Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of proposals for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. 
Mr Swire: There remains a clear lack of consensus amongst political representatives in Northern Ireland on proposals for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and the issue of supplementary rights for Northern Ireland more generally. I will continue to consider how best to address this issue but would urge all sides to work together to build consensus on how best to proceed.
Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he plans to publish the results of his Department's consultation on a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights. 
Mr Swire: My officials are currently preparing the responses to the previous Government's consultation for publication, and I hope to be in a position to publish very shortly.
Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) when the Government expect to bring forward their proposals for rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy; 
(2) what economic proposals he has for an enterprise zone in Northern Ireland; and whether the Government plan to include a reduction in corporation tax as part of such proposals. 
Mr Paterson: We shall bring forward a Treasury paper on these issues shortly, following full discussion with Northern Ireland Ministers.
Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to meet the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to discuss the effects of the outcome of the comprehensive spending review on (a) public sector jobs in Northern Ireland and (b) the Northern Ireland economy. 
Mr Paterson: I meet the First and Deputy First Minister regularly and discuss a range of subjects at their and my request. These discussions have included the spending review and the economic situation in Northern Ireland.
Dr Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much the Saville Inquiry spent on IT equipment up to February 2010; and how such equipment was disposed of at the end of the inquiry. 
Mr Paterson: I am advised that the Bloody Sunday Inquiry spent in the region of £2.9 million on IT equipment between 1998 and 2010. This figure reflects departmental capital accounting policy which is to capitalise all IT equipment if the useful life of the equipment is greater than one year and the cost, including VAT, is greater than £1,000. Figures relating to expenditure by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry are available on the Northern Ireland Office website:
Upon the closure of the inquiry, it was apparent that the majority of the IT equipment had reached the end of its useful economic life and as such was disposed of securely. Other IT equipment which retained its functionality and value was transferred to other areas of the Department for use elsewhere.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2010, Official Report, column 165, if he will publish each item of correspondence between him and Scottish Ministers on prisoners' voting rights. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke: I will reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
Substantive answer from Kenneth Clarke to Thomas Docherty:
I correspond regularly with Scottish Ministers on justice matters, although I have not to date exchanged specific correspondence regarding prisoner voting rights.
Once decisions have been made about how to implement prisoner voting rights, the Government will announce them to the House in the normal way, and of course intends to engage with the Scottish Government on implementation.
Bob Russell: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, whether contracts of employment signed by Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority staff include conditions relating to confidentiality; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Charles Walker: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. I have asked IPSA to reply.
As Interim Chief Executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking whether contracts of employment signed by Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority staff include conditions relating to confidentiality.
All IPSA staff are required to sign contracts of employment which include conditions relating to confidentiality. All staff have also signed a separate confidentiality agreement.
Bob Russell: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, what steps have been taken to investigate allegations that informal media briefings were provided prior to the publication of Parliamentary expenses information on 2 December 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Charles Walker: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. I have asked IPSA to reply.
As Interim Chief Executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what steps have been taken to investigate allegations that informal media briefings were provided prior to the publication of Parliamentary expenses information on 2 December 2010.
I take any allegations about improper behaviour by members of IPSA's staff, from whatever source, extremely seriously. Following those made in the House of Commons on 2 December relating to briefing of journalists, I took appropriate steps to investigate these and I have seen no evidence supporting these allegations. I therefore fully endorse the statement made by IPSA's Chair on 2 December refuting them.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Church Commissioners Annual Report 2009, page 34, if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) market valuation of other see houses as at 31 December 2008, (b) latest annual valuation by Gurr Jones of the most valuable and historic items at Lambeth Palace and see houses and (c) December 2007 valuation by Gurr Jones of the remaining historic items at Lambeth Palace and see houses. 
Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners are not in a position to publish the valuation information of any see houses or the Gurr Jones documents due to the commercially sensitive nature of the valuations.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the overheads and running cost to the Church of England were of Lambeth Palace in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Tony Baldry: The House of Bishops most recent figures for the costs of running the bishops' offices were published in October 2010. The Church Commissioners spent £5.9 million on maintaining the houses, office premises and gardens of the archbishops and diocesan bishops. Out of that £5.9 million the running costs for Lambeth Palace during 2009 stand at £622,813. The running costs include the salary costs for gardeners and domestic staff. It also includes garden equipment, maintenance, and heating, lighting and cleaning for those parts of the palace that are not the Archbishop's residence. The cost of running the Archbishop's Office in 2009 was £2.6 million this included the cost of support staff and working costs.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, which (a) buildings and (b) land holdings in the church estate have a monetary value (i) between £5 million and £10 million and (ii) more than £10 million. 
Tony Baldry: A list of the most valuable property holdings in which the Church Commissioners have interests can be found on page 48 of the annual report. General information about the total value of Church Commissioner holdings is available in the annual report which is available in the House of Commons Library. Further details of specific valuations are commercially sensitive and the Church Commissioners are unable to release this information.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what (a) buildings, (b) land and (c) property holdings of estimated monetary value of over £1 million the Church Commissioners own. 
Tony Baldry: General information about the total value of Church Commissioner holdings is available in the annual report and can be found in the House of Commons Library. More detailed information is commercially sensitive and the Church Commissioners are unable to release this information.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church Commissioners had completed a consultation with the Diocesan Advisory Committee under section 3 of the Episcopal Endowment and Stipends Measure 1943 before initiating preparations for the sale of the Zurbarans paintings at Auckland Castle. 
Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners understanding of section 3 of Episcopal Endowment and Stipends Measure 1943 is that the Church Commissioners must consult the Diocesan Advisory Committee before demolishing, converting or selling a see house, this does not apply to contents or chattels. The paintings although significant works of art are not part of the fabric of the building and therefore not covered by the 1943 Episcopal Endowment and Stipends Measure which was introduced primarily to enable the Commissioners to take over episcopal endowments in return for paying bishops a fair stipend and providing them with suitable housing.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, how much income was generated from (a) visitors, (b) room hire and (c) other sources at Lambeth Palace in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Tony Baldry: The annual income from visitors to Lambeth Palace in 2009 was £38,696 with overheads of £18,565. This figure is inclusive of room hire, catering, tours and the sale of any souvenir items.
Helen Goodman: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, when he plans to answer questions (a) 25191, (b) 25192, (c) 25197, (d) 25400, (e) 25402 and (f) 25428, on the Church Estate, tabled on 16 November 2010. 
Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners have today answered the hon. Member for Bishop Aukland.
Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress his Department has made on negotiations with the European Commission for the reinstatement of the aggregates credit relief scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Justine Greening: The Government support the re-introduction of the scheme at the earliest opportunity. Following the European General Court ruling annulling state aid approval for the scheme, the Commission will need to take a new decision on whether it is an approvable state aid. My officials are working closely with the authorities in Northern Ireland and representatives of the quarrying industry to collate supporting evidence to submit to the Commission.
John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with each Crown dependency to discuss banking regulation and tax avoidance since 6 May 2010. 
Mr Hoban: Ministers and officials from the Treasury and other Government Departments are in regular dialogue with representatives from UK Crown dependencies on a variety of different subjects. It is important that Crown dependencies are compliant with international standards for financial regulation, including on matters relating to banking regulation and tax.
Julian Sturdy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department plans to introduce lending targets for those banks which are part-owned by the Government. 
Mr Hoban: The lending commitments agreed between Government and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) are in place until March 2011.
The Government recognise that access to finance is essential if businesses are to invest, grow and make their important contribution to supporting the economic recovery.
In response to the Green Paper, 'Financing a Private Sector Recovery', published earlier this year, Government have set out a comprehensive package of Government and industry-led measures to support small businesses access finance. These measures include:
additional support for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) over the next four years to enable over £2 billion of lending to viable small businesses that lack collateral or track record; and
increased equity finance, through £200 million of additional funding for the 'Enterprise Capital Funds programme', both of which could unlock further debt finance for small and medium-sized businesses
More information about these measures and the Green Paper is available at:
In addition, the British Bankers' Association Taskforce has announced industry-led measure including improving customer relationships through a new Lending Code and the establishment of new £1.5 billion Business Growth Fund, which will provide capital to growing businesses.
Further information about the BBA Taskforce and its commitments are available at:
Mr Knight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints (a) his Department and (b) National Savings has received in the last 12 months for which figures are available; what recent estimate he has made of the average time taken to resolve such a complaint; how much from the public purse was paid out in compensation as a result of such complaints being upheld in that period; and if he will make a statement. 
Justine Greening: The Treasury has received no formal complaints on the way officials deal with members of the public in the last 12 months.
For the period 1 November 2009 to 31 October 2010, National Savings & Investments (NS&I) received a total of 7,735 complaints. This figure includes all complaints received, whether justified or not.
NS&I estimates an average time of 36 days is taken to resolve such complaints. NS&I subscribes to the Financial Ombudsman Scheme which allows 40 working days to resolve and respond to complaints.
The amount paid out in compensation from the public purse for the period 1 November 2009 to 31 October 2010 was £38,975.50.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on printing and postage for correspondence in each of the last three financial years. 
Justine Greening: The information requested cannot be provided as the Department's accounting system does not identify printing and postage costs by purpose.
Mr Jenkin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) his Department and (b) the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible spent on press cuttings services in each of the last 12 months. 
Justine Greening: Treasury spending on press cuttings over the last 12 months is shown in the following table.
|Month (invoice date for services provided in the preceding month)||Amount (£000)|
The Treasury's non-departmental public body, the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, did not incur any spending on press cutting services.
Steve Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people employed in the financial services industry were seconded to his Department in each month in the last two years. 
Justine Greening: The number of secondees to the Treasury from the financial industry can be found in the following tables:
Karl Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on the economy of recent adverse weather conditions. 
Justine Greening [holding answer 8 December 2010]: It is likely that any negative impact on the economy as a whole resulting from the recent adverse weather will be largely short-term, and should be negligible over time. Some consumption will likely be shifted from one type of good to another, or from one time period to another. The Government continue to monitor all relevant factors from a range of sources to inform their assessment of the UK economy.
Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what value for money assessment he has undertaken of the UK's contribution to EU spending in each of the last three years. 
Justine Greening: The Government are concerned about the UK's growing contributions to the EU budget and is working hard to reduce them through negotiation of the 2011 EU budget and future budgets. In particular, at the October European Council, the UK won backing from 12 other member states-including Germany and France-to prevent the 6% increase in the 2011 EU budget that was being proposed by the European Parliament.
In addition, the Government will continue to work hard to ensure EU spending is directed towards areas of the budget with strong controls and best value for money, especially to boost economic growth and competitiveness, and we are co-ordinating with other member states to reduce the costs across all areas of the budget.
Sound financial management is key to achieving value for money, and the Government are disappointed that the European Court of Auditors has been unable to grant a positive Statement of Assurance on the financial management of EU funds for the 16th year in succession. The Government will continue to champion reform through engagement with European institutions and other member states.
Mr Andrew Turner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which projects undertaken in the UK with support from EU funds (a) wholly and (b) in part are required to be identified by a flag or logo. 
Justine Greening: Most EU-funded programmes require the recipient to display the emblem of the EU on information and publicity measures relating to the project and, in the case of physical projects, by means of a commemorative plaque.
Mr Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Financial Inclusion Fund in reducing financial exclusion since the Fund was established; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Hoban [holding answer 1 November 2010]: The effectiveness of the Financial Inclusion Fund projects are subject to continuous assessment. All projects regularly submit management information to their respective delivery departments and to the Treasury. The Financial Inclusion Taskforce, an independent advisory group, also oversees the effectiveness of the projects.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 8 November 2010, Official Report, column 97W, on the Office for Budget Responsibility, whether the examination of sustainability of public finances will include an assessment of the potential effects on (a) the environment and (b) sustainable development in each sector of the economy. 
Justine Greening: The Office of Budget Responsibility has been designed to focus the sustainability of the public finances. The Government do not expect the OBR to explicitly consider issues relating to the environment or the sustainable development of each sector of the economy. The Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill is available at:
Mr Hanson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he plans to bring forward proposals to provide a financial contribution for looked after children as part of the proposed junior individual savings account; 
(2) what representations he has received on looked after children since 23 November 2010. 
Mr Hoban [holding answer 6 December 2010]: The Government announced on 26 October 2010 that they would create a new tax-free children's savings account. The new accounts, potentially referred to as Junior ISAs, will offer parents a simple and tax-free way to save for their child's future, while also saving over £500 million that would have been spent each year on Child Trust Funds.
The Government are working closely with stakeholders to finalise the design of the accounts, and intends for them to be available by autumn 2011.
This work includes exploring how to ensure that Junior ISAs are accessible to looked after children, who are among the most disadvantaged groups of young people in society.
In particular, as I said at the Report stage of the Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill, on 22 November 2010, I am carefully considering proposals that have been made for the Government to open and contribute to Junior ISA accounts for looked after children.
The Government have received no further representations on this matter since 23 November 2010.
Jonathan Evans: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the efficiency of HM Revenue and Customs staff in responding to written correspondence from taxpayers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Gauke: HMRC receives on average between 200,000 to 250,000 items of correspondence per week and has currently under 620,000 items of correspondence on hand, equating to 14 working days worth of receipts. Less than 3% of correspondence is currently over 40 days old.
National Audit Office recently assessed its efficiency in dealing with correspondence from agents. Its findings were published in the document "Engaging with Tax Agents", published on 13 October 2010.
Mr Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 25 October 2010, Official Report, column 144W, on BP: tax allowances, for what reasons tax relief granted by the Exchequer for a specific purpose is considered to be a matter confidential to a particular business. 
Mr Gauke: Tax reliefs and allowances have a statutory basis. The scope of, and conditions for, reliefs and allowances are therefore in the public domain. However, specific claims to tax reliefs and allowances by a particular business and the extent to which those claims are admitted, are subject to HMRCTs strict statutory duty of confidentiality.
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2010, Official Report, column 284W, on taxation: construction, what information HM Revenue and Customs holds on the number of businesses which have had their C1S6 Gross Status Certificate withdrawn in each of the last three calendar years. 
Mr Gauke [holding answer 1 December 2010]: The number of businesses which have had their gross payment status withdrawn in each of the last three calendar years is:
Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the amount of additional revenue which will be collected from charities as a result of the change in the rate of value added tax in 2011-12; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the amount of revenue to accrue from value added tax on charities in 2010-11. 
Mr Gauke [holding answer 7 December 2010]: Charities benefit from a range of tax reliefs which for 2009-10 the Government estimates are worth approximately £3 billion per annum. These include reliefs from VAT, for example: VAT zero rating on the sale of donated goods, medical and scientific equipment and, for qualifying charities, goods for use by disabled people. All zero rates are derogations from the normal EU VAT rules, and represent benefits not enjoyed by charities elsewhere in Europe.
Charities carrying out non-taxable activities may incur irrecoverable VAT on their purchases but information is not available to accurately assess the amount or the effect of the forthcoming increase in the standard rate of VAT.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the claim for tax credits from Craig Bridges, a constituent of the hon. Member for Torbay, to be activated and for payment to begin. 
Mr Gauke: I am not able to publish details of an individual's dealings with HMRC.
Naomi Long: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward proposals to assess an entitlement to the additional element of working tax credit on account of disability by means other than receipt of disability living allowance. 
Mr Gauke: To receive the disability element of the working tax credit, a claimant must usually work at least 16 hours a week and have a mental or physical disability which puts them at a disadvantage in getting a job and must currently get, or have recently been getting, a qualifying sickness or disability benefit. Disability living allowance is one of the benefits that a claimant could be in receipt of in order to pass the "qualifying benefit" test, but it is not the only one.
Mr Umunna: To ask the Solicitor-General whether he undertook an impact assessment of the closure of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. 
The Solicitor-General: An equality impact assessment was carried out by the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO) Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) transition merger board. A copy of this assessment will be placed in the Library.
Jim McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of Colombia requesting that church leaders be treated as a particularly vulnerable group. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: The Colombian authorities generally consider whether individuals are vulnerable on a case-by-case basis rather than considering specific groups as vulnerable.
The UK Government share your concern that some religious leaders in Colombia, together with trade unionists, journalists and other human rights defenders are vulnerable. We have made representations to the Colombian Government in the past on such cases, and we will continue to do so.
On 11 November this year our officials in London met Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the wife of disappeared Pastor William Reyes to discuss the situation of church leaders and Christians in Colombia. Officials at our embassy in Bogota also met members of the Kogui Christian Community earlier this year, to show visible support for their right to religious freedom.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people have received a salary of more than £140,000 per annum from his Department in each of the last five years. 
Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid a basic salary of more than £140,000 to the following numbers of staff in each year since 2005-06:
Mr Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals for Treaty amendment consequent on the meeting of the European Council on 28 and 29 October 2010 have been (a) made to and (b) discussed in (i) COREPER (ii) the Council of Ministers and (iii) the European Council; what the content is of such proposals; on what dates further discussion of such proposals is planned in each such body; what timetable has been set for (A) ratification and (B) implementation of Treaty amendments; if he will deposit the text of such proposals in the House for scrutiny by the European Scrutiny Committee under the powers of Standing Order No. 143; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington [holding answer 8 December 2010]: Following the October European Council and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting on 28 November, the issue of treaty amendment in relation to eurozone stability will be discussed at the December European Council. This is on the basis of a report from the President of the European Council. We expect proposals, once circulated, to be discussed in the usual way in COREPER, the Council and finally at the December European Council. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have set out the UK's position before Parliament. They have made clear that the UK will not be part of any new permanent stability mechanism for the eurozone.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent reports he has received from Arab states on the acquisition of atomic weapons by Iran; and if he will make a statement; [R] 
(2) what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in Arab states on the acquisition of atomic weapons by Iran; and if he will make a statement. [R] 
Alistair Burt: We have a regular and detailed dialogue with Arab states about a range of regional challenges, including the need for Iran to bring its nuclear programme in line with its international obligations.
Most recently a UK delegation led by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence was able to discuss these concerns and challenges with a number of regional partners at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue in Bahrain 3-7 December.
Regional countries tell us that they are deeply concerned by Iran's nuclear ambitions and share the UK's objective of finding a diplomatic solution to this issue.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the compliance of (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's criteria for sourcing sustainable timber. 
Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) timber procurement follows the specifications defined in the UK Government's Timber Procurement Policy which requires that all timber and wood products must be procured from independently verifiable legal and sustainable sources or Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade-licensed timber or equivalent sources. The Government's definition of sustainability is based on internationally agreed criteria for sustainable forest management, which is referred to by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have not set criteria for sourcing sustainable timber as such, but refer to the same internationally agreed criteria.
The procurement of timber and wood products for the FCO executive agency Wilton Park is undertaken on their behalf by the Corporate Procurement Group
within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is therefore compliant with the specifications mentioned above.
The Head of Global Estates and the Head of Procurement have confirmed that the British Council follows the specifications set out in the UK Government's Timber Procurement Policy for timber procurement in the UK and overseas.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy does not source timber. Similarly the Great Britain China Centre have not had to source timber and have confirmed that they would comply with the UN Food and Agriculture criteria for sourcing sustainable timber.
There has been no record of procurement of timber in this financial year for the other non-departmental public bodies: BBC World Service, Diplomatic Service Appeals Board, Foreign Compensation Commission, Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and the UK India Round Table.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps at the United Nations he (a) has taken since his appointment and (b) plans to take in the next six months in response to allegations of (i) human rights abuses and (ii) attacks on farms and agricultural workers in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: The UK was proactive in raising Zimbabwe at the UN at the height of the violence in 2008. However, given the improvements in the situation on the ground the UN has not discussed Zimbabwe since the formation of the Inclusive Government in February 2009. We will continue to consider the role of the UN as we monitor the situation in Zimbabwe.
Since the formation of the Inclusive Government there has been a marked fall in the levels of violence from a peak of over 300 deaths in 2008 to single figures in 2010. Figures for reported deaths and injuries have remained fairly stable over the past year. However, the fear of violence and intimidation, particularly in relation to forthcoming elections, remains high.
The farm invasions by ZANU (PF) supporters contravene the Southern African Development Community ruling of November 2008 as well as the terms of the Global Political Agreement. Farm workers suffer equally with farm owners, often losing their accommodation as well as their livelihood.
Our embassy in Harare monitors the situation closely and continues to make clear our concerns to the Government of Zimbabwe. The consul met with British farmers in July to further understand their concerns and see what assistance we might be able to offer. Violent invasions demonstrate a lack of respect for the rule of law. We continue to urge the police and judicial authorities in Zimbabwe to take action against them.
We, with our partners, including the UN, will continue to monitor the human rights situation closely and support efforts to prevent abuses and institute international human rights standards.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of political violence in Zimbabwe; what recent
discussions he has had with his Zimbabwean counterpart on this issue; what the outcome of such discussions was; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any meetings with the Zimbabwean Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The general level of violence and abuse has reduced greatly since its peak in 2008. We continue to be concerned about politically-inspired human rights abuses perpetrated against political and civil society activists and farm workers-intimidation, harassment and arbitrary arrests. We are also concerned about the repressive legislation which adversely affects the innocent people of Zimbabwe. Figures for reported deaths and injuries have remained fairly stable over the past year. However, the fear of violence and intimidation, particularly in relation to forthcoming elections, remains high.
We continue to call, both bilaterally and with EU member states, for an end to all such abuses and the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards in Zimbabwe.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: Contact with a wide range of civil society actors, backed by our own observations, suggests that since the formation of the Inclusive Government there has been a marked fall in the levels of violence. This has reduced from a peak of over 300 deaths in 2008 to single figures in 2010. Figures for reported deaths and injuries have remained fairly stable over the past year. However, the fear of violence and intimidation, particularly in relation to forthcoming elections, remains high.
We, with our partners, will continue to monitor the human rights situation closely. We will also continue to support efforts to prevent abuses and institute international human rights standards.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) HM ambassador to Zimbabwe, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had with the President of Zimbabwe on human rights in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: There have been no recent meetings between Ministers or officials and President Mugabe. The only contact our ambassador has had with President Mugabe was when he presented his credentials on 23 July 2009.
We remain concerned that the Zimbabwean Parliament have not yet repealed repressive legislation and there has been little progress on judicial reform or establishing the rule of law.
Despite the substantial reduction in violence since the formation of the Inclusive Government, we continue to be concerned about politically-inspired human rights abuses-intimidation, harassment and arbitrary arrests-perpetrated against journalists, as well as political and civil society activists.
We continue to monitor the situation on the ground and urge all sides of government to observe the spirit as well as the letter of the Global Political Agreement fully. We are also calling, both bilaterally and with EU member states, for an end to all such abuses and the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards in Zimbabwe.
Mr Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what arrangements the House of Commons catering service plans to put in place to ensure that the slaughter method of poultry served in its catering outlets is known; when such arrangements will become operational; and from what date such arrangements will be in place. 
John Thurso: Incumbent suppliers and suppliers bidding for the award of the contract for the future supply of fresh meats and poultry to the House of Commons catering service have provided written guarantees that they will ensure that no halal slaughtered poultry is supplied unless specifically requested or agreed to by the House of Commons catering service.
It has also been added as a condition of contract with both existing and soon-to-be-appointed suppliers that should the House of Commons catering service be forced to accept halal slaughtered poultry due to market availability, this will firstly be communicated verbally and then clearly indicated by the supplier on the delivery note through the introduction of unique halal product codes and descriptions which will clearly indicate halal slaughter.
John Mann: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what steps the Electoral Commission is taking on the registration of homeless people to vote. 
Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that Electoral Registration Officers are responsible for compiling and maintaining the electoral register. Electoral law enables homeless people to register by way of a declaration of local connection. The Electoral Commission produces guidance for Electoral Registration Officers, which sets out some ways to identify homeless people who may be entitled to register in this way, including through local homeless charities and organisations, day centres and hostels.
In addition, as part of its campaign ahead of the 2010 UK Parliamentary General Election, the Commission developed a poster to encourage voter registration among homeless people. The Commission sent letters to 1,603 hostels and 835 charities and homeless organisations that work with homeless people to encourage them to
order this poster, along with other Commission resources that would be useful in engaging with this group. The letter also gave instructions for running a workshop on registration and voting.
Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will review the continued use of mice for the potency testing of botulism under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in the light of the availability of a validated alternative which does not involve the use of animals; and if she will make a statement. 
Lynne Featherstone: We continue to authorise the use animals for the potency testing of botulinum toxin products as international and United Kingdom regulations relating to the safety and efficacy of medicines require that they are tested for potency. This form of testing is kept under regular review and only licensed where there is no alternative.
The Home Office currently license the use of animals for the testing of material produced in the United Kingdom for medicinal use because, at present, non-animal alternatives have yet to be validated to the standard required for use by the relevant laboratories. There is a wide variation in batch-to-batch potency which requires that each batch should be checked and each different medicine requires a unique development, validation and regulatory acceptance for any proposed alternative test. There is no agreed measurable unit of potency for botulinum toxin, it can only be assessed as a function of its biological effect on a living organism.
We believe that our licensing is consistent with the requirement of section 5(5)(a) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 that licence authorities may only be granted where we are satisfied that the purpose of the programme to be specified in the licence cannot be achieved satisfactorily by any other reasonably practicable method not entailing the use of animals.
The Home Office and all others, including the laboratories and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, concerned with conducting and regulating such testing are committed to using alternatives to animals as soon as it becomes practicable to do so.
Mark Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of progress of the UK Border Agency in implementing the recommendations on the management of removals made by Baroness O'Loan in March 2010. 
Damian Green: Following publication of Baroness O'Loan's report into detention and escorting of immigration detainees in March 2010, the UK Border Agency committed to meet all 21 recommendations for which it has responsibility within 12 months.
Work on meeting the recommendations has been progressing well and the agency remains on track to deliver all the recommendations on time. Details of how they have been achieved will be shared with Baroness O'Loan once the work has been completed.
Mark Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations she has received on the treatment of people in custody by her Department's contractor for escort services to failed asylum seekers; and if she will make a statement. 
Damian Green: On 12 November my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary received a letter signed by a number of organisations and individuals asking for an inquiry into the treatment of immigration detainees by private sector detention and escorting staff, the use of restraint, and complaints handling by the UK Border Agency
I replied on behalf of the Home Secretary on 24 November explaining that Baroness Nuala O'Loan had considered these issues in her report of March 2010 into the work of detention and escorting staff. Her thorough and detailed investigation found no evidence to substantiate an allegation that detainees were subjected to systematic abuse. However, she made 21 recommendations for the UK Border Agency about the way it manages complaints, detention custody officers' training and oversight of their work. The UK Border Agency accepted all the recommendations and committed to implement them all within 12 months. It remains on track to meet this commitment.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on no-notice removals for failed asylum-seeking families; and if she will make a statement. 
Damian Green: Since the ruling in the High Court on 16 July, the UK Border Agency's policy is not to carry out 'no notice' removals. The agency's policy is to give at least 72 hours notice of removal. However, in exceptional circumstances where the removal could not be managed in any other way, a policy of giving a reduced period of notice has been used.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate she has made of the number of questions to her Department tabled in the (a) House of Commons and (b) House of Lords that remained unanswered after 10 working days as a result of observation of guidance on the timing of answers to similar questions tabled to more than one Department in the latest period for which figures are available. 
James Brokenshire: It is not possible to identify, using the data held in the Home Office system for managing written parliamentary questions, how many questions remained unanswered after 10 working days as a result of waiting for guidance of the type referred to in the question.
In the case of questions that are deemed to be "round robin", the Guide to Parliamentary Work, published by the Leader of the House of Commons, and available at:
states that Departments should not delay preparing an answer until "round robin" advice is provided, and should not miss the target deadlines for this reason. The
Home Office endeavours to answer all questions-including those deemed "round robin"-within the appointed timescales.
Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to end the detention of women in immigration removal centres. 
Damian Green: Any foreign national, including women, may be detained under powers set out in the Immigration Act 1971 in the following circumstances: initially, whilst identity and basis of claim are established; where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the person concerned will not comply with the conditions of temporary admission or release; as part of a fast-track asylum process; or to effect removal from the UK. We have no plans to change this position.
Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many months of medicine her Department provides to those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS at each immigration detention centre upon removal from the UK. 
Damian Green: Responsibility for immigration removal centres falls to the UK Border Agency.
Every detainee is seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival and is given an appointment to see a GP within 24 hours, unless an earlier appointment is required.
The continuity of treatment for those detainees with HIV/AIDS remains, however, with the national health service and it is therefore a matter for the individual's consultant to determine the volume of medication provided upon removal. Each detainee is considered on a case by case basis.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons she plans to propose the removal of the statutory requirement for scientists to be on the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs; and if she will make a statement. 
James Brokenshire: This Government are committed to an evidence-based approach in the formulation of its drug policies. High quality scientific advice in this complex field is of the utmost importance. This is why we value the work and independent advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill proposes to remove the requirement to appoint at least one person with experience in each of six specific areas to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. This is to allow the council greater flexibility in drawing on the expertise it requires, including scientific expertise, from its membership. This will enable it to better adapt to the fast moving challenges in the drugs landscape and ensure that it can draw on the most appropriate scientific expertise at any one time.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave during Home Office oral questions on 6 December 2010, Official Report, column 20.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the thousand work visas to be issued under Tier One of the revised immigration rules she expects to be issued to musicians, artists and performers. 
Damian Green: We will announce details of how the new tier 1 category for exceptionally talented individuals will operate in due course.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance she plans to issue to those assessing Tier One work visa applications on determining whether an applicant has exceptional talent and has achieved or is likely to achieve international renown. 
Damian Green: We will announce further details of how the new tier 1 category for exceptionally talented individuals will operate in due course.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effects of restrictions on Tier One immigration on musicians and other performers seeking to perform in the UK. 
Damian Green: Musicians and other performers seeking to perform in one or more engagements in the UK currently apply through tier 5 or tier 2 of the points-based system and should continue to do so. The new tier 1 category is for exceptionally talented individuals who are intending to base themselves in the UK.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she has made an assessment of the merits of increasing the number of points available in the points-based immigration system for holders of a PhD relative to holders of an MBA. 
Damian Green [holding answer 3 December 2010]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced on 23 November 2010 the changes we will be making to economic migration routes from 1 April 2011. If demand exceeds the number of Certificates of Sponsorship available for monthly allocation within the limit for Tier 2 visas, we shall rank applications according to criteria which will give due weight and a degree of priority to research vacancies requiring a PhD.
Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions officials of her Department have had with officials of the Department for International Development on proposed changes to immigration and citizenship arrangements. 
Damian Green [holding answer 3 December 2010]: In common with all relevant Departments, the Department for International Development is fully involved in the process of designing changes to the immigration system.
Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the potential effects of the annual limit on non-EU immigration on the care sector. 
Damian Green [holding answer 6 December 2010]: The Government carried out a full public consultation over the summer to ensure we took a wide range of views and evidence into account. We will publish an impact assessment on the changes we are making to economic migration routes.
Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the advertisement of knives and air weapons in free newspapers. 
James Brokenshire: There are no current plans to legislate in this way.
It is an offence to sell an air weapon or a knife to a person under 18. Under section 32 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, a person who sells air weapons by way of trade or business must ensure that the final transfer of any weapon sold to a member of the public is done on a face-to-face basis.
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what his Department's annual budget for conferences was at (a) 7 May 2010 and (b) 7 December 2010. 
David Mundell: The Scotland Office does not have a separate conference budget.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what research she has commissioned on the gender pay gap since May 2010; and what steps she plans to take to close the gap. 
Lynne Featherstone: The Government have not commissioned any new research on the gender pay gap since May 2010.
The Government are committed to tackling the gender pay gap and are taking a range of measures to improve women's position in the labour market including making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable, extending positive action and the right to request flexible working, consulting on a new system of parental leave, and promoting gender equality on company boards including asking Lord Davies to fully investigate the issue.
On 2 December, the Government also announced they were working with partners to develop a voluntary approach on gender pay reporting in the private and voluntary sector.
Mr Amess: To ask the Prime Minister if he will seek to publish in the Official Report the text of his Chanukah message to the Jewish community; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: I am happy to publish the text of my Chanukah message in the Official Report. It reads as follows:
"I want to pass on my very best wishes to the Jewish community here and around the world for a happy and peaceful Chanukah. The story of Chanukah continues to be an inspiring message of the power of hope to sustain people through the toughest of times, and the strength that we can find when we come together and focus on building a brighter future. I wish you and your families a chanukah sameach."
The message can also be found on the No. 10 website at:
John Mann: To ask the Prime Minister on which dates he has attended ministerial meetings on tackling drugs since 6 May 2010. 
The Prime Minister: I have regular meetings with the Home Secretary, Ministers, Cabinet and Cabinet Committees.
Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many people travelled with him to Zurich in connection with the FIFA World Cup vote on 2 December 2010; and what the cost to the public purse was of that travel; 
(2) what the cost to the public purse was of his visit to Zurich in connection with the FIFA World Cup vote on 2 December 2010. 
The Prime Minister: I travelled to Zurich on 30 November 2010 and again on 1 December to support the England 2018 team who worked around the clock to try to secure an England World Cup. As set out in the Ministerial Code, details of my overseas travel will be published at least quarterly.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the oral evidence taken by the Liaison Committee on 18 November 2010, HC 608-i, Q 92, on what dates and at what locations he met representatives of EDF; what matters were discussed at each such meeting; which officials took part in each such meeting; and what the cost was to the public purse of each such meeting. 
The Prime Minister: I met representatives of EDF on 12 October 2010. The meeting was held at No. 10.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Prime Minister how many representations he has received from (a) Olympic medal winners and (b) athletes on his decision to reduce levels of funding for the Schools Sport Partnerships scheme; and who in his Department will be responsible for responding to such representations. 
The Prime Minister: My office and the Department for Education have received a number of representations. I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bradford South (Mr Sutcliffe) on 1 December 2010, Official Report, column 817, on the subject.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the work of the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment. 
The Prime Minister: The UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment is making a hugely important contribution to the UK's relationship with trading partners around the world.
Ian Austin: To ask the Prime Minister whether he has set a target for answering written questions tabled for answer on a named day; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: My office aims to answer all named day written parliamentary questions on the day named.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations he has received from hon. Members on funding of the national concessionary bus fare scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: I have received a number of representations on the funding of the concessionary fares scheme from hon. Members. We will announce our proposals for the local government finance settlement for 2011-12 in the usual manner in due course.
Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether provisions exist to ensure that match-funding is in place for the North East England 2007-13 European Regional Development Framework Competitiveness Programme after March 2011. 
Robert Neill: We expect that match funding will be available from a range of other public sector sources such as the regional growth fund, and the private sector.
Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the monetary value is of North East England 2007-13 European Regional Development Framework Competitiveness Programme funding that remains uncommitted. 
Robert Neill: The allocation for the North East England 2007-13 European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme is €375.7 million. The total amount that has been committed is €235.4 million. Therefore €140.3 million remains uncommitted.
Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether his Department will use agreed market rents when determining what 80 per cent. of market rent is in a given area; and what sources his Department will use to determine those levels; 
(2) whether there will be (a) national, (b) regional and (c) local formulas for determining the rate at which affordable rents will be set. 
Grant Shapps: I have today issued a statement in the House of Commons setting out details on the calculation of affordable rents.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if he will estimate the number of vacant private rented homes with (a) one bedroom and (b) two bedrooms in (i) South Lanarkshire and (ii) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency where the rental is in the bottom 30% of local market values; 
(2) if he will estimate the number of vacant local authority tenanted homes with (a) one bedroom and (b) two bedrooms in (i) South Lanarkshire and (ii) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the number of vacant housing association tenanted homes with (a) one bedroom and (b) two bedrooms in (i) South Lanarkshire and (ii) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency; 
(4) if he will estimate the number of tenants for each tenure type who are under-occupying their property in (a) South Lanarkshire and (b) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency; and how many of these are in receipt of (i) housing benefit and (ii) local housing allowance; 
(5) if he will estimate the number of multi-occupancy lets there are in each tenure type in (a) South Lanarkshire and (b) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency. 
Andrew Stunell: Data on number of bedrooms, under-occupancy and multi-occupancy at the constituency level are not available.
Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons his Department decided that the majority of reductions in central Government contributions to local government should be made in the first two years of the spending review period. 
Robert Neill [holding answer 3 December 2010]: The phasing of the savings to local government were laid out in the spending review, setting out the coalition Government's plans to secure economic stability and put Britain's public services on a sustainable long-term footing.
Reducing the overall deficit is a necessary precondition for sustained economic growth. Failure to take action now would put the recovery at risk and place an unfair burden on future generations.
Each part of the public sector needs to make its contribution to tackling the inherited fiscal deficit. Not reducing local government spending in such a way would require greater reductions to other areas of the public sector, adversely affecting other public services.
Indeed, it should be noted that the last Government's plans for £52 billion of reductions to spending were front-loaded, with £14 billion of spending reductions planned in 2011-12.
A full statement on the Local Government Finance Settlement will be made to the House shortly. However, I refer my hon. Friend to the Secretary of State's letter of 20 October 2010, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. It outlines new freedoms and flexibilities for local government, the scope for local innovation and transformational savings, the additional funding to support a council tax freeze next year, and the funding being provided to support social care and Supporting People.
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on prompt payment of suppliers; and what assessment he has made of levels of compliance with this guidance. 
Robert Neill: Prompt payment is an important issue, particularly to small and medium enterprises, where cash flow is critical for business survival. My own Department is a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code for this reason.
I understand that, during 2009, the previous Government considered taking measures to encourage local authorities to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code. This did not happen as it was deemed an unfunded additional financial burden. Instead the then Secretary of State wrote to Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the Local Government Association to encourage local authorities to improve their already strong track record on payments to suppliers.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the potential effects on households of his proposed reform of regional governance; and if he will make a statement. 
Greg Clark: The Localism Bill will include proposals to abolish regional strategies and regional government. A full impact assessment for the Bill will be published. The abolition of regional government will strengthen local democracy and local accountability.
Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding from the Working Neighbourhood Fund was granted to organisations and projects in Newcastle Upon Tyne Central constituency in 2009-10. 
Robert Neill: The Working Neighbourhoods Fund is allocated to local authorities not constituencies. It is paid as part of the area-based grant to local authorities with high rates of worklessness, giving them the freedom and flexibility to use the funding in creative ways to support local priorities. Central Government do not monitor how a local authority spends their allocation.
Newcastle Upon Tyne was awarded £10.6 million Working Neighbourhoods Fund in 2009-10.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will assess the merits of encouraging local authorities to protect the provision of youth centres when considering the implementation of reductions in their budgets; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: Department for Education have responsibility for the provision of funding for youth centres.
Spending decisions are, and will continue to be, a matter for local authorities. We have a rich diversity of voluntary organisations, charities, faith groups, co-operatives, social enterprises and local housing trusts-all of who already make a huge contribution to local life. The Big Society means using their potential and involving them even more in delivering what people want. We do not expect local authorities to respond by passing on disproportionate cuts to other service providers, especially the voluntary sector.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial support is available to community groups that wish to take over the operation of youth centres that face closure as a result of reductions in local authority budgets; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: My Department plans to bring in a new community right as part of the Localism Bill that will give community groups new opportunities to help them to save local facilities, such as youth centres, that face closure. We plan to announce the detail of this right imminently.
My Department already provides support, in the form of information, advice and expertise, through the Asset Transfer Unit to those who are looking to take on an asset from a local authority. The Unit is managed by the Development Trusts Association and currently funded by DCLG until 1 March 2011.
Across Government, we are looking at ways to enable and encourage greater access to community finance. For example, plans for a new Big Society Bank will help to create an increased flow of finance for those community groups who need it.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the provision of youth centres by local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Stunell: Ministers across both Departments have regular discussions on issues of shared interest. Local people are best placed to make decisions about the provision of youth centres. Through the Localism Bill, we are setting out measures to create a more contestable and diverse market for publicly funded services. Department for Education funding for targeted support for young people will be administered to local areas through the Early Intervention Grant.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time in accident and emergency departments was in each of the last five years. 
Mr Simon Burns: The following table sets out the mean and median time spent between arrival and departure in accident and emergency (A&E) departments in England in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. For 2009-10 the data are provisional. Data are not available for the period before 2007-08.
|Mean duration to departure||Median duration to departure|
| Notes: 1. Duration to departure The time (expressed as a whole number of minutes) between the patients arrival and the time the A&E attendance has concluded and the department is no longer responsible for the care of the patient. 2. The data exclude planned follow-up attendances. 3. Provisional data (April 2009 to March 2010). The data are provisional and may be incomplete or contain errors for which no adjustments have yet been made. Counts produced from provisional data are likely to be lower than those generated for the same period in the final dataset. It is also probable that clinical data are not complete, which may in particular affect the last two months of any given period. There may also be errors due to coding inconsistencies that have not yet been investigated and corrected. 4. A&E data quality Hospital episode statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by a number of NHS providers across England. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. The A&E HES publications addresses some of the key data quality and coverage issues. These are available on HESonline:|
Source: Accident and Emergency Hospital Episode Statistics (A&E HES); The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.
Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to complete his review of the recommendations of the Archer inquiry into the supply of contaminated blood in NHS facilities. 
Anne Milton: I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement given on 14 October 2010, Official Report, column 30WS.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of people able to receive treatment from an NHS dentist. 
Mr Simon Burns: Primary care trusts are currently responsible for commissioning sufficient primary care dentistry to meet local demand. Under the proposals set out in the White Paper "Equity and Excellence Liberating the NHS", the NHS Commissioning Board would, subject to the outcome of consultation and parliamentary approval, take on responsibility for commissioning primary care dentistry and, if locally required, increasing those services to meet demand. We are committed to improving access to national health service dentistry, and will shortly announce our proposals for piloting reforms to the current dental contract.
Mr Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the percentage of residents of the Crewe and Nantwich constituency that have access to an NHS dentist. 
Mr Simon Burns: Primary care trusts (PCTs) are currently responsible for commissioning sufficient primary care dentistry to meet local demand. Under the proposals set out in the White Paper "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS", the NHS Commissioning Board would, subject to the outcome of consultation and parliamentary approval, take on responsibility for commissioning primary care dentistry and, if locally required, increasing those services to meet demand. Accordingly, the Secretary of State for Health has not made an estimate of the percentage of residents of the Crewe and Nantwich constituency that have access to a national health service dentist.
Under the current dental contractual arrangements, introduced on 1 April 2006, patients do not have to be registered with an NHS dentist to receive NHS care. The closest equivalent measure to 'registration' is the number of patients receiving NHS dental services ("patients seen") over a 24 month period. However, this is not directly comparable to the registration data for earlier years.
Information on the number of patients seen in the previous 24 months as a percentage of the population, in England, is available in "Table D2 of Annex 3 of the NHS Dental Statistics for England-2010/11", first quarterly report. Information is available at quarterly intervals, from 31 March 2006 to 30 September 2010,
and is provided by primary care trust and by strategic health authority but is not available by parliamentary constituency.
This report, published on 24 November 2010, has already been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre for health and social care website at:
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department follows on the prompt payment of suppliers. 
Mr Simon Burns: Budget 2010 announced that all central Government Departments are required to aim to pay 80% of all undisputed invoices within five days.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many EU directives are pending transposition into domestic legislation by his Department; and what estimate he has made of the cost of each such transposition. 
Mr Simon Burns: There is one directive currently pending transition into domestic legislation which is Directive 2010/53/EU which sets minimum standards across the European Union for the quality and safety of organs intended for transplantation. It entered into force in August 2010 and national governments have two years to transpose it into national legislation. The directive requires EU member states to set up a competent authority or authorities responsible for maintaining quality and safety standards for organs intended for transplantation.
Implementation is likely to involve some costs-for example, the establishment of a competent authority; establishment of a new authorisation system (including the compliance costs of those required to register); and introduction of a formal reporting system for serious adverse events and reactions. The estimates of these costs vary considerably depending on the regulatory model used across the whole of the United Kingdom, but may be between £0.5 million and £2 million per annum.
Mr Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people in Crewe and Nantwich constituency eligible for a free eye test. 
Mr Simon Burns: The Secretary of State for Health has not made an estimate of the number of people in Crewe and Nantwich constituency eligible for a free eye test.
However, free sight tests are available under the national health service to many people, including people aged 60 and over, children under 16, those aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, people on benefits, those people at particular risk of developing eye disease, and people who are registered blind or partially sighted or who have a complex spectacle prescription.
The number of NHS sight tests, by patient eligibility, in England in 2009-10 is available in Table B1 of Annex B of the 'General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales, Year Ending 31 March 2010' report. Information is provided by primary care trust and by strategic health authority but is not available by parliamentary constituency.
This report, published on 13 July 2010, has been placed in the Library and is also available on the NHS Information Centre website at:
It should be noted that figures relate to actual numbers of sight tests and not individuals.
Mr Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the outcomes of the Family Nurse Partnership programme; and what plans he has for the future of the service. 
Anne Milton: We are evaluating the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme in England through a formative evaluation of implementation in the first 10 sites, conducted by Birkbeck college, university of London; and a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in 18 sites, led by the South East Wales Trials Unit at the School of Medicine, Cardiff university. The RCT will test the impact of FNP compared with other services on pregnancy and birth outcomes, on child health and development and on parental life course; and it will also assess costs, through an economic evaluation. This is due to report in 2013.
Reports of findings from the first two years of the Birkbeck evaluation were published in 2008 and 2009. This early evidence is promising, suggesting that the programme can be delivered well in England, that take up is also good amongst the most disadvantaged, teenage parents, including fathers, who we know often distrust services, with 87% of mothers who are offered FNP enrolling on it. In addition, mothers are reducing smoking in pregnancy, a high proportion are initiating breastfeeding, mothers are coping better with pregnancy, labour and parenthood and are more confident as parents. A report of the toddlerhood phase of FNP will be published shortly, and a full report of all three years will be published by spring 2011.
In addition, over 30 years of United States research suggests positive outcomes in the short, medium and long-term for both mothers and children, together with substantial cost savings.
On the basis of this learning the Government have committed to double the number of families receiving the Family Nurse Partnership programme by 2015. Over 6,000 families have benefitted from FNP to date.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the incorporation into his Department of the nutrition functions of the Food Standards Agency. 
Anne Milton: The estimated cost of incorporating the nutrition functions of the Food Standards Agency into the Department of Health is approximately £171,000.
Ben Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to support the development and schooling of children who are patients in paediatric wards; and if he will make a statement. 
Anne Milton: Children in hospital should continue to have access to as much schooling as their medical condition allows, so that they are able to maintain the momentum of their education, and in order to address their developmental needs. Education is provided in a number of ways, including the provision of a hospital school or hospital teaching service. The precise nature of educational provision in hospital is a matter for local arrangement, dependant on demand and the individual needs of the children.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the variation in the outcomes of his Department's assessment and the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2010 in respect of each hospital trust. 
Mr Simon Burns: Care Quality Commission (CQC) ensure that essential standards of safety and quality are being met by all providers. Monitor regulate foundation trusts to ensure that they meet all statutory and contract actual requirements. All hospitals, including those mentioned in the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2010, have been registered by the CQC, details of which can be found on the Commission's website at:
CQC routinely uses information like Dr Foster the Hospital Guide to identify where there are risks that hospital care is not meeting essential standards.
Paul Maynard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many of the individuals allocated a personal budget in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10 had mental health needs; 
(2) how many direct payment users have mental health needs; 
(3) how many people allocated individual budgets in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10 had mental health needs. 
Paul Burstow: On 31 March 2009 in England, 900 adults aged 18-64 with mental health needs were allocated a personal budget.
The NHS Information Centre for health and social care collects and publishes information on the number of people receiving personal budgets and direct payments from councils with adult social services responsibilities. The most recent England level information relates to 2008-09. Final data from 2009-10 are expected to be published in 2011.
Data were not collected on the number of personal budgets allocated in financial year 2008-09; these data were collected for 2009-10, but have not yet been published. In 2008-09, the count of people, aged 18 to 64, receiving a personal budget on 31 March 2009 whose primary care need was mental health was collected. Data for other age groups were not collected by primary care need in 2008-09.
On 31 March 2009 in England there were 7,000 direct payment users with mental health needs. Of these 4,600 were aged 18-64, 800 were aged 65-74 and 1,700 were aged 75 and over. It should be noted that figures may not add up due to rounding.
The NHS Information Centre does not collect information on the number of individual budgets. The terms individual budget and personal budget were used synonymously during the pilot stage of the personalisation project for social care in 2007-08. However, 'personal budget' is the term now being used to cover direct (cash) payments (held by the individual) and personal budgets (managed by the council on the individual's behalf), and these relate to social care funding only.
Individual budgets is now the term used for a notional amount of funding from a variety of public funds which may include social care funding.
64 pilots involving 3,000 people are currently under way to inform the roll out of personal healthcare budgets with an aim to make it possible to combine health and care personal budgets in the future.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) Bassetlaw Primary Care Trust and (b) Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust awarded contracts to companies in respect of which non-executive members of the trust registered an interest in (i) 2009 and (ii) 2010. 
Mr Simon Burns: This information is not held centrally. The information requested may be available directly from Bassetlaw primary care trust and Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals NHS foundation trust.
Paul Maynard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what palliative care provision there is for prisoners in the North West. 
Paul Burstow: Since April 2006, commissioning responsibility for prison health services has been fully devolved to the national health service. Palliative care for prisoners is therefore provided according to both local circumstance and the needs of the individual prisoner. Local health services work with the prison to provide care based on NHS models of best practice following a thorough risk assessment. This may involve the prisoner being returned to the community during the last months of their life or being cared for through local adaptions to the prison environment. The response will vary according to security issues and the wishes of the prisoner.
Prison Service Order 3050 sets out the policy for prisoners who require end of life care. A copy has been placed in the Library. The Department and the National
Offender Management Service shortly expect to publish guidance for managing end of life for prisons, based on current best practice in both the community and prison environment.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to bring forward legislative proposals for the abolition of primary care trusts. 
Mr Simon Burns: The Government will publish the consultation on the implementation of the White Paper, "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS" this month. This will contain further detail about the provisions to be included in the Health and Social Care Bill, including the abolition of primary care trusts. The Bill itself will follow in the new year.
Oliver Colvile: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what strategy his Department has to raise awareness of prostate cancer. 
Paul Burstow: Through the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP) the Department works to raise awareness of prostate cancer in men. The PCRMP ensures that men without symptoms can have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test free on the national health service if they request one. PRCMP information packs have been provided to all general practitioners (GPs) in England, and the packs include patient information sheets for GPs to give to men who are considering having a PSA test. Clinicians should give men access to PSA tests, if requested, in accordance with the PCRMP.
With health professionals, patient groups and the voluntary sector, the Department has developed key messages for a number of cancers, including prostate cancer. These are available on the NHS Choices website. The Department encourages charities and other stakeholders to use them widely in awareness raising activities.
Through the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) the Department and the Football Foundation jointly funded the Ahead of the Game programme. Ahead of the Game is a pilot programme, which uses the appeal of football to raise awareness of lung, bowel and prostate cancers in men aged 55 and over.
The Cancer Reform Strategy Review, currently under way, is examining how best to promote awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and encourage people to go to their GP if they experience persistent symptoms.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding his Department allocated to NHS smoking cessation services in the period (a) 2007-10 and (b) 2010-13. 
Anne Milton: Funding for national health service smoking cessation services is included in primary care trust (PCT) allocations. The allocations are not broken down by policy area, however, the Department sets out the priorities for NHS delivery in the Operating Framework that is published each year.
According to statistics published by the NHS Information Centre, total expenditure by the NHS on stop smoking services was:
(a) April 2007 to March 2008: approximately £61 million
(b) April 2008 to March 2009: approximately £74 million
(c) April 2009 to March 2010: approximately £83.9 million.
These figures do not include expenditure by the NHS on prescribed stop smoking medicines.
The NHS Information Centre data on NHS Stop Smoking Services are available online at:
PCTs have been informed of their revenue allocations up to 2010-11. Revenue allocations post 2010-11 will be announced later this year.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions thrombolysis treatment has been used to treat stroke patients in (a) Bassetlaw, (b) Sheffield, (c) Nottingham and (d) Sheffield hospitals in the last 12 months. 
Mr Simon Burns: The information requested is not held centrally. This information may be available directly from the national health service organisations concerned.
Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Child Support Agency operates target response times for correspondence from hon. Members' offices. 
Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Child Support Agency operates target response times for correspondence from hon. Members' offices. 
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has a target of responding to 95% of correspondence received from Members of Parliament within 20 working days.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how long on average it took for the Child Support Agency to respond to contact by (a) telephone, (b) post and (c) e-mail in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how long on average it took for the Child Support Agency to respond when contacted by (a) telephone (b) post and (c) e-mail in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Information on how long on average it took the Child Support Agency to respond when contacted by (a) telephone (b) post and (c) e-mail is not available as all general enquiries are not recorded for management information purposes.
The Child Support Agency has a published Client Charter that states the aim to answer telephone calls within one minute and reply to letters and either resolve complaints, or agree next steps, within three weeks of receiving them.
Telephony performance is recorded and the latest available telephony figures show that in the year to September 2010, 99.5% of calls available to staff were answered, with the calls answered from a queue in an average of 9 seconds.
In the same time period, 98.4% of calls were answered within 60 seconds and 96.8% were answered within 30 seconds.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|