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Warm Home Discount Scheme

Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to provide information to people eligible for the warm home discount rebate. [93172]

Gregory Barker: There are two discounts payable under the warm home discount scheme; the core group and the broader group discounts, both worth £120 in 2011-12. Additionally, this year, suppliers are also providing support through discounted tariffs. General information on the scheme is available on the DECC website at

www.decc.gov.uk/warmhome

which also provides links to relevant suppliers' websites.

The warm home discount scheme uses data from the Department for Work and Pensions to identify a core group of pension credit recipients who may be eligible for the core group discount. All of these customers will receive a letter about the scheme.

Before Christmas 2011, the Government sent out around 600,000 letters to pension credit customers advising them that their electricity supplier would award an automatic discount to their electricity account. A further 300,000 letters will be sent out by February to pension credit customers asking them to contact the scheme's call-centre to check their eligibility for the core group discount. More information on the core group discount can be found at

www.direct.gov.uk/warmhome

The energy suppliers participating in the scheme are responsible for publicising the availability of their broader group discount schemes.

Wind Power

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many applications for the construction of commercial wind turbines have been (a) received and (b) approved in (i) Metropolitan

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borough of Solihull, (ii) Highland council area, (iii) Chiltern local government district, (iv) Scottish Borders council area and (v) Shropshire unitary authority since May 2010. [93166]

Charles Hendry: DECC publishes information on its Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD)(1 )which tracks the progress of renewable electricity projects through the planning system and is updated on a monthly basis.

The latest REPD data (December 2011) show that no commercial wind turbine applications have been made or approved since May 2010 by the local planning authorities of Solihull metropolitan borough council, Chiltern district council or Shropshire council. Eight applications have been received and four approved since May 2010 by the Highland council. Nine applications have been received and one approved by the Scottish Borders council.

(1 )https://restats.decc.gov.uk/cms/planning-database/

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many applications for the construction of commercial wind turbines have been (a) received and (b) approved in (i) Waverley local government district, (ii) Birmingham metropolitan borough, (iii) London borough of Wandsworth, (iv) borough of Brentwood and (v) borough of Eastleigh since May 2010. [93167]

Charles Hendry: DECC publishes information on its Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD)(l), which tracks the progress of renewable electricity projects through the planning system and is updated on a monthly basis.

The latest REPD data (December 2011) show that no commercial wind turbine applications have been made or approved since May 2010 by the local planning authorities of Waverley borough council, Birmingham city council, Wandsworth borough council, Brentwood borough council or Eastleigh borough council.

(1) https://restats.decc.gov.uk/cms/planning-database/

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many applications for the construction of commercial wind turbines have been (a) received and (b) approved in (i) South Cambridgeshire local government district, (ii) Surrey Heath local government district, (iii) London borough of Waltham Forest, (iv) London borough of Richmond, (v) Runnymede local government district and (vi) West Oxfordshire local government district since May 2010. [93168]

Charles Hendry: DECC publishes information on its Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD)(1), which tracks the progress of renewable electricity projects through the planning system and is updated on a monthly basis.

The latest REPD data (December 2011) show that no commercial wind turbine applications have been made or approved since May 2010 by the local planning authorities of South Cambridgeshire district council, Surrey Heath borough council, London borough of

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Waltham Forest, London borough of Richmond, Runnymede borough council or West Oxfordshire district council.

(1) https://restats.decc.gov.uk/cms/planning-database/

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many applications for the construction of commercial wind turbines have been (a) received and (b) approved in (i) Royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, (ii) borough of Rushcliffe, (iii) Cheshire East unitary authority, (iv) Richmondshire local government district and (v) Hambleton local government district and (vi) Sheffield metropolitan borough since May 2010. [93169]

Charles Hendry: DECC publishes information on its Renewable Energy Planning Database (REPD)(1), which tracks the progress of renewable electricity projects through the planning system and is updated on a monthly basis.

The latest REPD data (December 2011) show that no commercial wind turbines applications have been made or approved since May 2010 by the local planning authorities of Windsor and Maidenhead royal borough council, Rushcliffe borough council, Cheshire East council, Richmondshire district council or Sheffield city council. One application has been received (0.15 MW) and one approved since May 2010 by Hambleton district council.

(1) https://restats.decc.gov.uk/cms/planning-database/

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Basking Sharks: Conservation

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effect of Marine Conservation Zones on the protection of basking sharks in UK waters. [92053]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA is commissioning an independent review of the current science on the merits of protecting mobile species through Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), and an assessment of the extent to which the regional project recommendations support the protection of mobile species and birds. Basking sharks will be included in that study, which will be published on completion.

Biodiversity: British Overseas Territories

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to improve biodiversity conservation in the British Overseas Territories. [92872]

Richard Benyon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) on 21 November 2011, Official Report, column 194W.

However, I would add that in November 2011, at the 2011 Overseas Territories Consultative Council, I announced funding of £394,000 towards four new projects in the Overseas Territories. These comprise a project to eradicate invasive mice from Gough Island; a project to

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look at the effects of large marine reserves on pelagic, migratory species in the Chagos Island Marine Reserve; and two projects addressing the decline of albatross and petrel populations.

The DEFRA submission to the Prime Minister, referred to in the previous answer, has now been published on the DEFRA website, and it includes inter alia a commitment to elaborate an implementation plan for the UK Government Strategy for Biodiversity in the Overseas Territories.

Biodiversity: Crown Dependencies

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department spent on biodiversity conservation in the Crown dependencies in each of the last five years. [92873]

Richard Benyon: Nature conservation within the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies is the responsibility of the Governments of those Territories. The Overseas Territories Governments are supported by DEFRA, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development while those in the Crown Dependencies are supported by the Ministry of Justice. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee has a role to advise and support this process, working closely with the Territories and Government Departments.

DEFRA spend on biodiversity conservation in the Crown Dependencies in each of the last five years is set out in the following table:

  Expenditure (£)

2007-08

(1)

2008-09

(1)

2009-10

(1)

2010-11

5,000

2011-12

13,000

(1) Indicates figures are negligible.

Common Fisheries Policy

Caroline Dinenage: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she plans to have with her Spanish counterpart on their respective positions on Common Fisheries Policy reform aimed at sustaining fish stocks and fishing communities. [92391]

Richard Benyon: Following the recent general election in Spain, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), has invited Sr Miguel Arias Canete, the new Spanish Secretary of State for Agriculture, Food and Environment to discuss the reform of both the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Agricultural Policy.

As the UK Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, I will continue to press our case for reform of the CFP with my ministerial colleagues from other EU member states, including Spain, as well as with the EU Commission and European Parliament.

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Internships

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidelines her Department issued to its non-departmental bodies on the employment of unpaid interns prior to July 2011. [92948]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA issued guidance to its non-departmental public bodies in June 2011 which made clear that the employment of unpaid interns is not permitted.

Environmental Protection: Seas and Oceans

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of progress towards meeting the targets and indicators to achieve Good Environmental Status in marine waters by July 2012 under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. [92258]

Richard Benyon: The Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires member states to put in place measures to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) in their marine waters by 2020. This is broken down into a number of stages that need to be implemented before 2020. These stages include the development of an initial assessment of a member state's marine waters (to be completed by 2012); deciding characteristics of GES and associated targets and indicators (again to be completed by 2012); the establishment of monitoring programmes to measure progress towards GES (by 2014), and the establishment of programmes of measures to achieve GES (by 2016).

The UK Government and devolved Administrations plan to publish a public consultation shortly on the first stages of the implementation process. This will include a summary of the UK Initial Assessment and proposals for UK characteristics of GES and associated targets and indicators. The consultation will be accompanied by an impact assessment that analyses the potential costs and benefits to the UK of achieving the proposed targets for GES.

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps her Department is taking to promote cleaner oceans; [92676]

(2) what assessment she has made of her Department's progress towards dealing with threats to the UK's marine ecosystems; [92677]

(3) what plans her Department has to address the problem of the increasing amount of marine litter. [92678]

Richard Benyon: In 2010, the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy Community (set up by the UK Government and the devolved Administrations) published Charting Progress 2, the result of a five-year study into how human use and other pressures, such as climate change, are affecting our seas, and the progress being made toward the UK marine vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans

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and seas’. It draws on evidence gathered by scientists from marine agencies, research institutes, universities, environmental organisations and industries.

Drawing on the conclusions from Charting Progress 2, we are implementing a package of policies to ensure that our seas are used sustainably. These include marine planning and marine conservation zones, and implementing European legislation such as the habitats and birds directives, the water framework directive and the marine strategy framework directive. The UK's approaches to reform of the common fisheries policy and domestic fisheries management reform are also part of our approach.

The UK co-operates with other north-east Atlantic states under the OSPAR convention for the protection of the marine environment to address inputs to the sea of nutrients, hazardous substances and radioactive substances to the sea from land-based sources. OSPAR has also successfully regulated discharges of oil and other chemicals from the offshore industry. Work in other international frameworks that regulate the use of hazardous substances globally also contributes to clean oceans.

Most marine litter is thought to arise from terrestrial sources. We are working to address the problem of litter generally through wider waste reduction strategies and through community based behavioural change activity led by Keep Britain Tidy. The problem of litter arising from activities at sea is addressed through the Responsible Fishing Scheme, administered through Seafish, and the implementation of the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations.

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of her Department's progress towards achieving its commitment to designating a fully coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012; and if she will make a statement. [92679]

Richard Benyon: The Government's plans for marine conservation zones were set out in a written ministerial statement on 15 November 2011, Official Report, column 35WS.

The habitats directive and wild birds directive requires the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect habitats and species listed under the habitats directive, and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to protect wild birds as set out under the birds directive. Together SACs and SPAs contribute to the creation of a network of protected areas known as Natura 2000.

In August 2010, the UK took a major step in completing the Natura 2000 network by putting forward a package of 15 marine sites to the European Commission for designation. Further sites were submitted to the Commission in 2011, including the Dogger Bank SAC, which became the largest marine protected area to be submitted to the European Commission by any member state.

Consultations were also undertaken in 2011 for a further three offshore sites (Wight Barfleur reef, Pisces Reef Complex and Croker Carbonate Slabs) and an inshore site (Studland to Portland). These sites, together with others being pursued by the devolved Administrations,

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are expected to be transmitted to the Commission in 2012, and should complete the SAC network in UK waters.

DEFRA is continuing to work with Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to finalise plans to complete the identification of SPAs for birds in the English and UK offshore area (except in waters adjacent to Scotland) by the end of 2015. Nearly a quarter of English waters are now protected by European sites.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Overseas Territories: Governors

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on ceremonial dress for governors of British Overseas Territories in each of the last 20 years. [92869]

Mr Bellingham: Since 2001, Overseas Territory governments have been responsible for deciding whether governors wear ceremonial dress and for funding uniforms. Bermuda, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar opted to retain ceremonial dress. My Department has provided no funding. Where governors have a military background, as is often the case in Gibraltar, they have tended to use their own uniforms. Information on spending prior to 2001 is not immediately available and I will write to my hon. Friend separately with any information that we can make available.

Conflict Prevention

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to mainstream gender considerations in the implementation of the Building Stability Overseas Strategy. [92681]

Mr Bellingham: Action on Women, Peace and Security is a key element of our work on Building Stability Overseas as women have a central role in building stability and resolving conflict. In line with the Government's National Action Plan for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we will continue to tackle violence against women and support the role of women in building peace.

A central approach of the Building Stability Overseas strategy has been to integrate conflict analysis and conflict resolution tools into the Government's assessment of and efforts to resolve conflicts in different regions and countries of the world. Part of that approach has involved raising officials’ and other stakeholders' consciousness of gender considerations in building stability and resolving conflict. To that end, the Government have circulated widely among their diplomatic posts abroad a Women Peace and Security Toolkit, aimed at helping posts develop country based activity on women, peace and security issues which supports overall stability and conflict resolution goals.

We are working closely with civil society to organise at an early stage a workshop focused on the Building Stability Overseas strategy. This will contribute to ongoing

2 Feb 2012 : Column 758W

work to set the Government's work on women, peace and security firmly within the context of the Building Stability Overseas strategy.

The Revision of the National Action Plan for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 will be published in early 2012.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Elections

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the likely timing of provincial and local elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [92689]

Mr Bellingham: Provincial assembly elections are scheduled to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in March, however we expect that they will be delayed until later in the year. We will press the DRC electoral commission (CENI) to ensure that they use any delay to improve their processes and address the concerns over their performance during the presidential and national assembly elections. Local elections are due in 2013.

Departmental Manpower

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 20 December 2011, Official Report, column 1191W, on departmental manpower, how many of his Department's UK-based staff serving overseas have a speaker requirement at (a) confidence and (b) operational level; and how many of them are in receipt of additional remuneration which is linked to that qualification. [93072]

Mr Bellingham: There are approximately 120 overseas slots with a speaker requirement to confidence level and approximately 460 slots with a speaker requirement to operational level. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officers who have passed the relevant qualification at confidence level in less complex languages receive a one-off payment. Only those qualifying at confidence level in the hardest categories of languages are entitled to claim allowances for the duration of their overseas posting. As at 31 January 2012 approximately 20 officers at confidence level are in receipt of these allowances. At operational level, approximately 110 officers serving in overseas speaker slots are currently in receipt of these allowances. Others who pass their examinations during their posting will become eligible to apply for the relevant allowances at that point.

Mr David: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of senior positions in his Department are held by women. [93120]

Mr Bellingham: As at 31 December 2011, the representation of women at the senior levels of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is 22%.

Departmental Travel Costs

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has agreed any contracts with (a) private hire vehicle and (b) taxi companies since May 2010. [92852]

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Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) agreed a contract for the provision of taxi and bus services on 1 April 2011 with Raffles Taxis, a company based in Milton Keynes where the FCO has offices. The benefits of this contract are that the FCO can save money via discounted rates. Bookings are consolidated leading to savings over multiple journeys and fares. The company provide the FCO with management information which enables monitoring of spend. In addition, the use of a managed contractor ensures safety for staff.

FCO expenditure is incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the HM Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

Work Experience

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what work experience or traineeship schemes his Department offers to minority groups. [92746]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers work experience opportunities designed to attract a talented and diverse pool of candidates.

In 2011, the FCO took part in the new Whitehall Internship programme and also the FCO ran its own summer work experience scheme for undergraduates, the Partner University Placement Scheme (PUPS). In 2011, PUPS was targeted at female undergraduates who had been under-represented in the FCO's Fast Stream intake. 20 interns were taken on under this scheme.

The FCO is currently planning its work experience schemes for 2012 and details will be put on our website in due course:

www.fco.gov.uk/careers

Diamond Jubilee 2012

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has for the celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. [92460]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be working through our overseas network of posts to mark Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee overseas. Like the London 2012 Games, the Diamond Jubilee is an opportunity to demonstrate the best of the UK to the world. We will work closely with the royal household. We are currently developing specific plans. In the UK, the Foreign Secretary’s annual reception for the diplomatic corps for the Queen's birthday will become a jubilee celebration.

Diplomatic Service: Females

Mr David: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) ambassadors and (b) high commissioners are women. [93115]

Mr Bellingham: As at 31 December 2011, 19% of our ambassadors are female and 22% of our high commissioners are female. The number of female heads of mission is currently at an all time high of 37, compared with 18 only five years ago.

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Diplomatic Service: Manpower

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria his Department applied in deciding whether to (a) retain, (b) upgrade, (c) localise and (d) abolish UK-based band A and B grade posts at UK embassies and high commissions. [92885]

Mr Bellingham: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made it clear in a speech in London on 8 September that he intends to strengthen the long term capability and international effectiveness of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and to improve our country's capacity to pursue effective foreign policy for years and even decades to come. The extension and strengthening of our global diplomatic network, with staff who have the necessary abilities and diplomatic skills, are key objectives of this Government and the FCO has made funding these goals a priority.

By April 2014 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will introduce new technology and change the way we support the work of our diplomats in our overseas missions. These changes will mean that in the majority of places we will no longer require UK-based staff to perform support activity. Over the same period we will reduce to a minimum the number of Band A and B jobs overseas. This will bring the FCO into line with other Government Departments and private sector organisations. This programme will save £23 million per year by April 2014. Those savings are not easy but they are essential. They will help us to live within the necessary financial constraints and to provide the diplomatic network we need for the future.

No members of staff will be made compulsorily redundant as a result of this programme, with positions in the UK available to staff returning from overseas tours. We have brought forward an extensive package of learning and development opportunities for staff affected to address concerns raised about the impact of reduced overseas postings at these grades.

Decisions on individual positions were taken by the FCO's Management Board in December. Positions were (a) retained where activity would still be required but could not be performed by locally engaged staff, for example because they could not easily gain a sufficient level of security clearance or would not get consular accreditation from the host Government. Positions were (b) upgraded in cases where the merging of a number of existing positions, either in one post or across a regional network, delivered an overall efficiency saving. Positions were (c) localised where activity would remain and there were no barriers to this being delivered by locally engaged staff and (d) eliminated where the activity currently undertaken would be eliminated by new technology and working practices.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department plans to take to ensure the safety of locally- engaged staff in a UK embassy or high commission in the event of UK staff being evacuated. [92886]

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Mr Bellingham: The safety of our staff is a priority. We will do what we reasonably can to ensure locally engaged staff are safe where we are forced to close or evacuate an embassy. Our course of action will differ according to the length of time that UK based staff are expected to be absent. Our general approach is not to ask staff to undertake any duties we judge would put them or their families at risk. When we envisage a prolonged period of closure, we will consider arrangements including duty of care oversight for locally engaged staff via third country embassies acting our behalf.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff working in UK (a) embassies, (b) high commissions and (c) consulates are (i) female, (ii) black and ethnic minority and (iii) disabled. [92888]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office records the gender of all its UK based civil servants and locally engaged staff. We also strongly encourage UK based staff to make voluntary declarations of ethnic background (Black and Minority Ethnic (BME)) and disability. Not all staff choose to do so. The current overall declaration rate for ethnicity is some 80% while for disability it is around 30%. We do not ask locally engaged staff to declare ethnicity or disability.

For ethnicity and disability, the number of UK based staff reported in the following table who are currently working overseas is, therefore, based on the sub-set of staff choosing to make a voluntary declaration and may not reflect the UK based work force as a whole.

We do not record staff details by embassy, high commission or consulate and the information could be prepared only at disproportionate cost.

  Total staff Female BME Disabled

UK based

1,843

636

327

42

Locally engaged

8,689

3,914

(1)

(1)

(1) No data Note: Figures are for 1 January 2012

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff currently based in the UK are (a) SMS, (b) A band, (c) B band, (d) C band and (e) D band; and how many staff in each such grade are (i) female, (ii) black and ethnic minority and (iii) disabled. [92889]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office records the gender of all its UK based civil servants. We also strongly encourage staff to make voluntary declarations of ethnic background (Black and Minority Ethnic (BME)) and disability. Not all staff choose to do so. The current overall declaration rate for ethnicity is some 80% while for disability it is around 30%. For ethnicity and disability, the number of staff reported in the following table who are currently working in the UK is, therefore, based on the sub-set of staff choosing to make a voluntary declaration and may not reflect the UK based work force as a whole.

  Total staff Female BME Disabled

A

607

362

138

42

B

633

347

106

36

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C

737

333

52

41

D

562

233

23

19

SMS

147

45

8

6

Total

2,686

1,320

327

144

Note: Figures are for 1 January 2012

Employment Agencies

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2012, Official Report, column 81W, on employment agencies, how much of the £26,128.14 spent on recruitment agencies was spent on agency (a) fees and (b) staff. [92594]

Mr Bellingham: Over the period covered by the answer of 10 January 2012, Official Report, column 81W, the external recruitment agencies involved broke down the costs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as follows: (a) £19,978.14 on fees; and (b) £6,150 on staff.

The figure on fees covers the set up costs of the recruitment campaigns and the costs for activities undertaken by the recruitment agency during the hiring process. The figure on staff reflects the total paid for personnel costs of the project teams at the recruitment agencies.

The FCO uses recruitment agencies to attract the widest possible range of talented applicants. For specialist campaigns, agencies are better placed to target applicants with the most relevant skills within that sector. The use of agencies has proven to be more cost-effective than using in-house recruitment resources for those aspects of campaigns.

All of the positions for which external recruitment campaigns were held during this period were approved for external recruitment as either business critical or a front line service, in accordance with the terms of the Government-wide recruitment freeze.

European Union: Treaties

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Deputy Prime Minister on the prospects for treaty change in the EU. [92761]

Mr Lidington: I have regular discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister on a range of issues relating to my departmental responsibilities.

Languages

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many designated slots his Department has for staff at (a) confidence, (b) operational and (c) extensive language qualification levels. [93073]

Mr Bellingham: There are currently approximately 120 designated speaker slots for staff at confidence level, approximately 460 slots at operational and approximately 110 at extensive level.

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Piracy

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the potential cost of piracy to the UK economy in 2012; and what discussions he has had with his international counterparts on ways of minimising that cost. [92674]

Mr Bellingham: It has been estimated by One Earth Future that maritime piracy could be costing the global economy up to US$12 billion a year, both directly and indirectly such as through increased insurance premiums. The turnover of the British shipping industry is worth £10.7 billion of our national GDP. Approximately US$1 trillion of trade to and from Europe travels through the Gulf of Aden, the second busiest international trade route in the world and a key area affected by piracy.

Britain is playing a leading role in counter-piracy operations at sea off the Horn of Africa, and in the same region we are leading international work with regional partners to build penal, judicial and law enforcement capacities in support, with more than 1,000 pirates now in custody. We are also playing an active role to take steps to address piracy off the western coast of Africa.

The first line of defence remains self-defence by ships to minimise the risk of successful hijack. But the long-term solution to maritime piracy lies on land, with the development of justice and rule of law capacity and increased stability.

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost of piracy to the UK economy in the last five years; and what steps his Department has taken to minimise this cost. [92675]

Mr Bellingham: The turnover of the British shipping industry is worth £10.7 billion of our national GDP; nearly $1 trillion of trade to and from Europe travelled through the Gulf of Aden in 2008 and this is the second busiest international trade route in the world. One World Future has estimated that piracy could be costing the global economy up to $12 billion a year in direct costs and indirect costs such as increased insurance premiums.

Britain is playing a leading role in the counter-piracy operations at sea, and we are leading international work with regional countries to build penal, judicial and law enforcement capacities in support, with more than 1,000 pirates now in custody. The first line of defence remains self-defence measures by ships to minimise the risk of a successful highjack. But the long-term solution lies on land, with rule of law and increased stability.

Somalia: Conferences

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Somali (a) civil society organisations and (b) women leaders will be invited to participate in the London conference on Somalia in February 2012. [92683]

Mr Bellingham: Because this conference is about international coordination, only governments and multilateral organisations are invited to the day itself. But we are very keen to use the opportunity of the

2 Feb 2012 : Column 764W

conference to deepen our engagement with academia, civil society and the Somali diaspora. In the run-up we will hold a number of events, both in the UK and in the region, which will provide an opportunity to feed in views and we will invite Somali civil society and prominent women from the Somali diaspora. We're also inviting comments via our website on the key themes that will be coming up at the conference.

Tristan da Cunha: M.S. Olivia

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on progress following the collision of M.S. Olivia with Nightingale Island, Tristan da Cunha. [92870]

Mr Bellingham: We are in close contact with the Tristan da Cunha authorities in dealing with the aftermath of the M.V. Olivia sinking. Negotiations with the vessel's insurers continue and fishery experts met in Cape Town in November to agree the way ahead on the affected areas of the lobster fishery. In addition, a specialist team conducted an underwater survey of the wreck in early January. While the report of this survey has not yet been issued, early indications are that the wreck continues to be broken up by the South Atlantic.

The British Government remain determined that all costs resulting from this incident must be borne by the M.V. Olivia's owners and insurers.

Health

Care Quality Commission

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2012, Official Report, column 194W, on the Care Quality Commission, whether the Care Quality Commission conducted an analysis of regulation and regulators' experience in dealing with the specialist versus generic inspector role referred to in its 9 December 2009 board meeting minutes; and if he will place in the Library a copy of any such analysis. [93071]

Mr Simon Burns: The following information has been provided by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC conducted a high-level assessment examining the pros and cons of a ‘specialist inspector’ versus ‘generic inspector supported by specialists’ field force model drawing on lessons learnt from work with the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts (Monitor) and the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) as well as discussions with CQC staff. This included examining what ‘specialist’ means in the context of regulation. It also looked at which approach benefits the efficient escalation of risk; quality assurances processes; and making use of clinical input.

This assessment was presented to the CQC board on 9 December 2009 by the then chief operating officer. The CQC has provided a copy of the documents titled ‘Interfaces between intelligence and the field force’ and

2 Feb 2012 : Column 765W

‘CQC 9 December 2009—Field force slides’ that were used at this board meeting, which have been placed in the Library.

Given the scope of the changes, they were subject to a full 90-day consultation with staff and unions. They came into force in May 2010.

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2012, Official Report, column 194W, on the Care Quality Commission, if he will place in the Library a copy of the field force paper referred to in the 9 December 2009 Care Quality Commission board meeting minutes. [93074]

Mr Simon Burns: The Care Quality Commission has provided a copy of the board paper titled ‘Reshaping the Field Force Model’, which has been placed in the Library.

Dental Services

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to maintain the number of NHS dentists. [93064]

Mr Simon Burns: The number of dentists who deliver national health service care is growing steadily. In the year ending 31 March 2011, 22,799 dentists worked on an NHS contract, compared to 22,003 in the previous year. 820,000 more patients now have access to NHS dentistry compared to May 2010.

Dental Services: Waiting Lists

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people are on the waiting list for an NHS dentist in (a) Cumbria, (b) the North West and (c) England; [93136]

(2) what estimate he has made of the average time spent on a waiting list for an NHS dentist in (a) Cumbria, (b) the North West and (c) England. [93137]

Mr Simon Burns: This information is not held centrally.

Departmental Travel Costs

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 January 2012, Official Report, column 31WS, on cost of ministerial cars, whether his Department has any other arrangements for ministerial travel; and how much his Department has spent on (a) private hire vehicles and (b) taxis for each Minister since May 2010; [92849]

(2) whether his Department has agreed any contracts with (a) private hire vehicle and (b) taxi companies since May 2010. [92850]

Mr Simon Burns: All Ministers in the Department use public transport, where practical, while travelling on official Government business. The Department has a contract with Addison Lee for the provision of taxis on account for Ministers and the Permanent Secretaries. There has been no expenditure on private hire cars for Ministers other than the Government Car Service. According to the Department's business management system, £2,637.71 was spent on taxis between May 2010

2 Feb 2012 : Column 766W

and 31 December 2011 from the budgets attached to the ministerial offices. However, it is not possible to distinguish whether this is ministerial or Private Office staff expenditure as they share the same code.

Since May 2010, the Department has not agreed any contracts for private hire vehicles. It has agreed a contract with Addison Lee for the provision of taxis on account for Ministers and the Permanent Secretaries.

Work Experience

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what work experience or traineeship schemes his Department offers to minority groups. [92755]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department participates in the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship programme for candidates from ethnic minority groups and, recently, also for those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds. This programme provides high-calibre undergraduates or graduates from those groups with experience in how the Government Fast Stream Scheme works as a viable career option.

The Department agreed to recruit three individuals to be placed. They received development in policy delivery from their assigned teams.

Diabetes: Nursing Posts

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many specialist diabetes nursing posts there are in the NHS; and how many are vacant. [92693]

Paul Burstow: The current number of diabetic specialist nurses employed by the national health service is not collected centrally. The annual work force census does not separately identify specialist nurses.

It is for local NHS organisations, with their knowledge of the health needs of their local population, to train and recruit the staff needed to best meet these needs.

Disability Aids

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of expenditure by each local authority (a) overall and (b) per head of population on (i) aids and adaptations and (ii) respite care for disabled people in each of the last 10 years. [92908]

Paul Burstow: Data on local authority expenditure on social care are collected and published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Data on local authority expenditure on equipment and adaptations and respite care have been placed in the Library. The data for 2010-11 are provisional and subject to change. Final data for 2010-11 will be published in March 2012.

Data are available for aids and adaptations from 2001-02 to 2010-11, but data on local authority expenditure on respite care have only started to be collected as a voluntary data item on the Personal Social Services Expenditure Return (PSSEX1) return in the last two years.

Electromagnetic Fields: Health Hazards

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the

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effect on the health of

(a)

adults and

(b)

children of electromagnetic radiation from (i) smart meters and (ii) mobile phones. [93076]

Anne Milton: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) provides advice to the Government on health effects from electromagnetic fields from various sources, including radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones and smart meters. The HPA's independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) reviewed health effects in relation to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in 2003 for the then National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) (see Documents of the NRPB, volume 14, number 2, which is available on the HPA website at:

www.hpa.org.uk/Publications/Radiation/NPRBArchive/DocumentsOfTheNRPB/Absd1402/)

AGNIR is currently updating this review and is due to publish its findings in 2012.

In between the publication of formal review reports, the HPA monitors emerging scientific studies covering electromagnetic fields and children's and adults' health and keeps its advice under review.

The Department set up the independently managed Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme in 2001. MTHR has funded in the order of 28 projects concerning radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and health to date. Further details of the research programme are available on the MTHR website at:

www.mthr.org.uk/

Health and Social Care Bill 2010-12

Debbie Abrahams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals in the European Commission's revised public procurement directive on his legislative proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill; [93235]

(2) what assessment he has made of the potential effects of proposals made in the European Commission's revised public procurement directive on his decision to raise the private patient income cap to 49 per cent; [93240]

(3) what assessment he has made of the potential effects on clinical commissioning groups of proposals made in the European Commission's revised public procurement directive to remove the distinction between Part A and Part B services; and whether this proposal affects the application of European competition law to the NHS. [93241]

Mr Simon Burns: The European Commission published its proposals for a revised public procurement directive on 20 December 2011. The proposed directive would have to be agreed by all member states for it to become law and the Government are currently finalising their negotiating position.

However, the Department does not consider that these proposals have a bearing on services provided to private patients by foundation trusts nor on the applicability, or not, of competition law to the national health service.

Health Services: North East

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who the members are of the NHS North East Regional Transition Programme Board; and whether

2 Feb 2012 : Column 768W

any members have declared any financial remuneration or benefits from private companies. [93186]

Mr Simon Burns: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 30 January 2012, Official Report, column 492W, on the NHS.

Health: Finance

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the use of ring-fenced public health funding by local authorities. [92867]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department currently makes revenue allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs). These allocations are not broken down by service or policy area. It is for PCTs to commission services to meet the health care needs of their local populations, taking account of local and national priorities.

Subject to the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill, from 2013-14 the Department intends to allocate a ring-fenced public health grant, targeted for health inequalities, to upper-tier and unitary local authorities (LAs) for improving the health and well-being of local populations.

In order to support the setting of future ring-fenced grants to LAs for public health, last year the Department asked PCTs to submit returns on public health outturn expenditure for 2010-11. Estimates of baseline public health spend for 2010-11 across LAs will be published shortly.

Health: Screening

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of people between 40 and 70 years old participated in the NHS health check programme (a) in total and (b) in each strategic health authority area. [92902]

Mr Simon Burns: The number of eligible people between 40 and 74 offered and receiving a NHS health check between April and September 2011 has been published on the Department’s website:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Statistics/Performancedataandstatistics/Integratedperfomancemeasuresmonitoring/DH_129481

A copy has been placed in the Library. This information is broken down by strategic health authority. Prior to this there were no comprehensive central data collections in place to measure the number of NHS health checks received by eligible 40 to 74-year-olds.

Hospitals: Admissions

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of his examination of each in-patient re-admission to the NHS; what variations there were between (a) clinical specialties and (b) hospitals in whether re-admissions were judged to be reasonable and clinically required; and what level of savings has arisen from this exercise. [92737]

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Mr Simon Burns: A policy allowing, with some exceptions, primary care trusts (PCTs) not to pay service providers in cases of emergency re-admission was introduced from 1 April 2011. The policy operates at local level and details of local reviews of re-admissions are not held centrally.

PCTs are required to use the savings from non-payment for re-admissions to improve post discharge services, and at the end of the first quarter of the 2011-12 financial year strategic health authorities undertook a survey to gather information about the level and use of the savings. The survey found that £107.5 million had been saved in the first quarter. The survey findings were published on the Department's website on 22 December 2011 in The Quarter, which is available at:

www.dh.gov.uk/health/2011/12/the-quarter-quarter-2-201112/

A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.

Meals on Wheels

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average charge was for meals on wheels services in each local authority area in each of the last 10 years; [92910]

(2) what estimate he has made of expenditure by each local authority (a) overall and (b) per head of population on meals on wheels for pensioners in each of the last 10 years. [92911]

Paul Burstow: Information on the average charge for meals on wheels services is not collected centrally.

Data on local authority expenditure on social care are collected and published by the NHS Information Centre via the National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service online analytical processing tool. Further information is available on the Information Centre website at:

www.nascis.ic.nhs.uk

Data, provided by the Information Centre, on local authority expenditure on meals for older people—aged 65 or over—for the years 2001-02 to 2010-11 have been placed in the Library.

NHS Trusts: Procurement

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to promote and support the application of procurement best practice within and between NHS trusts; and what savings he expects to accrue from improved procurement by 2015. [93070]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department is currently developing NHS Standards of Procurement. These standards will provide the national health service with a clear vision of “what good looks like”. A resource for NHS procurement will be developed from these standards, which will include indicators, guidance on how to achieve the standards, a library of tools and templates, and national support for each one, where appropriate.

Each of the 19 standards outlines how performance in this area can be improved and sets out the characteristics of organisations at different stages on the journey to improved procurement. The standards also include suggested indicators which could be used to measure

2 Feb 2012 : Column 770W

performance against each one. This set of indicators is expected to evolve as the standards start to be used and experience across the NHS is shared.

The NHS Standards of Procurement are due to be fully launched in March 2012. However, NHS procurement staff can currently access the draft document, as part of wider communication activity to develop best practice in this area continually.

The NHS Standards of Procurement are in support of, and contribute to, helping the NHS achieve the £1.2 billion cumulative procurement savings target identified as part of the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention programme by end March 2015.

NHS: Drugs

Margot James: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment he has made of his Department's document entitled “Best practice for ensuring the efficient supply and distribution of medicines to patients”, published in February 2011; [92738]

(2) what steps he is taking to address delays in the supply of prescribed medicines to patients. [92896]

Mr Simon Burns: The Government and organisations representing the various parts of the supply chain continue to review the issues addressed in the joint best practice guidance.

There are nearly 900 million prescriptions dispensed a year, over 10,900 community pharmacies and some 16,000 presentations of medicines, so some shortages and delivery delays are inevitable. We have well-established arrangements for dealing with these. We are continuing to work with stakeholders to minimise their impact on patients.

Primary Care Trusts: North East

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was to (a) Doncaster, (b) Barnsley, (c) Rotherham, (d) Sheffield and (e) Bassetlaw primary care trusts of (i) establishing and (ii) staffing cluster boards. [92857]

Mr Simon Burns: Information on costs incurred by Doncaster, Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield and Bassetlaw primary care trusts (PCTs) in establishing and staffing the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw PCT cluster board is not centrally collected.

The right hon. Member may wish to approach the chief executive of the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw PCT cluster, which may hold some relevant information.

PCT clustering is a management tool to support PCTs to maintain management capacity and performance and to support Government policy to drive down national health service administration costs. As such, clustering supports the NHS to make savings rather than imposing costs upon it.

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what information his Department holds on the number of staff that have been made redundant by the primary care trusts in (a) Doncaster, (b) Barnsley, (c) Rotherham, (d) Sheffield and (e) Bassetlaw since

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April 2010; and what the average cost per staff member was of such redundancies to each such primary care trust; [92858]

(2) how many staff redundancies by the primary care trusts in (a) Doncaster, (b) Barnsley, (c) Rotherham, (d) Sheffield and (e) Bassetlaw have involved an individual redundancy payment of over £75,000; [92859]

(3) what the cost to the public purse was of staff redundancies by primary care trusts in (a) Doncaster, (b) Barnsley, (c) Rotherham, (d) Sheffield and (e) Bassetlaw since April 2010. [92884]

Mr Simon Burns: Information is not centrally available in the format requested. Information on the number, total cost and average cost of exit packages, and total number of exit packages over £40,000, for Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield primary care trusts (PCTs) for the financial year 2010-11, is shown in the following table:

Organisation Total number of exit packages Total cost of exit packages (£000) Average cost of packages (£000) Total number of exit packages over £40,000

Barnsley PCT

94

3,323

35

28

Bassetlaw PCT

11

248

23

1

Doncaster PCT

105

3,005

29

24

Rotherham PCT

53

2,257

43

17

Sheffield PCT

22

490

22

4

Notes: 1. The disclosure in the accounts reports the number and value of exit packages taken by staff leaving in the year. The expense associated with these departures may have been recognised in part or in full in a previous period. 2. Data for 2011-12 will be available in the summer, once the Department's annual report and accounts are published. 3. Exit packages include compulsory redundancies and other departures. Other departures include early retirements (except those due to ill health). Voluntary redundancies are not separately identifiable from the other departures; therefore an overall figure for redundancies is not available. 4. The exit packages are disclosed by cost band, but these bands do not allow packages with an individual payment of over £75,000 to be separately identified, since one of the reporting bands is £40,001 to £100,000. The figures in the table, therefore, include the number of exit packages in this band, and all above £100,000. Source: The data are taken from the audited summarisation schedules, from which the NHS (England) Summarised Accounts are prepared.

Social Services

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has assessed the potential effects of the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission on adults no longer able to fund their own social care. [92860]

Paul Burstow: The coalition agreement set out the Government's clear commitment to reforming the system of social care to provide much more control to individuals and their carers and to ease the cost burden that they and their families face.

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This commitment to reform is why we acted quickly to set up the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, which published its report in July 2011.

When the commission published its report, the Government set out a clear timetable for assessing the impacts of the commission's recommendations, making the necessary trade-offs with other priorities for social care reform and deciding on the best way forward. We said that we were working towards a White Paper on social care and a progress report on funding reform in spring 2012, and we remain committed to that timetable.

The commission's report has formed the basis of the Government's recent engagement with stakeholders. This engagement exercise examined the impact of these recommendations and brought them together with other priorities for reform from across the social care system to look at the trade-offs between them.

In addition to our work with social care stakeholders, the Department is looking in detail at the impact of the commission's recommendations. A full assessment of the recommendations will be included in the progress report, which we will publish in the spring. We are not able to pre-judge the contents of that report now by commenting in detail on the impact of the recommendations.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to increase access to specialist training for social carers. [92862]

Paul Burstow: “A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens” recognises the need for a diverse workforce that is capable and well trained. The Department, working with Skills for Care, jointly produced a Workforce Development Strategy in May 2011, which sets out broad areas for widening access to the knowledge, skills and capacity the workforce will need in the future.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to promote social care as a career. [92863]

Paul Burstow: ‘A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens’ identifies the need for a capable and well-trained work force. The Department is working with Skills for Care to attract a diverse work force into the sector.

In May 2011, the Recruitment and Retention Strategy was produced jointly and promotes improved public awareness of social care careers and the opportunities on offer within the sector.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the use of funding allocated by his Department to social services. [92864]

Paul Burstow: Local authorities are responsible for decisions on spending on adult social care. At a national level, the NHS information Centre collects detailed information on Personal Social Services (PSS) expenditure through the Personal Social Services Expenditure return (PSSEX1). A copy of the most recent PSSEX1 report ‘Personal Social Services Expenditure and Unit Costs:

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England 2010-11—Provisional Release’ has been placed in the Library, and contains provisional details of 2010-11 expenditure.

The spending review outlined an additional £1 billion per annum by 2014-15 to be allocated within the national health service to be spent on measures that support social care. The Department collected information from primary care trusts in September 2011 to understand how the transfer of NHS money was progressing and on which services it was being used. The information suggests that the money is being used on a wide range of services. A full breakdown of this can be found in the NHS publication ‘The Quarter’, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the potential costs of his planned reforms on social care; and if he will make a statement. [92866]

Paul Burstow: The care and support White Paper and progress report on funding reform, planned for spring 2012, will set out the Governments plans for transforming the care and support system.

To understand what the priorities for reform should be, the Government launched ‘Caring for our future’. We worked with leaders from the care and support community, supported by expert reference groups, to seek a broad range of views from people who use care and support services, carers, local councils, care providers and the voluntary sector. Further details on the engagement, discussion leads and the output from key events can be found at:

www.caringforourfuture.dh.gov.uk

The Department is currently reflecting on the findings and will continue to work with stakeholders to develop policy, including associated costs and benefits, and to help us decide the approach to the care and support White Paper and progress report on funding reform.

Social Services: Finance

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of expenditure by each local authority (a) overall and (b) per head of population on social care in each of the last 10 years. [92905]

Paul Burstow: Data on local authority expenditure on social care are collected and published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Data on local authority expenditure from 2001-02 to 2010-11 are provided in the tables which have been placed in the Library. The data for 2010-11 are provisional and subject to change. Final data for 2010-11 will be published in March 2012.

Social Services: Older People

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of funding for adults no longer able to fund their own social care in each of the last five years. [92868]

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Paul Burstow: In the current social care system, people who can afford to pay are required to fund their own social care out of their income and assets. In some cases, people need long-term social care, and some of them will, over time, use up their assets to the point that they qualify for state support to fund their own care. At this point, the local authority will provide them with support to pay for care.

We do not centrally hold information on how many people spend down their assets and are subsequently supported by the state, nor do we know the total cost of supporting these people.

Home Department

CCTV

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations she has received from police authorities on the decision by some local authorities to cease or reduce funding for the operation of CCTV; and if she will make an assessment of any potential effects of such funding reductions on the prevention and detection of crime in (a) Bradford, (b) Birmingham, (c) Thurrock, (d) Derby and (e) Ashfield. [92631]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 30 January 2012]: No such representations have been received. The provision and deployment of CCTV by local authorities is a matter for those authorities to assess in the light of local need and resources.

Cybercrime

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to increase penalties for cybercrime. [93075]

James Brokenshire: As part of the UK's Cyber Security Strategy, published in November 2011, the Government are reviewing existing legislation to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.

Drugs

Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which substances considered to be legal highs are under review by her Department. [92726]

James Brokenshire: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Government's independent experts, keeps under review the situation in the United Kingdom with regard to drug-related issues, including any reviews of new psychoactive substances sold as “legal highs”. The current availability of these substances is being monitored and, as appropriate, individual substances will be reviewed by the ACMD and advice provided to the Government.

We have already taken a number of actions against the threat from these new substances. Parliament is due to consider the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2012 shortly, which seeks the control of a number of new psychoactive substances, using generic legislation

2 Feb 2012 : Column 775W

where appropriate, on the ACMD's advice. We have introduced the new power to invoke a temporary class drug order.

Alongside these legislative actions, we have improved our drugs early warning systems to enable us to respond proactively to the issues that these new substances pose. The FRANK service is updated to provide the latest information about the harms and risks associated with known substances.

Hizb ut-Tahrir

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will review her decision not to proscribe the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir. [92811]

James Brokenshire: Hizb ut-Tahrir is an organisation about which the Government have significant concerns and its activities are kept under close review.

Illegal Immigrants: Employment

Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the level of employment of illegal immigrants in the UK in 2011. [92584]

Damian Green: The Government place high priority on effective action against illegal working. Although illegal working is by nature a clandestine activity and the consequent absence of available data prevents a detailed assessment of the scale of the problem, the UK Border Agency conducts targeted, intelligence-led enforcement operations to detect and apprehend illegal workers and penalise employers who break the law in this area. The system of civil and criminal sanctions enables the UK Border Agency to take appropriate action against non-compliant employers who negligently or deliberately employ those without permission to work in this country.

Members: Correspondence

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she plans to reply to the letter of 27 September 2011 from the hon. Member for Luton South regarding Janoi Donacien's application for discretionary leave to remain. [92523]

Damian Green: Responses to the hon. Member's correspondence regarding this case were issued on 2 September and 13 December. Due to an error, a letter dated 30 September was misallocated and a response not issued. A response has now been sent. I am sorry for the delay in responding to the hon. Member's correspondence.

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she plans to reply to the letter of 19 December 2011 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr B. Khan. [92802]

Damian Green: I refer the right hon. Member to my letter of 30 January 2012.

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Metal Theft

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the national metal theft taskforce will hold its first meeting; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of this meeting. [92670]

James Brokenshire: The national metal theft taskforce will be an operational body focused on enforcement action rather than meetings. However, the Home Office, the Department for Transport and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have agreed that the taskforce's work will be co-ordinated through a subgroup of the ACPO metal theft working group. We do not intend to publish minutes of those meetings, although we will report on the taskforce's progress in due course.

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the timetable is for the establishment of the national metal theft taskforce. [92671]

James Brokenshire: The metal theft taskforce is currently being established. Discussions are under way between British Transport Police, local police forces and other law enforcement agencies to agree the operational priorities in each area. This will help maximise the impact of the additional enforcement activity made possible by the £5 million invested through the National Infrastructure Plan.

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when she plans to introduce a comprehensive set of measures to tackle metal theft in the UK; [91627]

(2) whether she has any plans to bring forward legislative proposals to tackle metal theft; and by what date she plans to bring such proposals forward; [91628]

(3) what discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues concerning the timetable for introducing a package of measures to tackle metal theft; [91629]

(4) what recent representations she has received from her ministerial colleagues on the need to tackle metal theft. [91630]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 25 January 2012]: Metal theft is a serious and growing national problem with wide-ranging social and financial impacts, and the Government are taking urgent action to address it, including funding a new dedicated metal theft taskforce.

The Government consider that legislation is the only sustainable, long-term solution and will lay in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill an amendment to create a new criminal offence to prohibit cash payments to purchase scrap metal; and significantly increase the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which regulates the scrap metal recycling industry. These amendments are part of our wider attempts to tackle all stages in the illegal trading of stolen scrap metal, and we shall bring forward further measures in due course.

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Passports: Immigration Controls

Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if she will estimate the number of people who have entered the UK without having their passports checked via the Eurostar route from Brussels via Lille; [86689]

(2) how often trains entering the UK from continental Europe are checked by UK Border Agency staff on arrival. [86690]

(3) what steps she is taking to prevent passengers on Eurostar trains from Brussels via Lille from entering the UK without having their passport checked. [86691]

Damian Green: The UK Border Agency (UKBA) closely monitors all trains from Lille at St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford and carries out more detailed checks on trains where it is suspected that a passenger has evaded the controls. A significant number of passengers are also removed from the train at Lille in co-operation with Eurostar and the French authorities.

The Government and UKBA senior officials are working closely with Belgian counterparts and service operator Eurostar to strengthen controls.

Police: Croydon

Malcolm Wicks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers were serving in Croydon at the end of January (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [93144]

Nick Herbert: Police personnel data are collected on a financial year cycle. The latest available data show the number of police officers serving in Croydon as at 31 March 2010 and as at 31 March 2011 (full-time equivalent).

Police officer strength in Croydon (1)
  Number

31 March 2010

755

31 March 2011

736

(1) These figures are based on full-time equivalents that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Figures include those officers on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.

House of Commons Commission

Cybercrime

Karl McCartney: To ask the hon. Member for Aberdeen North, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether Parliamentary IT systems have been the target of cyber attack in the last five years. [93131]

Mr Doran: It is not the policy of the Commission to comment on security matters. It is, however, already publicly known that Parliament was subject to a cyber attack when it was affected by the Conficker virus in March 2009.

Telephone Tapping

Karl McCartney: To ask the hon. Member for Aberdeen North, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the answer of 23 November

2 Feb 2012 : Column 778W

2011,

Official Report,

column 420W, on telephone tapping, what the Commission would consider a legitimate reason to monitor hon. Members' staff

(a)

emails and

(b)

data. [93132]

Mr Doran: I refer the hon. Member to paragraph 10 of the Houses of Parliament ICT Security Policy Statement, with which all users of the parliamentary network are expected to comply as a condition of their use of the network:

“PICT does not routinely monitor the content of communications or internet sites visited but where misuse of the network or computer facilities is suspected it may be required to provide evidence (including the content of documents or communications) for use in disciplinary or legal proceedings. Any action will be taken strictly in accord with applicable legislation (including the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) and parliamentary procedures, including the Speaker's Protocol.”

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Committee

Board Membership

Mr Spellar: To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, what the criteria are for membership of the board of IPSA; and what assessment he has made of the suitability of the membership of Ken Olisa against those criteria. [89775]

Mr Charles Walker: Schedule 1 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 provides that candidates for the board of IPSA are selected by the Speaker, with the agreement of the Speaker's Committee on IPSA, on merit, on the basis of fair and open competition.

I have asked IPSA to send the criteria which formed the basis for the recruitment competition to the right hon. Gentleman and to place them in the House of Commons Library.

The statute provides that appointments to the board are made by Her Majesty on an address of the House of Commons. The motion for the appointment of current board members was agreed by the House on 2 December 2009.

International Development

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Afghanistan on devolving Government powers to local officials in Helmand Province. [92300]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Developing stronger local government in Helmand and across the country is essential for the long-term stability of Afghanistan. My officials are in regular contact with the Government of Afghanistan, Provincial Governors and international partners on this issue. In Helmand, the UK is working closely with the

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Provincial Governor's office, with district government officials and local communities, to ensure that local government bodies are increasingly able to deliver services and respond to citizens' needs. At the national level, the UK is helping the Independent Directorate of Local Governance to take forward key policy reforms to improve local government effectiveness.

Arms Trade: Treaties

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he is taking steps to support the participation of women from conflict-affected countries in the arms trade treaty negotiations. [92688]

Mr Duncan: The Government are very concerned by the disproportionate impact that armed violence can have on women and believe an arms trade treaty (ATT) is an opportunity to tackle the harmful effects of irresponsible arms transfers. The Department for International Development is part of the cross-Government delegation to the ATT negotiations, which works closely with delegates from other states, including those affected by conflict. Women are represented on many delegations to the negotiations. Officials have met with the Survivors Group which comprises men and women affected by armed violence.

Debt Relief

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what conditions must be met by a country before it qualifies for debt relief. [93191]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The primary debt relief mechanism is the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative for low-income countries. A country is eligible if its debt level is considered unsustainable as assessed against the following criteria, using data from the end of 2010:

(a) Income—A country must have a per capita income that qualifies it as eligible for concessional support from the World Bank's International Development Association and the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

(b) Indebtedness—A country must have a debt service payments to Export earnings ratio of over 150% after the full application of traditional debt relief mechanisms (additional criteria can be assessed if considered appropriate, depending on an individual country's circumstances).

There are two stages to debt relief in the HIPC process: Decision Point, which provides interim relief on debt repayments as they fall due; and Completion Point, at which stage full and irrevocable debt relief is granted.

If a country meets the eligibility criteria, to proceed to Decision Point it must have demonstrated progress towards macroeconomic stability, developed a national poverty reduction strategy and cleared any outstanding arrears to multilateral banks. Each country also agrees a specific set of reforms it will implement to qualify for the second stage. To reach Completion Point, a country must have demonstrated further progress towards stable economic management and successfully implemented its poverty reduction strategy for at least one year.

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Departmental Travel Costs

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department has agreed any contracts with (a) private hire vehicle and (b) taxi companies since May 2010. [92832]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not awarded any centrally-let contracts with (a) private hire vehicle and (b) taxi companies since May 2010.

To provide information relating to contracts which may have been awarded by our delegated procurement officers based in overseas locations would incur disproportionate costs. The Ministerial Car Service has been re-awarded to improve value for money.

Developing Countries: Employment

Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding the G20 Task Force on Employment; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of its work on increasing the number of employment opportunities in developing countries. [92213]

Mr O'Brien: DFID and DWP officials are in regular contact on the G20 agenda and development.

The work of the G20 Task Force on Employment is at an early stage. It has been mandated to consider best policy and practice in meeting the challenges of youth employment in order to feed into discussions of the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers. The UK will be engaging to encourage the group to focus on concrete, value-added outcomes.

Human Trafficking: Victims

Mr Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department provides to victims of human trafficking who are returned to their home country. [93138]

Mr O'Brien: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not currently provide direct support to victims of human trafficking who are returned from the UK to their home country. DFID officials are discussing this issue with Home Office officials.

DFID does support a range of projects which are tackling human trafficking in developing countries. For example, we are supporting a new regional anti-trafficking project in South Asia, focusing especially on labour migration of women and girls in the garment and domestic sectors in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The programme aims to reduce trafficking of 60,000 women and girls in these sectors over four years.

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will give assistance to Bedouins in Anata following the demolition of their homes in the west bank on 23 January 2012. [92954]

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Mr Duncan: The Bedouin community in Anata is currently receiving assistance from a range of humanitarian agencies following the demolition of their homes in the west bank on 23 January 2012.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided emergency assistance, including camping tents, food and mattresses, to the community. The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is assisting the community to clean up the site and Action against Hunger (ACF) is currently installing water tanks and mobile latrines. The Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and the ACF are currently looking into replacing the seven residential structures and the ICAHD are planning to rebuild the community centre which was destroyed. In the interim, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OHCA) is planning to install insulated temporary structures for the community. The Norwegian Refugee Council, supported by the UK, is providing free legal support to protect the community kindergarten, which has not been demolished.

The UK is clear that the focus between the Israelis and the Palestinians should be on steps to build trust, with the aim of giving momentum to re-start negotiations. In this respect, house demolitions and the evictions of Palestinians from their homes are deeply unhelpful and cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians.

Sudan: Debts

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of (a) how much and (b) over what time period debt is owed by Sudan. [93189]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The level of Sudan's external debt is estimated to be in the order of £38 billion. One of the technical requirements for debt relief under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative is a full account of Sudan's debt covering precise amounts, creditors and time periods. The International Monetary Fund is nearing completion of this exercise.

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what debt relief proposals his Department has made to Sudan. [93239]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK has told the Government of Sudan that it continues to support their aspiration to receive debt relief under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. As part of this we have led international efforts to establish a technical working group to oversee the progress on the technical steps for HIPC. The UK has made it clear that this is subject to certain political conditions being met, including genuine progress towards inclusive peace and justice in Sudan and resolving the outstanding issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

West Africa: Food Supply

Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he is taking steps to avert a serious food shortage in West Africa. [92308]

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Mr O'Brien: The EC Humanitarian Office (ECHO) estimates that 6.8 million men, women and children across the Sahel region of West Africa are at risk of severe food shortages in the coming months. This is due to a lower harvest in 2011 compared with 2010, combined with unseasonably high cereal prices across West Africa.

In direct response to these early warning signals, my Department has announced an urgent package of support to help mitigate the crisis. British aid will help treat 68,000 severely malnourished children in Niger, Chad and Mali and provide animal feed and animal vaccinations to 30,000 families to keep their livestock alive.

In addition, British aid is already reaching those in need through the release of £7.8 million from the United Nation's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to which Britain is a major contributor.

With Department for International Development (DFID) officials, I will continue to monitor the situation closely and will liaise with their opposite numbers in other Governments to ensure other countries take their fair share of the response.

DFID officials will continue to liaise closely with officials from other agencies and are currently visiting the region to further assess the current situation.

We also need to improve conditions for these people to withstand future droughts. Britain acted quickly in the Horn of Africa and the UK urges similarly swift leadership from our partners in the Sahel.

Justice

Cybercrime

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to ensure that offenders do not have access to the internet while in prison; and whether his Department is undertaking any collaborative work with the Home Office in connection with that Department's review of legislation relating to cyber crime. [93067]

Mr Blunt: Prisoners are not permitted access to the internet, except for restricted access to approved websites for educational or resettlement purposes under strict supervision by staff. Prisoners are not allowed to operate social networking accounts while in prison. The National Offender Management Service deploys a range of security and intelligence-led measures to detect, prevent and deter access by prisoners to the internet via illicitly held mobile phones.

The Ministry of Justice will work closely with the Home Office, other Government Departments and law enforcement agencies as part of the Home Office review of legislation relating to cyber crime, once this review is under way.

Departmental Travel Costs

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 January 2012, Official Report, column 31WS, on cost of ministerial cars, whether his Department has any other arrangements for ministerial travel; and how much his Department has spent on (a) private hire vehicles and (b) taxis for each Minister since May 2010. [92841]

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Mr Djanogly: There are no formal arrangements for ministerial car travel other than that provided by the Government Car and Dispatch Agency. Ministers in the Ministry of Justice do occasionally use taxis and I have provided expenditure on taxis for each Minister for the period May 2010 to December 2011 in the following table. Private hire vehicles are not used by Ministers in the Department.

Name of Minister Total cost of taxis (£)

Kenneth Clarke

0

Lord McNally

260.41

Jonathan Djanogly

292.14

Crispin Blunt

143.73

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether his Department has agreed any contracts with (a) private hire vehicle and (b) taxi companies since May 2010. [92842]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: The Ministry of Justice has awarded private hire vehicle contracts since May 2010; however, no contracts have been awarded to taxi companies.

Drugs: Rehabilitation

Margot James: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on (a) Public Health England's new responsibility for all drug recovery budgets and (b) placing a duty on Public Health England to reduce reoffending rates. [92735]

Mr Blunt: Justice Ministers regularly meet with colleagues across Government as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

My Department is working closely with the Department of Health, the Home Office and other partners to help manage the transition to new public health and criminal justice arrangements. This is overseen by a cross-Government Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board and an Offender Substance Misuse Board.

Subject to parliamentary approval, local authorities will be responsible for commissioning drug treatment services in the new public health system. Funding for this will come from a public health ring-fenced grant. Giving local authorities responsibility for commissioning drug and alcohol prevention and recovery orientated treatment services will bring together treatment provision and the wide range of local services that help promote and sustain recovery. This will help reduce health risks and cut crime and make our society safer. These goals are reflected in the Public Health Outcomes Framework published on 23 January 2012, which includes indicators on completion of drug treatment, reoffending, and a number of related indicators. Local areas will determine how they wish to improve outcomes in these areas based on the joint assessment of local needs.

Further, Public Health England will be established as an executive agency of the Department of Health. Its role will be to support local commissioners with expert advice, evidence and management information, including outcomes and value for money data. This will help

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promote effective prevention and treatment services integrated with local health, crime, housing and employment agencies.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the responsibility for commissioning substance misuse treatment services for people in prison and other places of prescribed detention will lie with the National Health Service Commissioning Board, under an agreement between the Secretary of State for Health and the NHS Commissioning Board.

Employment Tribunals: Business

Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what consideration he has given to keeping a record of the number of small businesses engaged in employment tribunals. [93069]

Mr Djanogly: Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does not record centrally which of the respondent businesses before employment tribunals are small businesses. If it were to do so, HMCTS would incur additional cost (in terms of one-off changes to IT systems and in terms of ongoing data entry burdens on staff).

However, in individual cases, employment tribunals do have access to information about the size and broad make up of respondent employers; and judges and tribunals can and do take this information into account when managing and determining cases.

Moreover, the Government do collect information about the number of small businesses engaged in employment tribunal proceedings. For example, the periodic Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA) series, run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), gives relevant evidence for policy development and other purposes. The last survey (2008) showed that 27% of those who took part in the survey were organisations with less than 25 employees; 9% had between 25 and 49 employees; 19% had between 50 and 249 employees; and 45% had 250 or more employees.

Information on the SETA series is available online at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/employment-matters/research/seta

while the most recent survey results can be accessed at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/10-756-findings-from-seta-2008

National Youth Advocacy Service

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons the National Youth Advocacy Service was refused a family contract for 2012. [93165]

Mr Djanogly: Decisions made under the tender process for the award of legal aid contracts are a matter for the Legal Services Commission (LSC), which is responsible for administering the legal aid scheme.

The LSC advises that the National Youth Advocacy Service's (NYAS) tender to deliver family legal aid services was unsuccessful because it failed to submit a tender compliant with the rules of the tender process. The LSC announced on 23 January 2012 that an additional tender round will be conducted in February which NYAS will be able to apply for, should it choose to do so.

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Prisoners’ Release

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effect on the prison estate of prisoners who were recalled having served their tariff. [91841]

Mr Blunt: As at 31 December 2011 the prison population in England and Wales included around 200 prisoners who had been recalled from life or IPP licence (having initially been released on licence after serving at least their minimum tariff).

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Sentencing

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Sentencing Council in fulfilling its statutory duty to consult Parliament on its guidelines; and if he will make a statement. [93056]

Mr Blunt: The independent Sentencing Council for England and Wales is required under sections 120(6)(c) and 122(4)(c) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to consult the Justice Select Committee on its draft guidelines. Since its creation in April 2010, the Council has consulted the Justice Select Committee on the following draft guidelines:

Assault offences

Drug offences

Burglary offences

Overarching guidelines on allocation, totality and offences taken into consideration

Dangerous dog offences

Since April 2010, the Chairman of the Council has also given oral evidence to the Justice Select Committee on its draft guidelines on assault, burglary and drug offences, and on the contents of the Council's annual report.

Section 119 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 requires the Council to prepare an annual report on its work, and requires the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), to lay a copy before Parliament. The Council's first annual report for 2010-11 was laid before Parliament on 18 October 2011.

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he plans to take to ensure that the Sentencing Council improves public confidence in judicial sentencing; and if he will make a statement. [93079]

Mr Blunt: The independent Sentencing Council for England and Wales has a statutory duty under section 120(1 l)(d) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to have regard to the need to promote public confidence in the criminal justice system when preparing sentencing guidelines.

Since its creation in April 2010, the Council has sought views from victims and communities on its draft guidelines through public events, online questionnaires, plain English consultation documents, and by carrying out public attitudes research. The Council produces a

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leaflet and a website on sentencing, explaining the main factors judges and magistrates take into consideration when deciding on an appropriate sentence. It is also producing a short film to help victims and witnesses better understand the sentencing framework.

Victims’ Commissioner: Public Appointments

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when a new Victims' Commissioner will be appointed. [92709]

Mr Blunt: We are considering the future of the role and will make an announcement after the consultation on the paper ‘Getting it Right for Victims and Witnesses’, launched on 30 January, is complete.

Victims: Compensation

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what consideration he has given to changing the composition of the Sentencing Council better to reflect the views of victims of crime; and if he will make a statement. [93080]

Mr Blunt: Judicial appointments to the Sentencing Council for England and Wales are made by the Lord Chief Justice. Non-judicial appointments are made by the Lord Chancellor. Schedule 15 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 sets out a number of areas of experience which make a person eligible for appointment as a non-judicial member of the Council, including experience of the promotion of the welfare of victims of crime. The Council's current non-judicial members were appointed in April 2010 for terms of three years.

Since its creation in April 2010, the Council has sought the views of victim groups and individual victims on each of its draft guidelines. It has also undertaken a number of research projects to elicit the views and attitudes of victims. The Council is currently completing research on attitudes to sentencing sexual offences, which has included interviews with victims (or the parents of victims where the offence was against a person under 16).