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Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales regularly meets the First Minister and discusses a wide range of issues. I also hold regular meetings with the Assembly Minister for Transport, Planning and the Environment.
Women will benefit from improved fuel allowances, an increase in pension entitlements and also from improved New Deal measures. This Government welcome the invaluable contribution that women make to family life and economic stability, and we are determined to support families and provide the best opportunities for women.
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Mr. Paul Murphy: Identifying such trends, on a UK basis, is part of the research at the Hadley Centre and UK Climate Impacts Programme. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister recently announced that the Government intend to enhance and speed up the research to improve our prediction and assessment of the effects of climate change. The Government also intend to ask a senior independent engineer to carry out a review of technical approaches to flood alleviation.
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend on a range of issues affecting Wales, which have of course included the recent floods. A meeting of Ministers, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, was held on 4 November to discuss the flooding issues. Sue Essex, Assembly Minister for Environment, Transport and Planning and one of my senior officials also attended this meeting.
10. Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary about the UK anti-drugs co-ordinator's second national plan and current levels of drugs misuse in Wales. 
Mr. Hanson: I meet the Assembly Secretaries on a regular basis, when we discuss a range of issues. I am aware that Jane Hutt, Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services, has welcomed the report by Keith Hellawell.
Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Minister regularly to discuss a number of subjects, including this one. The Assembly takes great interest in the work of the Youth Justice Board and Youth Offending Teams in Wales, in view of their key role in safeguarding the social wellbeing, health and education of young people in Wales. Wales received some £5 million of the £85 million made available for the Youth Justice Board in the last Comprehensive Spending Review. In addition, the Assembly is providing a grant of £371,000 to the voluntary organisation, NACRO Cymru, to provide advice and guidance to Youth Offending Teams and local agencies in Wales.
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The Government are working hard to bring about greater co-operation from all concerned in order to speed up payments to miners for their claims. In Wales £24.5 million has now been paid out in compensation, £18.8 million of that for respiratory diseases.
Mr. Paul Murphy: There are currently 43 full-time equivalent staff working for the Wales Office, with two staff who work part-time. The running cost budget for the Wales Office is £2,250,000 for the year ending 31 March 2001.
Mr. Paul Murphy: The Government were alerted to the announcements on a confidential basis very shortly before their publication. Such decisions are ultimately commercial ones for the companies to take themselves to ensure their long-term future. It is not the Government's policy to intervene in such decisions.
16. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on actions he has taken since the publication of the BSE Inquiry report of Lord Phillips on the relationship between civil servants of the National Assembly and those in Whitehall Departments. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The situation is now different from that on which Lord Phillips' Inquiry reported, in that relationships between civil servants of the National Assembly for Wales and those in Whitehall Departments are governed by the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations supported by a series of Devolution Guidance Notes (DGN). DGN 1 deals with working arrangements between officials. An important part of my role is to ensure that these arrangements work smoothly.
Mr. Hanson: Both the Secretary of State and I will be meeting the National Assembly Secretary for Education, Jane Davidson, in the near future, and I plan to meet her on a regular basis to discuss education issues that are important to Wales.
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21. Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with Department of Social Security Ministers about (a) the take up of the Minimum Income Guarantee for pensioners, (b) the issuing of free television licences and (c) winter fuel payments in Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hanson: I speak regularly with colleagues in Whitehall and we discuss a range of issues. My officials are also in close contact with their counterparts in the Department of Social Security on matters that affect pensioners in Wales.
The uprated Minimum Income Guarantee will help 105,000 pensioner households in Wales. 10,000 more pensioners in Wales will be eligible and benefits will increase for the 95,000 pensioners currently eligible. Over 200,000 over 75 pension households will benefit from free television licences and the increased Winter Fuel Allowance will benefit 500,000 pensioner households in Wales.
My right hon. Friend has agreed to meet the National Association of Welsh Pensioners shortly to discuss the new measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 8 November.
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