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Mr. Sheldon: It is the main concern of the Commission to ensure that the Comptroller and Auditor-General has the right resources to undertake his work. The Commission last met on 2 December 1999 to consider the Supply Estimate for the National Audit Office for 2000-01. The Commission took account of the growing work load of the National Audit Office and recommended additional funding for 2000-01 as a result.
While the Commission will continue to monitor the situation, I am satisfied that, at present, the current level of funding for this work is adequate and that, were the Comptroller and Auditor-General to need more staff or other resources in the future, he would request extra funding from this House when compiling his annual Supply Estimate.
32. Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what support is given by the commissioners to the work of the Church Conservation Trust; and if he will make a statement. 
The Church's share of the Trust's budgeted expenditure for the three years beginning on 1 April 2000 is £3.8 million. This will be met partly from a share of the sale proceeds of redundant churches and partly from the Church Commissioners' own funds.
Over 330 redundant churches of historic and architectural interest are now maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust, many opening for occasional acts of worship. A full list is available from their offices at 89 Fleet Street.
33. Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent representations he has received calling for reduced rates of VAT on church repairs; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: I am hopeful that with the persistence of those hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh), we shall achieve our goal--that is, reduced rates of VAT on church repairs.
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35. Mr. Paterson: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on the steps the commissioners take to involve congregations in the disposal of Church property declared redundant by the Church authorities. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave him on 12 June 2000, Official Report, column 494W, in which I explained that the procedure for settling the future of redundant Church of England churches gives priority to dioceses seeking and achieving suitable alternative uses.
36. Mr. Pike: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how many church buildings were sold or otherwise disposed of in 1999; and to what uses these buildings have been put. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: During 1999 the future of 16 redundant churches was settled by appropriation to alternative uses--six for community purposes, five for residential use, two by other Christian congregations, and three for, respectively, arts purposes, as a restaurant and as a shop.
Mr. Stuart Bell: In 1999, some 68 per cent. of the national stipends pay bill, excluding the stipends of Bishops, archdeacons and cathedral clergy, was financed by giving. However, the proportion will vary from parish to parish. A large part of the remainder of the bill is met by allocations from the Commissioners, individual grants, fees and glebe and trust income.
Mr. Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what percentage of the Church Commissioners' (a) total and (b) discretionary expenditure was spent on bishops' emoluments, in each year from 1979 to date. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: The costs of bishops' stipends, administrative support (including staff salaries) and (for diocesan bishops) housing are met by the Commissioners. While the level of that support varies between individuals according to their particular resource needs arising, inter alia, from the nature of their ministry, we none the less meet those needs in full, subject to our guidelines and budgetary procedures. It is therefore not possible to isolate a discretionary element in our provision.
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From 1990 the Commissioners took on full funding responsibility for suffragan bishops' working costs. The rising proportion during the years in question also partly arises from factors such as developments in IT.
Mr. Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how much rent is paid by Lady Brentford in respect of her occupancy of the cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: The Commissioners know of no occupant at the Old Palace at Canterbury called Ruth Davy. Parts of the property are commercially let; in addition, housing is provided for the Steward at the Old Palace.
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Secretary under the circumstances envisaged in Paragraphs 118, 121 and 123 of the Ministerial Code; and on which occasions such advice was sought. 
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on how many occasions since May 1997 Ministers in her Department have made a declaration of interest to their colleagues under circumstances envisaged in Paragraph 110 of the Ministerial Code. 
Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 23 May 2000, Official Report, column 408W, on St. Helena, if she will make representations to the Government of St. Helena about publishing the report on the feasibility of an airstrip. 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what has been the policy since 1989 on writing annually to those of her Department's staff who are paying reduced rates of National Insurance contributions, reminding them of the rules governing the payment of reduced rates, as recommended in the Inland Revenue guidance note on reduced rate National Insurance contributions for married women. 
The PPA relies upon checking systems at the employee's place of work, the Agency pay office and within computer systems to identify and act upon any changes of circumstances which affect the continuing payment of reduced rate National Insurance contributions. These systems were subjected to an audit in March 1998 by Inland Revenue and Department of Social Security personnel, which included a 100 per cent. check of all staff then paying reduced rates of contributions. No problems were identified with the systems operations.
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