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Compensation Agency

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the future plans of the Compensation Agency are; and when they will be published. [29363]

Dr. John Reid: The Compensation Agency will publish today its corporate plan for 2001–04 and business plan for 2001–02. I have set the agency the following 11 key performance targets for 2001–02:

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Chris Grayling: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 289, if he will publish the documentation to support his reference to the uncovering by the Railtrack administrator of more financial difficulties at the company. [26409]

The Prime Minister: No. These are matters for Railtrack plc and its administrator. The administrator will lodge a Statement of Proposals with the Registrar of Companies and others, including creditors of Railtrack plc, at a time to be agreed by the court. The statement will therefore be widely available. It will contain the administrator's proposals and strategy for transferring the business to another company or companies and the carrying on of the relevant activities before making the transfer. And as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions told the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee on 16 January this will include a statement of affairs from the Directors of Railtrack, that will

Interception of Communications

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Lewes, of 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 367W, whether his policy in respect of telephone tapping of hon. Members extends to (a) other methods of interception of communications and (b) bugging. [27518]

The Prime Minister: The policy extends to all forms of warranted interception of communications.

As to bugging, the position remains as I informed the House on 4 December 1997, Official Report, column 321, the policy applies in relation to the use of electronic surveillance by any of the three security and intelligence agencies as well as to telephone interception.

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Ministerial Transport

Bob Russell: To ask the Prime Minister 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. [28094]

The Prime Minister: I last travelled by train on 6 December 2001 from Paddington to Reading. I travel making the most efficient and cost-effective arrangements, and will continue to use the railway service regularly when appropriate. My travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 7 of the Ministerial Code, and the accompanying guidance document, Travel by Ministers.

Special Advisers

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Prime Minister which special advisers have the authority to give directions to civil servants. [28355]

The Prime Minister: Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Prime Minister what the average time is that the Head of his Department has recommended since May 1997 between a special adviser leaving his Department and taking up outside employment; and if he will make a statement. [28908]

The Prime Minister: All special advisers are covered by the Business Appointment rules which are set out in full in the Civil Service Management Code. Each case is considered on its own individual merit, and an average of the outcomes would therefore be meaningless and potentially misleading. Individual applications submitted to the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments for advice are reported on in the committee's annual report.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Prime Minister what matters in respect of United Kingdom assistance to Russia in its weapons dismantlement and nuclear materials management programmes were discussed in his meeting with President Putin in December 2001. [28538]

The Prime Minister: At our joint press conference, President Putin and I announced the signature of an agreement to provide £12 million to help destroy Russia's stock of chemical weapons.

I also said we hope this year to be in a position to complete agreement on assistance for the clean-up of nuclear submarines.

Staff (Terms of Employment)

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what the (a) date and period of appointment, (b) qualification and (c) status of the contract is of each person appointed to (i) the Forward Strategy Unit and (ii) the Performance and Innovation Unit. [28500]

The Prime Minister: Details of the terms of employment of individual members of staff are confidential.

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Environmental Appraisals

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) when the last occasion was on which she requested an environmental appraisal before making a policy decision; [29039]

Mr. Foulkes: The Scotland Office is a small Government Department with limited programme expenditure and procurement capacity. It has therefore not been necessary for it to carry out any environmental appraisals since its establishment in July 1999. The Scotland Office's management board take environmental considerations into account as part of its normal decision-taking process, including its Spending Review submission to the Treasury.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many officials from her Department have attended the environmental appraisal and integration into policy training course run by the Civil Service College. [29042]

Mr. Foulkes: None.

Attendance Allowance

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what plans she has to make representations to the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider its decision to withdraw attendance allowance to those recipients who will be entitled to receive free personal care in Scotland; [28954]

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Mr. Foulkes: The Scottish Executive, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Treasury and the Scotland Office had a number of discussions on this matter. These discussions were amicable. Throughout, it was recognised that decisions on care services are devolved and those on benefits are reserved. The Government have made it clear that they are not prepared to transfer resources in this area to the Scottish Executive. The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care, Mr. Malcolm Chisholm, said on 15 January that the discussions were concluded and the matter would not be taken any further.

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