Crisis loan refusals by client of last 12 months


Disabled Pensioner Lone Parent

2010

November

9,100

600

7,500

 

December

7,500

300

5,700

         

2011

January

8,700

500

6,500

 

February

8,500

500

6,700

 

March

10,200

600

8,000

 

April

6,700

400

5,100

 

May

7,000

300

4,700

 

June

6,500

200

4,500

 

July

6,000

200

4,100

 

August

5,800

100

3,900

 

September

5,500

100

3,700

 

October

4,800

100

3,100

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100. 2. Applications represent applications processed rather than applications received. 3. Figures are for applications received, not for the number of people who made an application, and for initial awards made, not the number of people who received an initial award. (Some people made more than one application or received more than one initial award.) 4. 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, they do not include applications which were processed clerically and have not yet been entered on to the Social Fund Computer System.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications for a (a) second, (b) third and (c) fourth or more crisis loan were (i) granted and (ii) declined in the last 12-month period for which figures are available. [80354]

Steve Webb: The information requested is provided in the following table:

Multiple applications awarded and declined in 2010-11
Number Refused Awards Total

1

258,900

1,021,800

1,280,700

2

129,700

549,700

679,400

3

81,000

336,400

417,400

4+

198,100

717,300

915,400

Notes: 1. Figures are derived from scans data and therefore differ to those published in the Secretary of State's annual report on the social fund figures based on 2010-11 data. 2. Awarded figures are based on an initial award. 3. Figures rounded to the nearest 10. 4. Figures may not sum due to rounding. 5. 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, they do not include applications which were processed clerically and have not yet been entered on to the Social Fund computer system. 6. Figures are for applications received, not for the number of people who made an application, and for initial awards made, not the number of people who received an initial award. (Some people made more than one application or received more than one initial award.) Source: Scan of Social Fund Computer System

15 Nov 2011 : Column 719W


Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was to repay a Social Fund crisis loan in the latest period for which figures are available. [80355]

Steve Webb: Using data up until March 2011, the average time to repay a Social Fund crisis loan is 10 weeks.

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government continue to provide benefits to meet the interest payments on a loan which had been taken out by a person now on benefits when an endowment policy accompanying a mortgage matures but does not provide sufficient funds to pay off the balance of that mortgage. [80549]

Steve Webb: This is a complex area, and each case has to be considered on its own merits.

A claimant receiving an income-related benefit may be entitled to support for mortgage interest towards the interest on a mortgage. Where an endowment mortgage matures and leaves a shortfall on the capital outstanding on the mortgage, the claimant may choose to make new arrangements to repay the existing debt.

Loans which are taken out while the claimant is receiving benefit do not normally qualify for housing costs assistance. But, depending on the particular facts of the individual case, there are provisions in Regulations which allow for continued entitlement to support for mortgage interest payment where:

A new loan is a qualifying ‘home purchase loan’ under the relevant legislation; and

the new loan is being taken out to repay a previous qualifying loan; and

the new loan does not exceed the old loan.

The amount payable will be limited to the same capital ceiling as was met under the original qualifying loan, and will be determined by applying the standard interest rate to the eligible capital on the new loan. No assistance is available towards capital repayments under any mortgage.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place a copy of his Department's efficiency savings plan in the Library. [79166]

Chris Grayling: The Department's key challenges for the April 2011 to March 2012 period were set out in its 2011-12 Delivery Plan published on 7 April 2011. Copies of the plan were placed in the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries.

Further detail on how the Department plans to deliver its priorities more efficiently will be included in its Delivery Plan for the period April 2012 to March 2013. Copies of this issue will also be placed in the House Libraries.

Disability Living Allowance

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential effect of changes to the Motability

15 Nov 2011 : Column 720W

Finance rules removing the four week discretionary extension while disability living allowance claims are awaiting a decision. [81172]

Maria Miller: Eligibility for the Motability scheme is dependant on receipt of the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance or war pensioners mobility supplement. When payment of these benefits cease it is Motability’s policy to recover their vehicles. Motability advised that in the challenging economic climate it did not believe that the cost of supporting discretionary extensions for those people who are appealing a disability living allowance decision should be borne by other scheme customers.

Further questions about the recent changes to the scheme should be directed to Motability and can be sent to: Declan O'Mahony, Director, Motability, Warwick House, Roydon Road, Harlow, Essex CM19 5PX.

Disability: Driving

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what discussions he has had with Motability on ensuring that a disabled person's personal assistant, who does not live within five miles of the disabled person, and who drives the disabled person's adapted car, can be insured on a Motability car; [80725]

(2) what discussions he has had with Motability to ensure that (a) grandparents and (b) other family members with a significant caring role, who do not live within five miles of the disabled person, will still be able to be an insured person on a Motability adapted car; [80726]

(3) what arrangements he will make to enable Motability to consider leaving an adapted car with a disabled person who is awaiting the outcome of a disability living allowance appeal; and if he will make a statement; [80727]

(4) what discussions he has had with Motability to ensure that when a child lives in a residential school more than five miles from their home, they will still have access to a Motability adapted car; and how any assessment of the circumstances of such individuals will be made; [80728]

(5) what discussions he has had with Motability to ensure that parents of a disabled child who have separated and live more than five miles apart can both be named as insured drivers on any Motability adapted car. [80729]

Maria Miller: While I regularly meet and correspond with Motability, Motability is an independent charity and is wholly responsible for the administration of the Motability scheme.

DLA higher rate mobility component is awarded to recognise the significant additional costs a disabled individual incurs and to assist with meeting those costs. It is for the individual in receipt of DLA to decide whether their personal mobility needs are best met by retaining the cash benefit from the Government or to use that money to secure a vehicle through Motability.

Questions relating to the changes in the administration of the scheme recently announced by Motability should be directed to Motability and can be sent to: Declan O'Mahony, Director, Motability, Warwick House, Roydon Road, Harlow, Essex CM19 5PX.

15 Nov 2011 : Column 721W

Employment Schemes: Voluntary Organisations

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department will offer support to voluntary sector groups involved in delivering the Work programme who have not yet received any referrals. [81130]

Chris Grayling: Referrals to voluntary sector groups are made by Work programme providers and are a commercial matter for the parties involved. The Department cannot intervene in the business relationships between Work programme providers and their sub-contractors, but it is working with Jobcentre Plus and providers to ensure that claimants who would benefit from the support of voluntary sector organisations are being referred appropriately to the programme.

A total of 699 supply chain places are occupied by voluntary and community sector organisations. This represents a total of 423 different voluntary and community sector organisations in tier 1 and 2.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the written statement of 10 June 2011, Official Report, columns 50-52WS, on Work programme launch, how many voluntary sector providers were (a) prime providers, (b) tier 1 providers and (c) tier 2 providers. [81162]

Chris Grayling: There are two Work programme prime providers from the voluntary sector; both have been delivering since the launch. Supply chains were not finalised on the launch date, but a stocktake undertaken on 12 August 2011 shows 108 voluntary sector providers in tier 1 and 315 in tier 2. Some organisations may be

15 Nov 2011 : Column 722W

engaged in both tiers and some organisations have more than one contract with one or more prime providers. Consequently, the 423 tier 1 and tier 2 organisations between them had 699 subcontracts.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many voluntary sector providers were involved in delivering the Work programme on the most recent date for which figures are available; and how many of these were (a) prime providers, (b) tier 1 providers and (c) tier 2 providers; [81239]

(2) what the date was of his Department's most recent stocktake of providers to the Work programme. [81240]

Chris Grayling: The Department's most recent stocktake of providers involved in the Work programme took place on 12 August 2011.

The stocktake identified that the number of voluntary and community based organisations involved in delivering the Work programme was:

(a) two prime providers;

(b) 108 tier 1 providers; and

(c) 315 tier 2 providers.

Funeral Payments

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many funeral payments were paid in each Jobcentre Plus budget area in each region in each of the last 12 months. [80350]

Steve Webb: The information is shown in the following tables.

    2010-11 2011-12
Region Budget area November December January February March April May

East Midlands

East Midlands North

170

70

100

140

120

90

110

 

South East Midlands

140

90

110

150

140

100

110

                 

East of England

Essex

80

60

90

80

90

60

80

 

Norwich BDC

220

130

140

200

170

120

130

                 

London

Central and East London

100

40

90

80

70

50

70

 

London South

180

80

120

140

140

60

110

 

North and North East London

90

50

60

70

110

40

70

 

West London

70

50

50

50

60

60

40

                 

North East

Northumbria

70

50

60

70

80

60

90

 

South Tyne and Wear Valley

70

70

110

80

110

50

140

 

Tees Valley

60

40

50

60

80

50

70

                 

North West

Chorlton BDC

320

230

360

370

340

310

300

 

Greater Liverpool and Cheshire

330

120

250

230

310

190

210

                 

Scotland

Inverness BDC

140

110

130

150

150

110

120

 

Springburn BDC

400

240

350

370

360

250

280

                 

15 Nov 2011 : Column 723W

15 Nov 2011 : Column 724W

South East

SE BOBS

100

40

80

100

80

50

70

 

SE HIKYS

210

100

190

290

180

170

160

                 

South West

South West Central

130

110

130

250

170

150

200

                 

Wales

Llanelli BDC

80

50

100

90

120

60

90

 

South East Wales

180

110

170

180

240

100

170

                 

West Midlands

West Midlands SF

420

350

410

370

420

250

320

                 

Yorkshire and Humberside

Bradford

110

60

90

120

80

50

100

 

Sheffield

310

160

240

290

250

180

220

Total

 

3,990

2,410

3,480

3,910

3,860

2,600

3,250

    2011-12  
Region Budget area June July August September October Total

East Midlands

East Midlands North

150

90

80

110

80

4,100

 

South East Midlands

170

80

100

100

110

1,550

               

East of England

Essex

70

80

70

80

90

1,490

 

Norwich BDC

200

120

130

150

120

2,470

               

London

Central and East London

80

70

80

70

70

1,370

 

London South

170

130

130

150

110

2,310

 

North and North East London

70

70

60

60

60

1,240

 

West London

70

60

50

60

60

1,090

               

North East

Northumbria

80

80

70

80

50

1,320

 

South Tyne and Wear Valley

110

100

70

100

30

1,590

 

Tees Valley

60

60

50

60

40

1,050

               

North West

Chorlton BDC

360

260

280

270

340

5,780

 

Greater Liverpool and Cheshire

250

140

170

180

190

3,800

               

Scotland

Inverness BDC

130

110

110

120

110

2,310

 

Springburn BDC

290

290

310

360

240

5,650

               

South East

SE BOBS

60

110

60

80

80

1,400

 

SE HIKYS

150

230

190

160

160

3,390

               

South West

South West Central

210

240

170

180

150

3,100

               

Wales

Llanelli BDC

80

80

60

80

40

1,370

 

South East Wales

170

130

130

140

100

2,620

               

West Midlands

West Midlands SF

340

360

280

350

290

6,240

               

Yorkshire and Humberside

Bradford

120

60

80

100

60

1,270

 

Sheffield

330

200

180

240

180

3,340

15 Nov 2011 : Column 725W

15 Nov 2011 : Column 726W

Total

 

3,730

3.160

2,900

3,260

2,750

59,830

Notes: 1. Figures are based on the number of initial awards. 2. Figures are from November 2010-11 to October 2011-12 3. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 4. Figures may not sum due to rounding. 5. BDC = Benefit Delivery Centre. 6. BOBS = Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey. 7. HIKYS = Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent and Sussex.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many defaults there were on the repayment of funeral payments from the deceased’s estate in each of the last 12 months. [80351]

Steve Webb: Funeral payments are not recoverable except from the estate of the deceased. A recovery schedule is not required for repayment and therefore there is nothing to default on. Funeral payments are automatically written off at the time they are made, unless there appears to be an estate to recover from, in which case follow-up action is taken to attempt to recover the payment made. The Department has first call on the deceased’s estate.

In 2010-11, £42 million was written off as there was no estate to recover from and £0.3 million was recovered during the year.

Housing Benefit

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of claimants in receipt of housing benefit who are living in a property with an estimated market value of (a) £250,000 to £499,999, (b) £500,000 to £749,999, (c) £750,000 to £999,999, (d) £1 million to £1,499,999 and (e) in excess of £1.5 million. [78329]

Steve Webb: Data on market values of properties occupied by housing benefit claimants are not available. As the requested information is not necessary for calculating housing benefit award, it is not collected by local authorities.

Housing Benefit: Rural Areas

Dr Thérèse Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects of his proposed changes to housing benefit on people aged between 25 and 35 years living in sparsely populated rural areas. [81292]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available. The equality impact assessment of the increase to the shared accommodation rate age threshold, available on the DWP website at

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/eia-hb-shared-accommodation-age-threshold.pdf

contains estimates of the impacts of this measure at both Government office region and local authority area level.

The Department has commissioned an independent review and monitoring of the local housing allowance, which will include an assessment of the impacts of extending the shared accommodation rate. It will provide information on the effects of the measures in a variety of different housing markets, including rural areas.

Pension Credit

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in receipt of pension credit (a) are below the state pension retirement age and (b) wish to work. [81158]

Steve Webb: As at February 2011 there were 232,610 men aged under 65 in receipt of pension credit. We do not hold any information on how many of this group are actively seeking employment.

Notes:

1. The pension credit qualifying age is the same as women's state pension age. As such, it is not possible for a female to claim pension credit under state pension age.

2. Figures provided are for pension credit recipients. Pension credit recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves or on behalf of themselves and a partner.

3. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

4. Men who are under their state pension age but have reached the pension credit qualifying age can claim pension credit or income- based jobseekers allowance, which requires recipients to actively seek employment.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent data as at November 2009

Pensions

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken was for the Pensions Regulator to begin reviewing a case in the latest period for which figures are available. [80747]

Steve Webb: The Pensions Regulator's procedure is for all cases to be allocated to a case worker and for the case review to be opened within twenty-four hours of being reported to or identified by the Pensions Regulator. No specific statistics are compiled in relation to performance of this procedure.

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to increase efficiency at the Pensions Regulator. [80748]

Steve Webb: The Pensions Regulator was set up in April 2005 with a new proactive and risk-based regulatory approach, placing greater emphasis on identifying and tackling real risks to members' benefits. The delivery of the daily business is managed by the chief executive, reporting to the Board of the Pensions Regulator. There is also ongoing assessment of the Regulator's performance at both ministerial and official level. Following a request from Ministers in line with DWP's other non-departmental public bodies, the Pensions Regulator has submitted

15 Nov 2011 : Column 727W

proposals to reduce its operating costs over the spending review period, which will be achieved by a number of initiatives to increase efficiencies in it's business whilst maintaining or improving standards of service delivery. The Pensions Regulator publishes a business plan annually and submits an annual report on all its activities to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), which is then laid before Parliament.

Pensions: Females

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out the number of women whose pension arrangements will now be affected by legislative changes, broken down by constituency. [79180]

Steve Webb: The information has been placed in the Library.

Social Security Benefits

Margaret Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to reduce the level of benefit underpayments; and what consideration he has given to setting a target for such activity. [78760]

Chris Grayling: The Department is committed to achieving reductions in the levels of both benefit under and overpayments as a result of fraud and error, and the publication of our joint strategy with HMRC last October, “Tackling fraud and error in the benefit and tax credits system” is a clear demonstration of this.

The Department's fraud and error reduction activity is currently focused on implementing the strategy. The initiatives in place and being introduced as part of the strategy are focused on improving levels of overall correctness both at the point of payment and during the lifetime of a claim, and will therefore address both under and overpayments.

The Department already routinely data-matches DWP benefits to identify irregularities and check the correct rate of benefit is being paid and targets both under and overpayments. Under the strategy, and as part of a new integrated risk and intelligence unit, this will be extended to data matching with credit reference agencies to ensure that a benefit is correct before it is put into payment. In addition, the Department is undertaking a large scale programme of correction and review activity (case cleanse), which will identify under and overpayments where customers have failed to report their correct circumstances.

Other activities to help reduce the level of under and overpayments include the introduction of an independent national checking tier focusing on working age benefits, to check a sample of benefit claims for error covering the process from initial contact to first payment. Critically, it will help the Department confirm where in the process the error began and allow us to address this. Also, a mandatory new claims check for working age benefits was introduced in March 2011, directing staff to confirm all other DWP benefits being received before a decision is reached on the total amount payable. This check also identifies additional benefit entitlements which may otherwise not be paid.

15 Nov 2011 : Column 728W

The Department has considered setting a target for reducing the level of underpayments. However, we have concluded that the introduction of a formal and external target would not add any significant extra value to our current activity to tackle underpayments for the reasons outlined in the Permanent Secretary's letter to you on 12 October.

The introduction of universal credit will increase annual payments by £4 billion, two thirds of which will be due to better take-up from recipients.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library all Jobcentre Plus guidance relating to sanctioning benefits, issued in 2011. [79156]

Chris Grayling: I have arranged for the relevant chapters from the guides relating to the sanctioning of jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance and income support to be placed in the Library. These are the only benefits in which a claimant can receive a sanction for failing to comply with the respective benefit obligations.

State Retirement Pensions: Overseas Residence

Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in receipt of a UK state pension are resident in (a) an EU member state, (b) the US, (c) Canada, (d) Australia, (e) New Zealand, (f) South Africa and (g) other countries. [80928]

Steve Webb: The information is in the table.

State pension recipients as at February 2011
Country of residence Total

All EU member states

11,814,090

US

138,800

Canada

157,600

Australia

252,100

New Zealand

52,190

South Africa

38,460

All other countries

110,560

Notes: 1. From April 2010, the age at which women reach state pension age started to gradually increase from 60. This will introduce a small increase to the number of working age benefit recipients and a small reduction to the number of pension age recipients. Figures from May 2010 onwards reflect this change. 2. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10; totals may not sum due to rounding. 3. Cases where the country code is unknown are excluded from this analysis. Therefore, the sum of the above figures is less than the total number of state pension recipients. 4 This information is published on our website at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=tabtool Source: DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Universal Credit

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how a contrived tenancy will be (a) identified and (b) dealt with under his proposals for a universal credit. [73859]

Steve Webb: The housing benefit regulations include provision to not pay benefit for contrived tenancies. Similar rules will be in place to prevent housing support from being payable for contrived tenancies under universal credit. The Department is working to fully understand how this will work in practice.

15 Nov 2011 : Column 729W

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much of the budget allocated to implementation of universal credit he proposes will be spent in the current financial year; and for what purposes. [81129]

Chris Grayling: The Department is currently forecasting to spend £105 million of the budget allocated to the implementation of universal credit in the financial year 2011-12. This will be spent on IT development, programme management and the design of the universal credit system and processes.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Adam Werritty

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) she, (b) any Ministers and (c) officials of her Department have met (i) Mr Michael Hintze, (ii) Mr Tony Buckingham, (iii) Mr Michael Davis, (iv) Mr Poju Zabludowicz, (v) Jon Moulton and (vi) Stephen Crouch; and where any such meetings took place. [78656]

Richard Benyon: A full list of ministerial meetings with external organisations is published on the DEFRA website. Records of meetings by officials are not held centrally and would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) she, (b) officials of her Department and (c) special advisers in her Department have met Mr Adam Werritty on official business since May 2010; and how many such meetings took place (i) on her Department's premises and (ii) elsewhere. [78865]

Richard Benyon: No Ministers, special advisers or the Permanent Secretary have had any meetings with Mr Adam Werritty. Disproportionate costs would be incurred in checking whether any officials had ever met him but it is considered unlikely.

Agricultural Wages Board

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if her Department will undertake periodic reviews on the effects on wages of agricultural workers of the closure of the Agricultural Wages Board. [80903]

Mr Paice: There are no plans for specific reviews on the effect on wages of agricultural workers if the Agricultural Wages Board is abolished. Information on wages in all sectors of the economy (including agriculture) is monitored through the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which is run by the Office for National Statistics.

Biodiversity

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many local authorities have submitted an expression of interest in her Department’s pilot on biodiversity offsetting. [80137]

15 Nov 2011 : Column 730W

Richard Benyon: We received a total of 10 expressions of interest for DEFRA’S pilot on biodiversity offsetting. Of these, nine were led by local authorities. Most proposals were received from multiple planning authorities (county councils, district councils, borough councils and national parks). We also received nine proposals for complementary projects to be run by other organisations.

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to assess the effectiveness of biodiversity offsetting. [80138]

Richard Benyon: The biodiversity offsets pilots are being set up specifically in order to enable us to assess the effectiveness of the approach. The pilots will run for two years, after which they will be independently evaluated.

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to publish indicators on the delivery of Biodiversity 2020: A Strategy for England's Wildlife and Ecosystems Services. [80140]

Richard Benyon: We will publish the new biodiversity indicator set in May 2012, following the review of the current set of indicators.

Birds of Prey

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to protect birds of prey. [79827]

Richard Benyon: All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which implements the EC wild birds directive in Great Britain. This provides a powerful framework for the conservation of wild birds, their eggs, nests and habitats. Across the UK there are also a number of special protection areas that have been classified for birds of prey.

The persecution of birds of prey is a wildlife crime priority for the UK. This priority has been addressed through action plans which include prevention, intelligence and enforcement measures aimed at delivering a targeted, focused tactical response.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit (part funded by the Government) gathers records and monitors information and intelligence about illegal activities affecting birds of prey. It uses this information to support the wildlife crime priority action plans, as well as to assist individual enforcers in their investigations. It also works closely with all the UK Administrations, as species conservation is a devolved matter.

Trade in endangered species of wild birds of prey is controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to announce the pilot areas for the scientific culling of badgers; and what assessment she has made of the suitability of Devon as such an area. [77194]

15 Nov 2011 : Column 731W

Mr Paice: If we decide to go ahead with the policy, we would anticipate receiving licence applications from areas of the country where TB in cattle is worst. As described in the consultation document, applications would need to demonstrate how they meet the licence criteria, and we proposed that they would be prioritised based on the likely reduction of TB in cattle in the application area. Following the recent stakeholder consultation, we are considering comments received alongside the responses to the 2010 public consultation before taking a decision on whether to proceed with a policy of badger control. We expect this decision to be made later in the year.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has held with the Prime Minister on the proposed badger cull using shooting. [77519]

Mr Paice: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), discusses a range of issues with the Prime Minister on a regular basis.

Cats: Electric Shock Equipment

Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on electronic training aids for cats. [70107]

Mr Paice: We are currently evaluating recent research on the use of electronic training collars for dogs before making any decisions on whether to introduce any legislative proposals relating to such devices. The research is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Charities

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what grants her Department made to charitable organisations in each of the last five years. [79073]

Richard Benyon: The Department does not hold a central record which would identify grants made to charitable organisations in each of the last five years and cannot therefore provide an accurate figure without incurring disproportionate costs.

Circuses

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which circuses were inspected by inspectors and vets appointed by her Department in the last 10 years; and what the (a) dates of such inspections and (b) location of the circuses at the time of the inspection were; [74699]

(2) whether (a) inspectors or (b) veterinary surgeons appointed by her Department inspected animal circuses between 1991 and 2011; and if she will place in the Library a copy of any such inspection reports; [74717]

(3) which external advisers are providing advice to her Department on its new licensing regime for wild animals in circuses; and how many officials of her Department are working on the licensing regime; [75212]

15 Nov 2011 : Column 732W

(4) if she will place in the Library a copy of each piece of advice provided to her Department on her new licensing regime for wild animals in circuses. [75213]

Mr Paice: There is currently no animal welfare legislation that specifically covers travelling circuses that would require them to be inspected on a formal, routine basis by a Government inspector. While we are aware that there have been inspections (three at the request of DEFRA for a feasibility study in 2008, for which the reports were carried out in confidence), these usually have been done locally on an informal, infrequent basis with no requirement for the inspection, or the inspection report, to be notified centrally to DEFRA or the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency or any of its predecessor bodies.

The proposed new circus animal licensing scheme will put inspections on a formal, statutory, footing. The new scheme will certainly ensure we have a record of all the routine licensing inspections carried out on circuses. We will need to consider what information about, and from, the inspections should be made available publicly to ensure the scheme is as transparent as possible. We will consult on proposals early next year.

No external advisers have been appointed to provide advice on our proposed licensing regime for wild animals in circuses. During the development of the regulations we will, of course, be seeking relevant stakeholder input into the proposed licensing standards. Our proposals will also be subject to a public consultation early in the new year that will provide anyone with an interest in this issue an opportunity to comment on the licensing scheme. The team taking forward the new licensing scheme consists of three full time officials supported by a veterinary adviser and a legal adviser.

We have not received any specific written advice on our proposed licensing regime. However, all responses to the proposed public consultation on the new licensing scheme will be made publicly available through the DEFRA Information Resource Centre after the consultation has closed. The information contained in the responses may also be published in a summary of the responses.

Cocklers

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps she is taking in respect of the safety of cocklers following recent rescues in the Ribble estuary; [77731]

(2) what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the rescue of cocklers in the Ribble estuary. [77732]

Richard Benyon: The North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) is responsible for the management of the cockle fishery on the Ribble estuary. This fishery is managed through byelaws. Byelaw No. 5 requires cocklers to obtain a permit to fish from the IFCA. In order to obtain a permit, applicants must complete appropriate safety training as part of the application process.

Impacts arising from the Ribble estuary fishery are being managed by a multi-agency committee led by Fylde council (north side) and Sefton council (south side). Comprehensive multi-agency plans have been

15 Nov 2011 : Column 733W

prepared and endorsed by the NWIFCA, local authorities, the police, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the Marine and Coastguard Agency, Natural England, the Mersey Port Health Authority and other bodies.

In the interest of public safety, NWIFCA have taken the decision to close the fishery on the Ribble by virtue of an emergency byelaw. This byelaw, which prevents anybody from removing cockles without written authorisation from the IFCA, came into effect at 00:01 hours on Monday 7 November 2011 and will be reviewed at the IFCAs next meeting on 6 December 2011. I am encouraged by the cross agency working that has been taking place in the Ribble area over the past few weeks. The IFCA will need to work with other local authorities to enforce this closure.

While I support the IFCAs decision to close the fishery, it is a matter of regret that this action has had to be taken as legitimate fishermen are being denied their livelihood by the reckless actions of some and the illegal actions of a few. NWIFCA are currently considering what additional management measures are required to enable the fishery to reopen to these legitimate fishers as soon as possible, and in doing so will need to be satisfied that the safety of fishermen is not compromised.

Regular discussions are held with the Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), on issues of mutual interest, including safety at sea, which is discussed when the need arises.

Dangerous Dogs

Simon Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to tackle dangerous dogs. [78445]

Mr Paice: We have made it a priority to look at the complex issue of dangerous dogs, which is an increasingly important issue for the public. We are now considering a package of measures to address the issue by toughening legislation and promoting preventative action.

We shall shortly announce measures to tackle dangerous dogs and make our streets safer.

Travel Costs

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which travel management companies her Department uses for the purchase of airline tickets; [72688]

(2) what (a) contractual obligations and (b) other processes her Department uses in respect of travel management companies to ensure the best value is achieved when purchasing airline tickets. [72702]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA uses Redfern Travel Ltd under the Government Procurement Services Framework when purchasing airline tickets. The Department has the following contractual obligations for purchasing airline tickets:

Redfern Travel provides a booking service for rail, air and ferry services, operating within a service level agreement and having access to global airline bookings.

Hours of operation are 8 am to 6 pm with the addition of an emergency out of hours service; telephone and email services are used.

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DEFRA ensures best value when purchasing airline tickets by using only the travel management supplier and:

Requiring prior approval to spend any funds for air travel with no first class travel allowed.

Provision of an in-house ticketing machine in London locations to save on the cost of delivering tickets.

Use of management information provided by the travel management company to track spend and CO2.

Consultants

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many full-time equivalent staff are employed on consultancy contracts in her Department; and if she will make a statement. [77491]

Richard Benyon: On 30 September 2011, the core Department used one full-time equivalent consultant and four part-time consultants totalling 1.94 FTE between them.

Manpower

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many officials were (a) directly and (b) otherwise employed by non-departmental public bodies for which her Department is responsible (i) in 2000, (ii) in 2005, (iii) in 2007, (iv) in 2010 and (v) on the most recent date for which figures are available. [78123]

Richard Benyon: No civil servants are employed directly by DEFRA's non-departmental public bodies.

It is possible that civil servants employed by DEFRA or other Government Departments may be seconded to non-departmental public bodies, but information about these secondments is not recorded centrally and complete figures could be provided only by incurring disproportionate cost.

Parliamentary Questions

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether draft answers to parliamentary questions prepared by officials in her Department are cleared by special advisers (a) before and (b) after the relevant Minister. [79576]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA special advisers have the opportunity to comment and advise their Ministers on answers to parliamentary questions before these are given final clearance by the relevant Minister or Ministers.

Procurement

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost of employing civil servants to undertake procurement for her Department in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11; and what estimate she has made of the cost of (i) employing civil servants and (ii) engaging consultants to undertake procurement for her Department in 2011-12. [73197]

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Richard Benyon: The costs for the core Department are shown in the following table. The 2011-12 figures are estimates taken at the mid-year review. Consultants are not used in this function but there are interim staff whose costs are shown. It is expected that further reductions in the use of interims will reduce the estimated figure shown.

  Cost (£)

(a) 2008-09 civil servants

1,298,693

(b)2009-10 civil servants

1,260,846

(c) 2010-11 civil servants

1,286,229

(i) 2011-12 civil servants

1,387,292

(ii) 2011-12 consultants

0

2011-12 interims

2,493,948

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contracts her Department has awarded directly to third sector organisations in each month since May 2010; what the value was of such contracts; and if she will make a statement. [75134]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA does not categorise spend by the third sector specifically and is therefore unable to provide this information.

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contracts her Department has advertised on the Contracts Finder website in each month since May 2010; what the value was of such contracts; what proportion were awarded to (a) third sector organisations and (b) small businesses; and if she will make a statement. [75137]

Richard Benyon: In line with Government policy, DEFRA began publishing contract information on the Contracts Finder website from January 2011.

The following table shows data for the core department for contracts awarded and registered on Contracts Finder.

As at each month 2011 Total Small/medium businesses

January

14

10

February

11

9

March

25

18

April

11

9

May

10

7

June

6

3

July

7

5

August

11

8

September

6

2

October

3

2

The Contracts Finder website does not record information on which bodies are third sector organisations or small businesses. The figures for small/medium above are taken from core Department central records, but figures for the third sector could be given only at disproportionate cost.

Research

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her

15 Nov 2011 : Column 736W

Department's research and development budget was in each of the last five years; and what that budget will be for each year of the spending review period. [78840]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA's research and development spend for the last five years is in the following table.

  Spend (£ million)

2006-07

137

2007-08

130

2008-09

128

2009-10

120

2010-11

104

DEFRA has not yet determined the details of its research spend for each year of the spending review period.

Written Questions

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many parliamentary questions for (a) ordinary written answer and (b) written answer on a named day by her Department have remained unanswered for a period of two months since May 2010. [79575]

Richard Benyon: No named day parliamentary questions have remained unanswered for a period of two months since May 2010; 13 ordinary written questions have remained unanswered for that period.

The Government have committed to providing the Procedure Committee with information relating to written parliamentary question performance on a sessional basis and will provide full information to the Committee at the end of the Session. Statistics relating to Government Departments' performance for the 2009-10 parliamentary Session were previously provided to the Committee and are available on the Parliament website.

Environment Protection: Local Authorities

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what data on conservation and biodiversity local authorities are required to submit to her Department under the single data list. [80132]

Richard Benyon: The single data list requires local authorities to submit data on the percentage and number of local sites where positive conservation management is being or has been implemented in the last five years (along with the total number of sites in the local authority area). This data was formerly required by National Indicator 197 and continues as part of the single data list (data collection reference 160-00).

Fisheries: Ribble Estuary

Mark Menzies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to address issues arising from cockle-picking on the Ribble estuary. [77302]

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Richard Benyon: The North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) is responsible for the management of the cockle fishery on the Ribble estuary. This fishery is managed through byelaws. Byelaw No. 5 requires cocklers to obtain a permit to fish from the IFCA. In order to obtain a permit, applicants must complete appropriate safety training as part of the application process.

Impacts arising from the fishery are managed by a multi-agency committee led by Fylde council (north side) and Sefton council (south side). Comprehensive multi-agency plans have been prepared and endorsed by the NWIFCA, local authorities, the police, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Natural England, the Mersey Port Health Authority and other bodies.

In the interest of public safety, NWIFCA has taken the decision to close the fishery on the Ribble by virtue of an emergency byelaw. This byelaw, which prevents anybody from removing cockles without written authorisation from the IFCA, came into effect at 00:01 hours on Monday 7 November 2011 and will be reviewed at the IFCAs next meeting on 6 December 2011. I am encouraged by the cross agency working that has been taking place in the Ribble area over the past few weeks. The IFCA will need to work with other local authorities to enforce this closure.

While I support the IFCAs decision to close the fishery, it is a matter of regret that this action has had to be taken as legitimate fishermen are being denied their livelihood by the reckless actions of some and the illegal actions of a few. NWIFCA is currently considering what additional management measures are required to enable the fishery to reopen to these legitimate fishers as soon as possible, and in doing so will need to be satisfied that the safety of fishermen is not compromised.

Officers from the GLA, which is a DEFRA non-departmental body, are investigating recent reports concerning cocklers in the Ribble estuary area. If the GLA finds evidence that gangmasters were involved, it will take appropriate action under its statutory powers.

Horses

Julian Sturdy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what penalties may be invoked against horse owners who do not hold equestrian passports; and how many prosecutions for that offence have been brought by trading standards officers. [76216]

Mr Paice: The Horse Passports Regulations 2009 (which apply in England) make it an offence for a horse owner not to apply for a passport within six months of the animal's birth or by 31 December of the year of its birth, whichever is later. Penalties for offences under the Horse Passports Regulations 2009 are, on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or on conviction on indictment, a fine.

Records held on the Animal Health and Welfare Management and Enforcement system (AMES) show that in 2010, seven prosecutions were initiated, of which six led to convictions. Between 1 January 2011 and 20 October 2011, three prosecutions were initiated. The AMES database records enforcement activity related to a registered holding that has been issued a Country

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Parish Holding (CPH) number. Data relating to other premises, roadside checks of transporters, or other locations, or by bodies other than those local authorities that upload data to AMES, are not held.

Nature Conservation

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many species are critically endangered in (a) the UK and (b) British overseas territories. [80331]

Richard Benyon: Of those species that have been studied there are 29 species critically endangered in the UK and 101 species critically endangered in the British overseas territories.

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many hectares of land are designated a priority habitat in England. [80361]

Richard Benyon: “Priority habitat” is not a formal designation, but certain habitats are listed under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 as being of principal importance for the conservation of biological diversity. The total area of these habitats in England above mean low water is estimated to be 1.75 million hectares. This value excludes linear habitats such as rivers and hedgerows, for which area estimates are not available.

Poultry: Animal Welfare

Glyn Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions she has had with her (a) Spanish, (b) Italian, (c) Polish and (d) French counterparts on likely levels of non-compliance with the welfare of laying hens directive from 1 January 2012; what data her Department holds on such levels; and if she will publish such data; [79133]

(2) what discussions she has had with her (a) Dutch and (b) Belgian counterparts on likely levels of non-compliance with the welfare of laying hens directive; what information her Department holds on likely levels of non-compliance; and if she will publish any such information. [79521]

Mr Paice: All member states were asked by the Commission to provide the level of progress at 1 April, a forecast for December 2011 and, more recently, an update on the level of conversion as at 27 September 2011. The UK has submitted these returns to the Commission as requested. Likely levels of non-compliance were discussed at a recent meeting in Brussels. The Commission to date has not published these data.

However, at a European Parliament debate in October, the Commission acknowledged for the first time that Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Poland, Portugal and Romania did not expect to be fully compliant. Another five member states, including Spain, had also failed to provide any data to the Commission.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), wrote jointly with nine other concerned member states to the European Commission

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in September. They urged the Commission to act quickly to protect those producers across the EU who will have complied with the ban from the risk of competitive distortion in favour of those who will have maintained illegal production after 1 January 2012.

Discussions at an EU level are ongoing and the UK is fully engaged with the Commission and other member states in finding a practical enforcement solution.

Recycling: Glass

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department holds on the (a) cost and (b) efficiency of recycling glass compared to plastic bottles. [79423]

Richard Benyon: Data on the cost and efficiency of recycling glass compared to plastic bottles are not held centrally.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what proportion of Sites of Special Scientific Interest her Department considers to be in favourable condition; [80129]

(2) how frequently the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest are assessed; [80130]

(3) when the condition of (a) priority habitats and (b) Sites of Special Scientific Interest were last assessed in England. [80131]

Richard Benyon: As at 1 November 2011, 37.1% of England's 1.04 million hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) had been assessed by Natural England as being in favourable condition.

The condition of England's SSSIs is assessed for each site individually, with site assessments undertaken on a rolling cycle. The latest full cycle of assessments was completed in December 2010. The national SSSI condition statistic is updated monthly to reflect the most recent site assessments as they are completed.

SSSIs in England are monitored by Natural England on a risk-based cycle, with higher-risk sites monitored most frequently. The average visit interval across all SSSIs is seven years.

There is no current comprehensive assessment of the condition of priority habitats in England. Sample-based assessments have been completed for five lowland grassland priority habitats (2002-03); lowland heathlands (2008-09); and three upland priority habitats (2008-09). Plans are in development to secure a more comprehensive assessment of habitats across England that will enable improved reporting on priority habitat condition in the future.

UN Convention: Watercourses

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to ratify the 1997 UN convention on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses; and what timetable she has set for any such ratification. [79366]

15 Nov 2011 : Column 740W

Richard Benyon: The United Kingdom has not signed the 1997 United Nations convention on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses. Since the time for signing has passed, the process now would be for accession rather than ratification.

The UK has no immediate plans to accede to the convention but DEFRA, the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are reviewing the potential benefits of possible accession.

Defence

Adam Werritty

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 8 November 2011, Official Report, columns 228-9W, on Adam Werritty, what the nature was of the social events at which the Minister for International Security Strategy met Mr Werritty. [80697]

Mr Gerald Howarth: I met Mr Werritty at a sporting event and a wedding.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel returning from Afghanistan are receiving help with mental health issues due to the trauma of service. [80325]

Mr Robathan: Defence Analysis Statistics and Advice (DASA) records attendance by service personnel at the Ministry of Defence's Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs). During the most recent full financial year (2010-11), a total of 1,670 UK service personnel who had deployed to Afghanistan were recorded as having been assessed for a new episode of care at a DCMH. Conditions treated include alcohol abuse, depression, adjustment disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Because DASA does not hold information on discharge from care, we are unable to provide information on those who are currently receiving treatment. Also, in most cases where a mental disorder is diagnosed there may be a number of causal factors involved, of which trauma caused by operational deployment is just one.

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse has been of the provision of mental health care to armed forces personnel returning from Afghanistan. [80326]

Mr Robathan: Mental health care is provided for all armed forces personnel, and it is not possible to disaggregate specific costs against personnel returning from Afghanistan. In addition, because of the many ways in which mental health care is provided and funded, it is not possible to provide a figure that covers all the numerous care streams, such as that provided by GPs in primary care facilities, or by non-medical personnel such as welfare staff.

However, a substantial proportion of this care is provided through the Ministry of Defence's Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs), which provide out-patient care. During the financial year 2010-11, overall manpower and running costs for the 15 DCMHs

15 Nov 2011 : Column 741W

in the UK were £6.576 million. In-patient care in the UK is provided in specialist psychiatric units under contract with the NHS, and during the same period costs of £1.321 million were billed against this contract.

Aircraft Carriers

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether his Department has (a) amended or (b) cancelled any contracts with British firms as a result of the decision to convert one of the Queen Elizabeth class carriers to cats and traps; [80365]

(2) what (a) legal, (b) administrative and (c) other costs including compensation have arisen from the amendment or cancellation of contracts as a result of the decision to convert the Queen Elizabeth class carrier to cats and traps. [80369]

Peter Luff: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) concluded that we would fit a catapult and arrestor gear operational carrier to enable it to fly the more capable Carrier Variant (CV) of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The CV JSF carries a greater payload, has a longer range and costs less than the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant. The change made will also give us greater interoperability with our allies. No contracts have been formally cancelled or amended by the Ministry of Defence as a result of the SDSR decision to convert one of the Queen Elizabeth (QE) class carriers. We do expect that there will be a need to amend some contracts once we have concluded the work necessary to inform the decision in late 2012 as to which carrier will be converted.

In the meantime we have, in agreement with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, stopped some elements of build work related to the STOVL design, such as the ramp. It is expected that the removal of the ramp will be captured in a formal amendment in early 2012, and further changes arising from decisions on conversion will be captured in 2013.

We have not incurred any legal, administrative or other costs, including compensation, as we have not amended or cancelled any QE class contracts since the SDSR concluded.

Armed Forces: Bullying

Mr Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of procedures to ensure timely, independent and impartial redress for victims of bullying in the armed services. [79427]

Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is currently undertaking a fundamental review of the service complaints process following direction given by the Service Personnel Board and as recommended in the Service Complaints Commissioner’s (SCC) annual report for 2010 (recommendation 10.9). A copy of the report is available in the Library of the House.

The purpose of the review is to scrutinise all elements of the current system, including bullying and harassment complaints, and to assess the scope for reform, making the system as fair, effective and efficient as possible. The MOD’s formal response to the SCC’s annual report for

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2010 provides more detail on the review and can be accessed through the parliamentary website (Deposited paper DEP2011-1178) at the following address:

http://deposits.parliament.uk/

Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Education

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is of service education allowances in 2011-12; and what estimate he has made of the future cost of the allowances. [79116]

Mr Robathan: The current estimated gross cost of Continuity of Education Allowances (CEA) for financial year 2011-12 is £175 million. It is expected to reduce to £170 million in 2012-13 taking into account savings measures agreed during the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the impacts of which are yet to be realised. Thereafter the estimated cost of CEA, if current levels of uptake continue, may begin to rise again as inflationary factors are taken into account.

On future costs, I refer the hon. Member to the statement made on 13 October 2011, Official Report, columns 36-38WS, by the Minister for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey), which stated that the Government have a target to reduce spending on CEA by at least half by 2020.

Armed Forces: Members

Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment his Department has made of the value to (a) parliamentarians and (b) the armed services of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme since its inception; and if he will make a statement. [80924]

Nick Harvey: The Ministry of Defence greatly values the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. The scheme was subject to a review in 2006, which assessed that the scheme performs an important and valuable role in giving Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords an understanding of the role, operations and management of the armed forces.

Defence: Finance

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the defence budget was spent on responding to (a) natural disasters, (b) network failures or disruption and (c) criminal activity in each year since 2008. [79110]

Nick Harvey: Natural disasters, network failures or disruption, or criminal activity are the lead responsibility of other Government Departments and the Defence budget does not include provision for them.

Where the Ministry of Defence is called upon to assist, we would do so free of charge where there was an imminent threat to human life, or seek repayment of the additional costs to defence in the case of less severe threats. We do not keep a central record of all the costs we reclaim. Thus, the information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Defence: Procurement

Craig Whittaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original budget, (b) projected final cost, (c) expected time scales for delivery, (d) primary contractor and (e) identity of additional consortium members are in relation to the Nimrod MRA4 project. [80518]

Peter Luff: The initial approved cost for the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft project was £2.813 billion. The procurement costs as at March 2011 were £3.010 billion, excluding the cost of capital charges and support phase costs, which had been included in previously reported costs. By May 2010, Nimrod MRA4 was 114 months late and £789 million over the original approved cost.

Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Government took the decision that, owing to the financial blackhole it inherited, the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft would not be brought into service. The prime contractor for the programme was BAE Systems. Major subcontractors included Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Smiths Industries and Thales; however, BAE Systems did not develop the Nimrod MRA4 as part of a consortium.

There was no guarantee when the aircraft would be ready or how much more it would have cost.

Craig Whittaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original budget, (b) projected final cost, (c) expected time scales for delivery, (d) primary contractor and (e) identity of additional consortium members are in relation to the Lynx Wildcat project. [80808]

Peter Luff [holding answer 14 November 2011]: The original approval for the Wildcat project design and manufacture (D and M) phase was £1.803 billion. The current expected out-turn cost of the D and M phase is £1.644 billion as at 31 March 2011.

The first Wildcat delivery is forecast for April 2012 with initial operating capabilities and in-service dates of January 2014 for the Army variant and January 2015 for the Royal Navy variant.

The prime contractor for Wildcat D and M is Agusta Westland. There is no consortium for the delivery of Wildcat, but Agusta Westland has subcontracted some elements of the project.

Craig Whittaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original budget, (b) projected final cost, (c) expected timescales for delivery, (d) primary contractor and (e) identity of additional consortium members are in relation to the Seawolf MLU project. [81168]

Peter Luff: The original cash budget set in 1999 for the development and manufacture phases of the Seawolf mid life update (SWMLU) was £270 million (after adjustment for forecast inflation). The final projected cash cost is currently estimated at £280 million. The increase is largely due to decisions taken by the previous Government which affected ship availability at the planned update installation dates.

SWMLU entered service in 2009 following installation on the first Type 23 (T23) frigate and there are currently

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three SWMLU fitted T23 ships in service. The remainder of the T23 fleet will be updated before the end of the decade.

The prime contractor is BAE Mission Systems, which is not part of a consortium.

Defence: Scotland

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on the Scottish Prime Contract in each year since 2003. [81096]

Mr Robathan: The amount spent on Regional Prime Contract Scotland since 2003 is shown in the following table:

Financial year Core service spend (£ million)

2003-04

19.8

2004-05

83.3

2005-06

97.7

2006-07

98.9

2007-08

91.1

2008-09

73.7

2009-10

96.0

2010-11

84.6

2011-12

34.2

Note: The spend figure given for 2011-12 is for April to September 2011 only

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies submitted an expression of interest in the Regional Prime Scotland and Northern Ireland contract. [81097]

Mr Robathan: The 70 companies which submitted an expression of interest (EOI) for the Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Prime are shown in the following list.

AECOM Ltd

Amey PLC

Arthur Mackay & Co Ltd

Arup

Babcock International Group

BAE Systems Surface Ships Support Ltd

BAM Nuttal Ltd

Barnes Group Ltd

Bell Ingram Ltd

BRITSPACE

Bruton Knowles

Carillion Enterprise Ltd

CCG Construction Ltd

City Building (Glasgow) LLP

COFELY Ltd

Currie and Brown UK Ltd

Daden Ltd

DynCorp International

Ecovert FM Ltd

Faithful + Gould

Forbo Flooring UK Ltd

G3 Systems

GBM Demolition

George Leslie Ltd

15 Nov 2011 : Column 745W

Godfrey Syrett Ltd

GSS Plant

GVA Grimley Ltd

HCR Ltd

HOCHTIEF Facility Management GmBH

Iconoclast Ltd

Integral UK Ltd

Interior Services Group

Interserve Ltd

Kelda Water Services (Defence) Ltd

Kellogg Brown & Root Ltd

Kier Facilities Services Ltd

Landmarc Support Services Ltd

MANSELL Construction Services Ltd

McLaren Construction Group

Miller Developments Ltd

MITIE Group PLC

MVA Consultancy Ltd

Northcroft Group Ltd

NICEIC Consulting

Osiris Marine Services Ltd

PDP Green Consulting Ltd

Pick Everard

PriDE (SERP) Ltd

Provelio Ltd

Rider Levett Bucknall UK Ltd

Robertson Group Ltd

RW Services Ltd

Sage (UK) Ltd

Savills (L&P) Ltd

Serco Ltd

Sodexo Ltd

Specialised Technology Group

Specialist Subsea Services Ltd

SSE Contracting

Tarmac Ltd

The Erith Group of Companies

Thomas Johnstone Ltd

Thomas Vale Construction Ltd

Turner Facility Management

UK Power Network Holdings

URS Corporation Ltd

Veolia Water

Voormeroon Ltd

Wates Group Ltd

Willmott Dixon Capital Works Ltd

A further five companies based in Northern Ireland also submitted an EOI. However, their names have been withheld for security reasons.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the deadline date is for submission of the final tender solutions for the Prime Scotland and Northern Ireland Contract. [81098]

Mr Robathan: The current estimated date for final tender submissions for the Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Prime Contract is February 2013.