25 Jun 2012 : Column 1W

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 25 June 2012

House of Commons Commission

Staff

Keith Vaz: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many people are employed by the House authorities to deal with website for the House of Commons; at what grade each person is; and what the total cost of the team is. [113237]

John Thurso: The House of Commons web and intranet service currently has 18 full-time equivalent staff. This includes four staff at pay band ‘A’, nine at pay band ‘B’ and five at pay band ‘C’. Total staff costs for the team are some £860,000 per annum, including employer’s national insurance and pension contributions. The costs are shared 75:25 between the Commons and the Lords.

The web and intranet service is responsible for the management and development of the Parliament website and intranet, social media and other digital communications channels, such as webcasting, on behalf of both Houses.

Defence

Armed Forces

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration Ministers in his Department have given to the findings of the report by Lord Ashcroft, The Armed Forces and Society. [112578]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 18 June 2012]:We thank Lord Ashcroft for his helpful report which provides an interesting perspective on the relationship between the armed forces and society, and provides pointers to the areas requiring attention.

Armed Forces Community Covenant

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what role Ministers in his Department have in determining the focus and outcomes of community covenant schemes; [112851]

(2) how many community covenant schemes have measures within them which aim to tackle or prevent discrimination against the service community. [112856]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 19 June 2012]: I am encouraged by the success of the Armed Forces Community Covenant scheme. To date more than 50 Community Covenants have been signed and more than 50 are pending.

Community Covenants are voluntary statements of mutual support between the civilian community and its

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local armed forces community, in the form of a written pledge. Usually these local partnerships are made between the armed forces in an area and the local authority, joined by local business, organisations, charities and other public bodies as appropriate.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Local Government Association hosted a successful Community Covenant Conference on 1 November 2011 for local authorities in England, which was attended by 150 delegates including representatives from the armed forces community and the voluntary and charitable sector. This was an opportunity to share best practice and encourage further local authorities to participate in the scheme. The strong interest from delegates demonstrated the importance that local authorities are placing on this work. Similar events are expected to be held in Wales and Scotland later this year.

Guidance is provided on the MOD website about the form that a Community Covenant might take. However, the contents of a particular Community Covenant are entirely a matter for the parties concerned.

Armed Forces: Discrimination

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on protecting the service community from discrimination in each of the last five years. [112582]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 18 June 2012]: This information is not held in the format requested.

The Armed Forces Covenant enshrined in law by this Government sets out the principles that those who serve in the armed forces, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services, and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most, such as the injured and the bereaved.

Any discrimination against members of the armed forces community is to be abhorred, and we will continue to be alert to any cases which are brought to our attention.

When discrimination is experienced, the chain of command, at a local level, will work closely with the civil police or other bodies as appropriate to address the problem.

Armed Forces: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Mrs Glindon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to monitor the incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder amongst serving and former soldiers. [112868]

Mr Robathan: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) on 12 June 2012, Official Report, column 448W.

The Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) publishes the “UK Armed Forces Mental Health Report” four times a year, which includes the numbers of patients attending a Ministry of Defence Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) who were initially assessed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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The latest report, for the period 1 October to 31 December 2011, was published on 3 April 2012, and can be found on the DASA website,

www.dasa.mod.uk

under “Other Publications” and “Health/Medical Statistics”.

Ex-Service personnel who require treatment for PTSD will receive it through their local NHS provider, and no central record is maintained of the numbers diagnosed with the condition. However, we continue to work closely with the Department of Health to improve the whole range of mental health care available to ex-service personnel.

Armed Forces: Sexual Offences

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases of (a) rape and (b) sexual assault were reported by members of the armed forces in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [111896]

Mr Robathan: All allegations of rape and sexual assault made by members of the armed forces will be thoroughly investigated by either the civil or service police, depending upon who has jurisdiction. The number of cases of rape and sexual assault reported by members of the armed forces to the service police in each of the last three years is shown in the following table:

 RapeSexual assault

2010

25

41

2011

18

36

2012—14 June 2012

10

9

We do not hold details of cases investigated by the civilian police.

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has made an assessment of the incidence of (a) post-traumatic stress disorder and (b) depression arising from (i) rape and (ii) sexual assault amongst members of the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [111994]

Mr Robathan: While every effort is made to provide support to victims of rape and sexual assault among members of the armed forces, it is not possible, from the information available, to determine the incidence of post traumatic stress disorder or depression.

Defence: Procurement

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) pursuant to his oral statement of 14 May 2012, Official Report, columns 261-64, what rate of inflation was assumed in his Department's assessment of a 1 per cent annual increase from 2015 to the equipment and equipment support budget; [111691]

(2) what assessment he has made of the rate of inflation in the defence sector; [108992]

(3) what rate of inflation was used as a basis for the conclusions of PR12. [108993]

Mr Philip Hammond: The 1% real annual uplift in equipment and equipment support spend was first announced by the former Secretary of State for Defence on 18 July 2011. It referred to an agreement that the

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Ministry of Defence (MOD) had reached with HM Treasury on how much the Department could assume was available for planning purposes.

The inflation figure underpinning that agreement, and the planning assumption in Planning Round 12, was based on the GDP deflator forecast produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility. At the beginning of Planning Round 12 this was 2.5% for financial year (FY) 2012-13, and 2.7% for subsequent years.

Defence inflation stood at 4.2% in FY 2010-11, the latest year for which figures are available. The annual average was 3.8% over the period from FY 2005-06 to FY 2010-11.

The difference between defence inflation (the rate of cost growth of commodities purchased by the MOD) and the GDP deflator is already accounted for in our planning processes.

Diamond Jubilee 2012: Medals

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Territorial Army (a) officers and (b) other ranks have received the Diamond Jubilee Medal. [112897]

Mr Robathan: The number of Territorial Army officers and other ranks who have been issued with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to date is 9,269. Of those, 2,145 were officers and 7,124 were other ranks.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many pilots will be involved in the sea trials of the F35B aircraft. [109075]

Peter Luff: We anticipate that initially a total of three or four UK test pilots will be involved in the first sea trials of the F35B aircraft with additional operational pilots becoming involved as the programme progresses. Final decisions will be taken nearer the time.

Military Aircraft

Elizabeth Truss: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, what steps he plans to take to manage the transition within Combat Air capability from Tornado to Typhoon and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft; when he expects the Tornado to reach its out of service date; and what basing assumptions he has made for the Joint Strike Fighter and Typhoon. [112994]

Peter Luff [holding answer 21 June 2012]: As stated in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), we plan to have a fast jet fleet based around two types of modern and capable multi-role aircraft.

We are reviewing, as part of normal business, how we intend to manage the transition between Tornado, Typhoon and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

We plan to run down the Tornado force broadly in line with the build up of the Typhoon force, and the introduction of the JSF at the end of the decade. This will ensure we retain the operational capability we require.

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For planning purposes, the assumed out of service date for Tornado is 2019, but no firm decisions need to be taken before the next SDSR in 2015. As previously announced, we plan to transfer the Typhoon Squadrons currently at RAF Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth and maintain Typhoons at RAF Coningsby. Decisions on JSF basing will be made in due course.

NATO

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his NATO counterparts on improving and increasing interoperability within NATO. [112715]

Mr Philip Hammond [holding answer 19 June 2012]: Improving interoperability, both between NATO allies and with non-NATO partners, was one of my priorities in the discussions I had with my NATO counterparts in both the run-up to NATO's Chicago summit in May 2012, and at the summit itself. An important element of the Defence package endorsed at Chicago was the Connected Forces initiative, which aims to consolidate and build upon interoperability gains by focusing on expanding education, training and exercises (and their validation).

RAF Brize Norton

Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of hangar capacity at RAF Brize Norton; and if he will make a statement. [112316]

Peter Luff: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 16 May 2012, Official Report, column 169W.

War Memorials

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will request the Bomber Command Association to invite Freddie Johnson, Bomber Command veteran, to attend the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park on 28 June 2012. [111996]

Mr Robathan: The allocation of tickets for the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial is being co-ordinated entirely by the Bomber Command Association.

I can however confirm that the Bomber Command Association have already been in contact with Mr Johnson's family regarding his attendance at the unveiling on 28 June 2012.

Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which (a) Ministers in his Department, (b) civil servants in his Department and (c) members of the armed forces will attend the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park on 28 June 2012; [112174]

(2) which (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants will be attending the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park on 28 June 2012. [111999]

Mr Robathan: There is no specific allocation of tickets for Ministry of Defence officials as this is a Bomber Command Association event.

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The Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr Howarth) and I have been invited and will attend the unveiling of the Memorial.

Approximately 200 Royal Air Force personnel will be directly supporting the event in a number of different roles.

The additional number of members of the Armed Forces and civil servants who have been allocated tickets by the Bomber Command Association is not available, as this information is not held centrally by the Ministry of Defence.

Communities and Local Government

Audit Commission: Redundancy Pay

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the total cost of redundancy payments following the abolition of the Audit Commission. [113821]

Robert Neill: The Audit Commission's audited accounts for 2010-11 and 2011-12 include payments and provisions for redundancy costs of £45.8 million. It is expected that another £3.9 million of redundancy costs will be incurred before the anticipated closure of the commission in 2015 (subject to legislation), bringing the total to £49.7 million. Net of transition costs, the disbanding of the Audit Commission is estimated to save the taxpayer around £650 million over the next five years.

Council Tax: Arrears

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the level of council tax arrears is in each collecting authority (a) in cash terms and (b) as a proportion of total expected revenue. [113001]

Robert Neill [holding answer 21 June 2012]: I have today placed in the Library of the House a table, which shows each billing authority in England, the total arrears of council tax outstanding as at 31 March 2011, and the total net collectable debit for 2010-11. The data are as submitted by all billing authorities in England on the Quarterly Return of Council Taxes and Non-domestic rates (QRC4) form.

The figures for arrears shown relate to all past years of council tax liability, whereas the net collectable debit figures relate only to the financial year 2010-11.

Data on the total arrears of council tax outstanding as at 31 March 2012 and the total net collectable debit for 2011-12 will be published on 27 June 2012.

The figures show that in total, there is £2.3 billion of uncollected council tax across England. The council with the biggest single amount of uncollected tax is Liverpool with £108 million of arrears (equivalent to £500 for every dwelling in Liverpool).

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Every penny of council tax that is not collected means a higher council tax for the law-abiding citizen who does pay on time.

It is important that councils are sympathetic to those in genuine hardship, are proportionate in enforcement and do not overuse bailiffs. However, these figures show that there is a significant source of income for councils which councils could use to support frontline service or cut council tax bills.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much council tax was uncollected in each local authority (a) in cash terms and (b) as a proportion of the total in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [113002]

Robert Neill [holding answer 21 June 2012]: The Department for Communities and Local Government has published local authority level information on the estimated council tax net collectable debit, council tax receipts, and receipts as a proportion of net collectable debit, for each of the last five years at the following locations:

2010-11

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/19332071.xls

2009-10

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/16203281.xls

2008-09

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/12641872.xls

2007-08

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/1289701.xls

2006-07

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/1289781.xls

The data are as submitted by all billing authorities in England on the Quarterly Return of Council Tax (QRC4) form.

Subtracting receipts from net collectable debit gives a figure for council taxes uncollected in the financial year to which they relate, however collection of council taxes continues after the end of the year. This means that the amount uncollected will reduce and the final collection rate achieved will be somewhere between the figures shown here and 100%.

Information for 2011-12 will be published on 27 June.

The worst collection rate in England for 2010-11 is the London borough of Newham (a non-collection rate of 8.3% of net collectable debit), followed by Manchester, Salford, Southwark and Barking and Dagenham.

In total, £612 million of council tax was not collected in 2010-11 across England. Every penny of council tax that is not collected means higher council tax for the law-abiding citizens who do pay on time.

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Council Tax: Multiple Occupation

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many Valuation Office Agency tribunals have taken place concerning the council tax banding of houses in multiple occupation containing bedsits in each of the last three years. [113559]

Robert Neill: The Valuation Office Agency does not record information that would enable cases relating to houses in multiple occupation to be separately identified, so the information could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

I would add that, as the Minister for Housing and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), stated in his answer of 27 February 2010, Official Report, columns 36-37W, council tax banding methodology has not changed under this Administration, and the Valuation Office Agency's banding decisions are based on the facts in each case and clear principles laid down in statute and case law.

Council Tax: Pensioners

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the change in the number of pensioners entitled to claim a reduction in their council tax bills under his proposals in the Local Government Finance Bill. [113003]

Robert Neill [holding answer 21 June 2012]: No estimate has been made and no change is being made to pensioners' rights to claim council tax support.

Families: Disadvantaged

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish the calculations his Department used to calculate the average cost of an intervention with a family involved with the Troubled Families Programme. [113419]

Robert Neill: The workings which underpin this estimate include commercially sensitive information, and so I am unable therefore to provide the detail requested. The estimate though is based on the unit costs of different kinds of interventions likely to be employed by local agencies when working with troubled families.

Homelessness

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues on the mechanisms used to (a) identify when policy will have an effect on and (b) co-ordinate policy on (i) homelessness and (ii) homelessness among women; whether he has made a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of each Government Department's mechanisms; and if he will make a statement; [112749]


(2) what steps his Department is taking to support specialist accommodation projects for homeless and vulnerable women; and if he will make a statement. [112750]

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Grant Shapps: The Government secured £6.5 billion for Supporting People over the spending review period. Supporting People provides locally implemented services for vulnerable people including homeless families and individuals, and women at risk of domestic violence. Local authorities are responsible for assessing the needs in their area and allocating funding for Supporting People services accordingly. This might include specialist accommodation projects for homeless and vulnerable women.

Ministers within the Department for Communities and Local Government regularly meet ministerial colleagues from other Departments to discuss a range of matters. I welcome St Mungo's recent Rebuilding Shattered Lives campaign which intends to raise awareness and showcase good practice on the issues faced by homeless and vulnerable women. I will consider these ideas with my ministerial colleagues at one of the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness meetings.

Housing

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many full-time equivalent staff in his Department have responsibility for (a) the NewBuy scheme, (b) the public land scheme, (c) the new homes bonus, (d) homelessness, (e) Get Britain Building Fund and (f) the self-build scheme. [110463]

Grant Shapps: There are 205 full-time equivalent staff who work in the Department's two Housing Directorates, although this excludes staff from elsewhere in the Department who assist housing and regeneration policy, including ministerial offices, communications and finance.

A further 866 full-time equivalent staff work for the Homes and Communities Agency in total.

Housing: Construction

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the quarterly average number of homes built since May 2010 is in each (a) region and (b) local authority area; and what recent assessment his Department has made of the number of homes which need to be built in each quarter in order to meet housing needs in each (i) region and (ii) local authority area. [110424]

Grant Shapps: I have placed in the Library of the House, a table showing the number of new build homes completed for each local authority district area in each quarter of this period.

Quarterly figures by Government region are available on the Department's website in Live Table 217 at the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/housebuilding/livetables/

The Department does not hold data on housing need by Government region or local authority area, as this is a matter for individual local authorities.

Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of new dwellings have been built in areas at risk of flooding in each (a) region and (b) local authority area since May 2010. [110440]

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Andrew Stunell: The information is collated by calendar year.

Information on the proportion of new dwellings built in areas at risk of flooding in each year from 1989 can be found in the Department's Live Tables at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planningbuilding/planningstatistics/livetables/landusechange/

The National Planning Policy Framework contains strong planning policy on avoiding and managing risks from flooding. The framework makes clear that local plans, which are the keystone of the planning system, should apply a sequential, risk-based approach to the location of development to avoid where possible flood risk to people and property and manage any residual risk.

Pauline Latham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes have been built in each of the Thames Gateway eco-quarters to date. [112611]

Robert Neill: The last Administration's Thames Gateway eco-quarter concept was never implemented. This Government have ended the top down central management of the Thames Gateway and put power back in the hands of local people and their representatives.

Housing: Demolition

Sheryll Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes were demolished under the housing market renewal pathfinder scheme, in each pathfinder area in each year, prior to its termination. [112605]

Oliver Colvile: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Government's targets were for demolition of homes under the housing market renewal pathfinder scheme, prior to its termination, in each pathfinder area. [R] [112609]

Grant Shapps: The last Administration's Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder programme created large-scale Whitehall targets for demolition and clearance across the midlands and the north of England. The centrally driven schemes were often resented by local communities and created as many problems as they solved. This top-down approach has not worked, frequently resulting in blighted areas where large scale demolition and clearance projects have been stopped in their tracks, leaving some families isolated in abandoned streets.

There was widespread public controversy over an obsession with demolition over refurbishment, the lack of transparency of the pathfinder quangos, large profits by developers, the demolition of our nation's Victorian heritage and perverse incentives being given to run down neighbourhoods.

The designation of areas for demolition effectively increased deprivation in those areas; many social landlords prepared the ground by “voiding” and boarding up properties. In turn, this undermined the housing market as mortgage lenders were unwilling to lend in such areas. Areas were effectively managed into decline—to

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make the notional benefits of wholesale demolition more attractive, ensuring a larger windfall gain for the state.

As the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Select Committee warned in 2005:

“Concerns have been expressed about the scale of demolitions envisaged and the impact on vulnerable communities. Some demolition is required but there is a risk that this initiative will be seen as a major demolition programme, which will repeat the mistakes of previous clearance programmes that destroyed the heritage of areas and failed to replace it with neighbourhoods of lasting value” (ODPM Select Committee, Empty Homes and Low-demand Pathfinders, HC 295-1, April 2005).

Top-down targets were created by the Whitehall programme. Demolition output targets were demanded of Pathfinder partnerships in their funding agreements with the Department for Communities and Local Government. The contracts explicitly stated that “grant is payable...on condition that the Pathfinder achieves the Programme Targets specified for that year” and the Department would suspend, withhold, reduce or withdraw grants at any time if the targets were not met or “satisfactory progress with the implementation” was not made (deposited papers from Official Report, 6 October 2008, column 340W).

The National Audit Office review of the programme in November 2007 observed that there had been 10,242 properties demolished compared to 1,078 new builds, and there were plans for a total of 57,100 properties to be demolished (NAO, ‘Department for Communities and Local Government: Housing Market Renewal’, HC 20, 2007-2008, pp. 7, 19). It added:

“The demolition element of the programme has been controversial and can carry particular value for money risks where the acquisition of old properties, clearance of sites and development of new homes is more expensive than the refurbishment of existing properties”. (p.6)

The Audit Commission has subsequently published a review of the programme that projected there would be 30,987 demolitions from 2002 to 2010-11 (Audit Commission, ‘Housing market renewal’, March 2011, p.9). Full figures by type can be found in the Audit Commission report, while figures on individual areas are available at:

http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/housing/marketrenewal pathfinders/strategicreviews/Pages/Strategicreviewofprogress 2010.aspx

This Government has cancelled the Pathfinder programme and is instead actively seeking to get empty homes back into productive use. Unlike the Pathfinder programme, we are not going to throw massive central taxpayer subsidies at razing properties where it would be more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable to improve and refurbish.

Housing: Regeneration

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many homes were (a) demolished, (b) refurbished and (c) built under the Housing Market Pathfinder renewal programme between 1997 and 2010; [111356]

(2) with reference to the contribution by the Minister for Housing and Local Government of 19 April 2012, Official Report, column 184WH, what the source was

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of his statement that 10,000 homes were destroyed by the housing market renewal programme and 1,000 homes were built. [111531]

Grant Shapps [holding answer 14 June 2012]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave today, PQ 112609.

Listed Buildings: VAT

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to his Department's Right to Bid policy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Budget proposal to raise VAT on alterations to listed buildings on asset transfer to the community. [113818]

Andrew Stunell: The Community Right to Bid will provide communities with a fairer chance to save local assets by nominating them to be listed as assets of community value by the local authority. When listed assets come up for sale, the community can trigger a six-month delay before it can be sold to provide more time for community groups to make a bid. The condition and potential cost of any necessary or desired alterations to the buildings or land on the list of assets of community value does not form part of the right.

Local Authorities: Assets

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions he had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer prior to the 2012 Budget on the potential effect of the Budget on his Department's Right to Bid policy. [113832]

Andrew Stunell: Ministers within the Department for Communities and Local Government regularly meet colleagues from Her Majesty's Treasury to discuss a range of matters.

Low Associates

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has received any representations from Low Associates since May 2010. [111594]

Robert Neill: This information is not held centrally and records could be searched only at disproportionate cost. However, no use has been made of their services since May 2010.

Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations are published on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at this URL:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/transparencyin government/ministerialdata/

Details of permanent secretaries' meetings with external organisations are also available and published here:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/transparencyin government/staffdata/permanentsecretarydata/

Non-domestic Rates

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which grants will be incorporated into the local share of the new local government business rates retention scheme. [113697]

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Robert Neill: I refer my hon. Friend to the ‘Business rates retention scheme: The central and local shares of business rates A Statement of Intent’ published on 17 May 2012, as slightly amended in the version published on 13 June 2012, to include a footnote against the Bus Service Operators Grant (London Buses Portion), which lists the grants that are to be included in the Business Rates Retention Scheme. A copy of which can be found in the Library of the House.

Parks: Standards

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans his Department has for the future of the Green Flag for Parks award after the end of the current contract on 30 August 2012. [113293]

Andrew Stunell: The Green Flag Award is the national benchmark for quality public green spaces. The Department is fully supportive of the scheme and wishes to see it sustained beyond the end of the current contract. Last year the Department announced its intention to let the Green Flag Award scheme to run under licence once the current contract ends. Work continues on this and details of the licence offer will be made as soon as possible.

Recruitment

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2012, Official Report, column 489W, on recruitment, to what extent his Department and its non-departmental public bodies and Executive agencies used name-blank CVs or the blind sift function on the Civil Service Resourcing e-recruitment system to recruit staff in the last year. [110962]

Robert Neill: The Department for Communities and Local Government is not yet registered to use the Civil Service Resourcing recruitment system but expects to do so before the end of the current financial year ending 31 March 2013.

Right to Buy Scheme

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of former council homes sold under the Right to Buy are occupied by (a) the original purchaser, (b) another owner-occupier and (c) a private tenant. [113441]

Grant Shapps: Information on the ownership of former council houses sold under Right to Buy is not collected centrally. The Government consider that former social tenants who have bought their homes under Right to Buy should have the same freedoms as any other homeowner, including the ability to sell or let their home when they wish.

Mr Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many right to Buy sales were completed in the London borough of Bexley in each of the last three years. [113612]

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Grant Shapps: Data on Right to Buy sales of local authority stock are published in Live Table 648 on the Department's website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/socialhousingsales/livetables/

Wind Power: Planning Permission

Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the quality and consistency of decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate relating to wind turbine planning appeals. [111662]

Robert Neill: The Planning Inspectorate currently issue around 16,000 planning appeal decisions annually and Ministers see a small random sample of these across all types of development on a regular basis once they have been issued by the inspectorate.

Scotland

Correspondence

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many letters to Ministers in his Department were (a) not answered, (b) not answered within six months and (c) not answered within three months in (i) 2010-11 and (ii) 2011-12; how many such letters were from hon. Members; and if he will make a statement. [109446]

David Mundell: All letters received by Ministers in the Scotland Office were dealt with appropriately, and no letters from hon. Members were not answered within six months or three months.

The Cabinet Office publishes a report to Parliament on an annual basis on the performance of Departments in replying to Members' correspondence. The report for 2011 was published on 15 March 2012, Official Report, columns 30-33WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

Devolution

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent devolution issues the Advocate-General has considered; and if he will make a statement. [113120]

David Mundell: My hon. Friend asked a similar question on 24 April 2012, Official Report, column 829W.

Since 24 April 2012, the Advocate-General for Scotland has received a total of 81 minutes notifying him of devolution issues, 10 of which related to civil matters.

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what regulations his Department introduced between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012; and at what cost to the public purse. [113399]

David Mundell: Each year, the Scotland Office takes forward a programme of Orders under the Scotland Act 1998. Generally, Scotland Act Orders make changes

25 Jun 2012 : Column 15W

to the law in England and Wales, Northern Ireland or the reserved law of the UK which are outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and many of these changes are consequential to provisions made in Acts of the Scottish Parliament. Between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012 the only Order brought forward was the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2012 (S.I. 2012/700) which established the Scottish Housing Regulator as part of the Scottish Administration. There were no implementation costs associated with this Order.

Wales

Queen’s Dragoon Guards

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the future of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry). [113546]

Mrs Gillan: I have had a number of discussions about the structure of regiments in Wales as part of the study into the Army’s future force structure. The outcome of the study will be announced once decisions have been made. Until then it is not possible to comment on which specific units may be affected.

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what regulations her Department introduced between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012; and at what cost to the public purse. [113397]

Mrs Gillan: The Wales Office did not introduce any regulations between 1 February and 31 May 2012.

Northern Ireland

Legislation

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what measures he plans to include in the Government's proposed Northern Ireland Bill in the 2013-14 parliamentary Session; and if he will make a statement; [113402]

(2) what discussions he has had with key stakeholders about measures to be included in the Government's proposed Northern Ireland Bill in the 2013-14 parliamentary Session. [113403]

Mr Paterson: No announcements have yet been made about the legislative programme for the third Session. I have begun discussions on legislation that might be required in relation to political donations, dual mandates, the composition of the Northern Ireland Assembly and length of Assembly terms.

Women and Equalities

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what regulations she introduced between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012; and at what cost to the public purse. [113404]

25 Jun 2012 : Column 16W

Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office did not introduce any regulations between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012.

Prime Minister

Correspondence

Ian Lucas: To ask the Prime Minister at what time the letter dated 13 June 2012 from the Prime Minister to Sir Alex Allan was sent; and at what time the reply from Sir Alex was received. [112654]

The Prime Minister: The letters were sent and received on the morning of 13 June 2012. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Leveson Inquiry

Helen Goodman: To ask the Prime Minister how much it cost to provide him with legal advice in relation to his appearance at the Leveson inquiry. [112770]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), gave on 21 June 2012, Official Report, column 1088W.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare: Inspections

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many welfare inspections by Animal Health and Welfare were carried out at farms with livestock in the last five years; and what level of compliance with animal welfare legislation and the welfare code was recorded as a result of such inspections. [112783]

Mr Paice [holding answer 19 June 2012]: The information is as follows:

Farm welfare inspections between 2007 and 2011
 ABCDTotal inspections

2007

3,258

2,820

1,507

436

8,021

2008

3,687

4,258

1,830

430

10,205

2009

3,485

4,664

1,485

368

10,002

2010

3,055

3,264

881

286

7,486

2011

2,250

2,628

839

213

5,930

Grand total

15,735

17,634

6,542

1,733

41,644

A—Full compliance with legislation and code B—Full compliance with legislation but not with code C—Failure to comply with legislation, no unnecessary suffering seen D—Failure to comply with legislation, unnecessary suffering seen

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency intelligence led monitoring and enforcement focuses inspection resources where there is an increased risk of non compliance. Some farms may have been subject to more than one inspection during the period reported.

25 Jun 2012 : Column 17W

Atos

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the total monetary value is of each contract between her Department and Atos; [111169]

(2) when each contract between her Department and Atos was most recently (a) agreed, (b) renewed and (c) extended. [111170]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA does not have any current contracts with Atos.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the susceptibility of alpacas and llamas to tuberculosis; whether she has any plans to test alpacas and llamas for tuberculosis; and if she will make a statement. [113376]

Mr Paice: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given in response to the same question asked on 13 June 2012, Official Report, column 490W.

Common Fisheries Policy

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what agreements were reached at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on 12 June 2012 on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and UK control over the 12 nautical mile territorial waters. [113266]

Richard Benyon: On 12/13 June I attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg to discuss the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. We secured agreement to key planks of the reform that the UK is seeking, in the form of a ‘General Approach'. This included provisions setting out a regionalised process to allow member states to work together on the measures appropriate to their fisheries, rather than the current centralised ‘one size fits all’ approach.

On discards we successfully made the case for measures to eliminate discards, agreeing a ban on discards in principle, with provisional timelines. The text also includes a clear legal commitment, and deadlines, to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield, in line with our international commitments.

The existing arrangements in the 12 mile zone involve a derogation from the otherwise free access allowed by the CFP. The General Approach agreed in Luxembourg maintains the current derogation setting out member state control over fishery activities in waters from 0 to 12 nautical miles.

Dogs

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department holds on the number of attacks on guide dogs by other dogs in each of the last five years. [113828]

25 Jun 2012 : Column 18W

Mr Paice: DEFRA holds no central record of such attacks.

Floods

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) businesses and (b) homes were (i) at risk of flooding and (ii) flooded in April and May 2012. [113131]

Richard Benyon: The Environment Agency's latest published information estimates that there are 5 million properties at risk of flooding in England of which 2.4 million are at risk from rivers and the sea.

The Environment Agency's records show that 51 properties have flooded from rivers in England in April and May 2012. These provisional figures include homes, mobile homes, commercial and industrial property.

Food Production

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the monetary value was of food and drink (a) produced and (b) imported to the UK in each year for which figures are available. [113517]

Mr Paice: The monetary value of UK food production is measured by the gross value added (GVA) of businesses in the agri-food sector covering agriculture, manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing and non-residential catering.

£ billion
 1998199920002001200220032004

GVA from UK food production(1)

61.0

64.9

64.8

65.8

68.6

70.9

76.6

Imports of food, feed and drink

17.1

17.2

16.8

18.3

19.1

20,9

21.9

Exports of food, feed and drink

9.2

8.9

8.7

8.5

8.9

9.9

9.7


 2005200620072008200920102011(2)

GVA from UK food production(1)

74.2

77.8

80.2

84.5

85.4

88.8

n/a

Imports of food, feed and drink

23.4

24.8

26.7

31.6

32.5

33.7

36.8

Exports of food, feed and drink

9.9

10.5

11.4

13.2

14.0

15.8

18.2

(1 )Gross value added from agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, food and drink retailing, food and drink wholesaling and non-residential catering. (2 )2011 data are subject to amendments. Sources: 1. Gross value added from agriculture is from Agriculture in The United Kingdom, DEFRA. 2. Gross value added from food and drink manufacturing, food and drink retailing, food and drink wholesaling and non-residential catering is from the Annual Business Survey, ONS. 3. Values of imports and exports are prepared by DEFRA using Overseas Trade Statistics from HMRC.

25 Jun 2012 : Column 19W


Livestock: Antibiotics

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to prohibit the advertising of prescription-only antibiotics directly to farmers. [111451]

Mr Paice: The Government consulted on a proposal to prohibit advertising of anti-microbial veterinary medicines to farmers during the summer of 2010, as part of the review process of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

The farming community and the agricultural press opposed a ban; they argued that this proposal would lead to a loss of revenue and consequent reduction in the dissemination of valuable information to the farming industry. Farmers and farming organisations, individual veterinary surgeons and the pharmaceutical industry considered that the change would have a negative effect on farmers' ability to maintain their knowledge and awareness of animal health and welfare issues. The British Veterinary Association and the Soil Association supported the ban.

Ministers considered the arguments from both sides and decided that it was not appropriate to prohibit advertising of anti-microbial veterinary medicines to farmers since a ban would be unlikely to have a direct impact on anti-microbial resistance.

Livestock: Auctions

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to improve the level of information provided on the provenance of livestock at auctions including on (a) country of origin, (b) the number of TB tests an animal has been subjected to, (c) whether the animal spent any time in a testing parish and (d) whether the animal has been pre-movement tested for a sale; and if she will make a statement. [113377]

Mr Paice: I think my hon. Friend is referring to cattle. All cattle are individually identified and their movement history is set out in the passports that accompany them on all journeys including those to auctions. We have no current plans to enforce changes to the information provided at livestock auctions on the number of TB tests an animal has been subjected to. However, we encourage farmers to purchase cattle responsibly, bearing in mind the TB history of a herd and its geographical location.

Pheasants

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding her Department has (a) incurred for and (b) allocated to research into the incidence of buzzards preying on young pheasants and how best to discourage birds that may cause damage to legitimate businesses. [111039]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA funded the Food and Environment Research Agency to undertake a desk study in January 2012 entitled “Approaches to mitigating bird of prey conflicts with pheasants at release pens, outdoor poultry and lambs” at a total cost of £24,694. The report can be found on the DEFRA website.

25 Jun 2012 : Column 20W

DEFRA has made provision for up to £125,000 to be available in each of the current and following two financial years for additional research to look at the relationship between raptors (including buzzards), livestock, wildlife and game birds. DEFRA will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue to identify and develop any future research proposals.

Plants: Disease Control

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she has received on the merits of banning the sale of invasive non-native plants. [113260]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government held a public consultation on proposals to ban the sale of a small number of highly invasive non-native species. These proposals were based on advice from Natural England. Subsequent to the consultation my officials have sought additional advice from conservation bodies and other organisations that represent groups that may be affected by any sales prohibitions, such as the Horticultural Trades Association and the Ornamental and Aquatic Trades Association.

I will take a decision on the proposals, based on the balance of the evidence, once the impact assessment has been cleared as part of the Government's rigorous regulatory approvals process.

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reason is for the time taken in reaching a decision on proposals to ban the sale of invasive non-native plants. [113265]

Richard Benyon: The economic case behind proposals to prohibit the sale of five highly invasive plant species is currently being reviewed through the Government's rigorous regulatory approvals process. An announcement will be made in due course.

Poultry: MRSA

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what testing her Department has undertaken on levels of MRSA in (a) poultry farms and (b) chicken and turkey products on sale to the public. [111361]

Mr Paice: Staphylococcus aureus recovered from poultry during laboratory examinations of clinical material at AHVLA Regional Laboratories and subjected to susceptibility testing are examined to determine whether or not they are MRSA. No MRSA have been detected in poultry, although the numbers of isolates examined each year is relatively low.

The Food Standards Agency conducted a UK-wide survey between May 2007 and September 2008 to determine Campylobacter and Salmonella prevalence on fresh chicken at retail. This survey did not include any testing of levels of MRSA in the chicken samples collected. The Food Standards Agency has not conducted any other testing of MRSA in chicken and turkey products on sale to the public.

25 Jun 2012 : Column 21W

Publications

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many publications have been issued by her Department since May 2010. [109817]

Richard Benyon: Documents for publication are given an individual serial number. Core DEFRA records indicate that 381 serial numbers were allocated between 1 May 2010 and 31 May 2012.

Regulation

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many regulations

25 Jun 2012 : Column 22W

her Department has repealed between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012; and if she will estimate the potential savings to those affected in each case. [112779]

Mr Paice [holding answer 19 June 2012]: DEFRA revoked 19 statutory instruments between 1 February 2012 and 31 May 2012, with a further three statutory instruments being partially revoked. A list of the instruments revoked is set out in the following table. DEFRA did not repeal any primary legislation in this period.

Any information that is available on estimated costs and savings to business are set out in individual impact assessments. These are available electronically from the Better Regulation Executive’s impact assessment library at:

http://www.ialibrary.bis.gov.uk/links/

 Statutory instruments

The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (England) Regulations 2012(1)

 

Regulation revoked

The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) Regulations 1994 (in relation to England)

  

The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012

 

Regulations Revoked (in relation to England and Wales)

The Waste Management Licensing (Amendment etc.) Regulations 1995

 

The Controlled Waste Regulations 1992

  

The Cattle Compensation (England) Order 2012

 

Regulation revoked

The Cattle Compensation (England) Order 2006

  

The Individual Ascertainment of Value (England) Order 2012(2)

 

Regulation revoked

The Individual Ascertainment of Value (England) Order 2005

  

The Plant Health (Fees) (England) Regulations 2012

 

Regulations revoked or partially revoked

The Plant Health (Licence Fees) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 (in relation to England)

 

Regulation 6 of the Potatoes Originating in Egypt (England) Regulations 2004

 

The Seed Potatoes (Fees) (England) Regulations 2006

 

The Plant Health (Plant Passport Fees) (England) Regulations 2007

 

The Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) (England) Regulations 2010

 

The Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012

  

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) Regulations 2012(2)

 

Regulations revoked

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) Regulations 2008

 

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008

 

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

 

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010

 

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

 

The Smoke Control Areas (Authorised Fuels) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2011

  

The Fishing Boats (Satellite-Tracking Devices and Electronic Reporting) (England) Scheme 2012

 

Regulations revoked

The Fishing Boats (Satellite-Tracking Devices) (England) Scheme 2004

 

The Fishing Boats (Electronic Transmission of Fishing Activities Data) (England) Scheme 2010

  

The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (England) Order 2012

 

Regulation revoked

The Smoke Control Areas (Exempted Fireplaces) (England) (No. 2) Order 2011

  

25 Jun 2012 : Column 23W

25 Jun 2012 : Column 24W

The Agriculture (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2012(2)

 

Regulations partially revoked

Regulation 5(2) of the Agriculture (Cross compliance) (No. 2) Regulations 2009

 

Regulation 12(8) and (9) of the Common Agricultural Policy Single Payment and Support Schemes (Integrated Administration and Control System) Regulations 2009

(1) Impact assessment is titled “Introduction of electronic notices of variations to licences for all fishing vessels in England”. (2) Denotes that the measure does not require an impact assessment.

Sharks: Conservation

Graham Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she has given to banning shark fin imports. [113381]

Richard Benyon: The UK Government is aware of the conservation implications of the international trade in shark fins and the need for more stringent controls to ensure any such trade is rooted in sustainable fishing practices. While the UK has banned shark finning (removal and retention of shark fins at sea, but discarding the carcass), the Government does not oppose fisheries for species where scientific advice indicates that they can be sustainably exploited. However, we do promote the full utilisation of the shark.

The UK cannot unilaterally take action to ban shark fin imports without contravening EU trade agreements and World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations.

However, we are not complacent. We believe the market for shark fin products in the UK is on the decrease and we will continue to support campaigns like ‘Bite-Back' that raise public awareness and change consumer and retailer behaviour.

We will also continue to work closely with the Shark Trust to ensure sharks are properly managed and conserved globally. We consider that the most effective means of protecting sharks is by continuing to press for a range of international conservation and management measures within the appropriate bodies. This includes pushing for changes within the EU and internationally to ensure all sharks are landed with their ‘fins naturally attached' (thus removing the possibility of shark finning occurring) and supporting scientifically robust proposals for regulating the international trade in shark products through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Culture, Media and Sport

Durham City Arts

Roberta Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what discussions he has had on the closure of Durham City Arts. [113681]

Mr Vaizey: The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has had no discussions on the closure of Durham City Arts (DCA). However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is aware that DCA applied to Arts Council England (ACE) for funding from its National portfolio funding programme, but was not successful. ACE held a number of conversations with Durham county council, who were the joint funders of DCA, to consider alternative funding options. The decision to cease operation was taken by DCA's board. Decisions for funding of arts organisations are made independently of Government.

ACE continues to invest in County Durham and currently supports: three arts festivals, via Gala Theatre; and two organisations, including, Durham Book Festival and TIN Arts. Additionally, Beamish and Bowes Museum have been successful in gaining Major Partner Museum funding. Funding to County Durham through regular ACE funding in 2012-13 has increased significantly from that allocated in previous years (from £118,538 in 2011-12 to £379,000 in 2012-13).

Energy

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department switched its (a) gas or (b) electricity supplier in any of the last 10 years. [113454]

John Penrose: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has not changed its (a) gas or (b) electricity supplier within the last 10 years.

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport which energy supplier supplies his Department with (a) gas and (b) electricity. [113471]

John Penrose: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) main building at Cockspur Street has its (a) gas and (b) electricity supplied by Corona Energy and EDF Energy respectively. DCMS's subsidiary building at Tottenham Court Road does not use gas and has its electricity supplied by British Gas.

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how much his Department spent on (a) gas and (b) electricity bills in each of the last 10 years. [113508]

John Penrose: The cost of (a) gas and (b) electricity bills procured by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the last six years is shown in the table. Figures for the year 2012-13 are not yet available. The information prior to 2006-07 is not held centrally.

£
 ElectricityGas

2002-03

n/a

n/a

2003-04

n/a

n/a

2004-05

n/a

n/a

2005-06

n/a

n/a

2006-07

361,500

86,600

2007-08

293,100

48,800

25 Jun 2012 : Column 25W

2008-09

318,500

37,300

2009-10

273,597

30,779

2010-11

194,315

19,194

2011-12

201,113

20,381

2012-13

n/a = Not Available.

Government Procurement Card

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on which dates his Department has published Government procurement card spending over £500 since May 2010. [113353]

John Penrose: Since May 2010, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published Government procurement card spending over £500 on 13 and 30 September 2011 and 18 January 2012. The information can be found on DCMS's transparency website

http://www.transparency.culture.gov.uk/?s=procurement +card+spend

Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many applications to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme there were in each year from the scheme's inception to date. [113257]

John Penrose: The information requested is set out in the following table. The number of applications received was not recorded for the years 2001-02 and 2002-03. Figures for the year 2012-13 are not yet available.

Financial yearNumber of applications received

2003-04

3,574

2004-05

4,213

2005-06

4,255

2006-07

4,728

2007-08

5,083

2008-09

5,038

2009-10

4,895

2010-11

4,968

2011-12

6,990

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what the total annual sum of payments made under the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme has been in each year since the scheme's inception to April 2011. [113258]

John Penrose: The information requested is set out in the following table:

Financial yearTotal annual payment (£)

2001-02

1,193,237.39

2002-03

8,042,596.64

2003-04

9,006,413.95

2004-05

10,444,277.82

2005-06

14,960,500.11

25 Jun 2012 : Column 26W

2006-07

14,040,930.98

2007-08

14,590,969.99

2008-09

14,963,412.67

2010-11

(1)19,283,030.22

(1) There was a delay in processing some of the claims made in 2010-11 due to a surge in claims made that year. Subsequently, a number of claims relating to 2010-11 were paid in 2011-12.

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport by what methods he publicised the changes to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme in advance of their coming into effect on 1 April 2011. [113264]

John Penrose: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) made a series of announcements from October 2010 to March 2011 about the future of the (listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme. Firstly, as part of the October 2010 spending review, we announced that the scheme would continue in the following spending period with a fixed annual budget of £12 million. This formed part of a written ministerial statement made in Parliament by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), on 21 October 2010 and a news release on the DCMS website.

In January 2011, DCMS announced on its website and the LPW Grant Scheme's website that the terms and operation of the scheme would be comprehensively reviewed, and that the last date for receipt of applications under the current arrangements would be 31 March 2011. This notice was also circulated to a range of denominational and heritage organisations who were asked to provide views on the design of the scheme.

In March 2011, DCMS announced the detail of the changes to be made to the LPW Grant Scheme, to come into effect on 1 April 2011. These announcements were posted on the DCMS and LPW Grant Scheme websites and circulated to the denominational and heritage contacts. I also wrote to Ministers in the devolved Administrations to set out the changes on 7 April 2011.

In addition to these announcements we also asked the churches to use their contacts and communication channels to inform people about the changes and explain their implications.

The combined impact of all these measures was a very significant increase in the number and size of claims under the scheme before the changes took effect.

Mobile Phones

Naomi Long: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what consideration he has given to the financial implications of the UK and Ireland harmonising mobile roaming charges. [112707]

Mr Vaizey: No assessment has been made of the financial implications of the UK and Ireland harmonising mobile roaming charges. However, Ofcom, the UK's independent national telecoms regulator, regularly monitors the roaming charges levied by domestic national telecoms providers and from 1 July 2012 the new European Roaming III regulation will bring down the cost of

25 Jun 2012 : Column 27W

roaming. This, in addition to moves by certain operators to introduce “All Ireland” tariffs, will cut costs for those consumers who regularly cross the border.

Radio Frequencies

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the potential effect on GDP of the deployment of 4G by (a) four and (b) one of the mobile network operators. [113267]

Mr Vaizey: The Department has not made any assessment of the economic effect of the deployment of 4G services in the UK. Any assessment of the implications for citizens and consumers would normally fall to the independent regulator, Ofcom, to produce.

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the effect on competition in the mobile telephony market of the deployment of 4G by (a) four and (b) one of the mobile network operators. [113268]

Mr Vaizey: The Department has not made any such assessment. Such assessments would normally fall to the independent regulator, Ofcom, to produce.

Ofcom's recent second consultation on the assessment of future mobile competition and proposals for the award of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum and related issues, which closed on 22 March 2012, included an updated assessment of the competition aspects associated with the auction design and the number of wholesale operators that may result. The document considered the case for four operators and for fewer than four. Ofcom has received over 40 responses to this consultation which it is currently analysing. Ofcom intends to decide on these issues and publish a statement in the summer.

Home Department

Age: Discrimination

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she expects the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 banning age discrimination in the provision of goods and services to be fully implemented. [113829]

Lynne Featherstone: A written ministerial statement was laid on 12 June 2012, Official Report, column 23WS, confirming that we intend to implement the age discrimination ban in services and the provision of public functions on 1 October 2012.

Alcoholic Drinks: Crime

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she plans to take to reduce the number of crimes committed by people involved in hazardous drinking. [112902]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 20 June 2012]: The Government's alcohol strategy, which was published as a Command Paper (Cm 8336) on 23 March 2012, sets out plans to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder

25 Jun 2012 : Column 28W

caused by those involved in hazardous drinking. The strategy is available through the Vote Office, or on the Home Office website:

www.homeoffice.gov.uk

Animal Experiments

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the efficacy of animal experiments. [113416]

Lynne Featherstone: The Government has not commissioned or evaluated any formal research on the efficacy of animal experiments. This is for a number of reasons. Put simply, animal research is already routinely subject to a number of stringent tests. First and foremost, unless an experiment is judged to be potentially efficacious it cannot be licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Where an application relates to ongoing work, inspectors will assess the evidence of benefits from previous work in advising on authorisation. Also, local ethical review processes in licensed establishments review the conduct of the work undertaken under licence at their establishments.

In addition, research councils and charities evaluate the research projects carried out under the 1986 Act for which they provide funding. Work funded by pharmaceutical companies is subject to internal scrutiny within those companies, and the safety and efficacy testing needed before people are exposed to new drugs is evaluated by the relevant regulators.

Arrest Warrants: EU Action

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent EU Council Decision 2008/978/JHA has been implemented in the UK. [113078]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 21 June 2012]: The UK has not implemented Council Decision 2008/978/JHA (European evidence warrant). Implementation was suspended when the UK opted into the European Investigation Order (EIO) in July 2010.

The UK must decide, no later than 31 May 2014, whether to accept full European Court of Justice jurisdiction over those EU police and criminal justice measures adopted before 1 December 2009 which have not been amended or replaced. The European evidence warrant falls within the scope of that decision and will be reviewed accordingly.

Asylum

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many failed Sudanese asylum seekers have been requested to attend interviews with Sudanese and South Sudanese embassy officials for the purposes of obtaining documentation or confirming nationality in the years (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12; and what information her Department holds on how many of those requested to attend have complied with that request. [111275]

25 Jun 2012 : Column 29W

Damian Green: According to provisional data held by the UK Border Agency, 46 individuals with no legal basis to remain in the United Kingdom were requested to attend interviews with Sudanese embassy officials in 2010-11 and 111 individuals in 2011-12. These data do not record whether those individuals are failed asylum seekers, are not subject to statistical quality assurance and are subject to change. There are no centrally held data to indicate whether those individuals subsequently complied with that request and that information could be produced only at a disproportionate cost. There have been no requests to attend interviews at the South Sudanese embassy.

British Nationality: Assessments

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent assessment she has made of the topics covered by the British Citizenship Test; and what plans she has to extend the number of topics covered by the test; [112757]

(2) what plans she has to ensure that questions and answers in the British Citizenship Test are regularly reviewed to ensure their accuracy; [112758]


(3) what proportion of questions used in the British Citizenship Test are based on data that are 10 or more years old; [112759]


(4) how many questions used in the British Citizenship Test have correct answers that are no longer factually correct; and when she plans to update the test to ensure that all answers deemed correct are factually correct. [112760]

Damian Green: The Home Office is currently reviewing the content of the Life in the UK test with the aim of introducing new questions, including questions on British history, in autumn 2012.

All questions asked in the current test are factually correct. Questions are based on the Life in the UK handbook, which includes information from the 2001 census. Any questions based on information which is no longer accurate are removed from the question bank.

A new revised edition of the handbook will be published before the introduction of the new test.

Contracts

Ian Lavery: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what contracts (a) her Department and (b) its agencies has with private sector contractors. [110671]

Damian Green: As part of the Home Office's commitment to transparency, details of contracts above the value of £10,000 to private sector contractors are published on Contracts Finder at

http://www.contractsfinder.co.uk/

and detail of spend over £25,000 is published on the Department's website at

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/non-personal-data/transparency/

A copy of the latest published data, from March 2012, has been placed in the Library of the House.

25 Jun 2012 : Column 30W

A central register to capture all contracts entered in to by the Department, its executive agencies and arm’s length bodies is being developed and will be available later this year.

Crime and Disorder

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent on sport-based interventions to tackle crime and social disorder in (a) 2010-11 and (b) 2011-12. [112183]

James Brokenshire: The Home Office has provided funding to a number of voluntary organisations that use sport-based interventions to tackle crime and social disorder through: the Positive Futures programme; the Communities Against Gangs, Guns and Knives (CAGGK) fund; the Community Fund; and the Community Action Against Crime: Innovation Fund (CAACIF).

Details of the funding provided are shown in the table. However, it is difficult to quantify exactly how much individual organisations have spent on sport-based activities as many recipients also engage in other diversionary activities such as music and art, as well as running preventative programmes such as mentoring.

Details are shown in the following table.

£
Grant Stream2010-112011-12

Positive Futures

5,063,000

5,063,000

CAGGK (fund runs from April 2011 to March 2013)

0

232,771

Community Fund (provided funding over two years from 2009-2010 and 2010-2011)

214,086

0

CAACIF (launched in September 2011)

0

517,429

Criminal Records

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment her Department has made of the effect of establishing the UK Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records during the period between its establishment and April 2012. [113323]

Lynne Featherstone: The work of the UK Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records has four parts:

receiving, and placing on PNC, conviction notifications of Britons convicted in other EU member states;

sending notifications of EU nationals convicted in the UK to their country of nationality;

making requests to EU member states about their nationals being prosecuted in the UK; and

replying to requests from other EU member states concerning UK nationals being prosecuted there.

All four areas have helped public protection. We now know, to a much greater extent than before, the history of offending by UK nationals abroad. As a result the police can take appropriate steps should that offending be serious, for example by placing the UK national on

25 Jun 2012 : Column 31W

the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (ViSOR). In addition any Criminal Records Bureau disclosure on a British national will include more information about their EU offending than was previously the case.

The numbers of EU nationals being convicted in the UK has given the police a much clearer picture of the extent of EU offending in the UK and will also have ensured that EU member states have a fuller picture of offending by their nationals in the UK.

The ability to obtain previous convictions of EU nationals being prosecuted here has increased the fairness of the prosecution process in the UK, by allowing information that was previously unavailable to be taken into account by the courts, prosecutors and the police.

Providing previous convictions of UK nationals to other EU member states has enabled their courts and prosecutors to have a much fuller picture of previous offending by UK nationals.

Detention Centres: Females

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are taken by the UK Border Agency to seek permission for disclosure of medical records for women in detention for the purpose of identifying when women who are pregnant or have serious health conditions are being detained. [112755]

Damian Green: Where a medical practitioner believes that a detainee's health is likely to be injuriously affected by continued detention, including any elevated risk during pregnancy, he or she is required to inform the UK Border Agency.

If a pregnant woman chooses to inform removal centre healthcare staff of her condition, the detail would be held on her medical file which is confidential between patient and doctor. The UK Border Agency does not hold such information centrally and does not seek permission for disclosure.

The UK Border Agency's published policy on the use of detention makes clear that pregnant women should not normally be detained. The exceptions to this general position are where removal is imminent and medical advice does not suggest confinement before the due removal date; or, for pregnant women of less than 24 weeks gestation, as part of the fast track asylum process at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre.

Heidi Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether health advice is provided to pregnant women in immigration detention whom the UK Border Agency plans to remove to sub-Saharan African countries where there is high risk of chloroquine resistant malaria, and who have contra-indications to other anti-malarials due to early pregnancy or mental ill health; [112841]

(2) what steps the UK Border Agency is taking to monitor whether appropriate advice is given by its contractors to pregnant women in immigration detention who are to be removed to sub-Saharan African countries where there is high risk of chloroquine resistant malaria, and who have contra-indications to other anti-malarials due to early pregnancy or mental ill health; [112845]

(3) what her Department’s policy is on the immigration detention and removal of pregnant women to sub-Saharan

25 Jun 2012 : Column 32W

African countries where there is high risk of chloroquine resistant malaria in cases where appropriate anti-malarials cannot be administered due to contra-indications with early pregnancy or mental ill health. [112842]

Damian Green [holding answer 19 June 2012]: Medical care and health care advice for persons in detention is provided by the health care professionals at immigration removal centres (IRCs). The UK Border Agency (UKBA) does not provide medical care or advice directly to individuals in detention but does liaise regularly with the Department of Health (DH) and the Health Protection Agency in order to ensure that any necessary safeguards as to health are followed.

Individuals who are proposing to leave the UK voluntarily, or who are liable to enforced removal, are generally expected to make their own health protection arrangements.

Currently, the majority of IRC health care facilities are provided by private providers who are contracted by the UKBA. The DH is now working with the UKBA on a phased programme to transfer commissioning and funding responsibility for health care provision within IRCs fully to the national health service within the current spending review period.

The level and type of advice provided to pregnant women or those suffering from a mental illness in detention will depend on the clinical judgment of the health care professionals in the immigration removal centres in which they are detained, taking into account the circumstances of the person concerned and their proposed destination country. In addition, pregnant women or those suffering from mental health issues who are leaving the United Kingdom under an assisted voluntary returns scheme would be able to discuss protection against malaria and other risks with the independent Choices service. This provides confidential and impartial advice to help asylum seekers and irregular migrants decide and plan their return home. Pregnant women in families being removed under the family returns process would have their health and vaccination needs considered by the Family Returns Panel as part of the panel’s consideration of the proposed removal plan before entering the pre-departure accommodation.

Further advice and information, including a newly produced Health Protection Agency leaflet on prevention of malaria is provided by the health care team at the accommodation.

Pregnant women who are considered to be ‘at risk’ of malaria are routinely provided with mosquito nets free of charge on removal and provided with the appropriate course of anti-malaria medication.

The delivery and quality of health care arrangements, including medical advice for those who are pregnant or suffering from a mental illness, at immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities is monitored through the UK Border Agency’s compliance monitoring arrangements and through independent inspection by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons.

European Network for the Protection of Public Figures

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the UK's financial contribution to the European Network for the Protection of Public Figures was in each of the last five years. [113325]

25 Jun 2012 : Column 33W

James Brokenshire: The UK has not provided any financial contribution to the European Network for the Protection of Public Figures in the last five years.

Fraud

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2012, Official Report, column 63W, on fraud, if she will add to the diagram placed in the Library to show the involvement of (a) the Counter Fraud Taskforce, (b) the National Fraud Authority, (c) Action Fraud, (d) the Serious Fraud Office, (e) the Serious Organised Crime Agency, (f) the Crown Prosecution Service, (g) any relevant Government Department, (h) any relevant non-departmental public body and (i) any other relevant body or strategy. [110890]

James Brokenshire: The Fraud, Error and Debt Taskforce was previously known as the Counter Fraud Taskforce.

The information requested has been placed in the House Library.

Khat

Mark Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what evidential basis the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs will be using to draw its conclusions in its review of the drug khat; and how many government reviews and research studies have been undertaken into khat; [111393]

(2) how the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs will measure social harm caused by the drug khat in its review of that drug. [111394]

James Brokenshire: The Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) formally reviewed khat in 1988 and 2005. Since 2010 the Home Office has published two research studies: “Perceptions of the social harms associated with khat use” in 2010, available at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/horr44/

and “A review of the social harms of khat and legislation” in 2011, available at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/occ95?view=Binary

Copies of both reports have been placed in the Library of the House.

I commissioned the ACMD to undertake a comprehensive review of the available evidence on khat in 2010. The purpose of the review is to update its review of 2005. The ACMD is independent. Its remit is to provide an overall assessment based upon the available evidence, including that on social harms.

Licensed Premises: Security

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 11 June 2012, Official Report, column 79W, on licensed premises: security, if she will publish the interim guidance being used while the review of guidance is conducted; and if she will make a statement. [113253]

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Lynne Featherstone: The Home Office has not issued interim guidance while the review of the False ID Guidance is being conducted. As I stated in response to the hon. Lady's previous question, PQ 109122, on 11 June 2012, Official Report, column 79W, the previous revised guidance will be published shortly.