17. Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has for the Decent Homes programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: As part of our £6.5 billion investment in housing, the Government will spend £2.1 billion on tackling non-decent social homes over the next four years. Of this, £1.6 billion will be on council housing.
18. Mr Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to issue guidance to local authorities on the treatment of future planning applications from mobile phone operators; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: Guidance to local authorities on the treatment of planning applications from mobile telephone operators is currently contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8: Telecommunications. We will consider whether any changes are required as part of our development of a National Planning Framework.
19. Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he plans to take in respect of local authorities which have not started to publish online details of their expenditure over £500. 
Mr Pickles: All local authorities should be publishing this information from January 2011. I am pleased with the response from local government with nearly 80 councils now publishing information and welcome the support from the LGA in driving this agenda forward. Given the importance for citizens and communities I will continue to challenge and support those authorities yet to do so.
20. Richard Harrington: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has to assist first-time buyers through shared ownership schemes; and if he will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: We announced in the spending review almost £4.5 billion investment for affordable housing, which through a new delivery model is expected to deliver up to 155,000 new affordable homes over this spending period. Where appropriate, this will include provision of low cost home ownership. We will provide more details on these reforms shortly.
Richard Harrington: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans his Department has to encourage the (a) extension and (b) take-up of shared ownership schemes for first-time buyers; and if he will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: We announced in the spending review almost £4.5 billion in investment for affordable housing, which through a new delivery model is expected to deliver up to 155,000 new affordable homes over this spending period. Where appropriate, this will include provision of low cost home ownership. We will provide more details on these reforms shortly.
21. Michael Ellis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment his Department has made of the accuracy of its rough sleeping counts. 
Grant Shapps: We have overhauled the way we evaluate rough sleeping so we now have an accurate picture of the problem across the country. Rather than 440 people sleeping rough there are 1,247.
22. Esther McVey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to reduce the administrative burden his Department places on local authorities. 
Mr Pickles: Last week I scrapped the National Indicator Set and handed control of more than 4,700 Whitehall targets to councils and their voters, to keep or not as they see fit.
This is on top of my previous decision to scrap the Comprehensive Area Assessment and my continuing work with councils and others to identify excessive legislation and needless bureaucracy.
23. David Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions he has had with the Planning Inspectorate on planning decisions. 
Robert Neill: As an Executive Agency, the Planning Inspectorate takes responsibility for its day to day operational work within a policy context set by Government. I have regular meetings with the Chief Executive to discuss performance and progress.
24. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has to meet representatives of local authorities to discuss the implications for housing policy of the outcome of the comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. 
I have written to the chief executives of all local authorities outlining the implications of yesterday's spending review for housing. A copy of this
letter has been placed in the Library of the House. I have regular meetings with representatives of local authorities to discuss housing policy issues.
Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on his Department's Future of Building Regulation exercise; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr Field) on Tuesday 19 October 2010, Official Report, column 660W.
Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has for the allocation of homelessness grant for 2010-11. 
Grant Shapps: This Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. We have established a new cross-Government working group on homelessness bringing together Ministers from eight Government Departments to address the complex causes of homelessness and rough sleeping. We have already allocated £74 million in 2010-11 to local authorities and the voluntary sector, enabling them to prevent homelessness effectively.
In addition we will be providing a further £12.25 million to local authorities and the voluntary sector to help those households that are affected by the proposed housing benefit reforms and to help improve access to the private rented sector for single homeless people.
Mr Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proposals to introduce a new homes bonus for developers he is considering; and if he will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: The New Homes Bonus will commence in April 2011. The scheme will match the council tax raised for new homes for the following six years. This is a powerful, simple and transparent incentive for local councils to facilitate housing growth. Communities will now reap the real benefits of growth and not just the costs. Further details will be set out in a full statement when we consult on the scheme design in November.
We will continue our commitment to reducing the burden of unnecessary regulation on homebuilders. This will reduce the costs of development and incentivise investment in new housing.
Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that planning applications for new dwellings refused by local planning authorities are not approved on appeal on the basis of rolling five-year housing supply targets. 
Greg Clark: Decision on planning appeals are the responsibility of planning inspectors. They make decisions based on all material circumstances. The current policy on planning for housing is set out in Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. The policy requires local authorities to identify sufficient specific sites to deliver a five-year supply of housing and treat applications favourably where there is less than a five-year supply of land in place.
With the abolition of the regional strategies, local authorities will be able to determine their own local housing targets, against which the five-year land supply is determined.
In the coalition agreement the Government stated that they will publish and present to Parliament a simple and consolidated national planning framework covering all forms of development. We will make an announcement on how we propose to take forward the national planning framework and the implications for specific areas of planning policy. This will include planning for housing policy.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the recommendations relating to his Department in the Government Office for Science's report, Foresight on Mental Capital and Wellbeing; if he will ensure that his Department's policy development process takes account of psychological research into subjective wellbeing; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: My Department's Evidence and Innovation Strategy commits Ministers and policymakers to make use of the latest, world-class research, combined with the bespoke analysis and interpretation of data by our in-house analysts and scientists. Our commissioned research supports new and innovative ways to understand how best to address policy priorities, providing practical and insightful evidence to inform innovative, effective and efficient policy options for Ministers. Successive Foresight reports, including that on Mental Capital and Wellbeing have contributed to this evidence base.
CLG is aware of the ways in which we can try to promote wellbeing and positive mental health. For example, we recognise the impact that the local environment can have on people's wellbeing. Through our planning and regeneration policies, we are working to improve the quality of neighbourhoods throughout the country. Among the many benefits, this will help people feel a sense of pride and belonging to their community, support the drive for localism, and create neighbourhoods that are strong, attractive and thriving.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Prime Minister how many mobile telephones the Government supplied to his predecessor during his period in office. 
The Prime Minister: This information relates to the previous Administration.
Mr Winnick: To ask the Prime Minister which Ministers holding which positions in which Departments are entitled to a ministerial car. 
The Prime Minister: The rules on the provision of Government cars are set out in the 'Ministerial Code'. The Government are committed to publishing on an annual basis the number and cost of any allocated cars.
Mr Winnick: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he has travelled (a) first and (b) standard class by train on official duties since 7 May 2010. 
The Prime Minister: I travel making the most efficient and cost-effective arrangements, including by train. My travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the 'Ministerial Code'. Most recently, I travelled by train to the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood on Tuesday, 19 October 2010.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Prime Minister whether he has made an assessment of the merits of implementing the recommendation of Sir Richard Dearlove on the establishment of a National Security Staff College. 
The Prime Minister: An important part of the Government's approach to national security is developing the skills of the individuals involved in this work. The UK Defence Academy intends to run a pilot course in leadership and national security for candidates from across government in October. After this initial pilot we will consider using this model more widely as part of a training programme for senior staff.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the statement of 14 October 2010, Official Report, columns 505-06, on public bodies reform what the technical functions performed by the Commonwealth Development Corporation are; and what consideration was given to transferring it to the private sector. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: Since 2004, CDC has operated as a Fund of Funds investment company, placing its capital with private equity funds, which in turn invest in promising businesses in the poorer developing countries. I believe CDC has the potential to be the jewel in the crown of the UK's support to the private sector in developing countries and at the forefront of the Government's approach to wealth creation.
Private companies are answerable to their shareholders and focus on achieving the best possible return on their investment. By keeping CDC within public control we can ensure developmental returns are at the heart of their efforts, alongside financial returns.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to publish equality impact assessments undertaken by his Department as part of the comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) is taking equality into account in its work towards the spending review. Where appropriate, equality impact assessments will be carried out and published on DFID's external website.
Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) whether he plans to publish the findings of the review of health care on Saint Helena; 
(2) when he expects the review of health care on Saint Helena to be concluded. 
Mr Duncan: St Helena Council commissioned an independent medical review of a specific incident reported in the St Helena Independent on 11 June 2011. The St Helena Government issued a press release on 1 October, confirming that the review had been completed and shared with parties concerned. Its detailed content is confidential and cannot be made public unless the parties concerned choose to disclose it.
St Helena Council also recommended the introduction of an external audit regime to monitor the suitability of heath sector provision in St Helena. The St Helena Government has yet to implement the recommendation.
Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress his Department has made on the establishment of a marine protected area in the British Indian Ocean Territory. 
Mr Bellingham: The Government believe that the Marine Protected Area (MPA) proclaimed in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) on 1 April 2010 by the BIOT Commissioner is the right way forward for furthering the environmental protection of the territory and encouraging others to do the same in important and vulnerable areas under their control.
The BIOT Administration are no longer issuing new fishing licences but are honouring those already issued. These licences expire at the end of October.
The BIOT Administration are continuing to work on the implementation of the MPA. This includes preparing implementing legislation in BIOT law, enforcement
arrangements, establishing administrative and scientific research frameworks, funding, dialogue with interested parties and exploring the opportunities for involving representatives of the Chagossian community in environmental work in the territory.
Yvette Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken in the UN Human Rights Council to achieve the release of political prisoners in Burma. 
Mr Hague: The UK raised human rights in Burma at the Human Rights Council in September. Both the UK and EU called for the release of political prisoners in Burma in their statements on Countries of Concern. The EU also raised political prisoners in their response to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights opening statement. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently working to achieve a robust resolution on human rights in Burma at the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee and intends to work on a further resolution on Burma at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March. I regularly raise the situation in Burma with my counterparts in the region. We continue to support the work of Mr Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Burma, mandated by the Human Rights Council.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on (a) the human rights situation and (b) freedom of the press in the Gambia. 
Mr Bellingham: Our high commission in Banjul regularly raises human rights concerns with the Government of the Gambia both bilaterally and also in its capacity as permanent local presidency of the European Union. Most recently my hon. Friend, the Minister for Africa, raised concerns with the Gambian Minister for Foreign Affairs on 14 September 2010 in London. We also set out our position at the EU/Gambia article 8 consultations held on 9 June 2010 in Banjul and during the Gambia's Universal Periodic Review session in the UN on 10 February 2010.
The Gambia has signed all major United Nations human rights conventions and we expect the Gambia to fulfil these obligations. We will continue to raise concerns about freedom of expression and other human rights and good governance issues bilaterally, through the European Union and internationally.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 19 October 2010, Official Report, columns 493-94W, on Ilois: resettlement, on what date the US administration first communicated to his Department its present policy on resettlement of the Chagos Islands; who in the US administration made the original policy statement; at what level of the US administration was the policy most
recently reconfirmed; what information he has received from the US administration on the nature of its present concerns; and on what occasion he last discussed the issue with his US counterpart. 
Mr Bellingham: The 1966 Exchange of Notes which concerns the Availability for Defence Purposes of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was signed on behalf of the US Government by Mr David Bruce, the US ambassador, on 30 December 1966. This Exchange of Notes made the whole of the territory available for defence purposes-not just Diego Garcia. US concerns over resettlement were set out in letters from the State Department in November 2004 and January 2006. US concerns over the implications of resettlement were most recently reconfirmed in October 2010 during the formal UK/US Political-Military Talks on BIOT when US officials set out the US Government's position.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Nigeria on the treatment of Christians in that country. 
Mr Bellingham: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not made representations to the Government of Nigeria on the treatment of Christians in Nigeria. However, our high commission and Department for International Development (DFID) in Nigeria have supported non-governmental organisations in northern Nigeria to facilitate dialogue between Christian and Muslim communities, both of whom have suffered from appalling violence this year. We continue to stress to Nigerian authorities at state and federal level the need to ensure that Nigerian citizens of all religious affiliations have the security and protection required to worship freely and live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.
DFID and our high commission in Abuja are also exploring further ways in which they can help the process of reconciliation between religious and ethnic communities in Plateau State, and continue to impress on state and federal authorities the importance of bringing those responsible for crimes to justice. We encourage the Nigerian Government to fully consider the implementation of recommendations made in the recent report of the Presidential Committee on the Jos Crisis.
Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 October 2010, Official Report, columns 495-96W, on Poland: political parties, if he will publish the advice he received on the position on homophobia and racism of the Law and Justice Party in Poland. 
Mr Lidington: It is our policy not to refer to internal comments passed to Ministers. However, I can confirm as per the previous question from my hon. Friend, that I receive regular reporting from our embassy in Poland covering the political and economic situation in Poland.
Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his timetable is for UK ratification of the EU's stabilisation and association agreement with Serbia. 
Mr Lidington: The Government are in the process of ratifying Serbia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. The SAA treaty was laid before Parliament during the summer recess and, in accordance with the "Ponsonby rule", will not be ratified until at least 21 sitting days have expired. Those 21 sitting days began on 11 October. After the 21 days a draft Order in Council can be laid to enable the SAA to be specified as an EU treaty under the European Communities Act 1972. That draft Order will be subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
The Government strongly support enlargement of the European Union to the countries of the western Balkans, subject to the accession criteria being met. It considers the decision by EU member states to proceed with ratification of Serbia's SAA to be a welcome and important step forward in the development of Serbia's relationship with the EU.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Office of the UN High Representative for Human Rights on human rights in Sri Lanka. 
Alistair Burt: We regularly raise human rights issues with a broad range of UN agencies, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with human rights organisations. Following the end of the military conflict, there has been some improvement in the human rights situation, but we remain concerned about a number of issues, including the difficult environment for freedom of expression and the continued detention of approximately 7,500 ex-combatants whose legal status is not clear.
When I met the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 19 October, I raised these and other issues of concern.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the prospects for an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. 
Alistair Burt: We have consistently called for a credible, independent and transparent investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. Unless there is an honest process of accountability for the past, these allegations will haunt the country for many years to come, and will hinder much needed reconciliation between the communities.
The Government of Sri Lanka have established a 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission' to look at conflict issues in the period 2002 to May 2009.
We welcomed the creation of this commission and have urged that it should conduct its business in an independent, transparent and credible way. We are encouraging the Sri Lankan Government to promote engagement between the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and the UN Panel of Experts established to advise the UN Secretary-General on the issue of accountability in Sri Lanka.
Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials his Department has appointed on fixed-term contracts since 7 May 2010. 
Chris Grayling: Part-month data are not available. The number of staff recruited on a fixed-term appointment from 1 May 2010 to 30 September 2010 is 210.
At 1 May 2010 the Department employed 119,099 members of staff. At 30 September 2010 the Department employed 114,985 members of staff.
Mr Spencer: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to reduce the incidence of (a) injury and (b) infection among visitors to farm parks; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Grayling: The incidence of both injury and infection to visitors at farm parks (also known as open farms, visitor farm attractions and petting farms) is believed to be very low when set in the context of the 5-10 million visitors each year. However, no single classification system exists to identify such attractions so more specific incidence rates cannot be established.
However, as with any other leisure activities which provide valuable educational and life experiences, these cannot be made risk-free. Any case of injury or infection, albeit rare, can of course have very serious consequences for the individuals and families affected.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities are continuing to work with industry bodies and operators to achieve a sensible balance between risks and safety measures. In particular, following the publication in June 2010 of a report by Professor George Griffin to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) into the most serious outbreak of E. coli O157 to occur in the UK from animal contact, HSE in conjunction with HPA, Local Government Regulation, other Government Departments and industry stakeholders, is considering the recommendations in the report and is reviewing its current guidance.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in the Gateshead Metropolitan Council area are in receipt of housing benefit; and how many are (a) not of working age, (b) in work and (c) not in work. 
Steve Webb: As at July 2010, the Department estimates for Gateshead local authority:
(a) 7,480 Housing Benefit recipients are aged 65 or over. This equates to 35% of the total Housing Benefit caseload in Gateshead local authority.
(b) 2,100 non-passported recipients of Housing Benefit are in employment. This equates to 10% of the total Housing Benefit caseload in Gateshead local authority.
(c) 4,230 non-passported recipients of Housing Benefit and 15,400 passported recipients of Housing Benefit are not in employment.
1. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Housing Benefit figures exclude any Extended Payment cases. An Extended Payment is a payment that may be received for a further four weeks when they start working full time, work more hours or earn more money.
4. SHBE is a monthly electronic scan of claimant level data direct from local authority computer systems. It replaces quarterly aggregate clerical returns. The data are available monthly from November 2008 and July 2010 are the latest available.
5. Figures are at 10 July 2010.
6. Data from SHBE incorporate the local authority changes from 1 April 2009.
7. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
8. People claiming Housing Benefit not in receipt of a passported benefit are recorded as being in employment if their local authority has recorded employment income from either the main claimant, or partner of claimant (if applicable), in calculating the housing benefit award.
9. Passported Status does not include recipients with unknown passported status.
10. Age groups are based on the age on the count date (second Thursday in the month), of either:
(a) the recipient if they are single, or
(b) the elder of the recipient or partner if claiming as a couple
Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many local Jobcentre Plus offices were (a) opened, (b) relocated and (c) closed in each of the last five years. 
Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many local Jobcentre Plus offices were (a) opened (b) relocated and (c) closed in each of the last five years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
We do not hold information on Jobcentres under the specific category of re-location. This is because local Jobcentre Plus offices came into being as a result of the decision to merge the former Benefits Agency and Employment Service in 2002. At the point of merger, the two organisations had offices which, in many instances, were geographically close to each other and provided opportunities to rationalise the estate. The category of 'opened' Jobcentres covers former Benefits Agency and Employment Service buildings that were converted to deliver a modernised integrated service.
The information available is in the table below:
|Transformed jobcentres rolled out by Jobcentre Plus||Jobcentre Plus offices open to the public and subsequently closed|
| Source: Jobcentre Plus.|
Altogether, 362 Jobcentre Plus offices previously open to the public have been closed within the last 5 full calendar years. In rationalising our estate we have maintained excellent high street coverage, providing a single integrated customer facing office, whilst at the same time reducing cost to the tax payer.
Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people who are in receipt of disability living allowance as a consequence of (a) a physical disability, (b) a mental health condition and (c) another condition were granted cars under the Motability scheme in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Maria Miller: Disability living allowance (DLA) higher rate mobility component is not awarded on the basis of an individual's health condition but is awarded on the basis of the help that they need as a result of their mobility difficulties. This information is therefore not available in the format requested. However, there are currently around 550,000 recipients of the higher rate mobility component of DLA who have a car with the Motability scheme.
Mr Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many national insurance numbers were issued to foreign nationals in each local authority area (a) in each year since 1 January 2005 and (b) in each of the last eight quarters for which figures are available. 
Chris Grayling: The information requested has been placed in the Library for both Houses.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people Remploy employs in (a) Wrexham, (b) Wales and (c) the UK. 
Maria Miller: The number of people employed by Remploy in Wrexham, Wales and the UK are shown in the following table.
|Enterprise Business( 1)||Other employees||Total|
|(1) Including factories and Future Jobs Fund trainees|
Remploy figures for September 2010
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he had with (a) trades union representatives and (b) Remploy employees before making his announcement that Remploy's future was under consideration. 
Maria Miller: As announced in the review of public bodies on 14 October, the status of Remploy Ltd as a non-departmental public body remains under consideration as part of a Government wide review of such bodies.
The Minister with responsibility for disabled people the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Maria Miller) and departmental officials recently met with trade union representatives to listen to their views on the future of Remploy. We will continue to work with and listen to the views of the trade unions, Remploy employees and all those who have a close interest in Remploy.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the monetary value of welfare payments paid to (a) non-UK citizens of each country living in the UK, (b) UK citizens living in each country in the European Economic Area and (c) non-UK citizens of each country living in each non-EU country in the latest period for which figures are available; and how many recipients of such benefits there were in each such group in that period. 
Chris Grayling: The information requested is not available. The information there is on benefit claimants resident overseas and the expenditure on them is as follows:
Benefit expenditure paid outside the United Kingdom for 2009/10 is shown in the table.
Expenditure for state pension paid abroad, at country level is published on the internet at:
The figures for 2009-10 will be updated when available.
Information relating to benefits paid to recipients abroad is available via the Tabulation Tool at:
|DWP benefit expenditure paid overseas in 2009-10|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1 million
2. All figures are consistent with expenditure information published on the internet at:
DWP statistical and accounting data
Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements his Department has in place to assess the basic skills of benefit claimants. 
Chris Grayling: Jobseeker's allowance claimants and those recipients of other benefits who are participating in back-to-work programmes have their basic skills assessed through the gathering of evidence during work-focused interviews. Through this, Jobcentre Plus advisers can identify whether the customer may have a skills barrier that is preventing them achieving their job goal, thus enabling them to make informed decisions on skills needs. For example, for jobseekers the initial skills screening is undertaken at the new jobseeker interview and then reviewed periodically throughout the claim. Depending on the outcome of this initial skills screening, the claimant may be referred to an appropriate training provider or advice centre.
Longer-term jobseeker's allowance customers are subject to in-depth skills screening, which is a more detailed approach to gathering information on skills and specific barriers to the jobs being sought by the jobseeker. In-depth screening involves the use of screening tools for basic skills, systematic evidence gathering and a customer assessment tool. Depending on the outcome of this initial skills screening, the claimant may be referred to an appropriate training provider.
The Work programme and associated Jobcentre Plus support will further align welfare-to-work and skills services for both claimants and employers to deliver a service that will help people get the skills they need to get into and progress in work and for employers to have employees with the right skills for the job.
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what changes his Department has made to the level of funding provided for counter-fraud activity by local authorities in the last five years. 
Steve Webb: The Department for Work and Pensions distributes an annual grant to local authorities for administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit. The Department considers counter-fraud activity to be an integral aspect of administering these benefits. It is for individual authorities to decide on the resources they need to administer efficient counter-fraud activity.
Over the past five years, the funding that the Department has provided to the local authorities is set out in the following table.
|Funding||Additional funding in respect of the economic downturn||Total|
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects on the present level of local authority activity in respect of detecting housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud of changes in the level of funding for such activity. 
Steve Webb: The amount of subsidy that the Department for Work and Pensions has provided to local authorities in recent years to administer housing benefit and council tax benefit has remained relatively stable. The Department however is not prescriptive in how local authorities use this funding. It is for individual authorities to decide on the resources they need to administer efficient and effective counter-fraud activity.
|Funding||Additional funding in respect of the economic downturn||Total|
The Department published a new fraud and error strategy on 18 October 2010 which sets out its plans for improving detection of fraud across all benefits, including housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Mr Burley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether those paying tax at the higher rate will continue to be eligible for widowed parent's allowance in 2013. 
Chris Grayling: There are no current plans to change eligibility for widowed parent's allowance for higher-rate taxpayers.
Mr Robin Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in (a) Worcestershire and (b) Worcester were in receipt of benefits excluding those on disability living allowance of over £500 per week in the latest period for which figures are available. 
The information requested is available only at Great Britain level. Latest estimates show that in 2010-11 there are around 100,000 working age households
in receipt of more than £500 a week in all benefits and tax credits, including disability living allowance. If disability living allowance is excluded then around 50,000 working age households are in receipt of more than £500 a week.
The Chancellor's announcement of a benefit cap was informed by high-level consideration of the broad impacts. We are now working up the more detailed design of the caps. When we introduce legislation for the implementation of the caps, we will publish an impact assessment.
All figures are rounded to the nearest 50,000.
DWP Policy Simulation Model, based on the 2008-09 Family Resources Survey data.
Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce unemployment for 18 to 24 year olds. 
Chris Grayling: The Government are committed to tackling youth unemployment. We will be introducing the new Work Programme in the summer of 2011. While the Work Programme will be an integrated package of support providing personalised help to support a wide range of customers, including young people, we have recognised that this in itself it will not be enough.
On 4 October we launched two new measures: Work Clubs as a way of encouraging people who are out of work to exchange skills and share experiences; and Work Together as a way of developing work skills through volunteering. We also announced the new enterprise allowance which will support unemployed people who wish to move off benefits into self employment.
We are continuing to develop further measures to encourage pre-employment training and work placements through Service Academies, and to provide greater insight into the world of work through work experience.
Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on the payment of winter fuel allowance to higher rate taxpayers. 
Steve Webb: We have received a small number of representations about the payment of winter fuel payments to higher rate taxpayers.
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people resident overseas received winter fuel allowance in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Steve Webb: In 2009-10 we made 70,880 winter fuel payments to people living in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
DWP Information Directorate 100%
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total monetary value was of winter fuel payments paid to recipients in Livingston constituency in 2009-10. 
Steve Webb: The information is tabled as follows:
|Winter fuel payments paid in Livingston constituency, 2009-10|
| Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest £ hundred thousand. 2. Tables containing benefit expenditure by benefit, local authority and parliamentary constituency can be found at the following URL: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=expenditure|
Source: DWP Statistical and Accounting Data.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many new staff his Department has employed since 24 May 2010; and what the (a) grade, (b) job title and (c) salary of each is. 
John Penrose: Since 24 May 2010, the Department has appointed three officials on fixed-term contracts.
The table shows the fixed-term posts by salary range, grade and their full-time equivalent.
Disclosure of the job title and exact salary of each official could lead to the identification of individuals, and is therefore confidential information.
|Grade||Salary range (£)||FTE|
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the recommendations relating to his Department of the report by the Government Office for Science, Foresight on Mental Capital and Wellbeing; if he will ensure that his Department's policy development process takes account of psychological research into subjective wellbeing; and if he will make a statement. 
John Penrose: I have not made an assessment of the findings of the report by the Government Office for Science, Foresight on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. I will ensure that it is brought to the attention of the DCMS Policy Committee and the HR team.
This Department takes the health and well-being of its staff seriously.
We work closely with Robertson Cooper, business and well-being experts, and have membership to the Business and Well-being network, run by them, to ensure we are providing the most appropriate support for staff, including mental and physical well-being.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport if he will bring forward proposals to enable local authorities to apply for funding from the national lottery; and if he will make a statement. 
John Penrose: Local authorities are already able to apply for national lottery funding.
We are currently consulting on a new policy direction for one distributor, the Big Lottery Fund, to focus its funding through the voluntary and community sector.
The intention behind the new direction is that social enterprises and joint ventures between the voluntary and community sector and local authorities, would still be eligible for funding.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the loss of potential energy production caused by disallowing the construction of wind turbines within 15km of an airport runway in the last 12 months. 
Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport has not made any such estimate.
Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of (a) the use of the Airedale line by Network Rail and (b) its Northern Route Utilisation Strategy. 
Mrs Villiers: We welcome the work that Network Rail has carried out, along with rail industry partners, in developing the draft Northern Route Utilisation Strategy, including its assessment of the Airedale line. When finalised, the strategy will provide a valuable input into the work that the Department for Transport will undertake in determining the outputs the railway needs to deliver during the period 2014 to 2019 and beyond.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport from which groups based in Dunstable his Department has received representations in support of the proposed Luton to Dunstable guided busway. 
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has been unable to find evidence of any representations from groups based in Dunstable in support of the Luton to Dunstable guided busway.
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to how many tier (a) one, (b) two and (c) three incidents relating to pollution from shipping and offshore installations the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has responded in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mike Penning: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) does not maintain statistics on maritime pollution incident response by tier.
The MCA maintains specific statistics in relation to tier 3 responses. For the years in question these are as follows:
|Total pollution incidents to which the MCA responded||Tier 3|
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Receiver of Wreck reports the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has received in the last 12 months. 
Mike Penning: In the last 12 months, October 2009 to September 2010, the Receiver of Wreck at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has received 348 reports.
Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2008, Official Report, columns 29-30W, on AWE management, what estimate he has made of the cost of each new build project in the Atomic Weapons Establishment Site Development Context Plan at current prices; and what the planned in-service date for each project is. 
Peter Luff: The 23 projects included in the Atomic Weapons Establishment Site Development Context Plan 2005-15 are listed in the following table. The functions of the projects given in the table correlate with the headings in the site development plan.
Where applicable, the names of projects are indicated where they have been finalised. Costs not shown are being withheld as their disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests. Projected in-service dates are shown in bandings to avoid prejudice to national security and/or defence interests.
|P roject name||Function||Cost (£ million)( 1)|
Projects not taken forward where alternative solutions found
|(1) 2010-11 prices.|
Anas Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contracts his Department has awarded to voluntary sector organisations in the last two years; and what the monetary value was of each such contract. 
Peter Luff [holding answer 13 October 2010]: Voluntary sector organisations are not separately identified in central records and therefore information about contracts with these organisations could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Contracts are not the only financial relationships between the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and voluntary sector organisations. Voluntary sector organisations such as the Royal British Legion, that deliver outcomes which support the core defence mission, also receive a grant in aid. The MOD paid some £118 million in grants in aid in 2008-09 and some £135 million in 2009-10 (excluding MOD's non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs)).
Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to ensure his Department's activities are compliant with the provisions of Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities on work and employment. 
Mr Robathan: The armed forces were exempted from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The continuing need for this was reviewed during the development of the recent Equality Bill. It was concluded that the exemption was still required and it has accordingly been replicated in the Equality Act 2010. A reservation on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was entered accordingly.
For our civilians, the Ministry of Defence has policies in place to help enable disabled employees to maximise their potential and to work on an equal basis with their colleagues. The Department is a member of the Employers' Forum on Disability.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to improve its level of compliance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
Mr Robathan: A number of measures have been taken to improve the Ministry of Defence's performance in responding to requests for information (RFIs) under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI). The Second Permanent Secretary wrote earlier this year to all of MOD's business areas to highlight the problem and push for a concerted corporate effort at improvement. The Head of Corporate Information writes periodically to business units to provide an update on performance and encourage improvement. In addition, a number of steps are in hand to strengthen the central Freedom of Information team and to streamline the processes involved in handling RFIs. The central FOI team have also visited several business units to provide advice and guidance on FOI.
Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the value for money of travel undertaken by officials of his Department in the UK and overseas under its rules on such travel. 
Mr Robathan: We constantly seek to get the best value for money out of our travel arrangements and maximise the Ministry of Defence's corporate leverage in the business travel market. We are currently phasing in an on-line booking tool for use across the MOD, both in the UK and overseas. This tool makes it cheaper and simpler to make travel arrangements and gives our staff easy access to the best value fares and a wide range of travel options, including scheduled and low-cost air carriers, UK rail, UK and overseas hotels and overseas car hire.
Other recent changes made to give better value for money have included: the removal of all first class air travel and, in all but exceptional circumstances, first class rail and business class air travel. There are constraints on non-operational travel overseas and senior officials have given up their allocated cars and share a smaller number of pooled cars instead.
We have additionally asked our staff to avoid travel at all where the business need can be met in other ways, such as by e-mail and video or audio conferencing. This
both saves cost and increases the productivity of staff, by reducing time spent travelling.
By whatever means staff decide to travel, they must do so in a way that is the most economical in both money and official time.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment his Department has made of the safety of the (a) Martin Baker Mk 16A and (b) Martin Baker Mk 10B ejection seat. 
Peter Luff: The safety and airworthiness of all systems on our aircraft types is continually assessed.
On 27 July 2010 an issue was identified with surface cracks on Martin-Baker Mk10B ejection seats fitted in Hawk T1 aircraft. On 14 September 2010 an issue was identified with the harness system on Martin-Baker Mk16A seats fitted to Typhoon aircraft. In each case non-operationally essential flying was briefly suspended, while a full risk assessment of each issue was undertaken.
Departmental officials worked closely with Martin-Baker and BAE Systems to design inspection processes and modifications that successfully addressed the issues identified. The Hawk T1 and Typhoon aircraft are now airworthy and available for operational tasking.
Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much (a) low, (b) very low and (c) intermediate level radioactive waste he expects to arise from decommissioning activities at Atomic Weapons Establishments in each of the next three years. 
Peter Luff: The current forecasts for quantities of radioactive waste, in cubic metres, are:
The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10 cubic metres. They are based on current Atomic Weapons Establishments decommissioning plans, which may be subject to change.
On current plans the very low level waste (VLLW) site will become available by October 2011.
Until this site is available, VLLW is stored with low level waste, prior to being transported to the low level waste repository at Drigg, Cumbria.
Intermediate level waste is stored in purpose built stores at AWE Aldermaston.
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Chief Executive of the Service and Veterans Personnel Agency on the work of that agency; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Robathan: I meet regularly with the chief executive of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency to discuss the services provided by the agency.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the decision was taken to engage O'Brien and Associates to advise the British Embassy in Washington in respect of arms sales by UK companies to the US administration; how much has been paid to O'Brien and Associates from the public purse to date; and to whom in his Department the company reports for the purposes of this contract. 
Peter Luff: The British embassy defence staff in Washington DC has contracted with O'Brien and Associates since January 2006 to source specialist advice to the UK Ministry of Defence on a variety of US defence acquisition issues, including trade and countering so-called 'protectionism', in Congress. O'Brien and Associates has not been contracted to influence defence exports by UK companies to the US Administration, but rather to provide regular advice and information on major US defence equipment programmes and relevant budget issues, principally as they pass through Congress. The current contract started in January 2010 and expires in December 2010 and fees are paid by the hour for services provided, based upon tasking by embassy staff. Total fees paid to O'Brien and Associates from 2006 are approximately $500,000.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with the US Administration on the UK-US defence export treaty; and if he will make a statement. 
Peter Luff: The Ministry of Defence regularly discusses the UK-US Defence Trade Co-operation Treaty with the US Administration. The treaty is evidence of the close defence relationship between our countries and achieved a major milestone when it was approved by the US Senate on 29 September 2010 allowing preparations for implementation to begin. By simplifying export licensing arrangements, for items destined for UK or US Government end-use, the treaty will help improve interoperability and the support provided to our armed forces. We envisage that the detailed preparations required to bring the treaty arrangements into effect will take up to 12 months and will be conducted in close consultation with the US Administration and with UK and US industries.
John Glen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to provide a substantive reply to (a) question 17459, on Harrier and Tornado capability, tabled on 11 October 2010 for named day answer on 14 October and (b) 17185, on harmony regulations, tabled on 8 October 2010 for named day answer on 12 October. 
Peter Luff: I replied to the hon. Member's question, regarding Harrier and Tornado capability, on 18 October 2010, Official Report, column 488W.
The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr Robathan) replied to the hon. Member's question, regarding harmony regulations, on 18 October 2010, Official Report, column 483W.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to make any changes to subsidy arrangements for farming in the light of the current economic situation. 
Mr Paice: The vast majority of the over £3 billion of payments made each year to UK farmers fall within the framework of the EU common agriculture policy (CAP). The UK is pressing for ambitious reform of the CAP that delivers better value for money for farmers, taxpayers and consumers. A Commission communication on a potential reform post-2013 is expected shortly.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department spent on (a) print press, (b) television, (c) internet and (d) poster material to raise awareness among the general public of the potential risk from illegal imports of products of animal origin in each of the last five years. 
Mr Paice: Since October 2004, DEFRA has led communications targeted at black and minority ethnic (BME) communities where the rules have been particularly relevant. The target audiences have mainly been defined by the number of animal product seizures made from countries outside the EU, but other issues, such as the independent research carried out, have also been considered.
The BME campaign has been a key strand of a wider personal food imports campaign, which targets members of the public travelling from GB to countries outside the EU who may bring back food items for personal use. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) have also communicated wider messages around the restrictions at GB points of entry and departure in GB and overseas.
Overall, we are looking to reduce the risk of contaminated food (in particular meat and dairy products as higher risk products) being brought into the UK and putting people, animals and agriculture at risk of disease and possibly sparking a national outbreak of, for example, foot and mouth disease or bird flu.
Communication spend over the last five financial years on press, TV, internet and posters, is as follows:
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many badger cage traps the Food and Environment Research Agency held for the purpose of research funded by her Department in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Paice: The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) holds over 600 badger cage traps for the purpose of research funded by DEFRA.
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what length of coastline within the Gloucestershire County Council area is to be used as the basis for calculating the sum to be contributed by that local authority to the funding of the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries Conservation Area. 
Richard Benyon: In calculating the sum to be contributed by each constituent local authority within an IFCA, DEFRA has used the definitions of the sea used in the Marine and Coastal Access Act; the "sea" includes:
(a) any area submerged at mean high water spring tide; and
(b) the waters of every estuary, river or channel, so far as the tide flows at mean high water spring tide.
The 'seashore' is defined as the shore and the bed of the sea.
The length of seashore used in the calculation to reach Gloucestershire county council's share of the levy is 94.40 miles, as calculated by the UK Hydrographic Office.
The full rationale for the inclusion and contribution of any one local authority can be found in the consultation on the principles and content of the Orders establishing Inshore Fisheries and Conservation districts and their associated authorities which can be found on the DEFRA website:
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date she notified the devolved administrations of the recent outbreak of equine infectious anaemia. 
Mr Paice: There have been two recent cases of equine infectious anaemia (EIA) in England.
The first was in Northumberland and the devolved Administrations were first alerted that EIA was suspected on 3 September. Disease was confirmed on 6 September following receipt of positive test results.
The second case was in Devon and the devolved Administrations were first alerted that EIA was suspected on 8 September. Disease was confirmed on 11 September following receipt of positive test results.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date she was notified of the recent outbreak of equine infectious anaemia. 
Mr Paice: There have been two recent cases of equine infectious anaemia in England.
The first was in Northumberland and the Secretary of State and I were notified on the day that disease was confirmed, 6 September.
The second case was in Devon and the Secretary of State's Private Office was alerted that disease was suspected on 8 September. The Secretary of State and I were next updated on the developing disease situation by the Chief Veterinary Officer on 10 September in advance of disease being confirmed on 11 September.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the (a) risk of importing and (b) threat from (i) equine infectious anaemia and (ii) other exotic animal diseases into the UK. 
Mr Paice: DEFRA continually monitors occurrence of major animal disease outbreaks worldwide as an early warning to assess the risk these events may pose to the UK. DEFRA assesses new disease incidents in EU member states, countries on the borders of the EU and the UK's third country trading partners. More generally, DEFRA monitors the disease situation worldwide with a view to identifying any significant incursion of disease to new areas of the world or longer term trends in levels or distribution of disease.
When DEFRA becomes aware of a new animal disease outbreak in another country, we may carry out a preliminary outbreak assessment. Details of the outbreak assessments published since 2008 are available here:
When DEFRA is officially notified of any new animal disease incident in an EU member state, a country on the border of the EU or one of the UK's third country trading partners, a more detailed qualitative risk analysis (QRA) is carried out. Details of the QRAs published since 2008 are available here:
In March this year, DEFRA published a qualitative risk assessment-"Potential risk factors for the introduction of Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) to the United Kingdom from EU Member States" which concluded that there was a very low likelihood that EIA may be present and undetected in the UK equine population. Of the three confirmed EIA cases this year, two were
found shortly after importation to the UK. The infected horse in the third case had been in the country for two years but investigations suggest that the risk of spread is low.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the financial risk to the equestrian industry of the importation of horses carrying equine infectious anaemia from Romania via other EU countries. 
Mr Paice: No specific assessment of financial risk has been carried out.
However, DEFRA is very aware of the potential impact of equine infectious anaemia. Since the first outbreak in January, DEFRA has worked closely with the EU Commission and other member states to proactively reduce the risk to the UK. Exports of horses from Romania are now severely restricted, along with more UK import testing. DEFRA believes that the two cases in Northumberland and Devon in September 2010 relate to horses that left Romania before these measures were in place.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her Romanian counterpart on equine infectious anaemia. 
Mr Paice: The equine infectious anaemia situation across the European Union is of concern to the UK and all other member states. DEFRA has held regular discussions throughout 2010 with the EU Commission and representatives of other member states, including Romania. Since the first outbreak in January, DEFRA has worked to proactively reduce the risk to the UK. As a result, exports of horses from Romania are now severely restricted, along with more UK import testing.
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what geographical circumstances and characteristics of areas of flood risk she plans to take into account in determining financial allocations to local authorities for flood prevention and protection; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: The Department of Communities and Local Government's (CLG) consultation on "Local Government Finance-Formula Grant Distribution" closed on 6 October 2010. One of the consultation options was on the use of map-based data from the Environment Agency as the basis for measuring the number of properties at risk from flooding in each local authority area. Ministers will take into account all the representations that have been received when making decisions about changes to the formula grant distribution system ahead of the 2011-12 Local Government Finance Settlement. Similarly, DEFRA and CLG are also considering new burdens under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, including costs that may not correlate directly to risk.
Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will bring forward proposals to ensure that religiously prepared meat served in restaurants is identified as such. 
Mr Paice: I appreciate that this is an issue which people feel strongly about and we will be working with interested groups to find a way to address their concerns. People should know what they are buying when they are eating out, and I will be discussing with the food industry whether point of sale information can play a greater role in giving consumers a choice.
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria are used to calculate the sums to be paid by local authorities to inshore fisheries conservation areas; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: The local authorities which comprise each Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) will work with the other members of the IFCA to agree an appropriate budget for the organisation. The local authority members have the ability to veto any budget by majority vote.
Each local authority will contribute a proportion of the total budget, according to the percentages detailed in the order establishing each IFCA. The constituent local authorities of each IFCA were invited to agree a method for setting the contribution levels to be included in their IFCA's order. Where local authorities were unable to agree contribution levels locally, DEFRA applied a generic formula, which was agreed after public consultation.
This formula considered for each local authority, the population, length of seashore, land area covered and the number of Band D council tax properties (relative to the totals for each of these factors in the whole district). This provides a transparent mechanism for calculating how much each local authority will pay, and will be less subject to change over time therefore reducing the need to keep reappraising the proportion of levy that will be set out in the order establishing a particular district. It also means that per head of population in each local authority there is a much fairer contribution to the overall funding of the IFCA.
The ability for local authorities to agree alternative funding formulas for their IFCA remains.
DEFRA is assisting with the establishment of IFCAs through a Transitional Funding Grant Scheme this year and has secured, through the comprehensive spending review, some substantial additional funding from DEFRA to meet the new financial burden on constituent local authorities to help IFCAs deliver their new duties.
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will consider the merits of bringing forward proposals to increase the extent of rights of way in rural areas which cyclists may use; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: The Government are committed to improving access for cyclists.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires local highway authorities to take a strategic view of their public rights of way networks by preparing rights of way improvement plans. These plans assess the current and future needs of all rights of way users and propose improvements to the network, particularly for users such as cyclists and horse riders, who may not be well served by the existing network.
Most authorities have finished their plans and we hope that they will now take these forward and implement them. DEFRA would also encourage cycling groups to co-ordinate their efforts, and work with local authorities and other user groups to improve the bridleway and cycle network in local areas in line with the plans.
Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the possession of timber obtained from illegal logging. 
Mr Paice: We will put in place the necessary legislation to implement the provisions of the EU Illegal Timber (Due Diligence) Regulation in the United Kingdom. This underlines our commitment to eliminating illegal timber from the UK market.
Ian Lucas: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what plans the Electoral Commission has to consult on the wording of any new referendum question proposed by the Secretary of State for Wales under the provisions of the Government of Wales Act 2006. 
Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it was consulted by the Secretary of State for Wales on the wording of the proposed referendum question on 24 June 2010. It wrote to interested groups to invite their views on the question as part of its assessment process.
The Commission published its response to the consultation on 2 September 2010, setting out its views and recommendations on the intelligibility of the question. On 21 October 2010, the Secretary of State for Wales placed a copy of this report in the Library of the House of Commons, at the same time as laying draft legislation on the referendum. A copy of the report was also sent to the First Minister for laying before the National Assembly for Wales.
The question contained in the draft legislation is that suggested to the Secretary of State for Wales by the Electoral Commission so the Commission further informs me that it does not anticipate the need for any further consultation.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Royal College of General Practitioners on primary care training in rheumatoid arthritis for GPs. 
Anne Milton: The Department has had no formal discussions with the Royal College of General Practitioners on training in rheumatoid arthritis for general practitioners. Whilst the Department acknowledges the importance of this area of expertise, the General Medical Council (GMC) is the competent authority for medical training in the United Kingdom. As such, the GMC is the approving body for the general practice curriculum-the content of which is specified by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Mrs Glindon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much (a) the Medical Research Council and (b) the National Institute for Health Research spent on breast cancer research in each year since 2007-08. 
Mr Simon Burns: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The MRC reports funding for breast cancer research since 2007-08 of:
Comparable information for the Department's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is not held centrally.
The NIHR clinical research network is currently providing national health service research infrastructure support to 181 studies in breast cancer. Details can be found on the UK Clinical Research Network portfolio database at:
The National Cancer Research Institute, a United Kingdom wider partnership between Government, charities and industry, makes cancer research information available online via the International Cancer Research Portfolio database at:
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