Public Sector Information Independent Review

Sir Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the recommendations of the Shakespeare review of public sector information, what assessment he has made of the potential effects of a National Data Strategy on data publishers in the private sector; and if he will make a statement. [179082]

Mr Willetts: In response to the Shakespeare review recommendation for a national data strategy, 'Seizing the data opportunity: a strategy for UK data capability' was published on 31 October 2013. It sets out actions to ensure the UK can be a world leader in extracting value and insights from data for the benefit of business and academia, the public and the private sectors. The strategy includes actions to build a pipeline of skilled people in data analytics, and a programme of activity to improve access to UK's e-infrastructure by businesses.

Royal Bank of Scotland

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority to respond to his Department's referral to them of the Tomlinson Report. [178998]

Matthew Hancock: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on 29 October 2013 that an independent skilled person will be appointed using powers in section 166 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to review allegations about RBS's treatment of customers in financial distress made by Lawrence Tomlinson and others. The commissioning of an independent skilled person will follow the FCA's published process pursuant to the European Procurement Directive and the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. The FCA's intention is to complete the commissioning process in January 2014. At this stage it is not possible to estimate how long it will take the skilled person to report back to the regulator.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether Mr Lawrence Tomlinson's report on RBS was (a) seen, (b) amended and (c) approved by (i) Ministers, (ii) special advisers and (iii) officials in his Department before its publication on 25 November 2013. [180008]

Matthew Hancock: Mr Tomlinson's report on the bank’s treatment of businesses in distress was sent to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and seen by Ministers, special advisers and officials.

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The report was passed on in full without amendment to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority for them to consider.

Mr Tomlinson subsequently decided to publish an edited and amended version of the report. The editorial decisions were made by Mr Tomlinson who published the report in an individual capacity. The report was not a matter for approval by anyone within BIS.

Royal Mail

Ian Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what criteria or conditions under contractual terms his Department will use to decide whether or not to withhold discretionary bonuses for banks and advisers involved in the Royal Mail privatisation. [179772]

Michael Fallon: The decision on the discretionary element of the underwriters' fees will take into consideration a number of factors set out in the agreement with the underwriters. These include the relevant underwriters' contribution to the efficient preparation of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and its overall success. We will also look at their success in generating demand for the IPO alongside the quality and success of road show meetings and resulting investor feedback. In addition, we will consider the final price achieved and the aftermarket performance of the shares.

Students: Loans

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) pursuant to line (ii) of table 2.5 of the autumn statement, whether his Department has decided to sell parts of the pre-2012 income contingent repayment student loan book; [180000]

(2) with reference to table 2.5 of the autumn statement 2013, what estimate his Department has made of (a) gross proceeds from sale of the student loan book, (b) surrendered repayment income and (c) net proceeds arising from the sale of the student loan book. [180047]

Mr Willetts: The Government have confirmed their intention to realise value for the taxpayer through a sale of the pre-2012 income contingent repayment student loan book. The expectation is that loans will be sold in a number of tranches over a period of years.

As set out in the autumn statement, 5 December 2013, Official Report, columns 1101-13, the estimate of gross proceeds over the five-year period starting in financial year 2015/16 is £10 billion to £15 billion with a central estimate of £12 billion. In table 2.5 of the autumn statement, this central estimate of gross proceeds is distributed evenly across the relevant years of the forecast period for modelling purposes.

An estimate of overall net impact of the sales, including the impact of lower repayments resulting from loan disposals, is incorporated in the overall forecasts for the public finances produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the December 2013 Economic and fiscal outlook report, available at:

http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/economic-fiscal-outlook-december-2013/

16 Dec 2013 : Column 416W

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2013, Official Report, column 824W, on students: fees and charges, what recent estimate of non-repayment of loans he has made. [180006]

Mr Willetts: We currently estimate that around 35% to 40% of the value of post-2012 student loans will not be repaid.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2013, Official Report, column 824W, on students: fees and charges, what the structural problems in the forecasting model were. [180009]

Mr Willetts: The structural problems in the forecasting model concern the forecasts of earnings, which the model carries out in order to estimate future repayments.

The model predicts future earnings based on the current year's earnings only. This lack of earnings history can lead to unrealistic earnings paths being forecast.

Further information on this can be found at the following URL:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/simplified-student-loan-repayment-model

This is the web page for a simplified version of the student loan repayment model which was published in 2012, and which demonstrates the essential features of the larger departmental model.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afzal Amin

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2013, Official Report, column 142W, on Afzal Amin, whether Afzal Amin is employed in any other capacity by his Department. [180401]

Hugh Robertson: In 2010 Mr Amin was attached to the political section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Helmand Provisional Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah. Mr Amin was a serving military officer at that time.

Al Qaeda

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the threat from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsular. [178908]

Hugh Robertson: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQ-AP) possesses the capability to carry out attacks in Yemen, in the wider region and beyond, and has repeatedly publicly expressed its inclination to do so.

As the FCO wrote recently in a public paper:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/256616/Oct_2013_AQ_newsletter.pdf

AQ-AP is not the oldest AQ affiliate, but it is currently the most prominent and the most persistently threatening internationally. It has a national, regional and international agenda, and has proved capable of innovative attack methodology.

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Reducing the threat posed by violent extremists in Yemen is a priority for the Yemeni Government as they seek to restore security and stability throughout the country. Along with our international partners, the UK remains committed to supporting Yemen to become a stable state, free from the threat of terrorism.

Burma

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has commissioned an investigation into reports by Human Rights Watch that ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity have been committed against the ethnic Rohingya in Burma. [180285]

Mr Swire: We are very concerned by the number of disturbing and specific allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine State, some of which are backed up by comprehensive evidence.

We have raised these concerns repeatedly at the highest levels of the Burmese Government.

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with Aung San Suu Kyi on visiting places in Burma where anti-Muslim violence has taken place. [180286]

Mr Swire: The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I discussed a range of issues with Aung San Suu Kyi during her most recent visit to the UK, including the situation in Rakhine State and anti-Muslim violence. Our ambassador in Rangoon also has regular discussions with her covering these issues. Aung San Suu Kyi has made clear that human rights and the rule of law must be upheld—whether in Rakhine or other areas affected by anti-Muslim violence. She has also publicly called for the Burmese citizenship law to be applied fairly to all in Rakhine State and to be reviewed in line with international standards. I myself visited Rakhine State in December 2012 and have consistently made similar points to the Burmese Government.

Central African Republic

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the conflict in the Central African Republic; and what representations he has made at the (a) EU Foreign Affairs Council and (b) UN Security Council on the issue of funding for the deployment of French troops to the Central African Republic. [179055]

Mark Simmonds: On 5 December, with strong UK support, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2127, authorising the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA), and the deployment of French forces to respond to the security and humanitarian crisis in the CAR.

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On 6 December, in response to a request from the French Government, the UK declared it would provide three RAF C-17 flights between now and mid-December to move French equipment to the CAR.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council is scheduled to discuss the CAR further this week, and we will continue to work with our partners in the EU to support the work of the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union as they seek a lasting solution to CAR's instability.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made on the threat presented by the conflict in the Central African Republic to stability in the wider region. [179057]

Mark Simmonds: The Central African Republic (CAR) has impacted its neighbours through refugee flows and cross-border violence. The return of a constitutional and effective government is vital for the long-term stability of CAR and is in the best interests of the region as a whole.

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to prevent forces fighting in the Central African Republic from profiting from illegal trade in diamonds, uranium or petroleum. [180407]

Mark Simmonds: UN Security Council Resolution 2127, co-sponsored by the UK, condemned the illegal exploitation of CAR's natural resources. The UN Security Council has committed to keeping the situation in CAR and the appropriateness of the measures contained in the resolution under continuous review.

The priority of the international community is to restore basic security and ensure humanitarian assistance can be delivered to those in need. To that end, Resolution 2127 mandated the immediate deployment of French forces and the African-led Mission Internationale de Soutien à la Centrafrique (MISCA).

The UK has provided £15 million of humanitarian support to CAR, and will continue to support the restoration of security and ensure that civilians are protected.

Human Rights

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, whether the Government has developed an action plan to provide support and protection to HRDs who face reprisals as a result of CHOGM. [179848]

Mr Swire: The Government have consistently made clear to the Sri Lankan Government the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression and protecting human rights defenders.

We have emphasised to the Sri Lankan Government that the human rights defenders, journalists and members of the public that Ministers met during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting should not face any reprisals.

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Our high commission in Colombo is actively monitoring this situation closely post CHOGM and is already undertaking measures included in the EU guidelines such as maintaining contact with relevant institutions and individuals where they believe this support will be useful.

India

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the hunger strike of Bhai Gurbakhash Singh in India. [180374]

Mr Swire: We are aware of the hunger strike of Bhai Gurbakhash Singh and continue to monitor the general human rights situation in India. We maintain a dialogue with the Indian Government about the protection of minority rights in India, including those of the Sikh community.

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on Sikh prisoners in India remaining in prison despite having completed their sentences. [180375]

Mr Swire: We are aware of these cases and continue to monitor the general human rights situation in India. We maintain a dialogue with the Indian Government about the protection of minority rights in India, including those of the Sikh community.

Iran

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of possible sanctions against Iran for a breach of the Iran nuclear agreement. [178988]

Hugh Robertson: As part of the first step agreement, the E3+3 have agreed proportionate sanctions relief in return for a significant step from Iran on the most worrying aspects of their nuclear programme-this is clearly an important and encouraging moment. We will fulfil our part of the Joint Action Plan in good faith, and fully expect Iran to do likewise. If Iran fails to meet its commitments, all sanctions relief will be revoked and there would be renewed international pressure for as long as Iran ignored international concerns.

Nigeria

Mr Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the results were of the most recent assessment of the risk to people living in Nigeria of Boko Haram. [178931]

Mark Simmonds: Boko Haram has recently carried out fatal attacks on both civilians and security forces, including large scale attacks on Damaturu in Yobe State and Maiduguri in Borno State.

The threat from Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in Nigeria is volatile. We therefore have to remain vigilant and monitor trends and reliable sources of information to enable HMG to make regular threat

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assessments. These assessments are then feed into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice on Nigeria.

The FCO currently advises against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State and Adamawa State which have seen the majority of recent attacks by Boko Haram. We advise those currently living in Nigeria to be vigilant and to take care at all times, particularly in areas where there are political or other large public gatherings. In recent years, many attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays and we therefore advise British citizens to be particularly vigilant during these periods.

Palestinians

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on Palestinian membership of the International Olive Council. [179782]

Hugh Robertson: There has been some suggestion that the UK has blocked Palestinian membership of the International Olive Council. This is inaccurate. At the November meeting of the International Olive Council the Palestinian Authority did not ask for a vote on their application for full membership of the Council.

Sovereignty: Scotland

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the possible effects of Scottish independence on the UK diplomatic network. [180162]

Mr Lidington: The UK Government are confident that people in Scotland will choose to remain part of a strong, successful UK and is not undertaking contingency planning for Scottish independence. In the event that the people of Scotland voted for independence, the UK's diplomatic, consular and UK trade and investment network would remain intact and continue actively to promote and protect the interests of the rest of the UK, its citizens and businesses.

Sri Lanka

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will take steps to build with other members of the Human Rights Council a broad coalition of support for the UN to establish an independent international investigation into alleged serious violations of international human rights and the international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka before the March 2014 session of that council. [179078]

Mr Swire: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 4 December 2013, Official Report, column 755W.

Sudan

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. [180209]

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Mark Simmonds: We repeatedly remind the Sudanese Government, both bilaterally and through consultations at the UN Security Council, of their responsibility to protect civilians throughout Sudan. This should include refraining from taking any military action which endangers the lives of civilians, and making serious attempts to bring about an end to internal conflicts by engaging in meaningful political dialogue. We have also urged the Government to cooperate fully with the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, to ensure that it is fully able to carry out its core mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

Syria

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Syrian counterpart on the mass graves discovered in Sadad in Syria. [180037]

Hugh Robertson: We are trying to establish the accuracy of reports of mass graves in Sadad, including through discussion with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, the security situation in Syria makes it very difficult to establish the facts. We continue to fund training for Syrian activists to document abuses with the aim that this documentation could be used in a future process of accountability. We also continue to call for the situation to be referred to the International Criminal Court. We frequently call for an end to human rights violations and accountability for those who have perpetrated them.

Yemen

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance he has provided to the government of Yemen following the attack on the Defence Ministry in Sana'a on 5 December 2013. [178911]

Hugh Robertson: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met Foreign Minister Dr Al-Qirbi in the margins of the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain on 7 December. They discussed the implications of the attack, and how the UK could best target our substantial programme of assistance to Yemen. The Government have also conveyed our sincere condolences to President Hadi, and reaffirmed our continued support to him and his government-both for Yemen's current process of political transition, and for its fight against terrorism.

Transport

A27

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timetable his Department has set for improvements to the A27 corridor between Worthing and Shoreham; and if he will make a statement. [180005]

Mr Goodwill: The Department is undertaking six feasibility studies as part of the process of identifying and funding solutions to tackle some of the most notorious and long-standing road hot spots in the country. One of

16 Dec 2013 : Column 422W

the studies will consider the problems on the A27 corridor, including between Worthing and Shoreham.

Working with the relevant stakeholders, the Department and the Highways Agency will define the detailed scope and finalise the timings of this study. Formal engagement with stakeholders will commence in January. The study outputs will then be used to inform investments plans in the future.

The Highways Agency has also been working with Adur District and developers with respect to the highway improvements needed to support development in the Adur Draft Local Plan. Any such improvements would be for developers to fund and programme.

Aviation

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the accuracy of his Department’s impact assessments in the field of aviation reform; [180389]

(2) what assessment he has made of the (a) general accuracy of impact assessments prepared by his Department and submitted to Parliament prior to enactment of the Civil Aviation Act 2012 and (b) estimated annual costs in the form of new charges to be met by the aviation industry when responsibility for regulating aviation security transfers from his Department to the Civil Aviation Authority from 1 April 2014. [180390]

Mr Goodwill: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is presently consulting on the charges that, from 1 April next year and in line with the ‘user pays’ principle, it proposes to levy on those aviation entities subject to security regulation, when the authority assumes responsibility for aviation security regulatory and compliance monitoring activity.

The initial impact assessment included a range of costs from £4.5 million to £6.6 million. However, after carrying out a full due diligence process on the costs involved, this resulted in a revised position of £7.9 million. As part of the CAA’s published response on 6 November to its first round of consultation on charging, full details were provided of an analysis of the differences between the cost information given prior to the passage of the Civil Aviation Act 2012, and the target cost base which now underpins the authority’s charging proposals. The CAA have further met with industry representatives to discuss not only the charges but the cost base on which the charges have been based, leading to an open and transparent dialogue.

Aviation: Security

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the effect on marginal airline route services of transferring responsibility for aviation security from his Department to the Civil Aviation Authority from 1 April 2014; [180387]

(2) if he will take steps to ensure that any new charges to the aviation industry as a result of transferring responsibility for aviation security from his Department to the Civil Aviation Authority are phased in to mitigate the potential negative effects on marginal airline route services. [180388]

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Mr Goodwill: No specific assessment has been made by the Department for Transport on the effect of the transfer of aviation security functions to the Civil Aviation Authority, on marginal airline route services.

The CAA’s proposed charges for aerodromes have been set to recover the regulatory costs of both airlines and airports. However, when setting its charges, the CAA was mindful of the impact on small/medium sized airports. Following discussion with the Airport Operator’s Association, the industry representative body for UK airports, the CAA agreed to include an alleviation for such airports of 50% of its proposed charge in the first year.

Bus Services: Disability

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the success of his Department's attempts to encourage bus and coach providers to increase the proportion of their staff who have received training in disability matters. [180338]

Stephen Hammond: In July 2013, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), wrote to bus and coach industry representatives to encourage the completion of disability awareness training at the earliest opportunity and confirmed that the Department for Transport will review the number of drivers undertaking this type of training by March 2014, to ensure progress is being made.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) have estimated that across the whole bus and coach industry, approx 75% of drivers have now completed some form of disability awareness training as part of their Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training requirement and this figure continues to rise.

Since September 2008, all professional bus and coach drivers have been required to hold a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) and carry out 35 hours of periodic training every five years as a requirement of the EU Directive 2003/59. Although not compulsory, disability awareness training is widely available as part of the periodic Certificate of Professional Competence training syllabus and training materials can be obtained free of charge from the 'Peoplel1st' training website. These training materials have been developed to reflect the content and best practice set out in the Disability Equality and Awareness Training Framework for Transport Staff developed by the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.

Bus Services: ICT

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities are currently developing or implementing programmes to increase the prevalence of audio-visual systems on buses in their area compared to the same time last year. [180337]

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport estimated that in 2012 there were 8,877 buses operating in England that offered audio announcements on the destination of the bus and the next stop. This amounts to approximately 25% of all buses in England. In addition, there were approximately 6,489 buses providing both audio and visual announcements. We do not hold the equivalent information for 2013.

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However, the Department is aware that at least five local authorities (Bournemouth, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, York and the West Midlands ITA) are implementing plans to increase the provision of audio-visual systems on buses in their local area as part of the Department's £70 million ‘Better Bus Area’ fund.

The Department for Transport recognises that many people find audio and visual announcements useful for travelling and wrote to bus operators in May 2011 to encourage them to work in partnership with their local authorities to see if the uptake of audio-visual announcement systems could be increased. There is also a commitment within the Department's Accessibility Action Plan (published in December 2012) to develop costings for audio-visual technical options on buses and decide on a way forward. This information will be included in the Accessibility Action Plan progress report, due to be published by the end of 2013.

Driver and Vehicle Agency: Coleraine

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, of 26 November 2013, Official Report, column 188W, on Driver and Vehicle Agency: Coleraine, when a decision on the future of the Driver and Vehicle Agency at Coleraine will be made and announced. [180289]

Mr Goodwill: An announcement on the way forward following the recent consultation on the future of vehicle registration and licensing services in Northern Ireland will be made as soon as I have heard all representations on the matter and have had the opportunity to consider these. This will be as early as possible in the new year.

High Speed Railway Line 2

Lilian Greenwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether HS2 Ltd will be able to recover VAT on its spending; and what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter. [179785]

Mr Goodwill: In order to recover VAT incurred on the costs of constructing the railway, HS2 Ltd will have to register for VAT. To do so, it will have to satisfy HMRC that it intends to make taxable supplies, as explained in paragraph 3.12 of the May 2013 National Audit Office report. As the NAO also points out in its report, VAT represents an internal transfer within Government rather than an additional cost. There have been no recent discussions with the Chancellor on this matter.

Large Goods Vehicles

Mr Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the practicality of fitting sensors to heavy goods vehicles for the protection of cyclists. [180220]

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport (DFT) commissioned Loughborough university in conjunction with MIRA Ltd, to assess sensing systems as part of a wider investigation on improvements to driver vision from vehicles. The report was published in 2011. The expert appraisal of sensors highlighted the differing

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capability of these systems in detecting vulnerable road users compared to mirrors and cameras. The research also collected information from 14 drivers routinely using vehicles fitted with sensors. They reported concerns with annoyance/distraction of the audio feedback and unreliability/over-sensitivity giving rise to false alarms. However, the Department recognises that sensor technology is developing and is currently engaging with manufacturers to understand the latest developments.

A full impact assessment of these systems will be needed before reaching a decision on requiring installation on vehicles.

Llandudno Junction Station

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with (a) Network Rail and (b) train operating companies on improvements to Llandudno Junction train station. [178994]

Stephen Hammond: The Department has had no recent discussions with Network Rail or with train operating companies on improvements to Llandudno Junction train station.

Ministers

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on ministerial salaries in the last year for which figures are available. [180108]

Stephen Hammond: Information about ministerial salaries is in the public domain in the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 (Amendment) Order 2011. This is available at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2011/9780111509258/schedule/1

Parking: Appeals

Nick Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of appeals heard by Parking on Private Land Appeals since it became operational have been decided in favour of the motorist. [178907]

Mr Goodwill: Parking on Private Land Appeals (PoPLA) is an independent appeals service covering all tickets issued on private land in England and Wales by members of the British Parking Association (BPA). It is provided free to motorists, and decisions are binding on parking operators, but not on drivers and vehicle keepers.

Figures for appeals in the initial period of PoPLA's operation are published on their website at:

www.popla.org.uk

Parking: Fines

Jason McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the total (a) value and (b) number of outstanding car parking fines was in (i) England, (ii) Wales, (iii) Scotland and (iv) Northern Ireland on the last date for which data is available; [179845]

(2) how many car parking fines were issued by local authorities in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in (i) 2011, (ii) 2012 and (iii) 2013. [179846]

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Mr Goodwill: Parking is a devolved matter, and policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the respective Governments. Information on parking penalties in England is not held centrally. Records of the number of penalty charge notices issued are contained in annual reports from the traffic adjudicators—the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service covers London Councils and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal reports on authorities outside London.

Pedestrian Crossings: Schools

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many schools had lollipop patrols in (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012 and (d) 2013 to date. [179085]

Mr Goodwill: The Department does not hold records of the number of school crossing patrol services in each local authority.

The provision of the school crossing patrol service is a matter for the local authority. Legislation gives 'Appropriate Authorities' the power to make arrangements for the patrolling of places where children cross roads on their way to or from school, but does not impose a duty on them to do so.

Railways: Corby

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve connecting and northbound rail services from Corby train station. [178871]

Stephen Hammond: The new December 2013 timetable has an additional Corby service from London St Pancras in the morning.

Detailed timetabling decisions are a matter for the train operator and Network Rail to finalise for the timetable change dates in May and December of each year.

By December 2017 Network Rail will have completed electrification from London to Corby and doubled the track between Corby and Kettering which will provide extra capacity for passenger and freight services.

Railways: Disability

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether guidance given to train operators on designing disabled people’s protection policies promotes the need to educate staff on interchange to other modes of transport for disabled people. [180339]

Stephen Hammond: The Office of Rail Regulation is now responsible for disabled peoples’ protection policies (DPPPs). However, the Department published guidance on how to write DPPPs in 2009. This requires operators to set out what their policy is on providing assistance for disabled passengers connecting to other transport modes and what level of assistance their staff can provide.

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Railways: Franchises

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons the Rail Franchise Direct Awards Process Guide is being reviewed; and if he will publish the terms of reference for the review. [178899]

Stephen Hammond: A draft version of the Direct Award Process Guide was published in error. We have now reviewed the final version of the Direct Award Process Guide and it will be published shortly.

Railways: Repairs and Maintenance

Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total value was of departmental underspend on rail maintenance in each of the last five years. [178927]

Stephen Hammond: Network Rail, as the owner and operator of Britain's rail infrastructure, is responsible for maintenance of the network.

Network Rail has published its figures for maintenance spending in 2012-13 and the cumulative totals for the Control Period to date on page 82 of this document:

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/regulatory%20documents/regulatory%20compliance% 20and%20reporting/regulatory%20accounts/nril%20 regulatory%20financial%20statements%20for%20the%20 year%20ended%2031%20march%202013.pdf

Railways: Wales

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the recent announcement by the Welsh Assembly Executive of investment in the North Wales Coast Mainline, what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Executive on the effect of such investment on the Conwy Valley railway line. [178992]

Stephen Hammond: I have had no discussions with the Welsh Assembly Executive concerning the Conwy Valley railway line. Responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Wales and Borders franchise, which includes the Conwy Valley line, and for specifying and funding services that operate wholly in Wales and across the Wales-England border, rests with the Welsh Government.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons undamaged stretches of steel central reservation barriers are being replaced with concrete ones; what the cost of new concrete barrier installation is; and if he will make a statement. [180214]

Mr Goodwill: The introduction of concrete barriers in the central reserve on motorways was implemented as policy in January 2005 following research that was commissioned by the Highways Agency. Research looked at real costs associated with all types of safety barrier installation, maintenance and accident statistics. The research concluded that high containment concrete safety barrier is the preferred option, when compared to steel,

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as it has the lowest whole life cost and has a minimum life of 50 years compared to 20 years for steel barrier.

The installation of concrete barrier in the central reserve reduces significantly the likelihood of crossover incidents, is essentially maintenance free and is unlikely to require repairs after vehicle impact. The accident risk to the travelling public and to road and traffic management workers on our busy motorways is therefore reduced.

Steel safety barriers in the central reserve of motorways is replaced with concrete when the steel barrier is reaching the end of its serviceable life or when there is an opportunity to bring the central reserve up to current standards during other maintenance or improvement works.

The cost of implementing concrete barrier schemes vary dependent on the design requirements such as length, road alignment, cross section, central reserve construction, drainage requirements and traffic management. An indicative cost for such schemes range from £1,200 to £2,000 per metre.

Culture, Media and Sport

Advertising: Children

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what assessment she has made of the annual exposure of children to alcohol advertisements on (a) television, (b) billboards, (c) cinema screens and (d) the internet; [180043]

(2) what assessment she has made of the safe maximum level of exposure children should have to alcohol advertising on (a) television, (b) billboards, (c) cinema screens and (d) the internet. [180044]

Mr Vaizey: The advertising industry is overseen by a system of self and co-regulation, which allows regulations to be more flexible, the industry to be more responsible and which lessens the regulatory burden.

No such assessments have been made. The Government are keenly aware of the importance of ensuring that there is a robust regime in place to control the advertising and marketing of alcohol, and in particular that children and young people are suitably protected. Following Ofcom's report into alcohol advertising in May this year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched 10 investigations into audience data provided by Ofcom, eight of which resulted in upheld adjudications. Separately, the body that writes the Broadcast Advertising Code, BCAP, has been undertaking work to make sure that the regulation that limits children's exposure to alcohol advertising remains effective, and will set out its recommendations shortly.

The ASA recently undertook a survey to find out what adverts young people see and engage with online, and whether those complied with UK advertising rules. Of the 427 ads seen by young people as part of the survey, three were for alcohol (i.e. less than 1%), and these adverts, whose content complied with the rules, were delivered to those children who had registered with a false age.

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Artworks: Export Controls

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in respect of which objects a decision on a licence application under the Export of Objects of Cultural Interest scheme was originally deferred, but a licence for permanent export was later granted in 2011-12 and 2012-13. [179796]

Mr Vaizey: This information in respect of cultural objects that were export-deferred in 2011-12 but where an export licence was subsequently issued, is available in the Annual Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest for 2011-12. Copies of the Report are available in the Libraries of the House.

The information requested for 2012-13 is available on the Arts Council's website at:

http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/supporting-museums/cultural-property/export-controls/reviewing-committee/case-hearings-2012-13/

Arts: Finance

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the amount invested in UK creative industries through UK crowdfunding platforms in the last year. [180129]

Mr Vaizey: DCMS has made no estimate regarding the amount invested in UK creative industries through UK crowdfunding platforms in the last year. However, we recognize that crowdfunding is providing an increasingly valuable source of finance for the creative sector, particularly the large number of innovative and creative start-ups that are emerging in the UK, and by providing alternative sources of finance to businesses it is helping to make an important impact in the real economy. A sub-group of the CIC is looking at improving access to finance for creative businesses, including exploring the potential of non-traditional sources of financing, such as crowdfunding.

BBC: Scotland

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations her Department has received from the Scottish Government in the last 12 months on the proposed establishment of a joint venture between the BBC and a Scottish Broadcasting Service in the event of Scottish independence, as outlined in Scotland's Future: Your Guide to An Independent Scotland. [180165]

Mr Vaizey: DCMS has received no representations from the Scottish Government on their proposals for broadcasting in the event of an independent Scotland in the last 12 months. Any bid by an independent Scotland to make use of existing BBC assets, services or content is open to doubt, would have to be negotiated, and the potential impact on the services it provides to the remainder of the UK would need to betaken into account.

Broadband

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to which enterprise zones superfast broadband has been provided to date. [179933]

Mr Vaizey: Superfast broadband is available in part, or throughout the following enterprise zones:

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Enterprise zone

Cornwall Aerohub

Sandwich Discovery Park

MIRA Leicestershire

Sci-Tech Daresbury

London Royal Docks

Bristol Temple Quarter

Manchester Airport City

New Anglia

Nottingham

Black Country

North Eastern

Humber

Birmingham

Northampton Waterside

Hereford Skylon Park

Digital Broadcasting: Radio

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she expects to make the announcement on digital radio infrastructure. [179971]

Mr Vaizey: The announcement on digital radio infrastructure was made on 16 December 2013.

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the value of increasing the coverage of local radio stations on DAB transmission frequency. [179972]

Mr Vaizey: Increasing local DAB radio coverage benefits consumers with digital radios as it increases the choice of digital services available and improves the quality of listening. However, broadcasters face an increase in costs from the additional transmitters. More information on the costs and benefits of building out the digital radio infrastructure can be found in the Preliminary Analysis of the Impact of a Switchover report, which we intend to publish shortly.

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what plans she has to increase the number of DAB transmitters; [179973]

(2) what steps she is taking to increase investment on improving local DAB coverage. [179975]

Mr Vaizey: On 16 December, the Government set out plans to support the build out of local digital radio infrastructure to near commercial FM equivalence by 2016.

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that the switchover to DAB only happens when the majority of consumer radio listening is conducted through digital signals. [179974]

Mr Vaizey: The Government have been clear that the transition to digital must be consumer led, and that the majority of listening must be digital before a decision to switchover can be taken.

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Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent representations she has received on the DAB switchover. [179976]

Mr Vaizey: Through the Digital Radio Action Plan, the radio industry and other key stakeholders, including the BBC, Commercial Radio, Multiplex Operators, Ofcom, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and Consumer Expert Group have made representations on a DAB switchover.

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that digital infrastructure can be used by local and national radio stations. [179977]

Mr Vaizey: On 16 December, the Government set out plans to support the build out of local digital radio infrastructure to near commercial FM equivalence by 2016.

The Government will also be providing £500,000 funding to Ofcom over the next two years to build on the work of its Brighton pilot to develop small-scale DAB solutions, to allow smaller radio stations to go digital.

Direct Selling

Mike Crockart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when her Department will publish the action plan on nuisance calls. [180012]

Mr Vaizey: DCMS has been working with regulators, consumer groups, industry and parliamentarians to consider how to improve the enforcement of the regulations with respect to nuisance calls and we will be publishing our action plan on nuisance calls in the new year.

Londonderry

Dr McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she plans to visit Londonderry during its year as UK City of Culture 2013. [179844]

Mr Vaizey: In my role as Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries I have visited Londonderry, as have other UK Government Ministers and officials, during its year as City of Culture 2013.

S4C and Broadband: Wales

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Minister is accountable to Parliament for (a) oversight of broadband roll-out in Wales and (b) the funding of Sianel Pedwar Cymru. [180185]

Mr Vaizey: The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is accountable to Parliament for oversight of broadband roll-out in Wales and for ensuring that funding for S4C (Sianel Pedwar Cymru) is sufficient to fulfil its remit.

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Television: Licensing

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many pensioners claimed the over-75 free television licence in (a) Brigg and Goole constituency and (b) Yorkshire and the Humber in the latest period for which figures are available. [179994]

Mr Vaizey: The data recording how many pensioners claimed the over 75 free television licence are not broken down by individual constituencies. Over the UK as a whole, in the financial year 2012-13 there were 3,943,768 free over-75 licences issued.

Women and Equalities

Pregnant Women: Discrimination

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what assessment she has made of the number of cases of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. [178803]

Jo Swinson: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable and unlawful. The Government recognise the need to tackle this type of discrimination, and believes that in order to do so in the most effective way, we need to understand the causes and extent of pregnancy discrimination in UK workplaces. This is why, on 4 November 2013, we announced an extensive research project into pregnancy discrimination in the UK. The research will be jointly managed and funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, supported by the Government Equalities Office. The research will report in 2014.

In 2011/12, there were 1,700 employment tribunal claims that included a maternity rights-based claim, this represents 1% of employment tribunal claims in 2011/12. Of these, around1:

430 were withdrawn

900 were ACAS conciliated

120 were successful at hearing

150 were unsuccessful at hearing

77 were struck out (not at hearing)

30 were dismissed at a preliminary hearing

28 received a default judgment—claimant successful.

1 Parts may not sum to total due to rounding. From the statistics, we cannot assert whether ACAS conciliated or withdrawn claims were successful or unsuccessful.

Treasury

Air Passenger Duty

Nick de Bois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the total receipts from air passenger duty was attributable to (a) band C and (b) band D in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011, (iv) 2012 and (v) 2013 to date. [180409]

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Nicky Morgan: The published statistics on air passenger duty, including information on historic revenues from the duty and passenger numbers by band, are available at:

https://www.uktradeinfo.com/Statistics/Pages/TaxAndDutyBulletins.aspx

Child Tax Credit: Southwark

Ms Harman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households in the London Borough of Southwark received child tax credits in (a) 2009, (b) 2010, (c) 2011, (d) 2012 and (e) 2013. [180074]

Nicky Morgan: The finalised annual award child and working tax credits statistics for 2011-12 are available here:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/fin-geog-stats/geo-analyses.xls

Table 2 of this publication provides a breakdown of figures by local authority, including Southwark.

For the years 2003-04 to 2010-11, please refer to the archived publication webpage:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121106034103/http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/final-award-geog.htm

Employee Ownership

Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the average annual tax relief to individuals benefiting from employee shareholder status. [179013]

Mr Gauke: Given the range of employees potentially using the employee shareholder status, it is not feasible to determine an estimate for the average annual tax relief to employee shareholders. However, the overall annual cost of the reliefs is estimated at £75 million by 2016-17. It is estimated that some 50,000 to 80,000 individuals could potentially benefit from the income tax and national insurance contributions relief on the acquisition of shares, and that around 20,000 to 40,000 may eventually benefit from the capital gains tax exemption on disposal of the shares.

Estimates of the cost of the tax reliefs associated with the employee shareholder status are as follows and include the cost of both the income tax/national insurance and the capital gains tax exemptions:

 Total (£ million)

2013-14

0

2014-15

-15

2015-16

-45

2016-17

-75

A breakdown of the cost and background information can be found at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tiin/emp-shareholder-status.pdf

Excise Duties: Fuels

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) assessment was made of the UK economy and (b) evidential basis was used in reaching the decision to maintain the fuel duty differential

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between road fuel gases other than LPG autogas and conventional fuels and narrowing the fuel differential between LPG autogas and conventional fuels. [179074]

Nicky Morgan: Autumn statement, 5 December 2013, Official Report, columns 1101-1113, set out a 10 year approach to the taxation of road fuel gases to incentivise the purchase and development of alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles. The economic basis for this is that it will provide businesses with the certainty they need to invest in alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles, supporting the de-carbonisation of the UK transport sector and contribute to reducing the transport fuel costs of businesses. The liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) duty differential will continue to reduce by 1 ppl each year as LPG is not as environmentally beneficial as natural gas. This is a continuation of the approach set out in Budgets 2009 and 2010.

Excise Duties: Tobacco

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer further to the answer of 6 September 2013, Official Report, column 579W, on excise duties: tobacco, whether he has completed his assessment of the implications of Article 4 of Council Decision 2010/12/EU; and what plans HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Force have to enforce compliance with its provisions by travellers. [180368]

Nicky Morgan: The Government are waiting for those member states with excise duty rates on cigarettes currently below the permitted minimum rates applicable from 1 January 2014 to declare what rates they will apply from that date before deciding whether the UK should apply quantitative restrictions on the personal importations of cigarettes from those countries. The UK Border Force will continue to apply intelligence-based checks on persons entering the UK from any member state to which these restrictions apply.

Financial Markets

Mr Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will make an assessment of the potential effect on financial markets of a move to staggering the release of economically sensitive headline data and supporting tables by the Office for National Statistics. [180222]

Nicky Morgan: The arrangements for the release of official statistics are a matter for the independent UK Statistical Authority and the Office for National Statistics. The Government recognise the key issues, noting the response to the recent UKSA proposals, and is confident the statistical authorities will continue to operate to ensure timely and orderly data releases.

Financial Services: Compensation

Guto Bebb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the completion date of the Financial Conduct Authority redress scheme will be; [178989]

(2) what discussions he has had with the banks about completion of the Financial Conduct Authority redress scheme. [178990]

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Sajid Javid: On 6 December, the Financial Conduct Authority published each individual bank's projections for when they expect to finish the redress scheme. The projections show that the banks expect to finish reviewing all cases by June 2014, with some banks likely to complete the scheme before this date.

Treasury Ministers and officials meet with, and receive representations from, a wide range of organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the usual policymaking process. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Treasury's practice to provide details of all such representations.

Free School Meals

Luciana Berger: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his oral statement of 5 December 2013, Official Report, column 1129, from which departmental budget additional funding for free school meals will be taken. [179904]

Danny Alexander [holding answer 12 December 2013]: The Government have delivered a fiscally neutral autumn statement 2013. This includes a reduction in unprotected departmental resource budgets in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and other actions to ensure the Government's priority for a responsible recovery is met.

Details of the measures and their funding are set out in Tables 2.1 and 2.4 of the autumn statement document.

Income Tax

Margaret Curran: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) basic rate, (b) higher rate and (c) additional rate taxpayers there were in total and in each constituent part of the UK in 2012-13. [180230]

Mr Gauke: Estimates of the number of taxpayers at each income tax rate band are published in HMRC’s National Statistics which are available on the internet.

The figures at UK level are published in table 2.1 at the following address:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-statistics/table2-1.pdf

Breakdowns by country and region are published in table 2.2 at the following address:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-statistics/table2-2.pdf

Income Tax: Scotland

Margaret Curran: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of income tax paid by those in Scotland is paid by (a) basic rate, (b) higher rate and (c) additional rate taxpayers. [180229]

Mr Gauke: The proportion of tax liability for taxpayers in Scotland falling within each income tax band is shown in the following table:

Income tax 2010-11, Scotland
Percentage
Taxpayers marginal rateProportion of total income tax liability

Non-higher rate1

56

Higher rate

32

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Additional rate

12

1 The “Non-higher rate” category covers all liabilities at the starting rate, savers rate and the basic rates of tax. Note: These estimates are based on the Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) for 2010-11 which provides the latest outturn data available.

Minimum Wage

George Galloway: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the increase in receipts to the Exchequer from a rise in the minimum wage from £6.31 to £7.65 nationally and to £8.80 in London. [178888]

Mr Gauke: The Treasury has made no such assessment.

The Low Pay Commission reviews the national minimum wage rates and recommends rate uplifts to government on the basis of valued independent judgment and advice.

The Government are committed to the minimum wage because of the protection it provides low paid workers and the incentives to work it provides. It is important that we have a minimum wage that helps as many low paid workers as possible, while at the same time making sure that we do not damage their employment prospects by setting it too high.

The Government are keen that lower paid workers benefit from the strengthening economic recovery. This is why, in September, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills asked the Low Pay Commission to consider the conditions that would need to be in place in order to allow a faster increase in the minimum wage taking into account the implications on employment.

National Insurance Contributions

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 15 October 2013, Official Report, column 632W, on national insurance contributions (NIC), what the total NIC liability was in 2011-12 of the 3.73 million national insurance contributors who earned less than £7,225 in that year. [177828]

Mr Gauke: The 3.73 million national insurance contributors who earned less than £7,225 in 2011-12 had combined class 1 contributions of around £420 million.

Nobody with earnings below £10,000 in 2014-15 pays income tax as a result of this Government's measures.

They pay national insurance contributions because employee national insurance contributions arise separately in each pay period; for example, weekly whenever earnings exceed the equivalent pay period employee threshold.

These estimates are based on a 1% sample of end of year tax returns in respect of the tax year ending 5 April 2012.

Non-domestic Rates

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses in (a) Brighton and Hove and (b) in total will benefit from the full £1,000 business rates discount announced in the autumn statement on 5 December 2013; what his timescale is

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for bringing forward guidance on how the discount will be applied; and if he will make available an online tool for small businesses to calculate what their discount will be under this policy. [178792]

Mr Gauke: The information is as follows:

(a) No estimate has been made of the number of businesses in Brighton and Hove that will benefit from the full £1,000 business rates discount announced in the autumn statement on 5 December 2013.

(b) The Government estimate that around 300,000 retail premises in England will benefit from the £1,000 business rates discount in full or in part. It is not clear how many businesses this equates to as some businesses operate from more than one premises.

The Department of Communities and Local Government will bring forward detailed guidance on eligibility and the calculation of bills early in the new year.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000 there are in (a) City of York, (b) Yorkshire and the Humber and (c) England; and how many of them are used by businesses which trade from (i) only one, (ii) two to four and (iii) five or more retail premises. [178861]

(2) pursuant to the autumn statement, what information his Department holds on the (a) ownership and (b) usage of retail premises with a rateable value of (i) less than and (ii) more than £50,000. [178862]

Mr Gauke: The information is as follows:

(a) No estimate has been made of the number of retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000 in the City of York.

(b) The Government estimate that around 31,000 retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber will benefit from the £1,000 discount announced at autumn statement 2013.

(c) The Government estimate around 300,000 retail premises in England will benefit from the £1,000 business rates discount announced in the autumn statement.

No data are available on how many of them are used by businesses which trade from (i) only one, (ii) two to four and (iii) five or more retail premises. The Treasury does not hold information on ownership or usage of these premises. However, information on property types and average rateable value is publicly available on the VOA website at:

http://www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/Publications/statisticsCentralLocalRating.html

Non-domestic Rates: Norfolk

Mr Bellingham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of businesses in (a) Norfolk and (b) North West Norfolk constituency which will receive the £1,000 discount for retail premises with a rated value of up to £50,000; and if he will make a statement. [178791]

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Mr Gauke: No estimate has been made of the number of businesses in (a) Norfolk and (b) North West Norfolk constituency that will receive the £1,000 discount for retail premises with a rated value of up to £50,000.

The Government estimate that around 300,000 retail premises in England will benefit from the £1,000 business rates discount announced in the autumn statement on 5 December 2013. It is not clear how many businesses this equates to as some businesses operate from more than one premises.

Non-domestic Rates: Yorkshire and the Humber

Andrew Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many small businesses in Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency will benefit from the extension of the small business rate relief scheme to April 2015. [178934]

Mr Gauke: No estimate has been made of the number of small businesses in Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency that will benefit from the extension of the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) scheme.

The Government estimate around 540,000 businesses in England will benefit from the extension of the SBRR announced at autumn statement 2013.

North Sea Oil

John Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Edinburgh South West, of 5 December 2013, Official Report, column 1118, on the Autumn Statement, (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on its forecast for North Sea oil revenues in 2016; [179075]

(2) what assessment he has made of the forecast for North Sea oil revenues made by the Scottish Government; [179076]

(3) if he will publish the advice from the Office for Budget Responsibility regarding its forecast for North Sea oil revenues. [179077]

Nicky Morgan: The Chancellor of the Exchequer has had no discussions with the Scottish Government on its forecast for North sea oil revenues in 2016.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has revised down its forecast for North sea revenues by almost £4 billion over the next three years and by £1.3 billion in 2016-17. Scotland benefits as part of the UK from being able to pool resources and share risks, so instead of needing to cut spending over the next three years as a result of lower oil and gas revenue, the Scottish Government will see a significant rise in their budget.

The OBR published its Economic and Fiscal Outlook on 5 December 2013. This included their forecasts on oil and gas production and prices, which inform their revenue forecasts, and outlined the reasons behind the downward revisions. Their forecast over the next three years is £7 billion lower than the Scottish Government's lowest forecast. The Government have no plans to conduct a separate assessment of the Scottish Government's forecast.

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Revenue and Customs: Newry

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have to visit the HM Revenue and Customs' office in Newry to assess the (i) effectiveness of the service provided and (ii) specialist tax avoidance and tax evasion work undertaken in respect of the construction industry scheme. [179790]

Mr Gauke: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 December 2013, Official Report, column 608W.

I can also confirm there are no plans to make assessment visits. Any visits made to Newry office will be to visit staff during their normal course of business.

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of value of the specialist tax avoidance and tax evasion work undertaken by Newry HM Revenue and Customs office in respect of the construction industry scheme. [179791]

Mr Gauke: HMRC confirms that there is no specialist tax presence in Newry office so that office does not undertake tax avoidance work.

I refer the hon. Member to my previous answer of 28 November 2013, OfficialReport, column 566W, which supplied details of the work items processed by Newry office over the last five tax years. Newry office processes both PAYE and construction industry schemes and as this is one of many offices in HMRC undertaking this work a value could be made available only at disproportionate cost.

Royal Bank of Scotland

Guto Bebb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the evidence given by Dr Mark Carney to the Treasury Select Committee on 26 November 2013; and if he will instruct the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct an inquiry into RBS's treatment of small businesses; [178991]

(2) what assessment he has made of the suitability of Clifford Chance to conduct the internal investigation at RBS following the report made by Lawrence Tomlinson. [179003]

Sajid Javid: The decision to appoint Clifford Chance to conduct an internal investigation at RBS, following the report made by Lawrence Tomlinson on RBS's lending practices, is an internal decision taken independently by RBS.

The Governor of the Bank of England stated in the evidence he provided to the Treasury Select Committee on 26 November that it is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to conduct an investigation into the allegations surrounding RBS's lending practices and treatment of small businesses. The FCA has considered the reports published by Sir Andrew Large and, separately, by Dr Lawrence Tomlinson into banks’ treatment of customers in financial difficulty.

These were not Government reports, however they are serious allegations. The FCA has agreed with RBS that an independent skilled person will be appointed under FCA powers to review the allegations in the

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reports against RBS's practices. If the findings from the review reveal issues which come within the FCA's remit, the FCA will consider further regulatory measures.

Tax Allowances: Pensioners

Julian Sturdy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to mitigate the effect of the freeze on age-related tax allowances on pensioners. [178906]

Nicky Morgan: The Government remain committed to supporting pensioners. No pensioner will pay more tax this year than they did last year as a direct result of the freeze of age-related allowances. Pensioners not receiving age-related allowances will benefit from the Government's income tax cuts just as working age taxpayers.

The Government have introduced a triple guarantee for the basic state pension and also protected key benefits that make a real difference to the lives of millions of pensioners every day.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to answer question 177828 from the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland tabled on 26 November 2013. [180171]

Mr Gauke: I have done so today.

Communities and Local Government

Army: Germany

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 11 November 2013, Official Report, column 412W, on Army: Germany, what meetings he, Ministers and Officials in his Department have had with counterparts in (a) the Ministry of Defence and (b) the Department for Education on the effect of re-basing on the local authorities in which (i) Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, (ii) Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore and (iii) Imjin Barracks, Gloucester are situated. [179998]

Brandon Lewis: Ministers and Officials within the Department for Communities and Local Government regularly meet colleagues from other Departments to discuss a range of matters.

Council Tax

Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2013, Official Report, column 578W, on council tax, what the level of total arrears of council tax outstanding as of March 2013 was in each local billing authority in England. [166050]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 18 July 2013]:I have placed in the Library of the House, a table showing the total council tax arrears as of 31 March 2013 for each billing authority in England; to assist public scrutiny,

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the table also includes total arrears per dwelling and the in-year council tax collection rate. The table shows that councils have failed to collect £2.4 billion of council tax, which is equivalent to £102 for every household in England.

The worst council in England is Liverpool with £528 of arrears per dwelling; the best is Amber Valley with just £13 per dwelling.

In our best practice document, "50 ways to save", we listed improving council tax collection rates, and reducing arrears as a key way of making sensible savings to help keep overall council tax bills down and protect frontline services. Every penny of council tax that is not collected means a higher council tax for the law-abiding citizen who does pay on time.

It is important that councils are sympathetic to those in genuine hardship, are proportionate in enforcement and do not overuse bailiffs. However, these figures show that there is a significant source of income for councils, which councils across the country could use to support frontline service or freeze council tax bills.

Curzon Institute

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2013, Official Report, column 157W, on the Curzon Institute, how much his Department is paying the Curzon Institute under this contract. [180226]

Stephen Williams: The Department for Communities and Local Government has agreed to pay £125,000 in total to the Curzon Institute in 2013-14. This is being paid in instalments. This will be paid as a grant, under section 70 of the Charities Act 2011.

More information about the project can be found on my Department’s website at:

www.gov.uk/government/news/commonwealth-contribution-to-first-world-war-to-be-commemorated

Enterprise Zones

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many jobs have been created to date at each enterprise zone; and how many jobs are currently based at each enterprise zone; [179936]

(2) how many firms are currently based at each enterprise zone; and how many firms have begun occupying premises at each enterprise zone since each zone began operation. [179937]

Kris Hopkins: Enterprise zones are about delivering long term, sustainable growth. Since they opened for business in April 2012, they have laid down the foundations of their success, attracting 212 businesses and international investment, securing £500 million of private sector investment and creating nearly 5,000 jobs.

Fire Services: Cambridgeshire

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has had discussions with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire and Rescue Authority on

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submitting auditable data to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in a timely fashion; and if he will make a statement. [179067]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 12 December 2013]:I have had no discussions with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire and Rescue Authority with regard to submitting auditable data to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in a timely fashion. However, I understand from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire and Rescue Authority was the only authority in England not to submit data in both 2012 and 2013. In a letter dated 7 November to the chairman of the authority, I highlighted the importance of these data to enable comparisons to be made between different authorities' performance.

Floods

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what help his Department is providing to local authorities affected by the recent flooding. [180309]

Brandon Lewis: On 6 December the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government activated the Bellwin Scheme to reimburse local authorities for their immediate costs caused by the storm surges and flooding on 5 and 6 December 2013. The Department is currently working and meeting with local authorities to assess the impacts of floods.

India

Mrs Glindon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of his Department's officials accompanied him on his visit to India in 2013; and what the total cost was of (a) travel, (b) accommodation and (c) expenses for each such individual. [177193]

Brandon Lewis: The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was accompanied by one private secretary on his trade visit to India. The total costs for this individual were as follows:

 Cost

Travel (£)

3,493.60

Accommodation (Indian rupees1)

17,633.20

Expenses

0

1 Approximately £204 based on the exchange rate at the time that the payment was made.

I would refer the hon. Member to the speech by the Prime Minister in July 2010 on the case for greater engagement and co-operation between the United Kingdom and India. As he stated:

“I want to take the relationship between India and Britain to the next level. I want to make it stronger, wider, and deeper... India represents an enormous opportunity for British companies; already our trade relationship is worth £11.5 billion a year, but I want us to go further. India plans to invest $500 billion in infrastructure in the coming years. That is, of course, good for Indian business but it is also a chance for British companies to generate growth.”

16 Dec 2013 : Column 443W

Internet

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether access to any websites or domains is blocked from computers in his Department; and if he will publish a list of all such websites and domains to which access is prohibited. [178497]

Brandon Lewis: There is no specific list of blocked websites to publish. Rather, my Department uses a web protection tool that intelligently filters or blocks access to types of inappropriate content.

For example, this includes blocking the likes of malware, botnets, keyloggers, phishing, spyware, spam, exploits, excessive bandwidth such as peer-to-peer file sharing, as well as not-suitable-for-work content including music download services, drugs, pornography, gambling and computer games. This reflects common practice in a business environment.

Notwithstanding, I would note that under the last Labour Government, the Department blocked all access to the Daily Star website. Reflecting our commitment to an independent free press, we have lifted this state censorship.

Local Government: Co-operation

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he will publish the report by his Department on the monitoring of the duty to cooperate. [178721]

Nick Boles: The changes we introduced in the Localism Act 2011 require all local authorities to report regularly on actions they have taken locally on planning, including on the duty to cooperate, and removed top down national monitoring. Local authorities provide this information locally through their Authority Monitoring Reports.

Local Government: Publicity

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities are currently in breach of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity. [180173]

Brandon Lewis: I refer the right hon. Member to my answer of 21 November 2013, Official Report, column 980W, which outlines the local authorities which are still publishing municipal newspapers more frequently than the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity recommends.

Further to my answer of 14 February 2013, Official Report, columns 839-40W, I continue to have serious concerns about the mismanagement of public funds by the London borough of Tower Hamlets. I understand further complaints are being investigated by Ofcom (although Ofcom has no power to take action against the council, only the broadcasters).

This is not a comprehensive list—from time to time, I have been made aware of instances where councils have published publicity at taxpayers’ expense which is clearly in breach of the code.

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The provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill will help discourage such abuse of taxpayers’ money and defend the independent free press from unfair municipal competition.

Local Government: Tower Hamlets

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 26 November 2013, Official Report, column 167W, on local government: Tower Hamlets, if he will place in the Library all responses his Department received from councils on that consultation document. [179573]

Brandon Lewis: I have placed in the Library of the House, a copy of the Government's response to the consultation on "Protecting the Independent Press from Unfair Competition" which outlines the divergent views of councils and representatives of independent newspapers.

Non-domestic Rates

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when his Department next plans to review the rating of plant and machinery for the purposes of business rates. [180425]

Brandon Lewis: Business rates are a devolved matter and in Wales are the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government.

The rating of plant and machinery was last reviewed in the 1990s by the Wood Committee whose recommendations put in place a fair and stable system for the rating of plant and machinery. This system has been tested in the courts and is now widely understood and respected. Accordingly, we have no plans to examine the rating of plant and machinery although we continue to keep the business rates system under review.

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the value of receipts in each of the last five financial years from the additional premium applied to automatic fire sprinkler systems as part of plant and machinery valuations for the purposes of business rates is. [180529]

Brandon Lewis: Business rates are a devolved matter and in Wales are the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Department does not hold information on the amount of business rates paid in respect of automatic fire sprinkler systems.

Non-domestic Rates: Shops

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to support the economy by reducing rates of high street shopping in towns. [180034]

Brandon Lewis: The Government have just announced a range of powerful new measures to provide the tools for the public and private sectors to transform their town centres for their local communities in England. These include the biggest business rates support package for over 20 years, banning CCTV for parking and

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allowing residents and firms to review parking policies, a freeze on parking penalty charges, a review of business improvement districts, consultations on new permitted development rights, further planning simplification, a call for evidence on red tape, and support for the digital high streets. The devolved Administrations have developed their own approaches to town centres and as part of the autumn statement will receive their share of the business rates package funding according to the Barnett formula.

This is on top of a range of other measure we have taken to help high streets: £2.3 million to support the Portas pilots, £10 million from the High Street Innovation Fund to support 100 towns with the highest empty property rates and those affected by the riots, a £500,000 loan fund for new business improvement districts and funding and support to over 330 more town teams across the country.

Planning Permission: Appeals

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations his Department has received from local authorities about delays by the Planning Inspectorate in determining appeals. [179475]

Nick Boles: The Planning Inspectorate has received just two representations in the last six months.

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 3 December 2013, Official Report, column 632W, on steps we are taking to facilitate quicker decision making.

Right to Buy Scheme

Lucy Powell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many owner-occupied homes (a) nationally and (b) in Greater Manchester have received direct mail regarding the Right to Buy scheme since May 2010; and if he will estimate the cost to the public purse of sending such letters; [177951]

(2) how much his Department has spent on producing and sending direct mail regarding the Right to Buy scheme to homes (a) nationally, (b) in Greater Manchester and (c) in the Manchester Central constituency since May 2010. [177952]

Kris Hopkins: The Department for Communities and Local Government is committed to ensuring eligible tenants have information about their right to buy, so they can make an informed decision about whether it is the right choice for them. Direct marketing to social housing tenants who could be eligible for the scheme is the most effective way to reach them with this information.

The Department does not hold any data on the names and addresses of social housing tenants and therefore we cannot precisely identify those who may be eligible for the Right to Buy scheme. The postcodes and addresses were selected using long-established direct marketing targeting techniques to refine the data and make sure they were as accurate as possible. Throughout only the best data sources were selected for use in the next burst to ensure continuous improvement.

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The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with very high levels of responses from eligible tenants wanting to find out more about the scheme. The mailings included an eligibility criteria checker to enable tenants to 'self-select' thereby ensuring higher quality responses.

Clearly, the right to buy can only be exercised by eligible tenants if they know about it, can check their eligibility and have sufficient information about their right to buy. Landlords have a statutory duty to inform their tenants about the changes. However, the Department's research in 2003 on previous changes to the scheme in 1999, for example, suggested that only a third of tenants were aware of those changes.

Direct marketing costs since May 2010
 £

2011-12

0

2012-13

311,618

2013-14

295,705

A total of £219 million has been generated from additional sales receipts since April 2012, which is being put directly into providing new affordable houses for rent.

Mailings have been sent to households in Manchester over two years (80,000 sent in November 2012 and 52,000 in November 2013) which has cost approximately £22,000 in total. The Manchester postcodes included in the mailing are: M1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 11 to 16, 18 to23, and 40.

To place this spending on marketing advertising in context, DCLG has cut spending on marketing advertising from £9.9 million in 2009-10 to £2.4 million in 2012-13.

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of right-to-buy leaseholders who regret their purchase because of the need to implement costly repairs; [179829]

(2) what guidance his Department offers right-to-buy leaseholders on steps to take to be informed of ongoing costs associated with their property. [179830]

Kris Hopkins: DCLG does not hold this information. Right to buy has given generations of social tenants the opportunity to fulfil their homeownership aspirations, and this Government have been clear that right-to-buy applicants must be provided with clear advice on both the benefits and responsibilities that homeownership brings. Our right-to-buy booklets: “Want to make your home your own?” and “Thinking of buying your council flat?” provide tenants with advice and tools to help them work out the costs of homeownership. The booklets are available for free from social landlords or they can be downloaded at:

http://righttobuy.communities.gov.uk/howtoapply/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thinking-of-buying-your-council-flat--2

The Housing Act 1985 contains a number of duties on social housing landlords in respect to supporting potential right-to-buy leaseholders. Social housing landlords must provide all tenants with a document containing information to assist the tenant in making their decision, including on leaseholder responsibilities. As part of the offer notice to a right-to-buy applicant, landlords must also provide an estimate of service charges for the first five-years of ownership.

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The hon. Member may also be interested to note that the Department is currently considering the responses to our recent consultation on proposals to cap leaseholder charges at £10,000 outside London, and £15,000 in London, where the works to tenanted homes receive future Government funding. I would expect social landlords to ensure that leaseholder charges are always proportionate and rational, and deliver good value for money.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Pollution: Greater London

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department expects air quality standards in central London to comply with UK and EU legal requirements. [179072]

Dan Rogerson: Central London is compliant with the majority of UK and EU standards for air pollution.

Meeting EU standards for nitrogen dioxide remains a challenge for many large urban areas in the UK and across Europe. In 2011 DEFRA submitted estimates of the year each part of the UK would meet these standards to the European Commission. These estimated that London would be compliant by 2025. The assumptions behind our projections are regularly reviewed to reflect new understanding and we expect to have new projections available in 2014.

London is expected to be compliant with limit values for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 2020 when all the limit values for this pollutant come into force.

Central London is compliant with the ozone target value for health but currently exceeds the (non-mandatory) long-term objective for this pollutant, and no projections are available for when we expect it to meet this objective. Central London is compliant with the EU target value for benzo[a]pyrene, but does not currently meet the (non-mandatory) national objective for this pollutant as set out in the Air Quality Strategy 2007.

Animal Housing: Quarantine

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many boarding establishments are licensed as quarantine kennels in (a) England and (b) Wales; and if he will make a statement. [178928]

George Eustice: There are eight licensed quarantine kennels in England and none in Wales.

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many kennel spaces there are in quarantine kennels in (a) England and (b) Wales; and if he will make a statement. [178929]

George Eustice: There are 225 kennel spaces in quarantine kennels in England (note that some units can take up to three pets belonging to the same owner). There are no kennel spaces in Wales.

16 Dec 2013 : Column 448W

Bovine Tuberculosis

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people granted licences to take part in the pilot badger culls had previous convictions for firearms or wildlife offences. [178672]

George Eustice: At the time of confirming the additional authorised persons to act under the pilot culling licences, granted for west Gloucester and west Somerset, there were no declared previous convictions for wildlife offences. Firearms offences are not known by Natural England and are the responsibility of relevant local police authorities.

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what checks were carried out on the suitability to use firearms of individuals applying for licences to participate in the pilot badger culls. [178673]

George Eustice: All persons authorised to act under the badger control culling licences attended and passed a Government approved training course. Any firearms certificate amendments were then considered and made by the relevant local police authority for each individual contractor using a rifle.

Mr Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), of 18 November 2013, Official Report, column 714W, on bovine tuberculosis, for what reasons tests for tuberculosis were not carried out as part of all post-mortem examination of badgers shot during culls; what the results were of the few tests carried out at the specific request of landowners; and if he will consider carrying out TB tests in culled badgers as a matter of course. [179924]

George Eustice: Testing badgers for infection with M. bovis was one of the elements investigated during the randomised badger culling trial. This yielded evidence on the typical prevalence of TB in badgers in areas of high TB incidence. The purpose of the pilots was to test our assumptions that controlled shooting can be carried out safely, humanely and effectively. It was not intended to repeat gathering evidence to quantify TB incidence in badgers, because we know that M. bovis is prevalent in badger populations in the high risk areas.

The results for the tests on badger carcasses that were tested on occasion at the specific request of landowners figures are being withheld at present under regulation 12(5)(c), intellectual property.

We do not intend carrying out routine testing of badgers during culls.

Common Agricultural Policy

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department will set out plans to support environmentally friendly farming following reform of the common agricultural policy. [179004]

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George Eustice: A successor to the current environmental stewardship scheme is being developed as part of the next Rural Development programme (pillar two of the common agricultural policy (CAP)). Our plans for the new environmental land management scheme have formed part of the recent consultation on implementation of CAP reform in England, which closed on 28 November. The responses to that consultation are currently under consideration.

We are also considering how best to implement in England the new greening requirements for introduction as part of pillar one CAP arrangements and will be announcing our conclusions shortly.

Environmental Stewardship Scheme

Justin Tomlinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to support farm environment schemes. [179005]

George Eustice: The current Rural Development Programme for England, which provides funding for our current agri-environment schemes, will close on 31 December this year. The next Rural Development Programme is not however due to begin until 2015. During the transitional year between the two programmes, funding for our schemes will continue, as announced on 5 July.

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A new scheme to replace the current Environmental Stewardship and English Woodland Grant schemes should be available in 2015, as set out in the recent consultation on implementation of Common Agricultural Policy Reform in England, which closed on 28 November. The responses to that consultation are currently under consideration.