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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 11 January 2002



Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Council if he will estimate the number of individuals in his (a) Department, (b) related agencies and (c) related non- departmental public bodies whose annual remuneration including benefits in kind exceeded (i) £100,000 and (ii) £200,000 in each of the last four years. [26317]

Mr. Robin Cook: None.

Members Salaries

Matthew Taylor: To ask the President of the Council what assessment he has made of the reasons for the difference between the final voted departmental expenditure limit and provisional outturn for financial year 2000–01, as listed in the Treasury document, Public Expenditure 2000–01: Provisional Outturn, for Vote XIII, subsection 4 House of Commons: Members' Salaries; and if he will make a statement. [24117]

Mr. Robin Cook: The figure included in "Public Expenditure 2000–01" was a misprint. Full details of outturn against 2000–01 provision will be published in the appropriation accounts to be presented to the House by 31 January.

People's Peers

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council when the House of Lords Appointments Commission will invite applications for the second round of appointments of people's peers. [24381]

Mr. Robin Cook: The decision rests with the Prime Minister. The membership of the House of Lords, including that of non-party political peers, is kept under on-going review.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council whether further applications from previously unsuccessful applicants for a people's peerage will be invited; and if he will make a statement. [24384]

Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that all unsuccessful applicants were informed that they could renominate themselves, should they choose to do so. Their existing nomination is not carried forward, but there is nothing to stop someone reapplying.

House of Lords Appointments Commission

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council what recent steps the House of Lords Appointments Commission has taken to encourage more applications from under-represented groups. [24382]

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Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that the report which the House of Lords Appointments Commission published alongside its first list of names in April 2001 made clear that they wanted to encourage more high-quality nominations from women, and from other regions of the country outside of the south-east. The commission has also made clear that its wishes to continue receiving outstanding nominations from ethnic minorities.


Serious Sexual Crimes (Sentences)

Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will bring forward measures to increase the severity of sentences of people convicted of serious sexual crimes. [24131]

Mr. Keith Bradley: Under the broad review of sentencing that began in July 2001, we are looking at tougher determinate sentences for sex offenders that will ensure they stay in prison, up to the full term if necessary, so long as they continue to present a risk of harm to our communities and that they are subject to strict and extended supervision on release. We are also looking at a requirement that where a life sentence is an option judges should not shy away from using it if the professional evidence shows that there is a clear risk that the offender will commit further sex offences. We want greater clarity and transparency, with indeterminate sentences given to serious offenders where appropriate.

Special Advisers

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints have been reported in his Department under paragraph 11 of the civil service code since 13 May 1999, and how many of them related to special advisers. [25336]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 9 January 2002]: In line with section 11 of the code, there are arrangements in place which allow civil servants in the main Home Office and its agencies to raise any matter of concern in confidence with their line managers, in the first instance, or thereafter with one of several nominated officials. It is not possible to provide a figure for the number of these complaints as there is no requirement for managers to report to the centre those which are resolved within the management line, nor is a central record kept of complaints raised direct with nominated officials.


Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate possible connections between fraud and a north London mosque which has been identified to him; and if he will make a statement. [25184]

Mr. Blunkett: Any information provided to me or my Department on alleged criminal activity—including information passed to me by my hon. Friend—is shared with the police, who are continuing to investigate. I have corresponded with my hon. Friend on the issues raised.

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Workplace Drug Testing

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the value of workplace drug testing for (a) alcohol, (b) cannabis, (c) heroin, (d) amphetamine and (e) cocaine among civil servants. [24997]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Home Office Drug Strategy Directorate is currently developing, with partners, a strategy for tackling the issue of drug misuse in the workplace. One of the proposed outcomes is the production of definitive guidance to employers, in all sectors, of best practice in managing drug issues in workplace settings. The strategy will aim to include a balanced view on the comparative worth of drug testing as a tool for employers, and cover each of the drugs specified in the question. The current intention is to publish the guidance during the financial year 2002–03 and make it widely available.

NCIS and NCS Authorities

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in appointing the chair of the service authorities for the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the National Crime Squad. [27346]

Mr. Blunkett: I have appointed Mr. David Lock to be the Chair of the Service Authorities from 1 April 2002.



Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans her Department has for addressing the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [25991]

Clare Short: There are acute shortages of food and other basic supplies in Zimbabwe as a result of misgovernment. During the last six months DFID has provided £4 million in essential drug supplies, and £4 million for non-governmental supplementary feeding programmes—targeting vulnerable children in particular. The UN has now developed a humanitarian assistance programme to help an estimated one million people. I have agreed to provide a further £6 million for this programme, supporting World Food Programme feeding activities, and helping the World Health Organisation to maintain essential medical supplies. In all of these programmes, special consideration has been given to delivery mechanisms to ensure that those in need benefit regardless of their tribal or political affiliations.


MMR Vaccine

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the annual cost of giving individual injections in place of the MMR vaccine; what the time interval required between such

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individual injections would be; and what estimate he has made of the vulnerability of children to particular diseases within the time gaps; [7109]

Yvette Cooper: Separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in place of MMR have never been recommended by the Government's independent expert advisory committees on immunisation. As a result, no estimates have been made of the cost of giving separate vaccines. Cost is not an issue in decisions over MMR immunisation.

We are not aware of any studies that have looked at the relative merits of possible time gaps between separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. The researcher who first put this suggestion forward has stated that a gap of "at least a year" should be left between each vaccine. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this suggestion.

The risk to an individual child of contracting one or more of the diseases MMR protects against as a result of having separate vaccines rather than MMR will vary in different parts of the country. The risk will increase the longer a child is left unprotected. The unborn child of a pregnant women who is not immune to rubella will also be at increased risk from disease should the pregnant woman come into contact with an unimmunised individual.

There have been several hundred representations from members of the public about MMR. It is not possible to say how many are from the medical profession. The British Medical Association and the Royal Colleges who represent members of medical positions support our policy on MMR.

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