|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Heald: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the Department's policy is on individuals or organisations seeking to register a political party using words which are already a fundamental and necessary part of another registered political party's branding; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Leslie: The registration of political parties' names is the responsibility of the Electoral Commission. Section 28 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 sets out the grounds on which the Commission may refuse to register a name.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of divorce cases in which a prenuptial agreement is enforced in court. 
Mr. Lammy: Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally enforceable at present, but the courts may consider the terms of such agreements when exercising their discretion in relation to the division of property on divorce. Figures on the number of cases in which the courts exercise their discretion in this way are not collected. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the cases where pre-nuptial agreements are an issue are rare.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment he has made of the consequences for court time and costs of making prenuptial agreements binding. 
Mr. Lammy: No assessment has been made. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that pre-nuptial agreements are rarely an issue in ancillary relief cases. It is, therefore, doubtful that any savings in court time or costs would be significant.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether he plans to make prenuptial agreements legally binding except where upholding an agreement would cause significant injustice. 
At present, couples are free to enter into pre-nuptial agreements, and abide by their terms on divorce, if they wish to do so. The courts can consider the terms of such agreements when exercising their discretion regarding the division of property on divorce.
20 Dec 2004 : Column 1390W
The Government believe that there would be difficulties in tying people into agreements made years before a divorce. The Government also believe that binding agreements would carry a significant risk of unfairness to either party in the event of a change in financial or other circumstances during the course of the marriage. The Government, therefore, have no plans to legislate to make pre-nuptial agreements legally binding.
Norman Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what factors underlie the increase in the rate of files shredded by his Department since January 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Leslie: My Department continues to implement well established policies and procedures for the review and disposal of files in accordance with its administrative needs and the Public Records Act. The factor underlying the increase in the number of reviews conducted by the Department for Constitutional Affairs since January 2003 was the need to clear a backlog that had accumulated since 2001. The Freedom of Information Act has undoubtedly brought a renewed focus on good records management, and the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice on the Management of Records under s46 of the Act recognises that the managed destruction of records is a proper and necessary part of efficient record keeping.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many day's sickness leave were taken by civil servants in the Department in each year since 1997; and what the sickness absence rate was in each year. 
Mr. Lammy: The numbers of days lost to sickness absence are collected by the Department. The figures are contained in the annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" published by the Cabinet Office. Table A of the report gives details of both the average working days absence per staff year and the number of staff years on which that calculation is based on. The most recent of which (for calendar year 2003) was announced by Written Ministerial Statement on 1 November 2004, Official Report, column 1WS and copies placed in the Libraries of the House. Reports for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 are available on the Cabinet Office website at: http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management_information/conditions_of_service/caje/publications/index.asp#sickness
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) whether the Secretary of State has been informed of breaches of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers in the Department since its implementation; 
20 Dec 2004 : Column 1391W
(2) how many appeals were made by civil servants to the Civil Service Commissioners regarding special advisers in his Department between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004 and when each appeal was lodged. 
Mr. Tyrie: To ask Parliamentary Under Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs, whether departmental special advisers have been responsible for authorising instances of departmental spending since May 1997. 
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether departmental special advisers have given instructions to permanent civil servants without the explicit authorisation of Ministers since May 1997. 
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether departmental special advisers have made appearances before parliamentary Select Committees in their official capacity since May 1997. 
The costs for taskforces and similar bodies in each year since 1997 are not separately identifiable within the Department's accounts without incurring disproportionate costs.
20 Dec 2004 : Column 1393W
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the measures to curb heroin production in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: The UK, as lead nation, is committed to supporting the Afghan Government in the implementation of their comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy. I refer my hon. Friend to the written statement I made on Afghanistan: Counter Narcotics, 29 November 2004, Official Report, column 17WS.
Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library copies of the reports he requested from each Department on the steps that they have taken to implement the recommendations of the Bellis report of 24 November 2003. 
Mr. MacShane: Follow-up to the report by Robin Bellis on "Implementation of EU Legislation" is on-going. Copies of a Synthesis report covering initial stakeholder responses and a subsequent Government Legal Service response on legal aspects have been placed in the Library of the House. Updated transposition guidance reflecting this analysis will issue in the new year. The hon. Member will have noted the joint measures announced in the pre-Budget report to ensure that businesses do not face unnecessary burdens from European law. This action forms part of a wider regulatory reform agenda which the Government are driving forward at the national and EU level.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|