Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 20 July 2006

House of Commons Commission

Office Accommodation

Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what office accommodation in the parliamentary estate in terms of (a) square metres and (b) number of rooms is allocated to the Leader of the Opposition; what was allocated in each of the previous five years; and if he will make a statement. [86150]

Nick Harvey: Evidence on office space allocation and occupancy was submitted to the Administration Committee’s inquiry into House of Commons Accommodation earlier this year. This evidence is published with that Committee’s Third Report of the Session, HC 1279.

From 2001 to November 2003 the Shadow Cabinet accommodation was seven rooms totalling 216m(2). This included the Shadow Cabinet Meeting Room of 46m(2). In December 2003 the Official Opposition chose to move the Leader and his staff to eight rooms in Norman Shaw South, totalling 311m(2). On 30 June 2006 one of the Leader’s rooms (24m(2)) was re-allocated to an Opposition Member’s staff. Other changes over the period in question have been minimal. The Leader of the Opposition and his staff currently occupy 287m(2). The Shadow Cabinet Room remains available for Shadow Cabinet Meetings.

All allocations are made by the Opposition Accommodation Whip out of the rooms available to him for his Members and their staff. The overall distribution of rooms for Members is agreed between the parties after the General Election.

Parliamentary Passes

Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many parliamentary passes are allocated to the Leader of the Opposition’s staff; how many were allocated in each of the last four years; and if he will make a statement. [86151]

Nick Harvey: Leaders of the Opposition are allocated 18 parliamentary passes. In the last four years Leaders of the Opposition have taken full advantage of this facility. Currently 17 passes are issued and one is pending issue.

Leader of the House

Deputy Prime Minister

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Leader of the House if he will estimate the value of the Exchequer contribution to the Deputy Prime Minister’s pension in each year since 1997. [85663]


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Mr. Straw: The pensions of Ministers and office-holders are derived from the Supplementary Scheme of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF). The Government Actuary conducts a triennial review of the fund to determine the Exchequer contribution required to meet the balance of the cost of future pension benefits. The Exchequer contribution for the Supplementary Scheme has been in the range of 6.8 per cent. to 24 per cent. between 1997 and March 2006.

The value of the Exchequer contribution to the Fund based on a Commons Cabinet Minister’s salary, excluding that in respect of service as an MP, in each year since 1997 was as follows:

Exchequer contribution (£)

1997-98 (part)

4,072

1998-99

4,192

1999-2000

4,823

2000-01

4,962

2001-02

5,111

2002-03

5,519

2003-04

17,143

2004-05

17,486

2005-06

17,976


Ministerial Offices

Sarah Teather: To ask the Leader of the House how many times his ministerial office has been decorated in each of the last five years. [87645]

Mr. Straw: As required by the terms of the lease conditions, set by Crown Estate, my office has been decorated once in the last five years. This took place in 2002. It still looks okay.

Sitting Dates

Paul Rowen: To ask the Leader of the House when he expects to publish the dates of sittings for the next Session. [85746]

Mr. Straw: I hope to publish the dates of the sittings for the next Session after the House returns in the autumn, and it has made a decision on the future of September sittings.

Scotland

Advertising Campaigns

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what advertising campaigns the Department has run between 2000 and June 2004; and what the (a) date and (b) cost was of each. [87057]

David Cairns: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies) on 13 July 2005, Official Report, column 1086W, which sets out all the information on advertising costs incurred by this office for the period in question.


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Departmental Publications

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what his practice is regarding meeting, discussions with and taking into account the views and opinions of (a) private individuals and (b) representatives of organisations when drawing up and framing legislation to be introduced by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [81649]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office seeks a full range of views when drawing up and framing legislation. Consultation is a key part of the policy-making process—both informal and formal.

Since it was established in 1999, the only primary legislation which the Department has taken forward has been the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004. This was preceded by a public consultation which was issued in December 2001.

Departmental Websites

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. [79066]

David Cairns: For the period 1 January-31 December 2005, there were two websites for which the Scotland Office was responsible:

Website Overall costs (£)

www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk

4,640

www.arbuthnottcommission.gov.uk

176


The overall costs are based on the fees for hosting the site, and where appropriate include any additional fees for updates and design revisions.

Public Appointments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many public appointments are within his patronage; what (a) salary and (b) other emoluments are attached to each; and what the comparable figures were in (i) 1976, (ii) 1986 and (iii) 1996. [83161]

David Cairns: Details of the public appointments to bodies sponsored by the Scotland Office can be found in “Public Bodies”, copies of which are in the Library. “Public Bodies” has been published annually since 1980 and the most recent edition provides figures for 2005. The only public body currently sponsored by this office is the Boundary Commission for Scotland. Information before 1999 will relate to the responsibilities of the former Scottish Office.

Trade and Industry

Arms Trade

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what transit and trans-shipment licences have been issued since 2003 for the movement of military goods from Bosnia via the UK to other destinations; what type of goods was covered within each licence; and what the final destination of the goods was in each case. [84993]


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Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 13 July 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 17 July 2006, Official Report, columns 129-130W.

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the costs of the restructuring proposals for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. [86548]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Following consultation with stakeholders, NERC announced in March that it will implement plans to ensure that CEH can contribute to UK environmental science on a sustainable basis in the future. NERC has estimated that the costs involved will be £43 million over four years, including a £7 million investment in new facilities at the retained sites. Details of the NERC announcement are set out at http://www.nerc.ac.uk/publications/latestpressrelease/2006-13ceh.asp.

Droit de Suite

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of Droit de Suite on (a) the London and (b) the British art market; and if he will make a statement. [85363]

Jim Fitzpatrick: A study of the potential impact on the British art market was carried out prior to the implementation of the directive introducing Droit de Suite. The report of its findings and the Regulatory Impact Assessment which was prepared during the implementation are available on the Patent Office website. This study did not consider the London art market separately.

A further study is being commissioned to assess the actual impact following our implementation of the directive. This will be undertaken during 2006-07.

Energy Policy

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library copies of the presentation made to him on energy policy options by the Department of Trade and Industry energy team on 15 May; which departmental officials were present at the presentation; and what reasons underlay the choice of graphs and bar charts posted on his Department’s website on energy usage following the presentation. [78093]

Malcolm Wicks: The Energy Review reported on 11 July. Information relating to the review, including the review document “The Energy Challenge”, is available on the DTI website at: www. dti.gov.uk/energy/review

Publishing details of the departmental officials present at the meeting on 15 May would risk exposing individual civil servants unfairly to public scrutiny, when they are unable to answer potential criticism.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library (a) copies of the presentation made to him on energy policy options by the Department of Trade and Industry
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energy team on 15 May and (b) details of the departmental officials present at the presentation; and what reasons underlay the choice of the graphs and bar charts on energy usage posted on his departmental website following the presentation. [75370]

Malcolm Wicks: The Energy Review reported on 11 July. Information relating to the review, including the review document “The Energy Challenge”, is available on the DTI website at: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review.

Publishing details of the departmental officials present at the meeting on 15 May would risk exposing individual civil servants unfairly to public scrutiny, when they are unable to answer potential criticism.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress in implementing the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. [86609]

Jim Fitzpatrick: As a result of the review my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in December 2005 progress has been made in engaging with stakeholder to identify the issues of concern and to develop practical solutions.

Conclusions for the dialogue are currently being drawn together into a consultation document, which we aim to publish in the near future.

The Department is anticipating that transposition of the WEEE Directive into the UK law will take place early in 2007.

Wind Turbines

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the long-term visual impact of wind turbines on local communities; and if he will make a statement. [86608]

Jim Fitzpatrick: All section 36 wind farm applications that fall to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to consider will be accompanied by an environmental impact assessment which will cover the impact during both construction and operation of the station. Visual impact is obviously one of the impacts considered.

International Development

Afghanistan

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what procedures are in place for preventing waste and embezzlement of UK funds for reconstruction in Afghanistan. [81735]

Mr. Thomas: DFID as a whole has robust accounting and financial management procedures, governed primarily by HM Treasury’s Government Accounting Manual and developed over 40 years of ODA/DFID experience. As a member of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, DFID also complies with good international
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practice on aid management. We are applying both these systems and good practice in Afghanistan, and are also working closely with other Government Departments to ensure good practice and financial compliance in managing funds.

DFID currently channels around 75 per cent. of its £102 million programme to Afghanistan through the Government’s budget. This helps the Government of Afghanistan to deliver essential public services and to strengthen its public financial management systems. Most of this goes through the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). DFID has committed £165 million to the ARTF over the next three years (2006-07 to 2008-09). The ARTF is administered by the World Bank. It reimburses the Government of Afghanistan for expenditures that meet strict eligibility criteria in order to reduce the risk of waste and corruption. The World Bank considers both the type of expenditures and the process by which the money was spent. An independent monitoring agent (currently PricewaterhouseCoopers) monitors and reports on this to ensure it is effective.


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