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22 Mar 2010 : Column 6W—continued

No departmental Ministers or officials have attended the MIPIM conference in 2010, either at the expense of the Department or at the invitation of the Homes and Communities Agency. Therefore, no costs were incurred by HCA for this purpose.

Local Government Act 1976

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will amend section 11 of the Local Government Act 1976 to permit local authorities to sell electricity other than that produced in association with heat. [323160]

Mr. Kidney: I have been asked to reply.

The Government published a consultation document on proposals to allow local authorities to sell electricity they generate themselves from renewable sources on 2 March.

We believe that local authorities should play a full part in the development of renewable heat and electricity. Allowing local authorities to sell electricity generated by them from renewable sources is expected to encourage the development of local renewable electricity projects by those local authorities that are well-placed to undertake such projects either on their own or in partnerships.

The consultation document can be found at:

and has a closing date for responses of 2 June 2010.

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Non-Domestic Rates

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his latest estimate is of the take-up rate of small business rate relief in each local authority area. [323033]

Barbara Follett: The report "Small business rate relief-improving evidence on eligibility and take-up: Methodology", published on 9 December 2009, provides details of the methodology to estimate take-up of small business rate relief. This methodology can only be applied nationally for England as a whole. Therefore it is not possible to calculate an estimate of take-up for each local authority. This report is available at:

However, new experimental statistics on the number of hereditaments claiming small business rate relief (SBRR), published on the Communities and Local
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Government website on 25 February 2010, show that 462,000 hereditaments in England were benefiting from SBRR on 31 December 2008.

By applying that figure to the eligibility estimates made for the 2005 rating list it is estimated that around 80 per cent. of eligible hereditaments in England were claiming SBRR in 2008-09-see table 1.

Relief granted to small businesses has been increasing since SBRR was introduced-from £202 million in 2005-06 to £298 million in 2008-09. This represents a real terms increase of 34 per cent. This suggests that 92 per cent. of the maximum amount of relief that could be claimed is being taken up, up from 69 per cent. in the first year of the scheme-see table 2.

This statistical release is available at:

The report "Small business rate relief-improving evidence on eligibility and take-up: Methodology" will be updated to take account of these new numbers.

Table 1: Take-up of SBRR-numbers claiming
2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Number of hereditaments actually claiming SBRR (thousand)




Number of hereditaments eligible (thousand)




Percentage of estimated eligible actually claiming




Table 2: Take-up of SBRR 2005-06 to 2008-09-relief
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09

Relief available (£ million)





Relief claimed (£ million)





Take-up (percentage)





Schools: Carbon Emissions

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local education authorities will be liable for the carbon dioxide emissions of maintained schools under the Carbon Reduction Commitment process. [323143]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

Maintained schools will be grouped with their relevant maintaining local authority (LEA) for the purposes of CRC qualification and participation. The exception is PFI schools deemed to be responsible for the energy supply under the CRC, which will participate individually or as part of their PFI corporate structure.

This grouping approach brings schools that would not have otherwise qualified into the scheme, thereby enabling the public sector to demonstrate leadership in carbon reduction and realise the cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities across the schools' estate.



Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which staff from his Department have visited Afghanistan in each month since 2007. [322515]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Military and civilian staff from the Ministry of Defence are required to visit Afghanistan on a regular basis in support of current operations. The number and posts of those visiting in each month since 2007 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Compensation

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid to relatives of servicemen killed in action in each of the last five years. [321372]

Mr. Kevan Jones: It is not possible to provide a definitive figure for all aspects of the payments made to bereaved families as benefits are payable under a range of different provisions and, as the information is not held centrally, it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme provides a death- in-service lump sum and the appropriate family forces pensions, including enhanced payments where death is related to service. It is estimated that at least £14 million has been paid in death-in-service lump sums over the last five years to the families of those killed in action.

The War Pension Scheme provides for ongoing payments to families of personnel killed, as a result of service, before 6 April 2005, with the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) making that provision for those who
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have died since that date. In addition to a Guaranteed Income Payment, a Bereavement Grant of up to £20,000 is payable under AFCS. Payments amounting to some £8.8 million have been made to bereaved families under AFCS since 2005 including those killed in a non-operational environment where death was attributable to service.

Funeral grants are also payable where a service funeral is held or the cost of a private funeral (up to a current maximum of £2,786) will be met. In the region of £112,000 has been paid in funeral costs. In addition costs associated with family attendance at repatriation ceremonies and any pre-inquest and inquest hearings are met by the MOD.

Armed Forces: Drugs

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife of 22 February 2010, Official Report, columns 7-8W, on armed forces: discharges, how many compulsory drug tests the Army has carried out in each quarter since January 2008; and how many positive tests for (a) cocaine, (b) ecstasy and (c) cannabis there were in each such quarter. [322535]

Bill Rammell: The number of compulsory drug tests undertaken by the Army in each quarter since January 2008 and the positive results for cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis are shown in the following table:

Period Number of tests Cocaine Ecstasy Cannabis


1 January-31 March





1 April-30 June





1 July-30 September





1 October-31 December






1 January-31 March





1 April-30 June





1 July-30 September





1 October-31 December





Armed Forces: Merseyside

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding has been allocated to (a) cadet forces and (b) the Territorial Army on Merseyside in 2009-10. [322633]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The information is not held centrally.

Funding for the cadet forces in any particular area comes from a wide variety of sources including the single services, the use of subsidised accommodation, and local donations and fundraising efforts. To determine how much funding has been allocated to a specific unit would require a manual search of records and incur disproportionate cost.

Territorial Army (TA) funding is provided not only through the Army but also from different sources dependent on how the infrastructure is shared. For example, funding may be generated by allowing another organisation, such as the Air Training Corps or Sea Cadets, to use the
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facility when not required for TA activity. This allows for the most efficient use of resources. To determine how much funding has been provided to Merseyside would require the manual search of records ranging from local agreements through to more formal arrangements with the single services, thus incurring disproportionate cost.

The Government remain committed to the TA and the cadet forces. The TA continues to play a vital role in support of the Regular Army, not least on operations in Afghanistan. The Cadet Organisation dates back 150 years. It is one of the oldest and most successful voluntary youth organisations in the world. Today it numbers 131,000 young people, led by 25,000 adult volunteers, in well over 3,000 sites across the country.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many abnormal safety events were recorded at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009; and how many of those events were classified as having the potential to challenge a nuclear safety system. [319191]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) defines an abnormal event (AE) as any action or series of actions that causes a deviation from the planned course of events. An AE need not cause physical harm to persons, property or the environment, and AEs may cover quality and security issues as well as safety.

AEs are classified into seven different categories; five of these are considered to be related to safety. The total number of AEs in these five categories was 4,020 in 2008 and 3,911 in 2009. Of these, three in each year were assessed as having the potential, in the absence of remedial action, to challenge a nuclear safety system. None of these six actually did, and none resulted in any harm.

All reported AEs are investigated as appropriate; in particular, the six events referred to above were subject to detailed investigations, and all necessary remedial action has been completed to the satisfaction of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

The aim of the AWE reporting system is to identify all AEs, however minor, and the number of AEs is considered to be a reflection of the robustness of the system and the vigilance of the AWE work force.

Departmental Food

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department and its non-departmental bodies are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. [323070]

Mr. Quentin Davies: For UK armed forces personnel "in barracks", when personnel are not being fed under the catering retail and leisure contracts, and those serving on operations and overseas exercises, there is a single food supply contractor, Purple Foodservice Solutions (PFS).

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PFS increasingly takes into account ethical and sustainable criteria in their procurement, and is required to seek best value for money in the open market consistent with meeting Ministry of Defence food quality standards which are linked to the Office of Government Commerce food quality standards.

PFS procures meat and dairy proteins in the UK that meet the Red Tractor Scheme (a UK farm assured scheme which is the equivalent to the RSPCA Freedom Foods scheme) and UK animal welfare standards. Any which are purchased outside the UK comply with the EU animal welfare standards.

Dairy products meet the Red Tractor requirements, and eggs meet the Lion Standard, an internationally recognised quality code of practice.

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