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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what cars are (a) owned, (b) leased, (c) hired and (d) otherwise regularly used by his Department, broken down by cubic capacity of engine. 
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much official development assistance was (a) pledged and (b) spent by the Government in each year since 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: Details on UK official development assistance (ODA) for 2004-07 are available in Table 7 of the DFID publication 'Statistics on International Development 2008'. This publication is available in the Library and online at www.dfid.gov.uk. The 2008 figures will be published in April. The UK remains committed to achieving a 0.7 per cent. ODA to gross national income (GNI) ratio by 2013. The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review also put the Government on track to achieve a 0.56 per cent. ODA/GNI ratio by 2010.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 21 January 2009, Official Report, columns 30-31WS, on Sri Lanka, when he expects a humanitarian expert from his Department to visit Sri Lanka to assess the distribution of aid to assist internally displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka; and when he expects to publish the experts report. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Sri Lankan Government on access for an independent group to carry out an assessment of the humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) Ministers have discussed the need for an independent assessment of the humanitarian situation in their recent engagements with Sri Lankan officials. I raised the issue with the Sri Lankan high commissioner on 4 December. My hon. Friend, the Minister of State (Mr. Thomas) also discussed the humanitarian situation with the high commissioner on 26 November.
Diplomatic efforts are ongoing at the highest level. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister has written to President Rajapakse to express his concerns at the humanitarian situation, including the need for a full independent assessment to be carried out. The British high commissioner in Colombo also regularly presses for increased humanitarian access and the need for an independent needs assessment in his contacts with Government officials at senior levels, including with the President.
The Prime Minister: The visit of the Cabinet to Leeds on 28 November was linked with a number of ministerial visits across the region; there was a public engagement event with around 220 people which was followed by a formal Cabinet meeting. There are no separate figures for the Cabinet meeting. The cost of the public engagement event and the Cabinet meeting was approximately £57,190, excluding VAT. The figure includes the cost of hiring the venue, catering, associated security and search equipment, delegate management and rail travel for both staff and Ministers. In addition, Departments and agencies will have incurred costs in terms of staff time and other support. The cost of any security provided by the police is a matter for the relevant police force. The cost of the public engagement event and Cabinet in Liverpool on 8 January will be published once figures are available.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Prime Minister what No. 10 Downing Streets average response time to a letter received from (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public was in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 21 January 2009, Official Report, columns 30-31WS, on Sri Lanka, if he will place in the Library a copy of his letter to President Rajapakse. 
Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to promote a ceasefire in Sri Lanka since 14 January; what recent discussions he has had with the (a) German Chancellor and (b) French President on Sri Lanka; and what recent correspondence he has had with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Members to the written statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 21 January 2009, Official Report, columns 30-31WS. I have written to President Rajapakse to urge him to increase efforts in relation to the provision of humanitarian assistance; to take action against human rights abuses and set out the need for a political solution. It is not the practice of the Government to make public details of all correspondence and discussions with foreign Governments.
I discussed a range of issues with Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy and I have also asked my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to work closely with his French and German counterparts on this matter.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what percentage of witnesses in court on Merseyside (a) applied for and (b) were granted special measures in giving evidence in the last year for which figures are available; and what assessment has been made of witnesses views on the special measures available. 
Maria Eagle: In 2008 the Crown Court at Liverpool received 806 applications for Special Measures. Of these, 601 or 74.6 per cent. were granted. Of the remaining applications, the majority were in cases in which guilty pleas were entered so there was no need for the application to proceed.
The number and percentage of successful requests for special measures in the magistrates court and youth court is not held centrally. These figures could not be produced without incurring disproportionate cost.
In 2004 the Home Office published independent research which found that special measures were working effectively. The study showed that 76 per cent. of witnesses overall were satisfied with special measures. A further breakdown of these statistics for different subgroups of witnesses is available from:
The research also found that one-third of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses would not be able or willing to give evidence without the assistance of special measures. This rose to 44 per cent. where the witness was a victim of a sexual offence.
Further independent studies include NSPCC research that interviewed 50 young witnesses and concluded that special measures, in particular live links, helped child witnesses who would otherwise have been reluctant to give evidence.
Our own consultation exercise, Improving the Criminal Trial Process for Young Witnesses (2007) found that where young witnesses used special measures, they had significantly more confidence in the criminal justice system.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his Departments average response time to a letter received from (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public was in each of the last three years. 
Bridget Prentice: This information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Ministry of Justice aims to reply to all written correspondence within 20 working days of receipt. The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members correspondence. The report for 2007 was published on 20 March 2008, Official Report, columns 71-74WS. Information for 2008 is currently being collated and will be published as soon as it is ready. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Wills: The Election Day: Weekend Voting consultation attracted nearly 1,000 responses. Detailed analysis of the views and evidence provided has taken some time, but good progress is being made. The Government will publish the results as soon as practicable.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1299W, on departmental training, what personal training courses at public expense other Ministers in his Department have undertaken since 1 January 2008. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many times employment tribunals awarded costs to a successful applicant in each of the last five years; and what the average award was over that period. 
Bridget Prentice: The following table details the number of claimants, who in a successful claim, were awarded costs and the average sum awarded per case for each of the last five years. The information relates only to costs awarded and does not include awards of compensation where a claim has been successful. In addition, the information does not include preparation time orders, in respect of time spent by a party carrying out preparatory work directly relating to the proceedings or conduct of the hearing, made as a consequence of, for example, the postponement of a hearing, or wasted cost orders made against a representative. These details are not available in current management information systems and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
|Number of applicants awarded||Average award (£)|
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many applications for legal aid have been made in order to secure legal representation at inquests into the deaths of armed forces personnel since 2000; and how many have been refused. 
Applications for exceptional funding are made to the Legal Services Commission (LSC), the independent body which administers the legal aid scheme, in the first instance. Exceptional funding legal aid can be granted by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on the recommendation of the LSC for representation at inquests, if the exceptional funding criteria are met. The LSC does not break down the number of applications it receives for representation at inquests by category of inquest.
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