Gamma Retrovirus Infections

Mr Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether any Government-funded bodies have used clinically validated assays in their published studies into gamma retrovirus infections in myalgic encephalopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer patients in the latest period for which figures are available. [129817]

Mr Willetts: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is one of the main agencies through which the Government supports medical research.

Researchers at the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research are investigating infection and replication of retroviruses, such as xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV). Two papers resulting from work on XMRV in patients with Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also in prostate cancer patients have been published. Neither study identified a link between XMRV and disease. Details of the sensitive serological and PCR assays used in the studies are described in the papers. There are no clinically validated assays to study gammaretroviruses in humans.

Higher Education: Havering

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many students from Havering have entered higher education in each of the last five years. [130383]

Mr Willetts: The latest available information on entrants to UK higher education institutions who were domiciled in Havering local authority prior to their course is shown in the following table for the academic years 2006/07 to 2010/11. Information for the 2011/12 academic year will become available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency in January 2013.

Havering local authority domiciled(1) entrants(2) by level of study: UK higher education institutions, academic year 2006/07 to 2010/11
Academic yearUndergraduatePostgraduateTotal

2006/07

1,910

415

2,320

2007/08

2,060

405

2,465

2008/09

2,300

430

2,730

2009/10

2,545

520

3,060

2010/11

2,345

485

2,830

(1) Domicile refers to a student’s permanent or home address prior to entry of the course. (2) Covers students in their first year of study. Note: Figures are based on a HESA standard registration population and have been rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of five, so components may not sum to totals. Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record

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Hull University

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many UK students studying at the university of Hull have yet to receive a student finance payment for this financial year. [130043]

Mr Willetts: The following table provides a breakdown of payments for academic year 2012/13 on or before the 21 November made by Student Finance England to Hull university students domiciled in England and entitled to maintenance support. (Figures for payments to UK-wide students are not easily available).

DescriptionApplications to Hull University for AY 2012/13

Applications prepared for payment with maintenance support entitlement:

9,900

  

Of which:

 

Attendance confirmed and first payment made

9,390

First payment made to those studying away from the institution (medical course, placement etc)

220

Attendance confirmed and first payment will be made at term start date or is currently in the banking system

60

Awaiting confirmation of attendance from the institution

220

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Attendance confirmed but first payment withheld

(1)10

(1) Payments are withheld in exceptional cases for example where the bank details provided by the applicant have been found to be invalid or where the NINO has not yet been validated.

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many students of Hull university had outstanding student finance applications on (a) 24 September, (b) 8 October, (c) 22 October, (d) 5 November and (e) 19 November 2012. [130045]

Mr Willetts: Table 1 sets out the total number of Hull university student finance applications submitted to Student Finance England on the specified dates, along with those outstanding. Table 2 provides a breakdown of the outstanding applications.

For students that apply near the start of term, or for those who have not yet supplied the required evidence of household income, SLC will do everything it can to ensure they get at least the basic non means-tested maintenance loan and tuition fee loan so that the student can start their course, and will pay any additional amounts due as soon as possible after the start of term.

Table 1
 2012
 24 September8 October22 October5 November19 November

Total number of applications for academic year 2012/13

10,490

10,610

10,690

10,740

10,790

Total number of student finance application outstanding

1,210

860

660

490

380

Table 2
 2012
 24 September8 October22 October5 November19 November

Applications awaiting signatures from applicant

640

410

320

260

220

Applications awaiting further details or evidence

340

260

210

150

120

Applications currently being assessed

230

190

130

80

40

Industry: Scotland

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he last met Ministers in the Scottish Government to discuss the Scottish manufacturing and construction sectors; and when he plans next to meet Ministers in the Scottish Government for such discussions. [130131]

Michael Fallon: There have been no recent discussions at ministerial level about these specific issues with the Scottish Government, and none are planned, but BIS officials are in regular contact with officials in the Scottish Government on a wide-range of issues affecting the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Regional Growth Fund

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 9 November 2012, Official Report, column 779W, on Regional Growth Fund, what the (a) number and (b) monetary value of (i) bids and (ii) individual awards under round one of the Regional Growth Fund is which have not yet received a final agreed offer. [128758]

Michael Fallon: From the first Regional Growth Fund (RGF) round 10 bids amounting to £64.2 million are yet to agree a final offer. These bids equate to 10 individual awards.

Research and Development Tax Credits

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent conversations (a) he and (b) his ministerial colleagues have had with HM Treasury on the effect on the UK life sciences industry of above the line research and development tax credits. [130259]

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Mr Willetts: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and his ministerial colleagues regularly meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss a range of business issues.

Student Finance

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the average length of time to process a student finance application was in academic year (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13 to date. [130042]

Mr Willetts: The following table provides the average processing times for student finance applications for academic years (AY) 2009/10 to 2011/12. These show significant year on year improvements:

Academic year (AY)Average processing times for student finance applications from new and continuing students (weeks)

2009/10

(1)12.4

2010/11

9.9

2011/12

6.8

(1) New students only. 2009/10 was the first year of SLC's processing service for students domiciled in England.

The information is not available in this format for AY 2012/13. For financial year (FY) 2012/13 by the end of October, 96.8% of applications were processed within the current target of 20 days and 98.7% in 30 days. These figures apply to student finance applications for all academic years including AY 2012/13, although it is true that the bulk of the applications processed this financial year are in respect of AY 2012/13.

Student Loans

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 July 2012, Official Report, column 35WS, on advanced learning loans, what progress he has made in aligning resources to ensure participation in STEM subjects is maintained following the introduction of advanced learning loans. [130480]

Matthew Hancock: In the written ministerial statement of 12 July 2012, Official Report, columns 35-36WS, we confirmed our intention to provide learners with the information they need about 24+ advanced learning loans, and alongside this, to maintain and grow participation in STEM programmes.

We have looked at the options for using capital funding to strengthen the incentives for learners eligible for 24+ advanced learning loans to take up courses in STEM subjects. Data on the take-up of loans in the first year of introduction (2013-14) will inform our conclusions and the action we decide to take.

Potential learners should have the information they need about costs and benefits when deciding whether to take out a loan. While courses in STEM subjects tend to be higher cost, the financial return to the learner from gaining a STEM qualification is typically greater. In addition, the introduction of 24+ advanced learning loans means that no learner aged 24 and above studying at Level 3 will pay an up front fee, removing one of the main barriers to learning.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agricultural Wages Board

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government plan to publish their response to the consultation on the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board in Wales. [130125]

Mr Heath [holding answer 26 November 2012]: The Government will announce their decision on the recent consultation on the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales and the Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees in England once they have had the opportunity to consider the consultation responses.

Animal Welfare: Circuses

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration his Department has given to the welfare and care of animals whose owners' licences for wild circus animals are suspended under the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012. [127965]

Mr Heath: The person responsible for the operation of a travelling circus that has wild animals will need to hold a licence or be guilty of an offence. The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 build on the Animal Welfare Act 2006 by requiring the operator to comply with licensing conditions, including providing for the welfare needs of wild animals as required by good practice. If an operator has its licence suspended, the owners of the wild animals used in the circus will still be responsible for caring for their animals in the same way as anybody else would be under the 2006 Act. The statutory duty of care will continue to apply to the owner as will the provisions on preventing unnecessary suffering.

Animals: Exports

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the review on live exports will report to him. [128292]

Mr Heath: I have received the report by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency on their internal review of procedures following the regrettable events on 12 September at Ramsgate. At the request of Kent Trading Standards as prosecuting authority and on the basis of legal advice, the report will not be made publicly available until investigations or any prosecution action is completed.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many animals have been destroyed due to poor health while they were in transit as part of the live exports trade in the latest period for which figures are available. [128296]

Mr Heath: The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) does not hold records for the numbers of animals that have had to be euthanized as a result of becoming unfit during a journey, for exports of all species from the United Kingdom. However, in relation to the trade in live animals currently being

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exported through Ramsgate port, AHVLA records show that during 2012 (up to the end of October) its inspectors identified 45 animals that were not fit to continue with their journey and required them to be euthanized. This represents 0.1% of the total number of animals (36,850) exported through the port over the same period.

Ash Dieback Disease

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates officials from his Department met with officials of the Scottish Government to discuss Chalara fraxinea. [128267]

Mr Heath: Officials from the devolved Administrations participate in or receive the minutes of monthly meetings with the Food and Environment Research Agency, which represents DEFRA on plant health issues, and the Forestry Commission (FC). These meetings discuss a range of plant health risks including Chalara and actions taken in respect of those risks.

Officials from the devolved Administrations join by telephone the UK progress meetings on the Chalara outbreak which currently take place three times per week. They also join by telephone the policy core group which currently meets weekly.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs chaired cross-Government meetings on 2 and 9 November to which Ministers from the devolved Administrations were invited. A Minister from the Scottish Government joined the meeting while the other devolved Administrations were represented by senior officials.

Officials from FC GB attended the Scottish Chalara summit on 13 November. This issue was also discussed at a meeting between DEFRA Ministers and Ministers/officials from the devolved Administrations on 19 November.

Beaches: Saltburn

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if his Department will provide additional funding to (a) the Environment Agency, (b) Redcar and Cleveland borough council and (c) Northumbrian Water to improve bathing water quality in Saltburn. [130291]

Richard Benyon: As indicated in my answer of 19 November to the hon. Member on 19 November 2012, Official Report, 19 November 2012, column 327W, the Environment Agency has established a working group and believes that the investigations and actions currently being undertaken will give the best possible chance of meeting bathing water directive requirements at Saltburn well into the future. Where investigations reveal the need for further improvements, there are likely to be a range of ways to finance these, depending on the source of pollution. If appropriate, this may include direct funding from DEFRA.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Dr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Department has made of the cost to the public purse of the spread of bovine tuberculosis in the next decade if the Government were to take no measures to halt that spread. [129713]

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Mr Heath: The cost of the disease to the taxpayer is set to top £1 billion in England over the next 10 years if we do not take further measures to halt its spread.

Barry Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to his proposed licensing regime for badger culls, what redress there will be against licence holders in areas where they fail to meet the minimum percentage cull that would prevent the further spread of bovine TB. [130280]

Mr Heath: In the event that the minimum cull is not achieved within six weeks, the licensee is required to submit proposals to Natural England for achieving the minimum cull in that year and to implement them, or other proposals, specified by Natural England.

The agreement also gives the Secretary of State and Natural England the right to recover from the licence holder any costs incurred by them in carrying out any culling if that is felt necessary. The right to enter the land to carry out such culling is secured by agreements with each landowner and under these agreements the costs to carry out culling are also recoverable from the landowner.

Common Agricultural Policy

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his top priorities for reform of the common agricultural policy are. [128639]

Mr Heath: The common agricultural policy (CAP) budget needs to see very significant reductions focused on Pillar 1. The CAP needs to help achieve an efficient and responsive agricultural sector in the EU and globally. In that context the UK's key aims for the UK's CAP reform negotiations are:

To increase the resilience, market orientation and international competitiveness of EU agriculture;

To improve CAP'S capacity to deliver environmental outcomes; and

To simplify CAP for farmers and authorities.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what specific role (a) Ministers and (b) officials of the devolved administrations will play in future negotiations on (a) reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and (b) the budget for the CAP. [129198]

Mr Heath: Ministers and senior officials meet regularly with counterparts in the devolved Administrations (DA) seeking their views on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in accordance with the Memoranda of Understanding. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I recently met with devolved Ministers to discuss their views on the reform of the CAP. We agreed we need to ensure we receive the necessary flexibility within the current proposals so implementation can reflect the agronomic and ecological diversity of the different parts of the UK. At the Secretary of State's discretion devolved Ministers have been assured attendance at Agriculture Councils.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 303W

International negotiations, including those on the reform of the CAP, are reserved matters and in such circumstances it is appropriate for the UK Minister to represent the UK as the member state, speaking to a single position. What gives us real strength in European negotiations is the fact that we discuss between ourselves what matters to all parts of the UK, and then speak coherently on our shared objectives.

Although the EU Budget is not a devolved matter, devolved Ministers are kept informed of how the negotiations are progressing. It is important to recognise that Government has a responsibility to consider the UK's wider interests including those of the UK taxpayer.

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent progress he has made on negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. [129689]

Mr Heath [holding answer 26 November 2012]: Negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013 are currently under way. The Government have been actively involved in the discussions at ministerial as well as official level and we have seen some progress, for example amendments to the active farmer test which should reduce implementation burdens.

However, there is still a long way to go until the CAP regulations are simpler or deliver greater environmental benefits and public goods across the EU. As such we remain fully committed to ensuring that the UK negotiates with the European Commission, the European Parliament and other member states so that CAP helps to achieve an efficient and responsive agricultural sector in the EU and globally.

Dairy Farming: Animal Welfare

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential risks to animal welfare of the intensification and industrialisation of dairy farming; [129592]

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential animal welfare risks of increased intensification and industrialisation of dairy farming; and what those risks are. [129702]

Mr Heath: Operational livestock farms must comply with all relevant legislation, including comprehensive environmental and animal welfare legislation, which will apply equally to all farms whatever the size of unit or system of production. Indeed, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (formerly the Farm Animal Welfare Council), which advises DEFRA on matters relating to animal welfare has stated that the most significant influence on the welfare of livestock is the stock-keeper, not the system in which it is reared.

Dairy Products

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the deficit in dairy products. [129593]

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Mr Heath: Because of its strong natural dairying advantages, the UK is well-placed to exploit domestic (particularly added value) and export markets. The potential in export markets is likely to increase with an expanding world population and global shifts in diets. A recent success in dairy has been a successful food trade delegation to China, led by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UKTI and DEFRA will continue to work in partnership with industry to explore the potential for growth through overseas trade and to identify global market opportunities for firms of all sizes.

Dairy Products: Imports

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to reduce imports of dairy products and to increase the UK's self-sufficiency in this area. [129672]

Mr Heath: The Government aim for a profitable, thriving, and competitive UK dairy sector that exploits domestic (particularly added value) and export markets to the benefit of all parts of the industry. The Government are taking steps to help; for example, by investing substantial funds into research for the sector, supporting dairy industry collaboration, and encouraging contractual best practice and improved relationships throughout the supply chain. However, the dairy industry itself has a significant responsibility for its own future and is far better placed than Government to lead change in many respects. Hence, for example, the Dairy Coalition of farming groups has committed to campaigning to promote British cheese and other dairy products to consumers and to retailers, both in the domestic market and abroad.

Dairy Products: United Arab Emirates

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value of export of British dairy products to the United Arab Emirates was in (a) 2010 and (b) 2011. [129437]

Mr Heath: The value of UK exports of dairy products to the United Arab Emirates is recorded in HM Revenue and Customs overseas trade statistics as £7.5 million in 2010 and £9.4 million in 2011.

Farms

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms have closed down in (a) England, (b) the North West and (c) Cumbria in each of the last five years; and what steps the Government are taking to support those farmers who are in financial difficulty. [128370]

Mr Heath [holding answer 13 November 2012]:It is not possible to determine how many farms have closed during the last five years. DEFRA measures the number of registered commercial farm holdings but the number of holdings in each farm business can change over time for administrative and other reasons. The area of land on agricultural holdings in England, the North West and Cumbria has however remained largely unchanged during the last five years.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 305W

DEFRA's aim is to create the right conditions to enable farm businesses to be successful, productive and more resilient to difficult economic circumstances. We are for example seeking to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, fund scientific research into how food production can be increased sustainably and support farmers in increasing their competitiveness and develop their skills through the Rural Development programme for England.

Farms: Safety

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on a strategy to improve safety on farms. [129898]

Mr Heath: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), has had no discussions with counterparts in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland on a strategy to improve safety on farms. Health and safety in the agriculture industry is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive.

Greyhounds: Animal Welfare

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the use of bolt guns to destroy greyhounds. [129663]

Mr Heath: Best practice is to euthanize a dog by intravenous injection of an overdose of barbiturates by a vet. However, where this option is not possible or available, alternatives may need to be sought. The use of a suitable captive bolt gun, applied correctly by a trained and competent person, may be part of an alternative humane method for putting down dogs.

Gulls

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking in response to trends in the population of urban gulls. [129532]

Richard Benyon: I recognise that new gull population centres in some urban areas have shown expansion and that several areas continue to see increases.

I believe that the powers available to local authorities and other authorised persons to take licensed action where gulls are causing specific problems, combined with other measures including efficient management of waste and ensuring the public refrain from feeding gulls, are sufficient.

Horses: Animal Welfare

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the report “Left on the Verge”, on horse welfare, published in October 2012 by the RSPCA, Redwings, World Horse Welfare, The Blue Cross, Horseworld and the British Horse Society; and if he will arrange to meet those organisations to discuss the report's findings. [129352]

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Mr Heath: I have seen the report “Left on the Verge” and am aware of the problems that it highlights. DEFRA is in discussion with the authors of the report as well as other interested parties to resolve the issues.

Independent Panel on Forestry

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent consideration he has given to the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Forestry report. [130232]

Mr Heath [holding answer 26 November 2012]: We are currently considering the report from the Independent Panel on Forestry and will publish our response to it in January 2013.

Livestock: Exports

Charlotte Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) animal health inspectors are present whenever live animals are exported, (b) welfare standards are maintained when live animals are exported and (c) any welfare infringements are dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner. [129233]

Mr Heath: The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is responsible for implementation of the EU rules on the protection of animals during transport (Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005). AHVLA has recently increased the inspection rate of animals and vehicles at the point of loading to 100% and will remain at that level until the risks involved merit a more normal risk-based percentage of inspections.

The checks undertaken by AHVLA inspectors at the point of loading include consignment details, transporter/driver details, journey details and a separate checklist of 33 questions on the suitability of the vehicle and the welfare of the animals being transported. Any non-compliances are recorded and the necessary action taken by AHVLA inspectors. A further check is made by AHVLA inspectors at the port to ensure nothing untoward has occurred during the transport from the point of loading.

Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the export of live animals; and whether he plans to change current guidelines on the export of live animals. [129234]

Mr Heath: Whilst the Government would prefer a trade in meat and germ plasm to a trade in live animals, they cannot ban a legal trade. This has been demonstrated in the courts (both here and in Brussels) on a number of occasions during the 1990s. A key High Court judgment was that of Lord Justice Simon Brown in the 1995 joined cases of R v. Dover Harbour Board (ex parte Gilder). R v. Associated British Ports ex parte Plymouth City Council and the European Court of Justice case C - 1/96 R v. MAFF ex parte CIWF.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), which is responsible for implementation of the EU rules on the protection of animals during transport (Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005), has 'taken a number of recent measures, including an increase in the inspection of animals and vehicles at the point of loading.

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Natural Resources: Security

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will press for the inclusion of goals in relation to resource security in the successor to the millennium development goals after 2015. [129229]

Richard Benyon: Following the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June, the Government are actively engaged in work to take forward the outcomes, including through the Prime Minister's co-chairmanship of the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development framework, and the process on Sustainable Development Goals via the Open Working Group. We will be looking to ensure that this work integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development—environmental, social and economic— but discussions on the exact nature of the goals have not yet begun.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) received in Government grants in the years (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011; and how much the RSPB will receive in such grants in 2012. [128080]

Richard Benyon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my noble Friend Lord Henley to Baroness Byford on 6 June 2011, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA61, for details pertaining to payments made to the RSPB in the financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11, and to the reply by my right hon. Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Sir James Paice) to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames) on 3 September 2012, Official Report, column 124W, which included details of payments made to the RSPB in 2011-12.

Core DEFRA plans to make payments to RSPB in 2012-13 totalling £871,936.60. This sum primarily relates to grants made under the Darwin Initiative, and a number of other research projects.

Schmallenberg Virus

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent progress has been made on the Government's Schmallenberg virus strategy. [129197]

Mr Heath: Over the summer, enhanced surveillance testing funded by DEFRA has identified Schmallenberg virus across much of England. Information on the counties where disease has been found, the affected species and the type of test carried out has been published on the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency website so that farmers, in consultation with their vets, can use this in making appropriate decisions for their herds and flocks. Testing for Schmallenberg virus, including bulk milk testing, is now commercially available for individual farm testing.

Infection in adult cattle and sheep is mild and transient and we believe produces good immunity, giving subsequent protection during pregnancy.

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DEFRA is supporting research into Schmallenberg virus in the UK and working collaboratively with other member states to address the many unknowns about this new disease. Research is focused on understanding more about the epidemiology, immunity, transmission pathways, reservoir hosts and pathogenicity of the virus.

We are aware of the development of commercial vaccines against Schmallenberg virus and that a submission has been made to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for approval. Deployment of the vaccine will be a decision for the farmer and livestock keeper to take in consultation with his/her private veterinarian, considering the management of that flock/herd. Given the widespread prevalence of the Schmallenberg virus, the apparent acquired immunity and the low impact of the disease, it is possible there will be little cost benefit to vaccinating flocks and herds every year.

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Schmallenberg virus vaccine produced by MSD Animal Health in protecting pregnant calves, lambs and ewes. [129196]

Mr Heath: On receipt of any application for an authorisation of a veterinary medicine, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) assesses the application for safety, quality and efficacy of the product in accordance with agreed European procedures. If a marketing authorisation is granted, a summary of product characteristics will be published on the VMD's website.

Details of specific applications are commercially confidential.

Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Emissions

Mr Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect on industry of the rolling over of the uncompleted Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and Community Energy Saving Programme obligations into 2013. [129921]

Gregory Barker: Both the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and Community Energy Saving Programme end on 31 December 2012. As the Government has previously stated, the schemes will not be extended.

Ofgem, whose role is to administer and enforce both schemes, have said that if companies fail to meet their targets most weight will be given to mitigating actions that take the form of CERT/CESP measures delivered shortly after 31 December 2012.

Combined Heat and Power

Tristram Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether combined heat and power will have a significant role in the Government's forthcoming gas generation strategy. [130496]

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Gregory Barker: Combined Heat and Power is the most energy efficient way of converting a given fuel into both heat and power. Much of the potential for Combined Heat And Power in the UK is in industrial sectors, providing heat for industrial processes. There is also significant potential in public and commercial buildings, providing heat for space and water heating. The role of Combined Heat and Power as an energy saving measure is discussed in more detail in the Department's recent Energy Efficiency Strategy.

We will be publishing the Gas Generation Strategy alongside the autumn energy statement.

Energy

Mr Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to ensure that members of the public are informed about (a) developments in the energy market and (b) levels of competition within that industry. [130112]

Gregory Barker: The Government provide an Energy Statement to Parliament each year to set out the developments in energy policy and to guide investment. We will be publishing the 2012 document shortly.

Ofgem, as the independent regulator of the gas and electricity markets, published an assessment of competition in the retail energy market in its Retail Market Review. Ofgem's latest Retail Market Review documents were published on 26 October.

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/Pages/rmr.aspx

Energy: Conservation

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what steps he is taking in negotiations within the EU to protect the UK's current reduced rate of VAT for energy-saving materials; [130414]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion on the UK's current reduced rate of VAT for energy saving materials on (a) the Green Deal and (b) the EU Energy Efficiency Directive; [130417]

(3) what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on the Reasoned Opinion of the European Commission on the UK's reduced rate of VAT for energy saving materials. [130419]

Gregory Barker: HM Treasury Ministers have been leading on responses to communications from the European Commission on the UK's reduced rate of VAT on the installation of energy saving materials for the Government. This is an important issue for economic, environmental and social policy, driving reductions in costs for households, reducing emissions and stimulating economic growth. This is even more true in a time of recession.

The Government disagree with the European Commission's view that the current reduced rate of 5% VAT for the installation of energy saving materials is unlawful and will vigorously defend the relief if the European Commission refers the matter to the European Court of Justice. Current assessments suggest that the earliest a case might be heard in front of the European Court of Justice is 2014.

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Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the total value of the UK energy efficiency sector is; what estimate he has made of the projected growth of that sector over the next 10 years; and if he will estimate the potential financial effect of the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion on the UK's current reduced rate of VAT for energy saving materials on that sector. [130418]

Gregory Barker: The UK energy efficiency sector had sales of £17.6 billion in 2010-11(1). Sales for the low carbon and environmental sector as a whole are projected to grow by 5% per year between 2010-11 and 2014-15. No central estimate has been made for the growth in the UK energy efficiency sector for the next 10 years.

No financial assessment has been made of the impact of the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion on the UK's VAT rate for energy saving materials.

(1) A report on the Low Carbon Environmental Good and Services (LCEGS) for 2010-11 was published by BIS in May 2012 and estimates the size of the subsectors with:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/BISCore/business-sectors/docs/1/12-p143-low-carbon-environmental-goods-and-services-2010-11.pdf

Tracey Crouch: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what representations he has received from the (a) energy efficiency sector and (b) construction sector on the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion on the UK's reduced rate of VAT for energy saving materials. [130421]

Gregory Barker: HM Treasury Ministers have been leading on responses to communications from the European Commission on the UK's reduced rate of VAT on the installation of energy saving materials for the Government.

The Government have received a recent representative letter from a coalition of charities, NGOs, businesses and consumer groups to express their concern relating to the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion on the UK's reduced rate of VAT for energy saving materials.

Energy: Scotland

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent representations he has received from Ministers in the Scottish Government in relation to energy bills; and if he will publish any such representations. [129748]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 26 November 2012]: DECC Ministers and officials receive a number of representations from other Government Departments and the devolved Administrations, including the Scottish Government, on a range of issues. Following Cabinet Office guidelines we do not publish details of any such discussions or meetings.

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he last met a Minister in the Scottish Government to discuss energy bills in the UK. [129749]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 311W

Gregory Barker [holding answer 26 November 2012]: DECC Ministers regularly meet with Ministers from other Government Departments and the devolved Administrations, including the Scottish Government to discuss a range of issues.

Fuel Poverty

Sarah Newton: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of households that will be lifted out of fuel poverty as a result of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation in (a) 2012, (b) 2013, (c) 2014 and (d) 2015. [129268]

Simon Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of households that will be lifted out of fuel poverty as a result of the Green Deal and energy company obligation in (a) 2012, (b) 2013, (c) 2014 and (d) 2015. [129675]

Gregory Barker: The Energy Company Obligation is worth an estimated £1.3 billion per year. It is expected that each year support worth around £540 million will go towards low income and vulnerable households under ECO's Affordable Warmth and Carbon Saving Communities elements. We estimate this will lead to some 230,000 households per annum receiving support.

As set out in the final impact assessment, it is challenging to project and quantify the impact on fuel poverty of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) policy framework. This is because of a number of uncertainties, such as which households take-up which measures and the costs of delivering measures over time. There is also inherent uncertainty around changes in the level and distribution of incomes across households, changes to the housing stock independent of the Green Deal and ECO and, of course, energy prices. Nevertheless, based on projected changes in incomes, prices and the housing stock, the measures installed under Green Deal and ECO are estimated to result in a net reduction in fuel poverty of between 125,000 to 250,000 households by the time the costs of ECO are no longer passed through to bills in 2023. Estimates for other years are not available.

The final impact assessment can be viewed at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/green-deal/5533-final-stage-impact-assessment-for-the-green-deal-a.pdf.

Sarah Newton: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the potential effects on fuel poverty of the introduction of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation. [129440]

Gregory Barker: The Energy Company Obligation is worth an estimated £1.3 billion per year. It is expected that each year support worth around £540 million will go towards low income and vulnerable households under ECO's Affordable Warmth and Carbon Saving Communities elements. We estimate this will lead to some 230,000 households per annum receiving support.

As set out in the final impact assessment, it is challenging to project and quantify the impact on fuel poverty of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation policy framework. This is because of a number of uncertainties, such as which households take-up which measures and

27 Nov 2012 : Column 312W

the costs of delivering measures over time. There is also inherent uncertainty around changes in the level and distribution of incomes across households, changes to the housing stock independent of the Green Deal and ECO and, of course, energy prices; Nevertheless, based on projected changes in incomes, prices and the housing stock, the measures installed under Green Deal and ECO are estimated to result in a net reduction in fuel poverty of between 125,000 to 250,000 households by the time the costs of ECO are no longer passed through to bills in 2023.

The final impact assessment can be viewed at:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/green-deal/5533-final-stage-impact-assessment-for-the-green-deal-a.pdf

Garages and Petrol Stations

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what research his Department has carried out since 2000 into the number of retail petrol sites required in the UK to ensure the maintenance of adequate supplies of fuels to both urban and rural areas; and if he will make a statement; [129739]

(2) when he expects the study of the petrol forecourt industry carried out jointly by his Department and the Department of Transport to be completed; and if he will publish the findings of that study. [129740]

Mr Hayes: Earlier this year DECC commissioned a report from Deloitte on the retail market for road fuels. This will expand the evidence base on the size and shape of the market and inform the Government's understanding of the implications of reductions in the number of petrol filling stations on the security of supply and resilience of the downstream oil sector. I recently spoke on these issues in a Backbench Select Committee debate "The Effects of the Oil Market on Petrol and Diesel Prices". As a result of this debate, the study will also now include analysis of how far people have to travel to reach their nearest petrol station, and how this has changed over time.

This report is due to be published before the end of the year, and I will write to all Members of the House with details of the findings. The report will also be shared with OFT to consider as part of their call for information on the petrol and diesel sector in the UK. The purpose of a call for information is to gather intelligence about the way a market operates in order to get a clear picture of any problems in the market and to determine whether further work in this area may be required. OFT will publish their findings in January 2013.

Green Deal Scheme

Simon Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to encourage take-up of the Green Deal by consumers. [129676]

Gregory Barker: Uptake of the Green Deal by consumers will be encouraged in a number of ways:

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

The new ECO is expected to provide about £1.3 billion of support each year for energy saving home improvements targeted at low income and vulnerable households and hard-to-treat properties.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 313W

Launch Incentives

DECC has announced a Green Deal Cashback Scheme in England and Wales worth £125 million, which will reward households taking early action to improve the energy efficiency of their property through the Green Deal with direct cash payments from Government. Amounts could be £1,000 or more per household depending on the improvements they install. The scheme is intended to support the transition to a new energy efficiency market framework by raising awareness of and demand for improvements installed through the Green Deal.

Core Cities

We are giving £12 million of funding to seven major cities. The money will support ‘demonstrator’ projects to trial key aspects of the Green Deal and support future activity in these areas. Activity includes Green Deal assessments, loan arrangements to fund work and show homes to provide local examples of what can be achieved.

Building on this we are offering local authorities in England the opportunity to bid for £10 million to support early delivery and promote future demand for the Green Deal.

Consumer Engagement

The Green Deal will be market driven, with Green Deal participants leading consumer engagement using their brands and their customer knowledge. However, Government has an important role in three key areas:

(1) Creating momentum for change—working with supply chain partners, local government and others to encourage people to make their properties more energy efficient.

(2) Providing support to consumers—clear, simple information, e.g. Green Deal Quick Guides and working with intermediaries.

(3) Building trust and confidence—raising awareness and understanding of the Quality Mark, providing impartial advice online at gov.uk/greendeal and via the Energy Saving Advice Service helpline.

Activity will steadily ramp up as the Green Deal goes live in late January.

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the capacity of the Green Deal Finance Company to offer loans from 28 January 2013. [130286]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 26 November 2012]: The Green Deal Finance Company is a private sector organisation. However, my understanding is that they are on track to offer finance for those Green Deal Providers who choose to make use of their services by 28 January 2013.

Insulation: Housing

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will estimate the number of jobs in the (a) cavity wall and (b) loft insulation industry in (i) 2012, (ii) 2013, (iii) 2014 and (iv) 2015. [129915]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 26 November 2012]: The June 2012 Final Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Impact Assessment(1) (IA) provides an estimate of the total jobs supported in the insulation sector. It estimates that the number of jobs in the insulation industry will rise from around 27,000 in 2007-08(2) to between 39,000 and 60,000 (full-time equivalent) by 2015.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 314W

The impact assessment also shows that on the basis of reaching 60,000 jobs by 2015 (the upper estimate) employment in the insulation sector is projected to increase each year up to 2015, from just over 40,000 in 2013, to just over 50,000 in 2014.

These are jobs that will be supported by installation of the main household insulation measures (solid wall, cavity wall, loft and floor). The IA did not disaggregate numbers between the different types of insulation. Other measures are expected to be taken up as a result of the Green Deal and ECO, but these have not been quantified for their employment impacts.

These employment ranges are derived using market intelligence for the resources required to meet expected installation rates of measures, and employment multipliers from spending in the sector. DECC is planning to use the same methodology to estimate the number of jobs supported by Green Deal and ECO-driven energy efficiency installations going forward.

(1 )http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/green-deal/5533-final-stage-impact-assessment-for-the-green-deal-a.pdf

(2) Underlying data: Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services: an Industry Analysis; Innovas; 2009

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the number of jobs in the loft cavity wall and solid wall insulation industries in 2013 of delay in the introduction of Green Deal finance for more than three months beyond 28 January 2013. [129984]

Gregory Barker [holding answer 26 November 2012]: Legislation allows for Green Deal Plans to be written from 28 January 2013. We do not expect there to be any delay.

The June 2012 Final Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Impact Assessment(1) provides estimates of these policies' impacts on employment in the insulation sector.

(1)Note:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/green-deal/5533-final-stage-impact-assessment-for-the-green-deal-a.pdf

External estimates by Innovas suggest that around 4,700 installers were employed in the insulation market in 2007-08, which covers loft and wall insulation, and another 22,000 were employed in the wider supply chain(2).

(2) Underlying data: Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services: an Industry Analysis; Innovas; 2009

Under Green Deal and ECO this total is expected to rise to between 39,000 and 60,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs by 2015 supported by installation of the main household insulation measures (solid wall, cavity wall, loft and floor). Other measures are expected to be taken up as a result of the Green Deal and ECO but these have not been quantified for their employment impacts.

Severn Estuary

Karen Lumley: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his assessment is of the conclusion of Lord Heseltine in his report No Stone Unturned in Pursuit of Growth, published in October 2012, that the construction of a barrage across the Severn estuary would offer the possibility of extraordinary economic regeneration. [130215]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 315W

Gregory Barker: The comments in my noble Friend the Lord Heseltine's 'No Stone Unturned in Pursuit of Growth' report on the economic regeneration potential of a Severn barrage project broadly align with some of the findings of the Severn Tidal Power study. The study, however also recognised that economic benefits would need to be balanced against the costs, in particular the large capital cost of a Severn Scheme and the environmental impact of the project.

Wind Power

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will estimate the number of wind turbines taking advantage of the feed-in tariff scheme for (a) turbines emitting more than and (b) turbines emitting less than 500kW in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK. [130365]

Gregory Barker: The following table shows a breakdown of the number of wind installations, as at the end of October 2012, that have been confirmed on the feed-in tariff scheme since it began in April 2010.

GeographyCapacity kWNumber of wind installations confirmed through FiTs as at the end of October 2012

UK

Less than or equal to 500 kW

3,521

 

More than 500 kW

31

Scotland

Less than or equal to 500 kW

1,308

 

More than 500 kW

5

Note: Of the 3,552 wind installations confirmed on the FiT scheme in the UK, there are 361 wind installations with no regional information. Therefore, the total number of wind installations quoted for Scotland could potentially be higher. Source: Central Feed-in Tariff Register, Ofgem

Written Questions

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the (a) shortest and (b) longest time taken by his Department to answer a written parliamentary question was in (i) 2012 to date, (ii) 2011 and (iii) 2010. [130059]

Gregory Barker: The information is as follows:

Number of days
 Shortest time taken to answer a written PQLongest time taken to answer a written PQ

2012

2

14

2011

2

17

2010(1)

2

20

(1) For 2010 these figures are taken from May until end December. Prior to May details were not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Work and Pensions

Child Maintenance

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 3 September 2012, Official Report, column 156W, on children: maintenance, (1) what progress he has made on investigating the effect of the 12-month rule relating to the use of minutes of agreement in relation to child support; [130143]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 316W

(2) what recent discussions his Department has had with the Ministry of Justice, the Scottish Government and the legal community regarding the use of minutes of agreement in relation to child support. [130144]

Steve Webb: In conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and the Scottish Government, officials have recently written to the Law Society Scotland, the Scottish Family Law Association, Resolution, and the Law Society (England and Wales) setting out our desire to meet to discuss the interaction of the statutory child maintenance system with mechanisms within family law, both North and South of the border. This includes minutes of agreements and consent orders in relation to child maintenance. We are in the process of contacting colleagues in these organisations for confirmation of these meetings, and hope to conduct these early in the new year.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions his officials have had with Motability on the implications for its scheme of the replacement of the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance by the personal independence payment for people of working age. [130481]

Esther McVey: We are continuing to work closely with Motability to understand what impact personal independence payment roll out plans might have on their customer numbers and to ensure Motability are well placed to manage the introduction of the new benefit.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential effects on the length of time recipients of disability living allowance who have their Motability component stopped will have to wait to have an appeal heard once their reassessment programme for transfer to the personal independence payment begins. [130482]

Esther McVey: We have made no such estimate. From April 2013 end-to-end responsibility for appeals against decisions on disability living allowance and personal independence payment will be a matter for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

This Department has been working closely with HMCTS to minimise delays to all appeals, including introducing a mandatory reconsideration process before appeals can be made to HMCTS.

Mandatory reconsiderations are intended to provide claimants with a further opportunity to present additional evidence which may result in the decision on their award being revised or upheld. The process will be more efficient for claimants and reduce the number of appeals being made.

Disability: Unemployment

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the differential effect of unemployment on disabled people in the North East. [130292]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 317W

Esther McVey: The following table sets out the employment, inactivity and unemployment rates for disabled and non disabled people in the North East. The difference in labour market outcomes for these two groups underlines why employment and support allowance, the Work Programme and specialist disability employment programmes are so important. The Government has announced significant improvements to Access to Work, with an additional £15 million over this spending review period. This has allowed eligibility to be extended to young disabled people undertaking work experience under the Youth Contract.

Employment, unemployment and inactivity rates in the North East Q3 2012
Percentage
 Non disabledDisabled

Employment rate

75.4

40.4

Unemployment rate

9.3

14.3

Inactivity rate

16.8

52.7

Note: In line with conventions the employment and inactivity rates are calculated on a 16-64 basis, and the unemployment rate is calculated on a 16+ basis with economically active population as the denominator. People are counted as disabled if they report they are disabled according to the Disability Discrimination Act definition. Source: Labour Force Survey, not seasonally adjusted

Employment and Support Allowance

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of employment and support allowance in the (a) work related activity group and (b) support group undertook permitted work from 2012 to date. [130085]

Mr Hoban: Information on ESA claimants by group requested is not available.

Epilepsy

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of jobseeker's allowance had epilepsy in (a) Vauxhall constituency and (b) England and Wales since May 2010. [130080]

Mr Hoban: The information requested is not available.

Housing Benefit: Wales

Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what meetings he has had with Welsh Government Ministers to discuss housing benefit reform. [129993]

Mr Hoban: The Secretary of State and the Department's Ministers meet regularly with Welsh Government Ministers to discuss a range of topics.

Jobcentre Plus

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent consideration he has given to the provision of Jobcentre Plus services at locations other than Jobcentre Plus offices. [130297]

Mr Hoban: The provision of Jobcentre Plus services at locations other than Jobcentre Plus offices is reviewed regularly to ensure that Jobcentre Plus' commitment to

27 Nov 2012 : Column 318W

a location is providing the outcomes and objectives agreed at the outset of the arrangement. The locations may include local authority premises, prisons, children's centres and libraries.

Kilmarnock

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of people normally resident in Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency who are employed by his Department. [130160]

Mr Hoban: The number of people, employed by the Department, who are normally resident in the Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency, is estimated to be 223. This figure has been obtained from centrally held staff records where the individual's home address is recorded as being in one of following postcode areas, KA1, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17 and 18. There is some overlap in all of these postcodes with other constituencies, but it is not possible to break the postcode data down further.

Learning Disability

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many appeals against the withdrawal of benefit following a work capability assessment involved people with a learning disability in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such appeals was successful. [130255]

Mr Hoban: For initial ESA claims that started during 2009 there have been 10 successful appeals and 0 unsuccessful appeals heard against Fit for Work decisions for people with learning disabilities. In 2010 and 2011 the figures for both successful and unsuccessful appeals round to 0. For reasons of confidentiality figures are rounded to the nearest 10 as standard.

Notes:

1. The following World Health Organisation (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD10) codes relating to mental retardation have been used to identify claimants with a learning disability: F70, F71, F72, F73, F78 and F79.

2. The figures above only include outcomes of appeals against initial WCA outcomes. To produce information on repeat assessments and incapacity benefit reassessment and incapacity benefit reassessment outcomes would exceed disproportionate cost.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what data is recorded by (a) his Department and (b) Atos on the number of people with learning disabilities who had an advocate or other person present during their work capability assessment. [130256]

Mr Hoban: With regard to the data being recorded for people with learning disabilities who had an advocate or other person present during their work capability assessment, neither the Department for Work and Pensions or Atos Healthcare collates this data.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people with learning disabilities have been (a) given a work capability assessment by Atos and (b) had benefit withdrawn as a consequence in each of the last three years in each region. [130257]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 319W

Mr Hoban: Table 1 shows the outcomes of initial and repeat functional assessments completed in each 12-month period between June 2009 and May 2012, the latest available data, for new ESA claims where learning disability is the primary medical condition, broken down by region. Please note that incapacity benefits reassessment cases are not included in this table. This table combines the relevant breakdowns of tables 2a and 2b from the quarterly ESA new claims publication, which can be found at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/index.php?page=esa_wca

Table 1: Outcomes of initial and repeat functional assessments completed in each 12-month period between June 2009 and May 2012 for new ESA claims where learning disability is the primary medical condition, by region
Date assessment completedRegionSupport GroupWork Related Activity GroupFit for WorkAny outcome

June 2009 to May 2010

East Midlands

10

10

 

Eastern

10

10

 

London

10

10

20

 

North East

10

 

North West

10

20

 

Scotland

10

10

 

South East

10

10

 

South West

10

10

 

Wales

10

 

West Midlands

10

10

 

Yorks and Humber

10

10

10

20

 

Total

80

30

20

130

      

June 2010 to May 2011

East Midlands

10

10

 

Eastern

10

10

 

London

10

10

10

20

 

North East

 

North West

20

20

 

Scotland

10

10

 

South East

10

20

 

South West

10

10

 

Wales

10

 

West Midlands

10

 

Yorks and Humber

10

10

20

 

Total

80

40

20

140

      

June 2011 to May 2012

East Midlands

10

20

 

Eastern

10

10

20

 

London

20

10

30

 

North East

10

10

 

North West

30

10

30

 

Scotland

10

10

10

 

South East

10

 

20

27 Nov 2012 : Column 320W

 

South West

10

10

 

Wales

10

10

 

West Midlands

10

10

20

 

Yorks and Humber

20

20

 

Total

140

50

10

210

Notes: 1. All volumes are rounded to the nearest 10. Hence totals may not sum exactly. 2. “—” indicates a nil or negligible value.

Table 2 shows the outcomes of incapacity benefits reassessments, adjusted to account for the outcomes of appeals, for claimants with learning disability as their primary medical condition that have been referred for reassessment before the end of February 2012 (the latest data available) by region. Please note that IBR started in autumn 2010 so only claims with a date of referral after this are presented in this table. This is a breakdown of table 2 from our incapacity benefits reassessment publication, which can be found at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/index.php?page=esa_ibr

Table 2: Outcomes of incapacity benefits reassessments, adjusted to account for the outcomes of appeals, for claimants with learning disabilities referred for reassessment before the end o February 2012
RegionSupport GroupWork Related Activity GroupFit for WorkAny outcome

East Midlands

50

10

10

70

Eastern

60

20

10

80

London

80

30

10

120

North East

40

20

10

70

North West

100

40

10

140

Scotland

90

30

10

120

South East

70

20

10

100

South West

50

10

10

70

Wales

40

10

50

West Midlands

100

30

10

140

Yorks and Humber

80

20

10

110

Total

740

240

90

1,080

Notes: 1. All volumes are rounded to the nearest 10. Hence totals may not sum exactly. 2. “—” indicates a nil or negligible value.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD10) codes(1) F70, F71, F72, F73, F78, F79 have been used to identify claimants with a learning disability:

(1 )The WHO website provides more detail on this code applied to employment and support allowance cases at the following link:

http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many hours of training is given to people carrying out work capability assessments in (a) mental health and (b) learning disabilities. [130258]

Mr Hoban: Doctors, nurses and physiotherapists working for Atos Healthcare are qualified professionals who have been registered with the relevant licensing bodies.

27 Nov 2012 : Column 321W

Training on mental health and learning disabilities is a core part of the training Healthcare Professional's receive during the Atos Healthcare induction course and is a continuing feature throughout the course rather than in discrete modules. Doctors have a nine day course, nurses 18 days and physiotherapists 21 days. Training is not measured by hours.

Food Banks

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many food banks operate; and what estimate his Department has made of the number of people who use them. [130241]

Mr Hoban: DWP, through Jobcentre Plus, operates a simple signposting process to food banks. This builds on the Jobcentre Plus standard practice of holding, locally, the details of organisations who may be able to help claimants with concerns that are outside the remit of the DWP. Jobcentre Plus will only signpost claimants to food banks if there is no help available through DWP.

DWP/Jobcentre Plus do not collate or hold numbers of people signposted to food banks or the reasons why individuals are referred. Jobcentre Plus is not the only route way for individuals to be signposted to a food bank.

Mesothelioma

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he intends to bring forward secondary legislation to implement the mesothelioma support scheme; and if he will make a statement. [130040]

Mr Hoban: We propose to bring forward legislation enabling a scheme to be set up to make payments so that anyone who is diagnosed from 25 July 2012 with diffuse mesothelioma, as a result of their negligent exposure to asbestos at work, and who is unable to trace their liable employer or their employer's insurance policy to claim against, is eligible to claim from this scheme.

These proposals require primary legislation and we hope to introduce a Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Minimum Wage

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he made of the number of households with couples working 16 hours a week on the minimum wage living in their own home who pay £1,000 or more per year in council tax. [130497]

Steve Webb: This information is not available. Council tax is a matter for my colleague the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the right hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr Pickles).

Occupational Pensions

Gregg McClymont: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average cost was of a transfer under (a) pot follows member and (b) an aggregator scheme; and if he will make a statement. [129813]

27 Nov 2012 : Column 322W

Steve Webb: The Department has estimated that the average marginal cost of a straightforward transfer is in the region of £50 for the ceding provider, and £55 for the receiving provider (a cost of £105 overall).

Further details are available in the impact assessment accompanying the Government's consultation response:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/small-pots-automatic-transfers-impact-assessment.pdf

Current work with the pensions industry suggests that there is scope to bring the cost of transfers down significantly under either option. The Department is considering what steps should be taken to ensure that the transfer process is as efficient as possible going forward.

Older Workers

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how his Department is encouraging firms to employ older people. [130195]

Steve Webb: The DWP's Age Positive Initiative provides guidance and case studies to employers and business organisations on employing older workers and the business benefits of adopting flexible approaches to work and retirement. Age Positive guidance is available at:

www.dwp.gov.uk/agepositive

Building on this work, the DWP and leading business and age expert organisations are working together through the Age Action Alliance's Healthy Workplaces group to develop and promote practical resources to help employers effectively manage the health and productivity of an ageing work force.

Social Security Benefits: Armed Forces

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answers of 3 September 2012, Official Report, column 175W, on social security benefits: armed forces, what assessment he has made of the number of armed forces personnel or their spouses whose eligibility for credits of Class1 national insurance contributions were affected by overseas postings prior to April 2010. [130142]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

Unemployment Benefits: Ayrshire

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost to the public purse was of out-of-work benefits in (a) Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency and (b) East Ayrshire local authority area in the last year for which figures are available. [130161]

Mr Hoban: Benefit expenditure in Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency for 2011-12 can be found in the expenditure by parliamentary constituency table published here:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/pc_expenditure.xls

Source:

DWP Statistical and Accounting Data

Benefit expenditure in East Ayrshire local authority for 2011-12 can be found in the expenditure by local authority table published here:

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/la_expenditure.xls

Source:

DWP Statistical and Accounting Data

27 Nov 2012 : Column 323W

Universal Credit

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 7 July 2011, Official Report, column 1320W, on universal credit, (1) whether all new applications for out-of-work benefits will be treated as applications for universal credit from October 2013; and if he will make a statement; [130122]

(2) whether all new applications for in-work benefits will be treated as applications for universal credit from April 2014; and if he will make a statement. [130123]

Mr Hoban: The four year process to stop claims to the benefits replaced by universal credit and to migrate existing claimants from the old system to the new will begin in October 2013 and be completed by the end of 2017. The exact timing and sequence of the migration process will be adjusted in the light of experience, not least from operating the pathfinder service in the Greater Manchester area from April 2013.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many working-age benefit and credit recipients will be on universal credit by 2017. [130251]

Mr Hoban: We anticipate that all working age benefit and tax credit recipients who are entitled to universal credit will have been migrated onto universal credit by the end of 2017. On current projections this means that around 8 million households will be in receipt of universal credit by 2017.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to Table 5 on page 21 of his Department's universal credit impact assessment published in October 2011, what the average cash increase in benefits will be for workless households where the first earner enjoys a lower participation tax rate under universal credit at (a) 10 hours, (b) 16 hours, (c) 25 hours and (d) 37 hours. [130252]

Mr Hoban: The information requested is available but it could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to his planned introduction of universal credit, when new claims to (a) housing benefit, (b) tax credits, (c) jobseeker's allowance, (d) income support and (e) employment and support allowance will end. [130253]

Mr Hoban: The universal credit migration approach published on 1 November 2011 set out initial propositions for taking new claims to universal credit from October 2013.

When new claims to current benefits and credits will end will depend on the detailed arrangements for managing the build-up of the universal credit caseload which are currently being finalised.

Vacancies: Kilmarnock

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time vacancies were advertised in Jobcentre Plus in Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency on the most recent date for which figures are available. [130139]

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Mr Hoban: During October 2012, there were 355 full-time and 77 part-time vacancies advertised in Jobcentre Plus in Kilmarnock and Loudon constituency.

These figures were sourced from NOMIS.

Work Capability Assessment

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people have been declared not fit to work by Atos Healthcare after taking the work capability assessment in (a) the UK, (b) England and (c) Walsall South constituency in each year since 2008; [129178]

(2) how many work capability assessments were carried out by Atos Healthcare in (a) the UK, (b) England and (c) Walsall South constituency in each year since 2008; [129179]

(3) how many people have been declared fit to work by Atos Healthcare after taking the work capability assessment in (a) the UK, (b) England and (c) Walsall South constituency in each year since 2008. [129180]

Mr Hoban: Decisions on entitlement to employment and support allowance (ESA) rest entirely with the Department's decision makers, taking into account the medical assessment reports from Atos and any other relevant information.

Information on new ESA claims in Great Britain is already published and can be found at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/index.php?page=esa_wca

Table 2a of the above report presents the outcomes of initial functional assessments completed between October 2008 and May 2012, the latest data available and table 2b presents the outcomes of repeat functional assessments completed during the same period.

Table 1 as follows presents the outcomes of initial functional assessments for new ESA claims completed in England between October 2008 and May 2012, by the year the assessment was completed.

Table 1: Initial functional assessments for new ESA claims completed in England between October 2008 and May 2012
Number
Date assessment completedSupport groupWork-related activity groupFit for workAny outcome

October to December 2008

300

100

300

700

January to December 2009

26,200

61,600

161,000

248,700

January to December 2010

37,200

105,400

218,100

360,700

January to December 2011

59,200

79,300

156,200

294,700

January to May 2012

34,900

32,600

83,000

150,500

Total

157,900

278,900

618,500

1,055,300

Note: All volumes are rounded to the nearest 100. Hence totals may not sum exactly.

Table 2 as follows presents the outcomes of repeat functional assessments completed in England between October 2008 and May 2012, by the year the assessment was completed.

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Table 2: Repeat functional assessments completed in England between October 2008 and May 2012
Number
Date assessment completedSupport groupWork-related activity groupFit for workAny outcome

October to December 2008

(1)

(1)

(1)

(1)

January to December 2009

800

1,900

1,400

4,100

January to December 2010

9,600

43,500

25,900

79,100

January to December 2011

40,300

82,900

53,300

176,600

January to May 2012

37,800

49,000

35,500

122,300

Total

88,500

177,400

116,200

382,100

(1) Indicates nil or negligible value. Note: All volumes are rounded to the nearest 100. Hence totals may not sum exactly.

Information on the reassessment of incapacity benefits claimants for employment and support allowance (ESA) at a national and local authority level is already published and can be found at:

http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/index.php?page=esa_ibr

Table 1 of the above report presents monthly and quarterly breakdowns of outcomes, adjusted to account for the outcome of appeals. Table 2 of the above report gives a breakdown by local authority for all incapacity benefits claimants that were referred for reassessment before the end of February 2012. Please note that date of referral is used in the above report, whereas result date is used for initial and repeat WCAs for new ESA claims.

Please note that constituency level information on the work capability assessment process is not available.