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Valuation Office Agency

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what targets for the Valuation Office Agency will be set for the year 2001-02. [158060]

Dawn Primarolo: I have set the following key targets for the Valuation Office Agency.

9 Apr 2001 : Column: 418W

Further details are contained in the Valuation Office's Forward Plan, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House on publication.

UK Debt Management Office

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the UK Debt Management Office's targets and business plan for 2001-02. [158059]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The DMO's targets for 2001-02 are as set out. The range of targets has been extended somewhat since 2000-01 to reflect the development of the DMO's responsibilities. The DMO is today also publishing its Business Plan for 2001-02. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Tax Credits (Fraud)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been (a) subjected to a financial penalty and (b) prosecuted because of a fraudulent claim for the Working Families Tax Credit. [157081]

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Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many prosecutions for fraud in claiming Working Families Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit have taken place; and how many are pending. [157137]

Dawn Primarolo: To date, there have been 16 prosecutions in respect of Working Families Tax Credit, two of which have been concluded through the courts. Approximately 300 financial penalties have been levied.


Johnny Adair

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the result was of his inquiry into an attempt to poison Mr. Johnny Adair in Maghaberry Prison; and what actions have been taken as a result. [156154]

Mr. Ingram: Following receipt of information from the Forensic Science Agency on 6 March 2001 that the sample of Mr. Adair's protein supplement powder, sent away for analysis, was contaminated, Mr. Adair and the RUC were notified immediately. Due to the potentially serious nature of the incident the RUC was then requested to carry out an investigation, which is still on-going.

It would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances surrounding the incident at this stage.


General Mediterranean Holdings Ltd.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide details of the (a) grants and (b) export credits awarded to (i) General Mediterranean Holdings Ltd. and (ii) its associate companies. [156884]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 4 April 2001]: ECGD has no record of any dealings with this company or any other of its listed subsidiaries.

Selective Assistance (Blyth Valley)

Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what selective assistance grants he has provided to Blyth Valley since May 1997. [157294]

Mr. Caborn: The two main forms of selective assistance available to business in Blyth Valley are Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) and the new Enterprise Grant (EG) launched in January 2000. Details of take up in Blyth Valley are given in the tables.

ApplicationsGrant (£)Capital expenditure (£)Jobs

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Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress he has made towards publishing a code of practice for supermarket chains to regulate their dealings with suppliers in the farming sector. [157578]

Dr. Howells: The Office of Fair Trading is currently consulting with supermarkets and the representatives of suppliers and farmers on a draft Code of Practice. The Director General will advise my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the terms of the Code of Practice on the completion of this consultation.

Departmental Policies (Manchester, Gorton)

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 20 November 2000. [154495]

Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, answered my right hon. Friend's similar question on 20 November 2000, Official Report, column 70W, explaining that the DTI does not maintain such statistical information.

My right hon. Friend may wish to be aware that in the north-west region the DTI's policies have contributed to growth in employment by 107,000 and a fall in unemployment by 63,000; reductions in youth unemployment by 75 per cent. and long-term unemployment by 54 per cent. since 2 May 1997.

Miners' Compensation

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations (a) he has made to Healthcall Ltd. and (b) he has received from other organisations, concerning the fee paid to consultants by Healthcall Ltd. for the medical assessment of ex-miners. [157581]

Mr. Hain: Following discussions with the solicitors representing the miners, and in light of the need to attract more Respiratory Specialists to undertake medical assessments, the Department asked the Medical Reference Panel (MRP), the panel of respiratory specialists that advises the Department and claimants' solicitors on the Coal Health Compensation Scheme, to advise on appropriate rates for the work done. They proposed a rate based on the British Medical Association (BMA) scales. Healthcall has revised its rates accordingly. The rate for centre-based assessments has been increased significantly.

Rates for domiciliary visits and deceased assessments were already in line with the proposed new rates and have not changed. The revised rate, which has been agreed by the MRP, will be effective from 1 April, and will be reviewed in three months' time. Healthcall is also investigating how doctors can be used more flexibly to get greater volumes of MAPs completed.

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Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the waiting list is for ex-miners awaiting first appointments for their assessment for compensation in each assessment centre in Wales; and what was the corresponding figure on 30 October 2000. [155641]

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Mr. Hain [holding answer 27 March 2001]: The number of claimants awaiting their first assessment appointment to be made on 28 February 2001 was as follows:

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Test centre
28 February 2001NewportCardiffSwanseaMountain AshWrexhamAmmanford(26)
Claimants mailed5,4253164,6985,127570--
Claimants to be mailed353322363311121
Total appointments made4,7762214,1384,645463--
No reply to Healthcall appointment letter273222512809--
Claimants awaiting appointment/to be tested(27)6841287831,115118121

(26) Ammanford did not open until 1 March 2001.

(27) Claimants awaiting appointments = (claimants mailed - total appointments made) + claimants to be mailed.


New claims are currently still being received at over 1,000 per week. For week commencing 5 March 2001, 1,600 new claims were received.

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Figures on the numbers of claimants waiting to be mailed are calculated only at the end of each month in a continuously updated format and not stored. Therefore the number of claimants waiting to be mailed on 30 October

9 Apr 2001 : Column: 422W

2000 is not available. Of those claimants that had been mailed by 30 October 2000, the following numbers were awaiting their first assessment appointment to be made:

9 Apr 2001 : Column: 421W

Test centre
30 October 2000NewportCardiffSwanseaMountain AshWrexham
Claimants mailed5,3993054,5084,806479
Claimants to be mailed----------
Total appointments made4,7242143,8724,083348
No reply to Healthcall appointment letter25528370521121
Claimants awaiting appointment/to be tested(28)67591636723131

(28) Claimants awaiting appointments = claimants mailed - total appointments made.

9 Apr 2001 : Column: 421W

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the performance of the contractor managing British Coal's employment records in relation to mineworkers' compensation claims. [156224]

Mr. Hain: The Department continually monitors the performance of Hays Information Management, the company contracted to provide copies of miners' employment records.

Getting copies of employment records has proved difficult because British Coal records are stored on very antiquated microfiche and in paper systems. The volumes of records returned have been less than planned and the Department therefore embarked on two major projects to scan the earnings records from microfiche into a database and to scan the whole of the employment records pack.

Unfortunately, there have been problems with scanning but these have now been addressed and the volume of records scanned is rising. Hays will provide an increased level of photocopied records until scanned records hit their required targets.

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