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House of Commons Hansard
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29 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, columns 867-8W, on Audit Commission, what the (a) date and (b) purpose was of each meeting of the Audit Commission for which external meeting venues were booked in the last 24 months. [324513]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred:

There have been four occasions in the last 24 months when external meeting venues have been booked for Audit Commission meetings. These are listed as follows:

23-24 April 2008: Strategic Board Meeting

11 December 2008: Board Meeting (external venue was used during downsizing work to Millbank offices)

22-23 April 2009: Strategic Board Meeting

17 December 2009: Board Meeting (external venue was used due to lack of heating at Millbank offices)

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 868W, on Audit Commission, for what purposes (a) Lexington Communications and (b) Consolidated Communications were hired by the Audit Commission; what public affairs and lobbying activity each undertook; and what documents and other briefing materials each produced for the Commission. [324514]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Parliamentary Question: pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for on Audit Commission, for what purposes (a) Lexington Communications and (b) Consolidated Communications were hired by the Audit Commission; what public affairs and lobbying activity each undertook; and what the documents and other briefing materials each produced for the Commission

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the Chief Executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

Lexington Communications and Consolidated Communications were contracted to provide parliamentary and political monitoring research support.

The Audit Commission ceased its contract with Lexington Communications in 2005. There are no retained briefing notes produced for the Audit Commission by Lexington Communications.

In response to a recent Parliamentary Question by Bob Neill MP (PQ02427), we advised that the contract with Consolidated Communications had ceased in October 2008 and copies of all retained briefing notes were placed in the House of Commons Library.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, columns 870-1W, on Audit Commission, for what reason only 68 per cent. of hotel bookings were made through the Expotel facility; and what proportion of such bookings made through the Expotel facility were for hotels at five stars or above in 2008-09. [324608]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the Chief Executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

The Expotel contract is predominately used to book overnight hotel accommodation. There is the facility to use the Expotel service for external meetings but there is flexibility to negotiate directly with venues to secure better rates. The remaining 32% of spend identified as not going through Expotel relates to external meeting bookings and a small proportion of those are for hotels that do not accept bookings through Expotel.

Ten five star hotels were booked in 2008/09, which equates to 0.6% of total spend.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 870W, on Audit Commission, which senior Audit Commission officials had use of a Government driver in the last 12 months; and on how many occasions in each such case. [324609]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I will ask the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the Chief Executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

Government chauffeurs are not used by the Audit Commission. The Government Car and Despatch Agency is used as it is a greener and more cost effective alternative to black cabs.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, column 872W, on the Audit Commission, what the purpose was of each of the meetings at Shepherd's of Marsham Street, London; and who attended each. [324611]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the chief executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

On 18 July 2007 the purpose of the dinner was to discuss issues that would be relevant to the work undertaken by the Commission in the coming six months. The attendees were the Audit Commission Management Team (Chief Executive, MD Audit, MD Communications & Public Reporting, MD Corporate Services, MD Health, MD Human Resources, MD Local Government, MD Policy, Research & Studies), the Head of the Chief Executive's Office and an external speaker. The external speaker on this occasion was the Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council.

On 30 January 2008 the purpose of the dinner was to discuss issues that would be relevant to the work undertaken by the Commission in the coming six months. The attendees were the Audit Commission Management Team, the Head of the Chief Executive's Office and an external speaker. The external speaker on this occasion was the Director of Policy Exchange.

On 27 February 2008 the event was a lunchtime seminar to discuss issues on Devolution vs Centralisation since 1983 to aid the production of a paper on the subject. From the Audit Commission the attendees were the Chief Executive and the MD Policy, Research & Studies. The attendees were David Curry MP, David Heath MP, Sir Peter Soulsby MP, Peter Brokenshire, Jake Arnold-Forster and Sir Brian Briscoe & Paul Rigg, Local Government Association.

The purpose of the dinner on 9 July 2008 was to discuss issues that would be relevant to the work undertaken by the Commission in the coming six months. The attendees were the Audit Commission Management Team, the Head of the Chief Executive's Office and an external speaker. The external speaker on this occasion was the Senior Policy Adviser in the Prime Minister's Office.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 9 February 2010, Official Report, columns 870-71W, on the Audit Commission, which bookings for hotels were not made through the Expotel hotel reservations facility in 2008-09; and for what reasons they were not made through the facility. [324612]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question has been passed to me to reply.

In 2008/09, we made bookings with 34 hotels outside of the Expotel hotel reservations facility. The Expotel contract is predominately used to book overnight hotel accommodation, but we also use Expotel for events, some of which may include overnight accommodation. The bookings with the other hotels were made, in some cases, after direct negotiation to secure better rates and in others because of attendance at events at specific non Expotel hotels.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 1023W, on the Audit Commission, for what occasion Roleplay UK was engaged by his Department on each date in 2008 and 2009 given in the answer; and for what reason in each case. [324818]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the Chief Executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

The attached schedule details the individual engagements of Roleplay UK in 2008 and 2009.

The majority of assignments related to recruitment assessment centres. Roleplayers were used to assist with the selection of new staff (graduate trainees and managers) and acted the parts of clients or employees in work sample roleplays.

There were nine development centres in 2008 where roleplayers played the part of a Chief Executive in order to assess staff skills in dealing with difficult client scenarios.

There was one training event in 2009 which involved roleplayers.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

2008

Date

Recruitment assessment centres

2 January

District Auditor Assessment Centre

2 January

Graduate Trainee Auditor Assessment Centre

4 February

Senior Audit Manager Assessment Centre

25 February

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

25 February

CAAL Assessment Centre

25 February

CAAL Assessment Centre

28 February

CAAL Assessment Centre

3 March

Graduate Trainee Auditor Assessment Centre

5 March

Senior Audit Manager Assessment Centre

13 March

Graduate Trainee Auditor Assessment Centre

13 March

Senior Audit Manager Assessment Centre

14 March

Senior Audit Manager Assessment Centre

17 March

Principal Auditor Assessment Centre

25 March

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

27 March

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

14 April

District Auditor Assessment Centre

24 April

CAAL Assessment Centre

24 April

CAAL Assessment Centre

24 April

Principal Auditor Assessment

29 April

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

1 May

CAAL Assessment Centre

8 May

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

16 May

CAAL Assessment Centre

21 May

Graduate Trainee Auditor Assessment Centre

28 May

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

8 July

Assessment Centre

23 July

Principal Auditor Assessment Centre

31 July

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

31 July

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

12 August

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

12 August

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

26 August

Graduate Trainee Auditor Assessment Centre

2 September

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

7 October

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

14 October

Principal Auditor Assessment Centre

17 October

Principal Auditor Assessment Centre

21 October

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

21 October

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

20 November

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

25 November

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

25 November

Graduate Assessment Centre

11 December

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

23 December

Graduate Assessment Centre

Development centres

2 January

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

10 January

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

14 January

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

6 February

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

25 February

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

30 March

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

16 April

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

6 June

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

19 September

Corporate Assessment Accreditation Centre

2009

Date

Recruitment Assessment Centres

11 February

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

6 May

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

4 June

Audit Manager Assessment Centre

11 May

District Auditor Assessment Centre

28 September

District Auditor Assessment Centre

9 July

Finance Manager Assessment Centre

10 July

Finance Manager Assessment Centre

20 November

Finance Manager Assessment Centre

13 January

Graduate Assessment Centre

26 January

Graduate Assessment Centre

26 January

Graduate Assessment Centre

11 February

Graduate Assessment Centre

13 February

Graduate Assessment Centre

27 March

Graduate Assessment Centre

30 July

Graduate Assessment Centre

30 July

Graduate Assessment Centre

27 August

Graduate Assessment Centre

8 June

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

29 June

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

17 July

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

28 August

Performance Specialists—Benefits Assessment Centre

14 May

Senior Audit Manager Assessment Centre

Training event

23 February

Knowledge Sharing Session

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 5 February 2010, Official Report, column 624W, on the Audit Commission, what the cost to the public purse was of each of the employment tribunal cases, including any settlement payments. [324823]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Steve Bundred dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question has been passed to me to reply.

Seven employment tribunal claims have been brought against the Commission by members of staff or former staff in the last four years. The grounds of dispute, outcome and settlement payments in each case are outlined below.

1. A former employee argued that dismissal on grounds of redundancy was unfair. The matter was settled on cost efficiency grounds in the sum of £5000.

2. A former employee disputed the amount of holiday pay owed by the Commission on termination of employment. The Tribunal dismissed the claim. Counsel's fees were £778.

3. A former employee alleged breach of contract relating to an agreement to make payment in lieu of notice (PILON). The claim was settled for a nominal amount. Settlement and Counsel's costs were £1250.

4. A former employee brought a claim against the Commission for failure to make an ill-health retirement recommendation to the Commission's Pension Scheme Trustees. The claim was withdrawn with no Counsel or settlement costs.

5. A former employee argued that dismissal on grounds of redundancy was unfair. The claim was withdrawn with no Counsel or settlement costs.

6. Nine members of staff brought a claim against the Commission for equal pay. The claim was upheld by the Employment Tribunal and is the subject to an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Counsel's costs to date for hearing and appeal are £29,200. This case is ongoing.

7. A former employee has brought claims against the Commission for unfair dismissal, race discrimination, disability discrimination and other related claims. The claims are yet to be heard and are fully contested by the Commission. Counsel's costs to date are £850. This claim is ongoing.

These figures do not include costs associated with managing claims by Commission officers as this information is not collected.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 5 February 2010, Official Report, columns 624-28W, on the Audit Commission, whether the Audit Commission has made payments to City Inn Westminster in the last five years. [324832]

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This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the Chief Executive of the Audit Commission to write to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 29 March 2010:

Your Parliamentary Question was passed to the Chief Executive who has asked me to reply in his absence.

The Audit Commission has made the following payments to the City Inn Westminster in the last five years:

£

2005-06

45,955.29

2006-07

40,318.46

2007-08

45,237.07

2008-09

157,402.42

2009-10

117,715.52

Note:

Expotel data before April 2006 has been excluded from the 2005-06 total as this information has been archived and was not accessible in time for the response.

Payments increased in 2008/09 as the City Inn Westminster rates decreased in comparison to alternative hotels, making the City Inn a more cost effective option. The City Inn was then added to Expotel.

A copy of this letter will be placed in Hansard.