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30 Nov 2006 : Column 888Wcontinued
The available information for years since 2004-05 covers students who have applied to full-time undergraduate courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS); they do not therefore cover postgraduate students, students on part-time courses or those full-time students who apply directly to institutions. The figures show that although there has been a small decrease in acceptances in 2006-07, this comes on the back of a larger than usual increase in 2005-06. Compared to the same point in 2004-05, acceptance numbers from England are up by 12,000 or 4.3 per cent. The underlying trend is still up.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the cost of the (a) social exclusion task force, (b) Better Regulation Executive and (c) Office of the Third Sector has been since their creation; and what the estimated cost of each is for 2006-07. 
Hilary Armstrong: The Better Regulation Executive's (BRE) costs in 2005-06 were £5.4 million. The BRE was created on 14 March 2005, just before the end of the financial year. It is not possible to separately identify BRE's costs on the Department's accounting system that relate solely from 14 March 2005 to 31 March 2005.
The social exclusion task force (SETF) and the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) were established during 2006-07. Therefore, neither the SETF nor the OTS incurred any costs in 2005-06.
Costs for 2006-07 will be available in the Cabinet Office's 2006-07 resource accounts. These should be published shortly before the 2007 summer recess.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the Guidance on Information Assurance security policy will be published as part of the Cabinet Offices Transformational Government programme. 
Mr. McFadden: Guidance has been made available to Departments through their chief information officers and departmental security officers. In line with other Government security policies this information is not publicly available, however the Cabinet Office is intending to publish a risk assessment tool and associated policy guidance for electronic service delivery before Christmas; this will be available for use by the wider public sector.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate she has made of the proportion of dealings with Government which can be done by a member of the public electronically. 
Mr. McFadden: The proportion of dealings with Government that can be made by a member of the public electronically is subject to change as respective Departments expand, consolidate or diversify existing e-enabled services. The most recent assessment, completed in November 2006, has shown that 92 per cent. of public facing services are e-enabled and available to the public electronically.
John Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) when she expects to publish the Cabinet Office's gender equality scheme; 
(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that the Cabinet Office is taking steps to meet the requirements of the forthcoming duty on public bodies (a) to end unlawful discrimination and harassment and (b) to promote equality between women and men. 
Mr. McFadden: The Cabinet Office is fully committed (a) to end unlawful discrimination and harassment and (b) to promote equality. It has been taking steps to action this commitment for a number of years and gender equality is an intrinsic part of our current diversity delivery plan.
The Cabinet Office's gender equality scheme will be published by the end of April 2007.
John Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans she has to carry out gender impact assessments of major policy developments and new legislation as required by the forthcoming gender equality duty. 
Mr. McFadden: The Cabinet Office currently undertakes equality impact assessments on race and disability. The Department will ensure that gender impact assessments are undertaken on all major policy developments and new legislation as part of the gender equality scheme development starting from December 2006.
The Department is about to commence a project in January 2007 to develop an integrated equality impact assessment tool to cover all equality strands to be in place by June 2007.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations she has received from the Health and Safety Commission Unit on the levels of fines for health and safety offences; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: I have not received any representations from the Health and Safety Commission on this issue and neither have my ministerial colleagues at the Cabinet Office.
However, I understand that Professor Macrory has received a response from the Commission as part of the Review of Regulatory Penalties. The Macrory Review final report was published on 28 November 2006, and the Government accepted it in full.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what trades and services are provided by the agency and specialist sub-contractors providing maintenance to Admiralty House. 
Hilary Armstrong: It is not possible to separate what services are provided to one building as the Total Facilities Management Contract covers a number of buildings in London. The services provided by agency and specialist sub-contractors providing maintenance to Admiralty House is in accordance with the output specification of that contract.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether public expenditure has been incurred in refurbishing the flat above 10 Downing street since 31 March. 
Hilary Armstrong: Audited information on costs incurred in refurbishing the flat above 10 Downing street since 31 March 2006 will not be available until the end of the financial year.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total capital value is of each private finance initiative scheme overseen by her Department which has reached financial close; over what period repayments will take place; and what the total cost of repayment will be in each case. 
Hilary Armstrong: There is one private finance initiative scheme in the Cabinet Office.
The National School of Governments residential training centre at Sunningdale is operated under a PFI contract with a term of 30 years from 13 May 2002. The National School purchases the residential training and serviced office accommodation that it needs. The private sector partner sells spare capacity of the site on the open market.
Under the contract the private sector partner undertook capital investment worth £12 million to fund a major upgrade to Sunningdale Park.
The guaranteed payments as at the date of financial close for the first 15 years of the contract are £30.519 million and the payments made based on actual usage for the first four years are £14.440 million.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much funding has been given to the GoldStar volunteering programme; and if she will make a statement. 
Edward Miliband: GoldStar is a two-year, £5 million programme which was launched in November 2005. It is an exemplar programme designed to spread good practice about the recruitment and retention of volunteers, mentors and befrienders from groups at risk of social exclusion.
There are two elements to the programme:
it funds 46 volunteering and mentoring front line exemplar projects across England, with up to one third of project grants dedicated to spreading good practice to other projects at the local and regional level; and
around £1 million is set aside for dissemination of good practice at the national level through conferences, seminars and publications including a dedicated website.
Dedicated funding has allowed GoldStar projects to share learning in dynamic and effective ways. For example, Bolton Lads and Girls Club has established a training programme which uses e-based learning and a CD-ROM to enable other community groups to access information about mentoring for and by young Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.
A series of regional seminars and a national GoldStar conference have already enabled more than 600 volunteer managers and approximately 300 organisations to share experiences of how best to recruit, manage and retain volunteers from groups at risk of exclusion.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what services the new Atos Origin managed network service will provide to her Department; what the cost of the service is; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: Atos Origin will provide the DCA with a fully managed IT infrastructure service. This will include providing data communications links, providing staff and judicial office holders with desktop services, and the management and maintenance of the network and the data centres which support it.
The contract with Atos Origin is for seven years and is worth around £350 million.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which of those departmental consultancy contracts referred to in her answer of 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 850W, were approved by (a) the Lord Chancellor and (b) the permanent secretary. 
Vera Baird: Authority for expenditure on consultancy requirements is delegated to business managers. Those managers are required to adhere to approval procedures, depending on the contract value, under which high-value assignments require the authority of the responsible departmental management board member before any expenditure or contract is committed. Occasionally requirements may be referred to the whole of the board for approval.
The following consultancy assignments received approval from either the second permanent secretary or the whole board, of which both permanent secretaries are members:
Deloitte MCS Ltd.
None of the expenditure was approved by the Lord Chancellor.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in (a) her Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest period was for which a consultant was employed in each year. 
Vera Baird: My Department uses external consultants on specific, time-limited tasks and engages them to provide a service, rather than individual members of their organisations personnel. We do not collect information on the number of individuals used by an organisation to carry out a particular assignment. However I am able to provide the number of consultancy assignments for the Department and HMCS (formerly the Court Service) in each of the last five years:
Information on the length of assignments is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many value for money exercises on the use of (a) management consultants and (b) professional advisers were conducted by her Department in each of the last five years for which information is available; and if she will make a statement. 
Vera Baird: Individual business managers are responsible for identifying the need to engage consultants or professional advisers and for managing their performance against contract objectives. They are therefore also responsible for ensuring that such contracts deliver value for money, and consequently central exercises to determine this are not carried out.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what her Departments annual budget is for employing workers on a consultancy basis; and how much of this budget was used in each of the last five years for which records are available. 
Vera Baird: My Department does not set aside money specifically for consultancy. Generally, individual business managers commission such assignments as part of a project when the need arises. They are funded from the overall project budget.
Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many appeals against dispersal orders there have been in each year since their introduction. 
Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.
Section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 allows a police officer of or above the rank of superintendent to give an authorisation, provided certain conditions are met, for dispersal powers to be used. This authorisation is sometimes known as a dispersal order. There is no appeal against an authorisation. If someone is prosecuted for failure to comply with a direction they will have the opportunity to challenge whether an authorisation was properly made in the course of their defence.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs on how many occasions her Department has released information under a Freedom of Information request that was previously withheld when sought by parliamentary question for written answer. 
Vera Baird: The information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) when the results of the consultation entitled Legal Aid: a sustainable future will be published; 
(2) when she expects to announce her proposals on family and civil legal aid. 
Vera Baird: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my written statement on 28 November 2006, Official Report, columns 87-88WS. My Department also laid Command Paper 6993 Legal Aid Reform: the way Ahead a copy of which can be found on the DCA website at http://www.dca.gov.uk/laid/laidfr.htm#lar
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