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Summer Recess

Norman Baker: To ask the President of the Council what proposals he plans to bring forward to improve scrutiny of the Executive during the annual summer recess. [6020]

Mr. Robin Cook: All select committees have the power to meet while the House is adjourned. The Government ensured that the House had the opportunity to establish departmental select committees by the time Parliament rose before the summer in order to ensure that the business of scrutinising government could get under way as swiftly as possible. If the Government had not given priority to this objective, the committees would not have been able to start their work until October.

In addition, the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons is undertaking an inquiry into how the operation and activity of select committees might be made more effective. I look forward to contributions from all Members during the committee's deliberations, and I note the hon. Gentleman's concern.

Select Committees

Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council how many representations he has had from hon. Members on the future of Select Committees in the last six months. [7304]

Mr. Robin Cook: I have received some twenty-three queries from hon. Members, and an additional five queries made by hon. Members on behalf of their constituents.

Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council when he intends to bring forward proposals to change the method of election to select committees. [7305]

Mr. Robin Cook: The Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons is considering this matter in its current inquiry.

Ministerial Consultation

Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council what discussions he has had with the shadow Leader of the House since his appointment; and if he will make a statement. [7306]

Mr. Robin Cook: Routine exchanges continue with the Shadow Leader of the House as they have with his predecessor.



Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will place in the Library for each year

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 1002W

since 1995 the total number of (a) letters from hon. Members, (b) letters from members of the public and (c) parliamentary questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords dealt with by his Department; what percentage took (A) more than one month and (B) more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if he will make a statement; [7023]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The effective handling of correspondence and parliamentary questions is an issue to which I attach great importance. While information is not available in the detail requested, general information on the volumes of correspondence received across Government, and on overall performance is published by the Cabinet Office. Figures covering Wales Office performance in 1999 and 2000 were published in the Official Report on 6 April 2001, columns 324–28W. Available information for earlier years can be found in annual departmental reports of the Welsh Office.

Information about the time taken to process Welsh Office parliamentary questions is not available. However, I have placed in the Library the performance of the Wales Office since its establishment on 1 July 1999.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary with regard to aid to tourism in Wales after the effects of foot and mouth. [7735]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues, including measures to alleviate the impact of this year's outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The Government, in partnership with the Assembly, British Tourist Authority and Wales Tourist Board, are taking every opportunity to promote tourism in the UK. The British Travel Authority has launched a £14 million advertising campaign, aimed at persuading tourists frightened by foot and mouth disease to come to Britain.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list all official overseas visits undertaken by Ministers in his Department in each year since May 1997, indicating (a) the cost in (i) cash and (ii) real terms, (b) the number and grade of (i) civil servants and (ii) special advisers accompanying Ministers and (c) the number of official engagements or meetings undertaken on each visit; and if he will make a statement. [6895]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Records of overseas visits are available only for the period since the Wales Office was established on 1 July 1999. Details are as follows:

DateDestination and purposeParticipants
7–8 December 1999Brussels—Raising awareness of the role of Wales in the European CommunitySecretary of State 1 Senior Civil Service
2 Grade 7
1 Special Adviser
30 March to 2 April 2000Dublin—Meeting with Taioseach and other MinistersSecretary of State
1 Senior Civil Service
1 Grade 7
1 Special Adviser
19–20 September 2000Brussels—Meetings with EU Commissioner, members of Committee for the Regions and UK Permanent Representative. Also attended official opening of the National Assembly Brussels officeParliamentary Under-Secretary of State 1 HEO(D)
1 Special Adviser
19–21 October 2000Bruges—Belgo/British Bilateral ConferenceSecretary of State
1 Senior Civil Service
2 Grade 7
1 Special Adviser
29 October to 1 November 2000Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia—Polycentric Europe Conference on regional government in EuropeSecretary of State 2 Senior Civil Service
1 Grade 7
1 Special Adviser
26–28 February 2001Brussels—Bilateral visitSecretary of State
1 Senior Civil Service
1 Grade 7
1 Special Adviser

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 1003W

It is not practicable separately to identify the costs of these visits.


Refurbishment Projects

Ms Walley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) building and (b) refurbishment projects are planned by

15 Oct 2001 : Column: 1004W

his Department in (i) the current year and (ii) the next financial year; and what the costs will be of each project. [6599]

Mr. Leslie: The refurbishment programme, either currently under way or agreed to, for my Department for 2001–02 and 2002–03 are as listed. The table excludes projects that are either still being planned or are awaiting financial approval to proceed.

£ million

Project titlePeriod of project 2001–02Period of project 2002–03Cost of project
Ripley and Kirkland buildings; part of project to refurbish 22 Whitehall, London SW117.55.122.6
Government Offices (GO) East; relocation0.50.81.3
National Crises Management Centre0.21.21.4
67 Tufton Street, London SW11.41.4

Individual projects with a total value of under £1 million are excluded from the table. Figures exclude VAT, fees and the provision of general IT/office equipment.

Devolved Administrations

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is with regard to (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department giving evidence to (i) Scottish Parliament, (ii) Welsh Assembly and (iii) Northern Ireland Assembly committees; and to what categories of document he gives (A) full access, (B) restricted access and (C) no access to (1) Scottish parliament, (2) Welsh Assembly, (3) Northern Ireland Assembly and (4) House of Commons Select Committees. [7054]

Mrs. Roche: General advice on attendance of UK Ministers and officials at Committees of the Devolved legislatures has been published under the Cabinet Office's series of Devolution Guidance Notes (available at guidance/dgn12.htm.

The guidance applies equally to invitations from Committees of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Government's aim is to respond promptly and courteously to such requests for information as they are received. The precise nature of requests could vary widely. The nature of the information provided in response will be judged subject to criteria as set out in the Devolution Guidance Note.

Requests are also assessed on a case-by-case basis under the terms of any relevant statutory provisions and under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (available at, which also covers information requested by House of Commons Select Committees.

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