Indigo Public Affairs

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what meetings (a) he, (b) Ministers, (c) officials and (d) special political advisers of his Department have had with Indigo Public Affairs Ltd; and if he will publish full details of any such meetings. [148830]

Gregory Barker: Details of meetings between Ministers and external organisations are published quarterly on the departmental website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change/series/ministers-meeting-with-external-organisations

Natural Gas

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent research has been (a) conducted and (b) commissioned by his Department on the recovery of natural gas from seabed frozen methane hydrates. [148929]

Mr Hayes: The Department has not conducted or commissioned any work on the recovery of natural gas from seabed frozen methane hydrate's. However, the British Geological Survey published an article in 2007 suggesting the potential for methane hydrates in a zone to the West and North of the Shetlands.

Ofgem

Pamela Nash: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) when Ofgem will pay out its next round of bonuses to staff; [149071]

(2) how much in bonuses was paid to Ofgem to staff in band E in each of the last five years. [149073]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 592W

Mr Hayes: The information requested is a matter for Ofgem. I have asked the chief executive of Ofgem to write to the hon. Member, and we will place a copy of his letter in the Libraries of the House.

Radioactive Waste

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what progress his Department is making in finding a long-term solution to the storage of nuclear waste. [148882]

Mr Hayes: The Government remain committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste.

Following Cumbria county council's decision not to continue in the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme, the site selection process in west Cumbria has ended. The invitation for communities to express an interest in joining the programme remains open, however, and, as set out in the written statement of 31 January 2013, Official Report, columns 54-56WS, by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr Davey), we remain confident that the programme is sound and will be put into effect. The positive decisions by Copeland and Allerdale borough councils showed that local authorities can see the benefits of participation in the programme.

We are now considering whether any changes should be made to our current approach to the site selection process. No changes will be introduced without further consultation.

Until such time as a geological disposal facility is implemented, safe and secure interim storage facilities will remain available, for as long as necessary.

Wind Power

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will consider producing directions to companies placing wind turbines off the coast of the UK to incorporate base designs that encourage biodiverse reef development around those turbines. [148629]

Gregory Barker: The Government support offshore wind because of its potential to play a key part in the UK's energy mix and as a source of investment and economic benefit to the UK.

We are aware of scientific research that indicates that large permanent offshore structures, such as offshore wind turbines, can create feeding grounds for fish and encourage biodiversity. The responsibility for the marine environment, with the exception of oil and gas related issues, rests with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Marine Management Organisation in English and Welsh waters and in Scottish waters, with the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland.

Education

Bullying

Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2013, Official Report, column 467W, on bullying,

19 Mar 2013 : Column 593W

whether it is his Department's policy not to inform Ministers where an allegation relating to bullying is made against a special adviser. [145995]

Elizabeth Truss: It is the Department's policy to take seriously allegations of bullying against any member of its staff. Where a complaint is made and upheld it would automatically be brought to the attention of the Line Manager or in the case of a Special Advisor the Minister responsible for their appointment.

Childcare

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education with reference to the publication, “More Great Childcare”, in January 2013, how many apprenticeships he anticipates being created in early years childcare in (a) England and Wales and (b) Bradford East constituency in the next five years. [146534]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 6 March 2013]: Currently no estimation has been made of the numbers of apprenticeships which will be created in early years and child care following the publication of “More great childcare”.

Apprenticeships will continue to be a high quality training and accreditation programme for early years workers. As set out in “More great childcare” there will be a number of apprenticeships bursaries available from September 2013. The Teaching Agency will be responsible for the scheme and will publish more detailed information shortly.

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Education with reference to “More Great Childcare” published in January 2013, what plans he has to encourage more highly qualified staff and graduates to work in early years childcare. [146540]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 6 March 2013]: The Government wants to move decisively away from the idea that teaching young children is less important or inferior to teaching school age children. The introduction of Early Years Teachers (Graduate) and Early Years Educators (Level 3—A level equivalent) will ensure that those who work with babies and young children become increasingly skilled and professional.

The Government's vision is to increase the status of the profession so that more high quality graduates consider a career in early years teaching. Early Years Teachers will build on the strengths of the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) programme. Early Years Teacher trainees will have to meet the same entry requirements as primary classroom trainee teachers. The change will give one title of ‘teacher' across the early years and schools workforce which can be easily recognised by parents and other agencies. The first Early Years Teacher trainees will start training in September 2013. We will also examine how we can attract top graduates into the early years.

We will ensure new and better qualifications at Level 3, from September 2014, to qualify trainees to become ‘Early Years Educators'. To encourage better qualified candidates to take up early years apprenticeships we are putting in place a transitional measure from September 2013. This is a scheme which will offer a limited number

19 Mar 2013 : Column 594W

of bursaries to those who have at least C grades in GCSE English and mathematics before starting their apprenticeship.

English Baccalaureate

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make it his policy to include Classical Civilisation in the Humanities section of the English Baccalaureate; and if he will make a statement. [146756]

Elizabeth Truss: The Government do not have any plans to include Classical Civilisation in the Humanities section of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The EBacc subjects—English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and languages—make up an academic core that will enable pupils to keep open their options for further study and rewarding employment.

The Government recognise that qualifications in subjects outside of the EBacc, such as Classical Civilisation, can also be valuable to individual pupils. The EBacc itself is not compulsory, and we look to schools and parents to guide pupils to make the choices most suited to them.

First Aid: Education

Julie Hilling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what assessment he has made of the role of life-saving skills within the current curriculum; [146440]

(2) what representations his Department has received on the coverage of life-saving skills, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in the national curriculum. [146441]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 12 March 2013]: The Department has considered the role of life-saving skills as part of its review of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. Teachers are free to use their professional judgment to decide whether to teach life-saving skills and should tailor such provision according to the needs of their pupils.

The Department received many representations from organisations and individuals during the review consultation period and through correspondence including from St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross, among others.

GCE AS-level

Pat Glass: To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) which universities currently use AS levels as a means of assessing applicant potential for the purposes of admission decisions; [146262]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposed establishment of AS levels as a stand-alone qualification on the ability of universities to consider applicant potential. [146263]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 11 March 2013]:We know that universities use a range of information and evidence about applicants for admissions purposes. Even within individual universities, there may be a variety of approaches between subjects. Changes to the AS and A-levels mean that some universities may need to make changes to admissions processes. Improving the rigour of these qualifications will ensure that students are better prepared for undergraduate courses.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 595W

ICT: Teachers

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of the number of teachers who will be qualified to teach the new ICT curriculum when it is introduced. [147182]

Mr Laws [holding answer 11 March 2013]:According to the latest data available there are 18,600 teachers currently teaching ICT. These teachers will be supported through the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science established by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, to enhance their subject knowledge to include the new areas of the computing curriculum. Additionally, the new computer science postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) programmes will deliver around 600 suitably trained teachers into the workforce in 2014.

Ministerial Policy Advisers

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what procedures are in place within his Department to deal with breaches of the code of conduct by special advisers. [145172]

Elizabeth Truss: Matters relating to special advisers are handled in accordance with the Ministerial Code, the Model Contract and Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

Ministers' Private Offices

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many members of staff have (a) resigned, (b) been made redundant and (c) been dismissed from his private ministerial office since May 2010. [146722]

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 7 March 2013]: Since May 2010 no members of staff have resigned, been made redundant or been dismissed from the Secretary of State’s Private Office.

Schools: Finance

Pauline Latham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what recent representations he has received on equalising the level of schools funding for local authorities. [147422]

Mr Laws: We have received several representations from local authorities, hon. Members representing relatively lower funded local authorities and the group campaign group f40 about addressing the distribution of school funding.

The Secretary of State for Education confirmed in March 2012 our intention to introduce a new national funding formula in the next spending review period.

A new national funding formula would re-assess need across the country and distribute funding accordingly.

Written Questions

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many written parliamentary questions were answered by (a) him and (b) each Minister in his Department in each of the last 12 months. [147606]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 596W

Elizabeth Truss [holding answer 12 March 2013]: The management information collected by the Department for written parliamentary questions (PQs) is not broken down by individual Minister. The total number of written PQs from January 2012 to January 2013 is set out in the following table.

January 2012 to January 2013
 Total number of parliamentary questions answered

January 2012

236

February 2012

250

March 2012

193

April 2012

162

May 2012

200

June 2012

154

July 2012

165

August 2012

15

September 2012

124

October 2012

177

November 2012

210

December 2012

107

January 2013

215

Total

2,208

Treasury

Income Tax

Mr Sanders: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to ensure that wage-earners below the income tax threshold will benefit from any future increases in the personal allowance; and if he will make a statement. [148111]

Mr Gauke: Since 2010, the Government have announced successive increases in the personal allowance totalling £2,965. Taken together, these changes will ensure that over 2.2 million low income individuals will be removed from income tax altogether.

The Government are also taking other measures that will benefit those who are below the income tax threshold including the introduction of universal credit, and freezes to council tax and fuel duty.

Alcoholic Drinks: Consumption

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of alcohol consumption was measured by alcohol duty clearances per adult in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2010-11. [R] [148636]

Sajid Javid: The following table presents the level of alcohol consumption measured by alcohol duty clearances per adult in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2010-11.

Financial yearTotal alcohol (litre of pure alcohol per adult)

2004-05

11.80

2010-11

10.59

Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Alun Cairns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the excise duty revenue to be forgone by the Exchequer over the course of the next Parliament as a result of the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol. [146794]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 597W

Sajid Javid: The Government have recently completed a consultation on the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol of 45p. The consultation stage impact assessment sets out the impacts of a 45p minimum unit price—this is available on the Home Office website.

The estimate of the impact on Exchequer revenue will be developed further based on the consultation feedback.

Capital Investment

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide all the figures, assumptions and calculations used to arrive at HM Treasury's estimates of public and private infrastructure investment cited in Chart 1A and 1B,

19 Mar 2013 : Column 598W

and paragraphs 1.3 to 1.5, of the National Infrastructure Plan: update 2012 published in December 2012. [147781]

Danny Alexander: Incorporating data from the Infrastructure Pipeline available at:

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

HM Treasury used the following figures to calculate estimates of public and private infrastructure investment cited in Chart 1A and 1B, and paragraphs 1.3 to 1.5, of the National Infrastructure Plan: update 2012 published in December 2012. Figures are in £ billions and are HM Treasury estimates using data from company accounts, regulators, Office for National Statistics and Government Departments:

£ billion
 Financial year
Sector2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12

Transport

9,804

11.038

11.862

13.168

14.206

13.872

15.181

Communications

6.339

6.124

5.808

5.370

5.028

5.123

4.508

Water

4.722

5.386

6.593

6.381

5.521

5.250

4.918

Energy

2.416

3.489

5.523

6.756

8.948

8.374

8.638

Waste

0

0.849

0.529

0.186

0.348

0.583

0.594

The infrastructure investment pipeline estimates are indicative and reflect the information held within Government on infrastructure investment combined with other public sources of information. Data about purely private investment are subject to greater uncertainty than those for public sector or regulated investment.

Child Care Tax Credit

Tim Loughton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures are used by his Department to uncover abuse of child care tax credits when parents cease to use their child care hours or provider stated on their application. [147919]

Sajid Javid: As part of its tax credits strategy, HM Revenue and Customs carries out a number of risk-based checks on all aspects of error and fraud relating to the payment of the child care element of tax credits including cases where parents cease to make use of child care.

The latest Child and Working Tax Credits Error and Fraud Statistics for 2010-11, available on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/fin-error-stats.htm

show that losses relating to child care error and fraud have reduced from £390 million in 2008-09 to £265 million in 2010-11.

Crossrail Line

Mr Lammy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Mayor of London on the funding of Crossrail 2. [148924]

Danny Alexander: Government Ministers have routine discussions with local government and the Mayor of London 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 discussions and representations.

Drax Power Station

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what conversations he has had with his ministerial counterparts on the debt guarantee for the Drax coal to biomass conversion project; [148901]

(2) what estimates he has made of the potential fiscal multiplier from the £75 million debt guarantee for the Drax coal to biomass conversion project; [148951]

(3) what the evidential basis was for his recent decision that a £75 million debt guarantee for the Drax coal to biomass conversion project represented the best total net present value for Government guarantee under the Treasury guarantee scheme. [148952]

Danny Alexander: A guarantee is a contingent liability. The provision of a guarantee is only offered to projects which have passed a robust assessment process including technical, legal and financial due diligence carried out by commercial specialists within HM Treasury.

Treasury Ministers and officials engage with a wide variety of organisations in the private and public sectors 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 such meetings and discussions.

Economic Situation: Wales

Owen Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on the Welsh economy of policies announced in the 2012 Budget. [148848]

Danny Alexander: Wales benefited from a number of key decisions announced at Budget 2012 including:

An increase in the personal allowance by a further £1,100 in April 2013, the largest ever increase in the personal allowance in cash and real terms, which lifted an additional 42,000 people out of tax and benefited 1.1 million individuals in Wales.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 599W

The raising of the threshold for the withdrawal of child benefit to £50,000 which benefited 21,000 households in Wales.

Enhanced capital allowances at a designated site in the Deeside Enterprise Zone in North Wales which the Welsh Government estimate to have the potential to deliver more than 4,000 new jobs.

The funding granted to Cardiff to deliver ultra-fast broadband to up to 142,000 residents and 10,000 businesses, and high-speed wireless connectivity to up to 196,000 residents in key areas.

The investment in mobile infrastructure which will improve coverage in mobile black-spots and improve coverage on key A-roads, including the A470(T) between Llandudno and Cardiff.

Work to consider the electrification of the Cardiff valley rail lines.

Financial Services

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the percentage contribution the financial services sector made to the economy in each year for which figures are available. [148493]

Sajid Javid: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for producing estimates of total UK Gross Value Added (GVA) and a breakdown by industry. The following table shows the contribution that the financial and insurance services industry has made to total GVA for the years 1997 to 2010 inclusive. Figures for earlier years are not currently available. Estimates for 2011 will be published for the first time by the ONS with the 2013 edition of the United Kingdom National Accounts: The Blue Book on 31 July 2013.

 Financial and insurance services GVA as a percentage of total GVA (Percentage)

1997

7.0

1998

6.3

1999

5.9

2000

5.4

2001

5.8

2002

6.0

2003

6.5

2004

6.8

2005

7.8

2006

7.6

2007

8.0

2008

9.1

2009

10.4

2010

9.4

Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

Chris Skidmore: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate what the (a) total and (b) average annual savings of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 has been. [148944]

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

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act abolishes the prerogative power to dissolve Parliament and establishes five-year fixed-terms for the UK Parliament. The Act therefore makes elections more predictable and, together with the Electoral Registration and Administration Act which also aligns the electoral timetable, is expected to ease the administrative burden in terms of electoral planning.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 600W

Estimate administrative savings from the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and the Electoral Registration and Administration Act (ERAA), are detailed in the impact assessment to the ERAA:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA12-010D.pdf

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act also provides additional certainty for departmental planning. The full impact of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act will be more apparent at the end of the current parliamentary term.

Income Tax

Chris Ruane: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of after-tax incomes were saved by each decile of the workforce in each year for which figures are available. [148490]

Sajid Javid: The Family Resources Survey, sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, provides facts and figures about the living conditions and resources of people living in the UK. Table 4.12 shows the proportion of households who hold different levels of savings, by total weekly household income.

Pay

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was paid to officials in (a) his Department and (b) its non-departmental public bodies in bonuses and other payments in addition to salary in each of the last five years; how many officials received such payments; and what the monetary value was of the 20 largest payments made in each year. [148034]

Sajid Javid: Bonuses are paid in two circumstances: performance bonuses are those linked to the annual staff appraisal system and are paid in the year following the year in which the assessment is made; special bonuses are those paid to recognise specific contributions to pieces of work during the year.

Since 2010-11 the Government have restricted performance-related payments for senior civil servants to the top 25% of performers (from 65% in previous years), saving the taxpayer around £15 million. They are only paid to reward excellence, for example to recognise and incentivise those responsible for delivering high quality public services and savings to the taxpayer. Pay decisions for non-senior staff are delegated to individual Departments, enabling them the tailor reward packages that meet their own workforce and business needs.

The information requested for the last two completed financial years can be found in the following table:

Bonus type2010-112011-12

Performance (£000)

905

824

Number of performance Awards(1)

322

297

Special (£000)

127

166

Number of Special awards(1)

308

388

20 largest awards (£000)

15.00

12.25

 

12.50

12.25

 

12.50

12.25

 

12.50

12.25

 

12.50

9.75

19 Mar 2013 : Column 601W

 

10.50

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

10.00

9.75

 

8.33

9.75

(1) Some staff may have received both types of bonus payment in a single financial year.

Details relating to the previous three years requested were given to the hon. Member by the Exchequer Secretary in a previous answer dated 15 December 2010, Official Report columns 785-86W.

Recruitment

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials were recruited to (a) his Department and (b) each of its non-departmental public bodies in each of the last five years. [147977]

Sajid Javid: Numbers recruited by HM Treasury and the Debt Management Office over the last five years are as follows:

 HM TreasuryDebt Management Office

2008-09

391

15

2009-10

443

21

2010-11

258

20

2011-12

297

24

March to December 2012

208

17

Since 2008-09 total numbers for core Treasury have fallen from a peak in 2009 of 1,351 to 1,135 at 31 December 2012 following the Government's introduction of the civil service recruitment freeze. New recruits since 2010 have been to business critical roles where the relevant expertise was not already available internally or within the civil service. The recruitment freeze is still in place and all vacancies are subject to ministerial approval.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 602W

Tax Allowances: Pensions

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people obtained higher tax relief on their pension contributions in the tax year 2011-12; and what the cost was of that tax relief to the public purse; [148246]

(2) how many people obtained tax relief at 20% on their pension contributions in the tax year 2011-12; and what the cost was of that tax relief to the public purse. [148247]

Sajid Javid: Estimates of the number of people receiving income tax deductions for their pension contributions and the value of deductions by different income distributions can be found in Table 3.8 on the HMRC website at the following link.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/income-by-year/table3-8.pdf

Estimates of the total tax cost of pension relief can be found in Table PEN6 on the HMRC website at the following link.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/pension-stats/pen6.pdf

Telephone Services

Richard Burden: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) 0800, (b) 0808, (c) 0844, (d) 0845 and (e) 0870 telephone numbers for the public are in use by (i) his Department and (ii) the agencies for which he is responsible. [147827]

Sajid Javid: HM Treasury does not have any 0800, 0808, 0844, 0845 or 0870 telephone numbers in use for the public. The Debt Management Office (DMO), an executive agency of HM Treasury, has 10 ‘0845’ contact numbers on its website.

Termination of Employment

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials in (a) his Department and (b) each of its non-departmental public bodies have left that body due to (i) resignation, (ii) retirement, (iii) redundancy, (iv) transferral to another public sector post and (v) another reason in each of the last five years. [147958]

Sajid Javid: The information requested is available as follows (numbers have been combined where there is a risk of identifying individual staff where numbers are fewer than five).

HM Treasury and Debt Management Office
 1 April 2008 to 31 March 20091 April 2009 to 31 March 20101 April 2010 to 31 March 20111 April 2011 to 31 March 20121 April 2012 to 31 December 2012

Resignation

73

52

108

113

74

Permanent Transfer

73

46

37

53

48

VER/VES

5

<5

15

24

15

Retirement

11

9

10

<5

<5

Other

95

165

150

94

40

 

257

276

320

288

178

19 Mar 2013 : Column 603W

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Bangladesh

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the current security situation in Bangladesh and the likelihood of an end to the recent violence in the country. [147722]

Mr Hague: The British Government are concerned by reports of the recent violence in Bangladesh, which erupted following the International Crimes Tribunal's latest verdict in the case of Delwar Hossain Sayedee. We understand that there have been multiple deaths and thousands of people injured. My right hon. Friend, the noble Baroness Warsi, issued a statement on 13 March expressing the UK's concerns over violence in Bangladesh and urged all sides to exercise restraint.

Opposition parties, Jamaat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party have called for enforced strikes throughout the last couple of weeks. As Baroness Warsi stated during her visit to Bangladesh last month, violence and vandalism have no place in legitimate protests. Our high commissioner in Dhaka, Robert Gibson, released a statement on 3 March expressing sadness over the violence and the deaths that have taken place across Bangladesh recently.

In a meeting with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dipu Moni, he called for the Bangladesh Government to ensure that a transparent investigation into the violence is conducted.

We have urged all parties to exercise restraint and will continue to monitor the situation.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2013, Official Report, column 904W, on Chagos Islands, whether his commitment of 20 December 2012 to take stock of the UK's policy towards the resettlement of 3,107 British Indian Ocean Territory residents has in any way changed in the intervening period. [148102]

Mark Simmonds: There has been no change in our commitment to review our policy on the British Indian Ocean Territory.

British Overseas Territories

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consular assistance his Department affords citizens of British Overseas Territories at UK embassies and high commissions. [148239]

Mark Simmonds: We provide the same help to British Overseas Territories citizens living or travelling outside the Overseas Territories as we do to any other British national. The help we can provide is described in our publication “Support for British Nationals Abroad”: A Guide, which is available online at:

www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/2855621/support-for-british-nationals-abroad.pdf

19 Mar 2013 : Column 604W

Burma

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the government of Burma on ensuring that that country's new media laws allow freedom of speech and expression. [147753]

Mr Swire: We regularly raise freedom of speech and expression with the Burmese Government. Freedom of expression was raised prominently when Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin met the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and myself in London last month. The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), also held extensive discussions on media freedom with a number of Burmese Ministers, including the Minister responsible for the new legislation (Minister for Information Aung Kyi), in the context of a visit to promote the Open Government Partnership in February 2013.

We have welcomed the steps taken by the Burmese Government to end pre-publication censorship of print media, and the establishment of a Press Council in September 2012. The British Government are investing in capacity-building of the media, focusing on supporting civil society and independent media outlets. We will monitor the passage of the key media legislation through Parliament in 2013 to ensure progress is sustained.

Central Asia

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to help encourage free and democratic elections across Central Asia. [148343]

Mr Lidington: The UK regularly raises the need for free and fair elections in Central Asia both in its bilateral contacts and through multilateral institutions. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has funded a number of projects designed to improve the transparency of election systems at national and local level.

Since 2010, the UK has sent election observers as part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election observation missions for presidential and parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Most recently, we provided funding for two Long Term Observers and 13 Short Term Observers for the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, as well as funding for an elections and democracy project designed to develop and implement electoral reform proposals which stemmed from the observation.

We fully support the work of the OSCE, and encourage the Governments of Central Asia to address the shortcomings identified by the OSCE and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in the course of the electoral process.

Cyprus

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to hold discussions with the President of the Republic of Cyprus on the continuing division of the island. [148711]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 605W

Mr Lidington: We remain concerned at the continuing division of Cyprus. We hope to welcome President Anastasiades to London at an early opportunity for discussions on this and other issues.

European Parliament: Elections

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the decision of the European Parliament to propose new dates in May 2014 for elections to that Parliament. [148758]

Mr Lidington: The European Parliament elections are currently scheduled to be held on 5-8 June, but in order to accommodate the Pentecost holiday in 2014, the Council has proposed moving the date to 22-25 May. The European Parliament will now be consulted before the Council formally adopts a decision to change the date. In an indicative vote in November 2012, the European Parliament was supportive of such a change.

Under the 1976 Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct suffrage, it is for the Council, acting unanimously after consulting with the European Parliament, to determine the period for European Parliament elections, and to decide on an alternate period in situations where the original dates are not workable.

Falkland Islands

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with the US Administration about the referendum result in the Falkland Islands. [148756]

Mr Swire: The Government discuss this issue with the US Administration regularly. We welcome American recognition of the referendum as a clear and democratic expression of the Falkland Islanders' wishes. We hope the US Government, and others, will respect the views of the Islanders and their right to determine their own political future.

Hezbollah

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of recent reports that Bulgaria has identified Hezbollah as involved in the Burgas terror attack. [148974]

Alistair Burt: We welcomed the Bulgarian statement on the outcome of their investigation into the Burgas bomb attack attributing responsibility to Hezbollah military wing. This is an assessment that the UK shares. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), said in response to this statement:

“it is important that the EU responds robustly to an attack on European soil. Based on our national proscription, we believe that similar action by the EU against the military wing of Hezbollah would be an appropriate response and we continue to engage with our EU partners on this issue.”

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of weapons transfers to Hezbollah from Syria. [148975]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 606W

Alistair Burt: We are concerned by continued reports of transfers of conventional weapons from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon, including Hezbollah's own claims that it possesses significant military capabilities. Any such transfers would be in violation of Security Council resolution 1701 and would pose a threat to Lebanese and regional stability.

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on adding Hezbollah to the EU's list of recognised terrorist organisations. [148976]

Alistair Burt: Based on our national proscription, the British Government have continuously maintained that the EU must act collectively in response to Hezbollah's terrorist activity. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), continues to have regular contact with his EU counterparts on this issue, as does the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May).

Kyrgyzstan

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of political and ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan. [148327]

Mr Lidington: We welcome the progress Kyrgyzstan has made since the political upheavals of 2005 and April 2010, and the serious ethnic clashes of June 2010. This includes the Government's efforts to promote political stability through a system of parliamentary democracy introduced in 2010, and their programme of reform in key areas such as the judicial system. While the political situation has stabilised significantly, it is still fragile. We encourage the Government to address on-going ethnic tensions, especially in the south of the country, by implementing the core recommendations set out in the 2011 Kiljunen report. This was the main international inquiry into the violent clashes in June 2010.

Recent clashes in Sokh, Batken in January 2013, were a reminder of the ethnic tensions that exist in a number of border regions. We welcomed the fact the Kyrgyz and Uzbek Governments entered promptly into dialogue on how best to resolve the situation.

There have been political protests taking place in Bishkek over recent days in relation to the court case of Kyrgyz opposition leader, Kamchybek Tashiev. We welcome the fact that the Kyrgyz Government have endorsed the protesters' right to freedom of expression and sought to maintain calm. We encourage them to continue this approach.

Annual Leave

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies qualify for privilege days; and what the total cost to the public purse was of the number of privilege days utilised each year by such officials. [147739]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 607W

Mark Simmonds: At present, as was the situation under previous Administrations, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff qualify for 2.5 days privilege leave per year in addition to their annual leave entitlement. One of these days is granted under the authority of the Queen.

In the Civil Service Reform Plan, the Government announced their intention to modernise civil service terms and conditions, and to address those which are outliers relative to best practice in the private and wider public sector.

Privilege leave represents a total cost to the public purse of 0.96% of the Department's overall paybill.

The FCO does not hold this information for non-departmental public bodies. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), will write to my hon. Friend when the data are available and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mobile Phones

Mr Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which company holds the largest contract to provide mobile telephony services to the British Council; how much is paid each year under that contract; how many individual devices are covered by the contract; when the contract was awarded; and when and how the contract will next be reviewed. [148224]

Mr Swire: Vodafone Ltd holds the largest contract to provide mobile telephony services to the British Council. Under the contract, approximately £115,000 is paid each year for this service. The contract covers approximately 520 devices, and was awarded on 12 October 2011.

For supplier performance, the British Council will review performance against contractual deliverables, price, user perception and specific services provided by the supplier, at regular points throughout the contract lifecycle. The next opportunity for the British Council to review its choice of supplier is October. For supplier selection of mobile services, the British Council will make use of the appropriate framework made available to the UK public sector by Government Procurement Services (previously MSII and currently Lot 6 of the PSN framework)—2015:

http://gps.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm1498

Morocco

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2013, Official Report, column 1019W, on Morocco, whether the definition of normal circumstances includes civilians being tried in military courts. [148888]

Alistair Burt: We refer to the conduct of the trial itself. We note that the Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme has since recommended that in future civilians in Morocco should not be tried by military tribunals.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 608W

Occupied Territories

Fiona O'Donnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what diplomatic steps he has taken in response to the announcement by the Israeli Government in 2012 relating to the E1 settlement project to the east of Jerusalem. [148967]

Alistair Burt: We condemned the Israeli Government's decision on 30 November 2012 to unfreeze planning in the area known as E1. Settlements are illegal under international law, and this plan in particular has the potential to alter the situation on the ground on a scale that threatens the viability of a two-state solution. I formally summoned the Israeli ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 3 December, to make clear the depth of our concerns. We will continue to make our concerns about settlements, including planning for the E1 area, clear to the new Israeli Government.

Pitcairn Islands

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the proposed Marine Protected Area around the Pitcairn Islands; and if he will make a statement. [148232]

Mark Simmonds: The Government take their responsibilities for the protection of the marine environment extremely seriously. We will continue to work with the Pitcairn Island Council and interested partner organisations to explore and develop the various options for establishing a Marine Protected Area around Pitcairn.

Recruitment

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials were recruited to (a) his Department and (b) each of its non-departmental public bodies in each of the last five years. [147969]

Mark Simmonds: The following table shows the number of staff recruited by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for each of the last five financial years:

 Number

2008-09

400

2009-10

331

2010-11

207

2011-12

194

2012 to January 2013

87

The figures cover permanent and fixed-term recruitment in the UK only. Data for recruitment by our Posts overseas for local staff positions are not held centrally.

A civil service-wide recruitment freeze has been in place since May 2010. Some recruitment immediately after the freeze resulted from campaigns run before the freeze was announced. Any new recruitment since May 2010 (with the exception of Fast Stream recruitment which is included in the figures) has been for business critical positions. These are normally specialist positions which require skills or expertise not available within our existing work force. Appointees into these positions are normally on fixed-term contracts.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 609W

The FCO, as part of the Government-wide Transparency Agenda, will publish details of recruitment for the last five years together with regular updates throughout the year. These data will be available at:

www.data.gov.uk

from May while details of exceptions we have used are currently published at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exceptions-data

The FCO does not hold recruitment data for non-departmental public bodies. The the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), will write to my hon. Friend when the data are available and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Syria

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many nationals of British Overseas Territories have requested consular assistance from the UK Embassy in Syria in the last 12 months. [148240]

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Mark Simmonds: We do not have statistics to show the number of requests for consular assistance from nationals of British Overseas Territories in Syria since the British Embassy in Damascus suspended services in March last year. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London has received 29 requests for advice and assistance relating to Syria in the last 12 months, along with a number of informal enquiries by phone or email.

Termination of Employment

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in (a) his Department and (b) each of its non-departmental public bodies have left that body due to (i) resignation, (ii) retirement, (iii) redundancy, (iv) transferral to another public sector post and (v) another reason in each of the last five years. [147950]

Mark Simmonds: During the past five financial years a total of 1,068 people left the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the following reasons:

 2008-092009-102010-112011-122012-13(1)

(i) Resignations(2)

75

58

67

83

49

(ii) Retirements(2)

127

207

175

114

23

(iii) Redundancy(3)

0

0

0

1

1

(iv) Transfer to another civil service post

7

4

3

8

13

(v) Other

18

13

7

13

4

Total

227

282

252

218

89

(1) Data for 2012-13 are up to February 2013. (2 )This includes people who have left as a result of voluntary exit schemes. (3) We have interpreted this to mean compulsory redundancy.

We have not included:

Officials who were recruited on a fixed-term contract or casual basis.

Officials on loan who have returned to their parent Department.

Staff recruited locally by our Missions overseas.

The FCO does not hold data for non-departmental public bodies. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), will write to my hon. Friend when the data are available and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agricultural Wages Board

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 February 2013, Official Report, column 371W, on Agricultural Wages Board, for what reason it would not be practicable to make all responses to the consultation available on his Department's website; and if he will review his decision not to publish the responses. [146552]

Mr Heath: We consider that it would not be practical to publish all the responses to the consultation on the future of the Agricultural Wages Board on the DEFRA website as the time and public resource involved in doing this would be disproportionate to the customer interest.

However, in line with departmental practice for consultation exercises, DEFRA has made available a summary of responses on the DEFRA website. Further, as I said in my previous answer, all the consultation responses, other than those where respondees requested confidentiality, are available in the main DEFRA Library.

Agriculture: East of England

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost was to (a) his Department and (b) farmers of delays in administering the single payment to farmers in (i) Suffolk, (ii) Norfolk and (iii) Cambridgeshire in each of the last three years. [148085]

Mr Heath: The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) has exceeded its ministerial and European Commission targets for the past three years. As a result, there have been no late penalties imposed on the single payment scheme.

We are unable to provide analysis on the impact of single farm payments on individual farmers within the specified areas.

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Beef: Marketing

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to promote British beef; and what additional resources his Department intends to commit to promoting British beef over the next 12 months. [147281]

Mr Heath [holding answer 11 March 2013]: The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), a non-departmental public body, funded in the main by statutory levies, ran a national advertising campaign in collaboration with other industry partners highlighting the traceability and provenance of fresh beef, lamb and pork bearing the Red Tractor and Quality Standard Mark labels. Over the next 12 months, AHDB intends to extend this promotion effort.

DEFRA continues to work with industry to promote exports and remove barriers. For example, we recently opened the beef and lamb market in Russia. In the UK Export Certificate Partnership (UKECP), we and industry determine target markets and agree who will take forward the tasks. However, progress is often dependent on third country demands.

Chinese Mitten Crabs

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the Chinese mitten crab on native wildlife; [148350]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the prevalence of Chinese mitten crabs in the UK. [148346]

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Richard Benyon: The invasive non-native species risk assessment for Chinese mitten crab indicates that the main impact of this species is collapse of river banks due to its burrowing behaviour.

There are no control methods which are known to be effective in reducing Chinese mitten crab populations and it is thought unlikely that this species will ever be eradicated from Great Britain. Therefore, the Government's focus is to minimise the risk of spread through good biosecurity. DEFRA is working with a broad range of organisations to promote the Check, Clean, Dry campaign to promote behaviours which reduce the risk of spread of aquatic invasive non-native species such as the Chinese mitten crab.

Farmers: East of England

Mr Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers who have left the agricultural sector in (a) Suffolk, (b) Norfolk and (c) Cambridgeshire in each of the last three years. [148084]

Mr Heath: DEFRA does not collect data on the number of farmers leaving agriculture. The June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture collects data on the numbers of people working on agricultural holdings. The following table presents relevant labour estimates at 1 June for the latest three years available.

These results are based on a sample survey of farmers so are subject to a degree of statistical error. Year-on-year changes for individual counties should therefore be treated with caution and longer-term trends will give a more robust picture of activity.

Agricultural labour force on commercial holdings(1)
County/unitary authorityFarmers, partners, directors and spouses full-timeFarmers, partners directors and spouses part-timeTotal labour
 200920102011200920102011200920102011

Cambridgeshire CC

1,490

1,523

1,564

1,420

1,477

1,527

7,174

6,285

6,577

Norfolk

2,438

2,423

2,480

2,560

2,652

2,723

11,949

12,269

12,744

Suffolk

1,885

1,822

1,900

2,071

2,207

2,259

8,132

8,207

8,541

(1) Commercial holdings are those with significant levels of farming activity. These significant levels are classified as any holding with more than five hectares of agricultural land, one hectare of orchards, 0.5 hectares of vegetables or 0.1 hectares of protected crops, or more than 10 cows, 50 pigs, 20 sheep, 20 goats or 1,000 poultry.

Fisheries: Quotas

Mr Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Management Organisation on the Government's plans to issue lists of the private owners of fixed quota allocations made to the UK. [147905]

Richard Benyon: The Marine Management Organisation has been involved in the project to produce a register of holdings of fixed quota allocation units from its inception. It, like us, fully supports the commitment to produce a fully transparent system to make clear the beneficiaries of UK fishing quota.

Food Banks

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on his Department's inquiry into the growth of food banks. [147620]

Mr Heath: DEFRA has commissioned research to review evidence on the landscape of food provision and access. This is not an inquiry. The work comprises a short research project assessing evidence already publically available on the provision of food aid in the UK. This has been informed by a workshop with interested parties and organisations and includes a small number of case studies on current approaches. The project is halfway to completion and the research findings will be published on DEFRA's website.

Food: Procurement

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidelines his Department has issued with respect to public sector food procurement. [146374]

Mr Heath: DEFRA develops Government Buying Standards which set clear sustainability standards for the public procurement of goods and services in England.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 613W

A standard has been developed for food and catering, which supports procurement of nutritious and sustainably sourced food as well as sustainable catering services. Detailed guidance has been produced and this, along with the standard, is available on the DEFRA website.

I have also written to all Departments, in the context of EU regulations on the welfare for sows which recently came into force, reminding them of the overarching commitment in the Government Buying Standards to source food meeting UK or equivalent standards of production.

Horsemeat

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which police force is the lead agency in the investigation into the adulteration of meat products with horsemeat. [148717]

Mr Heath: The Food Standards Agency has been working with a number of police forces and it has been agreed that the economic crime directorate of the City of London police will be the lead force subject to final confirmation of its terms of reference.

Leatherhead Food Research

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contact (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with Leatherhead Food Research regarding testing for equine DNA since May 2010. [148467]

Mr Heath: DEFRA has had no contact with Leatherhead Food Research regarding testing for equine DNA since May 2010.

Livestock: Transport

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department holds on which EU member states are (a) in favour of and (b) opposed to reducing maximum journey times for the live transport of livestock. [145112]

Mr Heath: This issue was last discussed at the Agriculture Council meeting on 18 June 2012, which was reported in the ministerial statement of 27 June 2012, Official Report, column 11WS, by the right hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman). It contained the following views:

“Council adopted conclusions on the protection and welfare of animals. The Netherlands submitted a declaration expressing concern at the Commission's lack of ambition in the EU Welfare Strategy and the importance of dealing with the shortcomings identified in their review of the animal transport legislation—and abstained. Sweden, supported by Belgium, Austria and Denmark, made a statement to the same effect as that made by the Netherlands. The UK also made a statement on improving welfare during transport, noting particularly the importance of scientific evidence. The Commission noted the widespread support for their Strategy and promised to bring forward various non-legislative proposals to address some of the practical problems on animal transportation.”

There has been no further substantive discussion on this subject at EU Council level since the discussion reported above.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 614W

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff of his Department were employed in overseeing the import and export of live animals in (a) 2010, (b) 2011 and (c) 2012; what his Department's budget for that operation was in each of those years; and where such staff were located. [147267]

Mr Heath: The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is responsible for overseeing the import and export of live animals and carries out checks at the point of departure (i.e. the farm where animals start the journey), the port of departure/destination and spot checks during the transport journey.

To produce the figures requested could be done only at disproportionate cost. In broad terms, the number of AHVLA staff deployed at any one point in time at ports and airports is heavily dependent on both the volume of trade and the known risk the shipments present. This applies to imports and exports alike.

Marine Conservation Zones

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will announce a timetable for future tranches of marine conservation zones. [147249]

Richard Benyon: Plans for designating future tranches of MCZs will be outlined at the same time as the Government announce their response to the current consultation on the first tranche of MCZ designations.

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures (a) his Department and (b) the Marine Management Organisation have put in place for (i) protection of, (ii) management of and (iii) licensing applications within the 96 areas recommended for designation as marine conservation zones which are not being proposed for designation in 2013. [147555]

Richard Benyon: For those recommended sites not included for designation in 2013 and which require further consideration, the Department considers it wise that regulators such as the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) should not consider these sites as marine conservation zones under the relevant requirements of the legislation. However, the enhanced evidence base associated with any such area will be relevant and material to any licensing decision by the MMO. As such, regulatory authorities may wish to utilise any such evidence that has been gathered by the regional projects and the statutory nature conservation bodies in performing their statutory duties. Regulators will consider whether it is appropriate to protect the features in such sites through current legislative provisions. Ultimately, the final decisions on these issues rest with the relevant regulator.

Meat: Contamination

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) Sodexo and (b) Brakes on the source of their adulterated meat products. [145988]

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Mr Heath: The Food Standards Agency is responsible for investigating incidents of misleading labelling and food fraud. Both Sodexo and Brakes are providing the FSA with information on their supply chain and are co-operating fully with the FSA's investigation.

Meat: Origin Marking

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the European Commission's report and recommendations on labelling the origin of all processed meat to be published; and if he will make a statement. [146997]

Mr Heath: Requirements for origin labelling have been incorporated into the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU No. 1169/2011). The UK supported extending compulsory origin labelling to all fresh meat and a review on extending origin labelling for other foods. We have requested that the European Commission's report looking into the costs and benefits of mandatory origin labelling is brought forward so that an informed, proportionate decision can be taken. We also supported the requirement for origin information to be given where failure to indicate this might mislead the consumer as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of the food.

Nutrition

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to make healthy food more affordable. [145768]

Mr Heath: The Government recognise that rising food prices mean, for many, a greater proportion of household income is being spent on food.

That is why we are working nationally and internationally to promote open global markets and boost trade, which help keep food prices at levels that all households in the UK find affordable.

Also, the Department of Health's Public Health Responsibility Deal has been established to tap into the potential for businesses and other organisations to improve public health and tackle health inequalities. The core commitment of the Responsibility Deal Food Network is to encourage and enable people to adopt a healthier diet. The current work programme for the Food Network includes pledges to reduce people's calorie consumption and increase their fruit and vegetable intake, through a range of activities including promotional effort by individual companies (which could include price promotions).

The Food Network will begin work this year on a new pledge on the promotion of healthier food products.

The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers (worth £3.10/week) that can be used towards the cost of milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk. Currently over 545,000 women and children in 440,000 households across the UK receive vouchers.

The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme provides all four to six-year-old children in fully state-funded infant, primary and special schools throughout England with a free piece of fruit or vegetable on every school day.

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Animal Welfare: Slaughterhouses

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2013, Official Report, column 385W, on animal welfare: slaughterhouses, for what reason Mr Peter Boddy's name appears in the list of those consulted on measures to implement Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing; and for what reason there is no record of his response. [146953]

Mr Heath [holding answer 11 March 2013]: All approved slaughterhouse operators, including Peter Boddy, were consulted on measures to implement Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. However of those consulted, very few responded. We have no record of a response from Peter Boddy and assume this is because he chose not to respond.

Polar Bears: Conservation

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage other EU member states to support the US's proposal to up-list polar bears to Appendix I at the forthcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in March 2013. [146322]

Richard Benyon: EU member states take a common position on proposals submitted to Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to amend the level of protection afforded to species.

The UK delegation attending the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP16) to CITES, which took place in Bangkok from 3-14 March, found merit in the US proposal and worked with other member states to agree an EU position that would provide additional protection for the polar bear in a way that would better reflect evolving scientific knowledge and trade data. The EU tabled an alternative proposal, with the same aim as the US proposal of ensuring that polar bears are not threatened by international trade. We had hoped that this would command the support of all countries in which polar bears live but this was not possible. Neither the US proposal nor the EU alternative secured sufficient support by CITES Parties and so the CITES controls regulating international trade in polar bears and their products remain unchanged.

Sugar Beet

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will take steps to protect sugar beet growers' current exemption from European Union competition rules; [147783]

(2) what discussions he has had with the European Commission and others on the current exemption for sugar beet growers from EU competition rules which allows collective negotiation. [147784]

Mr Heath: When I met the National Farmers Union Sugar Board Chairman in January, he explained his concern that the European Commission's CAP reform proposals might adversely affect the right for farmers to

19 Mar 2013 : Column 617W

be represented by a single body on purchase and delivery terms under an inter-professional agreement. The limited discussion to date on this issue during the negotiations suggests that this is not the Commission's intention.

The CAP reform proposals as a whole are on the agenda for the next meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 18-19 March. At that meeting, the UK Government will seek a balanced outcome that allows for all parties in the sugar industry to compete on an equal basis and that safeguards the interests of sugar users, including consumers.

Tobacco: Subsidies

Jesse Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much subsidy was paid by the EU for the growing or production of tobacco in each of the last 10 years. [147674]

Mr Heath: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 11 March 2013, Official Report, column 17W.

International Development

Developing Countries: Malaria

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress she has made in implementing programmes to increase the prevention and treatment of malaria in less developed countries. [148349]

Lynne Featherstone: DFID directly supports malaria control efforts in 17 high burden malaria countries where we have bilateral programmes. DFID is funding programmes to deliver bednets and indoor residual spraying programmes and to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatment. DFID also invests in multilateral organisations such as the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria and the World Health Organisation, which have programmes in all countries with a high malaria burden. In addition, DFID directly supports research programmes, evidence generation and new product development in malaria, and is active in artemisinin resistance containment efforts in South-East Asia.

UK support will help halve malaria deaths in at least 10 high burden countries by 2015, and sustain these gains into the future.

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress her Department has made in targeting support on those who most need malaria drugs; and which interventions have been proven to work in the latest period for which figures are available. [148455]

Lynne Featherstone: The need for malaria drugs is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of malaria deaths occur, and among the poor. In Ghana 34% of a poor family's income can be spent on avoiding or treating malaria.

The UK Government are a strong supporter of the Affordable Medicine Facility for Malaria (AMFm). An independent evaluation of phase one of the AMFm

19 Mar 2013 : Column 618W

conducted in 2012 confirmed overall success in generating greater accessibility of high quality malaria drugs, at lower prices, to those who need them. We recently announced UK support of up to £36 million for the transition of the AMFm from a pilot into core Global Fund programmes. This should provide quality affordable treatment to those in need, in more countries.

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the business plan for malaria, what progress she has made on removing the barriers that prevent people from seeking medical care. [148506]

Lynne Featherstone: Barriers to accessing medical care include financial and geographical access to services and the poor quality of care at service providers. In many countries the UK Government have long taken a health systems strengthening approach to service provision.

With regard to malaria the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) initiative is aimed at reducing barriers to access to malaria care through ensuring affordable prices of high quality malaria treatment.

Jeremy Lefroy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the business plan for malaria, what progress she has made in ensuring that health systems and services are of the highest quality. [148507]

Lynne Featherstone: The UK Government support Universal Health Coverage, which aims to ensure that all people have access to health services that are of sufficient quality, without the risk of financial hardship. The UK Government's support to health system strengthening contributes to the provision of higher quality and more effective services on a sustained basis.

Developing Countries: Medical Treatments

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department has provided for research and development into vaccines and treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in the last two years. [148977]

Lynne Featherstone: For the last two years for which financial records are complete, DFID provided £40 million in 2010-11 and £33 million in 2011-12 in support of research and development into vaccines and treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department plans to provide for research and development into vaccines and treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in the next two years. [148978]

Lynne Featherstone: DFID is currently running a competition for research funding for research and development into vaccines and treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and other diseases of poverty. The results of the competition will not be available until later in the year and therefore it is not possible to estimate the level of support at this time.

19 Mar 2013 : Column 619W

Developing Countries: Religion

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what work she is (a) funding or (b) undertaking as part of her Department's faith partnership principles to develop evaluation methodologies for the work of faith groups. [148718]

Lynne Featherstone: “Faith Partnership Principles Paper” aims to strengthen and guide DFID's future relationship and collaboration with faith groups and recommended that the Faith Working Group should establish a “Community of Learning” to map the work of faith and produce guidance on evaluation of the impact of faith groups. A coalition of faith groups, academia and civil society organisations has established a “Joint Learning Initiative” to do this. DFID has been supportive of this coalition and, following a meeting with representatives of the Joint Learning Initiative on 26 February, plans are being developed on how to take this work forward.

Mobile Phones

Mr Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which company holds the largest contract to provide mobile telephony services to her Department; how much is paid each year under that contract; how many individual devices are covered by the contract; when the contract was awarded; and when and how the contract will next be reviewed. [148400]

Mr Duncan: DFID has one centrally let contract with Vodafone for the provision of mobile telephony services. The contract is a call-down from a Government Procurement Service (GPS) framework agreement. The Department pays approximately £200,000 to Vodafone each year under this contract depending on the number of users (the number of users currently stands at 600). The current contract was awarded in February 2011 and is due for renewal in March 2015. DFID continually reviews performance with the supplier (Vodafone) to ensure a high standard of service delivery.

Telephone Services

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2013, Official Report, column 280, on telephone services, whether an alternative UK landline number beginning with 01, 02 or 03 is publicly available as an alternative to the 0845 number for the Public Inquiry Point. [148894]

Mr Duncan: No alternative number is offered to DFID's 0845 number.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the Government's policy is on the addition of disability to the list of cross-cutting issues in the EU development co-operation instrument due to the UK and EU's obligations under the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. [148754]

19 Mar 2013 : Column 620W

Lynne Featherstone: As part of its wider work on promoting human rights, the UK Government are encouraging other Governments to sign, ratify and implement the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The UK worked closely with European Union (EU) partners and the European Commission to achieve EU ratification of the convention and supports the inclusion of disability in EU development co-operation instruments.

Cabinet Office

Mobile Phones

Mr Havard: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which company holds the largest contract to provide mobile telephony services to his Department; how much is paid each year under that contract; how many individual devices are covered by the contract; when the contract was awarded; and when and how the contract will next be reviewed. [148294]

Mr Hurd: The Cabinet Office has a single contract in place with Vodafone for the provision of mobile services. The contract was awarded in 2011 and will be reviewed in 2014. At present, it covers 1,317 individual devices and annual spend is £280,000.

Mutual Societies

Sir Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what his policy is on developing mutuals. [148640]

Mr Hurd: The Cabinet Office is currently tracking over 100 emerging and established public service mutuals across 13 different sectors. It offers various support:

The Mutuals Information Service incorporates an online resource library and website, as well as a telephone hotline.

The Mutuals Support Programme is a modest £10 million fund which procures professional support, such as business planning and legal advice, and has to date worked with over 30 different projects.

The Mutuals Ambassadors Programme, through which 20 inspiring leaders from across the mutuals sector troubleshoot concerns on the ground, share their commercial expertise, identify upcoming projects, and advocate and promote the agenda.

In addition, the Cabinet Office is working closely with Departments to encourage the growth and creation of mutuals in specific areas.

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011

Chris Skidmore: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will estimate what the (a) total and (b) average annual savings of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 has been. [148943]

Miss Chloe Smith: The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies (PVSC) Act 2011 provides for reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and the holding of a referendum on adopting the alternative vote for UK parliamentary elections.

The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 moves the first review of parliamentary constituency boundaries under the PVSC Act 2011, which would reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, from 2013

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to 2018. The reduction in the number of MPs would deliver an estimated saving of £13.6 million a year. There are no cost savings associated with the referendum on the alternative vote, which was held on 5 May 2011.

Working Mothers

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many and what proportion of young mothers with children under seven years of age worked (a) full-time and (b) part-time in each year for which figures are available. [148492]

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

Letter from Glen Watson, dated March 2013:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics. I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many and what proportion of young mothers with children under seven years of age worked (a) full-time and (b) part-time in each year for which figures are available. (148492)

Estimates have been provided from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) household datasets. They show the estimated number and proportion of young mothers with children under seven years of age working full-time and part-time for the UK in April to June of each year since 1996. It was not possible to provide estimates prior to 1996 as this is the earliest that household datasets are available.

The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and are not seasonally adjusted. As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Number and proportion of young mothers(1) with children under seven years of age working full-time/part-time, April to June 1996 to 2012, United Kingdom
 Number of young mothers working (thousand)Percentage of young mothers working
 Full-timePart-timeFull-timePart-time

1996

41

96

8.8

20.5

1997

42

87

9.7

20.0

1998

36

93

8.3

21.4

1999

50

91

11.1

20.2

2000

52

81

12.6

19.6

2001

44

93

10.7

22.8

2002

46

121

10.3

26.9

2003

49

105

11.1

23.9

2004

53

100

12.2

23.1

2005

52

102

11.5

22.8

2006

51

89

11.7

20.6

2007

57

95

13.0

21.5

2008

66

96

13.8

20.1

2009

57

115

11.8

23.7

2010

62

94

13.6

20.6

2011

57

100

12.6

22.1

2012

62

118

12.9

24.6

(1) A young mother is between the ages of 16 and 24 Source: Labour Force Survey household datasets