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Mr. Wills: My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, my ministerial colleagues and I have all met with the Chairman of the Bar and the President of the Law Society. The dates are provided in the table.
|Minister||Chairman of the Bar||President of the Law Society|
|Lord Chancellor||22 January 2002||17 September 2001|
|Baroness Scotland||26 July 2001||25 July 2001|
|Michael Wills MP||10 October 2001||29 October 2001|
|Rosie Winterton MP||24 September 2001||7 March 2002|
Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the objectors who have appealed against the proposals of the Wiltshire Magistrates Court Committee to close courthouses in Devizes and Trowbridge and build a new courthouse in Salisbury. 
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Mr. Wills: I have received three representations against the proposals, including the Wiltshire county council's appeal. The two remaining representations are from the Wiltshire police authority and the Melksham without parish council. I understand from the Justices' Chief Executive for the Wiltshire Magistrates Courts Committee (MCC), that the MCC has received approximately 140 representations from local Members, authorities, justices of the peace and other interested parties, against the MCC's proposals to close courthouses in Devizes and Trowbridge and build a new courthouse in Salisbury. Although the majority of representations oppose the proposals, there are some letters of support.
Under section 56(3) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 only the paying authority (the local authority that contributes financially) that is aggrieved by the determination of a Magistrates Courts Committee to close a courthouse has the right to appeal to the Lord Chancellor, within one month of receipt of written notification of the determination. The Wiltshire county council has exercised its right in this case. Once an appeal has been filed, I carefully consider all representations received before making a decision.
Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what has been the total expenditure of his Department on IT systems and support in each year from May 1997 to date; how many IT contracts have been let in each of those years; of the other main contracting party in each of those contracts, how many have been (a) companies whose registered office is in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Northern Ireland and (b) foreign companies; and what are the names of the companies falling within category (a). 
(4) The figures for 19992000 and 200001 include expenditure on: the development of Penserver pensions awarding software; and Y2k work.
(5) The figures for 200001 and 200102 include expenditure on: the upgrading of Central Office of Information's IT systems, networks and infrastructures and the introduction of electronic document managements systems for the Office; the development and live running of the Government Gateway, UK online and the Knowledge Network; IT systems and support by the Government Offices in the Regions, Emergency Planning and other function transferring to the Cabinet Office after the 2001 election; and the extension of the scope of services covered by the Cabinet Office's contract for domestic IT services.
(6) 200102 figure is to end of February and is subject to audit.
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Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he will be seeking representations on the link between biodiversity and poverty in his capacity as chair of the cross-Government ministerial committee preparing the UK position at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The eradication of poverty will be a key focus for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. As the summit approaches the Government are consulting widely on how to ensure that the goal of poverty alleviation is integrated into the emerging agenda. The 2001 DFID publication 'Biodiversity: a crucial issue for the world's poorest' elucidates the links between poverty and biodiversity and sets out the Government's approach to this subject. This is available on the DFID website at www.dfid.gov.uk.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many times special advisers have accompanied Ministers on overseas visits in each of the last five years; which countries were visited; and what the total cost of each individual visit was. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: Between 1 April 2000 and 31 March 2001, Special Advisers in the Cabinet Office travelled abroad on eight occasions, at an average cost of £1,706.46 per trip. Information for the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 2000 is already in the public domain. All travel by Special Advisers is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code, and the Civil Service Management Code.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how much was spent by departmental special advisers on food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for entertainment purposes in each of the last five years; 
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Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what common policies and actions have been agreed between the British and Irish Governments and representatives of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as a result of meetings of the British/Irish Council since 1 December 1999; and what progress has been made in implementing them. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The British-Irish Council will exchange information, discuss, consult and use best endeavours to reach agreement on cooperation on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the relevant Administrations.
At its first summit on 17 December 1999 the British-Irish Council identified the following areas for early discussion: drugs, the environment, transport, social inclusion, the knowledge economy, tele-medicine and tourism. Work is on-going in all sectoral areas.
In the environment sector for example, in which the UK Government take the lead, work has been taken forward on the impacts of climate change. In particular, new scenarios of climate change are planned that will be tailored to meet the particular needs of some British-Irish Council administrations.
Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many sectoral meetings of the British/Irish Council have taken place since 1 December 1999; and what plans there are for further such meetings. 
19 December 2000-ministerial meeting on transport, Belfast
25 February 2002ministerial meeting on the environment, Edinburgh
22 March 2002ministerial meeting on drugs, Dublin.
16 November 2000officials meeting on social inclusion, London
16 November 2000officials meeting on the knowledge economy, London
4 December 2000officials meeting on transport, Belfast
23 January 2001officials meeting on the environment, London
2829 March 2001officials meeting on the environment, Oxford
29 March 2001officials meeting on the knowledge economy, Jersey
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25 January 2002officials meeting on drugs, Dublin
4 February 2002officials meeting on social inclusion, London
5 February 2002officials meeting on the knowledge economy, London
7 February 2002officials meeting on the environment, London
26 February 2002officials meeting on tele-medicine, Isle of Man
1 March 2002officials meeting on tourism, Guernsey
6 March 2002officials meeting on drugs, Dublin.
Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many meetings of the British/Irish Council have taken place at summit level since 1 December 1999; and what plans there are for further meetings at summit level. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: There have been two British-Irish Council summit meetings since 1 December. Further summit meetings are planned in June 2002 in Jersey where the main topic of discussion will be the knowledge economy, autumn 2002 in Scotland and early 2003 in Northern Ireland.
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