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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 21 June 2005


Grand Committees

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Leader of the House how many times the (a) Scottish and (b) Welsh Grand Committees have met outside the Houses of Parliament in each of the last four years. [6130]

Mr. Hoon: Neither the Scottish Grand Committee nor the Welsh Grand Committee met outside the Houses of Parliament in any of the past four sessions. The Welsh Grand Committee met in Wales in March 2001.

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Leader of the House for what reason the Northern Ireland Grand Committee has not met outside Westminster. [6131]

Mr. Hoon: There has never been cross-party agreement for the Northern Ireland Grand Committee to meet outside Westminster. Were agreement reached, the Government would be ready to consider facilitating one.


EU Presidency

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister which areas of reform will be given priority during the UK Presidency of the EU. [3951]

The Prime Minister: Like any EU presidency, the UK Government will take forward the work begun by its predecessors. This includes work on economic reform issues such as the better regulation agenda, the Services directive, and, EU/US economic co-operation. But this Government believes that the recent referenda in France and the Netherlands require a wider debate within the EU about how Europe can meet the challenges of globalisation.

On the external agenda, we shall take forward new commitments to: Africa; promote development and eradicate poverty worldwide; tackle climate change; and, aim to advance trade liberalisation and development through the WTO trade talks in December. We shall also take forward the EU's enlargement agenda.


Mike Penning: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the level of looting of Iraqi heritage sites; and if he will raise the issue of the protection of these sites with (a) the Italian Prime Minister, (b) EU leaders and (c) G8 leaders when they next meet. [5316]

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The Prime Minister: The Government takes very seriously the need to respect Iraq's cultural heritage. As United Nations Security Council resolution 1546 (June 2004) stressed, all parties need to respect and protect Iraq's archaeological, historical, cultural, and religious heritage. Our EU and G8 partners are aware of these requirements.

Race Relations

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements are in place to ensure that bodies or organisations within the responsibility of his Office comply with the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. [3562]

The Prime Minister: For these purposes my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Hutton) today, at column 925W.


Cleaning Contract

Mr. Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission what the annual value of the contract for cleaning the House has been in each year since the last contract was signed; and if he will make a statement. [6127]

Nick Harvey: I have been asked to reply.

The main cleaning contract for both Houses of Parliament is worth about £2.2 million per annum of which 60 per cent. (£1.32 million) falls to the House ofCommons. The contract commenced in September 2003, and runs for five years.

Mr. Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission what is the average hourly wage paid to cleaners in the House. [6128]

Nick Harvey: I have been asked to reply.

The in-house cleaning staff who clean sensitive areas are paid an average of £6.81 per hour. I understand that the main contract cleaners who clean common areas are paid a basic rate of £5.00 per hour.

Mr. Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make a statement on discussions between the House authorities and its cleaning contractors concerning the pay of cleaners in the House. [6129]

Nick Harvey: I have been asked to reply.

The House authorities have been working with the management of MITIE, the cleaning contractor, to identify economies in the cleaning contract that could help to fund an increase in pay for the cleaners. Both parties have identified some such economies.
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Domestic Violence

Mr. Malins: To ask the Solicitor-General what Government policy is on prosecutions for domestic violence; and what guidelines have been issued to prosecutors on the subject. [5287]

The Solicitor-General: Stopping domestic violence and bringing perpetrators to justice is a priority for the CPS. In February 2005, it published its updated policy for prosecuting cases of domestic violence. The policy document explains the role of the Crown Prosecution Service and how prosecution decisions are made, and gives information on aspects of the legal process. It is available on the CPS website.

At the same time as the policy was published, the CPS issued revised detailed guidance to its prosecutors. The guidance reflects increased emphasis on the safety of victims and children, concentrates on effective evidence gathering to build strong cases and advises on proceeding where a victim is unwilling to give evidence.

Jury Trial (Fraud Cases)

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Solicitor-General on what basis and for what reasons the responsibility for the use of juries in long and complex trials has been transferred to the Law Officers. [6074]

The Solicitor-General: It has not. The use of juries in long and complex fraud trials is the responsibility of all three Criminal Justice System Ministers, who are being advised by the tri-lateral Office for Criminal Justice Reform.


BMG Consulting

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many questionnaires have been issued by BMG Consulting on behalf of his Department; and what the cost has been of this exercise. [5152]

Jim Fitzpatrick: BMG have sent 8,000 questionnaires to individuals across England as part of a national survey of public satisfaction with local government and its services that they are undertaking for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).

BMG will be paid £36,000 plus VAT by ODPM for the national survey of public-satisfaction with local government and its services. This survey is currently in the field.

Brownfield Land

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the Government's definition is of brownfield land. [5586]

Yvette Cooper: Annex C of Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 Housing sets out the Government's definition of previously developed land (sometimes referred to as 'brownfield land') for the purposes for planning for housing and the collection of data on previously developed land for the National Land Use Database.
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Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homes in England were in each council tax band in each year since the introduction of council tax. [5575]

Mr. Woolas: The number of homes in England in each council tax band in each year since 1993, when council tax was introduced, are shown in the following table.


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