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Civil Service

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Civil Service Management Code sets

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out the terms and conditions of civil servants, including resignation from the Civil Service.

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set up a Royal Commission to consider the independence of the Civil Service from political interference; and, if not, why not. [HL2928]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: We are already committed to maintaining the political impartiality of the Civil Service and to introducing legislation for the Civil Service. We are also committed to wide consultation in advance of the legislation. Janice

Strategic Communications Unit: Cost

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of running the Strategic Communications Unit for each of the years 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01; and what is its estimated cost for the current financial year. [HL3036]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Costs for running the unit in each of the years were as follows: 2000–01 £957, 302 1999–2000 £838, 421 1998–99 £716, 672

A large proportion of these costs are attributable to the continuing development and support of the No 10 Downing Street website, which is one of the most frequently visited government websites in the UK, receiving over 4 million hits a week.

Better Regulation Task Force

Lord Grabiner asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    What plans they have to appoint a successor to Lord Haskins as Chair of the Better Regulation Task Force. [HL3282]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: I have appointed David Arculus, non-executive Chairman of Severn Trent plc, as the new Chair of the Better Regulation Task Force. His appointment takes effect on 1 April 2002 and will be for a period of three years. The position is unpaid and will take up one-and-a-half days per week.

The Government would like to put on record their gratitude to my noble friend Lord Haskins for chairing the task force since its inception four-and-a-half years ago and building it into what it is today. He and the task force have achieved a great deal. We and the country owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work and commitment to the cause of better regulation.

Wales Office: Expenditure

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a breakdown of the increase in Wales Office Annually Managed Expenditure Cash Plans (contained in Cm 5121, page 37) from the outturn of £7,032,736 in 1998–99 to the estimated £8,059,563 in 2000–01 [HL2798]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The increase between the two years primarily reflects the outcome of the comprehensive spending review announced in July 1998.

For 1998–99, the Welsh Office Departmental Report for 1999 (Cm 4216) gives a breakdown of forecast outturn spending, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Of the total managed expenditure for 2000–01, some £3.4 million was retained by the Wales Office to meet its costs and the remainder passed to the National Assembly for Wales for its use.

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