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20 Nov 2008 : Column 671W—continued

Tornado Aircraft: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Tornado GR4 aircraft are awaiting maintenance at RAF Marham. [237065]

Mr. Quentin Davies: The number of aircraft awaiting forward maintenance at RAF Marham can vary from hour to hour and this information could be obtained by manually checking the records of every individual aircraft, which would only incur disproportionate cost.

As at 14 November 2008, 14 Tornado GR4 aircraft are awaiting depth maintenance at RAF Marham.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) contractually determined monthly throughput rate is of Tornado GR4s undergoing maintenance at RAF Marham and (b) the actual throughput rate for each of the last 12 months. [237067]

Mr. Quentin Davies: There is no contractually determined monthly throughput of Tornado GR4 aircraft undergoing depth maintenance at RAF Marham. Each Tornado GR4 aircraft undergoes depth maintenance after approximately 820 flying hours.

BAE Systems is responsible for providing aircraft into the Forward Available Fleet with an aggregate number of flying hours that is sufficient to meet the task agreed with the Front Line Command. The aggregate figure is known as the Bank of Flying Hours and its number reduces through RAF usage and is restored by aircraft completing depth maintenance. The flying hours available have been sufficient to meet deployed operational requirements.

Trident

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions during the initial gate period for the Trident submarine replacement programme he plans to produce a progress report to Parliament. [237103]


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Mr. Quentin Davies: In accordance with the usual practice on major procurement projects, the first full progress report on the programme to maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent will be made after the Initial Gate for the new class of submarines. We expect to publish this report in autumn 2009. There are no plans as yet to provide an interim report.

USA: Nuclear Power

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons are seconded from (a) his Department and (b) the Atomic Weapons Establishment to United States Nuclear Research and Development establishments under the provisions of the 1958 UK-US Agreement for co-operation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence purposes. [236867]

Mr. Quentin Davies: Numbers of United Kingdom personnel stationed in the United States under the auspices of the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement vary in line with operational and other requirements. Currently there are no Ministry of Defence personnel and four personnel from the Atomic Weapons Establishment on secondment to the United States Nuclear Research and Development establishments under the provisions of the Mutual Defence Agreement.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bees: Disease Control

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from the British Beekeepers’ Association on levels of funding for protection of bee health. [234590]

Jane Kennedy: The Department has received a number of representations from the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) and its members. The Secretary of State met with the president of the association on the 7 October to discuss a number of honey bee issues, including levels of funding. I have recently received a petition from the BBKA on the same subject.

I also met recently with representatives from the Honey Association and the Bee Farmers Association to discuss their concerns regarding bee health.

Embassies: Waste Management

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 March 2008, Official Report, column 644W, on embassies: waste management, and of 9 January 2008, Official Report, column 636W, on waste disposal: domestic waste, whether the new charges for the collection of household waste will apply to foreign embassies which are composite hereditaments and domestic properties which are solely occupied by diplomats or will they be exempt under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. [235051]


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Jane Kennedy: Participation in a waste incentives scheme by diplomatic and consular agents would be on a voluntary basis.

Gypsum

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to promote the recycling of waste gypsum. [236373]

Jane Kennedy: Since 2005, DEFRA has promoted and developed the recycling of waste gypsum—in the form of waste plasterboard—through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

WRAP’s initiatives have helped all related industry sectors to contribute to diverting plasterboard waste from landfill, through waste reduction, reuse and recycling. These initiatives include:

Severn Barrage: Nature Conservation

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) species of flora and fauna which would be affected by the construction of a Severn Barrage and (b) effect on biodiversity in and around the Severn Estuary of such construction. [235337]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have been asked to reply.

On (a) the cross-Government Severn Tidal Power feasibility study has commissioned a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and assessing impacts on flora and fauna is an integral part of this process. To date, with the SEA still in the Phase 1 scoping stage, topic papers have been prepared to inform the assessment of impacts on 16 diverse topics, many of which concern flora and fauna including Fish and Fisheries, Ornithology, Marine ecology and Terrestrial and Freshwater ecology. These topic papers have identified further studies which would be required were the study to proceed to Phase 2, following a ministerial review, to enable the assessment of likely affects on flora and fauna to be made by the SEA.


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On (b) possible effects on biodiversity in and around the Severn Estuary form an integral part of the topic papers as outlined. As well as the Severn Estuary itself, a range of sites with nature conservation designations connect with, or lie in the vicinity of, the Severn Estuary including the Rivers Usk and Wye, and have the potential to be affected by the development of any tidal power option in the Severn Estuary. The formal process of assessment, required under the Habitats Regulations, has commenced with a preliminary screening of sites designated at the European level with the potential to be affected. In addition consideration will be made of nationally designated sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and local Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species.

If the feasibility study continues, the proposed scope of the SEA will be published for public consultation early in the new year, together with the topic papers.

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 4 November 2008, Official Report, column 401W, on waste disposal: council tax, (1) whether domestic properties with a (a) Class M and (b) Class N council tax exemption will be liable to pay the new charges for the collection of household waste being trialled in the waste incentive pilot areas; [235852]

(2) whether domestic properties with a Class V council tax exemption will be liable to pay the new charges for the collection of household waste being trialled in the waste incentive pilot areas. [235853]

Jane Kennedy: Pilot authorities will determine which households they wish a waste reduction scheme to cover.

Participation in a waste incentives scheme by diplomatic and consular agents would be on a voluntary basis.

Wales

Welsh Language: Railways

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Department for Transport, Virgin Trains and Great Western Trains regarding the use of the Welsh language in respect of rail services provided (a) in Wales and (b) across the border. [237846]

Mr. Paul Murphy: None.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Register

Mrs. Laing: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the Electoral Commission's latest estimate is of the number of eligible people who are not on the electoral register. [236726]


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Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that its 2005 report, Understanding Electoral Registration, contains the most recent national estimate for non-registration for England and Wales. The percentage of the eligible household population not on the register at 15 October 2000 was estimated to be between 8 per cent. and 9 per cent., which was equivalent to approximately 3.5 million people.

The Commission further informs me that the most recent estimate for the number of eligible people aged 18 or older not on the Northern Ireland register was 15.5 per cent., which was equivalent to approximately 200,000 people. This estimate is drawn from the December 2007 Northern Ireland register and was published in the Commission's 2008 report Electoral Registration in Northern Ireland.

Both reports are available on the Commission's website.

Political Parties: Finance

Peter Luff: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission pursuant to the answer of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 83W, on political parties: finance, when the Commission proposes to introduce any new requirements. [236233]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that its consultation closed on 3 October 2008. The majority of respondents welcomed the Commission's proposals to introduce a standard format for the submission of accounts, but a number of concerns were raised about the proposed timetable for implementation.

The Commission further informs me that it has considered these concerns carefully and has discussed them with some respondents to the consultation. As a result, the Commission has decided to continue to develop draft new standard requirements and guidance materials in discussion with the political parties, but will not now seek to make the new standard approach mandatory for accounts covering the financial year 2009.

The Commission anticipates that the new approach will become mandatory for accounts relating to the financial year 2010.

House of Commons Commission

Members: Allowances

Jo Swinson: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission on what date the Commission expects to publish information relating to hon. Members' expenses following the judgment of the divisional court on 16 May 2008; and if he will make a statement. [237602]

Nick Harvey: Work is in train to prepare information relating to Members' expenses for publication. The House will be informed when a date for publication is known.


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Transport

A40: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the (a) initial budget and (b) cost outturn was for the Highways Agency roadworks on the A40 at Over, Gloucestershire; [237594]

(2) what the reasons are for the delays in the completion of works to the A40 between Highnam and Over. [237595]

Paul Clark: The initial budget for the A40 scheme at Over was £10.8 million. The scheme is not yet complete, so it is too early to provide an outturn cost prior to the agreement of final accounts with all suppliers.

The scheme incorporates carriageway reconstruction, improved drainage, refurbishment of Over bridge, replacement of street lighting, upgrading of traffic signals, the renewal of safety fencing and construction of a bus lane in collaboration with Gloucestershire county council. Although this has made for a complex scheme, the Highways Agency consider it is essential to run these works together to avoid the need for unscheduled closures in the future.

The construction works commenced in May 2008 and were programmed to benefit from summer weather. Unfortunately the summer proved to be wetter than anticipated and this, together with the discovery of poorer ground conditions than anticipated, uncharted utilities equipment, and additional repairs to the Over bridge deck, has contributed to an extended programme.

Aviation: Greater London

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) flights and (b) low-flying flights to (i) Heathrow and (ii) London City airports there were in (A) 1997 and (B) at the latest date for which figures are available. [236784]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table shows the number of flights to Heathrow and London City airports in 1997 and 2007.

Flights to Heathrow and London City
Thousand

1997 2007

Heathrow

215

238

London City

16

39

Source:
DfT analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data

The Department does not have data on low-flying flights.

Aviation: Noise

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the meaning is of the term bear down used in the Air Transport White Paper 2003 in relation to aircraft noise; and what the policy of bearing down on aircraft noise entails in relation to aircraft noise (a) across the UK and (b) in the vicinity of each UK airport. [237300]


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Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 19 November 2008]: The 2003 The Future of Air Transport White Paper recognised that noise from aircraft operations at night was widely regarded as the least acceptable aspect of aircraft operations and gave a commitment to bear down on night noise accordingly. However the White Paper stated that a fair balance needed to be struck between local disturbance, the limits of social acceptability and the economic benefits of night flights. This should be done on a case-by-case basis.

The policy to bear down on night noise was expressed in general terms as were the other broad aims for night restrictions including


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