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Open Government Initiative

Mr. Singh: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the total number of releases under the open Government initiative. [73167]

Dr. Jack Cunningham: The latest number of records released under the open Government initiative now stands at over 96,000 and relates to releases up to the end of September 1998. This represents an increase of about 13 per cent. over the previous total of over 85,000 which was announced by my right hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Dr. Clark) on 22 December 1997, Official Report, column 394, and related to the total figure as at the end of September 1997.

WALES

Legal Services

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list (a) the London barristers' chambers and (b) the London solicitors' firms that have performed services for his Department (i) since 1 May 1997 and (ii) in the equivalent period preceding that date, indicating the remuneration paid in each particular case. [70039]

Mr. Michael [holding answer 8 February 1999]: Welsh Office records indicate that during the years in question the following London barristers' chambers have been instructed directly by the Welsh Office or via the Treasury Solicitor's Office:








There may also be other chambers who have been instructed by Treasury Solicitor's Office on behalf of the Welsh Office but for whom records are not readily available in the Welsh Office.

No London Solicitors' firms have been instructed by or on behalf of the Welsh Office during the past four years.

The Welsh Office does not maintain a central continuous record of fees paid to Counsel over the four year period. The Treasury Solicitor's Department does not have such a record either.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General appointed Philip Sales as first Junior Treasury Counsel (Common Law) and Jonathan Crow as First Junior Treasury Counsel (Chancery) to advise and represent the Government in their important civil cases. In addition, the Attorney-General maintains at present two London panels of junior Counsel whom Departments are expected

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to use for the rest of the Government's civil litigation. The panels currently comprise 103 barristers from 42 different sets of chambers. The Attorney-General will shortly appoint a third panel of very junior barristers. The Attorney-General's individual nomination is required before a barrister who is not one of the approved panels can be instructed to appear for the Government in litigation.

Departments may use firms of solicitors in addition to the Treasury Solicitor and their departmental legal advisers, for example where the relevant expertise lies in the private sector. The relationship is subject to the usual confidentiality which operates between lawyer and client.

Open Countryside

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much land held by his Department he estimates would fall within the definition of open country as set out in the consultation document "Access to the Open Countryside" of February 1998. [71635]

Mr. Michael: The estimated total area of land held by my Department and falling within the definition of open countryside as set out in the consultation document is 300 acres (122 Ha).

Training and Enterprise Councils

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to report on the performance of training and enterprise councils in Wales. [73080]

Mr. Hain: I am pleased to announce that the first annual report on Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) in Wales, covering the 1997-98 financial year, is being published today.

This report represents a significant step forward in explaining the work of TECs, and in making them more accountable to the people of Wales and their elected representatives.

The report notes that an increasing number of young people entered the Modern Apprenticeship Programme in 1997-98--723 more than in the previous year and 18 per cent. more than the target for the year. Youth credit starts, at 17,265, were 15 per cent. above target, although decreasing levels of unemployment resulted in only 9,001 adults starting on the Training for Work programme against a target of 11,456. NVQs per 100 leavers rose from 55 per cent. to 57 per cent. for the youth training programmes and from 38 per cent. to 44 per cent. for the adult training programmes, by comparison with 1996-97. 52 per cent. of the adult trainees found jobs on leaving training as compared with 48 per cent. the year before.

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Support was given to 1,648 new business start ups (an increase of 10 per cent. on 1996-97) and the Sole Traders Initiative, which was launched on an all-Wales basis at the start of the year, resulted in some 293 first employees being taken on by hitherto singleton businesses.

Other significant achievements by the TECs in 1997-98 included:



    a good start to the implementation of the Action Plan for Manufacturing Training in Wales


    significant improvements in the rates of success of disabled young people and young people from ethnic minorities in achieving NVQs.


    60,403 school children undertook a work experience placement, against a target of 59,396.


    4,214 school teachers and further education college staff undertook an industrial placement, against a target of 3,068.


    27,000 adults were provided with careers information under the Adult Guidance Initiative and 7,858 of these were given bespoke counselling.

In addition, the TECs supported a wide variety of projects from their Local Initiative Funds, including homework clubs, revision weeks, Saturday clubs offering contacts with local businesses, outreach work with disaffected young people and technician training to NVQ level 4 for adults in employment.

The report provides a synopsis of all these activities and of the overall financial position of TECs in Wales. Copies will be distributed to all Members with constituencies in Wales and placed in the Library of the House. Further details are to be found in the individual annual reports of each of the TECs which are available from their company offices.

Following the transfer of functions, this matter will be for the National Assembly.

Departmental Asset Sales

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 11 February 1999, Official Report, column 400, on Departmental asset sales, if he will list the location and previous use of the cottage sold by Cadw; and if he will make a statement. [71985]

Mr. Michael: This sale relates to two properties-- 21 and 23 Rosehill Street, Conwy. No. 21 was acquired in 1968, No. 23 acquired in 1969. The properties were subsequently converted into one unit to provide mess facilities and works depot to Cadw's workstaff.

On completion of works in the area, the property was declared surplus and sold through agents, Beresford Adams. The sale was completed on 18 April 1997.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

United Nations Act 1946

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will introduce measures to amend the United Nations Act 1946 so that delegated legislation made under section 1 is subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses of Parliament; [71824]

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Mr. Tony Lloyd: We are considering our response to the Recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee contained in their Second Report HC 116. This includes the recommendation that the United Nations Act 1946 be amended so that delegated legislation made under section 1 is subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses of Parliament, and that any sanctions Order approved by an FCO Minister is brought specifically to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The Government will address this in the formal response that they will be submitting to Parliament.

Sierra Leone

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the changes to (a) communication procedures and (b) intelligence procedures made in response to the Legg report. [71838]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We have acted on Sir Thomas Legg's recommendations. Guidance has been issued on communications with Ministers when overseas: these include ensuring that papers needing immediate attention are sent to Ministers when they are travelling and that time is built into Ministers' schedules abroad to deal with urgent papers from the UK. Guidance has also been issued to ensure that if more than one Minister needs to be aware of a paper it is specifically drawn to each Minister's attention. News Departments have clear guidelines to avoid using press lines that are misleading or incomplete. Procedures are also in place to ensure that reports received out of hours from the Ministry of Defence are correctly received, logged and distributed.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Liberia about the breaching of the UN arms embargo on Sierra Leone; and if he will make a statement. [71817]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We have on several occasions expressed our deep concern to the Liberian Government that shipments of arms have been made to Sierra Leone in breach of the UN Arms Embargo. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this matter with the Liberian Foreign Minister on 4 February, and has sent strong personal messages to President Taylor demanding that he withdrew support for the rebel forces.

It is of vital importance for peace and security in the region that the arms embargoes on both Sierra Leone and Liberia are fully implemented. We will continue to support regional organisations in their efforts to address threats to stability in the region.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what disciplinary action he is taking against his Department's employees who have been criticised in the recent Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone (HC 116 of Session 1998-99). [71830]

Mr. Fatchett: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in the House on 27 July 1999, Official Report, columns 19-34.

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Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will respond to the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone (HC 116 of Session 1998-99). [71818]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: Shortly.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what statements, relating to matters contained in the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone and his response to that report, were released by representatives of his Department to the media prior to the publication of the report; and if he will place in the Library copies of these statements. [71836]

Mr. Robin Cook: My office received in the second week of January a copy of a draft of the report. Shortly before the publication of the report, and at around the same time as leaks critical of FCO officials appeared in The Independent, Financial Times and The Times (on 5 and 6 February), we were also made aware of certain key conclusions of the report.

Neither I nor any FCO Minister, official or special adviser took any action to publish or disclose any part of any version of the report; or to interfere with the Committee's deliberations or the report's preparation. In advance of the publication of the report on 9 February, we made no comment to the media about the report, except in response to leaks by others to the press.

Copies of the report--embargoed until publication at 10.00--were released to officials from the Parliamentary Relations Department of the FCO at 0800 on 9 February. I was immediately sent a copy. An FCO spokesman subsequently briefed the press orally, under the same embargo, on my initial response to the report. After publication of the report, the FCO News Department released copies to the press of a minute from me to the Permanent Under-Secretary. A copy of that minute has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will publish the texts of the press briefings he or his Department gave on 8 February and before 8 am on 9 February relating to the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone; [72601]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave today to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan).

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) on what date and at what time he, a ministerial colleague, a special adviser or departmental official were first shown a copy of the Foreign Affairs Committee's report on Sierra Leone; [72277]

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Mr. Tony Lloyd [holding answer 22 February 1999]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave today to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan).

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes within his Department (a) were made following the publication of the Legg Report and (b) he proposes to make following the publication of the second report 1998-99 of the Foreign Affairs Committee (HC 116). [71877]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We have acted on the recommendations in the Legg Report. This action includes new procedures to improve communications inside the FCO; new guidelines for contracts with private military companies; new arrangements for the handling of intelligence; and a set of measures targeted at the rigorous enforcement of sanctions. A wider programme of modernisation involving sixty separate initiatives has also been launched.

We are considering our response to the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee contained in their Second Report HC 116. The Government will be submitting their formal response to Parliament.

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to establish why the error in the minute of a Meeting held on 3 December 1997 was never reported to Sir Thomas Legg. [71878]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The error referred to, the abbreviation in one sentence of the minutes of what was said at the 3 December 1997 meeting, was drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in December 1998. Sir Thomas Legg was informed that month. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary drew the Foreign Affairs Committee's attention to this abbreviation in his evidence to the Committee on 16 December 1998.

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of those officials in his Department named in the Second Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Session 1998-99 (HC 116) have been promoted since 1 January 1998. [71879]

Mr. Fatchett: Of the eleven officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office named in the Report, five have been promoted since 1 January 1998.


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