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13 Dec 2007 : Column 781Wcontinued
28. Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what progress the Government has made on increasing the proportion of women appointed to public bodies. 
Barbara Follett: This Government are committed to equal representation of women and men on our public bodies. Women currently hold 35.5 per cent. of public appointmentsan increase from 32 per cent. in 1997. One of my priorities for women is to empower more of them to take up opportunities to participate in public life.
29. Mr. Allen: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government is taking to increase the representation of women in political life. 
Barbara Follett: I refer the hon. member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark) today, Official Report col. 451.
30. Sarah McCarthy-Fry: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on alternatives to imprisonment for women. 
Barbara Follett: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs. Moon) today, Official Report col. 450.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions he has accepted corporate hospitality in the last 12 months. 
David Cairns: Chapter 7 of the Ministerial Code sets out the rules on the registration of hospitality.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which companies are under contract to his Department to provide mail services. 
David Cairns: The Scotland Office uses the Scottish Executive's postal facilities for the majority of outgoing mail and reimburses them for usage. In addition, the office uses Royal Mail for the transportation of ministerial papers.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was paid in consultancy fees by his Department in each year since its establishment. 
David Cairns: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West and Royton (Mr. Meacher) on 3 July 2007, Official Report, column 959W.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the percentage turnover of staff was in his Department in (a) the last 12-month period and (b) the last 24-month period for which figures are available. 
David Cairns: All the staff in the Scotland Office are on loan from other Government Departments, normally for a period of two to three years. At the end of this period, staff generally return to their parent Department.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) men and (b) women are employed by his Department, broken down by civil service grade. 
David Cairns: Information on gender and civil service grade is published in the office's annual report, a copy of which has been placed in the House Library.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department and its agencies spent on end-of-year bonus payments in each of the last five years. 
David Cairns: I refer the hon. Member to the answers that I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1769W, and the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) on 13 June 2007, Official Report, column 1048W.
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many illegal immigrants were discovered working for his Department in the last year for which figures are available. 
David Cairns: Employment in the civil service is done in accordance with the civil service nationality rules, which are available at:
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many people comprise the respect squad sent to the West Country; what work the squad will undertake; and whether it plans to visit Torbay. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 11 December 2007]: The group of expert practitioners referred to as the respect squad comprises of 10 people.
The purpose and work of these expert practitioners is to provide advice and assistance for local partners in relation to complex cases of antisocial behaviour. An expert practitioner intervention has no formal power and is not designed to be an inspection but to provide support where local partners are unable to formulate a clear solution to individual cases, excluding these cases where court action is already underway, or trends in incidents of antisocial behaviour. These nationally recognised expert practitioners have committed to giving some time and advice with the agreement of their employer and taking into account their own work priorities.
In September 2007, two expert practitioners visited and gave advice to local service providers and members of the public in an ongoing case of antisocial behaviour in Torbay, however there is no current outstanding case in this area and no visit to the area is planned.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the standard terms and conditions of purchase used by his Department in procurement of goods and services from the private sector prohibit the assignment of debt. 
Kevin Brennan: The Department's standard terms and conditions for the purchase of goods and services do not specifically mention the prohibition of the assignment of debt. They do include a clause stating that the benefit and burden of the contract may not be assigned or sub-contracted in whole or in part by the contractor without the prior written consent of the Department.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the budget was of his Departments public communications unit in the latest period for which figures are available; and how this budget was spent. 
Kevin Brennan [holding answer 11 December 2007]: The budget for the Departments public communication unit for 2006-07 was £3.5 million on salaries and £218.4k on operational costs. In addition £120.5k was spent on programmes to improve delivery. During this period the unit responded to: 167,086 telephone enquiries; 53,844 letters and emails from members of the public; and drafted 8,846 responses to letters from MPs and Peers. It also managed 47 public consultations and processed 15,835 consultation responses.
The figures supplied are for the former Department for Education and Skills and the costs include work which is now the responsibility for Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. We would not be able to separate these cost out except at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government have taken to increase literacy rates since 1997. 
Jim Knight: Improving standards of literacy is one of the Governments top priorities. Since 1997 literacy rates have risen dramatically. The 2007 English results show that 80 per cent. of 11-year-olds reached the expected level or above, an increase of 17 percentage points since 1997; and 74 per cent. of 14-year-olds reached the expected level or above, an increase of 17 percentage points since 1997. At GCSE, 2007 results indicate that 45.7 per cent. of young people achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs including English, an increase of 9.7 percentage points since 1997.
This is as a result of a number of factors, including the challenge and support provided through the Primary and Secondary National Strategies. The National Strategies provide continuing professional development to support schools in raising standards in teaching, support better use of pupil performance data and challenge schools and local authorities to set ambitious targets for their pupils.
The primary framework for teaching literacy has been renewed to reflect the recommendations of the Rose Review. The renewed framework now puts phonics at the heart of teaching reading and, backed up by the letters and sounds phonics teaching programme, will help to raise attainment levels in all pupils. Next April a revised and updated secondary framework for teaching
English will be published which will place greater focus on pupil assessment and progression.
For those children who struggle most in learning to read, the additional support provided through the national roll-out of the Every Child a Reader programme and the development of an Every Child a Writer programme will help to ensure that we maintain and extend the improvements we have already achieved.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he will reply to correspondence from the hon. Member for Billericay dated (a) 28 August, (b) 15 October and (c) 15 November on the subject of Mrs Diana Taylors attempts to establish contact with her daughter; and if he will provide the legal advice requested. 
Kevin Brennan [holding answer 10 December 2007]: I replied to these letters on 7 December 2007. I apologise for the delay in responding. This matter involved complex policy and legal considerations, requiring discussion between my officials and officials of the General Register Office. My reply explains the provisions of the relevant legislation.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many deaths of school children have been reported as attributable to bullying in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: This information is not centrally available.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will place in the Library details of his Department's contracts with suppliers to provide telephone helpline services to the public. 
Kevin Brennan: Details of all the telephone helpline services to the public which the Department supports through contracts or grants to suppliers or voluntary sector organisations are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Some of these are included in the following table.
|Name of helpline||Purpose|
To answer queries on sex and relationships from under 18 year-olds and to signpost to local services. Jointly funded by DCSF as part of the teenage pregnancy national campaign
To provide factual information on drugs to young people and parents and signpost to local services. Jointly funded by DCSF as part of the drug information national campaign.
To provide advice for young people on mental health issues, including depression, self harm and eating disorders.
To provide information about careers in the early years and childcare sector and to pass on caller details to local authorities.
To provide general information and support for parents. An additional contract covers provision of a helpline on bullying.
To signpost parents to information about childcare options in their local area.
To provide advice for parents on educational matters, including special educational needs, exclusions and admissions law.
To provide legal advice for parents on issues around contact and parental responsibility
To provide advice for parents involved with the social care system.
To provide advice for single parents on topics like benefits, housing and debt.
To provide the general public with information on DCSF-related enquiries.
Additionally, the Department has announced that it will provide a grant to support the expansion and development of helpline services provided by the NSPCC.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department spent on overnight accommodation for Ministers overseas in the last year. 
Kevin Brennan: Details of the cost of overseas travel, including the cost of travel and accommodation are contained in the Overseas Travel by Cabinet Ministers list. The latest list for the period 1 April 200631 March 2007 was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the 2007-08 financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. All travel is made in accordance with the Ministerial Code.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the average volume of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger, per kilometre for travel by air. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: DEFRA publish estimates of the carbon dioxide emissions per passenger kilometre from aircraft flying domestic, short haul and long haul routes. These are contained in their report Guidelines to DEFRAs GHG conversion factors for company reporting, which was updated in June 2007.
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