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Focus 5000 Group

21. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office who decides which policy initiatives are tested on the Focus 5000 Group. [144219]

17 Jan 2001 : Column: 290W

Mr. Ian McCartney: I take it that my hon. Friend is referring to the People's Panel. The panel may be used by any Government Department or publicly funded body and it is for them to decide whether to use the panel to test policy initiatives. Five major waves of quantitative research and several qualitative research projects have been carried out using the People's Panel. These have supported a number of policy initiatives, for instance, the first wave of research was used to examine attitudes to a wide range of public services and the women's unit commissioned research using the People's Panel as part of a wider programme of consultation with women. Summaries of the research results have been placed in the House Library and published on the internet. I shall send copies to my hon. Friend.


25. Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on the age criteria for applying to be a magistrate in Lancashire. [144223]

Marjorie Mowlam: My directions for advisory committees on justice of the peace state that I will not generally appoint a candidate under the age of 27 or over the age of 65. This is the same criteria used by the Lord Chancellor in the remainder of England and Wales. In 1998, the age limit was raised to 65 by the Lord Chancellor and the then Chancellor of the Duchy in order to allow more people taking early retirement to apply for the magistracy.