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17 May 2011 : Column 109W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Defence

Armed Forces: Casualties

Jason McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice his Department provides for service personnel in respect of the preparations of their wills prior to operational duties overseas. [55908]

Mr Robathan: At least three months prior to a deployment all service personnel are briefed by their Chain of Command on the benefits of having a will, as well as a Lasting Power of Attorney. This powerful legal document gives another person or persons the power to make decisions with regard to service person's financial affairs and/or their health and personal welfare. These can be drawn up privately, in advance of a deployment, and can be revoked at any time.

Service personnel are advised that wills can be drawn up privately or by use of a Ministry of Defence (MOD)

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Will Form (Form 106). Complete MOD Will Forms can be stored at the Wills Library in Glasgow at no cost to the individual.

Armed Forces: Pensions

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of armed forces personnel and their dependants who will be affected as a result of changes to public sector pensions uprating; and if he will make a statement. [55655]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 16 May 2011]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 31 January 2011, Official Report, column 570, to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson).

Armed Forces: Recruitment

Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people aged under 21 in each year group were recruited to each of the armed services in each month since the date of the Strategic Defence and Security Review; and for how long on average the people in each group have signed up to serve. [55050]

Mr Robathan: The information requested is provided in the following table.

    2010     2011    
Service and age group October November December January February March April

Naval Service

             

16

4

7

3

5

2

1

3

17

17

27

1

16

5

7

3

18

28

53

9

18

4

7

3

19

20

43

8

23

9

6

0

20

19

42

11

23

6

2

3

               

Army

             

16

116

71

0

175

0

85

58

17

115

33

0

139

35

94

91

18

136

112

0

102

95

93

86

19

123

99

0

90

83

98

85

20

110

97

0

85

77

85

81

               

RAF

             

16

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

17

I

6

3

5

1

5

3

18

14

3

0

7

7

13

11

19

11

10

0

14

6

13

14

20

14

12

0

17

3

9

7

While in all three services personnel sign up to a specific engagement or commission, they are permitted to resign from their service before the end of this period provided they have completed a minimum return of service. In the Naval Service the initial commitment for Royal Navy Ratings is 18 years, Royal Marine Other Ranks is four years and Royal Navy Officers is 12 years. In the Army, Other Ranks enter an engagement of 12 years and Officers are given three years service from the date of commissioning with the option to extend once they receive a positive annual report. In the RAF, Airmen sign for an engagement of nine years and RAF Officers sign a permanent commission of 18 years reckonable service or until they reach the age of 40. The commitments above are general and may differ depending upon which trade or specialty is joined.

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Chinook Helicopters

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the (a) first and (b) last Chinook HC.6 helicopter to be delivered into service. [55523]

Peter Luff: The Ministry of Defence is currently in discussion with Boeing in preparation for the main investment decision point for the 12 new and two replacement Chinooks announced as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

However, the main investment decision has not yet been made and the delivery schedule will not be set until the contract is signed. We will announce any significant procurement decisions to Parliament in the usual way.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department plans to cease to fund any of its functions over the period of the comprehensive spending review. [55190]

Dr Fox: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set out the functions and capabilities that will be needed to meet future challenges and achieve success on operations in line with the National Security Strategy while also dealing with the deficit in the Defence budget. The spending review set out the resources allocated to Defence to implement the SDSR. This resulted in reductions in a combination of older or non-essential capabilities, such as the Harrier GR9, Nimrod MRA4 and certain frigates, to focus resources on the highest priority capabilities and functions core to the adaptable force posture set out in the SDSR.

Libya: Armed Conflict

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the unit cost of a UK (a) air to surface missile, (b) air to air missile, (c) ship to surface missile and (d) ship to air missile of the type deployed by UK forces in Libya. [53340]

Peter Luff: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House, but I refer him to the answer I gave on 4 April 2011, Official Report, column 569W, to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop) in respect of Storm Shadow.

Substantive answer from Peter Luff to Gordon Banks:

UK forces have not fired air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles as part of Operation ELLAMY. The gross book values of each of the air-to-surface missiles fired by our forces from the start of recent operations over Libya up to 24 April 2011 are: Storm Shadow £790,000 and Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone £175,000. Our stock of Brimstone was procured from 2004 as single mode missiles and subsequently enhanced to dual mode, under a separate contract, from 2008. Equivalent values for each of the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) Block III and TLAM Block IV surface-to-surface missiles fired over the same period are £1,100,000 and £870,000 respectively. All of the figures are inclusive of VAT.

In addition, as I said in the answer I gave on 4 April 2011, Official Report, column 569W to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop), the value of Storm Shadow missiles, contracted for in 1997, includes the cost of

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producing an integrated weapon system and not just the purchase cost of the missile. The same is also true of Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone.

Enhanced Paveway II and Paveway IV guided bombs have also been released over Libya, but I am withholding their current gross book values as this information is commercially sensitive and its disclosure would prejudice the commercial interests of the contractor.

Finally, the Ministry of Defence now takes a portfolio approach to procuring new Complex Weapons. This approach was launched in April 2010 and will secure significant efficiencies across the breadth of the Complex Weapons portfolio over the next 10 years and beyond, and is designed to meet the UK's military requirements and safeguard our sovereign capability.

I am placing a copy of this letter in the library of the House.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east. [55503]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 16 May 2011]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey), on 16 May 2011, Official Report, column 9, to the hon. Member for Central Devon (Mel Stride).

Military Aircraft: Costs

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost per hour of using the (a) Harrier, (b) GR4 Tornado and (c) Apache in close air support operations was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [55196]

Peter Luff [holding answer 12 May 2011]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer the Minister for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) gave on 26 April 2011, Official Report, column 75W.

Nuclear Power Stations: Security

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of capability of terrorist organisations to mount an attack on a UK nuclear power plant; and what arrangements are in place to prevent such an attack. [56152]

Charles Hendry: I have been asked to reply.

The level of threat posed from a terrorist attack to UK civil nuclear sites is taken very seriously and is regularly assessed by relevant Government organisations, including the industry's security regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

While it is not Government policy to comment on the detail of operational security matters at individual civil nuclear sites, security arrangements are kept under constant review as part of a continuous process to ensure that existing arrangements are robust and effective.

Nuclear Submarines

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has made to his French counterpart on the future joint development of ship submersible ballistic nuclear fleets. [55423]

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Peter Luff: We have, with our French colleagues, identified a number of potential areas for cooperation around submarine enterprise management and some specific equipments and technologies. Detailed proposals will be put to national authorities for consideration and agreement, taking account of extant international agreements and obligations.

USA: Military Bases

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has provided funding for any development on US military bases in Great Britain in the last five years. [55528]

Mr Robathan: The US authorities are responsible for bearing the cost of any development, unless that development is a requirement of UK legislation or Ministry of Defence (MOD) policy and there is no equivalent United States legal or policy requirement, in which case the costs fall to the UK MOD.

In the last five years the MOD has provided some £1.4 million in funding for such development.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Departmental Legal Opinion

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department holds on the amount received in fines paid as a result of legal action arising from the work by her Department’s legal team in each of the last five years. [55460]

Richard Benyon [holding answer 13 May 2011]: The amount of fines paid as a result of legal action arising from the work by the Department’s legal team in each of the last four years is as follows:

  £

2007-08

116,645

2008-09

28,300

2009-10

49,055

2010-11

72,825

The information for 2006-07 is not readily available and the cost to obtain the information would be disproportionate.

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential effects of the closure of her Department's legal team on the Department's work on (a) pollution control, (b) animal welfare, (c) forestry, (d) nature conservation and (e) animal disease emergencies. [55498]

Richard Benyon [holding answer 13 May 2011]:The Department has no plans to close its legal team, but it is currently considering options for its future structure. No detrimental effect on any of the work areas listed is anticipated as a result of those proposals, should they go ahead.

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Departmental Work Experience

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice her Department provides to those wishing to (a) work as an intern, (b) undertake a work experience placement and (c) work as a volunteer in her Department. [52818]

Richard Benyon: All interns who join the Department now need to come via the Cabinet Office Summer Internship Schemes.

Advice to those wishing to undertake either interim, work experience or volunteer work directs them, therefore towards the Cabinet Office Whitehall Internship programmes.

Flood Control

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate she has made of the number of (a) homes, (b) business premises and (c) individuals resident in areas which would have been protected by flood defence schemes which have now been (i) cancelled and (ii) postponed; [55345]

(2) what flood defence schemes in each (a) constituency and (b) local authority area have been (i) cancelled and (ii) postponed as a result of reductions in spending on flood defence. [55346]

Richard Benyon: No flood defence schemes have been cancelled and any scheme not progressing this year will be subject to reforms to the way funding is allocated to flood and coastal defence projects. We recently consulted on these reforms and I will make an announcement in due course.

We still expect to be able to deliver better protection to at least 145,000 households by March 2015.

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effects of its planned reductions in flood defence spending on (a) insurance premium costs, (b) insurance excess payments for home and business owners and (c) the civil engineering supply chain. [55347]

Richard Benyon: The working groups that were established after last year's flood summit are establishing a roadmap beyond 2013, when the current Statement of Principles ends.

The Environment Agency is working with the civil engineering supply chain to provide greater certainty over future work and opportunities for greater efficiencies. It is also reviewing its future procurement strategy with the Major Projects Authority.

We recently consulted on reforms to the way in which capital funding is allocated to flood and coastal erosion risk management projects, to encourage total investment to increase beyond levels that are affordable to central Government alone.

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Floods: House Insurance

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on provision of flooding cover as a standard element of property insurance following the end of the Statement of Principles. [55138]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA is working closely with HM Treasury and the insurance industry to ensure that insurance remains widely available in England after the Statement of Principles ends. Three working groups, including representatives from the Government, the Environment Agency, the insurance industry and other organisations, were established after last year's Flood Summit. One of these groups is looking at a range of potential flood insurance models that will be outlined in an interim report to be published soon.

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions her Department has had with (a) the Association of British Insurers, (b) the British Insurance Brokers Association and (c) insurers on levels of flooding insurance premium costs for property owners who have been affected by flooding. [55139]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA is working closely with the Association of British Insurers, the British Insurance Brokers Association and individual insurers through the three working groups that were established after last year's Flood summit.

There is general agreement in these discussions that insurance policies should reflect flood risk, including resilience and damage-limitation efforts by property owners.

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions her Department has had with the Association of British Insurers on flood insurance from 2013. [55140]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA is working closely with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to put in place a roadmap beyond 2013, when the current Statement of Principles ends. The ABI is an active member of the three working groups that were established after last year's Flood summit, which are taking forward the dialogue on flood insurance and risk reduction.

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department had made of the number of domestic properties in England at significant risk of flooding which do not have flood insurance. [55171]

Richard Benyon: No estimate has been made of the number of properties at significant risk of flooding that do not have flood insurance cover. Insurers' decisions about providing cover in flood risk areas are guided by the Statement of Principles and are commercially confidential. In addition, some householders may not wish to obtain flood insurance cover.

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 1 November 2010, Official Report, columns 604-5, on flood control: finance, what

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progress she has made in ensuring the continued provision of flood insurance for properties at significant risk of flooding when the Statement of Principles agreement expires in 2013. [55172]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA hosted a flood summit in September 2010 to discuss flood risk management and the challenges involved in flood insurance. Three working groups are now continuing the dialogue on flood insurance and risk reduction and putting in place a road map beyond 2013, when the current Statement of Principles ends. The working groups reported on progress, in March 2011 in an interim report that will be published soon.

Inland Waterways

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department has spent on maintaining waterways in the last five years. [55326]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA provides grant in aid funding to its two main navigation authorities for the maintenance of inland waterways in England and Wales. Funding for the last five years is as follows:

£ million
  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

British Waterways(1)

55.5

61.6

57.4

51.3

41.5

Environment Agency: Navigation

13.3

14

13

11.5

6.25

Environment Agency: Flood risk management

102

128

131

162

152

(1) Excludes payments made to BW in respect of its national loan fund payments

DEFRA also provides grant in aid funding to the Broads Authority for pursuing their statutory purposes. Additional funding has been included in the national park grant allocation for the Broads Authority to enable progress to be made in implementing its sediment management strategy. The funding in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 was £500,000 per annum. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, this funding was reduced to £400,000 per annum. The total over the five-year period is therefore £2.3 million.

Any additional expenditure incurred by the authority on maintaining the waterways has been funded by tolls.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had on the maintenance of British waterways in the last five years. [55327]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA routinely undertakes discussions with British Waterways (BW) on the maintenance of its waterways for navigation at quarterly shareholder meetings, the most recent of which took place in February 2011. The maintenance of BW’s waterways is also considered through the process of agreeing its annual corporate plan.

Discussions with the Environment Agency on the maintenance of its waterways for navigation and for flood risk management also take place as part of the corporate planning process and strategic reviews.

Discussions also take place with the Broads Authority on its priorities at regular meetings.

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Official Visits

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what visits she has undertaken in an official capacity since 1 January 2011. [55287]

Richard Benyon [holding answer 16 May 2011]:Since 1 January 2011 the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), has visited the Oxford Farming Conference; a meeting of international environment and agriculture Ministers at Berlin Green Week; the NFU Annual Conference in Birmingham; Derby to attend the regional cabinet; the Lake District National Park and Newton Rigg to launch the Uplands Policy Review; Brussels to attend Environment Council; Budapest to attend Informal Environment Council; the sustainable development aspects at the Olympic Site in London; Brazil for dialogues with her ministerial counterparts; and the construction site for the redevelopment of Blackfriars station.

Recycling: Incentives

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will assess the effects on waste minimisation of introducing cash incentives for recycling; [52957]

(2) if she will assess the potential effects of introducing recycling incentive schemes such as that in Windsor and Maidenhead on meeting the Government’s obligations under the revised waste framework directive. [52958]

Richard Benyon: The Government welcome the efforts of all councils who encourage people to do the right thing with their waste, including reducing the amount of waste produced and recycling more. We believe that rewarding or recognising people for what they do is a good way to encourage behaviour change; the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman) and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the right hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles), commended the Recyclebank model at Windsor and Maidenhead last year. Schemes like this can help us to meet our revised waste framework directive obligations to reuse or recycle 50% of waste from households by 2020. It will of course be important to

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understand the impact of reward schemes, in order to help development of future policy. In the Waste Review, we are looking at how to share lessons from innovative ways of rewarding recycling and reuse. We will also be developing a Waste Prevention Programme for England, as required by the revised waste framework directive.

Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to protect seascapes from adverse effects arising from human activities in the marine environment. [55587]

Richard Benyon [holding answer 16 May 2011]:The Marine Policy Statement (MPS) provides the framework for the development of marine plans and for decision making, and its adoption in March 2011 was the first stage in rolling out the statutory marine planning systems across UK marine area.

The MPS defines seascapes as

‘landscapes with views of coasts or seas, and coasts with adjacent marine environment with cultural, historical and archaeological links with each other'.

It requires that marine plan authorities take into account the character, quality and how highly valued the seascape is when considering the impact of activities or development in the marine environment.

The Marine Management Organisation have been delegated the responsibility for preparing marine plans in England and have begun developing the first two plans in the east inshore and offshore areas.

Thames Estuary

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department and its agencies have spent on managing the Thames estuary in each of the last five years. [55245]

Richard Benyon: I assume my hon. Friend is referring to costs associated with protecting the Thames estuary from flooding. The Environment Agency maintains the Thames tidal defences along the north and south banks of the Thames estuary. This is from Teddington to the Isle of Grain and Southend-on-Sea. Please see the following breakdown of capital and revenue costs by year and geographical area:

Financial year 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

Thames tidal defences (including the Thames barrier) from Teddington to Dartford barrier

16,834,028.00

19,144,856.00

18,243,716.00

26,363,211.71

22,358,106.00

Thames tidal defences from Dartford barrier to Southend-on-Sea (including work at Tilbury and Canvey Island)

3,820,200.00

995,900.00

1,909,700.00

2,377,000.00

2,165,400.00

Thames tidal defences between Dartford Creek barrier and Grain

497,100.00

413,100.00

820,100.00

4,040,100.00

3,274,100.00

Total

21,151,328.00

20,553,856.00

20,973,516.00

32,780,311.00

27,797,606.00

Voluntary Work

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) she and (b) Ministers in her Department are participating in volunteering activities as part of her Department's involvement in the big society initiative. [42667]

Richard Benyon: As part of usual departmental business, all Ministers engage with social enterprise organisations and charities and undertake activities which support the big society initiative.

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House of Commons Commission

Members: Offices

Helen Jones: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (John Thurso), representing the House of Commons Commission, when the decision was taken that adjustments or equipment for the offices of hon. Members recommended by medical professionals would not be met from the budget of the House Service; who took this decision; and what consultation was carried out prior to taking the decision. [55786]

John Thurso: The note ‘Accommodation standards for Members and their staff located at Westminster’, endorsed by the Administration Committee on 8 May 2007, sets out the accommodation and equipment provision available to Members from the Department of Facilities. It specifically envisages meeting special medical requirements for desks and chairs but not for other items.

When the standards were written the House had responsibility for disability assistance for Members and individual aids could be claimed under the House's expenses scheme either under general office expenses or (potentially) under the disability provision. Responsibility for administering Members allowances has been transferred to IPSA. Provision of funding for individual aids falls within the scope of this responsibility.

I understand that officials have written to the hon. Member with further information on this issue.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department plans to cease to fund any of its functions over the period of the comprehensive spending review. [55191]

John Penrose: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport continues to promote and support its core functions and values, as confirmed in our business plan, and will reduce its administrative costs by 50% over the spending review period. The Department is also in the process of streamlining its arm's length bodies to facilitate continued delivery of quality culture, media and sport in this country whilst at the same time making efficiency savings. The Secretary of State's press release of the 14 October 2010 provides further details and can be found at the following link:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/media_releases/7485.aspx

After completion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in October 2012, the Department will continue to focus on delivery of the Olympic legacy.

Rugby: World Cup

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport when he expects to announce details of the financing for the Rugby League World Cup; and if he will make a statement. [56000]

Hugh Robertson: I am in discussions with the Rugby Football League as to how Government can support a successful event of which the country can be proud. As

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part of this, arrangements will be made to ensure the £1 million of support to be provided by the North West Development Agency to the cost of staging the 2013 Rugby League World cup is paid in full.

Telecommunications: Hearing Impairment

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what definition his Department uses of functional equivalence in relation to relay services for deaf people. [55303]

Mr Vaizey: The Department does not look to determine “functional equivalence” in relation to relay services for deaf people. The requirement for equivalence in access to electronic communications is a broad concept and not tied to any particular service.

Further, determination of equivalence in relation to relay matters for deaf people will be a matter for the regulator, Ofcom, under new provisions of the revised EU Electronic Communication Framework. These revisions require member states to ensure that access to, and affordability of, electronic communications services for disabled end-users is equivalent to the level enjoyed by other end-users. Implementation of the revised Framework needs to be completed by 25 May 2011.

Implementation of new Article 23a in the universal service directive will enable Ofcom to specify, where appropriate, requirements to ensure that disabled end-users:

(a) have access to electronic communications services equivalent to that enjoyed by the majority of end-users; and

(b) benefit from the choice of undertakings and services available to the majority of end-users.

In that respect, Ofcom is currently undertaking a review of relay service provision, the objective of which is to assess whether current arrangements for the provision of relay services are adequate in delivering equivalence to voice telephony for hearing and speech impaired end-users (including British sign language users). Ofcom expects to publish a consultation document within the next few weeks and a research report which helps inform the review was published on 4 February and can be read at:

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/telecoms-research/ofcom-relay-services/

However, any decision on relay services will have to be made following a process of review, consultation, cost benefit analysis and a proportionality test.

In addition, Ofcom contributed to the consultation and report published by the Body of European Regulators (BEREC) in February 2011 on “Electronic communications services: Ensuring equivalence in access and choice for disabled end-users” which helps further clarify the distinction between functional equivalence and equivalence of experience.

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether he has made an assessment of (a) the possible conversion speed and (b) functional equivalence of (i) text relay services, (ii) video relay services and (iii) standard speech. [55304]

Mr Vaizey: The Department has not undertaken any assessment of the possible conversation speeds of, or functional equivalence of, text relay services, video relay services and standard speech.

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Ofcom is currently undertaking a review of relay services. The review’s objective is to assess whether the current arrangements for the provision of relay services are adequate in delivering equivalence to voice telephony for hearing- and speech-impaired end-users and, if they are not, to consider proportionate solutions. This involves looking at, among other things, the existing text relay service and additional relay services including video relay and captioned telephony.

In June 2009 Ofcom published a report commissioned from independent consultants which gave the following approximate conversation speeds:

  W ords per minute

Normal conversation

c. 170

Text relay

c. 30

Captioned telephony

c. 150

Video relay

c. 150

Education

Adoption

Mr Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps he plans to take to encourage adoption. [55514]

Tim Loughton: This Government expect the adoption system to work effectively for all looked-after children who would benefit from this permanent option and all local authorities to perform at the level of the best. I believe that adoption has lost some momentum in recent years. That is why I have started a programme of adoption reform. I have already published revised statutory adoption guidance, written to directors of children’s services and lead members setting out my expectations and set up the Ministerial Advisory Group on Adoption to steer the overall programme. At its next meeting, the group will discuss adoption breakdown and how to help ensure that adoptive families are appropriately supported.

I recently published an adoption data pack to support local authorities in delivering improved adoption outcomes and to help them compare their outcomes with those other local authorities. The Department is also funding two important voluntary sector projects to help improve adoption practices and is supporting the British Association for Adoption and Fostering in promoting adoption through national adoption week.

The Government’s review of the family justice system and the final report of Professor Munro’s review of child protection, published on 10 May, will lead to wider system improvements that will benefit those children in need of adoption.

CAFCASS: Qualifications

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what level of qualification the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service requires for those staff it employs to assess cases. [55976]

Tim Loughton: CAFCASS practitioners are required to have a Diploma in Social Work, or an equivalent recognised by the General Social Care Council. They

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are also required to have a minimum of three years post-qualifying experience in social work with children and families at risk.

Confederation of British Industry

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many meetings he has had with representatives of the Confederation of British Industry to discuss education and skills policy since his appointment. [55996]

Tim Loughton: The Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), has not had any meetings with representatives of the Confederation of British Industry since his appointment but is meeting John Cridland, CBI Director General, in early June.

Departmental Data Protection

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many contracts his Department holds which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; to which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each such contract are held; and how many people have their data stored overseas under each such contract. [55738]

Tim Loughton: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Legal Costs

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how much his Department and its predecessors paid in (a) damages, (b) claimant costs and (c) defendant costs in respect of all civil claims brought against it in which the claimant was successful or the Department settled in each of the last three years. [54894]

Tim Loughton: The Department for Education has concluded that the costs involved in retrieving the information required to respond to this parliamentary question will greatly exceed the disproportionate costs threshold which governs PQs.

Departmental Mobile Phones

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what the name is of each contractor or supplier of (a) mobile telephone and (b) mobile data services to his Department. [56058]

Tim Loughton: The Department currently receives (a) mobile telephone and (b) mobile data services from one supplier and the supplier is Vodafone Ltd.

Departmental Travel

Mr Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many first class rail journeys were undertaken by staff in his Department between April 2010 and April 2011; and what the total cost was of such journeys. [53166]

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Tim Loughton: Between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011 staff within the Department for Education made 2,094 first class rail journeys costing £265,028.46. However, 70.6% (1,479) of the recorded first class rail journeys were made between 1 April and 30 June 2010. The recorded number of first class rail journeys between 1 January 2011 and 31 March 2011 was 110 (5.2%). First class rail costs have fallen by almost 90% in 2010-11 compared with the previous year (£2,464,222 in 2009-10).

This information is a summary of transactions through the Department’s Business Travel booking agent, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. The number of journeys includes both one-way and return travel as the transaction record does not distinguish between the two types of journey. The number of journeys is understated slightly as a very few carnet tickets were procured, allowing multiple journeys from the purchase of a single ticket.

There are clear policy principles guiding this issue and staff are expected to travel standard class except for a very few special circumstances including access to facilities to accommodate disabilities or if it can be demonstrated that a first class ticket is lower cost than standard class. The Secretary of State for Education and other Ministers have a policy of travelling in standard class.

Education: Torbay

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to publish the results of the review of March 2011 performance data of Torbay council’s children's services following the improvement notice. [55785]

Tim Loughton: Torbay council was issued with an improvement notice on 31 January 2011, following an Ofsted inspection of safeguarding and looked-after children’s services in October 2010 which found safeguarding services to be inadequate. The improvement notice indicates that

“a review will be carried out on receipt of performance information relating to March 2011”.

A formal meeting will be held between officials from the Department and the council in July 2011 to review progress, using that information and other evidence that will have become available between April and June 2011. That review will be used to inform Ministers of progress and to consider next steps. Subsequent action, including making the outcome of the review available, will be considered at that point.

Foster Care

Mr Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what information his Department holds on the number of young people who have been in foster care who have completed an undergraduate course in the latest period for which figures are available. [55518]

Tim Loughton: Information on the number of young people who have been in foster care who have completed an undergraduate course is not collected centrally.

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Schools Sports

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education by what date he expects to announce allocation of funding for the school sport partnership for Crawley constituency. [55165]

Tim Loughton: The Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), has announced that he will not continue to provide ring-fenced funding for school sport partnerships beyond 31 August 2011.

Instead, the Secretary of State is making available £65 million of new funding for schools to enable them to provide more opportunities for competitive sport. This funding will cover the school years 2011/12 and 2012/13 and will pay for one day a week of a secondary PE teacher's time to be spent out of the classroom, encouraging greater take-up of competitive sport in primary schools and securing a fixture network for schools to increase the amount of intra- and inter-school sporting competition. This will include schools in the Crawley constituency.

Further details about this funding will be sent to schools later this term. The first tranche of funding is likely to be passed to secondary schools in September 2011.

International Development

Africa: Overseas Aid

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of financial aid in respect of infrastructure projects in (a) Sierra Leone, (b) Niger, (c) Mozambique and (d) Liberia was directed to local contractors in each of the last two years; how many indigenous companies were contracted to carry out construction work for which his Department allocated funding; how much such funding his Department allocated to infrastructure projects in each of the last two years; and what the (i) outturn cost and (ii) description was of each such project. [55838]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Of the countries listed, the Department for International Development (DFID) has invested in infrastructure projects in Sierra Leone and Mozambique. Information on these projects including the purpose, budget and actual spend has been made available in the Library of the House. Further detail on contractors and companies used, including their national origin cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost. Value for money is DFID's fundamental criterion when contracting others.

Departmental Consultants

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) name and (b) country of origin is of each consultant engaged by his Department in (i) Sierra Leone, (ii) Liberia, (iii) Mali, (iv) Niger and (v) Mozambique in each year since 2004; and what the (A) monetary value of each contract and (B) nature of activity of each such consultant was. [55524]

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Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) follows strict publicly available criteria to guide its use of consultants, and is committed to transparency. However, providing the detail of information requested over the period since 2004 would incur disproportionate cost.

The Government have committed to publish all new central Government tenders and contracts over £10,000 from January 2011 on the cross Government portal:

http://www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/?site=1000&lang=en

All contracts issued centrally by DFID are currently being published on this website, subject to exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act relating to, for example, commercially sensitive, or security related disclosures. DFID is also in the process of developing systems to allow contracts issued by our overseas offices for programme work to be published.

Departmental Data Protection

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many contracts his Department holds which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; to which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each such contract are held; and how many people have their data stored overseas under each such contract. [55743]

Mr Duncan: In comparison with many other Government Departments, particularly those engaged in delivery of citizen-facing public services in the UK, the Department for International Development (DFID) holds relatively little personal data. Most of the personal data which DFID do hold relate to current and former members of staff and to recipients of pensions paid to former employees of British colonial Governments. Most personal data held by DFID for these functions are stored in the UK or in country offices by DFID itself and in accordance with the Department's organisational data protection policy. Some data relating to staff are transferred on a case by case basis according to business need to third party suppliers, some of whom may be based outside the UK (for example, to make airline reservations or arrange shipments of personal freight to country offices).

DFID has one contract with a supplier for the processing of pension payments to former employees of British colonial Governments overseas. The supplier's payment service is located in the Republic of Ireland. Payments are made in this way to approximately 3,500 recipients. A majority of the recipients of such pensions are likely to be British citizens.

Departmental Work Experience

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what in-country work-based placements his Department's offices have provided to (a) undergraduates, (b) graduates and (c) government officials from (i) Sierra Leone, (ii) Liberia, (iii) Mali, (iv) Niger and (v) Mozambique in each year since 2004. [55525]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development has not undertaken in-country work-based placements for undergraduates, graduates, or government

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officials, in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Niger, or Mozambique, during the period specified.

DFID does employ around 750 locally engaged staff in its network of overseas offices—around 32% of DFID's total staff complement, but it is worth noting that the department does not have offices in Mali, Niger or Liberia. Most of these staff are nationals of the countries in which they work. Increasing numbers of our locally engaged staff are employed in professional advisory or senior administrative roles that are open to graduates or those who have previous experience of working with partner governments or other public sector institutions.

Developing Countries: Education

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what performance indicators his Department plans to use to measure its progress in supporting girls in completing nine years of basic education by the end of 2014. [55465]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) will track completion of a full cycle of primary education as a key indicator in each of our partner countries where we have education programmes.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that education of girls is a departmental priority. [55466]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Government are placing girls and women at the centre of our aid programme. All Department for International Development (DFID) education programmes will have a focus on girls and young women. We are working with existing and new development partners to combine general support to education systems with targeted interventions to address girls’ drop-out rates and support their transition to lower secondary schooling.

Following a comprehensive review of all UK aid programmes, the Government plan to support at least nine million children in primary school, over half of whom will be girls, and two million children in secondary school by 2014.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many girls does the Department plan to support to complete the nine years of basic education by the end of 2014. [55467]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Following a comprehensive review of all UK aid programmes, the Government plan to support at least nine million children in primary school, over half of whom will be girls, and two million children in secondary school by 2014.

Guyana: Climate Change

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department plans to provide to Guyana to counter the effects of climate change in 2011-12. [56002]

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Mr Duncan: Guyana is part of the Department for International Development (DFID)'s Caribbean regional programme, including support to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Guyana also benefits from multilateral and international programmes to which the UK contributes. The European Union, for example, supports sea defence strengthening, mangrove planting and management in Guyana to help counter the effects of sea level rise and storm surges, while the Climate Development and Knowledge Network provides advice and technical assistance on policy and investment decisions to improve resilience to climate change. In 2011-12, Guyana will also benefit from our support to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation. An economic review of the impacts of climate change on Guyana's agriculture, coastal and human settlements and health is also under way with DFID assistance.

Guyana: Floods

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department plans to provide to Guyana in respect of recent floods. [56003]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) is not planning to offer any assistance to Guyana for its recovery from the floods of February and March this year. The Government of Guyana have not requested any international assistance to supplement their recovery efforts in affected areas.

We are in regular contact with Guyana's Civil Defence Commission, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Guyana Red Cross regarding the effects of flooding in Guyana. As with other Caribbean countries, we will continue to monitor the effects of natural disasters and respond appropriately when necessary.

Guyana: Overseas Aid

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid his Department plans to provide to Guyana for (a) education, (b) health care, (c) governance and (d) environmental protection in 2011-12. [56001]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) has a regional programme in the Caribbean focusing on governance and security, wealth creation, climate change and disaster risk reduction. Guyana benefits from this programme directly, as well as through regional bodies. Our regional programme does not include support to education or health. Until December 2011, Guyana will benefit from our support to the United Nations Development Programme's Enhancing Public Trust, Security and Inclusion programme which includes work to strengthen governance by empowering communities to press for better services and greater accountability from Government.

On environmental protection, Guyana will continue to benefit from our regional climate change support programme, as well as the programmes of multilateral bodies (such as the World Bank and European Union) to which the UK makes a significant contribution and which support a range of areas including forest and

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mangrove protection. In previous years, the UK helped fund the development and implementation of Guyana's Low Carbon Development Strategy, which includes forest protection. Norway is now supporting Guyana in this field, so no additional UK bilateral support is anticipated this year.

North Korea: Overseas Aid

Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much (a) food aid and (b) other aid his Department gave to North Korea in the last period for which figures are available; and how much aid has been given to North Korea in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [55624]

Mr Duncan: In 2009-10, the Department for International Development (DFID) provided £2.8 million in humanitarian aid for North Korea through our core contribution to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This contribution was not earmarked for specific purposes.

In 2007-08, DFID gave £649,422 in humanitarian assistance to North Korea, £500,000 of which was food aid for 215,000 people affected by floods.

DFID did not provide aid to North Korea in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09.

Pakistan: Education

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what arrangements are in place to ensure that funding from his Department for education in Pakistan is not used to support the teaching of hate in schools. [55566]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Pakistan is facing an education emergency; in response the UK Government will get four million more children into school by 2015. To help ensure that UK aid is not being used to support the teaching of hate in Pakistani schools, the Department for International Development (DFID) is working with the Pakistani authorities to support a curriculum audit and a textbooks development process to ensure all textbooks promote peace and co-existence; improve teachers’ recruitment and training processes; and strengthen the education system so that poor children have access to mainstream schooling.

Palestinians: International Assistance

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department provides for those living in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. [55710]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) provides support to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to UNRWA. Our five-year arrangement with UNRWA provides unearmarked funding to its general budget, allowing UNRWA to plan for the long-term and improve service delivery to refugees across the region, We provided £27 million in 2010-11. Approximately 12% of UNRWA's general budget spending is in Lebanon.

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In 2010-11, a further £1.5 million was provided to UNRWA specifically to help prevent further deterioration in the basic living standards of 5,670 families displaced from Nahr el Bared camp in Lebanon. This funding paid the rental subsidies for 3,436 families for two months (January and February 2011), and hospitalisation and medical cover for 1,172 families (for December 2010).

In addition, the Conflict Pool, which is jointly owned and managed by DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, provided £250,000 in 2010-11 for projects to strengthen dialogue between the Lebanese Government and Palestinian representatives; to support Palestinian refugee civil society groups to improve governance in refugee camps; and to reduce conflict both within camps and between Lebanese and Palestinian communities.

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/65/272 on the strengthening of the management capacity of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. [55788]

Mr Duncan: The UK voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/65/272, in line with our support for management reform in UNRWA and in recognition of UNRWA’s critical financial situation.

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. [55926]

Mr Duncan: UNWRA faces a projected deficit of $63 million in its general budget for 2011. We are concerned that the deficit will undermine the provision of education, health and social services to refugees.

UNRWA, donors and host countries need to work together to put UNRWA's finances on a sustainable basis. We call on all countries to honour their funding commitments to UNWRA. The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to UNWRA, having provided £27 million to the general budget in 2010-11.

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of the support to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon announced in February 2011 was allocated to rebuilding the Nahr el Bared refugee camp in Northern Lebanon; and how much of the allocated funding has been spent. [55927]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) announced £1.5 million of additional support to UNRWA in February 2011, all of which was allocated to preventing further deterioration in the basic living standards of 5,670 families displaced from Nahr el Bared. This funding paid the rental subsidies for 3,436 families for two months (January and February 2011), and hospitalisation and medical cover for 1,172 families (for December 2010); none of the funding was allocated for rebuilding work.

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The UK has a five-year arrangement with UNRWA to provide unearmarked funding to its general budget which allows UNRWA to plan for the long-term and improve service delivery to refugees. In 2010-11 the UK gave £27 million to UNRWA. Approximately 12% of UNRWA's general budget spending is in Lebanon.

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon; and what effect their situation has on the assistance they require from the UK (a) directly and (b) through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. [55940]

Mr Duncan: The most recent assessment of the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is the report by UNRWA, ‘Socio-economic survey of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’, published in December 2010. UNRWA has said that it needs £350 million ($568 million) for 2011 to be able to carry out its work in the region, of which approximately £42 million ($68 million) will be spent in Lebanon. An additional £11 million ($18.51 million) will be needed for the rebuilding of Nahr el Bared camp and to support families to return their homes.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to UNRWA. We provided £27 million in unearmarked funding to UNRWA's general budget in 2010-11. In addition we provided £1.5 million last year specifically to support families displaced from Nahr el Bared camp in Lebanon. Approximately 12% of UNRWA's general budget is spent in Lebanon.

In addition, the Conflict Pool, which is jointly owned and managed by DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, provided £250,000 in 2010-11 for projects to strengthen dialogue between the Lebanese Government and Palestinian representatives; to support Palestinian refugee civil society groups to improve governance in refugee camps; and to reduce conflict both within camps and between Lebanese and Palestinian communities.

West Africa

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in which joint projects his Department is engaged in (a) Sierra Leone, (b) Liberia, (c) Mali, (d) Niger and (e) Mozambique in each year since 2004; and what the name is of each project partner in each such country. [55555]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development works with a range of bilateral and multilateral development partners to support poverty reduction in developing countries. We have placed information in the Library of the House of Commons about projects funded jointly by DFID and one or more bilateral or multilateral partners in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Mozambique, for the years 2008 to 2010. Providing information for previous years would incur disproportionate cost.

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West Africa: Overseas Aid

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what inward investment activity his Department's offices in (a) Sierra Leone, (b) Liberia, (c) Mali, (d) Niger and (e) Mozambique have undertaken in the last five years; and what estimate he has made of the (i) cost and (ii) investment returns of such activities. [55602]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development does not provide support directly for inward investment through its bilateral programmes.

DFID recognises that private sector driven economic growth is essential for sustained poverty reduction. We support a number of African countries to tackle the barriers to growth and improve the enabling environment for business investment and trade, including Sierra Leone.

A key part of the UK's development strategy in Sierra Leone is to reduce dependency on donor funds, through an increase in foreign investment. We are also working closely with the Government of Sierra Leone, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to improve access to finance for the private sector to drive wealth creation.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which projects funded by his Department in (a) Sierra Leone, (b) Liberia, (c) Mali, (d) Niger and (e) Mozambique cost over £5,000 in each year since 2006; what the (i) cost to the public purse, (ii) objectives and (iii) direct beneficiaries of each such project were; and what assessment reports have been completed for each such project. [55606]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Providing detailed information on all projects over £5,000 since 2006 would incur disproportionate cost. Information about the Department for International Development's (DFID's) bilateral programmes can be found on the DFID website, in a range of publications, and in the annual reports presented to Parliament.

This Government are committed to making the aid budget transparent and accountable to the British taxpayer as well as recipients of our aid. That is why in January 2011, as part of the new UK Aid Transparency Guarantee, we began to publish information on the DFID website for all new projects over £500, including core project documentation. From 1 April 2011, all annual reviews and project completion reports for current projects valued at £1 million and over have also been made available on the website.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of his Department's aid budget for (a) Sierra Leone, (b) Liberia, (c) Mali, (d) Niger and (e) Mozambique was allocated to projects sponsored by his Department in each year since 2006; and how much and what proportion of the budget for each such country was paid directly to its government in each such year. [55611]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) has provided bilateral funding to Sierra Leone, Niger and Mozambique since 2006.

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Information about project spending and funding supplied to governments has been placed in the Library of the House of Commons.

Additional information relating to the aid budget and the proportion directed to recipient governments can be found on the DFID website in the annual publication “Statistics on International Development” (SID).

Work and Pensions

Employment and Support Allowance: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will initiate a review of the guidance on myalgic encephalomyelitis provided to (a) new and (b) existing (i) assessors and (ii) other staff in (A) his Department and (B) Atos. [56164]

Chris Grayling: Guidance on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis is already kept under regular review. The guidance for decision-makers is updated in light of relevant developments. For Atos health care professionals there are a range of training and information products which are reviewed on an ongoing regular basis, such as a learning set which is reviewed annually.

Housing Benefit

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he intends to apply a housing benefit deduction to social tenants deemed to be under-occupying their homes where a forthcoming change of circumstances would mean the property could no longer be defined as such due to dependent children reaching an age which changed their eligibility for a bedroom. [53717]

Steve Webb: We are currently considering the policy detail of this measure and how it will be implemented. Further details will be published in due course.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of claimants not currently eligible for housing benefit who will be affected by the proposed total household benefit cap. [55015]

Steve Webb: The number of claimants not currently eligible for housing benefit who will be affected by the proposed total household benefit cap is estimated to be less than 10%.

Analysis of those affected by the benefit cap has been modelled using survey data—as such there is a degree of uncertainty around the results.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which benefit accounts for the largest proportion of welfare receipts of claimants likely to be affected by the proposed total housing benefit cap. [55017]

Steve Webb: It is estimated that child tax credit and housing benefit account for the largest proportion of welfare receipts of households that are likely to be affected by the total benefit cap.

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Analysis of those affected by the benefit cap has been modelled using survey data—as such there is a degree of uncertainty around the results.

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he made of the level of (a) private and (b) social housing rents in forming his estimate of the likely number of people that will be affected by his planned benefits entitlement cap. [55998]

Steve Webb: The benefit cap modelling is based on DWP’s Policy Simulation Model, which uses data from the 2008-09 Family Resources Survey. Rent levels have been uprated from 2008-09 to 2013-14 prices, taking into account inflation projections, changes in housing policy and recent trends in rental prices.

The impact assessment for the benefit cap is on the DWP website at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/household-benefit-cap-wr2011-ia.pdf

Mortgages: Government Assistance

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he has any plans to produce an equality impact assessment in respect of his proposed changes to support for mortgage interest using a larger sample size. [55263]

Steve Webb: We draw on all available information and quantitative evidence to establish and produce written assessments of the impact of DWP policies on equality. There are, however, limitations in the available information which sometimes affect the scope of assessments, particularly in relation to different ethnic minority groups.

In light of the introduction of universal credit, we are considering whether changes are needed to the current approach of calculating help with mortgage costs for both working age and pensioner claimants. There are a number of possible options which we are exploring fully. We believe it should be possible to provide support more efficiently but it will take time to reach a sensible conclusion on the long-term future design of any support for homeowners.

In taking this work forward, we will assess equality impacts using all available information. We will also gather further information to inform the assessments where appropriate and cost-effective to do so.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to provide assistance to pensioners with outstanding mortgage debt; and if he will make a statement. [53601]

Steve Webb: Pensioners who are entitled to state pension credit may receive an additional element called support for mortgage interest. This makes a contribution towards the interest on eligible loans taken out to purchase the property, and specific loans for repairs and improvements which are necessary to maintain the home's fitness for habitation.

We are considering currently whether changes are needed to the current approach of calculating help with mortgage costs for both pensioner and working age claimants. There are a number of possible options

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which we are exploring fully. We believe it should be possible to provide support more efficiently but it will take time to reach a sensible conclusion on the long-term future design of any support for homeowners.

National Employment Savings Trust Scheme: Shipping

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason merchant seamen are excluded from the National Employment Savings Trust. [55825]

Steve Webb: Under the automatic enrolment provisions which are due to be rolled out from 2012, employers to whom the duties apply will be able to use the National Employment Savings Trust, or any other qualifying pension scheme.

The Pensions Act 2008 currently excludes seafarers from automatic enrolment. This was because time was needed to fully consider the complex issues that arose in considering whether and how seafarers would be covered by these provisions.

Discussions with other interested Government Departments and stakeholders to resolve these issues are ongoing and I expect to be able to update the House on the conclusion of this work soon.

National Insurance

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) new national insurance numbers were registered and (b) new workers there were in the UK in 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. [53470]

Mr Gauke: I have been asked to reply.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) latest figures available show that around 1.4 million new national insurance numbers (NINOs) were registered between April 2009 and March 2010. It would be disproportionately expensive to identify how many individuals worked for the first time during this period.

Unemployed People

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of households where there has been multi-generational worklessness; and what proportion this represented of the total number of workless households. [52515]

Chris Grayling: The source for the official number of workless households and children in workless households is the household Labour Force Survey.

Latest data (Quarter 4 2010) show there are almost 4 million households where no one works, covering 5.61 million working age (16 to 64) people and 1.86 million children aged 0 to 16.

Universal Credit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which programmes of IT support for the implementation of universal credit have commenced to date. [55505]

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Chris Grayling: The initial design of the universal credit core IT system is now under way and is being developed. The core IT system will include the online accessibility, the data store and the universal credit rules capability.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which organisation is the lead provider for each programme of IT support for implementation of universal credit; what the estimated budget of each programme is; what the principal deliverables from each programme are; and by what date each such deliverable is due. [55506]

Chris Grayling: Currently Accenture are the lead service providers for application development, and Hewlett-Packard Education Services are leading on the deployment of infrastructure. British Telecom are providing the networking provision. These contracts are in line with our current framework agreements.

We expect the application and infrastructure to be delivered by October 2013.

To safeguard our commercial position we are unable to divulge the specific IT budgets.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Nationals Abroad: Offences against Children

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of European Criminal Records Information System in enabling exchange of criminal records between EU member states; and what contribution he expects it to make to preventing known sex offenders from targeting children overseas. [55925]

Lynne Featherstone: I have been asked to reply.

The implementation date for the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) is April 2012. When it is implemented we expect the speed with which criminal records are exchanged between EU member states to increase. We also expect member states to exchange more criminal records once this can be done electronically rather than on paper. Together these should improve the effectiveness of criminal record exchange within the European Union.

ECRIS is not an EU-wide criminal record system, nor is it EU-wide sex offenders' register. It is instead a computerised criminal record exchange system. The effectiveness with which ECRIS will prevent known sex offenders from targeting children overseas depends on the extent to which other member states chose to make requests for the previous convictions of those seeking to work with children. The UK already encourages other member states to seek the previous convictions of UK nationals who are seeking to work with children.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department plans to cease to fund any of its functions over the period of the comprehensive spending review. [55186]

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Mr Lidington: As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) made clear in his statement to the House on 11 May 2011, Official Report, columns 1165-1168, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has no plans to cease to fund any of its core functions as a result of its 2010 spending round settlement.

However, in 2014-15 responsibility for funding the British Broadcasting Corporation World Service will transfer from being a ‘grant-in-aid’ payment from the FCO to the Licence Fee.

United Nations General Assembly

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the resolution passed at the United Nations General Assembly to grant the EU higher participation status; what additional rights for the EU he expects as a result of that resolution; and if he will make a statement. [55517]

Mr Lidington: The United Nations General Assembly resolution on the “Participation of the European Union in the Work of the United Nations” was adopted on 3 May 2011 in the United Nations General Assembly by a vote of 180 in favour, 0 against and 2 abstentions, Syria and Zimbabwe.

As the Deputy Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), said in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2010.

“it is important that the vital role of the EU in promoting development and prosperity can be adequately represented in the General Assembly.”

The 3 May 2011 result achieves this, while preserving our interests on how EU member states are represented externally.

The resolution allows technical and procedural changes to ensure the EU can continue to be represented as effectively as it was before the new presidency arrangements established by the Lisbon treaty came into effect before the resolution, the EU's rotating presidency, or another EU member state, represented the EU agreed position in the UN General Assembly. The Lisbon treaty transferred from the rotating presidency to the High Representative the responsibilities for chairing the Foreign Affairs Council and representing common foreign policy positions agreed unanimously by the member states. This resolution now allows that, while remaining an observer, the EU itself can represent common agreed positions of member states in the General Assembly. EU representatives—including the President of the European Council or Baroness Ashton—can now be inscribed on the list of speakers among representatives of major groups in order to make early interventions and may be invited to participate in the general debate of the General Assembly, subject to the limits set out in the resolution text. It remains the case, however, that the EU representatives can only do this if the UK and other member states authorise them to do so. Furthermore, EU representatives speak and act on behalf of the 27 member states with their authorisation, not in addition to them.

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The resolution underlines the intergovernmental nature of the General Assembly, whose membership is limited to UN member states. It does not affect the UK's sovereignty; nor does it affect the UK's ability to act independently in the UN or internationally. The rights of individual EU member states are not curtailed. Moreover, the resolution makes very clear that the EU will remain an observer. Its status in the General Assembly is unchanged.

The EU representative will continue to be seated among the other international organisations that have observer status.

The effect of the resolution is limited to the General Assembly (including Committees, working groups, international meetings and UN conferences). It does not affect the rights or status of the EU or member states in any other UN body or international organisation. The UK's position in the UN Security Council is not affected.

Attorney-General

Departmental Data Protection

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Attorney-General how many contracts the Law Officers' Departments hold which allow contractors to store personal data of UK citizens overseas; to which contracts this applies; in which countries the data for each such contract are held; and how many people have their data stored overseas under each such contract. [55747]

The Solicitor-General: The Law Officers' Departments do not have any contracts which permit the contractor to store personal data of UK citizens overseas.

Transport

Aircraft: Seating

Mr Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department plans to review the regulations governing (a) the minimum size of and (b) distance between passenger seats applicable to aircraft registered in the UK. [54789]

Mrs Villiers: The requirements for seat standards in commercial transport aircraft are set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). They apply to EU registered aircraft including those registered in the UK.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has an additional requirement which identifies minimum seat spacing for all UK registered aircraft commonly used in commercial flights to ensure that passengers are able to vacate their seats quickly in an emergency. The CAA has notified EASA of this requirement and the safety case for establishing a minimum distance between seat rows.

Aviation: Biofuels

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with which representatives of (a) European and (b) UK organisations he has discussed the use of biofuels in aviation since May 2010; and if he will make a statement. [55405]

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Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport Ministers meet regularly with representatives from UK and European organisations where they discuss a range of transport issues including the use of biofuels in aviation.

The Government have announced their intention to develop a sustainable policy framework for UK aviation. On 30 March 2011, the Department for Transport published a scoping document that frames the debate on the future direction of aviation policy and asks a series of questions, including on use of biofuels in aviation. The responses to the scoping document will help to inform the development of a draft framework, which we intend to publish for full public consultation in March 2012.

Aviation: Working Hours

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings Ministers in his Department have had with (a) airlines and (b) pilots' representatives since May 2010. [53602]

Mrs Villiers: Ministers in the Department for Transport frequently meet with representatives of airlines and pilots. Details of all ministerial meetings with external organisations between May 2010 and December 2010 have been published on the Department's website:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/ministers/transparency/

Information since January 2011 is being collated and will be released as soon as practical to do so.

Biofuels

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department classifies bio-ethanol as a second generation biofuel; and if he will make a statement. [52962]

Norman Baker: Bioethanol is ethanol produced from bio sources. It can be classed as either first or second generation (advanced) biofuel depending on the feedstock and processes used to produce it.

First generation bioethanol derived from crops such as wheat, sugar cane and sugar beet is one of the most common biofuels in use today. Some 29% of biofuel supplied under the renewable transport fuel obligation in year 2009-10 was bioethanol.

DFT recognises that advanced or “second generation” biofuels may offer many benefits including increased greenhouse gas savings, producing fuels from land which was otherwise unproductive or from waste material with no other uses. Some advanced biofuels may also be more readily used in current vehicles than first generation biofuels.

The renewable energy directive encourages biofuels from wastes, residues and lignocellulosic material, by double counting the contribution they make towards national targets.

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department plans to conduct its consultation on the inclusion of bio-methanol as a biofuel classified as eligible for rewards under the renewable transport fuels obligation; and if he will make a statement. [52964]

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Norman Baker: Biofuels are supported in the UK through the renewable transport fuels obligation (RTFO). One renewable transport fuel certificate is awarded for every litre (or kilogram in the case of gaseous fuels) of biofuel reported.

We are currently consulting on amendments to the RTFO to implement both the transport elements of the renewable energy directive (RED) and aspects of the closely related fuel quality directive (FQD).

The consultation includes the proposal to expand the scope of the current RTFO such that all renewable fuels of biological origin are eligible to be counted towards discharging the obligation. This proposed change would make bio-methanol eligible for support through the RTFO. The consultation documents are available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration his Department has given to the findings of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report, Biofuels: ethical issues; and whether he plans to take any steps as a consequence of its findings. [53226]

Norman Baker: The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report presents some finely balanced arguments around the ethical issues of biofuels.

The Government are clear that biofuels used must lead to a worthwhile reduction in carbon emissions and be sustainable. We are working with colleagues across Government to ensure a coherent approach to the deployment of sustainable biofuels.

As part of the EU renewable energy directive, the European Commission must monitor and report every two years on the impact of biofuel policy on social sustainability.

The reports must address issues of land use rights, and state whether the raw material for biofuel use in the EU has complied with Conventions of the International Labour Organisation. If necessary the Commission must propose corrective action.

Commuters

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to promote Walk to Work Week to commuters. [55404]

Norman Baker: The coalition Government are committed to supporting sustainable travel initiatives, including walking and cycling. Given that half of all car journeys are under five miles there would be improvements to health, air quality and traffic congestion if more of these journeys were undertaken either on foot, bike, or by public transport.

Our new Local Sustainable Transport Fund has made £560 million available to local transport authorities to fund schemes that create growth and cut carbon, including those which incentivise walking.

On 12 May I walked to work with Living Streets as part of Walk to Work week. Many members of staff at the Department of Transport and across Whitehall have also taken the opportunity to walk to work.

We are also encouraging staff to think about how they can travel and work differently as part of our preparations for reducing our travel during the Olympics next summer.

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Cycling: Safety

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to discuss issues of road safety of interest to cyclists. [53987]

Mike Penning: I would be delighted to meet with representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to discuss road safety issues of interest to cyclists. We share the objective of improving cycling safety and I would be interested to hear the group's views on how the Government can best support the delivery of this objective.

Departmental Public Transport

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date (a) he and (b) each other Minister in his Department last travelled by (i) London Underground and (ii) public bus services on government business; how many times (A) he and (B) each other Minister in his Department has travelled by each such form of transport on government business since May 2010; and if he will make a statement. [50073]

Norman Baker: The information requested is as follows.

(a) (i) The Secretary of State for Transport most recently travelled by London Underground on Government business last week on 11 and 13 of May 2011.

(b) (i) The Minister of State, Department for Transport last travelled by London Underground on Government business on 16 May 2011.

The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) has not travelled by London Underground.

I last travelled by London Underground on Government business on 6 April 2011.

(b) (ii) The Minister of State, Department for Transport has not travelled by public bus on Government business.

The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) last travelled by public bus on Government business on 15 March 2011.

I last travelled by public bus on Government business on 10 May 2011.

The Secretary of State for Transport has not travelled on public bus on official business.

Information about the number of journeys undertaken by each Minister by each form of transport is not recorded in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost, given the frequency with which public transport is used by Ministers.

Ministers at the Department for Transport proactively seek to use public transport or cycling options wherever possible. Section 10 of the Ministerial Code provides guidance for Ministers and makes clear that Ministers must ensure that they always make efficient and cost effective travel arrangements.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Yeovil

Mr Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the location will be of the new DVLA driving test centre in Yeovil; when that centre will open; and if he will make a statement. [55416]

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Mike Penning: Negotiations for a licence to occupy a unit at the Abbey Business Park, Yeovil are close to being concluded. A planning application for change of use has been lodged with South Somerset district council (SSDC) and a decision is awaited.

The opening of the new test centre is dependent on SSDC agreeing the change of use.

The Driving Standards Agency cannot commit to an opening date for the test centre until the outcome of the application is known.

Great Western Railway: Finance

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what payments his Department has made to First Great Western in each year since the company became the franchise holder for the Great Western Main Line; and what the total net subsidy to that company has been during that period. [56143]

Mrs Villiers: This information is published annually by the Office of Rail Regulation in ‘National Rail Trends’. Copies are available in the Library of the House and online at:

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1863

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Andrea Leadsom: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which local authorities were sent a letter announcing the launch of the current public consultation on High Speed 2. [54017]

Mr Philip Hammond [holding answer 4 May 2011]: I wrote to all council leaders in England on 28 February with details of the public consultation.

Tristram Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that service operators on the West Coast Mainline do not attempt to compete on speed with High Speed 2 services by reducing the number of places serviced on their long-distance routes between London and Manchester. [54804]

Mr Philip Hammond: The specification for any franchise on the West Coast Main Line after 2026 would not be determined until considerably nearer the time. However, the West Coast Main Line is likely to be considerably better placed to compete with HS2 in terms of destinations served rather than journey speeds.

Motor Vehicle: Testing

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has any plans to change the frequency of MOT inspections for private and commercial vehicles; and if he will make a statement. [53202]

Mike Penning [holding answer 3 May 2011]: I intend to review the MOT test scheme. I have no preconceptions about the outcome of a review; the aim will be to strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists by MOT test requirements.

I will make an announcement in due course about the timing and scope of the review, which will include, but

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not be limited to, a review of MOT test frequency. There will be an opportunity for anyone with an interest to contribute to the debate.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport of 30 March 2011, Official Report, column 144WH, what proportion of receipts from vehicle excise duty and other taxes on motorists were spent on the road network in the latest period for which figures are available. [55758]

Mike Penning: The Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual Budget document, available via the HM Treasury website, sets out the Government's spending and revenue plans. Revenue from the various motoring taxes (including fuel duties and vehicle excise duties) is not ring-fenced for expenditure on roads.