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National Lottery

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what procedures are in place to ensure an efficient transfer of lottery funds to the projects to which they have been committed; and if she will make a statement. [31598]

Mr. Caborn: There is no single central procedure designed specifically to facilitate swift transfer of committed funds to projects: this reflects their diversity.

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Project operators draw down funds from distributing bodies, and distributing bodies from the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF), when they are needed. Much depends on the nature and size of individual projects, the terms on which individual distributing bodies offer grant to particular projects and the arrangements agreed between the distributing body and the project operator. We are, however, considering a number of measures to speed up transfer of NLDF funds to projects.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had in January with lottery distributors regarding the transfer of lottery funds to the projects to which they have been committed; on what date these discussions took place; and if she will make a statement. [31597]

Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met chairs of the National Lottery distributing bodies on 24 January. The distribution of National Lottery proceeds, and the Government's wish to see the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF) balance fall, were agenda items.

The Department is considering, with the distributing bodies, a range of measures which might facilitate a faster release of the 92 per cent. of NLDF funds that are committed to projects. These include revising financial directions to permit advance payment for low risk projects and, to help applicants get their projects under way more quickly, taking a more flexible approach to partnership funding and providing more funding for project planning.

Listed Places of Worship

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on implementation of the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme. [27589]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The new grant scheme to assist repairs and maintenance to listed places of worship was launched by Baroness Blackstone on 4 December 2001. Initial estimates are that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme could be worth up to £30 million per year. There is no cap on the scheme; all listed places of worship that meet the criteria will receive a grant. CSL Group Ltd., our appointed contractors for the scheme, will be making the first grant payments to applicants later this month.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Parliamentary Communications Network

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, on how many occasions since 31 August 2001 the PDVN server has been out of action; what defects he has identified; and what action is being taken to rectify such defects. [31113]

Michael Fabricant: I have been asked to reply.

The Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN) consists of interconnected systems hosted on a large number of servers. Since 31 August 2001, the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN) has suffered three major failures affecting the whole of the

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network. These occurred on 3 October 2001, 20 November 2001 and 21 November 2001. The PDVN had previously remained stable for 19 months. Subsequent investigation into these failures, which were related, identified saturation and overload of Central Processing Units as an immediate cause. Action was taken to rectify this and other faults. The Parliamentary Communications Directorate (PCD) has since asked the firm responsible for maintaining the PDVN to provide quicker on-site assistance in the event of a major failure. PCD staff have also been trained to respond more swiftly.

There have been other smaller-scale interruptions to individual services offered on the PDVN since 31 August. Some of these have occurred because of routine maintenance at weekends. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns about a specific service failure, he may like to raise them with the Director of Communications, Mr. Matthew Taylor.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what information he has collated about the time taken to log on to the Parliamentary Communications Network by hon. Members and their staff (a) within the Parliamentary Estate and (b) remotely; what defects he has identified; and what action is being taken to rectify such defects. [31114]

Michael Fabricant: I have been asked to reply.

The Parliamentary Communications Directorate does not routinely collate information on login times. However, poor performance with regard to the length of time it takes to log into the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN), whether from within the Parliamentary Estate or from elsewhere, will result in an increase in the number of calls to the Parliamentary Communications Helpdesk (extension 2001). Defects are then identified, enabling action to be taken.

The Citrix service which enables remote access to the PDVN has been enhanced over the past 12 months. Reliability has improved and login times have been reduced. However, if the hon. Gentleman is having difficulties, he might like to raise the matter with the Director of Communications, Mr. Matthew Taylor.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, when he last sought views on its performance from users of the parliamentary communications network. [31115]

Michael Fabricant: I have been asked to reply.

The Information Committee regularly passes on to officials in the Parliamentary Communications Directorate feedback from Members and staff on the performance of the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN). In December 2001, the committee e-mailed a bulletin to all Members with PDVN accounts, describing issues being considered by the committee. The bulletin was also publicised in the All-Party Whip. A number of Members responded with comments and suggestions, some of which related to the performance of the PDVN. These are actively being taken forward by the committee.

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Modernisation

Mr. Drew: To ask the President of the Council if he will propose a mechanism to the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons whereby hon. Members who do not attend select committees other than for personal or health matters are removed after six months and replaced by other hon. Members. [31641]

Mr. Robin Cook: The Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons is currently considering a range of issues concerning Select Committees, including the matter of attendance. We hope to publish our report shortly.

WALES

KPMG

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what contracts his Department has with KPMG; and what the value is of each one. [31323]

Mr. Paul Murphy: None.

Environmental Appraisals

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many environmental appraisals have been published by his Department since 1 January 2001; and if he will list the last four; [29033]

Mr. Paul Murphy [holding answer 21 January 2002]: My primary role is to safeguard the devolution settlement for Wales. The development of detailed policies of the kind which require environmental appraisal generally falls either to the National Assembly, or to other Government Departments in the case of non-devolved policy areas. As a consequence, my Department has undertaken no environmental appraisals since it was established on 1 July 1999.

My officials are aware of the need to subject relevant policies and other decisions to environmental appraisal. In the event of environmental appraisal being required of any Wales Office policy, steps would be taken to ensure that it was undertaken by individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Empty Properties

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his estimate is of the (a) annual cost and (b) total value of the empty properties owned by (i) his

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Department, (ii) his agencies and (iii) other public bodies for which he has had responsibility in each of the last four years. [30077]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department has had no empty properties since it came into being in July 1999. Nor does it have any agencies or NDPBs. Information in the form requested is not available for before July 1999.


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