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Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the average time is that the Head of his Department has recommended since May 1997 between a special adviser leaving his Department and taking up outside employment; and if he will make a statement. [28909]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer the Prime Minister gave him on 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 593W.


Annual Accounts 2000–01

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Solicitor-General when the Treasury Solicitor's Department Agency Annual Accounts 2000–01 will be published. [32395]

The Solicitor-General: I can confirm that I have today placed a copy of the annual accounts in the Library.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what the total external spend by her Department was on private finance initiative consultants in each of the last four years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PFI consultant was; how many consultancy firms were used by her Department over this period; and if she will make a statement. [31031]

The Solicitor-General: My own Department, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, and the Treasury Solicitor's Department have not employed any private finance initiative consultants in the last four years.

The total external spend by the Crown Prosecution Service on private finance initiative consultants in each of the last calendar four years was:


The Compass project, management for an IT service, is the only private finance initiative that CPS has undertaken and this began in January 2000. The number of full-time equivalent consultants employed was 2.05 in 2000, and 4.42 in 2001.

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The billed consultancy days for each year were:


The implied average cost of each PFI consultant was £907 in 2000 and £1,032 in 2001. The Crown Prosecution Service has used seven consultancy firms on this PFI project during this period.

The CPS employed external consultants on the Compass PFI project where the necessary expertise was not available within its own resources and where best practice was to employ independent external advisers. This approach delivered an effective procurement team, with the necessary skills to deliver a successful procurement on time, on specification and on budget.

The total external spend by the Serious Fraud Office on private finance initiative consultants in each of the last four tax years was:


The total figure of £303,863 was spent on project management, IT, contract, procurement and legal consultancy in relation to the letting of a PFI contract for an IT document management system. Three consultancy bodies were involved, one of which was CCTA. The remaining information requested could be made available only at disproportionate cost.

Ministerial Duties

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Solicitor-General how many times she has refused to meet hon. Members on constituency matters since taking office; and if she will make a statement about the criteria she uses in arriving at such decisions. [30964]

The Solicitor-General: Since my appointment I have not turned down any requests for meetings with hon. Members on constituency matters.

I assess requests for meetings with hon. Members on a case by case basis, but generally I would agree to them unless there is a strong reason not to.


Mr. Vaz: To ask the Solicitor-General how many appointments to outside bodies she has made since her appointment. [31053]

The Solicitor-General: I have made no such appointments. However the Attorney-General has appointed Mrs. Rosalind Wright CB as Director of the Serious Fraud Office for a further year. This appointment was announced on 18 January 2002.

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Mrs. Wright, whose original contract ends on 21 April 2002, will continue to direct the Serious Fraud Office until 20 April 2003.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Solicitor-General how many (a) CPS areas and (b) legal aid firms she has visited since her appointment. [31052]

The Solicitor-General: Since my appointment as Solicitor-General I have visited CPS offices in Hampshire, Durham, Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and Avon and Somerset and have visited five branches of CPS London. I have not visited any legal aid firms but have had meetings with the Law Society and the Birmingham Law Society.


Skye Bridge

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the private money involved in the Skye bridge private finance initiative has been classified as public borrowing; and if she will make a statement. [26718]

Mr. Foulkes: Issues relating to the Skye bridge are devolved under the Scotland Act 1998 and now fall within the responsibility of the Scottish Executive. Skye bridge was designed, built, financed and is operated under a PFI contract by Skye Bridge Ltd. (SBL). Under the Concession Agreement, signed in December 1991, SBL invested £28 million (1991 prices), the bulk of which was provided by a combination of commercial bank debt, a European Investment bank loan and index-linked loan stock. This private funding is not classified as public sector borrowing.

Glasgow/Edinburgh Airports (Rail Links)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what her assessment is of the impact on the Scottish economy of delay in investment in rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. [28428]

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Mr. Foulkes [holding answer 21 January 2002]: The development of surface links to airports should be addressed in the context of expected growth in passenger usage at Scotland's airports. The Government, jointly with the Scottish Executive, will shortly publish a consultation document on the development of air services and airports in Scotland. The results of this consultation exercise will feed into the preparation of the Government's White Paper on the future of the United Kingdom's air services and airports for the next 30 years to be published at the end of the year.

The Government have, with the Strategic Rail Authority and Scottish Executive, sponsored a scoping study into potential improvements in rail access to Scottish airports. These proposals are now being developed through a detailed economic and engineering study, led by the Scottish Executive in partnership with the Government, BAA, Scottish Enterprise, and the SRA. The study is examining options for direct rail links into Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Scottish Bus Group Pension Fund

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to the answer of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Official Report, 21 January 2002, column 661W, on the Scottish Bus Group Pension Fund, on what dates Scotland Office Ministers discussed the matter of the Scottish Bus Group Pension Fund Holders with Treasury Ministers; and what view the Scotland Office put forward in those discussions. [30869]

Mr. Foulkes [holding answer 28 January 2002]: I am in regular contact with Treasury Ministers on a wide range of matters, including the Scottish Transport Group Pension Fund surplus. These discussions are held on a confidential basis.

I am pleased to note that, following recent discussions between the Treasury and the Scottish Executive, the amount now available for distribution to eligible former pension fund members has increased to £118 million, which I am sure is welcome news to them. It is necessary for the trustees to wind-up the pension schemes before ex-gratia payments can be made to former pension fund members.

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International Whaling Commission

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent discussions she has had with the Japanese Foreign Minister over her country's relationship with developing countries at the International Whaling Commission; and if she will make a statement; [31516]

Mr. Morley: No discussions have taken place.

The UK Government would not and could not condone action directly linking overseas aid in exchange for support of any particular whaling policies. At the last annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, we sponsored a resolution, agreed by consensus, which stressed the importance of transparency and lack of undue interference or coercion from other members within the IWC.

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