Memorandum submitted by the Wales Office
WALES OFFICE RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
FROM THE WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
1. NAW FUNDING
(i) It would be helpful to have a table
showing the additions to the Welsh block since 2000, to which
reference is made in para 4.1, showing in each case the extent
to which the additional sums are hypothecated to particular services
The attached table shows changes to the Wales
Departmental Expenditure Limit until April this year. Additions,
which are a result of an increase in comparable spending in England
are not hypothecated although where they accompany a transfer
of function then in practice the Assembly will normally need to
use the transferred sums in order to deliver the transferred service.
(ii) Annex 5 shows only rounded data
for 2002-03, whereas the 2001 Report showed data for each of 2001-02,
2002-03 and 2003-04. Are comparable figures available?
The comparable figures are shown in the attached
(i) What has been and will be the annual
Office expenditure on Lords Lieutenant, and on what is the money
The Lord Lieutenants' expenses fall to be met
by the Wales Office because the Secretary of State is responsible
for Royal matters. The budget is £30,000 annually. In 2001-02
only £17,400 was spent. Expenses include: travel; accommodation;
postage; telephone charges; clerks' expenses; stationery.
(ii) What have been the annual costs
of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal to date and what are the
Some £1.3 million was made available by
the National Assembly for Wales to the Wales Office to cover the
cost of bringing the Tribunal to a conclusion. Wales Office spending
has been £0.259 million in 1999-2000; £0.445 million
in 2000-01; and £0.062 million in 2001-02.
3. EXTERNAL RELATIONS
(i) Following the October 2001 evidence
[Qq75ff] and the references at 5.3, what changes have been made
to the website?
The Wales Office website has had a major presentational
change since October 2001, with a new page on both the English
and Welsh sites created for reports, speeches and other miscellaneous
documents. For example, the draft NHS (Wales) Bill appeared on
this page and consultation was conducted via the website with
a dedicated e-mail address for comments from interested parties.
We are considering a major redesign of the website in the next
(ii) What progress has been made with
the proposed Welsh Language Scheme (para 5.5)?
The Wales Office's draft Welsh Language Scheme
was published on 19 August. The public consultation period will
run until 11 October. We will consider all comments received before
submitting a final version to the Welsh Language Board for endorsement.
(iii) How many invoices were paid late
in 2001-02 (para 2.6): in respect of what services: and why?
180 invoices (out of 1,350) were paid outside
the target date (of paying within 30 days or in accordance with
contract conditions). Almost a quarter of all late payments (44)
were to a single supplier (Portman Travel through whom we obtain
rail and air tickets).
Other than the possibility of delay when making
the first payment to a new supplier (because of the need to obtain
bank details) there is no particular pattern to the remaining
(iv) In October 2001 the Secretary
of State offered to pursue the suggestion that it would be useful
to discover which public bodies were wrongly addressing inquiries
to the Wales Office [Q23]. It would be helpful to have a note
on the outcome.
The "transfer log" of correspondence
transferred to the Assembly shows that from August 2001 to July
2002, between one and five items a month from Welsh firms or organisations
(ie excluding individual members of the public) had to be re-directed.
There is no particular pattern to these transfers.
4. JMC AND MOU
(i) It would be helpful to have a list
of meetings attended in 2001-02 by Wales Office Ministers of (a)
the JMC and (b) each of the four subject committees referred to
at para 3.2: and a note of how the outcomes of these meetings
are placed in the public domain.
Ministers meet on a regular basis in a variety
of different formats and to discuss a number of different issues.
Not all meetings are publicised. The Memorandum of Understanding
states (paragraph A1.11 of the Agreement on the Joint Ministerial
"the proceedings of each meeting of the
JMC will be regarded as confidential by the participants, in order
to permit free and candid discussion. However, the holding of
JMC meetings may be made known publicly, and there may be occasions
on which the Committee will wish to issue a public statement on
the outcome of its discussions."
In the period covered by the Wales Office Departmental
Report 2001-02, a public statement was issued in relation to the
plenary JMC held on 30 October 2001 in Cardiff. The Secretary
of State attended this meeting.
There were also three meetings of subject committees
during the financial year 2001-02 and the Secretary of State attended
(ii) When is it anticipated that the
practical guide to the dissemination of best practice under devolution
will be completed and published?
The leaders of the four administrations endorsed
a leaflet, Devolution in Practice, developed jointly between the
four administrations, which offers practical guidance for the
running of day-to-day business under devolution. This, together
with the Memorandum of Understanding and supplementary agreements,
provides a solid platform for the continuation of close relationships
between the four administrations. The guidance was completed in
April 2001 and circulated to staff.
5. GWYDYR HOUSE
(i) In October 2001 the Committee learned
that plans for adapting Gwydyr House had been forwarded to Westminster
Council [Q50]. What progress has been made?
Ministers asked officials to consider arrangements
for wheelchair access to Gwydyr House. This had to be taken forward
in the context of Gwydyr House's listed status (under the provisions
of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act
1990), demand for such access and cost.
As part of a general refurbishment of part of
Gwydyr House, toilets for those with disability have been provided.
Preliminary costings of some £90,000 have
been identified for the provision of independent wheelchair access
and are under consideration. Meanwhile, temporary arrangements
for assisted wheelchair access to Gwydyr House have been made
with the provision of a "Stair Mate".
However our offices in Cardiff Bay have full
(ii) What consideration has been given
to an alternative London site for the Office? Is the Office free
to sub-let or lease the site?
There is no intention of leaving Gwydyr House
which is an appropriate location and has been clearly identified
with the Wales Office and its predecessor department for several
(i) It would be helpful to have a copy
of the external review of staffing referred to at paragraph 5.7,
indicating when it was commissioned and from whom, and when the
report was received.
The review was commissioned in Autumn 2001 from
a consultancy called Inbucon and delivered in February 2002.
Given the size of the Department, the staffing
review was inevitably written in such a way as to make it quite
easy to identify individual posts and individual post holders.
We are therefore reluctant to place the whole text in the public
domain. However the attached summary covers the background to
the review and its key findings and quotes its recommendations
on numbers verbatim.
(ii) Annex 3 on page 27 shows an apparent
change of categorisation of administration costs between 2000-01
and 2001-02 and as between "paybill" (£664,000
more) and "other" (£681,000 less). It would be
helpful to have an explanation of this.
The figures for 2001-02 are estimated outturn;
it is likely that the final split will be closer to that of earlier
years. The "paybill" and "other" split is
used by a number of other departments in their reports and, with
the running down of North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal spending,
seemed the clearest way of presenting our spending.
(iii) The Report refers to employment
on average of 42 staff (1.4), apparently down from 46 reported
last year. Has the overall establishment changed?
The overall establishment had one post added
during 2001-02. The actual number of people in post fluctuates
during the year and so "snapshot" figures taken at a
particular point imply a greater variation than is actually the
The table at paragraph 5.7 on page 23 gives
average staffing levels calculated across the whole year. The
provisional figure for 2001-02 is 42, which compares with 44,
calculated on the same basis, for 2000-01.
(iv) What are the functions of the
nine "business services staff and administrative support"
and how are the jobs graded?
These nine posts are made up of: three messengers;
three people working in Correspondence Unit (distributing and
recording correspondence and entering inter-departmental correspondence
onto the electronic system); two people working on accommodation
matters (ensuring the delivery of services to Gwydyr House); and
one person processing invoices.
Two of these posts are graded at Pay Band A
(the lowest band); five are at Pay Band B; and two are at Pay
(v) The SDA 2000 stated that the Office
was considering how best to take forward possible IiP accreditation.
The 2001 Report referred to the Department pursuing accreditation.
An update would be helpful.
The Wales Office is what remains of the former
Welsh Office, which had IiP accreditation. However, the establishment
of a new Department meant that fresh accreditation needed to be
While much of the ethic of IiPtraining
and staff reporting for examplewas carried into the organisation
and guided its work, it was decided that alongside other priorities
of bedding in the new Department a formal application for approval
would be deferred.
(i) It would be helpful to have a full
list of SLAs between the Office and the NAW, in addition to the
examples shown in 1.5.
The concordat between the Assembly and the Wales
Office names 9 Service Level Agreements as follows (though it
also allows for others to be added by agreement):
Information and Communication Technology
Information and Press matters
Records Management Service
(ii) The paragraph on records management
seems to be the same as in 2001. What progress has been made in
establishing a new registry, records management and storage system?
Work has been undertaken on agreeing a records
management SLA which is a necessary preliminary to establishing
(iii) It would be helpful to have an
explanation of the rise between 1999-2000 and 2000-01 in administration
cost receipts from £9,000 to £48,000, shown in Annex
This reflects variations in VAT refunds.
(iv) Why is the capital budget for
2001-02 and future years setto double from previous levels?
The figures are not comparable. What is shown
for 2001-02 onwards is the provision, which is available, whereas
2000-01 shows the outturn ie what was actually spent in that year
(v) Annex 3 shows the need to make
savings in 2002-03 of £330,000 in the Office administration
costs. How will that be achieved?
The Wales Office has an accumulated "End
Year Flexibility" entitlement (running costs unspent in earlier
years which we are allowed to carry forward). This will be drawn
upon during 2002-03.
It would be helpful to have an explanation of
the significance of the changes in the wording of Objectives 1
and 2 as between the 2001-02 ones on page 13 and the 2002-03 ones
on page 11, in particular the omission of the word "equitably"
from the new Objective 1 and the additional phrase added: and
the omission of three words from new Objective 2.
The changes in wording are shown in square brackets
Objective 1: [To] maintain effective working
relationships with the Assembly and [to] ensure that the devolution
settlement [continues to] operate[s] [equitably] in the best interests
of Wales, [including, where appropriate, exercising the Secretary
of State's powers in the Government of Wales Act]
The changes in the earlier part were seen as
minor and aimed solely at improving clarity; the final phrase
was added to recognise a growing area of work.
Objective 2: [To] work with other Government
Departments and the Assembly to ensure that the interests of Wales
are fully taken into account [in] [including] primary legislation
which affects the Assembly's responsibilities
This too was seen as a minor change to recognise
the growing weight of primary legislation with implications for