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Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the representations (a) made to and (b) received from the European Commission by her Department in respect of the Sellafield MOX plant since 1 January. [19406]

Margaret Beckett: I have been asked to reply.

Further to my answer to my hon. Friend on 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 681W, I understand that the European Commission wrote to the Department of Trade and Industry on 20 November 2001 about whether state aid had been granted to the Sellafield MOX plant. The DTI does not believe that any state aid has been given to the plant and replied on 7 January.


Minimum Wage

5. Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Minister for Women how many women have benefited from the national minimum wage. [25587]

Ms Hewitt: Around 1 million women, and about half a million men, have benefited from the new rates for the national minimum wage which took effect on 1 October 2001.

17 Jan 2002 : Column 426W

Women's Issues

6. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Minister for Women if she will make a statement on her role on the promotion of women's issues in Government. [25588]

Ms Hewitt: As Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women I am determined to ensure that the needs, and the contribution, of women, who make up nearly half the work force, are properly understood, and rewarded. Women have a valuable part to play in driving up the productivity and competitiveness of the United Kingdom. That is why I place great importance on encouraging flexible working practices and other measures which enable both women, and men, to make a full contribution at work and at home.

Wealth Creation

7. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Minister for Women what steps she is taking to increase wealth creating opportunities for women in the most deprived areas. [25589]

Ms Hewitt: The Phoenix Fund, which provides grants to business to support projects for disadvantaged communities, has supported 21 projects which are specifically targeted at women, although the other projects also assist women entrepreneurs within their target groups. Devolved Administrations make their own arrangements in this area.

Working Mothers

Mr. Wray: To ask the Minister for Women what steps she is taking to make it easier for those mothers who want to return to work to do so. [25581]

Ms Hewitt: The Government have introduced a range of measures, including the national childcare strategy, the new deal for lone parents and the new deal for partners, learn direct and the working families tax credit, all of which help mothers who want to return to work. The Employment Bill currently before Parliament includes a number of measures to enable more mothers to remain in the labour market.

17 Jan 2002 : Column 427W


Health Consultation Document

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 183W, on the health consultation document, if he will request from the Welsh Assembly an analysis of the responses to the consultation document. [26727]

Mr. Touhig: This is a matter for the National Assembly of Wales and I understand that it is not the Assembly's intention to publish an executive summary.

The Assembly received a substantial number of responses in the last three days of the consultation period, and for ease of handling decided to number and summarise these individually.

Copies of these summaries were then placed in the Libraries of the House of Commons and the National Assembly. Also, further copies were made available in the Assembly's Publication Centre for ease of access to the general public.

Ministerial Transport

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last used the railway service in connection with his official duties; what station he left from and what was the destination; and whether it is his intention to make greater use of the railways in future. [28106]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I make regular use of the railway in connection with my official duties, and will continue to do so. My most recent journey was from Cardiff Central to London Paddington on Monday 14 January.

Departmental Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will commission and publish an independent report on the reasons for the level of sickness absence in his Department. [26998]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Cabinet Office already commissions and publishes an independent annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". This report includes details of the causes of absenteeism. The report for the year 2000 will be published shortly.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales 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. [26329]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The figures for the Welsh Office and its agencies (until 1999) and (since 1999) for the Wales Office, which has no agencies, are:

In excess of £100,000In excess of £200,000
1 April 1998:00
1 April 1999:20
1 April 2000:00
1 April 2001:00

17 Jan 2002 : Column 428W

Information on NDPBs is provided in the Cabinet Office publication "Public Bodies".

Memorandum of Understanding

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the costs to public funds of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding and supplementary agreements. [24759]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Memorandum of Understanding and supplementary texts are agreements between the UK Government and devolved Administrations on how they intend conducting relations between the Administrations.

It reflects administrative and policy best practice on issues such as co-operation, exchange of information, correspondence and parliamentary business. Supplementary texts add more detail for the international and EU fields, statistics and financial assistance to industry.

A revised version of the MoU was published on 18 December as Command Paper 5240. 300 copies were printed, at a cost of £3,851. These costs were met from the Cabinet Office budget. The main distribution medium will be via the Cabinet Office's website


Buildings Refurbishment

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her estimate is of the cost of buildings refurbishment carried out by her Department in each of the last four years. [27961]

Clare Short: The only refurbishment project that my Department has undertaken over the past four years was in relation to our new recently opened headquarters building at 1 Palace street, London.

The expenditure on refurbishment and associated fees was as follows:

£ million

(3) Estimate for whole financial year


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate her Department has made of the cost to its budget since 1 May 1997 of fraud; and if she will make a statement. [27294]

Clare Short: The estimated cost to DFID's budget of fraud in the period 1 April 1997 to 31 March 2001 is some £250,000, of which £175,000 can be attributed to contractor fraud. Of the remaining sum, £22,000 relates to the theft of assets which, in line with Treasury

17 Jan 2002 : Column 429W

guidance, has been classified as involving departmental staff either directly or through collusion. Details of suspected or proven fraud are provided to the Treasury on an annual basis. The annual report that the Treasury prepares on fraud is deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she intends to reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton dated 3 December 2001 with regard to Mrs. K. Khan. [27320]

Clare Short: We have received a very large number of letters about the situation in Afghanistan. I regret the delay in replying to my right hon. Friend and intend to send him a reply shortly.


Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what specific assistance she gives to help people suffering from leprosy; and if she will make a statement. [27156]

Clare Short: Leprosy is a curable disease, and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability. Three quarters of a million cases are still detected each year, of which about 70 per cent. are in India. Ten developing countries account for 90 per cent. of cases. An effective drug cure is available free of charge via the World Health Organisation (WHO) in sufficient quantities to treat all people diagnosed with the disease. The priority now is to get treatment to all who need it, especially in isolated rural areas. To eliminate the disease, political commitment in the key endemic countries is needed along with the successful integration of leprosy treatment into strengthened general health services. Our strategy is to support the creation of basic health care systems—encompassing the public, private and informal sectors—to improve poor people's access to the care, services and essential health products to safeguard their health. Within the foreseeable future it should be possible to reduce the prevalence of the disease to such a low level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem.

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