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Here is the latest batch of interesting written answers from the House of Commons.

Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Andrew Selous had a written reminder that ministers are supposed to make big announcements to Parliament first when it is in session – a rule that they in fact breach on a spectacularly frequent basis:

"To ask the Leader of the House what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on the criteria to be used in deciding whether an announcement should be made by means of an Oral Statement. [250014]

Chris Bryant: My right hon. and learned Friend and I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues when deciding whether an oral statement should be made to announce Government policy. This is done against the general principle set out in the Ministerial Code that when Parliament is in Session, the most important announcements of Government policy should be made in the first instance, in Parliament, and taking into account the importance of the issue and the other business before the House."

The answer to Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt also serves as a reminder – that the Church of England is responsible for much of our architectural heritage:

"To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how many church buildings are listed. [250272]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Church of England is responsible for approximately 13,000 listed buildings. This represents about 45 per cent. of all the grade I listed buildings in England."

This page recently covered the proposed regulation from the European Commission to bring recreational fishing under the direct control of the Common Fisheries Policy. Opposition Whip Bill Wiggin (formerly a Shadow DEFRA Minister) tabled a commendably detailed question about the implications of the proposal:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what his estimate is of the number of boats in the UK that would require a licence or other form of authorisation to facilitate recreational fisheries under Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy; [249749]

(2) what the estimated cost is of implementing and enforcing Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy in the UK; [249750]

(3) what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the provisions of Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy on the marine environment; and if he will make a statement; [249752]

(4) what his estimate is of the number of people who will require a licence under the terms of Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy; [249753]

(5) what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the proposals under Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy on tourism; and if he will make a statement; [249754]

(6) what assessment he has made of the effects of the proposals in Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy on compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy; and if he will make a statement; [249757]

(7) what his assessment is of the likely effects on (a) the economy, (b) jobs and (c) the number of recreational sea anglers of the provisions of Article 47 of the Council Regulation establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy; and if he will make a statement. [249759]

Huw Irranca-Davies: In England there are some 400 charter angling vessels that would require an authorisation under Article 47 of the proposal as currently drafted, plus an as yet unquantified number of privately owned vessels. As part of the process of negotiating this proposal we shall be seeking clarification from the Commission on a number of issues relating to Article 47. Until we have that clarification it is difficult accurately to assess its potential impact in the areas referred to in these questions. We shall be seeking stakeholders views on these points and considering them in more detail in the impact assessment that my officials are drawing up and which we shall publish as part of the formal consultation procedure."

Devizes MP (and former Shadow Cabinet member) Michael Ancram asked about low energy light bulbs:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has (a) evaluated, (b) commissioned and (c) undertaken on the effects of the use of low-energy fluorescent bulbs on public health. [249874]

Dawn Primarolo: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) advises the Department on scientific matters concerning optical radiation including low energy light bulbs. The HPA tested a sample of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and found that some emitted ultraviolet radiation which could, under certain conditions, expose people above international guidelines. As a result of its findings, the HPA issued precautionary advice on 9 October 2008 to the general public concerning the use of open CFLs in close-working situations. The HPA’s advice can be found at:

The HPA’s research was considered alongside other available evidence to inform a report by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). SCENIHR’s opinion on light sensitivity can be found at:

During 2008, the Department undertook a literature review on lighting and light sensitive and neurological conditions."

Shipley MP Philip Davies asked about fuel poverty:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his most recent estimate is of the level of fuel poverty in the UK. [249990]

Joan Ruddock: The most recently published estimate of fuel poverty shows that there were around 3.5 million fuel poor households living in the UK in 2006."

Banbury MP Tony Baldry was told that the Government will fail to meet its carbon emissions target for 2010:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what progress has been made towards the Government’s target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. by 2010; and if he will make a statement. [249993]

Joan Ruddock: We expect CO2 emissions to fall to about 15 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010, taking into account the impact of credits surrendered through the EU emissions trading scheme. Our goal, which we adopted in 1997, was challenging, but that was its purpose. It was designed to give a clear signal of the direction in which policy was moving, allowing long term planning and stimulating innovative responses. In these respects it has been successful."

Congleton MP Ann Winterton obtained an estimate of household energy costs:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the average annual cost of domestic energy to consumers. [249998]

Mr. Mike O’Brien: The Department publishes estimates of annual bills in its publication Quarterly Energy Prices and on the web. The estimates are based on annual usage of 3,300 kWh for electricity and 18,000 kWh for gas. These show that in 2008 the average bill for a consumer paying by standard credit was £975 (£405 for electricity and £570 for gas). Data split by region and by other payment methods are available in the publication."

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling uncovered that the Government is rather keener to reclaim benefit than to cough up when it has underpaid:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what is the maximum period of time within which (a) benefit claimants are able to make backdated claims for benefit entitlement and (b) for which his Department may seek repayments of overpayments made in error. [247042]

Mr. McNulty: Each benefit has a prescribed time within which a claim must be made in order to establish entitlement—in most cases, three months. With income support and jobseeker’s allowance a claim can be backdated for up to three months in certain circumstances.

There is no time limit to the period that the Department can seek to recover an overpayment, just as there is no time limit on the payment of arrears of benefit where the Department is responsible for an underpayment."

It is very surprising that the Government could not answer the following question from Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many teachers in the maintained sector have received an (a) conviction and (b) police caution. [248326]

Jim Knight: The information requested is not held centrally."

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