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Philip Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much financial assistance was given by regional development agencies to the video games industry in 2008-09. 
|RDA||RDA financial assistance to the video games industry in 2008-09 (£000)( 1)|
|(1) To identify the financial assistance that has been provided from broader programmes (e.g. business support) would incur disproportionate cost.|
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The monetary value of cash allowances awarded to military staff in Afghanistan in 2008-09 was £30.6 million on local overseas allowance and longer separation allowance. These allowances contribute towards the necessary additional local cost of day-to-day living of those serving overseas and compensate personnel who are experiencing longer than usual separation from their families.
A further £66.5 million was awarded for the operational allowance in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which approximately £40 million was in Afghanistan. This allowance recognises the increased danger involved in serving in specified operational locations, over and above that which is taken into account in basic pay.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 25 January 2010, Official Report, column 516W, on Afghanistan, to how many of his Department's civilian staff based in Afghanistan in 2008-09 the total was paid. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: The information is not held centrally in the format requested. Centrally held information relates to the number of absent without leave incidents and not to the number of personnel. Additionally, data are only available by month in respect of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. In respect of the Army, only the year to date total is held centrally and to obtain this information by month will require a manual search of records which could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The available figures are provided in the following table.
AWOL statistics are recorded by the number of incidences reported, because the figures may include service personnel who have been AWOL on more than one occasion. Furthermore, following the reporting of an incidence of AWOL, information may later come to light of extenuating circumstances for that unauthorised absence, such as compassionate, hospitalisation or travel delays beyond the individual's control. In such cases a service person may not be formally charged but the incidence is still recorded.
|Incidents of reported AWOL for each month of 2009|
|Royal Navy||Army||Royal Air Force|
|(1) This is the number of recorded incidences, not the number of people AWOL or the number of charges brought.|
Figures for the Royal Navy and Army are rounded to the nearest five.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the average length of time taken by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies to pay invoices from (i) small and medium-sized enterprises and (ii) all creditors in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence, its agencies and trading funds are fully committed to achieving the Government target of paying 90 per cent. of invoices within 10 days, and is a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code.
Since March 2009, we have consistently exceeded the target, and the latest figures show that 98.74 per cent. of invoices submitted by all suppliers were paid within 10 days of receipt. But we are not complacent and continue to seek improvements in our bill-paying performance to ensure that all our suppliers are paid promptly.
Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department (a) allocated for and (b) spent on public relations activities in each year since 2001; how much was spent on external consultants in each such year; what companies were contracted to provide such services in each such year; and how much he plans to spend on such activities in 2010. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The setting of detailed budgetary allocations is delegated to local budget holders. These allocations are revised constantly throughout the financial year to reflect changes in the Department's priorities. They are not therefore held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|(1) Of an allocated budget of £56.7 million|
A summary of the MOD's expenditure on external assistance has been placed annually in the Library of the House since 1995-96. The summary includes expenditure information provided by our trading funds that lie outside the MOD's accounting boundary. Budgetary information is not held. External assistance includes management consultancy, specialist lawyers, commercial bankers and IT expertise. Consultants help us to increase our efficiency and effectiveness but we employ them only when we cannot do the work ourselves and can demonstrate value for money.
A list of companies providing public relations services or external assistance is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, we do publish an annual list of those organisations the MOD pays £5 million or more to during the financial year. This information is in Chapter 1 (most recently in Table 1.17) of UK Defence Statistics, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The current and historical editions are also available on the MOD's website at the following link:
This list includes those major contractors providing external assistance. Where public relations services are required, the MOD may also contract with companies included in the Public Relations Framework, a centralised procurement service run by the Central Office of Information.
Detailed budgetary information for 2010-11 is not yet available as we are reviewing our detailed resource allocations for that year to take account of current priorities, commitments and budgetary pressures.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the costs to his Department arising from the severe weather conditions in the period 4 January to 18 January 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: It is not possible to assess the costs to the Department of the disruption to transport arrangements and the consequent impact on the ability of staff to attend for work during the period of the recent bad weather. Costs such as the costs of structural damage to Defence facilities and infrastructure could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Costs were incurred by the Department in providing military assistance to the civil community where there was an immediate threat to human life or to alleviate
suffering. It is standard practice not to charge for such assistance and consequently information on the costs of these operations is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
The Department provided assistance to several external organisations where lives were not in imminent danger. The cost of such assistance will be reimbursed by the external organisations involved and there will be no net cost to the Department.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will publish the travel guidelines issued to staff of each of his Department's agency and non-departmental public bodies. 
Mr. Simon: The Department does not hold any travel guidelines issued by its agency or non-departmental public bodies. Any payment in relation to travel should be made in accordance with Managing Public Money.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with local radio stations on the (a) financial and (b) other effects on them of the digital switchover. 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with representatives of places of worship on the effects on them of the digital switchover. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: In addition to staff costs, the Department is making a loan of £2.5 million to the Football Association in support of England's bid to host the 2018 World cup. This money will be used for developing the technical bid and not on entertaining or salaries. It will also be repaid into grass roots football if the bid is unsuccessful, with the loan and a share of the profits from the tournament going into the grass roots if successful. As a result, this represents good value for money for sport.
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