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8 Jan 2008 : Column 424W—continued

Sure Start Programme: Copeland

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how much funding to support the work of Sure Start within Copeland has been provided over the last five years; [175944]

(2) how many families have accessed health and support from the Sure Start programme within Copeland over the last five years. [175945]

Beverley Hughes: The Sure Start Local Programme in Whitehaven, Copeland, received revenue and capital funding directly from the then Department for Education and Skills until March 2006. Since April 2006 revenue funding for all Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) has been included in the General Sure Start Grant allocated to local authorities.

Funding for Copeland is therefore not allocated separately but is included in Cumbria county council's
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General Sure Start Grant (from April 2008 the Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare Grant) which includes revenue and capital for Sure Start Children's Centres. Local authorities are responsible for allocating the children's centre funding that they receive from my Department to the Sure Start Children's Centres in their area. In 2006-07 this grant included £3,482,237 in
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ringfenced revenue funding to support five SSLPs in Cumbria. Cumbria county council, like all other local authorities with ringfenced SSLP funding, has the freedom to determine the level of resource for each individual SSLP in its area. The following table shows allocations for the five financial years between 2002 and 2007.

Cumbria Sure Start allocations
Revenue Capital
Copeland/Whitehaven All Sure Start local programmes in Cumbria All Sure Start children’s centres in Cumbria Copeland/Whitehaven All Sure Start children’s centres in Cumbria

2002-06(1)

3,294,487

831,214

332,196

3,051,844

2006-07(2)

3,482,237

2,353,801

2,277,971

(1) Figures for 'Copeland/Whitehaven' relate to the revenue and capital grant allocated directly to the Sure Start Local programme in Whitehaven for the four financial years between 2002 and 2006. Figures for 'All Sure Start Children's Centres in Cumbria' show revenue and capital funding for the two financial years between 2004 and 2006. (2) The capital allocation for 'All Children's Centres in Cumbria' in 2006-07 includes capital funding for childcare sustainability and extended schools as well as Sure Start Children's Centres. The local authority had the flexibility to decide how much of this capital funding it spent on centres.

Data on the number of families accessing health and support services in Sure Start centres are not collected centrally. Sure Start Whitehaven was originally set up to support 706 children under four and their families, but when it became a Sure Start Children's Centre in 2005 its ‘catchment area' was increased to support 900 children under five and their families. Cumbria county council has developed sixteen Sure Start Children's Centres, four of which (including the one based on Sure Start Whitehaven) are in the Copeland area. According to information from Cumbria county council these four centres serve 1,753 children under five and their families.

Truancy

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have been classed as persistent truants in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [174295]

Kevin Brennan: Data which enabled analysis of absence data to include information on persistent absentees were collected for the first time, from secondary schools only, for the academic year 2005/06. The information was published as part of SFR 11/2007 which can be found at:

The latest published data cover autumn term 2006 and spring term 2007 and include data for primary schools. This was published as part of SFR 36/11 and can be found at:

Written Questions

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he will reply to the questions (a) 168899 on services provided by Capita and (b) 165763 on CfBT Education Trust tabled by the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton on 21 November. [174731]

Kevin Brennan: I responded to parliamentary question 165763 on 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 952W and parliamentary question 168899 on 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 1254W.

Prime Minister

Deborah Mattinson

Mrs. May: To ask the Prime Minister whether Deborah Mattinson has (a) a desk, (b) a telephone, (c) office facilities and (d) administrative support provided in No. 10 Downing street. [172751]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to her by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband) on 18 December 2007, Official Report, column 1285W.

Departmental Publicity

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Prime Minister how much his Office spent on managing its corporate identity in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. [167343]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Gillian Merron) on 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 86W.

Wales

Departmental Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff work in his Department’s parliamentary branch; and what proportion of their time is spent on dealing with (a) Parliamentary Questions and (b) correspondence from hon. Members and Peers. [174963]


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Mr. Hain: My parliamentary branch consists of two full-time members of staff. Written parliamentary questions take up an estimated 30 per cent. of their time and correspondence an estimated 5 per cent.

Members’ Correspondence

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many letters his Department received from hon. Members and Peers in each session of Parliament since 1997. [174930]

Mr. Hain: Correspondence statistics prior to 2005 can be provided only at a disproportionate cost. The figures for 2005 and 2006 are:

January-December 2005 January-December 2006

Hon. Members

148

48

Peers

6

26


Duchy of Lancaster

Charities: Student Unions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what guidance the Charity Commission has produced on political campaigning by student unions which have charitable status; and when it was last revised. [175168]

Gillian Merron: This is a matter for the Charity Commission as the non-ministerial Government Department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. The chief executive of the Charity Commission will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library for the reference of Members.

Delivery Services

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which companies are under contract to (a) the Cabinet Office, (b) the Prime Minister’s Office and (c) the Leader of the House’s Office to provide mail services. [170178]

Gillian Merron: The Prime Minister’s Office and the Leader of the House’s Office form an integral part of the Cabinet Office Estate. The vast majority of external mail services for the Cabinet Office are provided by Royal Mail. Commercial delivery services are used when a ‘same day’ service is required within the UK and for time sensitive international deliveries. There are no formal contracts with these companies.

Internal postal services are provided by the Cabinet Office’s total facilities management provider (Ecovert FM). Following a competitive tendering exercise, the Cabinet Office entered into a total facilities management contract with Ecovert FM in April 2002 for a period of seven years, with the option to extend by a further three years.


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Departmental Consultants

Jon Trickett: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was paid in consultancy fees by his Department in each year since 1997. [172083]

Gillian Merron: Expenditure on consultancy fees incurred in my Department in each year since 1997-98 can be found in the following table.

£ million

1997-98

5.5

1998-99

7.4

1999-2000

10.2

2000-01

10.9

2001-02

16.9

2002-03

13.4

2003-04

15.9

2004-05

12.7

2005-06

22.0

2006-07

14.3


The increased costs in 2005-06 relate mainly to expenditure on shared services feasibility work, SCOPE cross-departmental information strategy, development of the Government Gateway and departmental capability reviews.

Emergencies: Floods

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans the Government has to release a civil contingencies response to a severe flooding scenario. [174280]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

DEFRA’s Lead Government Department Plan for flooding in England, which is published on the DEFRA website, draws on the arrangements in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. At national level, flood events will be co-ordinated by DEFRA with escalation of serious flooding to Cabinet Office briefing room (COBR). The operational response is led by the police in Gold Command.

At the local level, responders are required to assess the risk of flooding and prepare contingency plans accordingly. Where required, the operational response is led by the police in conjunction with other emergency services, local authorities and others including the Environment Agency.

Russell Commission

Mike Penning: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) which organisations have received grants from the Russell Commission since March 2006; and if he will make a statement; [173625]

(2) what assessment he has made of the performance of organisations that have received grants from the Russell Commission since March 2006; and if he will make a statement. [173626]

Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Phil Hope) on 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 849W.


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Voluntary Organisations: Finance

Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how voluntary organisations that help communities are informed of what funding is available to them. [176835]

Gillian Merron: Advice for third sector organisations on where to start looking for funding and finance opportunities is available on the Office of the Third Sector’s website at:

This site includes details on how third sector organisations can access advice and training to help them apply for funding, as well as providing links to useful documents including, “Guide to Government Assistance to the Third Sector”, published by the Treasury in 2006. The site also includes links to external sources of information including the Government Funding Portal, an online resource that details central Government grants available to third sector organisations across all Departments, and to Directgov, which includes other useful information, including guidance on how to find local sources of funding.

Justice

Electoral Register

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to bring forward proposals for automatic voter registration to tackle under-representation by minority groups; and if he will make a statement. [176396]

Bridget Prentice: The Government want to ensure that every eligible elector is presented with the opportunity to register to vote through a simple and convenient registration process. However, at present the Government have no plans to introduce automatic electoral registration.

The franchise arrangements for elections in the UK vary by nationality. In practice, electoral registration officers would not be able to identify an individual's entitlement to vote in each type of election when they come into contact with the local authority because they would also require details of that person's age and nationality to ensure their franchise rights were correctly established. Current legislation also requires an elector to provide a signature when completing the annual canvass form or a rolling registration form. This is an important security requirement.

The Government want to protect the rights of every eligible person to participate in the UK's democratic process by ensuring complete, accurate and secure electoral registration. The Government continue to monitor electoral registration in the UK to ensure that this is being achieved.

Fraud: Elections

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if the Government will introduce the Northern Ireland system of individual electoral registration in Great Britain to tackle postal vote fraud. [176524]


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Bridget Prentice: The Government agree with the principle of individual registration but is not yet convinced that it could be implemented in Great Britain (GB) without causing a significant number of eligible electors to fall off the register. Individual registration was introduced in NI in response to specific concerns about the integrity of the electoral register. Any new system of electoral registration in GB would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular would need to address the challenge of under registration in GB, where an estimated 3.5 million eligible electors are not registered to vote.

The Government have taken extensive steps to tackle postal voting fraud. In the Electoral Administration Act 2006 the Government introduced a number of new measures to tackle postal voting fraud. These include:


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