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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 28 April 2011

Treasury

Consumer Prices Index

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made in working with the Bank of England to investigate how housing costs may be included in the consumer prices index as set out in the coalition agreement. [53095]

Justine Greening: Both HM Treasury and the Bank of England are members of the Consumer Prices Advisory Committee (CPAC) that advises the United Kingdom Statistical Authority (UKSA) on improvements to the consumer prices index (CPI) recommended by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

CPAC has been considering the inclusion of housing costs in CPI. On 6 December 2010 UKSA endorsed the recommendations of CPAC in their 2nd annual report that the ONS should further develop owner occupiers' housing costs indices, using the net acquisitions and rental equivalence approaches, for potential inclusion in an expanded CPI within two years.

The papers from each CPAC meeting and the annual report are published by the ONS on their website.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Nick Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of the fuel price stabiliser proposed in the 2011 Budget on (a) motorists, (b) the logistics industry and (c) oil companies operating in the North sea. [51367]

Justine Greening: The tax Information and Impact Note, published alongside Budget 2011 set out the expected impact on affected groups.

It is estimated that a typical Ford Focus driver will be £56 better off in 2011-12 as a result of the fuel duty measures announced in Budget 11. The yearly fuel bill for an average haulier will decrease by over £100 in 2011-12, compared with an increase of almost £1,650 under the previous Government's planned fuel duty escalator.

As set out in Budget documentation, the Government do not expect a significant impact on UK oil and gas investment or production in the forecast period as a consequence of this measure.

Members: Correspondence

Mr Baron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay of 14 February 2011 regarding a constituent, Mr N. Clark. [53288]

Mr Hoban: I have replied to the hon. Member.

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Mr Baron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay of 14 February 2011 regarding a constituent Ms M. Burchell. [53290]

Mr Gauke: I have replied to the hon. Member.

National Insurance Contributions

Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will estimate the number of new jobs created to which the national insurance holiday has applied since its inception; [50026]

(2) what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the public purse of the national insurance holiday in each year between 2010-11 and 2014-15. [50099]

Mr Gauke: The information requested is as follows:

i. According to the latest data just under 3,000 businesses have benefited from the national insurance contributions (NICs) holiday (up to 28 March 2011). Analysis suggests that on average each business will claim for approximately two employees. This implies that the scheme has supported around 6,000 new jobs.

ii. For 2010-11, current outturn data on registrations and an estimated average benefit of £2,000 per business implies costs of around £5 million to date.

Figures are estimates using assumptions from the Budget 2010 policy costing and are not final. More detail on the assumptions and methodology behind these estimates can be found in the Budget 2010 policy costings note:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/junebudget_costings.pdf

(page 21).

Updated estimates of the total cost of the NICs holiday policy will be published in due course, once end-of-year data are available and emerging evidence from external research on take-up has been fully analysed.

Northern Rock

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate has been made of the cost to the public purse of taking Northern Rock into public ownership. [53051]

Mr Hoban: The business of Northern Rock was split between two separate entities, Northern Rock plc and Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc, effective from 1 January 2010. Both companies remain in public ownership at the current time.

As part of the restructuring, the previous Government provided £1.4 billion of capital support to Northern Rock plc; £1.6 billion is available for Northern Rock (Asset Management) should the company need further capital support in the future. In addition, the Government had by January 2010 loaned Northern Rock (Asset Management) a total of £22.8 billion, plus an additional working capital loan facility of £2.5 billion to help with the orderly wind-down of the company.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published an updated estimate of the direct fiscal cost of financial sector interventions on 23 March 2011. On the basis of the current market prices and, where these were not available, on an assessment of the fees and losses associated with the interventions, the estimated eventual benefit to the taxpayer is £3.4 billion.

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The recent estimate is based on:

the current market value of the Government's shareholdings in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group which implies a cost of £1.6 billion related to these investments;

the Asset Protection Agency's (APA) central expectation that there will be no net payouts to RBS under Asset Protection Scheme. Taking into account minimum fees, there is likely to be a net benefit to the taxpayer of at least £5 billion from the APS; and

the expectation that the aggregate costs of all other interventions will not be material after fees, income and recoveries are taken into account.

Revenue and Customs: Corruption

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of corruption involving customs officers which involved illegal drugs there were in each of the last five years. [53426]

Damian Green: I have been asked to reply.

Customs responsibilities at the border moved to the UK Border Agency in August 2009. There have been no cases of corruption involving customs officers (including those who are now UK Border Agency staff) and illegal drugs in the last five years.

Revenue and Customs: Deloitte

Mr David Davis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many meetings the Permanent Secretary for Tax in HM Revenue and Customs has had with the Chairman of the UK Board of Partners at Deloitte in each year between 2002 and 2011. [46788]

Mr Gauke [holding answer 15 March 2011]: There is no information held prior to 1 January 2006.

As head of the tax profession for HMRC, the Permanent Secretary for Tax is responsible for ensuring that key business leaders, accountancy firms and leading tax professionals understand what HMRC expects in terms of tax compliance and administration. As a consequence, he meets a large number of private sector tax leaders on a regular basis which helps him deliver on this commitment. Since 1 January 2006 to the present, he has met the Chairman of the UK Board of Partners at Deloitte on 48 occasions.

Taxation: Child Benefit

Guto Bebb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in which half of the income distribution of UK families a single earner family with two children in receipt of an annual income of £42,500 will fall from April 2013 after implementation of changes to taxation and child benefit; [46681]

(2) what estimate he has made of the percentile of income distribution into which a single earner family with three children and in receipt of an annual income of £42,500 will fall from April 2013 after implementation of proposed changes to taxes and child benefit; [46682]

(3) what estimate he has made of the percentile of income distribution into which a single earner family with two children and in receipt of an annual income of £40,000 will fall from April 2013 after implementation of proposed changes to taxes and child benefit. [46683]

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Mr Gauke [holding answer 18 March 2011]: Child benefit will be withdrawn from families containing a higher rate taxpayer from January 2013. Affected families are within the top 20% of the incomes of all families (including those without children).

Taxation: Handbooks

Ed Balls: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to resume annual publication of HM Treasury's Tax Benefit Reference Manual or publish in an alternative form the information contained in that document on historic taxes and benefits. [53093]

Mr Gauke: Information on current rates of taxes and benefits is freely available at:

www.direct.gov.uk.

Information on many historic rates can be found on the websites of the relevant Government Departments.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Work Experience

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advice his Department provides to those wishing to (a) work as an intern, (b) undertake a work experience placement and (c) work as a volunteer in his Department. [52816]

Mr Paterson: The Northern Ireland Office does not issue any specific advice to those wishing to work as an intern, undertake work experience or work as a volunteer in this Department. As a small Department of 164 people, the scope for such placements is limited. Any request for a placement is dealt with on a case by case basis.

Education

Teachers: Pensions

Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what impact assessment has been undertaken of the proposed changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme; and what estimate he has made of the change in the opt-out rate that would result from implementation of the changes. [52273]

Mr Gibb: At the spending review the Government announced changes to the level of employee contribution rates which would lead to total savings of £2.8 billion a year by 2014-15, to be phased in from April 2012. Discussions about how this will be implemented are on-going with unions in the context of wider ranging pension discussions. The Government will put forward proposals in June, and will then begin formal consultation on the necessary changes to scheme regulations.

The Government are committed to protecting low earners and ensuring changes are both sustainable and progressive.

The Treasury published an estimate of likely opt-out rates at the spending review:

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_policycostings.pdf

This estimate has been scrutinised by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, and will be reviewed when the Government puts forward final designs.

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Ms Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what arrangements are in place to ensure that the changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme are sustainable and progressive; [52274]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effects of the proposed changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme on part-time members of staff who are members of the scheme. [52275]

Mr Gibb: At the spending review the Government announced changes to the level of employee contribution rates which would lead to total savings of £2.8 billion a year by 2014-15, to be phased in from April 2012. Discussions about how this will be implemented are on-going with unions in the context of wider ranging pension discussions. The Government will put forward proposals in June, and will then begin formal consultation on the necessary changes to scheme regulations.

The Government are committed to protecting low earners and ensuring changes are both sustainable and progressive.

The Treasury published an estimate of likely opt-out rates at the spending review:

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_policycostings.pdf

This estimate has been scrutinised by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, and will be reviewed when the Government puts forward final designs.

Justice

Charter of Fundamental Rights: EU

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the Report of the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. [52468]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: The Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was published by the European Commission on 1 April. An explanatory memorandum was deposited in Parliament on 18 April which sets out the Government's assessment of the report. The Government consider that regular review of the application of the Charter is a useful exercise in ensuring that the EU does not breach the rights of individuals and support the clear restatement in the report of the situations in which the Charter applies.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness

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of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. [52469]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: The role of the Fundamental Rights Agency is to provide relevant institutions and authorities of the Union and its member states with assistance and expertise on fundamental rights when implementing Community law, and to support them in taking measures and formulating appropriate courses of action. Through research and analysis it develops comparable data from across the EU on fundamental rights in relation to current policy issues. The Government consider that the agency has carried out thoughtful research and analysis and has played a useful role in publishing comparative data on issues which can often be overlooked.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the budget is for (a) the Legal Services Board, (b) the Legal Services Commission, (c) the Legal Services Consultative Panel, (d) the National Archives, (e) the National Offender Management Service, (f) the National Probation Service, (g) the Northern Ireland Court Service, (h) the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, (i) the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, (j) the Offices of Courts Funds, (k) the Office of the Information Commissioner, (l) the Office of the Judge Advocate, (m) the General Office of the Judicial Committee, (n) the Office for Judicial Complaints, (o) the Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman, (p) the Office of the Public Guardian, (q) the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee, (r) the Parole Board, (s) the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, (t) the Prison Service Pay Review Body, (u) the Sentencing Council, (v) the Tribunal Procedure Committee, (w) the Tribunals Service, (x) the Victims Commissioner and (y) the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales in each year of the comprehensive spending review period. [53341]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: Budgets for 2011-12 have now been formally allocated to business groups within the MoJ and future year funding is yet to be approved and allocated.

The following table sets out the resource departmental expenditure limit (DEL) funding allocated in 2011-12.

The DEL funding allocated to MoJ's executive agencies and executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) is aligned to MoJ's Main Estimate, which was published on 26 April 2011.

£000
Organisation 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Executive agencies

       

National Offender Management Service (includes National Probation Service)(1)

3,781,967

(2)

(2)

(2)

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (includes Office of the Judge Advocate)(3)

1,193,674

(2)

(2)

(2)

Office of the Public Guardian(4)

(500)

(2)

(2)

(2)

         

Executive NDPBs

       

Legal Services Commission

2,251,400

(2)

(2)

(2)

Parole Board

11,000

(2)

(2)

(2)

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Office of the Information Commissioner

4,586

(2)

(2)

(2)

Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

379,978

(2)

(2)

(2)

Legal Services Board(5)

0

(2)

(2)

(2)

         

Other bodies (6)

       

Tribunal Procedure Committee

11,500

(2)

(2)

(2)

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

5,546

(2)

(2)

(2)

Official Solicitor and Public Trustee

5,200

(2)

(2)

(2)

Sentencing Council

1,620

(2)

(2)

(2)

Victims' Commissioner

1,100

(2)

(2)

(2)

Office for Judicial Complaints

893

(2)

(2)

(2)

Bodies not funded by MoJ

       

Northern Ireland Court Service(7)

Agency of the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland, not the MoJ

Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission

These sit with Northern Ireland, not the MoJ

Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission

These sit with Northern Ireland, not the MoJ

Offices of Court Funds (Court Funds Office)

Funded from interest from the Court Funds Investment Account

Prison Service Pay Review Body

This sits as part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

General Office of the Judicial Committee

No matching body found

The National Archives

Funded directly by Parliament, not the MoJ

Legal Services Consultative Panel

Ceased to exist on 1 January 2010

(1) Estimated funding for the National Probation Service is £822 million. (2 )Not yet allocated. (3) Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is an agency of the MoJ, set up from April 2011, establishing a new unified administration of courts and tribunals. Estimated funding for the Office of the Judge Advocate is £1.2 million. (4) Resource expenditure for the Office of the Public Guardian is estimated at £34.l million gross. The budget stated in the table is net of £34.6 million of income recovery. (5) Expenditure for the Legal Services Board is estimated at £5 million gross, which will be met by the same amount of income recovery. The net budget stated is after their income budget from fees and levies on the legal professions has been subtracted from their budgeted expenditure. The budget is DEL neutral. (6) Funding for the other bodies is broadly agreed and is in the process of being formally allocated. (7) Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service is an agency of the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland, set up from April 2011, establishing a new unified administration of courts and tribunals.

Human Rights

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions he has had on the possible accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights; and what assessment he has made of the earliest date on which the EU could accede to the Convention. [52476]

Mr Kenneth Clarke: The Council of the European Union appointed the Commission to negotiate accession on behalf of the EU in June 2010, on the basis of an agreed negotiating mandate. The Commission has since met regularly with a group of experts elected by the member states of the Council of Europe, including one from the United Kingdom, to prepare the accession agreement, including any necessary adaptations to the Convention system. An early draft of the agreement was recently prepared by the Council of Europe Secretariat based on these negotiations, which will now form the basis of further discussions and drafting refinement.

The negotiating group has a mandate to consider this issue until the end of the year. Article 218 (8) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union states that the European Council's decision concluding this agreement shall enter into force after it has been approved by the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The agreement will also need to be ratified by the members of the Council of Europe. The EU cannot accede to the Convention until all of these steps have been completed so it is not currently possible to provide an accurate estimate of the earliest date for accession.

Human Trafficking

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the reasons are for the difference in time taken compared to the previously published timetable for the announcement of the successful provider in the bid to co-ordinate support services for adult victims of trafficking; and when he plans to make this announcement. [52826]

Mr Blunt: The launch on 15 December 2010 of the procurement process to select an organisation to co-ordinate and contract for support services for adult victims of human trafficking saw the release of a number of supporting documents, including a potential timetable for the process. The actual time taken over the course of the procurement process was slightly longer than outlined in this provisional timetable as it included:

i. additional time for the development of the final service specification, which was informed by information and views put forth by bidders at the open dialogue stage of the process;

ii. additional time for bidders to write and submit their final bids; and

iii. additional time for the evaluation of bids.

All bidders were informed of any changes to the timetable as and when they occurred. Bidders were notified of the outcome of the procurement process on 11 April 2011.

Legal Aid

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people used the telephone to access legal aid advice in 2010-11. [53342]

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Mr Djanogly: Community Legal Advice provided over 389,000 acts of assistance in 2010-11. Of this, specialist telephone advisers provided nearly 125,000 acts of assistance, and over 264,000 enquiries were closed at the triage stage by the operator service resolving the issue to the clients' satisfaction or referring them to a local face-to-face provider or alternative helpline. These figures have not yet been audited. Final figures will be reported in the Legal Services Commission's Annual Report and Accounts for 2010-11.

Sentencing

Mrs Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many custodial sentences of (a) one month or less, (b) two months and (c) three months are being served by women prisoners; and if he will make a statement. [52264]

Mr Blunt: The following table shows the number of female prisoners serving short sentences in prison establishments in England and Wales, as at 31 December 2010, broken down by detailed sentence length band.

Sentence length Number of female prisoners

Less than or equal to one month

12

More than one month up to and including two months

42

More than two months up to and including three months

89

More than three months up to and including six months

251

Unrecorded less than or equal to six months'''

16

Total less than or equal to six months(1)

410

(1) Detailed sentence length breakdown is not recorded centrally for this group These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Culture, Media and Sport

Broadband

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how he plans to monitor progress in the delivery of high speed broadband services across the UK. [52629]

Mr Vaizey: Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has identified a set of indicators addressing the four themes of coverage: take-up, speed, price and choice. BDUK is consulting with industry on the proposed indicators via the Broadband Stakeholder Group and will publish the framework on its website in due course.

Horserace Totalisator Board

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport when he plans to make a decision on the future ownership of the Tote. [53311]

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Mr Jeremy Hunt: The Government hope to conclude the final stages of the process for resolving the future of the Tote and to announce the outcome later in the spring in line with the timetable set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Budget 2011.

Prime Minister

Tony Blair

Mr Amess: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what Government facilities have been made available to Tony Blair at his request since June 2007; what the cost has been for each facility; and if he will make a statement; [50304]

(2) what funds the Government has provided to Tony Blair since May 2010; for what purpose; and if he will make a statement. [50305]

The Prime Minister: As a former Prime Minister, Mr Blair is entitled to claim the Public Duties Cost Allowance.

The Office of the Middle East Quartet Representative is supported by civil service secondees paid for by their sponsor Department. The Office also received a £400,000 contribution from the Department for International Development in August 2007 to support the setting-up of its office in Jerusalem. UK embassies also occasionally provide practical support to Mr Blair overseas in order to facilitate the effective execution of his duties as Quartet Representative.

International Development

Burma: Earthquakes

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what emergency relief he has provided to people affected by the earthquake in Shan State, Burma. [53075]

Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) has consulted closely with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on the ground in the area of Shan State struck by an earthquake on 24 March 2011. DFID carefully considered the case for emergency aid and concluded that most immediate critical needs were being met adequately by the Burmese authorities along with other donors including UN agencies, international and local NGOs, neighbouring countries and the private sector.

DFID will continue to keep the humanitarian situation in Burma closely under review. Over the next four years DFID will provide £185 million for the Burmese people, working through UN agencies and NGOs and focusing on health, education, livelihoods, civil society and people affected by conflict.

Departmental Accountancy

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether any ministerial directions have been issued to the accounting officer of his Department since his appointment. [51992]

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Mr Duncan: There have been no ministerial directions issued since the Secretary of State’s appointment.

EU Aid

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had at EU level on improving the effectiveness and value for money of the EU development budget. [51821]

Mr O'Brien: The Secretary of State for International Development discussed improving the effectiveness and value for money of the EU Development Budget at an informal meeting of European Development Ministers on 22 February 2011. He stressed the importance of transparency and the need to focus on results. Issues raised in the Multilateral Aid Review were covered and the findings of the Review with regard to EU assistance were welcomed by many member states’ colleagues and by the European Commission.

Ivory Coast: Politics and Government

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast; and if he will make a statement. [52841]

Mr O'Brien: The humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire remains critical. Food, water and sanitation, urgent medical care, the protection of civilians and shelter for some 800,000 displaced and those communities affected by the conflict are needed. Over 150,000 people have now crossed the border to seek refuge in neighbouring Liberia. While some have started to return to their homes, it is anticipated that significant numbers of refugees will remain in Liberia for as much as a year.

Britain has already announced significant support and is contributing substantially to the humanitarian response in both Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, making the UK the second largest bilateral humanitarian donor. Last month’s emergency aid package of support in Côte d’Ivoire alone is helping to provide food for some 17,000 displaced Ivoirians and host villages, as well as safe clean drinking water, shelter, medical treatment and household items to over 10,000 people.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Departmental Offices

Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 14 March 2011, Official Report, column 150W, on departmental offices, for what reasons he proposes to collect hard evidence relevant to his Department's activities through regional offices; and what consideration he has given to the central collection of such evidence. [51629]

Mr Prisk: A key role of the Department's officials based throughout the country will be to gather timely intelligence of local economic conditions. As these officials are located across the country, they will collect information

28 Apr 2011 : Column 526W

which may not be apparent to the Department's London-based officials. Further, they will be able to interpret any information more readily using their better knowledge of the local economic environment.

The Department is also working to develop a capacity to collect information on current business conditions across the country which will be co-ordinated centrally where that is appropriate. This capacity will include a regular national business survey which should be able to track changes in business conditions over time at sub-national levels. These survey results will be shared with local partners, such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities, as well as being made publicly available. The Department has just started a procurement process to identify a supplier; a supplier should be in place by this summer.

EU External Trade: India

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the potential economic benefits to the UK of a Free Trade Agreement between India and the EU. [53343]

Mr Prisk: The UK strongly supports an ambitious EU-India free trade agreement (FTA). The European Commission's Sustainability impact assessment estimates that the EU as a whole could gain €4.4 billion in the short run and €1.6 billion in the long run. Once negotiations are concluded, it will be possible to estimate more accurately the potential gains to the EU and to the UK.

Post Offices

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with Post Office Ltd on staffing levels in field change teams; and if he will make a statement. [53057]

Mr Davey: No such discussions have taken place as staffing levels in field change teams and across the business are operational matters for Post Office Ltd.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many people were employed by Post Office Ltd in its field change teams working directly on ongoing or temporary closures and other local network issues on (a) 1 March 2010 and (b) 1 March 2011. [53058]

Mr Davey: The information requested is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the managing director of the Post Office Ltd, to respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries.

Post Offices: Closures

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many Post Office branches have been subject to long-term temporary closure since May 2010. [51207]

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Mr Davey: The information requested is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the managing director of the Post Office Ltd, to respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries.

Public Expenditure

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the staff (a) costs and (b) complement of his Department, its agencies and its associated public bodies over the spending review period [51583]

Mr Davey: The administration budget for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will reduce by 40% over the spending review, including a saving of up to £228 million in admin costs as a result of the abolition of the RDAs.

BIS is also undertaking an ambitious programme of arm’s length bodies reform bringing the total number down from 57 to 33, with nine continuing under review and corporate service reform across the entire BIS network, which will cover estates, ICT, HR, finance and procurement functions in many BIS partner organisations.

I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency Service, Companies House, National Measurement Office, Intellectual Property Office, Skills Funding Agency and the UK Space Agency and they will respond to the right hon. Member directly.

Information on the Department's NDPBs is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Letter from Dr David Williams:

Thank you for your question addressed to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills asking what estimate he has made of the staff (a) costs of and (b) complement of his Department, its agencies and its associated public bodies over the Spending Review period.

For the UK Space Agency the current estimate of staff numbers is 40 full time post equivalents, with an estimated cost of £9.3m over the Spending Review period.

The agency has a number of vacancies, and has yet to factor in the admin cost reductions during the Spending Review. The numbers above are the best estimates and include posts transferred into the Agency and the vacancies.

Letter from Peter Mason, dated 21 April 2011:

I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office (formerly National Weights and Measures Laboratory) to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 1 April 2011 reference 2010/4977 to the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, asking about estimates of staff costs of and complement over the Spending Review period.

The National Measurement Office has made the following estimates of staff costs and complement for the next four years. This information is also published in our Corporate Plan which is available on our website. These costs and complement encompass all the entirety of the Agency's activities, not all of which are paid for by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


Staff costs (£000) Complement (FTE)

2011-12

3,478

72

2012-13

3,555

74

2013-14

3,675

76

2014-15

3,616

73

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Letter from John Alty, dated 21 April 2011:

I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled 1st April 2011, to the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Intellectual Property Office, which as a Trading Fund does not receive direct government funding, expects to have the following staff numbers and pay costs over the five year period.


£ million (1) Numbers (2)

2011-12

35.7

878

2012-13

36.’7

866

2013-14

37.4

867

2014-15

38.2

867

2015-16

38.9

867

(1) Pay, NI, Supan. (2 )Full time equivalent.

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 13 April 2011:

The Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has asked me to reply to your question what estimate he has made of the staff (a) costs of and (b) complement of his Department, its agencies and its associated public bodies over the Spending Review period.

For 2011-12 the Insolvency Service currently has indicative figures for staff costs and complement as indicated in the table below. However, The Service is a demand-led organisation, and should case numbers rise or fall outside of current forecasts then the staffing requirement could be significantly different from that shown here. For this reason, and because The Service does not have funding allocations for future years, we are unable to provide firm figures for 2012-15.


2010-11 2011-12

Costs (£)

88,372,000

71,032,000

FTE

2,525

2,050

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 6 April 2011:

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled 1 April 2011, UIN 4977 to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Over the Spending Review period Companies House has plans to reduce staff cost by around five million pounds from the present level, this will mean a reduction in staff complement of between 200 and 250 staff.

Letter from Geoff Russell, dated 12 April 2011:

Thank you for your parliamentary question addressed to the Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills asking what estimate the Skills Funding Agency (the Agency) has made of its staff (a) costs and (b) complement over the Spending Review period.

Please be advised:

(a) the baseline staff cost was £101m (including on-costs) at the inception of the Agency on 1 April 2010 and has been reduced to an estimated £87m for the 2011-12 financial year. It is estimated that the staff cost will be reduced further to £66m by the end of the current Spending review period; and

(b) the staff headcount at the inception of the Agency on 1 April 2010 was 1,896 (1,839 FTE) and the current staff headcount is 1,635 (1,590 FTE) at the start of the 2011-12 financial year. The Agency is working towards an establishment FTE of 1,264 by the end of the current Spending Review period.

28 Apr 2011 : Column 529W

University and Business Partnerships

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many meetings he has had with external bodies to discuss university and business partnerships in 2011-12 and 2012-13 in each month since May 2010; and if he will make a statement. [51473]

Mr Willetts: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my ministerial colleagues and I have had regular meetings with representatives from business and higher education. This Government recognise the importance of university and business partnerships and have discussed this topic in a number of these meetings. Reforms to higher education innovation funding will provide greater incentives for higher education institutes to increase interaction with business and other users.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma: Earthquakes

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the recent earthquake in Shan State, Burma. [53074]

Mr Jeremy Browne: An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck the Thai/Burma/Laos border area on 24 March 2011. There are reports that about 75 Burmese people died and a further 125 were injured. About 18,000 were affected in the area of the earthquake and infrastructure in Shan State was badly damaged. The relief effort continues and is focused on health, shelter and water and sanitation needs. Approximately £2 million has been contributed or pledged by bilateral donors, the private sector, individuals and other organisations. Department for International Development officials are in close contact with UN agencies and non-governmental organisations working on the ground and have assessed that immediate critical needs are being adequately met.

Burma: Politics and Government

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether staff from the British embassy in Burma have visited Kachin State in the last 12 months. [53071]

Mr Jeremy Browne: Staff from our embassy in Rangoon most recently travelled to Kachin State in February and April 2011 to visit health care and conservation projects that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is funding. Officials also met local people to discuss issues connected with the construction of the Myitsone dam.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of forced relocation of ethnic Kachin people in advance of the construction of the Myitsone dam in Burma. [53072]

28 Apr 2011 : Column 530W

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government remain deeply concerned about the impact on human rights and on the environment of the construction of the Myitsone dam. Officials from our embassy in Rangoon visited Kachin state in February and April and met people in the affected area. Our embassy is in regular contact with local and international organisations working to highlight the social and environmental consequences of the dam's construction. We understand that construction of the dam, and extensive logging in the area, may mean that 15,000 Kachin villagers are relocated against their will to areas that will not support their livelihoods. We urge those involved in the dam's construction to apply the highest standards of corporate social responsibility and ensure that their investment benefits Burma's people.

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Indian Government on the detention of democracy activists from Karen and Rakhine State in Burma. [53073]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We understand from non-governmental organisation (NGO) sources that 34 Burmese ethnic activists may have spent the past 13 years in prison in India following allegations of gun running. NGO reports suggest that the charges against them were dropped last year but that the group remain in detention while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees considers granting them refugee status. We are also aware of NGO reports that allege that the authorities may be seeking to deport them. Our high commission in New Delhi drew these reports to the attention of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal last November. We will continue to follow up with the Indian authorities.

Columbia: Politics and Government

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to his Colombian counterpart for an investigation into the recent assassination attempt made against Henry Gordon. [52714]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We understand that on 14 January 2011 two gunmen intercepted Henry Gordon's car in a notoriously dangerous sector of Colombia. It is not clear whether this was an assassination attempt or an attempted robbery, so we have not made representations to the Colombian Government in this case.

However, we will continue to monitor Mr Gordon's case and raise the matter with the Colombian Government should it prove necessary.

Columbia: Prisoners

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Colombian counterpart on the imprisonment of Aracely Canaveral Velez. [52713]

Mr Jeremy Browne: Staff at our embassy in Bogotá have made representations to the Vice President's Office in the case of Aracely Canaveral Velez. I am aware that she was arrested on 17 January 2011, and has been

28 Apr 2011 : Column 531W

charged with aggravated conspiracy and drug trafficking. She is currently being held in Cartagena, a trial date has not yet been set.

We raise our human rights concerns regularly with senior members of the Colombian Government. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns with the Colombian Vice Minister for Defence Yaneth Giha or 11 January 2011 and Deputy Foreign Minister Patti Londoño on 26 January 2011 and discussed ways in which the UK can support efforts to improve the situation in Colombia.

We continue to underline to the Colombian authorities that those charged with crimes should have their legal rights fully respected, including to a fair and efficient trial, but we cannot interfere in Colombia's judicial process.

Columbia: Trade Unions

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the number of trade unionists killed in Colombia in 2010. [52712]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government of Colombia have stated that 37 trade unionists were killed in Colombia last year, while the trade unionist organisation, Escuela Nacional Sindical, reports that 35 trade unionists were killed in 2010.

We continue to urge the Colombian Government to provide greater protection for human rights defenders, including trade unionists, and to work with the unions and employee organisations to strengthen labour relations in Colombia.

We raise human rights issues regularly with senior members of the Colombian Government. Most recently, I met the Colombian Vice Minister for Defence Yaneth Giha on 11 January 2011 and the Colombian Deputy Foreign Minister Patti Londoño on 26 January 2011. During these meetings I raised our human rights concerns and discussed ways in which the UK can support Colombian efforts to improve the situation.

Mexico: Human Rights

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of clauses on human rights and democracy in the free trade agreement between the EU and Mexico. [53081]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The free trade agreement between the EU and Mexico includes a human rights clause as an essential element of the agreement, meaning that a breach of the clause can lead to the agreement's suspension. While there are ongoing human rights issues in Mexico, we work closely with the Mexican authorities to address them. We do not currently consider it necessary to invoke this clause.

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of implementation in Mexico of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. [53103]

28 Apr 2011 : Column 532W

Mr Jeremy Browne: In order to implement effectively the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, EU missions and the EU Delegation in Mexico have:

(a) established regional working groups that cover all Mexican states and organised several visits to follow up on specific cases and meet local authorities, local non-governmental organisations (including human rights defenders) and state level human rights commissions where appropriate;

(b) discussed protection measures for various human rights defenders with the Minister responsible for human rights;

(c) raised specific cases in the EU-Mexico annual human rights dialogue;

(d) issued Heads of Mission statements following serious incidents and attacks against human rights defenders.

We continue to be actively involved in this work.

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the involvement of local non-governmental organisations in Mexico in the development of local implementation strategies for the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. [53104]

Mr Jeremy Browne: In order to involve local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the development of implementation strategies, EU mission delegations in Mexico have informally consulted them on the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The regional working groups established to support implementation strategies also meet with local NGOs regularly.

Work and Pensions

Disability Living Allowance

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much funding his Department spent on administering disability living allowance under the gateway for the benefit in the last 12 months. [52938]

Maria Miller: We are not able to say how much funding the Department spent on administering disability living allowance under the gateway for the benefit in the last 12 months.

This is because our Management System does not provide this level of detail. We are able to tell you that the cost of administering disability living allowance, excluding corporate and shared services and investments, for the last 12 months (April 2010 to March 2011) was £134 million.

Notes:

1. The figure is rounded to the nearest million;

2. These are the latest data that are currently available and are subject to year end accounting adjustments and final audit.

Source:

Department for Work and Pensions Activity Based Management System 2010-11

Carer’s Allowance

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many carers receive Carer's Allowance for looking after a person who receives the (a) middle rate and (b) higher rate care component of disability living allowance. [52939]

28 Apr 2011 : Column 533W

Maria Miller: The National Statistics datasets on carer's allowance do not contain any information on the identity or characteristics of the person being cared for. Similarly, the National Statistics datasets on disability living allowance claimants do not contain any information on the identity or characteristics of any person caring for the claimant. Some early analysis has been undertaken to use additional information to link the two datasets, but to quality assure the results to the standard required for parliamentary questions would incur disproportionate costs.

Child Maintenance

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the performance of Vertex in delivery of the administration child maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement. [53063]

Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of the performance of Vertex in delivery of the administration of the child maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement. [53063]

Vertex Data Science Ltd manages cases on behalf of the Child Support Agency that for technical reasons cannot be progressed on our primary computer system (CS2). These are known as “off-system” cases.

The performance of Vertex Data Science Ltd is measured on a monthly basis against a range of commercially agreed targets and client service standards. These align closely to those of the Child Support Agency and are reviewed formally through monthly and quarterly governance arrangements. In addition, the supplier is encouraged through the contract payment mechanisms, to ensure that all targets and client service standards are achieved or exceeded.

The Commission continues to work closely with the supplier to improve client service and efficiency which has resulted in some key improvements. As a result more than 74,000 children, whose cases are managed off of the main computer system, benefited from more than £98 million of child maintenance collected and arranged in the year to 31 March 2011. This represents an increase of 29% in child maintenance collected and arranged to that achieved during 2009/10.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Departmental Manpower

Mr Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employees at each Civil Service grade are employed at his Department’s offices in (a) Norcross, (b) Warbreck House and (c) Bispham. [52936]

Chris Grayling: The number of individual employees, in each grade, employed at Norcross and at Warbreck Hill are in the following table.

28 Apr 2011 : Column 534W

The figures are as at the end of December 2010 this being the date of the latest Public Sector Employment Statistics published by the Office for National Statistics.

The Department does not employ any staff at Bispham.

Grade Norcross Warbreck House

Administration Assistant

37

346

Administration Officer

274

1,192

Executive Officer

442

841

Higher Executive Officer

365

81

Senior Executive Officer

203

16

Grade 7 (Principal Officer)

100

5

Grade 6 (Senior Principal Officer)

44

7

Senior Civil Service

10

1

Total

1,475

2,489

Note: Figures are staff in post ie individuals

Employment and Support Allowance

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the likely change in expenditure on contributory employment and support allowance as a result of limiting payments to 12 months in each of the first three years of the limitation; and if he will estimate the equivalent figures if the time limit were set at (a) six months, (b) two years, (c) three years and (d) four years. [53199]

Maria Miller: As part of the Welfare Reform Bill, we have set out our intention to introduce a time limit of one year for those claiming contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) and who are placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

In the Welfare Reform Bill the time limit for contributory ESA claimants in the WRAG has been set at 12 months. The following table details the annual savings arising from the 12 month time limit and the other time limits requested. The savings include reductions to expenditure on contributory ESA net of expected costs to income-related ESA and other DWP administered benefits and are measured against a baseline forecast of the contributory ESA expenditure without time limiting.

  Savings
  £ million
Scenario 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Welfare Reform Bill: 1 year time limit

0

400

800

1,100

6 month time limit

0

700

1,050

1,400

2 year time limit

0

150

350

650

3 year time limit

0

50

150

300

4 year time limit

0

0

50

100

Figures are in cash terms, and are for Great Britain. They are rounded to the nearest £50 million.

Employment Schemes

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking in relation to the involvement in the work programme of those organisations which did not gain prime contractor status. [52673]

28 Apr 2011 : Column 535W

Chris Grayling: All future welfare to work requirements, including the Work Programme will be delivered via a framework agreement and details of the organisations which have been selected onto the framework can be found under preferred suppliers on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website.

Providers not successful as a prime supplier for the Work Programme remain on the framework and will still be invited to tender for future welfare to work provision. Some providers unsuccessful as primes may be part of another's supply chain as a Work Programme sub-contractor.

On 1 April 2011 DWP published the list of preferred suppliers for Work Programme contracts. Contact details for the prime suppliers will be published when post tender discussions have concluded and contracts have been signed for those providers interested in becoming involved in the future delivery of the Work Programme.

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the criteria for the award of Work Programme contracts in Scotland took account of levels of experience in dealing with people most disadvantaged in the labour market. [52674]

Chris Grayling: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) assessed all tenders for the Work Programme mini competitions from the framework for the Provision of Employment Related Support Services against the published evaluation criteria. This was based both on quality and financial aspects of the tenders. The evaluation was conducted without prejudice based entirely on the evidence contained within the tenders. The preferred bidders were publicly announced on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender in each contract package area, i.e. that which, in the opinion of DWP, offered the best combination of quality, financial capacity and acceptable level of risk.

Within the evaluation process, there was clear focus on the supply chain. Prime providers were required to state how they will work with sub-contractors to ensure the needs of all the hardest to help customers are fully addressed. In addition to ensuring that the customer journey is tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs taking into account local considerations to meet the needs of customers within the contract package area.

Housing Benefit

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether housing benefit restrictions will apply to tenants deemed to be under-occupying their social rented accommodation where they are in work but retaining some housing benefit entitlement. [52463]

Steve Webb: We intend that the restrictions for under occupancy will apply to social sector tenants of working age receiving housing benefit whether or not they are in employment.

28 Apr 2011 : Column 536W

Jobcentre Plus: Manpower

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff were employed by Jobcentre Plus in each (a) office, (b) London borough and (c) region on (i) 6 April 2010 and (ii) 6 April 2011. [53109]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Matthew Nicholas:

The Secretary of State has asked Darra Singh to reply to your question asking how many staff were employed by Jobcentre Plus in each a) office; b) London Borough; and c) region on i) 6 April 2010 and ii) 6 April 2011. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to Darra Singh as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. As Darra Singh is currently on annual leave, I am replying in his absence.

Due to the level of information requested, the information has been placed in the Library. The information is drawn from our payroll system. The figures are in Full Time Equivalents and, where appropriate, have been rounded to the nearest whole number. They cover the Jobcentre Plus operation in London. The dates that have been used are 31 March 2010 and 31 December 2010. The latter represents the latest date for which published information is available.

Jobcentre Plus: Temporary Employment

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many Jobcentre Plus staff on a fixed-term contract have had their contract extended in March or April 2011 in each (a) London borough and (b) region; [53107]

(2) what the average length was of fixed-term contract extensions offered to Jobcentre Plus staff in March and April 2011 in each (a) London borough and (b) region. [53110]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to reply to the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Matthew Nicholas:

The Secretary of State has asked Darra Singh to reply to your questions regarding how many Jobcentre Plus staff on a fixed-term contract have had their contract extended in March or April 2011 in each (a) London borough and (b) region and what the average length was of fixed-term contract extensions offered to Jobcentre Plus staff in March and April 2011 in each (a) London borough and (b) region. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to Darra Singh as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. As Darra Singh is currently on annual leave, I am replying in his absence.

The details requested are not available by individual London borough. The information that is available is detailed in the table below.

In total 246 employees have had their contract of employment extended during March to April 11.

London district London local authority borough Number FTA extended March and April 2011 Average length of extension (months)

East London

Hackney

12

4

 

Newham

   
 

Tower Hamlets

   

28 Apr 2011 : Column 537W

28 Apr 2011 : Column 538W

 

Barking

   
 

Dagenham

   
 

Havering

   
 

Redbridge

   
 

Waltham Forest

   
       

North London

Barnet

50

6

 

Enfield

   
 

Haringey

   
 

Camden

   
 

Westminster

   
 

Islington

   
 

Kensington and Chelsea

   
       

South London

Bexley

39

4

 

Bromley

   
 

Croydon

   
 

Greenwich

   
 

Lewisham

   
 

Merton

   
 

Sutton

   
 

Lambeth

   
 

Southwark

   
       

West London

Brent

145

6

 

Ealing

   
 

Hammersmith and Fulham

   
 

Harrow

   
 

Hillingdon

   
 

Hounslow

   
 

Richmond upon Thames

   
 

Kingston upon Thames

   
 

Wandsworth

   
       

London total

 

246

5.6

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus staff were employed on a fixed-term appointment in each (a) London borough and (b) region between April 2009 and April 2010. [53108]

Chris Grayling: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the right hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Matthew Nicholas:

The Secretary of State has asked Darra Singh to reply to your question asking how many Jobcentre Plus staff were employed on a fixed term appointment in each a) London borough; and b) region between April 2009 and April 2010. This is something that, falls within the responsibilities delegated to Darra Singh as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. As Darra Singh is currently on annual leave, I am replying in his absence.

The information set out in the table below. The figures are in Full Time Equivalents and, where appropriate, have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

London boroughs Fixed-term appointments

Barking and Dagenham

39

Barnet

34

Bexley

32

Brent

48

Bromley

23

Camden

44

Croydon

50

Ealing

47

Enfield

65

Greenwich

37

Hackney

82

Hammersmith and Fulham

66

Haringey

56

Harrow

26

Havering

31

Hillingdon

39

Hounslow

24

Islington

79

Kensington and Chelsea

19

Kingston upon Thames

20

28 Apr 2011 : Column 539W

Lambeth

54

Lewisham

58

Merton

9

Newham

71

Redbridge

59

Richmond upon Thames

18

Southwark

21

Sutton

25

Tower Hamlets

72

Waltham Forest

74

Wandsworth

5

Westminster

53

London region total

1,380

Source: Dataview IT payroll system

Mortgages: St Albans

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people resident in St Albans constituency received support for mortgage interest payments in each of the last five years. [52125]

Steve Webb: The information requested on pension credit (PC), income support (IS) and jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants receiving help with mortgage interest in St Albans parliamentary constituency is provided in the following table.

PC, IS, JSA claimants receiving mortgage interest

Number s (1)

August 2006

200

August 2007

200

August 2008

100

August 2009

200

May 2010

200

(1 )These numbers are based on very few sample cases and are subject to a high degree of sampling variation, therefore these figures should be used as a guide only. Notes: 1. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 100. 2. Figures are based on 5% sample data. All figures are subject to a degree of sampling variation. 3. Caseload figures have been uprated by using 5% proportions against 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) data. 4. Figures provided are a point in time estimate at August in each year 2006 to 2009. Due to a problem with the latest data for August 2010, which is being investigated, we have provided data for May 2010 until this is resolved. Source: Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5% samples.

28 Apr 2011 : Column 540W

Pensions

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the average pension for an individual with average earnings of (a) £10,000, (b) £15,000, (c) £25,000, (d) £35,000 and (e) 45,000 with (i) 30 years and (ii) 40 years of full contributions who retires in (A) 2011, (B) 2016, (C) 2020, (D) 2025 and (E) 2050. [53094]

Steve Webb: The table gives estimates of the weekly gross state pension entitlements of hypothetical individuals with different lifetime earnings profiles and numbers of qualifying years for the basic state pension.

The hypothetical individuals presented are assumed to be male, and to begin employment aged 25. They are assumed to work continuously for 30 or 40 years, and then remain inactive until they reach state pension age. Each individual’s annual gross earnings are assumed to be flat across their working life, when expressed in 2011-12 earnings terms. So an individual with average earnings of £10,000 is assumed to earn £10,000 in each year of employment.

These hypothetical individuals are purely illustrative; they are not representative of the general population. In reality, people will have more complex and varied histories of national insurance contributions and credits, resulting in more varied state pension outcomes.

Gross state pension entitlement refers to an individual’s full weekly entitlement deriving from national insurance contributions, before any deductions have been made due to periods spent in contracted-out employment. Individuals who have been in contracted-out employment will receive some of their entitlement from their private pension schemes when they retire, instead of from the Government. Therefore, the state pension they receive from the Government will be lower than illustrated in this table.

The Government are currently consulting on two options for state pension reform for future pensioners, as set out in the consultation paper “A state pension for the 21(st) Century” published on 4 April 2011. The Government have made clear that contributions to the current system will be honoured under any new state pension arrangements.

Estimated weekly gross state pension entitlement, by gross earnings, number of qualifying years towards the basic state pension, and year of state pension age (£ per week, 2011-12 earnings terms, in year reaches state pension age)
£
  Number of qualifying years towards basic state pension
  30 40
  Year reaches state pension age Year reaches state pension age
Average gross earnings over working life (£ per year, 2011-12 earnings terms) 2011 2016 2020 2025 2050 2011 2016 2020 2025 2050

£10,000

114

120

123

126

148

134

137

138

141

163

£15,000

129

133

134

134

148

150

150

150

149

164

£25,000

159

161

160

153

157

186

183

180

173

172

£35,000

190

190

186

174

162

224

217

210

196

177

28 Apr 2011 : Column 541W

28 Apr 2011 : Column 542W

£45,000

215

214

207

189

164

255

243

233

211

179

Notes: 1. Amounts are rounded to the nearest £1. 2. State pension here includes the basic state pension and the additional state pension, where the latter includes entitlement built up under the state earnings related pension scheme and the state second pension, but excludes graduated retirement benefit. 2. Figures are entitlements in the years individuals reach state pension age. 3. Figures are in 2011-12 earnings terms. 4. Figures exclude additional amounts payable due to individuals choosing to defer claiming their state pension. 5. Figures include entitlements deriving from own national insurance contribution records only. 6. The individuals are assumed to be male (this only affects the calculations during the period in which the equalisation of state pension age occurs). 7. Calculations use the Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic forecasts for the March 2011 Budget, available at: http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/economic-and-fiscal-outlook-march-2011/ 8. Figures ignore entitlement due to home responsibilities protection or national insurance credits. 9. Figures exclude income from means-tested benefits. 10. More information on the concept of gross state pension entitlement, as opposed to net entitlement, is available at: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2011/gross_state_pension_entitlement.pdf Source: Department for Work and Pensions estimates

Social Security Benefits

Penny Mordaunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will review the prices charged by undertakers who accept payments from his Department; and if he will make a statement. [53052]

Steve Webb: The funeral payment scheme provides a payment towards the cost of a simple, respectful, low cost funeral. The scheme covers the necessary costs of burial or cremation in full. A significant contribution is also made towards the fee levied by funeral directors, currently set at £700.

We have no plans to review the prices charged by undertakers.

Universal Credit

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households entitled to (a) housing benefit and (b) council tax benefit also received assistance with childcare costs in the latest period for which figures are available. [52514]

Steve Webb: Information on housing benefit and council tax recipients who are also receiving assistance with childcare costs is not available.

The Department does collect information on the amount of child care disregard allowed on the housing benefit/council tax benefit data source (SHBE) but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures would incur disproportionate cost.

Work Capability Assessment: Appeals

Penny Mordaunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to bring forward proposals to shorten the time taken for a decision to be made on an appeal lodged against the outcome of a work capability assessment; and if he will make a statement. [53053]

Chris Grayling: The Department and the Ministry of Justice have been working together to improve the appeals process.

In 2010 Jobcentre Plus and Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) piloted improvements to the appeals process for employment and support allowance (ESA) and income support. Following this, Jobcentre Plus implemented a new approach which involves direct telephone contact with ESA customers, to identify any other information that may be relevant and explain how decisions have been arrived at. This was fully rolled out nationally for all benefits by 1 November 2010.

The aim of the improved process is to enable more disputes to be resolved internally, which in turn will allow for more appeals to be cleared without the need to send to HMCTS for hearings.

The Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions are also working together as part of a Task Force with HMCTS, Jobcentre Plus and the Pensions, Disability and Carers Service. The Task Force is working on two broad fronts. The first is to reduce the number of appeals arising from initial decision making. The second is to increase capacity within HMCTS.

Penny Mordaunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken was between the submission of an appeal against the outcome of a work capability assessment with Jobcentre Plus and a decision on that appeal being made at a tribunal in each year since the employment and support allowance was instituted. [53196]

Chris Grayling: Information on the average time taken for handling employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals is not available. While the Department for

28 Apr 2011 : Column 543W

Work and Pensions does not publish such figures, Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does hold data on the average time taken to clear an ESA appeal. This is taken from date of receipt at HMCTS to final promulgation of the First-tier Tribunal decision. The data are provided in the following table:

Employment support allowance (work capability assessment): Cases cleared in the periods specified (1)

Average time in weeks from receipt of appeal in HMCTS to outcome

October 2008 to March 2009

1.92

April 2009 to March 2010

12.64

April 2010 to February 2011

19.40

(1) Employment and support allowance was introduced 27 October 2008. Note: The first disposed appeals against work capability assessments were in January 2009. It is important to note that these were not heard by a tribunal (as they were “non hearing clearances”, i.e. they were withdrawn, superseded or struck out cases); this explains why the clearance times were considerably lower in the first reported period.

Transport

Driving Offences: Hertfordshire

Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what revenue was collected through speed camera penalty charge notices in (a) St Albans constituency and (b) Hertfordshire in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [52118]

Mike Penning: Following the ending of the National Safety Camera Funding Scheme in 2007, all fixed penalty income, whether or not the offence was detected by camera, goes to the Consolidated Fund.

Data on the number of fixed penalties issued and paid per year for all motoring offences and separately on all speeding offences detected by camera are collected centrally and published as part of National Statistics. These are outlined in detail within Chapter 3 of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin: “Police Powers and Procedures”. Sections 3.3 and 3.4 deal respectively with fixed penalty notices generally and notices issued on the basis of speed camera evidence respectively.

The latest publication outlines data for the financial year 2009-10 as well as making reference to historical data. This was published on the 14 April.

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/police-research/hosb0711/hosb0711?view=Binary

Electric Vehicles: Subsidies

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many payments his Department has made to provide a subsidy for the sale of electric-powered motor vehicles to date. [52202]

Norman Baker: Between 1 January 2011, when the Plug-In Car Grant commenced, and 20 April 2011, 534 cars have been registered to receive a grant (for which payments are being processed). 213 of these cars have been delivered to customers. Of the 534 cars, 465 cars

28 Apr 2011 : Column 544W

were ordered within the first quarter of 2011. This figure will be updated and published on a quarterly basis.

In addition to the Plug-In Car Grant, the Government have supported the following:

283 ultra low emission vehicles put on the road through the Technology Strategy Board's ultra low carbon vehicle demonstration programme;

201 low carbon and all electric vans placed in public sector fleets through the Low Carbon Vans Public Procurement Programme; and

£46.8 million to local authorities and bus operators to assist them in purchasing 526 hybrid-electric and 16 all-electric buses.

Railways

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of annual passenger numbers travelling between (a) London and Birmingham, (b) London and Leeds and (c) London and Manchester. [46178]

Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport itself has made no estimates of the number of passenger journeys made between these cities.

However, figures published by HS2 Ltd give passenger numbers per weekday to and from central London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in 2008.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110131042819/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/hs2ltd/demandandappraisal/pdf/report.pdf

Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that in 2010 1,047,000 passengers flew between the five main London airports and Manchester airport and 51,000 between London and Leeds-Bradford airport. There were no scheduled passenger flights between London and Birmingham airport.

Railways: Finance

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what equality impact assessment he undertook in making his decision to suspend funding for local rail projects. [45238]

Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport has not suspended funding for local rail projects. A number of schemes have been included within the Local Transport Major Schemes ‘Development Pool’ including the Croxley Rail Link and a package of rail improvements in and around Leeds and Coventry to Nuneaton, alongside a number of other light rail and other public transport schemes. Final decisions on all these schemes will be taken in December.

Promoters of local rail projects can also bid for funding from the local sustainable transport fund and regional growth fund.

Railways: Rolling Stock

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) full train length equivalent diagrams and (b) carriages will be built for (i) Crossrail, (ii) Thameslink, (iii) the Intercity Express Programme and (iv) other rail services in each of the next 10 years. [46338]

28 Apr 2011 : Column 545W

Mrs Villiers: The information requested is in the following table.

  Number of vehicles Approximate number of diagrams

Thameslink

(1)1,200

106

Intercity Express Programme

(1)600

100

Crossrail

(1)600

57

West Coast

106

National Express East Anglia

120

27

London Midland

69

24

Chiltern

8

3

TPE

36

8

(1) Around

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date he expects existing Intercity diesel units to have been withdrawn from the rail network. [45247]

Mrs Villiers: Subject to the Government continuing to be satisfied that the proposal offers value for money, the first phase of the Intercity Express Programme will see withdrawal of the East Coast Intercity 125 trains, and almost all of the Great Western Intercity 125 trains by the end of 2018. Some existing stock is expected to remain in service to operate services to Penzance via the Cornish Main Line.

These trains are owned by private rolling stock companies and leased to train operating companies. Some of the trains may be released from the Great Western and East Coast lines on other franchises, and on non-franchised operations, or may remain as reserve stock until the expiry of existing leases in 2019.

The replacement of the remainder of the trains on Great Western remains a priced option within the procurement.