Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports he has received on effects of the recent deaths of two aid workers in Afghanistan on the work carried out by voluntary organisations operating in that country. 
These losses are not expected to have a major impact on the work of non-government organisations (NGOs) in Afghanistan. Overall, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) reports that NGO security incidents are declining. There has been a 17% reduction in attacks on NGOs by armed opposition groups this quarter compared to the same quarter last year, while criminal incidents have fallen by 43% over the same period. However, the accessibility of some districts for national and international staff has declined.
All NGOs working in Afghanistan liaise with the ANSO. Staff at the British embassy in Kabul are in regular contact with the ANSO and share relevant security information with them. The UK Government supports the work of ANSO through its contributions to the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO).
Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost was of (a) electricity and (b) gas supplied to his Department's offices at 1 Palace Street in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr Duncan: The cost of electricity and gas supplied to the Department for International Development's (DFID's) headquarters in London in each of the last 12 months is as follows. These figures include sections of the building that are let to Visit Britain.
|Month||Electricity (£)||Gas (£)|
Heidi Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how many jobs advertised by his Department have specified training in an agricultural discipline in each of the last 10 years; 
Mr O'Brien: The Department for International Development (DFID) employs staff from a range of professional backgrounds, many of whom are likely to have agricultural related training. To determine the extent of agricultural related training among all the staff employed and the number of jobs requiring agricultural related training, in the last 10 years, would incur disproportionate cost.
Pauline Latham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with industry specialists on private sector solutions to energy infrastructure issues in developing countries. 
Mr O'Brien: The Government are committed to a comprehensive approach to eliminating paediatric AIDS, and in particular by focusing on where we have a comparative advantage: primary prevention of HIV among women of child-bearing age, and prevention of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV through our investments in family planning.
The Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health Business Plan, as the coalition Government's key mechanism to prioritise the health of women and babies, will support service delivery across the continuum of care needed to improve the health of women and girls, including the prevention of mother to child transmission
of HIV. The Department for International Development (DFID) will continue to support efforts to increase access to affordable medicines, including anti-retroviral drugs and diagnostics, with a focus on pregnant women and newborns.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The strategic defence and security review (SDSR) mandates the Foreign Secretary and I as joint lead Ministers responsible for coordinating work on building stability overseas. The designated lead official from the Department for International Development (DFID) is the Director-General Country Programmes.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: As part of a joint assistance strategy to Kenya, the Department for International Development (DFID), along with 16 other donors, has agreed to a division of labour to improve aid effectiveness. As a result, DFID is not planning to provide agricultural development assistance directly. DFID is, however, engaged in many related areas, such as food security, livestock insurance and pastoralist development. An example is the Hunger Safety Net Programme (£84 million 2007-2017), piloting innovative and secure ways of delivering cash to support 300,000 poor people by 2012. The small amounts of cash will allow people to buy food and diversify their livelihoods. Other support is planned for index-based livestock insurance, a drought management fund, 50,000 micro enterprises, and local community adaptation programmes.
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department has to assist Kenya in meeting its commitments under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) has contributed £10 million to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), aiming to strengthen pan-African and regional institutions to support long-term investment plans and increase the proportion of national budgets for agriculture. Through CAADP, African governments are committed to raising agricultural productivity by at least 6% per year. Kenya has recently signed a CAADP agreement. DFID is not involved in direct assistance to Kenya on CAADP.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) has conducted a study on the economic impacts of climate change in Kenya, looking at a range of important sectors for the Kenyan economy, including agriculture and water. In some areas agricultural production is likely to improve through better rainfall and potential for irrigation. However, the overall impacts are likely to be negative, through increased occurrence of drought, flooding and changing patterns of land use.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) has contributed £37.5 million to the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), which awards grants or loans for private sector projects in agri-business and financial sectors in rural Africa. A specific part of this fund, the Renewable Energy and Climate Technology Fund (REACT), aims specifically at supporting businesses that promote emissions mitigation and climate adaptation in East Africa. Further, DFID's Research and Evidence Division funds a number of research programmes supporting climate adaptation in Kenya, including pest management, and creating demand for new crop varieties and improved fertiliser blends. As part of the current review of all UK bilateral aid programmes, we are considering further what assistance we may be able to give Kenyan farmers to adapt to climate change in future.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The food security situation in Kenya has improved since last year's drought, following favourable rains in late 2009 and 2010. The Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) reports that 1.2 million rural poor in the arid and semi-arid lands require assistance (down from 3.8 million in 2009). There is a risk that food security next year will deteriorate in eastern and south-eastern parts of the country due to uneven rains in March to June 2010 and predicted below-average rains in 2011 due to the impact of La Nina. Short-term food security has also improved among urban households, due in part to downward pressure on food prices, but the KFSSG still estimates that 3.5 million people in urban centres are food insecure.
Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development's (DFID's) support to Sri Lanka now consists of emergency humanitarian assistance only, which does not extend to the tourism sector. DFID's direct aid programme closed in 2006 when Sri Lanka graduated to middle income status.
In 2008, responding to needs arising from the conflict, DFID committed £13.5 million of humanitarian funding to Sri Lanka. This support will end in March 2011. Further support will be provided over the next three years for landmine clearance, helping those still displaced to return home.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of (a) the food security situation in Western Sahara and (b) the implication for food security in that country of the arrival of recent settlers; 
(2) how much his Department spent on agricultural development in Western Sahara in each of the last five years; and what proportion of that expenditure was in respect of the (a) Saharawi population and (b) Moroccan settlers; 
(3) how much his Department spent on emergency food aid in Western Sahara in each of the last five years; and what proportion of that expenditure was in respect of the (a) Saharawi population and (b) Moroccan settlers.  [Official Report, 21 December 2010, Vol. 520, c. 7-8MC.]
Mr O'Brien: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not have a bilateral aid programme in Western Sahara and has not provided direct emergency funds to the country in the last five years. We support Western Sahara through our share of the budget of the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). ECHO has provided €133 million in humanitarian aid to Western Sahara since it was established. DFID monitors all humanitarian situations on an ongoing basis.
Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Attorney-General how many women have been prosecuted for perverting the course of justice following a false retraction of an allegation of rape in each year since 2005. 
The Attorney-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) captures a wide range of information on the volume of specific offences that are charged and reach a first hearing in magistrates courts in its Compass Management Information System. However, these records do not include information about the gender of defendants to whom these offences relate or the particular circumstances of the charge.
The information requested is held on individual case files, but it could be retrieved only by locating and examining every relevant file in each CPS office in England and Wales and would incur a disproportionate cost.
The Prime Minister: Like other major donors to the Conservative party I have met Mr Cook from time to time, including since becoming Prime Minister. There is no record of him coming to Downing street.
The Prime Minister: The Minister for Sport holds regular meetings with UK Athletics. Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are also in regular discussions with interested parties about a potential World Athletics Championships bid.
John Mann: To ask the Prime Minister which members of the FIFA Executive Committee he has met in the course of his official duties since his appointment; and what undertaking each gave him on support for the Football Association's bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 
The Prime Minister: I met Sepp Blatter in Downing street on 13 October 2010. I have spoken to a wide range of members of the FIFA Executive Committee. Notably I travelled to Zurich on Tuesday 30 November and again on Wednesday 1 December where I had meetings with most members of the Executive Committee to press support for the England bid.
Ian Austin: To ask the Prime Minister for what reason question 28072, on discussions between the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, was transferred for answer by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. 
Eliminating catering costs (when possible)
Using in-house facilities or partner organisations to host events (when appropriate)
Managing the delivery of events in-house, rather than using an external agency.
John McDonnell: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what steps the Government plans to take to ensure that (a) statutory duties in respect to race equality are observed and (b) equality impact assessments are prepared by each (i) Government department, (ii) local authority and (iii) other public body considering budgetary reductions. 
Lynne Featherstone: In carrying out their functions all listed public bodies and those discharging public functions must have due regard to the matters specified in section 71 of the Race Relations Act 1976.
Public bodies are legally required to assess the effect, or likely effect, of their policies on people of different races. This can be done in several ways of which formal equality impact assessments, although a good approach, are only one method.
Throughout the spending review process the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has been in contact with spending teams and senior policy owners to assist them to comply with the duties. Departments have various procedures in place to ensure equality is appropriately assessed and the GEO will continue to work closely with them to make sure equality is at the forefront of action to reduce the deficit fairly.
Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost was of (a) electricity and (b) gas supplied to his Department's offices at 11 Millbank in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the current member 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. 
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what his most recent estimate is of the number of multi-occupancy lets by tenure in (a) South Lanarkshire and (b) Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency. 
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of 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 per cent. of local market values. 
The ballot papers for the 2011 Scottish Parliament election take account of the recommendations made by Ron Gould in his report on the May 2007 elections and the views expressed by voters who took part in the research undertaken by Quadrant Consultants on behalf of the Scotland Office during May and June 2008. They have been designed in accordance with the Electoral Commission's guidance on ballot paper design
contained in 'Making your mark: Good practice for designing voter materials: guidance for government policy-makers'.
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of 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. 
Mr Harper: Responsibility for registering electors lies with individual electoral registration officers (EROs) based within local authorities. Each ERO is under a duty to take all steps that are necessary to maintain their registers.
The Electoral Commission provides guidance to EROs in undertaking electoral registration, and sets and monitors performance standards for EROs. As part of this monitoring role, the Electoral Commission recently published its second assessment of 'The Performance Standards for Electoral Registration Officers in Great Britain (March 2010)'.
On 15 September the Government announced their intention to speed up the implementation of individual electoral registration (IER) so that it comes into force in 2014. IER will involve the collection of identifying information from individual electors.
To complement the move to IER the Government intend to test data matching schemes during 2011 with the aim of identifying eligible electors who are not on the electoral register. Participating EROs will be able to compare the electoral register against other public databases and find people missing from the register. If these test schemes are successful the Government will consider rolling out data matching nationally as a means of encouraging electoral registration.
Section 13 (1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 provides that a revised register of electors must be published by 1 December each year at the conclusion of the annual canvass. If, however, there has been an election during the canvass period, electoral registration officers are permitted to delay publication of the revised register until 1 February.
Mr Harper: The Government are committed to bringing forward legislation to introduce a power to recall Members of Parliament. We are currently considering what would be the fairest, most appropriate and robust procedure.
18. James Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks on the defence estate; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: As we set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, we attach a high priority to the cyber defence of our systems. This Government placed a renewed focus on this threat. We have recognised attacks through cyber space as a Tier 1 risk to our national security. The Government have put in place an additional £650 million transformative national programme to enhance our protection in cyber space.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what arrangements his Department has made to ensure that Christmas cards and gifts reach British troops serving in Afghanistan in time for Christmas; 
The last date that families could post mail to be delivered to Afghanistan by Christmas was 3 December 2010; this date was widely publicised by the
Royal Mail and British Forces Post Office. Every effort is being made to ensure that mail is delivered promptly to members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan. To ensure that the mail is delivered on time, additional staff have been employed at the BFPO sorting depot and if required, additional flights will also be chartered to supplement the regular air bridge to Afghanistan. Once in theatre, the mail is delivered to personnel through local arrangements. It may, however, be necessary to hold the mail for those who are deployed in remote Forward Operating Bases until they return to a larger base with the necessary mail facilities.
Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has considered the merits of introducing in the armed forces pathogen reduction technology as an option for combating known and unknown pathogens. 
Mr Robathan: The surgeon general has received advice that current pathogen inactivation (PI) technology is not suitable for use in deployed UK operational facilities. He will continue to monitor developments in this area.
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), a UK independent non-departmental public body run by the Department of Health, performed a risk assessment of strategies for the reduction of risk of bacterial contamination of platelets in 2009. The committee concluded at its meeting on 27 January 2010 that PI of platelets should not be implemented at this particular time, due to uncertainties around patient safety, increased donor exposure and efficacy of PI platelets. The situation will continue to be monitored by the secretariat.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the data used to determine his Department's funding allocation for healthcare to service personnel in each of the next four years. 
Funding for the treatment of ill and injured personnel has been, and will continue to be, made available to match clinical requirements. Ministry of Defence-funded healthcare extends across a wide international network, including local unit-based primary care provision in the UK and overseas; regional rehabilitation and mental health units; and staff and
facilities on deployed operations. Many of the costs are disaggregated and embedded in the budgets of individual military units and overall operational budgets. Owing to the number of different budgets to which costs would be attributable, any detailed analysis of healthcare funding data would incur disproportionate costs.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding his Department plans to allocate to research on mental health in respect of (a) serving personnel and (b) veterans in each of the next four years. 
Jim McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the likely effects of changes in his Department's spending on businesses in the private sector in Scotland. 
Dr Fox: The Strategic Defence and Security Review changes were needed to allow our armed forces to meet the challenges of the future. The industrial implications of these changes were given careful consideration. The Ministry of Defence is now in commercial negotiations with our main suppliers as part of implementing the SDSR. It is too soon to judge the effect of these changes on industry in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK.
Mr Robathan: As at 31 March 2010, the Department's annual accounts gave the value of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) owned estate as some £15 billion. However these values represent replacement and not open market value.
As announced in October, the sale of assets such as the Defence Support Group, the Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre and the Defence stake in the telecommunications spectrum should generate in excess of £500 million over the spending review period.
The likely monetary value of those defence equipment assets that will become surplus following the Strategic Defence and Security Review, such as HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier fleet, is still being assessed.
Peter Luff: Measures that will drive down expenditure on attending or arranging conferences include a reduction in our reliance on travel by maximising the opportunities presented by modern technology and techniques, such as video or audio conferencing; the removal of first class air travel and, in all but exceptional circumstances, first class rail and business class air travel; an instruction to keep the number attending meetings and events from a single business area to the absolute minimum; and restrictions on payments for overtime and travelling time.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence 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. 
Peter Luff: The provision of a press cuttings service is regularly reviewed to ensure the best value for money, both in terms of the number of recipients and the search terms used. These are kept to a minimum consistent with maintaining the appropriate level of awareness.
The cost of press cuttings services to central London Ministry of Defence (MOD) divisions and to the three out of four MOD trading funds that pay separately for press cuttings services, is shown in the following table. Figures for October 2010 have yet to be confirmed; the information in the following table shows the most recent 12 months for which all information is available.
|Cost ( £ )|
|MOD c ost||Defence Science and Technology Laboratory||United Kingdom Hydrographic Office||Meteorological Office|
|(1) Press cuttings supplied under a fixed price contract. No additional monthly charges are paid. Annual total: £4,866.67|
The figures given above exclude VAT and Newspaper Licensing Authority fees.
|RAF Museum||Army Museum|
Dr Fox: Following the UK/France summit on 2 November 2010, we are now pursuing closer co-operation with France in the areas detailed in the Summit Declaration on Defence and Security. We made a long-term commitment at the summit to the achievement of the envisaged level of co-operation, and the delivery of joint initiatives over the coming years. Discussions between officials and military staffs are ongoing, building on the existing close links between the UK and French Defence communities. The Senior Level Group, established under the terms of the Defence and Security Co-operation treaty, will deliver a progress report on co-operation to the next bilateral summit.
Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what area in hectares and what proportion of his Department's estate was constituted by airfields (a) in 2008 and (b) on the most recent date for which figures are available. 
However, the proportion of the Department's estate owned by the RAF in 2008-09 is published in the United Kingdom Defence Statistics 2009, which can be found on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website:
Nick Harvey: Under NATO's air defence and air policing arrangement, the UK shares responsibility for NATO Air Policing Area One. This area incorporates UK, Norwegian, Icelandic Danish and international airspace. The Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force is responsible for covering this area and is launched when an aircraft entering this region cannot be identified by any other means or if NATO and UK military authorities consider it necessary to intercept and shadow an aircraft of specific interest.
The QRA force comprises a variety of elements maintained at readiness in order to allow NATO commanders to fulfil their delegated mission of 'defending the integrity of alliance airspace'. The force comprises fighter aircraft at RAF Coningsby (South) and RAF Leuchars (North), aerospace battle managers of the Air Surveillance and Control Systems Force and the NATO combined air operations centres. Acting together, they respond appropriately to protect both NATO and UK airspace.
Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the UK will continue to maintain the necessary force-level contributions to support NATO's agreed air defence and air policing mission NATO Air Policing Area One which includes UK airspace.
Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to publish the proposed criteria for suitable storage sites for radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines. 
The criteria proposed in the document have been used to identify the potential candidate sites for the initial stages of submarine dismantling. They will also inform the process of identifying potential candidate sites for the interim storage of intermediate level radioactive waste. In addition, this process will be informed by the potential development of a national waste consolidation strategy by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion of 17 June 2010, Official Report, column 503W, on nuclear weapons, which US establishments were visited by personnel from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in each of the last three years; and how many staff visited each such establishment. 
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Government has reached any understanding with the US administration that the Secretary of State may give authorisation for US cluster munitions to be brought into or carried through the UK or its overseas territories; whether any such arrangement was discussed with US officials prior to Royal Assent to the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Act 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr Fox: Article 8 of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act (2010) sets out that the Secretary of State is able to grant authorisation for visiting forces of states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to possess cluster munitions on or transfer them through UK territory.
The US were made aware of this provision within the Bill, not least as it was required to enable the removal of their cluster munitions stockpiles. This removal has now been completed and there are no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions on UK territory.
Chris Grayling: The spending review announced the biggest changes to our welfare system for a generation. It means we will be able to take action to get spending under control, cut the deficit, reform the system to make work pay and end the cycles of benefit dependency that exist in too many communities around the UK.
The universal credit will simplify the benefits system by moving from the current multitude of benefits to one streamlined payment. Benefit will be withdrawn at one unified rate, making it easy for people to see that it is always worth going to work, and exactly how much of their income they will keep. This will reduce risks for people by smoothing transitions into and out of work which is particularly important for people in short-term or low-paid work. Details of the credit, which we hope to introduce from 2013, will be set out in a White Paper to be published shortly.
We are also introducing the new Work Programme a multi-billion pound investment to support people into work. We will replace the ineffective and wasteful employment programmes of the past with a unified structure which treats people as individuals and is delivered by private and voluntary sector organisations, paid for by long-term results. Providers will only be paid for securing sustainable work, rather than a short-term or temporary job entry that might lead to returning to and cycling on and off benefit.
Chris Grayling: The following table gives details of the overtime paid to staff working within the Secretary of State's private office during the requested periods. Since May 2010 there have been a number of initiatives implemented to reduce this spend; overtime has been limited to a maximum of 10 hours per week per person, early morning/late night rotas have been introduced and staff have been encouraged not to work past 7 pm at night.
|Amount paid (£)|
Brandon Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to identify those of its services that could be provided through the Post Office network. 
Chris Grayling: The Government policy statement "Securing the Post Office Network in the Digital Age" published on 9 November 2010 sets out the services which this Department is considering piloting with the Post Office.
The Department has taken a positive and constructive approach, meeting regularly with the Post Office to consider new opportunities where the Post Office will be able to compete for future Government business.
These include a pilot to explore whether the Post Offices could verify supporting documents for customers of the Pension Service and whether it can play a role in supporting Jobcentre Plus in the national insurance number application process.
Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of individuals who receive housing benefit, council tax benefit and child tax credit such that their tax credits are tapered to nothings as their income rises before they lose all entitlement to (a) housing benefit and (b) council tax benefit. 
From February 2007, DWP has been collecting more detailed housing benefit and council tax benefit data electronically from local authorities. Over time this will improve the accuracy, timeliness and level of detail available in the published statistics, as the information supplied is quality assured.
At present, the management information needed to estimate overlaps between housing benefits and tax credits has not been sufficiently quality assured. Moreover, the housing benefit data contains information on tax credits only for those who are not in receipt of a passporting benefit.
Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department has made an assessment of the merits of mechanisms to protect the National Insurance contributions of stay-at-home parents who are no longer in receipt of child benefit under his Department's proposals on future child benefit arrangements. 
Maria Miller: The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions routinely meets with the chair and chief executive of Remploy to discuss the company's current and future plans for supporting disabled people into work. The last meeting (a) was on 9 December and (b) there are no further meetings scheduled in the diary.
On 2 December I announced an independent review and call for evidence of the support the Government provide to disabled people who want to work including the work of Remploy. This provides an opportunity for trade unions, people and organisations to submit evidence that will inform the development of our future strategy.
I visited and met employees at the Acton and Coventry factories and the Coventry Employment Services branch on 25 August. I currently have no further visits arranged in my diary but I am always willing to work with and listen to the views of Remploy employees and all those who have a close interest in Remploy.
On 2 December I announced an independent review and call for evidence of the support the Government provide to disabled people who want to work including the work of Remploy. This provides an opportunity for people and organisations to submit evidence that will inform the development of our future strategy.
Maria Miller: As Minister for Disabled People, I have responsibility for Remploy. I (a) visited the Acton and Coventry factories on 25 August and (b) there are currently no other visits arranged in my diary.
|Amounts written off in Great Britain|
|Budgeting loans||Crisis loans||Total|
1. Figures include debt due to overpayments that has been written off. (Not all debt due to overpayments is written off.)
2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £1,000.
Details that support the Social Fund White Paper Accounts for 2004-05 to 2009-10.
Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) grants and (b) loans from the Social Fund were made in the form of (i) community care grants, (ii) budgeting loans, (iii) crisis loans, (iv) sure start maternity grants, (v) funeral payments, (vi) cold weather payments, (vii) winter fuel payments and (viii) grants or loans in each other Social Fund category in the period from 2004 to 2009. 
|Social Fund awards for Great Britain|
1. The information provided is Management Information. Our preference is to answer all parliamentary questions using official/national statistics but in this case we only have management information available. It is not quality assured to the same extent as official/national statistics and there are some issues with the data, for example, figures given do not include awards made clerically which had not been entered on to the social fund computer system by the end of the relevant financial year (for the first five categories).
2. Figures for community care grants, budgeting loans and crisis loans are for initial awards only and do not include awards made after review.
3. Figures for Sure Start maternity grants and funeral payments include awards made after re-consideration or appeal.
4. Figures for winter fuel payments include payments made to recipients within Great Britain and also recipients from within the European economic area who qualified for payments while resident in Great Britain.
5. Figures for cold weather payments and winter fuel payments are for payments made in respect of the relevant winter, but which may have been made in the following financial year.
6. Figures for winter fuel payments for 2005-06 have been revised and therefore do not match exactly those currently in the House of Commons Library. Information in the Library will be updated as soon as possible.
7. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 1,000.
Winter Fuel Payments: Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate 100% data.
Other award types: annual reports by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund (apart from Cold Weather Payments for 2009-10 where the figure has been updated).
Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the letter from Dr James Bolton to the Jobcentre Plus Customer Representative Group Forum dated 24 June 2010, if he will place in the Library a copy of each item of (a) evidence and (b) ongoing external evaluation his Department has collected on the effectiveness of work-focused health-related assessments. 
Chris Grayling: Following careful consideration, the work focused health related assessment (WFHRA) element of the work capability assessment was suspended from 19 July 2010 for a period of two years. The WFHRA's suspension will provide an opportunity for the Department to reconsider the WFHRA's purpose and delivery. It also improves the capacity to focus on and cope with the demands of the reassessment of existing incapacity benefit customers.
1. DWP Research Report 631 "Employment and Support Allowance: Early implementation experiences of customers and staff"; publication date March 2010.
2. DWP Research Report 707 "Employment and Support Allowance: Findings from a face-to-face survey of customers"; publication date November 2010.
An additional report, "Employment and Support Allowance-Customer and Staff experiences of the face-to-face Work Capability Assessment and Work-Focused Health-Related Assessment" will be published in the week commencing 20 December.
Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the change to the average net income of retired households in each income decile attributable to changes to (a) the basic state pension and (b) guarantee credit in the June 2010 Budget in (i) 2010-11, (ii) 2011-12, (iii) 2012-13, (iv) 2013-14 and (v) 2014-15; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the change to the average net income of retired households in each income decile attributable to decisions on (a) pension credit and (b) savings credit following the comprehensive spending review in (i) 2010-11, (ii) 2011-12, (iii) 2012-13, (iv) 2013-14 and (v) 2014-15. 
Steve Webb: The June 2010 Budget announced that the basic state pension would be uprated by a triple guarantee of prices, earnings or 2.5% whichever is highest. In general CPI will be used as the measure of prices in the triple guarantee. However in April 2011 the basic state pension will be increased by RPI.
In April 2012 under current Office of Budget Responsibility economic assumptions the basic state pension will be increased by a larger amount due to the reform. The following table shows the proportion of all gainers that are in each income decile of the overall population income distribution and the average amount that they gain.
|Effect of the basic state pension triple guarantee in 2012-13 : Proportion of those gaining in each decile of the population income distribution and the average increase in their net income|
Changes to the uprating of pension credit were announced in the June Budget and in the comprehensive spending review. The June 2010 Budget announced that the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit will increase by the cash increase in a full basic state pension in April 2011. The comprehensive spending review announced that the savings credit maximum will be frozen in cash terms from April 2011 to April 2014.
The following tables show the proportion of all gainers that are in each income decile of the overall population income distribution and the average amount that they gain in 2011-12 and in 2012-13. Due to the small number of cases affected in the higher income deciles the top three deciles have been merged.
|Effect of the pension credit uprating changes in 2011-12 : Proportion of those gaining in each decile of the population income distribution and the average increase in their net income|
|Bottom||Second||Third||Fourth||Fifth||Sixth||Seventh||Eighth to tenth|
|Effect of the pension credit uprating changes in 2012-13 : Proportion of those gaining in each decile of the population income distribution and the average increase in their net income|
|Bottom||Second||Third||Fourth||Fifth||Sixth||Seventh||Eighth to tenth|
1. Estimates are derived from the Department's policy simulation model and so are subject to modelling and sampling error.
2. Estimates use latest Office of Budget Responsibility economic assumptions and assume that:
(a) Basic state pension would have been uprated by RPI in April 2011 and earnings in April 2012.
(b) The standard minimum guarantee and the savings credit threshold in pension credit would have been uprated by earnings in April 2011 and April 2012.
3. Percentages are rounded to the nearest percentage point so may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Changes in net income are rounded to the nearest 10p and are in cash terms.
4. Deciles are based on the distribution of net household income across the GB population after deducting housing costs. They use OECD equivalistion factors
Take up of the guarantee credit pension credit was between 71% and 81% of those estimated to be entitled in 2008-09. The majority of pensioners in the lowest decile appear from the data collected in the Family Resources Survey to have an entitlement to pension credit but have not made a claim. So the proportion of gainers from the pension credit change who are in the lowest decile is relatively low.
Pension credit recipients within the top four deciles generally either have severe disabilities, which entitle them to disability benefits and premiums which increases their income to reflect the additional costs of disability, or be living within a wider household, for example with their families, whose income raises the household equivalised income to the higher deciles. In these circumstances the pensioner's income is assessed independently of the wider household to establish entitlement to pension credit.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average cost to the public purse through payment of benefits and lost revenue to the Exchequer of each person who is unemployed. 
Chris Grayling: The information is not available in the form requested. Estimates of Exchequer costs in relation to all unemployed people would require information on the earnings and other circumstances of those people if they were not unemployed, which are unknown.
The Department does make estimates of the typical Exchequer impact associated with individuals who move from jobseeker's allowance (JSA) into work. Our current estimate for the net Exchequer savings from someone who would have claimed JSA instead of being in employment for a full year is £7,800, taking into account changes in benefit and tax credit entitlements, and
changes in tax and national insurance payments. This is based on specific assumptions(1), and in practice the net effect will vary widely depending on individual circumstances.
The average length of JSA claim is less than a year (more than half of new JSA claimants leave benefit within three months and around three-quarters within six months) so the actual savings generated by an average jobseeker moving into employment will be less than this estimate. For this reason, the total Exchequer saving from all movements from JSA to employment could not be extrapolated from this estimate.
(1) Calculations using the DWP Tax-Benefit model 2009-10:
The estimate assumes that the individual earns £12,200 pa (gross) in work, and is based on the estimated demographic profile of those leaving JSA.
Jason McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many able-bodied persons of working age have been unemployed for a period of (a) six months, (b) 12 months, (c) two years, (d) three years, (e) four years, (f) five years and (g) more than five years in Yorkshire and the Humber; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce the level of long-term unemployment. 
Chris Grayling: The estimated number of unemployed people in Yorkshire and the Humber Government office region aged 16 to 64 years, by duration of unemployment, are given in the following table. The table includes figures for all ILO unemployed and for ILO unemployed excluding those who are both covered by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and have a physical health problem expected to last more than a year.
|Duration of unemployment||Excluding those covered by the DDA who have a physical health condition||All|
1. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 1,000. Some of the estimates are based on small samples; though large enough to be included in the table, they should be treated with caution.
2. A combination of physical and mental health conditions may contribute to an individual being covered by the DDA. The estimates in the table exclude only those covered by the DDA who have a physical health condition, regardless of any mental health condition. The latter include depression, bad nerves, anxiety, severe or specific learning difficulties, mental illness or suffering from phobia, panics or other nervous disorders.
Labour Force Survey July-September 2010.
These figures are a snapshot of the latest position and hide the dynamism of a labour market in which most people who experience unemployment leave quickly. Currently over half of new claimants to jobseeker's allowance leave within three months, around three quarters leave within six months and around 90% leave within a year.
However, to strengthen the support available for people to return to work, we are aiming to introduce the Work Programme from next summer. The Work Programme, will be a flexible, personalised programme built around the needs of individuals, providing the employment support customers need when they need it. It will contribute to the Government's key aims of fighting poverty, supporting the most vulnerable and helping people to break the cycle of benefit dependency.
Ahead of the implementation of the Work Programme, the Government will ensure that support will be in place with a more personalised service for claimants of all working age benefits from April 2011. Jobcentre Plus will have more flexibility to judge which interventions, from a menu of options, will help individual claimants most cost-effectively and which will meet local labour market needs.
Chris Grayling: We will provide for all those who are outside the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) system, such as the self employed, to ensure that universal credit payments take into account all household earnings. We expect to develop a self reporting tool for those outside the PAYE system to provide us with their earnings information.
Chris Grayling: The Government announced the approaches they are considering to support child care costs in the White Paper 'Universal Credit: Welfare that Works' (Cm 7957, November 2010). They will announce more detailed proposals over the coming months, following discussions with child care user groups and provider organisations.
Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to announce his proposals for the determination of eligibility for passported benefits following the introduction of universal credit. 
Chris Grayling: Universal credit will replace a number of benefits and tax credits which are currently used as passports to other forms of support. The White Paper proposed that eligibility for these passported benefits should be determined in future on the basis of income or earnings thresholds. We are discussing the new approach with the other Government Departments and devolved Administrations who provide the benefits in question and will give more details in the coming months.
Steve Webb: An appropriate amount of support will be added to the universal credit award to help meet the costs of rent and mortgage interest. For households with no other income, the amount provided, whether claiming as (a) a single adult or (b) two adults who live as a couple will be similar to the support currently provided through housing benefit or, in the case of mortgage interest, the appropriate income-related benefit.
Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will discuss with the Minister for the Cabinet Office the provision of financial support through the Big Society Bank to enable smaller third sector organisations to participate in the Work Programme. 
Chris Grayling: We are encouraging smaller civil society organisations to utilise all sources of funding available to them, to provide them with additional financial support to aid their participation in the delivery of the Work Programme. We expect voluntary and community sector organisations and social enterprises to play a significant role in the supply chains of prime contractors. Discussions are already taking place between my officials and Cabinet Office on the development of the Big Society Bank. The aim of the Big Society Bank is to support the growth of the social investment market and make it easier for social enterprises and other enterprising civil society organisations, including those looking to participate in the Work Programme, to access capital. The Big Society Bank will, however, be an independent wholesale organisation that will be free to make its own investment decisions based on the quality of opportunities presented by the market.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support his Department provides to the Afghan government's Human Rights Support Unit; and if he will make a statement. 
Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided financial support of £200,000 for the Afghan Government's Human Rights Support Unit (HRSU) through its strategic programme fund for human rights and democracy in 2009.
During 2010 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also provided £6,000 funding through its bilateral programme budget for one human rights officer from the HRSU to complete a course in international human rights law at Nottingham university.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with his Albanian counterpart the provision of assistance to those affected by floods in Shkodra, Northern Albania. 
British officials have been in contact with the Albanian authorities via their embassy in London, the British embassy in Tirana and through the European Union regarding the floods in Northern Albania. A number of countries in the region have already provided emergency assistance, and while the UK is not planning to provide direct aid, the Department for International Development (DFID) will continue to monitor the situation.
Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Bahrain on its detention of Anthony James and his colleagues. 
Alistair Burt: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised Mr James' travel ban with the Crown Prince on 30 November 2010. Our ambassador in Bahrain continues to raise the issue with the Bahraini authorities.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the partnership between the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Kingdom of Bahrain Interior Ministry. 
The UK National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has a constructive and ongoing relationship with the Bahrain Ministry of Interior. The UK NPIA supports the Bahraini police reform programme (which comes under the remit of the Ministry of Interior), delivering training on operations, community policing, criminal investigation and forensic science. At the request of the Ministry of Interior, further courses are being planned.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports on the effectiveness of the BBC World Service he received from British embassies and high commissions in (a) 2009 and (b) 2010. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) carries out an annual survey of its heads of mission on the effectiveness of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service in the countries to which they are accredited. Their comments are used for internal discussions of priorities both within the BBC World Service and between the World Service and the FCO.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Ministers in his Department have received unfavourable comment from their foreign counterparts on the operation of the BBC World Service since 6 May 2010. 
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for the future of the British Council assistantship programme; and if he will make a statement. 
The Foreign Language Assistants programme, which is managed for the Department by the British Council, will continue as usual with recruitment for 2011-12 now open. The programme supports departmental and Government priorities by exposing pupils in our schools to mother-tongue speakers of other languages through the intake of foreign language assistants; and provides an opportunity for undergraduates from our universities to immerse themselves in a foreign language while working as an English language assistant in a school abroad.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the use by British Council staff of economy tickets for travel to and from the UK in the last three years. 
Current British Council travel policy for air journeys is that economy class should be used where the flight time is under eight hours and premium economy where the flight time is eight hours or more. Where premium economy is not available, business class may be booked.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the safety of journalists in Cameroon; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Bellingham: We continue to be concerned about politically-inspired human rights abuses perpetrated against journalists in Cameroon. All forms of intimidation, harassment and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable. We strongly support the right to freedom of speech and press, and regularly call for an end to all such abuses and encourage the adherence to internationally accepted human rights standards in Cameroon.
We continue to press the Cameroonian authorities to decriminalise defamation. In parallel, we continue to encourage the authorities to create an effective media self- regulatory body to make journalists more responsible in their reporting. We have funded high-level training for journalists in Cameroon on ethics and professionalism.
We are closely following the case of Bibi Ngota, a journalist who died while on remand in prison in August 2010. Our High Commissioner in Yaounde has made representations on this issue (including the worrying allegations of torture) to the Prime Minister of Cameroon and the Vice Prime Minister in Charge of Justice. As a result of international pressure, the President of Cameroon commissioned a judicial investigation: we await details of the investigation's findings. We welcome the recent release of two other journalists that were detained in connection with the same affair.
We are closely following a case brought against four TV journalists for allegedly exposing classified information, linked to their investigation into various corruption scandals involving Government officials and influential tycoons.
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received from his Special Representative for Climate Change on the potential effect of the conclusions of the DARA report on the Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2010 on his Department's expenditure priorities; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Secretary of State for International Development on the matter. 
Mr Bellingham: The Special Representative for Climate Change-John Ashton-and other officials from my department attended the launch event for the Climate Vulnerable Monitor 2010 on 3 December. I welcome its publication and its potential to play a valuable role in persuading people and governments to take climate change more seriously.
The Government did not have input into the report itself, nor do its conclusions specifically affect the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's expenditure priorities. An effective response to climate change underpins both UK security and prosperity and must be a central objective of British foreign policy.
An effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response, and our global network of UK climate attaches is widely recognised as a valuable source of influence and ideas on the politics and economics of climate change.
Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on extradition to Colombia. 
Other meetings are also sometimes available to be viewed. The decision on which meetings are open to the public rests with the presidency. Figures for the number of meetings available to be viewed are not automatically collated. The Council Secretariat is currently collating this information which I will forward separately to the Member on receipt.
Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of implementing the proposals to remove UN peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the political situation in the region. 
Mr Bellingham: The UN Security Council has always been clear that the peacekeeping mission must exit the Democratic Republic of Congo as soon as conditions allow. Any reconfiguration and exit strategy will be determined in light of the security situation on the ground, and State capacity to protect civilians and maintain stability. All parties agree we must avoid a premature departure which could impact on civilian protection.
In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1925 (2010) and in consultation with the Government, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has completed the withdrawal of 1,494 troops. The UN Security Council will continue to keep under continuous review the strength of the mission on the basis of regular assessments from both the UN and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo; the first of which should be reflected in the UN Secretary-General's next report to the Security Council in the new year.
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken since his appointment to reduce expenditure on conferences from budgets within his responsibility. 
Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) always strives to hold conferences and events in the most cost effective way possible. Within the UK, when appropriate, conferences are hosted at FCO premises and are planned by the FCO in-house conference and events team. Competitive quotations are always obtained for any external services to ensure we secure value for money.
As directorates and posts overseas arrange events independently, no central record is held on the criteria for expenditure and the information requested could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress there has been in discussions with the Greek authorities to ensure that UK coroners are able to obtain police reports following the death of a British citizen in that country; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Lidington: Both the UK and Greece are party to a number of European instruments that facilitate co-operation between judicial systems within Europe. We are working hard bilaterally to improve the provision of locally-obtained information about deaths of British citizens in Greece to coroners in the UK. We have made Greek officials aware of the role and importance of the coroner service within our judicial system. Officials from the Ministry of Justice, with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are working with the Greek Ministry of Justice to make progress. We plan to meet the relevant Greek authorities early in 2011 so that inquests can be concluded without further delay.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of (a) Austria and (b) Germany on permission for refuelling of Iranian planes; and if he will make a statement. [R] 
Alistair Burt: The UK recently worked closely with European partners to adopt the EU's strongest ever sanctions package against Iran. While we do not encourage trade with Iran, these sanctions do not prohibit the sale of aviation fuel to Iranian airlines. The Government have written to fuel providers in the UK to clarify this fact. However, some companies in Europe have taken the commercial decision to stop providing fuel to Iranian airlines in line with their interpretation of US sanctions.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on changes in prices for (a) food and (b) fuel in Iran; and if he will make a statement. [R] 
Alistair Burt: Economic mismanagement by the Iranian Government has been a major factor in domestic concern about economic issues. We are aware of sometimes significant increases in the cost of water, electricity, gas and some food products in Iran during 2010, although we have seen no uniform pattern across the country. The price of fuel has remained unchanged and it remains heavily subsidised.
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