Soft Drinks: Schools

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the use of energy drinks in schools. [184475]

Jane Ellison: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has policy responsibility for the safety of high caffeine drinks. It considers that caffeine has short-term effects on the heart rate and blood pressure. However, there are no long-term effects. The FSA advises that children and other people who are sensitive to caffeine should consume caffeine only in moderation.

Public Health England recommends that children drink water, milk or fruit juice. Energy drinks would not be appropriate for children due to their high sugar content. In the United Kingdom many high caffeine drink manufacturers already voluntarily include advice about their unsuitability for children and pregnant women because of their high caffeine content.

Legislation on school food standards does not allow energy drinks to be provided by schools. Additionally, a school could decide to adopt a policy about energy drinks being brought onto, or consumed on, school premises.

Ministers for the Department of Health and the Department for Education met in January to discuss school food policy, however, energy drinks were not discussed.

Defence

Armed Forces: Young People

Sir Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2014, Official Report, column 634W, on armed forces: young people, when a decision is expected on the publication of the Terms of Reference for the cost-benefit review of junior entrant recruitment. [184314]

Anna Soubry: The Army are still in the early stages of this work.

Key assumptions framing this work include that: the analysis will identify the difference, in terms of input and outcome, which junior entrant training requires over standard entrant; and that costs and benefits of the end-to-end junior entrant recruitment process should be based on reliable and statistically significant evidence.

The Cost Benefit Analysis will be looking at the Army only and will determine what the cost overhead is to the Ministry of Defence of Phase 1 training for Junior Entry soldiers against Standard Entry soldiers. I expect the initial report to be submitted by the end of March 2014.

Defence Engineering and Science Group

Sir Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Defence Engineering and Science Group. [184425]

Anna Soubry: The Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) is a term that originally applied to all engineering and science professionals in the Ministry of Defence, but is now used to describe the community of professional engineers and some scientists working in Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).

A review of the effectiveness of DESG staff in engineering and project or programme management roles in DE&S was undertaken between January and April 2013.

The review identified the need to:

Define a clearer professional structure for engineers and project/programme managers;

Improve the development and upskilling of these staff throughout their careers;

Improve the management of engineering talent; and

Improve retention of suitably qualified and experienced staff.

The implementation of these recommendations is currently under way.

An additional review between April and July 2013 examined the effectiveness of recruitment to the DESG Graduate Scheme. This resulted in the following improvements:

Increase of minimum degree class from 2.2 to 2.1;

An improved recruitment process, including psychometric tests and telephone interviews; and

Better communication with applicants during the recruitment process.

Iran

Mr Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department was first notified of the ruling by the Court of Arbitration in the case of Iran v. International Military Services Ltd. [185025]

Mr Dunne: The Ministry of Defence was notified in May 2001 of the International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration tribunal ruling, in the case of Iran v. International Military Services Ltd.

Military Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft by type will be in inventory of the (a) RAF, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Army Air Corps in each of the next 10 years. [182906]

29 Jan 2014 : Column 597W

Mr Dunne: The force elements and capabilities for Future Force 2020, including military aircraft, were set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). These force elements and capabilities will be updated in the next SDSR, in 2015.

The budgets allocated to equipment programmes, including for the air domain, are set out in the Ministry of Defence's forward Equipment Plan, the latest version of which was published in January 2013 and is available in the Library of the House. An update to the Equipment Plan will be published shortly.

RAF Waddington

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions the RC135 Airseeker has flown from RAF Waddington. [182908]

Mr Francois: The first RC-135 Airseeker aircraft was delivered to RAF Waddington six weeks ahead of the originally scheduled delivery date.

The Airseeker platform is currently due to enter service in the last quarter of 2014, however it is hoped this will be brought forward. The RAF are currently carrying out ground based training and developing their skills. This includes ground testing and engineering familiarisation.

Trident Submarines

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2013, Official Report, columns 639-40W, on Trident submarines, what the value of each contract was. [184574]

Mr Dunne: The value of each contract provided in my answer of 3 December 2013, Official Report, columns 639-40W:

ContractDescriptionValue (£)

1

Design Phase-BAES

671,986,515

2

Design Phase-Babcock

51,032,000

3

Design Phase-Rolls Royce

1-

4

Design Phase-Collaboration

2-

5

Mast Raising

434,833

6

Submarine Communications Technology Demonstration Programme

4,962,000

7.

Retention of Astute Test Rig

334,505

8

Submarine Communications

2,559,259

9

Safety and Environment

1,151,625

10

Strategic Weapon System Safety

206,025

11

Strategic Weapon System Requirements

171,323

12

Pressure Hull Materials

3-

13

Pressure Hull Glands

3-

14

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services

3-

15

Composites Programme Technology Demonstrator Programme

509,173

16

Successor Facilities-Barrow

3-

17

Extension Engineering Assurance

1,429,335

18

Costs and Tools

1,724,646

19

Signatures

1,149,854

20

Requirements and Standards

792,800

21

Technical Assurance and Non Acoustic Signature

3-

29 Jan 2014 : Column 598W

22

Electrical Actuator Future Work (Phase 2)

427,509

23

Equipment Security Grading

44,373

24

Electro Magnetic Silencing

124,642

25

Electro Magnetic Silencing

69,763

26

Successor Stage 3 Environmental Shock Grade Curve Activities

449,323

27

Spatial Governance Technical Support

115,606

28

Variable Pressure Hydraulics Decision Support

24,917

29

Electromagnetic Silencing

280,000

30

Countermeasures Deployment Studies

12,000

31

Support to Signature Management

150,000

32

Core Task

180,000

33

Composite Task

110,000

34

Adviser Team to Future Submarine

155,000

35

Signature support to Future Submarine Project Team

105,000

36

Future Capability Support

87,500

37

Infrastructure Assessment Study

139,900

38

Capability System Requirement Document

71,600

39

Technology Assessment of Countermeasure Launcher capability

3-

40

Provision of Signature Support

100,000

41

Provision of Subject Matter Expert Support

72,000

42

Submarine Communications Subject Matter Expert Technical Support

260,000

43

Successor Propulsor and Hydrodynamics

45,000

44

Independent Technical and Programme Support

222,400

45

Electrical and Whole Boat

285,000

46

Multi Function Broad Spectrum Array and Future Telemetry System trials

30,920

47

Next Generation Nuclear Propulsion Plant Phase 9

4375,620,039

48

Next Generation Nuclear Propulsion Plant Phase 10 onwards

132,427,662

49

Independent Nuclear Propulsion Advice and Assessment

5141,079,000

50

Submarines Support Partner Task

99,980

1 Not Let-This contract was not let because the activity has been incorporated into the Next Generation Nuclear Propulsion contracts, 47 and 48. 2 Zero Value-This contract has been placed, but any value will depend on what activity is carried out under it. 3 Not Let-These are currently at the tender/negotiation stage and the contracts have not yet been awarded. 4 This contract value covers Phases 1-9. 5 This contract covers technical and safety advice on all nuclear plant in the current fleet. Only a proportion, approximately £12 million, relates to the replacement Trident submarines.

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what his long-term plans are for UK Reaper drones operating in Afghanistan; [184672]

(2) what consideration he has given to re-locating UK Reaper drones from Afghanistan to the US; [184673]

29 Jan 2014 : Column 599W

(3) what his policy is on the decommissioning of UK Reaper drones after 2014; [184675]

(4) what plans he has for the relocation of UK Reaper drones from Afghanistan after the conclusion of NATO operations at the end of 2014. [184718]

Mr Dunne: It is our intention to retain the Reaper capability for contingent purposes following the end of operations in Afghanistan. However, no final decisions have yet been taken on its future basing options.

Communities and Local Government

Care Homes

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many timber framed residential care homes there are in the UK. [185019]

Brandon Lewis: This information is not held centrally.

Charities: Finance

Andy McDonald: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many bids for grant funding under section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 were made to his Department in the last year; how many such bids were awarded; and what the value is of each such grant awarded. [184942]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 28 January 2014]: During 2012-13 the Department for Communities and Local Government funded 44 organisations across 35 programmes under section 70 of the Charities Act 2006. Payments totalled £22.865 million.

The Department does not keep a record of all bids for grant funding that are received. Additionally, at the point the bid is received it is unlikely that the bidder would specify the legislation under which grant may be paid.

The Department publishes a list of all grants paid under section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 in its Annual Report and Accounts. This can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/annual-report-and-accounts-2012-to-2013--2.

S.70 payments made in 2012-13 are listed by programme in the 2012-13 Annual report and Accounts on pages 53-57.

Data for 2013-14 are not yet available, but will be published in the Annual Report and Accounts in due course.

Community Relations: Hinduism

Bob Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what his Department's budget allocation is for engagement with the Hindu community as a proportion of spending on engagement with other religions for the financial years (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12, (c) 2012-13 and (d) 2013-14; [184307]

(2) what his Department's budget allocation is for engagement with the (a) Muslim, (b) Christian, (c) Jewish, (d) Sikh and (e) Hindu religions in 2013-14; [184306]

29 Jan 2014 : Column 600W

(3) if he will make it his policy to increase his Department's spending on engagement with the Hindu community; and if he will make a statement. [184304]

Stephen Williams: My Department engages with a range of faith communities through individual contacts and through representative bodies, and continues to liaise with a number of Hindu representative organisations and individuals. We do not have specific budgets for working with individual faiths, but all faiths are free to apply for financial support for inter-faith projects through our funding programmes and we hope they will do so.

Computer Software

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department spent on software licences in (a) 2012 and (b) 2013. [184497]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 17 January 2014]: In my answer of 16 January 2014, Official Report, column 609W, I noted how the Department is in the process of upgrading its desktop IT systems for productivity and security reasons, including the fact that the systems are seven years old, and that Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 will shortly no longer be supported.

My Department has placed purchase orders relating to software licences costing £211,549 in 2012-13 and for £89,454 in the period April 2013 to December 2013. This excludes software purchased by our outsourced IT service provider.

Doing nothing is not an option, given that the lack of security patches would expose Government systems to potential cyber-attacks, and due to issues with old legacy software not working on new systems.

However, the new arrangements are also an opportunity to deliver savings. The new Desktop IT Services contract will cut yearly costs by 40% compared to current contracts, delivering a significant saving for taxpayers. My previous answer also outlined the steps we are taking to use open source software.

To place such figures in context, the right hon. Member may wish to peruse the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, column 780W, which outlines spending under the last Administration. The Department/its predecessor spent £3.2 million on non-corporate software licences in 2003-04, £2.6 million in 2004-05 and £1.8 million in 2005-06, plus an additional £2.1 million on corporate software licences and maintenance over that period.

The last Administration failed to get value for taxpayers' money due to poor management of IT contracts. Indeed, the Department published a contract tender in December 2009 for a desktop IT programme costing up to £160 million. This was subsequently cancelled under this Government as part of our wider reduction in departmental spending and reconfiguration of IT procurement policy.

Council Tax

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many local authorities in England have not increased levels of council tax in each of the last three years; [183496]

29 Jan 2014 : Column 601W

(2) what the take-up of council tax freeze grant by local authorities in England was in each of the last three years. [183499]

Brandon Lewis [holding answer 20 January 2014]: To assist the right hon. Member, the following table compares the rises in council tax in England under this Government with the last Labour Government. Overall, average council tax bills more than doubled under the Labour Government, but have fallen by 10% in real terms under this Government. This is due to this Government's council tax freeze and due to the provisions in the Localism Act 2011 to allow local residents to veto excessive council tax rises.

 Percentage change in overall Band D bills

1997-98

6.5

1998-99

8.6

1999-2000

6.8

2000-01

6.1

2001-02

6.4

2002-03

8.2

2003-04

12.9

2004-05

5.9

2005-06

4.1

2006-07

4.5

2007-08

4.2

2008-09

3.9

2009-10

3.0

2010-11

1.8

2011-12

0.0

2012-13

0.3

2013-14

0.8

Similarly, this chart shows the number of local authorities which increased council tax under this and the Labour Government. Local authorities which did not increase council tax in each of the last three years will have received council tax freeze grant.

 Number of local authorities increasing council taxTotal number of local authoritiesProportion increasing council tax (Percentage))

1997-98

358

396

90

1998-99

352

408

86

1999-00

401

429

93

2000-01

404

430

94

2001-02

419

431

97

2002-03

422

432

98

2003-04

424

432

98

2004-05

403

432

93

2005-06

450

456

99

2006-07

441

456

97

2007-08

441

455

97

2008-09

436

456

96

2009-10

390

412

95

2010-11

349

421

83

2011-12

0

421

0

2012-13

62

421

15

2013-14

164

421

39

Note: Figures include fire and rescue authorities and police authorities/Police and Crime Commission, and exclude town and parish councils.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 602W

A further council tax freeze offer is available to local authorities both this and next year, and I would encourage all local authorities to take up this additional central Government funding and help hard-working people with the cost of living.

Empty Property

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate he has made of the number of unoccupied houses in the UK. [184506]

Kris Hopkins: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer of 21 January 2014, Official Report, column 116W.

Families: Disadvantaged

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) in how many of the families in the troubled families programme, for which a results payment has been made in respect of an adult moving into continuous employment, the adult has maintained continuous employment to date; [185047]

(2) with reference to his Department's press release entitled Troubled Families programme on track at half way stage, issued on 25 November 2013, how many of the 22,000 families described as turned around, and for which a results payment has been made, were still involved in (a) anti-social behaviour and (b) offending by minors at the time of the payment; [185106]

(3) with reference to his Department's press release entitled Troubled Families programme on track at half way stage, issued on 25 November 2013, how many of the 22,000 families described as turned around, and for which a results payment has been made, have subsequently maintained a reduction in fixed exclusions and unauthorised absences. [185107]

Kris Hopkins: My Department does not currently hold this information. However, as part of our independent national evaluation, local authorities have been asked to collect further information on a representative 10% sample of their troubled families about the sustainability of employment outcomes, education outcomes and on offending and anti-social behaviour. This information is currently being collected and will be published in due course.

Hinkley Point C Power Station

Andy Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make an assessment of the case for a community benefit fund for Sedgemoor District Council during the eight-year period of the construction of Hinkley Point C. [184790]

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

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement I made on 17 July 2013, Official Report, columns 105-6WS.

In this I announced a package of benefits for communities that host new nuclear power stations, which in the case of Hinkley could amount to approximately £128 million. The package will come in to effect with

29 Jan 2014 : Column 603W

the start of operations at the new nuclear power station. During the construction phase local authorities and communities will have the benefit of a Section 106 funding package from EDF worth over £80 million agreed as part of the development consent for Hinkley Point.

Procurement

Chris Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many officials of each grade in his Department have the authority to execute a purchase; what proportion of these officials have professional procurement qualifications; and what key indicators are used by his Department to assess procurement officers' performance. [184897]

Brandon Lewis: We currently have 19 permanent staff and one interim who regularly deal with procurement services and helped oversee £136 million of departmental procurement spending in 2012-13. Amongst them, there are 11 permanent procurement staff who are Members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, plus two civil servants who have Foundation Level qualifications and are studying for Full Membership.

Their performance is assessed by the amount of savings that they can achieve for the Department which has resulted in a reduction in spend of 57% from £314 million in 2009-10 to £136 million in 2012-13 for the core DCLG department with suppliers, delivering a significant saving for taxpayers.

From 1 February 2014, in line with wider Civil Service Reform plans, DCLG procurement staff and its central procurement function will be transferred to the Crown Commercial Service. The centralisation of Whitehall procurement activity under the Civil Service Reform plans is to deliver economies of scale, exploit savings and reduce duplication and provide a single face of government to the market.

Right to Buy Scheme

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects Islamic mortgages to be available for Right to Buy council home purchases; and if he will make a statement. [184140]

Kris Hopkins: The UK has long worked to ensure there is a level playing field in regulation and tax for consumers of Islamic finance products. For example, the double taxation of Islamic mortgages was removed, and there is now certainty of income tax and corporation tax treatment for financial institutions, companies and individuals who lend or borrow under Islamic finance arrangements.

As announced by the Prime Minister at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London in October 2013, the Government will make sure there is a type of Start-Up Loan that is totally consistent with all the principles of Islamic finance, as well as for student loans and for the enterprise allowance.

We are keen to enable social tenants to achieve their aspiration for home ownership and do not wish to preclude the use of Sharia'a compliant finance by tenants who want to take up their Right to Buy.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 604W

Under the terms of the Right to Buy legislation, however, ownership of a property must pass direct from the landlord to the purchasing tenant, which is incompatible with Sharia'a compliant finance. The issues raised by such finance are complex and we welcome representations on this issue, with a view to finding a way to both protect the rights of individuals and provide security for Government funds.

Justice

Driving Under Influence: Drugs

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many drug-driving convictions have been secured through the use of roadside drug analysis, also known as drugalyser, machines (a) in total and (b) by police force, in each of the last five years. [184022]

Damian Green: Information held centrally by the Ministry of Justice on the Court Proceedings Database does not contain information about the circumstances behind each case, beyond the description provided in the statute under which proceedings are brought. It is not possible to identify from this centrally held information convictions for drug-driving obtained using roadside drug analysis.

Employment Tribunals Service

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many claims were made to the Employment Tribunal Service between 29 July 2012 and 14 January 2013; [183283]

(2) how many claims were made to the Employment Tribunal Service between 29 July 2013 and 14 January 2014. [183284]

Mr Vara: I am answering these questions together. The number of claims received by the Employment Tribunals is published by the Ministry of Justice as Official Statistics (quarterly and annually) on the GOV.UK website. The next quarter (October to December 2013) is scheduled to be published on 13 March 2014. The most recent such statistical release is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics

Prisons: Food

Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average daily cost of feeding a prisoner is. [184157]

Jeremy Wright: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is responsible for setting food policy for all prison establishments in England and Wales. This policy requires prisoners to be provided with three meals a day. Meals must be safe to eat, offer prisoners variety and meet the nutritional, religious and medical needs of all. Currently each prison decides what meals are made available on a daily basis against a specification of requirement set out in Prison Service Instruction 44/2012 Catering Meals for Prisoners.

The actual average national daily meal cost across all public sector prisons (including young offender institutions and immigration removal centres) for the fiscal year ending March 2013 was £2.20. Based on the new food

29 Jan 2014 : Column 605W

contract agreed in October 2012, which is set to achieve significant food spend savings of 11% over the term of the contract, NOMS has been able to reduce food budgets in prisons to £1.96 per prisoner per day for 2013 -14.

Prisons: Freedom of Information

Stephen Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many and what proportion of prisons in England and Wales were subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13; [180441]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of prisons in England and Wales that will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by May 2015. [180445]

Jeremy Wright: The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) applies to over 100,000 public sector bodies; including publically managed prisons. Prisons run by contracted out private companies are not subject to the Act. The number and proportion of those covered are set out as follows:

 March 2010March 2011March 2012March 2013

Total Prisons

139

135

132

130

Number subject to FOIA

128

124

119

116

Percentage subject to FOIA

92

92

90

89

Note: As at the last working Friday in March.

We estimate that by May 2015 there will be 102 public prisons and 14 private prisons—and therefore 88% of prisons will be covered by the Act. This estimate is based on current assumptions, and may be revised at any time.

In our response to the Justice Select Committee's Post Legislative Scrutiny of the Act, we accepted the Committee's recommendation that contracts provide a more practical basis for applying FOI to outsourced services than designation under the Act.

In order to effect this recommendation we will provide a revised Code of Practice to be issued under section 45 of the Act. This will promote openness by all contractors including through the use and enforcement of contractual transparency provisions to encourage still greater openness.

The response to Post Legislative Scrutiny can be found in the House Library and at the following web address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/217298/gov-resp-justice-comm-foi-act.pdf

Prisons: Wrexham

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what Welsh language facilities will be provided for inmates and staff in the planned prison in Wrexham. [182207]

Jeremy Wright: NOMS published its Welsh Language Scheme on 25 June 2013. This details the provision of Welsh language facilities in prisons in both England

29 Jan 2014 : Column 606W

and Wales. The scheme applies equally to those services delivered directly by NOMS and those which are delivered by other providers on NOMS behalf.

Probation

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether males convicted of domestic abuse or violence will be supervised by the National Probation Service under the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation arrangements. [181635]

Jeremy Wright: The National Probation Service (NPS) will carry out a risk assessment of all offenders and will be responsible for the direct management of those offenders who pose the highest risk of serious harm to the public and who have committed the most serious offences, including every offender who falls under Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). This includes offenders who are convicted of serious sexual and violent offences. Offenders who are deemed to pose a medium and low risk will be managed by a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).

Where a CRC has information that suggests an offender's risk level may have changed, they will be required to refer the case back to the NPS for a further risk assessment. The Secretary of State will continue to issue national standards for the management of offenders, and the Government will place contractual requirements on CRCs to ensure that the risk of harm posed by all offenders is effectively managed.

Providers bidding to run CRCs will need to demonstrate in their bids how they would deliver high quality rehabilitative support to offenders, and they will be held to account to deliver these services in their contracts. Bidders will also need to demonstrate how they will maintain a work force with appropriate levels of competence and training to deliver these services. In addition to supervision and activities designed to rehabilitate the offender, a court order can require an offender to attend an accredited programme designed specifically for offenders convicted of domestic violence related offences. The Government will continue to set standards for the delivery of these programmes.

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to engage with local partners and local services as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation Probation programme. [182527]

Jeremy Wright: Responding to local needs and making the best use of effective local services is central to the aims of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme.

We have established local competition teams who have been engaging with local partners during the competition process and this is complimented by the establishment of three reference groups for PCCs, local authority and integrated offender management to help inform our reforms at a national level. In addition, contracts will be designed to respond to changing demands and priorities at local and national levels, as well as to any new legislation.

The Competition Data Room we have now opened allows bidders to access information on existing partnerships and those working with offenders in each Contract

29 Jan 2014 : Column 607W

Package Area. A web-based Partnership Finder has been established specifically to help larger providers and small and medium sized organisations to find opportunities to work together.

The competition has created extensive interest with around 830 separate registrations of interest from those keen to become supply chain partners.

Work Capability Assessment: Appeals

Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many people in (a) the UK, (b) Scotland and (c) South Lanarkshire successfully appealed against a work capability assessment decision in 2013; [179773]

(2) what assessment he has made of the cost to his Department of appeals against the work capability assessment in 2013. [179779]

Mr Vara: The First-tier Tribunal—Social Security and Child Support (SSCS), administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) hears appeals against Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) decisions on entitlement to employment and support allowance (ESA), decisions in which the work capability assessment (WCA) is a key factor, rather than appeals against WCA decisions themselves. HMCTS does not, therefore, hold the information requested.

Information on appeals against ESA decisions is published by HMCTS in Tribunal statistics quarterly. The most recent report for the period July to September 2013 published on 12 December 2013 can be viewed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tribunal-statistics-quarterly-july-to-september-2013

Young Offender Institutions

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidelines his Department gives for the contents of a young offender's cell. [184125]

Jeremy Wright: The revised Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) national policy framework came into effect on 1 November 2013 and applies to prisoners aged 18 and over, including those held in a young offender institution. Under the revised framework, prisoners will have to work towards their own rehabilitation, behave well and help others if they wish to earn privileges. The revised policy introduces a standardised facilities list, which identifies and limits the items of property that prisoners can retain in their cells, subject to their IEP level. The list is available for each Governor to select from, as considered suitable for the specific population, the physical fabric and the regime of the prison or institution.

We are also developing a bespoke IEP scheme for young people (those aged under 18), which will ensure that young people earn privileges and are encouraged to behave positively in custody as well.

Property is further limited by volumetric control measures as set out in Prison Service Instruction 12/2011.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 608W

Business, Innovation and Skills

Barnfield College

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many visits to Barnfield College were made by his Department or its executive agencies before the start of the investigation of the college in September 2013. [184585]

Matthew Hancock: There were 17 visits to Barnfield College by officials from the Skills Funding Agency since September 2012.

Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many visits to Barnfield College were made by officials of his Department or its executive agencies before the start of the investigation of the college in September 2013; on what dates such visits were made; and for what purpose such visits were made. [184992]

Matthew Hancock: There were 17 visits to Barnfield College by officials from the Skills Funding Agency since September 2012. These visits took place in September, October and December 2012, and between January and September 2013. These meetings were for operational and performance monitoring purposes.

Business: Advisory Services

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many firms are currently taking part in the Growth Vouchers programme. [184521]

Matthew Hancock: The Growth Vouchers Programme was officially launched on 27 January 2014. Therefore it is too early to report on the number of businesses that have signed up to participate in the programme.

Over 1,200 private sector business support providers have already signed up to deliver the advice element of the programme through a new online marketplace.

The Growth Vouchers programme runs until March 2015.

Small businesses can apply at:

www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers

Business: Brigg and Goole

Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many companies registered in Brigg and Goole constituency are classified as (a) small and (b) medium-sized as defined by the Companies Act 1985. [184583]

Michael Fallon: According to Companies House's records, there are an estimated 3,209 companies in the Brigg and Goole constituency. However, Companies House cannot determine the number of companies classified as (a) small and (b) medium-sized as the Companies Act 2006 definitions are based on turnover, balance sheet total and number of employees and Companies House does not capture this information.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 609W

Business: Government Assistance

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what minimum accreditation standards his Department has put in place for growth coaches taking part in the Growth Accelerator scheme. [184523]

Matthew Hancock: GrowthAccelerator Growth Coaches are selected through an intensive recruitment and due diligence process which ensures that they can demonstrate:

first-hand knowledge of growing a business either as a business owner or in a senior position;

a successful track record in coaching that is focused on business performance;

the ability to build strong and robust relationships with business leaders; and

the ability to demonstrate credibility, expertise and experience in business.

Only a Growth Coach who has been successful in the recruitment and due diligence process managed by the GrowthAccelerator consortium, will be accepted as a registered and approved Growth Coach.

Company Accounts

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what his policy is on an EU-level non-financial reporting law that would require all large companies to report on the effect of their supply chains on people and the environment. [185093]

Jenny Willott: Given the smaller number of shareholders in private companies compared to public companies, I do not believe that extending the scope from public to private companies in the EU proposal on non-financial reporting would be appropriate at this time. This is in line with the domestic position, recently reaffirmed by Parliament, in which only listed companies are subject to the majority of the UK's new narrative reporting requirements, including providing information on human rights and environmental issues where necessary for an understanding of the business.

Copyright: Enforcement

Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what his policy is on criteria used to allocate the revenue support grant to different local authorities for the purpose of funding the enforcement of the criminal provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; and if he will make a statement; [184844]

(2) how much financial support his Department allocates to each trading standards service as part of the revenue support grant to fund the enforcement of criminal provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. [184845]

Jenny Willott: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills does not fund individual trading standards services.

The revenue support grant is provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government to local authorities, to cover a number of local services.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 610W

Local authorities are independent from central Government and are, therefore, responsible for their own finances. This means that spending or resourcing decisions are for individual local authorities to make. The issue of priorities is ultimately a matter for local discretion.

Curzon Institute

Jonathan Ashworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what contact his Department had with (a) Curzon Education and (b) the Curzon Institute; what contracts his Department holds with those bodies; and what the value of those contracts is. [184993]

Jenny Willott: A record of all contact made with individual organisations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs. However, details of meetings undertaken by Ministers, the Permanent Secretary and Director Generals are published quarterly and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications

I can also confirm that the Department does not have any contracts in place with (a) Curzon Education or (b) the Curzon Institute.

In addition, since January 2011 central Government Departments have been required to publish information on the contracts they award on Contracts Finder:

www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk/

Departmental Responsibilities

Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with (i) the World Sugar Research Organisation, (ii) Sugar Nutrition UK and (iii) British Sugar since May 2010. [185056]

Jenny Willott: Details of Ministers' meetings with external organisations up to 30 September 2013 are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=department-for-business-innovation-skills&publication_type=transparency-data

Information for October to December 2013 will be published in due course.

Information on any meetings between officials and representatives of the above organisations is not held centrally.

Direct Mail: Fraud

Mr Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what steps (a) Royal Mail and (b) Post Office Limited are taking to tackle scam mail in its mail deliveries; [185075]

(2) what action Post Office Limited has taken with regard to the customer with prepaid account number HQ 50456 regarding concerns over scam mail fraud. [185076]

Jenny Willott: Any questions or concerns relating to the delivery of its mail or the operation of prepaid mail

29 Jan 2014 : Column 611W

accounts are the operational responsibility of Royal Mail (rather than Post Office Ltd) and should therefore be raised direct with Royal Mail's management.

Consumers can easily report suspected scams to “Action Fraud” either online via the Action Fraud website:

www.actionfraud.police.uk

or by phoning 0300 123 2040. This service also provides help and advice over the phone via the Action Fraud contact centre. Consumers can also report concerns over any mailings promoting prize draws or competitions to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for investigation:

www.asa.org.uk

And scam mail can also be reported direct to Royal Mail by emailing ([email protected]) or by reporting concerns by phone (08456 113413). This can be done by either the direct recipient or someone on behalf of a potential victim. More information about Royal Mail's helpline can be found on its website:

http://www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/what-can-I-do-about-scam-mail

Employment: Young People

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will create a national certification scheme for work readiness for young people. [184599]

Matthew Hancock: The issue of work readiness is already being addressed through the introduction of traineeships and the publication of approved lists of qualifications recognised by employers as leading to an occupation.

Last September we launched Traineeships, an education and traineeship programme involving work experience for students seeking to enter employment. In December the first list of Tech Levels, qualifications recognised by

29 Jan 2014 : Column 612W

employers as leading to occupation, was published. A further list of trade and skills and qualifications is planned for later this year.

Higher Education Funding Council for England

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects to issue the Higher Education Funding Council for England funding letter. [185074]

Mr Willetts: We will issue the Higher Education Funding Council for England grant letter shortly.

Investment

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the level of gross fixed investment in the UK as a percentage of GDP. [184598]

Michael Fallon: As a share of GDP, the UK has historically had the lowest gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) among the G7 economies (see following table). However, while GFCF includes tangible investments such as machinery, equipment, buildings and dwellings, it excludes many intangible investments such as spending on innovation and R&D—where the UK tends to invest more heavily than other G7 countries.

In common with other G7 countries UK GFCF peaked in 2007—at 18% of GDP and then fell following the 2008/09 recession. The UK, USA and Italy all fell by a total of 4ppts but, while the USA has since picked up by 1ppt, the UK was unchanged between 2011 and 2012, at 14% of GDP.

In their latest December 2013 Economic and fiscal outlook, the Office for Budget Responsibility, forecast that UK GFCF will gradually improve over the next five years and increase to 18% of GDP in 2018.

Gross fixed capital formation as percentage of GDP
Percentage
 1990199520002005200720082009201020112012

Canada

20

17

19

23

24

24

22

23

23

24

France

19

17

19

19

20

20

19

19

19

19

Germany

19

19

20

17

18

18

17

17

18

17

Italy

21

19

20

21

21

21

19

19

19

17

Japan

30

27

25

22

22

21

20

19

19

20

UK

16

15

17

17

18

17

15

15

14

14

USA

19

19

22

22

22

21

19

18

19

19

Land

Emma Reynolds: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which sites owned by his Department are currently earmarked for disposal; what the current class use is of each site; what the expected planning use is for each site; whether each site already has planning permission for the expected planning use; what the market value of the site is; and whether the site will be sold for the full market value. [184977]

Jenny Willott: I refer my hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), on 28 January 2014, Official Report, column 514W.

Lasers

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will classify 3a or 3b laser pens as dangerous items. [184719]

Jenny Willott: The safety standard ‘BS EN 60685-1:1994 Safety of Laser Products’ specifies those laser pointers to be used by either professionals or consumers. Class 3a and 3b lasers pens are not considered safe for general consumer use.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 613W

Local Government: Urban Areas

Mr Umunna: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to ensure the involvement of business organisations and stakeholders in the Wave2 City Deals programme. [184514]

Michael Fallon: Government are committed to devolving power to local level, encouraging local partners to take the lead in shaping local economic strategy.

With the help of officials across Government including BIS, local leaders, LEPs and business organisations have worked together to develop innovative City Deals that focus on a range of policy areas. These include: business support schemes that will lever in over £60 million of private sector investment; business-led skills programmes such as the Employer Ownership for Skills scheme in Southampton and Portsmouth; and a range of infrastructure programmes that will unlock significant amounts of private sector investment.

The level of involvement of business organisations and stakeholders in City Deal negotiations is something for local areas to determine. However, evidence of business and stakeholder engagement is a factor when deals are assessed.

Manufacturing Industries: Retirement

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the potential for skills shortages in the manufacturing sector caused by the retirement of experienced workers. [184775]

Matthew Hancock: In August 2012, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills published “Working Futures”. This report analysed labour market projections for key sectors, including manufacturing, which took account of the replacement needs occasioned by retirements.

Engineering skills are important as manufacturing recovers. On 4 November last year, the chief scientist for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Professor John Perkins, launched his review of engineering skills in England. The review is a call to action to bring engineering employers, the profession and educators together to address the long-term challenge of engineering skills supply. The Government are already taking action to support his recommendations, for example on encouraging more young people to take up careers in engineering.

Minimum Wage

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has to review the level of the minimum wage. [184838]

Jenny Willott: The Low Pay Commission (LPC) makes its recommendations for the rates based on a rigorous and thorough analysis of the latest evidence. The Government fully support the work of the LPC and value its independent and impartial analysis.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 614W

On 15 January 2014 Government submitted evidence to the LPC including analysis of the latest economic data relevant to the remit which we issued to it in June 2013.

In addition the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), has asked the Low Pay Commission to look at what economic conditions would be needed to allow the national minimum wage to rise in the future by more than current conditions allow without having an adverse impact on jobs.

The Low Pay Commission will submit its recommendations to the Government shortly.

Public Expenditure

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what his Department's forecast underspend of DEL was for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15 at the time of the Autumn Statement. [185072]

Jenny Willott: The forecast DEL position for 2013-14 at the time of the autumn statement was stated within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) mid-year report:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/265922/bis-13-1336-mid-year-report-april-to-september-2013.pdf

BIS forecasted a total RDEL overspend of £9 million and net CDEL underspends of £701 million, of which £715 million was attributable to financial transactions.

At the time of the autumn statement, final budgets had not been set for 2014-15.

Secondment

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many civil servants in his Department have been seconded to the private sector in each of the last three years. [184593]

Jenny Willott: The following table shows the number of civil servants who have undertaken secondments out of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (and its predecessors) since 2010.

OrganisationFromTo

Unknown1

31 July 2006

4 December 2010

Unknown1

2 January 2008

31 December 2010

Unknown1

14 September 2008

15 September 2011

Unknown1

28 September 2008

1 September 2010

Unknown1

19 –October 2008

20 October 2010

Unknown1

31 January 2009

31 January 2010

Unknown1

31 August 2009

31 August 2010

Unknown1

15 September 2009

16 September 2011

Unknown1

20 September 2009

21 September 2011

Unknown1

11 November 2009

16 July 2010

Unknown1

30 June 2011

26 April 2015

EADS Astrium

31 August 2011

1 January 2013

European Commission

30 November 2011

30 November 2012

Unknown1

4 December 2011

5 October 2014

LOCOG

18 January 2012

11 September 2012

MRC

18 January 2012

26 October 2012

FTI Consulting

30 April 2012

10 January 2014

EBRD

30 April 2012

31 May 2013

29 Jan 2014 : Column 615W

PA Consulting

30 April 2012

28 February 2014

BBC

8 July 2012

25 July2012

DoH/Monitor

15 July 2012

12 July 2013

PA Consulting

2 September 2012

3 September 2013

European Commission

31 October 2012

1 November 2014

Learning and Skills Development Agency

20 January 2013

31 January 2014

Research Council

31 March 2013

29 March 2014

EU

31 March 2013

1 September 2014

Research Council

30 April 2013

31 March 2014

Research Council

12 May 2013

13 November 2013

Skanska

12 June 2013

12 June 2015

Groceries Code Adjudicator

30 June 2013

1 January 2014

National Policing Improvement Agency

26 August 2013

27 August 2014

PA Consulting

1 November 2013

31 March 2015

1 Unfortunately, the organisation receiving the secondee was not recorded on old KR systems and trying to track down the individuals concerned or their managers to verify the records (some of whom may since have left the Department) would involve disproportionate cost. Note: Each line represents one person.

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many private sector secondees his Department employed in each of the last three years. [184594]

Jenny Willott: The number of secondees from the private sector working in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills during each of the last three financial years was as follows:

 Number

2010-11

7

2011-12

34

2012-13

24

Available data held locally for the period from March 2013 to the end of December 2013 show 23 private sector secondees working in the Department.

Skills Funding Agency

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects to issue the Skills Funding Agency funding letter. [185073]

Matthew Hancock: The Skills Funding Statement will be issued soon.

Students: Loans

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what forecast his Department has made of (a) the amount spent on student loans for students at private colleges in (i) 2013-14 and (ii) 2014-15 and (b) the RAB charge for such loans. [185071]

Mr Willetts: The estimated cash expenditure by financial year is (i) £400 million in 2013-14 and (ii) £600 million in 2014-15. We do not estimate a specific RAB charge

29 Jan 2014 : Column 616W

for students at private colleges. Our current estimate of the RAB charge across all full-time undergraduates is around 40%.

Cabinet Office

Government Statistics

11. Kate Green: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he takes to ensure the accuracy of Government statistics. [902244]

Mr Hurd: Responsibility for independently assessing and monitoring the quality of official statistics lies with the UK Statistics Authority. This independent body operates at arm's length from Government and is directly accountable to Parliament.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), meets regularly with Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the Authority, to discuss a range of statistical matters, including the accuracy of official statistics.

Public Services: Digitisation

12. Henry Smith: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress he has made on digitising public services. [902245]

Mr Maude: By 2015 we will have moved a first wave of 25 public services online. We are making good progress and five are already available to the public including applications for lasting power of attorney.

Government Contracts: Small Businesses

13. Meg Hillier: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress he has made on opening up procurement of government contracts to the small business sector. [902246]

Mr Hurd: The Government are taking forward Lord Young's recommendations to create an SME-friendly ‘single market’ for public procurement and have published our next steps in ‘Small Business Great Ambition’. The proposals build on central Government reforms to make their businesses more accessible to small and medium sized businesses.

Social Investment Market

14. Damian Hinds: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he is taking to encourage growth in the social investment market. [902247]

Mr Hurd: This Government are committed to supporting the growth of the social investment market through ground-breaking initiatives such as Big Society Capital, the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund, the Social Outcomes Fund, and the social investment tax relief.

Employment

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate he has made of the number of people who were under-employed in (a) Coventry, (b)

29 Jan 2014 : Column 617W

the West Midlands and

(c)

England in each of the last three years. [184818]

Mr Hurd [holding answer 28 January 2014]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority.

I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Peter Fullerton, dated January 2014:

On behalf of the Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people who were under-employed in (a) Coventry, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England in each of the last three years. 184818

Estimates have been provided using the Annual Population Survey January-December datasets for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for the number of people who are under-employed in England, the West Midlands and Coventry.

Someone is classified as under-employed if they are willing to work more hours because they want a job additional to their current job, want another job with longer hours, or want more hours in their current job. They also have to be able to start working longer hours within 2 weeks. To be classified as under-employed the number of hours worked during the reference week cannot exceed 40 hours, if they are under 18, and 48 hours if they are over 18 years of age.

As with any sample survey, estimates from the APS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

 Under-employed (Thousands)

2012:

 

England

2,454.70

West Midlands

214.7

Coventry

13.6

2011:

 

England

2,321.10

West Midlands

223.3

Coventry

13.4

2010:

 

England

2,256.30

West Midlands

216.5

Coventry

13.1

Government Departments: Procurement

Ann McKechin: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether the Government Procurement Service imposes any conditions in its contracts on the employment of apprentices by the companies from which it procures. [184595]

Mr Maude: It is the policy of the Crown Commercial Service to award contracts on the basis of value for money, which means the optimum combination of cost and quality over the lifetime of the project.

Conditions relating to apprenticeships would be included only where it is proportionate to do so and they are relevant to the subject matter of the contract.

Leasehold

Sir Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what number of leasehold properties was revealed in the 2011 Census. [185033]

29 Jan 2014 : Column 618W

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 January 2014:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question to ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what number of leasehold properties was revealed by the 2011 Census. (185033)

There was not a question in the 2011 Census which asked whether or not a property was leasehold therefore we are unable to supply the information requested. The question on tenure asked whether or not a property was owned outright or owned with a mortgage but did not distinguish whether the property was freehold or leasehold.

I understand that this information is available from the Land Registry.

Unemployment: EU Nationals

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent estimate he has made of the number of citizens of other EU member states living in the UK who are not in employment. [184508]

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

Letter from Peter Fullerton, dated January 2014:

On behalf of the Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what recent estimate has made of the number of citizens of other EU member states living in the UK who are not in employment. (184508)

Estimates of employment by nationality are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). For the period July to September 2013 it was estimated that 603,000 people resident in the UK aged 16 and over, who gave their nationality as from an EU member state, were either unemployed or economically inactive. The economically inactive category includes people who are retired or in education.

As with any sample survey, estimates from LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty. It is estimated that the true value is likely to lie between 541,000 and 664,000.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Register

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what discussions the Electoral Commission has had with (a) the National Union of Students, (b) Bite the Ballot, (c) groups representing young people, (d) groups representing Black and ethnic communities and (e) groups representing the unemployed about the effect of the introduction of voter identification at polling stations on (i) electoral registration and (ii) electoral turnout. [184682]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it regularly discusses electoral registration and participation with a variety of representative groups.

The Commission intends to carry out further detailed research and consultation on the most appropriate forms of identification which could be used to verify the identity of voters at polling stations in Great Britain.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 619W

It expects to consult a range of organisations including the National Union of Students, Bite the Ballot, groups representing young people, groups representing black and ethnic communities and groups representing the unemployed, in order to consider the implications of specific proposals.

The Commission intends to publish its detailed proposals for a proof of identity scheme by the end of 2014.

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what discussions the Electoral Commission has had with (a) the National Union of Students, (b) Bite the Ballot, (c) groups representing young people, (d) groups representing Black and ethnic communities and (e) groups representing the unemployed about the Electoral Commission's proposed changes to the handling of electoral registration forms. [184683]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has put forward no proposals to change the handling of electoral registration forms.

As part of its review into electoral fraud however, which was published in January 2014, the Commission said that it will update its Code of Conduct after May 2014 to prevent campaigners from handling postal votes, or postal vote applications. This is part of a package of recommendations to prevent electoral fraud.

The Commission will work with a variety of organisations and stakeholders—including the National Union of Students, Bite the Ballot and groups representing young people, Black and Minority Ethnic communities and the unemployed—to highlight the change to the new system of registration under Individual Electoral Registration (IER), including the option of registering to vote online.

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what assessment he has made of the effect of proposed rule changes to the handling of electoral registration forms on the ability of civic society groups to increase registration of under-represented sectors of the population. [184685]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has put forward no proposals to change the handling of electoral registration forms.

As part of the recommendations stemming from its review into electoral fraud, published in January 2014, the Commission has, however, said it will update its Code of Conduct after May 2014 to prevent campaigners from handling postal votes, or postal vote applications. This is part of a package of recommendations to prevent electoral fraud produced by the Commission.

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, with which bodies the Electoral Commission has collaborated on efforts to increase voter registration. [184706]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it regularly works with a range of bodies to increase voter registration, providing resources and materials to assist and support their campaigns.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 620W

These resources are available on its aboutmyvote.co.uk website and include posters, online banners, leaflets, FAQs and booklets.

In addition, the Commission provides guidance and resources to electoral registration officers to support their efforts to increase voter registration. It also sets performance standards that help ensure EROs understand the particular challenges in their area, and are taking steps to address these.

To support the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) the Commission will also be providing EROs with template leaflets, letters, digital advertisements and posters for use as part of their local public engagement plans.

As part of the Electoral Commission's public awareness campaign to support the introduction of individual electoral registration, it is also approaching a range of organisations that are well placed to help ensure as many people as possible remain on or are added to electoral registers. These include:

Student-facing organisations, such as the National Union of Students.

Private companies that are well placed to reach home-movers, such as utility companies and broadband providers.

Companies and organisations that are well placed to reach young people, such as mobile phone companies, volunteering groups and travel card providers.

The Commission has also drawn on the experience of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in establishing the most productive methods of ensuring those UK citizens living or serving overseas are contacted.

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what steps the Electoral Commission has taken to register attainers. [184707]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that, as an under-registered demographic, attainers are a key target for all of its public awareness campaigns. The Commission uses a range of media formats, timings and placements to specifically reach this group and other young people.

As part of its guidance issued to Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), the Commission makes specific reference to attainers being an under-registered group and has provided advice and tactics—including examples of good practice—on how to engage with this group.

The Commission will also be providing EROs with template leaflets, letters, digital advertisements and posters for use as part of their local public engagement activity during the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what (a) input and (b) output measures the Electoral Commission uses to assess its performance in increasing electoral registration. [184710]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that, due to electoral registers being held by each electoral registration officer individually, it is not possible to

29 Jan 2014 : Column 621W

accurately measure changes in registration levels directly attributable to the Commission's public awareness campaigns.

The Commission therefore uses the number of registration forms downloaded from its www.aboutmyvote.co.uk website during the period of the campaign as the main measure of its effectiveness.

In addition the Commission uses various ‘input’ and ‘output’ measures to assess specific aspects of its campaigns and these vary depending on the campaign. The Commission typically uses overall campaign recognition among the target population as its main ‘output’ measure of performance.

The Commission also carries out periodic studies on the completeness and accuracy of the electoral registers. The next study will be conducted on the February/March 2014 registers, which will be compiled through the final household canvass and will act as a baseline for assessing the impact of the introduction of individual electoral registration.

A further study will then be conducted on the first registers published after the transition to IER is complete (either in December 2015 or December 2016).

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what assistance the Electoral Commission has given to civic society groups to facilitate the registration of unregistered voters. [184711]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it provides resources to civic society groups, and other groups, via its website. This includes e-mail and website banners, posters, leaflets and template press releases that stakeholders can use to direct people to information about voter registration.

The Commission also informs me that it can also provide electoral registration forms to civic society groups to distribute at events, or via their networks.

In addition, the Commission responds to requests from civic society groups, such as Bite the Ballot, to support their initiatives to encourage registration.

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what proportion of the (a) white and (b) non-white population were registered to vote in each of the last 20 years. [184712]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not hold the requested data, which are not collected annually and are only available through specific studies into electoral registration.

In the last 20 years, there have been three relevant studies. In 1991, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys matched census data against the electoral registers and found the proportion of eligible individuals registered to vote by ethnicity was as follows:

EthnicityRegistration rate (Percentage)

White

94

Black

76

Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi

85

29 Jan 2014 : Column 622W

Other

76

In 2005, the Office for National Statistics, working on behalf of the Electoral Commission, matched 2001 census data against the electoral registers in force in for December 2000 and found:

EthnicityRegistration rate (Percentage)

White

94

Black and minority ethnic

83

In 2011, the Commission carried out a house-to-house survey across Great Britain in order to assess the quality of the registers in force in April 2011. This project produced the following findings:

EthnicityRegistration rate (Percentage)

White

86

Black and minority ethnic

77

Electoral Register: Fraud

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the effect on public perceptions of electoral registration fraud of (a) newspaper coverage, (b) the views of politicians and (c) statements by the Electoral Commission. [184676]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it carries out regular public opinion research on concerns about electoral fraud and, since 2010, has asked people in its annual UK-wide tracker survey whether they think registering to vote is safe from fraud. The proportion of people who said that they thought electoral registration is safe from fraud in each year is set out in the following table:

Percentage
 December 2010December 2011December 2012

Very safe

22

23

23

Fairly safe

57

58

55

Neither safe nor unsafe

10

6

7

Fairly unsafe

7

8

8

Very unsafe

2

2

3

Don't know

3

4

3

Safe

79

80

78

Unsafe

9

10

11

More generally, the tracker survey has found that the percentage that think electoral fraud is a problem has fluctuated at around one-third (36% said it was a problem in December 2012).

The Commission's research has not assessed the specific effect of the views of politicians or statements by the Electoral Commission on public perceptions of electoral registration fraud. Research carried out on behalf of the Commission in 2012 found that three in ten (29%) people had heard stories in the media about electoral fraud.

29 Jan 2014 : Column 623W

The Electoral Commission also informs me that it contracted the agency Define Research and Insight to carry out qualitative research with the public into perceptions of electoral fraud. The research was carried out in two phases between January and May 2013, and included a combination of group discussions and individual depth interviews undertaken in a range of locations across the UK.

The evidence from this research suggests that people do not have a deep understanding about electoral fraud but they do have a general concern about the possibility of fraud taking place. Views are rarely influenced by first-hand experience of electoral fraud and are more likely to be based on cases reported by the media and people's own assumptions about fraud, some of them unfounded.

Findings from this research are available on the Commission's website at:

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/our-research/public-opinion-surveys