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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 7 February 2008

Electoral Commission Committee

Review of Voting Systems

7. Simon Hughes: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission plans to consider the findings of the Review of Voting Systems, Cm 7304. [185168]

Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has noted the contents of the Review of Voting Systems, and that the review took account of Commission reports on past elections. The Commission considers that any proposals for further reform to voting systems are a matter for Parliament.

Local Authorities: Reorganisation

Robert Neill: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Boundary Committee takes account of (a) the views of local residents and (b) local identities when deciding whether to restructure local authority areas across existing shire and county boundaries. [184430]

Peter Viggers: Decisions on restructuring of English local government areas are matters for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The process, and the role within it of the boundary committee for England, is set out in part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

Olympics

Olympic Games 2012

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the use of project bank accounts for 2012 Olympics construction projects. [184485]

Tessa Jowell: The Olympic Delivery Authority’s 2012 construction commitments, published in July 2006 stated that all contracts would incorporate fair payment practices including project bank accounts, where practicable and cost effective.

Further assessments have been carried out since 2006 and the decision was made that project bank accounts would not assist the delivery of 2012 Olympic construction projects.

Project bank accounts work well where the client lets all of the contracts and is responsible for payment and administering all the contracts. 2012 Olympic construction
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is broken down into a number of separate projects, each of which will be managed via a main, or ‘tier one’ contractor, who then lets subcontracts and has their own supply chain. The ODA, as a client, will not be responsible for the direct management or payment of the subcontractors appointed by the main contractor on each project. Some of the projects also involve private sector funding which would make use of a project bank account more difficult to administer.

Olympic Games 2012: Construction

Helen Southworth: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many contracts have been let to companies in North West England for works associated with the construction of the Olympic park; what the value is of each such contract; and if she will make a statement. [184356]

Tessa Jowell: As of January 2008, 17 companies registered in the north west have supplied goods and services to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA); this includes two national companies, Network Rail and British Cycling.

The ODA is looking into whether it can legally put information about the value of each contract into the public domain. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as this position has been clarified.

On 16 January, the Olympic Family launched the London 2012 Business Network in Manchester, helping businesses across the country access and compete for 2012 related contracts. Businesses in every constituency should be encouraged to sign up and get support.

Olympic Games 2012: Expenditure

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many times she has sought approval from the Treasury for expenditure relating to the 2012 Olympics; and what the reason for that expenditure was in each case. [184786]

Tessa Jowell: The Olympic Delivery Authority requires approval from Treasury, the Mayor of London, and me as Minister for the Olympics, for expenditure on projects over £20 million. So far 19 projects have been approved.

Olympic Games 2012: Manpower

Robert Neill: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many staff work in the Government Olympic Executive; and what plans she has for the Executive’s future staffing levels. [184427]

Tessa Jowell: There are currently 63 members of staff employed in the Government Olympic Executive (GOE).

The current planning assumption for GOE staffing levels, is to reach 88 members of staff by April 2011.


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Northern Ireland

Licensing: Alcoholic Drinks

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many licensees in Northern Ireland were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted of selling alcohol to underage drinkers in each of the last five years. [184726]

Paul Goggins: Table 1 gives the number of prosecutions and convictions for offences which, by their definition, refer to the licensee selling alcohol to a minor.


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As it is not possible from the databases to determine the status of those selling alcohol to a minor for all offences, Table 2 outlines the number of prosecutions and convictions for 'selling intoxicating liquor to a minor' and 'permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises'.

Data cover the calendar years 2002-06 (the latest available years) and are collated on the principal offence rule; so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

I have been consulting on new provisions on test purchasing of alcohol as part of the draft Criminal Justice Order, which would help to improve the detection and prosecution of these offences. I shall be considering the responses received.

Table 1: Number of licensees prosecuted and convicted for selling alcohol to a minor 2002-06( 1)
Licensee selling intoxicating liquor to a minor Licensee selling liquor to person for consumption by minor in licensed premises Licensee selling liquor to person for consumption by minor off licensed premises
Prosecuted Convicted Prosecuted Convicted Prosecuted Convicted

2002

1

1

0

0

0

0

2003

0

0

0

0

0

0

2004

0

0

0

0

0

0

2005

0

0

0

0

0

0

2006

1

0

0

0

0

0


Table 2: Number of prosecutions and convictions for the offences of 'selling intoxicating liquor to a minor' and permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises' 2002-06( 1)
Selling intoxicating liquor to a minor Permitting minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises
Prosecutions Convictions Prosecutions Convictions

2002

3

1

0

0

2003

5

3

0

0

2004

7

2

0

0

2005

8

3

5

0

2006

5

3

0

0

(1) Data for 2006 are provisional.

Women and Equality

Women Members

28. Mr. Allen: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality, what progress has been made in increasing the number of women in the House of Commons. [185142]

Barbara Follett: The Government are committed to working to bring about a more representative democracy. Women currently make up 20 per cent. of MPs compared to nine per cent. in 1997. Much of this change has been brought about by making it lawful to have women-only shortlists for selection.

Government Equalities Office

29. Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality, what the budget of the Government Equalities Office will be in each of the next two financial years. [185143]

Barbara Follett: For GEO's future budget please refer to the Supplementary Budgetary Information tables to be published alongside the main estimates in April.

Equality Strategy

Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities (1) when she expects to publish the equality strategy; [178738]

(2) when she expects to publish the responses her Department received to its consultation on proposals for an Equality Bill; [178737]

(3) what progress the Government Equalities Office has made on the production of a long-term strategy to tackle persistent inequalities; and if she will make a statement. [178735]

Barbara Follett: The Government equality strategy will be published in due course.

The Government are intending to publish a response to the consultation on the Equality Bill shortly and has given a manifesto commitment to introduce a new Equality Act during the lifetime of this Parliament and remains committed to doing this.

Leader of the House

Members Estimate Committee

37. David Taylor: To ask the Leader of the House what recent considerations the Members Estimate Committee has given to the pay scales of hon. Members’ staff and their uprating. [185151]


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Helen Goodman: The pay ranges applicable to Members’ staff cover the seven generic job descriptions provided to Members as the basis for employing staff using the staffing allowance. These ranges have been uplifted each year since their introduction in 2001 by the increase in the average earnings index.

The Members Estimate Committee has not recently considered the pay ranges, although the evidence set out in the recent Senior Salaries Review Body report (Cm 7270) suggests that they are broadly fit for purpose and allow Members to recruit and retain staff in a competitive employment market.

The Members Estimate Committee was asked by the House on 24 January to implement the SSRB’s recommendations for changes to the staffing allowance. The Committee will be considering this in its forthcoming meetings.

Topical Debates

38. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Leader of the House what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of topical debates. [185152]

Helen Goodman: I refer the hon. Member to the response my right hon. Friend gave earlier today, Official Report, c. 1116.

Legislative Timetabling

39. Mr. Lilley: To ask the Leader of the House what assessment she has made of the effect of timetabling of debates on constitutional issues on the scrutiny of such matters. [185153]

Helen Goodman: No such assessment has been carried out.

Wales

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the special advisers employed in his Department and its predecessor since 6 May 1997; and what the (a) start and (b) end date of employment was in each case. [184377]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and numbers of special advisers in each pay band. For the most recent information I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 22 November 2007, Official Report, columns 147-150WS. Changes since will be recorded in the Prime Minister's next annual statement.

Information on the employment of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and is available in the Library of the House.


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