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2 Feb 2006 : Column 665W—continued


Civil Servants

Kate Hoey: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans the Government have to increase the London allowance of civil servants; and if he will make a statement. [46414]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Departments and agencies have delegated authority to determine pay arrangements for their own staff outside the senior civil service that are tailored to meet their business needs. It is therefore a matter for individual departments and agencies to determine what levels of pay, including any London allowances, are appropriate to recruit, retain and motivate their own staff, taking into account particular labour market pressures. Departments and agencies may also decide, on the basis of business need, to pay higher rates of pay or allowances to members of their senior civil service working within the M25.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what costs were incurred by his Department as a result of sending civil servants on overseas visits in each of the last 10 years. [46290]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The information provided could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

All official travel in the Department is undertaken strictly in accordance with the rules contained in the Cabinet Office management code.

Departmental Expenditure

Martin Horwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much the Cabinet Office and its agencies have spent on (a) the design and production of new logos and (b) employing external (i) public relations and (ii) graphic design agencies in each year since 2000, broken down by project. [33200]

Mr. Jim Murphy [pursuant to the reply, 12 December 2005, Official Report, c. 1682W]: I regret that the data relating to the expenditure on public relations by the Better Regulation Task Force provided in lines 10 to 13 of the table of the previous response was incorrect.

The correct information should read as follows.
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Amount (£)
Public Relations support for the Better Regulation
Taskforce (BRTF)
Public Relations support for the Better Regulation
Taskforce (BRTF)

Government Communications

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on the implementation of the Phillis review recommendations on restructuring Government communications. [47195]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Good progress has been made and all the Phillis review recommendations on restructuring have been implemented.

The first permanent secretary, Government communication, Howell James, took up post in July 2004 and is head of profession for all Government communicators. He is supported by a small, strategic team within the Cabinet Office which concentrates on cross-Government co-ordination, strategic communication, standards and professional development.

At Number 10, as Phillis recommended, the Prime Minister is supported by two key appointments; a director of communications, a special adviser without executive powers, and an official spokesman, a senior civil servant who reports to the permanent secretary.

In January 2005 a new network, the Government Communications Network (GCN) was set up to replace the Government Information and Communication Service. In line with Phillis' recommendations the GCN includes all those who work in communication across Government whatever their area of expertise, for example press, marketing, internal communications, and new media.

As Phillis recommended the permanent secretary also provides advice to Departments on communication structures and promotes the exchange of communication best-practice across Government.

The Government News Network, which handles regional communications on behalf of a number of Government customers, has moved to the Central Office of Information to enable delivery of a more strategic and co-ordinated communications function in the regions.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent on the Central Office of Information in each year since 1996–97; and how much the estimated spend is for 2005–06. [47196]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Central Office of Information running costs for each year since 1996–97 are shown in the following table.
Running costs (£ million)

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The figure for 1996–97 includes £8.5 million of costs resulting from the implementation of the COI quinquennial review. Excluding these one-off costs, running costs in the year represented 13.8 per cent. of turnover. For 2004–05, running costs represented 7.8 per cent. of turnover.

Final figures for 2005–06 are not yet available, but they will include the additional costs for the Government News Network. The results for the current year will be published in mid-July 2006.

IT Failures

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what computerisation or IT failures have occurred in projects managed by the Cabinet Office in each year since 1997; what the contracted cost of the project was in each case; and what estimate he has made of the direct and indirect costs of failure in each case. [14369]

Mr. Jim Murphy [pursuant to the reply, 5 October 2005, Official Report, c. 773W]: I regret the figure quoted in relation to the original contract value of the contract with ITNET of £84 million in the final paragraph was incorrect.

The final paragraph should read as follows:

Public Appointments (Political Impartiality)

Jim Dowd: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what measures are in place to ensure the political impartiality of chief executives of non-departmental public bodies. [47153]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Cabinet Office guidance for non departmental public bodies requires public bodies to adopt a code of conduct for their staff which should include the requirement for staff to conduct themselves with impartiality, integrity and honesty.


BBC World Service

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department plans to review the BBC World Service's allocation of grant in aid. [47294]

Mr. Straw: Grant in aid for BBC World Service forms part of the overall settlement allocated to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by HM Treasury. The current financial settlement runs until April 2008. As
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with all elements of Government spending, the funding of BBC World Service will be reviewed in 2006–07 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Convention against Torture

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether it is the Government's policy to receive intelligence information from Governments who (a) have not (i) signed and (ii) ratified the UN Convention against Torture, (b) have signed the Convention but maintain reservations, (c) have not signed the Optional Protocol on monitoring and (d) employ definitions of torture in practice narrower than the terms of the UN Convention; [48240]

(2) whether it is the Government's policy to make an assessment of the risk that intelligence received by the security services from other countries was obtained by torture. [48293]

Dr. Howells: The Government's position on torture is clear. The UK condemns unreservedly the use of torture. We work hard with our international partners to eradicate this abhorrent practice.

It is not the Government's policy to comment on intelligence matters.

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