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Code of Practice on Access to

Government Information

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if applicants requesting information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information are sent an acknowledgement by his Department that their request has been received. [72621]

Dr. Moonie: It is Ministry of Defence policy to answer all such requests under the terms of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information whether or not it is mentioned by individual applicants. It is not general practice in the Ministry of Defence to acknowledge requests for information unless a substantive response cannot be given within 20 working days.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to whom in his Department applicants under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information should address their requests for information; and what the address is of this contact point. [72620]

Dr. Moonie: It is Ministry of Defence policy that all requests for information should be handled in accordance with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. Accordingly, there is no specific person to whom such requests need to be addressed. The MOD Internet site gives contact points for some subjects that attract frequent requests for information, an e-mail address for other enquiries and an address for the Ministerial Correspondence Unit. Our Information Leaflet "MOD and Open Government" is currently being revised to update the contact details and other information given there. In the meantime, Appendix 6 to the Lord Chancellor's Monitoring Report for 2001 gives details for the section which has the policy lead in MOD on the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Parliamentary Answers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether it is his policy to ensure that documents referred to in parliamentary answers are available via his Department's website; [72293]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence aims to be as helpful as possible in responding to hon Members' questions. Where it is appropriate to refer hon Members to other documents as part of the substantive reply, this may be done by making hard copies available in the Libraries of the House, or by reference to material available on the MOD website at http://www.mod.uk. However, some documents referred to in parliamentary answers are published by organisations outside the Department and these will not necessarily be appropriate

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for inclusion on the Department's website. Additionally, not all documents produced by the Department are available electronically.

If a document on the Department's website has been referred to in a parliamentary answer it will generally continue to be available there. Some information of a transitory nature—for example the operational low flying timetable—will be updated periodically, but most reports and policy papers are retained permanently without amendment. Because the structure of the Department's website changes over time, document addresses given in parliamentary answers may also change, but significant documents will almost certainly continue to be available elsewhere on the website.

Departmental Report

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of publishing his Department's annual report for each of the past five years. [70475]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence meets the requirement to report past performance and future spending plans to Parliament by producing two separate documents—the Government's Expenditure Plans (published in the spring), and the Departmental Performance Report (published in the autumn).

The costs of printing and publishing these reports are largely borne by The Stationery Office, with whom the contract for producing Command Papers is held. The Stationery Office recoups these costs on a commercial basis through sales of the Reports, including those copies purchased by the MOD for its own use. The MOD also pays for any additional printing or publication costs not covered by the contract with The Stationery Office. Where these costs are readily identifiable they are shown in the following table. The remaining data are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

YearGovernment's Expenditure Plans (£)Departmental Performance Report (£)
1998-3,700
1999-7,100
2000-6,803
20014,76812,610
20022,020To be published in October

MOD staff costs associated with producing these reports cannot be accurately assessed, and are not therefore included in the above figures.


Entertainment Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list for 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the amount spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons; if he will list the proportion of this cost incurred in respect of (x) food and (y) alcohol in each case; and if he will list the average cost per hotel room or similar unit of accommodation provided in each case. [34433]

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Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 February, Official Report, columns 559–560W.

Departmental Policies (Bristol, East)

Jean Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Bristol, East constituency, the effects on Bristol of his Department's policies and actions (a) from 5 May 1994 to 2 May 1997, (b) from 2 May 1997 to 7 May 1998, and (c) since 7 May 1998. [35603]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer provided by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 4 March 2002, Official Report, column 80W. Detailed information is not held centrally within the Ministry of Defence and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

I can say though that the Bristol, East constituency contains no MOD sites. However, it does form part of the Bristol Travel To Work Area where there is a number of MOD establishments including the headquarters for the Defence Procurement Agency and the Warship Support Agency that are both based at Abbey Wood in Bristol North-West. Abbey Wood opened in 1995 with the relocation of the then Procurement Executive. Over 500 staff were recruited locally in 1995–96. Now over 5,800 people work at the site; this will rise to over 6,800 in late 2002 with the further co-location of Warship Support Agency staff. In April 1994 there were 294 Full Time Equivalent civilian posts in the Bristol Travel To Work Area, which had increased to 4,039 Full Time Equivalent civilian posts by July 2001 largely as a result of the creation of the Abbey Wood headquarters.

Service posts are not counted by Travel To Work Area. But in July 2000 there were 87 Service posts in the Bristol Unitary Authority Area; this does not include Abbey Wood, which is in South Gloucestershire.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts his Department has with consultants; what level of professional indemnity insurance is standard in contracts with small consultants; whether he can make exceptions to the level of professional indemnity insurance; and what recent discussions he has had with other Government departments about the level of professional indemnity insurance. [50824]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 18 April 2002]: This information is not held centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Ministry of Defence does not routinely impose a requirement for a standard level of professional indemnity insurance in contracts with small consultants. Most consultants will take out professional indemnity insurance with a policy value consistent with the risks associated with their business. Unless there are compelling business reasons to the contrary, MOD would not wish to interfere in this decision.

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As MOD does not routinely impose a requirement for a standard level of professional indemnity insurance, then the question of exceptions to a standard level does not usually arise. However, MOD would not wish to allow any variations in the levels of professional indemnity insurance which could distort competition or could in any other way be seen as discriminatory. Inevitably, some contracts do carry special risks and, in these cases, it may be beneficial on value for money grounds for the MOD to exclude or limit the contractor's liability. Finally, as with previous Administrations, it is not this Government's practice to provide details of discussions that form part of the process of policy development and analysis.


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