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Supreme Court

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on her policy on a separate new Supreme Court; and if she will make a statement. [57695]

Yvette Cooper: The Government do not believe that a sufficient case has been made for the abolition of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and its replacement by a separate new Supreme Court.

Youth Court

Kate Hoey: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment the Department has made of the effect on the attendance of witnesses of youth court adjournments. [60327]

Yvette Cooper: A joint monitoring scheme with the Crown Prosecution Service and other criminal justice agencies began on 1 April in all magistrates courts. This collects data for all adjourned trials including youth cases, and includes the attendance of witnesses. The first quarterly figures will be available in July 2002. The Crown court also operates a similar monitoring scheme. The data will inform a research project, planned to start later this year, to investigate the effect of trial adjournments on witness attendance. It will include youth cases.


Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what targets her Department and the agencies it sponsors have for responding to correspondence (a) from hon. Members and (b) from members of the public; and what her Department's performance against such targets has been for each of the last 36 months in both categories. [31006]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: Pursuant to my reply of 26 March 2002, Official Report, columns 842–44, I regret that the information provided for Court Service HQ for 1 April 2001 to 31 December 2001 was incorrect. The 1 April 2001 to 31 December 2001 figure of 94 per cent.

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represented performance against the previous 20 working day target and not the current 15 working day target. The table for the "Percentage of correspondence from MPs answered within target" should have read:

Percentage of correspondence from MPs answered within target
Per cent.

1998–991999–20002000–011 April 2001 to 31 December 2001
LCD Headquarters88767375
Land Registry(18)100919379
Public Trust Office(19)998378
Public Guardianship Office52
Public Record Office10010096100
Court Service HQ(20)99939474

(18) Figures for the Land Registry are for the calendar years 1998, 1999 and 2000.

(19) The Public Guardianship Office was created on 1 April 2001 when the Public Trust Office ceased to exist.

(20) The Court Service target in 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01 was 20 working days and was tightened to 15 days from 1 April 2001. The percentage figure for 1 April 2001 to 31 December 2001 is against the 15 day target.


Lakshmi Mittal

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer by the Foreign Secretary of 21 May 2002, Official Report, column 255, on meetings with embassy staff, what the overall benefit to the United Kingdom was of the Lakshmi Mittal Romanian steel contract. [60550]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. Member to the answers I gave the hon. Members for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) and for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) on 14 February 2002, Official Report, columns 610–12W.


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the discussions he held with the Nepalese Prime Minister on his recent visit to London; and what commitments were made regarding military assistance and exports. [60628]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 20 May 2002, Official Report, column 55W.

The United Kingdom will be hosting a conference in London in June with the aim of bringing together the international community to agree a common strategy of support for Nepal. This will address security concerns as well as the political and developmental challenges facing Nepal.

Royal Marriages

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with his counterparts in independent countries within the Commonwealth where the Queen is head of state about providing for (a) the monarch and (b) the heir to the throne to enter into a morganatic marriage. [57415]

The Prime Minister: None.


Aggregates Levy

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if a review date has been set when the effectiveness of the Sustainability Fund established by the Aggregates Levy will be assessed. [59402]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund will be distributed through the Countryside Agency, English Heritage, English Nature, WRAP, DTI's Construction Innovation and Research Management Programme, DTLR's Planning Research programme, Clean Up programme and Freight Facilities Grant. It will run for two years initially, with £29.3 million available each year. The fund aims to reduce damage to the environment from extracting aggregates by reducing the demand for primary aggregates, promoting more environmentally friendly extraction and transport and reducing the effect of local aggregate extraction.

Monitoring and review arrangements will be put in place to assess the impact of the fund and help inform future decisions on how the fund works, although there is no specific review date.

Press Office

Mr. Burns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost of running the Department's press office was in (a) 1996–97 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. [46811]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 10 April 2002]: It is not possible to separate out figures for the cost of running the press office. The number of press officers employed across this period remained broadly constant. Figures are available for the total running costs for the strategy and public inquiry unit and press office combined, which were as follows:

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Monetary Policy Committee

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which members of (a) the Monetary Policy Committee and (b) his office had communications by (i) personal meeting, (ii) telephone call, (iii) e-mail and (iv) other forms of communications during the period 1 March 2001 to 31 March 2002; and how many such contacts occurred. [60258]

Ruth Kelly: The Chancellor meets with the Governor of the Bank of England regularly to discuss a wide range of issues. He does not have regular contact and there are no official meetings with other members of the MPC.

Hospital Transport

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will bring forward proposals to exempt VAT paid by charities on fuel for (a) the transport of out-patients to hospital in voluntary sector-run patient transport vehicles and (b) for accident and emergency transport which would otherwise be undertaken by NHS ambulance trusts. [60621]

John Healey: Long-standing agreements with our European partners mean that the UK may not relieve road fuel from VAT. Accident and emergency transport is undertaken only by NHS ambulance trusts.

VAT Exemptions (Voluntary Sector)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will bring forward proposals to exempt from VAT, projects whereby voluntary organisations in the care sector extend their building in order to take on new partnership arrangements with a local authority. [60622]

John Healey: Construction of new buildings and of annexes to existing buildings by charities, including those in the care sector, is already subject to a zero rate of VAT provided the building or annex is to be used for a relevant charitable purpose. The Government have no plans to extend VAT reliefs in this area.

Construction Industry

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend the Inland Revenue definition of a permanent place of work in respect of those employed in the construction industry. [60549]

Dawn Primarolo: Employees working in the construction industry are subject to the same tax rules as other employees. We have no plans to change this.

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