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Written Answers

Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 19 March 2003

Transport

Marine Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the number of (a) accidents and (b) fatalities in UK waters in each year since 1997 involving fisheries vessels, where vessel size to power ratio was identified as a contributory factor. [103695]

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport record details of accidents and fatalities involving UK registered vessels or occurring in UK 12 mile territorial waters. They have searched their records and been unable to identify any incidents involving fisheries vessels from 1997 to date where vessel size to power ratio was a contributory factor.

Road Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on reflective strips for builders' skips. [103940]

The British Standards Institution has circulated a first draft of a proposed standard for high performance retroreflective materials, and is currently preparing a revised version taking account of the technical comments received. The Department intends, once the British Standard has been published, to consult on the proposal that local authorities should be able to specify the use of these products on builders' skips, as an alternative to using lamps in conjunction with lower grade retroreflective markings.

Road User Charging

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the illustrative (a) constant motoring costs and additional investment, (b) wider take up of local charging powers and (c) limited inter-urban charging scenarios, and the three illustrative scenarios combined, from the original 10-year plan have not been repeated using the new transport model; and how much he estimates it would cost the Department in (i) monetary terms and (ii) departmental manpower to carry them out. [103055]

There are several reasons why the scenarios have not been replicated. Our new National Transport Model is different to the one used for the original 10-year plan in a number of ways—including its multi-modal approach, more recent data and revised assumptions. Given this, attempting to replicate the scenarios would not provide us with useful information on the comparative performance of the two models. In addition, the information and assumptions on which the original scenarios were based has now been superseded, so the scenarios themselves would not be directly comparable.The limited information which would be gleaned means that replicating the identical scenarios has not been a priority for the modelling team. To date, and for the foreseeable future, run time is dedicated to priority work being undertaken as part of the review and roll forward of the 10-year plan. I have not estimated what the monetary costs would be, but due to the complexity of the model runs, the scenarios could take up to two weeks to produce, at the expense of urgent work required for the review and roll forward of the Plan.

Air Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what measures the Safety Regulation Group takes to ensure that (a) flight crew and (b) air traffic controllers are not subject to harassment after submitting safety related reports (i) within and (ii) outside the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting Scheme; [103571](2) what measures the Safety Regulation Group has taken to ensure that

(a) flight crew and (b) air traffic controllers are able to comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998;[103574]

(3) how many times the Safety Regulation Group has revoked an air traffic controller's licence having received (a) an Overload Report and (b) a mandatory occurrence report;[103573]

(4) what steps the Safety Regulation Group takes to verify the (a) accuracy and (b) objectivity of the air traffic controller (i) Overload Report and (ii) mandatory occurrence reports.[103570]

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is included in the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999 in respect of

"compliance with the requirements of civil aviation legislation, including aviation safety".
The CAA's Secretary and Legal Adviser is the first point of contact for those who wish to make a qualifying disclosure to CAA. Contact details are given in the Department of Trade and Industry Guide to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.Any reports received by the CAA under the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting Scheme are distributed only to a Department with a direct interest in the content of that report and the anonymity of the author will be retained throughout. Any individual who considers that they have been harassed as a result of submitting a report to the CAA may make a complaint to the CAA.Reports submitted outside the Mandatory Occurrence Scheme include those submitted by flight crew to the UK Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP). This programme provides a confidential reporting system for all individuals employed in or associated with the industries. In addition, the CAA meets annually with representatives of the British Airline Pilots Association where pilots' concerns may be raised in complete confidentiality and anonymity. And Air Traffic Controllers may, if they wish, file confidential reports directly to SRG.The CAA is aware that an Overload or Mandatory Occurrence Report submitted by a controller may be written subjectively. Therefore, CAA requires that each Air Traffic Control Unit has a process in place which undertakes local investigations of such reports to verify their accuracy and objectivity.The CAA has not revoked any Air Traffic Controller's Licence as a result of receiving an Overload or Mandatory Occurrence Report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many unannounced inspections the Safety Regulation Group has carried out on civil air traffic control units within the last 30 months. [103572]

The Safety Regulation Group has not carried out any unannounced inspections of civil air traffic control units within the last 30 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether all the senior managers at the Safety Regulation Group have attained relevant qualifications required for their civil role and responsibilities; [103685](2) how many senior managers have been employed by the Safety Regulation Group over the last 30 months who had

(a) a solely civil aviation background and (b) a solely military aviation background;[103686]

(3) how many senior managers are employed by the Safety Regulation Group; and how many of these senior managers have (a) a civil aviation background and (b) a military aviation background. [103684]

The Safety Regulation Group employs 43 senior managers. Of these:

28 have a civil aviation background
7 have a military aviation background
8 have both a civil and a military background
No senior managers have been recruited to the Safety Regulation Group from external sources over the last 30 months.All senior managers at the Safety Regulation Group are selected and appointed on the basis of objective judgment as to their suitability for the role, with regard to qualifications, experience, knowledge and competence.

Internal Telephone Directory

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the most recent internal phone directory for the Department was published; how often it is updated; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [101784]

The Department's internal directory is held electronically and is continuously updated. The last paper copy produced was in November 2001 for the then DTLR. A copy will not therefore be placed in the Library.

London Underground

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 6 March, Official Report, column 1159W, on London Underground, what the period is of the contract with the London Underground PPP Infrastructure Consortia; what the break and reassessment periods are; and if he will make a statement. [103447]

The full period in the contracts is 30 years. Periodic reviews are provided for at 7.5 year intervals.

National Transport Model

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many officials work on the National Transport Model. [103057]

Nine officials work directly on the development, maintenance and application of the National Transport Model.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers travelled on the Great Western line in 2002 between (a) London Paddington and Reading and (b) Reading and London Paddington (i) each weekday on average, (ii) each weekend on average and (iii) on each day that the Reading Festival took place. [103356]

The information is not available in the form requested. The Strategic Rail Authority publishes annual passenger journey figures for each Train Operating Company in its Annual Report, a copy of which is placed in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the 10 locations of greatest railway congestion, indicating how many trains pass per hour in each 1-hour period between 6 am and 10 pm on a typical weekday (a) in total and (b) per available track. [102256]

[holding answer 11 March 2003]: There is no one standard method of measuring congestion.The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is developing Route Utilisation Strategies whose purpose is to identify the best overall use of the network. The SRA's Capacity Utilisation statement of principles, published in December 2002, has been placed in the House Libraries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what discussions he has had with the Strategic Rail Authority regarding the announcement of the draft specifications for the new arrangements for the Thames Trains franchise due to commence in April and May 2004; and if he will make a statement; [103297](2) what discussions he has had with the Strategic Rail Authority on plans for Great Western timetable restructuring in 2004; and if he will make a statement. [103324]

My right hon. Friend has regular contact with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) on the full range of its activities. The SRA is considering the process for the replacement of the current Thames Trains franchise, which expires on 31 March 2004. The Great Western timetable is likely to change following the Great Western Main Line route utilisation strategy, which is expected to be implemented in 2004.

Rosyth

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many lorry movements he expects to divert from Hull to Rosyth as a result of his Department's grant assistance for new RO-RO facilities in Rosyth. [103839]

My Department's grant award to Forth Ports plc, Rosyth was predicated on the substantial environmental benefits which will arise through the saving of over 400,000 long distance lorry movements between Scotland and English ports over the next 10 years. It is estimated that around 40 per cent. of these movements would otherwise have passed through the port of Hull.

Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans Ministers in the Department have to (a) visit Scotland on official business, (b) announce public appointments and (c) make ministerial announcements in April. [103662]

Departmental business during the campaign period preceding elections to the Scottish Parliament will be conducted in accordance with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments in respect of elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, published by the Cabinet Office on 10 March.

Traffic Estimates

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the estimates of traffic in 2000 will not be agreed until May 2003. [103056]

A re-assessment of the traffic figures, which began in 2002, has been a major exercise, but is now nearing completion. It is expected that the revised estimates for all years will be ready for the next Road Traffic Statistics Quarterly Bulletin due to be published on Thursday 8 May. This will be in accordance with the new National Statistics protocol on Release Practices, which requires the publication of revised estimates as soon as these are available.

Treasury

Armed Forces (Gratuities)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to tax the gratuity which a member of the Armed Forces receives upon leaving. [103180]

The current pensions simplification consultation document proposes that tax free lump sums paid from pensions schemes will only be available after the minimum age of 55. The Government is considering separately the position of members of the Armed Forces pension scheme in light of this proposal.

Child/Working Families Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to publish take-up figures for the child tax credit and the working families tax credit. [102990]

Statistics on the Child and Working Tax Credit will be published quarterly, beginning in August 2003. The first set of statistics will cover awards at early July 2003.

Foreign Investment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps has he taken to increase the level of UK private investment in less developed countries. [103522]

The Chancellor has supported a range of initiatives to encourage foreign direct investment in developing countries. These include supporting the creation of new Investment Advisory Councils in developing countries which bring together public and private sectors together build a consensus, in the light of regional conditions, on how to secure higher levels of investment.Additionally, the UK government provides funding through DfID for a joint project between the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). The project aims to encourage the private sector to work with the NEPAD programme of action, and stimulate the increased domestic and foreign investment required for NEPAD to succeed.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from (a) business groups and (b) development organisations regarding private investment in developing countries. [103523]

The Government views the creation of favourable business environments in developing countries as an important driver for growth and development. To this end Ministers regularly meet with a wide range of academics, business leaders and NGOs. Both the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development recently addressed a government sponsored international conference on 'Financing Sustainable Development, Poverty Reduction and the Private Sector'.

Fuel Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the impact on road traffic levels he estimates would be from (a) a decrease in petrol duty by 5p a litre, (b) a decrease in petrol duty by 10p a litre, (c) an increase in petrol duty by 5p a litre, (d) an increase in petrol duty by 10p a litre, (e) an increase in petrol duty by 20p a litre and (f) an increase in petrol duty by 50p a litre; and what he estimates the change to revenues to the Treasury would be from (a) to (f). [102476]

I have been asked to reply.We are unable to estimate the impact on traffic of a change in the duty on petrol alone. The estimated effect of a 5p per litre reduction in duty on both petrol and diesel together, based on provisional traffic data for 2002, is to increase traffic levels by around 5.1 billion vehicle kilometres. Similarly, the estimated effect of increasing fuel duties by 5p per litre is to reduce traffic levels by 5.1 billion vehicle kilometres. Successive changes of 5p per litre in fuel duties are estimated to have effects of broadly the same magnitude, although the larger the change the greater the likely error in predicting its effects.The impacts on revenue can be estimated from Table 6 in "Tax Ready Reckoner and Tax Reliefs", November 2002, published by HM Treasury.

Iraq

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to increase the funding available to the Department for International Development to prepare for the humanitarian consequences of war with Iraq; and what contingency planning he has made to increase the funding available to the Department for International Development for this purpose. [100263]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much additional funding has been given to the Department for International Development to help it prepare for and respond to the humanitarian consequences of war in Iraq. [102044]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what funding has been earmarked for humanitarian relief in (a) Iraq and (b) its neighbours. [103943]

The Government have not yet made any firm estimates of the likely costs of humanitarian and reconstruction needs in Iraq if there was to be military action. The UK Government believe that the role of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions will be vital in addressing the reconstruction in Iraq if military action is taken. The UK Government will be fully involved in any humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Iraq, alongside our international partners.

Landfill Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his statement of 3 February, Official Report, column 5WS, on the landfill tax credit scheme, to what extent the transitional funding is adequate to cover all eligible claims for transitional funding in England; and who will decide, and how, which of competing eligible claims receives funding. [103506]

As my Statement of 3 February Official Report, column 7WS, made clear, the transitional funding is being administered by Entrust, the regulating body of the landfill tax credit scheme, on behalf of DEFRA. An Independent Assessment Panel decides whether projects in England meet the criteria set out in the Statement. All projects which meet the eligibility criteria will receive transition funding.

Ministerial Travel

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list internal flights made by Ministers in his Department in 2002, including in each case the (a) cost, (b) departure location and (c) destination; and of these how many were (i) first class, (ii) business class and (iii) economy class. [103581]

As to flights taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 27 February 2003, Official Report, column 694W. With regard to flights taken by other Treasury Ministers, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 334W.

Royal Households

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to ask the Inland Revenue to investigate the remuneration policies of the Royal households. [103824]

The tax affairs of the Royal Households and their employees are confidential in the same way as those of other taxpayers. Exemption 15 (Statutory and other restrictions) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies.

Scotland

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans Ministers in the Department have to (a) visit Scotland on official business, (b) announce public appointments and (c) make ministerial announcements in April. [103651]

Departmental business during the campaign period preceding elections to the Scottish Parliament will be conducted in accordance with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments in respect of elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, published by the Cabinet Office on 10 March.

Tax Incentives

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has commissioned into the effect tax incentives may have on the level of UK private investment in less developed countries. [103521]

The UK Government believes that the establishment of a good overall investment climate, rather than the use of tax incentives, is the most effective way of encouraging more productive private investment in developing countries. Through the Department for International Development the UK funds two research centres which conduct research into issues relating to private investment in developing countries.

Tobacco/Drink Vat Revenues

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the VAT revenue received from (a) advertising cigarettes, tobacco and related products and (b) advertising wine, spirits, beer and related products in each year since 1996. [103425]

Any VAT relating to the advertising of tobacco or alcohol products will have been recoverable by VAT-registered purchasers of the advertising services. Therefore, such advertising has had no direct effect on VAT revenues.The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 bans most advertising of tobacco products.

Cabinet Office

Policy Unit

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many civil servants employed by (a) the Strategy Unit, (b) the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit, (c) the Office of the e-Envoy, (d) the Office of Public Services Reform and (e) the Prime Minister's Policy Unit have been (i) members of the Labour Party, (ii) employees of the Labour Party and (iii) employees of Labour hon. Members. [103065]

The rules relating to the involvement of civil servants in political activities are set out in the "Civil Service Management Code". There is no requirement for Departments to collect information on civil servants' membership of political parties. Information relating to civil servants' previous employment is not maintained centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Civil Service

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent assessment he has made of the efficiency of the Civil Service; and if he will make a statement. [101277]

Government Departments are already subject to a range of similar external checks and disciplines:

performance of departments in delivering their PSA targets is assessed regularly by the Cabinet Committee on public services (PSX);
departments are required to publish details of performance twice a year through departmental reports and the new autumn performance reports. These are subject to scrutiny through Parliament's departmental select committees;
overall performance of departments is assessed every two years through the Spending Reviews when new budgets and targets are set;
the Head of the Home Civil Service will be holding regular meetings with heads of departments to discuss progress on 'departmental change programmes'. The personal performance of individual Permanent Secretaries is also reviewed annually through the Permanent Secretaries' Remuneration Committee;
the National Audit Office undertakes a programme of detailed value for money studies covering the activities of each departments, and Accounting Officers may be called before the Public Accounts Committee;
the management of individual projects is subject to detailed scrutiny through the 'gateway' process led by the Office of Government Commerce.
Taken together these processes provide substantial pressure for the improvement of performance, and a high degree of accountability and transparency.

Forward Strategy Unit

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people work in the Forward Strategy Unit; what issues it is looking at; what its running costs were in (a) 2002–03 and (b) 2003–04; and if he will make a statement.[99884]

The (Prime Minister's) Forward Strategy Unit is no longer in operation. In June 2002 it was merged with the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) and the Policy Studies Directorate of the Centre for Management and Policy Studies (CMPS), to create the Strategy Unit (SU).The staffing of the Strategy Unit varies according to its work programme. It is currently around 90 full-time equivalents.The Strategy Unit carries out long-term strategic reviews and policy analysis, which can take several forms:

long-term strategic reviews of major areas oft policy;
studies of cross-cutting policy issues;
strategic audit; and
working with departments to promote strategic thinking and improve policy making across Whitehall.

The unit is also leading on work to maintain the quality and standards of government social research.

Current Strategy Unit projects include:

Ethnic minorities and the labour market;
Alcohol harm reduction;
Costs and benefits of GM crops;
Local Government in the future;
London;
Drugs (jointly with the Home Office).

There are more details of the unit's past and present work on its website: www.strategy.gov.uk

  • (a)The estimated out-turn for the Strategy Unit's running costs in 2002–03 is £6,966,000.
  • (b) Budgets have yet to be set for 2003–04.
  • Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

    Dolphins

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent estimates the Government has made of dolphin bycatch deaths in UK fishing waters; [102789](2)what measures the Government plans to introduce to reduce incidents of dolphin bycatch by UK fishing boats. [102761]

    The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) on behalf of Defra has carried out sample surveys of fisheries implicated in the bycatch of dolphins. These surveys have indicated a problem in the offshore bass fishery where the pair trawling teams monitored caught dolphins at a rate of approximately one every three hauls. However, bycatch information from other member states whose vessels operate in this fishery and elsewhere in UK waters is not available so it is not possible to produce reliable estimates of dolphin bycatch deaths in UK waters.This reinforces the need for action on the part of all member states involved in the fisheries concerned and the Commission if measures to reduce dolphin deaths are to be effective. This is why we raised the need for urgent action at the January Council of Ministers' meeting. I have also raised this issue with Commissioner Fischler on a number of occasions both in writing and in personal contacts. I have also recently written to the Commission to press for urgent action to widen observer coverage off the South West coast where a number of other Member States' vessels fish. I was pleased that the Commission included a commitment to take action in this area in papers produced as part of the recent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. I am looking for positive action on this in response to our recent approaches.In the meantime, Defra has also committed some £140,000 for trials into the use of exclusion devices developed by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)to reduce the bycatch of cetaceans in the offshore bass fishery. I will also, along with the devolved administrations, shortly be issuing a consultation document outlining a UK bycatch response strategy. This will set out the extent of our knowledge of bycatch in UK waters and make proposals for action to address the bycatch problem. The document will be laid in the Library of the House and I will ensure that my hon. Friend receives a personal copy.

    Fur Farming

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what additional financial assistance will be given to those who previously fur farmed. [103820]

    Number and percentage of households in fuel poverty
    199619982001
    Number of households (thousands)PercentageNumber of households (thousands)PercentageNumber of households (thousands)Percentage
    North East33131.028026.310610.2
    England4,28721.83,27816.41,7618.6

    Auditing

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to require auditors to owe a duty of care to individuals who are shareholders at the date of the audit report. [100916]

    The Company Law Review carefully considered the arguments for and against extending by statute those to whom a company's auditors owe a duty of care. The Final Report concluded, in the light of responses to consultation, that the case for statutory extension had not been made out and that negligence law in this field was best left to the normal process of case law. The Government is considering this recommendation as part of the wider issue of auditor liability.

    Computer Contracts (Iraq)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what export regulations apply to the computer and computer maintenance contracts between ICL/Fujitsu and the Government of Iraq; when approvals have been given; and if she will make a statement. [102870]

    The export of computers, and goods required for their maintenance, from the UK to Iraq is controlled under the provisions of the Export of Goods (Control) (Iraq and Kuwait Sanctions)Order 1990. In

    Licensed fur farm businesses, which closed down after the Fur Farming (Prohibition)Act 2000 received Royal Assent, will be able to claim compensation. A compensation scheme will be drawn up under the Act to provide payment for certain categories of loss.

    Trade And Industry

    Fuel Poverty

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many households in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK were in fuel poverty on (i) 1 February 1997 and (ii) 1 February 2003. [103557]

    The Government published "The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy Pt Annual Progress Report" on March 2003. This showed that the number of households in fuel poverty in the UK is estimated to have fallen from about 5½ million in 1996 to about 3 million in 2001.The available information on fuel poverty in the is set out as follows. Figures are not available centrally for the Jarrow constituency or for South Tyneside.addition, a UK company might require an individual licence to communicate, before entering into a contract to supply goods or services to Iraq, if the business they wished to discuss was not covered by the provisions of the Open General Licence to Communicate dated 19 November 1998.The details of export licence applications from particular companies are normally commercially confidential and exempt from disclosure under exemptions 13 and 14 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. However, details of export licence applications from ICL, to export computer systems to Iraq prior to the imposition of UN sanctions in August 1990, were published in the 1996 Report of the Inquiry into the Export of Defence Equipment and Dual-Use Goods to Iraq and Related Prosecutions. A copy of the 1996 Scott Report is available from the Libraries of the House.We have not been able to identify any export licence application from ICL or Fujitsu, to supply computers or related equipment to Iraq, since 2 May 1997.

    Correspondence

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Minister for e-Commerce and Competitiveness will reply to the letter of the hon. Member for Wrexham of 27 November. [104003]

    Disabled People

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what help is given to disabled people collecting benefits from post offices. [103558]

    Compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act at any specific post office location is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. in respect of Crown offices and the individual sub-postmaster in respect of sub-post offices. I have been informed by Post Office Ltd. that sub-postmasters have been provided with packs enabling them to audit their own offices for Disability Discrimination Act compliance and that advice will be provided by POL throughout the process.

    Energy White Paper

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her Answer of 7 March 2003, Official Report, column 1290W, on the Energy White Paper, if she will place a copy of the nuclear and radiological skills study in the Library; what the URL is for the report on her Department's website; and if she will publish the (a) names and (b) affiliations of the members of the task group. [103306]

    Copies of the report of the nuclear and radiological skills study have been placed in the Library of the House and are also available on the DTI website at http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/nuclear/sldlls/nsg.shtml The report was produced by a group chaired by Professor John Chesshire and made up of people from the nuclear industry, academics and officials from my Department, the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Health, the Ministry of Defence and the Health and Safety Executive. Full details are listed in the report.

    Fireworks

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to restrict the sale and use of very noisy fireworks; and at what decibel level the restriction will be set. [101014]

    The Firework (Safety) Regulations 1997 prohibited the supply to the general public of aerial shells, shells-in-mortar and some other large and powerful fireworks including the category 4 type.Fireworks meeting these Regulations must comply with BS7114. However, this standard does not set a maximum noise level.As part of the work associated with the Fireworks Bill currently before Parliament, we are considering how best to control the level of noise emitted by fireworks.

    Glass

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many tonnes of (a) green, (b) white and (c) brown glass were imported in each year since 1997. [103338]

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many tonnes of (a) green, (b) white and (c) brown glass were manufactured in the UK in each year since 1997. [103337]

    Hydropower

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the contribution of hydropower on British rivers towards electricity production. [103320]

    The most recent statistics for year ending December 2001 show that hydro-power in the UK has an installed capacity of about 1500 MW which could be expected to produce between 4000 and 5000 Giga Watt Hours of electricity, the actual output being dependent on rainfall.

    Source:

    Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2002 (Published by the Department of Trade & Industry)

    Iraq (Oil)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1)what (a) discussions she has held with and (b) representations she has received from the US Government concerning the exploitation of Iraqi oil following any conflict which leads to regime change; [102750](2)what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues concerning the exploitation of Iraqi oil following a conflict in the Middle East; [102757](3)what discussions she has held with multinational oil companies concerning the exploitation of Iraqi oil following any conflict in the Middle East. [102751]

    It is our position that Iraqi oil is owned by the Iraqi people. Its revenues should be used for the good of the people. We make this clear in all our contacts on the subject.However, the current situation is not about oil, it is about weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi regime deliberately flouting the will of the United Nations.

    Ministerial Meeting

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the meeting between the hon. Member for Leicester, East and the Minister for E-Commerce on 10 March. [103222]

    I met the hon. Member and a delegation representing the textiles and clothing industry in Leicester to discuss issues relating to the industry. I agreed to write to the hon. Member addressing the points raised at the meeting, which I will do shortly.

    Motor Fuel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations she has received advocating an investigation by the Competition Commission into motor fuel (a) retailing and (b) wholesaling. [103046]

    In recent months, we are aware of having received one representation advocating an investigation by the competition authorities into motor fuel retailing or wholesaling.

    Nuclear Exports (India)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether there is a complete embargo on exports of replacement parts for nuclear power stations in India. [103167]

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply from my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on 15 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1298–1300W.A licence will not be issued where there is a clear risk that the items could contribute to weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.

    Office Of Fair Trading

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she plans to replace the computer licensing system at the Office of Fair Trading; and if she will make a statement. [102782]

    Investment in the OFT's computer systems is a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading to decide.

    Pharmacies

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive Department for Health on the report from the Office of Fair Trading on the regulation of pharmacies. [103237]

    [holding answer 17 March 2003]: There have been a number of discussions between this Department and the Scottish Executive Department for Health and Community Care, at Ministerial and official level.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with representatives of the pharmacy profession in Scotland on the Office of Fair Trading report on the regulation of pharmacies. [103285]

    [holding answer 17 March 2003]: Representations have been made to the Department of Health and Community Care at the Scottish Executive. This Department has been made aware of the content of those representations and officials have attended meetings in Scotland to hear the concerns of the profession directly.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to consult the Scottish Executive on the implications of the OFT report on pharmacists. [103178]

    This Department is working co-operatively with health departments in all the devolved Administrations in considering the OFT report on Pharmacy entry controls.

    Public Sector Documents

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the impact on United Kingdom GDP of implementation of the Draft Directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector documents. [101087]

    [holding answer 10 March 2003]: It is too early to say with any certainty what impact the implementation of the Directive will be within the UK, and no estimate has been made, but the proposal, as amended within the Council Working Group and due to be considered at the 27 March Telecoms Council, is broadly consistent with the policy adopted within the UK in 2000. That policy, the result of the Cross-cutting Review of the Knowledge Economy, has meant that most central Government information is now licensed for re-use on a marginal cost basis, which in practical terms generally means free of charge. The UK reserved the right of Trading Funds, such as Ordnance Survey and the Met Office, to charge for their documents in a way that would allow them to obtain a reasonable return on investment, and that latitude is reflected in the Directive.If the text is adopted, any effect on GDP would be from the easier re-use of European documents. This would depend on the extent to which UK companies and others took advantage of it. A provisional estimate carried out by Pira International for the European Commission in 2000 suggested that the annual economic benefit for the European Union as a whole would be between 28 billion Euro and 134 billion Euro.

    Security (Nuclear Power Stations)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a further statement on the incursion by protesters into the Sizewell B nuclear plant on 13 January in respect of allegations that a serious breach of security occurred. [103025]

    I have nothing to add to the Statement I made on 28 February 2003, Official Report, columns 56-57WS, and to the Statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business on 14 January 2003, Official Report, columns 547–50.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what research she has undertaken to ascertain the effects of a worst case scenario terrorist attack on Sizewell A and B Power stations; [102846](2)what assessment she has made of recent research into

    (a) the number of fatalities and (b) the other consequences that could arise as a result of terrorist attack on a nuclear power station. [102845]

    The Government have undertaken an assessment of potential terrorist acts against all civil nuclear power stations. The results are not published on the grounds that the information would be of value to potential terrorists.There are well tried and tested contingency plans for dealing with the aftermath of an accident, terrorist attack or other incident affecting a nuclear power station. These have been developed over many years and practised regularly in a rolling programme of local site-based exercises involving the site operators and the relevant local and national agencies. The lessons of these exercises are taken forward both locally, and nationally through the DTI-chaired Nuclear Emergency Planning Liaison Group.

    Tidal Energy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received about the development of tidal energy lagoons off (a) the Welsh coast and (b) elsewhere in the UK. [103318]

    My Department has received a number of representations from one organisation regarding a tidal lagoon project in the UK.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate she has made of the cost of power from (a) waves, (b) tidal stream, (c) tidal barrage and (d) tidal lagoons. [103446]

    A number of claims have been made about the cost of power from these technologies but as they have not yet been demonstrated as proven and reliable methods of electricity generation such estimates are speculative.The exceptions to this are tidal barrage on which much work has been done in the past, particularly in respect of the Severn Barrage and tidal stream. A recent review of the Severn Scheme showed previous conclusions that such projects are uneconomic compared with other forms of electricity generation were unchanged.In 2001 a study

    * which re-examined the commercial prospects for tidal stream power did make some cost estimates based on a single device concept. The likely cost of energy from this device were estimated in the range 4–6 p/kWh. However these are very tentative since the concept has yet to be demonstrated.

    * The Commercial Prospects for Tidal Stream Power DTI/Pub URN 0I/1011

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the feasibility of offshore tidal power generation. [103316]

    In 2001 a study was commissioned which re-examined the commercial prospects for tidal stream power*. The UK is at the forefront of development of technologies which harness this potential although this form of generation has yet to be shown to be commercial.

    * The Commercial Prospects for Tidal Stream Power DTI/Pub URN 01/1011

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the potential of tidal energy lagoons to provide renewable energy in the UK. [103317]

    Tidal lagoons as with other forms of large scale barrage have potential to contribute to the UK's renewable energy targets. However, these schemes have a very substantial impact on the environment and in the case of lagoons their economics have yet to be demonstrated.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the role that non-barrage tidal power electricity generation could play in achieving renewable energy targets. [103529]

    The recent Energy White Paper acknowledged the potential contribution that tidal power technologies could make to achieving the Government's longer term renewable energy goals. In 2001 a study was commissioned which re-examined the commercial prospects for tidal stream power*.

    * The Commercial Prospects for Tidal Stream Power DTI/Pub URN 01/1011

    Veterans' Day

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will institute an annual holiday early in November, to be called Veterans' Day, in honour of those who have given their life in defence of the country. [103192]

    The Government have no plans at present to increase the number of bank holidays.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Cyprus

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he plans to have with member states of the European Union on the role the Union will play in future negotiations regarding Cyprus. [102375]

    Regrettably, it has not proven possible to secure a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus in time for a reunited island to sign the Treaty of Accession with the European Union on 16 April. As decided by the Copenhagen European Council, Cyprus will accede with the a cquis suspended in the north of the island. The Commission will, in consultation with the government of Cyprus, consider ways of promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the Union. The UK and the EU remain committed tc efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement within the framework of the UN Secretary-General's proposals of 26 February. However, as Mr. Annan made clear in his concluding statement in The Hague, an opportunity like the one so recently missed is unlikely to recur for some time.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1)what the source was of the material provided to UNSCOM about Iraq's attempts to obtain nuclear material in Africa; and if he will make a statement; [103861](2)if he will publish the evidence provided to UNSCOM that Iraq has tried to procure nuclear material in Africa. [103862]

    The material provided was principally based upon intelligence reporting. It is not Government policy to disclose information on intelligence matters.

    Israel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call on Israel to disarm its weapons of mass destruction in accordance with United Nations Resolution 687. [103669]

    We regularly urge Israel to resolve international concerns about its nuclear status by acceding to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state and to enter into a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA. We also urge them to sign and ratify all other international treaties relating to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.The UK has consistently supported resolutions in the United Nations calling for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

    Culture, Media And Sport

    English Heritage

    To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the administrative costs were of English Heritage for each Government office of the region in (a) 1999 –2000, (b) 2000–01, (c) 2001–02 and (d) 2002–03. [103290]

    The administrative costs of English Heritage's Regional Offices are shown in the following table.

    Region1999–20002000–012001–022002–03
    East Midlands205,600236,152261,283259,300
    East of England337,300376,036402,077369,460
    London411,400382,638432,483397,140
    North East331,200294,967322,004320,960
    North West124,300147,849173,833153,720
    South East948,200871,9511,010,3441,121,180
    South West821,600574,629661,413639,980
    West Midlands323,100365,103355,959440,540
    Yorkshire483,200622,754670,319575,240

    New Opportunities Fund

    To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the administrative costs were of the New Opportunities Fund for each Government office of the region in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01, (c) 2001–02 and (d) 2002–03. [103292]

    The New Opportunities Fund set up its England regional team in September 2001. The administrative costs in each region were:

    £
    2001–02136,250
    2002–0379,776
    1 Part-year costs

    Sea Angling

    To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the Government's policy towards the promotion of recreational sea angling. [104015]

    The Government does not have responsibility for the promotion of particular sports. The National Federation of Sea Anglers, the sport's governing body, is funded through Sport England for the promotion and development of recreational sea angling.The Joint Angling Governing Bodies (which includes the National Federation of Anglers), with support from Sport England, have launched their plan for the future of the angling, which includes; expanding participation; leading the angling community; improving performance and raising the profile of the sport.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with the National Federation of Sea Angling. [104016]

    I have had no such discussions. However, officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport recently met representatives from a wide range of sea angling interests, including the National Federation of Sea Anglers, along with representatives from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.My officials also meet representatives from all the angling disciplines, including those from the National Federation of Sea Anglers each year at the Angling Summit.

    Sports Facilities

    To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what action she is taking to maintain a national register of sports facilities; and if she will make a statement. [103225]

    My Department has announced our intention to establish an England-wide database of sports facilities. Information on sports facilities in England is currently held by a variety of organisations and a single database will enable more strategic Government investment in those areas and facilities that are most important.Sport England has been working on the development of an England-wide database of sports facilities and have completed the first stage of work on the tendering process.

    Education And Skills

    Careers Guidance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether it is Government policy to make available individual careers guidance to all students at the close of their compulsory school years. [103087]

    Careers education and guidance is available through schools and the Connexions Service to all young people aged 13–19 as and when they need it. Where a young person needs individual careers guidance at the close of their compulsory school years then this is made available.

    Class Sizes

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what average (a) primary and (b) secondary school class sizes were in England in each year from 1980–81 to 2003–04 (planned), (i) broken down by local education authority and (ii) in total; and if he will make a statement. [99820]

    The required information is readily available for 1980, 1985, 1990 and each year from 1995 to 2002. A table giving this information has been placed in the Library.

    Co-Payments

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to introduce co-payments for the public services for which he is responsible; and for which services. [102203]

    The Department for Education and Skills has no plans to introduce further co-payment arrangements, where the recipient of education services contributes to their cost, other than those that have already been published in the recent Higher Education White Paper.

    Connexions Service

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what qualifications mentors working with Connexions are required to have. [103646]

    Connexions Personal Advisers are drawn from a range of professional backgrounds. To be fully qualified they must possess an NVQ level 4 or equivalent in a relevant professional discipline (e.g. careers, youth work, social work) and have attended a bespoke training programme, either Understanding Connexions or the Diploma for Connexions Personal Advisers. Training is accredited by higher education institutions approved by the Connexions Service National Unit.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many mentors are retained in each region by Connexions partnerships; and what his estimate is of how many there will be at the end of 2003. [103649]

    The latest Management Information collected from Partnerships shows that at the end of December 2002 there were 6,399 Connexions Personal Advisers in post. Broken down by region, the figures are as follows:

    RegionPersonal advisers1
    South East608
    London838
    South West731
    East of England450
    West Midlands879
    East Midlands493
    Yorkshire and the Humber799
    North West1,177
    North East424
    1 End December 2002

    Note:

    Data excludes Norfolk and Berkshire Partnerships which started January 2003.

    Source:

    Partnership MI at end December 2002

    The funding provided in the Spending Review 2002 makes provision for this number to rise to almost 10,000 in 2004.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of mentors working with Connexions (a) have been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau and (b) are waiting for their checks to be completed. [103683]

    Although Connexions Partnerships provide us with the numbers of Personal Advisers they have recruited, they are not required to provide data on the numbers who have been subject to List 99 and Criminal Records Bureau checks. To do so would serve no purpose as it is a legal requirement for employers to ensure that all Personal Advisers have been subjected to completed List 99 checks before they can come into direct contact with young people. Collecting information on the numbers checked would only serve to place an unnecessary burden on partnerships.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what rights a parent has to know (a) whether their child is being advised by a mentor from the Connexions service, (b) the name of that mentor, (c) the occasions when meetings have taken place and (d) the subjects that were discussed. [103648]

    Connexions Partnerships will generally advertise the existence of the Connexions service within their locality. In addition, through the Partnership Agreement, Partnerships will work with schools, colleges and other appropriate institutions to make the availability of the Connexions Service known to parents and their sons and daughters; letting them know that it is available to all 13–19 year olds within their school or institution, via various contact points within the community or through the on-line service, Connexions Direct. Connexions Personal Advisers also strongly encourage young people to discuss any Connexions support with their parents but respect the right of the young person not to do so.Partnerships are not obliged to notify parents that their child is actively involved with Connexions—either in one to one sessions with a Personal Adviser or through more general group sessions. The exception to this may be if the Personal Adviser is working with a young person in a school where it has been agreed that the school's confidentiality policy is followed, which may give the parents the right to know this information.All information sharing policies drawn up by Connexions Partnerships must be in accordance with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what contact mentors who have not been security checked by the Criminal Records Bureau are allowed to have with young people. [103647]

    Before being allowed any direct contact with young people—supervised or otherwise—all Personal Advisers must, as a minimum, have been List 99 cleared (a DIES maintained list of people whose employment working with young people has been barred or restricted by the Secretary of State). Partnerships must also carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on all Personal Advisers. However, as List 99 provides robust clearance on child protection issues, Personal Advisers cleared in this way are able to have unsupervised, direct contact with young people while the Criminal Records Bureau check is undertaken.The Financial Memorandum for Connexions Partnerships requires Connexions Partnerships to take all reasonable precautions to avoid employing any person convicted of a criminal offence involving an offence against the person, or an offence involving sexual behaviours, except with the prior written consent of the Secretary of State. Where the Criminal Records Bureau check reveals other such criminal convictions, it is up to the Partnership to decide if they wish to obtain this consent.

    Lower-Income Families

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what definition of lower-income families is used in the White Paper on Higher Education. [103783]

    I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the Member for Birmingham Selly Oak on 6 February, Official Report, column. 358W

    Ministerial Visits

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) schools and (b) universities he and each of his ministerial colleagues have visited in the past 12 months. [102295]

    Ministers have made 152 visits to schools and 30 visits to universities on departmental business since March 2002.

    Short-Listed Suppliers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 25 February, ref 99110, how many short-listed suppliers (a) could and (b) could not meet the terms. [100051]

    There were insufficient companies which met the terms and conditions of the framework exercise to offer an acceptable choice to schools.The decision to abandon the procurement exercise was made in accordance with all appropriate regulations.

    Special Schools

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many special schools have been operating for (a) visually and (b) hearing impaired children in each year since 1995. [102561]

    The following table sets out the number of special schools operating for visually impaired (VI) and hearing impaired (HI) children.

    VI

    HI

    VI/HI/MSI

    Total

    1995244382149
    1996244382149
    1997244382149
    1998244381148
    1999244381148
    2000244380147
    2001244379146
    2002234279144
    2003234279144

    In addition to VI and HI schools the table identifies the special schools that make a combination of provision, which may also include multi-sensory impairment (MSI).

    Truancy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the truancy rates from pupil referral units were in each academic year since 1997. [102559]

    Information on pupil attendance at Pupil Referral Units is not collected centrally.

    Defence

    Anti-Personnel Mines

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions since UK ratification of the Ottawa Treaty on which UK forces personnel have been involved with operations involving the use of anti-personnel mines by other countries. [102361]

    We do not keep records of which other nations use anti-personnel mines. The use of such weapons and compliance with the Ottawa Convention is a matter for individual nations. The United Kingdom's participation in operations with other countries is in full compliance with our obligations under the convention.

    Depleted Uranium

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in the event of military action in Iraq (a) UK and (b) US forces will use tank shells containing depleted uranium. [103670]

    United Kingdom Forces currently deployed to the Gulf have depleted uranium tank munitions available as part of their armoury and will use them if necessary.I am unable to comment on United States Forces' munitions.

    Equipment Stocks

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what stocks his Department holds, broken down by unit, of (a) desert boots, (b) desert clothing, (c) Combat 95 clothing and (d) tents; and if he will make a statement. [102807]

    With regard to boots and clothing, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 27 January 2003, Official Record, column 640W to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch).With regard to tents, units hold only a small quantity of tents for use as administrative and storage facilities. Information on numbers at each unit is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

    European Union

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent the EU is involved in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [103864]

    There is no peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. The role of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is to assist the Afghan Transitional Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its surrounding areas so that the Authority and United Nations' personnel can operate in a secure environment. The deployment of the ISAF is authorised by the United Nations' Security Council Resolution 1444 and the European Union has no role in the Force.

    Exercise Saif Sareea

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to resolve the (a) logistical, (b) communications and (c) equipment failures identified through Exercise Saif Sareea II. [84534]

    [holding answer 2 December 2003]: Exercise Saif Sareea II was a major success and demonstrated, as planned, key elements of the Joint Rapid Reaction concept. Many of the lessons identified have already been implemented including modifications to the challenger 2 Main Battle Tank to improve its performance in desert conditions and an environmental enhancement pack for the AS90 self-propelled gun. In addition, following the successful trial on Exercise Saif Sareea II Personal Role Radios have been issued to all those ground forces deployed to Kuwait who could potentially be involved in combat.

    Hms Albion And Bulwark

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost of building HMS Albion and Bulwark was; what their initial expected in-service date with the Royal Navy was; what his estimate of their actual building cost is; whether any additional cost will be met by the Government; and if he will make a statement. [102415]

    The maximum estimated cost to the Ministry of Defence at contract award of the Landing Platform Dock (Replacement) programme was £819 million, including the associated landing craft; the current estimated cost to the MOD is £790 million. The Prime Contractor has reported losses on the LPD(R) programme but there will be no additional costs to the MOD under the contract. It would not be appropriate to disclose an estimate of the actual cost to the Prime Contractor as the extent of their cost overrun is commercially confidential; I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.The planned in-service dates were originally March 2002 for HMS Albion and March 2003 for HMS Bulwark.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British aircraft participated in recent coalition attacks on Iraqi ground positions; and if he will make a statement. [101594]

    British aircraft continue to respond to threats from Iraqi forces while patrolling the no fly zone.

    Military Forces Training

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those countries whose military forces have been provided with training in the United Kingdom since 1997. [103464]

    Between January 1997 and March 2003 the Ministry of Defence has provided training in the United Kingdom to members of the military forces of 134 countries. A complete list of countries that have trained in the UK follows:

  • 1. Abu Dhabi
  • 2. Albania
  • 3. Algeria
  • 4. Angola
  • 5. Antigua
  • 6. Antigua and Barbuda
  • 7. Argentina
  • 8. Armenia
  • 9. Australia
  • 10. Austria
  • 11. Azerbaijan
  • 12. Bahamas
  • 13. Bahrain
  • 14. Bangladesh
  • 15. Barbados
  • 16. Belarus
  • 17. Belgium
  • 18. Belize
  • 19. Bermuda
  • 20. Bosnia
  • 21. Botswana
  • 22. Brazil
  • 23. Brunei
  • 24. Bulgaria
  • 25. Canada
  • 26. Cayman Islands
  • 27. Chile
  • 28. China
  • 29. Colombia
  • 30. Croatia
  • 31. Czech Republic
  • 32. Denmark
  • 33. Ecuador
  • 34. Egypt
  • 35. El Salvador
  • 36. Estonia
  • 37. Ethiopia
  • 38. Fiji
  • 39. Finland
  • 40. France
  • 41. Gambia
  • 42. Georgia
  • 43. Germany
  • 44. Ghana
  • 45. Greece
  • 46. Grenada
  • 47. Guatemala
  • 48. Guyana
  • 49. Honduras
  • 50. Hong Kong
  • 51. Hungary
  • 52. Iceland
  • 53. India
  • 54. Indonesia
  • 55. Ireland
  • 56. Israel
  • 57. Italy
  • 58. Jamaica
  • 59. Japan
  • 60. Jordan
  • 61. Kazakhstan
  • 62. Kenya
  • 63. Kosovo
  • 64. Kuwait
  • 65. Kyrghistan
  • 66. Latvia
  • 67. Lebanon
  • 68. Lithuania
  • 69. Luxembourg
  • 70. Macedonia
  • 71. Malawi
  • 72. Malaysia
  • 73. Maldives
  • 74. Malta
  • 75. Mauritania
  • 76. Mauritius
  • 77. Mexico
  • 78. Moldova
  • 79. Morocco
  • 80. Mozambique
  • 81. Namibia
  • 82. Nepal
  • 83. Netherlands
  • 84. New Zealand
  • 85. Nicaragua
  • 86. Nigeria
  • 87. Norway
  • 88. Oman
  • 89. Pakistan
  • 90. Papua New Guinea
  • 91. Paraguay
  • 92. Peru
  • 93. Philippines
  • 94. Poland
  • 95. Portugal
  • 96. Qatar
  • 97. Romania
  • 98. Russia
  • 99. Rwanda
  • 100. Saudi Arabia
  • 101. Senegal
  • 102. Seychelles
  • 103. Sierra Leone
  • 104. Singapore
  • 105. Slovakia
  • 106. Slovenia
  • 107. South Africa
  • 108. South Korea
  • 109. Spain
  • 110. Sri Lanka
  • 111. St. Christopher and Nevis
  • 112. St. Lucia
  • 113. St. Vincent
  • 114. Swaziland
  • 115. Sweden
  • 116. Switzerland
  • 117. Syria
  • 118. Tanzania
  • 119. Thailand
  • 120. Tonga
  • 121. Trinidad and Tobago
  • 122. Turkey
  • 123. Uganda
  • 124. Ukraine
  • 125. United Arab Emirates
  • 126. Uruguay
  • 127. USA
  • 128. Uzbekistan
  • 129. Venezuela
  • 130. Vietnam
  • 131. Yemen
  • 132. Yugoslavia
  • 133. Zambia
  • 134. Zimbabwe
  • Mines

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence from what sources mines retained for training purposes as permitted under the Ottawa Treaty have been procured; and to what purposes they have been put. [101297]

    Mines retained for permitted purposes under the Ottawa Convention were kept from previous operational stocks and small numbers of different types have been procured from various sources. These have been declared in the United Kingdom's annual return to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in accordance with Article 7 of the Ottawa Convention.Retained mines have been used for training in mine detection, mine clearance and mine destruction techniques as permitted in Article 3 of the Ottawa Convention. Specific purposes include: training explosive and mine detection dogs; training military and civilian mine clearance personnel; making relevant training films, videos, and posters; testing and trials of mine clearance devices; and testing and trials of protective clothing and equipment.

    Weapons (Private Contractors)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether surplus or redundant (a) small arms and (b) light weapons are (i) given and (ii) sold by the Department to private contractors. [103308]

    No surplus small arms or light weapons have been gifted to private contractors. No surplus small arms have been sold to private contractors in the last three years. Surplus light weapons would only be sold (via the Ministry of Defence's Disposal Services Agency) to the original equipment manufacturer in support of an export order.

    Wales

    Airports

    7.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly regarding assistance for regional airports. [102974]

    I have regular discussions with the First Minister on many issues including the role of airports throughout Wales.

    Economic Development (North Wales)

    8.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly about economic development in North Wales. [102975]

    I have regular discussions with the Assembly's First Minister about economic development matters across Wales.

    Higher Education

    9.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales on widening participation in higher education, with particular reference to student funding. [102976]

    Regular ones, and with the Assembly Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.

    13.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he held with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales regarding tuition fees before the publication of the Government's White Paper on higher education. [102980]

    The First Minister and I have been in close contact about the future of student funding in Wales and will continue to work with the Secretary for State for Education and Skills over the coming months.

    National Health Service

    10.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the National Assembly for Wales about the state of the national health service in Wales. [102977]

    I regularly meet the Assembly Minister for Health to discuss health matters in Wales.

    Contaminated Land (Cynon Valley)

    11.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has discussed (a) the contaminated Phurnacite land in the Cynon Valley with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales and (b) action to be taken in respect of the land. [102978]

    I have regular discussions with the First Minister. I am aware of my hon. Friend's concerns regarding this land and I am pleased to tell her that the Feasibility Task Group is meeting today to consider the specifications for `treatability tests'.

    Pay Equality

    12.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and the National Assembly for Wales on the pay gap between men and women in Wales. [102979]

    Agriculture

    14.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary about the future of the agricultural industry in Wales. [102981]

    My right hon. Friend has regular meetings with the First Secretary and I meet the Assembly Agriculture Secretary and DEFRA Ministers to discuss a variety of issues, including the future of the agriculture industry in Wales.

    Minimum Wage

    15.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues about the impact of the national minimum wage in Wales. [102982]

    I have frequent contact with Ministerial colleagues and around 60,000 people stood to benefit from the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in Wales in April 1999 with around 80,000 people benefiting from the last major uprating in October 2001.

    Prime Minister

    Eu Regional Policy

    To ask the Prime Minister which Minister is leading on the revision of EU regional policy post-2006; if he will place in the Library a statement on the Cabinet Committee arrangements to deal with this issue; and if he will make a statement of the Government's policy. [103417]

    The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry leads on EU Structural Funds. The Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for policy on the English regions, as well as central oversight of devolution. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for matters concerning the EC budget and the European Investment Bank. All three Ministers share responsibility for the PSA target on improving the economic performance of the English Regions.The European Policy (EP) Committee is the Cabinet committee responsible for the issue. Details on the composition of the Committee are in the Libraries of the House and are published on the Cabinet Office website.The Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry published a paper on 6 March entitled `A Modern Regional Policy for the United Kingdom', which launched a joint consultation on the future of EU Structural Funds.

    Iraq

    To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to publish amendments to his assessment in the document `Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction' presented to the House in September 2002 arising from the evidence of UNMOVIC inspectors on Iraqi (a)bases, (b)presidential palaces and (c)uranium imports. [102883]The Prime Minister: I have no plans to publish an amended version of the dossier presented in September 2002, the contents of which still accurately reflect our assessment of the position with regard to Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes.

    To ask the Prime Minister whether he has revised his assessment of the threat posed by Iraq to the UK, following the statement on 7 March by the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency; if he will make a statement of the source for his assertion that Saddam Hussein has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa; and what action he is taking to verify intelligence documents which he has relied upon in forming policy. [103874]

    I refer the h on. Member to the debate on Iraq in the House on 18 March 2003, Official Report.

    Northern Ireland Assembly

    To ask the Prime Minister how many meetings his Department has had with representatives of each of the partners represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly since 1 October 2002. [103258]

    I and members of my office have had frequent meetings with political parties in Northern Ireland in recent months.

    International Development

    Hiv/Aids (East Asia)

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department is having with the governments of (a)China, (b)Japan, (c)Indonesia, (d)Philippines, (e)Malaysia, (f)North Korea, (g)South Korea, (h)Cambodia, (i)Burma, (j)Laos and (k)Vietnam on the spread and control of HIV and AIDS; and if she will make a statement. [103111]

    Without sustained action in Asia, HIV/ AIDS will have significant social and economic costs. It is estimated that over seven million people in Asia are already infected with HIV, 20 per cent. of the global total. Although HIV came later to Asia, it has made substantial inroads in a short time.The epidemic in Asia varies dramatically between and within countries. Cambodia and Burma have significant national epidemics. Others are seeing concentrated epidemics in the most vulnerable populations, such as injecting drug users and sex workers. While prevalence is still low even among these groups in other countries, action now will prevent the pattern seen elsewhere of low prevalence for a number of years followed by rapid increases.The spread of HIV/AIDS in is an issue which is a top priority for DFID in the region. Relevant targets for HIV/AIDS have been included in our Public Service Agreement.In the countries in which DFID has a programme, HIV/ AIDS is an issue that we continually raise in the context of policy discussions with governments about our development partnership. Our discussions cover a range of issues including priorities, targets and approaches. We have significant HIV/AIDS programmes in China, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam. These are looking to strengthen national responses to HIV/AIDS through both targeted interventions for those groups most as risk, as well as improvements in the enabling environment for more effective action.DFID does not have programmes in Japan, the Phillipines, Malaysia, North Korea or South Korea. Although we do have some discussions with the governments of some of these countries in the context of global financing instruments such as the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to address the shortcomings in preparedness for international relief in Iraq identified by the International Development Committee. [103268]

    My Department has been fully engaged in recent months in trying to get the world to face the humanitarian risks of military action in Iraq, and make preparations. This work continues. We have provided £10 million to UN agencies and international NGOs to support their contingency planning. We are seconding specialist staff to the key offices which will have a key role in the coordination of any humanitarian effort (including UN OCHA and the UN Joint Logistics Centre, both in Cyprus; and the US's Office for Reconstruction in Humanitarian Affairs in Kuwait). And we are continuing to work towards establishing the right international mandates to enable the UN to take the lead role in relief and reconstruction, and to administer the Oil For Food Programme, in the event of conflict. I will provide a full written response to the recent report of the International Development committee in the next few days.

    Ministerial Travel

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list internal flights made by Ministers in her Department in 2002, including in each case the (a)cost, (b)departure location and (c)destination; and of these how many were (i)first class, (ii)business class and (iii)economy class. [103586]

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Chelmsford west on 26 February 2003, Official Report, column 555W and the central answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office to David Laws on 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 334W.

    Refugee Camps (Pakistan)

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the conditions of refugee camps in Pakistan. [102740]

    UNHCR is running over 150 camps in Pakistan, housing approximately 1.5 million Afghan refugees. The camps provide health and education facilities, as well as basic shelter, water, sanitation and daily rations.Conditions are basic, but generally adequate. The camps are monitored by UNHCR and we receive periodic reports. Direct access to the camps is difficult, not least because of security considerations.We are aware of reports of higher than normal maternal mortality rates in the camps. Conditions for women and children are monitored by UNHCR Protection Officers, who have also dealt with cases of early and forced marriages, domestic violence and other problems faced by vulnerable refugees.

    Scotland

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times she has visited Scotland on official duties each year since 2000; and what meetings were held on each occasion. [103614]

    I visited Scotland on official duties five times in 2000 and twice in 2002. I did not visit Scotland in 2001.In line with exemptions 2 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release details of specific meetings or their content, as some of these discussions may have taken place on a confidential basis.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many special advisers in the Department (a)have left and (b)will be leaving to work in Scotland for the Labour Party in the forthcoming Scottish parliamentary elections. [103615]

    The rules relating to special advisers' political activities are set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers. Further guidance in respect of elections for the Scottish Parliament is set out at paragraph 13 of the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments, published by the Cabinet Office on 10 March.The reasons for a special adviser's resignation are a private matter between the department and adviser, and are therefore exempt from disclosure under paragraph 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Information.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans ministers of the Department have to (a)visit Scotland on official business, (b)announce public appointments and (c)make Ministerial announcements in April. [103654]

    Departmental business during the campaign period preceding elections to the Scottish Parliament will be conducted in accordance with the Guidance on Conduct for Civil Servants in UK Departments in respect of elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, published by the Cabinet Office on 10 March.

    Scotland

    Community Pharmacies

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had with the (a)Office of Fair Trading, (b)the Scottish Executive and (c)the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in relation to their recommendation that the control of entry regulations for community pharmacy should be lifted and its application to Scotland. [100609]

    Since the Office of Fair Trading report was published, the Scottish Executive have been consulting key stakeholders in Scotland about the response to the report. The Scottish Executive have kept the Scotland Office informed about these consultations. Scotland Office officials have also participated in interdepartmental discussions on the report.

    Departmental Telephone Directory

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the most recent internal phone directory for the Department was published; how often it is updated; and if she will place a copy in the Library. [101787]

    A staff telephone directory is held electronically within the Department and it is updated regularly, as required. It is an internal document but key numbers are publicly available in publications such as the Civil Service Year Book.

    Employers Liability Insurance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1)what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive with regard to employers' liability insurance; [100578](2)what discussions she has had with the Department for Work and Pensions on its forthcoming report on employers' liability insurance. [100579]

    The Scotland Office wrote to a number of organisations in Scotland to ensure that they were aware of the current review of employers' liability compulsory insurance. Both the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive have received representations from the business community about this issue. We are ensuring that the Department for Work and Pensions are aware of the points made. DWP are keeping both the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive closely informed about progress with the review. The Scotland Office is also a member of the Insurance Cover Working Group, set up by the Home Office, to consider issues facing the voluntary and community sector regarding insurance cover.

    Friends Of Scotland Website

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people have visited the Friends of Scotland website from (a)the UK and (b)outside the UK. [102997]

    Since its launch in July 2002, the Friends of Scotland web-site has proved highly successful. As at end February, it recorded 1,760,685 hits. There were 41,221 visits to the site; 26,290 (63.8 per cent.)with international domain names and a further 5,956 visits where the origin cannot be identified.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the cost has been of (a)setting up and (b)maintaining the Friends of Scotland website. [102998]

    The current Friends of Scotland website was established on 23 July 2002. The start up cost was £73,583 including VAT. The website is proving to be a major success and continues to evolve and develop. As at end February, the estimated cost of maintenance and further development of the site is £43,000.

    Ministerial Travel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many times since 2001 she has taken flights on departmental duties in the UK; how many of these were (a)charter flights, (b)first or club class and (c)by helicopter; and who accompanied her on each trip. [95393]

    I make regular flights between Scotland and London on departmental duties but information in the form requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Since 2001, I have accompanied my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister twice on non-commercial flights between London and Scotland. I have not used helicopters for travel within the United Kingdom.

    All travel was undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library.

    Post Office Card Account

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the objective of Government policy in Scotland is to maximise take-up of post office card accounts; and if she will make a statement. [103177]

    The Government's policy is to ensure that customers can choose the type of account that best suits their needs following the move to direct payment of state benefits. The Post Office card account is one of three options which benefit claimants are being presented with. Regardless whether claimants use the card account, an existing bank account or open a basic bank account, they will still be able to uplift benefits in cash at post offices.

    Departmental Officer