Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the Commission plans to publish claims made under the additional costs allowance for 2004-05 by those who are no longer hon. Members; and if the Commission will make it its policy to publish additional costs allowance claims for the period 2004-05 made by former hon. Members who are now prospective parliamentary candidates. 
Nick Harvey: This is a matter for the Members Estimate Committee; I am replying on behalf of the Committee. The Committee decided not to publish, as a matter of course, claims made under the additional costs allowance for 2004-05 by those hon. Members who left the House of Commons in May 2005. This was a pragmatic decision based on the difficulty of getting information to be published to the former Members for checking. The Committee has no plans to make it its policy to publish additional costs allowance claims for the period 2004-05 made by former hon. Members who are now prospective parliamentary candidates standing for re-election to the House. However, the House has responded to and will continue to respond to requests made under the FOI legislation for information about individual former hon. Members' claims.
Maria Eagle: The Government are committed to increasing the representation of women in senior positions. The Government Equalities Office (GEO) sponsors the annual Female FTSE Report, which benchmarks women's progress on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. The 2009 report found that women make up 12.2 per cent. of directors across FTSE 100 companies, but only 9.3 per cent. of directors across the five banks in the FTSE 100.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is conducting a formal inquiry into the nature and causes of gender inequality and discrimination in the financial services sector. The EHRC is currently in the third stage of their inquiry, and is currently taking forward a series of round tables with the finance sector. In addition, the Treasury Select Committee will shortly report on their inquiry on women in the City. We will carefully consider the result of both inquiries.
In giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, the Minister for Women and Equality set out our intention to create a strong partnership with business organisations, trade bodies and recruitment firms to encourage companies to commit to their own internal targets and actions to increase diversity in senior positions. GEO will be holding an event in the spring with business to agree a practical plan of action.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how much the Government's Equalities Office spent on works and refurbishment to offices allocated to Ministers in the Office in the last 12 months. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what representations she has received from Roman Catholic bishops on the potential effects of the provisions of the Equality Bill on Christmas celebrations. 
There is nothing in the Equality Bill which will ban Christmas celebrations, or indeed, any other religious festivities. The Bill contains an Equality Duty that will require public bodies to think about different groups when planning and delivering services. However it will not require public bodies to interfere with anybody's religious celebrations.
Tessa Jowell: Information concerning the energy rating of my offices will be covered in the answers provided by the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DCMS, respectively.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many and what percentage of Parliamentary Questions tabled for written answer by her Department on a named day in session 2008-09 received a substantive answer on that day. 
Tessa Jowell: Planning for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is at an early stage. We have had some preliminary discussions with The Palace to consider whether there may be opportunities to link the celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Business Secretary intends to make a statement to Parliament today on the Government's initial plans for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Tessa Jowell: The latest information, released at the end of October in the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) Jobs, Skills, Futures newsletter, showed that at the end of September 2009 there were 7,270 people working on the Olympic Park and Village. Of this, there were 4,842 people working on the Park, 21 per cent. were resident in one of the five Olympic Host Boroughs, and 12 per cent. were previously unemployed. The ODA reported in November that there were 120 apprentices working for the contractors on the Olympic Park, over a third of the way towards its target of 350 apprentices by 2012.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) away days and (b) conferences that took place outside his Department's building attended by civil servants in his Department there have been since 2005; and what the cost was of each. 
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on what pay band his Department's Chief Information Officer (CIO) is employed; whether the CIO is employed on a fixed-term or permanent contract; and what the size is of the budget for which the CIO is responsible in the period 2009-10. 
Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999. Since this date all staff have joined the Office on secondment from their parent bodies, mainly the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice. They are required to report any convictions of criminal offences to their parent bodies.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Electoral Commission has issued on when electoral returning officers should commence general election counts. 
Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has written to all Returning Officers, advising that it is entirely appropriate for them, as independent statutory officers, to decide to hold the count on Friday if they are clear that this is necessary to ensure an accurate result. Returning Officers have also been advised to consider any relevant local factors, such as geography, availability of staff and venues, the security of the ballot boxes and the volume and management of postal votes as part of the decision-making process. The next general election will, for example, be the first general election at which new security checks on postal votes will need to be conducted, and this will introduce an additional stage in the process.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Electoral Commission has given to electoral returning officers on political party representatives or counting agents taking tallies of validated votes during an election count. 
Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that its September 2009 planning guidance for Returning Officers and the recently published full guidance manual for UK Parliamentary (Acting) Returning Officers advise that no part of the count should take place out of the sight of candidates and agents and that procedures should be transparent at all times.
The Commission recognises the important role carried out by candidates and agents in scrutinising the verification and counting processes. Candidates and agents may keep a tally of valid votes at the count.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what discussions the Electoral Commission has had with Ofcom on its proposals for the number of party political broadcasts allocated to minority parties. 
Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that Ofcom consulted the Commission in June 2009 on changes it was considering to its Rules on Party Political and Referendum Broadcasts. The Commission set out its views in a letter to Ofcom on 17 July 2009, including that there should be more detailed guidelines for determining the number of broadcasts to be offered to qualifying parties. The Commission wrote again to Ofcom on 20 November 2009 during the formal consultation on the proposed new Rules, welcoming proposed changes.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what information the Electoral Commission holds on the number of postal ballot papers handed in on polling day in each of the last five by-elections. 
Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that returning officers are not required to keep records of the number of postal ballot packs handed in at polling stations on polling day. However, the returning officers for the last five UK parliamentary by-elections have provided the following estimates of the number of postal ballot packs handed in at polling stations on polling day:
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Dr. Pugh: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission how many electoral commissioners have been an electoral (a) candidate or agent and (b) returning officer. 
Electoral Commissioners are appointed under the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000 (part 1 section 3), as amended by the Political Parties
and Elections (PPE) Act 2009. Before the passage of the PPE Act, the law disqualified people who had been actively involved in political parties in the previous 10 years from office as a Commissioner. The law now provides for four new Commissioners to be appointed following nomination by political parties, and without that disqualification. For the remaining Commissioners, the time ban period has been reduced from 10 to five years.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission with reference to the answer of 21 October 2009, Official Report, column 1439W, on elections: investigations, how long the Electoral Commission's investigation into 5th Avenue Partners took; and what steps the Electoral Commission is taking to improve the efficiency of its investigations. 
Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that its investigation into 5th Avenue Partners took approximately two years and 10 months-excluding a 20-month period from March 2007 to November 2008, when it suspended its inquiries at the request of City of London police.
The Commission further informs me that since this investigation was opened, it has established strict time targets for key phases of its enforcement work. In 2009, the Commission met its targets of conducting 90 per cent. of initial case assessments within five working days, and 90 per cent. of case reviews within 90 days. The Commission also aims to complete 90 per cent. of its investigations within six months and following questions from the Speaker's Committee, has set a target from 2010-11 of completing all its investigations within one year. The Commission has instituted enhanced case planning and supervision to ensure that these targets are met.
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