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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria are used by the Highways Agency to determine whether (a) treatment of stretches
7 Dec 2004 : Column 424W
or routes for non-maintenance reasons is included in the annual budget of the Highways Agency and (b) such treatment includes noise barriers. 
Mr. Jamieson: The annual budget of the Highways Agency is agreed by Ministers taking account of the resources available for transport and competing priorities from the different programmes. Within that budget, priority is given to maintaining the strategic network, reducing congestion and improving safety, in accordance with the key targets set the Highways Agency. A ring-fenced annual budget of £5 million is allocated to treating noise problems at identified sites. Priorities for resurfacing of concrete roads ahead of maintenance need, subject to the availability of funding, were set out in the Secretary of State's announcement of 1 April 2003. The Highways Agency's budget and programme will be set out in its Business Plan, due to be published in the new year.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will allow members of the pre-October 2002 Civil Service Pension Scheme to remarry without losing their original pension entitlement; and if she will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: For clarification, members of the pre-October 2002 Civil Service Pension Scheme do not lose their pension on remarriage. However, the surviving spouses of deceased former members do have their widows'/widowers' pensions stopped on remarriage or cohabitation. I presume that it is these widows' and widowers' pensions to which the hon. Member's question relates.
Mr. Caborn: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in line with the rest of the civil service, does not discriminate against staff or eligible applicants for posts on the grounds of age. Decisions on recruitment, selection, training, promotion and career management are based solely on objective and job related criteria.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her target time is in 200405 (a) to reply to letters from hon. Members and (b) for the officials in her Office to reply to letters received directly from members of the public. 
Information on the departmental handling of correspondence from Members of Parliament/Peers is published annually by the Cabinet Office. The 2003 annual report is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Caborn: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport does not provide crèche facilities. The Department provides support to working parents by participating in the Westminster Holiday Play scheme. The scheme provides holiday child care for children aged between four and 12 years. The cost per day is £30 and DCMS contributes half.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the cost of (a) new builds, (b) demolition rebuilds and (c) private finance initiative projects in her Department in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the (a) annual cost and (b) total value of the empty properties owned by (i) her Department, (ii) agencies and (iii) other public bodies for which she has had responsibility in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Caborn: During 200203 £120,000 was spent on building fabric in compliance with lease requirements and £102,000 to redecorate and re-carpet a floor vacated by a tenant to enable occupation by departmental staff. The sum of £8,088 has also been spent in 200304 decorating to repair the effects of fair wear and tear.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for her Department in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by her Department in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the equipment leasing arrangements entered into by her Department in each of the last two years; and what the cost is to public funds in each case. 
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