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External Consultants

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been spent by his Department on external consultants and advisers since May 1997 funded from (i) his Department's programme provision and (ii) his Department's running costs. [99494]

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Mr. Ingram: The expenditure on external consultants and advisers by Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Office is not held in the format requested but is held under 11 specific categories. The breakdown of expenditure in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 financial years, in these categories is as follows:

1. Competition and Purchasing1,119,223800,845
2. Finance and Accountancy880,1691,522,867
3. Information and Control Systems1,591,3261,560,416
4. Management (Efficiency)1,247,524791,705
5. Management (Organisation and Planning)244,236570,911
6. Management (Personnel)507,037467,306
7. Marketing729,411907,320
8. Production Management62,20943,185
9. Research990,5441,866,529
10. Specific issues (Energy, Environment, Location/Relocation, Next Steps/GRI PFI Surveying/Valuing)3,021,9831,945,572
11. Capital Works Consultants44,1611,080

(14) The NIO do not provide a breakdown of their figures, and a System update since last PQ increased 1997-98 year by £54,339


Ministerial Meetings

Mr. David Davis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the rules are governing the taking and keeping of minutes of meetings between Ministers and people outside the Government. [99507]

Marjorie Mowlam: It is for individual Ministers to determine their own arrangements.

Target Setting

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many targets have been agreed between her Department and (i) local authorities and (ii) other bodies apart from her own agencies and non-departmental bodies since May 1997. [99470]

Mr. Stringer: My Department has not set any targets directly to local authorities. Following the publication of the anti-drugs PSA, the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator published his first annual report and plan which set out 43 targets for the Government to meet in relation to drugs activities and these are included in the relevant organisations' plans.

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Targets resulting from the reports published by the Social Exclusion Unit are included within the relevant departments' PSAs; for example the Department of Health for the reduction in the rates of under 18 conceptions by one half by 2010.

My Department has also set seven targets in relation to commitments made in the Modernising Government White Paper--for example, that 50 per cent. of the dealings are capable of electronic delivery by 2005 and 100 per cent. by 2008 (building on the target set in 1997 by the Prime Minister that 25 per cent. of Government dealings should be dealt with in this way by 2002). Other targets include tackling the under-representation of women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and people with disabilities within the Senior Civil Service; on the acquisition of Investors in People status by other departments, and of National Vocational Council qualifications by individual civil servants.


Performance and Innovation Unit

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Prime Minister what additional projects are planned for the Performance and Innovation Unit; and if he will make a statement. [99743]

The Prime Minister: Further to the work I announced in my Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) on 21 October 1999, Official Report, column 630, I have now asked the Performance and Innovation Unit to undertake the following project:

My hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Employment is the Sponsor Minister.

The aim is to have completed the study by next summer.

Royal Audience

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Prime Minister how many times he has met Her Majesty the Queen for his regular weekly audience in each quarter since May 1997. [98557]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 24 October 1999]: With the exception of those occasions when Her Majesty has not been in London or I have been abroad or in Northern Ireland, I have been received in audience on the usual weekly basis since May 1997.