Non-domestic Rates

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local authorities will be empowered to introduce payment holidays when they start to retain a proportion of business rates revenue for the purposes of addressing local economic circumstances. [126018]

Brandon Lewis: We have already empowered local authorities to grant business rates discounts to local businesses in their area through the Localism Act 2011. This enables local authorities to respond to local circumstances by reducing rate bills as they see fit, which can include providing business rate payment holidays. This is in addition to councils' existing powers to offer discretionary hardship rate relief.

The Local Government Finance Bill will further promote local economic growth by enabling local authorities to retain a share of the business rates they collect, providing a powerful new financial incentive for councils to support local business growth.

Parking: Morecambe

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make representations to Lancaster city council in respect of the introduction of a controlled free parking scheme in Morecambe town centre. [125866]

Mr Prisk: Councils have a key role in promoting economic development, supporting local economic growth and local jobs. Making sure that car parking charges are reasonable is an important and practical way in which councils can help support their local high streets. Temporary or permanent free parking periods can provide particular boosts to local high streets and town centres.

This Government have taken steps to support local high streets. Our plans for the local retention of business rates will mean that councils have a direct financial incentive in supporting business and retail growth in town centres. This is in contrast to the local government system we have inherited, where councils had no real incentives to support local high streets and city centres.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 346W

My Department has also tackled flawed parking rules inherited from the last Administration. In January 2011, we amended national planning guidance to:

remove Whitehall restrictions which imposed maximum numbers of parking spaces in new residential developments;

change a policy which inhibited competition between council areas to one that said parking charges should not undermine the vitality of town centres;

introduce a policy that parking enforcement should be proportionate;

remove the policy that encouraged councils to set car parking charges to discourage the use of cars; and

increase support for electric car power-charging infrastructure in parking areas.

The National Planning Policy Framework followed through on these changes by removing restrictions which imposed maximum numbers of parking spaces in new non-residential developments. Greater provision will help relieve pressure on on-street parking and support local high streets.

As pledged in our response to the Mary Portas Review, we are also taking steps to increase local transparency and accountability on the setting of municipal parking policies. Accordingly, a revised version of the “Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency”, published on 25 October, proposes that local authorities should routinely publish in an open format: revenue from off-street parking charges; revenue from on-street parking charges; the number of off-street parking places; the number of on-street parking places; the revenue from parking fines; and the number of free parking spaces available.

Planning

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many chartered town planners are employed by his Department. [125806]

Nick Boles: There are 41 posts within the Department for Communities and Local Government that are designated as “specialist planner” posts for which you need to be a qualified town planner eligible for membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Planning Inspectorate

Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what training courses were provided for inspectors at the Planning Inspectorate in the last 12 months; by whom the training was presented; and what subjects were covered. [R] [126089]

Nick Boles: In the last 12 months, the Planning Inspectorate ran internal training courses, using in-house resources, for inspectors on the following subjects:

Local Plans

Community Infrastructure Levy

Waste

Enforcement

Gypsy and Travellers

Tree Preservation Orders

Roads and Traffic

National Infrastructure (working with the Judicial College)

1 Nov 2012 : Column 347W

Inquisitorial Methods (working with the Planning and Environmental Bar Association)

Rights of Way

In addition the Planning Inspectorate held a three- day annual conference for salaried inspectors in March 2012, which included the following subjects and speakers:

Viability (Regenerate)

Housing Land Supply (PCL Planning)

Environmental Impact Assessments (Planning Inspector)

Design (Design Council/CABE)

Planning and Environmental Law Updates (Neil Cameron QC)

Inquisitorial Methods (Landmark Chambers)

Noise including Windfarms (Planning Inspector)

Nature Conservation and Natural Heritage (Bioscan)

Community Infrastructure Levy and SI06 (Plymouth City Council)

Built Heritage (English Heritage)

Regional Planning and Development: West Midlands

Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects to cease implementation of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy. [126076]

Nick Boles: I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement of the 25 July 2012, Official Report, House of Lords, columns WS66-68, on the timetable and plans for the proposed revocation of the regional strategies, subject to due process and consideration.

We are making good progress. Reports for the East of England, Yorkshire and Humber, South East and East Midlands have been published for public consultation, and further consultations will follow over the coming weeks.

Departmental Staff

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of his Department's staff are (a) male and (b) female. [126160]

Brandon Lewis: At 31 March 2012, the proportion of male staff in the Department for Communities and Local Government was 49% and the proportion of female staff was 51%.

Supermarkets: Planning Permission

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what legislative proposals he intends to bring forward in respect of the creation of an exceptional sign-off for out-of-town supermarkets. [125867]

Nick Boles: As outlined in both the Government's response to the Mary Portas review and in my written ministerial statement of 26 October 2012, Official Report, columns 71-72WS, it is the continuing policy of the Government to be very selective about calling-in planning applications.

Parliament has entrusted local planning authorities with the responsibility for day-to-day planning. We will only consider the use of call-in powers if planning issues of more than local importance are involved; such criteria are explained in that statement.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 348W

More broadly, the National Planning Policy Framework provides for a ‘town centre first’ policy, to focus retail development within town centres. Councils' local plans should also shape the scope and location of future retail development.

Prime Minister

Brazil

Sir Nick Harvey: To ask the Prime Minister who accompanied him on his visit to Brazil in September 2012; and, where relevant, which companies they represented. [125872]

The Prime Minister: I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a list of the business delegation that accompanied me to Brazil.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Billing

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average cost to his Department was of processing the payment of an invoice in the latest period for which figures are available; and what proportion of invoices settled in that period his Department paid (a) electronically and (b) by cheque. [125695]

Richard Benyon: The average cost to core DEFRA of processing the payment of an invoice, for the period 1 April-30 September, was £3.56. This includes all overheads.

Of the invoices settled in that period, 98% were paid electronically and 2% were paid by cheque.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department's estimates of badger numbers in the planned pilot cull areas were reviewed by the Independent Expert Panel overseeing the pilots. [125323]

Mr Heath [holding answer 29 October 2012]: The badger population estimates for the pilot cull areas have not been reviewed by the Independent Expert Panel as this does not fall within the remit of the panel. The methodology for estimating the badger populations was subject to independent peer review.

The panel's remit is to oversee the monitoring of controlled shooting to test assumptions that it is effective, humane and safe. In terms of effectiveness, that means testing the assumption that controlled shooting provides a means of being able to remove at least 70% of the starting population in the area, over the course of a six week cull. The panel's selected approach is to use badger hair samples collected from in each pilot area. DNA from the culled badgers can then be compared to that of the previously selected samples, thereby providing a reliable estimate of the proportion of the full population that has been culled.

We will discuss with the panel the implications of the revised population estimates on the monitoring protocols.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 349W

Cleaning Services

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to require all cleaning contracts held by his Department to stipulate that the cleaning products used and their ingredients should not have been tested on animals. [125016]

Richard Benyon: Core DEFRA has a facilities management contract for its buildings. The primary contractor is responsible for purchasing cleaning products. We do not seek information as to whether those products or any ingredients within them have been tested on animals.

Floods: Cumbria

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the economic cost of flooding in (a) Barrow and Furness constituency and (b) Cumbria in each of the last five years. [125847]

Richard Benyon: The Department itself has not carried out any analysis of the economic cost of flooding in Barrow and Furness constituency and Cumbria. However, Cumbria county council's assessment of the 2009 floods confirmed that the floods had an impact across many areas of the Cumbrian economy. The hugely important tourist sector was badly affected in the immediate aftermath as many prospective visitors were deterred from coming to Cumbria, under the impression that the entire county was inaccessible. Considerable numbers of bookings over the Christmas period were lost at an estimated cost of £2.5 million to tourism businesses.

10 tourism businesses reported damage in excess of £100,000. These were concentrated in Cockermouth, Workington, and the area surrounding Lake Windermere, including Windermere, Bowness, Newby Bridge, Lakeside and Ambleside. Between them these businesses suffered almost £12 million worth of damage. Also the county council-operated port of Workington was forced to close as a result of sediment deposition. The total cost of flood damage to the port is estimated to be in excess of £6.75 million. Very few businesses in Workington were directly affected, but businesses lost trade due to the collapse of the bridges. Cumbria county council estimated the additional costs to business because of increased travel time to be in the region of £2 million per week.

Food: Prices

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason food prices rose by 32 per cent between 2007 and 2012. [125784]

Mr Heath: Research shows that the main drivers behind changes in food prices are global agricultural commodity prices, exchange rates, and fluctuating oil prices. The Government actively monitor food prices and the drivers behind changes in commodity prices.

Each of these factors has played a role in increasing food prices since 2007. In 2008, the UK pound lost value compared to the US dollar and a basket of other currencies, making food imports more expensive. This change in exchange rate has persisted.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 350W

Oil prices have risen since 2007 and remain high, increasing the cost of transport and manufacturing. Agricultural commodity prices have experienced a series of spikes, and prices have not returned to pre-spike levels in 2007, in large part because of the higher oil price, which affects a number of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser.

Plastic Bags

Julie Elliott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage businesses to reduce usage of single-use carrier bags. [125377]

Richard Benyon: We continue to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme to monitor distribution of carrier bags by retailers. Prior to the July 2012 release of the figures on numbers of bags distributed, DEFRA officials met with leading retailers and the British Retail Consortium to discuss these and actions under way to reduce usage.

We expect retailers to take responsibility and cut down on the number of single-use carrier bags they hand out. The ability to take action also lies with consumers who can decline to accept them, in favour of reusable alternatives.

Julie Elliott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on introducing a charging scheme for single-use plastic bags. [125378]

Richard Benyon: Since July 2012, 248 items of correspondence have been received in relation to the introduction of a charge for single use carrier bags. 177 of these relate to the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ campaign backed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage.

A Westminster Hall debate on Government policy on plastic bag, initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), took place on 17 October.

Trees: Diseases

Glyn Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the arrival in the UK of the fungus Chalara fraxinea. [123569]

Mr Heath: The Government are taking the threat posed by “Chalara fraxinea” extremely seriously.

The Food and Environment Research Agency consulted on a Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) for “Chalara fraxinea” drafted by scientists at the Forestry Commission's Forest Research agency. A PRA summarises evidence on the risk of an organism being introduced, spreading, establishing, causing economic or environmental damage and the prospects of controlling it. The consultation concluded on 26 October 2012.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), recently approved restrictions on ash imports and movements, in response to the outcome of

1 Nov 2012 : Column 351W

the consultation on the PRA and the results of surveillance. Forestry Commission legislation to give effect to these restrictions came into force on 29 October, before the main planting season in November. Further surveillance and action against findings are in progress.

Vacancies

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's vacancy rate was in 2011-12; and what vacancy rate has been assumed for 2012-13. [125699]

Richard Benyon: The vacancy rate in core DEFRA between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 was 276 permanent posts, which represents 12.9% of the permanent headcount of core DEFRA as at 31 March 2012.

Core DEFRA does not assume a particular vacancy rate for planning purposes. Instead the Department manages staff and financial resources carefully to ensure that they are aligned to delivery of our strategic objectives.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Apprentices

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2012, Official Report, column 912W, on apprentices: Brighton, what steps his Department is taking to encourage applications for apprenticeship grants for employers in areas of low take-up. [125975]

Matthew Hancock: The National Apprenticeship Service is promoting the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers through extensive engagement with training providers and employers, as well as a national marketing campaign that includes direct mail, telemarketing and promotion through the trade press.

The National Apprenticeship Service is continuing to develop strategic partnerships with Core Cities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to promote the scheme and promoting the grant locally through activities focused on local employers and local priorities. For example, activities in the Brighton area include events with small and medium-sized employers and specific events linking to Brighton's Digi Media growth sector.

Billing

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the average cost to his Department was of processing the payment of an invoice in the latest period for which figures are available; and what proportion of invoices settled in that period his Department paid (a) electronically and (b) by cheque. [125665]

Jo Swinson: The Department has not recently carried out a benchmarking exercise to establish the cost of processing an invoice for payment. The Department will be moving its invoice processing function to a new "Shared Services" provider during the course of this financial year therefore disproportionate costs would be incurred should a benchmarking exercise be carried out

1 Nov 2012 : Column 352W

at this stage. However, the Shared Service provider which the Department will move to currently produces quarterly figures on the cost of processing an invoice to the Cabinet Office as part of the new Next Generation Shared Services (NGSS) Benchmarking exercise. This allows comparisons to be drawn on the efficiency and effectiveness of Government shared services.

During 2011/12 the Department made 99% of it payments electronically; the remainder were made by payable order.

Business: Ethics

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with internet and social media companies about corporate responsibility; and if he will make a statement. [119565]

Jo Swinson [holding answer 6 September 2012]: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), has not had discussions with internet and social media companies about corporate responsibility.

However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has been working with a small group of small and medium-sized enterprises to develop a new Business to Business digital service called Trading for Good. Launched by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), in July 2012, the purpose of this new service is for small businesses to showcase their responsible practices and to encourage others to do more in the priority areas.

Consumers: Scotland

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the reasons are for the decision to disband the Consumer Network in Scotland. [126034]

Jo Swinson: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), has taken no such decision.

Our response to the consultation ‘Empowering and Protecting Consumers’ set out the decision that publicly funded general consumer advocacy would transfer from Consumer Focus to the Citizens Advice Service in April 2013. In Scotland that means the general advocacy work undertaken by Consumer Focus Scotland will transfer to Citizens Advice Scotland.

Citizens Advice Scotland has decided that they do not intend to continue to run the Consumer Network in its current form, instead relying on its network of volunteers working in bureaux across Scotland.

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Government, (b) the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and (c) civic society organisations in Scotland on the disbanding of the Consumer Network in Scotland. [126035]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 353W

Jo Swinson: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), has not had any such discussions.

Officials in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have and continue to be involved in discussions with Consumer Focus Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland to discuss how general consumer advocacy will transfer and be delivered from April 2013.

In respect of the disbanding of the Consumer Network, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave today (PQ 126034).

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when his Department expects to respond to the request made in June 2012 by the Scottish Government for the devolution of policy and operational responsibility for consumer education, advice, information and advocacy in Scotland. [126084]

Jo Swinson: We expect to respond to the Scottish Government's request for devolution of policy and operational responsibility for consumer education, advice, information and advocacy later this month.

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what consideration his Department has given to compensating replica furniture retailers for loss or damage to their business as a result of the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 [125922]

Jo Swinson: There are currently no such plans.

Ford Motor Company

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) how many times Ministers in his Department have visited the Ford Transit plant in Swaythling since May 2010; and on what dates those visits took place; [125814]

(2) whether Ministers in his Department have made proposals to Ford to ensure that transit van production is retained in the UK; [125815]

(3) how many meetings Ministers in his Department have had with Ford at which the future of the Ford Transit plant in Swaythling was discussed since May 2010; and on what dates those meetings took place. [125816]

Michael Fallon [holding answer 30 October 2012]:Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have not been invited to visit Ford's plant in Southampton since May 2010.

Ford is a significant investor in the UK and the company is fully aware that Ministers have an open door to discuss their UK operations, including engaging, at an early stage in the decision-making process, on any help or support we might be able to provide. Although we understand that Ford made its decision based on a thorough analysis of their commercial operations in Europe, we are of course disappointed that on this occasion it chose not to engage with us before making its announcement.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 354W

I am the contact minister for Ford. BIS Ministers have met Ford's management on 13 occasions since May 2010 on the following dates:

 Minister

12 July 2010

Mark Prisk

22 July 2010

Vince Cable

8 September 2010

Mark Prisk

27 September 2010

Vince Cable(1)

30 September 2010

Mark Prisk

13 June 2011

Vince Cable

21 June 2011

Vince Cable

14 September 2011

Mark Prisk

9 November 2011

Vince Cable

1 February 2012

David Willetts

1 March 2012

Mark Prisk

5 September 2012

Michael Fallon

25/26 September 2012

Michael Fallon

(1 )With the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer

During those meetings, there was general discussion about the deteriorating market for vehicles in Europe but no closure plans were mentioned in respect of either Southampton or the Dagenham Pressing plants.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), spoke to Ford management on 24 October 2012 when the company indicated that they would be closing both facilities.

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many meetings he has had with executives of Ford since May 2010; at how many such meetings the future of the firm's UK operations were discussed; and on what dates any such meetings took place. [125855]

Michael Fallon: Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have met executives of Ford on 13 occasions since May 2010 as follows:

DateMinister

12 July 2010

Mark Prisk (the then Minister of State for Business and Enterprise)

22 July 2010

Vince Cable (the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills)

8 September 2010

Mark Prisk

  

27 September 2010

Vince Cable

 

The Prime Minister

 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

  

30 September 2010

Mark Prisk

13 June 2011

Vince Cable

21 June 2011

Vince Cable

14 September 2011

Mark Prisk

9 November 2011

Vince Cable

1 February 2012

David Willetts (the Minister of State for Universities and Science)

1 March 2012

Mark Prisk

5 September 2012

Michael Fallon (the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise)

25/26 September 2012

Michael Fallon

During those meetings, there was general discussion about Ford's business activities in the UK.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 355W

On 24 October 2012, the Secretary of State had a telephone conversation with Ford management when the company first indicated that they would be closing their Southampton and Dagenham Pressing plants. Ford also confirmed that their next generation low carbon diesel engine will be designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK and that it expects to do the same for a new petrol engine at Bridgend, ensuring that the UK remains Ford's global centre of powertrain excellence.

Local Enterprise Partnerships

John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications were received by local enterprise partnerships (LEP) as part of round 2 of the LEP Capacity Fund; and what the value of funds applied for was. [125848]

Michael Fallon: The second round of the Capacity Fund, totalling £3 million, has been allocated to each of the 39 local enterprise partnerships in England. They will receive £76,800 spread over the next three financial years to 2014-15.

Planning

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many chartered town planners are employed by his Department. [125802]

Jo Swinson: The human resource system currently used by Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) does not hold this information. Therefore it is not known how many chartered town planners are employed in BIS.

Public Appointments

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many appointments made to the boards of public bodies overseen by his Department have been (a) male and (b) female since May 2010. [126151]

Jo Swinson: Since May 2010 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has appointed 96 men and 32 women to the boards of our public bodies.

Departmental Staff

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of his Department's staff are (a) male and (b) female. [126152]

Jo Swinson: The following table shows the number and proportion of staff in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) who are (a) male and (b) female.

 Number of staffPercentage against departmental total

Male

1,608

52

Female

1,502

48

Total

3,110

Note: Data are BIS Core (including UKTI) and is at 30 September 2012

1 Nov 2012 : Column 356W

Internships

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans his Department has to promote social mobility through fair, paid internships across the public and private sector. [126088]

Mr Willetts: High quality internships offer many benefits to employers and interns. The Government believe that fair access to such opportunities is important. We want to see as many high quality internship opportunities as possible being made available to talented young people from all backgrounds.

In the Social Mobility Strategy we explain that we encourage businesses to offer internships openly and transparently and to provide financial support to ensure fair access. This financial support could consist either of payment of at least the appropriate national minimum wage (NMW) rate, or alternatively payment of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses where this is in compliance with NMW law. We have provided guidance to give employers and interns greater clarity on when interns are entitled to the NMW:

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?r.l1= 1073858787&r.12=1084822773&r.13=1081657912&r.s= t1&topicId=1096811513

We are ensuring that enforcement of the minimum wage continues to be effective and that resources are focused where they will have maximum impact. HM Revenue and Customs are conducting targeted enforcement in sectors where internships are common and are working with stakeholders in these sectors to drive up compliance.

We also endorse the “Common Best Practice Code for High Quality Internships” published by the Gateways to the Professions Collaborative Forum, which we believe will help improve access to the professions for young people from all backgrounds:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/BISCore/higher-education/docs/C/11-1068-common-best-practice-code-for-quality-internships.pdf

The BIS sponsored Graduate Talent Pool has provided over 48,000 internship opportunities to date:

http://graduatetalentpool.direct.gov.uk/cms/ShowPage/Home_page/p!ecaaefg

Improved quality assurance processes have ensured that in recent months, unpaid and expenses only adverts represent between 2% and 5% of vacancies.

Health

Blood: CJD

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to invest in research into variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease testing of the UK blood supply. [125852]

Anna Soubry: There are several tests in development for the detection of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in blood or plasma. The tests are in varying stages of development and the Department supports this process through funding a research group at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control to provide independent evaluation of the parameters of the test and supplying valuable and rare test materials.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 357W

The Department supports research into test development. The research to take prototype tests to commercial endpoint for use in any large-scale screening of the population is, however, seen as the role of commercial partners and industry.

The Department sponsors both National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which manages the blood service in England and north Wales, and the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit, which is collaborating with both NHSBT and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service with its test development. The Department has also provided funding to the MRC Prion Unit, which has helped to support the unit's core test development work, which is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Breasts: Surgery

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the peak age range was for finished admission episodes for breast surgery in England in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. [125767]

Anna Soubry: The peak age range for finished admission episodes (FAEs) for breast surgery in England in 2009-10 and 2010-11 was 50 to 54, with 11,288 and 11,639 FAEs in those years respectively.

An FAE is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

Domestic Violence

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the level of support provided by the NHS to victims of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement. [125596]

Anna Soubry: The national health service provides a wide range of support to victims of domestic violence though this is difficult to quantify. Victims can access help and support through a variety of health service providers. Health care professionals also frequently refer victims to specialist providers of domestic violence services. Health care professionals participate in Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences which are convened to support high risk victims.

The Department has undertaken significant work to promote the identification of victims of domestic violence by health professionals working with the key professional organisations including the Royal Colleges, recognising the key role that health services play in providing opportunities for victims to disclose in a safe environment. This includes the introduction of routine inquiry by midwives who ask all pregnant women whether they are at risk of, or suffering from, domestic violence.

We are committed to improving standards of care and support for women and child victims of domestic violence. This commitment is outlined in “Improving services for women and child victims of violence: the

1 Nov 2012 : Column 358W

Department of Health Action Plan” published in November 2010, which sets out how the Department will work with the NHS and partners to address this issue. Further details of the Action Plan are at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_122003

The health service is in a unique position to help support victims of domestic violence, information on a range of services available through local services that have been set up to ensure women's safety. In December 2005, the Department published “Responding to Domestic Abuse: a handbook for health professionals”. The handbook gives practical guidance to health care professionals on working with patients who may have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse. A copy of the handbook is at:

[email protected][email protected]/documents/digitalasset/dh_4126619.pdf

On 19 November 2009, the Department published “Improving safety, reducing harm: children, young people and domestic violence A practical toolkit for front-line practitioners”.

This comprehensive toolkit for health professionals was developed to improve responses to a range of key issues affecting children and young people including domestic violence, bullying, sexual violence and gangs as well as child protection and risk assessments. A copy of the toolkit is at:

[email protected][email protected][email protected]/documents/digitalasset/dh_116914.pdf

Copies of the documents have already been placed in the Library.

Drugs: Babies

Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many babies were born addicted to illegal drugs in each of the last five years. [125589]

Anna Soubry: Data on the number of babies born with neonatal withdrawal symptoms from maternal use of illicit or therapeutic drugs are collected, but are not broken down by type of drug. Data for the last five years for which information is available are given in the following table.

Count of finished admission birth episodes(1) (FAEs) with a primary or secondary diagnosis of neonatal withdrawal symptoms from maternal use of drugs(2) for the period 2006-07 to 2010-11(3): Activity in English NHS hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector
 Birth FAEs

2006-07

1,074

2007-08

1,105

2008-09

1,062

2009-10

1,150

1 Nov 2012 : Column 359W

2010-11

1,033

(1) Finished admission (birth) episode (FAE) A finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. Birth episodes and ‘other birth event’ episodes were included in these counts. (2) Number of episodes in which the patient had a (named) primary or secondary diagnosis The number of episodes where this diagnosis was recorded in any of the 20 (14 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and seven prior to 2002-03) primary and secondary diagnosis fields in a Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) record. Each episode is only counted once, even if the diagnosis is recorded in more than one diagnosis field of the record. ICD-10 code used: P96.1 Neonatal withdrawal symptoms form maternal use of drugs of addiction (3) Assessing growth through time HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage-of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures which may now be undertaken in out-patient settings and so no longer include in admitted patient HES data. Note: Data quality. HES are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and from some independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The Health and Social Care Information Centre

Female Genital Mutilation

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the number of cases of female genital mutilation in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and what strategy he has put in place to eradicate this practice. [125786]

Anna Soubry: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the United Kingdom. It is also illegal to arrange for a child to be taken abroad for FGM. If caught, offenders face a large fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years. It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. However, the true extent is unknown due to the ‘hidden' nature of the crime and the lack of robust prevalence data.

Additionally, the Health and Social Care Information Centre collect data on Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), with details of all admissions to NHS hospitals in England. HES clinical codes do not currently enable us to identify admissions for FGM-related treatment such as deinfibulation (female circumcision). We are exploring the inclusion of a HES code for deinfibulation in the next update of HES coding scheduled for release in April 2014.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 360W

The Government's commitment to tackle FGM is set out in the Violence against Women and Girls Action Plan and the-Home Office has the lead across Government in tackling FGM. Officials in the Department work very closely on FGM with Home Office counterparts. In February 2011, the Government launched Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines on FGM, which can be used by all health professionals to help them identify girls who may be at risk of FGM. The Home Office is currently reviewing the use of the Guidelines, and expects to complete this review by the end of February 2013.

This summer the Government and the police engaged in a campaign to crack down on FGM during the summer holiday period—traditionally the time of greatest risk for girls being taken abroad to undergo the practice. More than 80,000 leaflets and posters have been distributed to schools, health services, charities and community groups across the country.

Haemophilia

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the risk of viral contamination from blood products supplied to patients with haemophilia. [125849]

Anna Soubry: Haemophilia is a group of genetic disorders that result in a deficiency of clotting factors in the blood, so the body is unable to control bleeding. There is no cure, and people with moderate or severe haemophilia need regular treatment with clotting factor products to manage their condition.

The regulations concerning the collection and processing of human blood require the manufacturers of blood products, such as clotting factors, to have many safeguards in place to ensure that the risk of viral contamination of their products is reduced to a minimum. These include the use of qualified donors only, the testing of donated blood and blood pools, and the use of virus removal and virus inactivation steps in the manufacture of blood products.

As of 29 October 2012, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has received a total of 464 adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports concerning drug substances used to treat patients with haemophilia. Of these 464 ADR reports, 54 were associated with a possible viral contamination of the blood product, leading to viral infection. 52 of these cases were reported prior to 1997. The most recent report was received in 2007. Because of the nature of the reporting system, however, such reports do not necessarily mean that the adverse reactions were caused by the treatments.

Since 1998, synthetic (recombinant) clotting factors for the treatment of people with haemophilia have been provided for those up to the age of 16 years, and for all patients for whom they are suitable since 2005. This significantly reduces the potential risk of transmitting an infection. Some patients, however, still require human plasma-derived clotting factors.

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the Government accepts a responsibility to provide financial support to people with haemophilia who suffered viral contamination from blood products in the 1970s and 1980s; [125850]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 361W

(2) if he will consider establishing a public inquiry into the circumstances which resulted in the viral contamination from blood products to patients with haemophilia in the 1970s and 1980s. [125851]

Anna Soubry: In recognition at the time of the unique position of haemophiliacs infected with HIV through treatment with blood and blood products supplied by the national health service, the Government funded an ex gratia financial support package in the late 1980s. The system of financial support has since been extended and improved by successive governments, including to people infected with hepatitis C. In January 2011, this Government announced significant improvements to the financial support available to those with hepatitis C, following a review of the scientific and clinical evidence.

All relevant facts relating to NHS-supplied contaminated blood or blood products in England are in the public domain and documents held by the Department on blood safety from 1970-1985 are available on the Department's website, at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/FreedomOfInformation/Freedomofinformationpublicationschemefeedback/FOIreleases/DH_076693

It has therefore been the view of successive governments that after all this time, there is no justification for a public inquiry.

Heart Diseases: Children

Sir Edward Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the further review of children's cardiac services to be completed by 28 February 2013 that he announced in his letter to local authorities of 22 October 2012 will also include a review of adult and children's extra-corporeal oxygenation services in England. [126226]

Anna Soubry: The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) provides advice to the Secretary of State on the plans that the national health service puts forward for significant change to services. It cannot review decisions taken by the Secretary of State on nationally commissioned highly specialised services.

The Secretary of State has asked the IRP to conduct a full review of the Safe and Sustainable review of children's congenital heart services. It will review the decision of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts on the future pattern of children's congenital heart surgery and its consideration of the impact of that, which may include possible consequences for other services. The Secretary of State's decision to move children's extra-corporeal oxygenation services (ECMO) to Birmingham does not affect the provision of adult ECMO services at Leicester, which will continue.

The terms of reference for the review are available online at:

www.irpanel.org.uk

Sir Edward Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on which occasions the Chief Executive of the NHS and the Chief Executive of Birmingham Children's Hospital, have discussed, emailed, or otherwise communicated with each other about the future of children's cardiac services and extra corporeal oxygenation services in England since the inception of the Safe and Sustainable cardiac review for children's services in England. [126227]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 362W

Anna Soubry: There have been no occasions, since the inception of the Safe and Sustainable review for children's services in England, during which the NHS chief executive and the chief executive of Birmingham Children's Hospital have emailed, corresponded or met to discuss the future of children's cardiac or extra corporeal membrane oxygenation services in England.

Heart Diseases: West Sussex

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the peak age range for finished admission episodes for coronary artery bypass surgery was in (a) West Sussex and (b) St Richard's Hospital, Chichester in each of the last three years. [125764]

Anna Soubry: Information held by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that in each of the last three years there were no finished admission episodes where the main operative procedure was coronary artery bypass graft either where the primary care trust (PCT) of the main hospital provider was West Sussex PCT or the hospital provider was Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, which includes St Richard's Hospital, Chichester.

Hip Replacements: West Sussex

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the peak age range for finished admission episodes for hip replacement procedures was in (a) West Sussex and (b) St Richard's Hospital, Chichester in each of the last three years. [125763]

Anna Soubry: Information is not available in the format requested. The number of finished admission episodes for hip replacement procedures in West Sussex primary care trust (PCT) area, including West Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (of which St Richard's is a part) are shown in the following tables:

Finished admission episodes(1) with a main operative procedure(2) of hip replacement surgery(3) for West Sussex PCT of main provider(4) and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust(5) by five year age bands from 2008-09 to 2010-11(6). Activity in English NHS hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector
 West Sussex PCT of main provider
Age band2008-092009-102010-11

0-4

5-9

10-14

15-19

20-24

(7)

25-29

(7)

(7)

(7)

30-34

6

(7)

(7)

35-39

14

8

11

40-44

19

(7)

13

45-49

25

18

38

50-54

62

31

50

55-59

81

42

99

60-64

171

114

171

65-69

244

144

205

70-74

307

197

265

75-79

368

234

289

80-84

257

230

265

85-89

185

169

184

90-120

113

112

112

Age not known

(7)

(7)

1 Nov 2012 : Column 363W

Total

1,858

1,307

1,709


 RPL Worthing and Southlands Hospital TrustRPR-X Royal West Sussex NHS TrustRYR-X Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust
Age band2008-092008-092009-102010-11

0-4

5-9

10-14

15-19

20-24

25-29

(7)

(7)

(7)

30-34

(7)

(7)

(7)

35-39

(7)

(7)

7

(7)

40-44

7

8

(7)

6

45-49

10

9

18

13

50-54

13

26

31

22

55-59

28

22

42

57

60-64

44

65

109

97

65-69

58

86

141

115

70-74

104

120

194

176

75-79

153

129

230

212

80-84

107

104

229

203

85-89

84

73

169

164

90-120

57

51

112

107

Age not known

Total

674

696

1,290

1,177

(1 )Finished admission episodesA finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one health care provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. (2)Main procedureThe first recorded procedure or intervention in each episode, usually the most resource intensive procedure or intervention performed during the episode. It is appropriate to use main procedure when looking at admission details, e.g. time waited, but a more complete count of episodes with a particular procedure is obtained by looking at the main and the secondary procedures. (3)OPCS 4 Codes for hip replacement surgeryW37-39, W46-48, W93-95. (4)PCT of main providerThis indicates the PCT area within which the organisation providing treatment was located. (5)Hospital providerRYR-X Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust was formed in 2009-10 as a merger of RPL Worthing and Southlands Hospital Trust and RPR-X Royal West Sussex NHS Trust. We have therefore provided data for both of these trusts for 2008-09. A provider code is a unique code that identifies an organisation acting as a health care provider (e.g. NHS trust or PCT). (6)Assessing growth through timeHES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care. (7)Small numbersCounts between 1 and 5 have been suppressed in order to protect patient confidentiality. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Knee Replacements

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the peak age range was for finished admission episodes for knee replacement surgery in England in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. [125768]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 364W

Anna Soubry: The information requested is available in the following table.

Finished admission episodes(1) with a main operative procedure(2) of knee replacement surgery(3) by five year age bands 2009-10 and 2010-11(4)
Activity in English NHS hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector
Age band2009-102010-11

0-4

2

5-9

1

10-14

1

15-19

2

4

20-24

15

13

25-29

27

21

30-34

56

45

35-39

155

125

40-44

514

529

45-49

1,410

1,468

50-54

3,274

3,581

55-59

6,136

6,511

60-64

11,698

12,174

65-69

13,438

14,213

70-74

14,916

15,585

75-79

12,991

13,434

80-84

7,634

7,857

85-89

2,772

2,904

90-120

310

407

Age not known

34

39

Total

75,384

78,912

(1) Finished admission episodes A finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. (2) Main procedure The first recorded procedure or intervention in each episode, usually the most resource intensive procedure or intervention performed during the episode. It is appropriate to use main procedure when looking at admission details, (eg time waited), but a more complete count of episodes with a particular procedure is obtained by looking at the main and the secondary procedures. (3) OPCS 4 Codes for Knee replacement surgery W40-42 (excluding W40.0, W41.0, W42.0, W42.4, W42.6) O18 (excluding O18.4) W58.1 (followed by secondary code of Z84.4 or Z84.5), W52-54 (excluding W54.4) followed by secondary code: Z76.5, Z77.4, Z84.4, Z84.5 or Z84.6. 4 Assessing growth through time (Inpatients) HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre

Mental Illness

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has not repeated the Psychiatric Morbidity Survey since 2007; and if the ONS will consider repeating the survey. [125651]

Norman Lamb: Responsibility for the commissioning of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey rests with the Department rather than the Office for National Statistics. The survey has taken place every seven years since 1993 and has been carried out by the NHS Information Centre (NHSIC) since its inception in 2005. The Department and the NHSIC are currently discussing plans for the next survey which should take place in 2014.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 365W

NHS: Pay

Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total pay bill was for the NHS in the last year for which figures are available; how many people were employed by the NHS in that period; how many such employees earned (a) less than £21,000 per year, (b) £40,000 a year or more, (c) £45,000 a year or more and (d) £50,000 a year or more; and what proportion of the total pay bill was paid to employees earning (i) over £40,000 a year, (ii) over £45,000 a year and (iii) over £50,000 a year. [126141]

Dr Poulter: The National Health Service Hospital and Community Health Services pay bill was approximately £43 billion in 2011-12. This excludes spending on agency and bank staff.

Over 2011-12, the size of the work force averaged around 1,200,000 individuals or around 1,040,000 in full-time equivalent terms.

Validated earnings information is not held centrally for NHS staff. However, estimates on the earnings distributions of NHS staff can be made using data from the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) which is a human resource and payroll system that covers all NHS employees other than those working in general practice, two trusts that elected not to use ESR (Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust), and a relatively small number of NHS staff who have transferred to social enterprises or other organisations which do not use ESR.

The data on ESR include details of all payments made to staff, which will not necessarily equate to salary or contracted earnings.

Over 2011-12 there was:

(a) an estimated average of around 445,000 individuals with annualised earnings less than £21,000 per year;

(b) an estimated average of around 230,000 individuals with annualised earnings of £40,000 or more per year;

(c) an estimated average of around 160,000 individuals with annualised earnings of £45,000 or more per year; and

(d) an estimated average of around 115,000 individuals with annualised earnings of £50,000 or more per year.

Over 2011-12:

(i) around a sixth of the pay bill is estimated to have related to individuals with annualised earnings less than £21,000 per year;

(ii) around four-tenths of the pay bill is estimated to have related to individuals with annualised earnings of £40,000 or more per year;

(iii) around a third of the pay bill is estimated to have related to individuals with annualised earnings of £45,000 or more per year;

(iv) around a quarter of the pay bill is estimated to have related to individuals with annualised earnings of £50,000 or more per year.

NHS: Private Sector

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with his Cabinet colleagues on extending Freedom of Information legislation to cover private providers of NHS services. [124085]

Mrs Grant: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 366W

We recognise there are arguments for increased transparency by all bodies in receipt of public funds, including private providers of NHS services. However, this needs to be balanced with reducing the regulatory burden on business.

The Justice Select Committee published its post-legislative scrutiny report on the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) on 26 July. The Government is currently considering its response to the Justice Committee, including the extent to which private providers of public services should be subject to FOIA. We intend to publish our response shortly.

Prescription Drugs

Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of long-term prescription medications to manage chronic pain in terms of impairment; and if he will make a statement. [125594]

Norman Lamb: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the Government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. When assessing new medicines, including those for the management of chronic pain, the MHRA considers the benefits of administering the product for the proposed indications versus the potential adverse effects.

Press: Subscriptions

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on newspapers, periodicals and trade publications in the last 12 months. [125718]

Dr Poulter: In the last 12 months (October 2011 to September 2012), the Department has spent £131,535 on newspapers, periodicals and trade publications.

The Department's Knowledge Centre is responsible for central provision of library services, including newspapers, periodicals and trade publications. The figures above do not include expenditure on items for retention by individual divisions, responsibility for which was decentralised in April 2010. Details on this expenditure are not available.

Staff

Mike Freer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on (a) recruitment agency fees, (b) outplacement agency fees for displaced or redundant staff and (c) staff training in each of the last 12 months. [125722]

Dr Poulter: The Department does not hold information on recruitment agency fees in the form requested. While the Department's central procurement system is able to identify total payments made to recruitment agencies it is not possible to isolate the fee element of any of those payments.

The total cost of fees for outplacement services in the past 12 months was £2,851.20 including VAT. Fees are not paid every month, only when required for the service. In the last 12 months only two payments were made: £1,042.80 for August and £1,808.40 for September.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 367W

Corporate departmental spend on staff training for learning and development (L&D) for the calendar year October 2011 to September 2012 (the most recent complete year for which data are available) is set out in the following table:

 £

2011

 

October

21,201.16

November

36,080.82

December

10,287.31

  

2012

 

January

3,995.20

February

19,073.80

March

5,162.40

April

0

May

6,894.32

June

0

July

109,475.00

August

8,210.88

September

12,904.80

Overall total

233,285.69

The table outlines central L&D spend only, ie training that is funded centrally by human resources. Individual directorates may also have additional L&D budgets. However, this expenditure is not tracked or analysed centrally.

Surgery

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the peak age range for finished admission episodes for elective colorectal excision procedures in England was in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. [125782]

Anna Soubry: The peak age range for finished admission episodes (FAEs) for elective colorectal excision procedures in England in 2009-10 and 2010-11 was 60 to 69 with 17,402 and 20,781 FAEs in those years respectively.

An FAE is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

Cabinet Office

Billing

Mike Freer: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the average cost to his Department was of processing the payment of an invoice in the latest period for which figures are available; and what proportion of invoices settled in that period his Department paid (a) electronically and (b) by cheque. [125653]

Miss Chloe Smith: The average cost of processing an invoice for August 2012 was £2.69. All invoices are paid electronically.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 368W

In line with other year-on-year efficiencies delivered through the Cabinet Office's commercial relationship with DWP, the cost of processing of invoices has fallen since 2010.

Civil Servants: Scotland

Margaret Curran: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2012, Official Report column 1069W, on civil servants: Scotland, what the total salary costs were of the 29,990 civil servants employed by UK Government Departments and their agencies in Scotland in the last year for which figures are available. [126101]

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, dated October 2012:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question. (126101)

Data are collected on the gross salary of civil servants on an annual basis, with 31 March as the reference date. The gross annual salary is inclusive of basic pay (including consolidated performance pay) and pay related allowances such as regional and skill allowances (including recruitment and retention allowance). It does not include bonuses.

The latest available data are for March 2012. The total annual salary costs for civil servants employed by UK Government departments and their agencies (excluding Scottish Government and its agencies) in Scotland are £684.5 million.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he intends to answer the letter dated 28 August 2012 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs C Blackhurst, forwarded from the Department for Work and Pensions. [125948]

Mr Hurd: I have replied to the right hon. Member's letter.

Deputy Prime Minister

Research and Development

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much his Office spent on research and development in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10, (c) 2010-11 and (d) 2011-12; and how much he plans to spend in (i) 2012-13, (ii) 2013-14 and (iii) 2014-15. [121871]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), on 31 October 2012, Official Report, column 218W.

Turkey

Sir Nick Harvey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister who accompanied him on his visit to Turkey in October 2012; and, where relevant, which companies they represented. [125873]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 369W

The Deputy Prime Minister: During my visit to Turkey I was accompanied by the following:

right hon. Michael Fallon MP

Michael Fallon's Private Secretary

DPM Private Secretary

DPM Head of Communications

DPM Special Adviser (Policy)

DPM Special Adviser (Media)

DPM Police Protection Officers

Steve Morriss: AECOM

Bill Caplan: Aggreko

Donald McGarva: Amino Communications Ltd

Peter Budd: Arup

Steve Novis: Atkins Polska

Andrew Renton: Bird and Bird LLP

Stephen Voller: Cella Energy

Bart Simpson: Delcam plc

Enrico Bertagna: Lloyd's of London

Robert Fig: London Metal Exchange

Mark Richards: Mace Ltd

Chris Chalk: Mott McDonald

Alan Lamond: Pascall and Watson architects

John Hill: Pera

John Barrow: Populous

James Sutcliffe: Port Evolution Management UK

Stephen Clarke: Ricardo plc

Adam Lawrence: Royal Mint

Alex Cresswell: Thales UK

Neil Parison: Rolls-Royce

Note:

Rolls Royce did not travel from the UK, but had company representation in Turkey.

Defence

Afghanistan

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition is used to distinguish between (a) insurgents and (b) civilians when reporting casualties in Afghanistan. [124375]

Dr Murrison: Within the context of the operational environment in Afghanistan, we report the number of casualties that are caused by UK forces' actions, whether these are civilian or insurgent casualties, as accurately as practicable.

The Ministry of Defence does not, as a matter of course, monitor overall insurgent or civilian casualty figures.

However, where a possible civilian casualty is reported, UK forces will investigate the circumstances. The presumption of that investigation will be that any casualty is a civilian unless it can be established that the individual was directly involved in immediate attempts or plans to threaten the lives of International Security Assistance Force personnel.

Mr Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there have been delays to the delivery of (a) protective glasses and (b) uniforms to theatre in Afghanistan; and what the length of any such delays has been. [125453]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 370W

Mr Dunne [holding answer 29 October 2012]:There have been no reported delays in the delivery of protective glasses or uniforms to service personnel currently deployed on operations in Afghanistan.

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many missiles have been fired by Royal Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan since the introduction of those vehicles. [125777]

Mr Robathan: Reaper is the only UK remotely piloted air system (RPAS) and has been armed with precision guided weapons since May 2008. As of 22 October 2012, the UK Reaper RPAS has provided more than 40,000 hours of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 293 Hellfire precision guided missiles and 52 laser guided bombs have been deployed using the UK Reaper RPAS.

Reaper is not an autonomous system and all weapons employment depends upon commands from the flight crew. The weapons may be released under the command of a pilot who uses Rules of Engagement (ROE) that are no different to those used for manned UK combat aircraft. The targets are always positively identified as legitimate military objectives, and attacks are prosecuted in strict accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and UK ROE. Every effort is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.

Aircraft Carriers

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the dimensions are of the main cargo and aircraft lift planned for the Queen Elizabeth class carrier. [125257]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 29 October 2012]:There are two aircraft lifts on each Queen Elizabeth class carrier, which measure around 28 metres long, 15 metres wide, and 2.5 metres deep.

Armed Forces

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of the deployable collective protection capacity of Defence Medical Services with regard to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. [123153]

Mr Robathan: The collective protection capacity of the Defence Medical Services with regard to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats has been assessed during a number of departmental audits between July 2011 and July 2012. The details of these audits are classified in the interests of national security.

Dan Byles: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Defence Medical Service personnel are currently trained to (a) treat and (b) decontaminate patients contaminated with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material. [123159]

Mr Robathan: Two training courses are run for Defence Medical Service personnel that cover both treatment and decontamination in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) environment.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 371W

The CBRN Clinical Course is designed to train pre-hospital and hospital (medical, nursing and paramedic) personnel in the recognition, triage and management of casualties in a CBRN environment and beyond, including casualty decontamination. The course has a "life" of five years, and to date a total of 150 personnel have attended since 2008-09 (so would be regarded as currently qualified).

The Emergency Medical Treatment course is designed to train pre-hospital medical personnel (specifically junior doctors) in the recognition, triage and management of casualties in a CBRN environment, including casualty decontamination. The course has a "life" of three years, and to date a total of 294 personnel have attended since 2009-10 (so would be regarded as currently qualified).

While these figures show the numbers that have attended the courses, centrally maintained records do not indicate how many of the individual personnel have left the services since attending. Precise numbers could only be obtained by reference to the personal files of each individual who is recorded as having attended one of the courses, which would entail disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Training

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost savings to his Department of the changes to the Military Flight Training System programme; and over what period such savings are expected to be achieved. [125099]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 25 October 2012]: There have been no significant changes to those elements of the UK Military Flying Training System that are currently under contract. While savings are expected to be achieved for those elements of the programme not currently under contract, it would be prejudicial to commercial interests to disclose these assessments.

Guided Weapons

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 October 2012, Official Report, column 614W, on guided weapons, whether the Royal Navy had any direct involvement in the procurement of Fire Shadow. [125383]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 29 October 2012]: The Royal Navy's involvement in the procurement of the Fire Shadow weapon system has been limited to participation in briefings in order to maintain awareness and general understanding.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the elements of Lightning II aircraft variants are common. [124754]

Mr Dunne [holding answer 25 October 2012]: The elements of the Lightning II (F35) Avionics and Mission systems suite are 100% common across all variants.

The proportion of component parts of the aircraft that are common to all variants are as follows:

1 Nov 2012 : Column 372W

 Percentage

F35-A

39

F35-B

30

F35-C

28

Libya

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 October 2012, Official Report, column 615W, on Libya: military intervention, which aircraft provided the mid-air refuelling to the Tornado aircraft flying to Libyan airspace from (a) Italy and (b) RAF Marham. [126087]

Mr Robathan: During Operation Ellamy, Tornado aircraft flying to Libyan airspace from Gioia Del Colle airbase in Italy were provided air-to-air refuelling by Royal Air Force VC10 and Tristar aircraft, as well as coalition tanker aircraft.

For the air-to-air refuelling aircraft which fuelled Tornado aircraft flying to Libyan airspace from RAF Marham, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 29 October 2012, Official Report, column 30W.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the purchase of training helicopters to support the rotary wing training programme has been deferred until after the next strategic defence and security review; and if he will make a statement. [125100]

Mr Dunne: Since 1997, rotary wing training has been contracted to FB Heliservices who have operated the Defence Helicopter Flying School. In April 2012, this contract was extended for four years to 2016. A study is currently being conducted to determine how best to take forward rotary wing training after 2016.

Military Attachés

Sir Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many defence attachés have been based in overseas embassies and high commissions in each of the last seven years. [124761]

Dr Murrison [holding answer 25 October 2012]: The number of defence attachés in overseas embassies and high commissions in each of the last seven years is shown in the following table:

 Defence attachésNumber of defence sections

2006

127

84

2007

124

82

2008

119

81

2009

116

79

2010

105

71

2011

110

74

2012

111

73

Defence sections may also employ senior non-commissioned officers, United Kingdom-based civilians and locally engaged civilians as support staff. Such staff are not included in the table.

1 Nov 2012 : Column 373W

There are a number of defence attachés who have attaché accreditation in countries in which they are non-resident. During 2012, the 73 overseas defence sections provided defence attaché services to a further 74 countries.

An announcement will soon be made about the development of the defence attaché network after the International Defence Engagement Strategy is launched by Ministers.

Persian Gulf

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total current deployment of UK naval vessels in the Persian Gulf is; and how many military personnel are attached to UK bases in the region. [125996]

Mr Robathan: As of 31 October 2012, the UK has the following naval vessels deployed in the Gulf region (including the Red sea, Arabian gulf and Indian ocean):

One Type 45 Destroyer

One Type 23 Frigate

Four Mine Countermeasure vessels

Four Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels

One Echo-class survey vessel

Trafalgar class submarines are also deployed periodically in the Gulf region.

The UK does not have any bases in the region. However, there are currently just under 2,000 UK military personnel in the region serving on current operations, of which the majority are royal naval personnel based predominately at sea. It is not possible to provide an exact figure as the number fluctuates for a variety of reasons, including mid-tour rest and recuperation, temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces, visits and a range of other factors.

Syria

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK has supplied unmanned aerial vehicles to Syria in the last three years. [126116]

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

The Government do hold details of export licensing decisions and, for the period specified, there are no records relating to the proposed export of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Syria. However, some UAVs are not strategically controlled because they are not of significant military utility and therefore do not require a licence for export or trade activity and, where this is the case, we do not hold information about what may have been supplied without a licence.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there was any British industrial interest in the procurement of Fire Scout. [124752]

1 Nov 2012 : Column 374W

Mr Dunne [holding answer 25 October 2012]:Fire Scout is a commercial product, manufactured by Northrop Grumman for the US armed forces. It does not meet any endorsed UK capability need and the Ministry of Defence is unable to comment on British industrial interest in it.