Previous Section Index Home Page

30 Oct 2006 : Column 69W—continued

September Sittings

Mr. Doran: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate the Commission has made of the additional costs of the House sitting in September. [98396]

Nick Harvey: The works programme for each year is planned to fit with the expected parliamentary timetable. Over the past three years approximately £17 million has been spent in each summer recess on works projects across both Houses, of which approximately 60 per cent. (£10 million) has been in the Commons. The Commission has estimated the effect of a two-week sitting period in September 2006 on the basis that such sittings and the works programme were planned from the previous November.

If projects in the Palace and in those buildings housing Members stopped work for two weeks, an additional one/two week period would be required for project close down, making safe, then restarting. This means the overall impact on the works programme would equate to a total delay of up to three or four weeks out of the period over the summer recess from the end of July to mid October.

Assuming that the aim would be to complete most projects in the shorter recess, the overall additional cost of an early September two-week return might be in the order of 15 per cent. (an additional £2.5 million across both Houses or £1.5 million for the Commons) of the cost of recess works in a normal summer. The additional costs would arise primarily from the need to increase evening and weekend working to complete projects more quickly.

This figure for 2006 is substantially higher than the figure of £90,000 for additional works costs in 2003 and 2004 given in my written answer of 5 July 2006, Official Report, column 1083W, because it is impossible to determine with any accuracy what the actual costs of alternative contracts might have been. The £90,000 refers only to direct costs incurred in tidying up for the return including the dismantling of scaffolding and essential health and safety issues.

There are also substantial but unquantifiable long-term costs and risks involved in delaying some projects and not tackling the backlog of maintenance work required
30 Oct 2006 : Column 70W
for the parliamentary estate. The Parliamentary Estates Board has expressed the view that the Palace structure and infrastructure will need a higher level of maintenance and refurbishment over the next few years to halt further deterioration in its condition. Key elements are the needs for a major overhaul of the cast iron roofs, renewal of much of the internal infrastructure of pipes and cabling, fire compartmentation and automatic fire detection systems, and further stone restoration. It is unlikely that this can be completed effectively if all the work is confined to recesses, whether or not there are September sittings.

It is not possible meaningfully to identify other additional costs arising from September sittings because major costs including accommodation and staffing continue throughout the year irrespective of whether or not the House is sitting. The overall daily resource cost of running the House administration in 2005-06 was £560,000.

The cost of the two-day emergency recall in September 1998 was estimated at the time to have cost about £375,000 in works costs. There were other staff costs, mainly for security and some overtime, amounting to £33,200—22 October 1998, Official Report, column 1189.

Voters Pack

Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many copies of the guide to new voters have been (a) produced and (b) distributed; by whom this has been done; if he will place copies of the guide in (i) the Vote Office and (ii) the Printed Paper Office; what the cost was per issue to (A) produce and (B) distribute; what consultation with hon. Members was undertaken before publication; how members of the public may obtain copies and at what cost; whether he plans to update this publication; what monitoring of the effectiveness of this publication is being planned; and if he will make a statement. [97688]

Nick Harvey: Between the launch in July 2006 up to the end of September 2006, a total of 95,756 copies of the Voting Times have been distributed across the United Kingdom to new voters, as they have reached their 18th birthday, at a cost of approximately £1 per recipient.

Each copy of Voting Times is personalised for the recipient, as research carried out indicated that this was important to maximise the impact of the guide. Because of this personalisation, it is not possible to separate production from distribution costs for the guide. While the House does not hold stocks of Voting Times the content is published electronically on the parliamentary website at http://www.parliament.uk/votingtimes/index.html from where a generic version of the guide may be downloaded or printed.

Following a resolution of the House on 26 January 2005, the House of Commons Commission was authorised to fund the publication and distribution of a new voters’ guide. Draft versions of the guide were tested with young people. The Modernisation and Administration Committees were consulted on the design and content of Voting Times prior to final approval being given by the Commission on 24 April 2006.


30 Oct 2006 : Column 71W

A further programme of research with recipients of the guide is currently under way to determine its effectiveness and any potential areas of improvement. This research will be completed by the new year. In addition, the House of Commons Information Office would welcome suggestions and feedback from hon. Members to improve future versions of the publication.

Culture, Media and Sport

Alcohol

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether it is an offence for minors to attempt to purchase alcohol from shops. [97575]

Mr. Woodward: It is an offence under s.149(1) of the Licensing Act 2003 for an individual under 18 to buy or attempt to buy alcohol anywhere, including shops. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction to a fine of up to £1,000.

An offence is not committed if the individual is acting at the request of a constable or a weights and measures inspector acting in the course of his duty.

BBC

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the contribution of the BBC to (a) the UK balance of payments and (b) the creative economy; and if she will make a statement. [97097]

Mr. Woodward: The Department has no single estimate of the contribution made by the BBC or other individual broadcasters to the economy. In 2004, however, the TV and radio sector accounted for 0.9 per cent. of the UK’s total Gross Value Added and 10 per cent. of the £13 billion total exports of the UK’s creative industries.

Departmental Contracts

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what contracts (a) her Department and (b) its related agencies have placed with (i) Hobsbawm Macauley Public Relations, (ii) HMC Public Relations, (iii) Brunswick Arts and (iv) Sarah Brown since 1997. [97320]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has not placed any contracts with Hobsbawm Macauley Public Relations, HMC Public Relations, Brunswick Arts or Sarah Brown since 1997.

With regard to our non-departmental public bodies, the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Dress Code

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her Department's policy is on the display of religious (a) artefacts, (b) symbols and (c) dress by its staff; how many staff have been subject to disciplinary proceedings regarding this policy in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [95635]


30 Oct 2006 : Column 72W

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has no specific policy governing the display of religious artefacts, symbols or dress. No staff have been subject to disciplinary proceedings in relation to the display of religious artefacts, symbols or dress in the last five years. In order to ensure it does not unfairly discriminate on the grounds of religion, the Department widened its diversity employment monitoring categories in June this year to include religion and belief. Guidance on understanding ethnic and religious diversity can be found on the DCMS intranet and on the civil service diversity website:

Departmental IT

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how much her Department has spent on (a) information technology projects generally and (b) web-facing projects in each year since 2001, broken down by (i) expenditure in consultants and (ii) other costs; [97557]

(2) how many information technology projects her Department has undertaken in each year since 2001. [97565]

Mr. Lammy: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many and what percentage of information technology projects undertaken by or for her Department since 2001 have been delivered (a) over budget, (b) after their original deadline, (c) on budget, (d) under budget, (e) on their original deadline and (f) ahead of their original deadline. [97562]

Mr. Lammy: All my Department's information technology projects since 2001 have been delivered to time and to budget.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which web-related information technology projects cost her Department more than £50,000 since 2001; which companies submitted qualified tender proposals for each project; and which company was awarded each contract. [97563]

Mr. Lammy: My Department has had two web-related information technology projects since 2001, both of which involved the redevelopment of the Department's main website (www.culture.gov.uk).

The first was carried out using standard framework agreements so there were no qualified tender proposals. The contract was awarded to Amaze.

The second project was subject to a limited tender of four companies:

The contract was awarded to Precedent.


30 Oct 2006 : Column 73W

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which non-web-related information technology projects cost her Department more than £1 million since 2001; how many qualified tender proposals there were for each project; and which company was awarded each contract. [97564]

Mr. Lammy: There have been no such projects.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which of her Department’s databases are (a) wholly and (b) partly operated by external organisations or individuals; and which organisations and individuals own those databases. [97759]

Mr. Lammy: My Department has no databases either wholly or partly operated by external organisations or individuals.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which databases operated by her Department are located (a) wholly and (b) partly outside the UK; and where each of those databases and parts of databases is located. [97760]

Mr. Lammy: My Department has no databases located wholly or partly outside the UK.

Departmental Telephone Inquiries

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average response time was of her Department’s general inquiries telephone line over the last period for which figures are available. [96976]

Mr. Lammy: This information is not held centrally.

Since July 2006 the Department has increased by 50 per cent. the opening hours for its central telephone line, and has developed a new automated answering service so that inquirers can be called back more rapidly after leaving messages.

Departmental Vacancies

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of vacancies in her Department in the last 12 months required candidates to have at least a grade C in (a) English and (b) mathematics GCSE. [96746]

Mr. Lammy: In the last 12 months the Department ran one external competition for 18 administrative vacancies where candidates were required to have at least five GCSEs at grade C level or equivalent, which had to include English; however, mathematics was not stipulated. A further six singleton vacancies advertised externally during the year did not set any minimum educational qualifications.


30 Oct 2006 : Column 74W

Digital Dividend Review

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department has consulted industry representatives on the period between publication of the final proposals of the Digital Dividend Review and the implementation of its conclusions; and if she will publish a list of those who were consulted. [96906]

Mr. Woodward: The Department has not consulted with industry representatives on proposals for the Digital Dividend Review.

On 17 November 2005 Ofcom announced the beginning of the Digital Dividend Review project. This is to examine the options arising from the release of spectrum afforded by the digital switchover programme. It is for Ofcom to consult with stakeholders on plans for the Digital Dividend Review.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she expects to publish an interim report further to the Digital Dividend Review Consultation; and if she will make a statement. [97494]

Mr. Woodward: On 17 November 2005 Ofcom announced the beginning of the Digital Dividend Review project to examine the options arising from the release of spectrum afforded by the digital switchover programme.

It is for Ofcom to decide when to publish a report.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which industry representatives were consulted as part of her Department’s Digital Dividend Review consultation. [97393]

Mr. Woodward: The Department has not consulted with industry representatives on proposals for the Digital Dividend Review.

On 17 November 2005 Ofcom announced the beginning of the Digital Dividend Review project. This is to examine the options arising from the release of spectrum afforded by the digital switchover programme. It is for Ofcom to decide who to consult in relation to the Digital Dividend Review.

Digital Switchover

Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the percentage of households that will qualify for assistance in switching over to digital television in the East Midlands. [96108]

Mr. Woodward: The information is not available in the format requested. We estimate that around 510,000 households in the East Midlands will be eligible for the digital switchover help scheme. The details are in the following table.


30 Oct 2006 : Column 75W
Category Number

Households where the eligible person is 75 or over

305,000

Households where the qualifying person qualifies because of eligibility to disability living allowance or attendance allowance

205,000

Total

510,000

Notes:
1. Eligibility for help from the digital switchover help scheme will be by benefit unit rather than the whole household definition used by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Office to forecast future household growth. The scheme definition of eligible households mirrors Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) definition of a benefit unit: a couple (which from December 2005 includes gay couples) and any dependent children. It excludes adults deemed to be non-dependents who, if eligible, will be able to claim assistance from the help scheme in their own right.
2. The estimates use data from the Department for Work and Pensions Client Group Analysis for November 2005 adjusted by changes in future household and benefits growth for the period from 2005 until the date switchover takes place in the relevant area.
3. The figures do not include households where the person qualifying for help under the scheme is registered blind or registered partially sighted who qualify on grounds of registration rather than on grounds of age or entitlement to disability benefits.

Next Section Index Home Page