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Written Answers to Questions
Friday 4 March 2011
Mr Watson: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the likely cost of the annual grant from the Cabinet Office (a) towards the maintenance of and (b) to cover civilian staff employed at Chequers for 2011-12. 
The Prime Minister: As has been the practice under successive Administrations, information on the Chequers grant will be included in the annual Cabinet Office report and accounts which is published at the end of the financial year.
Economic Governance Summit
The Prime Minister: There is no EU Heads of Government Summit on Economic Governance on 11 March 2011. I will attend an Extraordinary European Council that day to discuss the situation in Libya. There will also be an inter-governmental event for leaders of countries from the eurozone area.
Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what expenditure (a) his Department and (b) each public body sponsored by his Department incurred on engaging external audit services in each of the last three years; and to which service providers such payments were made in each year. 
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However, approximate costs of external audit are available for the 2010-11 financial year. The Department will incur estimated costs of £75,000 on external audit, provided by the National Audit Office. This sum includes the cost of auditing the Department’s arm’s length bodies.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff in his Department were in the civil service redeployment pool on the latest date for which figures are available; and how many of these had been in the redeployment pool for more than six months at that date. 
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure that his published departmental organisational chart includes the names and responsibilities of all staff paid over £58,200 per annum in his Department and in its non-departmental public body. 
Mr Paterson: The level of salary disclosure in organisational structure charts already helps enable the public to hold departments to account for their use of public funds. There are no current plans to extend the scope of salary disclosure when structure charts are updated.
Mr Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many appeals against the refusal to grant a firearms licence were made to the Secretary of State in each year since 2005; and what proportion of such appeals were successful. 
Mr Paterson: The following table indicates the number of appeals since 2005 against the chief constable's refusal to grant a firearm certificate. Since the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers in April 2010 I have only been responsible for national security firearms appeals where confidential information and personal protection weapons are involved. The remainder of appeals are for the Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford.
||Number of appeals||Number of successful appeals||Percentage successful|
|(1) Up to Tuesday 1 March.|
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Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
Mr Paterson: Home civil servants in the Northern Ireland Office now receive HR support, including policies such as a volunteering policy, from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The MoJ has policies which allow employees to take time off, within specified limits, to fulfil specific volunteering roles such as magisterial duties and school governors, and general volunteering.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if she will take steps to ensure that her published departmental organisational chart includes the names and responsibilities of all staff paid over £58,200 per annum. 
Mr David Jones: Our organisational chart was published in 2010 on the Wales Office website and will be updated at the end of the financial year. All information relating to staff in the SCS paybands at these levels has been disclosed.
Mr David Jones: I have met with civil society organisations to discuss their thoughts on the big society and how they see themselves fitting into the vision, as well as visiting schemes which are shining examples of the big society in action.
I have also discussed the big society vision with Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Social Justice, and my officials are in the process of setting up meetings with his, and colleagues from the Office for Civil Society, to discuss specific issues.
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Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
Mr David Jones: Staff at the Wales Office are employed by the Ministry of Justice and the Welsh Assembly Government—both of these Departments have policies that enable and encourage volunteering. Both Departments also have “give as you earn” schemes as part of their payroll services to facilitate charitable donation.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sheryll Murray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2011, Official Report, columns 530-1W, what assessment she has made of the extent of decentralisation to which regional management plans can be subject. 
Richard Benyon: We need radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Moving away from centralised micro-management to more effective regional management, by those closest to the fishery, is a key priority. Any changes must be compatible with the Treaties, but more responsibility for implementation can—and should—be devolved to member states, allowing them to work together regionally to put in place appropriate management measures, without creating layers of bureaucracy.
Marine Management Organisation: Fisheries
Mr Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason the Marine Management Organisation did not appoint a representative of the cockle industry to the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) are made up of representatives from the constituent local authorities (who provide funding for the IFCA) along with people from across the different sectors that use or are knowledgeable about the inshore marine area, such as commercial and recreational fishermen, environmental groups and marine researchers, who offer their time voluntarily. The exercise to recruit these people known as appointees was a significant recruitment process carried out last year by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) working with DEFRA and Capita. The exercise generated considerable interest around the country and was delivered in line with the Nolan principles of public appointments. A total of 341 applications were received of which 283 candidates were interviewed and 111 appointments made to the 10 IFCAs around the country. All appointees were selected on merit against three main criteria set out in the information sent out to all candidates:
An active interest and involvement in the local community;
A passion for making a positive difference in the local area;
Excellent communication, influencing and participation skills.
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Not all of the Sea Fisheries Committee appointees who applied around the country were successful in being appointed to the local IFCA. If candidates were not successful it was because other applicants in the same category scored higher in the discussion interviews. In the example of the Kent and Essex IFCA, the MMO was asked to appoint nine appointees to cover all of the disciplines and three appointees from the commercial fishing sector were appointed.
The IFCAs will be undertaking a broader range of issues and duties when they replace sea Fisheries Committees and it is not possible for a spokesman from individual associations or industry groups to be appointed. I am sure however that the Sea Fisheries Committee and the IFCA going forwards will wish to maintain close links and discussions with the local cockle industry since the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Regulating Order forms an important part of the fisheries management and enforcement work. The quarterly meetings are also open to the public and there is no reason that industry representatives cannot attend these meetings to hear the business that is being discussed.
House of Commons Commission
Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the House of Commons Commission has a policy to encourage its employees to (a) volunteer and (b) donate via payroll giving. 
“engage the local and wider community through outreach work, work experience schemes, voluntary activities, etc”.
Co-operation with CSV, an employee volunteering organisation which arranges and supports teams participating in practical activities which benefit and make a visible difference to the local community. Seven team challenges have been contracted in 2010. Teams of staff from across the House Service have participated in activities such as gardening for Help the Aged and painting buildings for Art in the Park.
Participation in the National Mentoring Consortium’s Ethnic Minority Undergraduate Scheme (EMUS). Undergraduates from ethnic minorities studying at London universities are matched with staff volunteers, with the aim of enhancing the employability and career skills of those mentored.
Offering work experience opportunities. The largest take-up is from Year 10 students undertaking work-based placements as part of the national curriculum. House staff volunteer to supervise a student for one or two weeks to introduce them to the workplace and promote the House of Commons as a potential employer.
An initiative to coach teachers from Southwark schools. The coaching will be carried out on the parliamentary estate by House staff who hold an accredited advanced coaching qualification and have volunteered their time.
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Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what expenditure his Department incurred on engaging external audit services in each of the last three years; and to which service providers such payments were made in each year. 
David Mundell: The Scotland Office procures very few food products. In instructing caterers for events paid for by the Scotland Office, regard is had to whether the food procured meets British standards of production.
Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff in his Department were in the civil service redeployment pool on the latest date for which figures are available; and how many of these had been in the redeployment pool for more than six months at that date. 
David Mundell: The Scotland Office does not employ staff directly. All its staff are on secondment from other public bodies, mainly the Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government. However, we can confirm that there are no Scotland Office staff currently on either the Scottish Government or Ministry of Justice redeployment pools.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to ensure that his published departmental organisational chart includes the names and responsibilities of all staff paid over £58,200 per annum. 
David Mundell: The level of salary disclosure in organisational structure charts already helps enable the public to hold Departments to account for their use of public funds. There are no current plans to extend the scope of salary disclosure when structure charts are updated.
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Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department are participating in volunteering activities as part of his Department's involvement in the big society initiative. 
Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
David Mundell: The Scotland Office does not employ staff directly. All its staff are on secondment from other public bodies, mainly the Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government. Both the Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government facilitate volunteering among their staff and both bodies participate in the ‘Give as You Earn’ scheme which allows staff to make charitable donations through employers’ payroll.
Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Public Expenditure
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what proportion of the funding allocated to the expansion of broadband provision announced in the comprehensive spending review he estimates will be spent in Scotland. 
Mr Vaizey: £530 million of funding to support broadband rollout is available up to 2015. The Highlands and Islands of Scotland was announced as one of the pilot projects at the time of the comprehensive spending review. My officials have been working with the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to define the project in more detail. The expected funding for this project will be between £5 and £10 million. No further specific allocations for projects in Scotland have been made yet but my officials continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and Scotland Office on plans to support broadband roll out in Scotland.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport when he expects his Department to meet the Government's commitment to source food that meets British or equivalent standards of production. 
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John Penrose: The cost to produce the British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010 and its distribution was approximately £560,000 funded through grant in aid provided to the Gambling Commission by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what steps he plans to take to increase access to the internet for (a) older people and (b) people with low incomes before the date of the proposed digitalisation of the benefits system; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Vaizey: Martha Lane Fox was reappointed, in June 2010, as the UK Digital Champion to champion the work to get everyone online. Martha has been working with UK Online centres to bridge the digital divide and hopes this can be achieved by offering a computing package, complete with telephone, for less than £100. The scheme, which was launched in 2010, is only at the pilot stage but Ms Lane Fox hopes it can be extended across the country.
Public Libraries: Closures
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the effects of proposed library closures on the ability of (a) older people and (b) people with low incomes to make enquiries and applications relating to benefits and pensions online; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Vaizey: Responsibility and accountability for day to day management of individual library services is vested in local authorities. Local authorities must be able to show that they have discharged their statutory duty to understand the local needs for library services in their area and to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service to meet those needs, including the needs of older people and people on low incomes. We continue to monitor and assess proposals and decisions being made about changes to library services across England.
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the effects of reduced local authority expenditure on sports and leisure facilities. 
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Sport England’s £135 million mass participation legacy plan Places People Play will bring the sporting legacy to life in communities across the country to deliver a sustainable increase in adult participation for the Games and beyond by improving local sports facilities and by getting more people involved in grassroots sporting activities and in Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what changes to sports facilities in Scotland he expects to take place as part of preparations for the London 2012 Olympics. 
Hugh Robertson: Hampden Park, Glasgow, is the only London 2012 Olympic venue in Scotland and will stage both the men’s and women’s football matches. Hampden Park is currently a FIFA and UEFA compliant football stadium and meets the criteria for holding international and domestic football matches. Therefore, we do not expect any structural changes to be made to the stadium in order to stage these matches, although the sponsor branding will be changed to use the London 2012 dressing.
Three countries have confirmed that they will use facilities in Scotland as Pre-London 2012 Games Training Camps. The British Swimming Team will use the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP) in Edinburgh, which is currently undergoing a refurbishment for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and will be completed in time so that it can act as a pre-London 2012 Games training facility. Namibia and Zambia will use The Palace for Art Centre for Sports Excellence—Scotstoun Leisure Centre in Glasgow. The venue is already in use and will also be staging squash and table tennis competitions at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. As both the RCP and Scotstoun Leisure Centre are already equipped for use no changes are required apart from London 2012 branding being used when teams are training.
Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with (a) Welsh Assembly Government Ministers and (b) Ministers of other devolved Administrations on the European Destinations of Excellence (Eden) tourism programme. 
John Penrose: Neither the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), nor I have had any discussions with Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland about the European Destinations of Excellence project (EDEN). My Department has had previous discussions with officials in the devolved Administrations about the project, which led to the UK’s decision not to participate.
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Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department has a policy to encourage its employees to (a) volunteer and (b) donate via payroll giving. 
John Penrose: The Department strongly supports staff volunteering as an aid to self development, as well as play an active role in their local communities. DCMS currently allows five days paid special leave each year for staff to become involved in a range of voluntary activities, which can range from acting as a School Governor to working with local and national charities.
In addition, as the lead Government Department for London 2012, DCMS has an important obligation to lead the way on encouraging participation in the Games at all levels. The Department has recently extended its existing policy on volunteering to cover both the London Ambassador’s and Games Maker Programme.
Energy and Climate Change
Gregory Barker: Green Deal finance will only support measures that can be expected to pay for themselves in energy bill savings over their lifetime and within the period of the finance arrangement. Based on this principle, it appears that biochar would be unlikely to attract Green Deal finance.
Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what recent estimate he has made of the scale of power losses from (a) overhead electricity lines, (b) underground cables and (c) sub-sea cables; 
Charles Hendry: The Government have made no recent assessment of power losses from, or the security of electricity supply through, (a) overhead electricity lines, (b) underground cables and (c) sub-sea cables. An independent study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and consultants KEMA on the costs of GB electricity transmission infrastructure options will address both aspects.
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Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will issue guidance to the National Grid on the quantitative and transparent costings of (a) the (i) costs in power losses and (ii) other whole-life financial costs and (b) the social, economic and environmental benefits and disbenefits of electricity connection schemes. 
Charles Hendry: The Government have no plans to issue such guidance. An independent study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and consultants KEMA on the costs of GB electricity transmission infrastructure options will address costs in power losses and other whole-life financial costs. The results of this work will be published. It is for the Infrastructure Planning Commission to assess each electricity connection scheme on a case by case basis depending on its specific circumstances, as stated in the draft energy National Policy Statements. The Government intend to finalise and formally approve the energy National Policy Statements in spring 2011.
Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will issue guidance to the National Grid on the factors to be taken into account in balancing the provision of (a) Section 9 of and (b) Schedule 9 to the Electricity Act 1989. 
Charles Hendry: The network companies, including National Grid, are responsible for developing their networks in line with their licence obligations and, as part of the price control process, Ofgem considers the costs, and other factors such as need, for electricity networks based on investment proposals put forward by network companies in line with its statutory duties. In developing the transmission price control (RIIO-T1) for 2013-21 Ofgem is engaging with the Department and other stakeholders across a range of matters including what further guidance might be provided to help network companies (and stakeholders) consider the broader environmental costs and benefits of their potential investment decisions. Ofgem will set out its views in this area in its end-March 2011 RIIO-T1 strategy document.
Environment Protection: Metals
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has had discussions with his Chinese counterpart on the effects of demand for rare earth metals on British firms developing green technologies. 
Gregory Barker: The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne), has not had discussions with Chinese counterparts on the effects of demand for rare earth metals on British firms developing green technologies.
Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate his Department has made of the number of households in each (a) property type and (b) region which will not qualify for Green Deal finance because they do not meet the golden rule. 
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Gregory Barker: Green Deal finance will support the installation of measures that can be expected to pay for themselves in energy bill savings over their lifetime and within the period of the finance arrangement.
Whether a measure meets this golden rule will depend on the circumstances of the individual property, including what measures have already been installed. Failure to meet the golden rule is unlikely to be a wide-spread issue, but the precise nature of what Green Deal finance will cover will be subject to individual assessments.
For vulnerable households where fuel bill savings are likely to be lower, and for properties which are more expensive to treat, the new Energy Company Obligation will work alongside Green Deal finance.
Hinkley C Connection Project
Charles Hendry: The arrangements for connection of individual power stations to the transmission network are a matter for project developers and National Grid. While the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne), does meet regularly with National Grid to discuss general transmission issues, he has not had any recent discussions with National Grid specifically about the proposed Hinkley C project.
Metals: Wind Power
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what assessment has been made of the environmental effects of sourcing rare earth metals from China for use in wind farms; and if he will make a statement; 
I understand that the use of rare earth metals is almost non-existent in commercial scale turbines in the UK (and only 4 to 5% of turbines worldwide) and that the demand for these metals is driven by a wide range of electronic and industrial applications including batteries, laptops and alloys for the aerospace industry.
Nuclear Power Stations
Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to secure capacity at disposal facilities for low level waste streams arising from (a) decommissioned nuclear facilities and (b) the nuclear new build programme. 
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Charles Hendry: The management of Low Level Waste (LLW) focuses on the waste hierarchy, aiming to minimise the amount of LLW for disposal while making the best use of available disposal routes. Most LLW currently goes to the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria, some is disposed of at its point of arising and small amounts are also disposed of to some specific landfills.
The UK Strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the Nuclear Industry sets out the approach to the management of solid low level radioactive wastes arising from the nuclear industry, including those facilities undergoing decommissioning. The strategy is primarily aimed at nuclear industry waste producers, environmental regulators and waste planning bodies. The aim is to provide a framework within which management decisions can be taken flexibly to ensure safe, environmentally acceptable and cost-effective disposal management solutions that reflect the nature of the materials concerned. The Strategy conserves capacity at the LLWR and also considers the potential LLW arising from new nuclear power stations, as far as is possible at this time.
Nuclear Power: Cumbria
Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the role of healthcare services in West Cumbria in the delivery of national nuclear policy. 
Charles Hendry: There is a dedicated mechanism in place through the West Cumbria Strategic Forum to facilitate an appropriately joined up view across Government of policy decisions affecting West Cumbria, including those relating to healthcare.
Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will produce a draft National Policy Statement on nuclear waste infrastructure in addition to the revised draft National Policy Statements on energy infrastructure. 
While not having yet taken a final decision, Government are currently inclined to apply the major infrastructure planning system and if so will bring forward the necessary legislation and will produce a draft National Policy Statement.
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infrastructure projects. LLW management focuses on the waste hierarchy, aiming to minimise the amount of LLW for disposal while making the best use of disposal routes. Most LLW currently goes to the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria, some is disposed of at its point of arising and small amounts are also disposed of to some specific landfills.
Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the proportion and quantity of low level waste at decommissioned nuclear facilities that cannot be reused, recycled, recovered or disposed on site and will be sent to landfill. 
Charles Hendry: The 2007 Radioactive Waste Inventory is the latest public record of information on the sources, quantities and properties of radioactive waste in the UK at 1 April 2007 and records 236,000 cubic metres of Low Level Waste (LLW). A further 3,230,000 cubic metres is expected from existing facilities from now until the end of their life. The inventory has recently been assessed and an updated UK Radioactive Waste Inventory, will be published shortly by the NDA. The strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the UK Nuclear Industry sets out how the waste hierarchy should be implemented in LLW management.
Decommissioning LLW will only arise in large quantities as redundant facilities are demolished in the future. The management of this material will be continuously optimised as it arises, in line with the waste hierarchy. Most operational LLW currently goes to the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria, some is disposed of at its point of arising and small amounts are also disposed of to some specific landfills, approximately 14,000 cubic metres of LLW being sent to specified landfills in 2010. LLW Repository Ltd, the site licence company who operate the LLWR in Cumbria, is currently undertaking a review of the capacity of the Repository as part of the Environmental Safety Case process which, once complete in May 2011, will help determine the amount of low level waste that could be disposed of via this route.
Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether consented capacity for low level waste storage meets the existing inventory of low level waste at decommissioned nuclear power stations. 
Charles Hendry: Most existing Low Level Waste (LLW) currently goes to the UK Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria, some is disposed of at its point of arising and small amounts are also disposed of to some specific landfills. Decommissioning LLW will only arise in large quantities as redundant facilities are demolished in the future.
The LLWR recently opened a new vault (Vault 9) that, is currently licensed for storage, pending permissioning as a disposal facility, once the Environmental Safety Case has been approved by the Environment Agency (EA). Vault 9 together with developments at Dounreay is expected to provide the UK with sufficient LLW waste disposal capacity for at least 10 years. This vault alone will not accommodate all the anticipated future arisings of decommissioning LLW, so further extensions
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may be required. The life of Vault 9 (and indeed the LLWR overall), will be greatly extended through application of the waste hierarchy and recycling and reuse of suitable material. This approach is outlined in the UK Strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the Nuclear Industry, published in August 2010. The Environmental Safety Case will determine what the ultimate capacity of the LLWR site could be.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd are planning to construct disposal vaults adjacent to the site to ensure the safe, long-term management of 175,000 cubic metres of LLW arising from decommissioning of the site. Construction work will begin in autumn 2011 and, subject to regulatory consent, the facility is scheduled to operate from 2014 to 2025.
Christopher Pincher: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the capacity of permitted landfill sites for the storage of low level waste. 
Charles Hendry: Existing low level waste (LLW) is managed and disposed of as it arises, with LLW management routes focused on the waste hierarchy; aiming to minimise the amount of LLW for disposal whilst making the best use of available disposal routes. Most LLW currently goes to the LLW Repository (LLWR) in Cumbria, some is disposed of at its point of arising and small amounts are also disposed of to some specific landfills.
A number of landfill sites around the UK currently accept small disposals of very low level waste (VLLW) from hospitals and other non-nuclear industries. Only some of these sites are currently permitted to accept greater volumes of VLLW and LLW from the nuclear industry; the largest being Clifton Marsh in Lancashire. Clifton Marsh has been accepting waste for disposal since 1986, under authorisations held by the waste producers. The overall capacity of the site is around 9 million cubic metres, but only 10% of this will be LLW, with the remainder being everyday household and commercial waste.
Some landfill sites are currently going through the process of seeking permission to accept LLW, in line with the UK Strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the Nuclear Industry. This process requires the operator to obtain an Environmental Permit (in England and Wales) or a Radioactive Substances Authorisation (in Scotland) and relevant planning permission. Planning permission may or may not require amendment for an existing landfill site.
Nuclear Industry: Subsidy
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment (a) he and (b) consultants contracted by his Department have made of compliance with EU state aid rules of the support to commercial nuclear plant operators from the public purse; and how many representations he has received in the last six months on subsidy of the UK nuclear industry from the public purse. 
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regime. For example, the Government will ensure that its approach to taking title to and liability for intermediate level waste and spent fuel, which is currently the subject of a public consultation, will be compliant with EU state aid rules.
The Department regularly receives representations from various stakeholders about a wide range of issues. This has in the last six months included around 20 pieces of correspondence making representations or requesting clarification about the Government's policy that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear power. Partly in light of these, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne), made a written ministerial statement to Parliament on 18 October 2010, Official Report, columns 42-46WS, setting out the policy in more detail.
Tessa Munt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will issue guidance to the National Grid on the quantitative and transparent determination of the environmental, economic and social costs of major electricity connection projects associated with the development of renewable energy generation projects. 
Charles Hendry: It is for the Infrastructure Planning Commission to assess each electricity connection scheme across all types of generation projects on a case by case basis depending on its specific circumstances, as stated in the draft energy National Policy Statements. The Government intend to finalise and formally approve the energy National Policy Statements in spring 2011.
Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
(a) has a policy to encourage its staff to volunteer
(b) has a policy which sets out the benefits of making charitable donations via payroll giving.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes identified as directly or indirectly related to gang activity were recorded in (a) London, (b) Nottinghamshire and (c) England and Wales in each year since 1997. 
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Richard Graham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether hoax telephone calls are recorded as incidents of antisocial behaviour for the purposes of categorisation on the online crime map; 
(4) what account her Department took of the effect on (a) local residents, (b) house prices, (c) levels of awareness of crime and (d) levels of community cohesion of the publication of online crime maps; and if she will make a statement; 
This is why, for the first time ever, the Government have provided communities across England and Wales with access to monthly street level crime and antisocial behaviour (ASB) data alongside key information on neighbourhood policing.
as incidents of ASB. All crime and ASB data are provided by individual police forces. Forces are therefore responsible for the accuracy of the data and we will continue to work with them to review and update the information provided.
The Government have ensured that development costs have been minimised. Implementing crime mapping cost approximately £300,000 and drew on research involving over 7,000 people who were asked their views on local crime information, including crime maps. We continue to seek the views of the public through the feedback facility on the website.
Through the provision of street level crime and ASB data the Government are giving communities the information they need to be able to hold their local police to account. Since its launch, Police.uk has received almost 400 million hits demonstrating the significant public appetite for this information.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to establish an inter-departmental ministerial group on missing persons to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Missing Persons Taskforce. 
James Brokenshire: I am continuing to assess the recommendations of the Missing Persons Taskforce. I have met with ministerial colleagues from the Department for Education and the Department of Health as part of this work.
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The need to improve the response to missing persons is important to the Government. I have established a senior officials group to advise Ministers on the priorities for missing persons services arising from the Taskforce recommendations.
Neighbourhood Watch Schemes
James Brokenshire: There are no centrally held figures to show the number of Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) schemes. The Insurance Company which provides public liability insurance to registered Neighbourhood Watch schemes reports that 121,000 NHW coordinators registered for the insurance in 2010-11, providing cover for around 7.6 million households.
Neither Department sources or procures food directly. This task is undertaken by contracted catering service providers. All such suppliers are required to adhere to current laws and regulations relating to the procurement of food and continue to maintain a commitment to the Government Buying Standards for food and catering services.
The Government Buying Standards are mandatory for central Government and their Executive agencies. They require central Government to source food, subject to no overall increase in costs, meeting UK or equivalent standards of production.
Caroline Flint: To ask the Attorney-General if he will take steps to ensure that the Law Officers’ Departments’ published organisational chart includes the names and responsibilities of all staff paid over £58,200 per annum in his Department and in the agencies for which he is responsible. 
The Attorney-General: The level of salary disclosure in organisational structure charts already helps enable the public to hold Departments to account for their use of public funds. There are no current plans to extend the scope of salary disclosure when structure charts are updated.
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Prisoners: Crimes of Violence
Mr Llwyd: To ask the Attorney-General on how many occasions the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to progress with a case of assault by an offender whilst in custody due to it not being in the public interest in each of the last 10 years. 
Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
The Attorney-General: With the exception of the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate the Law Officers Departments have policies in place to allow staff to engage in a range of voluntary activities, and actively encourages staff to do so. This includes special leave for voluntary activities where appropriate.
Mike Penning: As part of the spending review, we have assessed the effects of all forthcoming transport improvements. Some tough decisions had to be made on which schemes were prioritised. As part of that review the public value for money of every scheme was considered. In the case of the A19 we concluded that the schemes at Testos and Coast Road would remain in the programme for future delivery. While we have had to prioritise spending, we have continued transport investment in the North East, including the £350 million upgrade of the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Agility Trains for the Intercity Express Programme
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library copies of the reimbursement agreements his Department reached with Agility Trains for the Intercity Express Programme after 12 February 2009; and what the total monetary value is of reimbursement payments made to the consortium under such agreements to date. 
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Bus Services: Concessions
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the change in the cost to the public purse of concessionary bus fares arising from changes to eligibility in the next four financial year. 
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for which services provided by (a) his Department and (b) its associated public bodies interpreters provide services in a language or languages other than English; how many interpreters are employed or subcontracted for each non-English language; and what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of interpretation costs incurred in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Norman Baker: The Central Department and its seven executive Agencies identified the following number of (a) actual and (b) full-time equivalent staff employed as at 31/01/11. The total includes both permanent and non-permanent employees. The data is from the Department's Management Information.
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The Department is undergoing organisational restructuring to contribute to the Spending Review commitment of a 33% reduction in administration budget (composed of pay and non-pay costs) during the spending review period.
McNulty Rail Value for Money Study
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the report by L.E.K. Consulting, on the options for future reform to the structure of Network Rail, commissioned by the McNulty Rail Value for Money study. 
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 2 March 2011]: The report is still in draft form and may contain confidential information. The final report will be published, alongside the McNulty report itself, later in the spring.
Network Rail: Finance
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projects over what time periods will be funded from the £14 billion funding allocation to Network Rail for capital maintenance and infrastructure. 
Mrs Villiers: The latest update of the information requested will be set out in the 2011 version of Network Rail’s Delivery Plan for Control Period 4 (1 April 2009 to 31 March 2014). This is due to be published shortly.
Fuel Quality Directive
Norman Baker [holding answer 2 March 2011]:The European Commission is currently assessing options for a methodology to account for the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels for use in reporting overall progress against the Fuel Quality Directive’s greenhouse gas targets.
While several options have been explored with member states and stakeholders, the European Commission has yet to come forward with firm proposals for an accounting methodology, or for other necessary implementing measures.
We believe that any methodology should account for greenhouse gas emissions from all crude sources, including tar sands, and that such a methodology should be based on robust and objective data, and should treat all crude sources equitably. I have personally written to the Commissioner for Climate Action urging her to investigate whether sufficient data is available to enable a detailed fossil fuel greenhouse gas accounting methodology to be developed and encouraging the European Commission to work more openly with member states and other stakeholders.
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Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of new signal-controlled pedestrian crossings installed in the last three years were (a) pelican, (b) puffin, (c) toucan and (d) other forms of signal-controlled pedestrian crossings. 
Norman Baker: All decisions to install or alter pedestrian crossing facilities are taken at local level and the Department does not hold information regarding numbers or types of crossing installed by local authorities.
Norman Baker: I am afraid that the Department for Transport does not hold information on the number of pelican crossings which have been replaced by puffin crossings in the last 10 years. This information is held by individual local authorities.
Public Transport: Disability
Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to ensure that all forms of public transport are accessible equally to sighted and to visually-impaired passengers. 
The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Requirements 2000 (as amended) and the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 (as amended) contain a number of requirements to facilitate access for people with visual impairments. These include audible door signals and colour contrasting of features, such as handrails and steps, intended to help visually-impaired people when physically negotiating public transport vehicles.
Audio-visual passenger information systems can be a key source of information to many disabled passengers. The regulations require such systems on trains. On buses, however, the levels of provision vary. I do not at this point intend to legislate to make audio-visual systems on buses mandatory, but will write to operators and manufacturers encouraging them to work in partnership with Local Authorities to increase the uptake of these systems.
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dogs. These provisions replicate the effect of, and replace, provisions originally contained in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Railway Stations: Travel Information
Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport does not regulate the frequency of public service announcements at rail stations. This is an operational matter for train operators, and Network Rail. There is a requirement for public security announcements to be made at rail stations as part of our National Rail Security Programme.
Karl McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds on the number of (a) current employees, (b) former employees and (c) board members of Network Rail who receive free travel. 
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 17 January 2011]:The Department for Transport does not hold any information on the number of current employees, former employees and board members of Network Rail who receive free travel.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what revenue from rail fares accrued to (a) each train operating company and (b) his Department in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much he expects to accrue to each in the next four financial years. 
Mrs Villiers: The Office of Rail Regulation publishes revenue figures for the GB rail industry including breakdowns by sectors in National Rail Trends (NRT). This is available on the Office of Rail Regulation website
During franchise competitions bidders produce revenue forecasts for individual lines of route. The Department for Transport does not publish franchise-specific revenue forecasts; however, the latest published forecast of total passenger kilometres broken down by sector is available in 'Delivering a Sustainable Railway' (July 2007) on the Department's website:
Railways: Snow and Ice
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2011, Official Report, column 350W, on railways: snow and ice, what the outcome was of the discussions on the issue of stranded trains with senior representatives of the train operators and Network Rail; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mrs Villiers: The independent audit by David Quarmby CBE, published on 21 December 2010, highlighted examples of stranded trains in conditions of snow that was so deep that emergency rescue was difficult to organise in short timescales. The rail industry National Task Force (NTF) has confirmed that the issue of stranded trains would be investigated again by the Association of Train Operating Companies and the relevant operators.
The rail industry’s work on lessons learned on winter resilience issues is still underway, and I will continue to monitor progress of this work through my regular meetings with senior rail industry representatives.
Peter Aldous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the benefit to the local economy of the designation of an area off the coast of East Anglia as an approved location for the ship-to-ship transfer of oil; 
(2) what assessment his Department has made of potential (a) changes in the level of shipping traffic off the coast of East Anglia and (b) risks of collisions between vessels arising from implementation of its decision on permitted locations for the ship-to-ship transfer of oil off the east coast; 
(4) what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the relationship between levels of shipping traffic in UK coastal waters and incidences of collisions between vessels. 
Mike Penning [holding answer 2 March 2011]: It is our intention that the area off the Suffolk coast where ship-to-ship transfers are monitored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) under existing arrangements will be formally recognised as the ‘permit area’ for ship-to-ship transfers in forthcoming secondary legislation. This area off Suffolk has, for several years now, been the only location in UK jurisdiction where the MCA allows ship-to-ship transfers (other than those in a harbour authority area) to be carried out. These waters are recognised by the MCA and by the industry as a suitable area for carrying out ship-to-ship transfers on navigational safety grounds.
as the activity will take place in the same waters as at present, we anticipate that the same benefit to the local economy, which is currently experienced in that part of East Anglia, will continue and we do not anticipate any significant change in the level of shipping traffic off the coast of East Anglia;
while we are aware of the risks of collisions involving a ship on its way to, engaged in or on its way from a ship-to-ship transfer operation, we do not anticipate that the formal recognition in the legislation that these are the waters where ship-to-ship transfers are allowed will increase that risk;
whereas currently there are no regulations in force governing ship-to-ship transfers, and the MCA’s application system, instructions and guidelines function without the backing of legal sanctions, under the forthcoming secondary legislation the MCA will have legal sanctions to ensure that ship-to-ship transfers are conducted to a high standard with regard to maritime safety and the protection of the marine and coastal environment;
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the MCA monitors ship-to-ship transfer activity in the waters off the Suffolk coast, and is consequently aware of the relationship between levels of shipping traffic in these waters and incidences of collisions between vessels. We are also aware of the data contained in the Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s report on the collision between mt Saetta and mt Conger published in 2010.
Work and Pensions
Disability Living Allowance: Scotland
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 15 February 2011, Official Report, columns 681-82W, on disability living allowance: Scotland, if he will introduce systems to estimate (a) the number of recipients of disability living allowance in (i) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency and (ii) Scotland who will be reassessed in each of the next five years, and (b) the cost to the public purse. 
Maria Miller: We will replace disability living allowance for people of working age with personal independence payment, a new, more transparent and sustainable benefit with an objective assessment of individual need. From 2013 we will begin reassessing all existing working-age disability living allowance caseload and transferring people to personal independence payment where appropriate. We are continuing to work on the design of personal independence payment and the new assessment, which we are developing in collaboration with a group of independent specialists in health, disability and social care, including disabled people.
The detailed approach for migrating the current disability living allowance working age caseload to the new personal independent payment has yet to be designed and therefore the numbers to be migrated each year and the costs, have yet to be established.
Disability: Cost of Living
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the recommendations of the recent Scope/Demos report on additional costs faced by disabled people. 
Maria Miller: We have read the Scope/Demos research report “Counting the Cost”, and have met Scope to discuss its findings. We know that disabled people face additional costs to leading full and active lives. The personal independence payment will continue to provide a contribution towards these costs.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in each region to be affected by the limit on housing benefit for under-occupants in the social sector are under-occupying a property by (a) one and (b) two or more bedrooms. 
Steve Webb: The estimated impact of changes to housing benefit for working-age tenants living in the social rented sector is based upon information collected in the Department's Family Resources Survey. Because the survey collects information from a sample of households, we cannot produce reliable estimates for the number of claimants affected by both region and by the degree of their under-occupation.
In February 2011 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) produced an impact assessment entitled “Under-occupation of social housing”, coinciding with the publication of the Welfare Reform Bill. The impact assessment can be found at:
The impact assessment included regional estimates for working age housing benefit recipients living in social housing, under-occupying their home and who were likely to be affected by the introduction of the size criteria in social-rented housing.
|Government Office Region||Estimated number of claimants affected||Affected claimants as % of working-age SRS HB claimants In each region||Average weekly HB loss per affected claimant (2013-14) (£)|
|Source: Policy Simulation Model, using 2008-09 reference data from the Family Resource Survey|
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|Under occupation of accommodation by||Estimated number of affected claimants||Percentage of affected claimants||Average weekly housing benefit loss per affected claimant (2013-14) (£)|
|(1) Total numbers do not sum because of independent rounding. Source: Policy Simulation Model, using 2008-09 reference data from the Family Resource Survey.|
On a national basis we estimate that approximately 78% of affected working age claimants would be under occupying their accommodation by one bedroom, and 22% would be under occupying accommodation by two or more bedrooms.
Any further break-down of the estimated impact of the degree of under occupation by region would be based upon information from a very small number of households for many of these combinations. This means that the figures would be likely to be unreliable.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the consistency between the definition of under-occupancy to be applied by his Department when determining housing benefit entitlement and the occupancy provisions of local authority and registered social landlord lettings policies. 
Steve Webb: The provision to limit housing benefit payments for those of working age living in, social rented sector accommodation that is larger than their household requires will take effect from April 2013. To determine this we shall be using the size criteria that are currently used for this purpose of assessing housing benefit claims from the private rented sector. We are working with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Devolved Administrations and representatives from the housing sector as we develop the policy so that we can consider the practical implications.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the monetary value in 2010-11 prices of support for childcare costs provided to those claiming universal credit at the point at which universal credit is introduced. 
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the maximum marginal rate of withdrawal under universal credit will be for parents in receipt of assistance with childcare costs for (a) all claimants, (b) those previously in receipt of tax credits and (c) those claimants who also pay income tax. 
Chris Grayling: The Government outlined a number of possible approaches for how they could provide support with the costs of child care in the White Paper ‘Universal Credit: welfare that Works (Cm 7957)’ and has been working with stakeholders to establish which options would best support parents. We will announce further details in the coming months, but the options we have discussed would not change the maximum marginal rate of withdrawal of universal credit.
Afghanistan: Overseas Aid
Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent in Afghanistan through (a) the World Bank Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, (b) other multilateral institutions, (c) the Afghan government and (d) non-governmental organisations in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: In 2009-10, the Department for International Development’s (DFID's) bilateral programme in Afghanistan provided £60.3 million through the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF); £8.5 million through other multilateral institutions; £14.4 million through Afghan Government systems in addition to ARTF spending; and £21.2 million through non-government organisations (NGOs).
DFID funds are also spent in Afghanistan through central funding to multilateral agencies and international NGOs. The UK’s imputed share of expenditure by multilateral institutions in Afghanistan in 2009-10 will be published in “Statistics on International Development” in October. In 2008-09 this figure was £25.2 million. It is not possible to calculate the amount of UK aid spent in Afghanistan through our central funding to NGOs without incurring disproportionate cost.
The Government recognises the significant contribution that smallholder farm production can make to improving food security in Africa. We draw on assessments by international agencies such as the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and African regional organisations in planning how our interventions should address food security needs. For example, in Ethiopia, a DFID co-funded programme ensures that 8 million
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smallholders previously dependent on emergency aid are now food sufficient and can maintain their livelihoods. The Government is a strong supporter of Africa's own initiative, the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The Programme's goal is to contribute to the elimination of hunger and reduce poverty and many of its activities involve helping smallholder farmers, both directly to help increase their productivity, and indirectly for example by improving their access to markets.
Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what senior civil service staff moves have taken place in his Department since May 2010; and which staff at what grade were involved in such moves. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: Since May 2010 twenty four Senior Civil Service staff moves have taken place in the Department for International Development (DFID). 17 of the moves were at Deputy Director level and seven of the moves were at Director level.
Mr Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) actual and (b) full-time equivalent staff his Department employed at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take steps to ensure that his published departmental organisational chart includes the names and responsibilities of all staff paid over £58,200 per annum in his Department and in the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The level of salary disclosure in organisational structure charts already helps enable the public to hold departments to account for their use of public funds. There are no current plans to extend the scope of salary disclosure when structure charts are updated.
Departmental Official Cars
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Mr Duncan: On taking up office all three Department for International Development (DFID) Ministers were given the use of a dedicated Government Car Service (GCS) car and driver. Following the publication of the 2010 Ministerial Code in May Minsters agreed that only Cabinet Ministers would have the use of their own car, and that all other Government Minsters should use a car from the GCS pool. DFID immediately took steps to terminate our existing GCS contract, which contained a three month notice period. From 4 September 2010 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and I have used a car from the GCS pool, and the Secretary of State has used a dedicated GCS car and driver.
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) is in the process of working through the exact implications of the full Spending Review 2010 settlement. It is, therefore, not possible to estimate redundancy costs for each of the next five financial years.
Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what provision was made for meeting the costs of redundancies in his Department's Spending Review 2010 settlement letter. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: All pressures on the Department for International Development's (DFID's) budget were taken into account as part of the Spending Review and the settlement allocated accordingly. The full costs of redundancies will be met from within DFID's Spending Review resource DEL settlement.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development for what reasons persons not employed by Government departments or agencies are issued with passes entitling them to enter his Department's premises. 
Mr Duncan: Passes may be issued to individuals where there is an identified business need for them to make frequent visits to Department for International Development (DFID) premises, subject to the usual security checks. For security reasons it would not be appropriate to provide details of individuals who hold such passes.
Departmental Temporary Employment
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|Job title||Number of staff|
Mr McCann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the most recent previous employment was of senior staff who entered employment with his Department on fixed-term contracts since May 2010. 
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects his Department to meet the Government's commitment to source food that meets British or equivalent standards of production. 
Mr Duncan: Mitie Facilities Management provide the catering services for both the Department for International Development's (DFID's) offices in London and East Kilbride as part of a three year facilities management and catering contract which commenced on 1st January 2011. Mitie are continually working with their suppliers to highlight the products which fall under the British standard or equivalent category.
Mitie currently supplies DFID with 36% of their products which are assured to meet British or equivalent standards, as a percentage of their total food spend. They are currently working towards having our entire milk spend under the Red Tractor food assurance scheme (currently 80%) and to have all eggs British Lion marked.
Mr Andrew Mitchell:
The UK Government is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya itself and at the borders. UK humanitarian and stabilisation staff have been sent to the Libyan borders with Egypt and Tunisia to assess and monitor the humanitarian situation on the ground. We are also in close and constant contact with international organisations and other humanitarian response agencies to monitor the
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situation and respond to it as it evolves. I have spoken personally to the heads of a number of agencies to discuss the situation and the international response, including: the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Chairman of the African Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, USAID, the World Food Programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Islamic Relief and Save the Children.
Libya: Overseas Aid
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK Government is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya itself and at the borders. UK humanitarian and stabilisation staff have been sent to the Libyan borders with Egypt and Tunisia to assess the humanitarian situation and coordinate with other agencies on the ground. On 1 March DFID flew in 36,000 blankets and tents to shelter 1,500 people to the Tunisia border at the request of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR). The UK Government has also provided three planes on rotation to repatriate several thousand people stranded at the Tunisian/Libyan border. At 10:30 on 4 March, 3,135 people had been flown on UK funded aircraft from the Tunisia border with Libya to Egypt. We are also working closely with non-governmental organisations and other international organisations such as UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM). We are proactively monitoring the evolving situation through our field teams on the ground and partner agencies and I am visiting the region for myself to make my own assessment. We stand ready to provide resources to prevent this becoming a more severe humanitarian crisis.
Overseas Aid: Education
Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking with his international counterparts to raise the external financing required for the Education for All Fast Track initiative. 
Mr O'Brien: The Department for International Development (DFID) announced in March 2010 that we would make up to £100 million available to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI), conditional on pledges from other donors at a ratio of 5:1. Under this arrangement DFID will release £1 of our pledge for every £5 that FTI raises from elsewhere. We have worked closely with other donors to promote this pledge, which has already helped FTI to raise around £150 million from others.
Mr Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department has to support the replenishment of the Education for All Fast Track initiative to deliver sustainable funding for education in low-income countries. 
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Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Department for International Development (DFID) has committed up to £100 million to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI), conditional on pledges from other donors at a ratio of 5:1. Under this arrangement DFID will release £1 of our pledge for every £5 that FTI raises from elsewhere. We have worked closely with other donors to promote this pledge, which has already helped FTI to raise around £150 million from others.
Sudan: Humanitarian Situation
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in the Abyei region of Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Andrew Mitchell: The UK remains concerned about the humanitarian situation in the disputed border region of Abyei. This is an already underdeveloped area, and the United Nations' Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that between October 2010 and mid-February 2011, 37,727 registered returnees have arrived in Abyei, Through our contribution to the emergency reserve of the UN-managed Common Humanitarian Fund, the UK has supported the delivery of a basic three month package of shelter and non-food items to people in Abyei and in Southern Sudan who have decided to migrate from North to South Sudan because of the referendum on Southern secession.
We also continue to support President Mbeki's efforts to negotiate agreement on the status of Abyei and urge all parties to reach a resolution within the framework of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department are participating in volunteering activities as part of his Department's involvement in the Big Society initiative. 
Mr Duncan: The Department for International Development (DFID) has long recognised the value of volunteering and the vital contribution made by volunteers to development, and to local communities and charities. DFID currently supports VSO, the UK's leading volunteering agency, with a strategic grant worth £89 million (2008-2011). This is currently being renewed for a further three years. DFID's ministerial team is strongly committed to the Big Society initiative and the coalition Government is setting up International Citizens Service. This is a volunteering scheme, to give thousands of young adults across the UK the opportunity to travel to developing countries to join the fight against poverty.
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Communities and Local Government
Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to respond to the letter of 24 January 2011 from Elizabeth Cooke Szewczyke, a constituent of the hon. Member for Tottenham. 
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 22 November 2010, Official Report, column 52W, on legal opinion, if he will place in the Library a copy of the purchase ledger; in respect of how many cases expenditure on legal fees was incurred; what proportion of the expenditure on legal fees was allocated to advice in respect of potential defamation cases since his appointment; and if he will make a statement. 
It is a long-standing practice across government that departments do not disclose their legal advice, or sometimes even comment on whether it was taken on a particular subject (if to do so would reveal privileged information). Disclosure of advice, even of the gist of advice, would break the long-established confidentiality that exists between the department and its legal advisers.
This is based on the well established principles of Legal Professional Privilege and also ensures that departments can rely on that privilege should there be any subsequent proceedings. The previous administration continued this practice following the Freedom of Information Act and the principles have been upheld in case-law by the Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal.
Notwithstanding, I wish to use this opportunity to put on record a short comment, pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 937W, no expenditure has been undertaken on legal fees on potential defamation cases relating in any way to that whole topic.
Local Government: Redundancy Pay
Amber Rudd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information he holds on the level of provision made by local authorities from the transitional grants for redundancy payments. 
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provided by the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) (England and Wales) Regulations 2006. Information is not collected centrally about discretionary payments made by local authorities under these provisions.
Regeneration: Newcastle upon Tyne
Mr Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 16 February 2011, Official Report, column 835W, on regeneration: Newcastle upon Tyne, when he expects to receive the Homes and Communities Agency’s financial and technical assessment of the proposals for the Byker estate. 
Grant Shapps: The Homes and Communities Agency has provided a financial assessment of the Byker transfer proposals to the Department for consideration. The Homes and Community Agency is continuing its detailed technical assessment of the Byker transfer proposals. This will include an appraisal of the offer document that will be presented to tenants. We expect to receive the technical assessment in due course.
Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations
Peter Luff: It is not possible to provide the information requested without incurring disproportionate cost. UK Forces operate in Afghanistan as part of a wider NATO effort and assets are assigned based on task not nationality. Accordingly, the UK will routinely make use of other nations' assets and vice versa. However, since December 2010, this has included UK troops in theatre utilising heavy lift assets including aircraft, trucks and cranes belonging to Denmark, Slovakia and the United States.