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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 25 February 2002

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Church Maintenance

39. John Cryer: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent representations he has received regarding the cost of church repairs. [34269]

Mr. Bell: I have not received any particular representations on church repair costs following the launch of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme in December 2001.

Church Lands (Deconsecration)

41. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how many (a) graveyards and (b) other church lands have been deconsecrated since 1972 and sold for development. [34271]

Mr. Bell: Since 1972 the Commissioners have completed 634 pastoral schemes to enable surplus churchyard or burial ground to be used for some other purpose, in most cases removing the legal effects of consecration. Very few of these cases have involved sale for development.

Clergy

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on clergy conditions of service. [34262]

Mr. Bell: Conditions vary slightly from dioceses to diocese. But, in addition to their stipend, based on a National Stipend Benchmark of £17,420 from April 2002, clergy receive free accommodation or a housing allowance, and membership of a non-contributory pension scheme. Their working expenses should be fully reimbursed.

ELECTORAL COMMISSION COMMITTEE

Referendum (Euro)

38. Norman Baker: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will set out the Commission's responsibilities in respect of a referendum relating to membership of the euro. [34268]

Mr. Beith: The role of the Commission in the conduct of any national or regional referendum are set out in the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000. In summary, the Act provides that broadcasters must have regard to views of the Commission before making any

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rules with respect to referendum campaign broadcasts; the Commission shall consider the wording of the referendum question; the Commission shall receive declarations from and maintain a register of permitted participants; the Commission may designate one representative campaign organisation for each outcome of a referendum, and provide assistance in the form of grants and the provision of free facilities; the Commission shall ensure compliance with financial controls governing referendum expenditure and donations; the Chairman of the Commission (or his delegate) shall be the Chief Counting Officer for the referendum (except for a referendum held only in Northern Ireland, in which case the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is the Chief Counting Officer) and shall appoint counting officers in each relevant local government area who will be responsible for certifying the result in that area; and the Commission shall be consulted by the Secretary of State before the making of Orders regulating the conduct of referendums, the Commission shall prepare and publish a report on the administration of referendums.

Referendums (Questions)

40. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what reviews they intend to carry out relating to the wording of referendum questions. [34270]

Mr. Beith: The wording of a national or regional referendum question will normally be specified in the Bill providing for the holding of the referendum. As soon as reasonably practicable after the Bill is introduced, the Commission, as required by the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000, will consider the wording of the question and publish a statement of its views, if any, as to the intelligibility of the question. A recent Electoral Commission paper on the conduct of mayoral referendums reported some concerns about the wording of the question, and I understand that the Commission is in discussion with the Government as to whether it might be improved.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Communications

Mr. Gray: To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee (1) what plans she has for the provision of (a) Braille translation facilities, (b) Braille typing facilities, (c) lip reading training and (d) lip speaking training for hon. Members and their staff; [37458]

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Mrs. Roe: I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to him on 31 January 2002, Official Report, columns 507–08W. These areas are not strictly the responsibility of the Administration Committee; however, I understand that the Director of Finance and Administration will be happy to assist the hon. Member with any queries or concerns.

Ministerial Boxes

Dr. Kumar: To ask the President of the Council by what means ministerial boxes are conveyed from private offices in his Department to (a) himself and (b) his fellow Ministers; how frequently and at what expense private courier firms are employed for such a task; and which courier firms have been used for such duties. [36280]

Mr. Robin Cook: Ministerial boxes originating from my Department are transported to the House or to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary's home by Government car. My staff and I sometimes take papers to my home on foot. No private courier firms are used.

Legislation

Pete Wishart: To ask the President of the Council how much Government legislation in this Parliamentary session concerns (a) the UK, (b) Great Britain only, (c) England and Wales only, (d) England only, (e) Northern Ireland only and (f) Scotland only. [37047]

Mr. Robin Cook: The following table sets out the number of Bills introduced so far this session, as they apply to the United Kingdom and its constituent parts. The totals given include those Bills that contain provisions relating to all the relevant constituent parts, whether or not all the provisions within such Bills have the same territorial extent.

ExtentNumber of bills
United Kingdom18
Great Britain2
England and Wales only7
England only0
Northern Ireland only3
Scotland only0

DEFENCE

British Army (Germany)

Mr. Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the establishment against actual strength of British army units in Germany; and how many requests for transfer there are for each of these units. [29650]

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Mr. Ingram [pursuant to his reply, 28 January 2002, c. 24–26W]: I regret the information provided was incomplete. The table omitted figures relating to 102 Logistics Brigade which is provided. All other figures remain correct.

102 Logistics Brigade and 1 Regiment Army Air Corps

UnitEstablishmentActual strength
HQ 102 Log Bde4343
6 Sup Regt RLC773343
7 Tpt Regt RLC577352
1 Regt AAC299(1)366

(1) Drawdown to new establishment to be completed by October 2002


Theft and Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional security measures are planned by his Department to deter and detect theft and fraud. [31798]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has in place a range of measures to deter and detect fraud and theft. Through our internal fraud policy, and response plan, it is made clear to line managers, at all levels, that dishonest behaviour will not be tolerated and that all suspicions will be investigated, many of them by the MOD Police or Service Police Authorities. Where suspected perpetrators can be identified, appropriate criminal or internal disciplinary action will be taken. Staff are encouraged to report suspicions and are also aware that the MOD has in place long established controls such as separation of duties, spot checks and physical security.

Additional measures introduced over recent years include the creation of the Defence Fraud Analysis Unit, which is responsible for overseeing fraud policy, maintaining data, promoting fraud awareness and encouraging a proactive response to fraud, including the use of private sector consultants and specialists in the fields of quantity surveying and data mining.


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