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Mr Simon Burns: The Department and its agency the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have well-established and constructive industrial relations. Our Partnership Agreement was signed again by both management and unions in 2009. This partnership approach commits the Department to involving unions at every stage of any change process-working together to solve difficulties and to promote best practice in all matters.
Mr Hayes: The Government are committed to increasing the number of apprenticeships, in particular, advanced apprenticeships that confer technician status. We know that the demand from young people and adults for good quality employer-owned apprenticeships is high. To meet this demand and to build an advanced economy we need advanced skills. The Government's decision to redeploy £150 million of our savings for 2010-11, creating an additional 50,000 places, demonstrates our commitment to high-quality skills. We are investing in our future and training the next generation, as well as developing the existing workforce, which is vital as we emerge from recession.
Mr Davey: Companies House does not record how many limited liability companies cease trading. There were, however, 509,711 companies dissolved in the United Kingdom in the financial year 2009/10. This was an increase from previous years due to Companies House taking action to dissolve companies which had not filed their statutory documents for many years.
Mr Davey: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has begun an evaluation of the impact of the major provisions of the Companies Act 2006, to assess the extent to which the original policy objectives have been achieved, to validate the estimated costs and benefits, and to identify any areas where the provisions are not working effectively in practice. We will make the results of this evaluation public later in 2010.
Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills when he plans to bring forward proposals to reintroduce the Operating and Financial Review; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Davey: The Government's commitment is to reinstate an Operating and Financial Review to ensure that directors' social and environmental duties have to be covered in company reporting, and investigate further ways of improving corporate accountability and transparency. We intend to consult on this issue this summer with a view to publishing our proposals by the end of the year.
Mr Davey: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has written to Cabinet Ministers reiterating transparency commitments made in the Coalition Programme for Government, and setting out a timetable for achieving them. In particular, all new items of central government spending over £25,000 will be published online in an open format from November 2010.
The funding levels for further education in 2010-11 were published as part of the Skills Investment Strategy in November 2009. A copy was placed in the Library of the House. On 24 May this year, as part of the Treasury announcements on the £6.2 billion of savings to tackle the deficit, the Chancellor announced a £200 million reduction in the Train to Gain budget, with those savings reinvested into additional apprenticeship places and new investment in FE capital projects. The
Secretary of State will write to the Skills Funding Agency reflecting these updated priorities and the impact on funding shortly.
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what in-year changes he plans to make to his Department's funding for each further education institution in the West Midlands in 2010-11. 
Mr Hayes: As part of the £6.2 billion savings announcement on 24 May 2010, £200 million will be redeployed from the Train to Gain programme in 2010-11 financial year. £150 million will be used to support additional apprenticeship places and £50 million for increased capital investment in further education (FE) colleges.
The Skills Funding Agency is now looking to implement this change, but it is not possible at this time to provide information on the impact it may have on individual institutions in the west midlands.
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the change in the number of staff in further education colleges in the West Midlands between academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11. 
FE colleges were established as self-governing, independent organisations following the enactment of the Further and Higher Education Act in 1992. As such, they are responsible for their own terms and conditions, pay and work force planning matters.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his estimate is of the cost to the public purse of proposed reductions in numbers of non-front line staff in his Department and its agencies. 
The Ministry of Justice expects shortly to engage in the Government's spending review, as part of which work force plans will be developed. Estimates of the cost to the public purse for any reductions are not yet available.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the (a) implementation of penalty clauses and payments in its contracts and (b) potential legal action arising from the deferral and cancellation of contracts and projects under his Department's plans to achieve cost savings; and whether those estimates are included in the total cost savings to be achieved by his Department. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke: Over the past three weeks the Ministry of Justice director generals and their staff have reviewed all current spending plans in line with priorities. Each area of the Department is contributing to the delivery of these savings (including arm's length bodies). We are still working through the implications of these savings. At this time we can not release further information in case it impacts on these negotiations and/or breaches commercial sensitivity.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the annual cost to his Department of redundancy payments for (a) front line and (b) other staff employed by (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies. 
Mr Kenneth Clarke: Wherever possible, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) seeks to achieve headcount reductions by means of natural wastage, recruitment controls and re-deployment of staff to avoid impacting services to the public.
Between 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2010, 16 people from across the Ministry of Justice, comprising headquarters and executive agencies (HM Courts Service, the National Offender Management Service, the Tribunals Service and the Office of the Public Guardian) were made redundant or faced compulsory severance. The overall
cost was £1.4 million(1), an average of £87,500 per staff member. Redundancy packages vary based on grade and length of service.
The MoJ also operated a voluntary early departure scheme in the last financial year. The future costs of this scheme are currently being finalised and will be published in the MoJ's annual resource accounts prior to the summer recess in the "provisions" note to the accounts. Staff are offered early departure on the basis of a clear business case that the departure will deliver long term savings and efficiencies.
It is not possible to clearly distinguish front line staff from other staff as many staff in local offices, courts and tribunals across England and Wales work in both public facing and back office roles.
(1) These figures are unaudited and are subject to change following the National Audit Office's inspection of MoJ Accounts for 2009-10.
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost to the public purse of the Electoral Commission was in the last 12 months for which figures are available; what assessment he has made of the value for money of such expenditure; and if he will consider the merits of abolishing the Commission. 
The net operating cost, from audited accounts, for the Electoral Commission for 2008-09, was £22,471,000 of which £1,957,000 was Policy Development Grants to qualifying political parties. This cost was required for the planning for and carrying out of functions and duties imposed on the Commission.
I have not made a value for money assessment of Electoral Commission expenditure. It is the role of the Speaker's Committee to examine the Commission's annual estimates of income and expenditure and to satisfy themselves that they are consistent with the economical, efficient and effective discharge of the Commission's statutory functions. In doing so, the Speaker's Committee must have regard to annual reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General into how the Commission uses its resources. The Government have set out a major programme of political reform and will be considering the implications for the delivery of elections.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 4 March 2009, Official Report, column 1707W, on the electoral register, what the estimated cost is of contacting by (a) email and (b) letter all electoral registration officers to find out what electoral registration qualifications they hold. 
The Government have not made an estimate of the cost of contacting Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) by email although it would be met within staff and resource costs. The cost of sending a letter to all EROs would be £123.87 based on the cost of a second class stamp to 387 EROs for letters weighing up to 100g.
The Electoral Commission have informed me that they will be publishing their report into the cost of electoral administration covering the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years early in June 2010. They also inform me that there has been no assessment yet made of the effect of expenditure on electoral registration on the level of registration. I understand that once the Commission has collected this year's information it intends to look in more detail at any relationship between the levels of expenditure on electoral registration and registration levels.
The Government have not yet made such an assessment. The Government have announced their intention to speed up the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration in Great Britain and any consideration of issues relating to registration will be in that context.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much (a) central and (b) local government authorities spent on advertising to promote voter registration in each year for which figures are available. 
(a) Central Government do not have responsibility for promoting voter registration. However, under section 69 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006, local authorities are under a duty to encourage participation by electors in the electoral process. To support this duty, Government have made funding available to local authorities under an electoral Participation Fund. The figures paid to local authorities for activity in support of participation, including advertising, from the Fund in each of the last three financial years are as follows:
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