6 Feb 2012 : Column 61W

Food Procurement

Neil Parish: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proportion of food purchased by his Department was produced in the UK in each of the last five years. [93723]

Mr Maude: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) on 1 December 2011, Official Report, column 1047W.

Departmental Manpower

Frank Dobson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many jobs in (a) his Department and (b) the agencies and non-departmental bodies for which he is responsible were transferred to the private sector in 2010-11. [92274]

Mr Maude: There have been 19 jobs transferred to the private sector during the financial year 2010-11 from the Cabinet Office including its agencies and non-departmental bodies.

Electoral Register: Greater London

Mr Evennett: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate he has made of the number of people in each parliamentary constituency in London registered to vote and resident abroad. [93879]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of how many people in each Parliamentary constituency in London are registered to vote and resident abroad. (93879)

Table 1 shows the number of overseas electors registered to vote in each Parliamentary constituency in London on 1 December 2010. 2010 is the latest year for which data are available.

Table 1: Registered overseas parliamentary electors for each parliamentary constituency in London, parliamentary constituencies (1)
Parliamentary constituency Overseas electors, 1 December 2010

Barking

5

Battersea

251

Beckenham

60

Bermondsey and Old Southwark

141

Bethnal Green and Bow

108

Bexleyheath and Crayford

26

Brent Central

50

Brent North

46

Brentford and Isleworth

129

Bromley and Chislehurst

69

Camberwell and Peckham

79

Carshalton and Wallington

47

Chelsea and Fulham

259

Chingford and Woodford Green

31

Chipping Barnet

18

Cities of London and Westminster

216

Croydon Central

77

Croydon North

32

Croydon South

97

6 Feb 2012 : Column 62W

Dagenham and Rainham

9

Dulwich and West Norwood

98

Ealing Central and Acton

201

Ealing North

34

Ealing, Southall

38

East Ham

27

Edmonton

15

Eltham

47

Enfield North

17

Enfield, Southgate

38

Erith and Thamesmead

35

Feltham and Heston

14

Finchley and Golders Green

78

Greenwich and Woolwich

140

Hackney North and Stoke Newington

95

Hackney South and Shoreditch

91

Hammersmith

247

Hampstead and Kilburn

206

Harrow East

29

Harrow West

42

Hayes and Harlington

17

Hendon

52

Holborn and St Pancras

174

Hornchurch and Upminster

21

Hornsey and Wood Green

136

Ilford North

23

Ilford South

18

Islington North

179

Islington South and Finsbury

181

Kensington

208

Kingston and Surbiton

119

Lewisham East

53

Lewisham West and Penge

65

Lewisham, Deptford

78

Leyton and Wanstead

37

Mitcham and Morden

27

Old Bexley and Sidcup

25

Orpington

59

Poplar and Limehouse

125

Putney

200

Richmond Park

259

Romford

42

Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

51

Streatham

103

Sutton and Cheam

71

Tooting

202

Tottenham

34

Twickenham

200

Uxbridge and South Ruislip

53

Vauxhall

42

Walthamstow

46

West Ham

27

Westminster North

164

Wimbledon

218

(1) The constituencies are the ‘new' constituencies that came into effect at the last UK general election. Source: Office for National Statistics.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 63W

Government Departments: Billing

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what average time was taken by all Government departments to pay the invoices of their small business suppliers; and if he will make a statement. [93414]

Mr Maude: This information is not held centrally.

Nevertheless, the Government recognise that being paid promptly for work done is vital for suppliers to enable them to manage their cash flow and reduce time wasted on chasing invoices. We are determined to do everything we can to help business manage cash flow and to transform the culture of late payment.

The Government's policy is to pay 80% of undisputed invoices within five days and to pass 30-day payment terms down supply chains by including requirements for suppliers to do so in contracts. We expect our suppliers to follow our example on prompt payment and pay their sub-contractors within the 30-day limit.

Government Buildings

Ann McKechin: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many (a) empty and (b) under-utilised Government-owned buildings there are in Scotland; and where such buildings are located. [93956]

Mr Maude: The Government's overall aim is to reduce our estate and exit empty space.

Twenty one current marketable vacant space records within Scotland have been recorded by English Central Civil Government Departments in e-PIMS (Electronic Property Information Mapping Service). Details are included within an Excel spreadsheet, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House.

E-PIMS does not currently record underused space but the annual State of the Estate report to Parliament records the utilisation of space at departmental and organisation level which includes benchmarks.

Government Departments: Freedom of Information

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will publish his Department's guidance on private emails and the Freedom of Information Act referred to in the Education Select Committee evidence session of 31 January 2012 as having been issued to the Department for Education. [93580]

Mr Maude: Information relating to internal discussion and advice is not normally disclosed.

Government Departments: Procurement

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proportion of savings on Government procurement has resulted from (a) demand management or curtailment and (b) negotiations based on existing procurement practice in each of the last three years. [93315]

Mr Maude: Between May 2010 and March 2011 the Government reported that Departments had saved £3.75 billion in the first 10 months following May 2010, including:

6 Feb 2012 : Column 64W

(a) Savings from demand management:

£870 million of reductions in spend on consulting;

Nearly £500 million saved by reducing spend on temporary agency staff;

£400 million of reductions in marketing spend;

£90 million reduction in the ongoing cost of the property estate by exerting better control over lease renewals.

(b) Savings from achieving better commercial terms;

£360 million saved by centralising spend on common goods and services;

£800 million saved from renegotiating deals with some of the largest suppliers to Government.

(c) Savings through applying greater scrutiny to Government projects that combine demand management and renegotiation of existing terms:

£150 million saved from 2010/11 budgets for Government's major projects, by halting or curtailing low value or wasteful spending;

£300 million saved by applying greater scrutiny to ICT expenditure.

Further details can be found on the Cabinet Office website:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/francis-maude-reveals-%C2%A3375-billion-savings

Information is not held centrally for previous years.

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will require Government departments with procurement budgets to allocate 25% of their procurement funds to small and medium-sized enterprise suppliers. [93413]

Mr Maude: Government procurement policy requires that contracts be awarded to achieve value for money, through fair and open competition, in compliance with EU Treaty principles and UK Regulations implementing the EU Procurement Directives where appropriate. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to ring-fence funding for one sector of the supply base.

Nevertheless, the Government recognise the vital role that small firms have to play in helping them to achieve the best possible value for money when they buy goods and services, and have an aspiration that 25% of Government procurement should go to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). To this end we have announced a series of measures to make it easier for SMEs to compete for Government contracts. Further information is available on the Cabinet Office website:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/government-opens-contracts-small-business

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff in his Department are currently working on identifying and realising procurement-led savings. [93434]

Mr Maude: Cabinet Office work on identifying and realising procurement-led savings is carried out by the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), which operates a flexible resourcing and development model across its core structure. This model of working allows for a more flexible working environment by allocating staff to time-bound assignments to ensure we are best able to focus our resources to deliver our priorities.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 65W

On 1 February 2012, there were 77.1 full-time equivalents (FTE) working on procurement and commercial related projects, including those relating to procurement-led savings.

Official Residences

Jake Berry: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many grace and favour houses are allocated to each government department; how many are vacant; and how many were vacant before May 2010. [93100]

Mr Maude: The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), have the use of the official residences above No. 10 and No. 11 Downing street respectively. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has the use of the residence at No. 1 Carlton Gardens. The flats at Admiralty House are unoccupied.

Details of residences occupied and vacant under the previous Administration are available in the Libraries of the House.

Mr Knight: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost to the public purse has been of (a) renovation of and (b) decoration to grace and favour properties used by Cabinet Ministers (i) between May 2005 and May 2010 and (ii) since May 2010. [93472]

Mr Maude: This information is not held centrally. Costs of residences are a matter for the occupying Minister's Department.

Central Office for Information: Manpower

Mr David Hamilton: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many members of staff will be (a) made redundant and (b) re-deployed within his Department when the Central Office of Information is closed. [93483]

Mr Maude: The closure of the Central Office of Information (COI) means that all its staff are at risk of redundancy. The Cabinet Office is working to minimise the number of redundancies, through measures including redeployment of staff elsewhere in Government (as well as within the Cabinet Office itself). We will continue this work until COI closes at the end of March and will not know the total number of redeployments and redundancies until then.

Third Sector

Mr Thomas: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2012, Official Report, columns 444-45W, on the third sector, how much funding each of the pilot providers received from his Department in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [93758]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 66W

Mr Hurd: The Cabinet Office publishes details of all transactions over £25,000 on a monthly basis on data.gov.uk. All the National Citizen Service pilot providers' payments for the 2012 pilots to date will be included in these data. In addition, there was a payment to the Salford Foundation for £21,186 in December 2011.

Well-being

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how many surveys were conducted in connection with the development of new measures of national well-being in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; how many surveys are planned for (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15; and what estimate has been made of the cost to the public purse of conducting each survey; [93744]

(2) how many staff will work on the development of new measures of national well-being in (a) 2011-12, (b) 2012-13, (c) 2013-14 and (d) 2014-15; [93745]

(3) how many events have been held in connection with the development of new measures of national well-being; what the (a) location, (b) date and (c) cost was of each event; and how many events are planned for (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15; [93746]

(4) whether he plans to publish the results of the public consultation undertaken as part of the development of new measures of national well-being. [93747]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking:

1. How many surveys were conducted in connection with the development of new measures of national well-being in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; how many surveys are planned for (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15; and what estimate has been made of the cost to the public purse of conducting each survey (93744).

2. How many staff will work on the development of new measures of national well-being in (a) 2011-12, (b) 2012-13, (c) 2013-14 and (d) 2014-15 (93745).

3. How many events have been held in connection with the development of new measures of national well-being; what were the (a) locations, (b) dates and (c) costs for each event; and how many events are planned for (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15 (93746).

4. Does the Minister for the Cabinet Office plan to publish the results of the public consultation undertaken as part of the development of new measures of national well-being? (93747).

ONS have no plans to carry out new statistical surveys in the years quoted. However, ONS have added questions to the Integrated Household Survey and Opinions Survey. The cost of these questions was £466k in 2011/12 and will be £362k each year for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15. There were no significant start up costs or survey costs in 2010/11—survey questions were introduced from April 2011.

The aim of the Measuring National Well-being Programme is to develop and publish an accepted and trusted set of National Statistics which help people to understand and monitor national well-being. All programme staff are therefore involved in the development of new measures of national well-being, though this

6 Feb 2012 : Column 67W

involvement forms part of the wider programme of work. For the period 2011/12 there were 40 posts for the Measuring National Well-being Programme. Our staffing projection for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 is expected to be 42 posts.

Wider programme work includes children and young people's well-being, subjective well-being, development of the national economic accounts and UK environmental accounts, analysis and reporting, international liaison and stakeholder engagement activities.

The table relates to events held in connection with the Measuring National Well-being Programme where 'events' refers to debates, seminars or conferences. A copy of this table has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

For the period 2011/12 the Measuring National Well-being Programme held a National Debate (from 25 November 2010 to 15 April 2011). A total of 175 events were held around the country at a total cost of £31k. The full list is provided in Annex A. In addition, a seminar was held at the Royal Society of Arts in London on 10th November 2011, costing £520.00.

The 2012/13 committed spend for a seminar with stakeholders relating to the Measuring National Well-being Programme is £2k. This is due to be held in London on 12th March 2012. The programme anticipates holding another 11 events with stakeholders between now and 2014/15. The total anticipated spend for these events is £8k.

ONS are planning to publish an initial response to the public consultation on the development of measures of national well-being on Tuesday 28th February 20.12. The response will take the form of a written report which will highlight initial findings.

A more considered response will be published alongside a revised set of domains and measures of national well-being in summer 2012. By this time, ONS also aim to have published online all individual responses to the consultation, where respondents have agreed for their response to be made public.

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 14 November 2011, Official Report, columns 541-2W, on well-being, whether the National Statistician has made any estimate of the effect of changes in the unemployment rate on happiness. [93738]

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

Letter from Jil Matheson, dated February 2012:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking pursuant to the Answer of 14 November 2011, Official Report, columns 541-2W, on well-being, whether the National Statistician has made any estimate of the effect of changes in the unemployment rate on happiness. (93738)

I have not made any estimate of the effect of changes in the unemployment rate on happiness. However, on 1 December 2011, ONS published a research report entitled ‘Initial investigation into Subjective Well-being from the Opinions Survey’. This report includes estimates of how much subjective well-being differs for unemployed people compared with those in employment and those who are inactive.

The report provides initial experimental estimates of subjective well-being for Great Britain from the ONS Opinions Survey and is available from the following web link:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-subjective-wellbeing-in-the-uk/investigation-of-subjective-well-being-data-from-the-ons-opinions-survey/initial-investigation-into-subjective-well-being-from-the-opinions-survey.html

6 Feb 2012 : Column 68W

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions: Housing

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of progress made towards meeting his Department's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target obligations; and what the remaining cost will be to energy companies to meet those obligations. [93905]

Gregory Barker: The latest published report on progress by the scheme administrator Ofgem shows that, as of end September 2011, companies had completed 75% of the overall target of 293 million tonnes (lifetime) CO2. Of the sub-obligations, suppliers had met 30% of the Insulation Obligation, 82% of the Priority Group and 15% of the Super Priority Group. The next report is due to be published in early March . We do not have powers to require suppliers to disclose the cost of meeting CERT. Our best estimates set out in the associated impact assessment published at the outset.

Departmental Billing

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many and what proportion of his Department's invoices from its private sector suppliers were paid (a) within 14 days, (b) between 15 and 30 days, (c) between 31 and 60 days, (d) between 61 and 90 days and (e) more than 90 days after receipt in the last 12 months. [93444]

Gregory Barker: DECC's prompt payment statistics cover all types of suppliers including private sector suppliers. Since April 2009 the Department has published information on prompt payment on a monthly basis on its website. Since May 2010 this has shown the percentage of invoices paid within five days.

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/about/procurement/prompt_pay/prompt_pay.aspx

The Department also records the percentage of invoices paid within 30 days.

  Percentage processed within 30 days

December 2011

99.7

November 2011

99.8

October 2011

100

September 2011

95.2

August 2011

99.9

July 2011

100

June 2011

100

May 2011

99.9

April 2011

99.8

March 2011

100

February 2011

99.9

January 2011

99.9

Food Procurement

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what proportion of food purchased by his Department was produced in the UK in each of the last five years. [93725]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 69W

Gregory Barker: DECC was established in October 2008 and receives its catering services through a contract procured by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

DEFRA published three annual reports on food procurement which covered the period April 2006 to March 2009. These reports include an estimate of the proportion of domestically produced food procured for Government Departments and are available in the Library of the House. The percentages of food procured domestically within the estate occupied by DECC from October 2008 to March 2009 are included within the DEFRA figures in the last of these reports.

The percentage of food under DEFRA's current catering contract with Eurest between May and September 2011 that was sourced from the UK was:

Meat—43.5%

Poultry—67.1%

Fruit & Veg—23.3% of total, 38.5% of indigenous.

In the period between September and December last year, 61% by value of the food provided was sourced from the UK.

Departmental Manpower

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many jobs in (a) his Department and (b) the agencies and non-departmental bodies for which he is responsible were transferred to the private sector in 2010-11. [91339]

Gregory Barker: Neither the Department of Energy and Climate Change, nor any agencies or non-departmental public bodies for which it is responsible, transferred any jobs to the private sector in 2010-11.

Ministerial Policy Advisers

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many special advisers his Department employs; and at what pay grade. [93912]

Gregory Barker: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 15 December 2011, Official Report, column 876W.

Energy: Billing

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of domestic customers who pay their (a) gas and (b) electricity bills by periodic fixed direct debit; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of such customers who are in credit on at least 50 per cent. of occasions. [93857]

Charles Hendry: In Q3 of 2011 (latest information available) the number of domestic customers in the UK who paid for their energy by direct debit were: 12.1 million gas customers (55% of total customers) and 14.2 million electricity customers (53% of total customers).

DECC does not hold any information on whether direct debit accounts are in credit.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 70W

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the average amount of funds held by the big six energy suppliers for each domestic account that is in credit in the last year. [93858]

Charles Hendry: Ofgem is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, including customer payments. In 2009, Ofgem introduced a new supply licence condition that came into effect in January 2010, which requires suppliers to ensure customers' direct debit payments are clearly and accurately explained and are based on the best available information. Suppliers are also required to justify why they are holding on to any credit balances built up by customers. It is for Ofgem to assess whether suppliers comply with the licence condition and take action if they do not.

Energy: Consumption

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what proportion of energy consumed in the UK was (a) domestic and (b) business consumption in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007, (iii) 2008, (iv) 2009 and (v) 2010; [92432]

(2) what domestic energy consumption was in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008, (d) 2009 and (e) 2010; [92433]

(3) what business energy consumption was in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008, (d) 2009 and (e) 2010. [92434]

Charles Hendry: These data are published annually. As they were last published at the end of July 2011, no further update is currently available. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 14 September 2011, Official Report, column 1165-66W.

Energy: EU Action

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent discussions he has had with the Danish EU Presidency on liberalisation of the energy market; and if he will make a statement. [93665]

Charles Hendry: DECC Ministers and officials meet with their international counterparts on a regular basis to discuss a range of market issues.

Denmark has highlighted the improvement of EU energy infrastructure as a key priority and is aiming to secure agreement on the draft Regulation on Trans-European Energy Networks by the summer. Creating the right regulatory framework to facilitate investment in energy infrastructure will aid the completion of the single energy market meeting energy security objectives and supporting Europe's transition to a low carbon economy.

Energy: Meters

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking under the procurement process for smart meter communication services to assess (a) the proposed coverage and (b) the viability of different technologies in rural areas. [93595]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 71W

Charles Hendry: The purpose of the procurement processes for the data and communication services is to evaluate the technical capability and value for money of proposed solutions. For communication services this will include assessing the proposed coverage, efficacy and viability of different technologies across Great Britain, including any particular challenges posed by remote and rural areas.

Energy: Prices

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will take steps to ensure the energy regulator enforces cost reflective pricing in the energy market for customers with and without (a) internet access and (b) access to direct debit banking. [93094]

Charles Hendry: Ofgem has put in place licence conditions to prevent unfair price differentials, such as those between different payment methods and groups of customers.

Ofgem has reported on the effectiveness of these changes, including as part of their retail market review, available online at:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/Documents1/RMR_FINAL.pdf

As part of this review Ofgem have put forward proposals to simplify tariff structures and improve transparency of price differentials.

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure energy companies do not discriminate against existing customers when recruiting new customers; [93095]

(2) whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure energy companies do not discriminate against customers in respect of whether or not they have internet access; [93096]

(3) whether he plans to take steps to prevent energy companies cross-subsidising new and existing customers; [93097]

(4) whether he plans to take steps to prevent energy companies cross-subsidising offline and online customers. [93098]

Charles Hendry: We have no plans to bring forward the legislative proposals suggested by the hon. Member. Ofgem are taking steps through their retail market review to ensure energy consumers are treated fairly, and are consulting on proposals to simplify tariffs and improve transparency regarding differentials.

Ofgem have already put in place licence conditions to prevent unfair price differentials, such as those between different payment methods or groups of customers.

The information requested is a matter for Ofgem. I have asked the chief executive of Ofgem to write to the hon. Member and we will place a copy of his letter in the Libraries of the House.

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) pursuant to the answer of 24 November 2011, Official Report, column 539W, on energy prices, what assessment he has made of the steps taken by Ofgem on predatory pricing; [93104]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 72W

(2) what steps he has taken to prevent energy companies offering heavily discounted deals only to new customers; what recent discussions he has had with Ofgem on preventing such deals; and if he will make a statement; [93105]

(3) whether Ofgem has responded to his request that it take action on predatory pricing. [93106]

Charles Hendry: DECC Ministers and officials meet with Ofgem on a regular basis to discuss a range of market issues, including promoting competition.

To date, I have not received a written response from Ofgem to the request the hon. Member refers to. The further information requested by the hon. Member is also a matter for Ofgem. The Chief Executive of Ofgem has confirmed he will write to the hon. Member shortly, and we will place a copy of his letter in the Libraries of the House.

Energy: Standards

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to ensure compliance with clean energy targets and deadlines. [93669]

Charles Hendry: The UK has a binding target under the Renewable Energy Directive 2009 to produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources across the electricity, heat and transport sectors by 2020.

The UK Renewable Energy Roadmap (published in July 2011) sets out a suite of measures to help meet our target in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

In December 2011 we submitted our first Progress Report to the European Commission, as required under the Renewable Energy Directive. This shows that at the end of 2010 (the latest data available) 3.3% of our energy came from renewable sources, and that we are currently on track to meet our first interim target of 4.04% at the end of 2012. The Progress Report can be downloaded from our website at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/renewable_ener/renewable_ener.aspx

Government Procurement Card

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) transaction date, (b) supplier and (c) amount of each transaction made on a Government procurement card held by his private office between May 2010 and December 2011. [93898]

Gregory Barker: Providing the information at the level of detail requested would incur disproportionate costs.

The Department has published on its website the information requested for transactions over £500 made using departmental government procurement cards between April and October 2011. The Department will publish this information for 2010-11 before 31 March 2012.

Going forward the Department will publish this information for transactions over £500 on a monthly basis.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 73W

The information can be found through the following link.

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/accesstoinform/expenditure/spend_over_500/spend_over 500.aspx

Green Deal Scheme

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what meetings the Minister of State for Climate Change had to discuss the Green Deal between September and December 2011. [93897]

Gregory Barker: Details of meetings between DECC Ministers and external organisations are published quarterly on the Department's website. The list for the period in question will be published in due course.

Infrastructure: Capital Investment

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much private sector capital his Department's programmes for infrastructure investment have attracted since May 2010. [93152]

Charles Hendry: While DECC does not systematically record all private sector capital investment in energy infrastructure the Government remain confident that the actions set out in the EMR White Paper and National Infrastructure Plan 2011 for example, will incentivise sufficient investment to deliver secure, affordable, low-carbon energy.

Since May 2010, around 2.5 GW of operational renewable electricity capacity has been added to the system. According to National Grid's latest Transmission Entry Capacity Database, around 3 GW of other capacity has also been added which includes CCGT capacity and the final 400 MW stage of the Britned interconnector. Additionally we have consented to 17 Section 36 planning applications with a total generating capacity of over 9 GW (renewables 1,601 MW, thermal 7,570 MW).

In addition EDF has submitted a development consent application for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley in Somerset and there has been significant interest from investors in the UK's offshore electricity transmission regime where licences have been granted to four Offshore Transmission Owners (OFTOs) so far since May 2010, which represents a collective investment from them of £254 million.

Methane Hydrate

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his Department's latest estimate is of the reserves of methane hydrate in the UK; what his Department's policy is on the extraction of methane hydrate; and if he will make a statement. [93866]

Charles Hendry: The presence of methane hydrates in deep waters west of Shetland is possible, but has not been established. In the absence of any commercial technology for exploiting such resources, no estimate of reserves can be made at the present time. As with all other hydrocarbon resources, the Department would only allow exploitation where this can safely be carried out with full regard for protection of the environment.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 74W

Nuclear Power Stations: Hinkley Point

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has received any additional information concerning the Hinkley Point licensed nuclear site since the designation of the National Nuclear Policy Statement (NPS-6) which has resulted in a reconsideration of the suitability of the site for a new nuclear power plant. [94121]

Charles Hendry: I have received no information which would give rise to a belief that the site was not suitable. On 24 November 2011 the Infrastructure Planning Commission accepted for examination EDF's application for development consent for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.

Renewable Energy: Feed-in Tariffs

Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what criteria he used to set budget limits for the feed-in tariff scheme. [81368]

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

As part of the comprehensive spending review HM Treasury and DECC worked closely to agree the budget available for the Feed-in Tariffs Scheme as part of the Levy Control Framework. As with all policies the Government considered the wider economic impact when determining the available budget, ensuring that it represented good value for money in delivering the objectives of low carbon, renewable electricity and engaging households with our low carbon agenda.

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change with reference to his planned changes to feed-in tariffs, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that rural businesses remain in the renewable energy industry. [93664]

Gregory Barker: The proposed changes to the FITs scheme will ensure that it is on a sustainable footing going forward to allow as many people as possible to take advantage of it. It will continue to offer opportunities to businesses in rural and urban areas, as will the Renewable Heat Incentive when it is introduced later this year.

I am also working with my colleague in DEFRA to set up the rural community renewable fund announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November. This will provide communities with a fund to develop and own their own renewable energy and will increase jobs within local businesses.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) also has an important role to play in the Government's agenda for renewable energy and waste. We hope that the proposed tariffs will encourage farm owners, where appropriate, to consider the use of agricultural AD plants to dispose of the waste that they produce in a more sustainable way, which in turn should provide benefits for local businesses and the wider rural community.

Shale Gas: Exploration

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether the Welsh

6 Feb 2012 : Column 75W

Government has requested advice from his Department on exploration methods for shale gas; and what advice his Department gave. [93867]

Charles Hendry: Welsh Government officials regularly liaise with the Department on a number of issues including shale gas exploration. In addition representatives from the Welsh Government and other devolved bodies are included in the regular shale gas liaison teleconferences which my officials hold with other key regulators, including the Health and Safety Executive and respective Environmental Agencies.

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans he has for public (a) scrutiny and (b) consultation on his proposals for the regulation of shale gas drilling. [93915]

Charles Hendry: Shale gas activities are already regulated in the same way as other UK oil and gas exploration and production activities. These regulations are considered to be among the most robust in the world.

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many exploration and development licences for shale gas drilling in the UK he has issued since May 2010; and in which locations applicants began exploration work under each such licence. [93916]

Charles Hendry: No onshore petroleum exploration and development licences have been issued by my Department since May 2010.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: International Co-operation

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which international food and farming tradeshows Ministers in her Department are planning to attend in 2012. [93584]

Richard Benyon: The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Mr Paice), will be attending the Gulfood trade show in Dubai at the end of February. It has also been proposed that he attend a China Animal Husbandry Expo in Nanjing, China at the end of May.

Animal Health and Welfare Board for England

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England has sought to recruit a member of the board who is a dairy farmer; whether this position has been advertised on her Department’s website; what her policy is on ensuring that members of the board are capable of fully representing the range of (a) animal management

6 Feb 2012 : Column 76W

systems in use and

(b)

issues raised in relation to animal health and welfare in England; and what her policy is on transparency in appointments to the board. [90577]

Mr Paice: On 30 January 2012, I appointed the two final non-executive members of the Animal Health and Welfare Board, one of whom is a dairy farmer.

The board’s terms of reference set out that the appointment of the chair and other non-executive board members will be conducted in an open and transparent manner. The board applied a similar process for appointing the final two non-executive members to that for appointing the other non-executive members. This process is rigorous and follows the key principles set out in the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ (OCPA) Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies.

In line with the recommendations of the England Advisory Group on responsibility and cost-sharing, the non-executive members of the board are appointed as individuals rather than as representatives of organisations, sectors or interest groups. They bring a range of expertise and skills to the board’s deliberations and between them have the experience or the ability to understand the full range of animal health and welfare issues, including animal management systems. The board can also access further expertise when the need arises.

Animal Welfare: Poultry

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take at European level to seek to ensure that all EU member states comply with EU animal welfare requirements in egg production. [93499]

Mr Paice: The Commission is taking action to deal with non-compliance across the EU and has written formal infraction letters to 13 of the 14 member states that have not complied with the conventional cage ban. The UK is also likely to receive an infraction letter shortly, because of our very low level of non-compliance (as of 25 January, less than 0.05% of the total UK flock were still in conventional cages and the position is improving daily). The Commission has now received action plans from all non-compliant member states which should contain measures to accelerate compliance. There are to be monthly reports of these plans in Brussels at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and we will be fully engaged in these discussions.

In addition, the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office missions will also be targeted at non-compliant member states in the first half of this year.

Ultimately it is for the Competent Authority in each member state to take responsibility at source for ensuring that any remaining producers move out of conventional cages. The UK is working hard towards achieving full compliance and wishes to see the rest of Europe follow suit as quickly as possible.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 77W

Biodiversity

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department spent on biodiversity conservation in (a) England and (b) the British overseas territories in 2010-11. [92871]

Richard Benyon: Details of DEFRA spend on biodiversity conservation in England in 2010-11 are provided in the following table. These figures represent DEFRA programme spend and spend by the wider DEFRA network but do not include staff costs. They also include total agri-environment scheme expenditure and the DEFRA biodiversity research programme, of which a major share is judged to be spent on biodiversity in England.

Estimated public expenditure by DEFRA network organisations on biodiversity conservation in England, 2010-11
  £ million

DEFRA: agri-environment schemes(1)

384.4

   

Other DEFRA expenditure:

 

Biodiversity Programme

1.9

Research(1)

4.2

   

Environment Agency

26.2

   

Forestry Commission

18.7

   

Natural England

36.5

   

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

2.2

DEFRA network total(2)

474.1

(1) Total scheme and research expenditure, of which, the major share is judged to be spent on biodiversity in England (2) Totals may not add due to rounding.

DEFRA spend on biodiversity conservation in the British overseas territories in 2010-11 is estimated to be £1,421,651. This includes commitments under the Darwin initiative and support for projects to address invasive non-native species. It also includes spend by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. It does not include spend by others, for example, the Governments of the overseas territories themselves, who are principally responsible for biodiversity conservation in their territories.

Biofuels: Health Hazards

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Chichester of 10 November 2009, Official Report, columns 218-9W, on renewable energy, if she will estimate the likely annual morbidity arising from the emissions from each megawatt of installed biomass capacity. [93345]

Richard Benyon: The Government recognise that emissions from biomass have a potential effect on health, which is why we have published our intention to include emission limits for particulate matter and oxides of

6 Feb 2012 : Column 78W

nitrogen as eligibility criteria for the Renewable Heat Incentive. DEFRA has not commissioned a specific estimate of morbidity related to emissions from biomass combustion.

British Overseas Territories: Fisheries

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department provides funding to British Overseas Territories to help them protect their waters from illegal fishing. [93410]

Richard Benyon: As part of DEFRA’s support and assistance to the UK Overseas Territories, it has jointly funded, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a project to develop ‘model' legislation to assist the Overseas Territories in ensuring that they have appropriate and robust procedures in place to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Contaminated Land

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to publish the statutory guidance following the consultation on changes to the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. [93893]

Richard Benyon: The draft Statutory Guidance will be laid in Parliament shortly. According to section 78YA of the 1990 Environment Protection Act (as amended by section 57 of the 1996 Environment Act), the draft part 2A Statutory Guidance has to be laid before each House of Parliament for a period of 40 days. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is unable to issue the Statutory Guidance until that 40-day period had elapsed and subject to there not having been a resolution of either House that the guidance should not be issued.

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she plans to publish the responses to the consultation on changes to the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. [93894]

Richard Benyon: The summary of the responses to the consultation on changes to the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environment Protection Act 1990 will be published on the DEFRA website when the draft Statutory Guidance is laid in Parliament. We hope to be publishing the summary of consultation responses shortly.

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had on the possible effect on the property market of her planned introduction of four categories of land quality resulting from investigations into contamination. [93895]

Richard Benyon: The possible effect on the property market on the proposed changes to the Part 2A Statutory Guidance was considered as part of the Impact Assessment

6 Feb 2012 : Column 79W

on the proposed Simplification of the Contaminated Land Regime. This Impact Assessment is available on DEFRA's website.

Further research has been commissioned to look at estimating the potential benefits of investigating and remediating contaminated land, including possible effects on the property market, and the results of this research will be available on the DEFRA website when it is complete.

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the compatibility of her Department's public consultation on its revised contaminated land statutory guidance with her obligations under section 78YA of the Environment Protection Act 1990. [93906]

Richard Benyon: The public consultation on the proposed changes to the Part 2A Statutory Guidance on contaminated land held between December 2010 and March 2011 fully meets the Secretary of State's obligations under section 78YA of the Environment Protection Act 1990, which states that:

“Any power of the Secretary of State to issue guidance under this Part shall only be exercisable after consultation with the appropriate Agency and such other bodies or persons as he may consider it appropriate to consult in relation to the guidance in question.”

Full details about the consultation, including a list of consultees, can be found on the DEFRA website.

Crayfish

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many crayfish licences have been granted by the Environment Agency in each of the last five years. [93356]

Richard Benyon: The following table outlines the number of crayfish trapping applications that were consented to in the last five calendar years.

  Number of consented applications

2007

458

2008

582

2009

637

2010

774

2011

882

Dangerous Dogs

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) letters and (b) e-mails on dangerous dogs she has received from (a) hon. Members, (b) peers and (c) others in the last 12 months. [93488]

Mr Paice: In the period from 1 February 2011 to 31 January 2012, DEFRA received 287 letters and e-mails from hon. Members of Parliament and 131 letters and 117 e-mails from members of the public about dangerous dogs. There is no record of any letters or e-mails on the subject from peers.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 80W

Data Protection

Mr David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of data loss or breaches of confidentiality occurred in her Department in 2011. [92976]

Richard Benyon: Five cases of data loss or breaches of confidentiality were reported in 2011.

Freedom of Information

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons her Department has not published its responses to requests under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 since the third quarter of 2010. [92260]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA's disclosure log of FOI responses was not updated between October 2010 and 26 January 2012. The disclosure log is now up to date to the end of September 2011 and will be updated to the end of December 2011 in early February.

DEFRA's Information Rights team aim is to update the disclosure log every quarter but a 20% increase in the number of requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) in the last year and a decision to prioritise other work led to a gap in the disclosure log, which is now being corrected.

Individual responses to FOIA and EIR requests are not published on DEFRA's website. The disclosure log at:

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/corporate/policy/opengov/defra/available/inforelease/index.htm

provides a summary of DEFRA's responses in each quarter of the calendar year and visitors to the site are invited to contact the DEFRA Library if they want to see a particular response. For responses not yet listed in the disclosure log, requests can be made direct to DEFRA's Information Rights team by emailing:

[email protected]

Departmental Manpower

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many jobs in (a) her Department and (b) the agencies and non-departmental bodies for which she is responsible were transferred to the private sector in 2010-11. [91337]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA did not transfer any jobs to the private sector in 2010-11 and neither did its agencies. In the same period, two non-departmental public bodies transferred a total of 106 permanent roles to the private sector; 100 of these were from the Environment Agency, and six from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times each Minister in her Department has visited (a) Northern Ireland, (b) Scotland and (c) Wales in an official capacity since their appointment. [89875]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 81W

Richard Benyon: DEFRA ministers have visited Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in an official capacity on the following occasions:

Date Constituencies Purpose of meeting

Secretary of State

   

23 August 2011

Edinburgh North and Leith

Richard Lochhead

11-12 January 2012

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Eyemouth Harbour Trust

 

East Lothian

NFU Scotland

 

Edinburgh South West

Scotch Whisky Association,

 

Midlothian, East Lothian

Richard Lochhead, Forestry Commission

     

Jim Paice

   

14 February 2011

North East Fife

NFU Scotland AGM and local farm visits

16 January 2012

Glasgow Central

SEMEX Dairy Conference

     

Richard Benyon

   

30 August 2010

Banff and Buchan

Meeting on UK pelagic interests

1 October 2010

Aberdeen North

Meeting on fisheries with Commissioner Damanaki and Richard Lochhead

9 November 2011

Edinburgh East

Evidence session at the Scottish Parliament

20 October 2010

Belfast West

Stakeholder meeting

     

Lord Taylor

   

No visits

   
     

Lord Henley

   

24-25 February 2011

Newport West

Representing England at the British Irish Council

Departmental Training

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many away days her Department has held since May 2010; what the location was of each such away day; how many staff attended; and what the cost was of each such event. [93848]

Richard Benyon: This information is not held centrally and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Work Experience

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work experience or traineeship schemes her Department offers to minority groups. [92745]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA does not offer its own work experience or trainee schemes to minority groups but participates in civil service-wide schemes run by the

6 Feb 2012 : Column 82W

Cabinet Office. This summer we will be offering five traineeships through the Summer Diversity Internship scheme.

Direct Mail: Waste

Andrew Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to reduce the amount of waste generated by junk mail. [92461]

Richard Benyon: In November 2011, the Government launched a responsibility deal with the direct marketing industry to improve the environmental performance of the sector, and ensure it plays its part in supporting a move towards a zero waste economy. By 2014, the deal aims to significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary direct marketing material produced and sent out through the marketing industry increasing its use of suppression and targeting data, such as ‘do not contact’ and ‘gone away’ lists, by 25%.

The deal commits the industry to actions including an improved opt-out scheme to give householders more control over what is posted through their letterboxes. This replaces the current outdated system, where householders have to register on three separate websites or apply by post to stop different types of unwanted direct mail.

It also commits industry to developing a new standard to ensure direct mail is produced to higher standards and is fully recyclable.

Farming Regulation Task Force

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if her Department will specify the timescales and actions to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Farming Regulation Task Force report; [R] [93784]

(2) when she expects to issue her final response to the report of the Farming Regulation Task Force. [R] [93785]

Mr Paice: I plan to publish a full response to the Farming Regulation Task Force recommendations by the end of this month. The response will set out our proposed actions in response to each recommendation.

Flood Control

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2011, Official Report, column 633W, on floods: north east, what flood and coastal erosion risk management schemes are planned for each English region other than the north east in 2012-13. [93592]

Richard Benyon: The answer of 13 December 2011, Official Report, column 633W was based on an indicative programme of flood and coastal erosion schemes likely to go ahead next year. The Environment Agency Board is meeting in early February to confirm the final allocation of capital budget to regions and schemes. There will be a subsequent announcement, at which point I will write to you with details of the final flood and coastal erosion risk management programme for 2012-13.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 83W

Flood Control: Expenditure

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much flood defences cost in (a) Cumbria and (b) England in each of the last five years. [93900]

Richard Benyon: The following table sets out the amounts allocated for investment in flood and coastal erosion defences in (a) Cumbria and (b) England for the last five years.

Allocation (£ million)
  National (capital (1) ) National (maintenance (2) ) Cumbria (capital (1) ) Cumbria (maintenance (2) )

2006-07

142.077

122.158

6.707

3.103

2007-08

146.6

127.9

8.535

3.04

2008-09

263.2

153.3

11.782

3.109

2009-10

291.4

163.4

14.013

3.06

2010-11

345

172.1

13.089

2.872

(1) Capital investment for schemes only, funded through a combination of Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) and Local Levy funding. Major capital schemes delivered in the time frame include; Carlisle City and Caldew Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) (£23 million); River Eden/Petteril Flood Defences Carlisle (£12 million); Thacka Beck Penrith FAS (£5 million); and Cumbria Floods Emergency Works (£3 million). (2) Maintenance investment includes FDGiA funding for frequent/intermittent maintenance and incident response.

Food: Waste Disposal

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to provide incentives for the commercial catering sector to recycle food waste for use in renewable energy generation. [93516]

Richard Benyon: Anaerobic digestion plants that generate renewable energy from food waste are eligible for a range of incentives, such as feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive. In addition, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently launched a £100,000 fund to support organisations that want to start collecting food waste from businesses or to expand existing collections. The Government have no plans to introduce incentives directed specifically at the commercial catering sector.

The June 2011 Review of Waste Policy in England committed the Government to develop a new responsibility deal with businesses in the hospitality and food service sector, which includes the commercial catering sector. This deal will aim to reduce food waste and ensure that unavoidable food waste is managed more sustainably, including for use in renewable energy generation.

We are working with WRAP, the devolved Administrations and the industry to produce this deal. We received industry input on the proposed targets and structure in January, and will use this to produce the final deal, which we hope to launch in the spring.

Freedom of Information

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department publishes on its website its response to each request it receives under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; whether the response is published in the same part of its

6 Feb 2012 : Column 84W

website on each occasion; and what the average time taken is between responding to a request and the information being made available on the website. [92125]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA does not publish individual responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). However, a disclosure log summarising DEFRA's responses to FOIA and EIR requests is published on DEFRA's website at:

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/corporate/policy/opengov/defra/available/inforelease/index.htm

The disclosure log provides a summary of DEFRA's responses in each quarter of the calendar year and visitors to the site are invited to contact the DEFRA Library if they want to see a particular response.

DEFRA's information rights team aim to update the disclosure log every quarter of the calendar year and the site is currently up to date to the end of September 2011 and will be updated again with cases dealt with in the fourth quarter of 2011 in early February. An approximate 20% increase in the number of requests made to DEFRA in the past year and a decision to prioritise other work led to delays in updating the site over the past 12 months.

Visitors to the site are invited to contact the DEFRA Library if they want to see a particular response. For responses not yet listed in the disclosure log, requests can be made direct to DEFRA's Information Rights team by emailing:

[email protected]

Japanese Knotweed

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken to protect waterways from Japanese knotweed. [93358]

Richard Benyon: Because of Japanese knotweed's invasive nature, it is listed on schedule 9 and subject to section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to plant, or cause this species to grow, in the wild. Japanese knotweed is also regarded as controlled waste and as such its disposal is governed by waste disposal regulations.

Japanese knotweed is now firmly established within Great Britain and national eradication is beyond any realistic prospect. Consequently, the only realistic approach to its control is to encourage landowners and others to manage the weed where it is impacting on their interests. There is no general compulsion to do so but under the cross-compliance rules, for example, those in receipt of the single farm payment are required to take reasonable steps to prevent its spread. However, the Government are supporting a broad-scale and long-term approach to managing Japanese knotweed via the controlled release of the highly specialist psyllid Aphalara itadori. If successful, this should restrict its growth, slow its capacity to spread vigorously and enhance the effectiveness of management effort.

Tackling invasive species along waterways requires a co-ordinated effort to reduce the risk of re-invasion. There are a growing number of county or catchment based action groups emerging throughout Britain with a focus on tackling invasive non-native species at a local

6 Feb 2012 : Column 85W

level. Many of these groups include volunteers working with landowners and local organisations to control or eradicate invasive non-native species, such as Japanese knotweed, from local waterways and river catchments. The Government are supporting such projects via funding and through the framework of the GB Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy, which was launched in 2008.

Landfill Tax

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the revenue generated from implementation of the EU Landfill Tax in each year since its introduction. [92809]

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

The following table sets out the revenue from landfill tax since its introduction in 1996.

Financial year Revenue (£ million)

1997-98

334

1998-99

333

1999-2000

430

2000-01

462

2001-02

502

2002-03

541

2003-04

607

2004-05

672

2005-06

733

2006-07

804

2007-08

877

2008-09

954

2009-10

842

2010-11

1,065

Members: Correspondence

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department’s target time is for responding to communications from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public. [93389]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA’s target time for responding to correspondence from right hon. and hon. Members and members of the public is 15 working days.

Otters

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the size of the otter population in the last 30 years. [93355]

Richard Benyon: It is currently not possible to estimate otter abundance from the quantity and distribution of otter signs and sightings. Research investigating the possibility of assessing numbers of otters from DNA or chemical analysis of spraint (otter faeces) is ongoing.

Four national otter surveys have been carried out in England in the last 30 years—in 1984-86, 1991-94, 2000-02 and 2009-10. Direct comparison of the 2,940 sites used in all four of these surveys reveals that the

6 Feb 2012 : Column 86W

number of sites showing signs of otters has increased from 10% in 1984-86 to 23.4% in 1991-94, 36.3% in 2000-02, and again to 58.8% in 2009-10. Since the publication of the last report, otter signs in Kent have confirmed that the species is now present throughout England. This demonstrates the slow but gradual recovery of otter populations over this period, moving from west to east.

Rivers: Environmental Protection

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with Natural England on the protection of the Lune Estuary; and if she will bring forward legislative proposals to prohibit the use of jet skis in estuarial waters. [93498]

Richard Benyon: In 2010, DEFRA asked Natural England to undertake a review of the risks to European Marine Sites (EMS) of anthropological activities. Natural England has published its advice, “Research Report NERR038—European Marine Site Risk Review”, which concluded that recreational activities within Morecambe Bay (including the Lune Estuary) posed a risk of impacting Special Protection Area (SPA) bird species through disturbance but that there was uncertainty about the condition of the interest feature. In response to the report DEFRA produced a “Generic plan for recreational activities causing disturbance in European Marine Sites”. However, this sought to address high risk activities in specific sites and did not address Morecambe Bay due to the uncertainty over actual impacts. More information is available at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/marine/protect/mpa/european-marine-sites/

Work to clarify the risk from recreational activities to SPA/Ramsar areas is ongoing. Where there are unacceptable risks to SPA/Ramsar interests, both within and outside the designated site, Natural England will work with relevant authorities such as the Marine Management Organisation and the local authorities, and through the European marine site Management Group and Morecambe Bay Partnership to help identify appropriate advice, management or controls to avoid or mitigate impacts on the designated site interests.

Rural Areas

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to publish her Department's Rural Policy Statement. [81427]

Richard Benyon: The Government propose to publish their Rural Statement in the late spring of 2012.

Scotland

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list visits made to each parliamentary constituency in Scotland by Ministers in her Department since May 2010. [89419]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA Ministers have visited Scotland in an official capacity on the following occasions:

6 Feb 2012 : Column 87W

The Secretary of State
  Constituencies Meeting

23 August 2011

Edinburgh North and Leith

Richard Lochhead

11-12 January 2012

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Eyemouth Harbour Trust

 

East Lothian

NFU Scotland

 

Edinburgh South West

Scotch Whisky Association

 

Midlothian, East Lothian

Richard Lochhead, Forestry Commission

The Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr Paice)
  Constituencies Meeting

14 February 2011

North East Fife

NFU Scotland AGM and local farm visits

16 January 2012

Glasgow Central

SEMEX Dairy Conference

The Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries (Richard Benyon)
  Constituencies Meeting

30 August 2010

Banff and Buchan

Meeting on UK pelagic interests

1 October 2010

Aberdeen North

Meeting on fisheries with Commissioner Damanaki and Richard Lochhead

9 November 2011

Edinburgh East

Evidence session at the Scottish Parliament

The Parliamentary Under - Secretary , Lord Taylor

No visits

The Parliamentary Under - Secretary , Lord Henley

No visits

Animal Snares

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department’s research project entitled Determining the Extent of Use and Humaneness of Snares in England and Wales will assess snares specifically intended to catch hares and badgers. [93832]

Mr Paice: No, as this was never the intention of the project.

Veterinary Medicine: Negligence

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will put in place measures to monitor cases of veterinary medical negligence. [R] [93089]

Mr Paice: The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is responsible for the regulation of the veterinary profession and DEFRA is unable to intervene in that process. RCVS deals with complaints against veterinary surgeons of “conduct disgraceful in any professional respect”. RCVS will investigate the alleged negligence only if it is so serious as to be an issue of professional conduct. Claims of negligence may be resolved between client and veterinary surgeon or pursued through the civil courts.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 88W

Veterinary Medicine: Training

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will discuss with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons standards of training for general practice vets. [93091]

Mr Paice: The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is responsible for setting the standards for education, training and professional conduct of the profession. A veterinary degree is a rigorous five to six-year-long course that prepares the student for work as a veterinary surgeon. UK veterinary schools regularly undergo evaluation from RCVS and the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) to ensure that their courses are meeting the required standards. The RCVS “Guide to professional conduct” also contains provisions for continuing professional development (CPD) that all veterinary surgeons must adhere to. Although DEFRA does not intervene on a formal basis in this matter, its officials regularly engage with the RCVS and UK veterinary schools to discuss veterinary education.

Water Charges

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions she has had with Ofwat on the revision of guidelines for water prices for 2012-13; what assessment she has made of the effect of such revisions on household budgets; and whether she plans to have similar discussions in respect of water prices for 2013-14; [93622]

(2) what plans she has to expand the criteria under which Ofwat can restrict price increases made by water companies in 2013-14. [93623]

Richard Benyon: On 31 January Ofwat announced household water and sewerage bill rises for 2012-13. Water companies are obliged to submit their planned price adjustments to Ofwat for approval each year ahead of confirming them to their customers. As the regulator for the water industry, Ofwat challenges companies' proposed bill rises and approves each company's charges scheme, having set price limits on a five-yearly basis.

The most recent price review was in 2009 and this set price limits at 0.5% above inflation to allow companies to make the necessary investment to secure water supplies and infrastructure. The present bill rises are in line with this price limit; the next price review will be in 2014 and will cover price limits from 2015 to 2020.

As discussed in the Water White Paper, “Water For Life”, published 8 December 2011, the Government are aware that some people struggle to afford their water charges. The Government are issuing guidance to water companies to allow them to bring forward social tariffs to reduce the charges of households that would otherwise be unable to pay in full. We are also consulting on measures to tackle bad debt in the water industry which currently adds £15 to everyone's bill.

6 Feb 2012 : Column 89W

Water Companies: Debts

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department will make available the cost impact assessment for its consultation Tackling Bad Debt in the Water Industry, January 2012. [93515]

Richard Benyon: The impact assessment for the consultation Tackling Bad Debt in the Water Industry is on the DEFRA website.

Water Supply: Consumers

Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the role of the Water Services Regulation Authority is in ensuring the customer service arrangements of water suppliers are fit for purpose; [93170]

(2) what steps she is taking to improve the Water Services Regulation Authority's oversight of the standards of conduct towards consumers of water supplies; [93218]

(3) what plans she has to improve standards of conduct towards consumers of water supplies. [93219]

Richard Benyon: Ofwat's role is to protect consumers, and it does this by ensuring that water companies provide a good quality service at a fair price. Ofwat's Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM) measures how many customers contact water and sewerage companies (for a range of different types of contact), and customers' experience of issue resolution with their company. SIM performance is taken into account as a part of the price setting process, and therefore incentivises companies continually to improve their conduct with their consumers.

The Government's Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations set out guaranteed minimum standards of service for individual customers. Where a company fails to meet certain service standards it is required to make a payment to any affected customers. These payments and their levels are governed by the Guaranteed Standards Scheme which was laid out by the Government in April 2008.

In December 2011, the Government published their White Paper on Water, ‘Water for Life'. It sets out a vision for the water sector, putting customers at its heart, and also challenges water companies to involve their customers in identifying solutions to improve standards and services in their area.

Wildlife Trusts: Expenditure

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding her Department has made available to the wildlife trusts in each of the last five years. [93571]

Richard Benyon: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

DEFRA and its arm's length bodies provide funding to the wildlife trusts to support a variety of aims and projects. These include improving the long-term supply of biodiversity data, funding Local Nature Partnership capacity building, supporting projects to control the spread of invasive non-native plants and running a national wildlife gardening competition. Individual trusts

6 Feb 2012 : Column 90W

also receive funding in respect of agri-environment agreements, and woodland creation and management, funded through the Rural Development Programme for England.

Home Department

Street Lighting: Crime

19. Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effect of reduced street lighting on (a) levels and (b) fear of crime in England and Wales. [93274]

24. Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the effect of reduced street lighting on (a) levels and (b) fear of crime in England and Wales. [93279]

Nick Herbert: A review of local authority street lighting last year found that while there is potential to reduce carbon emissions and light pollution, as well as deliver savings, these benefits need to be considered in the context of the important role that lighting plays in helping to reduce crime.

Police and Crime Commissioners

21. George Hollingbery: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the potential role of police and crime commissioners in making the police more responsive to the priorities of local communities. [93276]

Mrs May: Police and Crime Commissioners will be powerful, local, directly elected people. They will respond to local communities by using their democratic mandate and engagement with local communities to set the priorities for their police force. They will also set the police force budget, including the local precept contribution. And they will hold their chief constable to account for the performance of their force.

Criminal Record Checks

22. Joseph Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent progress she has made on reforming the Criminal Records Bureau status checks regime. [93277]

Lynne Featherstone: We are committed to making the criminal records regime more proportionate and efficient. The Protection of Freedoms Bill includes provisions for portable criminal records checks and, subject to Royal Assent, we expect the online checking service to be rolled out in early 2013.

Police Pay and Conditions

23. Richard Graham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had with police forces on the recommendations of the independent review of police officers' and staff remuneration and conditions by Tom Winsor. [93278]

6 Feb 2012 : Column 91W

Mrs May: Last week, I accepted the Police Arbitration Tribunal's recommendations on Part 1 of Tom Winsor's independent review. These reforms are an important first step towards creating a system that is fair to the taxpayer and fair to police officers. They will help to maximise deployment to frontline roles and give forces the flexibility they need to cut crime.

I meet regularly with policing partners to discuss these and other issues.

Police Funding Settlement

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to reassess the Police Funding Settlement for 2012-13. [93275]

Nick Herbert: No. The allocations of police funding were set out last week and will be debated in the House on Wednesday.

Arrest Warrants

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will consider the UK's operation of the European arrest warrant as part of her response to the Baker review of UK extradition arrangements. [93883]

Damian Green: The UK's operation of the European arrest warrant was one of the areas addressed by the independent review of the UK's extradition arrangements, which was published on 18 October 2011. The Home Secretary is carefully considering the review panel's recommendations and the Government will announce what action they will take in due course.

British Nationality

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will bring forward legislative proposals to revoke the citizenship of any person found to have obtained British citizenship by deception. [93151]

Damian Green: Under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended, any British citizen may, by Order, be deprived of his or her citizenship if the Home Secretary is satisfied that the registration or naturalisation was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact.

A policy to deprive on fraud grounds in exercise of these powers was introduced in 2009.

Departmental Manpower

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many jobs in (a) her Department and (b) the agencies and non-departmental bodies for which she is responsible were transferred to the private sector in 2010-11. [91496]

Damian Green: In 2010-11;

(a) eight jobs in the Home Office, and,

(b) 19 jobs in the agencies and non-departmental bodies,

transferred to the private sector.