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2 Mar 2007 : Column 1576Wcontinued
Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many miles were travelled by his Department's (a) Ministers and (b) officials on Government business by (i) air, (ii) rail and (iii) road in 2006. 
John Healey: The Treasury does not keep records of travel by length of journey, so the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code. The Treasury has and encourages the use of video conferencing and telephone conferencing facilities as an alternative to travel to meetings. Since April 2006, the Treasury has contributed to the carbon offsetting scheme run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to offset ministerial and official air travel.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) purpose and (b) expected cost is of the Minister for culture's forthcoming visit to Australia and New Zealand. 
Mr. Lammy: I was invited by the New Zealand Government to undertake a range of cultural engagements of shared interest to our two countries which included meetings with the New Zealand Prime Minister and Minister for Culture as well the Chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The programme also included a keynote address at the New Zealand Public Libraries Summit.
In Melbourne I was to meet the Victoria Minister for the Arts and give a keynote speech at the Victoria State Library. The Sydney programme included a meeting with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to discuss the repatriation of aboriginal human remains and work related to the 2012 Olympics.
All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.
The visit has since been cancelled due to parliamentary business. My keynote speech to the New Zealand Public Libraries Summit was subsequently delivered by podcast. I hope to reschedule the meeting with the Chair of UNESCO. The Prime Minister wrote to the Prime Minister of New Zealand announcing Government funding towards the work of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.
The total cost to the public purse of the cancelled visit was £722.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding she has provided to the Cotswold Academy to develop skills-based training for those wanting to work in the heritage industry. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department supports the aims of the Cotswold Heritage Academy in their development of skills based training. As announced in September 2006, CITB-Construction Skills has given the Cotswold Heritage Academy £50,000 of start up funding over two years as part of a cross-Government strategy to address the need for training in heritage skills.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many employees her Department has on secondment to outside organisations, broken down by salary grade. 
Mr. Lammy: The number of employees Department for Culture, Media and Sport has on secondment to outside organisations, broken down by grade, is set out in the table. These figures are as at 31 January 2007.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what the expected cost to the public purse is of state support to people on benefits for digital switchover; 
(2) what the expected cost is to the public purse of supporting the transfer to digital television; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward [pursuant to the reply, 9 January 2007, Official Report, c. 493W]: I regret that in my previous answer the figure of £228 million given for the cost to the BBC to support Digital UK for the period of digital switchover was incorrect. The correct figure is £216 million. The full correct response to your questions is as follows:
In addition to meeting its costs for the upgrade of the transmission network for digital switchover, the BBC will meet Digital UKs communication costs and a share of Digital UKs operational costs. The cost to the BBC to support Digital UK amounts to £216 million for the period of digital switchover. In addition, the BBC will also fund the digital switchover help scheme for people 75 or over or who have a significant disability. Our best estimate at this stage is that the cost of the scheme will be at or around £600 million over the period of switchover.
There are no central estimates of the overall cost to Government of digital switchover. However, other than the costs of updating television equipment within the Government sector, the only costs will be those incurred for research, communications and other programme support costs for the Digital Switchover Programme.
Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what guidance her Department issues to those local authorities which charge for internet access from People's Network computers in public libraries on the model of charging used; 
(2) what advice her Department has issued to local authorities in determining whether to charge for internet access from People's Network computers in public libraries; 
(3) what social inclusion criteria guidance her Department has issued to local authorities that charge for internet access from People's Network computers in public libraries. 
When the People's Network was introduced, the intention was that access should be provided free universally at point of use. At the Network's launch (2002), the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council issued guidance requiring that any authority deciding to charge for access should demonstrate that a social inclusion commitment would be met before any funds were released. The majority of the 149 library authorities did not charge for provision of access to the internet but the small number of local authorities which thought they might, reported that
there would usually be free or concessionary access for groups including people with disabilities and the unemployed.
However, the decision whether or not to charge for this access rests with individual local authorities and neither guidance on whether to charge, nor models for charging is issued by DCMS.
Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the percentage of local authorities which charge local residents for internet access from People's Network computers in public libraries. 
Mr. Lammy: The majority of the 149 library authorities do not charge for public access to the People's Network. DCMS are aware that 25 local authorities charge for access. They are the following: Barnet, Bath and North East Somerset, Buckinghamshire, Camden, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Darlington, Devon, Enfield, Luton, Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Peterborough, Rutland, Staffordshire, Tameside, Torbay, Trafford, West Sussex, and Wirral. Many of these authorities offer free internet access for a period each day or free or concessionary access for groups typically including people with a disability and the unemployed.
Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding has been provided from the public purse for the provision of the People's Network programme to (a) Bath and North East Somerset, (b) South Gloucestershire, (c) Cornwall, (d) Torbay and (e) Devon councils since 2002. 
Mr. Lammy: No direct Government funding was made available for the provision of the People's Network programme. The People's Network was funded by the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) (now the Big Lottery Fund). Additional funding was made available by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to supplement infrastructure roll-out in the most economically and socially deprived areas of the UK.
Funding made available since 2002 for the authorities specified was as follows:
Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the percentage of those local authorities which only allow full internet access from People's Network computers in public libraries through the levy of a fee which do so without any free time being made available. 
Mr. Lammy: None. These data are not held centrally.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the possible effect of the centralising of Jobcentre Plus Benefit Delivery Centres on the time taken to process bereavement benefit claims; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what the average time taken was to process bereavement benefit claims in each month since January 2006, broken down by region. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 2 March 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what assessment he has made of the possible effect of the centralising of Jobcentre Plus Benefit Delivery Centres on the time taken to process bereavement benefit claims; and what the average time taken was to process bereavement benefit claims in each month since January 2006, broken down by region.
Bereavement Benefit is currently processed in 9 of the 11 Jobcentre Plus regions. The South East region processes Bereavement Benefit on behalf of London and the West Midlands. Centralising this work has not caused any decline in the time taken to process Bereavement Benefit. I have provided the information you requested in the attached table which shows that across the board we are performing within the target clearance times of 35 days. The National average for the period from January 2006 is 14.8 days.
Centralisation has improved our ability to meet our customers needs so we have decided to further centralise Bereavement Benefit over the next couple of years. This will enable us to introduce quality improvements, concentrate expertise, and standardise delivery as well as make efficiency savings.
I hope this is helpful.
|Bereavement Benefit Average Actual Clearance Times|
|Number of days|
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