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Whether they are satisfied that the public meetings of the Independent Commission on the Voting System are a sufficient means of ascertaining the general views of the public; and, if not, what other means of testing opinion have been or will be arranged; and[HL2336]
What are the numbers of full and part time staff engaged in servicing the Independent Commission on the Voting System; and what is the cost of the monthly wage bill; and[HL2337]
What scale expenses are paid to members of the Independent Commission on the Voting System; and [HL2338]
How the general public are notified of public meetings held by the Independent Commission on the Voting System; and[HL2339]
Whether any particular individuals or groups were specifically invited to any of the public meetings held by the Independent Commission on the Voting System.[HL2340]
I understand that the commission has held public meetings in Cardiff (on 10 March), Belfast (on 12 March), Edinburgh (on 24 March), Leeds (on 6 April), Birmingham (on 28 April), Manchester (on 21 April), Plymouth (on 29 April) and Newcastle (on 5 May). A
A wide variety of groups and individuals were invited to the public hearings, including various community/interest groups, political parties, local government representatives, business interests, academics, trade union representatives and, in most cases, the local Members of Parliament. On average, 80 people attended each meeting.
The meetings were publicised by means of poster campaigns in public buildings, including libraries, citizens advice bureaux, schools, colleges and universities, and advertisements and articles in the regional press. In addition, the chairman and other members of the independent commission gave interviews to the local media, radio and television before the public meetings.
After the independent commission has reported, a referendum will be held to enable the public to express a view on whether they wish to retain the first-past-the-post system for elections to the House of Commons, or adopt the system recommended by the independent commission as the most suitable alternative.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Clause 121 of the School Standards and Framework Bill applies to schools defined in section 4(1) of the Education Act 1996 (as amended): every institution for providing primary education, secondary education, or both primary and secondary education which is outside the further education sector and the higher education sector. Independent schools are included in that definition.
The clause also applies to children receiving education suitable for children under compulsory school age not in a school but provided: by a local education authority; by those receiving government grant under present or future funding arrangements for early years development plans; or in any educational institution
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): As part of our consultation process on the Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals, we have invited comments from many organisations including the Tenant Farmers Association. The Government will take full account of the views of these organisations during the negotiations.
Lord Donoughue: The Chairman of the Advisory Group on Quarantine, Professor Kennedy, envisages a delay in the advisory group's report, which had been expected this month. It is important that all the evidence be considered most carefully, and given due weight, before the advisory group's report is submitted. We now expect that the report of the Advisory Group on Quarantine will be published in the summer or early autumn. A full public consultation will then be held.
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