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Listed Places of Worship

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will extend his grant scheme for listed places of worship beyond March 2003. [158223]

Mr. Alan Howarth: This Government will be pressing the European Commission for the inclusion of a lower rate of VAT for repairs to buildings that are used as listed places of worship when the reduced VAT rates come up for review in 2003. Depending on the outcome of that review, the situation will be considered again then.

Discounted TV Licences

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to introduce a discount on television licences for people who are registered deaf. [158400]

Janet Anderson: The Government have no such plans. We believe the interests of deaf people are better served by improving their access to television services rather than by the provision of licence fee concessions. This was the view of the independent review panel on the future funding of the BBC, in its report of July 1999. The Government accepted the report's recommendation that there should be substantial increases in the BBC's targets for subtitling on its new digital services, and the BBC is working towards 100 per cent. subtitling on its digital channels by the tenth anniversary of their launch. The Corporation also aims to increase the amount of subtitling on BBC1 and BBC2 from its present level of 67 per cent. to 80 per cent. by 2003-04.

The Government recently announced their intention to increase the target for the provision of subtitling on ITC licensed digital terrestrial television (DTT) services from 50 per cent. of programmes by the tenth anniversary of the start of the service to 80 per cent., and to extend the requirements for subtitling, signing and audio description, which currently apply only to DTT, to digital cable and satellite services when legislation permits.

WALES

Departmental Policies

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Meirionnydd Nant Conwy constituency, the effects on Meirionnydd Nant Conwy of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997; [154947]

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Mr. Paul Murphy: As these questions were originally addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my response relates to the effects of Government policies and actions on industry and the economy. Such effects are not normally measured by reference to constituencies so it is not practicable to give information in the form requested. However, prior to the transfer of functions to the National Assembly on 1 July 1999, a range of all-Wales policy initiatives and other actions taken by my Department will have impacted on these four constituencies. Details are set out in the Welsh Office Departmental Reports for 1998 (Cm 3915) and 1999 (Cm 4216), copies of which are in the Library.

Caernarfon, Ceredigion, Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and Ynys Mon are included in the area for which the Government secured Objective 1 status at the Berlin European Council in 1999. Subsequently, in the July 2000 spending review, we made available additional funding, outside the Barnett Formula, for the Welsh Structural Funds Programme. So far in Wales, 201 projects with a total value of £148,960,863 have been approved under the Objective 1 programme. To break down the figures to constituency level would involve disproportionate cost. However, a full list of approved projects is available on the Wales European Funding Office website at http://www/wefo.wales.gov.uk. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Our new Assisted Areas map for the UK, which was formally approved by the European Commission in July 2000, also includes Tier 1 coverage for Caernarfon, Ceredigion, Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and Ynys Mon. I have also today made available via the Library copies of the Objective 1 Approved Projects.

PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

High Sheriffs

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Council if she will ensure fair political balance in appointment of High Sheriffs; and what safeguards are in place to check the appointment system is open and fair and not subject to political abuse. [158384]

Mrs. Beckett: High Sheriffs have no political role, their functions are largely ceremonial, and they neither disburse nor receive any public funds, other than strictly defined (and modest) expenses for a limited number of formal court attendances. Political affiliation has not therefore been regarded as a relevant consideration in their appointment. Sheriffs are, however, asked to refrain from all active participation in local and national politics during their term of office.

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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Appointments (Age Limits)

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what age limit is placed on appointments to public bodies in her Department; if this limit is mentioned in advertisements for such posts; and what the basis for this limit is. [158105]

Clare Short: No age restriction is applied to appointments to public bodies in my Department.

PRIME MINISTER

Worcestershire Visit

Mr. Luff: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 5 April 2001, Official Report, column 251W, if he will list the representatives of farming and tourism interests he met on his recent visit to Worcestershire. [158209]

The Prime Minister: It is not the normal practice of Government to release details of meetings or discussions with private individuals or companies.

Constituency Visits

Mr. Luff: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to invite hon. Members representing rural constituencies to meet him when making visits outside London to discuss foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. [158186]

The Prime Minister: Future visits will continue to be in accordance with the guidance set out in paragraph 79 of the Ministerial Code.

Lord Lieutenants

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Prime Minister what powers he has to replace a lord lieutenant. [158361]

The Prime Minister: The normal age of retirement for lord lieutenants is 75 although lord lieutenants may retire before that. I believe that, under the Royal Prerogative, it would be possible for the appointment of a lord lieutenant to be ended before retirement, but I am not aware that this has ever been done in recent times.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Prime Minister what criteria are used to ensure that appointments of lord lieutenants are not political. [158364]

The Prime Minister: Lord lieutenants are appointed under current legislation by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day, following consultations locally and, where appropriate, with the relevant Secretary of State or First Minister. In four Scottish cities each Lord Provost becomes lord lieutenant by virtue of office. Those appointed as lord lieutenants are people of standing in their local communities, most frequently on account of their record of voluntary activity for the good of the community.

Lord lieutenants are specifically advised that, as Her Majesty's representatives, they should stand aloof from politics in their respective counties or areas and should not, therefore, take part in political activities or hold office

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in political party organisations in their counties or areas. Lord lieutenants are also advised that participation in national political activity may risk their position of impartiality locally.

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Malcolm Reddican

Ms Blears: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will take steps to ensure that the Crown Prosecution Service provides full disclosure of all the information and evidence concerning the death of Malcolm Reddican to Mr. Reddican's family. [157964]

The Solicitor-General: Disclosure of the evidence and all documentation in relation to the case has been requested by, and on behalf of, Mr. Reddican's family. The Crown Prosecution Service has always indicated a willingness to meet with the family and their legal representatives to discuss the case.

However, leading counsel for the Crown was asked to consider the question of disclosure, in particular the Human Rights implications of disclosing all the case papers. He advised that, while the family are entitled to a full debriefing and to reassurance that the murder of Malcolm Reddican was fully investigated and properly prosecuted, the rights of others must nevertheless be balanced against the rights of the family.

Indeed national policy of the Crown Prosecution Service is generally to withhold details of decisions in individual cases, since not to do so would breach confidentiality and might adversely affect the interests and reputations of the parties involved--witnesses, the victim and the suspect. To discuss publicly a decision not to prosecute could amount to a trial of a suspect without the safeguards which criminal proceedings are designed to provide.


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