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8 Jan 2007 : Column 323Wcontinued
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of military parachute training. 
Mr. Ingram: As part of the Departments present planning round, we are examining a range of proposals for the defence programme, both to enhance investment in certain areas and to reduce investment in areas of lower priority. Ministerial decisions on the forward defence programme will be taken in the first quarter of 2007 and appropriate announcements will be made in that timeframe.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made by Sir Ian Russell on raising funds for cadet forces in schools; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.
In June 2006, the Government announced funding for the creation of six new state school cadet units. The new units will be set up for three-year pilot periods and will receive initial funding of £800,000 in 2007-08. The pilot expansion of cadet forces will be funded by Government, with a view to consideration of continued expansion of the cadet forces in future years.
When v, the national youth volunteering organisation, was launched in May, Sir Ian Russell stepped down as the interim chair of the organisation established to take forward the recommendations of the Russell commission report on youth action and engagement. Sir Ian Russell is therefore no longer involved in fundraising from the private sector to support youth action.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many IT systems are used for the management of stores in the armed forces; 
(2) what plans he has to integrate the different IT systems for the management of stores in the armed forces. 
Mr. Ingram: The effective management of stores involves the assimilation of considerable quantities of information from a wide variety of sources. The MOD currently operates six major supply systems, seven major inventory systems and six major warehousing systems. Currently there is considerable integration within the single services and some integration across the services.
In the light of experience during operations in Iraq in 2003, the Support Chain Programme was established to modernise and make significant improvements in the integration of the different information systems used for the management of stores, to drive forward change in logistic and engineering information systems and to provide a robust governance framework for the management of new projects and existing systems.
The programme is focusing initially on delivering improved operational capability to the front line, with major changes to base systems following on later.
Under the Support Chain Programme the six major supply systems are due to be reduced to one over the next few years. Work is also in hand to achieve similar
reductions in inventory and warehousing systems. The programme will integrate both legacy and future information systems to retain coherence. To assist this, work is also under way to modernise the means by which applications are able to communicate with one another, with modern technology allowing for the creation of more flexible and intelligent networks. The ultimate aim is to move to a position where MOD is operating a fully integrated stores management system working right across defence, including industry.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received on the recent visit of the US Special Envoy to Darfur; and what reports he has received of the recent meeting between the Special Envoy and the Secretary General of NATO. 
Mr. McCartney: I have been asked to reply.
The US Special Representative for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, visited Sudan from 9 to 14 December. He pressed the Sudanese Government to accept the UN support for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) that had been agreed at the high-level meeting in Addis Ababa on 16 November. He also urged them not to obstruct the work of the Ceasefire Commission in Darfur, and to resolve their problems with Chad.
Natsios also visited Malakal in south Sudan. He was prevented from visiting Darfur because of instability there.
Natsios met representatives of the EU and NATO in Brussels immediately following his visit to Sudan. These meetings focused on the situation on the ground and options for further international involvement.
Mr. McGovern: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the draft Compensation (Regulated Claims Management Services) Order 2006 will apply to websites that provide free help, support and legal advice for people seeking to claim back what they consider to be excess bank charges. 
Bridget Prentice: No. The regulation of claims management services is provided for by Part 2 of the Compensation Act 2006. The Compensation (Regulated Claims Management Services) Order 2006 is aimed at those persons that provide such services on a commercial basis. There are a growing number of firms that for a fee offer to handle consumers complaints against bank charges. It is these firms which will now be required to obtain authorisation under the Act in order to continue to provide regulated claims management services.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much in compensation payments was paid by her Department in 2005-06; and what the reason for the payment was in each case. 
Bridget Prentice: In 2005-06, the Department for Constitutional Affairs paid out £472,934 in compensation. This total comprises £313,654 for full or part payments for personal injury claims made against the Department, but is also inclusive of any cost payments made. To determine the breakdown of compensation and costs would result in disproportionate cost, and as such a total figure paid out has been provided.
The balance of £159,280 was paid out in compensation by the Department for employment tribunal settlements, either pre or post hearing. Payments were made in compensation for three claims of unfair dismissal: two for cases of sexual harassment; three for unauthorised deductions from salary; three for constructive dismissal and one for race discrimination.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) if she will take steps to implement the recommendations of Law Commission Report number 247 on aggravated, exemplary and restitutional damages; 
(2) if she will take steps to implement the recommendations of Law Commission Report number 262 on damages for medical, nursing and other expenses; 
(3) if she will take steps to implement the recommendations of Law Commission Report number 249 on liability for psychiatric illness. 
Bridget Prentice: The Government are considering the recommendations of Law Commission Report number 262 on Damages for Personal Injury: Medical, Nursing and Other Expenses; Collateral Benefits, Law Commission Report number 247 on Aggravated, Exemplary and Restitutionary Damages, and Law Commission Report number 249 on Liability for Psychiatric Illness, and intend to publish a consultation paper by the end of January 2007.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will take steps to implement the recommendations of Law Commission Report number 257 on raising the levels of damages for personal injuries. 
Bridget Prentice: The Law Commission published its report on Damages for Personal Injury: Non-Pecuniary Loss, which considers raising the levels of damages for personal injuries, in April 1999. In November 1999 the Government indicated that this was an area of the law which was in the courts independent sphere, and where it had no plans to legislate. That remains the case.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many of her Departments (a) computers and (b) laptops were stolen in each of the last nine years; and what the total value was of stolen computers and laptops in this period. 
Bridget Prentice: The number of computers and laptops stolen during the last nine years is as follows:
Information on the value of the losses is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Wills: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) whether a regulatory impact assessment will be carried out on the proposed changes to regulations on Freedom of Information request fees; 
(2) when she will publish draft regulations setting out the proposed changes to Freedom of Information Act fees; 
(3) how many responses from (a) individuals, (b) organisations and (c) public authorities her Department has received on its proposals to issue new Freedom of Information Act fees regulations; and which (i) organisations and (ii) authorities have responded. 
Bridget Prentice: A consultation document on the proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act fees Regulations was published on 14 December 2006. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
In line with the consultation code of practice set out by the Cabinet Office, we will be publishing a list of responses to the document at the end of the consultation period. The consultation document includes a partial regulatory impact assessment.
The consultation document also includes the draft regulations which would give effect to the changes. The consultation will end on 8 March 2007.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many information technology projects within the responsibility of her Department, its agencies and their predecessors have been cancelled since 1997; what the total cost was of each project at cancellation; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: In common with any large organisation, my Department has a range of IT-based change projects supporting the Departments strategic business programmes. These programmes are delivered through separate contracts. No contracts for information technology projects within these programmes have been cancelled since 1997.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations she has received on proposals to reintroduce means testing for legal aid in magistrates court. 
Vera Baird: Since 2 October my Department has received approximately 20 letters from MPs on behalf of solicitors and an additional 33 direct from solicitors. There is abundant support for means testing in principle, and the majority of correspondents have raised practical concerns about the operation of the test. Many of these concerns have already been addressed in changes I announced before Christmas, and implementation is being kept under review.
Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will commission research to show the (a) mean, (b) median, (c) mode and (d) largest legal aid payments made in the last year for which figures are available. 
Vera Baird: The size of any individual payment is not informative. Individual payments tend to cover parts of cases or multiple cases.
However, the Legal Services Commission keeps data on the costs of all types of acts of assistance from which the statistical averages and largest amounts paid may readily be extracted. A research project is therefore not necessary.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much was paid in legal aid to Leigh Day and Co. in each of the last five years. 
Vera Baird: The information is in the process of being extracted. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as it is available.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 November 2006, Official Report, column 604W, on MMR/MR (litigation costs), when she expects to be in a position to write to the hon. Member for Billericay with the information requested. 
Vera Baird: The information requested was sent to the hon. Member for Billericay in my letter of 19 December 2006, a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what target her Department has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. 
Vera Baird: It is my Department's aim to answer all parliamentary questions within the timescales specified by Parliament: named day questions on the day named, and ordinary written questions within a working week.
During the 2004-05 session, 70 per cent. of parliamentary answers met the parliamentary deadlines. During the 2005-06 session, 60 per cent. of parliamentary answers met the parliamentary deadlines. Information relating to parliamentary sessions before 2004-05 could be provided only at disproportionate cost. This information is available on the public record.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will change the rules on eligibility to legal aid for a plaintiff in cases where a public liability insurance policy (a) cannot be found and (b) does not exist. 
Vera Baird: I have no plans to change legal aid eligibility in this respect at present. The assessment for eligibility already takes account both of the claimants means and of his prospects of success in his claim, including the likelihood of the defendant being able to satisfy an order for damages. The existence or otherwise of a public liability insurance policy can affect these prospects.
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