Libya

George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of international intervention in Libya on (a) Gaddafi military strength, (b) the ability of Libyan rebels to engage and defeat Gaddafi forces and (c) safety of civilians; and if he will make a statement. [62862]

Alistair Burt: The goal of the international coalition is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack, in accordance with UNSCR 1973. Action undertaken to date has steadily reduced Gaddafi’s ability to launch and sustain attacks on his own people and has prevented a massacre of civilians, particularly in Benghazi. Opposition forces are pushing Gaddafi’s forces back and have also been able to protect the cities of Benghazi and Misratah from further attack. Coalition action to implement UNSCR 1973 will continue for as long as attacks against the civilian population of Libya persist.

Libya: Armed Conflict

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Ministers of his Department have met Ministerial colleagues in (a) the Department for International Development and (b) the Ministry of Defence to discuss post-conflict planning in Libya. [63080]

Mr Hague: I regularly meet with my ministerial colleagues including those in the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence to discuss Libya, both bilaterally and in the National Security Council.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether officials of his Department involved in post-conflict planning in Libya have discussed the task with officials involved in post-conflict planning after the invasion of (a) Afghanistan in 2001 and (b) Iraq in 2003. [63085]

Mr Hague: The Government place great importance on building on the lessons learned from previous conflicts, including Afghanistan and Iraq. The tri-departmental Stabilisation Unit leads on capturing and disseminating these lessons and has been engaged proactively in cross-Government discussions on stabilisation planning in Libya.

Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on NATO's compliance with UN Security Council resolutions relating to Libya; and if he will make a statement. [63553]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly receives correspondence from Members of Parliament and members of the public about NATO's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution

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(UNSCR) 1973. NATO is implementing the UNSCR effectively, using all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian areas from attack.

Libya: Military Aid

George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which other Governments have committed resources to military action in Libya to date; what the nature of these resources are; whether these resources represent (a) an ongoing and (b) a completed commitment; and if he will make a statement. [63187]

Alistair Burt: 18 nations are contributing aircraft, maritime assets or personnel to the region under UNSCR 1973. They are the US, UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Qatar, Turkey, Greece, U.A.E, Sweden, Jordan, Bulgaria and Romania.

Maldives: Inward Investment

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Maldives on promoting inward investment in the Maldives; and if he will make a statement. [63367]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has had no recent discussions with the Government of the Maldives on promoting inward investment.

The UK enjoys a strong relationship with the Maldives and the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), met the Maldives high commissioner on 24 May, when he discussed a range of bilateral issues and assistance.

Members: Correspondence

Mr Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay will receive a substantive response to the letter of 14 April 2011 on the Arms Export Licensing Review. [63861]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not receive the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay's letter of 14 April. We have now received an electronic copy from the hon. Member's constituency office and will be replying as soon as possible.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the firing of mortars and Qassam rockets into southern Israel from Gaza on 22 June 2011; and if he will make a statement. [63109]

Alistair Burt: Our embassy in Tel Aviv monitors rocket attacks on Israel closely. As we have consistently made clear all such attacks should stop. We are aware of one Qassam and one mortar shell fired into Southern Israel, neither caused harm or damage.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has made clear our concerns about the violence in Gaza and southern

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Israel following a spike in rocket attacks and military strikes in early April 2011. We are pleased that relative calm has returned to Gaza and Southern Israel more recently, but continue to monitor the situation closely.

We have made clear to the Government of Israel that while Israel has every right to protect its people, it is also important that in so doing it also shows restraint and makes every effort to avoid causing civilian casualties.

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the outcome of attempts to destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons into Gaza since March 2011; and if he will make a statement. [63110]

Alistair Burt: We are aware that there have been attempts to destroy the tunnels in Gaza. The UK recognises that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded, and believes efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.

We remain clear that the situation in Gaza is both a tragedy and unsustainable. While there is no humanitarian crisis, there is an enduring need for humanitarian aid. We have also been clear that actions by both Israel and Hamas have contributed to this situation. Working closely with the EU and Quartet, we continue to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access and enable a return to economic normality.

Israel's decision to move from a list of 120 permitted goods to a list of specific prohibited items was a positive step. However there has been no fundamental change in the crossings regime and economic stagnation and de-development in Gaza remain the norm. We are clear that more needs to be done, particularly to enable exports, accelerate key imports for reconstruction and ensure free movement of people. Without economic growth in Gaza, there is a risk of fostering a more broadly radicalised environment. An improved economy and a resurgence of Gaza's pragmatic business fraternity are not only essential for the people of Gaza, but are also firmly in Israel's security interests.

National Security Council

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the membership is of the Emerging Powers Sub-Committee of the National Security Council. [63016]

Mr Hague: The membership of the Emerging Powers Sub-Committee of the NSC is:

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Chair)

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Secretary of State for Defence

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

The Secretary of State for International Development

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Minister for Government Policy, Cabinet Office

Minister of State (Mr Browne), Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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Minister of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Home Office

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates the Emerging Powers Sub-Committee of the National Security Council has met. [63017]

Mr Hague: The Emerging Powers Sub-Committee of the NSC has met six times to date. The dates of these meetings were:

1 November 2010

14 December 2010

2 February 2011

27 April 2011

9 May 2011

13 June 2011

Pakistan: China

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the state of relations between Pakistan and China. [63021]

Mr Hague: China and Pakistan enjoy a strong relationship. Prime Minister Gilani visited China in May to mark the 60th anniversary of Chinese recognition of Pakistan. We understand the two countries agreed further strengthening of the relationship through enhanced economic and trade relations and increased co-operation on energy.

Pakistan: Politics and Government

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Balochistan. [60139]

Mr Hague: The Government of Pakistan face a difficult law and order situation in Balochistan where it has to tackle diverse militant and criminal threats. 737 attacks, including 614 by nationalist insurgents, were reported across Balochistan in 2010, claiming the lives of over 600 people.

The UK regularly engages with the Government of Pakistan and the provincial government on matters of security, rule of law and human rights in Balochistan. Officials also meet representatives of the Baloch and Pashtun communities and political parties. We continue to press the Government of Pakistan to implement measures designed to address the causes of instability in Balochistan. In particular, the UK would like to see full implementation of the reform package for Balochistan announced by the Government of Pakistan in November 2009.

Saudi Arabia: Religious Freedom

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the ability of each religious community in Saudi Arabia to (a) exercise its faith, (b) to observe its (i) holidays and (ii) weekly day of rest and (c) to administer its internal affairs; and if he will make a statement. [63107]

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Alistair Burt: Saudi Arabia is a country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced. The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal, as is an intention to convert others. The Saudi authorities do, however, accept the private practice of religions other than Islam, and visitors may bring a Bible into the country as long as it is for their personal use. Small private services are tolerated.

The Saudi working week is from Saturday to Wednesday and no provision is made in Saudi Arabia for non-Muslim religious holidays or days of rest. The ability for people to observe them will depend on their employers.

As all other religions are officially not allowed in Saudi Arabia, other religious communities are not able to operate in public, administer joint bank accounts, or interact with the Saudi Government as anything other than individuals.

UK embassies and high commissions have a responsibility to monitor and raise human rights issues in their host countries. Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff routinely raise our concerns with host Governments and where possible they take action on individual cases and push for changes in unfair practices and laws.

Syria: Foreign Relations

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the hon. Member for Braintree and Lord Commissioner of the Treasury was representing the Government at his recent meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. [63258]

Alistair Burt: The Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr Newmark), travelled to Syria in a private capacity where he met President Assad. He told President Assad that international pressure on Syria will only increase if it continues on its current course. Given that only a change of course in Syria will bring about an end to the violence we should welcome contacts that reinforce the need for urgent change.

UN Security Council

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the African Union on UN Security Council Resolution 1973. [63216]

Alistair Burt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, discussed the situation in Libya at the South Africa Foreign Minister at the bilateral summit on 9 June.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, and the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) recently had a series of meetings with African Union Heads of State, Government and Foreign Ministers in the margins of the Summit at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

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Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with neighbouring African states the recent statement by Zimbabwean Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba that the military and the ruling party in Zimbabwe are inseparable; and if he will press those states to take further action to assist the population of Zimbabwe. [63550]

Mr Bellingham: Statements such as this are very concerning. For Zimbabwe to make progress and move forward as a democratic country, it is vital that the military stays independent of all political parties and does not interfere in an impartial election process.

However, we do not intend to raise this issue further with regional states at this time. We were encouraged by the communiqué following the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Sandton, which re-emphasised the importance of free and fair elections under conditions of a level playing field. As guarantor of the Global Political Agreement, SADC has an important role to play in helping Zimbabwe to make progress towards such elections. We will continue to do all we can to support that role.

Work and Pensions

Carer's Allowance

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward proposals to introduce a carer’s allowance in respect of those diagnosed with cancer; and if he will make a statement. [63424]

Maria Miller: Carer’s allowance exists for carers who provide regular and substantial care for a severely disabled person. Carers who look after people diagnosed with cancer are eligible to claim carer’s allowance if they satisfy the conditions of entitlement for the benefit.

The Government have no plans to change these arrangements.

Child: Maintenance

Jack Lopresti: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what powers the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has to identify the whereabouts of absent fathers who (a) regularly travel to and from the UK, (b) have recently been in prison and (c) have been granted asylum in the UK. [63076]

Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.

Letter from Noel Shanahan:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what powers the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has to identify the whereabouts of absent fathers who (a) regularly travel to and from the UK (b) have recently been in prison and (c) have been granted asylum in the UK. [63076]

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The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (the Commission) has jurisdiction, i.e. legal authority, to make a maintenance calculation and collect child support maintenance only when the parent with care, the non-resident parent and the qualifying child are all habitually resident in the United Kingdom (UK). Habitual residence is a legal concept which means more than simply 'where you live'. A person can habitually reside in more than one country or in none. Habitual residence can continue during an absence from the UK.

In instances where we have jurisdiction, the Commission can use its information seeking powers enshrined in child support legislation(1) to identify and trace the non-resident parent. Caseworkers can use a range of tools to trace non-resident parents; For example our Common Enquiry Service enables caseworkers to consider information from Income Support; Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance/Maternity Allowance; Working Families Tax Credits and Job Seekers Allowance systems. If the Caseworker is unable to locate a non-resident parent using the Common Enquiry Service, they will use a system that provides links to credit reference agency data. Caseworkers can also approach the HM Revenue and Customs to request a search on their tax and other databases.

Although, the powers to obtain information to identify and trace a non-resident are now given to the Commission, it is the Child Support Agency (the operating arms of the Commission) that currently exercises them.

Whilst not powers specifically, relating to tracing non-resident parents, the Commission also has further powers to require information to be provided from a range of people or organisations that either have the information in their possession or can reasonably be expected to obtain it. These include powers to require information to be provided from:

The parties to the case, i.e., the parent with care and the non-resident parent;

An alleged parent that has denied parentage of a child;

Employers;

Companies or partnerships;

Accountants;

Court officials;

Crown employees;

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA);

Any Agency of the Department for Work and Pensions;

Local authorities;

Deposit takers—including banks and building societies; and

Gas and electricity providers.

We presently do not have arrangements in place for tracking non-resident parents who travel into and out of the UK.

Where we have evidence that the non-resident parent in question is in prison or has recently been in prison the Commission can make a referral to the Prison Service to access its database to trace the whereabouts of the non-resident parent.

Non-resident parents who have been granted asylum in the UK are considered to be legally resident. The Commission can therefore use its powers to trace and identify them for child maintenance purposes as it does any other non-resident parent.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

(1) Section 4 of the Child Support Act 1991 and regulation 3 (1)a of the Child Support Information Regulations 2008 (SI 2008 No. 2551 refer)

Community Care Grants

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultation his Department undertook in respect of his proposals on (a) community care grants and (b) crisis loans. [63210]

Chris Grayling: The December 2010 White Paper ‘Universal Credit: welfare that works’ set out the Government's reform plans for the Social Fund. In

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February 2011 we published a call for evidence, ‘Local support to replace Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for living expenses’, aimed at local authorities, welfare rights organisations and other customer representative groups, and individuals. It focused on how the new service might be delivered in England.

We published a detailed response to the call for evidence on 23 June, which is available in the library and can be accessed on the Department for Work and Pensions website at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2011/local-support-replace-ccg-cl.shtml

Employment and Support Allowance

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultation he has undertaken on his proposals for the introduction of a 12-month time limit on entitlement to a single element of employment and support allowance. [63209]

Chris Grayling: Since this measure was announced as part of the spending review in October, both Ministers and officials have met with a number of representatives from organisations representing disabled people, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Disability Alliance, Citizens Advice, Mind and Scope.

The Department values the views of disability groups and is committed to engaging with organisations such as these on an ongoing basis as part of our wider consultation on the implications of our proposals for welfare reform to ensure that the social security system supports disabled people and those with health conditions in the most sensitive, fair and appropriate way.

Housing Benefit

Nadine Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether people with large numbers of children are to be considered as having exceptional circumstances in respect of the proposed annual cap on housing benefit payments; [62128]

(2) whether people living in central London are to be considered as having exceptional circumstances in respect of the proposed cap on annual housing benefit payments; [62129]

(3) under which exceptional circumstances he proposes that benefit claimants will be able to receive a payment higher than the annual housing benefit cap. [61950]

Steve Webb: We are introducing a cap on the total amount of benefit a household can claim because we do not believe that it is fair that people can receive more in benefits from the state than hard-working, low-income families.

We have already said that we will exclude from the overall benefit cap:

Households with someone in receipt of working tax credit, increasing the incentive to find employment;

Households which include someone, including a child, receiving disability living allowance or constant attendance allowance, recognising the extra costs they face;

War widows and widowers.

We are looking at ways of easing the transition for families and providing assistance in hard cases and will set out details later in the year. Our aim will be to balance fairness, affordability and work incentives.

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Personal Independence Payment

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received (a) against and (b) in favour of the proposed qualifying period for the personal independence payment. [63208]

Maria Miller: Personal independence payment is intended to support people with long-term health conditions or disabilities. A qualifying period of six months helps us achieve this. When taken together with the six month prospective test, the six month qualifying period brings our definition of long-term disability closer in line with that from the Equality Act 2010. As now, people will not always have to wait six months before being paid personal independence payment if some, or all, of the qualifying period has been satisfied by the time they submit their claim.

We have received a number of representations on the proposed qualifying period, in the form of responses to our consultation. Some organisations were in favour of our proposals regarding the qualifying period and the fact that it would align with the definition of long-term disability. Others argued against the proposal on the grounds that some health conditions and impairments, such as cancer, have a sudden onset and individuals incur extra costs very soon after diagnosis. The Government's response to the consultation on disability living allowance reform (Cm 8051) includes some representations from organisations on this issue. The document is available in the House of Commons Library.

My officials and I have met, and continue to meet, disabled people and a large number of disability organisations to discuss our proposals for personal independence payment, including the qualifying period.

Mr Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to make his Department’s consultation on assessment regulations and criteria for the proposed personal independence payment accessible to those who have difficulty reading; and if he will make a statement. [63545]

Maria Miller: We published an initial draft of our proposals for the assessment criteria for personal independence payment on 9 May, in the form of draft regulations and a supporting technical note. We are now carrying out an informal consultation on the criteria, to hear views from disabled people and their organisations on how well the criteria will work and if they can be improved.

Under the Equality Act we are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure the documents are accessible for all those who would like to read them. We are providing several alternative formats of both these documents, including Braille, audio and large print versions, making them accessible to individuals who have difficulty reading. We are also producing an easy read and British Sign Language versions of the technical note on the criteria, which will be available as soon as possible. We will happily take comments on the draft criteria up until 31 August, four weeks after our original deadline.

To help explain our proposals and seek views on these, my officials have also met with over 30 disability organisations to date, and will be holding two workshops

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with over 20 Scottish disability organisations in early July. We will continue to meet with other organisations throughout the summer.

We are also currently testing the initial criteria. Our aim is to publish a further draft of the assessment criteria in the autumn, which builds on the findings from the testing and the feedback from disability organisations.

Mr Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps he has taken to accommodate demand for face-to-face meetings outside London as part of his Department's consultation on assessment regulations and criteria for the proposed personal independence payment; and if he will make a statement; [63546]

(2) how many face-to-face meetings his Department has undertaken as part of its consultation on proposals for a personal independence payment since the consultation began; and how many of those meetings involved people from Scotland. [63547]

Maria Miller: Throughout the development of the new personal independence payment, which will replace disability living allowance, we have had extensive face to face discussions and consultation with disabled people, their families and organisations representing all parts of the United Kingdom including Scotland. The insight of organisations such as MS Society Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Glasgow Association for Mental Health, Tayside Deaf Forum and the Coalition of Carers in Scotland has been immensely valuable.

We are absolutely committed to developing the detail of the assessment for the benefit in an open and transparent manner. This is why we have published our initial proposals for the criteria on 9 May and why we are consulting informally on them over the summer. We want to hear views from disabled people and their organisations on how well the criteria will work and if they can be improved.

As part of this informal consultation on the draft assessment criteria, my officials have already met with over 30 disability organisations, including a number based outside of London, and will continue to meet with others throughout the summer. They are holding two workshops in early July in Edinburgh which will be attended by over 20 Scottish disability organisations.

Our aim is to publish a further draft of the assessment criteria in the autumn, which builds on the findings from the testing and the feedback from disability organisations.

State Retirement Pensions

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people receiving the basic state pension and previously resident abroad have returned to take up permanent residence in the UK in each of the last five years; and how many such people were returning from (a) EU countries, (b) countries where a reciprocal agreement on pensions is in place and (c) countries where the British basic state pension is not indexed in each such year. [63205]

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Steve Webb: The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

State Retirement Pensions: Females

Jon Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many women in Leicester South constituency, born between 6 December 1953 and 5 October 1954, will be required to wait an additional 18 months to claim a state pension under his plans to accelerate the change in the state pension age; [63636]

(2) how many women from Leicester South constituency, born between 6 March 1954 and 5 April 1954, will be required to wait an additional two years before claiming a state pension under his plans to accelerate the change in the state pension age. [63635]

Steve Webb: We estimate that in Leicester South constituency there are approximately 387 women born between 6 December 1953 and 5 October 1954, who will have an increase in state pension age of 18 months or more. Of these approximately 42 women, born between 6 March 1954 and 5 April 1954, will have an increase in their state pension age of two years.

Universal Credit

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what funding his Department plans to provide for advice on benefits during the transitional period to universal credit; and if he will make a statement. [63211]

Chris Grayling: We understand the vital importance of keeping claimants informed about how the benefits system is changing during the transition process, and are currently considering options for fulfilling that need.

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that people who suffer a serious accident are not disadvantaged under his Department's proposals for the introduction of a universal credit. [63212]

Chris Grayling: Where a claimant is assessed as having limited capability for work, perhaps through a serious accident, the calculation of universal credit will include an additional element equivalent to the work-related activity component in employment and support allowance. Where a claimant is assessed as having limited capability for work-related activity as well as limited capability for work, there will be an element that is higher than the support component currently paid to this group in employment and support allowance.

Working Tax Credit

Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support he plans to provide to couples who do not work for an additional eight hours but who wish to remain in work after the implementation of the increase in the working hours qualification for couples with children to claim working tax credit. [63009]

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Mr Gauke: I have been asked to reply.

Under the current tax credits system, couples with children can claim the working tax credit, if one partner works 16 hours. Lone parents must work at least 16 hours to qualify for the working tax credit. This change makes the system fairer by reducing the disparity in the number of hours which lone parents and couples are obliged to work.

The changes to tax credits need to be considered within the wider context of other changes which the Government have introduced to help low income working families, such as the increase in the level of the personal allowance and the above-indexation increases to the child tax credit.

Jonathan Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will estimate the average amount of (a) working tax credit and (b) child tax credit that will no longer be paid to couples who do not work sufficient additional hours to claim working tax credit when the working hours qualification increases from 16 to 24 hours; [63029]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of couples who will be affected by the increase in the working hours qualification for couples with children claiming working tax credit; [63030]

(3) how many households where one adult is disabled will be affected by the increase in the working hours qualification for couples with children claiming working tax credit. [63043]

Mr Gauke: I have been asked to reply.

The measures referred to in these questions are part of a range of reforms to the tax credits system announced at the spending review.

Estimating the number of households impacted by an individual measure does not give a clear indication of the full monetary impact on an individual household.

The Government published estimates of the distributional impact of the packages of announced tax and benefit measures which can be found at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/junebudget_annexa.pdf

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_annexb.pdf


Deputy Prime Minister

Electoral Register

Chris Ruane: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his most recent estimate is of the number of unregistered voters in (a) the UK and (b) each region of the UK. [63432]

Mr Harper: The Government do not hold this information. The Electoral Commission's March 2010 report on the “Completeness and Accuracy of Electoral Registers in Great Britain” makes clear that the process of estimating registration rates is an

“imprecise science”

and says that

“all current approaches to estimating the completeness and accuracy of the electoral registers at a national level are imperfect”.

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However, the Cabinet Office is funding the Electoral Commission to carry out research to provide a robust national measure of completeness and accuracy of the registers. The research will also provide some data on different demographic breakdowns. The study will report towards the end of 2011.

The Commission will be conducting further research which will check the registers against the census, and this will provide data on detailed demographic breakdowns. This study is expected to report in 2013.

Electoral Systems

Meg Munn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to improve the administration of elections for the purposes of ensuring consistency in the provision of services to voters. [63834]

Mr Harper: All those involved in the administration of elections should provide a service that puts the elector first. The legislation governing the administration of elections and the Electoral Commission's accompanying guidance provide a platform from which Returning Officers can provide services to electors in a consistent manner. There can also be local factors that affect how elections are delivered and allowing some discretion to Returning Officers can be beneficial. We will continue to consider the arrangements for the delivery of elections to support voters' experience at the polls.

Falkland Islands

Mr Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he had any discussions on the Falkland Islands during his recent visit to Brazil. [63260]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I discussed the Falkland Islands with Brazilian Foreign Minister Patriota in the course of wide-ranging talks. I made clear the British Government's longstanding and deeply held view that we have no doubts about our sovereignty over the Islands and that the Falkland Islanders' right to determine their own political future is paramount.

Voting Rights: Prisoners

Priti Patel: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2011, Official Report, column 428W, on voting rights: prisoners, whether he plans to inform the House of Commons of his policy on the legislative measures he plans to introduce on extending the franchise to prisoners prior to providing an update to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. [62931]

Mr Harper: The Government are considering the next steps and the House will be the first to be informed when decisions on the way forward have been reached.

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many prisoners he expects will be enfranchised under his proposals for prisoner voting. [63696]

Mr Harper: The Government are considering the next steps and will inform the House when decisions on the way forward have been reached.

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Voting Rights: Young people

Priti Patel: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on Resolution 1826 (2011) of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe on the expansion of democracy by lowering the voting age to 16. [62915]

Mr Harper: The Government have no current plans to lower the voting age, but will keep the issue under review.

Defence

Christmas Island

20. Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has evaluated on the effect on those present of the nuclear tests on Christmas Island. [63153]

Mr Robathan: We closely monitor and evaluate any research undertaken world wide relating to nuclear test veterans.

In response to potential health concerns raised by former service personnel in the UK, the Ministry of Defence commissioned the National Radiological Protection Board to study mortality and cancer incidence in nuclear test participants and compare it with service personnel who did not deploy, and the general population.

The last of three studies, completed in 2003, concluded that overall levels of mortality and cancer incidence in nuclear test veterans have continued to be similar to those in a matched control group. Overall, mortality rates are lower than expected compared to the national average.

Strategic Defence and Security Review

21. Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to publish the outcomes of his Department's arrangements for continuous review of the strategic defence and security review. [63154]

Dr Fox: Progress against the commitments made in the SDSR is set out in the monthly updates on the MOD’s business plan, which are published on the MOD’s website.

Defence Exports

22. Nadine Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to promote defence exports. [63155]

Mr Gerald Howarth: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave today to my hon. Friend the Member for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti) and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore).

Middle East and North Africa

23. Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east and north Africa; and if he will make a statement. [63156]

4 July 2011 : Column 1046W

Nick Harvey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave today to the hon. Member for Redditch (Karen Lumley), the hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West (Paul Uppal), and the hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon).

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mark Menzies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had on plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. [63377]

Dr Fox: We routinely review UK force levels in Afghanistan and this is something that I regularly discuss with my National Security Council colleagues and military advisers.

Future reductions in British forces will take into account the conditions on the ground, the advice of military commanders and be fully discussed at the National Security Council.

Armed Forces: Housing

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel changed residence as a result of service deployment in each of the last three years. [63355]

Mr Robathan: The number of service personnel who have moved in and out of service family accommodation in the UK in each of the last three years is shown in the following table.

Calendar year Move ins Move outs

2009

21,313

20,618

2010

21,344

20,297

2011 (to date)

9,097

9,124

Centrally maintained records do not allow us to differentiate between moves occurring as a result of an official service posting notice, at an individual's request, or through discharge from the services. The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. It is assumed, however, that the majority of moves will be related to postings.

Moves in and out of private homes are not recorded by the Department.

Data relating to single living accommodation are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Private Education

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish his Department’s guidance issued to recipients of the continuity education allowance on usage of the allowance. [63357]

Mr Robathan: The guidance on the continuity of education allowance is provided in the Joint Service Publication 752 “Tri-Service Regulations for Allowances” which is published on the Defence intranet and is already widely available to the armed forces community. A copy is available in the Library of the House.

4 July 2011 : Column 1047W

Defence Infrastructure Organisation: Manpower

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the number of people who will be employed by his Department's Defence Infrastructure Organisation in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) Wales in 2014. [63069]

Mr Robathan: Further to the announcements following the strategic defence and security review, it is currently not possible to identify the precise future location and numbers of people that will be employed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation in 2014.

4 July 2011 : Column 1048W

Departmental Billing

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many invoices received by his Department were paid (a) on time and (b) late in each month since May 2010; and what the monetary value was of invoices paid late. [62486]

Mr Robathan: In the period May 2010 to May 2011, the volumes paid by the Ministry of Defence in respect of UK invoices, and the monetary values of invoices not paid within 30 days, are as detailed in the following table.

MOD—All UK invoices
Period Volume paid within 30 days Volume not paid within 30 days Value not paid within 30 days (£)

2010

     

May

370,880

637

5,779,921

June

367,855

1,912

11,440,721

July

398,474

1,117

20,389,483

August

367,463

1,799

8,304,861

September

344,140

1,806

28,239,978

October

349,640

1,649

19,108,352

November

370,701

2,562

6,050,466

December

329,290

2,520

10,384,534

       

2011

     

January

307,926

1,206

9,410,981

February

364,158

2,222

22,468,243

March

404,811

1,'300

12,576,213

April

359,314

514

3,304,904

May

370,316

592

9,229,080

Ministerial Posts

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons his Department requires two Permanent Under-Secretaries. [62298]

Mr Robathan [holding answer 27 June 2011]: The Secretary of State for Defence published Lord Levene’s report into the structure and management of the Ministry of Defence on 27 June, and endorsed its recommendations. Those recommendations reduce the number of senior military and civilian posts in the Department. However, Lord Levene recommended retaining the Second Permanent Secretary post—and the Vice Chief of Defence Staff post—on the basis that, without them, the loading and span of control on the Permanent Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Staff would be unsustainable. Recognising the amount of change the Department will be embarking on, Lord Levene also recommended that we take stock of progress after about two years and consider whether the proposed structure and role of the Head Office, including the requirement, role and seniority of both the Second Permanent Secretary and the Vice Chief of Defence Staff remain valid.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of near cash spending levels for (a) Navy Command, (b) Land Forces, (c) Air Command, (d) Defence Estates and (e) Defence Equipment and Support in each of the next four financial years. [63071]

Dr Fox: The planned spending levels for Navy Command, Land Forces, Air Command, Defence Estates and Defence Equipment and Support in each of the next three financial years are provided in the following table. Figures have not been provided for 2015-16 as this falls outside the current spending review settlement.

The Department will review planned spending for the period in question and beyond as part of its routine planning round 12 process. This will take into account the outcome of a range of work under way, including the three-month exercise.

Total departmental expenditure limit
£ million

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Navy Command

2,166

2,106

2,060

Land Forces

6,587

6,588

6,670

Air Command

2,559

2,450

2,440

Defence Infrastructure Organisation

3,552

3,208

3,005

Defence Equipment and Support Operating Budget

1,166

1,085

1,035

Note: The figures in the table do not include planned spend on equipment procurement and equipment support. These costs are normally assigned in the annual report and accounts to the Defence Equipment and Support top level budget.

4 July 2011 : Column 1049W

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what efficiency savings he expects each top level budget holder in his Department to make in each of the next four financial years. [63072]

Dr Fox: As I made clear in the statement I made on 27 June 2011, Official Report, columns 634-36, on the report by Lord Levene, I am committed to achieving further efficiencies in the Ministry of Defence through a range of measures. Top level budget holders have not been allocated specific efficiency targets but they will be responsible for delivering many of these measures, which will realise significant efficiency savings across the spending review period.

4 July 2011 : Column 1050W

Departmental Travel

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much each Executive agency of his Department has spent on travel by (a) private hire vehicles, (b) trains, (c) buses, (d) commercial aircraft and (e) private aircraft since May 2010. [56077]

Mr Robathan: Information on travel expenditure in the categories requested is shown in the following table. The figures represent the cost incurred between 1 May 2010 and 30 April 2011 unless otherwise stated.

    £
Agency Agency headcount (March 2011) Private hire vehicles Trains Buses Commercial aircraft Private aircraft

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

3,780

1,874,488

902,857

159,596

2,814,234

0

Defence Support Group

3,010

915,000

26,000

(1)

226,000

0

Defence Vetting Agency

420

14,400

26,183

(1)

7,092

0

Met Office

1,860

315,948

485,838

(1)

591,733

0

MOD Police and Guarding Agency(2)

7,320

662,288

107,784

(1)

174,096

0

People, Pay and Pensions Agency

880

57,574

67,494

(1)

17,719

0

Service Children’s Education

1,120

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

960

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

UK Hydrographic Office

1,000

102,000

73,000

0

955,000

0

(1) Not separately identifiable. (2) Period covered is financial year 2010-11 (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011).

Staff are asked to avoid travelling where the business need can be met in other ways, such as by e-mail and video conferencing. This both saves cost and increases the productivity of staff by reducing time spent travelling. Where travelling is unavoidable, staff must do so in a way that is most economical in both money and official time.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on travel in respect of (a) each of his Department’s Executive agencies and (b) the chief executive of each such agency since May 2010. [56175]

Mr Robathan: Expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Defence’s Executive agencies on travel and subsistence since May 2010 is shown in the following table. The figures cover expenditure on air travel, rail travel, car rental, use of a private vehicle on official duty, public transport fares, overnight accommodation, subsistence and travel-related costs such as parking charges and road tolls.

Agency Agency headcount (March 2011) Total travel and subsistence expenditure (£) Travel and subsistence by the chief executive (£)

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

3,780

7,125,321

17,067

Defence Support Group

3,010

2,325,000

(1)33,000

Defence Vetting Agency

420

534,928

7,908

Met Office

1,860

3,557,807

(2)9,626

MOD Police and Guarding Agency(3)

7,320

944,169

2,443

People, Pay and Pensions Agency

880

341,700

(4)6,773

Service Children’s Education

1,120

1,556,018

(5)16,406

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

960

819,603

11,831

UK Hydrographic Office

1,000

1,514,000

(6)69,000

(1) DSG chief executive’s expenses reflect the cost of travelling between 14 DSG sites across the UK. (2) The figure disclosed also covers travel and subsistence incurred as the UK representative to the World Meteorological Organisation and other international bodies. (3) Figures are for financial year 2010-11. (4) The chief executive of PPPA’s travel costs also relates to his other Defence business services and next generation human resources responsibilities. (5) The chief executive is also the director for Children and Young People. The figure disclosed covers both roles. (6) The chief executive of UK Hydrographic Office’s costs also relate to his involvement with international hydrographic bodies.

4 July 2011 : Column 1051W

The level of expenses incurred by individual agencies and chief executives is mainly influenced by the nature of their role, for example, the scale of their international commitments.

Ex-servicemen

Mr David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to increase the monitoring of the welfare of veterans. [63145]

Mr Robathan: The welfare of veterans is the responsibility of Government as a whole and therefore many Departments are involved in its monitoring. The Armed Forces Covenant stresses the importance we place on ensuring that veterans are not disadvantaged as a result of their service in the armed forces. The proposed annual report to Parliament will highlight the progress that has been made and where there is scope for improvement.

Joint Force Command

Oliver Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement of 27 June 2011, Official Report, columns 634-44, on defence reform, whether he has made an estimate of the number of injured service personnel who would be employed in the Joint Force Command; what roles such personnel would perform; and if he will make a statement. [63125]

Mr Robathan: All three services retain injured personnel, if they wish to stay, for as long as it is judged to be in the interest of the individual and the service. It is too early to estimate how many injured service personnel might be employed in Joint Force Command or what they might do.

NATO: Armed Forces

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British servicemen and women of each rank and duty are on secondment to NATO. [61944]

Mr Gerald Howarth: The following table shows the total by rank of all the UK-assigned posts within NATO’s peacetime command structure and the complementary force structure. This includes inter alia multinational high-readiness force headquarters located overseas, centres of excellence, and similar organisations as well as UK personnel attached to NATO agencies. The figures exclude operational deployments, and the short-term augmentation of NATO structures, which are not normally recognised as secondments. The figures reflect contributions from all three services but for the sake of simplicity are expressed using Army rank equivalents.

Organisation NATO rank Army rank equivalent Total

NATO force structure, agencies and other appointments

OF-7

Major-General

2

 

OF-6

Brigadier

3

 

OF-5

Colonel

13

 

OF-4

Lieutenant-Colonel

46

 

OF-3

Major

26

 

OF-2

Captain

5

4 July 2011 : Column 1052W

 

OR-9

Warrant Officer Class 1

2

 

OR-8

Warrant Officer Class 2

7

 

OR-7

Staff Sergeant

6

 

OR-6

Sergeant

13

 

OR-4

Corporal

2

 

OR-3

Lance-Corporal

4

 

OR-2

Private

1

Sub-total



130

       

NATO command structure

OF-9

General

1

 

OF-8

Lieutenant-General

4

 

OF-7

Major-General

7

 

OF-6

Brigadier

4

 

OF-5

Colonel

31

 

OF-4

Lieutenant-Colonel

186

 

OF-3

Major

134

 

OF-2

Captain

44

 

OR-9

Warrant Officer Class 1

33

 

OR-8

Warrant Officer Class 2

38

 

OR-7

Staff Sergeant

110

 

OR-6

Sergeant

193

 

OR-4

Corporal

81

 

OR-3

Lance Corporal

10

 

OR-2

Private

7

Sub-total

   

883

Total

   

1,013

Nuclear Submarines

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the number of warheads deployed on each Vanguard class submarine will be reduced to no more than 40; when the stockpile of operationally available warheads will be reduced to no more than 120; and when warheads which have been removed from the operation stockpile will be dismantled. [20822]

Dr Fox: I will write to the hon. Member.

Substantive answer from Liam Fox to Caroline Lucas:

I undertook to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Question on 20 December 2010 (Official Report, column 992W) about the timescales for the reduction in the number of operationally available warheads and their eventual dismantlement.

I apologise for the delay in responding but it was necessary to undertake some work to implement the first stage of this process before I was in a position to respond to your question. In addition, can I draw your attention to the Statement I made on 29 June 2011 (Official Report, column 51 WS).

The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announced a reduction in the scale of the UK nuclear deterrent. The programme to implement the reductions in the number of deployed warheads has now commenced on our fleet of VANGUARD class ballistic missile submarines. On current estimates, the reduction in operationally available warheads will be completed within this Parliament. Our expectation is that the programme for dismantling warheads removed from the operational stockpile will be completed within the timeframe set by the SDSR of the mid 2020s.

4 July 2011 : Column 1053W

Nuclear Weapons

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the logistics plan for implementing the reduction in nuclear weapons numbers announced in the strategic defence and security review to be completed; when it is intended to commence the return of warheads to the Atomic Weapons Establishment for decommissioning; and when the reduction in stockpile size will be complete. [47825]

Dr Fox: I will write to the hon. Member.

Substantive answer from Liam Fox to Angus Robertson:

I undertook to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Question on 23 March 2011 (Official Report, column 1125W) about the timescales for the reduction in the number of operationally available warheads and their eventual dismantlement.

I apologise for the delay in responding but it was necessary to undertake some work to implement the first stage of this process before I was in a position to respond to your question. In addition, can I draw your attention to the Statement I made on 29 June 2011 (Official Report, column 51 WS).

The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announced a reduction in the scale of the UK nuclear deterrent. The programme to implement the reductions in the number of deployed warheads has now commenced on our fleet of VANGUARD class ballistic missile submarines. On current estimates, the reduction in operationally available warheads will be completed within this Parliament. Our expectation is that the programme for dismantling warheads removed from the operational stockpile will be completed within the timeframe set by the SDSR of the mid 2020s.

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what alternatives his Department has considered to the nuclear deterrent. [60386]

Dr Fox: Prior to the publication of the 2006 White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994), Ministry of Defence officials undertook a full review of the widest possible range of options to replace the UK's nuclear deterrent capability. A detailed assessment process to narrow the range of options under consideration to the four generic options reported in the White Paper was then used.

The parliamentary debate on 14 March 2007, Official Report, columns 298-407, subsequently endorsed the conclusions made in the White Paper that the most cost-effective deterrent system was a further class of submarines carrying ballistic missiles.

To support the agreement made in the Coalition programme for Government, that the Lib Dems will continue to make the case for alternatives, work is under way in the Cabinet Office to explore the costs, feasibility and credibility of alternative systems. This work will report to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in approximately 18 months time.

UN Security Council

George Freeman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under which budget headings expenditure to date on enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1973 has fallen; what estimate he has made of the future cost of military action; and if he will make a statement. [62870]

Dr Fox: The budget headings against which the net additional costs for Operation Ellamy—the United

4 July 2011 : Column 1054W

Kingdom's contribution to coalition operations in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973—have been assigned to date are:

Personnel

Infrastructure

Inventory/Other Consumption

Equipment Support Costs

Other Costs

Depreciation

Fiscal Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit (CDEL).

The current estimate of the net additional costs of military operations for six months in support of Operation Ellamy is in the region of £120 million. This excludes costs associated with capital munitions expended.

Based upon current consumption rates we estimate the cost of replenishing munitions may be up to £140 million.

The Treasury has agreed to meet these costs from the Reserve.

War Pensions: Tribunals

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on (a) solicitors, (b) barristers, (c) experts and (d) other costs in respect of ionising appeals heard at the war pensions tribunals. [63692]

Mr Robathan: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty) on 2 December 2010, Official Report, column 998W. Up-to-date figures are currently being compiled and I will write to the hon. Member when this is complete.

Health

Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs: Rehabilitation

Mark Menzies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to support alcohol and drug rehabilitation centres; and if he will make a statement. [63376]

Anne Milton: In the Government's drug strategy, which we published in December 2010, we highlighted the need for local areas to build close links between residential rehabilitation and other services when commissioning support to help people recover from dependence on drugs and alcohol. In a series of initiatives funded by the Department, the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) has:

allocated over £65 million since 2007-08 for capital projects to improve the provision of rehabilitation facilities;

launched Rehab Online, a web-based directory of residential services in 2010; and

held a series of regional events in 2011 to raise the profile of such services.

Later this year, the NTA will be responding to the consultation on ‘Building Recovery in Communities’ by publishing updated advice on models of care for people dependent on drugs and alcohol.

4 July 2011 : Column 1055W

We are working with eight pilot sites to explore a payment by results scheme which will reward recovery from dependency and which will give good services a chance to demonstrate their capabilities.

Cord Blood

Mr Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department is taking to encourage mothers to donate stem cell blood from umbilical cords after childbirth; [63406]

(2) whether he has considered the merits of increasing the number of NHS hospitals where stem cell blood from umbilical cords can be collected as part of the cord blood bank. [63407]

Anne Milton: On 1 December 2010, the UK Stem Cell Strategic Forum, led by NHS Blood and Transplant produced a report, “The Future of Unrelated Donor Stem Cell Transplantation in the UK” (copies of which have already been placed in the Library). The report contained 20 recommendations to improve the provision and use of unrelated stem cells. The Department has allocated an additional £4 million in this financial year to begin the implementation of the report's recommendations.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has any plans to generate low-carbon energy from its estate. [63319]

Mr Simon Burns: We currently have no immediate plans to generate low-carbon energy from the Department's estate. However the position will be kept under review.

Departmental Official Cars

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to his Department was of the provision of ministerial cars in each financial year between 2000-01 and 2010-11; how many (a) cars for the exclusive use of Ministers and (b) ministerial car journeys were paid for by his Department in each such year; what the average cost to his Department of a ministerial car journey was in each such year; and what steps his Department has taken to reduce the cost of ministerial cars since his appointment. [62993]

Mr Simon Burns: Information on the cost and number of ministerial cars is published annually by written ministerial statement, details of which have already been placed in the Library. This information can also be found at:

2005-06:

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070726/wmstext/70726m0004.htm

2006-07:

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070726/wmstext/70726m0004.htm

2007-08:

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080722/wmstext/80722m0008.htm

2008-09:

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090716/wmstext/90716m0009.htm

4 July 2011 : Column 1056W

2009-10:

www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/hammond20101028a

Details of the costs for 2010-11 are being compiled and are due for release in July 2011.

Information prior to 2005 is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Information relating to individual ministerial car journeys prior to September 2010 is not available as there was no requirement to collect these data.

Information relating to the number of ministerial car journeys made since the introduction of the ‘on-demand’ ministerial car service on 6 September 2010 and up until 31 March 2011 is set out in the following table.

Month and year Number of journeys

2010

 

September

67

October

75

November

105

December

69

2011

 

January

83

February

71

March

122

Total

592

Ministers are committed to using other forms of transport where practical, including public transport, while travelling on official Government business. In line with the new Ministerial Code, all Ministers at the Department have given up their allocated cars and drivers.

Health Services: Learning Disability

Chris Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the attendance by advocates or family members at strategy meetings for patients with severe learning disabilities. [63010]

Paul Burstow: It is Government policy that the public sector should work closely with family members, carers and advocates of people with severe learning disabilities. However, this policy does not prescribe which meetings they can and should attend which is a matter of professional judgement and of negotiation with the family and the advocates.

Maternity Services

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued to the NHS on the (a) establishment, (b) role and remit and (c) relationship with existing neonatal networks of new maternity networks. [63074]

Anne Milton: In the White Paper “Excellence and Equity: Liberating the NHS” we made a commitment to extend maternity choice through maternity provider networks. We want provider networks to cover all the maternity services a mother may need throughout pregnancy, birth and post-natally, including arrangements to access services that may not be available locally, ensuring that the transitions between individual carers or organisations are as seamless as possible.

4 July 2011 : Column 1057W

In its report “Clinical advice and leadership”, 13 June, the NHS Future Forum recommended embedding networks at all levels of the new system with further work to define them and review their range, function and effectiveness. In the “Government response to the NHS Future Forum report”, 20 June, we agreed to retain and strengthen existing networks so that they cover many more areas of specialist care, and to give them a stronger role in commissioning in support of the NHS Commissioning Board and local clinical commissioning groups.

Networks may look different in different geographical areas as they seek to meet local needs and circumstances. It will be for the providers to agree network arrangements, including links with neonatal networks, and any support or management structures that they might want to adopt, and to identify how these could be resourced including any efficiency gains that might cover the costs.

Mental Health Services

Oliver Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will assess the performance of emergency outreach teams for mental health based at (a) Fulbourn hospital and (b) other hospitals; and if he will make a statement. [63008]

Paul Burstow: It is not the role of the Department to assess the performance of individual clinical teams. This is a matter for local commissioners. However, nationally, Crisis Resolution Home Treatment teams, which deal with patients in need of urgent care, carried out 131,452 home treatments in 2010-11 and 127, 396 home treatments in 2009-10.

NHS: Pay

John Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the average hourly cost of employing a member of staff in the NHS. [62823]

Mr Simon Burns: Comprehensive validated data to make this estimate are not held centrally.

However, an estimate can be provided of the average paybill cost per full-time equivalent (FTE) member of staff in the Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) NHS work force. This does not include general practitioners or their practice staff.

In 2009-10, the estimated average paybill per FTE member of staff in the HCHS work force was £39,000. This is the latest estimate available.

4 July 2011 : Column 1058W

This includes basic pay, additional earnings such as geographical allowances and payments for additional hours worked, employer national insurance contributions and employer pension contributions.

Standard full-time hours are 40 hours per week for medical staff and 37.5 hours per week for non-medical staff on Agenda for Change contracts but, as the estimated paybill per FTE includes payments for additional hours worked, using these standard contract hours to convert the estimate provided into a value per hour would lead to an overestimate.

Ophthalmology

Mr Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to review the regulatory framework relating to premises used by opticians and optometrists and their equipment and facilities. [63195]

Mr Simon Burns: There are no plans to review the regulatory framework requiring contractors to have suitable practice premises, equipment and facilities to enable them to provide national health service sight tests.

Currently NHS primary care trusts hold contracts with providers of NHS sight tests. In future, we propose that the NHS Commissioning Board will hold contracts for the NHS sight testing service and we anticipate the requirement for suitable premises, equipment and facilities will remain.

Organs: Donors

Stephen Metcalfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of people (a) in South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency and (b) nationally are on the NHS organ donor register. [62843]

Anne Milton: As at 20 June 2011, 18,072 million people (29% of the United Kingdom population) are currently on the organ donor register, of whom 25,445 are from the South Basildon and East Thurrock area.

Stephen Metcalfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency were assessed as needing an organ transplant in each of the last five years. [62865]

Mr Simon Burns: The information is provided in the following table:

South Basildon and East Thurrock solid organ transplant statistics, by financial year

2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

Number on waiting list at the start of the year

12

11

8

8

7

7

New recipient registrations

4

3

8

4

4

Source: NHS Blood and Transplant

Stephen Metcalfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) children and (b) adults in South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency died while waiting for an organ transplant in each of the last five years. [62866]

Anne Milton: The information is provided in the following table.

4 July 2011 : Column 1059W

South Basildon and East Thurrock solid organ transplant statistics, by financial year

Died on the list (1)

2006-07

1

2007-08

1

2008-09

1

2009-10

1

2010-11

2

2011-12

(1) AII that died were adults (aged 18 or older). Source: NHS Blood and Transplant

Stephen Metcalfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which schools in South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency use NHS Blood and Transplant's Give and Let Live educational resource on organ donation. [62867]

Anne Milton: Three schools in the South Basildon and East Thurrock area have requested the Give and Let Live pack. These are:

Hassenbrook School;

Gable Hall School; and

Basildon Upper Academy.

Prescription Drugs

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions were issued for each (a) benzodiazepine and (b) z-drug tranquilliser in 2010-11. [62809]

Mr Simon Burns: The number of prescription items dispensed, for the latest available 12 month period, is shown in the following tables. Data for the first quarter of 2011 are not currently available, therefore figures quoted are for the calendar year 2010.

Table 1: Number of benzodiazepine prescription items written in the United Kingdom and dispensed in the community in England in the year 2010, classified as hypnotics and anxiolytics in British National Formulary (BNF) Section 4.1.1 and 4.1.2
BNF chemical name Prescription items (thousand)

Alprazolam

(1)

Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride

213.9

Diazepam

5,148.4

Flurazepam Hydrochloride

(1)

Loprazolam Mesilate

88.6

Lorazepam

968.3

Lormetazepam

60.5

Nitrazepam

1,035.2

Oxazepam

164.8

Temazepam

2,814.0

Total for BNF Section 4.1

10,493.7

(1) Less than 50 prescription items dispensed. Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system
Table 2: Number of benzodiazepine prescription items written in the UK and dispensed in the community in England in the year 2010, classified as antiepileptic drugs in British National Formulary (BNF) section 4.8.1
BNF chemical name Prescriptions items (thousand)

Clobazam

185.8

Clonazepam

629.1

Midazolam

39.1

Midazolam Hydrochloride (1)

0.3

4 July 2011 : Column 1060W

Total for BNF Section 4.8

854.3

(1) Oromucosal Hydrochloride pre-filled syringes—a new classification from the second quarter of 2010. Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system
Table 3: Number of benzodiazepine prescription items written in the UK and dispensed in the community in England in the year 2010, classified as anaesthesia drugs in British National Formulary (BNF) section 15.1.4
BNF chemical name Prescription items (thousand)

Midazolam Hydrochloride

83.1

Total for BNF Section 15.1

83.1

Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system
Table 4. Number of “Z-drugs” prescription items written in the UK and dispensed in the community in England in the year 2010, classified as Antidepressant drugs in British National Formulary (BNF) section 4.1
BNF Chemical name Number of items (thousand)

Zaleplon

9.4

Zolpidem Tartrate

733.0

Zopiclone

5,295.8

Total for “Z-drugs”

6,038.2

Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system

Prescription Drugs: Misuse

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason (a) patient groups and (b) charitable and not-for-profit groups were not consulted as part of the recent reviews by the National Addiction Centre and the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse on addiction to prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medicines. [63676]

Anne Milton: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 28 June 2011, Official Report, column 780W.

Radiotherapy

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 National Radiotherapy Advisory Group report in respect of (a) equality of access to treatment and (b) maximum travel times for cancer patients to receive radiotherapy treatment. [63263]

Paul Burstow: The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group (NRAG) report, “Radiotherapy: developing a world class service for England”, published in 2007, recommended that, in order to improve equality of access to treatment, there would need to be additional investment in staff and equipment and better use made of existing capacity. The NRAG report also recommended that, where possible, patients should not travel more than 45 minutes for radiotherapy treatment.

We know that, whilst radiotherapy capacity has increased, demand has not increased at the rate previously predicted, and that there remain variations in activity across the country. “Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer” sets out our commitment to improve equality of access

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to radiotherapy by investing over £150 million in additional funding over the next four years. This will support increased utilisation of existing equipment, establish new services to increase capacity in some areas and ensure that all high priority patients with a need for proton beam therapy treatment get access to it abroad.

The “NHS Operating Framework 2011-12” states that the national health service is expected to implement the new cancer strategy and that commissioners should develop plans to ensure that local populations have appropriate access to radiotherapy treatment.

Respite Care: Finance

Oliver Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 June 2011, Official Report, column 252W, on carers: Hertfordshire, whether his Department monitors expenditure from carers' budgets to ensure that funding provided for respite breaks is spent for that purpose; and if he will make a statement. [63004]

Paul Burstow: The Department does not formally monitor expenditure on respite breaks for carers.

However, the ‘2011-12 NHS Operating Framework’, published on 15 December 2010, makes it clear that:

“PCTs should pool budgets with local authorities to provide carers' breaks, as far as possible, via direct payments or personal health budgets. For 2011/12, PCTs should agree policies, plans and budgets to support carers with local authorities and local carers' organisations, and make them available to local people.”

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) will remain accountable for operational delivery and for leading the transition across their region in 2011-12. They will hold primary care trusts (PCTs) to account for the delivery of the requirements set out in the NHS Operating Framework both in terms of service delivery and transition to the new arrangements.

In order to support transparency and local accountability, the Department plans to seek written confirmation from all SHAs when plans have been published by PCTs on the specific areas outlined as a requirement in the Operating Framework, including services to support carers.