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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr. Cunningham) of 21 June 2006, Official Report, column 1875W, on departmental staff, how many of the staff enumerated in the answer provide support or assistance to him. 
Mr. Heald: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood (Mr. Pickles) of 21 June 2006, Official Report, column 1867W, on his private office, which Government Department funds his private office; 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I have been given a role by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister overseeing and co-ordinating Government policy across the full range of domestic policy areas through the Cabinet Committee system, and deputising for him at home and abroad, particularly in relation to China. To support me I have an office which will be called the Deputy Prime Minister's Office. It will be established as a separate Government Department and funded by a parliamentary vote for which my Office will apply shortly. My principal private secretary will be the accounting officer for the vote. At present, my Office employs 18 staff, including two special advisers. I also receive support and briefing from other Government Departments as necessary according to the issue I am dealing with at the time. Most of the staff employed by my Office are seconded from the Department for Communities and Local Government and their salary costs are met by my Office. My office continues to be based in 26 Whitehall.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost of his airfare for his recent visit to Finland was; with which airline he flew; how many officials accompanied him; and what the total cost to public funds was of the visitors (a) including and (b) excluding staff costs. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I visited Finland on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library for the reference of Members. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500 and the total cost of ministerial overseas travel. Copies of the lists are available in the Library for the reference of Members.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether public funds were used to provide him with transport during his recent visit to an American ranch; which public officials accompanied him; whether he was covered by insurance at public cost; whether he was briefed by officials; and if he will make a statement. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to my letter to the hon. Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire) of Tuesday 4 July, which is appended to the Memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to the Standards and Privileges Committee. The memorandum is available in the thirteenth report of the Standards and Privileges Committee which is available in the Library for the reference of Members.
All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500 as well as the total cost of ministerial overseas travel. Information relating to 2005-06 was published on Monday 24 July and is available in the Library for the reference of Members.
The Deputy Prime Minister [holding answer 11 September 2006]: All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500 and the total cost of ministerial overseas travel. Copies of the lists are available in the Library for the reference of Members.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Hospitality received by Ministers is declared in the Register of Members' Interests as appropriate. The Government publishes an annual list of gifts received by Ministers valued at more than £140, including details of which gifts were retained by Ministers personally. Information relating to 2005-06 was published on Monday 24 July and copies are available in the Library for the reference of Members.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what official duties he undertook during the Prime Minister's recent absence abroad; and what official events he attended between 26 May and 2 June in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister. 
(2) what access he will have to nuclear strike command powers during the period for which he will assume the Prime Minister's responsibilities; what the procedure is for the release of the codes thereof; and what the chain of command will be. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Members to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) at Prime Minister's Questions on 12 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1384-85.
Ms Harman: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statements of 11 January 2006, Official Report, column 10WS, http://www.publications.parliament.uk /pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo060111/wmstext/60111m01 .htm and 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 27WS, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds06/text/60232-41_head1 The date for implementation of rules under section 122, subsections 1(b) and 2, has not been decided but work is under way in this regard. In the meantime, existing provisions for the representation of children remain in force.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average cost to public funds was of an asylum and immigration tribunal appeal in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
This figure represents the average unit cost of administration for all appeal types before the tribunal and includes judicial costs, accommodation and the cost of providing an interpreter at the appeal hearing where this is necessary.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer from the Minister for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration of 4 September 2006, Official Report, column 1742, what the average cost is of processing an asylum application appeal. 
This figure represents the average unit cost of administration for asylum appeals before the tribunal and includes judicial costs, accommodation and the cost of providing an interpreter at the appeal hearing where this is necessary.
Appellants with disabilities can travel to their tribunal hearing by taxi, the cost of which will be met by the tribunals service. Arrangements can also be
made to hear a tribunal at a person's home if they are unable to travel due to their disability.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what provisions are in place to allow the postponement of appeal hearings in benefit cases when a disabled claimant does not have the resources to attend. 
Vera Baird: Provisions exist to allow appellants or their representatives to request the postponement of appeal hearings but the decision to allow the postponement is a judicial decision. The tribunals service supports the attendance of appellants at appeal hearings and will reimburse travelling expenses where appropriate. Provisions are also in place to enable appellants to request a payment for travel in advance of the hearing to enable those that do not have the resources, to attend their appeal hearing.
Bridget Prentice: The Compensation Act received Royal Assent on 25 July 2006 and the Department is now implementing the regulatory framework for claims management services. We have published consultation papers on the secondary legislation, conduct rules, application form and fees.
A head of regulation (Mark Boleat) has been appointed to lead on the operation of the regulation and Staffordshire county council has been awarded the contract to run the Departments monitoring and compliance unit. A regulatory consultative group with representatives from the key industry organisations has been established to advise on the regulation. It is envisaged that the main regulatory mechanisms would be in place by the end of November 2006, when businesses will be invited to apply for authorisation. The offences and all other key provisions should be fully commenced by April 2007.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the proportion of cases brought to the attention of community legal service direct which are referred on by advisers. 
The current contracts held between the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and community legal service direct specialist advisers terminate on
31 March 2007. The LSC is currently tendering for replacement contracts. One requirement of these revised contracts is that providers must achieve the Commissions preferred supplier status. This is subject to an assessment of advice provision, by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (an independent organisation), resulting in a rating of category one (excellence) or two (competence plus).
Vera Baird: The number of complaints about Community Legal Service Direct, recorded by the Legal Services Commission over the last 12 months, is 24. This is comprised of six complaints about the website, eight about the directory, nine about the telephone service and one about printed materials.
Vera Baird: The Legal Services Commissions contracts with Community Legal Service (CLS) Direct providers do not specify the qualifications that advisers must hold. CLS Direct supervisors must meet the Specialist Quality Mark standard for the category of law relevant to their post.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what criteria the Law Commission uses to select proposed consolidation Bills; what consultation is undertaken by the Law Commission prior to the introduction of a consolidation Bill; how (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public may suggest issues for consolidation; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: In deciding whether to embark on a consolidation, the Law Commission will take into account a number of factors. These will include: the extent to which there has been pressure for a consolidation (either from within government or from other quarters), the size and complexity of the project, the departmental and Law Commission resources that would be available to prepare the consolidation and how likely it is that there will be further amending legislation before it is completed.
The extent to which consultation is undertaken before a consolidation is introduced varies. As the consolidation is being prepared the Law Commission will consult regularly with the responsible Department and there may well be consultation with a number of other stakeholders. The current practice is that before the Bill is introduced it will be published for general consultation.
Any person may suggest possible topics for inclusion in the Law Commissions consolidation programme at any time by writing to the Chief Executive at The Law Commission, Conquest House, 37-38 John Street, Theobalds Road, London WC1N 2BQ.
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