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4 May 2006 : Column 1798W—continued



Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 March 2006, Official Report, column 873W, on consultancy fees, what each of the consultants were used to accomplish; and how much was paid in fees to each organisation. [64078]

Ms Harman: My Department used consultants during 2004–05 to support its programme of modernisation and change, to increase efficiency, and to provide better customer service and value for money for the taxpayer. Information on what each of the consultants was used to accomplish is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

A list of the consultancy companies and individuals, and the fees paid to each of them, is as follows.
Fees paid by DCA/Court Service for the provision of consultancy in 2004–05

Fees (£)
Adult Learning Inspectorate19,309
Alexander Cameron Ltd.5,837
Ask Europe PLC28,616
Assessment and Development Consultancy60,750
Barry Sutlieff413
BTA Consulting196,859
BTF Associates176,076
Capita Resourcing39,140
Cleo Nicolau33,353
Communication Engagement and Change Ltd.61,000
Computer Sciences Corporation16,000
Cornwell Management Consultants49,081
David Coates22,000
Deloitte MCS Ltd.1,683,229
Dennis Battle Associates2,288
Design Systems Technology Ltd.1,000
Digital Public21,000
DTZ Debenhan Tie Leung244,774
Elborough Consulting/TSO Consulting5,689
Eleri Evans617
Enodian Ltd.172,377
Ernst and Young LLP235,256
Gartner UK Ltd.112,103
GIC Ltd.11,600
Haygarth Group28,000
Horwood Safety Limited1,881
Hudson Global Resources42,600
Human Assets Ltd.85,341
Hurd Rolland153,361
Ilogic Ventures22,688
Insight Consulting Ltd.132,924
IPPR Consulting Ltd.29,417
Issan Ghazni Partnership624
JMH Consultancy39,000
John Garnett79,762
Largos Ltd.3,614
Lexicon Ltd.24,687
Logica CMG UK Ltd.31,012
Maitland Consultancy25,000
Mandurai Ltd.3,494
Methods Consulting98,065
Mouchel Consulting Limited469,965
NCC Services Ltd.53,449
ORC International290,785
Parity Resources36,270
Professor Susskind10,764
Punter Southall24,674
Rene Caroyal4,700
Reshan Sandhu2,058
Rick Evans Ltd.2,677
Synopsis Communication Consulting Limited38,764
The Ingram Partnership243,000
Towers Perrin296,752
Tribal MPC15,045
UCL Consultants19,035
Venn Group Ltd.6,663
VP Treen and Associates43,200
Watson Associates51,475

4 May 2006 : Column 1799W

Legal Aid

Mrs. James: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress is being made in reducing claimant legal aid fraud; and if she will make a statement. [65079]

Ms Harman: The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has powers to investigate where doubts arise about whether a funded client is financially eligible for civil legal aid. The LSC takes action to deal with people who abuse the system, including referring them to the police where appropriate.

In order to improve the verification of means of applicants for civil legal aid, the LSC set up the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in 1996. This unit considers cases of apparently wealthy individuals applying for civil legal aid. Following the successful introduction of the SIU for civil legal aid, its role was extended to cover Criminal Legal Aid from 1998.


Business Rates

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1)what the average business rates liability of a small firm in England was (a) before and (b) after claiming small business rate relief in 2005–06; [66261]

(2) how many and what proportion of eligible small firms claimed small business rate relief in England in 2005–06. [66262]

4 May 2006 : Column 1800W

Mr. Woolas: This information is not held centrally, and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

City Regions

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to introduce city regions in (a) England and (b) the West Midlands. [66275]

Mr. Woolas: Ministers visited the eight English 'Core Cities', in a series of city summits during autumn of last year. Following these summits, the 'Core Cities', in partnership with surrounding areas, have been developing business cases which set out their strategic vision, and their case for change to enable improved economic performance and social cohesion. Representatives from the West Midlands metropolitan authorities and their partners met with the Minister of Communities and Local Government (Mr. Miliband) on 23 March to discuss their business case.

These discussions will inform the forthcoming Local Government White Paper.

Council Tax

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many written representations he has received since January protesting about council tax; and if he will make a statement. [66444]

Mr. Woolas: Between 1 January and 25 April 2006 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister received approximately 3,260 written representations about council tax. The Office has also received just over 3,000 copies of council tax bills without a separate written representation.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government has to provide assistance specific to pensioners with their council tax bills in 2006–07. [66327]

Mr. Woolas: Council tax benefit is available to pensioners on a low income. When pension credit was introduced in October 2003, the Government invested almost £½ billion a year in increasing the amounts on which housing benefit and council tax benefit are based: this meant that around 2 million pensioner households became either entitled to council tax benefit for the first time or qualified for more help. The Government has also announced an extension of winter fuel payments for the remainder of this Parliament at a cost of around £700 million a year.

Departmental Staff

David Simpson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people in his Department have been (a) disciplined and (b) dismissed for (i) inappropriate use of the internet while at work and (ii) using work telephones to access premium rate numbers in each of the last five years. [68003]

Jim Fitzpatrick: None

Departmental Staff Handbook

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's most recent staff handbook. [66328]

4 May 2006 : Column 1801W

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 20 March 2006, Official Report, column 818W to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs.Spelman).


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the local authorities Euro preparation group last met. [66306]

Mr. Woolas: A meeting between local authorities and central Government officials to discuss Euro preparations took place on 21 February 2006.

Gypsy and Traveller Sites

Andrew George: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister under what legislation he published the Planning Circular 01/06: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites. [66075]

Yvette Cooper: The Government publish planning policy in various forms such as through circulars, planning policy statements and policy guidance notes. These documents build on the framework set out in legislation, and provide guidance on different aspects of land use planning and the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system.

Government planning guidance does not require the formal backing of legislation, but it is considered material considerations and must be taken into account when an authority is making a decision on a planning application.

The draft circular was subject to 13 weeks formal consultation in 2005. The circular was issued on 2 February 2006.

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