Since completion of the Arbuthnott Commission's work it has only operated the departmental website: www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. 
Ann McKechin: The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for appointing two commissioners to the Boundary Commission for Scotland. The commission is an independent and impartial advisory body, responsible for reviews of constituencies and regions for the Scottish Parliament, and constituencies in Scotland for the Westminster Parliament. One of the current commissioner appointments will run until 31 December 2010, the other until 6 June 2011. The posts are part time and require around one to two days work per month during the period of a boundary review. Commissioners are paid a daily fee, currently £486, for attending commission meetings and for meeting preparation. Applicants are expected to have a good understanding of the social geography of Scotland, the structure of constituencies for the Westminster and the Scottish Parliaments, and the electoral system. There are no statutory political restrictions, but it is recognised that commissioners are expected to be politically neutral. Appointments are made following Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) and other relevant guidance.
The Secretary of State may also appoint, at the request of the commission, assistant commissioners, to "inquire into, and report to the Commission upon, such matters as the Commission think fit". In practice, assistant commissioners are appointed to conduct public inquiries into the commission's provisional recommendations. In Scotland, it is customary for Sheriffs Principal who preside over the relevant areas to be appointed for this purpose given their unquestioned independence and impartiality, and their local connection to the areas under consideration. These appointments are unpaid, and made for the duration of the inquiry process, typically a few months.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions his Department has had with outside organisations to discuss policy to reduce the impact of the recession on matters within his Department's responsibility. 
Ann McKechin: As one would expect, the Secretary of State for Scotland has regular engagements with outside organisations including relevant Government Departments on a range of issues relating to the economy.
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Harry Cohen: To ask the Solicitor-General what the cost to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was of defending the legal action challenging the decision to drop the investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption against BAE Systems plc in relation to Saudi Arabia; how much was paid to the legal team acting for the SFO in the case; what the fees were of Jonathan Sumption QC for representing the SFO in the appeal to the House of Lords; and from which budget these costs were met. 
The Solicitor-General: The total cost to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of defending the legal action challenging the decision to drop the investigation into BAE Systems plc, as far as relating to Saudi Arabia, was £372,099.67. These costs comprise counsel fees, Treasury Solicitor fees and associated printing costs, and relate to both the hearing in the Divisional Court and the appeal in the House of Lords.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions his Department has had with outside organisations to discuss policy on reducing the effect of the recession on matters within his Departments responsibility. 
I have recently met the Federation of Small Businesses Wales, the CBI and the Wales Trades Union Council. In addition I attend the regular meetings of the National Economic Council and the All Wales Economic Summits.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales with reference to the Answer of 16 July 2008, Official Report, column 458W, on non-domestic rates: Wales, whether the 2005 council tax revaluation in Wales was revenue-neutral excluding the effect of transitional relief. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 24 April 2008, Official Report, column 2180W. The 2005 council tax revaluation and rebanding exercise was revenue-neutral in that increases in council tax receipts during the year of the revaluation and subsequently arose from councils decisions on raising council tax, rather than the revaluation. The rises were in line with increases in previous years.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on legislation to establish powers to prohibit scallop dredging in Welsh waters. 
Mr. David: I recently discussed with the Welsh Assembly Government provisions in the Marine and Coastal Access Bill that will abolish Sea Fisheries Committees and provide Welsh Ministers further powers to manage fisheries, including scallop dredging, in Welsh waters.
At present local authority Sea Fisheries Committees are taking the lead role in managing scallop fisheries, within six nautical miles of the Welsh Coast. The Welsh Assembly Government have existing powers to regulate scallop dredging in Welsh watersprincipally section 5 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will place in the Library copies of correspondence between officials and Ministers in his Office and Welsh Assembly Government Ministers and officials on the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order in the last two years. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: We have had frequent exchanges with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers and officials on the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order. To make all such exchanges available in the Library would restrict our ability to conduct business effectively.
Mr. Paul Murphy: We have received legal opinions and advice relating to the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order from a number of sources. To make such advice available would restrict our ability to conduct business effectively.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) features, (b) rights and (c) sanctions will accrue to the Welsh language when it acquires official status under the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The Legislative Competence Order on the Welsh Language, when made, will confer legislative competence on the National Assembly for Wales in respect to the matters specified in the order. It will not confer official status on the Welsh language.
The explanatory memorandum accompanying the proposed order explains its scope and content in detail. I have today laid these documents as a Command Paper before the House for pre-legislative scrutiny. Copies have been placed in the Library and can be found in the Vote Office.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of service personnel (a) went absent without leave and (b) deserted in each of the last 10 years.  [Official Report, 16 September 2009, Vol. 496, c. 39-40MC.]
Mr. Quentin Davies: Records held centrally on service personnel who have gone absent without leave (AWOL) relate to the number of incidents reported, not to the number of personnel. Therefore, individuals with multiple periods of absence are recorded more than once. For this reason the percentage of service personnel who went absent without leave in each of the last 10 years cannot be provided. The following table shows absence without leave statistics for each service by calendar year for each of the last 10 years:
|Incidents of reported AWOL|
|Royal Navy( 1)||Army||Royal Air Force|
|(1 )Over this period there have been a number of changes to the criteria for reporting absentees in the RN.|
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.
2. While the figures reflect the number of reports of AWOL, it may come to light later that there are extenuating circumstances and therefore does not reflect the number of personnel who went on to be formally charged with AWOL.
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