrastructure Planning Commission on the construction and operation of new nuclear power stations. It does not cover mining or milling of uranium.

The Government have previously considered the environmental impacts of uranium mining and milling as part of the 2007 consultation on nuclear power. The Government published their response in the Nuclear White Paper in January 2008. In the Nuclear White Paper, the Government set out that conventional uranium mining do not differ significantly from mining of other metalliferous ores or coal for other types of power stations. Furthermore, an increasing proportion of the world's uranium now comes from in-situ leaching. This is a process that does not require the ore to be mined and generates much less waste, though it can have a negative impact on the water table and is not suitable for all types of uranium deposits. There are established environmental constraints, such as the regulations governing uranium mining in Australia which cover, among other things, environmental protection and the requirement to meet environmental approvals before mining proceeds. Additionally, most uranium mining companies in Australia and Canada, which supply much of the world's uranium, have achieved certification from the International Organisation for Standardisation. This body sets the standard for, and undertakes audits of, environmental management systems. These environmental constraints minimise the environmental impacts of mining operations.

The consultation on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's proposed decisions on the regulatory justification of new nuclear power station designs, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House and are available at:

also covers this issue. In the consultation, my right hon. Friend explains that he considers that he is not bound to take practices outside the UK into account in making a regulatory justification decision but he has none the less considered the issue in view of fact that various respondents to the previous consultation on the regulatory justification process had raised concerns about the issue.


10 Dec 2009 : Column 559W

Renewable Energy: Heating

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he will be consulting on the Renewable Heat Incentive. [306003]

Mr. Kidney: We aim to publish the consultation on the renewable heat incentive (RHI) in January 2010. We had previously intended to publish the consultation by the end of 2009, however, we now plan to publish in January.

Home Department

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will publish a Government response to future recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; [306009]

(2) what factors he takes into consideration when assessing recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; [306010]

(3) on what basis he rejected the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that cannabis should remain a class C drug. [306011]

Mr. Alan Campbell: As my right hon. Friend the former Home Secretary, Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith), advised in her statement to the House on 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 705, the reclassification of cannabis as a Class B drug against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) was based on a number of factors, including but not limited to scientific evidence. Reclassification on 26 January 2009 is a preventative measure to protect the public, particularly the future health of young people.

The Government's Reply to the Fifth Report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Session 2005-06 HC 1031 Drug classification: making a hash of it? can be found at:

sets out the factors, including the ACMD's recommendations, that are considered in relation to drug classification decisions.

The Government have published and will continue to publish responses to the recommendations in the reports of Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Alcoholic Drinks: Crime

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his most recent estimate is of the cost to his Department of crime caused by alcohol misuse in each region in the last five years. [305399]

Mr. Alan Campbell: The Home Office has estimated the cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder in England and Wales in 2007-08 as between £8-£13 billion per year. We are unable to break down this estimate by region.

Anabolic Steroids

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were (a) cautioned, (b) arrested, (c) charged and (d) convicted
10 Dec 2009 : Column 560W
of offences related to the (i) possession and (ii) supply of anabolic steroids in each year since 2005. [304097]

Mr. Alan Campbell: Information from the court proceedings database held by the Ministry of Justice, showing the number of defendants cautioned, proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences relating to the possession and supply of anabolic steroids in England and Wales, 2005-07 (latest available) can be viewed in the following table.

The Ministry of Justice do not collect charging data; proceeded against information has been provided in lieu.

Data for 2008 are planned for publication on 28 January 2010.

The arrests collection held by the Home Office covers arrests for recorded crime (notifiable offences) only, broken down at a main offence group level, covering categories such as violence against the person and robbery. It is not possible to separate data on arrests related to the possession and supply of anabolic steroids from within these offence groups.

Number of defendants cautioned, proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences relating to the possession and supply of anabolic steroids( 1) , England and Wales, 2005-07( 2, 3, 4, 5)

Cautioned Proceeded against Found guilty

2005

28

16

15

2006

15

14

12

2007

24

22

14

(1) Offence descriptions :
i. Supplying or offering to supply (or being concerned in supplying or offering to supply) a controlled drug: Anabolic Steroids Statute: Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 4(3)
ii. Having possession of a controlled drug: Anabolic Steroids Statute: Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 5(2)
iii. Having possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply: Anabolic Steroids Statute: Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 5(3).
(2) The cautions statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been cautioned for two or more offences at the same time, the principal offence is the more serious offence.
(3) From 1 June 2000, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and final warnings. These figures have been included in the totals.
(4) The court statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
(5) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
Source:
Justice Statistics Analytical Services: Ministry of Justice.

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