28 Feb 2013 : Column 585W

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 28 February 2013

Transport

Rail Franchising

12. Peter Aldous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to resume the rail franchising programme. [145061]

15. Karl McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to resume the rail franchising programme. [145064]

Mr McLoughlin: In my written ministerial statement of 31 January 2013, Official Report, columns 60-62WS, on the paused franchises, I said that I would announce the revised rail franchising programme during the spring of 2013. I am on course to do this by the end of April, in accordance with the Brown recommendations, and will do this sooner if possible.

Midland Main Line

14. Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that the specification for the next franchise for the Midland main line will allow bidders to bring forward proposals for electric trains which are (a) new and (b) built in the UK. [145063]

Mr Simon Burns: At the point of refranchising the Midland main line, we will seek rolling stock proposals from bidders which balance the needs of passengers and affordability and this is planned to involve the introduction of electric trains. While bidders may propose such units are new, procurement law would prevent them discriminating against non UK manufacturers.

Cancelled Rail Franchise Competitions (Costs)

17. Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the public purse arising from the cancelled and delayed rail franchise competitions; and if he will make a statement. [145066]

Mr McLoughlin: The bidders' costs associated with the failed West Coast Mainline competition are estimated at £45.8 million. As detailed in the PAC's report, there are other costs that have been incurred as a consequence of the decision to cancel West Coast and to pause the other franchises, the final total of which I will give the House when available.

Parking Companies

18. Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to prevent abuse of DVLA data by parking companies. [145067]

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Stephen Hammond: A range of comprehensive measures is in place to prevent the abuse of DVLA data by private parking management companies. Parking companies cannot obtain data from the DVLA unless they are members of an appropriate Accredited Trade Association and abide by its Code of Practice. In this role, the British Parking Association audits its members annually, and the DVLA also undertakes regular inspections. Where necessary, the DVLA takes direct action to suspend facilities to request vehicle keeper data.

In 2012, DVLA suspended 21 parking companies from receiving keeper data for various periods.

Railway Capacity

19. Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department has made on creating additional capacity on the railways. [145068]

Norman Baker: The Government's rail investment strategy published in July 2012, provides for over £9 billion to be invested between 2014 to 2019. This investment will among other benefits, serve 140,000 extra commuting trips per day in the morning peak, by the end of this decade. It will support economic growth and jobs, provide sufficient capacity to meet forecast demand, and deliver a greener, more cost efficient railway that is better for freight and better for passengers.

A1

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his oral statement of 28 January 2013, Official Report, column 685, on High Speed Rail, for what reason he stated that we have just announced a major investment on dualling the A1 up to Newcastle, when the A1 has been dualled up to Newcastle for more than two decades. [144633]

Stephen Hammond: The Chancellor announced investment of £378 million to upgrade two key sections of the A1 as part of the autumn statement on 5 December 2012, Official Report, columns 871-882.

The investment will result in the provision of new roads in both directions parallel to the existing A1 between Lobley Hill and the A184 in Gateshead, and upgrading the A1 to a three lane motorway standard road between Leeming and Barton.

Cycling

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who his Department's cycling champion is. [144446]

Norman Baker: I take the view that the promotion of cycling should be a matter for all Ministers all parts of the Department, rather than the responsibility resting with one individual.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the proposed width is of the (a) track and (b) land either side of the track that will be purchased by the Government for the construction of the High Speed 2 line. [144013]

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Mr Simon Burns: The information is as follows:

(a) The proposed width of the railway infrastructure system (which includes spatial allowance for two tracks, drainage, power supply and signalling equipment etc.) is approximately 19 m for Phase 1. At the current stage of design, HS2 Ltd has made an initial allowance for a distance of 22 m for Phase 2. This is the same baseline used for Phase 1 when it was at this same stage. This figure is subject to change as the designs are refined.

(b) The above dimensions do not include the land required for earthworks, substations, operational and maintenance access, environmental mitigation and temporary construction sites which will vary along the route. The proposed limits of land take will be shown on the documents submitted for the appropriate Hybrid Bills.

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish all (a) requests for additional funding, (b) requests and clearances on employing consultants and (c) other correspondence on recruitment and financial matters between his Department and High Speed 2 Limited. [145157]

Mr Simon Burns: I refer my right hon. Friend to my answer of 19 October 2012, Official Report, columns 523-24W.

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the advice which he received on whether to introduce a paving bill for expenditure on the High Speed 2 project; with which external groups and stakeholders he has discussed introducing a paving bill; and if he will make a statement. [145158]

Mr Simon Burns: To facilitate the effective conduct of Government, advice to Ministers on the formulation of government policy is not routinely published and I have no plans to do so in this case.

The content of future legislative sessions remains unconfirmed until the time of the Queen's Speech and has not formed the basis for discussion with external groups or stakeholders.

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons he plans to introduce a paving bill for expenditure on the High Speed 2 project; if he will make it his policy to publish that bill in draft by Easter 2013; and if he will make a statement. [145159]

Mr Simon Burns: The proposed paving bill would ensure that we are able to deliver the HS2 project as fast as possible. It would provide the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin), with parliamentary approval to incur essential expenditure on the preparatory works in advance of the proposed hybrid bill achieving Royal Assent and allow the construction programme to proceed as quickly as possible thereafter. It will also provide Parliament with an additional opportunity to debate elements of the HS2 project.

It is our intention for the paving bill to be a short Money Bill. If it is included in the Queen's Speech, it will be introduced when parliamentary time allows. A decision on whether to publish the bill in draft will be taken once we have clarity on the likely timing of its introduction.

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Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under which of his Department's budget headings spending related to the High Speed 2 project has been made to date; what the total amount spent to date under each budget heading is; and if he will make a statement. [145161]

Mr Simon Burns: The spend to date on High Speed 2 by HS2 Ltd and DFT for the past four financial years, is set out in the following table:

£ million
 2009-102010-112011-122012-13(1)

DFT

    

Resource (Programme)

0.5

1.9

Resource Admin(2)

1.1

1.9

Resource (total)

1.6

3.8

Capital (total)

9.6

19.7

17.8

     

HS2 Ltd

    

Resource (Programme)

32.0

130.3

Resource (Admin)

1.9

3.8

Resource total

(3)9.4

(3)14.6

33.9

134.1

Capital (total)

0.03

0.1

0.4

8.2

(1) Year to date April 2012 to January 2013, as this is the most up-to-date information available. (2) Includes pay and non-pay expenditure. (3) Breakdown between Admin and Programme costs not available.

David Mowat: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the maximum distance is which a property must be from the route of High Speed 2 to qualify for the exceptional hardship scheme. [144936]

Mr Simon Burns: We are currently consulting on the Exceptional Hardship scheme for Phase Two of High Speed 2, and I cannot pre-judge the outcome of that consultation. However, for the Exceptional Hardship scheme for Phase One there is no maximum distance within which a property must be in order to qualify for the Exceptional Hardship scheme.

Ports: Immigration Controls

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Ministers in the Home Department on difficulties being experienced by the cruise industry arising from immigration checks on (a) UK citizens and (b) other nationals disembarking from vessels on day visits to UK ports. [144623]

Stephen Hammond: Ministers from the Department for Transport have met with Home Office Ministers but this specific issue has not been raised in discussion. If the hon. Gentleman would like to provide details of the difficulties encountered by the cruise industry I will certainly raise those concerns with the Home Office.

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Road Traffic: Greater London

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has (a) commissioned and (b) had access to on levels of congestion for (i) 2010-11 and (ii) 2011-12 on roads in London; and if he will make a statement. [145229]

Stephen Hammond: Under devolution, the Mayor of London is responsible for Transport in London. The Mayor's Transport Strategy, published in 2010, includes trends in travel demand and forecasts levels to 2031. The strategy sets out the Mayor's vision for transport in London, including measures to accommodate the predicted growth in travel demand and to reduce congestion.

Roads: Accidents

Robert Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made in establishing a cross-stakeholder group to have input into the Department Justice's proposed review of how the criminal justice system operates when people are injured or killed on the road. [144061]

Stephen Hammond: We have established a stakeholder group to look at the criminal justice system. It comprises the Home Office, Sentencing Council, Ministry of Justice, ACPO, CPS, British Cycling, CTC, RoadPeace and the Department for Transport.

House of Commons Commission

Parliamentary Estate: Repairs and Modernisation

2. Meg Hillier: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what recent progress has been made on plans to carry out repairs and modernisation of the Parliamentary Estate. [145140]

John Thurso: The Parliamentary Estates programme manages a rolling programme of repairs and refurbishment of all the buildings on the parliamentary estate. The Commission and the House of Lords House Committee asked for a full independent analysis to be carried out of the various high-level options for the future renovation of the Palace of Westminster in the light of the large volume of remedial work that is now required.

Defence

Alcoholic Drinks

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the level of alcohol-related absenteeism in his Department; whether his Department has an (a) internal alcohol policy and (b) occupational health strategy; and if he will publish such documents. [143962]

Mr Francois: The Ministry of Defence's system for recording sickness absence of civilian staff does not distinguish between absences which relate to alcohol, and those which do not. No such estimate has therefore been made on the level of alcohol-related absenteeism.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 590W

Our statement of civilian personnel policy on standards of conduct and behaviour includes the policy on problem drinking and alcohol dependency. I will place a copy of that policy in the Library of the House.

The Department has its own in-house Employee and Welfare Service, including an Occupational Health Provision (currently provided by Atos Healthcare) which is supported by our internal policy on Health and Well-being. The Department is in the process of developing an occupational health strategy, to complement our existing occupational health policy.

Armed Forces: Discharges

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the criteria are for serving armed forces personnel being discharged from the armed forces on the grounds that their services are no longer required; [139994]

(2) how many armed forces personnel have been discharged from the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force in each year since May 2010 on the grounds of their services no longer being required. [140004]

Mr Francois: The following table details the criteria for serving armed forces personnel who are discharged on the grounds that their services are no longer required.

ServiceServices no longer required (SNLR) criteria

Royal Navy

Discharge SNLR (Unruly): Where service or civil offending has rendered an individual's position untenable, either due to repeated offending or the seriousness of the offence in question.

 

Discharge SNLR (Compulsory Drugs Test) or (Drugs Misuse)

  

Army

SNLR: Generally, this term is used for the termination of employment of a soldier who cannot or should not be transferred to the Reserve. In recognition that potential employers may regard the term SNLR with some reservation, an explanation should follow and examples of this are:

 

—SNLR: An apprentice or solider aged 17 ½ years or over, who is unsatisfactory due to circumstances within his control or to indiscipline;

 

—SNLR: An apprentice still at an apprentice's college over the age of 17 ½years who is guilty of misconduct.

  

Royal Air Force

SNLR: If found unsuitable during recruit training.

 

SNLR: Applies to Airmen considered to be unsuitable in trade category or rank.

 

SNLR: Being unable to meet service obligations either through circumstances beyond their control or due to permanently reduced medical employment standard.

The number of armed forces personnel that have been discharged from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force on these grounds is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Pensions

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the proximity of pensionable age to the immediate pensions point. [139891]

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Mr Francois: There have been no representations about the proximity of the pensionable age to the immediate pension point (IPP), but there has been a significant volume of correspondence about the proximity of redundancy to the IPP.

In relation to Tranches 1 and 2 of the current armed forces redundancy programme, there have been 28 appeals across all three services where proximity to the IPP was included in the submission, and there have been 15 service complaints where proximity to the IPP was mentioned. In some cases the appeal and service complaint were submitted by the same individual.

Armed Forces: Redundancy

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has considered using length of service as a criterion for determining redundancies. [126670]

Mr Francois: In order to ensure that the redundancy programme is fair to all involved, redundancy fields are generated using clear and objective eligibility criteria, including such things as rank, arm, length of service and career employment in an area where a surplus of manpower exists.

The decision to select an individual for redundancy within each field is based upon an assessment against their performance, potential and wider employability within the future armed forces. The single service selection boards do not know the exact length of service of individuals who meet the sift criteria.

Those who scored lowest against the redundancy fields would be selected for redundancy first, until the single service reached the target number for that particular field. While length of service has been used to determine where a surplus exists, it has not been part of the criteria for selecting individuals within the fields.

Duncan Hames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maximum amount available is for personnel in the Army who leave (a) after their immediate pension point and receive the combined value of the terminal grant, maximum commutation and the redundancy special capital payment and (b) before their immediate pension point and receive redundancy special capital payment and resettlement grant. [139569]

Mr Francois: The differing personal circumstances applicable to each individual leaving the armed forces, and the level of resettlement commutation that they apply for, have a significant bearing on the terms of that individual's redundancy. The maximum amount available to any individual is dependant upon these variables.

An estimate can however be obtained by using the 2012 Redundancy Calculator. As an example, an Army major leaving just after the immediate pension point (IPP)(16 years service after age 21) might receive upwards of £88,000 as a tax free lump sum with an annual pension of some £15,500. The same officer leaving just before IPP may receive a tax free lump sum in excess of some £127,000, with a preserved pension at age 60, and an additional element paid at age 65.

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Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what differences there are in the criteria used for determining redundancies in the Army and the Royal Air Force. [139887]

Mr Francois: There are no differences. Selections for redundancy are made by single service selection boards based solely upon an assessment of an individual's performance, potential and future employability to ensure that they retain the individuals whose skills and competences most closely meet the future needs of the services.

Cemeteries: Bassetlaw

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which headstones and plots of British servicemen in cemeteries in Bassetlaw are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; and how often these are inspected and maintained. [140974]

Mr Francois [holding answer 1 February 2013]: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) acknowledges the excellent work done by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in looking after the graves of our fallen from the two world wars. Although the MOD contributes funding to the Commission, it is an independent body. The information requested is not held by the MOD but by the CWGC.

Departmental Responsibilities

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's core statutory obligations are; and what estimate he has of the annual cost of delivering each such obligation. [142757]

Mr Robathan: The main functions of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) are the defence of the realm and the organisation and operation of the armed forces. These are not statutory functions, but their cost is summarised in the MOD's annual report and accounts.

Fuels

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much fuel has been used by his Department in each of the last 10 years; how much this fuel has cost; how much of this cost can be attributed to operations in Afghanistan; and what estimate he has made of the (a) volume and (b) cost of fuel needed by his Department in each of the next five years. [137719]

Mr Dunne: The Ministry of Defence's consumption of fuel has historically been driven by the pace and scale of activity, including in recent years an increasing commitment to military operations in Afghanistan. In the light of the volatility of oil prices, we have introduced forward-purchase arrangements to provide price stability and more efficient budgetary planning.

The information available on the cost and consumption of marine, aviation and ground fuel is as follows:

£ million
Financial yearTotal expenditureOf which: Afghanistan

2002-03

185

(1)

2003-04

161

(1)

2004-05

239

(1)

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2005-06

369

(1)

2006-07

416

16

2007-08

537

70

2008-09

695

150

2009-10

482

123

2010-11

628

168

2011-12

635

190

2012-13 (estimate)

769

206

(1) This information is not readily available. The fuel volumes consumed would have been relatively low compared with later years given the scale of operations in Afghanistan at the time.

Comparable data on the volume of fuel consumption for the above years are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

We estimate that annual expenditure on fuel over the period 2013-14 to 2016-17 inclusive will be between £600 million and £750 million, and that annual consumption will be between 900,000 and 1,000,000 cubic metres. This estimate excludes Afghanistan as the net additional costs of military operations, which include the extra fuel needed, are funded from the Treasury's Special Reserve in the year in which they fall. The forward estimates of the costs of Afghanistan we publish from time to time reflect broad planning assumptions rather than detailed analyses of individual expenditure areas.

Government Procurement Card

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the mean average spend using a Government Procurement Card was per member of staff in (a) his Department and (b) each of its arm's length bodies in (i) 2011 and (ii) 2012; [141455]

(2) what guidance or instructions have been issued to staff in (a) his Department and (b) its arm's length bodies about the timing of the publication of data relating to spend over (i) £25,000 and (ii) £500 using the Government Procurement Card. [141495]

Mr Francois: Information on the mean average expenditure using a Government Procurement Card (GPC) per member of staff is not held. The mean average expenditure using a GPC per transaction was £200.75 for calendar year 2011 and £190.41 for calendar year 2012.

These figures include the Ministry of Defence Trading Funds: Defence Science and Technical Laboratory (Dstl); Defence Support Group (DSG); and UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

Data for transactions for expenditure over £25,000, and for GPC expenditure over £500 are published in accordance with the requirements of the Government's transparency policy. Detailed instruction has been promulgated in the Ministry of Defence publication ‘Transparency: Publication of Tenders and Contracts’, a revised version of which was published on 1 February 2013.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many investigations his Department has undertaken on the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles in operations in Afghanistan since their deployment in that country. [144047]

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Mr Robathan: A wide range of investigations into the operation and employment of equipment, either in general or in response to specific incidents, can be initiated by various competent authorities, including the chain of command. These are not held centrally or in a form that would allow all investigations relevant to Reaper, the UK's only armed remotely piloted air system, to be identified.

Veterans: Plymouth

Oliver Colvile: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will seek to provide support for service personnel who remain in Plymouth after leaving the armed services. [139898]

Mr Francois: All service leavers are entitled to support from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), no matter where they reside in the UK. Prior to leaving the armed forces all service leavers are entitled to resettlement training. The MOD also offers a Veterans Welfare Service which provides free, confidential and personal advice on a variety of financial, health, employment and welfare issues.

We are not, however, complacent about the support we provide to veterans. In 2012, Lord Ashcroft was appointed as Special Representative for Veterans Transition. In this role he will provide the MOD with advice on how we can further support those leaving the armed forces. It is expected that Lord Ashcroft will produce an interim report to the Secretary of State for Defence by the end of 2013, with more comprehensive recommendations being made during 2014.

Home Department

Asylum: Pregnant Women

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many pregnant women in receipt of Section 95 support from the UK Border Agency were dispersed or relocated in (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011 and (d) 2012; [144823]

(2) how many pregnant women in receipt of Section 4 support from the UK Border Agency were dispersed or relocated in (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011 and (d) 2012. [144824]

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many pregnant women and new mothers in receipt of (a) Section 95 and (b) Section 4 support from the UK Border Agency attempted suicide in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011 and (iv) 2012; [145084]

(2) how many pregnant women were receiving (a) Section 95 and (b) Section 4 support from the UK Border Agency in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011 and (iv) 2012. [145086]

Mr Harper: The information could be provided only by examining individual case records, which would result in disproportionate cost.

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Communications Data Bill (Draft)

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she intends to publish the Communications Data Bill; and whether at the same time she will publish revised cost and impact assessments. [145154]

James Brokenshire: The Government are committed to legislating to ensure the law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to have access to the communications data they need. The Joint Committee that scrutinised the Draft Bill recognised the importance of communications data as an investigative tool and accepted that there was a case for legislation which will provide the law enforcement authorities with some further access to communications data.

A revised Communications Data Bill, incorporating the recommendations of the Joint Committee, will be introduced at the earliest possible opportunity.

The revised impact assessment will be published alongside legislation as it is introduced to Parliament.

Detention Centres

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when (a) she or (b) Ministers in her Department last visited a detention centre. [141974]

Mr Harper: Home Office Ministers have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues and others as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Entry Clearances

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many visa decisions were withdrawn by the UK Border Agency before they went to tribunal in 2012; and what the cost of those decisions was. [142301]

Mr Harper: A total of 11,637 (3.4%) out of country visa decisions were withdrawn by the UK Border Agency before they went to tribunal in 2012.

(1) The figures quoted have been derived from management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols.

(2) Figures relate to main applicants and dependants.

(3) Figures for 2012 cover the period January to December 2012.

(4) Figures extracted from the UK Border Agency's Central Reference System.

It is not possible to estimate the cost associated with decisions withdrawn before an appearance is made before the tribunal, as this information has not been collated within the normal course of business and to do so would incur disproportionate cost.

Entry Clearances: Overseas Students

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many tier 4 immigration applications were not completed within three weeks in the latest period for which figures are available. [143252]

28 Feb 2013 : Column 596W

Mr Harper [holding answer 14 February 2013]: Of the 234,715 tier 4 visa applications resolved overseas in 2012, 14,938 (6.4%) were not processed within three weeks. The remaining 219,777 (93.6%) tier 4 cases were completed within three weeks. The UK Border Agency service standard is to process 90% of visa applications within three weeks, so the service standard was exceeded in 2012.

These data are based on internal UK Border Agency management information. They are provisional and subject to change.

Government Procurement Card

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) staff and (b) special advisers in her Department have use of a Government procurement card. [137268]

James Brokenshire: As of 1 January 2013, there were 596 staff that had use of a Government procurement card within the Home Department and its agencies. This figure has been almost halved since 2010, when the number of staff with Government procurement cards was at 1,082. Due to the way in which the data were collected in previous years, we do not have details for all agencies.

No special advisers within the Home Department have use of a Government procurement card.

ICT

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) start date, (b) original planned completion date, (c) current expected completion date, (d) planned cost and (e) current estimated cost is for each information technology project over £5 million being undertaken by her Department and its agencies; and if she will make a statement. [140113]

James Brokenshire: From the information held centrally about Home Department's major projects there are three major information technology projects currently under way. Details of these projects are listed in the following table.

The Home Department maintains close control over expenditure on information technology equipment between £5 million and £40 million. This is approved and monitored by each business area and is subject to regular central assurance. Work has been initiated to collate and verify the portfolio of information technology projects between £5 million and £40 million. Once this work is complete, the Home Department will follow-up with this information by way of a letter for the Library.

IT projectStart DateExpected completion dateWhole life planned cost (to nearest £ million)Current forecast whole life cost (to nearest £ million)

Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) information systems operation technology

April 2008

September 2013

399

401

28 Feb 2013 : Column 597W

     

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) IT infrastructure replacement

May-2008

May 2013

49

49

Identity and Passport Service—transforming the customer experience

May 2007

January 2014

194

186

Immigrants: Detainees

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether her Department uses a risk-based assessment to determine whether to detain individuals at immigration removal centres; and if she will publish any relevant assessment criteria. [145351]

Mr Harper: Decisions to detain are taken on an individual basis in the light of all relevant circumstances known. The factors which should be considered and the guidance available to assist UK Border Agency officers in reaching these decisions are published in Chapter 55 of the Enforcement Instructions and Guidance.

http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/enforcement/detentionandremovals/chapter55.pdf?view=Binary

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make it her policy to set a maximum period of detention at immigration removal centres. [145352]

Mr Harper: There are no plans to set a maximum period for detention at immigration removal centres.

Immigration

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) blue and (b) yellow immigration cards were issued to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in each year since 2006; [141700]

(2) how many claims for (a) blue and (b) yellow immigration cards from Romanian and Bulgarian citizens are outstanding. [141701]

Mr Harper: The number of blue and yellow immigration cards issued to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in each year since 1 January 2007 is shown in the following table. The cards were not introduced until Bulgaria and Romania acceded to the EU.

Bulgarian and Romanian blue and yellow registration certificates issued between 1 January 2007 to 30 September 2012
Year of issueBlue routeYellow routeTotal

2007

8,074

18,851

26,925

2008

8,300

11,622

19,922

2009

10,860

11,230

22,090

2010

11,107

10,144

21,251

28 Feb 2013 : Column 598W

2011

13,664

11,804

25,468

2012

4,787

4,356

9,143

Total

56,792

68,007

124,799

Notes: 1. The figures quoted have been derived from management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols. 2. Figures relate to main applicants and dependants. 3. Figures relate to A2 cases with decision despatched date between 1 January 2007 and 30 September 2012 and with a blue or yellow route outcome. 4. Figures for 2012 cover the period January to September 2012.

A blue or exempt card would be issued to a Bulgarian or Romanian applicant who is exempt from worker restrictions because they have completed 12 months legal employment in the UK, or they have applied under the Highly Skilled Migrant or International Graduate Schemes. Dependants of exempt applicants would also qualify under this category.

A half blue card would be given to dependants of Bulgarian and Romanian applicants, where the applicant has proved that they are exercising their treaty rights. It entitles the dependants to work without restrictions in the UK.

A yellow card would be issued to someone who has registered on the scheme through either self-employment, self-sufficient or the student routes. Students qualify for exemption if they have completed 12 months of legal employment.

Outstanding applications are not categorised by the blue/yellow format until after a decision has been made. The information requested could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Immigration: Applications

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases at the UK Border Agency for (a) first time applications for family cases, (b) applications for extensions for visit visas and (c) settlement applications extensions following the two year probationary period are outstanding. [141042]

Mr Harper: The requested numbers of outstanding family, visit and settlement extension applications are shown in the following table:

Applications awaiting decision by case type as of 27 January 2013
Case typeTotal

(a) Family(1)

24,549

(b) Visiting the UK*

162

(c) Settlement

29,766

(1) Figures relating to ‘Family’ and ‘Visiting the UK’ applications relate to both first time applications and extensions. To disaggregate the data would incur disproportionate costs. Notes: 1. All figures quoted have been derived from management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols. 2. Figures relate to main applicants only. 3. Figures relate to postal and premium applications, 4. Figures relate to applications pending a decision as of 27 January 2013. 5. Applications cannot be completed until we have received applicants' biometric data and it is sometimes necessary for us to undertake further checks on the evidence submitted in support of applications, or to request further evidence be submitted to clarify what is being claimed.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 599W

Ministerial Policy Advisers

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures are in place within her Department to deal with breaches of the code of conduct for special advisers. [145656]

James Brokenshire: Matters relating to Special Advisers are handled in accordance with the Ministerial Code, the Model Contract and Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

National Crime Agency: Northern Ireland

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on the operation of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement. [143632]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We are committed to delivering a UK-wide crime fighting agency focused on tackling serious, organised and complex crime—including in Northern Ireland.

In light of the Northern Ireland Executive's decision not to take forward legislative consent for the National Crime Agency, the Government are looking carefully at the provisions in Part 1 of the Crime and Courts Bill to see how they can best be modified so that the National Crime Agency will continue to tackle serious, organised and complex crime in Northern Ireland, focused on reserved/excepted activities so that the Bill does not require legislative consent.

Police: Croydon

Steve Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) police officers and (b) police community support officers were employed in the London Borough of Croydon in (i) July 2010, (ii) January 2011, (iii) July 2011, (iv) January 2012, (v) July 2012 and (vi) January 2013; and if she will make a statement. [145293]

Damian Green: The available information provided to the Home Office shows that there were 755 police officers and 173 police community support officers (PCSOs) employed in the London borough of Croydon on 31 March 2010; and 736 police officers and 141 PCSOs employed on 31 March 2011. These figures are full-time equivalents and include those on maternity/paternity leave and career breaks.

As these figures are collected for 31 March only, it is not possible to provide them for January and July. Furthermore, after 31 March 2011, all police personnel data below force level ceased to be collected by the Home Office, so figures for 31 March 2012 cannot be provided.

Number of police officers and police community support officers employed in the London borough of Croydon as at 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2011(1,2)
 Police officersPolice community support officers

31 March 2010

755

173

31 March 2011

736

141

(1) This table contains full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. (2) Figures include those officers on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 600W

Police: Ethnic Groups

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many black and minority ethnic police officers there were of each rank in each force in each year since 2006. [138682]

Damian Green: The tables show minority ethnic officer strength by police force area and rank as at 31 March for the years 2006 to 2012. These data are drawn from Table 7 of the Police Strength Bulletins and will be placed in the House Library.

Police: Pay

John Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to her recent changes in police pay arrangements, whether it is possible for a serving front line police officer to receive less gross pay in 2013 than in 2011. [144888]

Damian Green: There has been no reduction in basic salary for serving police officers. The recent implementation of recommendations from Tom Winsor's Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions involve changes to some of the additional payments and allowances received by police officers, retargeting pay to make the best use of all available resources. The effect on individual pay and allowance packages is not monitored centrally by the Home Office.

Police: Surveillance

Mr Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which organisations were the subject of undercover operations by the (a) Special Demonstration Squad and (b) National Public Order Intelligence Union in which the identities of dead children were used. [144860]

Damian Green: The activities of the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, including allegations of the use of the identities of dead children, are currently the subject of an investigation under the leadership of Chief Constable Mick Creedon of Derbyshire Police. That investigation, called Operation Herne, is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It would be inappropriate to comment while that investigation is ongoing.

Police: Weapons

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the introduction and use of the Orcutt Police Nunchaku by police services in England and Wales. [145102]

Damian Green: The Home Office has made no assessment of the introduction and use of the Orcutt Police Nunchaku.

Seized Articles

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) with reference to the letter from the Minister for Immigration to the hon. Member for

28 Feb 2013 : Column 601W

Witham of 15 November 2012 concerning a constituent Mr Andrew Ryman, whether officials will be instructed to

(a)

review the case and offer further compensation to Mr Ryman in relation to the wrongful seizure of his vehicle and

(b)

cover the full costs of repairing and recovering Mr Ryman's vehicle; [143010]

(2) how many people have had their (a) vehicles and (b) other property wrongfully seized by UK Border Force officials in each of the last five years; what the total value of (i) compensation and (ii) ex gratia payments made to such people was; and what the average time taken to settle each claim was; [143011]

(3) what steps she has put in place to ensure that all persons whose property is wrongfully seized by UK Border Force officials are promptly and fully compensated; and if she will make a statement. [143012]

Mr Harper [holding answer 12 February 2013]:Officials have reviewed Mr Ryman's case and have agreed to offer compensation for recovery of the vehicle and replacement of its battery. A reply was sent to my hon. Friend from Border Force on 11 February 2012.

The figures for the number of successful challenges vehicles/goods do not distinguish between vehicles and goods, as such total figures provided confirm the success rate as follows:

Percentage
 Border force successfulClient successful

December 2010 to March 2011

90.48

9.52

April 2011 to March 2012

90.49

9.51

April 2012 to date

93.47

6.53

The total value of ex gratia payment figures are only available from April 2010, and in that period to date the total value of ex gratia payments was: £328,941.10.

Responsibility for determining the lawfulness of vehicle and property (goods) seizures sits with magistrates court, with successful challenges dealt with by way of an order for dismissal, not wrongful seizure. We are unable to give an average time to settle each claim as this will depend on negotiations with individuals to settle on agreed amount for ex gratia payment. On receipt of this ‘agreement' the National Post Seizure Unit would aim to process claim within five working days.

Taxis

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department spent on taxis in 2011-12. [137309]

James Brokenshire: The Home Office spent £325,207.78 on taxis during 2011-12 just one third of the sum which it spent in 2008-09, under the previous Administration. Due to the restructuring of the Home Department over the past years, we do not have details for Identity and Passport Service, Criminal Records Bureau and National Fraud Authority for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 and the figures for these years do not include such organisations.

 Taxis spend (£)

2011-12

325,207.78

2010-11

483,357.96

28 Feb 2013 : Column 602W

2009-10

777,740.35

2008-09

1,005,132.37

In addition the Home Office taxi policy summary states that staff should avoid using taxis wherever possible, using instead public transport, such as, where available, train, bus or tube and will be reimbursed for taxi fares only if the line manager is satisfied that the cost was incurred out of necessity.

Violence Against Women and Girls Ministerial Group

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Ministers are members of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Violence Against Women and Girls; on how many occasions this group has met since May 2010; and on how many occasions this group has discussed the provision of relationship education in schools. [145415]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Violence Against Women and Girls Inter-Ministerial Group is chaired by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), and has met on a quarterly basis since May 2010.

The Members are:

Home Secretary—Chair

Minister for Crime Prevention

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health

Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice and for Women and Equalities

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Work and Pensions

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Government Spokesperson, Wales Office

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Transport

Spokesperson in the House of Lords on International Development and Government Whip

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Department for International Development

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Minister for Women and Equalities

Solicitor-General

Minister of State for Northern Ireland

Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The aims of the meetings are to monitor progress against our cross-Government Action Plan, which includes actions on provision of relationship education in schools.

Violent and Sex Offender Register

Wayne David: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions are in place so that serious sex offenders are placed on the Violent and Sex Offenders Register if they have a conviction for a serious sexual offence that predates the Sex Offenders Act 1997. [144775]

28 Feb 2013 : Column 603W

Mr Jeremy Browne: There is a range of legislative options available to the police to manage sex offenders. The police can apply for offenders convicted of an offence under Schedule 3 or 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to be made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) if that individual has demonstrated, since their conviction, that they pose a risk of serious sexual harm to the public. This includes individuals convicted prior to 1 September 1997.

SOPOs are intended to protect the public from the risks posed by sex offenders by placing restrictions on their behaviour. Any individual subject to a SOPO will also be required to notify their personal details with the police (commonly referred to as the ‘sex offenders' register) for the duration of the Order.

Work and Pensions

Atos Healthcare

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of (a) the Atos Healthcare average clearance target and (b) the performance of Atos against that target in (i) 2011 and (ii) 2012. [145399]

Mr Hoban: Atos Healthcare are not contractually accountable for a national employment and support allowance (ESA) target. Contractually there are a number of Actual Average Clearance Targets (AACT) for the various medical services, varying in how they are measured between the Department and Atos Healthcare.

The contracted service level is to clear ESA medical assessments with an AACT of 35 working days. Although there is no formal AACT for Incapacity Benefit Reassessments (IBR), DWP monitor performance against the same target for ESA. Please see following table for AACT performance from January 2011 to December 2012.

 AACT
 ESAIBR

January 2011

36.7

(1)

February 2011

33.3

(1)

March 2011

31.8

(1)

April 2011

33

(1)

May 2011

33.2

(1)

June 2011

34.5

29.2

July 2011

38.6

36.9

August 2011

42.6

41.9

September 2011

49.7

42.7

October 2011

57.1

42.7

November 2011

62.8

43.3

December 2012

63.9

43.0

January 2012

65.0

43.4

February 2012

67.5

43.6

March 2012

63.0

43.4

April 2012

58.9

44.4

May 2012

58.7

43.2

June 2012

56.6

43.5

July 2012

53.5

44.1

August 2012

52.0

45.1

September 2012

51.7

46.1

October 2012

48.9

43.9

November 2012

46.7

41.3

28 Feb 2013 : Column 604W

December 2012

45.4

40.7

(1) No data available. Source: ESA AACT Clearance Distribution Reports (national)

Following the Department's acceptance of Professor Harrington's recommendations, the introduction of the Personal Summary Statement (PSS) in 2011 had a major impact on the Actual Average Clearance Target (AACT) for Work Capability Assessment clearances. The introduction of the PSS resulted in an increase to the Medical Standard Time, ie the time taken on average to conduct a face to face medical assessment, which reduced the capacity to deliver planned numbers of assessments.

Following on from this, Atos Healthcare has continued to deliver a service which has seen a reduction in their performance against the clearance targets.

DWP and Atos Healthcare meet formally on a monthly basis to discuss performance and agree improvement activity with the aim of achieving the 35 day AACT.

Housing Benefit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the effect on overall housing benefit spending of households moving from the social rented sector to the private rented sector following the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty. [143685]

Steve Webb: This information is not available.

The potential impacts on costs and savings of tenants leaving the property they are under-occupying are complex and subject to a great deal of uncertainty. They depend partly on the accommodation to which the tenant moves and the accommodation from which the new tenant taking up their property comes.

An assessment of behavioural change is included in the impact assessment which can be found at:

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

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people who are likely to apply to local authorities for the discretionary housing payment in (a) 2013, (b) 2014 and (c) 2015 in (i) Glasgow North West constituency, (ii) Glasgow, (iii) Scotland and (iv) the UK. [144968]

Steve Webb: The information is not available.

Guidance will be provided to local authorities on allocating discretionary housing payments, but the funding is for them to use at their discretion based on local needs.

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what allocations he has given to local authorities to cover discretionary housing payment applications in (a) Glasgow North West constituency, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK. [144969]

28 Feb 2013 : Column 605W

Steve Webb: Information at constituency level is not available for (a).

In 2013/14 the total of the Government contribution towards discretionary housing payments allocated to (b) Glasgow is £2,979,970, (c) Scotland is £10,019,443 and (d) Great Britain is £155 million. Information is not available for the UK and the Department for Work and Pensions' remit concerning discretionary housing payments does not cover Northern Ireland.

In addition to the Government contribution, local authorities can add to their expenditure on discretionary housing payments, up to a maximum so that their overall expenditure does not exceed 2.5 times their Government contribution for that year.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what data was requested by his Department from local authorities to help inform the decision on the allocation of discretionary housing payment; and if he will publish any such data. [145151]

Steve Webb: No data were requested from local authorities.

The basis on which the various elements of discretionary housing payment funds for 2013-14 were distributed to local authorities are described in a housing benefit circular, which can be found at

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/s1-2013.pdf

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the oral answer from the Prime Minister to the right hon. Member for Doncaster North of 6 February 2013, Official Report, columns 269-70, how much the Government have allocated as a contingency fund to help households adversely affected by new rules on under-occupancy; how much of this fund has been allocated to Hull; how many households in Hull he expects this sum to support; and what guidance he has issued to local authorities on how to distribute such funding. [145289]

Steve Webb: On top of the baseline funding of £20 million an additional £30 million has been distributed to local authorities across Great Britain as the Government's contribution to discretionary housing payments in 2013/14 for those affected by the under-occupancy charge. The amount distributed to the city of Kingston upon Hull was £284,436 and the number of households helped by this fund will depend on local authorities’ decisions on its use. Local authorities have discretion to spend up to 2.5 times the Government contribution in total.

Guidance will be provided to local authorities on allocating discretionary housing payments, but the funding is for them to use at their discretion based on local needs.

Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people who will be affected by the under-occupancy penalty by (a) local authority and (b) parliamentary constituency. [144951]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 606W

Estimates of numbers affected by the under-occupation measure at national and regional level are available in the impact assessment:

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

Independent Living Fund

Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance he has given to local authorities on the protection of budgets for the Independent Living Fund once this fund is transferred to local authority control in 2015. [144864]

Esther McVey: Following the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) on 31 March 2015, local authorities in England will have sole responsibility for meeting the eligible care and support needs of current ILF users, in line with their statutory responsibilities. The devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will determine how ILF users in each of those parts of the UK are supported within their distinct care and support systems.

The Government recognise the importance of making the transition as smooth as possible to avoid unnecessary disruption to ILF users' lives. DWP, the ILF and the social care sector in England will over the course of 2014 co-produce a code of practice, which will guide local authorities on how ILF users can best be supported through the transition and set out guidance on how local authorities can best support users through transition. The ILF will also work with the devolved Administrations to develop and communicate guidance where applicable.

The devolved funding will be distributed proportionately between the local authorities in England and the devolved Administrations on the basis of the pattern of expenditure in 2014-15. From 1 April 2015 local authorities will be required to meet the care and support needs of former ILF users in line with their statutory duties to assess and fund care needs.

From April 2013, the ILF will start to deliver a two-year programme of reviews to ensure that every user has individually-agreed arrangements in place for transferring their care packages to local authorities. This will ensure that local authorities have a clear picture of how ILF users' funding is being used and the outcomes being secured though their care packages.

Personal Independence Payment

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will reconsider the decision to remove those with dementia to be subject to reassessments for personal independence payments after an initial two year award when it is clear that their condition is not going to improve; and what assessment he has made of the potential risk of mental distress to patient and carers as a result of his current policy in this area. [145048]

Esther McVey: We will take a personalised approach to setting the length of awards, varying the frequency and format of awards and reviews, depending on the individual's needs and the likelihood of their health condition or impairment changing. While in some cases short-term awards of one or two years may be appropriate, we have been clear that longer-term awards will be

28 Feb 2013 : Column 607W

made in cases where the claimant's needs are expected to remain relatively stable or change slowly. Ongoing awards will be made in some cases where significant change in the claimant's needs is very unlikely.

All awards, regardless of duration, will be reviewed periodically to ensure that the individual continues to receive the correct amount of benefit. Awards will be reviewed in a proportionate way with consideration given to the circumstances of the individual.

Reviews of benefit awards will not always require a face-to-face consultation. Where there is enough evidence individuals will not be required to attend a consultation, and their claim will be reviewed on a paper basis. However, these decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis, as impairments can affect people in very different ways. Individuals that are asked to attend a face-to-face consultation will be able to bring with them a relation, friend or possibly a professional who supports them, in order to support them or help them manage any anxiety they may feel.

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the value of codifying the phrase reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely fashion into the assessment criteria for personal independence payment; and if he will make a statement. [145049]

Esther McVey: We have always been clear that a key principle of the personal independence payment assessment is that it should include a consideration of whether individuals can complete activities in a manner that is safe, repeatable, to an acceptable standard and timely. We do not feel that this principle has to be included in the legislation to be effective. However, recognising the strength of feeling in relation to this key protection, the Government has agreed to include it in regulations. We will lay amending regulations making this change, once the current regulations have been made and before the PIP regulations come into force from 8 April.

A draft of the amending regulation is available on the DWP website at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/the-assessment-criteria

Child Poverty

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consideration his Department is giving to (a) the strategy A New Approach to Child Poverty published in April 2011, (b) the report of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances undertaken by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead, (c) the outcomes of children and young people in the NHS Outcomes Framework and (d) the Government's commitments to the Europe 2020 strategy in its response to the measuring child poverty consultation. [144934]

Esther McVey: The consultation on new measures of child poverty closed on 15 February and we are now analysing responses before deciding on the next steps. We remain committed to tackling child poverty. Our new measures intend to identify the causes of poverty so that they may be directly addressed rather than simply attempting to treat the consequences. We remain committed to the Child Poverty Act, and are continuing

28 Feb 2013 : Column 608W

to implement the 2011 strategy, which built on the report by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), in advance of the next one due in 2014.

The Government are committed to eradicating child poverty and improving public health, and will ensure that any new measures of child poverty reflect the NHS Outcomes Framework effectively.

The Government's commitment to the Europe 2020 strategy is in line with its commitment to the Child Poverty Act 2010, and to eradicating child poverty. We firmly believe that only by recognising and addressing the causes of child poverty can we ensure that children's lives are truly improved and eradicate child poverty.

Poverty: Disabled

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the effect of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 on the number of disabled people living in (a) relative and (b) absolute poverty in each year to 2020; [145152]

(2) what estimate he has made of the effect of the uprating of social security benefits and tax credits by one per cent on the number of disabled people living in relative poverty in (a) 2013, (b) 2014 and (c) 2015. [145153]

Steve Webb: I refer the right hon. Gentleman to my answer to his earlier question (PQ 141901) on 11 February 2013, Official Report, column 508W.

A breakdown of the relative impacts of the uprating of social security benefits and tax credits by one per cent on the number of disabled people living in relative poverty for individual years is available only at disproportionate cost.

Social Rented Housing

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he proposes that (a) council and (b) housing association-owned accommodation, used to provide temporary accommodation, will be subject to the social sector size criteria. [141982]

Steve Webb: People who are accepted as homeless under the Housing Act 1996 and placed in temporary accommodation by either (a) the local authority or (b) a housing association will not be subject to size criteria.

Social Security Benefits: Fraud

Bob Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) complaints made by the public regarding fraudulent benefit claims are thoroughly investigated by his Department and (b) steps are taken to prosecute when evidence of benefit fraud is found. [145326]

Mr Hoban: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) treats all allegations of reported benefit fraud seriously. Where suspected fraud or error is found the allegation is electronically routed to either the Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) or the Customer Compliance (CC) sections. CC deal with lower risk cases where a full criminal investigation is judged unnecessary, enabling FIS to focus on higher risk frauds.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 609W

The process of investigation of benefit fraud is robust. A fraud investigation is conducted through all legal means that are available to use. These include gathering evidence, surveillance, analysis and interviewing under caution.

Investigations may be directed towards the Fraud Investigation Service Organised (FIS (O)) teams, who tackle more serious frauds such as bulk theft of Government resources, counterfeiting and forgeries.

FIS investigate their cases to the criminal standard of proof and their objective is to uncover the full extent of the fraud. When deciding whether prosecution is appropriate every case is judged on its own merits, but when the gross overpayment is substantial, prosecution is normally the preferred course of action. As a national guideline if the gross adjudicated overpayment is above £2,000, the case is normally considered for prosecution from the outset. However cases less than this amount are not excluded from prosecution as there may be other factors which lead to prosecution action.

The ultimate decision to prosecute is that of the Prosecution Authority for DWP which is the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland and the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales.

Social Security Benefits: Greater London

Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 7 February 2013, Official Report, column 403W, on social security benefits: Greater London, what budget has been assigned to communicate (a) date of the benefit cap implementation and (b) the existence of the dedicated helpline to affected claimants in (i) Bromley, (ii) Croydon, (iii) Enfield and (iv) Haringey. [144921]

Mr Hoban: We are unable to apportion cost to communicating the date of the benefit cap implementation or the dedicated helpline to affected claimants in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey.

State Retirement Pensions

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 11 February 2013, Official Report, column 510W, on state retirement pensions, what proportion of people would receive an amount greater than £144 per week should the current system remain in place. [143594]

Steve Webb [holding answer 25 February 2013]:State pension outcomes under the current two-tier system vary widely. By contrast, under single tier the large majority of pensioners could expect to retire on the full weekly amount of single-tier pension.

The Department's modelling suggests that if the current system were to remain in place, around 35% of people reaching state pension age in the 20 years between 2017 and 2037 would receive more than the illustrative £144 per week single-tier amount.

Under the proposed single-tier pension, around 70% of this group would receive an amount equal to or greater than the full single-tier amount.

28 Feb 2013 : Column 610W

These figures are based on the illustrative start date and single-tier amount as set out in the White Paper. Final decisions will be made nearer to the date of implementation.

Source:

DWP modelling based on PENSIM2

Work Capability Assessment

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects to appoint a successor to Professor Malcolm Harrington as independent reviewer of the work capability assessment. [145408]

Mr Hoban: On 26 February 2013 DWP announced that Dr Paul Litchfield would succeed Professor Malcolm Harrington as the independent reviewer of the work capability assessment:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/February_2013/26-Feb-2013/5.DWP-Independent-Review-WCA-Year4.pdf

We are committed to continually improving the work capability assessment, and look forward to receiving Dr Litchfield's report before the end of 2013.

Work Programme

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information is collected about whether people on the Work programme classified as being in self-employment are engaged in work which falls within the normal definition of paid employment. [143659]

Mr Hoban [holding answer 25 February 2013]: All job outcome payments, including self-employment, are subject to the DWP payment validation process. Checks are made to ensure individuals are (a) not in receipt of benefit (b) that they are in work each week for the required period in accordance with the definition and (c) are self-employed. The Department does not collect information specifically on whether the self-employment falls within the definition of paid employment.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Work programme in supporting homeless people into employment. [145406]

Mr Hoban: This information is currently not available. The Work programme evaluation report includes a focused qualitative study of participants with accommodation problems. Early findings will be available this summer.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Work programme in supporting problematic drug users into employment. [145407]

Mr Hoban: This information is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many sustainment payments were paid to Work programme providers in each month since September 2011; and how many of the individuals in respect of whom sustainment payments were made entered self-employment on leaving the Work programme; [145409]

28 Feb 2013 : Column 611W

(2) how many job outcome payments were paid to Work programme providers in each month since September 2011; and how many of the individuals in respect of whom job outcome payments were made entered self-employment on leaving the Work programme. [145410]

Mr Hoban: Statistics on how many sustainment and job outcome payments were paid to Work programme providers in each month since September 2011 can be found at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=tabtool

Guidance for users is available at:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/tabtools/guidance.pdf

Statistics on how many of the individuals in respect of whom sustainment and job outcome payments were made entered self-employment on leaving the Work programme are not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Education

Schools: Capital Investment

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what criteria were used to assess which schools would be part of the pilot scheme for the new school building procurement programme. [139826]

Mr Laws: On 24 May, the Secretary of State for Education, the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), announced that 261 schools will be rebuilt, or have their condition needs met, through the Priority School Building programme. The key criterion for deciding which schools were successful in their application to the programme was condition need.

The Secretary of State also confirmed that those schools in the very worst condition and all special schools included within the programme would be taken forward using capital grant.

To ensure value for money for the public sector, the prioritised schools have been grouped together in “batches” to drive strong competition and deliver value for money to the public purse. The process to group the schools has taken into account a number of factors including condition, geography and commercial viability.

The programme will be delivered over a number of years and we have had to ensure that the process used to determine when each school's condition needs will be addressed was robust and fair. As far as possible the schools in the worst condition will be addressed first.

The Department is currently working with all eight batches of capital funded schools and has already received bids from the market for two of these batches; one in the North East and one in the Midlands.

The Department is also working with three batches of privately financed schools. Development work on one of these batches is further advanced and released to the market in the spring. The other batches will go to the market as soon as they are ready to be released.

Schools: Playing Fields

Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to his answer of 17 September 2012, Official Report, column 488W, on schools: playing

28 Feb 2013 : Column 612W

fields, if he will publish the detailed recommendations of the Schools Playing Fields Advisory Panel in all cases where his Department has overruled its recommendations since June 2010. [122765]

Mr Laws [holding answer 17 October 2013]: The role of the Schools Playing Fields Advisory Panel is to provide advice to Ministers and the Secretary of State on applications from local authorities and schools to dispose of school playing field land. We do not in end to publish the panel's specific advice to Ministers.

It is crucial that Ministers, the advisory panel and officials be allowed space to develop their thinking and explore what might be a wide range of options. Publishing the information requested could distort or restrain future dialogue. There is a risk that, in future, not all options would be considered because of the possibility of advice being published. As a result, the quality and range of advice to Ministers could be reduced.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of sources of emissions to air in the UK which are on a rising trend which are (a) particulates, (b) hexavalent chromium, (c) ammonia, (d) arsenic, (e) nitrogen dioxide, (f) black carbon and (g) hydrofluorocarbons; and if he will make a statement. [144169]

Richard Benyon [holding answer 25 February 2013]: The UK Government compile a National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) annually. Air pollutants estimated through this inventory include (a) particulates, (b) chromium, (c) ammonia, (d) arsenic and (e) oxides of nitrogen. Emissions are not routinely estimated for hexavalent chromium or primary emissions of nitrogen dioxide. However, an inventory of black carbon is under development.

The NAEI estimates for air pollutants are compiled following the guidelines published jointly by the European Environment Agency and UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollutants. Each year the inventory is updated with the latest data available. Emissions estimates of fine and coarse particulates (PM2.5 and PM10), ammonia, and oxides of nitrogen for the years up to 2011 were published as National Statistics on 18 December 2012. The remaining inventory data, including chromium and arsenic, were submitted to the UNECE on 15 February 2013 and are available on the UNECE website at:

http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/gb/un/cols3f2jg

The UK data will be available in more detail from the NAEI website at:

http://naei.defra.gov.uk

The UK compiles an annual national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, including hydrofluorocarbons, in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As per the NAIE, this

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inventory is annually updated to include latest data available. Greenhouse gas emissions statistics for 1990 to 2011 were published on 5 February.

Emissions of ammonia, arsenic and hydrofluorocarbons have risen slightly in recent years (although emissions of ammonia have remained within their NECD ceiling). However, there have been continued declines in emission for particles including black carbon, as well as declines in chromium and oxides of nitrogen.

Food: Labelling

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with his ministerial counterpart in the Republic of Ireland on food labelling and provenance policy issues since 4 February 2013; and if he will make a statement; [142418]

(2) what discussions he has had with his ministerial counterparts in the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland on food labelling and provenance policy issues since 5 February 2013; and if he will make a statement; [142419]

(3) what discussions he has had with his ministerial counterparts in Agriculture in Northern Ireland on food labelling and provenance policy issues since 5 February 2013; and if he will make a statement. [142420]

Mr Heath: DEFRA and the Food Standards Agencies (FSA) in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meet regularly to discuss issues related to food labelling and provenance, to exchange information and to co-ordinate our work on common areas of interest. DEFRA and the FSA have had daily contact at a high level since 14 January to discuss the specific issue of horse and pig DNA found in meat products.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), met the Irish Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, on 30 January and asked to be kept informed of progress on this issue. Michelle O'Neil has been included in telephone conferences and there has been regular contact at official level.

The FSA and DEFRA are monitoring the information as it emerges, both from our investigations and that of the food companies concerned, and will consider the use of legal action should that become appropriate.

Pesticides

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice his Department will give to UK members of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health in respect of its meeting on 25 February 2013 to decide on the use of neonicotinoids. [143511]

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to vote for a partial ban on neonicotinoids at the upcoming EU regulators branch meeting on 25 February 2013. [143633]

Mr Heath: The European Commission has made a draft proposal for regulatory action on neonicotinoid insecticides which is scheduled for discussion at the

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Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health meeting on 14-15 March 2013. The Government will consider this carefully.

Communities and Local Government

Council Tax

Mr Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average council tax per adult and per dwelling in 2012-13 is for residents in predominantly rural counties and unitaries of all types and for residents in predominantly urban counties and unitaries of all types. [137886]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 18 January 2013]: The average area council tax per dwelling for billing authorities in shire areas and unitaries by rural classification for 2012-13 is given as follows.

(£ per dwelling)
Billing authorityUnitariesShire areas

Predominantly Urban

1,110

1,271

Significant Rural

1,339

1,312

Predominantly Rural

1,260

1,356

Note: The table is derived using the DEFRA urban/rural classifications for counties and unitaries. The classification is based on the level of the billing authority—i.e. the district tier in two-tier areas. It is not adjusted for the rurality of the precepting authorities, which may make up the majority of the council tax bill.

These figures reflect the fact that under the last Administration, council tax bills rose the most in shire areas. Across England as a whole, average Band D council tax bills rose by 109% from 1997-98 to 2010-11, whereas they rose by 124% in shire counties, 80% in metropolitan boroughs, 101% in London boroughs and 109% in unitary councils.

The final Local Government Finance Settlement for 2013-14 is fair to all parts of the country—rural and urban. It is the first settlement that reflects an entirely new financial relationship between central and local government, providing an incentive for all councils to increase their incomes. We made a number of adjustments to relative needs formulae to reflect the greater cost of providing services in rural areas, and we have introduced a new £8.5 million Efficiency Support for Services in Sparse Areas grant in 2013-14.

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment his Department has made of whether the introduction of new higher council tax bands would require a revaluation. [144817]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 27 February 2013]:We have no plans to introduce new council tax bands. We have ruled out a revaluation in this Parliament. Notwithstanding, as Ministers have repeatedly observed (eg 20 November 2012, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA338), new council tax bands would require a council tax revaluation.

This point was also made by Ministers in the last Administration, who when asked if re-banding would require a partial or full revaluation, noted that re-banding would not be practicable without a general revaluation (5 January 2010, Official Report, column 213W).

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The experience from Wales under the last Administration is instructive. The introduction of a new top council tax band in Wales in 2005 (‘Band I’) went hand in hand with revaluation. The revaluation and re-banding saw four times as many homes move up one or more bands as move down. Many homes jumped multiple bands upwards, and the new Band I contained homes from amongst all of the previous lower bands, reflecting the fact that one cannot just split an existing top band or bands. The biggest increase in the tax burden fell on homes originally in Bands A to C.

Unlike business rates or the old domestic rates, council tax is a banded system that does not require precise valuations of each property. There has been no legislative requirement for listing officers to calculate point valuations of each dwelling. As Ministers explained when council tax was established:

‘the Government take the view that the individual valuation of dwellings for the council tax would be unnecessary, expensive and, because of the spurious accuracy of such valuations—in other words, within a band—vulnerable to unwarranted appeals’

(21 January 1992, Official Report, House of Lords, column 794). Consequently, one cannot reliably tell how or where an existing band or bands could be split or changed without a full revaluation.

Re-banding without revaluation would also fail to take into account relative changes in property prices, and fail to consider material changes in properties since the last valuation. It would lead to a situation where identical homes with the same (new) capital value fell into different bands in the new system, discrediting the whole exercise, leading to a mass of appeals and challenges, and creating a fundamental unfairness about the arbitrary and capricious nature of the new tax regime.

Indeed, as Adam Smith asserted in “The Wealth of Nations”, before noting the inequities of an additional new tax on the taxpayers of Montauban without a fresh valuation,

“The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary... Where it is otherwise, every person subject to the tax is put more or less in the power of the tax-gathered, who can either aggravate the tax upon any obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some present or perquisite to himself. The uncertainty of taxation encourages the insolence and favours the corruption of an order of men who are naturally unpopular, even where they are neither insolent nor corrupt.”

Cycling

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who his Department's cycling champion is. [144432]

Brandon Lewis: The Department for Transport has the overall lead on cycling policy. I have responsibility for cycling in the Department. My Department is committed to the Cycle to Work Guarantee and has recently re-launched the Cycle to Work scheme. My Department will also be working to help support local communities, business and councils to get the best from the fantastic opportunity presented by the staging of the Tour de France grand depart in 2014.

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Empty Property: Pendle

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of empty homes and to support housing regeneration in Pendle constituency. [133400]

Mr Prisk: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to a question from the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on 11 December 2012, Official Report, House Of Lords, columns WA218-9.

In addition to £160 million the Government have already committed to bringing over 11,200 empty homes back into use, on 26 November 2012, we launched a bidding round to bring a further 5,000 empty homes back into use using a share of £300 million announced in the housing and growth package.

Pendle borough council has been awarded over £2.35 million to bring 227 empty homes back into use by March 2015.

The 2013-14 new homes bonus provisional allocation for Pendle borough council will total £372,612. This includes instalments from years one, two and three of £101,765, £92,127 and £179,420 respectively. The year three instalment will be paid for six years; and includes an affordable homes premium of £7,280.

Greater London Authority

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hectares of former (a) London Development Agency and (b) Homes and Communities Agency assets were transferred to the Greater London Authority in (i) 2010-11, (ii) 2011-12 and (iii) 2012-13; what the value was of such assets; and if he will make a statement. [145231]

Mr Prisk: All of the London Development Agency's assets were transferred to the Greater London Authority under a transfer scheme when it was abolished on 31 March 2012. As the London Development Agency was a Mayoral functional body and not a non-departmental public body, the Department has no records on the number of the hectares of land which were transferred. The London Development Agency's closing accounts are available on the Greater London Authority's website at

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/LDA_Closing_Financial_Statements_2011-12.pdf

Property assets totalling 240 hectares (gross) and valued at £263 million were transferred from the Homes and Communities Agency to the Greater London Authority in April 2012 following the commencement of the Localism Act 2011.

The Localism Act conferred on the Mayor of London responsibility for housing, economic development and Olympic legacy in London, in addition to existing responsibilities over transport, planning and the police.