Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Right Honourable Paul Murphy MP Secretary of State for Wales to the Chairman of the Committee

  When I appeared before you on 23 October there were one or two points on which I promised to write.

  At question 36, Mr Prisk asked about staffing figures.

  As Table 2 of the Departmental Report and its footnotes makes clear, the figures (a flat 44) for financial years 2001-02 onwards are plans. Indeed, footnote 2 goes on to say that they are "not . . . yet . . . robust staff plans" being subject to further review. In practice the Department now has a complement of 48 separate posts although some of those are part-time and some have never been filled. As I indicated to the Committee I have now decided to commission an external review of staffing levels.

  The figures I gave him in the written answer on 22 October are quite different in that they show the actual number of staff who have been employed during specified periods. The figure of 39, which he quoted, was for the first part of the calendar year.

  At question 59 Mr Prisk asked why table 1 at page 5 of the 2000 Departmental Report had shown planned expenditure of £3 million in each of the financial years 2000-01 and 2001-02, whereas Table 1 at page 26 of the 2001 Departmental Report showed provision of £3.362 million in 2000-01 and plans of £3.612 million in 2001-02.

  There are three factors involved here. First and foremost, the Spending Review 2000 was completed between the two reports and so all Government spending plans wee revisited. Secondly, in respect of 2000-01, the passage of time meant that "planned" expenditure had been replaced by actual "provision" for the year. Thirdly, the earlier report showed figures rounded to whole £ millions whereas the letter report showed figures to three decimal places.

  At question 84 I referred to the many measures which we had taken to aid the Welsh economy. Without attempting an exhaustive list, I would particularly draw your attention to some of the measures in the last Budget; especially the VAT package for SMEs; the fiscal measures to regenerate cities; the expansion of New Deal; the extra £100 million of public spending; the broadening of the 10p income tax band; and the increase in the minimum wage.

  On textual points I note that the "£" sign causes some problems.

  At Section 3 I think there is a negative missing from my answer—"I am not saying that as the years go by there won't be changes . . ." is what I believe I said.

  Finally you may have already spotted that the heading on the internet index page is wrong; the subject was the "Department Report".

30 November 2001

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