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Written Answers

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 29 April 2003

Transport

Age Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109444]

My Department has a commitment to removing all unfair discrimination, which includes on the basis of age, and has integrated age into its Equal Opportunities Statement.My Department adopted recommendations from the "Winning the Generation Game" report, including offering staff the opportunity of working until 65. In advance of the legislation coming in 2006, the Department has also adopted best practice in removing date of birth from the recruitment process and advertising vacancies in a range of press, aimed at all age ranges.

Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 20 January 2003, column 42W, when he will publish the consultation paper on night restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. [110081]

I wrote to the hon. Member on 15 April referring to my written statement of 8 April 2003, Official Report, column 9WS, announcing publication of the consultation paper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the responses concerning Alconbury airfield to the first public consultation on The Future Development of Air Transport in the UK (South East) will be considered in the second public consultation. [109738]

All responses received so far, including those concerning Alconbury and all other options in the South East and UK will be considered, together with any responses that are submitted before the new closing date of 30 June 2003. The consultation has been extended from its original closing date of 30 November 2002; this is a continuation of the consultation launched on 23 July last year, not a separate consultation exercise.Anyone who has already responded may, if they wish, add to, replace or amend their earlier response(s). We will consider all consultation responses before making decisions in the air transport White Paper, which we aim to publish later this year.

Public Service Agreement

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (a) how many and (b) what grades of officials are responsible for the monitoring of progress towards the public service agreement targets of his Department. [109476]

Monitoring progress towards the Department's PSA targets is undertaken by a wide variety of staff at all levels of the organisation.

Road User Charging

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the Road User Charging (Enforcement and Adjudication) (London) (Amendment) Regulations. [109436]

The Road User Charging (Enforcement and Adjudication) (London) (Amendment) Regulations came into force on 17 February 2003. The Department has not received any representations about them since that date.

Treasury

Budget Surplus

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cyclically-adjusted surplus on current budget is as a percentage of GDP for each year from 1999–2000 to 2002–03. [110229]

The cyclically-adjusted surplus on current budget as a percentage of GDP for 1999–2000 is 1.9. Estimates for later years are shown in Table C1 of Budget 2003 (HC500).

Debt Relief

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the total cost to the Exchequer of cancellation of the debts of the countries which have met the requirements for the qualification stage of the HIPC debt relief process. [109780]

As at 31 March 2003, the amount of debt agreed multilaterally under the HIPC initiative as being unrecoverable and consequently written off by the Export Credits Guarantee Department, amounted to some £859.5 million. These debts resulted from insurance and guarantee claims paid out mainly in the 1980s. Additional relief given in accordance with the Government's 100 per cent, forgiveness policy for HIPCs totals £41.8 million. All aid debts to low-income countries had already been written off.In addition the UK has so far pledged US $495 million to the HIPC Trust Fund to cover the costs of multilateral HIPC debt relief, and we hold all debt payments in trust for the day they can be returned to fund poverty reduction for all countries still to secure debt relief through HIPC because the absence of a poverty reduction programme.The Government acknowledges that debt relief is not a panacea for broader economic development problems; even the provision of 100 per cent. debt relief to all low-income countries would still fall short of the resources needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That is why the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development have proposed an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would seek to double the amount of development aid from just over $50 billion a year today to $100 billion per year in the years to 2015.

Departmental Running Costs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the running costs in 2002 were of (a) his Ministers' private offices, separately identifying expenditure on staff, and (b) his Department. [105997]

The administration costs of Ministers' private offices in the relevant financial years was as follows:

£ million
TotalOf which: Staff
2001–023.82.6
2002–033.92.8
Information relating to the Treasury's total administration costs is published in the Department's Estimates.

Eu Accession Referendums

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list, by accession country, EU information money (a) assigned and (b) spent in the context of accession referenda, indicating the division of resources between the pro and anti campaigns. [110453]

The commission provides information and funds information centres about accession and the EU in accession states and candidate countries. The commission does not fund referendum campaigns in any accession country.

Housing Market (Usa)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has commissioned into the current situation of the housing market in the United States of America; and if he will publish the results of such research. [110246]

HM Treasury continually monitors developments in all the world's major economies. The Government's latest forecasts for G7 GDP growth, taking into account all relevant factors, were published in the Financial Statement and Budget Report (HC 500) on 9 April.

International Finance Facility

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions officials from his Department have had with representatives of the business community on the issue of an International Finance Facility. [110245]

The UK is working with its international partners, civil society and the business community to develop the International Finance Facility and to build support for it. The Government's proposal will provide development financing to create capacity for growth and business in some of the worlds' poorest countries, and business has a key role to play by investing in these countries. Accordingly, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development have written to industry leaders seeking to generate business support.The Treasury has also been working in partnership with private sector experts on developing the technical details of the IFF proposal.

National Minimum Wage

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated cost is in 2003–04 to his Department, agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible of the increase in the national minimum wage from £4.20 per hour to £4.50 per hour. [110432]

The estimated cost in 2003–04 of the increase in the national minimum wage from £4.20 per hour to £4.50 per hour is zero. The Department, and associated agencies and non-departmental public bodies, all have pay ranges for their lowest paid staff that provide salaries exceeding the new level of the national minimum wage.

Variable Rate Mortgages

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the share of the mortgage market occupied by variable rate mortgages in (a) the UK, (b) the USA and (c) member states of the EU, as referred to in paragraph 2.79 of the 2003 Budget (HC 500). [110244]

Information on the USA and UK mortgage lending can be obtained respectively via the Federal Housing Finance Board and Council of Mortgage Lenders websites (http://www.fhfb.gov and www.cml.org.uk). Data for European countries can be obtained via the European Mortgage Federation (www.hypo-org).

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Age Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109453]

The Department's equal opportunities policy includes the commitment that there should be no unfair discrimination on the grounds of age.As part of the change and developing Defra programmes we are in the process of reviewing our human resources policies and procedures. Part of that process is to ensure that there are no unjustifiable inequalities on age or any other ground and that our commitment to diversity meets and is fully reflected in the way we fulfil Defra's policy and service delivery roles.As part of our commitment to this policy, staff in all grades below the Senior Civil Service may, subject to their continued efficiency and continued organisational need, choose to remain in service beyond age 60 and up to a maximum of age 65. We have relaxed the age maxima for recruitment along similar lines.

Agri-Environmental Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what payment levels are made under the (a) countryside stewardship schemes and (b) environmentally sensitive areas in respect of (i) repair of stone walls (per metre), (ii) hedging (per metre), (iii) mending and replacing of

ItemCSS (national rates]West Penwith ESA
Repair of stone walls (per metre)£12 with supplements of between £4–£8 available depending on stone type£12 or 80% of actual costs
Heading(per metre)£3 plus supplements of £ 1Not applicable
Cornish hedges (per metre)£25 with additional supplements of £4 available for stone type and difficult sitesRebuilding £25 and £4 supplement for brought in stone. New hedges £32 or 80% of actual costs
Maintaining grazing(per hectare)£85 for grazed pastures plus 30 supplement for fields > 3ha£85 plus 7 supplement for field margins
protection measures for flora (per hectare)A range of options, not specifically limited to this purposeReversion to rough land; and other measures 80% of actual costs.
Protection measures for fauna (per hectare)A range of options, not specifically limited to this purpose, e.g. £270 for conservation headlandsWinter stubbles £170; other measures 80% of actual costs
Repair of stiles£20–£50 depending on type.Timber stile £30; ladder stile £40; step-over 20; step-through. £30
other payments.Special projects, usually at 50% of cost and scrub clearance at up to £500 per ha. Public access £150 / farm + £35/haOther payments include protection of historic features 80%; renovation of traditional farm buildings 80%; scrub management from £100–£500; public access £17Q/ha

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department has to make payments to farmers under (a) countryside stewardship, (b) environmentally sensitive and (c) other agri-environmental schemes. [108765]

Payments to agreement holders under agri-environment schemes are paid on an annual basis. Payments for the year ending 31 March 2003 for the schemes are as follows:

£ million
Environmentally Sensitive Areas53.1
Countryside Stewardship49.0
Arable Stewardship1.4
Organic Farming scheme12.6
Closed schemes (moorland and habitat schemes)2.1
Published expenditure plans for these schemes show that the total budget is placed to rise each year, reading £197 million in 2006–07.

Landfill Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many people are employed in the sustainable waste sector, working for business or environmental bodies supported partially or in full by funding from landfill tax credit scheme categories C and CC; [105754](2) how many

(a) people in long-term unemployment and (b) disabled people have been retrained by schemes funded under category C and CC of the landfill tax credit scheme. [105755]

The Landfill Tax Credit Scheme is not run by Defra and we do not hold the information

Cornish hedgs (per metre), (iv) maintaining agreed grazing policy (per hectare), (v)protection measures for flora (per hectare), (iv)protection measures for fauna (per hectare), (vii) repair of stiles and footpaths and (viii) other common agreed payments. [108729]

Details of payments for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and West Penwith Environmentally Sensitive Area Schemes are as follows:requested. The information may be obtained from ENTRUST. Details of ENTRUSTS Area Offices can be found on their website at www.entrust.orq.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to assist the continuation of the small and medium-sized environmental organisations, initiated by the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, that deliver sustainable waste innovations on a local level. [R] [105756]

Small and medium-sized environmental organisations which have received funding from or been created through Landfill Tax Credit Scheme funding should continue to receive funds for a further year if they meet the eligibility criteria published on 3 February and are compatible with State Aid requirements.Some of those organisations may benefit indirectly from the activities which will be funded from Defra's new sustainable waste delivery programme, announced in the Budget on 9 April, 2003. Others may need to secure new sources of funding)

Nuclear Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much low-level radioactive material is held at Drigg; and what the capacity of the site is. [109624]

Around 950,000 cubic metres of low level radioactive wastes have already been disposed of to Drigg. The remaining capacity of the currently authorised site is estimated to be over 800,000 cubic metres. The latter compares with the total future arisings estimate for low level wastes contained in the latest 2001 United Kingdom Radioactive Waste Inventory of 1,490,000 cubic metres.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the landfill sites authorised to receive low-level radioactive waste, indicating which are (a) unlined and (b) single-skinned. [109627]

Landfill siteLocationEngineered containment status
Arpley LandfillArpley, WarringtonEngineered containment (lined)
Milton, LandfillMilton, CambridgeshireEngineered containment (lined)
Cowpen BewleyBillingham, ClevelandNo engineered containment (unlined), excavated in clay
Clifton MarshPreston, LancashireEngineered containment (lined)
Asham QuarryBeddingham, East SussexEngineered containment (lined)
Hilts QuarryCrich, DerbyshireNo engineered containment (unlined)
Magnesium Elektron SwintonSwinton, Greater ManchesterNo engineered containment (unlined)
Vickers Waste PondsWalney Island, CumbriaNo engineered containment (unlined)
Braziers LandfillHertfordshireNo engineered containment (unlined)

Power Stations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timescale is for the review by the Environment Agency of the regulations governing emissions from power stations; and from when the new regulations are likely to apply. [107982]

Emissions from large power stations to air, water and land are currently regulated by the Environment Agency through the Integrated Pollution Control ("IPC") regime established by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Regulations made under the Act. The Environment Agency is not responsible for reviewing that legislation. The Environment Agency does regularly carry out reviews of the authorisations it has issued under that legislation. The next principal review is due in 2003–04 and any new conditions or requirements in relation to emissions that the Agency seeks to impose on power stations following that review would probably be implemented from 2004–05.

Solicitor-General

Raf Menwith Hill

To ask the Solicitor General how many prosecutions under the RAF Menwith Hill byelaws have been (a) initiated (b) subsequently dropped (c) pursued unsuccessfully and (d) pursued successfully in each year since 1996; and if she will make a statement. [109636]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: The Ministry of Defence records show that the number of files submitted by the MOD Police to the CPS in connection with alleged breaches of byelaws in RAF Menwith since 1996 were as follows:

Financial YearFiles
1996–9717
1997–9849
1998–9930
1999–200032
2000–015
2001–027
2002–037

The Environment Agency advises that disposal of low-level radioactive waste is authorised under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 at the following sites in England.Crown Prosecution Service case records are held by category of offence, rather than by a specific offence. It is not possible from the records to show separately in how many of these cases a prosecution proceeded or the result of the case. This information could be recovered only by examining individual case files which are in storage, and the cost of such an exercise would be prohibitive.

Trade And Industry

Arms Exports (Syria)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what types of toxic chemical precursors UK producers sold to Syria between 1998 and 2003.[Transferred] [110248]

The Department of Trade and Industry's export control organisation records the type of toxic chemical precursors sold to Syria, if the items are controlled for strategic reasons and an export licence application has been submitted. As with any other specific product, in -ormation on items licensed for export is normally commercially confidential and exempt from disclosure.Since some toxic chemical precursors have legitimate uses, officials are well aware of the special risks that exist in relation to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and for this reason gives extremely careful scrutiny to all applications that involve potential WMD concerns.

Audits

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received on (a) falsification of audits, (b) excessive time pressures on audits and (c) use of unqualified staff on audits. [109162]

We have not received representations on these matters recently.

Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why payments under the coal workers' pneumoconiosis scheme were suspended; and after what period they recommenced. [109095]

The coal workers' pneumoconiosis scheme (CWPS) is linked to the Department of Work and Pensions' (DWP) scheme for paying industrial injury disability benefit (IIDB) for pneumoconiosis. To claim under the CWPS a claimant must have qualified for, and be in receipt of IIDB. Changes by the DWP to the way they assess qualification for IIDB meant that it was prudent to investigate how these changes impacted upon the CWPS.The Department has now concluded it's investigations and despite there still being some concerns about the how the scheme operates, it is clear that those who have applied as a result of receiving IIDB under the DWP's new rules are due compensation under the CWPS and have been processed accordingly as from 5 March 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether claims under the coal workers' pneumoconiosis scheme are now being processed normally. [109097]

Claims under the coal workers' pneumoconiosis scheme are being processed normally in line with the procedures set out in the scheme.

Electricity Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what drawdowns have been made in relation to the rescue and loan facility for British Energy; when they were made; what repayments have been made, and when; and how much of the money drawn down was (a) requested and (b) used (i) for functions essential to safety and (ii) to address safety issues identified by the World Association of Nuclear Operators in 2001. [109526]

Details of individual payments are a matter for the company. The credit facility has been provided to British Energy in respect of its working capital requirements and cash collateral for its trading activities. As my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry told the House on 7 March, Official Report, column 89WS British Energy have repaid all outstanding amounts under the credit facility.

Export Control Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received about the Dual-Use Items (Export Control) (Amendment) Regulations. [109431]

Financial Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the bodies which will be responsible for regulating accountancy, audit and insolvency when her proposed new regulatory structures take effect. [109234]

On 9 January 2003 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced a number of changes to the regulatory regime of the accountancy and audit professions. In future, it is envisaged that the Financial Reporting Council and its five Boards (the Accounting Standards Board, the Auditing Practices Board, the Financial Reporting Review Panel, the Investigation and Discipline Board, and the Professional Oversight Board) will have responsibilities for the setting of accounting and auditing standards; enforcement or monitoring; and the oversight of the regulation of their members by the six accountancy bodies which comprise the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies: the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (1CAEW), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (1CAI), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS); the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.Five professional accountancy bodies have been recognised by the Secretary of State to act as a recognised supervisory body under the Companies Act 1989: the ACCA, 1 C AEW, ICAI, ICAS, and the Association of Authorised Public Accountants. These bodies will continue to have a supervisory role in respect of those persons who under their rules are eligible for appointment as auditor. The ACCA, ICAEW, ICAI and ICAS and the Association of International Accountants also have their professional qualifications relating to audit work recognised under the Companies Act 1989.My right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will continue to exercise her functions relating to the grant, refusal and revocation of recognition under the Companies Act 1989 in respect of supervisory bodies and professional qualifications unless these functions are transferred to a body established by a delegation order under that Act.Under the Insolvency Practitioners' (Recognised Professional Bodies) Order 1986 the following bodies will continue, with the Secretary of State, to be responsible for the licensing of insolvency practitioners: the ACCA, ICAEW, 1C AS, ICAI, the Insolvency Practitioners' Association, the Law Society of Scotland and the Law Society.

Post Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent progress there has been between the banks and Post Office Ltd in the extension of provision for basic bank accounts. [109305]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: Universal banking services became operational at post offices on 1 April 2003. The service includes post office access to basic bank accounts on behalf of Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland/Nat West, HSBC, Abbey National, HBOS, Alliance and Leicester, NAG, the Cooperative Bank, First Trust, the Bank of Ireland and the Nationwide Building Society.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to simplify the application form for the Post Office card account. [109306]

None. This is an operational matter for the Post Office Ltd.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to receive exemptions guidance for the use of Post Office card accounts. [109307]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: The Department for Work and Pensions have started to transfer those claimants in the mainstream over to direct payment. This will be phased over a two-year period. By late 2004 the Department for Work and Pensions will have in place an alternative payment method for those who cannot be paid by direct payment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on the future of the universal service obligation in rural areas. [109346]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: Government considers the maintenance of a universal postal service in this country to be of the highest importance and that is why the obligation is enshrined in primary legislation in the Postal Services Act 2000. That means a service provided at an affordable price determined by a public tariff uniform throughout the UK and includes the delivery each working day to the home or premises of every individual in the UK and a collection each working day from access points.Universal service is a matter for the postal regulator (Postcomm), which has the primary statutory duty to ensure the provision of a universal postal service at an affordable uniform tariff, and for Royal Mail as the licence holder with the universal service obligation. Under the terms of the Postal Services Act Postcomm must in performing its duties have regard to the interests of individuals in rural areas. Exceptions to the universal service daily delivery can only be allowed in very specific and restricted circumstances (the relevant policy document is available at http://www.psc.gov.uk/documents/licensing).On 10 April, Postcomm launched a further three-month consultation to find out what users expect from the universal postal service currently provided by Royal Mail. All postal users are invited to comment on the universal service, to say what matters to them, and how they expect the service to develop. Again the information on this consultation can be obtained from Postcomm's website.

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on plans to upgrade the UK's transmission system to accommodate increased capacity coming from renewable energy; and how this will affect (a) the export interconnector between Scotland and England and (b) existing coal and nuclear power stations in Scotland. [109232]

The Scottish Transmission Companies have recently announced that they will start advanced planning work on strengthening the transmission infrastructure in Scotland to accommodate the potential of renewable energy in Scotland. As such the increased potential generation has no direct impact on the export interconnector between Scotland and England or the existing coal and nuclear power stations in Scotland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the role of Scotland in contributing to the UK meeting its renewable energy obligations; and how she intends to accommodate increased renewable capacity in Scotland. [109233]

Adding to its established strength in hydro power, Scotland is poised to make a major contribution to the expansion of renewable energy in the UK. Major new wind farms are in prospect and scope for the development of wave and tidal energy is being explored.These renewable resources will often be located in less populated areas in the north and west of Scotland. We will need to transform the electricity transmission network to allow for this new generation to be delivered to customers. I shall shortly be publishing the report of the Transmission Issues Working Group which has costed the option of connecting up to 6GW of new renewable energy generation in Scotland. The Scottish Transmission Companies have recently announced that they will start advanced planning work on strengthening the transmission infrastructure in Scotland to accommodate the potential of renewable energy in Scotland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the (a) installed capacity of onshore wind turbines in Great Britain and (b) average annual output generated by those turbines. [109848]

The available information shows that in 2001 the installed capacity of onshore wind turbines in Great Britain was 388 MW and that these turbines generated 853 GWh of electricity.

Royal Mail

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the policy of the Royal Mail on issuing stamps which do not include the Queen's head. [109943]

These are matters that fall within the day-to-day responsibility of Royal Mail and I have therefore asked the Chairman to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Defence

Cluster Munition

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current failure rate is for each type of cluster munition. [109682]

Weapons containing cluster munitions are currently in service with the Army and Royal Air Force. The Army systems consist of (a) Shell 155mm HE Extended Range Bomblet Shell (ERBS) which has a proven maximum bomblet failure rate of 2 per cent. and (b) Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M26 bomblets which have a failure rate, between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. The failure rate is largely dependant on ground conditions and range.

The RAF system consists of the BL755 cluster bomb; recent statistics show an overall failure rate of 6 per cent. in line with expectations. We have previously stated a failure rate for the BL755 of "approximately 5 per cent."; the figure has now increased not because the weapon is less reliable but because the parameters used to compile the statistics have changed.

Field Hospitals

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reverse the decision to withdraw 33 Field Hospital from the Gulf. [110180]

The personnel from 33 Field Hospital returned to the United Kingdom at the beginning of April. This was later than planned to enable contingency medical cover early in the course of operations should it be required. Fortunately it was not. The cover provided by two remaining UK field hospitals, currently the 34 Field Hospital and 202 Field Hospital (V), along with the medical facilities of coalition partners, is sufficient for the foreseeable future. There is therefore no plan to redeploy 33 Field Hospital.

Future Aircraft Carrier

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft will be procured for the future aircraft carrier project; what the estimated date is of delivery of the first aircraft; and in which financial year peak procurement expenditure will fall. [110262]

While no final decisions have yet been taken, our planning assumption is based on 150 of the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) which will operate from land bases as well as the future carriers. No production contract for the aircraft has yet been placed but current planning assumptions are based upon the first aircraft being delivered to the Operational Evaluation Unit in 2009 and peak procurement expenditure falling in Financial Year 2011–12.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make arrangements for the care of animals in Baghdad Zoo. [109429]

No. Coalition forces are working with community leaders to ensure that law and order is reestablished as soon as possible to try to ensure Baghdad's institutions are protected from harm or damage.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what evidence British troops have found since the start of the war of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; [107834](2) if he will list weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. [109384]

To date, the main focus for coalition forces has been the establishment of a safe and secure environment in Iraq. This is a necessary precursor to the full achievement of our campaign objectives, as set out in the document placed in the Library of the House on 20 March 2003.

There is no doubt that Saddam had programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction. Evidence of these programmes could take any of several forms, for example, samples of chemical or biological agents, delivery systems, research or production facilities, documentation or interviews with relevant Iraqi personnel. No conclusive evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has yet been discovered, but investigations are at an early stage. We expect gathering and collating evidence from the various sources to be a long and complex task.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the sites in Iraq and their locations which were mentioned by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House of 14th April (a) where searches have been begun for chemical or biological weapons and (b) which are possible sites for weapons of mass destruction. [110178]

All of the sites referred to by the Prime Minister are potentially related to Iraq's programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons. Further sites are being identified as investigations develop. There is a potential for evidence to be disturbed if sites are announced in advance, and investigations may require more than one visit. Currently, therefore, we do not plan to give precise details of sites, their locations or what investigations have taken place until investigations are complete.Such sites are only one potential form of evidence of Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction. Others forms of evidence could include samples of chemical or biological agents, delivery systems, documentation or interviews with relevant Iraqi personnel. We currently expect gathering and collating evidence from these various sources to be a long and complex task. We will aim to release information concerning evidence of Iraqi WMD programmes when and where appropriate, as we did before the conflict began. It would be inappropriate to release anything at this early stage, as this could be incomplete or inaccurate.

Multinational Defence Co-Operation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on co-operation on the (a) SEAD capability and (b) electronic warfare; and if he will make a statement. [109348]

The United Kingdom continues to co-operate with Germany and Italy in a programme of `Twinning' of Tornado squadrons for SEAD roles, with all three nations participating in exercises and training. A new UK SEAD concept and policy is being developed which addresses co-operation issues. We have established an advanced UK-based SEAD exercise that will be held later this year and to which several nations have been invited; more will follow.Within NATO, we are fully engaged in the development of an Electronic Warfare capability, contributing to NATO databases and the updates to NATO policy and doctrine. We also have a number of bilateral arrangements in place in this area to ensure continued co-operation, capability development, support and force protection.

Ship Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answers of 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 328W, on marine pollution, and 6 March 2003, Official Report, column 1170W, on naval hulls, why a compliance date of 2010 has been adopted by his Department; what planning has been carried out to meet that deadline; when he intends to invite tenders for new vessels; and how many vessels he intends to procure. 103699]

MARPOL (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 and the Protocol of 1978) provides for the phased introduction of Double-hulled tankers. Whilst the convention does not apply to vessels owned or operated by a state and used only on Government noncommercial service, as is the case for the fleet of Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Oilers, it continues to be Ministry of Defence policy that, where practicable, we comply with Shipping Acts and associated Regulations. 2010 was selected as the target date for the earliest practicable Ministry of Defence compliance based on the Department's current plans for the progressive withdrawal of non-compliant, single-hulled vessels over the rest of this decade and their replacement with compliant equivalents. The first such compliant vessels, the Auxiliary Oilers RFA Wave Knight and RFA Wave Ruler, are due to enter service this spring.So far as future procurement is concerned, the Ministry of Defence established the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) project in July 2002 to consider, among other things, the Royal Navy's future requirement for oil resupply. The capability provided by this will be fully compliant with any environmental legislation in force at the time of entry into service but it is premature to decide exactly how this requirement will be met or when industry will be invited to bid.

Prime Minister

Civil Defence

To ask the Prime Minister which department is specifically responsible for the UK's (a) civil and (b) military biodefence programme. [109302]

The Department of Health has responsibility for the UK's public health emergency planning programme. The Ministry of Defence is responsible for the measures taken to protect the Armed Forces against biological hazards. Appropriate measures are continually reviewed and strengthened.Work in this area is taken forward under the cross-Governmental Civil Contingency machinery for which the Home Secretary has overall responsibility. This arrangement ensures that direct responsibility for responding to the whole range of threats rests with the relevant department whilst also providing effective coordination across Government for all related activities.

Homeland Security

To ask the Prime Minister what procedures are in place to ensure co-ordination between the Department of Health, the Home Office and the government agencies for homeland security, with particular reference to the effects of the establishment of the Health Protection Agency. [109301]

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has overall charge in this area. He chairs the Civil Contingencies Committee which meets in times of crisis to manage the response and is attended by representatives of the relevant emergency services and agencies. He also chairs DOP(IT)(T), which oversees the work on protective and preventative security; and DOP(IT)(R) which works to build the UK's resilience and ability to manage the consequences of major emergencies. The Department of Health and the Home Office are represented on all of these committees. There are robust, established mechanisms for co-ordination which are overseen by the Home Secretary, who is supported by a senior official, the Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator. Sir David Omand is the Permanent Secretary who brings together the work of the intelligence agencies and civil departments to ensure a co-ordinated approach to counter-terrorism.The Home Secretary is driving forward a comprehensive programme of work to enhance and improve our capacity to respond to a range of threats. For further details on this, I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement that the Home Secretary made on Civil Contingency Planning and the role of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat on 3 March,

Official Report, columns 72–78WS.

The Health Protection Agency is an important part of these arrangements. It aims to improve health emergency planning and the NHS response by providing a dedicated field service and an integrated approach to protecting the public against infectious diseases and chemical and radiological hazards.

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had on the need for a donors' conference to solicit funds from other bodies for the reconstruction needs of Iraq following the conflict. [110022]

The UN issued a flash appeal for $2.2 billion for immediate relief and recovery on 28 March to which the UK has committed $100 million (£65 million).At the Spring Meetings on 12–13 April it was agreed that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund would begin assessing Iraq's economic and social needs. A conference to discuss funding for long term reconstruction will be arranged at the appropriate time.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had regarding the long-term plans with respect to the reintegration of Iraqi soldiers into civilian life in Iraq following the conflict. [110042]

The reintegration of Iraqi soldiers into civilian life will be a matter for a new Iraqi government, drawing on the experience of the international community and organisations including the UN.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had on demilitarizing and eliminating the Iraqi special forces and intelligence and security apparatus in Iraq following the conflict. [110044]

The reform of Iraq's security infrastructure, to make it representative, transparent and accountable, will be a matter for a new Iraqi government, drawing on the experience of the international community and organisations including the UN.

Wales

Agricultural Production

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much Wales contributed to the overall UK production of (a) lamb less than one year, (b) fowls for table, (c) fowls in laying flock, (d) cattle and calves, (e) pigs, (f) oats, (g) dairy herd, (h) barley, (i) wheat, (j) potatoes-earlies and (k) potatoes-main crop in the last year for which figures are available. [107533]

[holding answer 7 April 2003]: The data requested by the hon. Member is not available from National Assembly sources as a contribution to overall UK production against the commodities he has identified. However, the percentage contributions from Wales to the UK totals in terms of hectarage or animal numbers are available. All of the data provided relate to June 2002.

CommodityPercentage of UK totals
Lambs less than one year27
Table chicken4
Fowls in laying flock3
Cattle and Calves12
Pigs1
Oats3
Dairy breeding herd12
Barley2
Wheat1
Potatoes (total = earlies + main)1.5
Potatoes—earlies18
Potatoes—main crop11
1 Denotes percentage of England. Wales and Scotland totals.

Departmental Creche Facilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what crèche facilities are provided by his Department; and at what cost. [104299]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave him on 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 894W.

Government Financial Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the total level of UK Government financial support for Wales was in each of the last five years. [107312]

Chapter 8 of the "Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2002–03", published by HM Treasury in May 2002 as Cm 5401, shows total identifiable public expenditure in Wales to have been:

£ billion
1996–9713.678
19979–9813.838
1998–9914.410
1999–200014.877
2000–0115.622

Government Of Wales Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the implementation of section 41 of the Government of Wales Act 1998, with particular reference to agreements achieved under it. [103366]

Section 41 is working satisfactorily. It has primarily been used to allow Assembly staff to support Wales Office Ministers on Bill work, including:

the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill
the Local Government Bill
the Health (Wales) Bill
the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill
Children's Commissioner for Wales Act 2001
An agreement is also in place to handle civil litigation by former residents of Clwyd Hall.In addition there are a number of Service Level Agreements in existence or in preparation under which Assembly staff provide support and professional services to the Wales Office.

Statutory Instruments

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the statutory instruments issued by his Department in the last 12 months, indicating (a) the purpose of each and (b) the cost of each to (i) public funds, (ii) businesses and (iii) individuals. [106323]

The Statutory Instruments issued by the Wales Office alone are as follows:

National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) (Amendment) Order 2002 No.834

Purpose: to make provision regarding National Assembly elections including allowing for postal voting as of right and making provision for assisting disabled voters.

Local Government Act 2000 (Commencement No.3) (Wales) Order 2002 No. 1359

Purpose: to commence section 93 of the Act which enables grants for welfare services to be made to local authorities by the National Assembly for Wales.

National Assembly for Wales (Disqualification) Order 2003 No.437

Purpose: to prescribe those offices which disqualified the holders from membership of the National Assembly.

Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales (Accounts, Audit and Reports) Order 2003 No.749

Purpose: to provide for the preparation and audit of the accounts of the Commission and for the preparation and publication of an annual report of the Commission.

National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2003 No. 284

Purpose: to make provision for the conduct of elections and return of members to the National Assembly for Wales and other related matters. It replaces and revokes the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 1999 No. 450 and the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) (Amendment) Order 2002 No. 834.

Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what policy on (a) core hours and (b) flexible working hours is operated by his Department. [107647]

My Department applies the National Assembly for Wales' rules on flexi-working. This requires staff to work within the period from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; to be in attendance for the core hours of 10.00–11.45 a.m. and 2.00–3.00 p.m.; and to complete a minimum of 4 hours in each full day.

Young Offenders Institution (Glynneath)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the possibility of establishing a Young Offenders' Institution at Glynneath; and if he will make a statement. [107274]

I have received representations from a number of sources. It is important that young offenders are placed as closely as possible to their home communities. I therefore believe that the case for establishing a new Secure Training Centre for Wales is a strong one. I have written to the Chairman of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales expressing my support for the initiative.

International Development

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her most recent assessment is of (a) the loss of life in Zimbabwe over the last 12 months and (b) the level of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe; and if she will make a statement. [110329]

By far the greatest cause of mortality in Zimbabwe is HIV/AIDS, which the WHO estimates may have resulted in 130.000 deaths in the last year.At present there are no official estimates of mortality in Zimbabwe during the past 12 months. The results of a national nutrition and health survey, supported by donors including DFID, are due to be released by the Ministry of Health during May. Preliminary indications are that there is little evidence of widespread severe malnutrition among children or deaths from starvation. NGOs report however that there have been cases of illness and death as a result of consuming poisonous wild foods.

In the last four months prior to the new maize crop entering the market from May, nearly seven million people have been receiving food through the international relief effort. As the nutrition and health survey is expected to confirm, overall, the aid effort has been successful. DFID has been a significant contributor, providing £51 million to help Zimbabwe since the humanitarian crisis began in mid 2001 The prospects for Zimbabwe in 2003 remain dismal. Food security continues to be affected by chaos in the agricultural sector, economic disincentives to production, unemployment at 70 per cent., and 228 per cent. inflation eroding purchasing power. DFID's priorities for the next year will continue to be the prevention of HIV and mitigation of the impact of AIDS, and directassistance for the poor and vulnerable during the continuing economic andsocial crisis in Zimbabwe.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Ukvisas

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost was to UKvisas of handling applications for work permits in each of the last five years. [109609]

Applications for work permits are handled by Work Permits (UK), a part of the Home Office, rather than by UKvisas. UKvisas are responsible for assessing entry clearance applications from work permit holders, but the administrative cost of this is met by the fee charged for all entry clearance applications.

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the public consultation phase of the Afghan constitution-making process will begin; and how many women's groups, and from where, are to be consulted. [109408]

A process of public education and consultation will begin once the Afghan Constitutional Commission has been established and published the draft text of the constitution. We hope that all sections of Afghan community, including women, will be involved in the process. The UK has given £500,000 to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan to support the consultation process.A Constitutional Drafting Commission, including two women members, was established in October 2002 to prepare a set of recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on constitutional arrangements. The Drafting Commission has met with the Ministry for Women's Affairs, women's NGOs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and other civil society groups to discuss how to incorporate gender and women's rights into the preliminary draft of the constitution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the commissioners of the Constitutional Commission in Afghanistan, broken down by gender. [109409]

The Constitutional Commission has yet to be established. A Constitutional Drafting Commission of constitutional experts was appointed by President Karzai in October 2002. Two of the nine members of the Drafting Commission are women. Their task is to prepare a set of recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on constitutional arrangements.The members of the Constitutional Drafting Commission are:

Vice-President Shahrani (Chair)
Mr. Azimi
Mr. Fazili
Mr. Sherzoy
Ms Mukarama
Mr. Asheri
Mr. Marufi
Ms Kakar
Mr. Danish

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UN Special Representative in Kabul has appointed a permanent gender advisor; and if he will make a statement. [109410]

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) have confirmed that the position of Gender Advisor to the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan has now been filled. UNAMA have told the British Embassy in Kabul that the successful applicant will take up their post in the near future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what special security arrangements will be made to ensure the safe and full participation of women in the public consultation phase of the Afghan constitution-making process. [109411]

The International Security Assistance Force will continue to help ensure security in Kabul and the surrounding area during the popular consultation process, while progress with security sector reform should help increase the safety of all Afghans. There are no plans at present for special security arrangements for women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had regarding the disarmament and demilitarisation efforts in Northern Afghanistan. [110016]

None. However, FCO officials are in regular contact with Afghan and international partners on all aspects of Afghanistan's disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the need for further (a) political, (b) economic and (c) military support for the Afghan transitional administration. [110017]

There is a continuing need to provide political, economic and military support to the Afghan transitional administration (ATA). Ministers are in regular contact with the ATA to discuss the best way in which the UK can support it in line with the Bonn Process.

On 17–18 March the ATA presented its National Development Budget of U$2.3 billion for 2003–04 to a high level meeting with donors in Brussels. Twelve participatory consultative groups, chaired by the ATA, will coordinate the economic and developmental process in Afghanistan. The UK is participating in four of these groups—private sector, economic and financial management, public sector reform and security sector reform. The Department for International Development is additionally carrying out a bilateral programme of support to the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank through the Adam Smith Institute. The UK has spent £170 million in Afghanistan since September 2001.

We continue to contribute towards military assistance to the ATA. In 2002/03 we contributed £18 million towards Security Sector Reform programmes. The UK also contributes approx 300 troops to ISAF.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had concerning securing the adherence of Afghanistan's neighbouring states to a policy of noninterference. [110018]

My ministerial colleagues and I are in regular contact with the Government of Afghanistan, and the Governments of Afghanistan's neighbours, on a wide range of issues, including the reconstruction of Afghanistan and regional security. I welcome the signature by Afghanistan and her neighbours of the good neighbourly relations declaration, in Kabul on 22 December 2002. The declaration marked an important step in building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours, and should contribute towards greater security and stability in the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence. [110019]

We welcomed Pakistan's decision to break its links with the Taliban in 2001, following the attacks in the US on September 11. Pakistan is a key ally in the campaign against terrorism.We regularly discuss with Pakistan the importance of their continuing support for coalition action against Al Q'aida and its associates (including Taliban remnants), and their support for the Afghan Transitional Administration and the Bonn Process. We welcome Pakistan's signing of the Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration together with the Afghan Transitional Administration and Afghanistan's other neighbours on 22 December 2002 as a demonstration of a shared interest in promoting stability in the region.

Commonwealth Institute

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the decision to sell the Commonwealth Institute's building; and what benefits the sale will bring to the institute. [109399]

The decision to put the site of the Commonwealth Institute on the market has been taken by its Trustees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many bidders have announced an interest in buying the Commonwealth Institute building. [109402]

This is a matter for the Trustees of the Commonwealth Institute which is an independent limited company with charitable status.

Cote D'ivoire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his written statement of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 52WS, what response he has had from the Northbridge Services Group to UK Government representations that they should desist from recruiting mercenaries to operate in Cote d'Ivoire; and if he will make a statement on what further steps he intends to take. [110060]

Northbridge Services Group issued a press release on 2 April defending their proposed deployment to Cote d'Ivoire. On 7 April, the office of the

FCOEnergy consumption (GWh/y)Energy expenditure (£ million)Energy/m2 (kWh/m2/y)Savings over 1997–98 (percentage)Energy efficiency spend (£k/y)
1997–9841.481.00393.0820.59
1998–9936.790.92348.62117.84
1999–200034.191.03391.6500.97
2000–0134.421.72321.4618801.00
2001–0232.131.75377.084Nil
Notes:
1. Energy Consumption: this is weather-corrected in the usual manner, using annual degree days relative to the 20-year average for 1990–91. The figures are those reported on for the Central Government Estate campaign. Figures include the FCO's only Agency, Wilton Park Conference Centre, for 2000–01 and 2001–02 only.
2. Energy Expenditure: this is actual spend, and from April 2001, includes the Climate Change Levy. Costs are inclusive of VAT from 1999–00.
3. Energy/m2: this variable allows for changes in both weather and estate size on energy consumption. So annual changes will generally reflect efficiency changes.
4. Savings over 1997–98: These have been expressed as percentage savings relative to the first year quoted here, and are based on the figures in the preceding column.
5. Energy efficiency spend: Note that this is not necessarily a good measure of an effective energy efficiency policy. For example, when a new building is commissioned or an existing one refurbished, good design can actually reduce capital costs, e.g. by avoiding air conditioning. The £801,000 recorded by the FCO in 2000–01 is the capital sum invested in energy efficiency measures incorporated into the refurbishment of the Old Admiralty Building.

Energy Policy

The Energy White Paper, "Our Energy Future—Creating a Low Carbon Economy" made clear the importance the Government attaches to improving energy efficiency in its own estate. This is reflected in several targets. There is currently an interim target of a 1 per cent. per annum ongoing reduction in weather-corrected carbon emissions, pending the development of new indicators and targets based on benchmarking the performance of each Department's largest buildings. These new targets are planned to be in place later this year. New targets for Government Departments' use of CHP generated electricity will also be established during 2003.

In addition, the review of Government procurement has identified areas where procurement could reinforce the achievement of these targets, and arrangements are being made centrally for Departments to purchase goods with high energy efficiency standards and which provide good value for money.

Ivorian president publicly denied any contract with Northbridge Services Group, and re-affirmed the President's commitment to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. We remain concerned that any deployment by foreign military units would seriously jeopardise the peace process. We are continuing discussions with our partners in the UN Security Council and wider international community on this issue.

Energy Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement, in relation to his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible, on (a) the amount of energy consumed, (b) spending on (i) energy and (ii) energy efficiency measures, (c) the amount saved through energy efficiency measures and (d) energy policy in each of the last five years. [108858]

FCO energy expenditure and efficiency data is set out in the following table. Data for our non-departmental public bodies could be provided only at disproportionate cost.On the purchase of renewable electricity, Ministers agreed the following target in May 2001: "All departments will ensure that by 31 March 2003, at least 5 per cent. of their electricity comes from renewable sources that are exempt from the Climate Change Levy or from self generation, provided this does not entail excessive cost. The FCO achieved this target. The target will rise to at least 10 per cent. supply from such sources by 31 March 2008, but will be reviewed after 31 March 2003 to take account of market conditions following the introduction of the renewables obligation. The review of 2003 will include consideration of increasing or bringing forward the target".

Ethiopia/Eritrea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to encourage Ethiopia and Eritrea to comply fully with their commitments under the Algiers Agreements; whether he is actively seized of recent developments in the Badme region; and if he will make a statement. [109885]

The UK has followed progress with the peace process closely and is fully aware of the significance of Badme in the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict. The Algiers Peace Agreement in December 2000 set out the mandate for a neutral Boundary Commission to delimitand demarcate the border between the two countries. The Commission made its decision public on 13 April 2002. We have called on both Ethiopia and Eritrea to implement fully the Algiers Peace Agreements and to accept the Boundary Commission's decisions as final and binding. We have done this through successive UN Security Council resolutions, EU demarches and in our bilateral contacts with both countries.

Immigration And Nationality Directorate

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which month's post is being opened by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate with regard to visa applications. [109507]

Correspondence relating to visa applications is normally handled by the Correspondence Section of UK visas. UK visas consistently opens mail as soon as it is received with the aim of processing all correspondence within the Cabinet Office deadlines of 15 days for letters from Members of Parliament and 20 days for other letters. In 2002, UK visas responded to 17,566 letters from MPs, Members of the Public and others: 99.37 per cent. of these correspondents were sent replies within these target times.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Iraqi diplomatic personnel are accredited to (a) the United Kingdom and (b) international and multinational organisations of which the United Kingdom is a member; what his policy is regarding continued accreditation; what steps he has taken to further this policy; and if he will make a statement. [109883]

Following the closure of the Iraqi Interests Section of the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 30 March 2003, there are no Iraqi diplomats accredited to the United Kingdom. The status of Iraqi delegations to international organisations will be determined by the membership of those organisations in accordance with the rules of the organisation concerned. There are no resident Iraqi representatives to international organisations based in the United Kingdom.

Laos

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons there is no U.K. embassy in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos; and what plans there are to open a mission in Laos. [109640]

The British Embassy in Vientiane was closed in 1985 as part of a package of cost reductions and Her Majesty's Ambassador to Thailand was accredited as Ambassador to Laos. In 1995 a British trade office was opened in Vientiane, as a subsidiary office of the British Embassy in Bangkok, to cover trade and development issues. Consular and estate matters in Laos are covered by the Australian Embassy in Vientiane. All other British interests are covered by the British Embassy in Bangkok. We regularly review commercial and other factors affecting British interests in Laos, but we have no plans to upgrade the British trade office to full Embassy status.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial resources have been allocated to the British Trade Office in Laos since 1997. [109641]

Running costs for the British trade office in Laos are subsumed into the running costs of its parent office, the British Embassy in Bangkok. Compiling information on costs since 1997 would incur disproportionate cost. We keep separate figures for estimate purposes only. Running costs for 2002–03 were £36,945.12, but this figure does not include the cost of the office accommodation which, although owned by us, is managed by the Australian Embassy in Vientiane.

North Korea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights in North Korea. [110411]

The international community is seriously concerned about reports of widespread and continued human rights violations in North Korea. The EU made its concerns in this area clear at last year's meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and took the decision to table a resolution at this year's session. The resolution was adopted by a majority on 16 April.

Pakistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the Christian population of the North-West Province of Pakistan of the adoption of Sharia law. [108751]

It is too early to make an assessment. The North-West Frontier Province has yet to consider draft legislation proposing the adoption of Sharia law in the province. This law cannot be fully enacted until approved by the federal and provincial Parliaments. Together with our EU partners, we will continue to urge Pakistan to pursue laws and practices which foster tolerance and mutual respect and to protect Christians and other religious minorities against discrimination, intimidation and attacks.

Part-Time Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the Part-time Workers Directive on staff in his Department. [109269]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office supports staff in their efforts to reach an appropriate work-life balance. Part-time working is one of several ways in which the FCO offers staff flexibility in their working patterns. In accordance with the Employment Act 2002, the FCO has recently introduced procedures to facilitate further flexible working.We currently have 142 part-time staff—an increase of 35 per cent. over last year. All benefits—including leave, pension, overseas allowances (where appropriate)—are provided pro-rata to staff working part-time.

Public Service Agreement

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (a) how many and (b) what grades of officials are responsible for the monitoring of progress towards the public service agreement targets of his Department. [109474]

Monitoring progress towards the Department's PSA targets is undertaken by a wide variety of staff at all levels of the organisation.

Serbia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Serbia. [110004]

Further to my answer of 21 March 2003, Official Report, column 125W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on the assistance being offered to the Serbian Government in the aftermath of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's assassination on 12 March 2003, I visited Belgrade on 7 April. I met Serbian and Serbia and Montenegro leaders to discuss how best to sustain reform, notably to combat organised crime and ensure co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.In the days following the assassination, European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten and EU High Representative Javier Solana visited Belgrade. On 26 March the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) Management Committee approved the CARDS annual action programme for SaM, including aid of Euro 229 million for Serbia, Euro 13.5 million for Montenegro and Euro 49 million for Kosovo. On 3 April 2003 Serbia and Montenegro became the 45th member of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers (PACE) will closely monitor SaM's post accession commitments, including further co-operation with the ICTY.The Serbian Government has taken steps towards judicial, political and military reform by disbanding the `Red Berets' Special Operations Unit (JSO) and the retirement of 35 court judges linked to Slobodan Milosevic. I welcome the Government's efforts in tackling organised crime and war criminals, building on developments this year, notably the disinterment of missing ex Serbian President Ivan Stambolic's remains, and the transfer of former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and Serbian Radical Party Leader Vojislav Seselj to The Hague. We look forward to further developments.

The State of Emergency imposed following Djindjic's assassination on 12 March ended on 22 April. 10,000 people from different crime gangs have been questioned and 4,500 people detained in relation to the assassination and other crimes committed before and after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

The EU is monitoring the implementation of post State of Emergency legislation, including terms of detention and independence of the judiciary. Within the EU and other bodies, we are discussing how to take forward closer integration with Europe in a way which maintains EU conditionality, while helping SaM and other countries of the region achieve the standards required.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years. [109249]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not keep historical records of officers who have been on long-term sick leave. We currently have 16 people on long-term sick leave (i.e. over six months).To try to prevent long term sickness absence we notify our Occupational Health department when an officer has been sick for longer than three weeks.We are fully committed to reducing our sickness absence and are on course to meet our 'Service Delivery Agreement' target.

Visa Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the rate of (a) unpaid leave and (b) absence due to sickness was for UK Visas staff working (i) abroad and (ii) in the UK in each of the last five years. [109505]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not centrally maintain records for unpaid leave. Statistics for leaves of absence through sickness for overseas staff do not specify the section of the Post in which the officer works. Collating both sets of figures would incur disproportionate cost.Sickness figures for UK visas staff based in the UK on a calendar year bas is in line with normal government practice, are:

Days per officer
20025.88
20019.28
20009.52
19998.39
1998No reliable figures held
The FCO is committed to reducing sickness absence and we are on target to achieve our Service Delivery Agreement targets.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of (a) the humanitarian and (b) human rights situation in Zimbabwe; and what measures he plans to take to address the problems identified in that assessment. [109178]

The latest humanitarian estimate is that over 7 million Zimbabweans are currently dependent on food aid. We have provided £51 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe since September 2001. We, through the UN and non-governmental organisations, are providing supplementary food to more than 1.5 million Zimbabweans a day, mainly children, pregnant mothers, unemployed farm workers and the elderly. Prospects for the coming year are under assessment.The human rights situation continues to deteriorate. A successful "stayaway" from work on 18 and 19 March was followed by a wave of violence, largely against the opposition party and its supporters. There were over 500 arrests, 250 people hospitalised, and one death. Scores of people were beaten and tortured while in police custody. Both the Vice-President of the MDC and the party's parliamentary speaker were arrested. The EU has condemned the violence and sponsored a resolution on Zimbabwe at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Privy Council

Websites

To ask the President of the Council if he will make a statement on the (a) cost of and (b) number of visitors to each website operated by his Department in each year since its establishment. [107600]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 20 March 2003, Official Report, column 910W.

Working Hours

To ask the President of the Council if he will reconsult hon. Members on (a) the operation of the new working hours and (b) the demand for a debate on working hours at the end of this Session. [108472]

I refer the hon. Member to my reply on 8 April 2003, Official Report, columns 128–29. As I said then, it will take time for the effects of the changes to be realised and to decide whether some modifications may be necessary.

Northern Ireland

Benefits (Pregnancy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what benefits a woman receives if she loses a baby after (a) 23 weeks and (b) 24 weeks of her pregnancy. [108285]

Where her pregnancy does not result in the issue of a living child, depending on her individual circumstances, a woman may be entitled to receive where her pregnancy ends:

(a) after 23 weeks incapacity benefit, statutory sick pay and income support;

(b) after 24 weeks statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, income support, a funeral payment and a Sure Start maternity grant.

Bye-Laws

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications have been received by the Department of Environment from Ards borough council requesting permission to invoke new bye-laws in each of the past 10 years; how many applications from Ards borough council were granted in each year; how many outstanding applications from Ards borough council are awaiting approval; and what the oldest application is from Ards borough council which is not yet approved. [109283]

Over the past 10 years, four applications for confirmation of new bye-laws were received by the Department of the Environment in 1994 from Ards borough council. None of these has yet been confirmed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications were received by the Department of Environment from local government authorities requesting permission to invoke new bye-laws in each of the past 10 years; how many applications were granted in each year; how many outstanding applications are awaiting approval; what the oldest application is which is not yet approved; and how many people are employed to process such applications. [109284]

District councils have submitted 17 applications for confirmation of new bye-laws to the Department of the Environment, since 1993. Five sets of bye-laws have been confirmed over the past 10 years, leaving 12 cases under consideration. The longest outstanding application dates back to 1994. The record is set out in the table. No member of staff is dedicated to this area of work.Before confirming a set of bye-laws the Department must be satisfied that they are in the proper form and are within the power of the Department to confirm. The Department generally follows the model bye-laws provided by Home Office and in some instances they must also be confirmed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This is a lengthy process involving exchanges between district councils and legal advisers for local and central government. It is one of many shared responsibilities and competing priorities.

Applications receivedBye-laws confirmed
19931
19946
19951
19963
199711
199823
1999
20001
20011
20022
Total:175

Eu Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money from (a) mainsteam EU programmes and (b) special EU initiatives has been

1997199819992000200120022003
Mainstream EU Programmes2312,435,78243,982,3763,203,1912,204,0601,013,33951,521,5613,553,151
Special EU Initiatives67,267,6825,604,08111,162,9901,235.6572,510,037714,581,4814,843,206
1 The figures relate to projects funded with an application address area as the application address. The impacts of any project may extend beyond the geographical in the Belfast North Parliamentary Constituency. Some projects may not be situated within the same geographical location of the project
2 The EU Programmes included in this category are the 1994–99 Single Programme Document and the 2000–06 Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity
3 This figure contains some £10.5 million in respect of the Belfast Waste Water Treatment Works for an incineration plant located in North Belfast.
4 This figure contains an additional £2.3 million in respect of the incineration plant.
5 This figure excludes some £32 million for Water Treatment Works allocated by DRD (addresses in North Belfast) but spent outside the Belfast North Constituency.
6 The EU Programmes included in this category are the 1995–99 Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE I) and the 2000–04 EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE II).
7 This figure exqludes some £2.4 million for Bus Passenger Terminals allocated by Ulsterbus Limited (addresses in North Belfast) but spent outside the Belfast North Constituency.

Learning Difficulties

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision there is for young people leaving Moderate Learning Difficulty schools in Northern Ireland; what research on this subject has been carried out or is planned; and when it is intended to publish such research. [108877]

Special education legislation imposes duties on Education and Library Boards (ELBs) in the planning for a young person's transition to adult life. The Department of Education's Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs provides further advice on the process. ELBs are required to inform Health and Social Services (HSS) trusts up to a year in advance of a young person, with a Statement of Special Educational Needs, leaving school.The first and subsequent annual reviews of a Statement of Special Educational Needs after a young person's 14th birthday should involve the agencies that will play a major role during the post school years, including the relevant HSS Trust and the Department for Employment and Learning's Careers Service, so that all options for further education, training and employment are given serious consideration. Following the meeting the ELB will prepare a transition plan, in order to plan coherently for the young person's transition to adult life. The plan is circulated to the parents, the principal and all other relevant partners.A research project entitled "Provision for Pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties", funded by the five ELBs is being undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). It is currently in its third year and it is hoped to publish its findings by early 2004. The main focus of this research is the current provision for MLD pupils, but the researchers will also endeavour to track the pupils' first destinations on leaving school.

allocated to North Belfast in each year since 1997. [105915]

The amount of mainstream EU Programmes and special EU Initiatives money allocated1 to North Belfast since 1997 was:

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what after schools provision there is in Northern Ireland for young people with Moderate Learning Difficulties; and what assessment he has made of the level of provision. [108878]

After schools provision in Northern Ireland for young people with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) spans a number of areas and departments.The Department for Health and Social Services and Public Safety's Priorities for Action in 2002–03 require Health Boards and Trusts to continue to expand provision of day care and respite places for people with a learning difficulty. Moreover, all four Health and Social Services Boards have identified the development of day care services as a priority area, but funding has been a limiting factor.The Department for Employment and Learning's (DEL) Disablement Advisory Service, in conjunction with the Careers Service, provides such young people with help to assist them access appropriate employment and learning after school. There is a range of programmes including "Access t o Work", "Employment Support", "Job Introduction Scheme" and "New Deal for Disabled People". Special Needs Careers Officers provide careers information and guidance services both at school and when the young person has left school to ensure that appropriate choices have been made and that the young person has settled into his/her next destination. The officers continue to provide support to those young people who have not secured a placement in education, training or employment on leaving school.Should it be considered appropriate, provision is also available through Jobskills and the statutory Further Education sector. Although Jobskills is aimed mainly at 16 and 17-year-old school leavers, young people with disabilities can enter the programme up to their 22nd birthday. DEL has put in place a range of initiatives and financial support mechanisms, in further education, which promote access for young people with MLD, including specific support for individuals.

In September 2002 the then Ministers for Education, Employment and Learning and Health, Social Services and Public Safety convened a meeting to discuss the issue of transition from full-time education to adulthood for young people with learning disabilities. A working group, chaired by the Department of Education and comprising officials from the relevant departments, was established to consider what could be done to better meet the needs of these young people. Work is ongoing.

Local Enterprise Development Unit (Fraud)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to investigate the areas of responsibility of former Local Enterprise Development Unit employee Mr.Thomas Gribben; and if he will make a statement. [108234]

Invest NI has commissioned a review of those areas of Mr Gribben's responsibilities which were not subject to proper fraud investigation. The terms of reference for the review have been agreed with the Comptroller and Auditor General. This review is expected to be completed in May 2003.

Primary School Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by how much the level of funding per child in primary schools in Northern Ireland differs from those in (a) England and (b) Wales. [109116]

The following in formation is taken from outturn statements published by each of the funding authorities in Northern Ireland and from the DfES Departmental Report:

£
2000–01
England2,280
Northern Ireland2,148
Direct comparison between these per capita figures is not appropriate given the differences between schools in Northern Ireland and England especially with regard to levels of delegated responsibility, the incidence of small schools and differing levels of social deprivation. Primary per capita expenditure figures for Wales are not available.

Culture, Media And Sport

Accountancy Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the total cost to her Department was for accountancy services in 2002–03. [109499]

The cost to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of external accountancy services in the financial year 2002–03 was £452,748. It should be noted that this figure is still subject to end year accrual action.

Age Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109443]

The Department is committed to equal opportunities for all and had already incorporated age into its equal opportunities policy prior to the "Winning the Generation Game" report. The Department is in the process of implementing the final recommendation of the report, with the introduction of a flexible retirement age for those between 60 and 65 years. Action on diversity has and will continue to tackle any negative attitudes towards older staff particularly through the training and development of managers and through the monitoring of recruitment, selection and appraisal statistics.

Eu Directives

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the EU Directives and Regulations which have been implemented by her Department since 17th April 2002. [106839]

The Department has not implemented any Directives or Regulations since 17 April 2002. However, measures required by Council Regulation (EC) No 974/2001 of 14 May 2001 amending Regulation (EEC) 3911/92 on the export of cultural goods were introduced in the UK on 1 September 2002.

Game Plan Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations made in the paper `Game Plan'; and if she will make a statement. [109915]

DCMS is working closely with UK Sport, Sport England, the Devolved Administrations and a wide range of sports governing bodies to take forward the recommendations in the Strategy Unit report, Game Plan, published in December 2002. The Department published its second annual report on the Government's Plan for Sport on 1 April, which also referred to progress with Game Plan. As that report made clear, the first composite report covering implementation of Game Plan and the Government's Plan for Sport will be published in April 2004.

Licence Fees

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received about the Wireless Telegraphy (Television Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations. [109955]

The Wireless Telegraphy (Television Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 implemented the licence fee increases announced on 10 February this year and introduced preserved rights for beneficiaries of the Accommodation for Residential Care concession. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has received a number of representations from members of the public and Members of this House on both issues, but information on correspondence relating to television licensing is not held in such a way as to permit a detailed breakdown into individual topics.

Lottery

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of Sport England's Lottery funding was allocated by its regional offices in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion was allocated by the central office of Sport England. [108749]

Decisions on all Lottery applications during 2002–03, the latest year for which figures are available, were made by Sport England's Lottery Panel. However, in the case of the Active Communities Development Fund each region was given an allocation of funding against which it made recommendations on specific applications to the Lottery Panel. The total allocation to regional offices in respect of this Fund was £9.023 million out of a total budget of £277.432 million.

National Endowment

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received about the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Increase of Endowment) Order. [109432]

Press Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people are employed in her Department's Press Office; and how many were employed on 2 May 1997. [108391]

In 1997 the DCMS Press Office employed eight Press Officers At present (2003) the DCMS Press Office employs nine Press Officers

Renewable Energy Facilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she has taken to ensure that regional plans for renewable energy take account of the impact of new generating facilities on the tourist industry. [109831]

Well-sited wind farms can co-exist with tourism. It is for regional and local government, including local planning authorities, to consider the impact of policy choices and to find ways to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives at the same time. Our guidance to Regional Development Agencies in respect of their new strategic responsibility for tourism is that they should align their sustainable tourism strategy with other regional strategies.

Television Sub-Titling

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will arrange for information about accessory television sub-titling to be sent to pensioners aged 75 years of age who are new recipients of the free television licence. [109653]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: There are difficulties in using the television licensing system in the way which the hon Member appears to propose. The Television Licences (Disclosure of Information) Act 2000, which provides for the disclosure of social security information to the BBC for the purpose of checking entitlement to the over-75 concession, specifies that this information may be used only in connection with free or reduced-fee licences. Similarly, the assignment of the television licensing database by the Home Office to the BBC in 1991 was subject to the records being used exclusively for administering the television licensing system.However, we believe it is in the service providers' best interests actively to promote the availability of subtitling for people with hearing impairments, and I am sure that OFCOM, the new regulator, will work with the broadcasters and other interested parties to promote more widespread access.

Wind Turbines

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received from tourist organisations and businesses about plans to site wind turbines near Bradworthy, Devon. [109829]

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received from tourist organisations and businesses about plans by the South West Regional Development Agency to increase the number of onshore wind turbines in the South West of England. [109830]

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the impact on the tourist industry of plans for additional onshore wind turbines in the South West of England. [109842]

DCMS has made no such assessment. The Government Office for the South West is currently undertaking an overall assessment of a range of renewable energy technologies in the region, including onshore wind.

Cabinet Office

Civil Service

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will report progress on meeting targets for the proportion of disabled people in senior civil service positions. [110058]

As at October 2002, 1.7 per cent. of staff at Senior Civil Service level are disabled, compared with 1.5 per cent. in 1998.We have set a target to increase the proportion of disabled staff at SCS level to 3 per cent. by 2005, and we are taking steps to increase the rate of progress.This includes refocusing the centrally-run Bursary Scheme for Disabled Staff on staff with potential to reach the Senior Civil Service; producing guidance to support managers on a range of issues including recruitment of disabled people, mental health issues and providing reasonable adjustments; and running a Summer Placement Scheme in 2003 to provide work placements for 60 disabled graduates and undergraduates across the Service.

Public Service Agreement

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (a) how many and (b) what grades of officials are responsible for the monitoring of progress towards the public service agreement targets of the Department. [109468]

Monitoring progress towards the department's PSA targets is undertaken by a wide variety of staff at all levels of the organisation.

Scotland

North Sea Oil And Gas

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) of 8 April 2003, Official Report, column 120W, on North Sea oil and gas, how much has been invested by industry in each year since the PILOT initiative was introduced; and if she will make a statement on how the Government has contributed to the progress of the initiative's objectives. [109364]

I have been asked to reply.PILOT, the successor body to the Oil and Gas Industry Task Force, was formed in January 2000 and works in close partnership with industry to ensure the sustainability of the UK oil and gas industry to 2010 and beyond. The areas of interest to PILOT can be broadly grouped as Activity/Investment, Supply Chain, People and Jobs, Sustainable Development and Technology and Innovation. A number of challenging targets have been set for 2010 and a significant level of work invested by both Government and industry in reaching these targets. They are as follows:

Production of £3 million boe per day in 2010
CAPEX investment maintained at £3 billion per year to 2010
50 per cent. increase in the value of industry-related exports by 2005
£1 billion of revenue from New Business by 2010
100,000 more jobs than there would have been in 2010

Investment by industry

Operator total spend on new and existing UK oil and gas fields, as provided by UKOOA, are as follows:

Calendar year

£ billion

20008
20019
20029

Health

Autism

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve the (a) assessment and (b) screening of children for autism. [109815]

These issues are addressed by the National Autism Plan for Children. This Plan will inform the care pathway for autism that is being developed for the forthcoming Children's National Service Framework.

Prison Health Care

15.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of prison health care. [109816]

Standards of prison health care have already been much improved since the establishment in April 2000 of the partnership between the Prison Service and the NHS. My Department's assumption of budgetary responsibility for prison health care from 1 April 2003 will lead to increased investment and further improvements in services.

Agency Nurses

16.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses he expects to be recruited from agencies in the year to April 2004. [109817]

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses were recruited from agencies in 2002. [109822]

Hospital-Acquired Infections

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients (a) died and (b) had limbs amputated as a result of infections acquired in NHS hospitals in the most recent year for which estimates are available. [109818]

There are no centrally held statistics on the number for deaths or amputations caused by hospital acquired infections.

Prescription-Plus System

18.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the progress of the prescription plus system. [109819]

There are 64 specialist neurology centres designated to initiate treatment under the risk-sharing scheme and the majority are now doing so. We estimate that around 300 new patients each month are starting to receive a drug treatment for their multiple sclerosis.

Food Safety (Acrylamide)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the prevalence of acrylamide in cooked and prepared food. [109820]