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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 15 January 2003


Departmental Staff

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the distribution of his Department's whole-time equivalent staff was, including the staff in agencies and other bodies reporting to him, in each Government office region and nation of the UK (a) in 1996 and (b) at the most recent available period. [90467]

Mr. Alexander: The numbers of staff in each Department (including its agencies) are shown in tables, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The figures show the data at the 1 April each year, and are based on the full-time equivalent figures for the number of permanent staff in each Department, rounded to the nearest 10. Data are shown by Government Office Region, with columns giving the total number of staff in England and the UK.


Westminster Hall

Janet Anderson: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on his plans for Westminster Hall. [89869]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Commission has no plans for Westminster Hall. It has, however, been aware of growing pressure for the better welcome and reception of constituents and other visitors to the Palace of Westminster and to give them a better understanding of the work of Parliament. The Commission agrees with the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons that a Visitor Centre would be desirable; such facilities are provided in many other Parliaments around the world. We therefore commissioned a feasibility study from the consultants Haley Sharpe and the conservation architects Purcell Miller Tritton. That study reviewed options for the siting of such a centre, and proposed a scheme consisting of a new security/reception building at the western end of the Jubilee Café and elements of a Visitor Centre in the accommodation outside the west wall of Westminster Hall, with the option of providing further facilities in Victoria Tower Gardens.

The Commission considered the consultants' report, recognised the sensitivity of the Westminster Hall location, and asked the consultants to carry out further studies of possible sites outside the Parliamentary Estate. In due course the Commission will consider the results of these studies, together with the views of the Modernisation and Finance and Services Committees, the Domestic Committees, the Speaker's Advisory

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Committee on Works of Art, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association United Kingdom Branch, the Inter-Parliamentary Union British Group and individual hon. Members. Any final decision would need to be agreed with the authorities of the House of Lords.


Mr. Peter Pike: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the main differences are between the pay and conditions of employment of the newly recruited doorkeepers of the House and those employed under the previous system; and if he will make a statement. [90123]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The main difference between the conditions of employment of doorkeepers recruited since March 1998 and those employed before that date is their substantive pay band. This followed the Staff Inspector's review of the doorkeepers (completed in April 1997). I have asked the Director of Finance and Administration to write to the hon. Member with more detail.

Line of Route

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate he has made of the number of hon. Members whose constituents could gain access to the line of route, including the House of Commons, on a Wednesday (a) in 2002, and (b) in 2003, having travelled by public transport (i) without and (ii) with the use, where eligible, of railway Network cards. [89777]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: In 2002, 42 Wednesday mornings were available for tours and approximately 600 visitors a day were accommodated. In 2003, it is estimated that 41 Wednesday mornings will be available for tours and that 740 constituents a day could have access to the Line of Route, with a further 1,200 on Wednesday afternoons during Adjournments. This greater throughput is possible due to a more efficient operation following the creation of the Central Tours Office.

It is not possible to forecast the impact of railway network cards, but for guidance, groups would need to arrive at the Palace by 9.15 am on Wednesdays to complete a tour which includes the Chamber. Access to the Line of Route is available on tours booked with the Central Tours Office until 1200 on Wednesdays, although these tours exclude the House of Commons Chamber.

Mr. Evans: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission how many hours per week the Line of Route (a) was open before the change in working hours of the Commons and (b) is open after the change in working hours of the Commons. [90258]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Line of Route was open for the following hours per week before the change in sitting hours:

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Following the change in sitting hours of this House, and the decision of the House of Lords to sit on Thursday mornings, the Line of Route is now open:


Water Charges

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what protection there is for consumers against overcharging by water companies. [89537]

Mr. Morley: The Director General of Water Services (Ofwat) regulates water and sewerage charges by setting a limit on the average increase in charges that a company can impose in any year. Companies may only charge households in accordance with charges schemes approved by Ofwat. In exercising his powers the Director General seeks to ensure that there is no undue preference or undue discrimination in the fixing of charges.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what requirements are placed on water companies on explaining charges to customers when compiling customer invoices. [89560]

Mr. Morley: Water companies must set out the basis on which they set their charges in charges schemes, which require annual approval by the Director General of Water Services (Ofwat). Charges schemes are available from companies free on request. Water companies have changed the presentation of customers' bills to meet comments from Ofwat and WaterVoice.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to measure carbon emissions from the (a) farming and (b) food industries. [87266]

Mr. Meacher: As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the UK is required annually to compile an inventory of emissions by sources and removals by sinks of the greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.

The main greenhouse gases emitted from farming are methane from enteric fermentation in livestock and agricultural waste disposal, and nitrous oxide from fertiliser use. There are also emissions of carbon dioxide from agricultural energy use and liming of soils. Emissions are calculated from agricultural data including animal numbers and fertiliser usage produced by DEFRA, energy statistics from DTI, plus factors to relate these data to actual emissions. The data are recorded in the UK greenhouse gas inventory and show that overall emissions from agriculture fell by about

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11.5 per cent. between 1990 and 2000. Agriculture also contributes to emissions from land use change, which fell by about 20 per cent. over the same period.

Greenhouse gas emissions for the food industry are not identified separately in the inventory, although they are included with other industrial emissions. Separate studies undertaken by my Department suggest that end user carbon dioxide emissions from energy use in the food industry fell by about 25 per cent. over the period 1990 to 2000. This includes the food industry's share of emissions at power stations due to electricity generation, and it is the fall in power station emissions due to fuel switching that is main reason for the decrease in emissions from this sector.

Departmental Expenditure (Newsprint)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total expenditure of her Department was on newspapers, magazines and periodicals. [90524]

Alun Michael: The Department's expenditure on newspapers, periodicals and magazines in the financial year 2001–02 was #127,470. This figure covers central purchasing through Defra's library services. This excludes the costs of newspapers, periodicals and newspapers purchased in Defra local offices and in the Department's Executive Agencies. These figures could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

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