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Public Appointments Commission

18. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office on how many occasions since May 1997 the Public Appointments Commission has rejected candidates on the grounds of political affiliation. [159115]

Mr. Stringer: The Commissioner for Public Appointments is responsible for overseeing the process for appointments to public bodies. She has no involvement in individual appointment decisions.

Modernising Government

19. Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent progress has been made on items contained in the latest annual report on modernising Government. [159116]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I have been impressed with the progress I have seen since the publication last September of the Modernising Government annual report, "Citizens First". For example:


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In my hon. Friend's own constituency, modernisation is going well. For example, the Thurrock Youth Service is supporting young people in the period of their transition from dependence to independence by offering a wide-ranging curriculum that facilitates personal and social development and enables young people to gain a voice, influence and place in society.

Better Regulation Taskforce

21. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on the work of the better regulation taskforce. [159119]

Mr. Stringer: Further to my reply of 21 March to the hon. Gentleman, the Better Regulation Taskforce studies of the economic regulators, the impact of Housing Benefit on lone parents, and regulations affecting local shopkeepers will be published over the course of the summer.

Drugs (South-West)

23. Mrs. Gilroy: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what assessment she has made of the impact of the Government's anti-drug policies on the south-west. [159124]

Marjorie Mowlam: We review the progress of local Drug Action Teams annually, through their reports and plans. Reports for 2000-01 are due from Drug Action Teams by the end of April, which will allow us to assess progress of the Government's anti-drugs strategy nationally, regionally and locally.

Emerging information indicates that all Drug Action Teams in the south-west have submitted treatment plans. In addition, a Public Health Observatory has been established to assess the health impact of drug use in the region; Arrest Referral Schemes have been implemented in custody suites in all police force areas; and Drug Treatment and Testing Orders continue to be rolled out across the region.

Rough Sleepers Strategy

24. Mr. Hope: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent meetings she has had with charities and local service providers to discuss the Government's rough sleepers strategy. [159125]

Marjorie Mowlam: In the past six months I have met with or had visits to the following organisations involved with helping rough sleepers: Huge Move, Help the Aged, Look Ahead, St. Thomas's Nightshelter, Brighton Housing Trust, Passage House Nightshelter, Bethnal Green Training Centre for the homeless.

I also meet regularly with my hon. Friend the Minister for local Government and the Regions, the Minister responsible for the Government's strategy on rough sleeping, and Louise Casey, Head of the Rough Sleepers' Unit, who is in contact with charities and local service providers on a day-to-day basis.

Regulatory Burden (Public Sector Workers)

25. Mr. Levitt: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps are being taken to reduce the burden of regulation on public sector workers. [159126]

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Mr. Stringer: In November 1999 the Minister for the Cabinet Office established a Public Sector Team within the Regulatory Impact Unit with the remit of cutting red tape and burden in the public sector.

The team has focused on reducing the burden on frontline public sector workers and in the last 12 months has produced reports on:


The reports were widely welcomed among public sector workers and the Public Sector Team is continuing with this work. There are plans for a further three reports during the next 12 months.

NHS Appointments

26. Mr. Brady: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when she last met the Commissioner for Public Appointments to discuss NHS appointments. [159127]

Mr. Stringer: NHS appointments are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.

Government Websites

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps her Department has taken to co-ordinate the development of protocols for providing content for Government websites. [159097]

Mr. Ian McCartney: In 1999 my Department published a Framework for Information Age Government Websites. Included within these guidelines is information on the type of content to be expected on Government sites.

The websites are subject to the conventions on Government publicity. Basically they require that information should:


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These guidelines are available on the Cabinet Office website.

Rural Affairs Committee

Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many meetings of the Government's Rural Affairs Committee she has attended in the last 12 months. [159101]

Marjorie Mowlam: It is established practice under exemption two of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet Committees.

Iran

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to her answer of 21 March 2001, Official Report, column 325, what action she has taken following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Iran on drugs co-operation; and if she will make a statement. [159111]

Marjorie Mowlam: Since signing the Memorandum of Understanding on drugs co-operation on 27 February, UK and Iranian specialists have commenced a UNDCP facilitated technical mission to examine ways of sustaining the reduction of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. We are also discussing ways of furthering our bilateral assistance with the Iranian customs. Both the UK and Iran are committed to vigorous anti-drugs efforts.

Departmental Policies (Amber Valley)

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Amber Valley constituency, the effects on Amber Valley of her Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [157136]

Mr. Stringer: The Cabinet Office is responsible for a range of functions which cover England as a whole, or in relation to non-devolved matters, Great Britain or the United Kingdom. It is therefore not possible to say what their specific impact is on a particular constituency. Additionally any policy changes arising form reports by Cabinet Office units, such as the Social Exclusion Unit and the United Kingdom Anti-Drugs Co-ordination Unit, are implemented by the appropriate Government Department, rather than by the Unit itself.