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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 11 February 2013

Defence

Armed Forces: Carer’s Allowance

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many (a) members and (b) former members of the armed forces have had their carer's allowance reduced since May 2010; [142247]

(2) how many injured (a) members and (b) former members of the armed forces have been affected by recent changes to carer's allowance. [142255]

Mr Francois: No serving armed forces personnel in receipt of carer's allowance are evident from MOD records. We hold no records relating to changes in carer's allowance or in relation to former service personnel who may be in receipt of the allowance.

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All injured personnel would be signposted towards their various entitlements during their recovery phase by the service welfare system.

Armed Forces: Compensation

Andy McDonald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the total amount of compensation paid out under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme was in each year since 2005-06 to date; [140164]

(2) how many Armed Forces Compensation Scheme applications were approved in each year since 2005-06 to date; [140165]

(3) how many Armed Forces Compensation Scheme applications have been made in each year since 2005-06 to date. [140163]

Mr Francois: The number of Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) applications made and awarded in each financial year since 2005-06 is shown in the following table. This also provides the total amount of compensation paid under the scheme for the same period. The data include claims made by serving or former service personnel and surviving dependants.

 2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-13

Number of claims

365

1,660

3,540

5,125

6,180

7,335

8,815

4,215

Total amount paid (£ million)

1.274

6.158

13.067

33.490

34.183

59.515

141.477

51.400

Number of claims awarded

85

615

1,320

2,060

2,930

3,940

3,970

1,565

Notes: 1. Includes data up to 30 September 2012. 2. The total cost figures for FY 2012-13 include payments up to 31 December 2012. 3. Figures provided for claims made and awarded in FY 2010-11 to FY 2012-13 are provisional. Some claims do not yet have an outcome, and may become spanning cases subsequently i.e. any injuries/illnesses that have occurred before 6 April 2005 are considered under the War Pension Scheme. 4. The large increase in payments during FY 2011-12 is due to additional payments made as a result of implementing the recommendations of Lord Boyce’s review into the AFCS. 5. Figures have been rounded where appropriate.

Armed Forces: Credit Unions

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to supporting a credit union scheme for armed forces personnel; and if he will make a statement. [141572]

Dr Murrison [holding answer 4 February 2013]: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has explored a number of possibilities to improve the access of armed forces personnel to financial services and has considered the concept of a credit union or an armed forces bank. The current view is that a credit union is likely to be too restrictive in how it might operate and what it can provide.

The MOD has undertaken other work to address concerns about access to credit and mortgages for service personnel and ways of improving financial awareness and capability. Working with representative bodies from the financial sector, charities and other organisations there is a commitment from the financial sector to raise awareness within their membership of the unique nature of life in the armed forces. When considering lending in any form to service personnel the principle followed will be that those who serve with the armed forces should not be disadvantaged because of their occupation.

Armed Forces: Pensions

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) by which legal process he proposes to make changes to the prerogative instruments under which the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 was set up; [140878]

(2) if he will place copies of all correspondence and e-mails relating to the proposals to amend the royal prerogative instruments governing Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 in order that the scheme can be closed in 2015 with all members compulsory migrated to AFPS 2015, including any relevant correspondence with the Royal Household or Privy Council; [140879]

(3) if he will place in the Library copies of all correspondence and e-mails relating to the proposals to amend the prerogative instruments governing the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 75 in order that the scheme can be closed in 2015 with all members compulsory migrated to AFPS 2015. [140899]

Dr Murrison: The Public Service Pensions Bill is currently passing through Parliament. It sets out the new arrangements for the creation of schemes for the payment of pensions and other benefits. It also protects the benefits already earned by members of existing

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public service pension schemes and allows continued membership of those schemes for certain categories of people who are closest to retirement. The provisions of this Bill, once enacted, will bind any existing law, including the prerogative instruments. In particular, clause 3 of the Bill permits scheme regulations made under clause 1 to amend, in certain circumstances, other legislation, and clause 18(8) explicitly allows transitional measures to be made by amending the existing schemes.

We will not place the requested correspondence and e-mails in the Library of the House because they relate to internal discussions and the formulation of policy. However, any amendments to the current legislation will be laid before Parliament with copies placed in the Library of the House.

Defence: Research

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will commit to increased spending on defence science and technology, and research and development. [142457]

Mr Dunne: The National Security Through Technology White Paper (Cmd 8278) already states that it is our intention to sustain investment in the Science and Technology Programme at a minimum of 1.2% of the defence budget, with a small rise in cash terms over the period of the comprehensive spending review.

There is no centralised budget for research and development because development expenditure is applied as needed against requirements of individual equipment programmes. Our equipment plan for the next 10 years is contained in the Defence Equipment Plan 2012, published on 31 January 2013 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-defence-equipment-plan-2012

Explosives

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the extent to which the use of explosive weapons in populated areas causes ongoing civilian harm; if he will make it his policy to work towards ending the use of such heavy explosive weapons in civilian areas; what his policy is on the recording of civilian casualties of war, the identities of those killed and the means by which they were killed; and if he will make a statement. [142344]

Mr Robathan: The use of lethal force in populated areas, as elsewhere, is governed by the Law of Armed Conflict. Ministry of Defence policy on this is entirely consistent with our obligations under international law and we will continue to operate within the constraints of such law, namely: distinction, discrimination, proportionality and necessity. Additionally, prior to carrying out any pre-planned attack, whether near a civilian area or not, a Collateral Damage Estimate must be completed in order to determine whether our actions are likely to cause civilian casualties.

The decision to use explosive weapons in any theatre of operations will be dependent upon the context of that particular operation. It would not be reasonable to deny our armed forces the option of using the most appropriate weapon to engage legitimate military targets, which may be in close proximity to civilian areas. I am

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satisfied that our strict compliance with our obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict, alongside our extensive procedures aimed at minimising harm to civilians, provides appropriate protection to civilians.

In any operational environment, following any attack we will assess and, where possible, record the number of casualties, whether these are civilian or military casualties, as accurately as practicable. This is not always possible and is dependent upon the context of the operation. The Ministry of Defence does not, as a matter of course, monitor overall military or civilian casualty figures, although if our actions are thought to have caused civilian casualties we will investigate to ensure that our actions were legally and morally justifiable and to ensure that we learn the right lessons.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that the decision-making process that surrounded the decision to change the Department's order for joint strike fighters and the reversal of the decision is improved. [142456]

Mr Dunne: This Government will not blindly pursue projects, ignoring new information about defence equipment acquisitions. The policy decision taken in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review to purchase the carrier variant of the joint strike fighter was right, based on the information available at the time. More detailed technical work subsequently revealed that the costs and risks would be greater, and delivery timescale for a converted carrier longer than previously anticipated. In light of that assessment we took the decision to revert to the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the joint strike fighter. This is an example of the Government being prepared to make difficult decisions, and represents a clear break from the past in the way the MOD now conducts its business.

Mali

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost of the UK's support for military intervention in Mali is (a) in March 2013, (b) for the quarter, (c) for the year and (d) for the duration of the UK's involvement. [142927]

Mr Robathan: This is an emerging operation and the cost estimates are currently being compiled. They will be available in due course.

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the cost of the UK's support for military intervention in Mali has come from his Department. [142928]

Mr Robathan: Discussions are ongoing with other Government Departments to determine the most appropriate source of funding for this operation.

Military Aid

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what partnerships are in place to train the armed forces of other nations in the UK. [142320]

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Dr Murrison: We have a broad range of defence relationships including formal alliances, defence co-operation treaties and a range of memoranda of understanding. Many of these encompass the provision of training for foreign service personnel in the UK. Training ranges from large-scale NATO exercises conducted in and around the UK, to the attendance of individual service personnel at courses run by the Defence Academy and other service training establishments.

NATO

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what requirements NATO places on the location of Quick Reaction Alert I assets within the UK under the UK's responsibilities for NATO Air Policing Area One; [142100]

(2) whether (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) his officials have (i) met and (ii) consulted NATO on (A) his proposed basing review and (B) the proposed relocation of the Typhoon force from RAF Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth. [142101]

Mr Robathan: We declare to NATO our available air policing assets and details of their locations. NATO places no requirement on the UK to locate these assets in specific locations.

There have been no formal discussions with NATO about the ongoing basing review or the move of the Typhoon force from RAF Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth. Any changes to the location of our declared air policing assets will be communicated to NATO commanders through the mechanisms already in place.

North Africa

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the amount his Department will spend on current military operations in North Africa. [142553]

Mr Robathan: This is an emerging operation and the cost estimates are currently being compiled. They will be available in due course.

Nuclear Weapons

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected annual running cost of a renewed nuclear deterrent would be. [142562]

Mr Dunne: As stated in the White Paper, “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994) published in December 2006, we expect that once the new fleet of submarines comes into service, the in-service costs of the UK's nuclear deterrent, which will include the Atomic Weapons Establishment's costs, will be similar to today’s (around 5-6% of the defence budget).

RAF Lossiemouth

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Moray of 28 January 2013, Official Report, column 569W, on RAF Lossiemouth, what items of mission-specific

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infrastructure have been

(a)

committed for installation and

(b)

installed at RAF Lossiemouth to date; and how much each such item has cost. [141726]

Mr Robathan: Mission-specific infrastructure committed for installation at RAF Lossiemouth and its expected cost is shown in the following table.

 Including VAT (£ million)
Infrastructure projectTotal expected costSpend to date

Refurbishment of Hangar 1 (internal/external) and accommodation, and Hangar 3 internal works

7.183

0.907

Typhoon Ground Support Systems (IT and Comms)

2.637

0.362

Yemen

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his American counterpart on drone attacks in Yemen. [141962]

Mr Robathan: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave on 12 December 2012, Official Report, column 364W.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times his Department has shared information with its US counterpart to assist with the targeting of drone strikes in Yemen in the last 12 months. [141963]

Mr Robathan: It has been the long-standing policy of successive Governments not to comment on intelligence matters.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with the Government of Yemen on the training of Yemeni soldiers in that country. [141964]

Mr Robathan: The Secretary of State for Defence met President Hadi on 24 September 2012 in London during which Defence support to the Yemeni armed forces was discussed in broad terms.

As part of his routine engagement the Defence Attaché in Sana'a has regular meetings with members of the Yemeni Armed and Security Forces during which training of the Yemeni Army will be discussed.

We are not currently providing any training to the Yemeni Army in Yemen although a small number of Yemeni officers continue to attend professional development courses in the UK.

Treasury

Charities: Publicity

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) on what dates and at which venues roadshows have been organised to publicise the provisions of the Small Charitable Donations Act 2012; [142577]

(2) what steps he is taking to publicise the opportunities afforded to charities by the Small Charitable Donations Act 2012; [142578]

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(3) whether his Department provides support to hon. Members who wish to organise events in their constituencies to publicise the opportunities for local charities arising from the Small Charitable Donations Act 2012. [142579]

Sajid Javid: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be writing to all charities that have made a Gift Aid repayment in the last three years to inform them about the new Gift Aid Small Donations scheme. Over 100,000 charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs will receive a letter over the next few weeks.

HMRC will shortly be publishing guidance on using the new scheme.

HMRC operates a Charities Outreach team who engage with charities on all matters relating to their tax affairs, and this will include the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. Hon. Members who wish to take advantage of this should contact HMRC Charities—contact details are on the HMRC website.

Credit Unions: Northern Ireland

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date the legislative consent motion applying the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to credit unions in Northern Ireland was agreed to by the Northern Ireland Executive. [142685]

Sajid Javid: Northern Ireland credit unions were previously exempt from the Financial Services and Markets Act as deposit takers. This was revoked under the FSMA 2000 (Exemption) Order 2011 no. 2716. This did not have to be formally agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive, as financial services are not a devolved issue.

The Exemption Order came into effect on 31 March 2012 with the transfer of regulation to the Financial Services Authority. This means that depositors in Northern Ireland credit unions are now protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, in the same way as depositors in the rest of the UK.

Crossrail Line

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what Barnett consequentials have been awarded to the Welsh Government as a result of expenditure on Crossrail. [142389]

Danny Alexander: Allocations for Crossrail were determined in the 2010 spending review. The Welsh Government received Barnett consequentials on the changes to the Department for Transport budget in the normal way as set out in the Statement of Funding Policy. No further allocations have been subsequently made for this project.

Cybercrime: Financial Services

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will take steps to produce guidance on cyber security for the financial services sector; [142798]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of cyber security in financial services. [142799]

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Greg Clark: The Treasury is working closely with the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority, as well as with other Government Departments and agencies, to ensure that cyber risks are better understood and to promote cyber security in the finance sector. This includes a benchmarking programme, led by the FSA, to identify cyber and technology practices of 30 major financial institutions which, once concluded, will result in the publication of an updated Business Continuity Management Practice Guide and discussion paper so that all firms in the sector can learn from the exercise. This will be in addition to exercises with the sector (including the 2011 market-wide exercise) to rehearse and enhance response arrangements to cyber threats.

Excise Duties: Tobacco

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent consideration his Department has given to using secure marking and track and trace systems to protect excise duty revenue on tobacco packets following the Department of Health's consultation on the introduction of standardised packaging. [141742]

Sajid Javid: Nearly all cigarettes packs and hand-rolling tobacco pouches bearing the UK fiscal mark incorporate covert secure markings to protect excise duty. These markings enable enforcement officers to authenticate whether the tobacco products are genuine or counterfeit. The introduction of standardised packaging would not affect these controls.

The Government's strategy for tackling tobacco smuggling was published in 2011. It demonstrates that the biggest risks are from counterfeit and illicit white cigarettes, manufactured overseas exclusively for the illicit market. The introduction of track and trace systems in the UK would not address these risks. We will continue to keep tracking and tracing systems under review as the risks from the illicit trade change, and we work towards signing the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control illicit trade protocol.

Income Tax: Swindon

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many residents in (a) North Swindon constituency and (b) the borough of Swindon have been taken out of income tax as a result of the raising of the personal allowance since May 2010; [142121]

(2) how many residents in (a) North Swindon constituency and (b) the borough of Swindon have seen their income tax liability reduced as a result of the raising of the personal allowance since May 2010. [142120]

Mr Gauke: By April 2013, the cumulative effect of the Government's increases in the personal allowance since 2010-11 will have taken 2.2 million people out of the income tax system while over 25 million individuals will have seen their income tax liability reduced.

These estimates are based on the 2009-10 Survey of Personal Incomes, projected to 2013-14 using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility's autumn 2012 economic and fiscal outlook.

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Reliable estimates are not available at parliamentary constituency level due to greater uncertainties in making projections for small geographical areas.

Research

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what external social and economic research and analysis his Department commissioned in each year between 1997 and 2010; what the (a) project name, (b) research organisation and (c) value was of that research; and if he will place the findings of any such research in the Library. [141275]

Sajid Javid: Reviews and research commissioned by HM Treasury are available on the Treasury website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_ reviews_index.htm

Research activities funded by HMRC are available on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/research/activities.htm

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to introduce variable rates of stamp duty land tax to reflect the energy efficiency of properties. [142612]

Mr Gauke: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 23 January 2013, Official Report, column 309W.

Taxation

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered repealing section 58 of the Finance Act 2008 on the backdating of tax law. [142226]

Mr Gauke: There are no plans to amend section 58(4) of the Finance Act 2008.

Taxation: Northern Ireland

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount allocated to Northern Ireland from the annual revenue collections in each year from 2005-06 to 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. [142399]

Danny Alexander: Total identifiable expenditure on services for Northern Ireland can be found in the following table. Data for earlier years are not available on a consistent basis.

 £ million

2007-08

16,778

2008-09

17,807

2009-10

18,860

2010-11

19,001

2011-12

19,273

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Welfare Tax Credits: Dudley

Ian Austin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many (a) people, (b) working people and (c) families in Dudley North constituency are in receipt of tax credits; [139664]

(2) how many people in (a) England, (b) the West Midlands, (c) Dudley Borough and (d) Dudley North constituency receive working tax credit; and what the average weekly payment is in each case; [139668]

(3) how many people in Dudley North constituency are in receipt of working tax credit; and how many people in Dudley North constituency (a) in full-time work, (b) in part-time work and (c) not in paid employment are in receipt of child tax credits. [139669]

Sajid Javid: HMRC publishes national statistics on tax credits. The latest snapshot as at 1 December is available at a geographic level here:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/prov-geog-stats/cwtc-geog-dec12.xls

As at 1 December 2012, there were:

(a) 10,800 adults,

(b) 5,600 adults in families classed as in work for tax credits purposes and working at least 16 hours per week, and,

(c) 7,100 families

in receipt of tax credits in Dudley North constituency.

The number of families receiving working tax credit as at 1 December 2012, and their average weekly tax credit entitlement based on their circumstances as reported at this date, can be found in Table 1 following:

Table 1: Families receiving working tax credit
Geographic AreaNumber (thousand)Average weekly tax credit entitlement (£)

England

1,967.8

140

West Midlands

229.6

140

Dudley Borough

11.8

145

Dudley North Constituency

3.4

145

There will be a further group of families who are not in receipt of working tax credit as their award has been tapered away, but who benefit from a higher award as they are eligible for it. This group will have a lower average entitlement.

There is no standard definition of full- and part-time work; these have been defined to be consistent with tax credits hours thresholds. Of those adults in families in receipt of child tax credit as at 1 December 2012:

(a) 2,900 reported working at least 30 hours and were in families eligible for working tax credit,

(b) 1,800 reported working at least 16 hours but less than 30 hours and were in families eligible for working tax credit,

(c) 4,900 were either in families out-of-work for tax credits purposes or in work for fewer than 16 hours and in families eligible for working tax credit.

The figures in this answer do not take into account a small number of out-of-work families for whom an amount equivalent to tax credits is provided through DWP benefits.

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Working Tax Credit: Liverpool

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families in Liverpool, Walton constituency he expects to be in receipt of working tax credits on 1 May 2013; and what the average amount of working tax credits per household is expected to be. [142575]

Sajid Javid: Forecasts of tax credits recipients and expenditure are not produced at constituency level.

Working Tax Credit: Self-employed

Stephen Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department takes to check that applicants for working tax credit claiming to be self-employed are in fact working for the required number of hours. [142013]

Sajid Javid: HMRC carries out a number of risk-based checks including on cases where notified income is low in respect of self employed claimants because this can be an indicator that the required hours are not being worked.

HMRC has also made checks on cases where the customer reported a change to their hours directly following changes made to entitlement conditions.

Energy and Climate Change

Biofuels

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bristol East of 14 January 2013, Official Report, column 481W, on biofuels, what estimate he has made of the expected (a) minimum and (b) maximum volume of palm oil imported for bioliquid-fuelled power stations; what comparative assessment he has made of the merits of the policy approach pursued by the German and Netherlands Governments of removing subsidies from all bioliquids for power generation in order to prevent the use of unsustainable biofuels for power generation; what consideration he has given to the effect of public subsidies being provided to palm-oil burning power stations on public confidence in his Department’s policies and systems on sustainable bioenergy; and if he will make a statement. [142037]

Mr Hayes: To date, the vast majority of bioliquids used to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) have been derived from wastes or residues. These can be highly sustainable and generate useful renewable energy, and we consider it is right to continue to support electricity generated using these fuels under the RO. The RO includes sustainability criteria that bioliquids must meet in order to be eligible for support. The UK will continue to support measures to improve the sustainability criteria at a European level.

In July 2012, we published the Government response to the RO banding review consultation explaining the decisions reached on support for electricity generated from bioliquids. The Government response was accompanied by an impact assessment of the RO banding decisions.

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(a) The minimum volume of palm oil that might be used to generate electricity supported by the RO would be zero.

(b) We are introducing a 4% cap on the proportion of their renewables obligation that electricity suppliers can meet using certificates issued for electricity generated from bioliquids (with exceptions for CHP stations below 1 MW, energy from waste with CHP, advanced conversion fuels and microgenerators). The bioliquids cap equates to approximately 2 TWh of bioliquid electricity generation in 2017. The modelling for the impact assessment accompanying the Government response to the RO banding review showed that the support levels set for April 2013 onwards are not expected to bring on additional new deployment of bioliquid electricity generation, however, this is uncertain and there could be a small amount of new deployment of low cost bioliquid generation.

No assessment has been made of the policy approach pursued by Germany and the Netherlands.

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what average period elapsed between receipt of an application for commercial biomass installations and the first payment of subsidy in respect of the installation in the latest period for which figures are available. [142119]

Gregory Barker: The RHI scheme pays quarterly in arrears. Participants have to send Ofgem their heat generation data in a window which begins 13 weeks after the “date of accreditation” (the date a complete submission of an application is made for a valid installation) and closes one month later.

Ofgem aims to make payments within six weeks of receiving correct heat data. Ofgem data show that for commercial biomass installations the average time from the receipt of a complete submission of an application for a valid installation to receipt of payment by the recipient is 21.6 weeks for the scheme to date. This figure has reduced to 20.3 weeks in this financial year.

Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what analysis he undertook when setting the proposed cap on subsidies for electricity biofuels; and if he has any plans to lower this cap; [142276]

(2) whether he plans to remove public subsidies for the use of bioliquids; [142277]

(3) what assessment he has made of the effect of burning bioliquid fuels on the release of greenhouse gases. [142278]

Mr Hayes: To date, the vast majority of bioliquids used in the renewables obligation have been derived from wastes or residues. These can be highly sustainable and generate useful renewable energy. We wish to continue to support electricity generated using these fuels under the renewables obligation, and so for this reason do not intend to remove public subsidy under the RO for bioliquids. The bioliquids cap and sustainability criteria serve to minimise any potential risk from supporting electricity generated from bioliquids which have the potential to cause harm to the environment.

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The analysis undertaken for the bioliquids cap, and the impact of the renewables obligation on greenhouse gas emissions is set out in the renewables obligation banding review impact assessment. We are not considering lowering the cap at this time.

From 1 April 2013, all electricity generated from bioliquids which receives support under the renewables obligation must demonstrate that it has met the mandatory sustainability criteria. These include a minimum greenhouse gas emission saving of 35% that applies to all electricity generation derived from bioliquids, rising to a minimum emission saving of 50% in 2017. From 1 January 2018, the minimum emission saving is increased to at least 60% for bioliquids produced in installations in which production started on or after 1 January 2017.

The UK will continue to support measures to improve the sustainability criteria at a European level.

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will review his policy of subsidy to biomass following the National Environment Research Council's report on the Atmospheric Lifetime of Black Carbon. [142625]

Gregory Barker: As the report highlights,

“The uncertainties in net climate forcing from black-carbon-rich sources are substantial, largely due to lack of knowledge about cloud interactions”.

Abatement measures are currently in place to control the impacts of the production of electricity from bioenergy on air quality. Any energy plant over 20 megawatt capacity is subject to pollution control regulation.

There are currently no emission performance standards for biomass boilers of under 20 MWth. In July 2012 DECC consulted on mandatory restrictions on emissions from burning biomass for installations of <20 MWth accredited in the non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). We proposed that the maximum permitted emissions limits are 30 grams per gigajoule (g/GJ) net thermal input for PM and 150 g/GJ for NOx. In the consultation we proposed that we would implement these restrictions between November 2012 and March 2013, dependent upon the timing of parliamentary debates.

DECC consulted on proposals for a domestic RHI in autumn 2012. We proposed that air quality restrictions for biomass installations supported in this scheme would be the same as those for the non-domestic scheme.

Carbon Emissions: Industry

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the potential risk of carbon leakage from domestic energy-intensive industries over the next 20 years; and what plans there are to protect the long-term competitiveness of domestic energy-intensive industries to prevent carbon leakage. [142259]

Gregory Barker: Published research(1 )suggests that the risk of carbon leakage(2) through UK industries moving to third countries as a result of increased costs of carbon in the EU is limited to a small number of sectors. The Government are keen to ensure that UK industry is competitive and we continue to monitor and

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evaluate the risk of carbon leakage. The Department has recently commissioned a research project that will report later this year

(3)

.

The best way to address carbon leakage is a legally binding international climate agreement. In the interim, under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) industrial sectors at significant risk of carbon leakage receive an increased allocation of free allowances. Alongside this the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced, in the 2011 autumn statement, a £250 million package of measures for electro-intensive industries to address the indirect costs of the EU ETS and carbon price floor, and to increase the rate of relief from the climate change levy for electricity to 90% for those sectors which have signed up to UK climate change agreements. The Government are currently considering the responses to the consultation exercise on the detail of this relief package which closed in December.

The Government are also seeking to exempt energy intensive industries from the costs of electricity market reform policies where this significantly impacts on their international competitiveness, subject to state aid rules.

(1) Climate Strategies (UK) Reports (2007-09) on: Tackling Leakage in a world of unequal carbon prices:

http://www.climatestrategies.org/research/our-reports/category/32.html

Hourcade et al (2007) Differentiation and Dynamics of EU ETS Industrial Competitiveness Impacts, Climate Strategies:

http://www.climatestrategies.org/research/our-reports/category/6/37.html

Oko-Institut (Germany), Fraunhofer ISI, DIW (September 2008) Impacts of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme on the industrial competitiveness in Germany:

http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/fpdf-l/3625.pdf

DECC commissioned Cambridge Econometrics report 2010:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/What%20we%20do/Global%20climate%20change%20and%20energy/Tackling%20Climate%20Change/Emissions%20Trading/eu_ets/news/471-carbon-leakage-ce-report.pdf

(2) Carbon leakage is the prospect of an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions when a company shifts production outside a country because it cannot pass on the cost increases induced by climate change policies to its customers without significant loss of market share.

(3)https://online.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/Common/View%20Notice.aspx?site=1000&lang=en&NoticeId=826481

Carbon Monoxide: Alarms

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the fitting of carbon monoxide alarms in domestic properties where heating or energy efficiency systems are installed as part of the Green Deal. [142130]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 7 February 2013]:The Green Deal Code of Practice clearly states that:

“A Green Deal Provider must consider whether installation or checking of carbon monoxide monitors at the property is necessary, and, if so, include this in the specification provided to the Green Deal Installer.”

11 Feb 2013 : Column 453W

Electricity Interconnectors: Hebrides

Mr MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the cost breakdown of installing an electric interconnector to the Hebrides. [142701]

Mr Hayes: The Department makes no estimate of the cost of such projects. The cost of the transmission link to the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides is a matter for Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE Transmission) and the independent regulator, Ofgem. The latest publicly available estimate of costs for the project, published by SHE Transmission in November 2012, is at least £775 million. Details are available at:

http://www.sse.com/uploadedFiles/Controls/Lists/Press_releases/Press_releases/2012/Nr-12458.pdf

Energy Companies Obligation

Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when the Government expect energy companies to be ready to take on the energy company obligation. [142159]

Gregory Barker: The energy company obligation (ECO) formally commenced on 1 January 2013, although energy suppliers are also able to count any ECO eligible measures installed since October 2012 towards their final obligation target.

There is strong evidence that energy companies have already started to deliver against their ECO targets, with a number of ECO offers available in the market place and partnerships already agreed between energy companies and local authorities—including in Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds. The Government's Energy Savings Advice Service has referred over 2,300 pre-verified Affordable-Warmth customers to energy companies, and over £9 million's worth of ECO measures have been bought and sold on the new ECO brokerage platform.

Fuel Poverty

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on what date the Government’s new strategy on fuel poverty will be published; and if he will make a statement. [142362]

Gregory Barker: We intend to launch a revised fuel poverty strategy in the summer of this year.

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the oral answer to the hon. Member for Halifax of 31 January 2013, Official Report, column 1038, on fuel poverty, what estimate his Department has made of the total monetary value of Government policies designed to tackle fuel poverty in (a) the current financial year and (b) each of the previous 10 years. [142722]

Gregory Barker: The coalition Government have a range of policies to address the factors that contribute to fuel poverty including energy efficiency and bill rebate schemes. In addition, the Government provide winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.

11 Feb 2013 : Column 454W

The annual budget for Warm Front is shown in the following table:

 Warm Front expenditure (£ million)

2002-03

163

2003-04

152

2004-05

165

2005-06

190

2006-07

315

2007-08

350

2008-09

395

2009-10

369

2010-11

366

2011-12

108.6

2012-13

100

The figure for 2012-13 represents the current fuel poverty capital budget, as opposed to expenditure. It is anticipated that spending on Warm Front applications made in 2012-13 could amount to some £70 million. To ensure the full budget for 2012-13 is spent on tackling fuel poverty we have launched a £30 million competition for local authorities to install efficient central heating systems and insulation in the homes of vulnerable local residents.

It is not possible to provide the costs of delivering a number of other energy efficiency policies because energy companies have not been required to report the information that is needed for such costs to be calculated. Through the energy company obligation (ECO) Order 2012, however, Government have for the first time made provision to require energy suppliers to supply data to help provide evidence about the costs of delivering this scheme.

It is expected that the costs of ECO will be broadly equivalent to the total cost of previous supplier obligations, namely the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT) and the community energy saving programme (CESP) combined.

The majority of CERT and CESP costs fell on CERT which delivered a minimum of 18% of their overall priority group carbon saving obligation to the most vulnerable consumers (the super priority group). A minimum of around 40% of the cost of delivering ECO will provide assistance to low income households through affordable warmth and the carbon savings community obligation. This is estimated at some £540 million per year.

Spending on policies to tackle fuel poverty through bill rebates, namely warm home discount and the predecessor voluntary agreements, has increased year-on-year over the last four years from some £100 million in 2008-09 to an estimated £288 million in 2012-13. Such spending, which this year will support over 2 million households, both alleviates fuel poverty and addresses the potential negative distributional impact of increases in energy prices.

Historic data on spending on winter fuel payments can be found at the Department for Work and Pensions website:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php? page=medium_term

The following table shows spending on cold weather payments since 2002-03. Payments are now permanently £25 per week, compared to £8 per week for the period. The figure provided for 2012-13 is an estimate relating

11 Feb 2013 : Column 455W

to the period to 1 February 2013. As set out in Commons Library Standard Note (SN06074) the payment is a fixed amount for each week of cold weather. For many years this was set at £8.50 a week increased to £25 a week as a temporary measure in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The coalition Government have made the £25 rate permanent.

 Cold weather payment expenditure (£ million)

2002-03

14.2

2003-04

3.5

2004-05

1.8

2005-06

8.4

2006-07

3.4

2007-08

4.0

2008-09

210.4

2009-10

296.7

2010-11

430.8

2011-12

129.2

2012-13

127.9

Green Deal Scheme

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department plans to take to increase the number of people using the Green Deal. [142094]

Gregory Barker: The Department launched the Green Deal on 28 January and continues to play a significant role in helping this new market to develop.

We have committed £22 million to support “Go Early” Green Deal activity in eight English core cities and across 150 local authorities and launched our £125 million Green Deal cashback incentive on 14 January, alongside a £2.9 million communication campaign launched on 29 January aimed at building trust and understanding in the Green Deal, with a strong call to action for consumers to contact the Energy Saving Advice Service helpline (0300 123 1234) or to find out more via the web pages:

www.gov.uk/greendeal

Nuclear Power Stations

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect of Centrica's decision to withdraw from the new nuclear programme. [142572]

Mr Hayes: This Government are determined to make the UK a leading destination for investment in new nuclear by putting in place a framework to make this possible. Centrica's decision to withdraw reflects the company's investment priorities and is not a reflection on UK Government policy. We're continuing to see a high level of interest in the UK nuclear market, including from a diverse range of potential new entrants. We welcome EDF Energy's continued commitment to taking forward the Hinkley Point C project. Furthermore, the recent purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power by Hitachi is clear evidence of the attractiveness of the new nuclear market in the UK.

11 Feb 2013 : Column 456W

Renewable Energy

Anas Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on support for localised renewable energy projects. [142128]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 7 February 2013]: DECC provides support for local renewable electricity projects through the feed-in tariffs scheme (projects up to 5 MW installed capacity) and the renewables obligation. We support renewable heat projects in local communities through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme.

DECC is currently scoping a Community Energy Strategy and will publish a call for evidence in the spring. We are also currently evaluating 236 community energy projects covering energy efficiency, electricity and heat, supported by the £10 million Local Energy Assessment Fund.

The Department and DEFRA are working closely together on the £15 million Rural Communities Renewable Energy Fund (England) due to be launched in the spring. Further details will be available shortly.

Further information on loans in Scotland for the pre-planning stages of community projects is available at:

http://www.communityenergyscotland.org.uk/cares_pre_planning_loan

For further information on financial support available in Wales for community projects see:

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Organisations/Local-delivery/Free-resources-for-local-authorities/Local-authority-funding-guide/Funds/Local-Authorities/Welsh-Assembly-Government-Ynni-r-Fro-Programme

Transport

Aviation: Security

Mr MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department gives on the correct use of security gates at (a) airports and (b) Heathrow Terminal Five; and whether any such guidance recommends the closing of security gates 35 minutes before flight departure. [142591]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department for Transport does not give any such guidance. This is an operational matter for the airports and airlines concerned.

Bus Services: Disability

Bob Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of capacity for disabled people travelling aboard public buses. [142667]

Norman Baker: The Public Service Vehicles (Accessibility) Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) have provisions to make vehicles accessible for disabled people including low floor capability and priority seats. The deadlines for when all buses on local and scheduled services designed to carry more than 22 passengers must meet these requirements range from 2015 to 2020 depending on the type of vehicle. Until then, availability of accessible

11 Feb 2013 : Column 457W

vehicles on any given service will vary depending on the make-up of the fleet and is principally a matter for bus operators.

The most recent figures show that 71% of vehicles in England are PSVAR compliant (94% in London), and 88% of buses in England are low floor (99% in London). I will continue to monitor these figures as the deadlines approach.

I recently published the Department for Transport's Accessibility Action Plan setting out the Department's priorities for improving access to transport, particularly for disabled people. This can be viewed on the .gov website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accessibility-action-plan

Crossrail Line: Stansted Airport

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with Network Rail and Transport for London on extending the proposed route for Crossrail 2 to Stansted airport; and what options his Department is considering to (a) increase rail capacity and (b) decrease rail journey times for commuters using Stansted airport. [142697]

Stephen Hammond: The Department is working with Network Rail and the rail industry on its long-term planning process which is considering future rail services to Stansted and other major airports.

We have had no discussions with Network Rail or Transport for London about extending the proposed route of Crossrail 2 to Stansted airport.

Driving Offences: Mobile Phones

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road accidents involving drivers using mobile phones have been recorded in each of the last five years. [142664]

Stephen Hammond: The numbers of personal injury road accidents in Great Britain where the police officer attending the scene of the accident reported “Driver using mobile phone” as a contributory factor for last five years is:

 Number of accidents

2007

348

2008

323

2009

325

2010

349

2011

374

From 1 January 2005, information on contributory factors to road accidents has been collected by a police officer at the scene of the accident. A police officer may choose between one and six different factors that they felt contributed to the accident. Not all reported road accidents are included in the contributory factor analysis, only those where a police officer attended the scene and at least one contributory factor was reported.

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The contributory factors reflect the reporting officer's opinion at the time of reporting and are not necessarily the result of extensive investigation. Moreover it is recognised that subsequent inquiries could lead to the reporting officer changing their opinion. It is important to note where some factors may have contributed to the cause of an accident it may be difficult for a police officer attending the scene after the accident has occurred to identify these factors.

Driving Tests

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information is held on (a) the number of drivers who pass their driving test first time, (b) the gender of and (c) the age group of driving test applicants. [142468]

Stephen Hammond: The Driving Standards Agency publishes driving test data at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-transport/series/driving-tests-and-instructors-statistics

The number of drivers who passed their car practical driving test at the first attempt over the last two financial years is shown in the following table.

 Number

2010-11

336,356

2011-12

332,700

The breakdown of car practical driving test applicants by gender and age group for financial year 2010-11 and 2011-12 is shown in the following tables.

Male
 2010-112011-12

17

204,831

187,514

18

105,793

95,879

19

57,802

53,797

20

39,334

38,136

21-25

144,338

141,201

26-30

108,855

105,520

31+

152,537

153,605

Total

813,490

775,652

Female
 2010-112011-12

17

185,992

179,283

18

118,488

107,332

19

67,677

62,966

20

45,865

45,575

21-25

166,092

161,509

26-30

119,731

117,033

31+

182,663

187,280

Total

886,508

860,978

Driving: Licensing

Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidelines his Department issues in respect of the technical image requirements for photographs for driving licences. [142729]

11 Feb 2013 : Column 459W

Stephen Hammond: A formal set of technical requirements is not yet published by the Department. Officials are working with industry experts to identify the optimal requirements moving forward. Guidelines are provided for customers on the application form, information leaflets and the internet. The photograph must be printed professionally and be 45 millimetres high by 35 millimetres wide. The individual's head should fill an area of between 29 millimetres and 34 millimetres.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Andrew Bridgen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has commissioned an environmental impact assessment to cover the noise footprint of the proposed High Speed 2 railway line; and when any such assessment will be published. [141854]

Mr Simon Burns: At this early stage in the development of the Phase Two scheme, the noise appraisal has sought only to identify areas at relatively greater risk of experiencing noise impact. This will help determine the potential need for, and approximate location of, noise mitigation. With this mitigation included in the design, the noise model will be re-run for the preferred scheme to obtain a clearer early view on where noise impacts are likely to be. An environmental impact assessment for the scheme taking account of a wide range of environmental information is proposed to commence in 2015 and will be published in due course. Further details can be found in the Command Paper and Sustainability Summary documents published on 28 January and placed in the House Libraries.

Lilian Greenwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with (i) local authorities along the route and (ii) the Local Government Association about proposed contributions by these bodies towards meeting the cost of High Speed 2. [142248]

Mr Simon Burns: Department for Transport officials and Ministers have discussed, in broad terms, the potential for local and private sector contributions to HS2, in the context of wider discussions with local authorities serving areas that may benefit from new HS2 stations. There have been no specific discussions on this subject with the Local Government Association. Discussions about specific proposals for contributions are largely for the future. We do not intend to prejudice the outcome of discussions and negotiations that are yet to take place.

Lydd Airport

Damian Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make a recommendation on the application that has been referred to his Department by the planning inspector regarding the proposed runway extension and new terminal facilities at Lydd airport. [142314]

Mr Simon Burns: As my hon. Friend will be aware, these planning applications are before both the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles) and the Department for Transport. We do

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not set targets for the determination of planning cases such as this that involve two Departments. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that we are treating the case as a priority and that the Secretaries of State will issue their decision as quickly as they reasonably can.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many vehicles have been declared under a statutory off-road notification in each of the last five years. [142484]

Stephen Hammond: The following table provides the number of statutory off-road notifications that have been received during the last five years.

 Number

2012 (April to December only)

2,907,032

2011-12

3,930,799

2010-11

3,845,283

2009-10

3,669,757

2008-09

4,304,305

Motorways

Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions he or his predecessors met staff of the Highways Agency to discuss managed motorways in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012. [142558]

Stephen Hammond: Ministers meet with staff of the Highways Agency on a regular basis and discuss a range of issues.

Railways: Franchises

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to his statement of 31 January 2013, Official Report, column 60WS, on rail franchising, how a management-style contract for the operation of the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise will differ from a normal franchise contract. [142240]

Mr Simon Burns: The main differences between a traditional franchise and a management-style contract are the degrees of revenue risk that we expect the operator to bear. This also affects the degree of specification that would need to be included in the contract. In this case, a management-style contract will be suitable to support the introduction of new Thameslink infrastructure and rolling stock.

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on the (a) Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise and (b) Essex Thameside franchise from the commencement of the franchising process until 31 January 2013. [142241]

Mr Simon Burns: The Department has spent the following amounts:

(a) Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern—£1,002,603;

(b) Essex Thameside—£1,355,250.

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Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to expand Robin Hood airport in Doncaster. [142325]

Mr Simon Burns: Any proposals for development at Robin Hood airport Doncaster Sheffield would be a matter for the airport's operator, and would need to be judged on their individual merits, taking careful account of all relevant considerations, particularly economic and environmental impacts.

Severn River Crossing

Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date he anticipates the Severn bridges concession will end. [142623]

Stephen Hammond: The current concession with Severn River Crossing plc is a variable length concession that will end once a pre-agreed revenue target is met. The current estimation is that the revenue target will be met in 2018.

When the concession period ends, the crossings will revert back to public ownership. The Severn Bridges Act 1992 allows for Government to continue tolling for up to a further five years to recover their own costs. These are costs that fall outside of the scope of the current concession including for professional advice, works associated with latent defects such as the main cable corrosion on the Severn bridge, and £4 million of the £126 million pre-concession debt from 1992. These amounts are reported each year in the Severn Bridge Act Accounts. As at 31 March 2012, the accumulated deficit was £112 million.

Transport: Finance

Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much devolved transport funding will be available for (a) Greater Manchester local enterprise partnership, (b) South Yorkshire local enterprise partnership and (c) the Sheffield city region between 2015 and 2019. [142099]

Norman Baker: Funding for major local transport schemes is being devolved to Local Transport Bodies. The level of funding that they receive will be determined in the spending review period.

On 23 January 2013 the Department provided all areas with indicative funding figures to use as planning assumptions when developing their investment priorities. In doing so it asked all areas to make contingency plans for the funding being up to one third higher or lower than the indicative figure. We provided an indicative figure of £65.4 million for Greater Manchester and £37.3 million for Sheffield City Region/South Yorkshire for the period from 2015 to 2019. Full details are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69185/devolution-lmts-funding.pdf

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Transport: Per Capita Costs

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) national and (b) regional average that Government spent per head on transport in the last year for which figures are available; and how much was spent on transport per head in South Yorkshire. [142695]

Norman Baker: The most recent data available for total public expenditure on transport are given in HM Treasury's Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses for 2011-12. Identifiable expenditure on transport per head in 2011-12 was (a) £292 for England and £315 for the whole of the UK and (b) £251 for Yorkshire and the Humber. Equivalent data are not available below regional level.

Prime Minister

Arab States

George Galloway: To ask the Prime Minister which Arab leaders he has met since he became Prime Minister. [142052]

The Prime Minister: My international contacts include regular discussions with those in leadership positions in Arab League member states. I refer the hon. Member to the No. 10 website for further information.

Climate Change

Martin Horwood: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has during the UK’s chairmanship of the G8 in 2013 to follow up the commitment G8 leaders made in 2012 to support comprehensive action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. [140416]

The Prime Minister: The UK remains committed to working with international partners to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, complementing UNFCCC efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UK, alongside other G8 members, joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in 2012, and will continue to work with industry to reduce black carbon and methane emissions from oil and gas production, and carry out research to guide future CCAC action.

Collective Responsibility

Mr Chope: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what the arrangements are for informing Ministers of the setting aside of collective ministerial responsibility in respect of votes in the House; [142614]

(2) on how many occasions a formal Cabinet decision has been made to set aside collective ministerial responsibility in the last 12 months. [142615]

The Prime Minister: It has been the practice of successive Governments not to disclose information relating to internal discussions, information or forums in which decisions are made.

11 Feb 2013 : Column 463W

France

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister when he last spoke to the President of France. [141970]

The Prime Minister: At the EU Council on 8 February 2013.

Iraq Committee of Inquiry

George Galloway: To ask the Prime Minister how much the Chilcot inquiry has cost since it was established; and what estimate he has made of its final cost. [142373]

The Prime Minister: Information for expenditure incurred by the Iraq inquiry from its establishment on 15 June 2009 to 31 March 2012 is available on the Iraq inquiry website.

Information for expenditure for 2012-13 will be published by the inquiry after the end of the financial year.

Yemen

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit Yemen in the next 12 months. [141971]

The Prime Minister: Details of my engagements are announced as and when appropriate.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Coal Fired Power Stations

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many requests he has received from operators of existing coal-fired power stations for special exemptions from the enforcement of the large combustion plant directive; how many such requests have asked for (a) extra time to decide whether to opt in by retrofitting flue gas treatment equipment to control emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and (b) permission for allowances to emit extra emissions; what response he has given to such requests; what recent discussions he has had with the Environment Agency about such requests; and if he will make a statement. [141691]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA has received no requests from operators of existing coal-fired power stations for special exemptions from the enforcement of the large combustion plant directive.

Article 5(1) of the large combustion plant directive (2001/80/EC) allows plants with a rated thermal input greater than 400 megawatts, which were permitted prior to July 1987 and which operate for more than 2,000 hours annually, to be subject to an emission limit value for sulphur dioxide of 800 mg/m(3), rather than the 400 mg/m(3) which would otherwise apply.

Requests for this derogation to be applied were made to and granted by the Environment Agency in respect of four plants within the period 1 January 2008 to 7 February 2009. These were to enable the completion of work to install the additional abatement equipment need to enable compliance with the lower limit. The

11 Feb 2013 : Column 464W

Environment Agency has received no further requests since that time. There have therefore been no recent discussions.

Coastal Areas: Flood Control

Mr Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect coastal towns from potential flooding. [142074]

Richard Benyon: Current preparedness and processes for managing risk from coastal flooding and coastal erosion are set out within the National Flood Emergency Framework, the Lead Government Department Plan for Flooding and the Flood Rescue Enhancement Project Concept of Operations.

This Government are on course to spend £2.3 billion on reducing the risk from flooding and coastal erosion over this spending period (April 2011 to March 2015). We expect to better protect 165,000 households over the same period.

Fisheries Regional Advisory Councils

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to increase the representation of vessels of under 10 metres on regional advisory councils. [142053]

Richard Benyon: The role of regional advisory councils is to advise on the development of fisheries management measures and is established under the current common fisheries policy (CFP). The councils are stakeholder-led organisations comprised principally of fishermen and other representatives of interests affected by the CFP. They establish their own representative organisational make-up and rules of procedure.

Regional advisory councils are likely to play an invaluable role in the establishment of a more regionalised approach to fisheries management under CFP reform. I am therefore pleased that advisory councils have recognised the importance of a strong voice for small-scale fishers and are taking steps to ensure a balanced representation of all stakeholders, covering the entire fishing fleet, to include the full range of operators of small through to large vessels.

Fracking

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff of the Environment Agency are (i) working on current shale gas licensing, regulation and enforcement and (ii) preparing a regulatory regime for commercial shale gas extraction; and if he will make a statement. [141733]

Richard Benyon: The Environment Agency has recently set up a shale gas unit, which is comprised of four national officers working full time on the regulation of unconventional gas activities. This unit then calls in resource from staff in other parts of the organisation, such as technical specialists in groundwater, mining waste and radioactive substances as well as operational and legal teams, as and when necessary. The work load fluctuates and these specialists undertake a wide range

11 Feb 2013 : Column 465W

of regulatory roles so are not solely dedicated to regulating and permitting shale gas activities. It is therefore not possible to give an exact answer, but the Environment Agency estimates that approximately a further 40 staff are currently involved in this work across England and Wales.

As regards the preparation of a regulatory regime for commercial shale gas extraction, the Environment Agency is focusing its resources on the most immediate priority which is the exploration phase. As work is concluded in these areas, the Environment Agency will shift its attention to commercial shale gas extraction, which is some years away from development.

Horses: Slaughterhouses

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the

11 Feb 2013 : Column 466W

answer of 31 January 2013,

Official Report

, column 902W, on horses: slaughterhouses, how many positive phenylbutazone (Bute) samples were collected from each of the abattoirs licensed to slaughter horses in each of the last four years. [141893]

Anna Soubry: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

The information requested is shown in the following table:

Number of positive phenylbutazone samples collected at each licensed abattoir
CountryAbattoirEstablishment no.2009201020112012Total

England

High Peak Meat Exports Ltd

4185

0

0

0

3

3

England

Peter Boddy

2163

0

0

0

0

0

England

Stillmans (Somerset) Ltd

8231

0

5

1

6

12

England

Yorkshire Country Meats

2238

0

0

0

0

0

Northern Ireland

Oakdale

9080

0

0

0

0

0

Note: Yorkshire Country Meats (2238) ceased processing horses in September 2012.

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2013, Official Report, columns 903-4W, on horses: slaughterhouses, on what dates the two positive phenylbutazone (Bute) samples which the Food Standards Agency is trying to trace were taken; and to which premises the two contaminated horse carcasses were sent in the UK. [141894]

Anna Soubry: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

The following table provides information relating to the two samples which the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are currently tracing.

 Date sample collectedEstablishment name where sample collectedCountry:Establishment number:Location of carcase after confirmed noncompliance for phenylbutazoneFSA Action

4

21 May 2012

High Peak Meat Exports Ltd

England

4185

Netherlands

FSA has contacted the EC Rapid Alert system for Feed and Food (RASFF) team.

5

10 October 2012

Stillman (Somerset) Ltd

England

8231

France

FSA has contacted the EC (RASFF) team.

The following table details the locations the carcase was distributed to after slaughter in the United Kingdom.

 Date sample collectedEstablishment name where sample collectedEstablishment number:Location of carcase after confirmed noncompliance for phenylbutazoneFSA Action

8

3 August 2012

High Peak Meat Exports Ltd

4185

Mr Harvey Kaye, Breworth Fold Farm, Brindle, Chorley, Lancashire Mr S Crawshaw, Old Hollins Farm, Lingard Lane, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield

FSA informed the local authorities under which these locations were present to carry out investigations. The local authorities are Chorley Council and Kirklees Council

Livestock: Exports

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the judicial review into his Department's handling of the incident involving the export of live animals in Ramsgate on 12 September 2012 has yet been determined. [142574]

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Mr Heath: The application by the RSPCA for permission to apply for judicial review on this Department's policy and practice in relation to the export of live animals from Ramsgate was refused by the High Court on 5 February.

In refusing permission, the Honourable Mr Justice Males made the following statement:

“There is no arguable illegality in the policy or practice of AHVLA in relation to authorisation or inspection of the transport of live sheep through the port of Ramsgate to Calais.”

The RSPCA has seven days to request that the judge's decision be reconsidered at a hearing in open court.

Members: Correspondence

Mr Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will arrange for the hon. Member for Walsall North to receive a reply to his letter of 9 January 2013 to the chief officer, Ministry of Tourism and Development, Cayman Islands arising from the reply sent to him by the Minister on 8 January 2013, ref MC296113/RG. [142010]

Richard Benyon: I would advise the hon. Member to contact the Cayman Islands Government direct regarding this matter.

Training

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many away days his Department has held since 2010; and what the cost was of each such event. [139959]

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

The DEFRA departmental board held one away day in the relevant period at a cost of around £200.

Waste: Exports

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what volume of waste his Department estimates will be exported from the UK in each of the next five years. [141215]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA has no estimates for the volume of waste that will be exported from the UK in the next five years. It is difficult to predict future trends in these exports as the reasons why waste is exported are varied. They include the relative demand from UK and overseas countries, prices offered for waste in the UK and abroad, and shipping costs.

Deputy Prime Minister

Constituencies

Chris Ruane: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on reducing the number of hon. Members; and if he will make a statement. [139274]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies (PVSC) Act 2011 provides for the number of constituencies to be reduced from 650 to

11 Feb 2013 : Column 468W

600. Under the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, the first review of parliamentary constituency boundaries under the PVSC Act that would reduce the number of constituencies is moved from 2013 to 2018.

Nuclear Weapons

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has had with international partners regarding the UK designing a new nuclear warhead. [142262]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 February 2013, Official Report, column 136W.

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what legal advice the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has (a) sought and (b) received regarding the UK designing a new nuclear warhead; [142263]

(2) what legal advice the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has (a) sought and (b) received on whether alternatives to the current nuclear deterrent system would honour the UK's obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [142264]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

The review takes as its starting point that the UK will continue to comply with its international obligations.

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has had with the US Administration about whether the alternatives to the current nuclear deterrent system would be (a) supported by the US Administration and (b) in line with the US 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report. [142265]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

None.

Trident

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what meetings he has had with hon. Members and Peers as part of the Trident Alternatives Review; and if he will publish a list of the dates of all such meetings and participants. [142266]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

None.

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Trident Alternatives Review is considering which departmental budget will fund any new nuclear deterrent. [142316]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

It is not.

11 Feb 2013 : Column 469W

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what meetings the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has had with the defence industry on the Trident Alternatives Review; and if he will publish a list of the dates of all such meetings and participants. [142566]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

None.

Thomas Docherty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what meetings the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has had with local authorities as part of the Trident Alternatives Review on the feasibility of specific sites for a land-based deterrent; and if he will publish a list of the dates of all such meetings and participants. [142567]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

None.

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been spent on the Trident Alternatives review to date. [142743]

Danny Alexander: I have been asked to reply as the Minister responsible for the Trident Alternatives Review.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the right hon. Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth) on 22 November 2012, Official Report, column 563W.

Home Department

Alcohol-related Crime

20. Mark Pawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps she has taken to reduce alcohol-related crime. [142196]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government's Alcohol Strategy sets out a range of action under way to tackle alcohol-related crime. We have given the police and local communities more powers to tackle late night drinking problems by restricting opening hours and charging a late night levy to support policing. We have recently consulted the public on other measures, including the introduction of minimum unit pricing. This consultation closed last week.

Domestic Violence

22. Debbie Abrahams: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent progress her Department has made on improving the detection and reporting of incidents of domestic violence. [142198]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government have introduced new initiatives to improve the reporting of domestic violence. These include piloting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and Domestic Violence Protection Orders.

Detections are, of course, a matter of the police and we will continue to work with them to improve detection rates and reporting of these violent and abhorrent crimes.

11 Feb 2013 : Column 470W

UK Immigration: Bulgaria and Romania

Bob Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she has taken to control immigration from Bulgaria and Romania. [142192]

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she has taken to control immigration from Bulgaria and Romania. [142195]

Mr Harper: Speculative projections about future inflows cannot be made with any degree of accuracy and are therefore not useful. Instead we are focused on dealing with abuse of free movement rights and reducing the pull factors for migration. I am chairing a cross-Government group of Ministers to examine controls on immigrants' access to benefits and public services.

Criminal Records

David Mowat: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress her Department has made on allowing people to transfer criminal record disclosures between local authorities. [142177]

Mrs May: The Government have legislated for a new portable disclosure service, the Update Service, in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This will benefit all customers, including local authorities. The new service will be delivered by the Disclosure and Barring Service, who are currently developing the new service. The new service will be provided free of charge to volunteers as part of our wider drive to promote volunteering.

Entry Clearances

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many direct airside transit visas were issued by nationality in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [131777]

Mr Harper: The answer is a tabulated response showing the number of direct airside transit visas issued, broken down by nationality for the period October 2011 to September 2012.

In accordance with our obligations under the Data Protection Act, the table shows ‘+’ which represents figures one or two and ‘—’ represents nil. This is to protect individual applications that could otherwise be identified.

These data are based on management information. They are provisional and subject to change.

NationalityIssued

Afghanistan

4

Albania

6

Algeria

5

Angola

+

Bangladesh

57

Belarus

13

Benin

+

Bhutan

+

Bolivia

7

Burma (Myanmar)

6

11 Feb 2013 : Column 471W

Cameroon

10

China

270

Colombia

87

Cuba

5

Democratic Republic of Congo

+

Djibouti

Dominican Republic

4

Ecuador

34

Egypt

56

Eritrea

4

Ethiopia

13

Gambia

+

Ghana

92

Guinea

+

Guinea-Bissau

India

2,017

Indonesia

Iran

30

Iraq

14

Ivory Coast

+

Jamaica

69

Jordan

+

Kenya

82

Kosovo

3

Lebanon

69

Liberia

+

Libya

+

Macedonia

22

Malawi

6

Moldova

+

Mongolia

+

Montenegro

4

Morocco

Mozambique

+

Nepal

47

Nigeria

81

Oman

Pakistan

64

Peru

+

Philippines

+

Russia

+

Rwanda

3

Saudi Arabia

+

Senegal

5

Serbia

61

Sierra Leone

19

Somalia

+

South Africa

1,379

Sri Lanka

131

Stateless (article 1, 1951 convention)

Sudan

10

Swaziland

+

Syria

22

Tanzania

21

Thailand

Tunisia

+

Turkey

76

Uganda

26

Unspecified nationality

+

Venezuela

+

Vietnam

19

XXB

4

XXH

+

XXP

37

11 Feb 2013 : Column 472W

Yemen

17

Yugoslavia

Zambia

+

Zimbabwe

30

Total

5,041