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Further Hansard excavations

No wonder the F&CO is 'the envy of the world' - it moves so quickly and gives away its negotiating stances:

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects negotiations with the Crown Estates Commissioners on his Department's lease on 1 Carlton Gardens to be completed.

Chris Bryant: We expect negotiations to be completed by December 2009.

I trust the CEC's lawyers will have some fun wirh that information.

Mind you, elsewhere we have further evidence of someone who has not really got the hang of this forward planning malarkey, the one and only, le seul et unique, your friend and mine, Mr Jack Straw:

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much expenditure was incurred by his Department in respect of the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. [278247]

Mr. Straw: I attended the Regional Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. £132—for my return travel by train from Oxenholme Station to Glasgow Central station. There was no further departmental expenditure by the Ministry of Justice in relation to the meeting.

Spring-heeled Jack presumably goes first class - I can live with that - but a quick look at the National Rail site suggests that an advance single can be had for £27 quid. I do not suppose that Brown texted the cabinet suggesting a bunfight in Glasgow was just the thing at 9AM on the day.

Enough of facetiousness, at least for a paragraph or two:

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what timetable his Department has established for introducing the requirement for signatures for the issuing of ballot papers in polling stations.

Mr. Wills: The Government continue to consider how this measure could most effectively be implemented, including timing issues. We will need to ensure that any approach to this issue is aligned with other reforms to the registration and electoral processes. Source

It is a source of some happiness that there is so little fraud at polling stations, considering how little checking of identity goes on. Last week I gave the polling bod my card and was not even asked to confirm my address.

Lead swingers at the top of the food chain:

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many members of the judiciary have been (a) suspended on full pay and (b) on sick pay for over 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Straw: There is one member of the judiciary that has been suspended on full pay and four on sick pay for over 12 months.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to get them to retire?

The nation's cons are spending more time in lockdown:

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how long on average elapsed between prisoners' cells being unlocked in the morning and prisoners being returned to their cells in the evening in each month of the last two years.

In 2007, the average was over 10 hours a day, now it is around nine and a half hours. This, note, is the figure across all lags. Having views on rehabilitation and so on that verge on the dangerously liberal, one does wonder whether the extra 30 + minutes of lockdown is for any reason other than cutting the overtime for the screws.

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many bicycle thefts were reported in each police authority area in each year since 1997.

The police want to speak to these two:

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