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25 Nov 2009 : Column 154W—continued

Military Aircraft: EU Action

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effects of the creation of a European air transport fleet on (a) jobs, (b) income and (c) military operational effectiveness in the UK. [300504]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) aims to address shortfalls in military strategic air transport capability, for example through the pooling of aircraft or shared procurement. The UK will indirectly benefit from the improved aircraft availability across Europe for support to operations through increased burden sharing. The UK procures military aircraft according to our national requirements and does not have spare capacity to contribute to the EATF. Therefore, we do not currently plan to participate in the programme. As such we have not carried out any detailed assessments of the potential wider benefits to the UK. We will continue to monitor the EATF programme and keep our position under review.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. [301194]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I last travelled by train on 24 November 2009 to visit Headley Court.

Warships: EU Action

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the UK will play in relation to the European initiative on naval interoperability; and what the principle objectives are of this initiative. [300505]

Mr. Quentin Davies: There are two principal European initiatives on naval interoperability, the European Amphibious Initiative (EAI) and the European Carrier Group Interoperability Initiative (ECGII). Both initiatives seek to enhance European interoperability and capability in Amphibious and Carrier Strike Group operations respectively through greater cooperation and combined training and exercising at both the tactical and operational level. The main objective of these initiatives is that, by working more closely together in peacetime, it will allow for a more rapid and effective deployment of a multinational Amphibious or Carrier Strike Group force, when required, in the framework of NATO or EU-led operations.

As a permanent member, along with France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, and with its well developed and balanced Amphibious forces, the UK plays an important part in the EAI. The UK provides the Permanent Secretariat and in 2010 will assume the chair, which is rotated on an annual basis between its members.


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The UK, as a lead nation in operating Vertical and Short Take Off aircraft (VSTOL) from the sea, also plays an important role in the ECGII as one of its permanent members, along with Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Wales

Christmas

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [300864]

Mr. Hain: I plan to host a Christmas reception in London and another in Cardiff this year. We will not be serving food, only snacks and drinks will be provided. I would estimate the cost of each reception to be around £250, although the final amount will not be known until after the events are held.

Climate Change

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants from his Department will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in an official capacity. [300914]

Mr. Hain: None.

Departmental Air Travel

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many domestic flights within Great Britain officials of his Department took in an official capacity in 2008-09; and at what cost to the public purse. [300970]

Mr. Hain: My officials took 17 domestic flights in the last financial year at a cost of £2,516.66.

Departmental Cost Effectiveness

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what efficiency savings projects his Department put in place under the Operational Efficiency Programme; on what date each such project was initiated; how much each such project was expected to contribute to Departmental savings; how much had been saved through each such project on the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [300942]

Mr. Hain: The Wales Office falls outside the remit of the Operational Efficiency Programme as it is a small office of around 60 staff. However, we are currently reviewing the scope for delivering additional efficiency savings.


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Departmental Food

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [300177]

Mr. Hain: The Wales Office does not have any in-house catering. External caterers supply food and drink for meetings and receptions in London and Cardiff. Catering for functions and meetings in London and Cardiff includes, where possible and consistent with value for money, a mixture of fair trade or locally sourced produce.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) page hits and (b) visitors his Department's website received in 2008-09. [301842]

Mr. Hain: The Wales Office has an English and Welsh website:

and

The combined number of page hits for 2008-09 was 71,315.

The combined number of visitors for 2008-09 was 21,150.

Departmental Meetings

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which (a) individuals other than Ministerial colleagues and officials of his Department and (b) organisations he met in an official capacity in the week commencing 9 November 2009. [301157]

Mr. Hain: In the week of 9 November I met a range of individuals and organisations who have an interest in Wales and I attended the British Irish Council.

Departmental Pay

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) bonuses and (b) incentives have been paid to (i) consultants and (ii) contractors engaged by his Department in each of the last three years. [300734]

Mr. Hain: None.

Departmental Rail Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on what date he last travelled by train in the course of his official duties. [301196]

Mr. Hain: I travel by train between my constituency, office in Cardiff and London on a weekly basis.


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Departmental Scientists

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) scientific advisers and (b) civil servants in scientific posts there are in his Department. [302022]

Mr. Hain: None.

Northern Ireland

Christmas

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [300868]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office does not plan to host any Christmas parties in 2009.

Departmental Food

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables and (h) fruit procured by his Department that was produced in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [300183]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office does not record procurement of meat, vegetables and fruit by country of origin and the information would be available only at disproportionate cost. Where possible, the Department always aims to use local Northern Ireland produce.

Police: Devolution

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his most recent estimate is of the cost under each budget heading of implementing his Department's proposals for devolution of policing and justice powers in Northern Ireland. [300911]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Office established a Devolution Programme team in April 2007 which up to the end of October 2009 has cost £633,961. Other staff across the Department have also been involved in implementing proposals for the devolution of policing and justice but quantifying these costs could not be done within the disproportionate cost limit.

Work and Pensions

Bereavement Benefits

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of bereavement benefit in 2008-09; what the total amount paid was; and in what percentage of cases the benefit was subsequently reduced. [300619]


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Helen Goodman [holding answer 23 November 2009]: Outturn expenditure, in cash terms, on bereavement benefits for 2008-09 was £675 million.

The available information on the number of recipients is in the following table.

Number of people in receipt of bereavement benefits as at each quarter in 2008-09

Number

May 2008

59,850

August 2008

59,400

November 2008

59,190

February 2009

60,720

Note:
Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
Source:
DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

There is no information available about the percentage of cases where the benefit was subsequently reduced.

Housing Benefit

Chloe Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of housing benefit in Norwich North constituency on the latest date for which information is available. [301696]

Helen Goodman: The information is not available.

Winter Fuel Allowance

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will estimate the tax cost of doubling the winter fuel allowance for people who have retired. [301506]

Angela Eagle: The current per household amounts for the winter fuel payment are £250 for those aged 60-79 and £400 for those aged over 80 (including the additional payment of £50 and £100 respectively). The additional public expenditure consequences of making winter fuel payments at double these rates, to only those who have reached state pension age, would be around £2 billion for 2009-10.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Canada: Embassies

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Canadian citizens have sought the protection or assistance of British embassies and high commissions in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [301879]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We hold figures for the number of Commonwealth nationals who have sought the protection or assistance of British missions overseas, but make no further breakdown by nationality. In 2007-08 (the latest year for which figures are available) our overseas Posts provided 423 services, including advice and self help, to Commonwealth nationals.


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Christmas Food Procurement

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Christmas parties his Department plans to host in 2009; what has been budgeted for each such reception; what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) lamb, (b) beef, (c) chicken, (d) pork, (e) turkey, (f) other meats, (g) vegetables, (h) fruit and (i) alcohol to be served at each such function which is produced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [300874]

Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold this information centrally, and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost.

Colombia: EU External Trade

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to oppose a free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia unless human rights in Colombia are judged to meet international standards. [301877]

Chris Bryant: Yes, the UK is leading efforts within the EU to ensure that any agreement with Colombia is linked to a human rights clause. This clause will enable us to suspend the agreement if it is breached, and will act as a catalyst for frank dialogue with Colombia on the issue.


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