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17 Jan 2005 : Column 664W—continued

Sir Roy Meadows

Mr. Cash: To ask the Solicitor-General what payment was made to Sir Roy Meadows as an expert witness in the case of R. v. Cannings; by whom; and on whose behalf. [208524]

The Solicitor-General: The payment made by the Crown Prosecution Service to Sir Roy Meadow for his attendance at court and attendance at conferences was £3,462.15. Wiltshire Constabulary made payments to Sir Roy Meadows in relation to preparation work totalling £4,730.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Solicitor-General how much was spent by her Department in each year since 1997 on taskforces and similar bodies. [204881]

The Solicitor-General: Neither the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), nor the Serious Fraud Office have spent any money on taskforces or similar bodies since 1997. In 1999 the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers spent a total of £210,000 on a review which led to the establishment of a separate and independent Inspectorate for the CPS.

Working Time Regulations

Mr. Brady: To ask the Solicitor-General how many officials working in ministerial private offices in the Department have worked more than a 48-hour week at any time in the last 12 months for which figures are available; how many of those had signed a waiver under working time regulations; and what percentage these figures represented of the total in each case. [204138]

The Solicitor-General: The working time regulations provide workers with the protection of a limit of an average of 48 hours a week working time. This is not an absolute cap of 48 hours in any one week. This average is normally calculated over a 17-week reference period, although this can be longer in certain situations (26 weeks) and can be extended by agreement (up to 52 weeks). Workers may choose to work more than 48 hours per week over this reference period by signing an opt-out agreement, but employers cannot force a worker to sign an opt-out, and workers cannot be subjected to detriment for refusing to sign an opt-out. In
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the last 12 months four officials working in the combined Private Office for the Law Officers have worked more than a 48 hour week on occasions. This represents 100 per cent. of the total number of permanent staff in the office.

None of these staff have signed a waiver under the working time regulations, but are now being invited to consider doing so. The working hours of Private Office staff are kept under regular review.


General Synod

27. Mr. Key: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if he will arrange for the publication of (a) the attendance records and (b) the voting records of members of all three houses of the General Synod since the last elections. [208476]

Sir Stuart Bell: Where votes are counted on particular questions the relevant figures are published in the Synod's Report of Proceedings (which is included on the Church of England website). Records of individual attendance and voting are not kept.

Lottery Funding

28. Mr. Luff: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what discussions the Commissioners have had with the Heritage Lottery Fund about funding for cathedral and church restoration projects. [208477]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Church Heritage Forum is arranging such discussions, to include the Association of English Cathedrals, aimed at enabling better mutual understanding of priorities, potential and needs. The Heritage Lottery Fund needs continuing Government support to carry on its very welcome help with new works and repairs in places of worship.

Church Attendance and Income

29. Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if he will make a statement on (a) church attendance and (b) church income in rural areas. [208478]

Sir Stuart Bell: In 2003 adult attendance grew in half the dioceses, but this is not specific to particular parts of the country. Church income depends chiefly on the giving levels of members and visitors and these levels vary. Predominantly rural dioceses are equally spread across the range.

Freedom of Information

John Mann: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what categories of information are available under Freedom of Information legislation that have not been provided in written parliamentary answers on behalf of the Church Commissioners in the last three years. [207834]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Church Commissioners do not fall within the Freedom of Information Act.
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Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport will respond to the points raised by the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey in the Christmas Adjournment Debate on 21 December, Official Report, columns 2090–92, concerning the A3 at Hindhead. [208787]

Mr. Jamieson: I wrote to the right hon. Lady on 13 January addressing these points.

Blackwall Tunnel

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the original projected cost was of the refurbishment of the Blackwall Tunnel; [208018]

(2) what the start date was of the refurbishment process for the Blackwall Tunnel; [208019]

(3) when he expects the refurbishment of the Blackwall Tunnel to be completed; [208020]

(4) what the original estimate was for the time to be taken refurbishing the Blackwall Tunnel; [208021]

(5) how many (a) contractors and (b) sub-contractors are involved in the refurbishment of the Blackwall Tunnel; [208022]

(6) what the estimated cost is of the refurbishment of the Blackwall Tunnel; [208023]

(7) for how many hours per (a) week, (b) month and (c) year on average the Blackwall Tunnel was (i) closed and (ii) partially closed over the last five years; [208025]

(8) what estimate his Department made of the cost to the UK economy of the (a) closure and (b) partial closure of the Blackwall Tunnel; [208026]

(9) what environmental impact study has been carried out on the effects of the (a) closure and (b) partial closure of the Blackwall Tunnel; [208027]

(10) what steps his Department is taking to provide alternative routes for traffic that is unable to use the Blackwall Tunnel. [208028]

Mr. Jamieson: The Blackwall Tunnel forms part of the Greater London Authority Road Network—now known as the Transport for London Road Network—and is the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport for London. Therefore, any works, including refurbishment, on that stretch of road are a matter for them. Information about the Blackwall Tunnel and its refurbishment can be obtained from:

Director of Street Management Transport for London Windsor House 42–50 Victoria Street London SW1H OTL

Blue Badge Scheme

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date he expects eligibility for the Blue Badge Scheme to be extended to children under two. [209206]

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Charlotte Atkins: We are currently finalising a package of changes to the Blue Badge Scheme which require changes through secondary legislation. This includes extending the scheme to those children under two whose medical needs require the transport of medical equipment at all times. We will be consulting on draft regulations in the next few months and intend to implement the changes as soon as possible thereafter.

Congestion and Parking Charges

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which local authorities in England are liaising with his Department over the potential introduction of (a) congestion charging and (b) workplace parking charging. [207958]

Charlotte Atkins: In our recently published Guidance on Local Transport Plans, we invited local authorities to consider the scope for tackling congestion through innovative schemes involving improvements to the delivery of public transport and demand management measures such as congestion charging. Funding from the Transport Innovation Fund may be available from 2008–09 onwards to support the implementation of the best schemes. We have asked interested authorities to register their interest by the end of this month, and have responded to requests for clarification from a number of authorities in recent weeks.

Separately, the Department has been liaising with Nottingham city council about its plans to introduce a workplace parking levy.

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