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Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many appeals regarding rights of way the National Casework team has under consideration; and for how long on average such appeals have been under consideration. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the marine
and coastal environment of plastics that have been dumped at sea or on beaches. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA has been working with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to incorporate the MCS long-term dataset for beach litter levels and sources of litter in the UK to assess UK marine litter levels as part of the evidence collection process for the Charting Progress 2 report.
Charting Progress 2 is an integrated assessment of the state of the UK seas that will measure progress towards achieving the Government's marine vision and will be published in 2010. The report will form an important building block in the Initial Assessment of UK waters, required by 2012 under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
DEFRA is working with international colleagues in OSPAR (the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) to support assessments of marine litter, and the OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR) due to be published in 2010, will contain a regional assessment of litter levels.
Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to (a) his Department, (b) local authorities and (c) non-governmental organisations of cleaning refuse from the coast in each year since 1997. 
Beaches are regularly monitored through the National Indicator Set and many are signed up to such awards such as the international "Blue Flag" and England's "Quality Coast Award", both administered by Keep Britain Tidy.
Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department holds on the (a) area covered by and (b) in weight tonnes of the mass of plastic debris identified in the Pacific Ocean; and what discussions he has had with international agencies on steps to reduce the effect on the marine environment of that debris. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The published literature on the Pacific litter gyre indicates that the area concerned is found within the North Pacific Subtropical High, an area of international waters, between Hawaii and California. Researchers have pointed out that the weight of litter is very difficult to estimate due to the patchiness of debris in this expansive area, but could be in the order of 6 million tonnes.
My officials attend the meetings of several international agencies where the reduction of litter in the marine environment is discussed and where appropriate actions are considered, particularly the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North
East Atlantic in which the UK is actively involved in the marine litter working group, which focuses on the North East Atlantic.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has made to the governments of other countries on whaling since the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June 2009; what plans he has to make further such representations before the next meeting of the Commission in June 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: I wrote to the Japanese Minister of Fisheries on 24 October expressing the UK's continued opposition to the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean and the North west Pacific and to the hunting of small cetaceans in Japanese coastal waters.
On 2 October, the UK took part in a strong diplomatic protest (démarche) to Iceland expressing our extreme disappointment with the killing of almost 200 minke and fin whales this year and called upon the Icelandic Government to review Iceland's Whaling policy.
Before the next annual meeting of the IWC Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts will again lobby countries in support of the UK's position, seeking to encourage new anti-whaling nations to join the IWC and endeavouring to change the opinion of Governments which currently support whaling.
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether any contracts between Capita Group plc and her Department and its predecessors have been cancelled before completion since 1997; and whether Capita Group plc has been liable for any penalties arising from failings in the administration of contracts since 1997. 
Jim Knight: In December 2007, Capita Health Solutions was successful in a competition to deliver an Occupational Health Service for DWP to commence in April 2007. DWP and Capita mutually agreed to disengage from this arrangement with effect from August 2007. No penalties were arising.
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions Capita Group plc tendered for contracts let by her Department in each of the last five years; how many such tenders were successful; how much her Department paid to Capita Group plc for the execution of contracts in each such year; how many contracts which terminate after 2010 Capita Group plc hold with her Department; and what the monetary value is of all outstanding contracts between her Department and Capita Group plc. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 14 December 2009]: Reports of crimes will normally be made to the local police forces. Consequently no central records are held, and to obtain the requested level of detail would involve disproportionate cost.
Jim Knight [holding answer 30 November 2009]: The Department takes very seriously its responsibility to protect personal information. If individual employees are found to have misused their position (for example, by accessing without authority information that is recorded on any of the Department's databases), then such matters will be dealt with firmly, including dismissal and, where appropriate, prosecution.
Incidents will normally be investigated and dealt with locally. However, details of such incidents, and the action taken, are not recorded centrally, and to obtain this information in respect of the last five years would involve disproportionate cost.
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Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure her Department and its agencies have incurred on external legal advice and representation in each year since 1997; and for what purposes such professional services have been commissioned. 
|DWP legal category spending by year|
|(1 )The 2009-10 spend is for the period 1 April to 31 October 2009.|
DWP's costs for external legal advice and representation are captured under a range of existing commercial contracts that relate to the following areas. A more detailed breakdown of expenditure or the scope of previous contracts from 1997 onwards could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
acts as the strategic legal adviser and provides project support to DWP and its corporate information technology directorate. A range of legal services for existing and prospective information service/technology contracts are provided.
provides advice, guidance and assistance for HR policy development, training and awareness products, risk assessment, private prosecution, banning and warning letters to customers, injunctions, international law and general legal matters as necessary. Where appropriate it conducts litigation proceedings for DWP in employment tribunal claims and personal injury compensation claims.
provides advice to the commercial estates function in support of the PRIME estates contract and associated advice in relation to general property law.
provides legal advice and commercial guidance on DWP services delivered on behalf of welfare to work customers and on general commercial policy issues.
DWP's in house lawyers expenditure on external legal services comprises a range of payments, including those to meet other sides' costs, where these are required to be paid as a result of litigation; payments made to counsel from the Attorney-General's approved list for prosecutions, litigation or advisory services; and payments to local agent solicitors for prosecutions, some civil litigation and other occasional work.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) laptop computers, (b) desktop computers and (c) memory sticks her Department and its agencies have recorded as having been (i) lost and (ii) stolen from its offices in Scotland in each of the last 10 years. 
Jim Knight [holding answer 14 December 2009]: Details of items reported as lost and stolen are recorded at departmental level and the information requested cannot be provided in respect of Scotland without incurring disproportionate cost.
John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies for which her Department is responsible in each of the last three years. 
Jim Knight: It is not DWP practice for the Department or its agencies and non-departmental public bodies to pay contractors bonuses or incentives. DWP follows National Audit Office advice which recommends that a variety of payment mechanisms should be used in contract pricing. This approach is also endorsed by the Office for Government Commerce in their Guide to Consultancy Pricing.
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