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Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department spent on hospitality for events hosted by each Minister in her Department in July 2010. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to tackle the trade in puppy and farmed dogs; and whether she plans to bring forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies in pet shops. 
Mr Paice: I consider that the existing legislation provides the necessary protection for the welfare of dogs, including the commercial breeding and selling of dogs, which is subject to licensing, as well as the more general welfare provisions in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. There are no proposals to ban the sale of puppies from pet shops.
Mr Paice: I consider that the existing legislation on the breeding and sale of dogs provides adequate powers for local authorities to investigate allegations of poor welfare at dog breeding establishments. I also consider that the recent setting up of an independent Dog Advisory Council is a positive step towards protecting the health of pedigree dogs.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will bring forward proposals to amend her Department's Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs to include sections on (a) dog breeding and (b) genetic health; and if she will make a statement. 
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has had discussions with representatives of the RSPCA on the introduction of an annual dog licence fee of £21.50 to fund dog health and welfare. 
Over recent months I have held discussions with retailers, producer groups, manufacturers and social enterprise organisations. I welcome retailers' efforts to increase the availability of regional and local food and want to see this develop further so that consumers can choose local and regional food more easily.
I have also been working in partnership with organisations across the whole food chain to encourage better labelling and greater use of best practice so that consumers find it easier to make informed choices.
Mr Paice: An assessment of UK Food Security published in August 2009, and updated in January 2010, shows that the UK enjoys a high level of food security. The assessment does not identify a single greatest threat but analyses a wide range of indicators and evidence for assessing UK food security structured around six themes: global availability; global resource sustainability; UK availability and access UK food chain resilience; food security at household level; and safety and confidence in our food supply.
Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take in discussions at EU level to seek to ensure accurate country-of-origin labelling on meat, meat products and dairy products. 
Existing EU legislation requires mandatory origin labelling for beef, veal and eggs together with poultry meat from third countries, fish, most fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, olive oil and wine. There are new rules on origin labelling currently being discussed in Europe as part a new regulation on food labelling. This
will address whether there should be compulsory origin labelling for certain additional foods. We have not ruled out any options at this stage.
As set out in our structural reform plan, we want to ensure that consumers have confidence in origin claims that are being made. We know that consumers are particularly concerned about meat and dairy products. We are working with the food industry, retailers and others to encourage better labelling, greater compliance with Government best practice guidance and are developing clear principles that can be followed. I have written to key organisations seeking their collaboration in taking this forward.
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many greyhound track licences have been issued by local authorities in the latest period for which figures are available; and how many such licences have been conditional on improvements to (a) track and (b) kennels. 
Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to increase the number of local designated collection facilities for the disposal of low-energy light bulbs. 
Richard Benyon: Low energy lamps are subject to the requirements of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations. Retailers selling energy efficient lamps must provide information to the public about where they can take waste lamps and other WEEE for final disposal. Most UK retailers have opted to fund designated collection facilities to discharge their take back obligations under the WEEE regulations, mainly through improvements and upgrades at local authority civic amenity sites.
There are over 1,100 designated collection facilities in the UK, of which 97% separately collect lighting equipment including all lamps. In addition, some shops take back these lamps in store, and Recolight (the leading producer compliance scheme for lamps approved under the WEEE regulations) is working with a number of retailers to raise awareness of these facilities among consumers and also with business end-users to maximise the collection of such lamps outside the domestic waste stream.
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many codes of practice for the keeping of (a) dogs and (b) cats have been issued since the enactment of the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. 
Mr Paice: A Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs and a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats came into force on 6 April 2010. Both codes are available on the DEFRA website for people to read and download. We have no record of how many copies have been downloaded and printed but the following table shows the number of people each month from January to June 2010 that have visited each of the two codes on the DEFRA website.
Mr Paice: We have no plans to introduce regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 on pet vending. I am satisfied that the Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended in 1983) together with the 2006 Act provide adequate protection for the welfare of animals sold as pets.
Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate her Department has made of the unit price paid for recycled (a) glass, (b) paper, (c) cardboard, (d) aluminium, (e) other metals, (f) plastics and (g) wood. 
Elizabeth Truss: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total value of bonuses paid to staff of the Rural Payments Agency was in each year since its inception. 
|A#mount spent (£000)|
RPA performance payments are paid to RPA staff working on all aspects of the Agency's work which includes managing and making payments for some 60 schemes, making payments on a further 30 schemes delivered by others, carrying out inspections and operating the British Cattle Movement Service under two reward schemes:
(a) Staff who have achieved the required performance assessment following the end of year individual performance review. This arrangement is negotiated each year with the TUS; and
(b) A Special Recognition Scheme was introduced in 2007 and exists to recognise instances of people making additional or outstanding contributions to RPA's work, giving an employee up to £500 for an outstanding performance.
These figures include Non Consolidated Performance Payments paid to senior civil servants (SCS). The percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is based on recommendations from the independent senior salaries review body.
Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of free plastic bags given out by supermarkets in each year since 2005; and what steps she plans to take to encourage supermarkets to reduce the number of free plastic bags they provide for their customers. 
Richard Benyon: DEFRA only holds data on those supermarkets which are signatories to the voluntary agreement on reduction of single-use carrier bags. These data are collated by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) as part of the agreement and covers the period 2006 to 2010. As a result of the agreement, the number of bags given out has been dropping considerably over this period:
|Number of bags (billion)|
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department plans to take to tackle mature oak disease; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr Paice: There are a number of pests and diseases affecting trees and woodland in the United Kingdom. One of these diseases is acute oak decline, which appears to affect mature oaks, especially those over 50 years old.
As part of the programme of research into pests and diseases affecting trees and plant health, the Forestry Commission is collaborating with experts in other countries to ensure the UK is at the leading edge of research into acute oak decline. The Forestry Commission's research agency, Forest Research, has recently made some significant advances in its understanding of the cause of this disease by identifying bacteria new to science as a potential cause.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether she has taken advice from the Attorney-General on whether she is required to consult the Electoral Commission on the wording of any new referendum question prior to laying secondary legislation before Parliament pursuant to the Government of Wales Act 2006. 
Advice sought from the Attorney-General is not disclosed outside government. There is a statutory requirement set out in Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for the Secretary of State to
refer the referendum question to the Electoral Commission to assess and report on its intelligibility, before the draft referendum Order is laid before Parliament.
I informed the House on 9 September 2010 that following discussion with the First Minister, he and I agreed with the Electoral Commission's recommendations to the redraft of the question and preamble made in their report of 2 September 2010.
Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many children were living in poverty (a) before and (b) after housing costs in St Albans constituency in each year since 2000. 
Maria Miller: Estimates of the number and proportion of children living in poverty are published in the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) series. HBAI uses household income adjusted (or 'equivalised') for household size and composition, to provide a proxy for standard of living.
As they are based on survey data, child poverty estimates published in HBAI only allow breakdowns to Government office region and analysis by parliamentary constituency is not possible. However, figures for East of England are set out in table 1.
|Table 1: Number and percentage of children living in households with less than 60% of contemporary median household income for East of England, before housing costs and after housing costs|
|Before housing costs||After housing costs|
|Period||Number (m illion)||Percentage||Number (m illion)||Percentage|
1. These statistics are based on the Households Below Average Income series, sourced from the Family Resources Survey.
2. All estimates are based on survey data and are therefore subject to uncertainty. Small differences should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.
3. The reference period for Households Below Average Income figures are single financial years. Three survey years have been combined as regional single year estimates are subject to volatility.
4. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication "Households Below Average Income" (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or 'equivalised') for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.
5. For the Households Below Average Income series, incomes have been equivalised using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) modified equivalisation factors.
6. Number of adults and children in low-income households have been rounded to the nearest 100,000, while proportions have been rounded to the nearest percentage point.
Households Below Average Income, DWP.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the reasons for changes in the cost to the public purse of administering disability living allowance in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
There has been no fundamental change in the way DLA is administered in the period in question. However, a number of initiatives to improve process efficiency and reduce direct and indirect costs, including the closure of operating centres, were implemented, as part of a general drive to increase the cost efficiency of PDCS.
The full costs of administering disability living allowance, the volumes of work and staffing figures for the last two years are in the following table. After adjusting for inflation, costs reduced by 4%. Workloads reduced by 3%. Staffing levels reduced by 7%.
|Disability living allowance||2008-09||2009-10|
|(1) Administration cost figures are rounded to the nearest million. (2) Figures include corporate and shared costs. (3 )Volumes relates to work undertaken on new and existing claims to DLA, and are rounded to the nearest thousand. (4) Staffing figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. Note: Disability living allowance includes new claims and maintenance of existing claims. Sources: Costs Department for Work and Pensions based on information in the published PDCS Annual Report and Accounts, and an estimated proportion of the total aggregated costs attributed to disability living allowance. Volumes Department for Work-Activity Based Management System-PDCS Management Information Statistics. Staffing figures 2008-09-Disability and Carers Service Dataview 2009-10-Pension, Disability and Carers Service Dataview.|
The response to PQ/10/8648 gave the costs of administering DLA for 2009-10 as £163.4 million-a difference of £30 million compared to the figure in the table above. That answer was taken from the DWP Activity Based Management System which does not provide information for previous years. This answer estimates the DLA share of the total PDCS agency from financial data included in the annual report and accounts.
The accounts use a method of allocating overhead costs controlled outside the agency different to the Activity Based Management System. It is the method of apportioning those indirect overheads that lies behind the different numbers, rather than a change in the estimated costs incurred in the agency of administering DLA.
The overheads which are excluded in the costs quoted in the answer to PQ/10/8648, and included in this answer in the table above, relate to information technology and cost of capital. In the management information used to answer PQ/10/8648, they were not attributed to the cost of delivering DLA; whereas they were included in the audited accounts. They account for about 90% of the difference. The remaining 10% of the difference relates to timing issues-the data in the financial systems used for the published accounts included the effect of accounting adjustments not included in the management information underpinning the answer to PQ/10/8648.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people diagnosed with cancer receive disability living allowance (DLA); and what his estimate is of the take-up rate for DLA among such people who are eligible for it. 
|Disability living allowance (in-payment): Main disabling condition: Malignant disease-February 2010|
|All||Malignant dis ease|
1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Figures are adjusted to be consistent with the overall caseload from the WPLS.
3. The preferred data source for benefit statistics is 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study. However, the 5% sample data is generally the preferred source for analysis on disabling condition as information is more complete for disabling condition on the 5% sample (Some recipients of DLA who transferred from the AA system may not have been allocated a specific disabling condition code. This problem can be corrected on the sample data but not on the WPLS data. The number of cases affected is decreasing over time).
4. A diagnosed medical condition does not mean that someone is automatically entitled to DLA. Entitlement is dependent on an assessment of how much help someone needs with personal care and/or mobility because of their disability. These statistics are only collected for administrative purposes.
5. In Payment for DLA shows the number of people in receipt of an allowance, and excludes people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital. These cases are shown in the not in payment category.
DWP Information Directorate: Sample data (5%)
Laura Sandys: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make an assessment of the effects of proposed changes to housing benefit rates on the number of claimants moving to seaside towns. 
Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Executive and (b) the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the future operation of the Independent Living Fund for residents of Scotland. 
Maria Miller: The Scottish Executive was advised of the decision by the Independent Living Fund to close the fund to new applicants in advance of the announcement made on 17 June. Since then the Minister for Disabled People has met with the Scottish Minister for Housing and Communities and a meeting is planned with the Scottish Minister for Public Health and Sport. In addition officials have also been in contact with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and officials in the Scottish Executive.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, 1 have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many jobseeker's allowance claims have been closed in the last three months; and of them how many have been: re-opened. (14089)
The number of individuals whose claims ended during the period 8th April to 8th July was 902,160. Of these, 177,680 started a new claim in the same period. These estimates have been derived using data from the Jobcentre Plus 5% cohort. This is a sample of the Jobcentre Plus administrative system.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your question asking how many children were living in workless households in Gateshead constituency in each year since 2004. (13384)
The figures requested come from the Annual Population Survey. (APS) household datasets. These are currently available for 2004 to 2008. Due to the small sample size of the APS at constituency level it is not possible to provide reliable estimates for the constituency named Gateshead East and Washington West. However, the attached table shows estimates for Gateshead local authority which has a larger sample size. The table provides information for 2004 to 2008.
As with any sample survey, estimates from the APS are subject to a margin of uncertainty as different samples give different results. These estimates are such that there is 95 per cent certainty that from all samples possible they will lie within the lower and upper bounds.
|Table: Children( 1) living in workless households( 2) in Gateshead local authority|
|January to December||Estimate||Lower bound( 3)||Upper bound( 3)|
|(1) Children refers to children under 16.|
(2) Households including at least one person aged 16-64.
(3) 95% confidence interval which means that from all samples possible there would be 95% certainty that the true estimate would lie within the lower and upper bounds.
APS household dataset
|Period (April to March each year)||Expenditure (£ million)||Full-time equivalent staff resources (averaged over each year)|
We estimate that some 40% of expenditure on taxis is incurred to enable disabled members of staff to travel to and from work. This expenditure represents payment by the Department of costs which in the case of other employers could be claimed for under the "Access to Work" scheme which Government Departments voluntarily forego;
This amount of expenditure should also be viewed in the context of the size of the DWP work force of over 100,000 employees and the nature of its business operations that cover an office network of over 1,000 locations across Great Britain.
The Department has clear policies in place which not only limit the circumstances under which officials can justify the use of taxis but also challenges the need to travel and strongly advocates the use of video and teleconferences wherever these facilities are practical alternatives.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 27 July 2010, Official Report, column 974W, what the (a) dates, (b) times and (c) locations were of each meeting he has had with the Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the Act of Settlement 1701. 
Michael Moore: As the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform explained in the Adjournment Debate on 1 July 2010, Official Report, column 1109, the Government have not ruled out any change, but if we are to undertake change, we need to do it in a careful and thoughtful way. Where future change is considered, I will discuss this with my ministerial colleagues.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the (a) dates, (b) times and (c) locations were of the meetings he has had with the Advocate-General on the exemption of Orkney and Shetland constituency from plans to reduce the size of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland. 
Michael Moore: No such meetings have been arranged to discuss the subject matter of the hon. Member's question. I regularly have discussions with the Advocate-General on a wide range of issues. The Government have proposed the two exceptions of Orkney and Shetland, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar as those islands are clearly unique in terms of their geography.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 6 September 2010, Official Report, column 10W, on departmental consultants, which external consultants and advisers his Department engaged in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10; and what work was commissioned from each. 
Quadrant Consultants-research into voters perceptions following the 2007 Scottish parliamentary elections.
Richmond Consulting and Oxford Economics-expert advice on the Scottish economy.
University of Glasgow-research support to the Glasgow Task Force on generational poverty and benefit reliance.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the proposed changes to the East Coast Main Line rail service timetable. 
Michael Moore: Network Rail and the train operators are continuing to develop the timetable for the East Coast Main Line rail service route which will be introduced from May 2011. The Government will make their decision to proceed with implementation once a final timetable is presented to them.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions he has visited (a) the city of Glasgow, (b) Edinburgh, (c) South Lanarkshire, (d) North Lanarkshire, (e) Renfrewshire, (f) the Scottish Borders, (g) Perth and Kinross and (h) Aberdeen on official business since his appointment; and on how many occasions he plans to visit each before 6 September 2010. 
|(1) In our first year, the costs of the Scotland Office were not discernable from those of the Office of the Advocate-General. Therefore, the cost shown for the first year includes the costs of both Offices.|
(2) Part year
Pat Glass: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will monitor the performance of academies in narrowing the gap between the attainments of children with special educational needs and those of their peers. 
Sarah Teather: The Special Educational Needs (Information) Act 2008 requires the Secretary of State for Education to publish information about pupils in England with special educational needs to help improve the well-being of these pupils.
The first publication under that Act released on 8 October 2009 "Children with Special Educational Needs 2009: an analysis" included data on the attainment gap between children with special educational needs and their peers.(1)
(1) The publication is available at:
Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to answer Question (a) (i) 5514, (ii) 5498, (iii) 5512, (iv) 5499, (v) 5510, (vi) 5513 and (vii) 5566, tabled on 29 June 2010, (b) (i) 11433, (ii) 11434, (iii) 11435 and (iv) 11432, tabled on 21 July 2010 and (c) (i) 11975 and (ii) 11976, tabled on 23 July 2010, on the New Schools Network. 
PQs 5498, 5499, 5512, 5513, 5514 and 5566-6 September 2010, Official Report, column 350W.
PQ 5510-6 September 2010, Official Report, column 346W.
PQs 11432, 11433, 11434 and 11435-6 September 2010, Official Report, column 351W.
PQ 11976-6 September 2010, Official Report, column 349W.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to answer question 7731, tabled on 7 July 2010 for answer on 13 July 2010, on the Building Schools for the Future programme and the construction industry. 
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to answer question (a) 9130 and (b) 9133, tabled on 13 July 2010 for answer on 19 July 2010, on special school provision in Coventry. 
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to answer question (a) 10485, (b) 10483, (c) 10484 and (d) 10482, tabled on 19 July 2010 for answer on 22 July 2010, on faith schools. 
PQ 10482-27 July 2010, Official Report, column 1199W.
PQ 10483-6 September 2010, Official Report, column 340W.
PQ 10484-27 July 2010, Official Report, column 1199W.
PQ 10485-6 September 2010, Official Report, columns 340-1W.
Mr Nuttall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many 18 to 24-year-olds are not in education, employment or training in Bury North constituency; and what steps his Department is taking to assist these people to enter education, employment or training. 
(1) Age used is respondents academic age, which is defined as their age at the preceding 31 August.
|Number and proportion|
This information is from the Annual Population Survey, which covers the period January to December of each year, with 2009 being the most recent estimate available. The Annual Population Survey is the only available source of data with a sample large enough to provide local authority estimates of the number of young people up to the age of 24 who are NEET, However, the sample is not large enough to provide estimates for smaller geographies, such as parliamentary constituencies, or to provide local authority estimates for age ranges narrower than 16 to 24.
It is important to note that these estimates are subject to large sampling variability and should therefore be treated with caution and viewed in conjunction with their confidence intervals, which indicate how accurate an estimate is. For example, a confidence interval of +/-6.6 percentage points means that the true value is between 6.6pp above the estimate and 6.6pp below the estimate.
Quarterly estimates of the number of people aged 16 to 24 not in education, employment or training (NEET) derived from the Labour Force Survey are published by the Department for Education. The latest publication can be found online at:
Addressing the problem of young people who are not in education, employment and training is one of our key priorities. A lack of skills can be a barrier to gaining employment for some unemployed young people. Young people who are NEET are entitled to face to face support from the adult careers service, Next Step, and can expect to be referred to an adviser early on after claiming out-of-work benefits. A range of training options is already available and we are starting to give colleges and other providers more freedom to develop training programmes which reflect the needs of young people in their areas. For those young people who stay NEET and are claiming benefits for six months or more, the Work Programme will provide a tailored package of support to get people into work.
Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, how many staff were employed in each department of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in each month since 6 May 2010. 
Mr Charles Walker: The number of full-time equivalent staff employed in each department of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in each month since 6 May 2010 is given in the table. This figure includes permanent and fixed-term IPSA employees, permanent employees of other organisations seconded to IPSA, interims and temporary staff who are not IPSA employees.
Mr Chope: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, when the Chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority plans to reply to the letter to him of 13 July 2010 from the office of the hon. Member for Christchurch. 
Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, how much the former Operations Director of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority received in compensation on leaving his post; and whether he left his duties on medical grounds. 
Mr Charles Walker: No compensation was paid to the former Operations Director. He was contracted as an interim to manage the planning and immediate start-up phase of the organisation. His assignment ended when the work had been substantially completed.
John Penrose: The Department has no plans, to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo itself, but there are initiatives being organised by a number of national and regional military museums to mark the occasion, including the National Army Museum and relevant regimental museums, which come under the remit of the Ministry of Defence. There is also likely to be some commemorative activity at associated heritage sites such as Apsley House, the home of the Duke of Wellington, and Walmer Castle.
Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what recent assessment he has made of the proportion of the revenue of high street bookmakers which can be attributed to fixed odds betting terminals. 
This publication contains provisional figures based on regulatory returns made by licensed off-course betting operators. These show that the gross profit from betting was £1,717,100,000 and the gross profit from gaming machines in betting shops, which include B2 machines (formerly known as fixed odds betting terminals) was £1,138,000,000.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport if he will provide advice and assistance to local authorities to establish new playing fields to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HM the Queen. 
Mr Vaizey: Mobile termination rates (the wholesale charges operators make to connect calls to each other's networks) are a regulatory matter falling within Ofcom's remit, as the independent UK communications regulator.
Existing rules which limit mobile termination rates in the UK will expire on 31 March 2011. Between 1 April and 23 June this year Ofcom consulted on what, if any, MTR rules should apply thereafter. The consultation covered plans to reduce MTRs to benefit UK mobile and landline consumers. In that consultation, Ofcom proposed MTRs on a four year glide path (in pence per minute) as follows.
|Pence per minute|
|(1) Set on the basis of being fair and reasonable|
Ofcom's proposals would reduce MTRs by around 85% over the next four years from 4.3 ppm in 2010-11 to 0.5 ppm by 2015. This glide path is designed to minimise the impact of the lost revenue on operators and will also help to ensure that operators do not look to recoup the cost of lower termination rates from their customers as they might with a steeper glide path.
Ofcom are considering submissions received from consumers, consumer groups and operators and they expect to announce the results of this consultation early in 2011. As an independent regulator it is not appropriate for me to discuss these issues with Ofcom, their decision will take into account views raised by stakeholders and will be made in accordance with their statutory duties.
Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many contracts related to the London 2012 Olympics have been awarded to businesses and organisations in (a) Tyne and Wear and (b) Washington and Sunderland West constituency; and what the monetary value is of each such contract. 
Hugh Robertson: Information on businesses across the nations and regions that have won Olympic-related contracts directly supplying the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), and in the supply chains of its contractors, is available in the business section of the London 2012 website under the heading ODA Suppliers, where you will be able to find suppliers listed by venue and sector:
The estimated value of the contracts awarded to businesses in Tyne and Wear is £854,154, and to date no businesses have been awarded contracts in the Washington and Sunderland West constituency. These figures only account for the contracts awarded by the ODA to its own top tier of contractors (tier one contractors). The figures do not include the values of contracts further down the supply chain, in tiers two, three and so on, which are awarded by the tier one contractors and not by the ODA. The ODA estimates that the total value of supply chain contracts to the regions runs into millions of pounds, but these are not public procurements and so the full value of contracts won across the UK is not captured by the figures provided. The ODA estimates that overall up to 50,000 contracts will be generated throughout its supply chains. The ODA is unable to release the value of individual contracts at this time as this is commercially sensitive information. These figures represent the committed spend to date, rather than the end contract value, as in many cases this will not yet be known.
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that sports clubs that choose not to apply for Clubmark status receive fair and equal treatment from local authorities and other providers of sports facilities; 
(2) what role Knight, Kavanagh and Page has in the operation of the Clubmark scheme; and how much Knight, Kavanagh and Page has been paid by his Department for discharging that role in the last 12 months; 
Hugh Robertson: It is at the discretion of local authorities and local sports providers to determine the level of support they offer to local sports clubs. We are keen to help ensure quality of sporting provision across the board, and in many cases Clubmark, or its equivalent, helps deliver this.
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of sports clubs affiliated to national governing bodies recognised by Sport England. 
I can however confirm that as at the end of July 2010 there were 6,299 Clubmark accredited clubs and 4,801 registered as working towards Clubmark. The database is in the public domain and can be found on the Clubmark website:
Clubmark is the only national cross sports quality accreditation scheme for clubs with junior sections. It is built around a set of core criteria which ensure that accredited clubs operate to a set of consistent, accepted and adopted minimum operating standards.
Emma Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what estimate has been made of the opportunity cost of using interleaved spectrum for the broadcast of city TV services. 
Mr Vaizey: Ofcom made an assessment of the opportunity cost of interleaved spectrum in its 2007 Digital Dividend Review and concluded this could be between £50 million to £400 million per frequency channel over 20 years depending on certain factors. In 2009, licences for use of one interleaved channel in Manchester and Cardiff were auctioned at the reserve price of £10,000 each.
Mr MacShane: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost was of producing the publication (a) The Houses of Parliament: Travel Office, (b) The Houses of Parliament: Keeping Yourself Healthy in Parliament and (c) House of Commons, What's on June to September 2010. 
(a) The leaflet on the Travel Office was produced in-house. There have been three print runs since November 2009 totalling 2,300 copies at a total cost of £422 (the latest being in May 2010 for 350 copies at a cost of £73).
Mr Jenkin: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission on how many occasions a smell of gas has been reported in the colonnade of New Palace Yard in the last 12 months; and what steps have been taken as a consequence of such reports. 
The gas lanterns are Victorian and the fragile mantles are sometimes broken as a result of adverse weather, which leads to a smell of escaping gas. The design is such however that there is no reasonably foreseeable risk of a gas explosion, due to the small size of the gas supply pipe and the fact that they vent to atmosphere. These gas lamps are used throughout London's Royal Parks.
George Freeman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the cost to churches of compliance with conditions attached to planning permissions in respect of bats in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Tony Baldry: There are no figures available for the total cost to parishes in Norfolk of getting the necessary bat surveys done before work on the fabric of church buildings can be started, nor of the total cost borne by parishes in mitigating the damage caused by bats in Norfolk churches. Surveys carried out by accredited ecologists usually cost between £1,000 and £2,000. Cleaning where colonies of bats exist is a major outlay for any parish church, an example of this is St Andrew's Church in Holme Hale, Norfolk, one of the worst effected in the country, in the last year this church has paid £2,600 in cleaning costs to clear up after its resident bats.
George Freeman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners what estimate the Church Commissioners have made of the number of cases of damage to historic churches in Norfolk caused by bats. 
The damage to historic artefacts is incalculable, mainly because in many cases it is irreversible. The Church Buildings Council is working closely with Natural England and DEFRA to try and find ways of
mitigating the burden to churches within the law, and is currently conducting a pilot project in Norfolk to explore ways of encouraging the bats to find alternative accommodation by for example the use of bat boxes outside on the eaves. The results of the pilot will be reported at a conservation conference to be held at Lambeth Palace in November. Norfolk has the highest number of medieval churches in Europe. In many instances bats and congregations can co-exist quite happily. The problems and costs escalate where the bats occupy churches in large numbers. I undertake the hon. Member updated with progress.
Joan Walley: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what the (a) proposals and (b) timescale are for ward boundary changes in Stoke-on-Trent; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Streeter: The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) informs me that it will publish the final recommendations of its electoral review of Stoke-on-Trent city council on 26 October 2010. Details of the recommendations will be immediately available on the LGBCE's website:
A draft order, intended to implement the LGBCE's final recommendations, will be laid in both Houses of Parliament in January 2011 and will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. Subject to parliamentary approval, new electoral arrangements for the city council will then be implemented at the local elections on 5 May 2011.
Edward Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Treasury officials on the carbon capture and storage demonstration competition. 
Charles Hendry: A number of constructive discussions have taken place between the Department and HM Treasury, at ministerial level and between officials, regarding various aspects of the carbon capture and storage demonstration competition.
Edward Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policy of the carbon capture and storage demonstration competition. 
The Annual Energy Statement and the 2050 Pathways' analysis, published in July 2010, make it clear the Government considers that CCS has the potential to play a vital role in ensuring low carbon
and secure energy supplies. This is why we said in the Coalition Programme that we will continue public sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for four coal-fired power stations.
We are continuing support for detailed Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) work as a key element of the first CCS demonstration competition. This work is on course to meet its scheduled conclusion in spring 2011.
We held a Senior Stakeholder Conference in July 2010 to discuss investment in CCS in the UK and have subsequently established the CCS Development Forum. At the conference we also launched a market sounding process to engage with industry on the development of the selection process for future CCS demonstration projects, ahead of our intended launch of a formal call for additional projects by the end of the year.
Edward Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the reasons for the time taken to begin to construct the first UK power plants using carbon capture and storage. 
Charles Hendry: The complexities associated with delivering a large-scale first-of-a-kind project have contributed to the length of time taken to reach the later stages of the current competition for the first CCS demonstration. We are working within the framework established by the previous Government, while bringing forward the project for subsequent completion. Learning from that process will enable us to introduce a more streamlined approach to selecting future demonstration projects for support.
Charles Hendry: We expect to publish the CCS Roadmap in spring 2011. Since May we have held a Senior Stakeholder conference on encouraging investment in CCS in the UK and published the 2050 Pathways call for evidence. Feedback from this engagement with stakeholders will feed into the Roadmap and the new CCS Development Forum, which we launched in July, will help guide its development.
Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans he has to introduce environmental performance standards to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government committed, in the coalition agreement, to the establishment of an emissions performance standard (EPS) that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient carbon capture and storage (CCS) to meet the EPS. The consultation in autumn 2010 on electricity market reform will consider how an EPS would be introduced alongside wider reform of the electricity market. An EPS may interact with many of the other policy instruments being considered. With significant
challenges ahead for the energy sector and a need for substantial new investment in order to deliver secure, affordable and low carbon energy, it will be critical that all action taken over the next decade and beyond is closely aligned, and that the impacts an EPS may have on the market alongside other mechanisms are properly understood.
Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what national policy considerations will be taken into account in deciding on the application for consent for a coal-fired power station at Hunterston. 
Charles Hendry: Applications to build and operate power stations over 50 MW in Scotland are made to the Scottish Ministers. This is a devolved matter, and the UK Government cannot intervene in individual applications.
Energy policy is generally a matter reserved to UK Ministers and so UK energy policy, as reflected in the proposed national policy statements or set out elsewhere, may be a relevant consideration in planning decisions in Scotland.
Gregory Barker: In light of their commitments to fairness and social mobility, the Government will look closely at the effects of their decisions on different groups in society, especially the least well off, and on different regions. As part of the Spending Review process, DECC has shared with HMT analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, of the distributional impact of energy and climate change policies.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many external training courses were attended by staff of his Department in the last 12 months; and what the cost to the public purse was of each such course. 
Gregory Barker: The Department of Energy and Climate Change does not keep a central record of staff attending external training events and the associated costs therefore this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 6 July 2010, Official Report, columns 148-9W, on housing insulation, whether the target of insulating every home with cavity wall and loft insulation where technically possible by 2015 is one of the binding targets referred to in the answer. 
Gregory Barker: The legally binding targets referred to in my answer of 6 July are those defined in 2008 under the first three Carbon Budgets. For the Homes and Communities sector this equates to a 29% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020 from a 2008 baseline.
We are confident that Green Deal, together with supporting measures such as the new energy company obligation, will enable us to achieve or go beyond the ambition level of this target. In the meantime, our decision to extend the carbon emissions reduction target to December 2012 will ensure we are on track to make significant progress by 2015, including the completion of all remaining loft and cavity wall installations where technically practical.
We are also equally committed to taking action on renewable heat; this is a crucial part of ensuring we meet our renewables targets, cutting carbon and ensuring energy security. The Government are considering responses to the Renewable Heat Incentive consultation and will set out detailed proposals on how to take forward action on renewable heat through the Spending Review.
The Government also launched a new Microgeneration Strategy in July, a collaborative consultation process which will aim to tackle non-financial barriers to development of the microgeneration market. This was followed by a roundtable discussion chaired by Greg Barker with key stakeholders. Business along with communities and householders wishing to invest in small scale onsite energy generation should benefit from this strategy.
George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to increase the National Grid's infrastructure capacity to facilitate offshore energy projects; and if he will make a statement. 
We are putting in place a competitive licensing regime to connect offshore wind farms to the onshore grid. In its role as system operator, National Grid's licence means it has a clear role to work with offshore grid developers to facilitate a co-ordinated and efficient offshore network. Ofgem has given clear guidance to the system operator in fulfilling these extended duties offshore. In its role as the transmission company for England and Wales, National Grid along with the two Scottish onshore transmission owners will make proposals to Ofgem for any necessary onshore reinforcements to
connect offshore wind farms to the onshore network. Ofgem then approve the expenditure necessary for transmission companies to deliver any new grid infrastructure capacity efficiently.
George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his estimate is of the cost of the expansion of the national grid required to accommodate expected levels of renewable electricity generation in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Charles Hendry: To accommodate the expected growth in offshore wind generation, we estimate that at least £15 billion will be required for the transmission infrastructure to connect offshore wind farms to the onshore grid.
In addition, the onshore grid will need to be upgraded to accommodate the planned growth in offshore wind generation as well as for the growth of onshore renewable and other low carbon generation. The March 2009 Electricity Networks Strategy Group '2020 Vision' report:
set out the potential extra onshore transmission investments needed to connect the significant changes in the generation mix to 2020. This estimated that upgrading onshore grid could require up to £4.7 billion of new investment over the next decade.
George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what measures are in place to encourage the location of power stations required for the collection of offshore energy to be sited on (a) brownfield and (b) industrial sites. 
Charles Hendry: Developers and consenting authorities can be expected to assess a proposed location in terms of, among other factors, prevailing planning policy and any emphasis in that on brownfield or industrial locations.
Charles Hendry: We plan to publish our renewables delivery plan in the spring which will set out how we can deliver, from an exceedingly low base, the legal commitment to supply 15% of our energy from renewables sources by 2020.
We have asked the Committee on Climate Change for advice on the scope for a more ambitious target for renewables through to 2030. They have already indicated that the legacy inherited by the coalition will make going beyond the 15% by 2020 unrealistic, and we look forward to receiving their further analysis in the spring;
We will allow communities that host renewable energy projects to keep the additional business rates they generate. This should help encourage local authorities to support suitable projects brought forward by business;
We have overturned the law preventing local authorities from selling renewable electricity to the grid.
We have taken immediate action to exploit the potential of bio-electricity and energy from waste by grandfathering support under the renewables obligation for electricity from waste, anaerobic digestion and advanced conversion technologies, such as pyrolysis and gasification. We will publish in the autumn a joint industry/Government action plan to deliver a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion;
We are supporting six projects under the third round of the Offshore Wind Demonstration Call;
We will be appointing Offshore Transmission Operators (OFTOs) through competitive tenders to build and maintain grids in UK waters, with an expected £15 billion of investment required to 2020. We have already appointed three OFTOs to manage £700 million of offshore grid assets; and
We are currently consulting on a hew microgeneration strategy aimed at ensuring that smaller scale technologies reach their full potential to deliver low carbon heat and electricity in households and at community scales.
Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he plans to replace the Low Carbon Buildings Programme with the Renewable Heat Incentive once the former expires. 
Gregory Barker: The Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) was closed on 24 May 2010. It was anticipated that support for heat under LCBP would continue up until the introduction of the Government's action on renewable heat, scheduled for April 2010. However, as part of the Government's commitment to delivering £6 billion of departmental spending cuts in 2010-11, the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) was closed early to contribute £3 million to the £43 million savings that result from cutting or slowing down planned departmental expenditure.
The LCBP has been successful in increasing the uptake of low carbon buildings technology in the UK. Applications worth £63 million for payment in 2010-11 will not be affected by the cuts and where grant offer letters have been issued they will be processed. Applications that were received before the programme was closed and pass the standard due diligence test applied to all applications will be honoured. All projects are to be completed by 31 March 2011.
The Government are fully committed to taking action on renewable heat and are currently considering responses to the Renewable Heat Incentive consultation that closed on the 26 April 2010. We will set but detailed proposals for taking forward the Government's commitment to renewable heat through the spending review.
Charles Hendry: I have recently commissioned an analysis of matters arising in the consideration of noise impacts in the determination of wind farm developments in England. The project will seek to establish best practice in assessing and rating wind turbine noise as applied by specialist acoustics consultants by investigating previous decisions, to ensure that the ETSU-R-97 is applied in a consistent and effective manner (though the project will not revisit ETSU itself). The project will be looking at decisions made at all levels of the planning system.
Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change which officials from which sections of (a) his Department and (b) other Departments were involved in determining and drafting the remit of the contract awarded to the Hayes McKenzie Partnership to investigate the implementation of ETSU-R-97 guidance; and whether any such official is on secondment from industry. 
Charles Hendry: The head of the land-based renewables team within the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, Sarah Rhodes, has responsibility for onshore wind policy and for the award of a contract to the Hayes McKenzie Partnership. Junior officials from her team were directly involved in the contractual process, together with others from DEFRA (including advice from DEFRA's expert acoustic advisers) and CLG. None of these officials are on secondment from industry or any other organisation.
Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what reports he has received on (a) challenges to the ETSU-R-97 method for the assessment and rating of noise from wind farms made by expert acousticians at planning inquiries and (b) the views of planning inspectors on the appropriateness of the ETSU method. 
Charles Hendry: The Department is aware from various sources, including planning decisions, that some expert acousticians at planning inquiries have challenged aspects of the ETSU-R-97 method and its implementation. This is for a number of reasons including the way in which it has been implemented, which is why I have asked Hayes McKenzie to carry out new analysis of this particular issue. In the light of such concerns presented to them, planning inspectors have reflected these comments. Planning inspectors are, however, aware that ETSU-R-97 remains the applicable guidance for assessing and rating noise from wind energy developments.
Graham Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans the Government have to introduce a statutory two-kilometre buffer zone between wind farms and residential areas. 
There are currently no plans to introduce a proximity rule. The assessment of an application to develop a wind farm already includes, among other things, an analysis of visual and landscape impacts to ascertain whether the location and height of the wind farm is acceptable. The Government consider that these
impacts are best assessed on a case by case basis so that local factors can be taken fully into account, regardless of whether applications are dealt with at national or local level. Where applications are dealt with at local level, we believe that councils should have the opportunity to decide these matters on behalf of their local community.
Mr Hague: We would welcome improved relations with Iran. Improved relations will come with the Iranian Government engaging in good faith with the E3 plus 3 on its nuclear programme and improving its increasingly poor human rights record.
18. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the advantages and disadvantages to the UK of Turkey's accession to the EU; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: The case for Turkey's EU membership, subject to rigorous accession criteria, is clearer than ever. As a country with a rapidly growing economy and increasing international influence, including in the Middle East, Turkey's membership would bring increased prosperity and security for the UK.
Mr Lidington: I refer my hon. Friend to my written ministerial statement of 13 September 2010, Official Report, columns 31-33WS. The Government are clear that there should be no further transfers of sovereignty or powers from the UK to the EU in this Parliament. We will introduce legislation to ensure that any subsequent future treaty that proposes to transfer competence or power from the UK to the EU will be subject to a referendum of the British people before it can be ratified by the UK.
Alistair Burt: The UK and Pakistan have a strong relationship, demonstrated by our offering some £64 million to help with flood relief. We are committed to a long-term, productive and friendly partnership with Pakistan, based on the enhanced strategic dialogue announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Zardari on 6 August.
22. Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects of terrorist acts by Hamas on the Middle East peace process. 
Alistair Burt: The UK along with international community recognise Hamas retain the ability to damage the peace process. We condemn the recent acts of terrorism and they must not be allowed to derail the talks. We call on all parties to refrain from any activity that could undermine the search for a just and lasting settlement.
Alistair Burt: Since the hon. Member last asked this question in June 2010, President Karzai has made further commitments on priority areas for tackling corruption at the Kabul conference. It is now essential that the Afghan Government deliver on these commitments through concrete action.
Alistair Burt: We regularly raise human rights with the Government of Sri Lanka. Following the end of the conflict, there has been an improvement in the human rights situation, but we remain concerned about the difficult environment for freedom of expression and reports of continued paramilitary activity in the north.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people from Afghanistan were awarded a Chevening scholarship in academic year (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08, (c) 2008-09 and (d) 2009-10. 
Alistair Burt: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend Lord Howell of Guildford to Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer on 27 July 2010, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA315, giving the number of Chevening scholars from each country over the last five years. For Afghanistan the figures are (a) 10, (b) 13, (c) 10 and (d) 13.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions each Minister in his Department has met his Department's Chief Executive Officer since 6 May 2010. 
Alistair Burt: Simon Fraser, our new Permanent Under-Secretary of State, started on 27 August 2010, and like his predecessors, has participated in a number of meetings and other events with the ministerial team as part of the normal course of business. We do not keep records of such contact.
Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been spent on purchasing and installing European Union flags at UK diplomatic posts in the last five years. 
Alistair Burt [holding answer 13 September 2010]: Information for the cost of purchasing and installing the European Union flag at UK diplomatic posts is not held centrally, and is available only at disproportionate cost.
Alistair Burt: The majority of north, central and south American countries do not recognise either British or Argentine sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, although most do support Argentine calls for dialogue over sovereignty. However, the UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, and the principle of self determination underlies this position. There can be no negotiations on sovereignty unless and until the islanders so wish. The UN continues to recognise UK administration of the Falkland Islands.
Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to take steps to assist civil society organisations to promote religious pluralism, religious freedom and counter-extremism in Indonesia. 
Alistair Burt: We support the work of civil society organisations in Indonesia working to promote religious freedom and counter-extremism. We have contributed funds to a variety of projects including: to help strengthen the capacity of institutions to foster tolerance, mutual understanding, moderation, violence reduction and de-radicalisation; capacity building for religious leaders; and engaging radical Muslim communities in the promotion of human rights in Indonesia.
In July, my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, highlighted the emphasis the UK places on counter radicalisation at a post-Friday prayers discussion at the Islamic State University Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta. We will continue to call for religious tolerance across Indonesia.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will increase the level of assistance the Government is giving to the Government of Mexico to combat (a) drug trafficking, (b) human trafficking and (c) narco-terrorism. 
Her Majesty's Government support the efforts of the Mexican Government to combat trans-national organised crime. We have done so on a bilateral basis, providing support through various law-enforcement exchanges and projects. These include expert visits from the National Police Improvement Agency and the Metropolitan Police, as well as various projects supporting Mexico to reform its criminal justice system. The Serious Organised Crime Agency has also offered specialist assistance.
We have also provided support alongside European Union partners, through the formal EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership. Within this Partnership, we have worked with the Mexican Government on improving the capacity of their federal police force on forensics, police intelligence, interview techniques, surveillance, trial testimony and the methodology of investigation.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he received the report, Verifying warhead dismantlement: Past, present, future, commissioned from the Verification Technology Information Centre as part of the UK-Norway Initiative on verified warhead dismantlement; how much this research cost; and what steps he plans to take as a result of the report. 
The Ministry of Defence paid VERTIC £40,431 between 2008 and 2009 for research, two reports and independent
oversight of the UK-Norway Initiative which has been well received internationally for its contribution to disarmament efforts.
Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on allegations that Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers. 
Alistair Burt: We are aware of reports by non-governmental organisations and governments which allege that war crimes were committed by both sides in the final months of the military conflict which ended in May 2009. We have raised our concerns about these allegations with senior members of the Sri Lankan Government, including the President and Foreign Minister. We have consistently urged the Government to undertake an independent and credible investigation into these allegations. A process of accountability could play an important role in achieving post-conflict reconciliation.
Mr Lidington: Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum has damaged public confidence in the European Union (EU). The Government's forthcoming EU Bill will help restore that confidence by ensuring that voters will have their say over any future EU Treaty or Treaty amendment that transfers competence from the United Kingdom to the European Union.
Mark Reckless: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will bring forward legislative proposals for a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. 
Mr Lidington: The Government do not propose a referendum on this issue. Membership of the then EEC was approved by the British electorate in a referendum in 1975. This Government believe that membership of the EU is in the United Kingdom's national interest.
Over the next five years we intend to champion vigorously the interests of the United Kingdom and play an active role in the EU. We believe that that the EU needs to change and that the EU can do things better, and we are confident in Britain's ability to move the EU in the right direction. The Government are clear in its objective to improve the democratic accountability of EU decision making.
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