Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Church Commissioners

Churches: Change of Use

Mr. Hunt: To ask the honourable Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how many representations the Commissioners have received from parishes on alternative uses for churches during the last 12 months. [238022]

Sir Stuart Bell: Most proposals for alternative use do not attract representations. The Commissioners' Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee has received a total of eight representations in the last 12 months. Three representations against proposals for alternative use were from individual parishioners. The remaining five representations - two from Parochial Church Councils and one from the local patronage board - were in favour of the proposals.

Investment

Mr. Hunt: To ask the honourable Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what the value of the Commissioners' investment portfolio was in each of the last five years. [238021]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Commissioners' fund was worth £3.9 billion at the end of 2003, £4.2 billion at the end of 2004, £4.8 billion at the end of 2005, £5.3 billion at the end of 2006 and £5.6 billion at the end of 2007.

Prime Minister

Departmental Internet

Mr. Heald: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many (a) page hits and (b) visitors the No. 10 website received in the 2007-08 financial year; [236650]

(2) what the cost of maintaining the No. 10 website was in 2007-08; and what it is expected to be in 2008-09. [236651]

The Prime Minister: As a result of accounting changes it is not possible to provide a single comparable figure for the running costs of the No. 10 website. However, the total cost of the digital communications unit, which includes the website, but also includes equipment, e-petitions, audio and visual production, and all other forms of digital communication and all costs associated with staffing was £527,800 for the financial year 2007-08.

During the financial year 2007-08 the No. 10 website received approximately 55 million page impressions from approximately 15 million unique users. Digital
26 Nov 2008 : Column 1482W
communications have been upgraded to provide multiple new opportunities for enhanced communication with the public.

Departmental Marketing

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Prime Minister how many staff in his Department are responsible for branding activity; and what the cost of employing such staff was in 2007-08. [237468]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Watson) today.

Departmental Press Releases

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Prime Minister how many press releases have been issued by his Office in each year since 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. [238987]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is a matter of public record. Copies of Press Notices issued since 2000 by the Prime Minister’s Office have been made available on the No. 10 Website.

Wales

Bidston to Wrexham Railway

6. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on proposals to electrify the Bidston to Wrexham railway line. [238002]

Mr. David: My right hon. Friend has regular meetings with the First Minister to discuss a range of topics including transport links.

I myself visited the Bidston to Wrexham railway line last Friday and saw the potential benefits of electrification of the line.

Cross-border Patients

7. Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on health provision for English patients in Wales. [238003]

Mr. David: Wales Office Ministers have regular discussions with UK and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on a range of issues, including health.

Both UK and Assembly Governments are working in partnership to ensure the highest standard of services is delivered to people on both sides of the border.

11. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on cross-border patients treated by Welsh GPs. [238007]

Mr. David: Wales Office Ministers have regular discussions with UK and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on a range of issues, including health.


26 Nov 2008 : Column 1483W

People accessing primary health care on both sides of the border can expect to receive the same high level of treatment from their GPs. The UK and Assembly Governments work collaboratively to ensure the highest standard of health service is delivered to people on both sides of the border.

Economic Situation

8. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of the state of the Welsh economy. [238004]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Through my work on the National Economic Council and the All Wales Economic Summit, I am in touch with economic developments at the heart of Government and directly from the people of Wales.

10. Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on policy to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn on Wales; and if he will make a statement. [238006]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I am in regular contact with the First Minister. In addition to this, I attend the All-Wales Economic Summit, which assists the development of Wales' strategy for riding out the downturn and developing further ways of supporting businesses and individuals in every part of Wales.

Digitial Inclusion

12. Alun Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to extend digital inclusion to elderly people. [238008]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Last month I launched ‘Delivering Digital Inclusion: An Action Plan for Consultation', with proposals for achieving greater digital inclusion. It is essential we maximise the potential of digital technologies to enrich the lives of elderly people. For instance, in the last year 40 per cent. of people using services in the UK Online centres were over the age of 55.

Rural Broadcasting Provision

13. Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had on rural broadcasting provision in Wales. [238009]

Mr. David: My right hon. Friend and I regularly meet ministerial colleagues and Welsh Assembly Government colleagues to discuss issues affecting Wales, including broadcasting and digital inclusion.

Defence Expenditure

14. Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on defence expenditure in Wales. [238010]

Mr. David: The Secretary of State has regular discussions with UK Government Ministers on a range of issues affecting Wales, including on Defence matters, such as the Defence Training Academy.


26 Nov 2008 : Column 1484W

The £11 billion investment in the Defence Training Academy at St. Athan together with the £635 million contract awarded to RAF Valley earlier this year to provide all UK's fast jet training shows the UK Government's continuing confidence in Wales' Defence capability.

Defence Technical Academy

15. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the First Minister to discuss the Defence Technical Academy, St. Athan. [238011]

Mr. David: The Secretary of State has regular discussions with the First Minister on a range of issues, including on the Defence Training Academy.

This £11 billion investment will provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs from 2013 and reinforces Wales' importance to UK defence.

Christmas

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in the last 12 months. [237478]

Mr. Paul Murphy: In the last 12 months my Department has spent:

My Department did not contribute to Christmas parties, but did host receptions in London and Cardiff for a total cost of £5,058.71.

Departmental Absenteeism

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the rate of staff (a) absence and (b) sickness absence was in his Department in each year since 1997; what the target rates set for his Department are in each case; and if he will make a statement. [238937]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Wales Office was established in 1999. Records of sick absence are available only since 2004.

(a) Records of staff absence are not collated centrally, and information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

(b) Rates of sick absence with target rates in each year from April 2004 to March 2008 are:

Rate of sick absence Target rate year

April 2004-March 2005

4.6

7.5

April 2005-March 2006

3.2

7.5

April 2005-March 2007

4.7

7.5

April 2007-March 2008

9.4

7.5

Note:
The figure in 2007-08 is attributable to long term absences of two people.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 1485W

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department spent on external consultancy in each year since 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. [239064]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Since its inception in July 1999, the Wales Office has spent the following on external consultants:

£

2000-01

16,294

2001-02

31,084

2002-03

10,758

2006-07

37,699


Departmental Early Retirement

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many employees in his Department took early retirement in each of the last five financial years; and at what total cost. [238973]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Wales Office was only established in 1999. Records concerning early retirement are not available prior to April 2004.

Number of staff taking early retirement Total cost of early retirement on that year (£)

April 2004-March 2005

0

0

April 2005-March 2006

2

38,730.47

April 2006-March 2007

0

0

April 2007-March 2008

0

0


Departmental Manpower

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by his Department in each year since 1997-98; and at what cost in each year. [239091]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Prime Minister publishes, on an annual basis, a list of the numbers and cost of special advisers. Information for 2007-08 was published on 22 July 2008, Official Report, columns 99-101WS.

The salary costs for the press officers before 2005 could not be identified without disproportionate cost. Salary costs for each year since are:

£

2005-06

181,333

2006-07

152,044

2007-08

147,178


Next Section Index Home Page