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9. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Agriculture Secretary of the National Assembly on the future of the Welsh sea fishing industry. 
11. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary with regard to making representations to the European Commission on the charging of VAT on Severn bridge tolls. 
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However, the hon. Gentleman will wish to be aware that Her Majesty's Customs and Excise is exploring options for a Government-supported scheme to offset the cost of VAT to motorist and business motorists.
Mr. Hanson: The New Deal is working, performing better than most independent economists would have expected of an active labour market policy. We now have the lowest youth unemployment since July 1975 and the lowest unemployment for twenty years.
The percentage fall in youth unemployment since May 1997 was 31 per cent. with a fall of 81 per cent. in long-term youth unemployment till September 2000. Figures show that there has been a 22 per cent. fall in youth unemployment with a fall of 73 per cent. since April 1998, attributable largely to the New Deal .
13. Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Welsh Agriculture Secretary about the labelling of meat which is imported from Europe but processed in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales meets regularly with the Welsh Agriculture Secretary to discuss a range of issues. The Assembly subscribes to the new compulsory system for the labelling of beef and beef products, recently agreed by the EC. This came into force on 1 September 2000 and states that labels must indicate the location where slaughter and cutting took place. As from 1 January 2002, it will also be compulsory to include the location where birth and rearing took place.
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Mr. Paul Murphy: None. It is for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to take initiatives to reduce violence. The Government's legislative programme for the coming session contains proposals, which will assist in the fight against violent crime.
18. Mr. Donald Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has held with relevant Cabinet colleagues about the implications of the Gracious Speech for the personal security of pensioners in Wales. 
The Finance Bill will give effect to Budget measures. The pre-Budget Report announced an increase of £5 a week for single pensioners and £8 for married couple pensioners allowance from April 2001, and a further £3 for single pensioners and £4.80 for married couple pensioners from April 2002. It also announced that the Minimum Income Guarantee would increase to £92 a week in 2001-02 and £100 a week in 2002-03. The Winter Fuel Allowance has also been increased to £200. This is good news for all of Wales's 630,000 pensioners.
The Criminal Justice and Police Bill will help to achieve one of the Government's main objectives--to reduce crime and to reduce the fear of crime. Fear of crime is particularly high among pensioners and they will benefit greatly from measures in the Bill which are designed to combat disorder, nuisance and intimidating or antisocial behaviour on our streets. Such measures include extra police powers to tackle disorder in public places and raising the upper age limit of child curfew schemes to 15 years.
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Mr. Paul Murphy: Recent figures show that there is a rising trend in the figures for gross domestic product (GDP) in Wales. GDP at basic prices is estimated to have risen from £25,860 million in 1995 to £29,027 million in 1998, an increase of 12 per cent. over the period.
21. Mr. Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary about extending police powers and increasing recruitment of police officers in Wales. 
The Criminal Justice and Police Bill, announced recently in the Queen's speech, will improve and modernise police powers and procedures. For example, the Bill will help police to combat disorder through the introduction of fixed penalty notices, it will give legal support to police removing material from premises for searching and it will give powers of arrest to police in cases of kerb-crawling and hit-and-run driving.
The Home Secretary has announced that Welsh police forces will receive funding for an additional 286 police officers to be recruited in 2000-01 and 2001-02. Funding for additional recruitment will also be provided in 2002-03. In addition to payments direct to forces, National Police Training will receive funding to train new recruits to provincial forces.
22. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has made to the Secretary of State for Defence concerning the future of DARA at RAF St. Athan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I regularly discuss many aspects of agriculture in Wales with my right hon Friend the First Secretary. In recognition of the problems faced by Welsh farmers, the Action Plan for Farming package announced in March promised Wales £14.7 million to less favoured areas; £10.6 million agrimonetary compensation to dairy, beef and sheep farmers and £2 million to be spent on business advice throughout Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This was in addition to HLCA budget increases in 1998-99 and 1999-2000 and several tranches of agrimonetary compensation for high value of pound, paid to beef and sheep sectors since the start of 1998, worth £227 million across the UK. These initiatives are in addition to those being pursued by the Assembly. The
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First Secretary has stressed that family farming needs to adapt in order to survive, grasping new opportunities underpinned by, for example, the Rural Development Plan, agrifood strategies and expansion of the Tir Gofal scheme.
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