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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 18 October 2012

Northern Ireland

Apprentices

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many apprentices working in her Department are (a) paid and (b) completing a qualification as part of their apprenticeship. [123093]

Mike Penning: There are no paid apprentices working in the Northern Ireland Office and none who are completing a qualification as part of their apprenticeship scheme.

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) paid apprentices and (b) paid interns are employed in her Department. [123094]

Mike Penning: There are no paid apprentices or paid interns employed in my Department.

Gerry McGeough

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment she has made of the imprisonment of Gerry McGeough; what recent reports she has received on his health; and if she will make a statement. [122970]

Mrs Villiers: Mr McGeough's case has been the subject of a robust and thorough legal process. This is still ongoing and it would therefore not be appropriate for me to comment further on it. The issue of Mr McGeough's health while he is imprisoned is a matter for the devolved Administration.

Marion Price

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment she has made of the imprisonment of Marion Price; what recent reports she has received on her health; and if she will make a statement. [122969]

Mike Penning: Mrs McGlinchey's (nee Price) custodial and healthcare arrangements are a devolved matter which falls under the responsibility of the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland.

Following a recommendation from the independent Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland (PCNI), Mrs McGlinchey's life licence was revoked by the former Secretary of State after consideration of information which highlighted the risk that she posed to the public.

A full review of her case by the independent Parole Commissioners is now underway for which Mrs McGlinchey has full legal representation. It is for the Parole Commissioners, not the Secretary of State, to consider her suitability for release. This process is governed by the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001.

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Peace 4 Programme

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the allocation of funds to the implementation of the Peace 4 programme; and if she will make a statement; [123642]

(2) what progress she has made with the European Commission and European Parliament on the allocation of funds to the Peace 4 programme; and if she will make a statement. [123643]

Mike Penning: We are working closely with colleagues in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that funding is in place for a further PEACE programme for the 2014-20 period.

We will also continue to work with the devolved Administration and the Irish Government and as appropriate with EU institutions to promote our shared objectives on this issue ahead of the wider EU budget negotiations later this year.

Training

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what media or public speaking training Ministers in her Department have received since May 2010. [122066]

Mike Penning: No media or public speaking training has been received by Ministers in my Department since May 2010.

Attorney-General

Crown Prosecution Service: Northamptonshire

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Attorney-General what assessment he has made of the (a) best and (b) worst aspects of the performances of the Crown Prosecution Service in Northamptonshire; and what steps he intends to take to improve its performance. [123267]

The Solicitor-General: The following tables contain key performance indicators for Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Northamptonshire and the corresponding position nationally during the last three years.

In Crown court performance, CPS Northamptonshire is generally above the national average. Areas of strong and improving performance may be detected in the prosecution of rape cases. Rape attrition in the CPS Northamptonshire is now the sixth best in the country, a substantial improvement brought about by focusing on the quality of case work and increases in specialisation.

In the magistrates court a recent downward trend in cases with successful outcomes has been detected. Local management have put in place multi-agency arrangements with criminal justice partners for analysing the attendance of witnesses and for better understanding the underlying causes of ineffective trials in order to improve performance and effective use of resources.

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Northamptonshire—Crown court prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

1,016

86.8

993

86.3

993

84.2

Unsuccessful

155

13.2

158

13.7

186

15.8

Total

1,171

1,151

1,179

National—Crown court prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

88,872

80.7

93,106

79.7

86,729

80.9

Unsuccessful

21,274

19.3

23,792

20.4

20,515

19.1

Total

110,146

116,898

107,244

Northamptonshire—Rape prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

23

67.6

28

56.0

51

68.0

Unsuccessful

11

32.4

22

44.0

24

32.0

Total

34

50

75

National—Rape prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

2,270

59.4

2,465

58.6

2,414

62.5

Unsuccessful

1,549

40.6

1,743

41.4

1,450

37.5

Total

3,819

4,208

3,864

Northamptonshire—Domestic violence prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

370

71.8

567

70.0

555

71.0

Unsuccessful

145

28.2

243

30.0

227

29.0

Total

515

810

782

National—Domestic violence prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

53,347

72.0

59,101

71.9

58,138

73.3

Unsuccessful

20,766

28.0

23,086

28.1

21,130

26.7

Total

74,113

82,187

79,268

Northamptonshire—Magistrates court CPS charged prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

1,938

79.9

2,021

77.8

1,292

78.4

Unsuccessful

488

20.1

576

22.2

356

21.6

Total

2,426

2,597

1,648

National—Magistrates court CPS charged prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

182,940

79.0

181,454

78.2

147,297

78.2

Unsuccessful

48,653

21.0

50,685

21.8

41,162

21.8

Total

231,593

232,139

188,459

Northamptonshire—Total magistrates courts prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

7,879

86.9

7,854

85.5

6,288

85.5

Unsuccessful

1,190

13.1

1,328

14.5

1,069

14.5

Total

9,069

9,182

7,357

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National—Total magistrates courts prosecutions
 2009-102010-112011-12
 NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage

Convictions

757,349

86.8

727,491

86.5

682,523

86.7

Unsuccessful

115,236

13.2

113,492

13.5

105,024

13.3

Total

872,585

840,983

787,547

Harassment

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions the Crown Prosecution Service have brought under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 in each of the last five years. [122397]

The Solicitor-General: The records held by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) identify the number of offences charged under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 in which a prosecution commenced, rather than the number of defendants prosecuted. CPS records do not identify the number of defendants prosecuted for specific offences. Rather, they show the number of offences in which a prosecution commenced and reached a first hearing in magistrates courts.

During the last five years the number of these offences was as follows:

 Number

2007-08

38,048

2008-09

36,892

2009-10

34,544

2010-11

34,279

2011-12

28,549


Human Trafficking

Mr Bone: To ask the Attorney-General what his policy is on prosecutions in criminal cases relating to human trafficking. [123676]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) published a Public Policy Statement for Prosecuting Cases of Human Trafficking in June 2011. This policy statement emphasises that the CPS considers organised human trafficking to be a very serious crime and prosecutors will do whatever possible to disrupt and combat trafficking, including bringing successful prosecutions. The policy statement explains the way in which the CPS deals with cases of human trafficking and the wide range of other crime associated with it. In addition, the statement is supported by more detailed legal guidance for CPS prosecutors providing up-to-date guidance on the range of criminal offences associated with trafficking, supporting trafficked victims and case management issues.

Prime Minister

G8

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Prime Minister whether the (a) date and (b) location for the G8 summit 2013 has been decided; and if he will publish them. [122614]

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Prime Minister (1) which venues are being considered for the 39th G8 summit; [123124]

(2) if he will publish a timetable setting out the preparations being made for the 39th G8 summit. [123125]

The Prime Minister: I will announce the date and location of the G8 summit, including a timetable for the UK presidency of the G8, in due course. I look forward to welcoming G8 partners to the UK for this important event.

I can confirm that the UK will hold a series of preparatory meetings before the summit, at the level of senior officials.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs plans to hold a ministerial meeting with his G8 counterparts, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer plans to hold a ministerial meeting with his G7 counterparts and Central Bank Governors.

Irvine Patnick

John Mann: To ask the Prime Minister for how long the then hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam accompanied the then Prime Minister and her press officer in Sheffield on 16 April 1989. [123487]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 18 September 2012, Official Report, column 540W.

Leader of the House

Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012

Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Leader of the House when he expects the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 to be considered by the House. [123413]

Mr Lansley: The regulations were laid on 12 July and are subject to the affirmative procedure. They will be considered in the normal way and more information will be available through the vote bundle.

Defence

Members: Correspondence

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to reply to the letter of 26 May 2012 from the hon. Member from Bridgend, reference MM/JH/26/07/2012. [122507]

Mr Robathan: I replied to the hon. Member today. I am sorry that it has taken so long to provide a reply.

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Work and Pensions

Apprentices

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) paid apprentices and (b) paid interns are employed by the Government Equalities Office. [123101]

Jo Swinson: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

On 1 April 2011 the Government Equalities Office ceased to be a separate Government Department. The information requested will be included in the Secretary of State’s reply to your similar questions PQ 123089 and PQ 123090, which relates to the Home Department.

Atos Healthcare

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints his Department received in relation to Atos Healthcare in (a) 2008, (b) 2009, (c) 2010, (d) 2011 and (e) 2012 to date. [122912]

Mr Hoban: The DWP Medical Services Contracts Correspondence Team has received the following volume of complaints about Atos Healthcare, in each of the years requested:

2008: no data retained prior to 2009

2009: 214

2010: 475

2011: 817

2012 (to date): 979

DWP closely monitors the performance of Atos Healthcare, including service delivery and the quality of the work of its health care professionals (HCPs) and this is achieved through a variety of methods, which includes monthly management information, claimant satisfaction surveys and feedback from complaints.

All customer complaints received are taken seriously and are properly investigated prior to a response being issued.

Housing Benefit

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential effects of changes to housing benefit on the operation of sheltered housing. [123398]

Steve Webb: We have made no assessment of how changes to housing benefit might affect those in sheltered housing. The under occupation measure, being introduced April 2013, is unlikely to impact on this group as it applies only to those of working age. In a housing context sheltered housing is generally provided for those of pension age and is unlikely to have extra rooms. When universal credit is introduced assistance will continue fundamentally on the same basis.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what provision he has made for persons leaving care as part of any restriction on the payment of housing benefit to claimants under the age of 25. [123534]

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Steve Webb: Current Government policy does not include withdrawing housing support from people aged under 25.

Care leavers are currently exempt until age 22 from the shared accommodation rate restrictions that apply to single people claiming housing benefit under age 35.

Housing Benefit: Ashfield

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much discretionary housing payment funding has been allocated to Ashfield for 2012-13. [123545]

Steve Webb: The Government contribution towards discretionary housing payments for 2012-13 allocated to Ashfield is £108,356. In addition to this sum, Ashfield district council can contribute funding of their own so that the maximum total expenditure on discretionary housing payments for 2012-13 does not exceed £270,890.

Housing Benefit: West Midlands

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in (a) Coventry and (b) the west midlands are expected to receive a reduction to their housing benefit due to the under-occupancy penalty to be introduced in April 2013. [123489]

Steve Webb: The information is not available for Coventry.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that the introduction of the social sector size criteria measure is likely to affect an estimated 60,000 working age housing benefit claimants living in the social rented sector in the west midlands at the time of its introduction in 2013-14.

This estimate is contained in the impact assessment of the housing benefit change, which can be found at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf

Deputy Prime Minister

Ministerial Visits: Nottinghamshire

Mr Spencer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what ministerial visits to (a) the City of Nottingham and (b) Nottinghamshire have taken place since May 2010. [121759]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I have visited Nottingham and Nottinghamshire three times since coming into office in May 2010. The first occasion was a Town Hall event held with the Prime Minister at a school in Nottingham on 2 October 2010, the second occasion was a Town Hall event held with the Prime Minister at the Boots factory in Nottingham on 24 March 2011 and the third visit was to Nottingham police station on 1 August 2011.

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Privy Council

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the name is of each Member of each House of Parliament recommended for appointment to the Privy Council since May 2010; and on what basis each such recommendation was made. [123535]

The Deputy Prime Minister: A list of all Privy Counsellors appointed since May 2010 is available on the Privy Council website:

http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk

Appointments are made by Her Majesty the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. Those appointed mostly comprise Ministers, other parliamentarians and members of the judiciary.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Apprentices: Warrington

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the average number of people applying for each apprenticeship vacancy in Warrington was in each of the last five years. [122637]

Matthew Hancock [holding answer 17 October 2012]:Table 1 shows the number of apprenticeship programme starts in Warrington local education authority between the 2006/07 and 2010/11 academic years. Data for 2010/11 are the latest year for which final data are available.

Table 1: Apprenticeship programme starts in Warrington local education authority, 2006/07 to 2010/11
Warrington local education authorityNumber

2006/07

940

2007/08

1,060

2008/09

1,220

2009/10

1,890

2010/11

2,440

Notes: 1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Geographic breakdowns are based upon the home postcode of the learner. 3. Figures are based on the geographic boundaries as of May 2010. Source: Individualised Learner Record

Information on the number of apprenticeship starts by geography is published in a supplementary table to a quarterly Statistical First Release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 11 October 2012:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statistical firstrelease/sfr_current

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_supplementary_tables/Apprenticeship_ sfr_supplementary_tables/

Data are not available on the average number of people applying for all apprenticeships in Warrington.

It is possible to calculate the average number of applications made per vacancy registered on the Apprenticeship Vacancies system in Warrington.

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Employers registered on the Apprenticeship Vacancies system can advertise a vacancy directly on the system or direct candidates to their own website and information is captured in both cases. Information is not captured for vacancies made available by employers who are not registered. Table 2 shows the average number of applications made per vacancy advertised on the Apprenticeship Vacancies system in Warrington in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 academic years.

Table 2: Average number of applications made per vacancy on the Apprenticeship Vacancies system in Warrington, 2010/11 to 2011/12
 Average applications made per vacancy

2010/11

10

2011/12

13

Notes: 1. Data are shown from 2010/11 as these are more accurate due to the high level of activity on the system. 2. The vacancies used in the calculation are completed or closed and therefore no more applications can be received to these vacancies. 3. The data excludes nationwide vacancies (eg MOD). Source: Apprenticeship Vacancies data

Online reports from Apprenticeship Vacancies are updated on a monthly basis and published by the Data Service at the following link:

http://mireportslibrary.thedataservice.org.uk/apprenticeships/apprenticeship_vacancy_reports/

Business: Loans

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on allegations that small businesses in (a) Barnsley Central constituency and (b) nationally were encouraged by banks to take out loans that included swap agreements; and what steps he is taking in this respect. [122951]

Michael Fallon: Fixed-rate loans and other loans involving interest rate protection can be legitimate products to help businesses manage the risk of interest rate fluctuations. However, in light of the complicated nature of interest rate swap agreements, their sale is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), at arm’s length from Government.

Following the FSA's review of July this year which found evidence of mis-selling, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has discussed this issue with Lord Turner as Chair of the FSA and also with ministerial colleagues on several occasions at a national level.

The Secretary of State and officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, as well as Ministers and officials from HM Treasury and the FSA, continue to meet with affected businesses and the Federation of Small Businesses to engage with their concerns on this issue, as the banks begin to provide redress for affected customers.

Members with specific concerns about the FSA's redress process are encouraged to raise these with the FSA directly.

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Companies: Codes of Practice

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will make it his policy to include grievance mechanisms in the duty to report on bodies listed under the Companies Act 2006. [122925]

Jo Swinson: The Government has today published draft regulations to amend narrative reporting, after carrying out two detailed consultations. The Government have no plans to require companies to include grievance mechanisms in their annual reports.

Employer Ownership Scheme

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills further to his announcement regarding the successful first round bidders to the employer ownership pilot made by his Department on 11 September 2012, (1) what the qualification levels of the 11,000 apprenticeships expected to be created from the fund will be; [123698]

(2) what individual training or work experience schemes will comprise the 49,000 other learning or training opportunities expected to be created from the fund; [123699]

(3) what the qualification levels will be of the full-time equivalent non-apprenticeship vocational training opportunities expected to be created from the fund. [123697]

Matthew Hancock: A breakdown by qualification level of the provisional number of Apprenticeship and non-Apprenticeship vocational training opportunities expected from the 34 successful Employer Ownership bids announced on 11 September is provided in the following tables. Final numbers will be confirmed following due diligence and Grant Offer Letter negotiations with successful bidders.

Apprenticeships
LevelNumbers

Level 2

5,582

Level 3

4,292

Level 4

1,249

Level 5+

274

Total

11,397

Non-Apprenticeship vocational training opportunities (Full Time Equivalent)

Level

Numbers

Level 1

2,337

Level 2

13,667

Level 3

4,422

Level 4

3,050

Level 5+

3,192

Total

26,667

The 49,000 other learning or training opportunities expected will incorporate a wide range of different activities, including work experience, mentoring, internships, industry engagement with schools and developing young peoples' employability skills.

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Regional Growth Fund

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 6 September 2012, Official Report, columns 27-8WS, for what reasons each of the bidders withdrew from the first two rounds of the Regional Growth Fund; when each such bidder informed his Department of its intention to withdraw from the process; what the total monetary value was of the bids that withdrew; and whether money previously allocated for bidders that have withdrawn will be reallocated into future rounds of the fund. [120593]

Michael Fallon [holding answer 12 September 2012]: To date, 24 bids valued at £87 million have withdrawn from the first two rounds of the Regional Growth Fund. These bidders notified the Department of their intention to withdraw from the process before a final offer was made to them. We do not disclose information about why specific bidders withdrew from the first two rounds as such information has the potential to prejudice the commercial interests of the applicants. With respect to money previously allocated for bidders that have now withdrawn, Ministers are able to reallocate it into future rounds of the fund.

Skills Funding Agency

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the Written Ministerial Statement of 20 December 2011, official report, column 148WS, on skills funding and the Skills Funding Agency (chief executive), whether it remains his policy to amend the legal status of the chief executive of Skills Funding; and what progress he has made in that regard. [123696]

Matthew Hancock: It remains our intention to remove the statutory post of chief executive of Skills Funding from legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. Good progress has been made to streamline and strengthen the governance and accountability arrangements for the Skills Funding Agency and this will provide a firm foundation for the new arrangement.

Trade: Scotland

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for what reason records of trade between Scotland and other parts of the UK are recorded, but not of Wales and other parts of the UK; and if he will make a statement. [122881]

Michael Fallon: Data collected by HM Revenue and Customs and the Office for National Statistics are not collected in a way to allow the measurement of trade within the UK, only trade with other countries outside the UK.

The Scottish Government currently run a ‘Global Connections’ survey to a representative sample of companies operating in Scotland (5,200 in the 2011 sample). This survey is used to estimate trade with other parts of the UK. More details can be found at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/Exports/GCSIntroduction

18 Oct 2012 : Column 371W

It is a matter for the Welsh Government to decide whether, or how, to collect data on trade links between Wales and the rest of the UK.

Treasury

Morecambe and Lunesdale: Funding

David Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what funding his Department has allocated to Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency since 2010. [121969]

Sajid Javid: HM Treasury allocates funding to other Government Departments, who in turn allocate funds to individual local authorities and other bodies.

Ministerial Visits: Nottinghamshire

Mr Spencer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what ministerial visits to (a) the City of Nottingham and (b) Nottinghamshire have taken place since May 2010. [121773]

Sajid Javid: Treasury Ministers' official duties entail visits throughout the United Kingdom. As was the case with previous Administrations it is not normal practice to disclose details of all such visits.

Research

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on research and development in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10, (c) 2010-11 and (d) 2011-12; and how much he plans to spend in (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15. [121873]

Sajid Javid: Spending on research and development by the core Treasury for 2008-09 and 2009-10 was published in table 7.2 of the Annual Reports available from:

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/dep_perf_reports_index.htm

Data on spending in 2010-11 and 2011-12 are published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in aggregated form at:

www.bis.gov.uk/policies/science/science-funding/set-stats

The Treasury does not specifically include an element for research and development in its spending plans. The need for future spending on research and development will be determined by individual teams' work programmes.

Research and Development Tax Credit

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the monetary value is of the research and development tax credits allocated to each sector in each of the last three years; and which 10 companies were allocated the highest amounts in such credits in each such year. [123701]

Mr Gauke: The latest statistics on research and development tax credits are available on the HMRC website and include an industry sector analysis of the cost of R and D tax credit claims for 2010-11. The link to these statistics is provided at:

18 Oct 2012 : Column 372W

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/corporate_tax/rd6.pdf

The following table shows the Industry sector analysis of cost of R and D tax credit claims, 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Industry sector analysis of cost of R and D tax credit claims, 2008-09 to 2010-11
£ million
 2008-092009-1020010-11

Agriculture and fishing

Mining and quarrying

10

5

15

Manufacturing

405

385

365

Distribution of gas, electricity and water

5

10

10

Construction

5

10

10

Wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants

15

20

25

Transport, storage and communication

10

10

10

Financial intermediation

10

5

30

Business services

395

375

410

Public administration and defence

15

15

25

Education, health and social work

5

10

10

Other activities

25

35

35

All

915

885

940

Notes: 1. Industry sector is based on primary SIC2003 coding of registered company. This coding might not correspond to the industry sector of the R and D activity. So caution must be exercised when interpreting these figures. 2. Figures exclude claims where industry sector is not known. 3. Amounts are rounded to the nearest £5 million; those below £2.5 million are suppressed.

HMRC is unable to disclose information on the 10 companies that received the highest amounts in research and development tax credit as this would be a breach of its duty of confidentiality.

Taxation: Combined Heat and Power

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the financial effect on UK refineries of the removal of levy exemption certificates. [122873]

Sajid Javid: Budget 2011 announced the ending of the exemption from climate change levy for electricity generated in combined heat and power (CHP) stations and supplied by electricity utilities from 1 April 2013. This exemption was administratively complex and costly to the taxpayer.

CHP levy exemption certificates are used in the administration of this exemption. Budget 2012 announced that such certificates will not be issued for CHP electricity generated on or after 1 April 2013, but electricity utilities will have five years to use up any stockpile of certificates they hold.

The impacts of removing the exemption are set out in the Tax Information and Impact Note published at Budget 2012. This can be found on the HMRC website:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/tiin-0700.pdf

This Government are committed to creating an environment that supports manufacturing within the UK and continues to incentivise CHP overall through

18 Oct 2012 : Column 373W

public subsidy. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is looking at alternative ways to address barriers to investment in good-quality CHP plants.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 13 September 2012, Official Report, columns 304-5W, on council tax, what assumptions about collection rates were made in the calculation of the figures given in the tables cited in the answer. [123482]

Brandon Lewis: The 2012-13 collection rates for each billing authority, published in the “Council tax levels set by local authorities in England—2012-13” publication here:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/2141741.xls

were used in the calculations.

Council Tax Benefits

Mr Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the likely council tax benefit subsidy reduction in each local authority area in the next financial year. [122239]

Brandon Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) on 13 September 2012, Official Report, columns 305-06W.

I also refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on the additional transitional fund dated 16 October 2012, Official Report, column 14WS.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to respond to Malvern Hills district council's bid to the Weekly Collection Support Scheme. [122582]

Brandon Lewis: The Weekly Collections Support Scheme fund is over subscribed and all £250 million will be fully allocated so millions of families will receive a weekly residual waste collection and recycling. We will announce the allocations in the coming weeks.

Electric Cables

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the number of electrical fires caused by counterfeit or falsely marked electrical cabling in each of the last five years. [122870]

Brandon Lewis: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Derby North (Chris Williamson) on 18 September 2012, Official Report, column 606W.

18 Oct 2012 : Column 374W

Empty Property: Council Tax

Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities in England charge 100% council tax for empty properties that have been vacant for over six months; and how many local authorities in England charge 100% council tax for second homes. [122818]

Brandon Lewis: As at October 2011, 205 local authorities in England reported that they were charging 100% council tax for long-term empty dwellings ie those that had been empty for more than six months and were not exempt from council tax.

Under the current legislation, no authority is permitted to charge 100% council tax for dwellings registered as second homes; the maximum they can charge is 90%.

Housing

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations he has received on (a) Regis Group and (b) Thorpe Bay Estates. [122682]

Mr Prisk: The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Ministry of Justice have no record of representations on (a) Regis Group or (b) Thorpe Bay Estates in relation to residential leasehold or freehold covenant issues. However, both my Department and Ministry of Justice have received correspondence about an estate owned by these companies.

Local Government Finance

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects to announce details of grants to local authorities for 2013-14. [123484]

Brandon Lewis: We expect the Local Government Finance settlement for 2013-14 to be announced in late December. This is a consequence of the timing of the autumn statement.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what modelling his Department has undertaken on the likely level of local authority reserves over the next 10 years; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each document relevant to such modelling. [123485]

Brandon Lewis: The Department for Communities and Local Government has done no such modelling.

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will reinstate the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services county sparsity indicator in the relative needs formulae. [123538]

Brandon Lewis: The Technical Consultation on Business Rates Retention, which included proposals regarding sparsity, ended on 24 September 2012. We are now considering responses received to our proposals ahead of the 2013-14 Local Government Finance Settlement.

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Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research his Department has carried out on the significance of population sparsity on the cost of delivering services in predominantly rural areas. [123539]

Brandon Lewis: The additional costs of delivering services in rural areas were discussed as part of the work of the Baseline Sub Group of local authority representatives and departmental officials, and the outcomes of this work were reflected in the proposals on sparsity that featured in our recent technical consultation on Business Rates Retention. This follows related discussions on sparsity with other working groups in previous years.

Planning Permission

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many times he has exercised his reserve power under the Planning Act 1990 to call in particular groups of applications and refer them to the Planning Inspectorate for decision. [123480]

Nick Boles: The following table shows the number of planning cases called-in for decision by the Secretary of State annually since the 2010 General Election.

 Number of planning cases called in

2010-11

12

2011-12

6

2012-13(1)

3

Total

21

(1) From 1 April 2012 to 16 October 2012.

For comparison, the number of cases called in the preceding three years are:

 Number of planning cases called in

2007-08

29

2008-09

(1)37

2009-10

19

Total

85

(1) The Stansted airport G1 proposals are counted as one case, although included 38 separate applications.

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information his Department holds on how many (a) planning officers and (b) other staff worked in each local authority planning department in each of the last 10 years. [123481]

Nick Boles: The Government do not have information about the number of planning officers and other staff that have worked in each local authority planning department in each of the last 10 years. It is a matter for each local authority to decide how to staff council services.

Research

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department spent on research and development in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10,

18 Oct 2012 : Column 376W

(c)

2010-11 and

(d)

2011-12; and how much he plans to spend in (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15. [121880]

Brandon Lewis: The Department has spent the following on research and development:

Financial year(£ million)

2008-09

25.3

2009-10

31.2

2010-11

22.9

2011-12

7.6

The Department plans to spend the following on research and development:

Financial year(£ million)

2012-13

10.1

2013-14

10.9

2014-15

9.7

The above figures are being kept under regular review.

I would add that the last Administration spent £25.6 million on research projects that were commissioned but not published before May 2010, and many of those projects did not represent value for money for taxpayers—as evident by the fact that many were unpublished for years.

This Government have now put in place greater scrutiny and challenge of newly commissioned research programmes to deliver better value for money. Ministers have also taken clear decisions to reduce the Department's administration spending to help tackle the deficit inherited from the last Administration.

This will ensure that the sums expended in future are reasonable in relation to the public policy benefits from such research.

Social Rented Housing: West Midlands

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) one, (b) two and (c) three bedroom homes for social rent there are in (i) Coventry and (ii) the West Midlands. [123491]

Mr Prisk: These statistics are not available in the form requested because the data held on the size/type of social dwellings does not identify those on social rents.

Social Services

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what modelling his Department has undertaken on (a) the likely change in demand for adult social care over the next 10 years and (b) the consequent effect on local authority budgets; and if he will place in the Library a copy of each document relevant to such modelling. [123483]

Brandon Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 17 October 2012, Official Report, column 306W.

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Scotland

Apprentices

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many apprentices working in his Department are (a) paid and (b) completing a qualification as part of the apprenticeship. [123095]

Michael Moore: The Scotland Office does not currently have any apprentices working in the Department.

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) paid apprentices and (b) paid interns are employed in his Department. [123096]

Michael Moore: No paid apprentices are employed in the Scotland Office. In August 2012, the Scotland Office had one paid intern as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream 2012 Summer Diversity Internship Programme.

Broadband

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what estimate he has made of the potential cost to the Scottish economy of the time taken to establish a 4G mobile telecommunications network in Scotland; [122694]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect on the Scottish economy of the time taken for the 4G auction. [122696]

Michael Moore: The Scottish economy will benefit from the £680 million that the Government is investing in broadband during the lifetime of this Parliament with the aim that the UK should have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.

Ofcom remains on schedule for the auction process for the spectrum at 800 MHz and 2600 MHz to start by the end of 2012. As a result of discussions between the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Ofcom and the mobile operators, the operators will be able to roll out 4G services in that spectrum some months earlier than previous estimates. The clearance date for transmitters, which impact around 1 million people in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh, will be brought forward by more than three months to April 2013. We expect the rollout of 4G services to provide a significant boost to the UK and Scottish economies.

Broadband: Rural Areas

Margaret Curran: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government regarding access to broadband in rural areas; [122693]

(2) what recent correspondence he has had with Scottish Government Ministers or officials on access to broadband in Scotland. [122695]

Michael Moore: Ministerial colleagues and I have had discussions with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise on the importance of broadband access to both rural and urban areas across Scotland. Access to broadband has been discussed at the Scottish Business Board which I chair and at which the Scottish Government

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is represented. The Scotland Office also works closely with Broadband UK in their engagement with the Scottish Government on delivering broadband for Scotland.

Home Department

Antisocial Behaviour

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate she has made of the likely number of antisocial behaviour-related crimes which are not reported to the relevant (a) local police force and (b) local authority. [122827]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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

Letter from Glen Watson:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking for what recent estimates have been made of the likely numbers of anti-social behaviour incidents that are not reported to the relevant local police or local authority. (122827)

No specific estimates have been made regarding the numbers of anti-social behaviour incidents that have not been reported to the police or to a local authority.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)—a victimisation survey based on a representative sample of adults resident in households in England and Wales—asks respondents about their experiences of anti-social behaviour. Data from the 2011-12 CSEW indicate that 30 per cent of all respondents experienced or witnessed at least one anti-social behaviour incident in the twelve months prior to their interview.

Of the anti-social behaviour incidents about which respondents were asked further information, an estimated 66 per cent of incidents did not come to the attention of the police (but may have been reported to other organisations) and for an estimated 93 per cent of incidents, the respondent did not inform their local council.

Domestic Violence

Mr Virendra Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the levels of domestic violence reported by (a) migrants and (b) British nationals were in the latest period for which figures are available. [122244]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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

Letter from Glen Watson, dated October 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking for levels of domestic violence reported by migrants and British nationals. (122244)

The most robust measure of rates of domestic violence in England and Wales is provided by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), a victimisation survey based on a representative sample of adults resident in households in England and Wales. Estimates from the CSEW include crimes that are not reported to the police and are unaffected by changes in police recording practice.

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The CSEW defines ‘domestic abuse’ as any non-sexual emotional or financial abuse, threats, physical force, sexual assault or stalking carried out by a current or former partner or other family member which matches the official definition of domestic violence used across government. The CSEW does not ask directly about migrant status. However, the following figures have been produced on the assumption that a UK national is somebody whose main nationality is UK or British and an immigrant is somebody who was not born in the UK, is not of British or UK nationality and has resided in the UK for over 12 months. It is not possible to establish how long respondents who were born in the UK, but did not indicate that their main nationality was British or UK, have been living in the country (these respondents represent a small minority and were excluded from this analysis). Similarly, it is not possible to separate Northern Irish from British nationals. Data from the 2011 /12 CSEW show that 2.9 per cent of ‘immigrants’ had been victim of domestic abuse in the last year. Among ‘UK-Nationals’ 5.6 per cent had been victims of domestic abuse in the last year.

Domestic abuse is further categorised by partner abuse (any abuse by a current or former partner) and family abuse (abuse by a family member other than a partner; father/mother, step-father/mother or other relative) and these figures are also shown in the table. Some respondents may have suffered both types of abuse and therefore the total is not the sum of the constituent parts.

Prevalence of domestic abuse among UK-national and immigrant groups in the last year among adults aged 16 to 59, 2011/12, CSEW—England and Wales
Adults aged 16 to 59
 Percentage who were victims once or more
 UK-NationalImmigrants

Any domestic abuse (non-physical abuse, threats, force or sexual assault)

5.6

2.9

Any partner abuse (non-physical abuse, threats, force or sexual assault)

4.0

1.3

Any family abuse (non-physical abuse, threats, force or sexual assault)

2.1

1.7

Unweighted base(1)

10,208

755

(1) The bases given are for any domestic abuse; the bases for the other measures presented will be similar. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics

Drugs: Misuse

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate she has made of the number of drug dealers operating in (a) the Enfield North constituency, (b) London and (c) England. [123030]

Mr Jeremy Browne: This information is not collected centrally.

Immigration: EU Nationals

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many non-UK EU nationals have been resident in the UK for (a) less than three months, (b) between three and six months, (c) between six and nine months, (d) between nine and 12 months, (e) between one and two years, (f) between two and three years, (g) between three and four years, (h) between four and five years, (i) between five and six years, (j) between six and seven years, (k) between seven and eight years, (l) between eight and nine years, (m) between nine and 10 years and (n) more than 10 years in the latest period for which figures are available. [123467]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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

Letter from Glen Watson:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many non-UK EU nationals have been resident in the UK for (a) less than three months, (b) between three and six months, (c) between six and nine months, (d) between nine and 12 months, (e) between one and two years, (f) between two and three years, (g) between three and four years, (h) between four and five years, (i) between five and six years, (j) between six and seven years, (k) between seven and eight years, (I) between eight and nine years, (m) between nine and 10 years and (n) more than 10 years in the latest period for which figures are available. [123467]

The Office for National Statistics collects data on nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS) which is a household survey of residents of the UK. It should be noted the survey does not include people living in most types of communal establishment. The latest estimates available are for the 12 month period of January to December 2011 and these are shown in the table below. These estimates do not take account of the results of the 2011 Census.

Table 1: Non-UK EU nationals resident in the UK, by period of residency
Thousand
 EstimateConfidence interval

Total

2,283

66

   

0-3 months

2

2

3-6 months

18

6

6-9 months

12

5

9-12 months

32

8

1 year but less than 2 years

141

16

2 years but less than 3 years

138

16

3 years but less than 4 years

151

17

4 years but less than 5 years

215

20

5 years but less than 6 years

217

20

6 years but less than 7 years

229

21

7 years but less than 8 years

152

17

8 years but less than 9 years

64

11

9 years but less than 10 years

52

10

10 or more years

899

41

Note: The 95% confidence interval refers to the margin of error, and is a measure of the uncertainty associated with making inferences from a sample. Source: Annual Population Survey.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of non-UK EU nationals resident in the UK who are aged (a) 50 to 55, (b) 55 to 60, (c) 60 to 65, (d) 65 to 70, (e) 70 to 75 and (f) over 75 years. [123471]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

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

Letter from Glen Watson, dated October 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the number of non-UK EU nationals resident in the UK who are aged (a) 50 to 55, (b) 55 to 60, (c) 60 to 65, (d) 65 to 70, (e) 70 to 75 and (f) over 75 years [123471].

The Office for National Statistics collects data on nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS) which is a household survey of residents of the UK. It should be noted the survey does

18 Oct 2012 : Column 381W

not include people living in most types of communal establishment. The latest estimates available are for the 12 month period of January to December 2011 and these are shown in Table 1. These estimates do not take account of the results of the 2011 Census.

Table 1: Estimated non-UK EU national population resident in the United Kingdom, by age group, January to December 2011
Thousand
Age groupEstimateCI +/-

50 to 54

88

13

55 to 59

72

12

60 to 64

67

11

65 to 69

54

10

70 to 74

49

10

75 and over

91

13

Note: CI = Confidence Interval Source: Annual Population Survey (APS), ONS

Please note that the age groups have been adjusted to ensure they are non-overlapping. The 95 per cent confidence interval refers to the margin of error, and is a measure of the uncertainty associated with making inferences from a sample.

Organised Crime

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many known people were involved in organised crime in each of the last five years in each region; and if she will make a statement; [122742]

(2) how many known organised crime groups operated in the UK in each of the last five years in each region; and if she will make a statement. [122743]

Mr Jeremy Browne [holding answer 17 October 2012]: Figures relating to the number of organised criminals and groups are collected by the UK's law enforcement agencies and are aggregated by the Organised Crime Co-ordination Centre. National figures on the number of organised criminals and crime groups are published as part of the Home Office's impact indicator on organised crime. However, the Home Office does not publish regional figures on organised crime.

Police

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Gypsy and Traveller liaison officers are employed in each police force in England and Wales. [123537]

Damian Green: The requested information is not collected by the Home Office.

Police: Pensions

Mr David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions she has had with the Scottish Police Federation on the potential effect of police pension reform in England and Wales on Scottish officers. [123263]

Damian Green: Police pensions for Scottish officers are a matter for the Scottish Government and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has had no discussions specifically with the Scottish

18 Oct 2012 : Column 382W

Police Federation on this matter. However, she made her announcement via a written ministerial statement on 4 September 2012,

Official Report,

column 19WS, on a core design for a new police pension scheme for police officers in England and Wales from 2015 after consultation with the Police Negotiating Board, on which the Scottish Police Federation is represented.

Squatting

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will estimate the total cost of policing for dealing with squatters in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) 2009, (iv) 2010 and (v) 2011. [123496]

Damian Green: The information requested is not held centrally.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of policing the badger cull trials for which licences have been granted. [123629]

Mr Heath: The nature of the policing response will depend on specific intelligence available at the time. However, an estimate of police costs has been developed through discussion with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Home Office. This initial estimate suggests a cost in the region of £0.5 million/area/year for the four years when culling would take place (i.e. £2 million per area) based on a standard response to maintain public order and safety. These costs are set out in the impact assessment available online:

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovine-tb-impact-assessment.pdf

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money his Department and its agencies have allocated for the vaccination of badgers in (a) the two pilot cull areas for which licences have been granted and (b) the two kilometre ring outside each cull area. [123630]

Mr Heath: DEFRA has created a £250,000 grant scheme, the Badger Vaccination Fund, to support vaccination of badgers in the badger control areas. In 2012-13 the fund will also provide grants to support staff and volunteers from voluntary and community sector organisations wishing to train as lay badger vaccinators.

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many badgers in (a) each of the two pilot cull areas and (b) the two kilometre ring surrounding each cull area have been vaccinated. [123631]

Mr Heath: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 October 2012, Official Report, column 297W.

18 Oct 2012 : Column 383W

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff of his Department and its agencies have been assigned to visit badger cull areas to take DNA samples and conduct sett surveys; how many such surveys (a) have taken place and (b) are expected to take place; and what estimate his Department has made of the total likely cost of such surveys, including the cost of contractor and staff remuneration, transport, accommodation and subsistence. [123694]

Mr Heath: 55 DEFRA network staff have been assigned to visit badger cull areas to take DNA samples and conduct sett surveys. 61.7km(2) of land has been surveyed in West Somerset, and 74.4km(2) in West Gloucestershire. The costs of the licensing and monitoring operations are not calculated in such a way that the fieldwork component can be easily extracted. The estimated total cost of the effectiveness monitoring, for which the bulk of the surveys work was conducted, is £850,000.

Dogs

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans his Department has to introduce compulsory microchipping for all dogs; [123250]

(2) when his Department intends to publish its summary of responses to the consultation on tackling irresponsible dog ownership which closed on 15 June 2012; [123251]

(3) when he expects to announce his decision on the introduction of compulsory microchipping for dogs, following his Department's recent consultation. [123252]

Mr Heath: The Government recently completed a consultation on a package of proposals to tackle irresponsible ownership of dogs including proposals for the microchipping of dogs. The consultation attracted a higher than expected 27,000 responses which are currently being analysed and summarised. The quantity and complexity of the issues under consideration has delayed progress. We expect to make an announcement soon.

Poultry: Animal Welfare

Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he is taking to ensure farmed ducks are provided with bathing water; [122786]

(2) whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure farmed ducks are provided with bathing water; [122787]

(3) if he will discuss the Duck Assurance Scheme with the duck farming industry with a view to improving welfare standards for farmed ducks. [122922]

Mr Heath: The welfare of ducks is provided for in the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. DEFRA also has a duck welfare code which keepers are required by law to have access to and be familiar with, which encourages high standards of husbandry.

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The Government are committed to improved standards of welfare of all livestock. DEFRA completed a three-year research project in 2007 to assess whether farmed ducks needed bathing water and, if so, how it should be provided. The research suggested that to meet best practice all farmers should give access to sources of bathing water that meet the behavioural needs of ducks under their care, while being mindful of any risk to biosecurity. These findings were built on, with the RSPCA, academics and the duck industry, looking at how water could be provided to ducks in a commercial setting. DEFRA took an active part in the accompanying RSPCA ‘Higher Duck Welfare Programme’ steering group. As a result of this collaborative approach, duck welfare standards have been raised as both the RSPCA's Freedom Foods scheme and the industry's own Duck Assurance Scheme have ensured that their standards reflect the latest research.

Water Charges

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many water companies operate social tariffs; and what the name is of each water company without a social tariff. [123695]

Richard Benyon: Water and sewerage companies will be able to introduce social tariffs from April 2013 to reduce charges for individuals who would otherwise have difficulty paying their bill in full.

The Government are clear that it is for the companies to decide whether or not to bring forward the social tariff as part of overall strategy for addressing water affordability. Social tariffs must be developed in consultation with customers.

Wheat

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of wheat yields in the UK; and whether he has made any assessment of the causes of any change in yield. [122956]

Mr Heath: The provisional UK 2012 wheat yield figure was published as part of the Statistical Notice on UK agriculture and horticulture, and cereals and oilseed rape production on 15 October 2012.

The provisional UK yield of wheat for 2012 was 6.7 tonnes/hectare which is 13.8% lower than the 2011 yield of 7.7 tonnes per hectare. Yields were variable across the English regions. The highest yield of 7.3 tonnes per hectare was found in the eastern region and the lowest yield was in the north-west and Merseyside at 4.8 tonnes per hectare. With the exception of the eastern region, there has been a notable decrease in yield. The difficult weather this year led to high levels of disease during spring and summer combined with low sunlight levels during the grainfill period were the main reasons for the lower wheat yields.

The full Statistical Notice is at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/defra-stats-foodfarm-landuselivestock-farmingstats-june-statsrelease-jun2012ukprovcrops-1210151.pdf.

Final figures are due to be published on 20 December.

18 Oct 2012 : Column 385W

Transport

A1

12. Sir Alan Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet the Transport Minister in the Scottish Government to discuss the A1 road. [123220]

Stephen Hammond: Ministers regularly discuss cross-border transport issues with their counterparts in the Scottish Government and would be willing to discuss the A1 road.

In recognition of the importance of connectivity with Edinburgh, this Government announced in May 2010 that the A1 north of Newcastle would be designated as a route of strategic national importance.

Railway Stations

17. Graham Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding he has allocated to improve railway stations. [123225]

Norman Baker: A major programme of station improvements is under way, with several key stations such as Birmingham New Street being significantly enhanced. We are also continuing to fund improvements through the National Stations Improvement Programme, the Access for All programme and the Station Commercial Project Facility. In addition, there are enhancements planned at stations as part of franchise commitments.

Airport Authority Act 1966

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the amendment or repeal of the Airport Authority Act 1966. [123681]

Mr Simon Burns: The Airports Authority Act 1965 was repealed in its entirety by the Airports Authority Act 1975. The 1975 Act was itself wholly repealed by the Airports Act 1986.

Airports

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Sir Howard Davies on the likely workload of the independent commission on options for future UK hub airport capacity prior to the timeframe for its completion being set. [122936]

Mr Simon Burns: The Government are in the process of establishing the independent Airports Commission and will announce its full membership and terms of reference shortly. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport set out the remit and time scale for the Commission in his written ministerial statement of 7 September 2012, Official Report, columns 40-42WS.

Association of British Insurers

George Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have met representatives from the Association of British Insurers in the last 12 months. [122709]

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Stephen Hammond: The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport met with representatives from major motor insurers on 14 February 2012 to discuss action that can be taken to reduce the number of claims for whiplash which contribute significantly to the cost of settling motor insurance claims. The Secretary of State chaired a further meeting with the insurance industry on 2 May. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) was present at both meetings.

In addition the Secretary of State met with the ABI on Monday 23 April 2012 for a wider discussion on motor insurance issues.

As a result of these discussions the Department has met with industry on a further four separate occasions to discuss the work the Department is collectively doing with industry on young drivers.

Aviation: South East

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward a national policy statement on aviation capacity in the south-east. [123674]

Mr Simon Burns: The Government are in the process of establishing the independent Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies. The Commission will present a final report in the summer of 2015 containing materials to support the Government in preparing a national policy statement.

Bus Services

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of (a) local authority and (b) privately-run bus services in England outside of London that have been (i) reduced or (ii) withdrawn since May 2010. [122571]

Norman Baker: Detailed figures for local bus service registrations, variations and cancellations are made publically available by Traffic Commissioners in their Annual Report, which is published on the Department for Transport website.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/traffic-commissioners-annual-reports

Variations can include services where the frequency has reduced, increased or where a route change has been registered. More detailed figures on the reason for the variation are not available. No estimation has been made of whether a local bus service which is varied or cancelled is funded commercially or through the local authority. It is also possible for a registered service to have an element of both types of funding.

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many local transport authorities are currently taking the legal steps required to introduce a Quality Contract for local bus services; [122572]

(2) how many local authorities have contacted his Department with regard to a Quality Contract for local bus services since May 2010. [122573]

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Norman Baker: The Department maintains an ongoing dialogue on many transport issues with local authorities and their representatives. Quality contract schemes will have been raised from time to time as part of these discussions.

There are two local transport authorities (Metro—West Yorkshire and Nexus—Tyne and Wear) currently taking the legal steps required to introduce a quality contract scheme. Metro consulted on a Public Interest Statement between June and September 2012. Nexus has produced a draft scheme upon which it is currently consulting. We are not aware whether any other local authorities have considered whether a quality contract scheme is appropriate for their area.

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional (a) regulatory powers and (b) funding for local authorities are proposed under the Better Bus Areas policy. [122574]

Norman Baker: As part of wider bus industry reforms, the Government intends to designate a limited number of geographical areas as new 'Better Bus Areas' via a competitive process.

The full details of the proposal are yet to be settled as they form part of the ongoing consultation on bus subsidy reform. However, the intention is for the Department for Transport to provide a grant to the leading local transport authority in each of the new Better Bus Areas.

This grant will comprise devolution of the Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) currently paid with respect to commercial bus services operating within the Better Bus Area and a top up grant, proportional to the size of the devolved BSOG.

No decisions on the size of the top-up fund have yet been taken. We will be mindful of views on this put forward in response to the consultation on bus subsidy reform.

No new regulatory powers are currently envisaged as part of the policy other than to provide for the devolution of BSOG in Better Bus Areas.