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Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004 departmental special advisers travelled (a) domestically and (b) abroad in an official capacity; what places were visited; and how much each visit cost. 
Mrs. McGuire: Details of the places visited by Scotland Office special advisers within the UK are not held separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, in the year to 31 March 2004, the total cost of travel by special advisers within the UK was £16,841; most of this relates to travel between Scotland and London. In the same period, no special advisers travelled abroad in an official capacity.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the (a) cost to the Department, (b) title and (c) location was of each training course organised by his Department for its staff in each financial year since 199798. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. The Scottish Executive and the Department for Constitutional Affairs provide training and development opportunities for Scotland Office staff.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what financial penalties were paid in each financial year since 199798 to training providers by the Department for training courses prepared for its staff which were subsequently cancelled at the Department's request. 
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many video conferencing units are installed in the Department; what percentage of offices have these facilities in each case; and what plans there are to increase the number. 
Mr. Milburn: Since my appointment as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, I have had a range of official meetings including meetings with ministerial colleagues relating to my cross-Government role in the co-ordination of Government policy; my responsibilities for the work of the Strategy Unit and the Policy Directorate; my Duchy of Lancaster role; and my membership of Cabinet.
Mr. Milburn: Since my appointment as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, I have had a range of official meetings including meetings with Cabinet colleagues relating to my cross-Government role in the co-ordination of Government policy; my responsibilities for the work of the Strategy Unit and the Policy Directorate; my Duchy of Lancaster role; and my membership of Cabinet.
As at April 2004, 8.2 per cent. of staff across the Civil Service came from ethnic minority backgrounds, higher than the 7.3 per cent. in the United Kingdom economically active population.
21 Dec 2004 : Column 1637W
There is still under-representation at senior levels, but we have doubled the proportion of staff from minority ethnic backgrounds since 1998, from 1.6 per cent. to 3.3 per cent. We have set new targets as part of the recent Spending Round to ensure we sustain and accelerate progress.
Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the Government's proposed reform of Civil Service pensions, with particular reference to the effects on lower earners. 
Mr. Miliband: The document "Building a sustainable future" sets out the Cabinet Office's proposals for changes to the Civil Service pension arrangements. It also initiates a consultation exercise with scheme members, the Civil Service unions and employers. The proposed arrangements will be fairer between civil servants. Lower earners are one of the groups who are likely to benefit.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. 
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 8 December 2004]: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at the National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in the Cabinet Office under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Department will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what changes have been promulgated in each of the past five years to the guidelines or other criteria for the retention or destruction of departmental files. 
Mr. Miliband [holding answer 8 December 2004]: Since 1999, the Cabinet Office has produced 79 schedules for the disposal of records which are specific to the Department's administrative activities. Departmental records are also disposed of in accordance with over 20 guidance notes produced by the National Archives (TNA) over the last five years, including guidance on disposal schedules. Further details of this guidance can be found on TNA's website at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/advice.
It is our intention that schemes which were exempt from the Minimum Funding Requirement provisions under the 1995 Pensions Act will not be eligible for the Pension Protection Fund. We would expect therefore that the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund, which provides pension benefits for MPs and Ministers, will not participate in the Pension Protection Fund.
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