20 Mar 2014 : Column 665W

20 Mar 2014 : Column 665W

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 20 March 2014

Prime Minister

Former Ministers: Business Interests

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Prime Minister whether the appointment of the hon. Member for Wealden as (a) a consultant to Vitol Group and (b) a senior adviser to Atlantic Supergrid Corporation Ltd were considered by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments; and whether any conditions were imposed by the Advisory Committee on either such appointment. [192093]

The Prime Minister: In accordance with the requirements set out in the Ministerial Code, the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) provides advice direct to former Ministers about any appointments or employment they wish to take up within two years of leaving office. Details about the ACoBA's advice is published on its website when appointments are taken up or announced.

Communities and Local Government

Affordable Housing: Disability

Mr Sutcliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether he has any plans to amend the operation or rules of the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities scheme to make it more responsive to the delays and logistical challenges of selling property as part of the scheme for the purposes of ensuring those who access the scheme as owner-occupiers in housing need are not disadvantaged; [192402]

(2) what proportion of people who have sought to access the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities scheme as owner-occupiers in housing need, have been unable to complete the process of moving to a new property due to the delays and logistical challenges of selling their property as part of accessing the scheme since the inception of the scheme; [192420]

(3) what proportion of people who have been provided with assistance through the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities scheme have been owner-occupiers in housing need rather than first-time buyers to date. [192419]

Kris Hopkins: This Government are committed to promoting choice and providing housing opportunities for people with long-term disabilities, enabling them to live independent lives. We have no immediate plans to amend the operation or rules around the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities scheme.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 666W

As with all home purchases, choice and speed of completion may be impacted by the number of providers and the availability of suitable properties in a particular area.

We do not retain information concerning unsuccessful applications for the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities scheme. However, between 2007-08 and 2012-13, 160 sales by private registered providers were recorded under the scheme. Of these, 150 purchasers were first-time buyers. We do not hold information on sales by local authorities.

The Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme gives people the opportunity to a new build property with just a 5% deposit. In Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced the extension of the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme to 2020, investing a further £6 billion to help 120,000 more households to purchase a home.

Census

Simon Danczuk: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what monitoring mechanisms his Department uses to inform policy making and priority setting to reduce inequalities for ethnic communities not recognised on the national census. [192347]

Stephen Williams: The Department for Communities and Local Government considers equality issues in exercising its functions, including in setting priorities within its budget, in order to comply with equality legislation and to ensure it understands how its activities will affect specific groups in society. It takes a proportionate approach to assessing equality which is properly considered from the outset with a simple audit trail.

The Government are clear that producing formal equality impact assessment documents is not required in order to ensure compliance with the legal responsibility to consider equality impacts.

In February 2012, DCLG published “Creating the conditions for integration” setting out our approach to achieving a more integrated society. Together with the Equality Strategy and the Social Mobility Strategy this is a three-part approach to tackling disadvantage and inequality across all communities.

Council Tax Reduction Schemes: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in (a) Denton and Reddish constituency, (b) Tameside Metropolitan Borough and (c) Stockport Metropolitan Borough are (i) entitled to and (ii) receiving council tax relief. [192154]

Brandon Lewis: The Department has published experimental statistics which show the number of claimants receiving council tax support in 2013-14. These statistics are produced using information provided by local authorities on the Revenue Budget returns. No figures are available for parliamentary constituencies.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 667W

Local authorityNumber of pensioners in receipt of council tax supportNumber of working age claimants in receipt of council tax supportTotal number of claimants in receipt of council tax support

Stockport

11,431

12,986

24,417

Tameside1

1 Tameside did not complete this section of their return so no figures are available for this area.

These statistics are also available on the Department's website via the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/257016/RA_2013-14_LCTS_Publication.xls

Spending on council tax benefit doubled under the last Government, costing taxpayers. £4 billion a year—equivalent to almost £180 a year per household. Welfare reform is vital to tackle the budget deficit left by the last Administration. Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people into work. We are ending the last Administration's “something for nothing” culture and making work pay.

Green Belt: Yorkshire and the Humber

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of planning applications to build on sites in (a) Yorkshire and Humber and (b) Brigg and Goole constituency involved building on designated green belt land in the last period for which figures are available. [192395]

Nick Boles: Information on the proportion of planning applications which involved building on land in the green belt is not centrally available.

Housing: Construction

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many houses have been started in each English local authority area since March 2010; and what proportion of existing housing stock these represented. [192102]

Kris Hopkins: My Department publishes historic figures for house building starts by district, at Live Tables 253 and 253a, which can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building

Historic dwelling stock estimates, by district, can be found at Live Table 125:

www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

The underlying information is thus reasonably accessible for any further analysis that the hon. Member may wish to undertake.

Landlords

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will introduce a national register of landlords; and what steps his Department is taking to make it easier for local authorities to introduce a licensing scheme for landlords. [192129]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 668W

Kris Hopkins: The overwhelming majority of landlords provide a good service and the Government do not want to impose unnecessary additional costs on them. We have no plans to introduce a national register which would be a financial burden on all landlords estimated at £40 million per year. Those costs would be passed on to tenants through higher rents. Local authorities can already introduce a licensing scheme where an area is suffering from antisocial behaviour and/or low housing demand. We recently published a discussion paper, “Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector”, which invited views on ways in which licensing can be made more effective and proportionate.

Local Government Finance: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much and what proportion of (a) council tax and (b) business rates was uncollected by each of the metropolitan districts in the county of Greater Manchester in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [192150]

Brandon Lewis: Information on collection rates of council tax and business rates for the financial years 2008-09 to 2012-13 for each local authority in England has been published on the DCLG website at the following locations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/council-tax-statistics

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121108165934/http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/collectionrates200809

The figures show the amounts of tax collected within each year related to that year's liability, as a proportion of the net collectable debit for that year (for example, the proportion of the 2012-13 collectable debit actually collected during 2012-13). Collection of tax continues after the end of the year, so the eventual collection rates will be higher than those shown.

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.

Local Government: Disclosure of Information

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will take steps to ensure that the minutes of the board meetings of (a) external organisations, (b) trusts and (c) other arm's length companies operating public services on behalf of local authorities are made available for public scrutiny. [192136]

Brandon Lewis: The Government have no plans to require all companies who do business with local authorities to publish minutes of their board meetings.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 669W

However, we encourage all councils to be transparent about the services provided for them by the private sector. Through our revised transparency code for local authorities to be published shortly, we plan to increase transparency about the receipt of public money by private companies, by requiring local authorities to publish all spending over £500 and all contracts over £5,000.

We also plan to consult on increasing financial transparency for companies and other entities which an authority owns or has a significant influence over.

The Government also intend to issue a revised Code of Practice for all public authorities (under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act) to promote openness about contracted out public services, including through the use and enforcement of contractual transparency provisions.

Local Government: Publicity

Mr Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when all publications and literature, including press releases and statements made by officials on behalf of his Department will be politically impartial in accordance with the principles and requirements of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity. [191298]

Brandon Lewis: Departmental publications and press releases on www.gov.uk already follow the comparable guidance for central Government, including (i) the Cabinet Office's Propriety Guidance which covers political activity and paid publicity and (ii) the prevailing purdah guidance issued by the Cabinet Secretary on publicity during election and referendum periods.

The Cabinet Office has also published specific guidance to non-departmental public bodies prohibiting the hiring of lobbyists to lobby Government, and which addresses inappropriate attendance at party conferences and advertising.

Mayors: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what his policy is on the introduction of an elected mayor for the Greater Manchester combined authority. [192134]

Brandon Lewis: In our White Paper response to Lord Heseltine's report on promoting economic growth, we stated that we would seek legislation for mayors of conurbations, such as Greater Manchester, where the councils concerned wanted this; no councils have asked for this.

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre has billed the Government for use of the centre and associated facilities in the last financial year. [191957]

Brandon Lewis: In 2012-13, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre charged public sector clients (including central Government, the NHS and local government) a total of £540,562, excluding VAT, for room hire and conference facilities. Such usage reflects the limited

20 Mar 2014 : Column 670W

availability of high quality venues in Westminster which can take conferences or gatherings with a large number of attendees, and significant clients include the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Parliamentary Estates Directorate.

Such public sector spending has fallen in recent years, due to stricter spending controls in central Government. For example, the comparative figures for the last Administration were £1.8 million in 2007-08, £1.7 million in 2008-09 and £1.7 million in 2009-10. In 2012-13, Government bookings accounted for just 5% of its revenue.

I would note that the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre is a trading fund. Part of the trading fund surplus is returned to the Exchequer, and it contributed £2.3 million to the Exchequer in 2012-13.

Road Signs and Markings

Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department issues to local authorities on the use of apostrophes on street signs. [192617]

Brandon Lewis: Recent press reports have highlighted there is a misconception in some parts of local government that there is a requirement to remove apostrophes from street names and street signs. This is not the case; I can confirm that there is no Whitehall rule or Brussels diktat demanding the abolition of the English apostrophe.

I understand this may stem from a misunderstanding of guidance issued by the Geoplace National Land and Property Gazetteer which is overseen by local government. However, Geoplace has confirmed that it does not require councils to remove apostrophes either—councils can continue to use apostrophes and punctuation if they are used in the official street name.

In turn, street names may not be changed unilaterally. Acts of Parliament have required the consent of local people before a street name can be changed. For example, extant legislation in the form of section 21 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 states that councils cannot change a formal street name without the consent of two-thirds of the street's ratepayers.

One of the spurious reasons for abolishing apostrophes has been the suggestion that they may cause confusion for emergency services' IT systems. If mankind can put a man on the moon, split the atom and decode the double helix, then I am sure it is not beyond the reach of 21st century technology to have a sat-nav which can understand an apostrophe.

While street naming is ultimately a matter for local councils, Ministers' view is that both England's apostrophes and grammar should be cherished. If an apostrophe is good enough for Her Majesty's Government, so should it be for local councils.

While we would not go as far as endorsing the “grammar guerrillas” who recently re-inserted the missing punctuation on Cambridge city council's dumbed-down street signs (defacing a street sign is an offence under the 1907 Act), we would encourage residents to defend their traditional place names from over-zealous municipal pen pushers. I hope the guidance in this answer assists the worthy cause of common sense.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 671W

Smoke Alarms

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate he has made of the average cost to the owner of a domestic dwelling of damage caused by fire in a property that (a) has and (b) does not have a smoke alarm; [192096]

(2) what estimate he has made of the average cost to (a) the fire and rescue service, (b) the ambulance service and (c) the police service of responding to a fire incident in a domestic dwelling (i) with and (ii) without a smoke alarm. [192098]

Brandon Lewis: The Department does not hold this information.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Register: Lancashire

Graham Jones: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the electoral registration figures were in each ward in the recent confirmation dry run conducted in (a) Lancashire county council and (b) Hyndburn constituency. [191315]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that the confirmation dry run involved matching all entries on the electoral registers against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Customer Information System database. Entries would be marked as green if they matched with DWP, amber if they were a partial match or red if there was no match.

It is not possible to provide results for the divisions used by Lancashire county council area as the matching was carried out using the district councils' electoral wards. However, the table for all the wards within the district authorities in the Lancashire county council area and the table for Hyndburn constituency have been deposited in the House of Commons' Library.

Results for all wards are available on the Commission's website here:

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/excel_doc/0003/163146/Confirmation-dry-run-2013-Results-Wards.xls


















Work and Pensions

Children: Maintenance

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2014, Official Report, column 316W, on children: maintenance, in how many cases within the Child Support Agency collection service, excluding those with a deduction from earnings order, the agency was notified of a missed child maintenance payment in the quarter up to and including December 2013; and in what proportion of such cases the non-resident parent was contacted by the agency within 72 hours. [192436]

Steve Webb: There are currently three statutory maintenance schemes. The 1993 and 2003 schemes are delivered by the Child Support Agency and the 2012 scheme is delivered by the Child Maintenance Service.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 672W

In all schemes, our aim is to act within 72 hours of when we are notified of a missed payment where there is a current liability. The notification trigger comes after a five-day tolerance period of a missed payment. This tolerance period is to allow for issues which may have caused the missed payment to be resolved (ie clearances through bank accounts) without the need for our intervention. While this trigger is built into the design for the 2012 system, there is no comparable automated process for the 1993 and 2003 systems.

As such, information on (a) the number of notifications of a missed child maintenance payment in cases within the Child Support Agency collection service and (b) the proportion of such cases where the non-resident parent was contacted by the Agency within 72 hours is not available as it is not routinely recorded for management information purposes. To provide this information would require the creation of new information which could be completed and appropriately assured only at a disproportionate cost.

Jobseeker's Allowance: Scotland

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was paid in jobseeker's allowance to recipients in (a) Scotland and (b) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency in the last 12 months. [192485]

Esther McVey: The amount paid in jobseeker's allowance in 2012-13 can be found in the following table.

2012-13JSA (£ million)

Scotland

478

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

12

Note: Expenditure is shown for the last complete financial year. The benefit expenditure for jobseeker's allowance can be found in the parliamentary constituency tables as per link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266825/pc-tables-201213.xls Source: DWP statistical data

Social Rented Housing: Disability

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was paid in service charges to housing associations for adaptations to accommodation for disabled tenants in the last year for which figures are available. [192422]

Esther McVey: The information requested is not available. Information about service charges paid by all tenants is not collected.

Eligible service charges for housing benefit would not include the cost of making an adaptation.

Social Security Benefits: Scotland

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was paid in disability living allowance and personal independence payments to recipients in (a) Scotland and (b) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency in the last 12 months. [192484]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 673W

Mike Penning: The amount paid in disability living allowance in 2012-13 can be found in the following table.

As personal independence payment was only introduced in April 2013 there was no expenditure in 2012-13.

Disability living allowance 2012-13
 £ million

Scotland

1,450

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

29

Note: Expenditure is shown for the last complete financial year. The benefit expenditure for disability living allowance can be found in the parliamentary constituency tables as per link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266825/pc-tables-201213.xls Source: DWP statistical data.

Statutory Sick Pay

Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on the ability of older and disabled workers to find work as a result of the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme for recovering statutory sick pay. [192157]

Mike Penning: The statutory sick pay percentage threshold scheme is not linked to finding work, rather it compensates employers with high levels of sickness absence. An independent review of sickness absence1 found that this scheme does nothing to tackle the causes of absence. As a result, the Government accepted a recommendation in the review to abolish the percentage threshold scheme. The Government also accepted a recommendation to establish a service (now known as the Health and Work Service) to offer specialist occupational health assessment and advice to employers, employees and GPs. The service is designed to reduce the costs of sickness absence for employers by addressing the issues preventing a return to work, and supporting employees back to work as quickly as appropriate.

We consider that the creation of the Health and Work Service, funded by the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme, will enable sickness absence to be better managed and improve the employment prospects of all employees, including older and disabled workers.

1 Black, C. and Frost, D (2011) Health at work-and independent review of sickness absence.

Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on the ability of small businesses to manage sickness absence of abolishing the percentage threshold scheme for recovering statutory sick pay. [192158]

Mike Penning: The SSP percentage threshold scheme compensates employers with high levels of sickness absence but an independent review of sickness absence1 found it does nothing to tackle the causes of absence. As a result, the Government accepted a recommendation in the review to abolish the percentage threshold scheme. The Government also accepted a recommendation to establish a service (now known as the Health and Work Service) to offer specialist occupational health assessment and advice to employers, employees and GPs. The service

20 Mar 2014 : Column 674W

is designed to reduce the costs of sickness absence for employers by addressing the obstacles preventing a return to work, and supporting employees back to work as quickly as appropriate. It will be funded from the savings made from the abolition of the PTS and will provide a more proactive way to manage sickness absence.

Small businesses are least likely to have access to occupational health services, and will benefit from having access to occupational health assessments and advice through the HWS.

1 Black, C. and Frost, D (2011) “Health at work—and independent review of sickness absence”.

Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on alternative models of compensating small businesses for sickness absence after the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme for recovering statutory sick pay. [192167]

Mike Penning: The Government believe that reinvesting savings from the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme to establish the Health and Work Service is the most effective means of targeting public funds to tackle sickness absence. The Health and Work Service will reduce the length of sickness absence and offers a more proactive approach to sickness absence management. Small businesses are least likely to have access to occupational health services, and will benefit from having access to occupational health assessments and advice through the Health and Work Service.

We have considered an alternative approach along the lines of restricting access to a reimbursement scheme to employers with fewer than five employees. However, this was discounted because it resulted in additional burdens on employers and additional statutory sick pay reimbursement costs for the state.

Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the additional cost to small businesses of abolishing the percentage threshold scheme for recovering statutory sick pay. [192168]

Mike Penning: The Department for Work and Pensions has published an impact assessment outlining the abolition of the percentage threshold scheme (PTS) and introduction of the new provision of health assessments and occupational health advice available at the following link:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2014/9780111108468/impacts

House of Commons Commission

Support: Hon. Members

9. Mr Sheerman: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps he is taking to improve the support available to hon. Members. [903162]

John Thurso: The fundamental aims of the Commission are not only to ensure that the House is valued and effective in holding the Government to account and scrutinising legislation, but that individual Members have the information, advice, support and technology they need to be effective in their work and to engage closely with their constituents.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 675W

We are coming to the end of a programme of savings, during which the governing principle has been that any cost reductions should not adversely affect the ability of the House and its Members to carry out their parliamentary functions. Indeed many of the changes have been a spur to innovation in the support available to Members. Now that we are on track to achieve the savings target, we have the opportunity to re-appraise the provision of resources and ensure, for example in the area of Select Committees, that we are providing the right level of support.

Security

Mr Hollobone: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross representing the House of Commons Commission, how many passes for entry into the Commons estate (a) are in issue and (b) were lost in 2013. [192418]

John Thurso: On 18 March there were some 14,700 Palace of Westminster passes in issue. During 2013, 523 passes were reported lost or stolen.

When a pass is reported lost or stolen it is deactivated immediately.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Burma

Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on an independent investigation into human rights abuses in Burma. [R] [192201]

Mr Swire: It is the Government's position that allegations of human rights abuses must be dealt with immediately through a credible, independent and transparent investigative and prosecutorial process that meets international standards. We have made our views clear to the Burmese Government and will continue to do so.

Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Burmese counterpart on ensuring that the upcoming census will not further endanger the Rohingya communities and any other minority groups in Burma. [R] [192202]

Mr Swire: During my visit to Burma, 28-30 January 2014, I raised the British Government's deep concerns about the situation in Rakhine State and discussed the census and its associated risks with Minister in the President's Office U Soe Thane. I also discussed the census with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Burmese Minister for National Planning, U Kan Zaw, visited London 10-13 March: in separate meetings the Minister of State, Department for International Development, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr Duncan) and my noble Friend, the Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Baroness Warsi, reiterated the importance of pursuing urgent action in Rakhine State to protect the human rights of the Rohingya community.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 676W

The UK is a lead donor to the census; we have been working with other donors, the Burmese Government and the UN to manage and mitigate the risks, to ensure as peaceful, credible and complete a process as possible. In January, our ambassador discussed the census with ethnic armed group leaders in Chiang Mai. The Head of DFID Burma accompanied the Burmese Minister for Immigration and Population on a visit to Rakhine State in February to discuss the census with the Rohingya and Rakhine communities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Director for Asia Pacific and the British ambassador discussed the census with Rohingya leaders on 18 March.

Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Burma. [R] [192203]

Mr Swire: As I set out in my statement following the UN Special Rapporteur's report to the Human Rights Council on 17 March, we assess that the Burmese Government continues to make encouraging progress across a range of human rights issues. We have seen further releases of political prisoners, ceasefire agreements signed with 10 major ethnic armed groups, the easing of media restrictions and commitments in support of the advancement of women.

However, many challenges remain, notably in Rakhine and Kachin States. We urge the Government to address the underlying causes of these conflicts to find a long term solution that will bring peace and reconciliation. We are also concerned that individuals remain in prison whose status is disputed. We urge continued dialogue between the Government and civil society to resolve these remaining cases as a matter of urgency.

The situation in Rakhine State remains of the most serious concern, highlighted most recently by allegations of killings of Rohingya in Du Chee Yar Tan on 13 January 2014. We continue to urge the Burmese Government to deal with allegations of human rights abuses through a credible and transparent investigative and prosecutorial process that meets international standards. We remain particularly concerned about the intimidation of humanitarian workers and the recent constraints around, and threat of expulsion of, Médecins Sans Frontières from Rakhine State, which risks severely affecting the provision of health care in the state.

It has also been over 18 months since President Thein Sein committed to open an in-country Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights. An Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) would allow for more constructive relations between the international community and the Government on human rights. We call on the Government to publish a timeline for the opening of the Office, with a mandate that includes monitoring and technical assistance.

Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether Burma's state institutions have the capacity and capability to conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the persecution of, and violence against, minorities in Burma. [R] [192204]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 677W

Mr Swire: The Burmese Government have commissioned state-affiliated groups to carry out a number of investigations into incidents of violence and allegations of persecution against minorities in Burma—for example the investigations into the incident in January in Du Chee Yar Tan village in Northern Rakhine State carried out by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, and by the Myanmar Red Cross. We recognise the efforts of these investigations but remain concerned that their reports are not an independent and complete answer to the allegations that have been made. We have made repeatedly clear that such investigations must be transparent and meet international standards.

Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publicly acknowledge and condemn supporting roles played by the Burmese state in the institutionalisation of persecution and violence against the Rohingya communities in Burma. [R] [192232]

Mr Swire: The Government, both in public and private, set out our concerns about the plight of the Rohingya community repeatedly and at the highest levels: the situation in Rakhine State was top of the agenda for the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Thein Sein in July 2013. During my visit to Burma in January 2014, I urged the Burmese Government to take swift and decisive action to protect the lives and rights of Rohingya. Where the state government or local authorities have been responsible for discrimination, we have highlighted that the central Burmese Government has a responsibility to ensure the human rights of all communities in Rakhine are consistently protected. We are urging action to address impunity and ensure equitable access to justice, promote coexistence and tolerance, create an environment for displaced people to return to their homes, ensure humanitarian access, and enable a path to citizenship for all eligible Rohingya residents.

Commonwealth

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to improve trade relations between Commonwealth members; and if he will make a statement. [191961]

Mr Swire: As I made clear in my speech to the Commonwealth Business Forum held in parallel to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November 2013, the UK is committed to strengthening trade across the Commonwealth. At CHOGM, Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment which recognised the potential for growth in intra-Commonwealth trade. I continue to lead our engagement with the Commonwealth Business Council and its new chairman, Lord Marland as we work together to strengthen the prosperity of all the Commonwealth's members.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is now represented in 22 Commonwealth countries. These include high growth markets such as India, Singapore, South Africa and Malaysia and other established markets such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We are also working hard to ensure the EU signs ambitious Free Trade

20 Mar 2014 : Column 678W

Agreements (FTAs) with Commonwealth countries to improve the access of UK companies to these markets.

Ahead of this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, UKTI, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the Commonwealth Business Council are working together to deliver a business conference for 200 Commonwealth business leaders. UK Trade & Investment are also organising a British Business House, which will showcase Britain to Commonwealth businesses.

Commonwealth Secretariat

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times his Department met the Commonwealth Secretariat to discuss trade relations in (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12 and (c) 2012-13. [191960]

Mr Swire: We engage regularly with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other Commonwealth bodies and organisations on a wide range of issues. This involves frequent and senior-level meetings both with the Secretariat and those Commonwealth bodies working on trade relations, for example, the Commonwealth Business Council and the Commonwealth Small States Office. We are committed to strengthening trade and investment in the Commonwealth as I discussed in my meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary-General earlier this week.

The information specifically requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Gibraltar

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2014, Official Report, column 527W, on Gibraltar, what subjects were discussed at the meetings referred to in the answer. [192180]

Mr Lidington: Given the EU is currently a forum for many Gibraltar-related issues, the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union and Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London have in 2014 been involved in discussions with the European Commission including on the border situation, environmental complaints and tobacco smuggling.

Iraq: Iran

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent assessment his Department has made of conditions in Camp Liberty in Iraq; and what estimate he has made of the amount of food and medicine received at that site in the last three months; [192261]

(2) what recent representations his Department has made to the Government of Iraq on the welfare of residents in Camp Liberty. [192262]

Hugh Robertson: We rely on the United Nations for information on conditions at Camp Liberty and the welfare of its residents. UN monitors report that there is no shortage of food or essential provisions in the camp. There have been recent reports of supplies not being able to enter the camp because the camp leadership

20 Mar 2014 : Column 679W

has not complied with new procedures at a time of heightened security concerns. The UN and Iraqi authorities have intervened to ensure delivery of supplies and have urged the camp residents to comply with correct procedures. We have made no recent representations to the Government of Iraq about the welfare of residents, but continue to support the UN's monitoring work, and to make representations to them and the Government of Iraq, as appropriate.

Occupied Territories

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the UK has made to Israel about the recent settler land encroachment in the West Bank villages of Salfeet, Isaka, Broqeen, Yasouf and Hares. [192100]

Hugh Robertson: The Prime Minister raised the issue of settlements during his visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 13-14 March.

Ukraine

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress he has made in recovering any Ukrainian assets held in the UK that have been improperly acquired. [191949]

Mr Lidington: The UK is firmly committed to fighting corruption and rooting out stolen assets. We will work with EU partners to ensure the right EU framework is in place to facilitate asset freezes in full compliance with all existing UK regulation. The UK will not be a safe haven for corruptly acquired funds. Our existing domestic legislation requires businesses to conduct enhanced due diligence in relation to transactions with Politically Exposed Persons, including measures to establish source of wealth and funds, and ongoing monitoring of any business relationship. On Monday 17 March the EU imposed visa bans and asset freezes against 21 individuals in Crimea and Russia in response to Russia's failure to deescalate the crisis and enter into negotiations with Ukraine following the invasion of Crimea. HMG are clear that further measures need to be taken, and the European Council will consider further sanctions, including economic and trade measures, later this week.

Western Sahara

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will (a) discuss with the Moroccan ambassador to the UK and (b) instruct the British ambassador in Rabat to investigate reports of injuries by the Moroccan police to Sultana Khaya, President of Saharawi Observatory for the protection of Natural Resources in Bojador when she was demonstrating against the use of Saharawi natural resources in Bojador, Western Sahara. [192386]

Hugh Robertson: We are aware of reports of a recent demonstration in Bojador. We regularly emphasise to Morocco the importance of full respect for human rights in Western Sahara, including when policing demonstrations. I raised issues relating to Western Sahara during my trip to Rabat earlier this month.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 680W

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of injuries by the Moroccan military and security services of demonstrators in El Aaiun, Dakhla and Smara, Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. [192513]

Hugh Robertson: We are aware of reports of recent demonstrations in cities across Western Sahara. We regularly emphasise to Morocco the importance of full respect for human rights in Western Sahara, including when policing demonstrations. I raised issues relating to Western Sahara, including human rights, during my visit to Rabat earlier this month.

International Development

Burma

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with the Burmese Government about resolving the issue of the statelessness of the Rohingya population in Myanmar. [191922]

Mr Duncan: I met the Burmese Minister of National Planning and Economic Development when he visited London in March. At the meeting I urged the Burmese Government to work for a long-term solution to bring peace, reconciliation, and prosperity to Rakhine state. DFID continues to urge the government of Burma to re-start the citizenship verification process as soon as possible. It has the broad support of both communities in Rakhine and will help to address some of the underlying causes of tension.

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make it her policy that demonstrable humanitarian access to Myanmar, including in Rakhine state, is a condition for the increased development aid budget for that country. [191937]

Mr Duncan: DFID's aid to Burma, including to Rakhine state, is provided on the basis of the humanitarian and development needs of the poor and vulnerable people there. Progress on humanitarian access is not a condition we set for giving aid in Burma, but we regularly urge the Government to improve humanitarian aid access.

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with the Burmese Government on its commitment to release Rohingya political prisoners held in Buthidaung and Maungdaw prisons. [191938]

Mr Duncan: DFID welcomed President Thein Sein's order in December 2013 to release all prisoners and persons facing trial for political offences. However, we are concerned there are individuals in prison whose status is disputed. During the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire)’s visit to Burma at the end of January, he personally raised the issue of political prisoners with Soe Thane, Minister of the President's Office, and urged the Government to release all remaining political prisoners. With Shwe Mann, Speaker of the Lower House, he also raised the issue of

20 Mar 2014 : Column 681W

activists who are being charged under legislation which is not in line with international standards. We will continue to push the Burmese Government to ensure that its review mechanism is comprehensive and transparent, leading to the release of all political prisoners.

Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding the Government provides in Burma for programmes supporting the eradication of drug production. [192417]

Mr Duncan: DFID has no programmes in Burma with the specific purpose of the eradication of drug production.

Developing Countries: Family Planning

Bob Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to answer to the hon. Member for Foyle of 10 March 2014, Official Report, column 42W, on developing countries: family planning, what empirical bases and methodologies her Department uses in its annual assessment of the extent to which the Government are achieving value for money from its Programme Partnership Arrangement funding to Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation; how the estimate of 715,929 abortions was arrived at; what meaning is given to unsafe when describing such abortions; and how her Department arrives at an evidence-based understanding of what constitutes an unsafe abortion when no data are collected on the abortions performed by partner organisations. [192156]

Lynne Featherstone: DFID's Value for Money assessments of all its Programme Partnership Arrangements, including Marie Stopes International (MSI) and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF); involves consideration of how they minimise costs and maximise results. Achieved results are compared to pre-agreed outputs and outcomes, and organisations must demonstrate how costs are kept at a proportionate level.

Estimated numbers of unsafe abortions averted are modelled from collected family planning data entered into the Impact-2 estimator tool, owned by MSI. As with all modelled data the results are approximate. Further information can be found at

http://www.mariestopes.org/impact-2

DFID uses the World Health Organisation's (WHO) definition of safe and unsafe abortion; DFID's understanding of abortion levels, safe and unsafe, are guided by WHO data. The most recent estimates of global and regional levels of unsafe abortion and related mortality were published by the WHO in 2012.

Middle East

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with international non-governmental organisations about the language difficulties of Syrian refugee children in schools in (a) Lebanon and (b) Jordan. [192091]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 682W

Justine Greening: DFID humanitarian advisers are in regular contact with UNICEF and international non-governmental organisations working on education in Lebanon and Jordan.

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions she has had with international non-governmental organisations about the provision of work permits to Syrian refugees in (a) Lebanon and (b) Jordan; [192092]

(2) what discussions she has had with the Lebanese government on the provision of work permits to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. [192090]

Justine Greening: DFID is in regular contact with international non-governmental organisations on this issue.

Trade Union Officials

Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding her Department provided for staff to carry out trade union activities in each of the last three years; and how many days staff spent on those activities in those years. [191026]

Mr Duncan: DFID expenditure on trade union activities and the number of days spent on those activities, in each of the last three financial years, is detailed in the following table:

Financial yearTotal daysCost (£)

2010-11

207

33,880

2011-12

169

27,711

2012-13

169

27,931

Uganda

Pamela Nash: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether her Department directly or indirectly contributed (a) financially and (b) in other ways to the work of the Committee on Human Rights Affairs of the Parliament of Uganda in (i) 2010-11, (ii) 2011-12, (iii) 2012-13 and (iv) 2013-14. [191907]

Lynne Featherstone: DFID provided support to the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which contributed to the process that created the Committee on Human Rights Affairs of the Parliament of Uganda in 2012. DFID's support to the multi-donor Democratic Governance Facility to the Committee on Human Rights Affairs began in 2012 and runs until June 2014.

Home Department

Alcoholic Drinks

Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the online retail industry to discuss the sale of alcohol online; [191028]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 683W

(2) what steps she is taking to promote the responsible sale of alcohol online; [191029]

(3) how often she has met representatives of the online retail industry to discuss the sale of age-restricted products in the last two years; [191030]

(4) what support her Department provides to online retailers to help them identify minors when selling age restricted products. [191046]

Norman Baker: Home Office Ministers have meetings with a wide variety of partners and other organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors, as part of the process of policy development and delivery. Details of these meetings are passed to the Cabinet Office on a quarterly basis and are subsequently published on the gov.uk website at:

https://www.gov.uk/search?tab=departments-policy-results&q =Ministers%27+hospitality%2C+gifts%2C+travel+and+meetings

The Home Secretary has issued guidance to licensing authorities under the Licensing Act 2003 including on the law with regard to online sales of alcohol. All licensed premises conducting online sales must, as a minimum, require those who appear to be under 18 years of age to produce identification bearing their photograph, date of birth and a holographic mark on request, before being served alcohol. Online age verification measures should also be used to ensure, where possible, that alcohol is not sold to any person under the age of 18. This Government has increased the powers available to the police and local authorities to deal with the offence of persistently selling alcohol to children and has doubled the maximum fine to £20,000. These new measures came into force in April 2012.

Asylum: Syria

Mr Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Syrians have relocated under the vulnerable person relocation scheme since 29 January 2014. [192325]

James Brokenshire: We intend to bring the first Syrians relocated under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme, into the UK by the end of March and will provide an update to the House. The scheme prioritises women and children at risk or in need of medical care, and survivors of torture and violence; given the particular vulnerability of these individuals, it has been essential to work with partners including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and local authorities to ensure that the support, services and accommodation they need are in place before they arrive in the UK.

Crime: Staffordshire

Gavin Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of trends in the level of crime in South Staffordshire in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [192250]

Norman Baker: The following figures show the total number of police recorded offences in the South Staffordshire Community Safety Partnership for each of the last five years. Recorded crime in South Staffordshire has fallen consistently over the past five years. This is in line with the recorded crime statistics and the independent

20 Mar 2014 : Column 684W

Crime Survey for England and Wales, which is based on victims' experiences rather than police figures. Both sets of data show police reform is working and crime is continuing to fall. Overall, crime has fallen under this coalition Government by more than 10% according to the Crime Survey and this is mirrored by the fall in police recorded crime since 2010.

Table 1: Total number of crimes (excluding fraud offences) recorded by the police in the South Staffordshire Community Safety Partnership in each of the last five years
 Year to September
 20092010201120122013

South Staffordshire

5,649

5,210

4,976

4,141

4,048

Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office

Driving Offences

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many penalties for infringement of advanced stop lines were issued to (a) motorists and (b) cyclists in each of the last three years. [192428]

James Brokenshire: Available information relates to the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued to motorists by the police in England and Wales for offences relating to neglect of traffic directions. Data on FPNs reported to the Home Office do not separately identify individual offences from within this group, such as those issued specifically for infringement of advance stop lines.

There were 168,002 FPNs issued for neglect of traffic directions in 2009, 148,179 in 2010 and 118,129 in 2011. Data for 2012 are scheduled for publication on 3 April 2014.

Female Genital Mutilation

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if she will bring forward legislative proposals to make the reporting of female genital mutilation cases mandatory for all public sector workers; [191984]


(2) if she will bring forward legislative proposals to make conspiring to perform female genital mutilation a criminal offence. [191986]

Norman Baker [holding answer 18 March 2014]: Performing FGM has been a specific criminal offence since the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985. Conspiring to perform FGM is also an offence. Moreover, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 made it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where FGM is legal.

The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office are currently considering proposals from the Director of Public Prosecutions on whether the criminal law can be further strengthened and is also considering whether a civil law remedy might provide an additional tool to tackle FGM.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 685W

Under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, anyone who has information that a child is potentially or actually at risk of significant harm is required to inform social care or the police. FGM is child abuse and the robust frameworks which place clear statutory duties on local authorities and other agencies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are equally applicable to FGM.


Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the risk of female genital mutilation is assessed under immigration rules for applicants for asylum in the UK. [192329]

James Brokenshire: An individual who claims that she would, on return to her home country, suffer female genital mutilation may qualify for refugee status if she is able to demonstrate that her fear of return is well-founded. Factors that are taken into account when assessing the risk include evidence that female genital mutilation is knowingly tolerated by the authorities or that the authorities are unable or unwilling to offer effective protection. The UK does not seek to remove individuals who face a real risk of persecution on return.

Asylum decision-makers consider claims for international protection carefully and sensitively and ensure that all evidence relating to an individual's claim is taken into account. Each claim is considered on its own merits in the light of country of origin information and guidance. Specific guidance and training on gender-specific issues, including the risk of female genital mutilation, is provided to decision-makers.

Human Trafficking

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2014, Official Report, column 819W, on human trafficking, on what date the terms of reference for the review of the National Referral Mechanism will be finalised; when the review of the National Referral Mechanism will commence; when the review of the National Referral Mechanism will be (a) completed and (b) published; and if she will make a statement. [191817]

Karen Bradley: An announcement on the review of the National Referral Mechanism will be made shortly.

Human Trafficking: Children

Paul Blomfield: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how trafficked children will be identified and referred to the Government's new personal advocates trial for child victims of trafficking; and if she will make a statement. [192159]

Karen Bradley: We know that children who have been trafficked are incredibly vulnerable and that they are not always getting the support and protection that they need. In January my Department announced proposals to trial specialist, independent advocates for trafficked children. These specialist, independent advocates will be both experts in trafficking, and also completely independent of the local authority.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 686W

National Public Order Intelligence Unit

Mr Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will extend the review into the Special Demonstration Squad to include also the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. [191566]

James Brokenshire [holding answer 17 March 2014]:As the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), said in her statement to the House on 6 March 2014, Official Report, columns 1061-66, there is significant further work that needs to take place before the public inquiry can begin its work. That further work will inform the scope of the inquiry and its terms of reference.

Northern Ireland

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she last visited national security establishments and personnel in Northern Ireland. [192365]

James Brokenshire: Home Office Ministers and officials have various meetings with, and visits to, a wide variety of partners, as well as organisations and individuals in the public and private sectors, as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

Nurseries

Lucy Powell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of workplace nurseries available to staff in (a) her Department and (b) her Department's executive agencies or non-departmental public bodies in (i) 2010, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15. [192447]

Karen Bradley: No workplace nurseries have been or are available to staff in the Home Department, its executive agencies or non-departmental public bodies in 2010, 2013-14 or 2014-15.

The Home Office operates a childcare voucher salary sacrifice scheme for staff, which staff can use to help meet the costs of registered child care.

Organised Crime: Northern Ireland

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the potential effect on levels of organised crime in Northern Ireland of extending the operations of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland. [192367]

Karen Bradley: The National Crime Agency (NCA) is committed to assisting the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to tackle serious and organised crime in Northern Ireland, as far as the restrictions on its powers permit. However, the restrictions on the NCA's operations mean that PSNI resources are used to deal with matters that would be dealt with by the NCA elsewhere in the UK, and PSNI cannot access certain specialist capabilities which are held within the NCA.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 687W

It is not too much of a stretch to conclude that the risks to Northern Ireland from organised crime groups are increased because of this, and that the response to organised crime in Northern Ireland would be more effective if the NCA had access to its full range of powers. I have offered assistance to the Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland, David Ford, in his endeavours to expand the NCA's role, under appropriate accountability arrangements tailored to Northern Ireland's structures.

Rape: Prosecutions

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had with chief constables on the proportion of reported rape cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on prosecution; and if she will make a statement. [191428]

Norman Baker [holding answer 17 March 2014]: On 3 February 2014, the Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims and I jointly wrote to all police and crime commissioners and chief constables, encouraging them to use data issued by HMIC on rape, in conjunction with the data on rape referrals from the police to the Crown Prosecution Service, to improve their force's response to rape.

Stalking

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to extend sections 2A and 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to Northern Ireland. [191737]

Norman Baker: Crime and policing has been a devolved issue in Northern Ireland since April 2010, following the devolution of crime and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints of alleged stalking behaviour were received by each police force in England and Wales in (a) 2011-12 and (b) 2012-13; and if she will make a statement. [191739]

Norman Baker: The Home Office does not hold data on the number of stalking complaints received by police forces. The available data only cover those offences recorded by the police. Not all complaints will necessarily be recorded as offences.

Additionally, stalking is not currently an offence classification in its own right, as it is included under a broader harassment classification. It will become a separate offence classification from April 2014.

Terrorism

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she became aware of the administrative scheme giving on-the-run republican terrorist suspects reassurances that they were no longer being sought for prosecution within the UK: and if she will make a statement. [190562]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 688W

James Brokenshire [holding answer 10 March 2014]:As has been made clear by the legal proceedings relating to Mr Downey, an administrative scheme was in operation from around September 2000. This scheme was devised by the previous Government and referred to by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lord John Reid, in a parliamentary question on 1 July 2002, Official Report, column 163W. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), assumed office on 11 May 2010 and was alerted following John Downey's arrest at London Gatwick on 19 May 2013.

This Government do not support an amnesty for people wanted by the police in connection with terrorist offences. The Prime Minister announced on Thursday 27 February that a judge would be appointed to provide an independent review of the administrative scheme by the end of May 2014. The review will produce a full public account of the operation and extent of the scheme.

UN Commission on the Status of Women

Mr Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the commitments made in the outcome document of the UN Commission on the Status of Women 2013 outcome document have been met and implemented to date; and if she will make a statement. [192128]

Norman Baker: Eliminating and preventing violence against women and girls was the priority theme for the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013. The Coalition Government is committed to fulfilling our obligations to tackle such violence both in the UK and overseas. The cross-Government Action Plan, “A Call to End Violence against Women and Girls”, was published on 8 March and incorporates key recommendations from the “Agreed Conclusions”.

Wildlife: Animal Experiments

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what controls are in place to ensure that wild animals imported into the UK under scientific licences are only used for scientific purposes and not sold as pets or used for other purposes. [191654]

Norman Baker: The issue of the release of protected animals from the controls of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is set out in section 17a of the Act.

A protected animal must not be released unless the Secretary of State has consented and is satisfied:

That the animal's state of health allows it to be set free or re-homed;

that the setting free or re-homing of the animal poses no danger to public health, animal health or the environment;

that there is an adequate scheme in place for ensuring the socialisation of the animal upon being set free or re-homed; and

that other appropriate measures have been taken to safeguard the animal's wellbeing upon being set free or re-homed.

The Secretary of State must not consent to the setting free of a relevant protected animal which has been taken from the wild unless the Secretary of State is also satisfied that the animal has undergone a programme of rehabilitation or that it would be inappropriate for the animal to be required to undergo such a programme.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 689W

Energy and Climate Change

Fuel Poverty: Blackburn

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many (a) energy companies obligation, (b) affordable warmth and (c) green deal grants were allocated in the BB postcode area in each year since 2012. [192430]

Gregory Barker: Data for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) are currently available at local authority and parliamentary constituency level. We do not publish data at postcode level. However, the BB postcode areas cover a number of local authorities including Blackburn and Darwen unitary authority area, and the Green Deal and ECO quarterly Official Statistics release includes breakdowns by both administrative area and parliamentary constituency for the provisional number of ECO measures by obligation, including affordable warmth, up to the end of September 2013. See Tables 1.10a and 1.10b at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/green-deal-energy-company-obligation-eco-and-insulation-levels-in-great-britain-quarterly-report-to-september-2013

The next quarterly Official Statistics release, covering activity up to the end of December 2013, is planned for publication on 20 March 2014.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 690W

Green Deal is not a grant regime. Green Deal Finance Plans are one element of the scheme. DECC will publish regional breakdowns of “live” Green Deal plans on 20 March 2014 and more detailed geographic breakdowns as the programme becomes more established.

Fuel Poverty: Lancashire

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of people who have been removed from fuel poverty as a result of the energy companies obligation in (a) Lancashire and (b) Pendle constituency. [192431]

Gregory Barker: ECO plays a vital role in tackling the principal cause of fuel poverty—energy inefficient housing. The Affordable Warmth and Carbon Saving Communities elements of ECO are specifically directed at tackling fuel poverty. Over time, official statistics will indicate how policies such as ECO are driving up energy efficiency standards in fuel poor homes. However, we cannot estimate the number of individuals or households removed from fuel poverty as a result of a single policy on a regional or constituency basis.

ECO delivery data are available by administrative area and constituency. The figures for Affordable Warmth and Carbon Saving Communities are:

AreaNumber of Affordable Warmth measuresNumber of Carbon Saving Communities measuresTotal

Lancashire (administrative area)

4,699

1,582

6,281

Pendle (constituency)

563

162

725

These figures have been taken from our most recent report, from December 2013, which relates to ECO delivery up to the end of September 2013.

This report and future updates are hosted on the ECO and Green Deal statistics website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/green-deal-and-energy-company-obligation-eco-statistics

Nuclear Power Stations

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will suspend co-operation between his Department and the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom on planning for a new nuclear plant. [191901]

Michael Fallon: The Government and Rosatom signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing a Programme of Commercial Co-operation in Civil Nuclear Energy in September last year. Decisions on how this work will be taken forward are under consideration in the light of recent developments in Ukraine.

Northern Ireland

Nurseries

Lucy Powell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate she has made of the number of workplace nurseries available to staff in (a) her Department and (b) her Department's non-departmental public bodies in (i) 2010, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15. [192450]

Mrs Villiers: My Department does not operate any workplace nurseries; staff have access to the Westminster Holiday Play Scheme which parents can use during the school holidays.

My Department has two executive non-departmental public bodies—the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland; and one advisory non-departmental public body—the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland. As such bodies are independent of Government, the hon. Member may wish to write to the Commissions directly on this matter—contact details are set out in the following table:

Public BodyStatusContact Details

Parades Commission for Northern Ireland

Executive NDPB

[email protected]

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Executive NDPB

[email protected]

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

Advisory NDPB

[email protected]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 691W

Public Order Offences: Belfast

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment she has made of rates of prosecutions in North Belfast for public order offences. [191943]

Mrs Villiers: Public order issues are primarily a matter for the Minister of Justice and the Chief Constable in line with the devolution settlement.

The prosecution of those involved in public disorder is a matter for the PSNI and the independent Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions she has had with (a) the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, (b) the Director of Public Prosecutions and (c) the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the prosecution of public order offences in Belfast. [191944]

Mrs Villiers: Public order issues are primarily a matter for the Minister of Justice and the Chief Constable in line with the devolution settlement.

I do however meet regularly with the Chief Constable and the Minister of Justice to discuss a range of issues and this would include public order as and when appropriate.

Terrorism

Dr McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many terrorist acts by alleged (a) republicans and (b) loyalists have been recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. [191877]

Mrs Villiers: PSNI Statistics and Research Branch regularly publish security situation statistics which include terrorist acts. The most recent bulletin published on 18 March 2014 covering the period 1 March 2013 to 28 February 2014 can be found at the following link:

http://www.psni.police.uk/security_situation_statistics_to_february_2014.pdf

It is not possible to break these down to acts by alleged loyalists and republicans.

Transport

Railway Stations

13. Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve existing railway stations and build new ones. [903176]

Stephen Hammond: The Government are providing £100 million to the National Stations Improvement Fund and £100 million for Access for All in the period 2014-19. This is in addition to major investment which is already under way at Birmingham New Street and Reading.

It is for local transport authorities to identify whether a new station is the best way to meet local transport need and, if so, to secure funding from locally allocated funds such as the Local Growth Fund.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 692W

High Speed 2

14. Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that High Speed 2 represents value for money. [903177]

Mr Goodwill: The Government are determined to maximise the transport and wider benefits HS2 delivers for the UK economy. The project already offers high value for money and we have also established the HS2 Growth Task Force to advise is on how to further exploit those benefits. The task force will report on the 21 March.

Rail Network Infrastructure

15. Mr Alistair Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve the rail network infrastructure. [903178]

Stephen Hammond: Our rail investment strategy will see investments of £16 billion by Government which forms part of Network Rail's £38 billion investment in improvements to the rail network by 2019. This includes major capacity increases into and between our major cities and a rolling programme of electrification. Demand for rail continues to grow and our plans for HS2 provide a step-change in the capacity and speed of rail services in the next decade.

Rural Bus Services

16. Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to support rural bus services. [903179]

Stephen Hammond: The Government remain committed to improving bus services for all and expenditure on buses reflects this. This year, the Government will spend over £1 billion on the concessionary travel entitlement, and over £340 million in direct subsidy to bus operators in England. Over £300 million has been allocated to funding major bus projects in the last year.

Road and Rail Network: Flooding

17. Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of recent flooding on the rail and road network. [903181]

Mr McLoughlin: I recognise that the wettest winter on record has impacted on transport links in many parts of the country. The Department for Transport is providing over £209 million to help repair damage to both rail and roads as quickly as possible. I have also appointed Richard Brown to conduct a targeted review of the response of the transport network to extreme weather events and for him to report to me by the summer.

Road Markings

18. Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment his Department has made of the overall condition of road markings on roads and motorways. [903182]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 693W

Mr Goodwill: Highway authorities have a duty of care to ensure road markings are maintained so that they can be seen by motorists.

Contractors are required to regularly monitor the condition of markings on trunk roads and motorways.

Bus Services: Disability

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the answer of 27 February 2012, Official Report, column 151W, on bus services: disability, what steps the Government have taken to ensure that operators comply with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000. [192043]

Stephen Hammond: In order to ensure compliance with the specific requirements of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR), the Department for Transport funds inspection work undertaken by vehicle examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. In order to understand overall compliance trends, the Department also monitors latest survey statistics, which as of September 2013 show that 78% of buses in England have PSVAR certificates, while 92% of buses are low floor.

Bus Services: Finance

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2014, Official Report, column 386W, on bus services: finance, if he will provide a breakdown of (a) funding previously paid to bus operators for running services under tender to local authorities, (b) funding previously paid to local authorities for running community transport services in-house, (c) bus service operators' grant funding and top-up payments for those authorities which have been designated as Better Bus Areas for (i) each of the last three years and (ii) the next two years. [192399]

Stephen Hammond: The sums in question which we will be devolving to local authorities in April each year replace the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) previously paid to (i) bus operators for running services under tender, and (ii) local authorities who run community transport services in-house. The sums to be paid to local authorities each April have been calculated based on the amount of BSOG previously paid for tendered and in-house services in their area in the most recent 12 month period for which records were available.

Our current estimate for the total annual sum to be devolved is £39.2 million for tendered services, and £2.7 million for in-house community transport ones.

The amount of devolved grant funding which we have paid and expect to pay to authorities in the five Better Bus Areas (BBAs) is as follows:

 £ million (rounded)

2012-13

0.5

2013-14

2.5

2014-15

4.9

2015-16

7.3

The first of these BBAs was set up in 2012-13, so no figures are available for earlier years.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 694W

Cycling: Safety

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 11 February 2014, Official Report, column 525W, on cycling: safety, if he will publish a breakdown of the source of cycling funding by (a) central Government, (b) local authority and (c) the private sector for the period 2005 to 2010. [192400]

Mr Goodwill: From the 2005-06 financial year through to 2010-11 cycling was funded by the Department for Transport through Cycling England, an arm’s length organisation set up in 2005. During the five years 2005-06 to 2009-10 Cycling England received £105 million from central Government. This compares to £278 million funding for cycling from central Government from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

The Department does not hold records for local authority funding. There are a wide variety of sources local authorities may use to fund cycling, therefore the local authorities themselves will be best placed to respond. Similarly, the Department does not record private sector funding.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Andrea Leadsom: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to respond to the High Speed 2 Environmental Statement consultation. [192284]

Mr Goodwill: The purpose of the consultation on the Environmental Statement is to inform MPs of the public's views on it, ahead of them voting on whether the High Speed Rail (London—West Midlands) Bill should be read a second time. The independent assessor, appointed by Parliament, will prepare a report summarising the issues raised in the responses to the Environmental Statement consultation, by 7 April. There is therefore no intention to provide a formal Government response. A response to last year's consultation on the draft Environmental Statement was published when the Bill was introduced.

Kettering Station

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that Kettering station has a half-hourly service northwards on the Midland Mainline restored to it when the East Midlands Trains franchise is renegotiated. [192107]

Stephen Hammond: The process for awarding the East Midlands Trains franchise has not yet started. As part of this process the Department for Transport will consider what affordable improvements can be made that may deliver value for money on the franchise.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Jesse Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to repair potholes. [903166]

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport is providing over £1 billion to local authorities this financial year for local highways maintenance which includes tackling potholes.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 695W

The Chancellor of the Exchequer on 19 March as part of the Budget announced an additional £200 million in 2014-15 specifically to address the problem of potholes—£168 million of this new funding is being made available to councils in England. Further guidance will be made available on how councils can bid for this funding in the coming weeks.

The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme which the Department for Transport sponsors published a report in April 2012 which provides advice to councils on how to deal with potholes. This is available at the following weblink:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3995/pothole-review.pdf

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare: Circuses

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals on the use of wild animals in circuses. [903154]

George Eustice: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 6 March 2014, Official Report, column 980W.

Bats

Sir Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to mitigate the impact of bats on

20 Mar 2014 : Column 696W

churches; if he will set out a timetable for such steps; and if he will make a statement. [191918]

George Eustice [holding answer 18 March 2014]:DEFRA has commissioned research to identify techniques that can be used to deter bats from sensitive areas of churches. We plan to publish the findings soon, it is anticipated that Natural England will then participate in work to trial techniques identified by the research in several churches during the course of 2014 and develop a toolkit and advice pack for use by the beginning of 2015.

Floods: Northamptonshire

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what flood prevention measures have been undertaken in (a) Corby and East Northamptonshire and (b) Northamptonshire in the last four years; and how many staff of (i) his Department and (ii) the Environment Agency have been employed on those matters. [192231]

Dan Rogerson: Following severe flooding from the River Nene in 1998, significant investment in flood risk management structures and defences was undertaken in the following locations in Northamptonshire:

Thrapston (in the Corby and East Northamptonshire constituency);

Northampton;

Weedon; and

Kislingbury.

The following table details key flood risk management projects and studies undertaken in the last four years in Northamptonshire (including Corby and East Northamptonshire).

Project NameAreaLead Organisation/Risk Management AuthorityDescription

Corby Flood Risk Management Study

Corby and East Northants

Corby Borough Council (CBC)

Supporting CBC with flood risk technical advice in relation to the study which is: Reviewing all flood risk problems throughout the Borough of Corby Focussing on three main areas: Gainsborough Road, Pen Green and Cottingham Road

Reservoir Safety—Weldon Flood Storage Reservoir

Corby and East Northants

Environment Agency

Works to the flood storage reservoir spillway. These works were undertaken to ensure the reservoir remained compliant with the Reservoirs Act 1975 and continues to provide effective flood storage.

Property Level Protection (PLP) Project

Northants

Environment Agency

Isolated properties that fall within 'significant risk' categories—working in partnership with NCC to look at properties that also experience surface water flooding problems. This project is currently in the early stages of development with surveys being undertaken.

Wooldale Road Northampton

Northants

Environment Agency

An embankment was created to reduce the risk of fluvial flooding on Wooldale road at a low spot adjacent to Wootton Brook.

Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) project bids

Northants

Environment Agency

Developing and submitting bids for FDGiA funded Flood Risk Management projects. Coordinating bids from other Risk Management Authorities.

FDGiA Scheme Bids

Northants

Northants County Council (NCC) and other Risk Management Organisations

Supporting NCC, and others, with the submission of their bids for FDGiA funded Flood Risk Management projects.

Section 19 Investigations

Northants

Northants County Council (NCC)

Supporting NCC undertake Section 19 investigations in accordance with the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. This includes the investigation into flooding at Gainsborough Road. See the following link to NCC's website detailing the reports published to date: www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/councilservices/Environ/flood/Pages/Flood-Investigations.aspx

With regard to maintenance, the Environment Agency has a planned programme for watercourse and flood defence inspections in accordance with nationally defined standards. Watercourses are inspected annually to assess the condition of flood defences and flow carrying capacities. Following asset inspections, maintenance is undertaken as appropriate, such as weed/vegetation clearance during the summer months, cutting grass on raised defences and bushing works during winter months.

An average of 15 Environment Agency staff (full-time equivalents) are engaged in flood risk management work (maintenance, incident management, partnership

20 Mar 2014 : Column 697W

work and project work) in Northamptonshire. This is supplemented by contractors as required. It is not possible to provide a separate figure for the Corby and East Northamptonshire constituency.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2014, Official Report, column 287W on unmanned air vehicles, if he will publish a full list of all unmanned air vehicles systems used by those agencies; how many such systems have been acquired for use by those agencies; and what his Department's policy is on the storage and use of data obtained by such systems. [R] [191663]

Dan Rogerson: Core DEFRA has not acquired or used unmanned air vehicle systems. The Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science have acquired two fixed wing Quest 200 vehicles. The Royal Botanic Gardens have acquired a Flysense Ebee fixed wing aircraft.

The Food and Environment Research Agency, Environment Agency, Natural England and the Royal Botanic Gardens have all used and trialled vehicles operated by commercial suppliers, including a Trimble Gatewing, a DJI S800 Spreading Wings, a Swinglet and an Albotix Intl Aibot X6 Hexacopter.

DEFRA has a range of policies and guidance in place to ensure secure and effective management of data obtained from various sources including unmanned air vehicle systems. The vehicles are not gathering information that identifies individuals. The following guidance note has been issued.

Guidance note issued to relevant DEFRA network staff on Data Protection aspects of unmanned air vehicles

Current Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) capability and use in the DEFRA network is for still and not video images. These images are obtained from a vertical overhead angle Image resolution and the overhead angle of the images means individuals cannot be identified. Neither can other sensitive personal data, such as car number plates. RPAS is used on the DEFRA estate, over third party property with the owner's permission, and in areas where the owner or occupier is unknown.

Where RPAS is used over the DEFRA estate, personal data is not captured. Where RPAS is used to capture images away from the estate, the data captured should be considered to be personal data, as defined by the DPA, if the land is owned or rented by natural, living persons. This is because it contains information about personal property, such as types of crops growing at a specific location, which can be linked to a natural person.

This type of data is considered low sensitivity.

DEFRA provides guidance on the Data Protection Act's 8 data protection principles (DPPs) in part I of schedule 1 to the DPA. Where images relate to land where the owner or occupier is unknown, the fair processing requirement-informing subjects of personal data, could be difficult to comply with. In such cases, this requirement could be achieved by placing a relevant fair processing notice on the DEFRA/agency website, but all reasonable measures must be taken so far as is practicable to inform each individual land owner or tenant.

20 Mar 2014 : Column 698W

Wildlife: Imports

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to determine whether wild animals being imported into the UK are being sourced (a) illegally from the wild and (b) from legal captive-breeding facilities; what estimate he made of the number of animals so imported in the last three years; and what steps he takes to ensure good animal welfare standards in captive-breeding facilities in the UK. [191702]

George Eustice: The UK is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Information related to the import into the EU of any CITES specimen is the responsibility of, and is provided by, the CITES Management Authority of the exporting country. The UK must accept an export permit from a third country as being proof that specimens were obtained in accordance with the relevant legislation of the country concerned. However, if on import officials have reason to believe such information has been misdeclared, the specimen can be seized at the Border Inspection Post. DEFRA does not keep records of such seizures and has made no assessment of numbers of wild sourced specimens illegally imported.

The number of applications for imports of captive bred CITES specimens in the last three years is as follows:

 ApplicationsSpeciesNumber of specimens

2011

394

78

15,021

2012

459

97

17,360

2013

394

91

13,529

Any import requests for captive bred CITES specimens are assessed by the UK's Scientific Authority (the Joint Nature Conservation Committee). This may involve the seeking of additional information from the country of origin. Specific animal welfare requirements usually fall to local authorities under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). The AWA requires that all owners and keepers have to provide for the welfare needs of their animals; anyone failing to do so may be guilty of an offence. The UK's CITES licensing authority (the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency) may require a care and accommodation questionnaire to be completed by an applicant to provide data regarding the final destination facilities of an import as part of the application process.

The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 sets out a comprehensive inspection regime for zoos: inspections must look at all features of the zoo relevant to the health, welfare and safety of the animals in them and the public.

Woodland Grant Scheme

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2014, Official Report, columns 552-3W, on forests: finance, in which parliamentary constituencies the unsuccessful grant applications were located. [192311]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 699W

Dan Rogerson: The English Woodland Grant Scheme is administered by the Forestry Commission and it does not record information on the location of unsuccessful grant applications by parliamentary constituency. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Women and Equalities

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what estimate she has made of the number of staff working for the Equality and Human Rights Commission who are employed through off-payroll arrangements in each of the last six financial years; and how long each such individual had been so employed by the Commission. [191965]

Mrs Grant: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body and is responsible for its own staff management, including claims for expenses. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information requested within the next 10 days. I shall arrange for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what estimate she has made of pay gaps in respect of (a) gender, (b) race and (c) disability amongst employees of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in each of the last five financial years; and whether such estimates take account of salaries of staff employed through off-payroll arrangements. [191966]

Mrs Grant: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body and is responsible for its own staff management, including pay. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information requested within the next 10 days. I shall arrange for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities if she will place in the Library a list of expenses which were (a) claimed by and (b) paid to (i) Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Board members, (ii) members of the EHRC Senior Management team and (iii) all staff employed via off-payroll arrangements in each of the last three financial years. [191968]

Mrs Grant: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body and is responsible for its own staff management, including claims for expenses. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information requested within the next 10 days. I shall arrange for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what assessment she has made of the (a) average and (b) highest daily rate paid to staff working for the Equality and Human Rights Commission employed through off-payroll arrangements in each of the last six financial years. [191997]

20 Mar 2014 : Column 700W

Mrs Grant: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body and is responsible for its own staff management, including staff pay arrangements. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information requested within the next 10 days. I shall arrange for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities how many members of staff working for the Equality and Human Rights Commission who are employed through off-payroll arrangements were remunerated by payment to a personal services company; and what the total value of any such payments was in each of the last six financial years. [191998]

Mrs Grant: The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body and is responsible for its own staff management, including pay arrangements. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information requested within the next 10 days. I shall arrange for a copy of this letter to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.