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External public relations companies are used for raising public awareness on specific issues and are used only where the internal specialism is not available. I have asked the chief executives of the executive agencies to respond directly to the noble Baroness.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Ministry of Justice and its agencies spent on (a) public relations consultants, and (b) public affairs consultants, in each of the past three years; and for what purposes. [HL2501]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Ministry of Justice does not distinguish between different types of consultancy expenditure in its accounting records. A one-off exercise was, however, undertaken in 2007-08 which found that expenditure on public relations consultancy was £290,476. This figure has not been audited.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) published at Budget 2009 gave an estimate of £3.6 billion of procurement expenditure in 2007-08 on
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Ministers are required to respond to correspondence addressed directly to them on matters of policy rather than delegate responses to chief executives of agencies. [HL2793]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Cabinet Office guidance Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, MEPs and Members of Devolved Assemblies; Guidance for Departments makes clear that when correspondence relates to day-to-day operations of an executive agency or NDPB, Ministers may authorise the appropriate chief executive to reply.
Copies of the guidance are available in the Libraries of the House and can be accessed on line at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/handling_members_correspondence/guidance_ for_departments/guidance.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has visited the United States on official business since 1 January; if so, when; for what purpose; and at what cost. [HL2656]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The United States has played and continues to play a critical role in the political process, further progress towards the devolution of policing and justice-which now includes the successful cross-community vote on 9 March-and investment in Northern Ireland. Successive Secretaries of State have worked closely with the United States and have made regular visits to discuss policy. The current Secretary of State continues this policy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead on 22 February (WA 233-4), which European Union countries have asked for information from them about the issues arising from the United Kingdom's arrest warrant procedure; and when those requests were made. [HL2292]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): Officials gave information on issues arising from the application of the UK's arrest warrant procedures in cases of universal jurisdiction during regular EU-wide discussions on foreign relations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the appropriateness of funding by legal aid of research carried out on the claimants and controls in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella/measles and rubella vaccine litigation. [HL2675]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to recover legal aid money paid to Dr Andrew Wakefield in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella/measles and rubella vaccine litigation. [HL2678]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to recover legal aid money paid to Alexander Harris solicitors in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella/measles and rubella vaccine litigation. [HL2679]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to recover legal aid money paid to Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC, Simeon Maskrey QC, and Augustus Ullstein QC in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella/measles and rubella vaccine litigation. [HL2680]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The MMR and MR litigations involved allegations that, as a consequence of a national vaccination campaign, children were very seriously injured because the vaccines in question were defective. Legal aid funding, which covered litigation services, advocacy and disbursements for experts, was granted in the early stages of the case and was supported by the opinions of leading counsel, which took into account the expert evidence available at the time.
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) is obliged to review continually the merits of funded litigation, and to withdraw funding where a case no longer meets the legal merits test. Funding for the MMR and MR claims was therefore discontinued when they no longer met this test. Since those cases concluded, the civil legal aid funding code guidance has been revised, and there are now more stringent criteria for funding high-cost cases, as well as a presumption that legal aid will not be used to fund new scientific research.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the dates of the research sources for the numbers of professional musicians in 2006 and 2008 cited in the
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the government of Iran for clemency for Mr Mohammad Amin Valian, who was sentenced to death after admitting throwing stones at security forces. [HL2647]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The United Kingdom is extremely concerned by reports that 20 year-old Mohammad Amin Valian faces execution, having been charged with acting against the national security, propagating against the Islamic system and insulting prominent figures of the Islamic Republic.
On behalf of all EU member states, Spain as EU presidency in Tehran has sought an urgent meeting with the Iranian authorities to obtain more precise information on the imminent risk of execution of Mr Valian and any other individuals sentenced during the mass trials. As EU presidency, Spain has made clear our deep concern over the possible imminent executions, and reinstated the EU's firm opposition to the death penalty in all its forms.
These sentences undermine Iran's claimed commitment to justice, human rights and democratic values, and, alongside EU partners, we will continue to call for clemency on behalf of all individuals facing execution for the peaceful pursuit of their basic rights and freedoms.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government support the efforts of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk group to promote a sustainable political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We encourage both Armenia and Azerbaijan to co-operate fully with the Minsk process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Northern Ireland Office Minister determined the requirements of and sanctioned the opinion poll conducted by the Northern Ireland Office during the week beginning 1 March. [HL2638]
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Minister or official in the Northern Ireland Office devised the wording of questions used in the opinion poll conducted during the week beginning 1 March; and what was the full wording of the questions. [HL2639]
Q3. I believe we should transfer policing and justice powers to Stormont so that the Executive can get on with the job of improving life for everyone in Northern Ireland. 1. Agree 2. Disagree 3. Don't know
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the recent poll carried out for the Northern Ireland Office about the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Executive cost; how many people were polled; and when. [HL2655]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Although the Secretary of State appoints commissioners to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, the sponsorship of the commission is a matter for the devolved Administration.
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton):There was no such collision in 2007. The report on the collision between HMS "Vanguard" and FS "Le Triomphant", which happened in 2009, contains highly classified operational detail concerning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent, and so, for reasons of national security, it will not be published.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many officer cadets serving in the Officers' Training Corps (a) regularly attended training prior to the suspension of their pay, and (b) regularly attend training currently. [HL2596]
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The number of officer cadets serving in the University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) that regularly attended training prior to the temporary suspension of pay was 2,250. This is the average attendance figure for October 2009. The average attendance figure for February 2010 was 1,387.
UOTC attendance patterns are to some degree predictable. For example, many first-year students do not sustain their interest in cadet activities beyond the first term. Second term attendance figures are therefore always lower. Attendance is also usually weak during examination periods.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: This is an operational matter for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the comments by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, about withdrawing £800 million of funding for policing and justice gave adequate consideration to the safety of the community in Northern Ireland; and whether the comments were intended only to influence the decision by the Northern Ireland Assembly on whether to devolve policing and justice. [HL2582]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The additional £800 million of funding was agreed specifically in the context of the devolution of policing and justice, and it was at all times clear that it was only on offer in that context.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: That is an operational matter for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
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