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19 Jan 2004 : Column 995Wcontinued
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his Department's procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing; whether his Department is outsourcing IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies; to which countries his Department
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has outsourced these jobs; how much his Department has spent on this outsourcing in each of the last two years; and how much has been budgeted for this purpose for the next two years. 
Mr. Pearson: Procurement Policy in Northern Ireland is based on achieving best value for money while complying with European Community and other international obligations. The 11 Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Office have not outsourced call centre or IT work to offshore companies in the last two years and have no plans to do so.
Mr. Pearson: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in consultation with the Rural Stakeholder Forum, has begun a review of rural development policy. A decision on whether or not to produce a Rural White Paper will be considered after that review has been completed.
Mr. Spellar: Detailed reform proposals are currently being developed, taking into account the substantial feedback received during last year's public consultation on water reform. The proposals will address the basis on which household water charges will be determined, the most effective public ownership model for water and sewerage services, and the most appropriate consumer representation, and economic and consumer regulation arrangements. These proposals will be subject to a full range of impact assessments, including an equality impact assessment, which I plan to publish for consultation in the spring.
In tandem with this work, a vigorous reform programme is being developed within water service to deliver efficiencies of up to £45 million per annum by 2010. Implementation of an interim efficiency action plan will result in savings of over £11 million during 200405.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many responses he received to his Department's "The Reform of Water and Sewerage Services in Northern Ireland" consultation document; and how many of these responses were (a) in favour and (b) against the introduction of water charging. 
The consultation document invited comment on a range of options regarding the basis on which domestic charges should be set. As the consultation document did not seek views on whether water charges should be
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introduced or not, it is not possible to identify the number of responses (a) in favour or (b) against the introduction of water charging.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his Department's procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing; whether his Department is outsourcing IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies; to which countries his Department has outsourced these jobs; how much his Department has spent on this outsourcing in each of the last two years; and how much has been budgeted for this purpose for the next two years. 
As a result of discussions with the Government, all of the UK's major banks, including the Scottish clearing banks, are participating in the Universal Banking project by giving access to basic bank accounts at post offices.
All of the major Scottish banks currently allow access to their basic bank accounts through the Post Office branch network. Post Office Ltd. also provides access to a range of other bank accounts and is seeking to expand these in conjunction with all the major institutions.
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Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent by her Department on (a) Christmas cards and (b) Christmas parties (i) in the last year and (ii) since 1997. 
|Christmas party costs (£)|
(13) No Christmas party held this year. However, there was a new year's drinks reception on 18 January 2000. The cost was £4,386.03.
(14) No Christmas party held this year. However, there was a new year's drinks reception on 22 February 2001. The cost was £2,248.38.
Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment her Department has made of the size of fund the proposed Gambling Industry Charitable Trust will need to address problems of gambling addiction over the next 10 years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Caborn: We have accepted the advice of the Gambling Review Body that the gambling industry should in the first place be asked to provide £3 million a year to fund the Trust's work. The size of this contribution will need to be kept under review in the light of experience and the Trust's own views; and if it proves necessary to ask the industry to consider a larger contribution then we will do so.
Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if the Government will bring forward legislation to introduce a levy on the gambling industry if the sector fails to agree voluntary funding of the Gambling Industry Charitable Trust. 
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Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many honours nominations her Department has received for people involved in rugby league football in each of the last five years; how many have been awarded in each of those years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Caborn : We cannot provide the number of nominations for people involved in rugby league football as we do not keep records in this form. Three awards have been made to people involved in rugby league football since New Year 1999.
We receive nominations for people from a broad spectrum of sports and there is always stiff competition for the limited number of awards available in each Honours List. Individual nominations are considered strictly on merit: the discipline in which the individual has achieved success is not a factor in the decision-making process. We are always interested in receiving nominations from the public and sports bodies and the Rugby Football League is one of many of sports organisations invited on a regular basis to make nominations.
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