16 Apr 2013 : Column 277W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment Agency

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many

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prosecutions were instigated in each region by the Environment Agency in each year since 2008; and how many such prosecutions were successful. [150980]

Richard Benyon: The tables supplied set out the number and result of prosecutions instigated in each Environment Agency region since 2008.

Table A: Rod-and-Line Fisheries Prosecutions (ie fishing without a licence or in the closed season)
 20082009201020112012
 SuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotal

Anglian

537

543

463

464

330

330

216

217

195

196

Midlands

743

754

490

491

421

425

307

307

568

572

North East

609

616

646

648

631

639

449

453

614

616

North West

723

723

450

451

448

450

293

295

278

279

Southern(1)

456

469

259

259

245

248

(2)724

(2)734

(2)358

(2)361

Thames(1)

1,244

1,281

892

895

657

667

(2)

(2)

(2)

(2)

South West

328

330

117

117

53

54

36

36

130

131

Wales

308

315

220

220

153

153

78

79

733

742

Table B: All Other Environmental Prosecutions—Including: waste management; water quality; water resources; pollution cases; emissions to air; radioactive substances; breaches of various environmental permits and operating without a permit; flood defence; navigation and non-standard fisheries cases (eg poaching)
 20082009201020112012
 SuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotalSuccessfulTotal

Anglian

58

58

54

55

64

64

99

100

79

81

Midlands

118

123

82

88

63

67

77

80

42

43

North East

95

97

110

113

121

123

128

128

78

79

North West

68

68

82

84

88

89

91

91

60

61

Southern(1)

79

79

60

60

52

52

(2)120

(2)120

(2)78

(2)78

Thames(1)

75

78

49

56

86

89

(2)

(2)

(2)

(2)

South West

99

100

84

84

98

99

83

87

63

67

Wales

123

124

135

136

71

71

93

93

101

102

(1) In 2011 the Environment Agency merged its ‘Southern' and ‘Thames' regions to form a new ‘South East' region, the data have been merged accordingly. (2) Indicates brace.

EU Grants and Loans

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the European Commission consultation on the European School Milk and Fruit and Vegetable Schemes. [150767]

Mr Heath: I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I provided her with on 7 March 2013, Official Report, column 1169W, and to the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Gordon Henderson), on 20 March 2013, Official Report, column 706W.

Floods: Insurance

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what information his Department provides to people living in flood risk areas on securing fair home insurance premium; [150693]

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that home insurance premiums accurately reflect the risk of flooding. [150932]

Richard Benyon: In collaboration with the National Flood Forum and industry representatives, DEFRA published a “Guide to obtaining flood insurance in high risk areas” in July 2012.

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This will be made available in the Library of the House.

The guide provides practical information to householders living in high flood risk areas that are finding it difficult to find insurance cover.

It provides helpline numbers that will assist householders to locate flood specialist insurance brokers and the information that may be needed by those brokers. It also provides tips on how to reduce the impact of flooding on properties and useful information on key organisations responsible for the management of flood risk.

The Environment Agency provides maps on its website which show areas at risk of flooding and information on how that might affect an individual's insurance. This information is updated quarterly and is available at:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31650.aspx

DEFRA has also been working with the Association of British Insurers and others to establish a common methodology for reporting the impact of property-level protection measures in reducing potential flood damages. We have recently published the resulting template and guidance which will help insurers incorporate that information into their risk assessment and pricing decisions. This information is available on the Environment Agency's website at the following web address:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/129526.aspx

Constructive discussions continue between Government and the Association of British Insurers and others about the future of flood insurance. We need a solution that ensures affordable insurance bills for those at flood risk but does not place unsustainable costs on wider policyholders and the taxpayer. A range of options are on the table and no final decisions have been taken.

I will endeavour to provide a further public update at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

Food: Inspections

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how frequently his Department undertakes reviews of the available sampling and testing capacity for food standards and food hygiene. [150054]

Anna Soubry: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the central competent authority for food safety and has a statutory function under the Food Standards Art 1999 to protect public health and consumers' other interests in relation to food and drink. The majority of food law enforcement is delegated to local authorities throughout the United Kingdom which carry out checks of all food businesses in their area to ensure compliance with food safety/traceability and labelling requirements. Local authority food sampling responsibilities are set out in the statutory Food Law Code of Practice (separate parallel Codes of Practice exist for each of the four UK countries), as part of which they are required to develop an annual sampling programme for their area and provide the resources necessary to carry it out.

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The FSA monitors arrangements to make sure that there is adequate provision for local authority sampling and analysis as part of an annual process, whereby the FSA reports on the UK's performance in carrying out regulatory controls, as set out in the National Control Plan required under the EC Official Feed and Food Regulation 882/2004.

In addition, the FSA identifies priorities each year for the national co-ordinated food-sampling programme, carried out by local authorities funded by the FSA. The priorities take into account consumer and public health protection, and are risk and evidence-based and intelligence-led. The priorities are published on the FSA's website.

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many reviews of the Public Analyst service have been (a) commenced and (b) completed by his Department since 2000. [150055]

Anna Soubry: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

Since 2000 there has been one review of the UK Public Analyst service undertaken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), working with various stakeholders, in 2007. This review followed the 1998 Turner Review of Public Analyst arrangements in England and Wales and the parallel 1998 Timbury Review of food-related scientific services in Scotland and the 1999 Turner and Gorsuch Review of Public Analyst services in Northern Ireland.

Although not directly related to a review of the Public Analyst Service, in 2012 a thorough review of the Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) Regulations 1990 was undertaken by the FSA, in collaboration with key UK stakeholders, resulting in a full public consultation of the options proposed(1). The new Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2013 came into force on 6 April 2013. The Sampling and Qualification Regulations stipulate qualifications an individual needs to possess in order to be appointed as a Public Analyst.

(1)http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/consultations/consultations-england/2012/reviewfoodsafetysampqualregseng

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the suitability of systems of competitive tendering for contracts for food hygiene and food standards public analyst scientific services. [150058]

Anna Soubry: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

Responsibility for the suitability of systems used for competitive tendering for contracts for food hygiene and food standards public analyst scientific services lies with the local authority rather than the Food Standards Agency.

River Thames

Kwasi Kwarteng: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of recent changes in navigation charges levied by the Environment Agency on vessels on the River Thames and the comparative effects of such changes on the owners of larger and smaller vessels. [151162]

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Richard Benyon: The recent change in navigation charges levied by the Environment Agency on privately owned boats on the River Thames followed consultation with customer representatives. It comprises an increased charge for 2013-14 of 4.6%, in accordance with the three-year charging plan of the consumer price index, plus 2%.

The effect of this flat rate increase varies with the size of each boat. The charge is levied based on boat area (length by breadth) so the increase is proportionate to boat size.

The Environment Agency has adjusted the price this year for the largest boats. It now pays 40% less than the normal charge for every square metre over 80 square metres. The Environment Agency has received positive feedback from customers about it. Owners of smaller boats accept the increase, although they do not welcome it. They have stated that they do not want the Environment Agency to adjust the charges to benefit larger boats without considering their charges too.

DEFRA is considering transferring the Environment Agency navigations to the Canal and River Trust (CRT) subject to affordability and the agreement of the CRT's trustees. Although this is under consideration, it is not appropriate for the Environment Agency fundamentally to review and change its boat registration regime. This is something CRT would need to review.

Telephone Services

John Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) for each of the principal access numbers operated by (a) his Department and (b) the agencies for which he is responsible, what revenue has been retained by (i) the telephone provider for that line and (ii) his Department in each of the last three years; [149994]

(2) which telephone lines are operated by (a) his Department and (b) the agencies for which he is responsible for public inquiries or other services; what the (i) principal access number and (ii) telephone service provider is for each number; and which such lines (A) are free to the caller and (B) may incur a charge to the caller. [150017]

Richard Benyon: The information is as follows:

Core DEFRA

Core DEFRA operates the following telephone lines designated for public inquiries:

 Telephone number

DEFRA Helpline

08459 335577

British Cattle Movement Tracing System(1)

0845 0501234

British Cattle Movement Service (Wales)(1)

0845 0503456

Livestock Identification Helpline

0845 0509876

Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme Helpline

0845 6014858

Broiler Directive Registration Helpline

0845 6014858

(1) The British Cattle Movement Service telephone numbers are shared between core DEFRA and the RPA.

All core DEFRA lines are provided by one of the following companies:

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BT;

Serco;

Azzurri; and

Cable & Wireless.

Calls to the Poultry Register Helpline will be free from most landlines but mobile phone providers may charge. All other lines will incur a charge to the caller.

Core DEFRA retains no income from any telephone calls received from members of the public. All revenue is retained by the telephone companies providing the service. We have no knowledge of the service provider's revenue retention.

Animal Health, Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHVLA)

 Telephone number

Poultry Register Helpline

0800 6341112

Register for Disease Alerts

0844 8849888

National Fallen Stock Scheme

0845 0548888

Pre 1996 Cattle Movements

0845 6014858

Welfare in Transit Helpline

0845 6038395

TSE Helpline

0845 6011367

AHVLA Disease Outbreak Information Line

0844 8844600

PETS Helpline

0870 2411710

All AHVLA lines are provided by one of the following companies:

BT;

Serco;

Azzurri; and

Cable & Wireless.

AHVLA retains no income from any telephone calls received from members of the public. All revenue is retained by the telephone companies providing the service. We have no knowledge of the service provider's revenue retention.

Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

The RPA operates the following telephone lines designated for public inquiries:

 Telephone number

Customer Service Centre (CSC)

0845 6037777

British Cattle Movement Service(1)

(2)0845 0501234

British Cattle Movement Service(1)

(3)0845 0503456

Cattle Tracing System

(2)0845 0111212

Cattle Tracing System

(3)0845 0111213

Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate

0845 6073224

Fraud Line

0800 347347

External Trade

0191 2265050

Securities and Guarantees

0118 9531723

Slaughter Schemes

(4)0845 6037777

(1 )The British Cattle Movement Service telephone numbers are shared between core DEFRA and the RPA. (2) English. (3) Welsh. (4) CSC number.

All RPA's telephone lines are provided by Cable & Wireless Worldwide.

Calls to the Fraud Line will be free from most landlines but mobile phone providers may charge. All other lines will incur a charge to the caller.

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The following table provides the RPA's total revenue retention for each of the last three financial years. We have no knowledge of the service provider's revenue retention.

RPA revenue retention
Financial year£

2010-11

(1)3,388.72

2011-12

(1)5,059.13

2012-13

0

(1) + VAT.

Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA)

Fera operates the following telephone lines designated for public inquiries:

 Telephone number

Plant Health Helpdesk

0844 2480071

Badger Vaccine

0844 2480073

International Food Safety Training Laboratory (IFSTL)

0300 1000326

Customer Services Group (CSG)

0300 1000330

Government Decontamination Service (GDS) Emergency

0845 8503513

Government Decontamination Service (GDS) General

0845 0518486

All of these phone lines are provided by alternative networks, and all incur a charge to the caller.

No revenue is retained by FERA for these telephone lines. We have no knowledge of the service provider's revenue retention.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mel Stride: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he intends to answer question 148171, tabled on 12 March 2013 for answer on 14 March 2013. [150859]

Mr Heath: I answered the hon. Gentleman's question on 15 April 2013.

Defence

Armed Forces: Sexual Offences

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many allegations relating to the possession of indecent images have been made by (a) armed forces personnel and (b) civilian staff based in Iraq in each year since 2005; how many of these have (i) been referred for prosecution and (ii) resulted in a conviction; and if he will make a statement; [137690]

(2) how many allegations relating to the possession of indecent images have been made by (a) armed forces personnel and (b) civilian staff based in Afghanistan in each year since 2005; how many of these have (i) been referred for prosecution and (ii) resulted in a conviction; and if he will make a statement. [137691]

Mr Francois: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has no record of any allegations made by service personnel or civilian staff based in Iraq relating to the possession of indecent images in the period between the implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006 on 1 November 2009 and 31 December 2012.

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The Ministry of Defence holds the following information on allegations made relating to the possession of indecent images in Afghanistan over the period 1 November 2009 and 31 December 2012:

 Allegations made by service personnel

2009

0

2010

1

2011

1

2012

6

Total

8

We have no record of any allegations made by civilian staff in this period.

Information held on the above cases indicates the following outcomes:

Two cases were not investigated because the complaint was not pursued.

One case was investigated but did not result in that person being referred to a prosecuting authority under the Armed Forces Act 2006.

Five cases are ongoing.

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff are employed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Cumbria; and what proportion of those staff are paid at or above the national level of the living wage. [149882]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 25 March 2013]: The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has no staff employed in Cumbria.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plan is in place to fulfil maritime surveillance roles if Crowsnest is not operational by 2016. [150928]

Mr Robathan: I refer the hon. Lady to my letter to the House of Commons Defence Committee on 28 January 2013. A copy of the letter can be found at the following link:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/defence/130128-Andrew-Robathan-MOD-to-Chair-followup.tif.pdf

MOD Ashchurch

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much investment there has been in buildings at the Ministry of Defence site at Ashchurch in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [150670]

Mr Francois [holding answer 15 April 2013]: Over the last seven years the investment in Ashchurch is shown in the following table. This is exclusive of repair and maintenance and minor refurbishment work. Data prior to Financial year 2007-08 are not held.

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Financial yearInvestment (£ million)

2012-13

0

2011-12

0

2010-11

0

2009-10

0

2008-09

0.5

2007-08

1.7

2006-07

0

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the estimated cost of moving the operations carried out at Ashchurch to another base in terms of (a) the cost of physical movement, (b) extra training costs, (c) redundancy payments and (d) any other costs; and if he will make a statement. [150723]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 15 April 2013]: The facilities at Ministry of Defence (MOD) site at Ashchurch are at the end of their life and parts of the site can no longer be used as a result of health and safety requirements. The facilities would need extensive renewal to continue to be operational effectively, while the vehicle numbers that the site supports are reducing as a result of the strategic defence and security review.

The MOD is therefore reviewing a number of vehicle basing options and has identified opportunities for greater efficiency from relocating facilities rather than investing in the infrastructure at Ashchurch. The MOD will be withdrawing from the site entirely unless retention of a small number of specific buildings proves better value for money. It is too early at this time to provide further details of any associated costs.

The MOD has a responsibility to gain the best value for money for the taxpayer and has identified the opportunity that MOD Ashchurch could be made available as development land, contributing to the Government's aim to make surplus public sector land available for housing, with the potential capacity for up to 2,100 new homes. A public consultation has been undertaken so that wider views and opinions can be taken into consideration for any future development.

Porton Down: Animal Experiments

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne) of 12 February 2013, Official Report, column 634W, on Porton Down: animal experiments, what the (a) species and (b) ages of the animals used for experiment at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Porton Down facility were. [147587]

Mr Dunne: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 29 January 2013, Official Report, column 742W, to the hon. Member for Portsmouth South (Mr Hancock).

There is no Home Office requirement to return the ages of the animals, so this information is not recorded.

RAF Brize Norton

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the Atlas training programme at RAF Brize Norton. [150093]

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Mr Robathan: To date, contracts have been awarded with a total value of some £343 million for the provision of training infrastructure, synthetic training equipment and contractor support to the Atlas training programme at RAF Brize Norton. It is estimated that a further £77 million will be required to complete and sustain the training programme until 2030. These sums do not include RAF personnel costs or the costs of flying the Atlas aircraft for training purposes.

Rescue Services

Sir Alan Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Ministry of Defence police inquiries into the abandoned search and rescue helicopter contract have been completed; and if he will make a statement. [129926]

Mr Dunne: The Ministry of Defence police investigation into the search and rescue helicopter contract is currently at an advanced stage. It would therefore be inappropriate to disclose any information at this time.

I will write to the right hon. Gentleman when the investigation is completed, with the information requested.

Substantive answer from Mr Philip Dunne to Sir Alan Beith:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 29th November 2012 (Official Report, column 462W) about the Ministry of Defence Police investigation into the Search and Rescue Helicopter contract. I apologise that it has taken so long to reply.

I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence Police investigation has now ended. The police investigation, which was thorough, wide ranging and proportionate, concluded that no further police action was warranted.

Prime Minister

Electoral Register

Jim Shannon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will introduce compulsory electoral registration. [150899]

Miss Chloe Smith: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

The Government believe that the act of registering to vote is a civic duty, but do not believe it is appropriate to criminalise people for not registering to vote.

The existing criminal offence of not providing information to an electoral registration officer (ERO) when required to do so—for example, on a household canvass form—will remain under individual electoral registration.

It is not currently an offence not to be registered in the UK, and this will not change under IER.

Under IER, electoral registration officers will be able to issue a civil penalty when individuals fail to make an application when they are required to do so. This means that if an individual repeatedly refuses to make an application a registration officer can require them to make an application to register to vote. Failure to make an application at this stage could lead to a civil penalty being issued.

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, which we will set out in draft secondary legislation, before they can issue a fine.

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Nepal

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Prime Minister whether he has any plans to visit Nepal in an official capacity. [151238]

The Prime Minister: Details of my engagements are announced as and when appropriate.

Work and Pensions

Asbestos

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what procedures are in place to check and monitor the presence of asbestos in the workplace. [151424]

Mr Hoban: The owner or person responsible for maintenance of a workplace is required to carry out an assessment to determine the presence, location, and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), under regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (SI 2012 No. 632). A plan must then be prepared and put into effect to manage the risks from any ACMs present, including ongoing monitoring of their condition.

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have died from lung cancer contracted as a result of exposure to asbestos in (a) England and (b) Birmingham in each of the last two years. [151425]

Mr Hoban: Lung cancer deaths caused by asbestos are clinically indistinguishable from those caused by other agents such as tobacco smoke, and therefore cannot be directly enumerated. However, it is estimated that about the same number of lung cancer deaths due to asbestos occur each year as mesothelioma deaths, for which detailed statistics are available.

Statistics for mesothelioma deaths in 2009 and 2010 (the latest two years for which data are available) suggest that there may have been approximately 2,000 deaths in England, and approximately 20 deaths in the Birmingham local authority area, due to asbestos-related lung cancer in each of these two years.

Computers

Mr Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) desktop computers, (b) laptop computers and (c) tablet devices his Department has purchased in the last two years. [151349]

Mr Hoban: The Department for Work and Pensions has contractual arrangements under which it leases desktop and laptop devices from its IT suppliers.

However, the Department purchased 23 laptops, eight desktop computers and 20 tablets during 2012-13 for pilots and trial purposes to meet non-standard technical and/or operational needs.

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Credit Unions

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to develop credit unions. [144570]

Steve Webb: On 27 June 2012, it was announced that the Government will take forward the findings of the Feasibility Study. In particular, DWP has plans to make a further investment in credit unions, subject to a contracting process.

Our aim is to support the credit union sector to provide financial services for up to 1 million more consumers on lower incomes in a way that will enable credit unions to modernise, expand and become financially sustainable.

I can confirm that we gave details of our preferred supplier to deliver credit union expansion to the bidding organisations on 31 January. Subject to satisfactory outcomes to discussions with the preferred supplier, we are likely to be in a position to announce the award of the contract in March.

Employment and Support Allowance: Scotland

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many fixed-length sanctions were imposed on employment and support allowance claimants in Scotland in each month from December 2012 to March 2013. [150874]

Mr Hoban: The information as requested is not readily available.

The sanctions regime for employment support allowance (ESA) claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) changed from the beginning of December 2012.

DWP is aiming to publish the first set of statistics for the new ESA sanctions regime by August 2013. These statistics have been delayed from a May release to allow the new regime to bed-in and to allow sufficient quality assurance.

Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will consider excluding blind and partially-sighted people from the changes to housing benefit eligibility in respect of the spare room subsidy. [151081]

Steve Webb: We carefully considered whether it would be feasible to develop exemptions for specific groups. However, it was not possible to design exemptions that could be defined precisely enough in legislation to be simple and efficient to administer.

Consequently, we have announced the addition of £25 million to the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) budget from 2013-14. This is specifically intended to support disabled people living in significantly adapted accommodation, including people who are blind or partially-sighted.

The measure will, however, be monitored and evaluated over a two-year period from April 2013. Initial findings will be available in 2014 and the final report will be released in late 2015.

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Jobcentre Plus

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus facilities there are in (a) Glasgow North West constituency, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK. [151581]

Mr Hoban: The information is as follows:

(a) Glasgow North West constituency is served by two jobcentres. There are (b) 14 serving Glasgow, (c) 94 serving Scotland and (d) 772 covering Great Britain.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Rushanara Ali: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether jobseeker’s allowance claimants will experience a loss of benefit payments if they do not accept an offer of employment on a zero-hours contract. [151484]

Mr Hoban: Jobseeker’s allowance claimants cannot face sanctions for turning down the offer of a zero- hours contract.

Jobseeker's Allowance: Scotland

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many fixed-length sanctions of (a) high, (b) medium and (c) low level were imposed on jobseeker's allowance claimants in Scotland in each month from October 2012 to March 2013; [150873]

(2) what proportion of jobseeker's allowance claimants in Scotland were referred to the stricter benefit regime in each month from October 2012 to March 2013; [150882]

(3) how many sanctions were applied to jobseeker's allowance claimants by each jobcentre in Scotland in each month from October 2012 to February 2013. [150879]

Mr Hoban: The information requested is not currently available.

The official statistics published on the Tabulation Tool contain JSA sanctions and disallowances up to and including 21 October 2012. After this date, new regulations introduced a regime of fixed period sanctions, which replaced the existing sanction rules and moved claimants closer to the sanction regime planned for universal credit in 2013.

We aim to publish the statistics on this new regime in May 2013 and on a quarterly basis thereafter.

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Scotland applied for a hardship payment due to being sanctioned in each month from April 2012 to March 2013. [150878]

Mr Hoban: Data on hardship payments at this geographical level are unavailable.

Pensioners: Poverty

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate how many pensioners were living on an income of below 40% of median household earnings in each year since 2010. [151488]

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Steve Webb: We estimate that out of 11.7 million pensioners 0.5 million were living on an income of below 40% contemporary household income, after housing costs, in 2010-11.

This estimate is based on Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data sourced from the 2010-11 Family Resources Survey (FRS). This is the most recent data source available.

The estimate uses disposable household income, adjusted using modified OECD equivalisation factors for household size and composition, to identify those with less than 40% median contemporary household income. Figures have been presented on an after-housing-cost basis.

All estimates are based on survey data and are therefore subject to a degree of uncertainty. Numbers of pensioners have been rounded to the nearest 100,000.

Personal Independence Payment

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the contribution by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of 13 November 2012, Official Report, column 75WH, on personal independence payment, what steps he has taken to increase the number of mental and cognitive champions in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK. [151380]

Esther McVey: The contracts between the Department for Work and Pensions and the personal independence payment assessment providers, Atos and Capita, stipulate that they must provide mental function champions to give advice and support to health professionals on health conditions and disabilities affecting mental, cognitive, intellectual and behavioural function. These mental function champions will be for the PIP contract and will therefore be in addition to the mental function champions currently in post in Scotland and the rest of the UK to provide advice to health-care professionals conducting work capability assessments.

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he will take to hold assessors to account in the event that personal independence payment applicants were given an incorrect, poor assessment resulting in them receiving an inappropriate recommendation. [151517]

Esther McVey: All personal independence payment health professionals must go through a comprehensive training programme and pass an assessment of competence before they can carry out assessments. In addition, they must be approved by the Department's chief medical adviser. A programme of audit will confirm individual health professionals continue to meet these standards.

Where a health professional's advice is of poor quality and could result in an incorrect decision, the case will fail the audit activity. Where assessors fall below the required standards and do not improve, processes are in place to revoke their approval to carry out assessments.

In addition, assessment providers must conform to a rigorous set of performance measures regarding the quality of advice. If the provider fails to deliver against these measures, agreed service credits will be applied.

16 Apr 2013 : Column 291W

Ultimately the Department has the right to terminate the contract if there is sustained underperformance in a range of areas.

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, of 16 November 2011, House of Lords,Official Report, column GC263, what assessment his Department has made of whether (a) Atos and (b) Capita are providing sufficient training in (i) mental, intellectual and cognitive impairments and (ii) autistic spectrum disorders for health professionals who will be carrying out the assessment for the personal independence payment. [151576]

Esther McVey: The health professionals who will be carrying out the assessments for personal independence payment will have a broad training in disability analysis, as well as training in specific conditions. This will include training in mental, intellectual and cognitive impairments, and autistic spectrum disorders. The Department for Work and Pensions has reviewed Atos's training materials and is content with them. The Department is currently reviewing Capita's training materials.

Social Security Benefits: Halton

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people resident in Halton constituency have had their benefit sanctioned in each month since April 2012. [150926]

Mr Hoban: The information as requested is not readily available for jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and income support lone parent (ISLP) claimants to 21 October 2012 and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The official statistics published on the tabulation tool contain JSA sanctions and disallowances up to and including 21 October 2012. After this date, new regulations introduced a regime of fixed-period sanctions, which replaced the existing sanction rules and moved claimants closer to the sanction regime planned for universal credit in 2013.

We aim to publish the statistics on this new regime in May 2013 and on a quarterly basis thereafter.

The information as requested is also not readily available for employment support allowance (ESA) claimants.

The sanctions regime for ESA claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) changed from the beginning of December 2012. As a result of the changes to the regime, the Department reviewed its methodology for publishing ESA sanctions official statistics to ensure the publication remains relevant while also seeking to maintain a consistent time series.

In comparing methodologies to produce statistics relating to the previous sanctions regime with the new regime, an error was discovered, leading to double counting of some sanctions. For this reason, departmental statisticians decided to suspend publication of ESA sanctions statistics based on the current method. Therefore

16 Apr 2013 : Column 292W

the final set of official statistics relating to the previous sanctions regime, due for publication in February 2013, was cancelled.

The Department is aiming to publish the first set of statistics for the new ESA sanctions regime by August 2013 alongside a revised historical series and a working paper explaining the differences between the methodologies. These statistics have been delayed from a May release to allow the new regime to bed-in and to allow sufficient quality assurance of the new methodology.

Telephone Services

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 19 March 2013, Official Report, column 658W, on telephone services, whether a UK landline number beginning with 01, 02 or 03 is publicly available as an alternative to the 0800 and 0845 numbers in use by his Department and the agencies for which he is responsible. [151632]

Mr Hoban: The Department does not have any UK landline number beginning with 01, 02 or 03 that is publicly available as an alternative to the 0800 and 0845 numbers.

The Department's numbering policy is kept under review, taking account of any changes to the cost of calling 0845 numbers. Depending on the service provider and the specific contract or call plan in place, many callers would currently pay more to contact the DWP if 0845 services were replaced with 03 numbers. As a result, any change to the policy will need careful consideration.

The DWP has responded to Ofcom's proposals for the 0845 number range and we await its final report, which is due in April 2013. Once received, we will assess the impact on the costs of calls to our 0800 and 0845 numbers. For information, the proposals do not include any requirement for organisations to replace 0845 numbers. More information on the consultation, including the DWP's response, is available via Ofcom's website:

www.ofcom.org.uk

Deputy Prime Minister

Lobbying

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2013, Official Report, column 1057W, on lobbying, if he will provide an estimate of the amount of time he will need to continue to consider the evidence submitted on the proposed statutory register of lobbyists; what the reasons are for the time taken to consider the evidence thus far; and when he plans to publish the Government's views. [151512]

Miss Chloe Smith: As the response to the Government's consultation showed, introducing a statutory register of lobbyists is a complex issue, and it is vital that we take the time to get it right. We will publish our proposals in due course.

16 Apr 2013 : Column 293W

Treasury

Charities

Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the contribution of charities is accounted for in GDP figures. [150096]

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 April 2013:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking the Chancellor for the Exchequer how the contribution of charities is accounted for in GDP figures. (150096)

The economic activity of charities is included within the Not for Profit Institutions Serving Households sector of National Accounts (known as NPISH). Charities are the largest component of the NPISH sector; other components include trade unions, political parties, religious organisations, friendly and mutual societies and higher and further education institutions (including universities).

The contribution of charities is included in the NPISH final consumption expenditure figures which are included in the expenditure measure of GDP. The latest growth figures for NPISH within GDP can be seen in the tables in appendix B of the Second Estimate of GDP, Q4 2012.

Corporation Tax: Scotland

Pamela Nash: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies based in Scotland paid corporation tax at the (a) main rate and (b) small profits rate in the most recent period for which figures are available. [150243]

Mr Gauke: The answer is given in terms of the number of companies registered in Scotland who paid corporation tax in the financial year 2010-11. This may be different from the location where the companies' activity takes place. This is the latest information available.

For accounting periods ending in 2010-11:

 Number of companies to the nearest 100
 Small profits rateMarginal rateMain rate

Scotland

51,200

2,400

2,200

Notes: 1. Small Profits Rate = 21% and Main Rate 28%. 2. For the purpose of allocating a company to Scotland, the postcode of the company's registered office has been used. This may not relate to where all of a company's activity takes place. It will also not reflect all companies that carry on activities in Scotland. 3. For the purpose of this analysis, HMRC define the terms as follows: (a) CT liabilities are considered to be accrued in the financial year of the end date of the company's accounting period, (b) Small Profits Rate: Since April 2010, the lower rate of corporation tax has been called the Small Profits Rate (SPR) rather than Small Companies' Rate (SCR). This makes clear that it is the size of the profits, rather than the size of the company, which determines the tax rate to be applied, (c) Marginal Relief: This can be claimed by companies with taxable profits between the lower and upper limits, to enable a smooth transition between the small profits rate and the main rate of CT. (d) Main Rate: The rate of corporation tax paid by companies with profits above the lower limit. Companies with profits between the lower and upper limit are taxed at main rate but can usually claim Marginal Relief. 4. Figures are based on companies only and exclude unincorporated businesses. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

16 Apr 2013 : Column 294W

Disclosure of Information

Jon Trickett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants in his Department have been subject to non-disclosure agreements in each year since 2010. [150042]

Sajid Javid: The Treasury has used a small number of compromise agreements that have contained confidentiality clauses since 2010. The breakdown of use of these is as follows:

 Compromise agreements containing confidentiality clauses

2010

(1)

2011

(1)

2012

(1)

2013

0

(1) Fewer than 5

It is the Treasury's policy not to release full details relating to numbers of staff fewer than five. HM Treasury is a small department and most staff are based in a single building. We consider therefore that disclosing such information would give rise to a risk that named individuals might be readily identified.

Any confidentiality clause regarding the existence, negotiation and terms of the settlement agreement is qualified and will have referred to certain exceptions including where disclosures are required by law. Legal advice is sought on the wording of confidentiality clauses in each instance.

Income Tax

Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number of people with taxable incomes of £1 million per annum in each parliamentary constituency. [150246]

Mr Gauke: Numbers of UK taxpayers with total income of £1 million and over are published in Table 2.5 ‘Income tax liabilities, by income range, 2010-11 to 2012-13’ available on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-statistics/table2-5.pdf

These estimates are based on Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) data for 2010-11.

A breakdown of these figures is not published.

Regional breakdowns of taxpayer numbers by marginal rate of tax, gender and age are available in Table 2.2 ‘Number of individual income taxpayers by marginal rate, gender and age, by country and region’:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-statistics/table2-2.pdf

Poverty: Children

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with child poverty charities on the effects of Budget 2013 on the number of children in poverty. [150317]

Sajid Javid: Treasury Ministers engage 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. This is available online at:

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

16 Apr 2013 : Column 295W

Budget 2013 took action to support families and make the tax and welfare system fairer: including further increasing the income tax personal allowance to take 2.7 million people on low incomes out of tax altogether and cancelling the increase in fuel duty planned for September 2013.

The Government believe looking at income in isolation is not a helpful measure to track progress towards its target of eradicating child poverty.

This is why we consulted on better measures of child poverty in November 2012. The consultation closed in February, we are currently considering more than 250 responses to the consultation and will publish our response in the summer.

VAT: Veterinary Services

Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the level of revenue accrued to the Exchequer as a result of VAT on veterinary bills in the latest period for which figures are available. [150078]

Mr Gauke: No estimate has been made of the level of revenue accrued to the Exchequer as a result of VAT on veterinary bills.

Northern Ireland

Pay

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what criteria are used in (a) her Department and (b) each public body for which she is responsible to determine which officials receive bonus payments. [151138]

Mike Penning: Staff employed by my Department are on Ministry of Justice (MOJ) terms and conditions of service. The Department, therefore, operates the MOJ Reward and Recognition Scheme in which there are two categories of award: to qualify for the first there must be evidence of sustained excellent contribution over a period of not less than six months, with evidence of continuous working at that level. Awards in this category can attract payments of between £100 and £500. To qualify for the second category, there must be evidence of an exceptional contribution relating to a one-off project or task that is finite in nature. Such awards are in the form of a one-off, non-consolidated and non-pensionable payment of up to £100 which is subject to tax and insurance.

In addition, and again in line with MOJ terms and conditions, a member of staff who warrants an outstanding

16 Apr 2013 : Column 296W

rating under the annual appraisal process may be entitled to a one-off non-consolidated performance bonus. Qualifying for such a rating requires evidence of having exceeded objectives and performance/behavioural expectations throughout the 12-month appraisal period. Payment amounts are determined by grade and for the 2011-12 reporting year were as follows: Band A: £1,500; Band B: £1,400; Band C: £1,300; and Band D: £1,200.

My Department has two non-departmental public bodies—the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland; and one advisory non-departmental public body—the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland. As such bodies are independent of Government, my hon. Friend may wish to write to the Commissions direct on these matters:

ALBStatusContact details

Parades Commission for Northern Ireland

Executive NDPB

Info@paradescommission. org

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Executive NDPB

information@nihrc.org

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

Advisory NDPB

bcni@belfast.org.uk

Attorney-General

Fireworks: Lancashire

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions relating to the misuse of fireworks were brought in (a) Pendle constituency and (b) Lancashire in each of the last five years. [151229]

The Solicitor-General: The records held by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) identify the number of offences, in which a prosecution commenced and reached a first hearing in magistrates courts, rather than the number of cases or defendants prosecuted. A single defendant may be prosecuted for multiple offences.

Offences relating to the misuse of fireworks can be prosecuted under section 80 of the Explosives Act 1875 (throw or light a firework in a highway, street or public place), Regulation 7 of the Fireworks Regulations 2004 (breach a fireworks curfew), section 131 and section 161 of Highways Act 1980 (discharge a firework within 50 foot of a public highway), section 28 of the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847 (throw a firework in the street) and section 2 of the Football (Offences) Act 1991 (throw a missile onto a football pitch or adjacent area).

The following table shows, in each of the last five years, the number of offences charged in Lancashire for the misuse of fireworks:

Number
  2008-092009-102010-112011-122012-13

Explosives Act 1875 (80)

Throw fireworks in highway/street/public place

0

1

0

0

0

Explosives Act 1875 (80)

Fire fireworks in a street

0

1

0

0

0

Fireworks Regulations 2004(7(1))

Use adult firework during night hours

2

0

0

0

0

Football (Offences) Act 1991 (2 and 5)

Throw a missile onto a football playing area

1

2

3

0

0

16 Apr 2013 : Column 297W

16 Apr 2013 : Column 298W

Football (Offences) Act 1991 (2 and 5)

Throw missile at area adjacent to pitch

0

0

0

0

1

Highways Act 1980 (161(2)(b))

Discharge firework within 50 feet of highway

0

0

1

0

1

Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (28)

Throw firework in the street

0

0

2

0

0

Crown Prosecution Service data are not recorded on the basis of constituency areas but on the basis of 42 geographically separate police force areas. Police force area boundaries are not necessarily coterminous with constituency boundaries. It is not therefore possible to ascertain, from the central record of offences data held by the CPS, the constituency area in which the offences were committed.

Some misuse of fireworks offences can be dealt with by the police by way of a penalty notice for disorder offering the opportunity for an offender to discharge any liability by paying a penalty on the spot thus avoiding an appearance at or other method of disposal. These figures should therefore not be considered complete or indicative of the number of offences of misusing fireworks in the area.

Recruitment

Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Attorney-General how much the Law Officers' Departments spent on advertising job vacancies in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007, (d) 2008 and (e) 2009. [150287]

The Solicitor-General: The information requested is contained in the following table:

Spending on advertising job vacancies by financial year
£
Department2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

Treasury Solicitor's Department(1)

125,611

132,891

152,617

136,694

27,748

Serious Fraud Office

42,236

51,259

94,851

60,025

12,199

Crown Prosecution Service

356,845

517,298

338,525

413,814

254,290

(1) TSol data include expenditure incurred by the Attorney-General's Office and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

Transport

Bicycles: Hire Services

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to support public cycle hire schemes outside of London. [150627]

Norman Baker: We are already supporting cycle hire schemes through both the £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the £14.5 million fund made available to Train Operating Companies to improve cycle facilities at stations.

Biofuels

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he is taking to encourage a sustainable domestic biodiesel industry in the UK; [151177]

(2) what steps he is taking to discourage the import of ethanol for use as a transport fuel. [151178]

Norman Baker: The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) was introduced in 2008 as a scheme to reduce carbon emissions and promote the supply of sustainable biofuels. The volume of biofuel supplied in the UK has increased from 1,284 million litres in its first year (2008/09) to 1,635 million litres in obligation year 4 (2011/12).

Amendments to the RTFO in December 2011 ensured that only biofuels meeting mandatory sustainability criteria are eligible for Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs) and provided extra support to waste-derived biofuels through the award of two RTFCs per litre of waste-derived biofuel. This recognises that waste-derived biofuel feedstocks tend to have both higher greenhouse gas savings and less risk of indirect effects. Since December 2011 data reported to the RTFO Administrator suggests that more than 85% of biodiesel made from UK feedstock has been produced from waste and eligible for double certificates.

Later this year we will assess the available data and other evidence regarding the impact of the changes made to the RTFO in December 2011. We will consider what, if any, amendments are needed to the RTFO on the basis of that evidence.

With regard to imports of ethanol, I refer the hon. Member to my answer to her of 17 December 2012, Official Report, columns 542-3W.

Bus Services: Northern Ireland

Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive on its review of bus operator licensing with respect to the treatment of community transport under EU regulations; and if he will make a statement. [150614]

Norman Baker: Department for Transport Ministers have not had any discussions with Northern Ireland Ministers about the Northern Ireland Executive's review of bus operator licensing.

Driving: Licensing

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold discussions with the (a) Ministry of Justice and (b) Association of Chief Police

16 Apr 2013 : Column 299W

Officers to work with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to provide 24-hour cover to enable the suspension with immediate effect of the licence of a driver deemed incapable of driving; and if he will make a statement. [150562]

Stephen Hammond: Following representations made by the hon. Gentleman, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) worked closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers to speed up the revocation of a driving licence where vision problems have been demonstrated.

The police now notify DVLA through a priority electronic mail facility and the licence revocation notices are being issued with 24 hours of receipt of the notification. Police notifications of other medical conditions are also fast tracked for immediate consideration.

Insurance

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what outcomes were agreed at the insurance industry meeting held on Monday 25 March 2013; and how any such outcomes will be taken forward. [151482]

Stephen Hammond: The Government intend to issue a Green Paper later in the spring looking at a range of options for improving the safety of newly-qualified drivers and hold a further industry meeting following publication of that paper.

M6: Heysham

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the local economy of the new M6 Heysham link road. [151659]

Norman Baker: Lancashire county council, the scheme’s promoter, will shortly be submitting a bid for full (final) approval which will contain an assessment of the effects on the local economy of the new M6 Heysham link road. This will be considered along with other information before a decision on the scheme is taken.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the budget was for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in each year since its creation. [151570]

Stephen Hammond: The budget for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, for each year where information is readily available, is shown in the following table.

 £000

2012-13

162,254

2011-12((a))

159,057

2010-11

143,687

2009-10((b))

145,242

2008-09((a))

137,430

2007-08((b))

140,087

2006-07((b))

130,526

2005-06((b))

127,309

2004-05((b))

125,236

16 Apr 2013 : Column 300W

2003-04((b))

121,763

2002-03((b))

117,218

2001-02((c))

107,017

2000-01((b))

99,130

1999-2000

91,494

Note: All figures are taken from the published main estimates on the HM Treasury website, with the exception of: ((a)) taken from the published winter supplementaries, also available on the website. ((b)) taken from the published spring supplementaries, also available on the website. ((c)) In 2001-02, the MCA was not shown as a separate agency within the published main estimate or supplementaries. This figure is taken from the MCA’s internally allocated budget.

Motor Vehicles: Exhaust Emissions

Mr Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will publish on his Department's website advice to motorists and repairers on the removal of factory-fitted diesel particulate filters from vehicles; [151239]

(2) how many enquiries from motorists and repairers his Department has received on the removal or absence of factory-fitted diesel particulate filters in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [151377]

Stephen Hammond: The Department and its agencies have received approximately 240 inquiries on the removal of particulate filters over the last 12 months.

This topic is one of a very large number on which the Department regularly provides advice to businesses and to the public. The Department's officials have been asked to ensure that suitable advice is available on the Government website.

Railways: North West

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of 26 March 2013, Official Report, columns 1487-99, on rail franchising, if he will ensure that the franchise extensions for the TransPennine and Northern franchises will be negotiated on the basis of at least maintaining the current level of service on the Manchester Airport to Lancaster to Barrow-in-Furness route. [151049]

Mr Simon Burns: The Secretary of State for Transport has a duty to secure the best deal for both the passenger and the tax payer when negotiating with the incumbent operators. Taking into consideration value for money and affordability; the primary aim is to ensure that passengers are not adversely impacted and that current service levels are protected as far as possible.

Rescue Services: Cumbria

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect on response times to emergencies in Cumbrian mountains or coastline of the withdrawal of air-sea rescue helicopters from RAF Boulmer. [151000]

16 Apr 2013 : Column 301W

Stephen Hammond: I refer the hon. Member to the Assurance Review of Search and Rescue Helicopter Basing. This document is available on the DFT website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-search-and-rescue-helicopter-service

Road Signs and Markings

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will consider including on matrix signs displaying information about poor visibility an instruction to drivers to use headlights; and if he will make a statement. [151565]

Stephen Hammond: The Highways Agency is in the process of updating its variable signs and signals policy to make additional variable message sign legends available to cover the use of headlights in circumstances where adverse weather reduces visibility.

Roads: Accidents

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to answer of 19 March 2013, Official Report, column 574W, on deaths: accidents: road, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in deaths of (a) main roads and (b) B roads in 2010-11. [151410]

Stephen Hammond: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer from the then Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), on 9 July 2012, Official Report, columns 73-74W.

Additional information is available on pages 5-6 of Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2011: Overview and trends in reported road casualties, which is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9274/rrcgb2011-01.pdf

Silverdale Station

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will provide funding to increase rail services to Silverdale station in Lancashire. [151662]

Mr Simon Burns: Under current plans, stakeholders will have an opportunity to consult with the Department on passenger services ahead of the Northern and Transpennine Express refranchising planned for February 2016. In the short term, it is for train operators and local stakeholders to determine if there is a business case that justifies making additional calls at Silverdale.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of the effect that a minimum unit price for alcohol would have on sales of different types of alcohol; [150845]

(2) what assessment she has made of the effect that a minimum unit price for alcohol would have on the profits of (a) large retailers and (b) small and medium-sized retailers; [150846]

16 Apr 2013 : Column 302W

(3) whether she has made an assessment of the potential effectiveness of asking members of the public to report non-compliant retailers in order to enforce a minimum unit price for alcohol. [150847]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We have considered compliance and monitoring as part of the impact assessment (IA) process for alcohol minimum unit pricing. This IA also considered the impact on sales of different types of alcohol and the impact on the alcohol industry including large, medium and small retailers.

The pre-consultation IA on alcohol minimum unit pricing is placed in the House Library and can be accessed at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/alcohol-consultation/ia-minimum-unit-pricing?view=Binary

The consultation has now closed and we will be .publishing a response in due course.

Asylum: Pregnant Women

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the dispersal of pregnant women seeking asylum; and what assessment she has made of whether the policy on dispersal represents an efficient use of NHS resources; [151318]

(2) what recent assessment she has made of the practice of dispersing pregnant women seeking asylum; and what steps she has taken to ensure the welfare of such women. [151321]

Mr Harper: There have been no discussions at ministerial level. Officials have discussed the issue.

The policy on providing accommodation to pregnant asylum seekers is regularly reviewed in consultation with refugee and maternity groups that have an interest in the issue. The majority of pregnant asylum seekers who become homeless are placed in an “Initial Accommodation Centre”, where there are medical staff on site. An assessment is then made of their individual circumstances and suitable longer term (“dispersal”) accommodation identified. The longer term accommodation is generally provided outside London and the south-east of England, but each case is considered individually and exceptions are made where appropriate.

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the policy on NHS resources. However, part of the overall rationale for the dispersal policy is to relieve the pressure on public services in London and the south-east.

Crime Prevention: Drugs

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction will be studying evidence relating to drugs policy. [151497]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The What Works Centre for Crime Reduction will review robust evidence of the impact of crime reduction interventions, which may include interventions to tackle drug misuse.

16 Apr 2013 : Column 303W

Demonstrations

Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she has made a public response to the concerns recently raised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, with regards to the use by private companies of civil injunctions, under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, to stop peaceful protests; and what her assessment is of those concerns. [149967]

Mrs Grant: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

The Government have not responded to the preliminary conclusions and recommendations regarding the use of civil injunctions made in the press statement issued by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, on 23 January 2013 at the end of his 10 day official visit to the United Kingdom to assess the situation of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the United Kingdom.

The Government remain committed to the European Convention on Human Rights and to ensuring these rights continue to be enshrined in UK law, including the rights to' freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and will carefully consider Mr Kiai's final report when it is published.

Deportation: EU Nationals

Richard Graham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many EU nationals were deported from the UK in each of the last five years. [151155]

Mr Harper: The following table provides the total number of enforced removals for nationals of the rest of the EU, in each year from 2008 to 2012:

Enforced removals for nationals of the EU(1), 2008-12
 Enforced removals(2,3)

2008

642

2009

768

2010

963

2011(4)

1,293

2012(4)

1,726

(1) Nationals of the rest of the EU consists of 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. (2) Enforced removals are where it has been established that a person has breached UK immigration laws and has no valid leave to remain within the United Kingdom. (3) Removals are recorded on the system as at the dates on which the data extracts were taken. (4) Provisional figures. Figures may be revised later due to data cleansing exercises that take place after the extracts are taken.

Deportations contribute to published enforced removals statistics which are either following a criminal conviction (foreign national offenders) or when it is judged that a person's removal from the UK is conducive to the public good; the deportation order prohibits the person returning to the UK until such time as it may be revoked. It is not possible to separately identify deportations from enforced removals.

The Home Office publishes quarterly and annual statistics on the number of persons removed or departed voluntarily from the UK and on persons refused entry

16 Apr 2013 : Column 304W

to the United Kingdom within Immigration Statistics. The data on removals and voluntary departures by type are available in the latest release, Immigration Statistics: October-December 2012, tables rv.03 and rv.03.q from the Library of the House and from GOV.UK on the statistics web pages at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departmentspercent5Bpercent5D=home-office&publication_filter_option=statistics

Disclosure of Information

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many civil servants in her Department have been subject to non-disclosure agreements in each year since 2010. [150036]

James Brokenshire: We have taken “non-disclosure agreements” to mean compromise agreements between the Department and individuals members of staff.

These agreements may contain a non-disclosure clause which prevents the individual from disclosing or discussing the existence, negotiation and terms of the settlement. The Home Office always considers whether such clauses are appropriate and necessary and always ensures that non-disclosure clauses allow disclosure for business needs and the requirements of law, including accountability to Parliament.

The following number of civil servants in the Home Office signed settlement agreements, compromise agreements which contain a non-disclosure clause, in the last three years:

 Number

2010

3

2011

3

2012

6

2013

0

Total

12

The HR Litigation team has records of compromise agreements from 2010 for UK Border Agency and Border Force, from October 2010 for Home Office HQ and from April 2011 for the Identity and Passport Service (IPS); the latter two dates are when the HR Litigation team took over litigation work for these business areas. No central records are held for Home Office HQ and IPS before this time and for other Home Office agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

Domestic Violence

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether her Department has conducted research on any relationship between rates of domestic violence and (a) the enactment of the smoking ban and (b) changes in licensing legislation to allow longer drinking hours. [151660]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Home Office has not conducted any research on the relationship between rates of domestic violence and the enactment of the smoking ban, or on the relationship between domestic violence and changes in alcohol licensing legislation.

16 Apr 2013 : Column 305W

Drugs: Misuse

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of the recommendations made by the UK Drug Policy Commission in its report, How to Make Drug Policy Better; and if she will make a statement; [150647]

(2) what assessment she has made of the recommendations made on page 42 of the UK Drug Policy Commission report, How to Make Drug Policy Better, published in December 2012 for analysing and disseminating evidence and for research co-ordination and formal scrutiny of policy. [150929]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government remain committed to using the best available evidence. In addition to the advice provided by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), we liaise with relevant research councils to encourage the funding of new research. Individual Government Departments take responsibility for gathering the evidence needed to inform their policies, drawing on the specific expertise from within the Departments and from outside. This work is brought together through the cross-government Drug Strategy Research Group.

Our approach is working. Drug usage remain at its lowest level since measurement began in 1996 and people going into treatment today are more likely to free themselves from dependency than ever before.

The Government have agreed to undertake an international study to examine different approaches to drug policy in other countries, including Portugal, and we are committed to evaluating the long-term effectiveness and value for money of the Drug Strategy 2010.

Entry Clearances

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether commission-based pay counts towards the calculation of income for the purpose of assessing eligibility to sponsor a partner’s visa application. [151246]

Mr Harper: Under paragraph 18(b) of appendix FM-SE to the immigration rules, commission-based pay from employment can be counted as income towards the minimum income threshold requirement in a partner visa application.

Entry Clearances: Married People

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average waiting time for processing initial decisions on marriage visas for non EU spouses was in each quarter of 2011 and 2012. [150865]

Mr Harper [holding answer 15 April 2013]: The information you have requested is shown in the following table:

Non-EU spouse marriage visa application processing times, January 2011 to December 2012
Despatch dateAverage processing time (days)

2011

 

January to March

37

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April to June

32

July to September

34

October to December

26

  

2012

 

January to March

28

April to June

35

July to September

53

October to December

66

Notes: 1. All figures quoted have been derived from management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols. 2. Figures relate to main applicants and dependants. 3. Figures relate to non-EU spouse marriage visa applications despatched between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2012. 4. Processing time is based on external customer service working days. 5. Data generated on 3 April 2013.

The service standards for settlement visas are to decide 95% of applications within 12 weeks of the application date, and 100% within 24 weeks. Marriage applications make up the majority of settlement applications that are considered out-of-country.

The immigration rules relating to marriage applications changed in July 2012. This caused a larger than expected spike in applications, which resulted in the increase in average waiting times in the table. Service standards will be achieved again by the summer. The Home Office publishes performance against service standards routinely, as part of its commitment to transparency. The next publication is due for release on 23 May 2013 and will cover the period January to March 2013.