Previous Section Index Home Page

25 May 2006 : Column 1981W

Water Services

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of the Northern Ireland regional rate revenue is allocated to water services in Northern Ireland in 2006-07. [73477]

Mr. Hanson: The regional rate is an un-hypothecated tax and is not allocated to specific areas of expenditure, but instead contributes to the overall resources available to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to allocate to regional public services in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister

Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister how many representations he has received (a) supporting and (b) opposing the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [Lords]; what percentage the latter represents of the former; and if he will make a statement. [72042]

The Prime Minister: My Office has received a petition containing approximately 100,000 signatures against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [Lords].

Departmental Bills (Amendments)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions when an amendment has been moved by (a) a Labour backbencher, (b) an Opposition backbencher and (c) an Opposition front bench spokesman to a Bill sponsored by his Department that has been accepted by his Department during the current session; and if he will make a statement. [72129]

The Prime Minister: I support all Bills introduced by the Government, however my Office does not have direct responsibility for introducing or taking through the House any individual Bills.

Information Technology

Chris Huhne: To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent on information technology (IT) sourced from outside his Office in each of the last five years; who is responsible for such projects in his Office; and what IT (a) expertise and (b) qualifications they possess. [71774]


25 May 2006 : Column 1982W

The Prime Minister: For these purposes my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Mr. McFadden) today.

Israel

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister when he visited the State of Israel in an official capacity in each year since 1997; what matters were discussed; and if he will make a statement. [72044]

The Prime Minister: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying me on overseas visits is included in the list. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the ministerial code and travel by Ministers. Information for the year 2005-06 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the financial year.

I have regular discussions with the Israeli Government on a wide range of issues. Transcripts of press conferences I have held are available on the No. 10 website.

Journalists (Foreign Visits)

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Prime Minister which journalists accompanied him on (a) his recent trip to Iraq and (b) his trip to Australia and New Zealand in March; and how much each paid for their airfare. [73550]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1675W.

Meetings

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Prime Minister whether (1) he has met (a) Mr Richard Caring, (b) Mr Ron Aldridge, (c) Dr Chai Patel, (d) Mr Barry Townsley, (e) Mr Andrew Rosenfeld, (f) Mr Derek Tullett, (g) Sir Gulam Noon, (h) Mr Nigel Morris, (i) Sir David Garrard and (j) Sir Christopher Evans on official business at 10 Downing Street in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement; [61429]

(2) whether he has met representatives of Merlin Biosciences Limited on official business in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [61478]

The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.


25 May 2006 : Column 1983W

Portland PR

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Prime Minister what meetings officials in his private office have had with Portland PR; what contracts Portland PR has with persons who report directly to him; what contractual relationship exists between the Government and Portland PR which is not covered by the responsibilities of any other Minister in the Government; and what the terms of the contract are in each case. [72170]

The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Private Members' Bills

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list those Private Members' Bills in respect of which his Department adopted a policy of neutrality in each session since 2001-02; and if he will make a statement. [72127]

The Prime Minister: My Office does not have direct responsibility for individual Private Members Bills.

Public Sector Reform

Mr. Francois: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his announcement on 15 May 2006, on public service reform, what guidance he has issued to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his new role in leading public sector reform. [73536]

The Prime Minister: I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Reshuffle (Costs)

Philip Davies: To ask the Prime Minister what the cost was of the recent Cabinet reshuffle, broken down by main budget heading. [71950]

The Prime Minister: The numbers of salaried Ministers is governed by the Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975. The cost of machinery of Government changes will be met by relevant departments within existing departmental budgets.

Whaling

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had at the recent EU summit in Vienna with Latin American and Caribbean leaders concerning their countries’ voting intentions at the next International Whaling Commission meeting in June; and if he will make a statement. [72638]


25 May 2006 : Column 1984W

The Prime Minister: While the subject of whaling was not raised at the EU summit in Vienna, this Government’s strong opposition to commercial and scientific whaling is well known and Ministers continue to raise the issue at every appropriate opportunity.

Leader of the House

IT Infrastructure

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Leader of the House what recent assessment the Commission has made of the (a) effectiveness and (b) reliability of information technology (i) equipment and (ii) infrastructure provided for hon. Members’ constituency offices. [72613]

Mr. Straw: The Administration Committee monitors the quality of ICT services in the House on behalf of the Leader of the House of Commons. The Committee asks for reports and oral updates from the Parliamentary ICT Service, on a regular basis. The Committee recently received a briefing on the current performance of the VPN service and all Members were informed by email of the outcome of that meeting. The Committee intends to undertake a fuller review of ICT services later in the year.

Private Members' Bills

Mr. Amess: To ask the Leader of the House if he will list those Private Members’ Bills on which he or his predecessor has adopted a policy of neutrality in each session since 2001-02; and if he will make a statement. [72100]

Mr. Straw: So far as I am aware, there have been no such cases. The only recent Private Members’ Bill that the Leader of the House (then my predecessor the right hon. Member for Ashfield) has been responsible for responding to, was Clare Short’s Armed Forces (Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill, where the Government stance was not neutral. It is rare for the Leader of the House to be the responsible Minister for responding to a Private Member’s Bill.

Defence

Afghanistan

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of UK forces in Afghanistan. [72972]

Mr. Ingram: UK forces are deployed in Afghanistan in support of a UN authorised, NATO-led mission, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and as part of the US-led international coalition. We are there to prevent Afghanistan from again harbouring terrorism, to build security and Government institutions, and to support the Afghan Security Forces in combating insurgents and illegally armed groups, all of which remain threats to Afghan security and stability.


25 May 2006 : Column 1985W

Commonwealth Recruits

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of recruits to the Army in each of the last 10 years came from other Commonwealth countries. [73738]

Mr. Watson: The proportion of those personnel who have entered untrained strength to the Army who have a nationality of a Commonwealth country (excluding UK) are as follows:

Proportion of Commonwealth (excluding the UK) inflow into the untrained strength of the Regular Army
Percentage
Officer Soldier Total

1995-96

1.6

0.3

0.4

1996-97

2.1

0.3

0.3

1997-98

1.3

0.2

0.3

1998-99

1.5

0.7

0.7

1999-2000

1.2

2.8

2.7

2000-01

1.5

5.1

4.9

2001-02

1.5

8.1

7.7

2002-03

3.5

12.7

12.2

2003-04

3.3

10.9

10.5

2004-05

4.0

8.8

8.5

2005-06

1.9

5.4

5.1

Notes:
1. The figures are for trained Regular Army only and therefore exclude Gurkhas, Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, Full Time Reserve Service, Mobilised Reserves, TA and all other Reserves.
2. Figures are based on Untrained Intake into the Army and for soldiers include inflows from Illegal Absence. Rates are based on all inflow regardless of nationality.
3. The nationality given above is that recorded on inflow to the untrained strength and is not necessarily the same as the nationality at birth.
4. Includes inflows only from those with a nationality of a Commonwealth country. It therefore excludes inflows from those with a nationality of UK, UK dependency, Eire and Other Countries.

Defence Information Initiative

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the Defence Information Initiative. [71907]

Mr. Ingram: The transfer of the first group of legacy systems to ATLAS was achieved in August 2005—on time—and the single point of contact ‘help desk’ facility went live in November 2005. During January 2006 the timing for rollout was re-scheduled to account for changes in Defence planning since earlier contract negotiations. System build has progressed over the last nine months such that, during May, the first Territorial Army sites will go live on the new DII(Future) system.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will publish his Department's expenditure plans for 2006-07 and 2007-08. [73107]


25 May 2006 : Column 1986W

Mr. Ingram: We will publish the Ministry of Defence's expenditure plans before the summer recess.

Hercules Aircraft

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the level of risk to UK military personnel flying in UK Hercules aircraft without anti-explosive foam in conflict zones. [68386]

Mr. Ingram: We constantly monitor the overall threat to our aircraft and specific research looking at the threats, options for protection and air platform survivability measures is currently under way. Among other issues, this research will review the effectiveness of foam in Hercules fuel tanks. Operational flying can never be a risk free activity but the Air Warfare Centre continually assesses the threats to our aircraft and considers measures to mitigate these risks. The details of these programmes cannot be released as this would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.


Next Section Index Home Page