Prisoners: Literacy

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans the Government has to improve the level of literacy in the prison population. [108355]

Mr Hayes: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr Blunt), on 15 May 2012, Official Report, column 403.

“Making Prisons Work: Skills for Rehabilitation”, which I launched last year, sets out the new strategy for offender learning that we are now implementing. The strategy is based on responses to a call for evidence and addresses shortcomings in literacy provision that Ofsted has identified. The strategy introduces a decisive shift to local decision-making and places a significant emphasis on skills delivery that meets the needs of employers in the areas to which offenders will be released.

I am confident that prison governors know the importance employers place on literacy, and their devolved commissioning role enables them, working in close partnership with the Skills Funding Agency, to make sure prisoners' literacy needs, as well as their numeracy and vocational skills needs, are met.

Procurement

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of payments made by his Department to small and medium-sized enterprises have been paid late since May 2010. [107784]

Norman Lamb: The Department publishes details of its invoice payment performance against the five working day target on its website at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/about/procurement/prompt-payment/bis-payment-performance

For ease, the following table shows the percentage of invoices paid by the Department within five working days of receipt since May 2010. The Department does not differentiate between small, medium and large suppliers as many small and medium-sized suppliers can be found in tier 2 or tier 3 of the overall supply chain.

  Percentage

2010

 

May

94.6

June

93.7

July

93.9

August

93.5

September

96.1

October

96.0

November

95.1

December

95.4

22 May 2012 : Column 566W

2011

 

January

95.0

February

96.5

March

95.7

April

95.2

May

94.8

June

96.0

July

91.9

August

93.6

September

96.2

October

95.6

November

95.5

December

93.6

   

2012

 

January

94.2

February

94.9

March

96.2

April

91.0

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of his Department's expenditure on procurement has gone to small and medium-sized enterprises since May 2010. [107805]

Norman Lamb: BIS’s spend with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been reported in the Cabinet Office report, Making Government business more accessible to SMEs—One Year On:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/making-government-business-more-accessible-smes-one-year

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when his Department next expects to undertake a spend recovery audit to identify overpayments to suppliers caused by fraud or error. [107910]

Norman Lamb: The Department is considering using spend analysis tools that have been recently made available to the Department via the Research Councils (UK) Shared Service Centre. Work on this project is ongoing and it is expected that the first audit will take place before the end of 2012.

Regional Growth Fund

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what progress has been made on the latest round of the Regional Growth Fund; and what steps he is taking to encourage organisations in Pendle and the north-west to apply. [109065]

Mr Prisk: The third Regional Growth Fund (RGF) bidding round opened on 23 February and will close on 13 June.

To help potential bidders, the RGF team has held a series of events around the country; there have been 14 events to date including a recent event in Liverpool on 15 May attended by my noble Friend Lord Heseltine. In addition, bidders have the opportunity to discuss their project by way of expression of interest meetings. These are one to one meetings where interested firms

22 May 2012 : Column 567W

meet officials in the RGF Secretariat to obtain feedback on a draft application. So far 312 expression of interest meetings have been nationally.

Students: Employment

Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to promote the economic and social benefits of employing postgraduate students to (a) private sector and (b) public sector organisations. [108733]

Mr Willetts: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funded Research Councils’ work with the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to capture the destinations of doctoral students (which is published by Vitae in the ‘What do Researchers Do?’ series). The Research Councils are currently undertaking longitudinal studies to help determine the impact of doctoral training in the economy. This information is disseminated to universities and other employers.

Over 50% of the nearly 12,000 UK and EU domiciled doctoral graduates produced each year will move from higher education, taking their skills into the wider economy. The Research Councils seek to ensure that this supply of highly trained people meets the need for specialist postgraduate research skills in a wide range of employment sectors. Doctoral students have increased opportunities to develop transferable skills. Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships and other forms of collaborative studentships such as the Engineering Doctorate enable many students to spend time working directly with a company.

Students: Finance

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the Skills Funding Agency has registered any courses in close protection as appropriate for professional career development loans. [108755]

Mr Hayes: The Chief Executive of Skills Funding is responsible for all matters concerning the funding and contracting of post 19 education and training provision. I have therefore asked Geoff Russell, the chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency, to reply direct to the hon. Member on this matter.

Letter from Geoff Russell, dated 22 May 2012:

Thank you for your question in asking the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, whether the Skills Funding Agency has registered any courses in close protection as appropriate for professional career development loans.

Please be advised that the Agency can confirm that there are providers registered on the Professional and Careers Development Loans Register of Learning Providers with courses that include “close protection” in their titles.

Students: Mental Illness

Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what information his Department holds on the number of university students who ended their course due to mental ill health in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09, (c) 2009-10 and (d) 2010-11. [109128]

22 May 2012 : Column 568W

Mr Willetts: The information requested is not available. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record has information on the number of students who leave university for ‘health reasons' but does not specify the type of health problem.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

China

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Minister of State was informed of the death of Mr Neil Heywood on 15 November 2011 prior to or after his meeting with Bo Xilai on 16 November 2011. [107924]

Mr Jeremy Browne: I met Bo Xilai on 16 November 2011, before consular officials learned of Mr Heywood's death. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in his statement on 17 April 2012, Official Report, columns 17-18WS, Ministers were first informed of the case of Mr Heywood's death on 7 February 2012.

Egypt: Israel

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts on the dispute over a 20-year gas contract between those countries. [108634]

Alistair Burt: On 22 April, Egyptian energy company EGAS announced that it had unilaterally cancelled its contract to supply gas to East Mediterranean Gas, a joint Israeli/Egypt gas company supplying gas to Israel. We understand that the parties are in contact to resolve this issue, but this is a commercial matter in which the UK is not involved.

Israel

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Israeli government on progress in the peace process. [108281]

Alistair Burt: We have regular discussions with the Israeli Government on the middle east peace process.

Most my right hon. Friend recently the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spoke to the new Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz on 11 May and encouraged him to use the formation of the new Israeli Government coalition to launch a positive and decisive move on the peace process.

The Secretary of State and I raised this issue during our respective meetings in the past month with the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli ambassador to London. Our ambassador to Israel also regularly discusses this issue with senior Israeli Ministers and officials.

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for the UK to institute a total ban on settlement trade. [108727]

Alistair Burt: Our position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is clear: they are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and make a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared

22 May 2012 : Column 569W

capital, harder to achieve. We constantly urge the Israeli authorities to cease all settlement activity.

Settlement produce and financing are kept under active consideration. We understand the concerns of people who do not wish to purchase goods exported from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In order to enable consumers to make a more fully informed decision concerning the products they buy, the UK introduced, in December 2009, voluntary guidelines to enable produce from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories to be specifically labelled as such. We are in discussion with EU partners who are considering introducing similar provisions in other EU countries. However, there is no specific proposal to institute a total ban on settlement trade.

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on ensuring goods, services and products from illegal Israeli settlements are excluded from EU and member state procurement. [108729]

Alistair Burt: Our position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is clear: they are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and make a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, harder to achieve. We constantly urge the Israeli authorities to cease all settlement activity.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I have regular discussions with our EU counterparts on these issues. The EU Foreign Affairs Council most recently discussed issues relating to the middle east peace process, including settlements, on 14 May. In the meeting's Conclusions, the EU and its member states:

“reaffirmed their commitment to fully and effectively implement existing EU legislation and the bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products. The Council underlines the importance of the work being carried out together with the Commission in this regard.”

Full text of the Conclusions may be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130195.pdf

We regularly discuss with EU partners our assessment of Israeli settlement activity. There is currently no specific proposal for excluding goods, services and products from settlements from EU and member state procurement.

Middle East

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 23 April 2012, Official Report, columns 752-3W, on the Arab Partnership fund, what projects will be funded through the Arab Partnership fund in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2012-13. [107958]

Alistair Burt: For the financial year 2012-13, the Arab Partnership Participation Fund has so far agreed to provide a total of £30,000 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, to support greater political participation by young people, through the following three pilot projects:

(i) Support to the Youth Local Council, to build leadership, democracy and good governance skills of young people through

22 May 2012 : Column 570W

their direct engagement with electoral processes and understanding of concepts of democratic participation and citizenship;

(ii) ‘Yes we can’ Youth Forum to empower Palestinian Youth and increase their participation in public life through leadership and advocacy training, (especially in the “seam” area of Jerusalem between the green line and the security barrier);

(iii) the ‘Youth to Lead’ initiative, to stimulate the engagement of young people in creative forms of self-expression and participation, with a focus on social media.

Procurement

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of payments made by his Department to small and medium-sized enterprises have been paid late since May 2010. [107785]

Mr Lidington: Between May 2010 and April 2012 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) paid 97.1% of valid supplier invoices within 30 days, as per standard terms.

Information on the size of the FCO's suppliers is not held centrally so the identification of invoices from small and medium-sized enterprises could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of his Department's expenditure on procurement has gone to small and medium-sized enterprises since May 2010. [107801]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spend with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has been reported in the Cabinet Office report ‘Making Government business more accessible to SMEs—One Year On’:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/making-government-business-more-accessible-smes-one-year

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department next expects to undertake a spend recovery audit to identify overpayments to suppliers caused by fraud or error. [107912]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are currently in the process of arranging for a spend recovery audit to be carried out with a focus on UK based suppliers. The exact timing will be agreed with the service provider.

Sri Lanka

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to help facilitate the conciliation process between the different parties in Sri Lanka. [108280]

Alistair Burt: The British Government believes that reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka can best be achieved through an inclusive political solution that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict and takes into account the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all Sri Lanka's communities.

22 May 2012 : Column 571W

We pressed for and welcome the Sri Lanka resolution agreed at the UN Human Rights Council in March. The resolution underlines the importance that Governments across the world attach to supporting lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We urge the Sri Lankan Government to take the necessary steps to implement the recommendations of their Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission as soon as possible and report to the Human Rights Council on steps taken and plans to ensure comprehensive implementation. With international partners, we will be pressing Sri Lanka to make early and sustained advances. We will use opportunities, including Sri Lanka's Universal Periodic Review in October, to assess progress.

State Visits: Olympic Games 2012

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the banning of serious violators of human rights including heads of government and Ministers from entry to the UK during the London 2012 Olympic Games. [107860]

Mr Jeremy Browne: All international visitors applying to enter the United Kingdom for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are subject to the UK's immigration controls. Anyone who is currently subject to an EU or UN travel ban will not be able to come to the Games. In addition, entry will be refused where an individual's presence at the Games or in the UK would not be conducive to the public good. Where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses, the individual will not normally be permitted to enter the UK. Further to this we will not comment on individual cases.

Un Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will request the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (a) to provide an explanation of why the Military Agreement No. 1 and Map No. A4-010 (deployment of MINURSO), have been removed from the MINURSO website and (b) to indicate where this information can now be obtained. [108689]

Alistair Burt: I understand that these documents were included in the Mission's old website but were not uploaded when it was redesigned. Map No. A4-010 is out of date as the Mission now has an additional Liaison Office in Dakhla.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are liaising with the Mission to see where these documents can now be obtained publicly, with a view to placing copies in the House of Commons Library.

Western Sahara

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ask HM Ambassador to Morocco to raise with the Moroccan authorities allegations of torture in the cases of Atiqu Barrai, Kamal Al Tarayh, Abd Al Aziz Barrai, Al Mahjoub Awlad Al Cheih, Mohamed Manolo and Hasna Al Wali who are members of Western Sahara Organisation Against Torture. [107848]

22 May 2012 : Column 572W

Alistair Burt: The British Government takes seriously all allegations of torture and we are encouraging Morocco to take steps to address this type of allegation. We have welcomed Morocco's decision to ratify the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture and encouraged Morocco to implement fully the recommendations of the 2011 UN Committee Against Torture. We are also looking forward to the visit to Morocco and Western Sahara of the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture.

Deputy Prime Minister

Overseas Citizens: Franchise

10. Iain Stewart: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to review the franchise for British citizens living overseas. [108470]

Mr Harper: The Representation of the People Act 1985 provides for British citizens resident overseas to be able to register to vote in UK parliamentary and European parliamentary (but not local) elections, provided that they have been registered in the past 15 years on the basis of residence in the UK.

The Government is considering whether the 15-year time limit on voting rights for British citizens overseas remains appropriate, but has no immediate plans to alter the legislation.

Social Mobility Strategy

11. Mr Allen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the social mobility of poorer children of the work of the ministerial group on the Government's social mobility strategy. [108471]

The Deputy Prime Minister: Today the Government has published a full update on the progress we have made in the last year and the indicators that we have developed to measure social mobility across each life stage, as outlined in the Social Mobility Strategy published last April.

Since the publication of “Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility”, we have also made significant progress on the other key policies we announced:

The Government has continued to demonstrate its firm commitment to early intervention as demonstrated by the doubling of the entitlement to free, high quality child care for two-year-olds so that around 40% of all two-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours of free early education a week by 2014-15.

Schools will be able to target pupil premium money for disadvantaged children and young people in ways they deem fit to narrow the attainment gap. This could include catch-up lessons, one-to-one tuition or after school clubs. Funding for the pupil premium is increasing from £625 million in 2011-12 to £1.25 billion in 2012-13 to £2.5 billion by 2014-15.

We have invested £1 billion in the Youth Contract, which was launched in April this year, in order to get young unemployed people earning or learning before the scarring effect of long-term unemployment takes hold. 18 to 24-year-olds are now able to access more work experience places, apprenticeships and one-to-one time with advisers. Employers can tap into 160,000 wage incentives worth up to £2,275 for each long-term unemployed person they take on. £126 million has also been set aside to help 55,000 16 and 17-year-old NEETS get back into education, apprenticeships or jobs with training.

22 May 2012 : Column 573W

West Lothian Question

12. Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of progress towards resolving the West Lothian question. [108472]

Mr Harper: The Government has set up a Commission on the Consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons.

The Commission is considering how the House of Commons might deal with legislation which affects only part of the United Kingdom, as a result of devolution.

The Commission expects to report during the current Session.

Social Mobility

13. Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he has taken to improve social mobility. [108473]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Government has today published a full update on progress against the indicators for social mobility across all life stages, outlined in “Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility” last April.

As well as taking action in the early years and at school, we also need to follow through to adulthood. We want to ensure we are doing everything possible to widen participation at university and access to the professions.

That is why, for example, we have asked Higher Education Funding Council England and Office for Fair Access to work together, with Government, to consider how we maximise the impact of the investment we are making in widening participation.

The Government looks forward to forthcoming reports from Alan Milburn on access to the professions and widening participation in higher education. The newly formed Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission will hold the Government to account on the progress it makes in these key areas.

Lobbying Industry

14. Debbie Abrahams: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to bring forward proposals on the regulation of the lobbying industry. [108474]

Mr Harper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), the hon. Member for Bolton North East (Mr Crausby), and the right hon. Member for East Ham (Stephen Timms), at oral questions earlier today.

Electoral Register

Bill Esterson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he has given consideration to introducing a civil penalty for non-compliance with the request of an electoral registration officer to supply information necessary to compile an accurate electoral register. [108460]

22 May 2012 : Column 574W

Mr Harper: The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill that was introduced into this House on 10 May will enable electoral registration officers to issue a civil penalty to individuals who, when required to make an application, fail to do so.

There will be safeguards in place to ensure that only those who refuse repeated invitations can be fined, and registration officers will have to take specific steps to encourage an application before they can issue a fine. We expect the number of fines levied to be similar to the number of prosecutions for failing to respond to the canvass under the current system. This will provide strong encouragement for people to do their civic duty and register to vote.

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will bring forward legislative proposals in the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill to encourage people to join the electoral roll and to penalise those who do not. [108533]

Mr Harper: The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill that was introduced into the House of Commons on 10 May will enable electoral registration officers to issue a civil penalty to individuals who, when required to make an application, fail to do so.

There will be safeguards in place to ensure that only those who refuse repeated invitations can be fined, and registration officers will have to take specific steps to encourage an application before they can issue a fine, but this will provide strong encouragement for people to do their civic duty and register to vote.

Electoral Turnout

Nick de Bois: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he plans to take to encourage a higher turnout at (a) general and (b) local elections; and if he will make a statement. [108222]

Mr Harper: The Government is committed to encouraging democratic participation by all sections of society, and through its programme of political and constitutional reform, it is seeking to re-engage individuals and their communities in the political process.

For example the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill currently before Parliament includes a number of provisions to improve the elections process, which will support the participation of overseas and service voters in UK elections and facilitate online registration.

Increasing democratic engagement is not solely the responsibility of Government. Electoral registration officers appointed by, but independent of, local authorities have a duty to encourage participation in the electoral process and the Electoral Commission promotes public awareness of registration. Parliamentarians and elected officials from each of the political parties must also provide people with compelling reasons to vote.

Risk Assessment

Mr Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what strategic or transitional risk registers in each area of policy are held by his Office; and if he will make a statement. [107464]

22 May 2012 : Column 575W

Mr Maude: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

Within the Cabinet Office each business group is accountable for managing its own risks and is responsible for both maintaining its associated risk registers and ensuring that its business plans and all projects, programmes or activities which deliver departmental strategic or corporate objectives, include the review of associated risks and that any mitigating actions are implemented.

Risk registers are kept and maintained as is appropriate, at working level. A list of all risk registers used within the Department and its NDPBs is not held centrally.

Weekend Voting

Nick de Bois: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received on proposals for introducing voting at weekends for (a) general and (b) local elections; and if he will make a statement. [108192]

Mr Harper: Records show that 14 representations were received by the Cabinet Office on proposals for introducing voting at weekends. From these representations, I am aware that there are those who argue that moving voting to the weekend would be more convenient though there are others who have argued that it could lead to a reduction in turnout, as people value their weekend time, and an increase in costs.

The Government has no current plans for moving polling day for either general or local elections to the weekend but will keep under review ways in which the democratic process can be enhanced.

Treasury

Climate Change: Developing Countries

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what agreements were reached on Fast Start Climate Finance at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting on 15 May 2012. [108751]

Miss Chloe Smith: The ‘Council conclusions on Climate Finance—Fast Start Finance’ agreed at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting on 15 May 2012 are available at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ecofin/130262.pdf

Drugs: Crime

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) financial and (b) other incentives his Department offers to police forces to target (i) drug dealing and (ii) drug offences; and if he will make a statement. [108357]

Nick Herbert: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

Targeting of police resources is a matter for police forces and their police authorities. From November 2012 Police and Crime Commissioners will hold the police to account locally.

22 May 2012 : Column 576W

Equitable Life

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made on the distribution of compensation to Equitable Life policyholders; [108601]

(2) if he will publish the reports given to the Government on the distribution of compensation to Equitable Life policyholders. [108602]

Mr Hoban: The scheme intends to publish a progress report in summer 2012 on the volumes and values of payments made.

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that letters sent to Equitable Life policyholders about their compensation will be easily understandable to those policyholders and show how their compensation has been calculated. [108603]

Mr Hoban: All the letters sent include a statement that clearly sets out a simplified version of the payment calculation. The scheme continues to receive very low levels of queries about those statements.

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish an explanation in plain language of how the calculations for compensation for Equitable Life policyholders were made and detailing what parameters were used. [108604]

Mr Hoban: In May 2011 the scheme published the ‘Equitable Life Payment Scheme Design', which sets out both a high level explanation and a more detailed technical description of the payment calculation.

This document is available at

http://equitablelifepaymentscheme.independent.gov.uk/resources/index.htm

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether all Equitable Life policyholders eligible for compensation will receive their compensation by June 2012. [108690]

Mr Hoban: In accordance with the Government's announcement at the 2010 spending review, and the rules set out in the ‘Equitable Life Payment Scheme Design’ document:

http://equitablelifepaymentscheme.independent.gov.uk/resources/index.htm

payments to non-with-profits annuitants will be spread over three years until April 2014, and payments to with-profits annuitants will continue for the duration of their annuity.

EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council

Mr Tyrie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer at what proportion of Ecofin meetings the UK has been represented since May 2010; and at what proportion of such meetings the UK has been represented by (a) Ministers and (b) officials. [108671]

Mr Hoban: Since May 2010 an HM Treasury Minister has attended all ECOFIN meetings.

22 May 2012 : Column 577W

Excise Duties: Gaming Machines

Luciana Berger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the rate of the machine games duty on the (a) bingo and (b) bookmaking industry. [108536]

Miss Chloe Smith: The assessment of the impact of machine games duty (MGD) on individuals and businesses is available in the relevant Tax Information and Impacts Note published at Budget 2012. This document is accessible online at the HMRC website:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/tiin-0738.pdf

Financial Services: Education

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Money Advice Service on ensuring that young people have access to good quality personal finance education. [108672]

Mr Hoban: Treasury Ministers have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions. The Money Advice Service is developing its role in financial education for young people as set out in its Money Advice business plan for 2012-13 which can be found at:

http://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/about/corporateinformation/publications.aspx

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will read the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People report on Financial Education and the Curriculum. [108706]

Mr Hoban: As part of the policy making process Treasury Ministers and officials receive representations from a wide range of interested parties. The school curriculum is the responsibility of the Department for Education. Through the National Curriculum Review the Department for Education (DFE) is developing the new mathematics curriculum and is aware of the interest in personal finance being included in the programme of study. DFE's review of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education will consider whether any aspects of PSHE, such as personal financial education, should become statutory as part of the basic curriculum. Proposals from both reviews will be published later this year.

Income Tax

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the number of people in Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency who will move into the higher tax bracket as a result of changes to tax thresholds. [108328]

Mr Gauke: Estimates of the number of individuals liable to higher rate income tax by country and region in tax years to 2012-13 are published on the HMRC website in Table 2.2 ‘Number of individual income

22 May 2012 : Column 578W

taxpayers by marginal rate, gender and age, by country and region, 1999-2000 to 2012-13’:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_tax/table2-2.xls

These estimates are based on the Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) outturn data up to 2009-10, and then 2009-10 SPI data projected in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility's March 2012 economic and fiscal outlook.

Reliable projections beyond the 2009-10 outturn are not available at the parliamentary constituency level, due to greater uncertainties in making projections for small geographical areas.

Departmental Staff

Mr Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many full-time equivalent employees his Department employed in May 2010; and how many it employed at the latest period for which figures are available. [108155]

Miss Chloe Smith: The number of full-time equivalents employed in HM Treasury as at 31 May 2010 was 1,363. The number of full-time equivalents employed as at 31 March 2012 was 1,178.

National Insurance Contributions

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate has been made of the number of businesses in (a) the UK, (b) Scotland and (c) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency which have participated in the national insurance holiday. [108901]

Mr Gauke: HMRC has so far received around 16,000 applications for the NICs holiday across the UK, and around 2,300 applications in Scotland.

The most recent figure for Kilmarnock and Loudoun is 22 applications in the 2010-11 tax year, as set out in the factsheet laid in the House of Commons Library in November 2011. The factsheet provided a breakdown by constituency, information on the amounts claimed and jobs supported for the first tax year of the scheme. An update will be published later in the year after the claims for the 2011-12 tax year have been processed.

Non-domestic Rates

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend the business rate relief scheme to 2015; and if he will make a statement. [108753]

Mr Gauke: At the autumn statement, 29 November 2011, Official Report, columns 799-810, the Government extended the small business rate relief holiday for a further six months from 1 October 2012. The small business rate relief scheme provides targeted support and benefits over half a million small businesses. Of those, 330,000 receive 100% relief and will not have to pay any business rates until April 2013 as a result of the six month extension.

The Government keeps all taxes and reliefs under review. Any further business rates support needs to be balanced against the tough decisions needed to reduce the deficit.

22 May 2012 : Column 579W

Bank of England: Office Costs

Chris Leslie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what costs have been incurred by the Financial Services Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in relocating to and fitting out the new Moorgate offices; and what the total cost will be of the lease of the new offices to the Financial Services Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (a) in each of the next five financial years and (b) over the lifetime of the lease agreement. [108122]

Mr Hoban [holding answer 21 May 2012]: The Bank of England has incurred costs of £5 million, including both actual and committed spend, on the design, fit out and IT for the Prudential Regulation Authority's new offices in Moorgate. The FSA has not incurred any costs in relation to Moorgate.

The terms of the lease are commercially sensitive. However the total rent incurred by the Bank over the 15-year life of the lease will be £80 million (excluding VAT). This is subject to the outcome of regular rent reviews. During the first five years the Bank will benefit from a rent-free period.

Public Appointments

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many appointments of people earning over (a) £142,500 per annum and (b) £142,500 per annum pro rata he approved between (i) April 2010 and March 2011 and (ii) April 2011 and December 2012; and how many such appointments were in respect of GPs working in clinical commissioning groups. [108825]

Danny Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 24 April 2012, Official Report, column 840W.

Public Sector Debt

Mr Tom Clarke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Government plans to borrow up to 2015. [109029]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Office for Budget Responsibility's March 2012 Economic and Fiscal Outlook (EFO) sets out outturn figures and forecasts for public sector net borrowing from 2010-11 to 2015-16 in Table 4.29.

Redundancy

Mr Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of his Department's employees have been made redundant in the last two years. [108069]

Miss Chloe Smith: Details of HM Treasury recruitments and redundancies for 2010-11 were published in its latest Annual Report and Accounts (HC 984). Figures for 2011-12 will be published in the coming months.

The number of departmental staff who have accepted redundancy terms in the last two years have been fewer than five. It is the Treasury's policy for reasons of confidentiality not to release full details relating to numbers of staff fewer than five, where to do so might lead to the identification of individual cases.

22 May 2012 : Column 580W

Research: Finance

Esther McVey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer of 23 April 2012, Official Report, column 602W, on research: funding, what support the Chancellor of the Exchequer is providing to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of research and development. [108246]

Mr Gauke: Research and Development (R&D) by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is supported by a number of Treasury policies.

The tax system provides R&D tax credits and the SME scheme rate of relief was increased from 175% to 200% from 1 April 2011 and to 225% from 1 April 2012.

SME R&D is also supported by public spending. The Technology Strategy Board's budget of £317 million in 2011-12 focused on supporting private sector research, development and innovation, including programmes such as SMART which joint-funds SME R&D projects. The autumn statement given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 29 November 2011, Official Report, columns 799-810, provided an additional £75 million to support technology-based SMEs to develop, demonstrate and commercialise new products and services. In December 2011, the Government announced a £180 million Biomedical Catalyst Fund that will provide support to SMEs or academics looking to develop innovative solutions to health care challenges.

Revenue and Customs

Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will take steps to extend the HM Revenue and Customs secure online login system to (a) enable individuals to view and update their personal details and (b) review and update the end-to-end data and information management requirements as part of the move to real time information; and if he will make a statement. [108330]

Mr Gauke: HMRC has over 100 electronic contact services available to customers, including services that allow customers to update their personal details. They offer a structured and secure means of communicating with HMRC through its website. HMRC continues to look at ways to extend its contact services but will only introduce electronic contact solutions where it is certain about the authenticity of the person sending the message and where there are strong controls around the data being sent.

HMRC has recently published guidance for employers and individuals about how to ensure that the data HMRC receives as part of Real Time Information is accurate. Details of the information that will be required under RTI can be found on the HMRC website.

Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department plans to take to streamline the interaction between individuals and HM Revenue and Customs; and if he will make a statement. [108331]

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Mr Gauke: HMRC has recently published a business plan for 2012-15 and within that has set out plans to streamline interactions between the Department and individuals during the current SR period. It includes as a priority improving accessibility, accuracy and timeliness.

The business plan can be found at:

www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/business-plan-2012.pdf

Pages 8, 9, 11 and 19-22 are the most relevant to this subject.

Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the results of (a) the IT, National Insurance Contributions and PAYE-Small Business Behaviour and Attitudes (November 2011 to January 2012) and (b) Real Time Information (May 2011 to March 2012) poll. [108332]

Mr Gauke: HMRC conducted a survey of 1,500 small businesses to further develop the evidence base on employer burdens and to supplement the results of the call for evidence issued by HMT in July 2011. The survey focused on:

employer payroll processes, including which income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) processes are contracted out to agents, and how software use varies;

difficulties with the current system, exploring which aspects of the current system are most difficult to operate or understand; and

changes to the system, seeking views on which elements could be simplified and with what business impact.

The research will be published and a copy will be placed in the Library.

HMRC is conducting a series of customer research projects to inform the design and delivery of Real Time Information. Specialist research agencies have been commissioned to conduct primary research among customers on HMRC’s behalf. Reports from completed projects will be published and copies placed in the Library.

Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse under each budget heading of operating (a) PAYE, (b) self assessment and (c) national insurance in each of the last five years. [108333]

Mr Gauke: Estimated costs are shown in the following table. They cover a period of significant change for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following the merger of Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise, and the creation of the UK Border Agency. Such structural change, combined with regular improvements to our overhead attribution methods means, year on year, overhead allocations are not consistent.

HMRC administrative costs
£ million
  2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 (2) 2009-10 2010-11

Income tax PAYE

944.4

949.3

951.5

860.2

838.9

Income tax SA

926.7

(1)805.0

875.7

838.7

671.3

National insurance

338.1

374.0

370.9

350.6

305.1

(1) Likely to be understated because of a change in the way data were captured following departmental restructuring. (2) Costs for 2008-09 income tax self-assessment and national insurance have been revised from previous estimates as a result of a further analysis of activities.

22 May 2012 : Column 582W

Mr Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the employee headcount was in the (a) PAYE, Self Assessment and National Insurance Collection (PSN) and (b) Information Management Services Department of HM Revenue and Customs in (i) 2011 and (ii) 2012. [108334]

Mr Gauke: The headcount for PAYE, Self Assessment and National Insurance Collection (PSN) for 2011 was 348 and for 2012 was 511. The headcount for Information Management Services Department of HM Revenue and Customs in 2011 was 1,316 and for 2012 was 990.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

David Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the effect on the sector of his proposal to abolish stamp duty relief for transfer to registered social landlords. [108608]

Miss Chloe Smith: The abolition of the stamp duty relief for transfers to registered social landlords is not expected to have any impact on the sector, as there are not expected to be any outstanding claims. Details of the impact are set out in the Tax Information and Impact Note issued on 6 December 2011 which is available online at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tiin/tiin830.pdf

Sterling

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the value of sterling on (a) the UK manufacturing base and its supply chain and (b) export growth; and what assessment he has made of the prospects for currency valuation to act as an incentive for manufacturing firms to relocate to the UK. [108358]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Bank of England's Sterling Effective Exchange Rate Index fell significantly during 2007-08, and it remains more than 20% below its 2007 peak. This fall in the value of sterling has improved the competitiveness of UK exports and exports of manufactured goods have increased by 34% since the peak in the value of sterling.

Since 2008 the manufacturing share of nominal gross value-added has remained broadly stable at 10% after falling by more than eight percentage points since 1997.

The value of sterling will be a factor considered by manufacturing firms when choosing where to locate.

Tax Allowances: Charitable Donations

Mr Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect on donations to community development finance institutions of the cap on community investment tax relief and the charity tax relief cap proposed in the 2012 Budget; and if he will make a statement. [108823]

Mr Gauke: The Government announced at Budget 2012 a proposal to introduce a limit on all previously uncapped income tax reliefs from April 2013. This included the community investment tax relief (CITR).

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The community development finance institutions (CDFIs) rely mainly on investments through the CITR. The Government has clearly stated its intention that those charities which rely on large donations are not significantly affected.

There are currently discussions with stakeholders from the charity sector taking place to better understand any impacts. This will inform a formal consultation on the delivery of the measure over the summer.

Taxation: Bingo

Luciana Berger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on bingo taxation; [108537]

(2) what recent representations he has received from the bingo industry on the relationship between bingo gross profits tax and total tax revenue from the gaming sector. [108538]

Miss Chloe Smith: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

The Treasury publishes a list of ministerial meetings with external organisations, available at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/minister_hospitality.htm

Luciana Berger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the rate of gross profit tax levied on (a) bingo clubs and (b) bookmakers; and for what reasons the two rates are different. [108539]

Miss Chloe Smith: The rates of general betting duty and bingo duty were set by the previous Government. Bingo duty is charged at 20% of gross profits and general betting duty is charged at 15% of gross profits. The March 2012 Budget left rates unchanged. All taxes, including gambling taxes, are kept under review.

Taxation: Business

Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many company tax returns filed by companies (a) paying tax at the main rate, (b) comprising the FTSE 250 and (c) comprising the FTSE 100 in relation to accounting periods ending in the period from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 have been opened for enquiry under the Finance Act 1998 by HM Revenue and Customs. [107905]

Mr Gauke: The number of company tax returns filed for accounting periods ending in the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 that have been opened for an inquiry under Finance Act 1998 are:

  Number

Companies paying tax at the main rate

2,209

Current FTSE 250 quoted companies

36

Current FTSE 100 quoted companies

20

22 May 2012 : Column 584W

The figures for inquiries into FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies do not include any inquiries into subsidiaries or other companies in the same group as the FTSE 100 or FTSE 250 company.

VAT

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evidential basis officials in his Department used to calculate the total cost per business of his proposal to impose VAT on sports nutrition products. [108824]

Mr Gauke: The cost to affected businesses to comply with the VAT changes to sports nutrition drinks is set out in “Annex B—Table of Impact for Individual Measures” of the HM Revenue and Customs consultation document “VAT: Addressing borderline anomalies” published in Budget 2012.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/vat-con-4801.pdf

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what recent discussions he has had with manufacturers and retailers of nutritional drinks of the likely effect on their business of making their products subject to VAT; and if he will make a statement; [108866]

(2) whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Health on any possible effects on exercise and health resulting from the imposition of VAT on nutritional drinks; and if he will make a statement. [108873]

Mr Gauke: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

As was the case with previous Administrations it is not the Government's policy to release details of all such meetings.

International Development

Afghanistan

Heidi Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which projects and programmes his Department funds in Afghanistan which promote the political participation and representation of women. [108740]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK Government promotes the political participation of women in Afghan society through the Tawanmandi project. In 2011, I launched the Tawanmandi project which has provided grants to 27 civil society organisations, 15 of which support the. participation of women in conflict resolution and peace-building.

Carbon Emissions

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's total level of carbon emissions was between (a) 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2011 and (b) 2 April 2011 and 1 April 2012. [108591]

Mr Duncan: The carbon emissions from the DFID, as reported under the Greening Government Commitments

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(i.e. carbon from energy use in our UK buildings, and domestic air and rail travel) for the two years in question are as follows:

(a) 2010-11—3,890 tonnes

(b) 2011-12—2,909 tonnes

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department took to reduce its carbon emissions in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [108592]

Mr Duncan: DFID has carried out a large number of measures to significantly reduce its carbon emissions over the last three years. Examples of these are as follows:

(a) 2010:

a. Installation of voltage optimisation equipment in each of our UK offices, to reduce our electricity consumption;

b. Installation of a green roof in our East Kilbride office;

c. Installation of energy-efficient lighting in our London office;

d. Improving energy efficiency by reducing the amount of occupied space in our London office and subletting.

(b) 2011:

a. Reduction in the hours of operation of heating plant in both our UK offices;

b. Reconfiguration of lighting systems to reduce the time which sensor-operated lights remain on;

c. Staff awareness campaign to switch off unnecessary items, etc.;

d. Encouraging and increasing use of rail travel over air travel between our two UK offices.

(c) 2012:

a. Reduction in operation of cooling plant in our London office;

b. Reductions in number of printers in both our UK offices;

c. Reducing the number of IT servers in both of our UK offices.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo on the transparency of Government contracts to mine minerals in that country. [108623]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: I recently visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and met with President Kabila and specifically raised the importance of transparency in the mining sector. I highlighted the mining sector reform programme (ProMines) the UK co-funds with the World Bank. ProMines supports the DRC to improve the management, transparency and. accountability of the mining sector. I followed up this discussion with a letter to President Kabila in which I set out a number of options of how the UK could help in this area specifically,

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much bilateral aid has been delivered by the UK Government to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last three years. [108688]

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Mr Andrew Mitchell: The latest official figures for British Government aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the last three years are:

£ million
Financial year Total UK Aid DFID (share of UK total)

2008-09

89

84

2009-10

117

109

2010-11

134

132

Source: Statistics on International Development 2011, October 2011

In 2011-12 DFID provided £142 million in aid for the DRC through its bilateral programme. (Figures are not yet available for funding through global initiatives and other UK Government Departments).

Developing Countries: Irrigation

Dr Poulter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the use of drip irrigation systems in developing countries; and whether his Department is engaged in work with Israel in this field. [108195]

Mr Duncan: In a resource constrained and climate challenged world it is imperative to focus on technologies that produce the best production returns for a developing country's farmer in terms of cost and resource efficiency. However DFID has not made a specific assessment of the use of drip irrigation.

DFID has not had any discussions with Israel on international co-operation in agriculture technology relating to drip irrigation.

Developing Countries: Malnutrition

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he plans to take to encourage the G8 to tackle malnutrition in developing countries. [108090]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: My Department worked closely with other G8 countries in advance of the G8 to secure ambitious commitments on malnutrition in developing countries. On 18 May the UK joined other G8 countries in agreeing to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition aimed at lifting 50 million people out of poverty in Africa over the next 10 years, primarily through agriculture.

Under this initiative, G8 members are committing to actively support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and maintain robust programs to further reduce child stunting.

The UK is committing £395 million to the New Alliance, including £75 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP).

Developing Countries: Science

Gareth Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to support scientific research capacity in developing countries; and how much of his Department's budget has been allocated to supporting scientific research capacity in developing countries in the last five years. [108548]

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Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Government recognises the importance of increasing scientific capacity in developing countries, and in particular in Africa and resource poor parts of Asia, and DFID work is a major part of this. Strengthening scientific capacity is a long-term activity. Much of DFID's capacity building efforts have been embedded into our research programmes and projects. It is therefore difficult to allocate an accurate figure on supporting scientific research capacity in developing countries as a separate activity, although alongside this there are several stand-alone projects including; the £8 million Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (SCARDA) project; the £5 million Health Research Capacity Strengthening Initiative with the Wellcome Trust; and the £15 million Capacity Building African Initiative with the Royal Society.

Further details of the steps DFID is currently undertaking to support research capacity in developing countries in a range of areas including agriculture, climate change, health, infrastructure and social science can be found in DFID's submission to the Science and Technology Select Committee which is examining exactly this issue.

Ethiopia

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he has taken to ensure that UK aid provided to Ethiopia under the Protection of Basic Services Programme accords with his Department's conditionality policy in respect of the issue of villagisation. [108396]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK Government assesses partner Governments against four Partnership commitments when considering any form of budget support. These include: poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals; respect for human rights and other international obligations; improving public financial management, good governance, transparency and fighting corruption; and strengthening domestic accountability.

The Protection of Basic Services Programme is a multi-donor programme which has very robust monitoring and audit arrangements and we are confident that these systems will prevent any misuse of UK aid funds. Through the programme Ethiopians are now better educated and healthier than five years ago.

The UK takes allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously. The UK became aware of human rights allegations associated with the villagisation (or commune) programme in Gambella in late 2010 and immediately took steps to investigate them. In February 2011 the UK led a multi-agency mission, independent from the Ethiopian Government, to Gambella. The Mission found no evidence of systematic or widespread human rights abuses, though isolated human rights abuses may have been committed. The UK Government has not provided resources to directly support the commune programme.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he plans to publish the findings of the UK-led independent multi-agency mission to Gambella, Ethiopia in February 2011. [108398]

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Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Donor Assistance Group report on villagisation in Gambella, Ethiopia, will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

As this report is more than one year old, it does not reflect the latest situation in Gambella. The UK and other donors continue to monitor the villagisation process and to raise our concerns at the highest levels of the Ethiopian Government.

The report should not be seen in isolation, but considered as one element in and a contribution to the overall debate and assessment on villagisation which includes further research and political dialogue in various forums on the subject. In particular the EU is engaged in a dialogue with Government on the issue.

Lost Property

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many items of equipment valued at £10,000 or more his Department lost in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. [108931]

Mr Duncan: There were no items valued at £10,000 or more lost by DFID in either 2010-11 or 2011-12.

Departmental Staff

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many jobs formerly in his Department and its non-departmental public bodies were transferred to the private sector in 2011-12. [108897]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development did not transfer any jobs from its Department or its non-departmental public bodies to the private sector in 2011-12.

Palestinians

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to his Department's funding of the construction of new schools in the Gaza Strip, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that textbooks used in such schools do not promote the glorification of terror and violence. [108887]

Mr Duncan: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) on 16 April 2012, Official Report, 241W.

Public Expenditure

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will publish a statement of his Department's expenditure in each of the last 36 months; and what steps his Department takes to avoid an annual underspend. [108622]

Mr Duncan: DFID publishes its expenditure on an annual basis within DFID's Resource Accounts. DFID does not currently publish expenditure on a monthly basis. The Resource Accounts for 2011-12 are currently being finalised and will be available on our website by

22 May 2012 : Column 589W

the end of June. The resource accounts for 2010-11 and 2009-10 are available from the following links:

2010 - 11:

http://www.dfid.gov.uk/about-us/how-we-measure-progress/annual-report/

2009-10:

http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure-progress/Resource-accounts

DFID operates an annual results and resources cycle to avoid both underspend and overspend. Throughout the financial year, DFID reviews progress to date against internal budget allocations and the forecast year-end position. This enables DFID to identify when spending plans are off-track and to take action as appropriate. All Government Departments report monthly actual and forecast outturn information to HM Treasury. DFID has a rigorous business case approval process that ensures it has a pipeline of good value for money programmes available to reduce the risk of underspend.

Public Sector

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many new public sector mutuals were created or spun off by his Department in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. [108915]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development has not created or spun off any new public sector mutuals in either 2010 -11 or 2011-12.

Redundancy

Mr Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department's employees have been made redundant in the last two years. [108072]

Mr Duncan: DFID has only made one member of staff compulsorily redundant within the last two financial years. There have been 58 voluntary redundancies during this period. All of these departures were made in line with the terms of the Civil Service Compensation scheme applicable at the time.

Yemen

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid his Department has delivered to Yemen in 2012 up to 16 May 2012; and how much he plans to deliver in the remainder of 2012. [108649]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: Our country programme expenditure is published on a financial year basis, based on a year from 1 April to 31 March. DFID's expenditure in Yemen from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 will be available following the publication of our Annual Report and Accounts at the end of June 2012.

The instability in Yemen over the last year led to a delay in the publication of our spending plans for the period through to 2014-15. I am currently considering what support to provide to Yemen and anticipate announcing our future spending plans in time for a donor conference for Yemen to be held this summer.

22 May 2012 : Column 590W

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Minimum Prices

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations she has received on the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol; and if she will make a statement. [108735]

James Brokenshire: In the forthcoming months the Government will launch a public consultation to determine the level for a minimum unit price. We will consider representations as part of that consultation.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effect on profits in the groceries industry of introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol of (a) 40 pence and (b) 50 pence per unit. [108324]

James Brokenshire: In the forthcoming months the Government will produce an impact assessment that will consider the potential impacts of minimum unit pricing. We will consult on the level in the forthcoming months.

Carbon Emissions

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department took to reduce its carbon emissions in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [108572]

Damian Green: The Home Office has reduced emissions by reducing the size of its estate, the amount of travel on official business and energy consumption in its buildings. Building measures have included incentivised energy management contracts, increased efficiency of IT use and investments in energy technology such as voltage optimisation, variable speed drives and lighting controls. A reduction of 14.6% has been achieved in emissions since 2010.

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her Department's total level of carbon emissions was between (a) 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2011 and (b) 2 April 2011 and 1 April 2012. [108571]

Damian Green: Carbon dioxide emissions from buildings and travel for the Department, its executive agencies and sponsored non-departmental public bodies were 78,445 tonnes in 2010-11 and 73,030 tonnes in 2011-12. The figures exclude indirect emissions by third parties such as suppliers and landlords where the figures are not held.

Departmental Staff: Political Affiliation

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the (a) job title and (b) pay band is of each official, excluding special advisers, recruited by her Department since May 2010 who was previously employed in any capacity by the (i) Conservative Party or its elected representatives and (ii) Liberal Democrat Party or its elected representatives; and whether their position was advertised publicly; [107275]

22 May 2012 : Column 591W

(2) what the (a) job title and (b) pay band is of each official, excluding special advisers, recruited by her Department since May 2010 who previously held an elected position as a member of the (i) Conservative Party and (ii) Liberal Democrat Party; and whether their position was advertised publicly. [107276]

Damian Green: The Home Office and its agencies do not hold this information centrally and to provide it could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Credit Cards

Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many civil servants in her Department hold a corporate credit card; how many instances there have been of (a) discipline and (b) dismissal for misuse of such credit cards in the last 12 months; and how much was repaid to her Department for credit card misuse over that period. [108359]

Damian Green: The Home Office and its Executive Agencies use two corporate credit cards, the Government Procurement Card (GPC) and a Travel and Expenses Card (T&E). The number of cards held by staff and the number of occurrences of disciplinary and dismissal actions for misuse of the cards and any repayments in the last 12 months are as follows:

Government Procurement Cards (GPC):

617 members of staff currently hold a GPC card.

Travel and Expenses Card (T&E):

3,417 members of staff currently hold a T&E card.

In the last 12 months, one member of staff has been disciplined for misuse of a corporate credit card and a repayment of £41.60 was made in this instance.

No staff have been dismissed as a result of misuse of a corporate credit card in the last 12 months.

Crime Prevention

Jason McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the community crime fighters programme. [106429]

James Brokenshire: There has been no formal assessment of the programme. Our commitment is to encourage community activism, with Government freeing up local people to make decisions for them about how best to tackle crime problems in their neighbourhoods in line with the Government's commitment to localism. We believe that communities are also best placed to assess the effectiveness of initiatives.

With the election of police and crime commissioners in November 2012 the public will, for the first time, have a direct role in determining local priorities and holding the police to account for delivery of those priorities. Police and crime commissioners will be able to use their local knowledge to assess the programmes delivered in their area and fund those which are suitable.

Alcohol Misuse

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to bring forward legislative proposals to reduce crime and improve health outcomes related to alcohol use. [107940]

22 May 2012 : Column 592W

James Brokenshire: On 23 March the Government launched its Alcohol Strategy which aims to radically reshape the approach to alcohol and reduce alcohol related crime and health harms. The Government will consult on key measures in the forthcoming months.

Crime: Nature Conservation

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the UK Wildlife Crime Priority for raptor persecution incorporates crime that meets her Department's definition of serious and organised crime. [108001]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 17 May 2012]:“Local to Global”, the Government's Organised Crime Strategy, defines organised crime as the capacity and capability to commit serious crime on a continuing basis, which includes elements of planning, control and co-ordination, and benefits those involved. Wildlife crime, including raptor persecution, can be a manifestation of this.

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress her Department has made on plans for the National Crime Agency to assume responsibility for tackling wildlife crime that meets its definition of serious and organised crime. [108002]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 17 May 2012]:The National Crime Agency (NCA) Programme is actively engaging with the UK Border Force and other partners with an interest in this area, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The NCA and its partners are committed to protecting the environment and will work collectively to prevent the internal and cross-border trafficking of wildlife.

Databases: Telecommunications

Mr Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to include non-UK based internet service providers in the Communications Capabilities Development Programme. [107071]

James Brokenshire: The Queen announced on 9 May 2012 the Government's intention to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards subject to scrutiny of draft clauses. Further details of this legislation will be presented to Parliament in due course.

Detention Centres: Standards

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when (a) inspection and (b) monitoring was last carried out of non-residential short-term holding facilities for (i) adults and (ii) children at (A) London Heathrow, (B) London Gatwick, (C) London Stansted, (D) Manchester and (E) each other UK airport which has non-residential short-term holding facilities; and if she will make a statement. [109067]

22 May 2012 : Column 593W

Damian Green: All non-residential short-term holding facilities are subject to a programme of unannounced inspection visits by HM Inspectorate of Prisons. The chief inspector's reports are published on his website.

A number of short-term holding facilities are also the subject to monitoring by Independent Monitoring Boards, including Heathrow and Manchester. Boards report annually to the Minister for Immigration, a copy of which is published on the IMB website.

All short-term holding facilities are subject to regular visits by UK Border Agency staff.

Discrimination: Ethnic Groups

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she expects to bring forward regulations under the Equality Act 2010 to address the incidence of discrimination by caste or descent in the UK. [108381]

Lynne Featherstone [holding answer 21 May 2012]: We are still carefully considering the evidence available to us, including the report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and will make a decision on whether to bring forward regulations under the Equality Act 2010 in due course.

Driving Offences: Insurance

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicles were seized for being driven without insurance in the most recent year for which figures are available. [108984]

Nick Herbert: The information requested is not collected centrally.

22 May 2012 : Column 594W

Drugs: Misuse

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the head of the Drugs and Alcohol Unit in her Department will be acting in an official capacity to present UK drug policy when he speaks at the World Federation Against Drugs on 21 May 2012. [108417]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 21 May 2012]: The head of the Drugs and Alcohol Unit represented Her Majesty's Government when he spoke at the World Forum Against Drugs, hosted by the World Federation Against Drugs, on 21 May 2012.

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the National Audit Office report Tackling Problem Drug Use, March 2010, when she plans to publish an evaluation framework for the UK Drug Strategy. [108418]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 21 May 2012]: The Annual Review of the Drug Strategy published on 17 May 2012 outlines progress in implementing the strategy. We are committed to evaluating the effectiveness of our drug strategy and continue to develop the framework for doing so.

Entry Clearances

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average length of time taken to process visas was by category of visa, in each of the last three years; and what the longest time taken was in each category in each such year. [107185]

Damian Green: The information requested is provided in the following tables.

Non-Settlement Visas
Percentage
  2009 2010 2011
Category % 3 weeks % 6 weeks % 12 weeks % 3 weeks % 6 weeks % 12 weeks % 3 weeks % 6 weeks % 12 weeks

EEA Family Permits

90

95

98

92

97

99

92

97

99

Family Visit

93

98

100

94

99

100

95

99

100

Other Non Settlement

91

96

99

93

98

99

93

96

100

Other Visitor

97

99

100

97

100

100

96

100

100

PBS Tier 1

82

94

98

88

96

99

87

98

100

PBS Tier 2

96

99

100

94

99

100

94

99

100

PBS Tier 4

81

94

98

81

87

91

86

92

96

PBS Tier 5

95

100

100

97

99

100

97

99

100

Student

79

90

94

85

92

96

95

98

99

Transit

98

99

100

98

99

99

98

100

100

Work permit

86

95

99

89

97

98

90

97

99

Working Holiday Maker

2

11

29

68

77

81

50

50

75

Settlement visas
Percentage
Calendar year % 12 weeks % 24 weeks

2009

92

99

2010

88

95

2011

91

98

Average visa processing times in days
Category 2009 2010 2011

EEA Family Permits

8.2

5.9

6.4

Family Visit

4.9

4.6

5.4

Other Non Settlement

6.0

5.0

5.5

Other Visitor

3.3

3.3

4.5

22 May 2012 : Column 595W

PBS Tier 1

9.9

8.4

8.6

PBS Tier 2

3.5

4.3

4.7

PBS Tier 4

9.4

15.9

9.5

PBS Tier 5

4.0

4.1

3.5

Settlement

23.6

28.7

31.0

Student

14.2

13.4

5.5

Transit

2.0

2.7

2.8

Work permit

7.3

7.6

8.3

Working Holiday Maker

83.1

21.0

19.7

Longest Processing Times (days)
  ECS_Days_to_Resolve
Endorsement c ategory 2009 2010 2011

Family Visit

248

254

257

Other Visitor

247

259

262

Work permit

219

243

232

Transit

149

187

175

Student

247

252

169

Working Holiday Maker

256

39

59

EEA Family Permits

242

242

245

Other Non Settlement

244

258

236

Settlement

347

348

350

PBS Tier 1

238

221

246

PBS Tier 2

166

258

235

PBS Tier 4

146

259

259

PBS Tier 5

126

277

203

Notes: 1. Withdrawn and Lapsed Applications not included. 2. Ceiling of 366 calendar days to resolve used for non-settlement cases. 3. Ceiling of 500 calendar days to resolve used for settlement cases. 4. The above figures exceed targets because they are likely to be highly complex cases where the application had to be: (i) Deferred for further information from the applicant or a third party. (ii) Referred to the ‘Referred Case Unit' in Croydon because a decision could not be made at the Post.