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Departmental Website

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will complete his departmental website; what steps is he taking to meet the Government's e-commerce targets; and what his target is for answering correspondence with ministers. [62554]

Mr. Leslie: Following the machinery of government changes, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has developed an interim website to ensure ongoing access to the Department's material. The website will be developed further over the next few months.

Our approach to meeting the Government's e-commerce and e-government related objectives is set out in the e-business strategies prepared by the former DTLR and the Cabinet Office, from which the Deputy Prime Minister inherited his responsibilities. The

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Department is now focusing on delivery of the strategy, a recent example being the planning portal, which will link users of the planning system to a wide range of advice, guidance and services on planning and related topics.

We have also published for consultation a draft national strategy ( towards a national strategy for local e-government) that seeks to clarify a common and ambitious vision of local e-government. This includes £350 million (over three years from 2001–02) of investment to promote its delivery in local government.

On the ODPM's targets for answering correspondence, the Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the volume of Members' correspondence received by Departments. For information for 2001, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Clarke) on Friday 24 May 2002, Official Report, columns 674–76W.

Departmental Re-organisation

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) when he expects to announce specific ministerial responsibilities within his Department; [61619]

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State (Mr. Prescott): I lead an enlarged Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) at the centre of Government separated off from the Cabinet Office.

I am supported by: three Ministers of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche), and my Noble Friend the right hon. Lord Rooker; two Parliamentary Under- Secretaries of State, my hon. Friends the Members for Shipley (Mr. Leslie), and Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty). Mavis McDonald CB has been appointed Permanent Secretary.

As First Secretary of State, I will continue to deputise for the Prime Minister across the range of his responsibilities at home and abroad, and to chair a number of Cabinet committees and sub-committees. I will also continue to carry ministerial responsibility for the British Irish Council and the Joint Ministerial Committee.

The ODPM already contained the Social Exclusion Unit, the Regional Co-ordination Unit and the Government Offices for the Regions. The Office has now been expanded to include regional policy, local government, local government finance, planning, housing, urban policy, the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, the Fire Service and a number of executive agencies and

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non-departmental public bodies. Once the refurbishment is completed, the ODPM will be located at Ripley Court, Whitehall and Eland House, Victoria.

Specific ministerial responsibilities within the ODPM; staff allocated to each responsibility; ODPM targets; lists of special advisers and press officers; and the estimated cost of organising the ODPM, are still being considered.

Voting Methods

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussion he has had with Herefordshire council regarding (a) electronic voting and (b) all postal vote elections for (i) the next general election and (ii) the 2003 local elections; and if he will make a statement. [62703]

Mr. Raynsford: Herefordshire council recently made preliminary inquiries about the likely scope of next year's pilot programme for local elections. As the council was told, it is the Government's intention to issue in September a prospectus giving details about the scope of the 2003 electoral pilots, and how councils will be able to apply for approval to run such pilots.

Ordnance Survey

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister further to the reply of the Under-Secretary of 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 572W, if he will announce the outcome of the review of the implications for the National Interest Mapping Service Agreement with the Ordnance Survey of the Ordnance Survey's decision in May 2001 to change to colour photography. [60686]

Mr. McNulty: The NIMSA review group comprising officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Ordnance Survey has yet to conclude its review of the impact on National Interest Mapping Service Agreement (NIMSA) payments to Ordnance Survey on the decision to move to aerial colour photography. The result of this review will be reported within NIMSA annual reports.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on cross-subsidy from public funds for the Ordnance Survey imagery layer business. [60687]

Mr. McNulty: As a trading fund, Ordnance Survey earns its revenue principally from the licensing of its products and the provision of a small number of services. In addition it earns revenue from the National Interest Mapping Service Agreement (NIMSA) which focuses on the provision of national mapping services that would otherwise be uneconomic.

The Government, and Ordnance Survey, will ensure that there is no cross-subsidy from public funds to support Ordnance Survey's imagery layer products.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the National Interest Mapping Service Agreement funding makes (a) a direct and (b) an indirect contribution to the commercial activities of Ordnance Survey. [60685]

Mr. McNulty: As a trading fund, Ordnance Survey is required to deliver a return on capital employed in its activities. Currently the target is to achieve an average of 9 per cent. return over the first five years of the fund, April 1999 to March 2004.

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The National Interest Mapping Service Agreement (NIMSA) is an important part of Ordnance Survey's revenue and enables it to undertake uneconomic activities that a purely commercially focused Ordnance Survey could not justify. The NIMSA review group, comprising officials from my Department and from Ordnance Survey takes great care to ensure that NIMSA funds solely support these uneconomic activities.


Mr. Truswell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will publish his analysis of responses to the Green Paper "Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change". [62851]

Mr. Raynsford: A copy has been placed in the House of Commons Library. It will be placed on the ODPM website shortly.

National Spending Programmes

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action is being taken to ensure that national spending programmes are being effectively delivered regionally. [63102]

Mr. Raynsford: We are working on several fronts to ensure effective delivery of our regional programmes. The White Paper "Your Region, Your Choice" sets out the general context of our regional policies. We are strengthening the Regional Development Agencies, Regional Chambers and Government Offices, so that programmes can better meet the needs of each region and local area. The White Paper sets out our plans to establish elected assemblies, which will provide more effective and accountable regional decision making, in regions which vote for them in a referendum. Also, the 2002 Spending Review is taking into account assessments of regional priorities provided by the Regional Development Agencies and Government Offices in each region.

Pro-hunting Campaign

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what information he has received from local authorities about (a) incidents of slogans, stickers or posters supporting hunting being applied to roads and other public places and (b) what the annual cost is of repairing the damage caused in these incidents. [63436]

Mr. Raynsford: I am not aware of any such information having been received.

British-Irish Council

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which Ministers attended the most recent British-Irish Council; and what his role was in connection with the Council. [63192]

The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State (Mr. Prescott): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister led the UK Government's delegation at the British-Irish Council Summit held in Jersey on 14 June. I was present in my capacity as the UK Minister with lead responsibility for the British-Irish Council. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Minister for e-Commerce and Competitiveness were also part of the delegation.

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