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Janet Anderson: As a member of the rural task force, I have actively been proposing measures to help tourism businesses affected by the foot and mouth outbreak. A package of financial measures to help tourist businesses was announced by the chairman of the task force on 20 March 2001, Official Report, columns 191-210. In addition, an extra £24 million for RDAs across the country was announced by DETR on 7 May. This will provide direct help to thousands of rural businesses affected by the foot and mouth outbreak, including grant aid of up to £15,000. This builds on the £15 million already given to the RDAs in the four worst affected areas to provide direct support to businesses and help with promotional campaigns.
We have also announced a package of help for the promotion of tourism to both the domestic and international markets. On 6 April, my Department announced that £3.8 million in additional funding was being made available to the English Tourism Council (ETC) for an advertising and promotion campaign to restore public confidence in visiting the countryside. We also announced that £2.2 million in additional funding was being made available to the British Tourist Authority (BTA) for the promotion of tourism overseas. On 2 May, a further £12 million was made available to support the BTA's marketing campaigns to get the message across to our key overseas markets that Britain is still a great place for a holiday.
The report examines the roles and functions of the galleries, and how these functions contribute to the delivery of wider DCMS and governmental objectives. It confirms that at the present the galleries' status as non-departmental public bodies is the best option for the delivering of their services and considers how the delivery of their services might be improved in the future.
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The publication of the report marks the end of the first stage of the review. The second stage will take forward the recommendations of the first stage and consider how the galleries' services and functions could be provided more efficiently and effectively in the future.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proportion of the overall Legal Services Commission's budget was paid to solicitors in each of the last five years in relation to class actions in the field of clinical negligence and personal injury; and what proportion of this amount related to work which could be carried out at less cost. 
However, the Legal Services Commission, and before it the Legal Aid Board, have taken a number of steps to improve control over the cost of multi-party actions (MPAs). Due to their potential expense, MPAs have been subject to contract control since 1992. An expert panel of solicitors who have experience in handling such litigation was established in 1999, and new arrangements introduced to allow only panel members and any firm already involved in the action to submit a tender for an MPA contract.
Now, under the Commission's Funding Code (introduced in April 2000), cases can be put out to competitive tender among the panel members, at or below specified hourly rates. Typically, the successful firm is then awarded a contract, which regulates the remuneration and conduct of the litigation. Specialist Commission staff manage contracted cases, and those residual cases that are not under contract. As directed by the Lord Chancellor, the Commission has set aside a budget for special cases, of which MPAs are one type. This commenced when the Commission's Funding Code came into effect. In 2001-02 this budget is £4.5 million.
Under the new scheme, the Commission will fund personal injury MPAs only when the action has a significant wider public interest. Funding by the LSC will generally be concentrated only on the central or generic work on the action, leaving individual claims to be pursued under conditional fee agreements.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much the Legal Services Commission paid in each of the last five years to claimants' solicitors in relation to the investigation and running of clinical negligence claims against the NHS; and what proportion of this amount related to payments made to solicitors in relation to the initial investigation of the viability of claims. 
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The Legal Services Commission records the value of main bills paid, comprising solicitors' costs, disbursements and Counsel's fees. The total figures for each year also include the value of claims which are met in full by the opponents. The net cost to the fund of clinical negligence cases is therefore less than the figures given.
It is not possible to identify separately claims against the NHS from claims against GPs and dentists; nor is it possible to identify separately claims against private practitioners from those working in the NHS. The Commission does not record separately amounts claimed for different stages in proceedings, and it is therefore not possible to report separately the cost of initial investigations.Prior to the introduction of civil contracting in January 2000 clinical negligence was not separately identified as a category of advice work. The figures in the table therefore do not provide information regarding payments for advice and assistance work done under the former Green Form system.
A number of measures have been introduced to seek to improve the value for money achieved in clinical negligence cases. From August 1999 only clinical negligence specialists who hold licences with the Commission have been able to provide publicly funded services in new cases. The Commission has a contract with Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA) to provide a merits screening test in clinical negligence cases; this expertise now supports the process of deciding which cases to fund. New guidance and tougher criteria have also been introduced and are aimed at restricting funding for lower value and weaker claims. Consequently there has been an increase in the proportion of claims that were found to lack merit, and were discontinued after the initial investigation, from 51 per cent. in 1996-97 to 60 per cent. in 1999-2000. There has also been an improvement in the success rate of claims that proceed beyond the initial investigation, from 46 per cent. in 1996-97 to 61 per cent. in 1999-2000. The discontinuation at an earlier stage of cases that lack legal merit represents an improvement in value for money. The reforms are also reflected in the number of new certificates issued annually for clinical negligence claims, which are just over half the totals being issued five years ago.
Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if her Department has given (a) practical and (b) financial backing of the World bank loan for the Vision 20/20 proposals; 
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Clare Short: We share the objectives underpinning the 20/20 initiative, but have reservations about its capacity to influence implementation of poverty reduction objectives. The 20/20 idea is based on inputs rather than effective use of resources. While it encourages desirable attention to social programmes, it does not ensure that resources will be directed to the meeting of the International Development targets. As far as we are aware, the World bank is not proposing to provide financial support to the 20/20 initiative.
Dr. Brand: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid and assistance the Government have provided to the people of Chernobyl since 1986; and how much is planned to be made available over the next three years. 
Mr. Mullin: Most UK assistance in response to the Chernobyl disaster is provided through the European Community and through our bilateral aid programmes. In total we have spent over £42 million since 1986.
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