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Post Office

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made since January on negotiations between the Post Office and its partners on the Universal bank. [36337]

Mr. Darling: Good progress continues to be made. I shall keep the House informed.

Accountancy Contracts

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish the (a) number and (b) value of contracts awarded by his Department to

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(i) Arthur Andersen, (ii) Deloitte & Touche, (ii) Ernst & Young, (iv) KPMG and (v) PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants in each year since 1997. [34985]

Mr. McCartney: The information requested on the number of contracts let is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information requested on value of contracts is provided in the table as follows:

Remuneration
£ million

1997–981998–991999–20002000–01
Arthur Andersen0000
Deloitte & Touche2.42.42.810.7
Ernst & Young1.92.73.80.98
KPMG0.11.00.420.52
PWC1.71.20.320.47

Figures relate to contracts awarded by the ex Department of Social Security up to the last full financial year for which information is available.

Arthur Andersen: the figures in the table relate to Andersen Worldwide, Arthur Andersen (AA) and not to Andersen Consulting which split from the Andersen Worldwide organisation in 1999.

Remuneration with Deloitte & Touche rose sharply between 1999–2000 and 2000–01 because, following competition, they were selected as a strategic partner for the Child Support Agency to assist in implementing Child Support Reforms. The increased remuneration reflects the increased work done under this partnership since late 1999, for example business process and organisational design and planning and IS/IT assurance.

Ernst & Young/CGEY. The consulting arm of Ernst & Young was purchased by Cap Gemini in 2000 to form Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY).

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) was formed on 1 July 1998 as the result of a merger of the Price Waterhouse and Coopers and Lybrand organisations.

Jobcentres

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of jobcentres in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland are equipped with Jobpoint terminals. [36747]

Mr. Nicholas Brown [holding answer 25 February 2002]: The rollout of Jobpoints across the network of Jobcentres will be completed by the end of February. Currently some 99 per cent. of Jobcentres in Great Britain, and in Scotland, are equipped with Jobpoint terminals. Jobcentres in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Special Advisers

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on how many occasions since 1 May 1997 (a) departmental and (b) non-departmental special advisers have travelled abroad in an official capacity; and if he will list the total cost, including (i) travel, (ii) accommodation and (iii) subsistence allowance, for each occasion. [37986]

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Mr. McCartney [holding answer 27 February 2002]: Between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2001, special advisers in my Department did not travel abroad on any occasion. Information for the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 2000 is already in the public domain. All travel by special advisers is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the ministerial code, and the civil service management code.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets he has set for reducing discrimination against older people. [36344]

Mr. McCartney: We are vigorously promoting the benefits of recruiting, training and retaining older workers as part of our Age Positive campaign and to help employers prepare for the introduction of employment legislation by 2006.

We have set ourselves a target of increasing the employment rate of people aged 50 and over. The new deal 50 plus has already helped 127 people move into work in the hon. Member's constituency. Our new Jobcentre Plus service will help all those people on benefits who want to find work, regardless of age. [One of the Jobcentre Plus pathfinders is near to my hon. Friend's constituency, in Livingston]. We are building on the success of the measures we have already taken which have helped increase the employment rate for older people in each of the past four years.

Action Teams for Jobs

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement about the effectiveness of Action Teams for Jobs. [36329]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Action Teams for Jobs are helping to tackle joblessness in the most employment deprived areas in the country. Action Teams are performing well. In their first year of operation, they helped nearly 16,500 people into work—over 40 per cent. of participants.

As part of the extension of the Action Teams initiative last October, a new team was created in south Manchester, covering my hon. Friend's constituency. By mid- February, the team had already engaged with 167 clients.

DEFENCE

Nancekuke

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the (a) morbidity and (b) mortality records for workers at CDE Nancekuke in Cornwall; and if he will make a statement on the results. [34865]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has not conducted any investigation of the mortality of ex- members of staff at CDE Nancekuke since the 1970 report from the Registrar General that concluded that there were no excess deaths or any differences in the cause of death compared to the national population.

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However, the MOD has looked again at the data compiled at about the same time on the morbidity of Nancekuke workers. I have concluded that although the quality of the available information is not sufficient to produce a definitive scientific paper, there was nothing to suggest an excess morbidity in ex-Nancekuke staff.

Military Bases

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of US bases in the UK since 11 September 2001; and if he will make a statement. [38063]

Dr. Moonie: Security at Ministry of Defence establishments is kept under constant review. It is MOD policy not to disclose details of security measures.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent changes there have been to policy regarding MDP reserves being used to secure and protect military bases; and if he will make a statement. [38068]

Dr. Moonie: There are no Ministry of Defence police reserves, although there is an MDP Operational Support Unit (OSU) of 50 officers based at MDP Headquarters in Wethersfield in Essex. OSU officers continue, as before, to be used to enable MDP to meet exceptional demands to resources and to provide specialist skills as and where required.

BAE Systems Broach Penetrating Warhead

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected cost is of flight trials of the AGM 154c carrying the BAE Systems Broach penetrating warhead; and if he will make a statement. [38228]

Dr. Moonie: The AGM 154c (Joint Stand-Off Weapon) is a United States Navy Programme. As such, the Ministry of Defence has no visibility of the costs involved.

Atlantic Patrol Task (North)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the length of the deployment of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) to the West Indies was set at nine months. [38947]

Mr. Ingram: The length of the deployment of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) is not stipulated as nine months. The Atlantic Patrol Task came into effect on 1 November 1998 to allow greater flexibility on how peacetime deployments to the Caribbean, South Atlantic and West Africa were managed. Since November 1998, the annual average cover by the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) in the Caribbean region has been nine and a half months.

Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his study into the Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft capability; when the outcome will be made public; and what assessment he has made of existing helicopter designs. [38949]

Dr. Moonie: The Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft project is currently nearing completion of its concept phase. During this phase we have identified a

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number of options that have the potential to meet the capability requirements when the Maritime Lynx goes out of service. A number of existing helicopter designs are potentially able to meet these requirements, including the Future Lynx proposal from Westlands Helicopter Ltd., and these will be considered further in the assessment phase. I expect to be able to make a further announcement about the next stage for this project later this year.


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