4 Dec 2012 : Column 677W

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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Women and Equalities

Females: Higher Education

Helen Goodman: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what assessment she has made of the effect of the website sponsorascholar.co.uk on young women's education. [131589][Official Report, 13 December 2012, Vol. 555, c. 1MC.]

Jo Swinson: We are aware of media reports about sponsorascholar.co.uk, a website which seeks to exploit female students. The website has been unavailable since these media reports.

We are committed to tackling the harm and exploitation that can be associated with prostitution. We want to see the police use the law, where appropriate, to tackle those who have taken advantage of those who are forced into prostitution.

The Government provide a generous student finance package to eligible higher education students. No eligible student has to pay for their tuition up front. Loans are available to meet the full cost of tuition charges at publicly funded institutions. These loans are not dependent on the student's or family's income. Eligible students at private institutions can apply for non-income assessed loans towards the cost of their tuition.

Loans and grants for living costs are also available for full-time students who are attending their courses. This student finance package offers all full-time students some help towards living costs, but targets the most generous support at students from the lowest income households.

Cabinet Office

Jobseeker’s Allowance: North East

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people aged between 18 and 24 in (a) Redcar and Cleveland and (b) Middlesbrough local authorities were claiming jobseeker's allowance in (i) May 2010, (ii) May 2011, (iii) May 2012 and (iv) October 2012. [131593]

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

Letter from Glen Watson, dated December 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people aged between 18 and 24 in (a) Redcar and Cleveland and (b) Middlesbrough local authorities were claiming jobseeker's allowance in (i) May 2010, (ii) May 2011, (iii) May 2012 and (iv) October 2012. (131593)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles the number of claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) from the Jobcentre Plus Administrative system.

Table 1 shows the number of people aged 18 to 24 resident in Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough local authorities, who were claiming JSA on the requested dates.

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Table 1: Number of people aged 18 to 24 resident in Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough local authorities claiming jobseeker's allowance
 May 2010May 2011May 2012October 2012

Redcar and Cleveland

1,590

1,600

1,785

1,825

Middlesbrough

1,995

2,055

2,285

2,285

Note: Figures rounded to nearest 5. Source: Job Centre Plus Admin System

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at:

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk

Offensive Weapons

Nick de Bois: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many reported incidents of (a) murder, (b) attempted murder, (c) wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and (d) wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent by use of a knife or sharp instrument there have been in each police force area in each of the last five years. [131181]

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

Letter from Glen Watson, dated December 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many reported incidents of (a) murder, (b) attempted murder, (c) wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and (d) wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent by use of a knife or sharp instrument there have been in each police force area in each of the last five years. (131181)

The number of homicide offences recorded by the police involving a knife or sharp instrument is taken from the Homicide Index. The latest published data on homicides covers the period up to 2010/11 for England and Wales. Data for 2011/12 are due to be published by ONS in February 2013. Due to the small number of offences recorded data at police force area level are not routinely published.

Knives or sharp instruments are taken to be involved in an incident if they are used to stab or cut, or as a threat. Please note data for 2007/08 are not comparable with those shown for later years due to changes in the way these offences were recorded.

Data for the offence types in question are provided for the last five financial years (April to March) for all police forces areas in the following link:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/what-we-do/publication-scheme/published-ad-hoc-data/crime-and-justice/december-2012/index.html

Data for 2011 /12 on selected offences involving a knife or sharp instrument have been published by ONS in the data tables accompanying the quarterly crime statistics released in July 2012. This statistical bulletin is available on the ONS website here:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period-ending-march-2012/index.html

Separate data for Northern Ireland are published by the Police Service for Northern Ireland and the latest figures can be found here:

http://www.psni.police.uk/monthly_crime_bulletin_apr-sep_12_13.pdf

The Scottish Government do not publish figures separately on offences involving a knife or sharp instrument.

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Public Sector: Procurement

Mr Hanson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the answer of 4 September 2012, Official Report, column 324W, on public sector: procurement, what steps the Government are taking to ensure that subcontractors for public sector contracts at levels beyond tier three are paid directly and promptly; and if he will make a statement. [129230]

Miss Chloe Smith: It is our policy in central Government to pay undisputed invoices within five days.

There is already a requirement in central Government contract terms for contractors to pay their subcontractors within 30 days. The Mystery Shopper scheme enables any firm, including all subcontractors, to bring inappropriate practice to the attention of the Cabinet Office. Such cases are then investigated, appropriate action is taken and the results are published.

Sovereignty: Scotland

John Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate he has made of the cost of rebadging UK-branded Government supplies and possessions in the event of a vote for independence in Scotland. [131142]

Miss Chloe Smith: The UK Government position is clear that Scotland is stronger in the UK and the UK is stronger with Scotland in it. No estimates have been made regarding rebranding Government supplies.

Women's Resource Centre

Dr Thérèse Coffey: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what funding he has given to the Women's Resource Centre in each of the last five years. [122820]

Miss Chloe Smith: In the last five financial years the Cabinet Office gave the following funding to the Women's Resource Centre:

Financial year£

2011-12

57,000.00

2010-11

196,993.00

2009-10

196,993.00

2008-09

196,993.00

2007-08

199,576.50

Total

847,555.50

Deputy Prime Minister

Lord Lieutenants

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what the total cost to the public purse is of all the Lord Lieutenants; [130817]

(2) what transport costs have been incurred by the Lord Lieutenants for County Durham in each of the last three years; [130826]

(3) who the current Deputy Lord Lieutenants for County Durham are; [130825]

(4) how Deputy Lord Lieutenants are appointed. [130827]

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Miss Chloe Smith: The cost to the public purse for all lords lieutenant for the last financial year was £1,263,852. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) on 2 February 2011, Official Report, columns 813-14W.

The transport costs incurred by the lord lieutenant for County Durham in each of the last three years are as follows:

 £

2009-10

2,800.00

2010-11

3,900.00

2011-12

3,880.00

Durham's Deputy Lieutenants are as follows:

Active deputy lieutenants

Mr Sandy Anderson OBE

Prof. John H Anstee

Mr Alistair G Arkley CBE

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top

Mr Harry J Banks OBE

Mr Ian G Bonas OBE

Mr John Burton

Mr Peter Candler

Col. Arthur W Charlton TD

Mr David Clifford OBE

Mr Peter M Cook

Mr John Cuthbert OBE

Col. (Retd) Mrs Sheenah Barclay Davies

Mr John Elliot MBE

Mrs Jennifer Flynn MBE

Mr Paul Garvin QPM

Ms Miriam Harte

Prof. Chris Higgins

Prof. A Pali S Hungin OBE

Mr Alasdair MacConachie OBE

Mr Andrew Martell

Mr Tom Maxfield

Col. Graham C Mitchell TD

Mrs Sareth Natnby-Luxmoore

Mr Frank Nicholson

Mr Martyn Pellew

Mr Malcolm Pratt

The hon. James Ramsbotham

Mr Bernard Robinson OBE

Mrs Jennifer Robson OBE

Ms Pam Royle

Mr Jonathan Ruffer

The Very Rev. Michael Sadgrove

Mr Alan J Smith OBE

Dame Dela Smith DBE

Mr Kingsley Smith OBE

Mrs Susan Snowdon JP

Mr Richard Tonks

The hon. Harry Vane

Mrs Kate Welch OBE

Mr John Williams MBE

Dr Robert McManners

Barbara Joan Gubbins

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The Rev. Canon Donald Jon Bell

Mr John McDonnell QC

Non-active deputy lieutenants

Lord Barnard TD

Mr Kit Bartman TD

Sir Peter Carr CBE

Prof. John I Clarke OBE

Mr Peter Dawson OBE

Mr A Neville Fairclough

Rt. hon. Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland

Mr Simon Gray

Sir John Hall

Mr John Hamilton OBE

Lt Col. Ray Hirst OBE TD

Mrs Judith Lund MBE

Sir Ronald Norman OBE

Mr Don Robson CBE

Ms Denise Robertson MBE

Major William K Trotter CBE

Lords lieutenant are required to appoint deputy lieutenants (DLs) and this is done so at their discretion, subject only to the Queen not disapproving of the granting of the commission.

The primary criterion for appointment as a DL is that of “appropriate service”, including military service together with residence in or within seven miles from the boundary of the relevant county or area. In choosing DLs lords lieutenant are expected to interpret widely “other suitable public service” which can qualify someone for appointment. In particular they should be looking for people well known in their locality for the service they have or are giving through public life, charitable activity, voluntary service or the uniformed services. The overall aim is that within each county or area DLs should be widely representative of the county or area's life in social range, gender, community background, ethnic mix and service to the community.

A lord lieutenant wanting to appoint deputy lieutenants will write to the Cabinet Office, seeking Her Majesty's “non-disapproval” of the nominated candidates and enclosing the nominees' CV. If the DLs’ details are satisfactory and there is no objection to the appointments, a reply will be sent to the lord lieutenant confirming that Her Majesty does not disapprove of the appointments.

Voting Rights: Young People

Julie Elliott: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what recent representations he has received on lowering the voting age to 16; [131361]

(2) what recent research he has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned on lowering the voting age to 16. [131363]

Miss Chloe Smith: Records show that in the past 12 months 67 representations were received by the Cabinet Office on the issue of lowering the voting age, the majority being letters from school students doing project work as part of their Citizenship GCSE.

Cabinet Office has not undertaken or commissioned any recent research on the issue.

There is no consensus within Government for lowering the voting age to 16 and we therefore have no current plans to do so.

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Transport

Bus Services: Finance

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what payments of the bus service operator's grant he has made to each (a) operator and (b) local authority area in each year from 2004-05 to 2011-12. [131321]

Norman Baker: The information requested is not available broken down by local authority area, or for the whole period referred to. However, the following links provide information on payments made to individual operators for claims covering the periods up to (i) 31 March 2010 and (ii) 31 March 2011:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110504135837http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/buses/busgrants/bsog/661224

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/svstem/uploads/attachment_data/file/3258/bsog-grants-paid-2011.pdf

Bus Services: Rural Areas

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the future of rural bus services; and if he will make a statement. [131310]

Norman Baker: The Government set out in ‘Green Light for Better Buses’:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/green-light-for-better-buses

a series of reforms to attract more people onto buses, to ensure better value for the taxpayer, and to give local transport authorities more influence over their bus networks. Ultimately, however, it is for local authorities, working in partnership with their communities, to identify the right transport solutions that meet the economic and environmental challenges faced in their areas and deliver the greatest benefits for their communities.

It has long been clear that for some isolated communities, traditional public transport is not a cost effective option. In such circumstances, the Government supports, where achievable, the establishment of community bus services or other more flexible forms of transport.

In recognition of the important role they play in delivering local services, I have provided a total of £20 million across two rounds of our Supporting Community Transport Fund between 2010-11 and 2011-12. This funding has been distributed to 76 local transport authorities (councils and passenger transport executives) to support the establishment and development of more community transport links to employment and services in rural areas.

Dartford-Thurrock Crossing

Gareth Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the effect of tolls on the Dartford Crossing on the local and wider economy. [131086]

Stephen Hammond: A full impact assessment was carried out in preparation for new charges at the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing, which were changed in October

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2012. Costs and benefits relating to businesses, commuters and others are set out in the impact assessment, which can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/svstem/uploads/attachment_data/file/2565/dft-2011-08-final-ia.pdf

Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings have been held at Ministerial level within his Department regarding a replacement for the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee. [131157]

Norman Baker: I held a meeting with disability groups 11 July 2011 concerning possible successor arrangements to the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee, (DPTAC). This was prior to the public consultation on the future of DPTAC. The results of that consultation are currently being analysed by my officials. In addition I have had several meetings with the Chairman of DPTAC to keep him informed of developments.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what groups representing disabled people (a) he and (b) his officials have consulted on access to transport since the Government's decision to abolish the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee. [131158]

Norman Baker: Since the announcement that the Government was minded to abolish the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee, my Department has held a workshop with disability groups on 1 May 2012 and two summits on 27 June 2012 and 13 September 2012 respectively. These were to discuss priorities for the Department's Accessibility Action Plan which will be published shortly.

No decision has yet been taken concerning the possible abolition of the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee or on any successor arrangement.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the successor arrangements will be following the abolition of the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee. [131161]

Norman Baker: The Department is in the process of considering the responses to its public consultation, "The abolition of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee; and the best option for successor arrangements should DPTAC be abolished". No decision has yet been taken. Because DPTAC is a body set up by Statute, the matter of its future or any possible successor arrangements will ultimately be for Parliament to decide.

Driving Tests: Southend-on-Sea

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will increase the number of instructors and examinations at the driving test centre in Southend. [131408]

Stephen Hammond: The driving test centre at Tickford, in Southend-on-Sea, provides supplementary local testing in addition to that already provided by the main driving test centre at Basildon.

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The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has continually reviewed the service from this centre and has increased test provision from two examiners on two days each week, to three examiners on three days each week.

DSA is currently providing the maximum number of test appointments possible from this location. That capacity is governed by availability of waiting room space and car parking for test candidates and work space requirements for staff.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many applications have been made to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme where no offers have been received; and what the average time was such properties had been on the market at the time of the application for (a) successful and (b) rejected applications. [131543]

Mr Simon Burns: I can confirm that HS2 Ltd does hold this information, but because it is not collated as a matter of course, it will take HS2 Ltd staff some time to draw it together. As soon as this has been done I will write to the right hon. Lady and place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the distance was from the proposed HS2 route for each application to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme where criterion two was accepted for (a) rural and (b) urban areas. [131544]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department does not publish information relating to the distance from the line of route of applications to the HS2 Exceptional Hardship Scheme. There is no set distance within which properties qualify and the location of property criterion is only one of five criteria assessed as part of an application. We do not believe it would be in the public interest to release this information as it risks providing misleading information to potential applicants that would undermine the effective working of the scheme.

London Midland

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent reports he has received on (a) the levels of service, (b) number of cancellations and (c) other matters related to London Midland; whether he has any plans to (i) review the London Midland franchise arrangements and (ii) discuss the level of service with management; and if he will make a statement. [131358]

Norman Baker: In addition to the regular performance reports that London Midland provides in line with its contractual obligations, the Department for Transport now receives daily updates on performance levels, enabling us to monitor closely the current level of cancellations.

My officials remain in daily contact with London Midland management to work to resolve the current issue of driver-related cancellations, and I have discussed the matter directly with London Midland's Managing Director.

Our priority is to ensure that a reliable passenger service is restored as quickly as possible.

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Further action is being considered according to the provisions of the franchise agreement, and the Department will make a further announcement in due course once a decision has been taken.

Public Transport

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to improve the availability of public transport in (a) Coventry, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England. [131527]

Norman Baker: The Government continues to provide significant levels of funding to support public transport provision across the country.

(a) Coventry

The Government has provisionally approved £9.75 million maximum funding contribution towards the £18.77 million cost of the Coventry-Nuneaton Rail Upgrade local major scheme. This will improve the frequency of rail services between Nuneaton and Coventry, provide new stations at Coventry (Ricoh) Arena and Bermuda Park and provide a new bay platform at Coventry station. Funding has been allocated during Control Period 5 (2014-19) for the electrification of this line as part of the ‘Electric Spine’. On completion this will enable the Coventry-Nuneaton service to change from diesel to electric power. Funding for electrification of the Coventry-Leamington line, as part of the ‘Electric Spine’, has also been provided.

Centra, the Integrated Transport Authority that deals with public transport in the Coventry area, has been allocated £120 million of Integrated Transport Block funding over the current spending review period to spend on smaller transport schemes, as well as some £36.5 million of Local Sustainable Transport Funding (LSTF), £5 million Better Bus Area funding and £300,000 from the Green Bus Fund.

(b) West Midlands

Across the West Midlands, Government is investing some £250 million in local authority major transport schemes, £193 million of Integrated Transport Block, £77.8 million of LSTF and £5.2 million of Green Bus Fund to bus operators.

On rail, work is underway to rebuild Birmingham New Street, and many rail services on the Snow Hill Lines and Birmingham-London lines have been equipped with modern rolling stock. We also propose to fund Network Rail to electrify the route between Walsall and Rugeley. Plans to build a new rail link from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Airport will substantially enhance rail links between the West Midlands and Heathrow via Reading.

(c) England

Funding in this Spending Review period that supports public transport in England (outside London), includes £1.8 billion in local authority major transport schemes, £1.44 billion of Integrated Transport Block, £600 million LSTF and £70 million of Better Bus Area funding.

The Government announced in July over £9 billion of Government funding for the railway in England and Wales, including projects to increase rail capacity, improve reliability and reduce journey times. We are also funding new trains including the Intercity Express Programme.

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HS2 will reduce the time it takes to travel between our major cities, driving regional regeneration, supporting job creation and improving the quality of life for residents. It will provide improved intercity connections between the West Midlands, London and cities in the North.

In 2011/12 we paid a total of £440.5 million Bus Service Operators Grant to bus operators in England as well as £75 million of Green Bus Fund (with another £20 million recently announced).

The Department also provides a transport grant to Transport for London of some £10.9 billion over this Spending Review period, much of which benefits passengers from outside the London area.

Public Transport: Disability

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what groups representing disabled people (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have (i) met and (ii) consulted in the construction and formulation of his Department's new accessibility strategy. [131159]

Norman Baker: As part of the preparation of the Accessibility Action Plan, my Department held two summits and a workshop with a number of disability groups. These included representatives from:

Disability Rights UK

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Guide Dogs

Mental Health Action Group

Choice Support

Essex Coalition of Disabled People

Trailblazers - Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

Transport for All

MENCAP

DPTAC

Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People

Office for Disability Issues

Breakthrough UK Ltd.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Royal National Institute for the Blind

Disability Hate Crime Network

Age UK

Employer's Forum on Disability

Oxfordshire Unlimited

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

Passenger Focus

Association of Transport Coordinating Officers

Bus Users UK

Action on Hearing Loss

Scope

Passenger Transport Executive Group

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to announce his Department's new accessibility strategy. [131160]

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport will be publishing its Accessibility Action Plan shortly.

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Railways: Fares

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many passengers were found to be on a train without the required ticket to travel and having had the chance to purchase a ticket in (a) 2011, (b) 2010, (c) 2009 and (d) 2008, by train operating company; [131156]

(2) how many passengers were prosecuted for fare evasion in (a) 2011, (b) 2010, (c) 2009 and (d) 2008, by train operating company. [131162]

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport does not hold this information. This is a matter for the train operators.

Rescue Services

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will re-examine the Government's decision to restructure the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination centres throughout the UK in light of recent adverse winter weather. [131265]

Stephen Hammond: There is no requirement for the Government to re-examine the decision to restructure HM Coastguard in light of recent adverse winter weather. The restructure does not directly affect the delivery of front line Search and Rescue (SAR) response by the Coastguard Rescue Service, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Independent Lifeboat Organisations and the SAR Helicopters provided by the Ministry of Defence and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of any potential reliance on the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Service or other partners such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution arising from the closure of local rescue co-ordination centres in the event of adverse winter weather. [131266]

Stephen Hammond: The Coastguard Rescue Service and Search and Rescue (SAR) partners such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are routinely operationally resilient to deal with adverse winter weather. Dynamic risk assessment is standard practice. As the restructure of HM Coastguard does not directly affect the delivery of front line SAR response such an assessment is not appropriate.

Thameslink Railway Line

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with Bombardier on plans for the Thameslink rolling stock contract should Siemens and his Department fail to reach a financial agreement by the end of the year. [131200]

Mr Simon Burns: We remain confident of reaching commercial close by the end of the year and financial close early in the new year. Therefore, neither the Secretary of State for Transport nor his officials have had any such discussions with Bombardier.

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Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if it is not possible for his Department to reach financial close with Siemens on the Thameslink rolling stock contract whether Bombardier, as reserved bidder, would automatically be invited to start negotiations with the Government on assuming the contract. [131268]

Mr Simon Burns: We remain confident of reaching financial close with Siemens early in the new year. If financial close cannot be reached with Siemens on the Thameslink rolling stock contract Bombardier would not automatically be invited to start negotiations, but they remain reserve bidder.

Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if it is not possible for his Department to reach financial close with Siemens on the Thameslink rolling stock contract whether he is considering allowing Siemens to manufacture the trains and another organisation to provide the funding and finance. [131269]

Mr Simon Burns: We remain confident of reaching financial close with Siemens early in the new year. The Department is not considering using a separate organisation to arrange the funding and finance for the Thameslink rolling stock contract.

Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if it is not possible for his Department to reach financial close with Siemens on the Thameslink rolling stock contract whether he is considering allowing Bombardier to manufacture the trains and other organisations to provide the funding and finance. [131270]

Mr Simon Burns: We remain confident of reaching commercial close by the end of the year and financial close early in the new year. There have been no discussions with Bombardier regarding manufacturing the trains and with other organisations to provide the funding and finance.

Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the Thameslink rolling stock contract, whether all the new rolling stock will be delivered for the December 2018 timetable change. [131271]

Mr Simon Burns: We remain confident that all of the new rolling stock for Thameslink will be delivered by the December 2018 timetable change.

Transport: Fire Hazards

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with representatives of Network Rail and the Highways Agency on the review of all major roads and railways in England to identify fire hazards following the M1 fire in April 2011; [131591]

(2) when his Department intends to publish the Highways Agency and Network Rail study of potential sources of fire risk from third-party activities at other critical locations beneath or adjacent to their retrospective networks. [131592]

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Stephen Hammond: Following the M1 incident in April 2011, the Highways Agency and Network Rail, at the request of the then Secretary of State for Transport, carried out audits to categorise potential sources of fire and risk from third party activities at other critical locations beneath or adjacent to their respective networks.

The Highways Agency and Network Rail were subsequently asked by the then Minister to develop action plans based on the recommendations of these reports.

We intend to publish the reports as soon as possible, subject to final comments from other Departments. It was never the intention to publish the list of critical locations, for security reasons.

West Coast Railway Line: Franchises

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons the date of publication of the final report of the Laidlaw Inquiry was changed; and what notice was given to Mr Laidlaw of that change. [131541]

Mr Simon Burns: The Secretary of State for Transport asked Sam Laidlaw, in his commissioning letter, to present his report to the Secretary of State by the end of November. Mr Laidlaw submitted a final draft report on 28 November. Given the level of detail in the report and the complex legal and commercial issues it covers, it is right that Ministers and the Department have an opportunity to consider fully its findings before formal publication.

The date of the publication is a matter for the Department. The Secretary of State discussed the Department's plan for doing this with Mr Laidlaw on 28 November.

Attorney-General

Circumcision

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions have been brought against those alleged to have caused harm through the performance of home circumcisions in each of the last three years. [131239]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service does not hold central data reporting the number of prosecutions against people alleged to have caused harm through the performance of home circumcision. Such data could not be reasonably obtained locally or nationally other than by reviewing individual case files which would incur a disproportionate cost.

Serious Fraud Office

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General how much the Serious Fraud Office has paid out in redundancy payments since May 2010. [129797]

The Attorney-General: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement which I presented to the House earlier today.

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House of Commons Commission

Select Committees: Hearing Impairment

Mr Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what facilities for hard of hearing people were available in Committee Room 11 on 29 November 2012 for the Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee starting at 11.30 am. [131439]

John Thurso: To assist Members and others who are hard of hearing, all Committee Rooms are fitted with an induction loop linked to the microphone system. The loop system in Committee Room 11 was checked following receipt of the hon. Member's question. A fuse in the induction loop amplifier was found to have blown; it has now been replaced and the loop is working satisfactorily.

Committee Room sound systems are checked each day before Committee Rooms are used. It is not practicable to carry out a full check of the loop systems daily, but these are checked weekly. Following the hon. Member's experience an additional daily visual check of loop amplifiers has been instituted. I would encourage the hon. Member, if he encounters any further such problems, to raise them with staff at the time so they are able to clear the fault as soon as possible.

Mr Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, if representatives of the House of Commons Service will consult with organisations involved with hard of hearing people to discuss improvements that can be made in this area for committee hearings. [131440]

John Thurso: One of the four priority areas under the House's Diversity and Inclusion Scheme 2012-15 is to recognise leading-edge practice in equality, diversity and inclusion. To do this, and to measure progress, the House Service participates in a range of benchmarking indices. One of these indices is the ‘Louder than Words Charter’ published by Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the Royal National Institute for Deaf People). The House Service has recently completed actions in order to comply with this Charter.

As part of this work, the Estates Group Signage Board has been asked to provide signage for the Committee Rooms to make it evident that induction loops are in place. These loops are available for all Committee meetings under the direction of the Chair, and activate automatically when the system enters broadcast mode. At other times the loop is available on request. This work is part of a longer term project involving induction loop signage across the parliamentary estate.

ParliAble, the workplace equality network for disability, will be reviewing accessibility in Parliament as part of its 2013 action plan. The House Service is a member of the Business Disability Forum, and ParliAble will be working with the House's Diversity and Inclusion Team to participate in its Disability Standard, another benchmarking exercise, in April 2013.

If the hon. Member has further questions, the Head of Diversity and Inclusion will be happy to address these.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 691W

Treasury

Child Benefit

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households in (a) the UK, (b) each region of the UK and (c) each constituency have received letters from HM Revenue and Customs informing them that their child benefit is likely to be reduced or withdrawn. [131585]

Sajid Javid: By the end of November, HM Revenue and Customs estimates that approximately 750,620 letters will have been received by households in the UK. The number of letters received by region and by constituency will be deposited in the Library of the House.

Climate Change

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the extent to which the Government's fiscal policies are ensuring that growth is achieved alongside the objectives of (a) tackling climate change and (b) sustainable use of natural resources, as set out in paragraph 2.24 of the Treasury's annual report and accounts 2011-12; and if he will make a statement. [131002]

Sajid Javid: The Government are addressing climate change through both taxation and spending. They have spent £3 billion funding the Green Investment Bank, pledged £1 billion to the demonstration of carbon capture and storage and funded the Renewable Heat Incentive, as well as providing £2.9 billion of international climate finance through the ICF from April 2011 to March 2015. Further the climate change levy and carbon price floor are encouraging the use of, and investment in, low-carbon energy.

In relation to sustainable use of natural resources, the landfill tax remains the key driver to divert waste from landfill and achieve key UK and EU targets in 2013 and 2020. Since 1996, when landfill tax was introduced, the amount of waste sent to landfill has nearly halved. The UK Government announced in advance the annual increases in the standard rate of landfill tax towards a floor of £80 per tonne in 2014-15, with a commitment not to lower this rate until 2020. Under the resources allocated to DEFRA at the spending review, the Government are ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources through the Rural Development Programme for England and the allocation of £100 million to international forestry projects.

Government Departments: Scotland

John Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the value of buildings owned by the UK Government in Scotland. [131454]

Danny Alexander: This information is not held centrally. It is each organisation's responsibility to maintain a register of all the assets it owns and uses.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 692W

Home Department

Abu Qatada

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to appeal against the decision of the Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal in the case of Abu Qatada; and when she expects to lodge such an appeal. [130512]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 28 November 2012]: As the Secretary of State for the Home Department said in her statement to the House on 12 November 2012, Official Report, columns 37-47, the Government disagree with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission's decision to uphold Abu Qatada's appeal against the Secretary of State's refusal to revoke his deportation order. Our grounds for appeal were submitted to the Court of Appeal within the deadline of 21 days from hand down of SIAC's judgment.

Charitable Donations: Fraud

Robert Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she is taking against organised criminal gangs committing fraud and theft relating to bogus house-to-house charity collections. [131331]

Mr Jeremy Browne: This Government are committed to improving the response to organised, economic and business crime through establishing a more intelligence-based and co-ordinated cross-sector response, particularly through the development of the National Crime Agency and Economic Crime Command. Where intelligence demonstrates that charity bag crime is linked to organised criminal groups there may be scope for targeted enforcement activity.

Drugs: Children

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been arrested for (a) all and (b) Class A drugs offences in each of the last three years. [131403]

Mr Jeremy Browne: Available data relate to the number of persons aged under 18 arrested for drug offences in England and Wales between 2008-09 and 2010-11, and are given in the following table.

Number of persons aged under 18 arrested for drug offences, England and Wales, 2008-09 to 2010-11
 Number of arrests

2008-09

15,701

2009-10

15,656

2010-11

14,635

Data on arrests are reported to the Home Office on the basis of aggregated offence groupings only, therefore it is not possible to separately identify arrests relating specifically to class A drugs.

Entry Clearances: Uganda

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration she has given to refusing leave to enter the UK to Ugandan parliamentarians who are complicit in human rights abuses. [131242]

4 Dec 2012 : Column 693W

Mr Harper: All applications for visas are considered on their individual merits in line with the immigration rules. Under the immigration rules a person may be refused leave to enter, where, from the information available, his exclusion from the UK is considered conducive to the public good. An individual's human rights record will be a highly relevant factor in making this assessment.

Human Trafficking: Repatriation

Mr Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information her Department holds on how many victims of human trafficking have been returned to their home countries by Refugee Action, by country, since April 2011; and what funding is available from her Department to help with the reintegration of such victims into their home countries. [130397]

Mr Harper: Data on the number of persons identified as victims of human trafficking who have been returned to their home country by Refugee Action are not collated centrally. The information could only be provided by examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

The Home Office publishes immigration statistics annually and quarterly, which are available from the Home Office Research and Statistics website. This includes information on assisted voluntary returns by nationality. The latest statistics can be found in the Library of the House as well as on the following website:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/immigration-asylum-research/immigration-q2-2012/

Refugee Action administers, on behalf of the UK Border Agency, an Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) scheme which if certain criteria is met can be provided to victims of human trafficking. AVR refers to programmes that are available to those who do not have a permanent right to remain in the UK and wish to return permanently to their country of origin (or, where permanently admissible, to a third country). There are three AVR programmes each offering slightly different levels of reintegration support.

1. The Assisted Voluntary Return of Illegal Migrants (AVRIM) programme, designed for individuals who have not made an application for asylum.

2. The Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration programme (VARRP), for those who have made an asylum application.

3. The Assisted Voluntary Return for Families and Children programme (AVRFC) for families and children regardless of whether they are asylum or non-asylum cases.

Full details on eligibility and the levels of support are available from the UKBA website at:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/workingwithus/workingwithasylum/assistedvoluntaryreturn/

Immigration Controls

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, prior to the May 2012 changes to rules for qualifying for indefinite leave to remain, as announced in the written statement on 15 March 2012, Official Report, column 41WS, her Department conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the UK economy on the presence of overseas university staff who obtain visas to work in UK universities,

4 Dec 2012 : Column 694W

including the effects of the 180 day absence limit over five years for tier 2 visa holders wishing to apply for indefinite leave to remain; if she will consult with UK universities on relaxing this restriction; and if she will make a statement. [130952]

Mr Harper: The changes announced on 15 March 2012 and set out in the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1888) aim to break the link between coming to the UK to work and settling permanently, and to reserve settlement for those who make the most contribution to the UK's economy. In particular, they introduce a minimum pay threshold of £35,000 per annum for tier 2 (skilled worker) migrants applying to settle after April 2016.

The Government published an impact assessment of the changes on 15 March, which is available on the Home Office website and in the Library of the House. The impact assessment found no impact on scientific researchers, researchers, or teachers in higher education as these are all PhD level occupations exempt from the £35,000 minimum salary requirement.

No changes were made in HC 1888 in respect of the five year period of continuous lawful residence required for settlement of skilled workers, or to the levels of absence permitted during the five year period. However, following representations from employers and others, including from the research sector, we announced on 22 November that from 13 December 2012, the level of permitted absences from the UK will be relaxed. Up to 180 days’ absence in each qualifying year for settlement will be permitted, provided those absences are work-related, consistent with annual leave or for compelling compassionate reasons.

Olympic Games 2012: Security

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for West Ham of 15 October 2012, Official Report, column 102W, on Olympic Games 2012: security, what recent estimate she has made of the total cost to police forces of having to provide extra support to cover G4S Olympic duties; and if she will provide a breakdown of the cost by police force area. [127583]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 8 November 2012]: The latest estimated total cost by police force area for the provision of police officers to undertake Olympic venue security duties in place of G4S is listed in the following table. This is based on actual claims submitted by police forces and estimates.

Police forceAmount claimed (£)

Essex Police

2,461

Greater Manchester Police

440,553

Hampshire Constabulary

31,396

Hertfordshire Constabulary (includes Bedfordshire police)

255,707

Lincolnshire Police

8,861

Metropolitan Police Service

144,788

Norfolk Constabulary

32,705

Northumbria Police

169,521

Nottinghamshire Police

5,015

South Wales Police

783,121

4 Dec 2012 : Column 695W

Staffordshire Police

348,449

Suffolk Constabulary

16,886

Surrey Police

204,517

Sussex Police

31,257

Thames Valley Police

156,062

Warwickshire Police

128,501

West Mercia Constabulary

315,260

West Midlands Police

1,080,766

Strathclyde Police

1,492,087

Total

5,647,913

As I indicated in my response to a previous question from the right hon. Gentleman on 26 November 2012, Official Report, columns 35-36W, G4S have committed to covering additional costs incurred by the police and armed forces as a result of their failing to meet their contractual guarding commitments at games venues in full.

Police and Crime Commissioners

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether police and crime commissioners will be required to publish the contracts which (a) they and (b) their chief constable let. [130318]

Damian Green: The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011, as amended by the Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) (Amendment) Order 2012 sets out the information Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are required to publish to allow the public to hold them to account. A list of contracts with a value of £10,000 or less is to be published, and tenders and contracts with a value over £10,000 are to be published in full.

This includes contracts made by the chief constable, as well as those made by the PCC, to ensure that the public has a complete picture of police spending.

Police and Crime Commissioners: Vetting

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether members of the police and crime panels are required to undertake a check by the Criminal Records Bureau before an appointment is approved; and if she will make a statement. [130745]

Damian Green: There is no requirement in legislation for members of police and crime panels to undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks.

Police: Cleveland

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 22 November 2012, Official Report, columns 566-7W on Cleveland: police, for what reasons the number of police officers at basic command unit level is no longer collected; and how many police officers there were in the Hartlepool Basic Command Unit in March (i) 2010, (ii) 2011 and (iii) 2012. [130799]

4 Dec 2012 : Column 696W

Damian Green: As at 31 March 2010 there were 198 police officers, and as at 31 March 2011 there were 194 police officers, within Hartlepool basic command unit (full-time equivalents).

The number of police officers at basic command unit level ceased to be collected from 2011-12, following an independent assessment by Lord Wassermann, who examined the annual data requirement (ADR) process, with a view to reducing the administrative burden on police forces. This recommendation was approved by the ADR group, and the collection ceased in 2011-12.

Police: Pensions

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the financial health of police pension funds for forces in the North East of England. [130330]

Damian Green: None. The Police Pension Scheme is an unfunded scheme; police forces do not manage pension investment funds, which are a feature of funded pension schemes. The police pensions account in each force area is balanced on an annual basis using central Government grant funding.

Publications

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent on newspapers, periodicals and trade profession magazines in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [124850]

James Brokenshire: For the most recently available 12 month period (July 2011 to June 2012), the Home Department spent £52,510 on newspapers, periodicals and trade magazines.

UK Border Agency

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what country of origin information fact finding missions have been conducted in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo by the UK Border Agency in 2012; and if she will place the reports of any such fact finding missions in the Library. [131533]

Mr Harper: The UK Border Agency conducted one fact finding mission (FFM) to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2012, between 18 and 28 June. The report of the FFM was published on 30 November 2012 and is available on the Agency website:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/coi/drc/

Vetting

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff were employed by the (a) Independent Safeguarding Authority and (b) Criminal Records Bureau in each of the last five years; and how many staff she expects to be employed by the Disclosure and Barring Service in each of the next five years. [128377]

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James Brokenshire [holding answer 13 November 2012]: Table 1 provides information on the number of staff employed by (a) the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and (b) the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) in each of the last five years.

ISA and CRB formed a new non-departmental public body on 1 December 2012, becoming the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The expected staff numbers for DBS over the next five years are included in Table 2.

Table 1: Number of staff employed by (a) the Independent Safeguarding Authority and (b) the Criminal Records Bureau in each of the last five years
 (a) Independent Safeguarding Authority(1)(b) Criminal Records Bureau(2)

2007-08(3)

58

466

2008-09

144

558

2009-10

255

638

2010-11

287

635

2011-12

272

488

(1) As a non-departmental public body ISA staffing information is reported as average number of staff employed during each year (FTE) and includes all employees. (2) CRB staffing information is reported as actual number of staff employed as at 31 March each year (FTE). For comparison with ISA all staff have been included (civil servants and those substituting as civil servants). (3) 2008-09 was the first full year of operation for the Independent Safeguarding Authority—before this it was known as the Independent Barring Board. Source: Information has been obtained from (a) ISA Annual Report and Accounts and (b) Home Office Annual Report and Accounts, at 31 March each year.
Table 2: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)—projected staff figures
 Disclosure and Barring Service (projected)

30 November 2012

807

31 March 2013

812

2013-14

852

2014-15

859

2015-16

780

2016-17

695

2017-18

675

Communities and Local Government

Building Alterations: Planning Permission

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether parliamentary approval is required for his proposed changes to permitted development rights for extensions to homes and business premises in non-protected areas. [130925]

Nick Boles: I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 13 November 2012, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA284.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much each successful bidder under the Weekly Collection Support scheme (a) applied for and (b) has been awarded. [131514]

Brandon Lewis: A full list of how much each successful bidder was awarded was made available on 22 November in the Table of Successful Bids on the Department's website.

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Only five of the 90 successful bids were partially rather than fully funded. These were from the local authorities of: Bexley, Brent, North Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Sefton. Some elements of these bids were appropriate to the scheme and others were not—hence the offer of partial funding.

Housing

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 25 October 2012, Official Report, column 995W, on housing, what guidance his Department gives to local authorities in the event of housing demand outstripping the physical supply of land within a local plan area. [131587]

Mr Prisk: The National Planning Policy Framework sets out that local councils should use their evidence base to ensure that their local plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in the framework.

At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking. For plan-making this means that:

Local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area.

Local plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this framework taken as a whole; or specific policies in this framework indicate development should be restricted(1).

It also says that local councils should work collaboratively with other bodies to ensure that strategic priorities across local boundaries are properly co-ordinated and clearly reflected in local plans. Local councils should work together to meet development requirements which cannot wholly be met within their own areas—for instance, because of a lack of physical capacity or because to do so would cause significant harm to the principles and policies of the framework.

(1) For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the birds and habitats directives and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as green belt, local green space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

Housing Act 2004

Graham Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities in England have staff dedicated to the task of enforcing breaches of the Housing Act 2004 in respect of category 1 and 2 hazards. [131565]

Mr Foster: The Department does not hold information on how many local authorities in England have staff dedicated to enforcing breaches of the Housing Act 2004 in respect of category 1 and 2 hazards. It is for local authorities to decide how to allocate their staff resources in order to carry out their functions.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 699W

Graham Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many local authorities in England have published plans for dealing with category 1 and 2 hazards as defined in the Housing Act 2004; [131566]

(2) how many local authorities in England have plans in place to identify the prevalence of category 1 and 2 hazards as defined in the Housing Act 2004. [131567]

Mr Foster: The Housing Act 2004 requires local housing authorities to keep the housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any action that may need to be taken by them under, among other things, the provisions of the Act relating to enforcement against category 1 and 2 hazards. It is for local housing authorities to decide how they organise themselves so as to carry out those responsibilities. The Department therefore does not monitor how many local authorities in England have plans to identify the prevalence of category 1 and 2 hazards.

Housing: Suffolk

Dr Thérèse Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new houses his Department expects to be built in Suffolk Coastal constituency in the next three years. [131477]

Mr Prisk: The Department for Communities and Local Government does not make forecasts of future levels of house building nor do we impose top-down Whitehall targets on local communities.

Dr Thérèse Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new houses were built in Suffolk Coastal constituency in each of the last three years. [131503]

Mr Prisk: Data on house building by local authority district can be found in live table 253 at the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building

Data are collected only at local authority district level and is not available by parliamentary constituency.

Planning Permission: Appeals

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2012, Official Report, columns 344-5W, on planning permission: appeals, for what reason that answer stated that information on which local authorities have had more than 20 per cent of major decisions overturned on appeal is not centrally available when his Department's impact assessment of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill states that currently no authority has more than 20 per cent of its major decisions overturned on appeal. [131515]

Nick Boles: Impact assessments are documents intended to illustrate the effects of a change in Government policy at the national level; of necessity data are sometimes used which would not be used elsewhere, for example due to concerns over its robustness at the local level.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 700W

For the particular impact assessment referred to by the right hon. Member two years' worth of data from the Planning Inspectorate on appeals were used together with planning decision information from DCLG for the same period, despite the fact that the appeals were not necessarily decided in that period. This was acceptable as the impact assessment was trying to estimate the number of authorities who might be affected by the change in policy. However, it would be unfair to publish this information for individual authorities or use it to assess their performance, as this could lead to authorities being wrongly judged to have made poor quality decisions.

Planning Permission: Judicial Review

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the Prime Minister's speech to the Confederation of British Industry's annual conference on 19 November 2012, what recent discussions he has had with the Campaign to Protect Rural England on potential reform of judicial review procedures during planning applications. [131526]

Nick Boles: Details of Ministers' meetings with external organisations are published online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=department-for-communities-and-local-government&publication_type=transparency-data

Defence

Aircraft Carriers

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the use of the EMALS electromagnetic launch system on the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers; and if he will make a statement. [131519]

Mr Dunne: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Defence on 10 May 2012, Official Report, columns 140-42, in which he said that there are no plans to fit any aircraft launch and recovery systems such as EMALS to the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

Ammunition

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he takes to assess the potential humanitarian and environmental effects of toxic munitions and munitions components prior to use. [131217]

Mr Dunne: Since 1999 all weapons and equipment entering service have been subject to a formal legal weapons review in accordance with article 36 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva conventions.

Such reviews take into account whether proposed new means or methods of warfare are: prohibited or restricted by any specific treaty provision or other applicable rule of international law; may cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering; are capable of being used discriminately; are expected to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment; and are affected by current and possible future trends in the development of international humanitarian law.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 701W

BATUS Canada

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with US authorities to encourage their use of BATUS Canada for training. [130862]

Mr Robathan: UK and US forces recently conducted a successful joint training exercise in British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Canada, as part of Exercise Prairie Thunder 3. The training was beneficial to both the UK and US, and discussions are under way about possible future co-operation.

Defence: Procurement

Mr Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress his Department has made in its implementation of the Review of Acquisition by Bernard Gray. [130669]

Mr Dunne: The Materiel Strategy, the programme set up to review defence acquisition, is finalising a business case covering the options to achieve a step change improvement in defence acquisition, support and logistics. The case will be considered internally by the Ministry of Defence and HM Treasury to assess how best to proceed before moving forward to an assessment phase.

Guided Weapons

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on upgrading the Storm Shadow cruise missile; and if he will make a statement. [131341]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 3 December 2012]: The Storm Shadow missile has already benefitted from recent improvements to its planning system. As part of the planned future mid-life replacement programme, consideration is being given to introduce further enhancements to the Storm Shadow weapon system to maintain its capability in line with current planning requirements. Concept studies are ongoing and a final decision will be made shortly.

Libya

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has commissioned any reviews into the lessons learnt from Operation Ellamy; and if he will place any such reviews in the Library. [126029]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 1 November 2012]:The usual post-operational lessons processes have been followed in respect of Operation Ellamy. I am withholding the relevant reports as their release would or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces, international relations and the formulation of Government policy.

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) type and (b) number of ground-attack weapons fired by Typhoon aircraft during Operation Ellamy. [130502]

4 Dec 2012 : Column 702W

Mr Robathan [holding answer 28 November 2012]:Enhanced Paveway II was the only ground attack weapon employed by Typhoon during Operation Ellamy. Typhoon aircraft deployed around 240 Enhanced Paveway II munitions.

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of lessons learned by (a) the UK and (b) NATO arising from the transportation of munitions to forward bases during Operation Ellamy. [131535]

Mr Robathan: I am withholding this information as its release would or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces and international relations.

Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Defence Police Federation has been consulted on the future role of the Ministry of Defence police at Ministry of Defence sites in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [130744]

Mr Francois: Formal consultation on proposals that could affect the future requirement for the Ministry of Defence police began on 8 October 2012, and is continuing.

The Defence Police Federation is fully engaged with the consultation process both at official level and with Ministers. I met their national chairman and general secretary on 27 November 2012 to discuss their position.

Pakistan

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK unmanned aerial vehicles have been used in Pakistan for surveillance or reconnaissance. [131148]

Mr Robathan: No.

Sodexo

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the performance of Sodexo in respect of the inspection and maintenance of kitchen equipment in Army garrisons. [131396]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 3 December 2012]: Under a series of contracts, and as a sub-contractor under the Allenby/Connaught and Colchester Garrison private finance initiatives, Sodexo provides facilities management services to a number of Army sites in the UK. Given the number of contracts and sites involved, no single assessment has been made of the performance of Sodexo in respect of the inspection and maintenance of kitchen equipment.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the work being conducted by the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System Capability Concept Demonstrator programme; and when he expects it to report. [130657]

4 Dec 2012 : Column 703W

Mr Dunne [holding answer 29 November 2012]:The Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System Capability Concept Demonstrator is a two-year research project to explore how such a system might be used to fill a range of maritime roles. It is expected to report by mid-2015. An advertisement was placed in the Defence Contracts Bulletin in July and expressions of interest were received from a number of companies. The competitive process is ongoing and the Ministry of Defence expects that a contract will be awarded in mid-2013.

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the use of the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle by the British Army; whether there are any plans to (a) arm the Watchkeeper and (b) consider it for operations with the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. [130659]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 29 November 2012]: Watchkeeper is a tactical unmanned air system that will provide battlefield commanders with an all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capability. There are no plans currently to arm Watchkeeper, and although the Army may use it in support of littoral operations, we have no plans to operate the system from Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the potential threat to national security of the (a) acquisition and (b) use of drones by (i) Governments and (ii) non-state actors. [131235]

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

The 2010 National Security Strategy was informed by a National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA) which provides a comprehensive assessment and prioritisation of all major extant and emerging risks which seriously threaten the UK's national security interests. Due to the NSRA's strategic focus it does not include a specific risk of drone acquisition or their use but does include a range of more generic state-led and non-state led threats to our national security interests. The employment of an array of offensive technologies, including drones, was considered when assessing these generic threat scenarios.

Culture, Media and Sport

Artworks: Loans

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will extend the eligibility of participants in the Own Art scheme to include independent artists who only sell their own work. [131520]

Mr Vaizey: The Own Art scheme is run independently from Government by Arts Council England. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has no intention to review the Arts Council's operation of this scheme.

4 Dec 2012 : Column 704W

Broadband Delivery UK

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has for Broadband Delivery UK after 2015. [131540]

Mr Vaizey: There are currently no plans for Broadband Delivery UK beyond the current spending review commitment.

Culture

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will estimate the economic benefit of the culture sector in (a) Liverpool, (b) Manchester, (c) Sheffield, (d) Newcastle, (e) Sunderland, (f) Leeds, (g) Exeter, (h) Bristol, (i) Brighton and (j) Southampton in each of the last seven years. [130953]

Mr Vaizey: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is not planning to estimate the economic benefit of the culture sector in these specific cities in each of the last seven years. However, DCMS is working with its arm's length bodies to better understand the economic contribution culture makes to the economy at national level. Arts Council England is currently in the process of commissioning a study to produce an evidence-based understanding of the direct, indirect and wider contribution that arts and culture make to the national economy. Liverpool's experience as the European Capital Culture demonstrated the impact that culture can have on a city and region, generating an economic impact of over £750 million for Liverpool, Merseyside and the wider north-west region.

Employment

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent estimate she has made of the number of people who are employed in the travel and leisure sector in (a) Barnsley Central constituency, (b) South Yorkshire and (c) England. [131530]

Hugh Robertson: The Department does not record this information. However, data on employment by industry and area is recorded by the Office for National Statistics, via the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES). BRES data specific to the tourism industries is available via VisitEngland's Destination Intelligence System at the following link:

http://www.t-stats-uk.co.uk/visitengland/Default.aspx

Females: Higher Education

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what assessment she has made of the effect of the website sponsorascholar.co.uk on female students' welfare; [131590][Official Report, 13 December 2012, Vol. 555, c. 2MC.]

(2) what steps she is taking to close the website sponsorascholar.co.uk. [131588]

Jo Swinson: We are aware of media reports about sponsorascholar.co.uk, a website which seeks to exploit female students. The website has been unavailable since these media reports.

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We are committed to tackling the harm and exploitation that can be associated with prostitution. We want to see the police use the law, where appropriate, to tackle those who have taken advantage of those who are forced into prostitution.

The Government provide a generous student finance package to eligible higher education students. No eligible student has to pay for their tuition up front. Loans are available to meet the full cost of tuition charges at publicly funded institutions. These loans are not dependent on the student's or family's income. Eligible students at private institutions can apply for non-income assessed loans towards the cost of their tuition.

Loans and grants for living costs are also available for full-time students who are attending their courses. This student finance package offers all full-time students some help towards living costs, but targets the most generous support at students from the lowest income households.

Gambling: Havering

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many premises used for gambling there are in the Borough of Havering. [130405]

Hugh Robertson: Data held by the Gambling Commission show there are currently 57 licensed gambling premises in the borough of Havering.

Mobile Phones

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in implementing the mobile infrastructure programme; and which commercial entities are competing to provide network infrastructure. [131539]

Mr Vaizey: The Department issued a tender notice for a Mobile Infrastructure Programme (MIP) Supplier in April 2012 and shortlisted six companies in June: Airwave Solutions; Arqiva; BT Wholesale; Ericsson; Telefonica; and Vodafone. Subsequently, BT Wholesale withdrew its interest in July and Ericsson in November. We expect to appoint the MIP supplier next year.

Public Libraries

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether the Arts Council superintends the library service; how contraventions of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 are identified to her; and whether this affects her ability to exercise her statutory duties of oversight of the service. [128518]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 19 December 2012]: Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 it is the duty of the Secretary of State to superintend and promote the public library service. The Arts Council England (ACE) contributes to this function by acting as a development agency for libraries, a role they have been administering since October 2011. ACE works closely with, and uses its investment to support, local authorities to understand a range of approaches to deliver a modern efficient library service which meet the

4 Dec 2012 : Column 706W

needs of their local communities. The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 requires all library authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service based on local need within available resources. Where a breach to this statutory duty is considered to have taken place a complaint is made to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and this does not affect her ability to exercise her statutory duty of superintendence.

Telecommunications: Environment Protection

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the contribution of the Minister of State of 5 November 2012, Official Report, column 690, when she intends to publish the code of practice on the siting of electronic communications infrastructure in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. [131563]

Mr Vaizey: The code of best siting practice will apply to all areas where broadband street cabinets and overhead lines need to be installed. The code will be drawn up and agreed by representatives from local authorities and communications providers and published to coincide with the anticipated enactment of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill in the spring of 2013.

Education

Child Poverty

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recent assessment he has made of the progress of local authorities in producing child poverty needs assessments and strategies. [131470]

Esther McVey: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Local authorities play a key role in tackling child poverty and the requirement sits on them to produce local child poverty needs assessments and strategies. There is no requirement for local authorities to report to national government on their progress in producing child poverty needs assessments and strategies.

The Government enable local authorities to share their needs assessments and strategies through the online Child Poverty Knowledge Hub so that they can learn from each other. Sixty eight local authorities have chosen to share their needs assessment and forty two local authorities have shared their strategies.

Free Schools

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of the capital and revenue costs of free schools that (a) have been provided to date, (b) are to be provided in 2012-13 and (c) are projected to be provided in 2013-14. [130711]

Mr Laws: Capital costs of Free Schools are published when costs for site acquisition and renovation works have been finalised. 15 schools have had their costs finalised so far and their capital costs have been published on the Department's website at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools/b0066077/open-free-schools

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The Department provides per pupil revenue funding to Free Schools on the same basis as it does to all state schools. In addition, Free Schools receive funding during pre-opening intended to cover essential costs in developing the school, and post-opening funding to enable schools to cover their initial costs while they are growing their pupil numbers.

General Annual Grant (per pupil) allocations for Free Schools opening in 2011 and 2012 have been published on the Department's website at:

www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/executiveagencies/efa/efafundinqfinance/b00212650/funding/pre-16-funding-allocations-201213

Details of the funding provided to Free Schools for pre and post-opening are in the Department's How to apply guide at:

www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools/b0074965/apply

The Department has made provision for the continuation of the Free Schools programme in 2013-14; the actual costs will depend on those proposals which are successful in the selection process. The Department will publish the actual costs of these projects in due course.

Pupils

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether Ofsted considers student turnover rates when evaluating performance of students and schools. [121646]

Mr Laws: This question is a matter for Ofsted. HM chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written to the hon. Member, and a copy of his response has been placed in the House Libraries.

Letter from Sir Michael Wilshaw, dated 29 November 2012:

Your recent parliamentary question, received in my office on 28 November 2012, has been passed to me, as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for response.

Inspectors are given a 'stability' index (which forms part of the contextual data held in RAISEonline) that provides an indication of pupil turnover compared to the average for schools nationally. Where the school stability index is markedly different from the national figure, inspectors would discuss any implications of this with the headteacher.

In addition, performance data such as value-added data also indicated percentage of pupils (the ‘coverage’) included in the calculation, making it clear which pupils have been taught at the school from start to finish. Where the coverage is much less than 100 per cent, inspectors will discuss the implications of this with the headteacher.

Inspectors also evaluate the extent to which the school enables all pupils to overcome barriers to learning. In schools with a high turnover of pupils, inspectors will look at how well the school deals with this challenge, including working with external agencies.

When evaluating the effectiveness of sixth forms, inspectors take account of retention rates, which indicate how many students started a programme of study compared with how many finished it. Inspectors would explore the circumstances in greater detail where retention rates were low.

Pupils: Disadvantaged

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of the way in which the pupil premium is being spent in (a) Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency and (b) England since its introduction. [131077]

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Mr Laws [holding answer 30 November 2012]: The Government are very interested in schools' use of the significant funding that it has made available through the Pupil Premium. We have commissioned an external evaluation of the Premium's first year and have asked Ofsted to study how effectively schools are using their Premium funding to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

Ofsted published its interim study findings on 20 September 2012 and will publish the results of the full study in spring 2013. In addition to this, it has an increased focus on the performance of pupils who attract the Premium, and on how it is used to remove barriers to learning for Premium pupils. Since September 2012, as part of routine school inspection, Ofsted has been holding school leaders to account for how schools have spent their Pupil Premium and what difference this is making to the learning and progress of the pupils concerned. Its judgments on schools' leadership will consider the use of both the Premium and other resources to overcome barriers to achievement for their pupils. In his annual report published in November, Her Majesty's chief inspector has committed Ofsted to paying particular attention to attainment gaps affecting disadvantaged pupils in schools where they form a minority of less than 20% of all pupils.

We expect schools to be accountable to parents and to their communities, and have taken steps to improve the local information available about the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. First, their educational attainment in each school is now published through the performance tables. In addition, schools receiving the Pupil Premium are required to publish an annual statement online which includes: the school's pupil premium funding for the current academic year; their plans for spending the premium; the funding allocation for the previous academic year and details of how it was spent; and the effect of this expenditure on the educational attainment of the school's premium pupils.

Schools: Admissions

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what analysis his Department has conducted on which (a) local authorities and (b) regions in England and Wales are likely to have increased demand for schools places in (i) 2013-14, (ii) 2014-15, (iii) 2015-16, (iv) 2016-17, (v) 2012 to 2017 and (vi) any other period between 2012 and 2017; [130704]

(2) what estimate he has made of how many additional school places are required nationally to meet increased demand for schools in (a) 2013-14, (b) 2014-15 and (c) 2015-16. [130710]

Mr Laws: The Department collects information from each authority on school capacity through an annual survey, which includes local authorities’ own pupil forecasts (five years for primary places and seven years for secondary places). The most recent survey data relate to the position at May 2011 and is available at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/STR/d001050/index.shtml

The data show that the majority of local authorities are anticipating an increase in the number of primary pupils in the period to 2015-16.

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The Department produces its own projections of future pupil numbers in schools for the whole of England for each year to January 2020 and these are available at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/researchandstatistics/datasets/a00201305/dfe-national-pupil-projections-future-trends-in-pupil-numbers-december-2011

This publication includes charts showing the projected percentage growth in the school-age population between 2010 and 2015, by region.

The Department has estimated the number of additional school places likely to be required to meet the increase in demand for schools in the academic years up to 2015-16 and these are shown in the following table. These figures are based on local authority and district level analysis and on available capacity in May 2011. Local authorities have added capacity since this time.

 2013/142014/152015/16

Primary(1)

183,000

264,000

340,000

Secondary(1)

21,000

28,000

43,000

(1 )Estimates are based on school capacity as at May 2011 and local authority projections of pupil numbers by academic year.

Schools: Defibrillators

Mark Menzies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether his Department plans to provide defibrillators to schools. [131027]

Mr Laws [holding answer 30 November 2012]: There is currently no requirement on schools to have a defibrillator on school premises. It is a matter for individual school to decide whether they have a defibrillator and to arrange for suitable training of the school work force in its use.