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Mr. Amess: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent guidelines her Department has issued to judges about consistency of sentencing; and if she will make a statement. 
It is not the role of Government to issue guidelines on sentencing. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 set up the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC), an independent body chaired by the Lord Chief Justice, which is tasked with framing guidelines on sentencing. One of the factors to which the council must have regard when
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framing its guidelines is the need to promote a consistency of approach in sentencing. When sentencing an offender, courts must have regard to any guidelines which are relevant to the case.
The SGC has to date issued guidelines on Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea, Overarching Principles: Seriousness, New Sentences: Criminal Justice Act 2003and, most recently, Manslaughter by Reason of Provocation.
The 2002 Spending Review provided for an increase of £902 million in the departmental expenditure limit by 200506, an annual average real growth of 4.9 per cent. To deliver the expanded programme, administration expenditure was also budgeted to increase.
In each year since the ODPM was established, administration spending has been constrained to below budget. Information on gross and net controlled administration costs underspends for Whitehall Departments is published in the Public Expenditure Outturn White Papers for the relevant years, which are available in the Library of the House.
Efficiency gains are now being made as part of the 2004 Spending Review (SR04) efficiency programme, as set out in Efficiency Technical Notes which are available on Departments' websites. The administration efficiency savings proposed for ODPM, compared with 200405, are set out as follows:
|SR04 administration efficiency savings (£ million)|
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the (a) local authorities, (b) fire authorities and (c) police authorities in Hemel Hempstead, will be eligible for Bellwin scheme assistance. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yes, provided the actions authorities need to take result in eligible costs above the authorities' thresholds. Emergency financial assistance is available to local authorities under the Bellwin scheme to help with their costs incurred in taking immediate action to safeguard life or property or to prevent severe inconvenience to the inhabitants of the area. Local authorities have one month from the end date of an incident in which to notify the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of an intention to make a claim. Dacorum borough council has already registered such an intention and officials here have spoken to both Dacorum and Hertfordshire county council about the procedures to follow.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2005, Official Report, columns 19192W, on planning, if he will place circular 15/92 on his Department's website. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many civil servants in each grade have left his Office in each of the last three years to join consultancy firms; and which firm each joined. 
Mary Creagh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the results of the research study commissioned by his Department, project ID 11476, completed by the Construction Industry Research and Information Association on 31 December 2004, are expected to be published. 
[holding answer 2 December 2005]: A number of research reports prepared for the Buildings Division of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are being prepared for publication. The report mentioned
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by my hon. Friend is one of them. It is expected that the reports will be available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website early in the new year.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) letters from hon. Members, (b) letters from members of the public and (c) parliamentary questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords were dealt with by his Office in each year since 1995 in respect of the percentage his Department took (A) more than one month and (B) more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if he will make a statement. 
The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The Report for 2004 was published on 6 April 2005, Official Report, columns 13740WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.
|PQs from MPs||PQs from Lords|
Information on the percentage of letters and parliamentary questions that took (a) more than one month and (b) more than three months to provide a substantive answer, is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment the Government have made in the last three years of the possible effect of (a) council tax revaluation and (b) further council tax increases on the likelihood of (i) civil disobedience and (ii) civil unrest. 
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of spending by (a) Kent county council and (b) Gravesham borough council was financed from council tax in each financial year since 199697. 
The percentage of Revenue Expenditure by Kent county council and Gravesham borough council that has been financed from council tax in each financial year since 199697 is as follows.
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Comparisons across years may not be valid due to changes in the method of reporting the information. In particular, the outturn data for 199697 to 200203 have been calculated on a non-FRS (Financial Reporting Standard) 17 basis whilst the outturn data for 200304 have been calculated on an FRS 17 basis. The budget data for 200405 and 200506 are a mix of FRS17 and non-FRS 17. This is because for their 200405 and 200506 budget forms local authorities, after consultation, were given the option to complete their forms either on a non-FRS 17 basis or on an FRS17 basis. Hence, figures for different years may not be directly comparable.
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