23 Jan 2013 : Column 293W

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Attorney-General

Armed Forces: Sexual Offences

Mrs Moon: To ask the Attorney-General pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2012, Official Report, column 37W, on armed forces: sexual offences, what steps he has taken to ensure continuity of case ownership at the Service Prosecuting Authority in relation to cases of (a) rape and (b) sexual assault; and if he will make a statement. [136196]

Mr Francois: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

Continuity of case ownership in these cases is a matter of the highest importance to both the Ministry of Defence and the Attorney-General. Care is taken to ensure that trials are prosecuted, wherever possible, by the case owner.

However, continuity of case ownership can be difficult, particularly in the more serious and complex cases such as sexual offences. There may be some cases where a prosecutor with greater experience may be required for a particular trial. When this is necessary a comprehensive “handover” document is usually prepared which deals with potential issues.

When assigning prosecutors to courts, the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) trial arrangers are assisted by assessments, recorded in the case analysis by the supervising prosecutor, about the level of experience, rather than the individual required to handle the case, depending on whether it is to be contested or not.

The Director of Service Prosecutions has made particular efforts to secure specialist prosecutors, particularly for rape cases, for extended tours at the SPA.

Serious Fraud Office

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General what estimate he has made of the cost to the Serious Fraud Office of the judicial review brought against it by the Tchenguiz brothers. [138841]

The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) spent £1,334,000 on non-staff case costs relating to the Kaupthing bank investigation and subsequent judicial review brought against it by Rawlinson and Hunter Trustees and others, and Robert Tchenguiz and R20, over a four-year period to 31 December 2012; It is not possible to break these costs down between the investigation and the judicial review. Payment on account of costs of other parties of £2,411,000 has also been made. The Serious Fraud Office's (SFO's) financial reporting system records external spending related to particular investigations. Because of the flexible way in which the SFO's permanent staff work across cases, it does not currently record these staff costs against each particular case. The

23 Jan 2013 : Column 294W

investigation into Kaupthing bank was ongoing at the time of the judicial review, so it is not possible to give a figure for permanent staff costs relating to the review only.

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General how much the Serious Fraud Office has spent to date on its first investigation into the Weavering hedge fund collapse. [138849]

The Attorney-General: The total external expenditure relating to The initial Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation was £29,304. SFO staff working on the initial investigation were also engaged in other work, so it is not possible to accurately quantify the cost of permanent staff time relating to the investigation.

Weavering Capital (UK) Ltd went into administration in March 2009. The company was responsible for managing the Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund. The SFO ended its initial investigation into the collapse of the Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund in September 2011. However, following a review of the High Court civil judgment by Mrs Justice Proudman on the 31 May 2012, the SFO's new Director reopened the criminal investigation in July 2012.

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General how much the Serious Fraud Office has spent to date on its investigation into missing assets at Keydata Investment Services. [138850]

The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) began investigating Keydata Investment Services Ltd (Keydata) following a referral by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in 2009. The total external spend on this investigation is £18,150.

SFO staff working on the investigation were also engaged in other work, so it is not possible to estimate the cost of permanent staff time relating to the investigation.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on a minimum unit price for alcohol. [137995]

Mr Jeremy Browne: On 28 November, the Government launched a consultation on key policies within the alcohol strategy, including seeking views on a proposed minimum unit price of 45p.

Drugs: Misuse

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Coventry North East of 3 July 2012, Official Report, column 545W, for what reasons the document setting out the approach to the proposed evaluation of the effectiveness and value for money of the 2010 Drug Strategy was not published in autumn 2012; and when it will be published. [138391]

23 Jan 2013 : Column 295W

Mr Jeremy Browne: Finalising the document outlining the proposed approach to the evaluation of the 2010 Drug Strategy has taken longer than originally anticipated. The exact date and format of the publication is currently in the process of being agreed.

Prostitution

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent assessment she has made of court diversion schemes for those involved in prostitution; [138776]

(2) what recent assessment she has made of court diversion schemes which aim to change the behaviour of people who regularly solicit. [138723]

Mr Jeremy Browne [holding answer 22 January 2013]: Court diversion schemes are legislative options available to local areas in order to manage offending related to prostitution. Their application and assessment of their use is the responsibility of local police and courts.


Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to her Department's Violence against Women strategy, what proportion of ring-fenced funding for domestic and sexual violence support services will be allocated to prostitution exit programmes. [138777]

Mr Jeremy Browne [holding answer 22 January 2013]: The Home Office does not directly fund organisations to proactively assist men or women to exit prostitution. However, the Government has ring-fenced nearly £40 million over the course of the spending review period to fund specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, some of which specialise in assisting sex workers.

Transport

Buses: Safety Belts

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received on amending legislation relating to the use of seat belts in coaches. [138316]

Stephen Hammond: The Department has received three items of ministerial correspondence about the rules governing the use of seat belts in coaches and buses in the last three months.

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138384]

Norman Baker: The policy implementation priorities of the Department for Transport can be found in the Department's Structural Reform Plan, progress against which is reported on the Government's Business Plan Website:

http://transparency.number10.gov.uk/business-plan

23 Jan 2013 : Column 296W

A broader look at implementation progress can be found in the Government's Mid-Term Review document which was published on 7 January 2013, in addition to the Programme for Government update which was published on 9 January 2013:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

In terms of listing the Department's successes, this could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he has given to the provision of a property bond to offer security to property owners along the route of High Speed 2; and if he will make a statement. [138687]

Mr Simon Burns: The Property Bond (also known as the bond-based property purchase scheme) was considered before, during and after the national 2011 High Speed Rail consultation. The Government came to the conclusion that it was not an appropriate policy because it would impose an additional burden on the taxpayer and might have run the risk of exacerbating blight (the very problem it seeks to address) if it led to the Government owning so many properties along the line of route that it unsettled the balance of communities and significantly lowered home-ownership.

Kidsgrove Station

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many journeys through Kidsgrove railway station were cancelled in 2012 (a) as a result of driver shortages and (b) in total. [138831]

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport does not collect information about cancellations at individual stations. This is a mater for the train operating companies (TOCs) concerned.

The franchise train operators running services through Kidsgrove station are East Midlands Trains, London Midland and Northern Rail.

These TOCs are contactable via the following means:

East Midland Trains:

(Tel: 08457 125 678; e-mail: mailto:[email protected] co.uk);

London Midland: (Tel: 0844 811 0133; email:

mailto:[email protected]);

and

Northern Rail: (Tel: 0845 000 0125; email:

mailto:[email protected])

Railways: Nature Conservation

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many incidents of Network Rail operations have led to prosecution or threat of prosecutions within the terms of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; [138844]

23 Jan 2013 : Column 297W

(2) what reports he has received on the number of Network Rail lineside operations which have been halted by the presence of nesting birds in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement [138845]

Mr Simon Burns: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has received neither reports nor statistics relating to Network Rail's adherence over the last three years to the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended. Network Rail is a private sector company limited by guarantee, and its line-side works are operational matters for the company, in which Ministers have no powers to intervene.

Railways: Standards

Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the consultation by the Office of Rail Regulation on Network Rail's payments for delays to train operators, if he will ensure that any reforms to that system will result in passengers' refunds being on an equal footing with those of the train operators. [139001]

Norman Baker: Compensation paid to train operators for delays for which Network Rail is responsible is a matter for Network Rail. The compensation regime is a contractual element within the Track Access Agreement between Network Rail and each operator, and is overseen by the Office for Rail Regulation, which is currently consulting on whether any changes to that regime would be appropriate for the period 2014-19.

Compensation is currently set on a formula basis designed, on average, to compensate the train operator for the future loss of revenue arising from disruption, including any longer-term loss of revenue from a sustained period of poor performance. It is not related to and does not include provision for any additional costs incurred by train operators, such as compensation costs to passengers.

Compensation paid by train operators to passengers for delays is based on an entirely different system, in line with the terms of the operator's Passenger's Charter, and may vary for example with the type of ticket purchased. A number of existing franchises operate, as will all future ones, the Delay/Repay compensation system, under which compensation for delay is paid regardless of whether the delay was attributed to Network Rail or a train operator.

Roads: Snow and Ice

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much road grit the UK has had in storage in each of the last five years. [138315]

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport only holds comprehensive information on how much road salt was held in Great Britain since it introduced an electronic salt stock monitoring system in 2010 to monitor stock holdings being held across the country.

The frequency of these salt surveys varies based on risks, such as the levels of salt stock being held and the weather.

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The results from the surveys undertaken, including restocking surveys, is as follows:

Date of salt survey undertakenTotal Great Britainholding (tonnes) (million)(1, 2)

June 2010

0.707

September 2010

1.245

November 2010

1.567

6 December 2010

1.172

13 December 2010

1.254

20 December 2010

0.997

29 December 2010

0.778

5 January 2011

0.810

10 January 2011

0.810

17 January 2011

0.913

24 January 2011

0.896

31 January 2011

0.971

February 2011

1.062

April 2011

1.713

September 2011

2.495

October 2011

2.755

November 2011

2.766

December 2011

2.764

January 2012

2.497

February 2012

2.163

March 2012

2.068

September 2012

2.515

October 2012

2.673

November 2012

2.685

7 January 2013

2.415

(1) The figures include strategic salt stockpiles that are held by the Department for Transport, Transport for London and Transport Scotland. Figures for September 2010, November 2010 and 6 December 2010 exclude Wales. All other figures include Wales. (2) The Department for Transport does not hold information for Northern Ireland as this is a matter for the Northern Ireland Road Service.

Transport: Snow and Ice

Mr Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether additional support is available from his Department to assist local authorities in dealing with disruptions to regional transport links caused by bad weather. [138814]

Norman Baker: The management of local roads is the responsibility of the relevant local highway authorities under the Highways Act 1980. Authorities are expected to develop contingency plans in order to deal promptly and effectively with unplanned events, such as bad weather, in order to minimise disruption.

The Department for Transport works closely with the local government sector to provide advice to authorities on how to best plan for and cope with the effects of bad weather on their transport networks. Support provided includes advising and publishing best practice guidance through the UK Roads Liaison Group, as well as working closely with the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) on resilience issues.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is also in regular liaison with Local Resilience Forums, which include local highway authorities, to ensure effective delivery of duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to plan, prepare and communicate to reduce the risks from any such emergencies.

23 Jan 2013 : Column 299W

Communities and Local Government

Fracking

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will consider further ways of ensuring that local acceptance is a material consideration in a planning appeal considered by the Planning Inspectorate for fracking rig installation. [138695]

Nick Boles: All planning decisions, including any appeal decisions, should be made in accordance with the local development plan, national planning guidance and other material planning considerations. This is how the 'plan-led' planning system works.

Any representations on material planning considerations made by local residents, either on the original application or in respect of any appeal, are given full consideration by any inspector determining an appeal.

The weight to be attached to a material planning consideration is a matter for the decision-maker based on the individual circumstances of the application or the appeal.

Green Belt

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have submitted local plans which propose the release of greenbelt land for development for (a) housing and (b) business use. [137562]

Nick Boles: Local plans are the responsibility of local authorities. We do not hold centrally detailed information on local authorities' proposals across all their submitted plans.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications for new build projects on Green Belt land have been approved under Planning Policy Statement 7 Clause 11 since 2001. [138470]

Nick Boles [holding answer 21 January 2013]: This information is not collected centrally. Planning Policy Statement 7 was replaced by the National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012. The Framework maintains both Green Belt policy and a policy on exceptional dwellings in the countryside.

Housing: Construction

Caroline Nokes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will take steps to ensure that the planning process includes a requirement for new housing development to have fibre optic cabling installed to facilitate high speed broadband. [138753]

Nick Boles: We consider that this issue is best addressed in the context of our Review to rationalise the framework of Building Regulations, standards and guidance. This was launched last October and is designed to remove unnecessary cost and complexity from the house-building process. An external Challenge Panel is contributing to the Review, and as part of its work has been asked to

23 Jan 2013 : Column 300W

consider whether there is any need to add broadband connectivity into the Building Regulations. The terms of reference for the Review are available in this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-panel-to-help-government-cut-housebuilding-red-tape-and-boost-growth

Planning Permission: Fees and Charges

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of the cost of dealing with planning applications is covered by the fee that local authorities are able to charge; and if he will make a statement. [137757]

Nick Boles: Councils' statutory planning functions are financed through central Government grant, tax revenue retained locally, and from planning fees.

In total, local authorities in England spent £597 million in 2011-12 on development management. Income from individual planning applications was £283 million in the same period.

However, such figures are not comparative in a meaningful way. An Ove Arup survey in 2010 found that only 34% of planning authority resources was devoted to work on fee-related development management.

Councils' planning activities will include plan making, heritage and conservation, planning enforcement and handling applications which do not attract a fee.

Publications

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what procedures are used in his Department for monitoring the costs of producing in-house publications; and what categories of expenditure are recorded in relation to such costs. [136503]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 14 January 2013]: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to him today in PQs 135268 and 135278.

Publishing

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what costs his Department incurred in printing since May 2010; [135268]

(2) how much his Department has spent on publications since May 2010. [135278]

Brandon Lewis: My Department has taken a series of steps to reduce printing and publishing costs, illustrated in the following table.

Spending£

April 2008 - March 2009

4,619,526

April 2009 - March 2010

4,218,840

April 2010

43,613

May 2010 - March 2011

282,083

April 2011 - March 2012

282,839

The figures are for printing and publishing combined. It is not possible to differentiate between the two categories.

23 Jan 2013 : Column 301W

The Department now produces most publications digitally by default. I would note that Parliament continues to require some documents to be hard copy printed, for the benefit of hon. Members. A small number of publications may be hard copy printed for disability or access/exclusion reasons. Notwithstanding, these figures illustrate the scope for sensible savings in the public sector.

Scotland

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what his Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138383]

David Mundell: The policy implementation priorities of the Scotland Office can be found in the Department's business plan, which is published on the Scotland Office website:

http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk

A broader look at implementation progress can be found in the Government's mid-term review document published on 7 January 2013 at:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

and the Programme for Government Update published on 9 January 2013 at:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

Pay

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was paid in (a) year end and (b) in-year bonuses to officials in his Department in each of the last two years. [138958]

David Mundell: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) on 12 December 2012, Official Report, columns 316-17W.

Travel

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2013, Official Report, column 647W, on official visits, how much his Department has spent on behalf of (a) Ministers, (b) staff and (c) special advisers on (i) first-class train travel, (ii) business-class air travel and (iii) taxi hire in each of the last two years. [138954]

David Mundell: The Scotland Office does not separately record the spend on official visits from routine official business.

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many officials in his Department travelled (a) to and (b) from Scotland and London in an official capacity in (i) 2010, (ii) 2011 and (iii) 2012; and what the annual cost was of such journeys. [138957]

23 Jan 2013 : Column 302W

David Mundell: The number of officials travelling to and from Scotland and London in an official capacity and the costs of such journeys are shown in the following table:

Financial yearNumber of travelling officialsCost (£)

2010-11

50

70,070

2011-12

49

97,744

2012-13 (April to December 2012)

58

117,676

Defence

Afghanistan

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether under the terms of the call-up notice reservists who receive notices for service in Afghanistan may be deployed to other theatres of operation if they are subsequently deemed not to be required for duty in Afghanistan. [138708]

Mr Francois [holding answer 22 January 2013]:Reservists called out but subsequently not required to deploy to Afghanistan will be demobilised. If they have the correct skill sets to fill a post in a different operational theatre they will be given the option to deploy there rather than returning to civilian employment immediately. Those that take up this offer will be called out against that different operation, subject to a current call-out order being in place. The new call-out notice would permit both the reservist and the civilian employer to appeal against call out.

Under the Reserve Forces, Safeguard of Employment Act 1985, reservists are guaranteed re-employment with their former civilian employer.

Armed Forces: Crime

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of JSP 839 Code of Practice on services to be provided by the armed forces to victims of crime; and if he will make a statement. [136189]

Mr Francois: To date, no formal assessment of the effectiveness of JSP 839 Code of Practice on services to be provided by the armed forces to victims of crime, has been carried out.

Armed Forces: Discharges

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel have been discharged from the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force on the grounds of retrospective medical discharge in each year since May 2010. [138554]

Mr Francois: This information is not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

23 Jan 2013 : Column 303W

Armed Forces: Sexual Offences

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2012, Official Report, column 752W, on armed forces: sexual offences, with reference to the Full Code test, if he will define service interest; and if he will make a statement. [137329]

Mr Francois: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces on 17 July 2012, Official Report, column 752W, in which he referred to the “public interest” which is to be considered in relation to whether a prosecution should be brought.

One aspect of the public interest is sometimes referred to as the “service interest” which can be defined as any issue that affects capability and operational effectiveness. Regarding legal issues this means that the armed forces should be subject to fair and effective discipline, and that by such discipline their operational effectiveness will be maintained and enhanced.

Defence

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the UK's priorities for defence engagement. [138494]

Dr Murrison: Our International Defence Engagement Strategy will be published shortly.

This will identify the optimum ways in which Defence assets and activities can contribute towards wider Government objectives overseas, including security, conflict prevention and prosperity. We consult across Whitehall to ensure that we prioritise our defence engagement most effectively against these objectives, in line with changing international realities.

Meetings

Caroline Dinenage: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on how many occasions Ministers in his Department met General Sir Charles Guthrie at the Ministry of Defence Main Building between June 2001 and 6 May 2010; and what the date was of, and which Minister attended, each such meeting; [134979]

(2) on how many occasions Ministers in his Department met Admiral Sir Michael Boyce at the Ministry of Defence main building between June 2003 and 6 May 2010; which Minister attended each such meeting; and on what date each such meeting took place. [134980]

Mr Philip Hammond: According to our records, the following meetings took place between Ministers and Admiral Sir Michael Boyce:

DateMinister

19 November 2009

Rt. Hon. Bob Ainsworth MP (Secretary of State for Defence)

23 November 2009

Rt. Hon. Bob Ainsworth MP (Secretary of State for Defence)

2 November 2009

Bill Rammell MP (Minister for the Armed Forces)

21 October 2009

Kevan Jones MP (Minister for Veterans)

23 Jan 2013 : Column 304W

14 January 2010

Kevan Jones MP (Minister for Veterans) and Bill Rammell MP (Minister for the Armed Forces)

4 February 2010

Bill Rammell MP (Minister for the Armed Forces)

10 February 2010

Kevan Jones MP (Minister for Veterans) and the Rt. Hon. Bob Ainsworth (Secretary of State for Defence)

No meetings between General Sir Charles Guthrie and Ministers were recorded.

Publications

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2013, Official Report, column 799W, on publications, if he will place a copy of his Department's staff magazine in the Library. [138751]

Mr Francois: I have placed the latest copy of “Defence Focus” in the Library of the House. Each edition is also available online at the following link:

http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defence/series/defence-focus-magazine

Treasury

Child Care Vouchers

Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate (a) how many people benefited from workplace childcare vouchers supported by Government funds, (b) what the average benefit to recipients was and (c) what the total cost to the public purse was in each (i) region and nation of the UK and (ii) parliamentary constituency in (A) 2011-12 and (B) 2012-13 to date. [138604]

Sajid Javid: The average number of taxpayers in receipt of childcare vouchers during each financial year is estimated to be as follows:

 Number

2011-12

500,000

2012-13

540,000

The average value to a voucher recipient of Government support through relief from tax and national insurance is estimated to be £900 a year in both 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The total virtue of Government support for childcare vouchers to employees and employers through relief from tax and national insurance is estimated to be as follows:

 £ million

2011-12

630

2012-13

640

Estimates at country, regional and constituency level are not available.

23 Jan 2013 : Column 305W

Commonwealth Finance Ministers

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the UK's representation at the Tokyo Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting in October 2012. [138496]

Greg Clark: The meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers was held in Tokyo, Japan on 9-10 October 2012, in the margins of the IMF/World Bank annual meetings. The discussion focused on: growth, jobs and inequality; and dealing with uncertainty in the global economy.

A chair's summary of the meeting is available on the Commonwealth Secretariat website should further information on the topics of discussion be required:

http://www.thecommonwealth.org/subhomepage/145500/247717/cfmm2012/

Corporation Tax: Northern Ireland

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to make a decision on the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland. [138933]

Mr Gauke: The report of the Joint Ministerial Working Group has made real progress in understanding the practicalities and potential impacts of devolution to Northern Ireland. A decision on the report will be made in due course.

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138385]

Sajid Javid: The policy implementation priorities for HM Treasury can be found in the Department's Structural Reform Plan, progress against which is reported on the Government's Business Plan Website:

http://transparency.number10.gov.uk/business-plan

A broader look at implementation progress can be found in the Government's Mid-Term Review document:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

published on 7 January 2013 and the Programme for Government Update:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

published on 9 January 2013.

Gamma International

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received on the licensing of exports by Gamma International; if he will place a copy of any response by his Department to such representations in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [138690]

Mr Gauke: HMRC cannot comment on individual cases. HMRC considers all credible information it receives and takes action accordingly.

23 Jan 2013 : Column 306W

Infrastructure UK

John Healey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what projects are currently being managed by Infrastructure UK; and if he will estimate the value of each such project. [136001]

Danny Alexander: Infrastructure UK supports the delivery of major infrastructure projects with a focus on the Top 40 priority infrastructure projects and programmes but does not directly manage them. An update on the delivery of the Top 40 was published alongside the autumn statement 2012 and is available at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/national_infrastructure_plan_051212.pdf

John Healey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff are employed by Infrastructure UK; how many of these are (a) permanent civil servants, (b) consultants and (c) on secondment to Infrastructure UK; and from what organisations seconded staff have been seconded. [136002]

Danny Alexander: As of 30 November 2012 (the most recent date figures are available), Infrastructure UK employs 36.34 FTE permanent staff, 1.00 FTE staff on fixed term contract, 0.4FTE contractor/agency staff and 4.80 FTE staff on loan and secondment. Staff on loan and secondment are from Costain Ltd, Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Deloitte Touche.

John Healey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost has been of consultants working for Infrastructure UK in each year since the unit was established within his Department to date; and what Infrastructure UK's planned budget for consultants is for each year to 2015-16. [136003]

Danny Alexander: Following the confirmation of Infrastructure UK in the June 2010 Emergency Budget, the following expenditures have been made on consultants:

 £

June 2010-11

0

2011-12

65,000

2012-13

23,000

Infrastructure UK's 2013-14 and future operational budget will be set by HM Treasury's Executive Management Board, as part of the Department's 2013-14 business planning round currently under way.

John Healey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total annual running cost has been for Infrastructure UK since June 2010; and what the total annual budget is for each year to 2015-16. [136004]

Danny Alexander: The gross total annual running costs for Infrastructure UK from 2010-11 have been:

 £

2010-11

7,670,000

2011-12

6,126,000

23 Jan 2013 : Column 307W

2012-13

(1)6,463,000

(1) Forecast.

Infrastructure UK costs are offset by income streams including from the organisations of incoming secondees and IUK's work with other Government Departments. Infrastructure UK's 2013-14 and future operational budget will be set by HM Treasury's Executive Management Board, as part of the Department's 2013-14 business planning round currently under way.

National Insurance Contributions: Scotland

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Exchequer received in respect of employer and employee national insurance contributions from people resident in Scotland in each of the last five years. [137377]

Mr Gauke: The estimated amount of class 1 national insurance contributions paid in Scotland was:

National insurance contributions Scotland
£ billion
 Class 1 Employee NICsClass 1Employer NICs

2010-11

3.4

4.4

2009-10

3.4

4.4

2008-09

3.4

4.5

2007-08

3.3

4.5

2006-07

3.1

4.1

Figures for 2011-12 and 2012-13 are not available.

Estimates are based on a 1% sample of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) data. The sample is based on accruals data; it relies upon P14 forms completed by employers at the end of each tax year and may differ from receipts figures that may be available from other sources.

New Businesses: Government Assistance

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total value of investments made to date under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is. [137814]

Mr Gauke: To date HM Revenue and Customs has approved investments that total £7 million, in around 85 companies under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.

NHS: Private Sector

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to offer tax incentives to private healthcare companies operating in the NHS. [138596]

Mr Gauke: The Government have no plans to offer tax incentives to private sector providers of NHS services.

Monitor are currently carrying out a review of any matters which prevent providers—be they NHS, for-profit or voluntary sector organisations—from improving the services that the NHS offer to patients. When the report is completed, the Government will consider any changes that would result in benefits to patients. Monitor has not yet submitted its report, but it has clarified that it

23 Jan 2013 : Column 308W

will not be recommending that private sector providers of NHS services should be exempt from paying corporation tax.

Non-domestic Rates: Appeals

Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many business rates appeals to the Valuation Office Agency are classed as (a) outstanding, (b) received and (c) cleared, by region; and what the current median time is to clear business rates challenges in days by region. [137145]

Mr Gauke: The following table shows the latest available statistics on proposals (appeals) to alter the 2010 rating lists, by region. The numbers provided are for the latest complete financial year.

RegionReceived(1 )1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012Cleared(1)1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012Median time to clear (days) 31 March 2012Unresolved(1) 31 March 2012

England and Wales

169,610

148,550

322

241,700

England

160,960

141,150

321

230,000

North East

6,920

5,650

343

10,320

North West

22,180

19,690

330

34,130

Yorkshire and the Humber

14,340

14,540

330

22,050

East Midlands

9,130

12,220

286

10,400

West Midlands

15,140

14,850

316

20,560

East

16,550

13,470

319

23,710

London

40,580

23,820

332

56,610

South East

21,690

22,060

315

33,150

South West

14,430

14,840

337

19,050

Wales

8,650

7,410

344

11,710

VOA Official Statistics, Local Rating Lists: Challenges, May 2012 http://www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/statisticalReleases/120503-localRatingListChallenges.html

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had on changing OECD tax treaty standards on (a) company residence and (b) permanent establishment. [138846]

Mr Gauke: Officials have regular dialogue with the OECD and attend its various working parties as part of Government business. One of those working parties looks at the operation of the OECD Model Tax Convention. It is currently reviewing the guidance on the definition of permanent establishment contained in the Commentary on the OECD Model Tax Convention, and is proposing some changes to that guidance, but not to the treaty standard definition of what constitutes a permanent establishment. The work of that group will be reflected in the updated Commentary to be published in 2014.

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The OECD work on base erosion and profit shifting covers a wide range of issues, including consideration of the rules on permanent establishment. The OECD will report to the G20 Finance Ministers on progress in February 2013. The timetable and direction for further work by the OECD will be set following consideration of the February report.

Revenue and Customs

Kate Hoey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review the ways in which HM Revenue and Customs deals with disabled people in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement. [136883]

Mr Gauke: HMRC ensures that it complies with the extensive legal protection for disabled people which exists in domestic law. The UK is already bound by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention did not aim to establish new human rights for disabled people but sets out with greater clarity the human rights that disabled people already have so they are treated on an equal basis to other people.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he plans to introduce a variable rate of stamp duty land tax to reflect the energy efficiency of a property. [138930]

Mr Gauke: The Government have no intention to introduce a variable rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to reflect the energy efficiency of a property.

Tax Avoidance

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the role of accountancy firms in recent instances of aggressive tax avoidance by large corporations; [138309]

(2) what assessment he has made of the role of commercial law firms in recent instances of aggressive tax avoidance by large corporations. [138313]

Mr Gauke: The UK played a leading role in a 2008 OECD report into the role of tax advisers. The report acknowledged that intermediaries play a vital role in the tax system, helping taxpayers understand and comply with their tax obligations, but it also observed that some tax intermediaries act as promoters of aggressive tax planning. The key conclusion was that the large corporate taxpayer, not the tax intermediary, sets the overall strategy and appetite for tax risk, and decides whether or not to adopt particular tax planning opportunities.

HMRC recognises that this continues to be the case, and that tax advisers play an important role in supporting responsible tax planning. HMRC seeks to reduce tax avoidance by using customer relationship managers to monitor the company's business and tax affairs closely and understand the avoidance risks they pose. It allocates resources to the biggest risks, for example through the

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High Risk Corporates Programme, as well as using the statutory disclosure rules that apply to the promoters of avoidance schemes.

Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what work HM Revenue and Customs is currently undertaking with tax authorities in other (a) EU and (b) OECD countries on tackling tax evasion and avoidance. [138851]

Mr Gauke: HM Revenue and Customs regularly works with tax administrations in partner countries to tackle cross-border non-compliance.

The United Kingdom joined the Aggressive Tax Planning (ATP) Steering Group set up by the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration in 2005. Details of tax avoidance schemes promoted in one of the 22 ATP member states are shared to promote OECD-wide awareness of avoidance schemes. This helps governments to respond quickly to tax risks, identify trends and patterns experienced by another tax administration and share experiences in dealing with them.

The UK plays a leading role having disclosed 41 of approximately 400 schemes posted to the ATP Directory to date. The UK contributes to reports prepared by the OECD ATP on areas of international tax avoidance, and we are leading members of ATP “expert groups”.

HMRC attends and participates fully in the bi-annual OECD ATP conferences, most recently in October 2012.

HMRC also makes full use of its membership of the nine country Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre group to investigate potential cases of cross-border avoidance and evasion, by both individuals and corporates.

On offshore evasion, HMRC is developing a comprehensive strategy to be published in spring 2013. This strategy will detail the role of multilateral and cross-border working in preventing and addressing evasion.

Tax Evasion: Scotland

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies in Scotland have been (a) investigated and (b) prosecuted for tax evasion in each of the last five years. [137375]

Mr Gauke: The term “investigation” can cover many types of interventions undertaken by HMRC. For instance any tax return submitted by a company can be looked at to ensure its accuracy, and HMRC engages with individuals and companies on their tax affairs on the telephone and by carrying out compliance visits. HMRC carries out hundreds of thousands of such interventions every year.

The majority of tax evasion cases are dealt with using cost-effective civil settlement procedures.

HMRC also has the power to investigate criminally those that seek to defraud the Exchequer, and it publishes its policy around when it will use this power.

HMRC is not a prosecuting authority. Where cases do proceed to the criminal courts the prosecution is carried out by the relevant independent prosecuting authority. This is the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

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in England and Wales, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland, and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland (PPSNI).

Along with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), HMRC and its prosecuting authority are legislatively able to pursue corporate offending. However, establishing guilty knowledge and securing convictions against companies is notoriously difficult. Therefore when HMRC undertakes a criminal investigation into a company for tax evasion with a view to prosecution, it will pursue the officers of the company for their actions on behalf of that company, rather than the company per se.

Details of the total number of individuals prosecuted and convicted for tax offences are set out in the table. These include offences in relation to both direct and indirect tax, excise, and tax credits.

It is not HMRC's policy to divulge regional operational data of the nature requested.

 ProsecutionsConvictions

2007-08

526

638

2008-09

416

469

2009-10

296

419

2010-11

402

327

2011-12

497

399

Prosecution and conviction figures in any given year do not necessarily relate to the same individuals due to timing and length of case. Prior to 2010-11, prosecution figures relate to cases as opposed to individuals.

A breakdown of prosecutions and convictions for tax evasion between individuals and those related to companies is available only at disproportionate cost.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Albania

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to improve bilateral trade with Albania; and if he will make a statement. [138485]

Mr Lidington: We are working closely with the Albanian Government to improve the business environment by addressing important issues such as corruption, strengthening the judiciary, and developing property rights and other areas of legislation relevant to any business wishing to operate in Albania. For example, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is finalising a Double Taxation Agreement with Albania in order to encourage more trade. Creating the right business environment is vital for Albania in attracting foreign investment, and also for creating a domestic economy that would lead to future investments in the UK.

Arms Trade: Treaties

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons a commitment to achieving an international arms trade treaty was not included in the Coalition Mid-term Review. [138588]

23 Jan 2013 : Column 312W

Alistair Burt: The coalition's mid-term review contains many of the Government's achievements and objectives but it is not an exhaustive list of them all. A robust, effective, legally binding and global arms trade treaty will offer the prospect of a better future to millions who live in the shadow of conflict. The UK has played a leading role over the last seven years in international efforts to achieve such a treaty and it continues to be a high priority for the Government. In July last year, we made important progress on a draft text. In November, we and key partners secured overwhelming support at the UN for a conference to conclude the treaty in March 2013. A treaty is now within our grasp and the Government will spare no effort to secure it.

Azerbaijan

Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will write to the government of Azerbaijan to commemorate the occasion of the anniversary of the massacre of civilians by Soviet forces in Baku on 20 January 1990. [138408]

Mr Lidington: The Government are aware of the tragic events that took place in Baku in January 1990, when Azerbaijan was still part of the Soviet Union. Many thousands of civilians were displaced from their homes, with deaths estimated to run into hundreds. It is not our practice to send letters of condolence on such occasions, but our ambassador in Baku will be attending a ceremony led by the Azerbaijani president on Sunday 20 January to commemorate those who died.

Bahrain

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on of the treatment of Talib Ali, Ahmed Abdullah Ibrahim, Saeed Ali Al Herz and Hassan Abdullah al Moalem in custody in Bahrain. [138729]

Alistair Burt: We have not received detailed information about the four individuals referred to, but continue in our efforts to monitor trials in Bahrain and the treatment of those held in custody.

In particular we urge the Government of Bahrain to ensure that due process is carefully and transparently followed in all cases and that civil liberties are protected. It is essential that anyone accused has adequate time to prepare a defence, has access to legal counsel and is tried before independent, impartial tribunals.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the level of press freedom in Bahrain. [138731]

Alistair Burt: We recommend the steps taken by the Government of Bahrain in implementing reforms based on recommendations by the Independent Commission of Inquiry. But we believe the Government have more to do to relax censorship and allow the opposition greater access to the media. We continue to raise this issue with the authorities, underlining the importance press freedom has for reconciliation.

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Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of reports of torture and mistreatment of prisoners perceived to be opponents of the Government of Bahrain. [138732]

Alistair Burt: The British Government consistently and unreservedly condemn torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and it is a priority for us to combat it wherever and whenever it occurs. We are aware of allegations of mistreatment of Bahraini protesters and express our concerns to the authorities on a regular basis.

At its Universal Periodic Review at the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2012, the Government of Bahrain made a commitment to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture.

The UK strongly supports this and we have been working with the authorities to share best practice on torture prevention measures. For example, in mid-January the Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded a visit to Bahrain by officials from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prison to share best practice with the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Justice on National Preventive Mechanisms against torture in detention centres and conducting independent inspections.

Commonwealth

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the most recent bilateral investment agreement between the UK and another Commonwealth country was signed. [138301]

Michael Fallon: I have been asked to reply on behalf the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The last treaty between the UK and a Commonwealth country to enter into force was with Mozambique. The treaty was signed in March 2004 and came into force in February 2007. The UK signed an agreement with Zambia in November 2009 but this has yet to enter into force.

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138376]

Mr Lidington: The policy implementation priorities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be found in the Department's Structural Reform Plan, progress against which is reported on the Government's business plan website:

http://transparency.number10.gov.uk/business-plan

A broader look at implementation progress can be found in the Government's mid-term review document:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

published on 7 January 2013 and the programme for Government update:

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

published on 9 January 2013.

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Human Trafficking

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to help victims of trafficking return to their countries of origin while providing them with reintegration support; and what funding his Department makes available to support this process. [138421]

Mr Swire: The British Government are committed to helping victims of trafficking who wish to return to their countries of origin. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) held a ministerial event in October 2012 to encourage foreign embassies, high commissions and consulates in London to expedite the process for securing travel documentation for their nationals who are victims of trafficking and wish to return home.

The FCO supports numerous projects overseas to provide reintegration of returning migrants, including the victims of trafficking, through several channels. The FCO, along with the UK Border Agency, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Justice, manage the returns and reintegration fund. This fund has been used, for example, for a project in Vietnam to help provide accommodation for female victims of trafficking.

In addition to this, some of our posts overseas use their bilateral programme budgets to help support local projects, such as a counter trafficking project in India, to support the reintegration of Indian victims of trafficking. The FCO has also pledged to support a joint EU-funded Victims of Trafficking programme coordinated by the International Organisation for Migration.

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which organisations in which countries receive funding from his Department to support the integration and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking in their country of origin. [138423]

Mr Swire: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has provided funding to the following organisations to facilitate the integration and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking:

CountryOrganisation

India

Anyay Rahit Zindagi (ARZ)—(Commercial Sexual Exploitation counter trafficking project)

Vietnam

Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA)—(Lao Cai Reintegration Shelter)

The FCO has also provided funding to the following organisations to help reintegrate returning migrants, which may include victims of trafficking, but these programmes have a broader remit:

CountryOrganisation

Afghanistan

International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Iraq

European Technology and Training Centre (ETTC); World Economic Outlook (WEO)

Pakistan

Women Empowerment Literacy and Development Organisation (WELDO)

23 Jan 2013 : Column 315W

Iran

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of Iranian involvement with terrorist proxies; and if he will make a statement. [138593]

Alistair Burt: We have serious concerns about Iran's support for a number of terrorist groups in the Middle East, including Hizballah, Palestinian rejectionist groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and Iraqi Shia militia groups. Iran's support to these groups directly undermines prospects for peace and stability in the Middle East. Iran continues to provide the military wing of Hizballah with significant financial resources, military equipment and training. Such support is unacceptable and in direct contravention of the UN embargo on the export of weapons by Iran (UN Security Council Resolution 1747).

We regularly discuss these concerns with a range of international partners and are committed to the toughest possible international response to Iran's support for terrorism and refusal to operate within the bounds of international law.

Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the situation of the Baha'i community in Iran. [138740]

Alistair Burt: We remain deeply concerned about the situation of the Baha'i community in Iran. This religious group continues to be systematically persecuted by the Iranian regime. I am aware of an apparent increase in harassment, particularly in Semnan. This includes the closure of businesses run by Baha'is, restricted access to education by Baha'i students and the imprisonment in poor conditions of infants alongside their Baha'i mothers. Over 100 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran, including the seven Baha'i leaders jailed in 2008. We continue to monitor this minority group's persecution and to condemn publicly their appalling treatment by the regime.

Middle East

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. [138594]

Alistair Burt: The British Government continue to be concerned about the security situation in the Sinai. We regularly raise this with the Egyptian authorities and have offered to share British experience in this field. Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice currently warns against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai and against all but essential travel to the Governorate of South Sinai.

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of progress in the Middle East Peace Process; and if he will make a statement. [138595]

Alistair Burt: Recent developments highlight the urgent need for the United States of America, with the strong support of the UK and other partners, to lead a major push to revitalise the peace process. We are concerned by developments that threaten the viability of the two-state

23 Jan 2013 : Column 316W

solution, particularly continued settlement announcements. The UK continues to urge both sides to refrain from any steps that would make the two-state solution, or a return to negotiations, more difficult. 2013 is a crucial year for the Middle East Peace Process if progress is to be made before the window for a two-state solution closes. Accordingly we will continue to call on Palestinian Authority President Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister to show the strong leadership needed to achieve a return to negotiations for a two-state solution, which will bring a just and permanent solution to this conflict.

North Korea

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ proposal for an international inquiry into possible crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international human rights law in North Korea. [138620]

Mr Swire: We welcome the statement from the United Nations High Commissioner on 14 January 2013. We are currently considering with partners in the UN whether to support an international inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea. We agree with the principle that more needs to be done to put pressure on North Korea to reform.

During the Australia-UK ministerial consultations on 18 January 2013, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and the Australian Foreign Minister agreed that they should explore what more can be done to enhance the effectiveness of UN measures.

We continue to press the North Korean Government to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea and allow him access to their country.

Piracy

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the UK insurance industry as a result of piracy off the coast of Africa. [138317]

Alistair Burt: The report by One Earth Future (2011) estimates that maritime piracy could be costing the global economy up to USD $12 billion a year. They estimated the two major forms of piracy related insurance, war risk and kidnap and ransom policies, cost shipping companies up to USD $635 million in 2011.

Owing to the way insurance premiums are calculated, however, it is not possible for these figures to be translated into an accurate representation of the cost to UK insurance companies.

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 December 2012, Official Report, column 37WS, on the International Piracy Ransoms Task Force, what steps he is taking both in the UK and through diplomatic channels to prevent the payment of ransoms. [138533]

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Alistair Burt: The British Government's policy on kidnap for ransom is long-held and clear: we seek the swift and safe return of hostages, but do not pay ransoms or make other substantive concessions to hostage takers (prisoner release or a change in policy). We do so on the basis that making concessions only serves to fuel the problem and increase the risk to our nationals.

This is why, following the Prime Minister's announcement at the London Conference on Somalia last year, we led the Piracy Ransoms Task Force which reported to Parliament on 12 December. The taskforce, comprising Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Liberia, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Spain, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, agreed that work should urgently be undertaken to:

develop a new strategic partnership between flag states, the private sector and law enforcement agencies that brings together those tackling piracy and those subjected to it in a united effort to break the piracy business model;

develop a more co-ordinated approach to information-sharing to provide evidence-to pursue and prosecute all involved in piracy;

strengthen co-ordination between flag states, the private sector and military responders to prepare for potential hostage situations; and

encourage implementation of anti-piracy measures, including greater compliance with Best Management Practice.

Over the coming months we will be taking forward these recommendations with our international partners and the UK maritime industry.

Sickness Absence

Mr Marcus Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many days of sick leave staff of his Department are permitted to take in any one year before disciplinary action is commenced; [138581]

(2) how many days of paid staff sickness leave per individual member of staff is authorised in his Department annually. [138589]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a robust sick absence procedure in place to deal with staff who take sick leave. Our policy is in line with the Civil Service Management Code, part of the Civil Service Code which sets out the central framework for management of the civil service as set by the Cabinet Office.

There is no single limit on the number of days of paid sickness days that FCO members of staff are authorised to take.

An unsatisfactory attendance record, which will trigger action for line managers, is defined as:

12 days self-certificated sick leave in any 12 month period;

a combination of self-certificated and/or medically-certified sick leave totalling at least 15 days during the last 12 months; or

five separate occasions of self-certificated and/or medically-certified sick absence in any 12 month period.

Staff who reach any of these trigger points are warned their attendance is unsatisfactory. A formal process is activated which requires the manager to monitor attendance for up to three periods of three months. If attendance remains poor they are referred to a Sick Absence Management Panel with a recommendation for dismissal.

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During 2012, the total number of paid sick days, taken by UK Based staff, was 15,295. This equates to an average number of 3.4 days per person. This compares favourably with the Whitehall average of 7.6 days per person. There were 222 days of unpaid sick absence.

Ukraine

Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will visit Ukraine to discuss new initiatives to combat human trafficking. [138429]

Mr Lidington: Neither the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), nor I have any immediate plans to visit Ukraine. I last visited in October 2010 when I met the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Vice Prime Minister.

The Government take human trafficking very seriously and are committed to combating it, including by providing support to anti-trafficking organisations which routinely work to tackle this crime.

Ukraine is not one of the major source countries for trafficking victims to the UK. Five referrals of Ukrainian nationals were made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) between 1 April 2009 and June 2011, of which only three cases were later identified as having positive grounds to classify them as victims of trafficking. To date there have been no referrals of Ukrainian nationals to the NRM for 2012.

Her Majesty's Government (HMG) will be working closely with the Ukrainian Government throughout its Chairmanship-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as Ukraine has highlighted combating human trafficking as a priority for its chairmanship. The UK will contribute actively to an international conference being organised by Ukraine on this subject as announced in Vienna by the Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

International Development

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138380]

Justine Greening: The policy implementation priorities of the Department for International Development can be found in the Department's structural reform plan, progress against which is reported on the Government's business plan website

http://transparency.number10.gov.uk/business-plan

A broader look at implementation progress can be found in the Government's mid-term review document

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

published on 7 January 2013, and the Programme for Government Update

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

published on 9 January 2013.

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Culture, Media and Sport

Arts

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what recent estimate she has made of the contribution of the arts and culture sector to the UK economy; [138599]

(2) what recent estimate she has made of the contribution of the creative industries' sector to the UK economy; [138600]

(3) what recent estimate she has made of the contribution of the heritage sector to the UK economy; [138601]

(4) what recent estimate she has made of the contribution of museums to the UK economy. [138602]

Mr Vaizey: DCMS estimates the direct economic contribution of its sectors through the Creative Industries Economic Estimates, the Sports Satellite Account and the Tourism Satellite Account. DCMS also draws on other sources, such as the Annual Business Survey (ABS) and estimates and research from its arm's length bodies for data on the economic impact of its sectors.

The latest DCMS estimates show the creative industries contributed £36.3 billion to the economy in 2009, exported £8.9 billion in creative services in 2009 and employed 1.5 million people in 2010. The Tourism Satellite Account estimates that tourism contributed £44.6 billion to the economy and employed 1.79 million people in 2009. The Sports Satellite account shows that sport contributed £27.2 billion in GVA terms and employed 632,000 people in sports related industries in 2006.

The Annual Business Survey estimates that historic sites contributed £162 million to economy in GVA terms in 2011.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has estimated that UK Heritage tourism directly accounts for £4.3 billion of GDP and creates employment for 113,000 people

The Arts Council England have commissioned research to produce an evidence-based understanding of the direct, indirect and wider contribution that arts and culture, including museums, make to the national economy, this is expected to be published in early summer 2013.

Broadband

Caroline Nokes: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on ensuring that the planning process includes a requirement for new housing development to have fibre optic cabling installed to facilitate high speed broadband. [138750]

Mr Vaizey: The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Maria Miller), has regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles), on a variety of matters, including broadband and planning. The Publicly Available Specification ‘Next Generation Access for new build homes’ (PAS 2016), published in December 2010 and sponsored by the Government, is intended to provide developers and house builders with the information they need to make informed decisions on how to ensure homes are best-equipped for next generation connectivity.

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Broadband: Rural Areas

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many local authorities have completed the procurement work for the rollout of UK broadband following state aid approval for local authorities to sign procurement deals with contractors to start work on rural broadband infrastructure projects; and what steps she has taken to encourage them to do so. [139174]

Mr Vaizey: I can confirm that nine projects have signed contracts, 15 are in procurement and the remainders are in preparation to begin procurement. Broadband Delivery UK is working closely with the local project teams to support their progress and contract signature at the earliest opportunity.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the reasons were for postponement of the completion of procurement of the rural broadband infrastructure project to summer 2013; and what assessment she has made of the likelihood of further such postponement. [139175]

Mr Vaizey: The procurement timetable is based on the capacity of local authorities and suppliers to manage the overall procurement process and it also reflects the time required for the European Commission to approve the UK's umbrella state aid notification. As a result of the program new cabinets and connections are already being delivered, and more projects will be delivering improved connections once they complete procurement and have signed contracts.

Culture: Finance

Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment her Department has made of the potential effects of the Local Government Finance Settlement on funding for cultural projects by local authorities. [138545]

Mr Vaizey: The Government have made no assessment of the potential effects of the Local Government Finance Settlement on funding for cultural projects by local authorities. It is central Government's role to empower local communities and it is for local authorities to make the decisions that they feel are most appropriate for their area. Ministers have met with representatives of the Local Government Association to discuss the importance of local government funding to arts and cultural organisations.

Direct Selling

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues on legislative proposals for the protection of people in the UK from unsolicited international callers. [138454]

Mr Vaizey: No recent discussions have been held as callers from within the UK, or those based overseas making international calls on behalf of UK companies, are legally required not to call a number that is registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). However,

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international calls not made on behalf of UK companies fall outside of the UK's jurisdiction. The TPS is a free service and is provided under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003; consumers are also protected if they have previously notified the caller that they do not wish to receive such calls. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) enforces the TPS and can issue a fine of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches of the PECR.

I met with the ICO, Ofcom and TPS in July to press for further improvements in enforcement. Consequently, the ICO has increased the resources devoted to enforcement of PECR and on 28 November 2012 served monetary penalties totalling £440,000 to two illegal marketers responsible for distributing millions of spam texts. The ICO has also published on its website a list of the most complained about companies that make calls to TPS registered consumers. If the companies fail to remedy their actions, then they could face further enforcement action. The ICO is also currently considering issuing penalties to three other companies for breaching the PECR.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent assessment she has made of the level of unsolicited international calls to residents in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [138455]

Mr Vaizey: No such assessment has been made, but according to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), the vast majority of unsolicited international marketing calls received by UK consumers are made by, or on behalf of UK companies, as the product or service must normally have a direct relevance for consumers. Such calls are caught by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which is enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

I met with the ICO, Ofcom and TPS in July and pressed for further improvements to be made in ICO's enforcement activity. Consequently, the ICO has increased the resources devoted to enforcement of PECR and on 28 November 2012 served monetary penalties totalling £440,000 to two illegal marketers responsible for distributing millions of spam texts. The ICO has also published on its website a list of the most complained about companies that make calls to TPS registered consumers. If the companies fail to remedy their actions, then they could face further enforcement action. The ICO is also currently considering issuing penalties to three other companies for breaching the PECR.

Entertainments: Tickets

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she plans to review regulations on the online resale of concert tickets by a person or company other than the concert promoter; and what her policy is on the removal of such sales from the exemption in section 6.2 of The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. [137852]

Mr Vaizey: The Government have no plans to change the legislative framework concerning the secondary ticket market. We will, however, continue to monitor this area.

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Local Broadcasting

Jason McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when local television licences for (a) Leeds, (b) Manchester and (c) Liverpool will be awarded. [138484]

Mr Vaizey: Ofcom expect to announce the award of licence for each of these areas in February 2013.

Procurement

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 14 January 2013, Official Report, column 604W, on procurement, which organisations were awarded research contracts that were not competitively tendered by her Department in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [137833]

Hugh Robertson: The following organisations were awarded contracts:

(a) 2010—Office for National Statistics (£728.82); Office for National Statistics (£21,737)

(b) 2011—Office for National Statistics (£84.00); Office for National Statistics (£216.00)

(c) 2012—GFK Retail and Technology Ltd (£389.00); Health and Safety Laboratory (£22,000)

Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of procurement contracts offered by her Department has been advertised on the Contracts Finder website since that website's inception. [138862]

Hugh Robertson: Up until end of December 2012 90% of eligible contracts have been published on Contracts Finder, the remaining 10% is due to be published as soon as possible.

Sports: Rural Areas

Mr Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what action her Department is taking to promote access to sports for disabled people in rural communities. [138811]

Hugh Robertson [holding answer 22 January 2013]: Improved access to sport for disabled people is a key strand of Sport England’s £l billion Youth and Community Sports Strategy and every sport now has specific targets/plans to improve access for disabled people for the first time. In December, they announced new investment of over £10 million in community sports projects for people with disabilities. Rural communities across England will benefit from these investments.

Tour de France

Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with UK Sport on their support of the Tour de France in the UK in 2014. [138917]

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Hugh Robertson: My officials and I have regular discussions with UK Sport on a wide range of issues which include major sporting events which the UK is either bidding for or hosting. These discussions have included the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biomass

Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contribution he expects the combustion of biomass to make to air quality in the UK over the next (a) five and (b) 10 years. [137476]

Richard Benyon: Emissions of a range of air pollutants from combustion of biomass have been estimated for 2015 and 2020 by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.

The projected emissions are shown in the following table. Biomass fuels include wood, straw and poultry litter, but exclude liquid and gaseous biologically derived fuels (transport fuels, sewage gas and landfill gas) and municipal solid waste which has a biological component.

Kilotonnes
Pollutant20152020

Ammonia

1.87

1.87

Oxides of nitrogen

8.70

20.86

Coarse particles (PM10)

14.10

16.53

Fine particles (PM2.5)

9.42

11.36

Sulphur dioxide

0.478

0.478

Non-methane volatile organic compounds

12.13

12.13

The effect of biomass boilers on air quality concentrations in 2020 has been estimated arising from the uptake of the Government's renewable heat incentive in its current form. The contribution of biomass to the population weighted mean concentration of coarse particles (PM10) is 0.037 microgrammes/m(3), of fine particles (PM2.5) is 0.034 microgrammes/m(3)( )and for nitrogen dioxide is insignificant.

Departmental Responsibilities

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's top three policy implementation (a) successes and (b) failures have been since May 2010. [138375]

Richard Benyon: The policy implementation priorities of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can be found in the Department's structural reform plan, progress against which is reported on the Government's business plan website

http://transparency.number10.gov.uk/business-plan

A broader look at the implementation progress can be found in the Government's mid-term review document

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

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published on 7 January 2013 and the Programme for Government Update

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/programme-for-government-update/

published on 9 January 2013.

Food: Waste Disposal

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the tonnage of food waste from the commercial catering sector sent to landfill annually; and if he will make a statement. [136438]

Richard Benyon: The hospitality sector, including hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick-service restaurants, disposed of around 600,000 tonnes of food waste to landfill in 2009. This estimate is published in DEFRA's Food Statistics Pocketbook 2012. The Government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme is working to produce up-to-date figures.

Livestock: Transport

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to pursue a Europe-wide ban on the export of live animals for slaughter. [136253]

Mr Heath: The Government would prefer to see a trade in meat and germplasm rather than in live animals. However, they cannot ban what is a legitimate trade under European Union legislation. In addition, from the exchange of views expressed at the Agriculture Council meeting on 18 June 2012, on the report made by the EU Commission on the impact of the legislation on the welfare of animals during transport (Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005) it is clear that there would be little or no support among other member states if the UK sought to introduce such a ban within the EU.

Meat: Exports

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has made to (a) the European Commission and (b) his counterparts in the EU on the moratorium on desinewed meat. [137175]

Mr Heath: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) continues to discuss this matter with the Commission. The next major development will be the publication of the European Food Safety Authority's scientific opinion, which is expected by 31 March. The FSA, DEFRA and the Department of Health work closely together and I have recently discussed the moratorium on desinewed meat with the FSA Chairman and Chief Executive.

Natural Gas: Exploration

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish all correspondence relating to meetings between (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department and (i) Cuadrilla and (ii) any other fracking or shale gas companies in each of the last three years. [134688]

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Richard Benyon: No official meetings have taken place in the last three years between DEFRA Ministers and Cuadrilla or with any other fracking or shale gas companies. Representatives of Cuadrilla did introduce themselves to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at a reception at the Conservative party conference. DEFRA officials visited Cuadrilla in December 2011 and have had conversations with this and other shale gas companies in the normal course of business. The visit was simply a fact finding engagement and there are no records of any conversations.