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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.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

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.

Consultants are employed by the ministry to provide expertise for a defined period of time that is not available in-house.

All expenditure incurred is in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook, Regularity and Propriety.

Government Departments: Energy

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

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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energy across government, including the wider public sector. The Office of Government Commerce is currently compiling comparable figures for 2008-09 as part of its work to meet OEP targets.

Government: Correspondence

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

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.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Details of all foreign visits undertaken by Cabinet Ministers are published by the Cabinet Office annually. Copies are available in the Library.

Justice: Arrest Warrants

Question

Asked by Baroness Northover



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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.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord McColl of Dulwich

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.

The LSC has no plans to recover the legal aid fees paid to Dr Andrew Wakefield, Messrs Alexander Harris, Mr Stuart-Smith, Mr Maskrey or Mr Ullstein.

Live Music

Question

Asked by Lord Colwyn

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Live Music: An Analysis of the Sector report used source material taken from the Creative and Cultural Skills Council (CCSC) studies of the industry.

We understand that CCSC is making some revision to the material. DCMS will incorporate any changes affecting our analysis in the report in due course.

Media: Newspapers

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Crawley: This information is not held centrally and could only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Mohammad Amin Valian

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

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.



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Nagorno-Karabakh

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

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.

Northern Ireland Office: Opinion Polls

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland approved the opinion poll.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The questions in the opinion poll conducted on 5 and 6 March were approved by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The questions were:

Ql. Who do you personally think is best placed to make decisions on policing in Northern Ireland?

Q2. Overall do you support or oppose the agreement to transfer policing and justice powers to the Executive at Stormont?

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

Asked by Lord Laird



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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The poll carried out by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) cost £16,215, involving 1,000 people. It took place on 5 and 6 March 2010.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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 noble Lord may wish to write directly to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland or to the relevant sponsor department, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Nuclear-powered Submarines

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

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.

Officers' Training Corps

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

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.



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Orange Halls

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Police: Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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.

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

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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