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Mr. Darling: I have regular discussions with the Scottish Executive on a range of issues. The current strength of the Scottish economy has been made possible by the macroeconomic stability delivered by this Government and our commitment to work with the Executive to develop economic competitiveness by promoting productivity and building a more enterprising, innovative and highly skilled economy.
Mrs. McGuire: My right hon. Friend has had discussions on a range of issues with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, but not on this topic. Our aim is to ensure security and independence in retirement for everyone while targeting greatest resources on those most in need.
Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the impact on the economy in Scotland of the announced increase in the level of the national minimum wage; and if he will make a statement. 
25. Mr. Greenway: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs who is responsible for deciding whether information requested from local government under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 qualifies for an exemption under the Act. 
Each individual public authorityand each local authorityis responsible for ensuring that they fulfil their obligations under the Freedom of
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Information Act. Local councils will make their own arrangements for deciding whether exemptions apply to information requested.
27. Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much his Department spent on external consultants in (a) 1997 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. 
The level of expenditure with external consultants reflects the wide-ranging and fast paced programme of change within my Department. This programme has contributed significantly to modernised and more efficient public services. Delivering such a programme has necessitated the use of external expertise to supplement internal resources.
Mr. Lammy: The impact has been very much as predicted by the Government when the Act was debated here and in another place during its legislative stages. New laws are compliant, old laws are tested and everyone's rights are protected.
29. Bob Spink: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the cost of providing legal aid for immigration and asylum cases was in the latest year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Lammy: Actual expenditure in 200304 was £203 million. Estimated expenditure for 200405 is £170 million and £117 million for 200506 in cash terms. A number of important measures were introduced in April 2004 and we expect these measures to reduce expenditure. Funding is being concentrated only on those cases which need it, improving cost control and driving up the quality of services provided by the Legal Services Commission's asylum and immigration suppliers.
30. Mr. Blunt: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of the population had access to civil legal aid in (a) 1997 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. 
Although we do not have precise data, the results of a number of different surveys indicate that the proportion eligible has remained at approximately 50 per cent. since 1997.
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Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what support his Department has provided for the maintenance of the network of law centres in England in 200405. 
Mr. Leslie: Throughout the consideration of the Constitutional Reform Bill in Parliament, I have, of course, had numerous conversations with my noble and learned Friend Lord Falconer about the formal title of Lord Chancellor. The Government decided to preserve the title Lord Chancellor while proceeding with all other substantive reforms to the Office, which we intend will become Ministerial in nature given the proposal to end the judicial functions of that post.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many times the Lord Chancellor met (a) the Law Lords and (b) Lord Lloyd of Berwick as former Chairman of the Security Commission to discuss the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. 
Mr. Leslie: The Lord Chancellor has meetings and discussions with a wide range of organisations and individuals. As with previous Administrations it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings which would inhibit the free and frank exchange of views.
Keith Hill: In July 2003 Barnet council was awarded a place on the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) programme. In December 2004 the council's ALMO, Barnet Homes, secured a 2-star (good) rating from the housing inspectorate, qualifying for access to £19.1 million of ALMO funding for 200405 and 200506 to improve council homes that currently fail the decent homes standard. Subject to decisions on funding for future years, the council forecasts that all its social housing stock will meet this standard by 2010.
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his latest estimate is of the number of (a) council,
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(b) housing association and (c) private development dwellings that will be completed in each London borough in (i) 200405 and (ii) 200506. 
Keith Hill: Local authorities, in their Housing Strategy Statistical Appendices returns to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, estimate there will be the following additional local authority dwellings in six authorities in 200405 and 200506. These estimates do not distinguish between new build dwellings and acquisitions.
| Proposed additional local authority|
The Housing Corporation estimates that the following housing association dwellings will be completed in each London borough in 200405. These estimates are only for dwellings where subsidy is being provided through the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme. The information for 200506 will not be available until the start of the financial year.
|Local authority||Number of dwellings|
|City of London|||
|Barking and Dagenham||130|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||246|
|Kensington and Chelsea||26|
|Kingston upon Thames||174|
|Richmond upon Thames||207|
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of the infrastructure required to support the level of housing development for south Hampshire set out in the South East England Regional Assembly's document, the South East Plan. 
Mr. Raynsford: It is the responsibility of the South East England Regional Assembly to prepare the draft of the new South East Plan, before submitting it to Government for testing and final approval. Work is under way and includes consideration of the infrastructure in the region. For example, the Assembly commissioned a series of sub regional studies, including one for south Hampshire, which also looked at strategic infrastructure requirements for different growth options, and the delivery mechanisms needed to make sure new housing is provided in the most sustainable way possible. The results of these studies were fed in to the first draft of the South East Plan that is currently available for public consultation. We expect the Regional Assembly to submit their draft plan to Government later this year.
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