14 Jan 2013 : Column 463W

14 Jan 2013 : Column 463W

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 14 January 2013

Work and Pensions

Aviation

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many air miles were accumulated by each Minister in his Department in 2012; how such air miles were used; and whether such air miles were donated to charity. [137092]

Mr Hoban: The Department does not hold this information. However, departmental policy prohibits the donation of air miles, as all such rewards accrued through the conduct of public duties should be used to offset the cost of future business travel.

Employment Schemes

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to increase the hours worked by people who are underemployed in (a) Glasgow North West constituency, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK. [135966]

Mr Hoban: Universal credit, to be introduced with an initial pathfinder starting in April 2013, will be a single benefit for people in and out of work that makes it easier and less risky for claimants to take up work. It also means that DWP will be able to interact with a much wider group of benefit claimants than ever before.

Currently claimants of working tax credits receive them as a top-up to part-time earnings with no conditionality attached. The introduction of UC brings new opportunities for the Department to intervene with them and support earnings progression. We will, for the first time, be placing expectations on people who are in work but could earn more, and supporting them to do so.

The more generous work allowances and the single taper within universal credit will significantly improve the current benefit system, providing claimants with meaningful and improved financial incentives to take up work.

English Language: Education

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) other income-related benefits took up the offer of free English language lessons in each of the last four years; how many places on English language courses were available in each of those years; and what the budget was for the provision of free English lessons in each of those years. [135926]

14 Jan 2013 : Column 464W

Matthew Hancock: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

We do not record information centrally on learners claiming benefits. The following table shows the numbers of all Skills for Life (including English and maths) aims and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) aims found to be taken up by learners who were on benefits at the start of learning. The figures are estimated based on learning data held by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills matched to benefits data held by the Department for Work and Pensions. Comparative data are only available for learning which began during the 2010-11 academic year.

Estimated Skills for Life and ESOL aims, by benefit type, 2010-11
 Jobseeker's allowanceOther benefits

Skills for Life

158,600

121,900

ESOL

8,600

9,500

Notes: 1. An aim is a course a learner is studying. 2. Jobseeker's allowance includes all elements—income-related and contributory based. 3. ‘Other benefits’ comprises employment and support allowance (all elements), incapacity benefit, income support, severe disablement allowance and pension credit. Some of these benefits are non-income-related benefits but it is not possible at the moment to accurately separately these. Source: Individualised Learner Record—Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study Matched Data

Investment Statements published by the Learning and Skills Council for the 2008/-09 and 2009-10 academic years set out budgets and learner volumes for Skills for Life (including both English and maths qualifications) broken down by Adult Learner Responsive and Employer Responsive categories, but budgets and volumes were not set for English language provision.

Since the announcement of the single Adult Skills Budget in 2010, which replaced the Adult Learner Responsive and Employer Responsive budgets, colleges and providers have had the freedom and flexibility to respond to the needs of their local communities, learners and employers as they see fit. As such there is no budget set for English qualifications, nor are a set number of places made available.

Qualifications in English are fully funded by Government for all adults aged 19 and over who need the acquire skills up to Level 2. The Government will continue to support ESOL in line with its wider priorities for skills.

Information on the number of learners participating on Skills for Life and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses is published in a quarterly Statistical First Release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 11 October 2012:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current

A summary of the work to date on matching further education and benefit claims data was published on 24 October 2012:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/other_statistics_and_research/

Food Banks

Stephen Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether any Member of the Government intends to visit a food bank in the near future. [137127]

14 Jan 2013 : Column 465W

Mr Hoban: The information is not held centrally.

Stephen Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Government has made of the demand for food banks across the UK; and if he will make a statement. [137128]

Mr Hoban: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Glenrothes (Lindsay Roy) on 27 November 2012, Official Report, column 321W.

Food Banks: Nottinghamshire

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many food banks there were in (a) Ashfield and (b) Nottinghamshire in each of the last three years. [137019]

Mr Hoban: DWP does not collate or hold information on the number of food banks.

Housing Benefit: Fraud

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what working estimate was used by his Department for housing benefit fraud in each of the last four years; and what the level of detected housing benefit fraud was in each such year. [135919]

Mr Hoban: The estimate for housing benefit fraud in each of the last four years compared to the level of expenditure is as follows:

Table 1: Estimated housing benefit expenditure and overpayment due to fraud between 2008-09 and 2011-12
 Expenditure (£ billion)Fraud (£ million)

2008-09

17.1

250

2009-10

20.0

250

2010-11

21.4

300

2011-12

22.8

350

Notes: 1. Expenditure rounded to the nearest £0.1 billion. 2. Fraud rounded to the nearest £10 million. Source: DWP National Statistics: Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: 2011-12, estimates released 29 November.

The Department does not collect information about the level of detected overpayments due specifically to fraud in housing benefit.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of jobseeker's allowance claimants per job vacancy in (a) Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK. [136595]

Mr Hoban: The Department is aware of the challenges facing jobseekers in the labour market and has put in place a substantial package of support to help them move into work.

Jobcentre Plus offers claimants a comprehensive menu of support including help with job search and referral to local skills provision. This is bolstered by a number of Get Britain Working measures including work experience and pre-employment training, volunteering, work clubs and support for those looking to start their own businesses.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 466W

The Work programme provides tailored help for those claimants furthest from the labour market. Claimants with more challenging barriers to work can be referred early. Providers are paid on the results they achieve, and are paid more for supporting the hardest to help into sustained work.

The Youth Contract provides new opportunities for unemployed young people, including additional support from Jobcentre Plus; wage incentives for employers recruiting eligible young people; and extra work experience places.

Jobseeker's Allowance: EU Nationals

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost of jobseeker's allowance paid to non-UK EU citizens of each nationality, was in each of the last five years. [136666]

Mr Hoban: Information about the cost of jobseeker's allowance paid to non-UK EU citizens is not available because the UK's benefit payment systems do not currently record details of a claimant's nationality. Looking forward, the Government is considering ways of recording nationality and immigration status of migrants who make a claim to universal credit so that we have more robust management information about our claimants.

Maternity Pay

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of seasonal or part-time workers who do not receive maternity pay as a result of not being given work during their qualifying week in (a) Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK. [136594]

Steve Webb: The Department does not have information that identifies seasonal and part-time workers separately from other economically active people with incomplete national insurance contributions over a tax year.

Personal Independence Payment

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he proposes that blind or partially-sighted people will quality for eight points under descriptor E when applying for the personal independence payment if they are able to use an aid or appliance at home to enable them to read standard text, but would be unable to read signs or symbols when out of the home; and if he will make a statement. [136584]

Esther McVey: It is a principle of the PIP assessment that, where an individual satisfies more than one descriptor within an activity on the majority of days, the descriptor with the greatest number of points attached should be selected.

Therefore, in the case of an individual who, on the majority of days, is able to read words using aids and appliances, such as a magnifier, but who is unable to read a sign, descriptor E would be the appropriate selection.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 467W

Remploy

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the reports of corruption during the sale of Remploy sites in Chesterfield, Springburn and Barrow; and if he will set up an independent inquiry into the closure of Remploy. [134503]

Esther McVey: The current commercial process for Remploy is a matter for the Remploy board, not the Department, and as such any requests for an investigation into this process should be raised directly with Remploy's Company Secretary. They can be contacted at

company.secretariat@Remploy.co.uk

I have seen no evidence to substantiate any of those allegations. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, they should present this to the Remploy board.

Social Fund

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish the Discretionary Social Fund data, awards and spend for each local authority for (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09. [136740]

Steve Webb: The Discretionary Social Fund data for 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Social Security Benefits

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are in receipt of (a) child benefit, (b) housing benefit and (c) jobseeker's allowance in Leeds North West constituency. [134131]

Steve Webb: The information requested for housing benefit recipients is available from a new visualisation tool Stat-Xplore published at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=tabtool

and jobseeker's allowance statistics by parliamentary constituency are available from claimant count data and are published on the NOMIS website at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/

The information requested for child benefit is published by HMRC at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/child-geog-stats.htm


Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate he has made of the number of households in each local authority area whose weekly income will be reduced by (a) less than £20, (b) between £20 and £39.99, (c) between £40 and £59.99, (d) between £60 and £79.99, (e) between £80 and £99.99 and (f) over £100 through the introduction of (i) the benefit cap and (ii) the under-occupancy penalty. [136985]

Mr Hoban: The information is not available for the under-occupancy penalty. A national distribution of benefit reductions among affected claimants is available in the impact assessment:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf

14 Jan 2013 : Column 468W

A table showing a breakdown in bandwidths of £50 of the number of households who will be affected by local authority (LA), was placed in the House of Commons Library and can be found at:

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2012-1447/LocalAuthoritybreakdownaffectedbybenefitcap.doc

An additional table showing the breakdown now requested will also be placed in the Library.

The figures in the table assume that the situation of these households will go unchanged, and they will not take any steps to either work enough hours to qualify for working tax credit, renegotiate their rent in situ, or find alternative accommodation. The Department is identifying and writing to all the households who are likely to be affected by the cap and we are offering advice and support through Jobcentre Plus, including, where appropriate, early access to the Work programme before the cap is introduced in April 2013.

The recent disregarding of housing costs for those in supported exempt accommodation announced in the autumn statement cannot be allocated geographically therefore this has not been removed from the estimates presented here. This will reduce the figures in local authorities based on where these households are.

Social Security Benefits: Appeals

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what effect the Joint Appeals Task Force has had on improving the quality of initial decision-making and the reconsideration process in respect of benefit claims. [136372]

Esther McVey: The Appeals Task Force was created in June 2010, in order to drive process and policy changes, thus enabling more effective and efficient decision-making and appeals, without compromising access to justice.

Improvements that have been implemented due to the taskforce include:

Introducing a Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) to measure the quality of decisions, including standard setting events, to support consistent application of QAF checking methodology;

Random checking of “Fail to Attend Work” Capability Assessment decisions, to improve quality and drive consistency;

Reconsideration telephone calls made by decision makers to claimants to further explain decisions and gather additional evidence to aid initial decision making;

Introduction of appeals fast track processes, which incorporated the reconsideration process to improve and shorten the overall customer journey for certain types of jobseeker’s allowance labour market appeals. This was also aimed at improving the quality of evidence gathering at the reconsideration stage, as the shortened timeline meant that relevant questions were asked much sooner after the transgression;

A national reconsideration exercise of employment and support allowance cases, which reviewed over 55,000 appeals listed at Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service. As a result, almost 7,000 case decisions were revised following the application of revised processes. These processes include a telephone contact to gather evidence, and face to face advice from an Atos Healthcare professional. The telephone-based approach laid the foundation for similar calls in the initial decision making stage and at reconsideration;

A trial to introduce health care professionals in benefit centres to provide face to face advice on complex cases. The trial was deemed to be highly beneficial in improving the quality of decisions; and

14 Jan 2013 : Column 469W

Improved national communications via the introduction of a forum for decision makers to ask questions directly of the Head of Benefits and a panel of experts. That was aimed at ensuring consistency of message and process to aid quality decision-making. It has proved a popular and productive vehicle for communication and has now been running monthly for almost two years.

In terms of our quality measures, data gathered between February and September 2012 showed that over 90% of decisions have met the required standard each month. Furthermore, of over 18,500 checks performed in the period, only 2% were identified in the checking sample where the overall decision was deemed to be incorrect.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were (a) convicted and (b) charged for but subsequently acquitted of each benefit fraud offence in each of the last four years; how many of those convicted of each type of offence in each such year were sentenced to (i) immediate custody and (ii) each other type of disposal; what the (A) mean average and (B) longest individual custodial sentence imposed in each such year was for each type of benefit fraud offence; and if he will make a statement. [135712]

Mr Hoban: The number of people referred for prosecution by the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit fraud offences and the number convicted during the last four years is shown in the following table.

 People referred for prosecutionPeople convicted(1)

2008-09

11,408

6,700

2009-10

10,783

7,040

2010-11

11,040

8,598

2011-12

10,358

9,861

(1) The number of convictions in any one year will not relate to the same cases in that year because of the time lapse between referring a case for prosecution and the court hearing.

The information on sentencing is not available.

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed by his Department to investigate instances of fraud relating to (a) employment and support allowance and (b) other benefits in each of the last four years. [135924]

Mr Hoban: We are unable to show the number of staff employed to investigate instances of fraud by individual benefit.

The following table shows the total number of staff employed by DWP to investigate instances of fraud for each of the last four years.

Fraud type activities totals
 FTE

2008-09

3,673

2009-10

3,621

2010-11

3,659

2011-12

3,845

The data are extracted from the JCP ABM Models 08/09, 09/10, 10/11 and the DWP ABM Operations Model 11/12.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 470W

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many non-UK EU citizens of each nationality have been prosecuted for benefit fraud in the last five years. [136976]

Mr Hoban: The information is not available.

Social Security Benefits: Immigrants

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total annual cost of welfare benefits issued to immigrants to the UK from the European Union in each of the last three years was; and whether any of these costs are refunded from the EU. [136673]

Mr Hoban: Information about the cost of benefits paid to immigrants is not available because the UK's benefit payment systems do not currently record details of a claimant's nationality. Looking forward, the Government are considering ways of recording nationality and immigration status of migrants who make a claim to universal credit so that we have more robust management information about our claimants.

Reimbursement provisions only apply in the case of a claim for contribution-based jobseeker's allowance from UK residents who have worked in another EU member state. Under the EU social security co-ordination regulations, the UK can claim reimbursement from another member state for up to five months jobseeker's allowance payments if someone has worked and contributed the equivalent of national insurance contributions in another member state, but has returned to the UK and is habitually resident here.

Social Security Benefits: Uprating

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his contribution of 8 January 2013, Official Report, column 190, (1) what assessment he has made of the financial effect on the income of disabled people of restricting benefit rises to one per cent over the next three years; [136988]

(2) how many disabled people will be affected by the changes in the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill in (a) the UK and (b) each parliamentary constituency. [136989]

Steve Webb: An impact assessment of the measures contained within the 2013-14 Up-rating Order, which includes the impact on disabled households, will be published when it is laid later this month.

For 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Department published an impact assessment on 8 January 2013 which covered the impacts of the uprating changes covered by the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill.

The Department estimates that there is no financial effect from the Bill on approximately 66% of households where someone describes themselves as disabled.

The Department estimates that approximately 34% of households where someone describes themselves disabled are affected by this Bill with an average change of income of around -£3 a week in 2015-16 compared to uprating by the consumer prices index (CPI).

This represents around 3.4 million households in Great Britain.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 471W

It is not possible to provide information for United Kingdom or for each parliamentary constituency level.

Notes:

1. These estimates have been made using the Department's Policy Simulation Model, which is based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS), and is consistent with the impact assessment which was published in January 2013.

2. Numbers rounded to the nearest 1% or 0.1 million households.

3. Disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act/Equality Act (2010).

Unemployment: Tower Hamlets

Rushanara Ali: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people aged 25 and under in (a) Bethnal Green and Bow constituency and (b) Tower Hamlets have been unemployed for (i) six, (ii) 12 and (iii) 24 months. [136616]

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

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, dated January 2013:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people aged 25 and under in (a) Bethnal Green and Bow constituency and (b) Tower Hamlets have been unemployed for (i) six, (ii) 12 and (iii) 24 months. (136616)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles unemployment statistics for local areas from the Annual Population Survey following International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions. However, estimates of unemployment for the requested age bands, durations and geographies are not available due to small sample sizes.

As an alternative, in Table 1 we have provided the number of persons, aged 16 to 24 years, in line with our normal age bands, claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), in the requested geographies, for (a) up to 6 months, (b) 6 to 12 months, (c) 12 to 24 months and (d) 24 months and over, for the latest period available. The counts of people claiming JSA are those who are claiming benefits for unemployment related purposes. At a UK level the total number of JSA claimants is around two thirds of the total unemployment level.

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk

Table 1: Number(1) of 16 to 24-year-olds claiming jobseeker's allowance for (a) up to 6 months, (b) 6 to 12 months, (c) 12 to 24 months, and (d) over 24 months, in Bethnal Green and Bow and Tower Hamlets, November 2012
People aged 16 to 24 years(2)Up to 6 months6 to 12 months12 to 24 months24 months and over

Tower Hamlets

2,030

320

480

90

Bethnal Green and Bow

1,010

150

215

40

(1 )Data rounded to the nearest 5. (2 )Age data are only available for computerised claims, which account for 99.7% of all claims.

Universal Credit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what proportion of universal credit applications his Department, or its identity assurance contractors, expect to inspect original birth certificates, tenancy agreements, immigration documents and other similar documents; and if he will make a statement. [136671]

14 Jan 2013 : Column 472W

Mr Hoban: In the early stages of the introduction of universal credit the Department expects to look at the identity verification documents for all new claimants.

Work Capability Assessment

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will exempt recipients of Skipton Fund Stage 2 payments from the back-to-work assessment process; [136674]

(2) which conditions are exempt from the back-to-work assessment process; [136675]

(3) how many recipients of Skipton Fund Stage 2 payments have been required to undertake a back-to-work assessment; what the outcome was in each case; how many claimants appealed the decision; and what the outcome was in each case. [136677]

Mr Hoban: Eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA) is based on an individual’s functional capability rather than their health condition or disability. We have no current plans to change to eligibility criteria for the Support Group of ESA.

However, a wide range of ways in which claimants can qualify for the Support Group already exist in legislation including being terminally ill. Existing processes ensure that, where possible, relevant information in support of a claim is gathered before any face-to-face assessment takes place which is then used to place individuals into the Support Group where they meet the criteria.

It is important to recognise that any health condition will affect people in different ways, manifest by a wide spectrum of symptoms and functional effects. That is why we assess each case individually to determine if someone is entitled to benefit and whether it is appropriate to help them prepare for a return to work.

The data requested are not held by the Department in the requested format—we do not collect data on Work Capability Assessment outcomes on Skipton Fund Stage 2 receipts.

Work Experience: Greater London

Rushanara Ali: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people have participated in the Government's work experience schemes in (a) Bethnal Green and Bow constituency, (b) Tower Hamlets and (c) London in the latest period for which figures are available. [136698]

Mr Hoban: From January 2011 up to and including May 2012 there were (a) 110 starts to work experience placements in the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency, (b) 220 starts in Tower Hamlets and (c) 7,460 starts in London.

These figures are based upon official Get Britain Working statistics available at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/pwp/pwp_gbw_aug12.pdf

Working Tax Credit: Wirral

Alison McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Wirral South constituency and (b) Wirral receive working tax

14 Jan 2013 : Column 473W

credit and what (i) mean and (ii) mode amounts were disbursed in the latest period for which figures are available. [136269]

Sajid Javid: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Treasury.

The latest data for the number of families in receipt of working tax credit, broken down by constituency and local authority, are the provisional tax credit statistics from December 2012. These can be found here

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/prov-geog-stats.htm#2

and has been replicated as follows in Table 1.

Table 1: Number of families receiving WTC
Thousands
 WTC & CTCWTC only

Wirral South constituency

1.6

0.5

Wirral Local Authority 9.7 3.8

  

The average annual tax credit entitlement (mean and modal) in these two regions is shown in Table 2. This is also based on data held at December 2012. As tax credit claims for the year have not yet been finalised, these figures are based on claimants' estimated annual entitlement, based on their reported circumstances as at December 2012.

Table 2: Mean and modal average tax credit entitlement for recipients in designated regions
£
 MeanModal

Wirral South constituency

6,175

3,245

Wirral Local Authority

6,300

3,245

The figures in the table represent the average entitlement across all tax credits claimants in the respective regions, not just those receiving working tax credit. The amount paid to recipients will not necessarily be equal to this, as payments will also be dependent on any previous over or underpayments; however these data are only available at disproportionate cost.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Ecology: Morecambe

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has provided funding for any ecological project in Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency since May 2010. [136302]

Richard Benyon: Through Natural England, the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency and working in partnership with non-government organisations, local authorities and land managers, DEFRA funding has supported a significant number of projects within this constituency.

For example, funding is provided for the Morecambe Bay Nature Improvement Area, one of only 12 such areas nationally to receive Government support, and 12 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Funding is provided to enhance the natural environment, through agri-environment schemes under Environmental Stewardship and the English Woodland Grant Scheme.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 474W

Other projects include the North West Strategic Eel Project; Lancashire-wide work to carry out an invasive non-native species control action plan on the Lune catchment; and the Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative, which aims to improve bathing water quality in Morecambe Bay and will also help improve the status of water courses in the Lune catchment.

Morecambe Bay is also a European marine site, and to assist in meeting requirements under the European Habitats Directive, Natural England has recently funded a monitoring contract in Morecambe Bay to gather evidence on the condition of the intertidal habitats.

Flood Control

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2012, Official Report, column 336W, on flood control, if he will give examples of the additional forms of innovation that projects receiving funding from the Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder scheme will be expected to demonstrate. [135075]

Richard Benyon: The Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder scheme is designed to encourage local authorities and their partners to think creatively about how local community and household resilience to flooding could be improved.

On 6 December 2012, a brochure describing the scheme was published on the DEFRA website. This gave examples of the types of approaches that may be eligible. These include projects that install property level protection measures coupled with a wider package of innovative community measures; improving local flood risk mapping and modelling where existing data sets may not accurately capture the local level of risk; projects inspiring communities to become more active participants in their flood management by supporting practical measures such as “gully watch” schemes or installation of local monitoring equipment; and disseminating information or carrying out local exercises to improve flood awareness and preparedness.

Floods: Bury St Edmunds

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) homes and (b) businesses were at risk of flooding in Bury St Edmunds constituency in each of the last five years; and whether any changes between years can be attributed to mitigation measures. [133063]

Richard Benyon: The number of properties at risk of flooding is shown in the table. The information is for properties that are at risk from an extreme event. An extreme event is classed as an event with a 0.1% chance of occurring in any one year. This data set does not differentiate between residential homes and businesses.

 Number of properties

2008

2,171

2009

2,170

2010

3,096

2011

2,449

2012

2,449

14 Jan 2013 : Column 475W

The changes between years can be attributed to refinements in the Environment Agency's understanding of risk and the techniques available to them to map risk. These factors have had an impact on the number of properties deemed to be at risk, though the actual level of flood risk has remained unchanged.

Based on the latest available data there are no properties considered to be at significant risk, where the chance of flooding in any year is greater than 1.3% (or 1 in 75), in Bury St. Edmunds. Therefore no new flood risk management schemes have been identified. Flood defence grant in aid spending is prioritised to providing schemes for areas at greatest risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency carries out regular work to maintain existing levels of protection. This has included the removal of 450m3 of accumulated silt from the River Lark in the centre of Bury St Edmunds (Eastgate Ward) in July 2010.

Floods: Morecambe

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to prevent flooding in the Hest Bank area in Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency; and if he will make a statement. [136258]

Richard Benyon: The Environment Agency is having ongoing discussions with Lancaster city council, Lancashire county council and United Utilities. They are looking to reduce flood risk through the new. M6-Heysham Link Road. This will present the opportunity to increase the capacity of the current surface water sewer along Hest Bank Road and connect it to the M6-Heysham

14 Jan 2013 : Column 476W

Link Road drainage. The M6-Heysham Link Road may offer capacity for ground and surface water in Slyne, Hest Bank to be drained away from the area, thereby reducing flood risk.

Floods: Wales

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties were assessed to be at risk of flooding in each major settlement in Vale of Clywd constituency in each of the last five years. [136220]

Richard Benyon: This is a devolved matter and as such it is the responsibility of the Welsh Government. I would advise the hon. Member to write to the Welsh Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development.

Food

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of household incomes was spent on food by households in each income decile in each of the last three financial years. [135416]

Mr Heath: The percentage of spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks for UK household supplies is collected through the Family Spending Survey. The following table shows figures for 2009 to 2011 on an equivalised income basis.

Equivalised income is used to show incomes of all households on a comparable basis. To calculate equivalised income using the ‘Modified OECD’ equivalence scale, each household member is given an equivalence value.

Percentage spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks for household suppliesfrom 2009 to 2011 for UK households by equivalised income
 Income deciles
 Lowest 10%2nd decile group3rd decile group4th decile group5th decile group6th decile group7th decile group8th decile group9th decile groupHighest 10%All households

2009

15.6

16.7

14.8

14.2

12.9

12.6

11.2

10.8

9.7

7.6

11.5

2010

15.0

16.7

14.7

13.7

12.9

12.0

11.4

10.5

9.2

7.4

11.2

2011

16.3

17.0

14.1

13.8

12.7

11.9

11.2

10.3

9.6

7.7

11.3

Source: Living Costs and Food Surrey (LCFS), Family Spending, ONS

Fossil Fuels: Reserves

Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the ability of the Financial Policy Committee at the Bank of England to measure climate change risk to UK financial markets without using forward-looking data on the greenhouse gas potential of companies' fossil fuel reserves. [135776]

Sajid Javid: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Treasury.

The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) considers a diverse spectrum of risks to the financial system as part of its deliberations, and is presented with a broad array of data and market intelligence. Should the FPC conclude, at any point, that climate change does pose a systemic risk to the financial system, they will report and explain that risk in their six-monthly Financial Stability Report.

Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on the potential effects of an obligation requiring listed companies to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions potential from fossil fuel reserves on the ability of the Government to monitor progress towards meeting its climate change objectives. [135777]

Richard Benyon: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has frequent discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of important issues including climate change.

Insecticides

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to his Department's website information on neonicotinoid insecticides and bees, which interested parties will be

14 Jan 2013 : Column 477W

involved in the analysis of the wider environmental and agronomic implications of possible restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid products. [135080]

Richard Benyon: The analysis is intended to look at what might happen if access to neonicotinoids was restricted. This will include consideration of the environmental consequences of switching to alternative pesticides and of the economic consequences of restrictions.

We do not have all the economic and agronomic information needed for this assessment. To gather this information, the Health and Safety Executive's Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD), the pesticides regulator, has had discussions with Bayer CropScience Ltd and Syngenta UK Ltd (two of the major data holders for neonicotinoid substances), the National Farmers Union, the Crop Protection Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation.

The contacts with interested parties have only extended to gathering information. The analysis itself will be carried out by CRD and DEFRA and will be reviewed through advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish the terms of reference of his Department's analysis of the wider environmental and agronomic implications of possible restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid products referred to in the neonicotinoid insecticides and bees section of his Department's website. [135081]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA has made it very clear that it takes the concerns raised about neonicotinoids and pollinators very seriously and will take action if the evidence shows a need. Up to this point, DEFRA's assessment has been that the evidence—in particular the field data—does not call for action. We are, however, continuing to address key gaps in the evidence and will review our position in the light of this.

If DEFRA were to decide to take regulatory action, we would need to ensure that the measures taken would be effective in removing unacceptable risks from neonicotinoids. We would also need to avoid undesirable consequences for the environment and to ensure that action is proportionate.

We are therefore carrying out work to help us to understand better the likely consequences of possible regulatory options, including the implications of alternative pesticides or pest control measures being used.

Insects

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research into the cost of replacing insect pollination with artificial means. [133903]

Richard Benyon: There have already been a number of relevant studies in this area. A report published by Reading university in 2012 put the estimate of the cost of replacing natural pollination with hand pollination, which is impractical for most crops, at £1.8 billion, although the detailed methodology has not yet been published. We have no immediate plans to repeat this type of research and our focus has been funding of

14 Jan 2013 : Column 478W

research to provide an evidence base for the conservation of wild bees, managed honey bees and other insect pollinators through, for example, the Insect Pollinators Initiative.

Livestock: Transport

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his contributions of 13 December 2012, Official Report, column 530, on live animal exports, if he will publish the reasons that each firm in Ramsgate served with a statutory notice was so treated. [135855]

Mr Heath: The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency has served 30 Statutory Notices at Ramsgate Port, for one or more of the following reasons:

Animal(s) unfit to travel

Water system not operational

No means to measure the water level in the tank

Mechanical ventilation not fully functional

Insufficient headroom

Partitions need securing

Journey times exceeded

Delays to journeys due to insufficient planning/co-ordination

No Transporter Authorisation or Vehicle Approval

Overall vehicle height exceeded EU operating height

Vehicles not adequately maintained and being operated in a manner which may cause injury.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the long-term monitoring of the export of live animals through the port of Ramsgate. [136030]

Mr Heath: I have held no discussions with ministerial colleagues on the long-term monitoring of the export of live animals from Ramsgate. However, DEFRA officials are in regular contact with the Department for Transport on matters relating to the legislation governing the conduct of trade through ports. In addition, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) which is DEFRA's delivery partner maintains a working relationship at the port of Ramsgate with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, also a part of the Department for Transport.

Phytophthora Ramorum

John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect of Phytophthora ramorum on the sitka spruce harvest in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [134640]

Mr Heath: We have not made an assessment because Sitka spruce is not directly affected by Phytophthora ramorum. Movement control measures for infected larch sites can affect the movement of spruce timber growing in close proximity to larch but the volume of spruce being felled under statutory Plant Health Notices will not have a significant affect on the UK timber market and overall timber production.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 479W

John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the economy of Phytophthora ramorum; and if he will make a statement. [134641]

Mr Heath: DEFRA is funding a £20 million five-year programme to reduce the impact of Phytophthora ramorum and P. kernoviae. The business case which supported this programme was reviewed in 2010 following the finding of Phytophthora ramorum in larch. In the revised business case the programme was estimated to have an overall benefit of £77.1 million over 20 years in terms of the costs saved for business and the social and environment benefits of protecting landscapes. The net economic benefit of the programme over 20 years was estimated at £62.8 million. Economists stressed that various benefits could not be monetised, and that the figures were uncertain and liable to change.

The Phytophthora programme is currently subject to an external review, which will report in spring 2013, and will be used as the basis for proposals on future policy for the management of these harmful organisms.

Plastic Bags

Rushanara Ali: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he intends to introduce a levy on single-use carrier bags. [136620]

Richard Benyon: We are currently monitoring developments in other parts of the UK. This includes the results from the introduction of the charging scheme in Wales, Northern Ireland's plan to launch a charge from April 2013 and the outcome of the Scottish consultation on a charge.

Publications

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how often his Department produces a staff magazine. [137317]

Richard Benyon: An online staff magazine is produced 10 times a year.

Energy and Climate Change

Biofuels

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) whether he has recently given consideration to the suitability of biomass as a sustainable source of energy; and if he will make a statement; [136494]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the sustainability of biomass; if the Government will give consideration to reviewing its policy on biomass; and if he will make a statement. [136496]

Gregory Barker: The use of biomass to generate electricity and combined heat and power is good for our energy security; it makes a cost-effective contribution to a decarbonised energy mix and draws on a wide range of biomass sources to provide a controllable energy supply to help balance variable generation such as wind and solar. As set out in the 2012 UK Renewable Energy Roadmap, bioenergy is an important part of the Government's plans to meet the renewable energy directive

14 Jan 2013 : Column 480W

objectives in 2020. Investment in new biomass generation will also create green jobs and business opportunities across the fuel supply chain.

We are committed to ensuring that the biomass used for energy, whether for heat, electricity or transport, in the UK is sustainable, cost-effective and does not give rise to unintended consequences. The Government's UK Bioenergy Strategy, published in April 2012, sets a framework of principles to guide the development of future UK bioenergy policy in a way that will secure its benefits, while managing its risks. This strategy was underpinned by extensive analysis of a wide range of evidence regarding the use of biomass for energy including commissioned research on the carbon impacts of different uses of biomass, and has been taken into account when determining our approach to the support for biomass electricity through the renewables obligation.

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the sufficiency of appropriate and sustainable supplies of fuel stocks for UK biomass plants; and if he will make a statement. [136495]

Gregory Barker: Analysis carried out for the UK Bioenergy Strategy (published in April 2012) indicated that total domestic and imported bioresource supply to the UK could range between 200-650 TWh in 2020 and 200-550 TWh in 2050. This range suggests sustainably sourced bioenergy could contribute around 8-11% to the UK's total primary energy demand by 2020 and around 12% by 2050 (within a wide range of 8% to 21%). This conclusion is consistent with many other studies. International supplies, particularly from North America, will be a key contributor to this deployment. Further information on this analysis can be found in the UK Bioenergy Strategy and the accompanying Analytical Annex.

As part of the Government Response to the RO Banding Review (published July 2012), DECC published an Impact Assessment which included consideration of the impact of its proposals on sustainably sourced wood resources. Building on the analysis developed for the Bioenergy Strategy, this suggested that potential resources available to the UK should be sufficient to meet both energy and wood products demand for woody biomass. Clearly, future demand for wood from other sectors and future supply, especially from imports, is extremely difficult to predict. DECC will work closely with biomass electricity generators to ensure robust monitoring measures are in place for biomass feedstocks to provide early warning of supply risks from the electricity sector.

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will make it his policy that electricity generated from bioliquids derived from palm oil does not receive subsidies under the renewables obligation. [136967]

Mr Hayes: Member states cannot impose additional sustainability criteria on bioliquids over and above those set out in the EU's renewable energy directive, when determining eligibility for financial support under the renewables obligation. This means that the Government cannot, on sustainability grounds, remove support under

14 Jan 2013 : Column 481W

the renewables obligation for electricity generated from bioliquids derived from palm oil that meet the sustainability criteria.

The electricity generated from bioliquids which is supported under the renewables obligation has contributed to the increased delivery of sustainable renewable energy. Ofgem's annual sustainability report of 2011-12 indicates that no palm oil was supported under the renewables obligation, and the vast majority of bioliquids used in that period are reported as being derived from wastes or residues. All bioliquids used to generate electricity supported under the renewables obligation are subject to mandatory sustainability criteria and following the recent banding review a 4% cap is being introduced on the proportion of their renewables obligation that suppliers can meet using renewables obligation certificates issued for electricity generated from bioliquids.

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2012, Official Report, column 817W, on biofuels, if he will include data on feedstock types for bioliquid power plants on his Department's renewable energy planning database. [136977]

Mr Hayes: The Renewable Energy Planning Database captures information about proposed renewable energy generating stations which require planning permission. The database is a live information system which we keep it under review and improve from time to time.

Biomass is a versatile fuel that can be used in renewable energy projects in a variety of ways and from many different sources. Before amending the database to include additional fields, we would need to be satisfied that the additional information could be collected in a consistent and accurate manner to a standard applicable to the database and with due regard to costs.

Generating stations who claim support for biomass under the renewables obligation are required to report information about the fuel under Article 54 of the Renewables Obligation Order, including information about the type of biomass used. Ofgem collate this data in an annual biomass sustainability report and publish it on their website:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Pages/MoreInformation.aspx?docid=366&refer=Sustainability/Environment/RenewablObl/FuelledStations/ro-sustainability

Deloitte

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many meetings Ministers and officials in his Department had with Deloitte in each month of (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [135983]

Gregory Barker: The Department of Energy and Climate Change Ministers and officials meet with a wide range of organisations in the public and private sector, as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

The Department publishes a list of ministerial meetings with external organisations. This is available online at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/accesstoinform/registers/ministermtgs/ministermtgs.aspx

14 Jan 2013 : Column 482W

Electricity Generation

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of future revenue to the Exchequer that could be accrued from a contract for difference counterparty surplus. [136583]

Mr Hayes: Payments under the contract for difference are funded through the supplier obligation which will be delivered through secondary regulations and collected by the CfD counterparty. The CfD counterparty will be a not-for-profit organisation. Clause 5 of the Draft Energy Bill sets out that the supplier obligation regulations are made for the purposes of enabling payments of CfDs and funds can only be collected from suppliers for this purpose or for funding the costs of the body. It would therefore be unlawful for them to be used to generate revenue to be retained by the Exchequer.

The Government are considering implementing a variable rate obligation whereby the precise amounts owed to the generators under the CfDs in a given period (such as a month) are collected by the CfD counterparty from suppliers as soon as possible after that period and passed swiftly through to generators. This does not lead to surpluses or deficits in the amount of payment collected from suppliers, and minimises the need for adjustment payments.

We are interested in the impact of the proposed approach on the supplier obligation, and we are seeking views through a call for evidence. This will inform our decisions and design of the obligation but under any scenario it is not our intention that the CfD will raise any revenue for the Exchequer.

Energy

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from which providers his Department purchases its gas and electricity; what the cost of purchasing this fuel during the previous three financial years was; and what the carbon emissions for his Department during this period were. [136638]

Gregory Barker: DECC's London estate comprises 3 Whitehall Place, London and, since July 2011, 55 Whitehall, London. Since 1 April 2012, DECC has purchased electricity and gas for its London estate from EDF and Corona respectively. Prior to this date electricity was supplied by Scottish Hydro Electric and gas by Total.

For its office in Atholl House, Aberdeen DECC purchases its electricity and gas from EDF and Corona respectively.

The cost of purchasing and carbon emissions for the previous three financial year were:

FYElectricity costs (£)Gas costs (£)Greenhouse gas emissions CO2e (t)

2011-12

164,247

13,774

l,051

2010-11

203,723

19,122

l,135

2009-10

200,352

29,926

1,451

The emissions are for the core Department under the scope of the Greening Government Commitments (greenhouse gas emissions from estate and domestic business travel).

14 Jan 2013 : Column 483W

Garages and Petrol Stations

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change with reference to the report produced for his Department by Deloitte, Study of the UK petroleum retail market, published on 14 December 2012, whether he will publish his response to this report and any action he intends to take following its publication. [136316]

Mr Hayes: DECC commissioned this report in order to develop a detailed factual picture of the petroleum retailing sector in the UK to identify and analyse the key business drivers influencing development across the sector, to consider the changing shape of the retail fuel market in the UK, and to consider whether such changes have implications for resilience of retail fuel supplies to the public, and/or in the longer term have security of supply related impacts.

My officials will work with industry and the trade associations to discuss the findings from the report and to consider next steps for industry and Government. This will include considering the findings from the OFT's Call for Information into this sector, due to be published this month.

Green Deal Scheme

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate his Department has made of the average upfront assessment fee householders will pay to upgrade their home as part of the Green Deal. [136523]

Gregory Barker: The Green Deal is a market mechanism and we expect a range of different delivery models to develop. Some provider or assessor organisations may offer assessments at no upfront cost; others are charging the customer the full cost of the assessment upfront; others will waive or refund the fee in full or part in certain circumstances.

The impact assessment carried out by DECC modelled an indicative figure for the cost of the domestic Green Deal assessment to be £112.50, but DECC has made no estimate of the average upfront fee to the consumer, given the range of approaches likely in the market.

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2013, Official Report, column 142W, on the Green Deal scheme, what measures have been put in place as a result of the accreditation process to prevent Gemserv (a) shareholders and (b) board members from influencing recommendations about other Green Deal participants made by the Oversight and Registration Body. [136576]

Gregory Barker: The Oversight and Registration Body (ORB) holds the register of authorised assessors and installers, but is not responsible for recommendations for their authorisation. This process is carried out by independent certification bodies, who themselves have

14 Jan 2013 : Column 484W

to be accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ensure open and consistent standards. For providers, the ORB follows a robust process for recommending approval which has been determined by the Department with the procedures to be followed publically available at:

www.gov.uk/become-green-deal-business

The decision on whether to approve a provider application is taken by the Department, not the ORB, but based on the information gathered by the ORB.

In addition to the above, it is also a fundamental condition of the Department's contract with Gemserv that they must not favour any Green Deal participant over any other, and must ensure that no conflict of interest arises in the performance of these services.

Hinkley Point C Power Station

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans he has to ensure that local communities benefit from the construction and operation of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C other than through a section 106 agreement. [136896]

Mr Hayes: The Government are currently considering proposals for a community benefits package for sites that host new nuclear power stations. Details of the package will be issued accordingly.

Members: Correspondence

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Warley of 1 November 2012 on the manufacture of smart meters. [136679]

Gregory Barker: The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my noble Friend Baroness Verma, has now replied to the hon. Member for Warley, and I apologise for the delay in doing so.

Publications

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how often his Department produces a staff magazine. [137316]

Gregory Barker: DECC does not produce a staff magazine.

Wind Power

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on whether businesses engaged in erecting wind farms are required to have an insurance policy against the decommissioning of such wind farms at a later date. [136229]

Mr Hayes: DECC’s policy is that wind farm developers should put in place suitable financial mechanisms to cover the costs of decommissioning their projects. In the case of onshore wind farms, the nature of those mechanisms is determined in discussions between the

14 Jan 2013 : Column 485W

developer and the relevant local authority on a case-by-case basis. For offshore projects, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will determine what provides suitable security based on the merits of the case.

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the (a) total cost and (b) cost per wind turbine of decommissioning existing (i) onshore and (ii) offshore turbines; and how he intends any such cost to be met. [136233]

Mr Hayes: There are no estimates available for the total cost of decommissioning existing onshore wind farms or individual turbines.

For offshore wind farms, the developers of some projects have provided estimates for the costs of removing their wind farms. On the basis of those figures, the current estimated cost of removing those 'in the water' projects which have been completed so far is approximately £182 million (net). These total costs which include removal of offshore sub-stations and electric lines average out at £264,000 per turbine.

The costs of decommissioning onshore and offshore wind farms are met by the developers of the projects in question.

Wind Power: Carmarthenshire

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he plans to visit north Carmarthenshire before making his decision on the Brechfa West Wind Farm planning application. [136614]

Gregory Barker: I have no plans to visit north Carmarthenshire before the decision on the proposed Brechfa Forest West planning application is taken.

Wind Power: Wales

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the costs being borne by Welsh local authorities defending refusal decisions on wind farm applications over 50 megawatts at public inquiry over the last three years. [136507]

Gregory Barker: The cost of defending their objections to wind farm applications at public inquiry is a matter for the relevant local authorities.

Wales

Higher Education

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Minister of Wales on widening access strategies in Welsh higher education; and if he will make a statement. [136170]

Stephen Crabb: Access to higher education in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Government. The UK Government take every opportunity to make clear that Britain remains open for business, and that talented international students are welcome here. The Secretary of State for Wales discussed access to higher education with vice-chancellors of higher education institutions in Wales in November.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 486W

Higher Education: Research

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister of Wales on the level of research funding obtained by the Welsh higher education sector; and if he will make a statement. [136168]

Stephen Crabb: The UK Government are responsible for Research Council funding which is awarded on the basis of applications made by individual researchers, subject to independent expert peer review. Awards are made on the basis of the research potential and are irrespective of geographical location. The Welsh Government is responsible for providing core quality related research funding for higher education institutions in Wales. The Secretary of State for Wales discussed UK Research Council funding with vice-chancellors of higher education institutions in Wales in November.

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on the level of research funding obtained by the Welsh higher education sector; and if he will make a statement. [136169]

Stephen Crabb: The Secretary of State for Wales has exchanged letters with the Minister for Universities and Science, my right hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr Willetts), on this issue and has also discussed UK Research Council funding with vice-chancellors of higher education institutions in Wales in November.

The UK Government are responsible for Research Council funding which is awarded on the basis of applications made by individual researchers, subject to independent, expert peer review. Awards are made on the basis of the research potential and are irrespective of geographical location. The Welsh Government are responsible for providing core quality related research funding for higher education institutions in Wales.

Pneumonia

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2012, Official Report, column 690W, on pneumonia, when he will write providing the figures for deaths from hospital-acquired pneumonia at University Hospital Wales Cardiff in each of then last five years. [136987]

Mr David Jones: The information required is not readily available. I will write to the hon. Lady separately.

River Severn

Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what recent discussions he has had with environmental bodies in Wales on the proposal for a Severn Barrage; and if he will make a statement; [136172]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for (a) Energy and Climate Change and (b) Business, Innovation and Skills on the proposal for a Severn Barrage; and if he will make a statement; [136173]

14 Jan 2013 : Column 487W

(3) what recent discussions he has had with (a) the First Minister of Wales and (b) local authority leaders in South Wales on the proposal for a Severn Barrage; and if he will make a statement; [136174]

(4) what recent discussions he has had with (a) university research departments in Wales and (b) engineering and construction companies in Wales on the proposal for a Severn Barrage; and if he will make a statement. [136175]

Mr David Jones: I have had various discussions on the Severn Barrage with a range of interested individuals and organisations. The Government welcome proposals for all types of tidal range projects (barrages and lagoons etc.) in the bays and estuaries around our coasts; however, all proposals need to be considered carefully with respect to the capital cost, energy cost and any environmental, economic and social impacts.

House of Commons Commission

Sickness Absence

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2012, Official Report, column 331W, on sick leave, if he will make an assessment of the contribution mindfulness-based practice can make to reducing workplace stress and staff absences in the House of Commons service. [136203]

John Thurso: The House of Commons Service is currently revising the policy and guidance on workplace stress. As part of this work, the House Service is considering the contribution mindfulness-based practice could make to reducing work place stress and staff absences. It is likely that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy will be used where appropriate, as recommended by the current NICE guideline on the treatment and management of depression in adults.

Attorney-General

Prosecutions: Appeals

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General on how many occasions the Crown Prosecution Service has reconsidered a decision not to prosecute following an appeal by the alleged victim since July 2012. [136796]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) complaints handling procedure currently incorporates requests from victims to have decisions not to prosecute reconsidered. However, the number of decisions reconsidered since July 2012 is not recorded separately within the complaints handling system and these data cannot be reasonably obtained locally or nationally without reviewing individual complaint records which would incur a disproportionate cost.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 488W

Scotland

Business

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps his Department has taken to raise awareness of the Start-Up Loans scheme in Scotland. [136873]

David Mundell: The Start-Up Loans scheme is an England-only initiative and does not operate in Scotland. As a result of the Government's decision, announced in the autumn statement, to provide follow-on funding for the scheme, the Scottish Government were allocated more than £7 million in Barnett consequentials. It is for the Scottish Government to decide how that money is spent in Scotland.

Deloitte

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many meetings Ministers and officials in his Department had with Deloitte in each month of (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [135984]

David Mundell: No such meetings have taken place.

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department paid to Deloitte for consultancy services in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [135985]

David Mundell: The Scotland Office did not use Deloitte for consultancy services in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 or (c) 2012.

Procurement

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many research contracts commissioned by his Department were not subject to a tendering process in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [135967]

David Mundell: No research contracts were commissioned by the Scotland Office in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012.

Sickness Absence

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2012, Official Report, column 318W, on sick leave, if he will make an assessment of the contribution mindfulness-based practice can make to reducing workplace stress and staff absences in his Department. [136202]

David Mundell: All Scotland Office staff are on secondment from other Government bodies, principally the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice and are covered by absence management policies of their parent bodies.

While absence levels in the Scotland Office are low, local managers keep sickness absences under constant review and apply the relevant departmental policies, ensuring that staff have access to appropriate advice and assistance through an occupational health care provider, which provides professional, independent medical guidance.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 489W

Northern Ireland

Sickness Absence

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 11 December 2012, Official Report, column 217W, on sick leave, if she will make an assessment of the contribution mindfulness-based practice can make to reducing workplace stress and staff absences in her Department. [136200]

Mike Penning: Each occurrence of sick leave in my Department is managed on a case by case basis in line with existing policies and procedures. No specific assessment of the use of mindfulness-based therapies has been planned.

Transport

Bus Services: Information and Communications Technology

Rushanara Ali: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider promoting a specific fund for the installation of audio-visual announcements in all buses nationwide. [136630]

Norman Baker: I understand the social benefits of having such systems on buses for all bus users and have written to bus operators to encourage them to work in partnership with their local authorities, to see if the uptake of these systems can be increased on a voluntary basis.

As part of the Government's Olympic and Paralympic legacy, the Department for Transport is currently looking at a number of ways of improving the accessibility of public transport, as reflected in our Accessibility Action Plan published on 12 December 2012.

Bus Services: Nottinghamshire

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding his Department has allocated for the provision of bus services in the Nottinghamshire County Council area in each financial year since 2009-10. [136946]

Norman Baker: Nottinghamshire County Council can procure tendered local bus services where commercial routes are not viable. As funding is provided through the main Local Government Formula Grant, an unhypothecated block grant allocated by the Department for Communities and Local Government, it is not possible to say how much is allocated to Nottinghamshire County Council for the provision of bus services.

The Department for Transport allocated Nottinghamshire County Council £926,959 in 2009-10 and £950,727 in 2010-11 in Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) for the provision of additional local bus services to rural communities. In 2010/11 and 2011/12, the Department made two payments of £158,455 with the aim of kick-starting and supporting community transport as part of the Supporting Community Transport Fund.

Bus operators running local registered bus services in the Nottinghamshire County Council area are able to claim Bus Service Operators Grant. Although data relating to the amount claimed by operators is not

14 Jan 2013 : Column 490W

available broken down by local authority area, the following links provide information on payments made to individual operators for claims covering the periods up to (i) 31 March 2010 and (ii) 31 March 2011.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110504135837/http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/buses/busgrants/bsog/661224

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3258/bsog-grants-paid-2011.pdf

Green Flag

Robert Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department had with (i) the Chief Executive of Green Flag and (ii) the RBS group on the restructuring of Green Flag and its tendering processes for contracted vehicle recovery firms in 2010 to 2012. [136672]

Stephen Hammond: Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations are routinely published every quarter and information can be accessed on the gov.uk website via the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministerial-transparency-data

Information covering the period up to the end of December 2012 will be published in due course.

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when Lichfield Trent Valley rail station will be upgraded to enable disabled access to those platforms at the station which are currently inaccessible to disabled passengers and those with heavy luggage; and if he will make a statement. [136996]

Norman Baker: We are committed to improving access to railway stations and last summer announced a further £100 million to extend the Access for All programme from 2015 until 2019. We will be working with the industry and local authorities to select stations for the extended programme this year and, although I cannot guarantee that Lichfield Trent Valley will be chosen, it will be considered along with other currently inaccessible stations across the country.

London Midland

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the performance of London-Midland trains between 24 December 2012 and 2 January 2013; and if he will make a statement. [135895]

Norman Baker: On 20 December 2012 the Secretary of State made a statement to the House where he announced a series of measures the Department negotiated with London Midland to ensure that a reliable passenger service is restored as quickly as possible and also to help compensate passengers who have suffered over the past 3 months during the disruption.

London Midland has implemented a number of remedial measures, including improvements in the use of train crew through more efficient ‘diagramming' of their shifts, implemented at the December timetable change

14 Jan 2013 : Column 491W

on 9 December 2012. Performance figures between 9 and 24 December 2012, as well as during the first few days of January 2013 provide some early indication that these measures are beginning to have the desired positive effect.

I regret to say, however, that between 24 December 2012 and 2 January 2013 London Midland experienced a high number of cancellations, particularly on 24 and 31 December, largely as a result of a number of drivers calling in sick at short notice leading to a shortage of available drivers. During the period from 24 to 31 December 2012 more than 8% of London Midland services suffered either a full or part cancellation and in addition to this there were further delays associated with infrastructure problems as well as driver shortages.

The measures implemented to date do not provide a complete and immediate fix, as evidenced over the festive period. London Midland's programme for recruiting and training additional new drivers will continue for the next 18 months in order to improve the robustness of the service and provide additional resilience to circumstances such as that experienced on 24 and 31 December. There are therefore positive signs but also some caution. Officials continue to monitor London Midland performance, of both cancellations and delays, very closely and will take serious action if the improvements agreed as part of the remedial plan are not delivered or successful.

I have personally been scrutinising London Midland's performance including holding a teleconference with the Managing Director.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the number of foreign-registered vehicles remaining in the UK beyond the deadline for registration with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. [136504]

Stephen Hammond: There have been no recent estimates of the number of foreign-registered vehicles remaining in the UK beyond the deadline for registration with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. No central database records details of foreign registered vehicles as they enter or exit the UK.

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many prosecutions have been undertaken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in the last year against owners of foreign-registered vehicles that have remained in the UK beyond the registration deadline. [136505]

Stephen Hammond: No prosecutions were undertaken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in the last year but four foreign-registered vehicles were wheel clamped.

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what safeguards he has put in place to ensure that foreign-registered vehicles do not remain within the UK beyond the registration deadline with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. [136506]

Stephen Hammond: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency maintains a record of foreign-registered vehicles reported by members of the public, the police or local

14 Jan 2013 : Column 492W

authority partners. Evidence that a vehicle has been in the UK for more than six months can result in enforcement action. This includes the wheel clamping and impounding of the vehicle.

Part-time Employment

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of staff in his Department work part-time. [137022]

Norman Baker: As at 31 December 2012, the percentage of staff that worked part-time for the Central Department and its six Executive Agencies was 17.91%.

Railways: Finance

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of savings that can be made in the rail sector in 2013. [136602]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department set out the funding available for the industry for the period 2009-14 in its 2007 High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funds Available. The Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) set an efficiency target of 21% for Network Rail for this period.

The process for setting the funding for the rail industry for the period 2014-19 is currently under way. The ORR will publish its final determination in October 2013.

In March 2012, the Government published a Command Paper—Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First—setting out their ambition to incentivise industry to reduce the cost of running the railways by £3.5 billion/year by 2019.

Railways: Floods

Mr Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to improve resilience against flooding of the rail link between London Paddington and the South West. [136367]

Norman Baker: The strategic business plans published on 8 January by Network Rail and the rail industry for the period 2014-19 include plans for investment which will improve the resilience of the railway infrastructure, including measures to improve flood mitigation. These plans are now subject to review by the Office of Rail Regulation, which will determine the appropriate level of funding and delivery obligations for Network Rail over that period.

Regional Airports

Mr Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to help regional airports expand. [136021]

Mr Simon Burns: The Government's Aviation Policy Framework, published for consultation last July, recognised regional airports' contribution to local and regional economies, and their important roles in maintaining air connectivity and helping accommodate forecast growth in UK aviation demand. Within the Framework document we also announced some short-term measures to make the best use of existing airport capacity, encourage

14 Jan 2013 : Column 493W

investment, and improve surface access to the benefit of passengers and the wider economy. The Government aims to adopt the final Aviation Policy Framework this spring.

Roads: Accidents

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of children killed or seriously injured on roads were from ethnic minority backgrounds in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will estimate the number of such deaths or injuries that resulted from not wearing a seatbelt. [135909]

Stephen Hammond: The requested information is not held centrally.

Robert Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (1) professional recovery and emergency service staff have been injured as a result of incidents at the roadside in each parliamentary constituency in the last 12 months for which figures are available; [136742]

(2) professional recovery and emergency service staff have been injured as a result of incidents at the roadside during the last 12 months for which figures are available; [136743]


(3) motorists have been injured as a result of incidents at the roadside during the last 12 months for which figures are available. [136744]

Stephen Hammond: The Department does not collect any information on the profession of the casualty.

The Department only holds information on accidents involving personal injuries occurring on highways (including footways) that involve at least one road vehicle (including collisions with pedestrians) and that become known to the police within 30 days of its occurrence.

The Department collects information on the contributory factors associated with road accident casualties. Information for accidents in Great Britain in 2011 is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/10241/ras50007.xls

Some of these contributory factors include cases where an event at the roadside or outside of the vehicle may have contributed to the accident. However, these factors do not indicate whether the accident was as a result of roadside incident or whether the vehicle was in attendance of a roadside incident at the time of the accident.

Roads: Safety

Robert Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the Slow Down Move Over campaign's proposals to make hard shoulders safer for professionals and motorists alike; and if he will make a statement. [136828]

Stephen Hammond: No work has been undertaken to assess the Slow Down Move Over campaign. There is currently insufficient capacity on the strategic road network to introduce such a policy and there are no plans to introduce legislation.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 494W

Unemployed People: Travel

Lilian Greenwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions there have been between his Department and the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to the Bus for Jobs initiative. [137130]

Norman Baker: Bus for Jobs is a commercial concession offered by participating operators in Great Britain. The Department for Work and Pensions worked closely with the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, Greener Journeys and the Department for Transport to design and implement and announce the initiative.

West Coast Railway Line

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the affordability of train tickets on the West Coast mainline for people in Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency. [136601]

Mr Simon Burns: Regulated fares set by Virgin Trains for travel on the West Coast Mainline are set in line with the West Coast franchise agreement. For people who can travel off-peak some very cheap fares can be found. For example, advance single fares from Paisley Gilmour Street to London Euston can be found from £22.00.

Fares set by First ScotRail are a matter for the Scottish Government.

International Development

Afghanistan

Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of her Department's funding for Afghanistan is going to (a) Daykundi province, (b) Bamyan province and (c) Northern Afghanistan; and what proportion of the population lives in each of those areas. [136374]

Justine Greening: DFID provides support to all provinces in Afghanistan through our nationwide programmes and our assistance to the multi-donor Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. We also provide up to £1 million to improve the capability of the Bamyan provincial government to provide basic services and £3 million in partnership with New Zealand Aid to improve agricultural productivity in Bamyan. Beyond this, it is not possible to disaggregate the exact proportion of funding allocated to specific provinces without incurring disproportionate costs.

According to the Afghan Government's Central Statistics Office 2011-12 estimates, the total population of Afghanistan is 26.5 million:

Daykundi province has a total settled population of 431,000, equivalent to 1.6% of the total population of Afghanistan.

Bamyan province has a total settled population of 418,500, equivalent to 1.6% of the total population.

Northern provinces (Jawzjan, Faryab, Balkh, Samangan, Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar, Sar e Pul and Badakshan) have a combined population of 7,131,000, equivalent to 26.9% of the total population.

14 Jan 2013 : Column 495W

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of her Department's staff are based in the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT); what plans she has for the Helmand PRT; and if she will make a statement. [136661]

Justine Greening: We do not provide detailed information on staffing numbers in Afghanistan for security and operational reasons.

As agreed by President Karzai and the international community all PRTs across Afghanistan will close by the end of 2014 in line with security transition, including the UK-led Helmand PRT.

Bangladesh

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the level of corruption in Bangladesh; and what programmes and projects her Department funds which aim to reduce corruption levels and promote democracy in Bangladesh. [136370]

Mr Duncan: In 2012, Transparency International ranked Bangladesh 144 out of 174 countries in their corruption perceptions index (with one being the least corrupt). This is a slight decline on recent years but an improvement on 2005, when the country ranked last.

The DFID programme called ‘Strengthening Political Participation in Bangladesh’ (SPP) will help to promote anti-corruption advocacy and awareness, improve the quality of input to policy making and legislation and help to ensure better scrutiny of future elections. It will include projects that work with political parties and their supporters; with the Bangladesh Election Commission; with Parliament—notably Parliamentary Standing Committees; and with Bangladeshi civil society.

Consultants

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what changes other than a threshold for ministerial sign-off for contracts with suppliers, were recommended in her Department's report on the use of private consultants; [136745]

(2) when she will make public the results of her Department's report on the use of private consultants. [136747]

Justine Greening: The Government do not publish advice to Ministers.

A number of steps have already been taken as part of the first wholesale review of the Department's approach to suppliers in the last decade. This includes changes to the threshold for ministerial sign-off for contracts. In November I met with DFID's largest suppliers to start a process of working with them individually and collectively to get better value for money. That work is ongoing.

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what changes other than a threshold for ministerial sign-off for contracts with suppliers, will be implemented as a result of the findings of her Department's report on the use of private consultants. [136746]

14 Jan 2013 : Column 496W

Justine Greening: A number of steps have already been taken as part of the first wholesale review of the department's approach to suppliers in the last decade. This includes changes to the threshold for ministerial sign-off for contracts. In November I met with DFID's largest suppliers to start a process of working with them individually and collectively to get better value for money.

Kenya

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what initiatives her Department is working on with the Ministry of Defence to support aid development in Kenya. [136660]

Lynne Featherstone: Through the tri-departmental Africa Conflict Prevention Programme, the Department for International Development has worked closely with the Ministry of Defence to reduce the risks of violent conflict around the forthcoming Kenyan national elections. This has included support to the Kenya police, military and civil society organisations to improve early warning and response systems, and support to the Kenya military and police to tackle the growing threat of improvised explosive devices. The Department has also helped the UK military with their preparations for short term support to the delivery of some health care services in Isiolo and Samburu counties.