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People's Front

Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the oral statement of 4 March 2002, Official Report, column 130, by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, if he will make a statement on the status of the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine. [43561]

Mr. Bradshaw: The People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is not an organisation proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000. The group is none the less a terrorist entity which, for example, claimed responsibility for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Ze'evy in October 2001. The Bank of England froze the assets of the PFLP in 2001 as a result of its involvement in terrorism.

Hawk Aircraft

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Hawk aircraft have been exported to India in the last six months. [42767]

Mr. Bradshaw: None.

PRIME MINISTER

Air Travel

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if the Government have taken a decision on future provision for long-range royal and ministerial air travel. [44087]

The Prime Minister: After 36 years' service the VC10s were withdrawn from their ministerial transport role at the end of 2001. The royal family had ceased using the VC10 nine years ago. The Government considered a number of options for future long-range royal and ministerial air travel. These included chartering commercial aircraft, adapting an existing RAF aircraft, and procuring a new aircraft.

The Government have decided that when a dedicated aircraft is needed it will charter a commercial aircraft. In line with current practice, any accompanying business- people or press will usually be asked to pay their share of costs. Where there are security concerns RAF planes will be used. We assess that this approach is likely to be the most cost-effective. In many cases a dedicated aircraft is not necessary and Ministers and members of the royal family will continue to travel on scheduled flights.

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For the longer-term the Ministry of Defence will consider whether cost-effective provision of royal and ministerial air transport might be incorporated within the contract for the RAF's future strategic tanker aircraft, due to enter service towards the end of this decade.

Social Services Spending

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) on 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 280, regarding social services spending, how much funding has been provided by (a) central Government and (b) local authorities through council tax in the last five years. [42636]

The Prime Minister: Social services funding is increasing by around 20.4 per cent. in real terms between 1996–97 and 2002–03; an average of 3.1 per cent. each year, compared with an average of 0.1 per cent. annual real terms growth between 1992–93 and 1996–97.

Local government's social service responsibilities are funded through general grant as part of the local government finance settlement, ring-fenced grants provided by the Department of Health and local authorities through council tax. Decisions on the budgets local authorities allocate to particular services are for local authorities to make bearing in mind their statutory responsibilities, their priorities and the wishes of their electorate. It is not therefore possible to say how much funding for social services has been provided through council tax or general grant.

General grant is distributed through standard spending assessments (SSA) formulae. The figures in the following table comprise personal social services SSA, which includes an assumed element for council tax, and ring-fenced grants paid by the Department of Health for social services in England. The figures exclude grants paid for social services by other Government Departments.

£ million
1997–987,911.8
1998–998,479.8
1999–20008,862.9
2000–019,307.0
2001–029,957.2

Downing Street (Charity Receptions)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will set out the procedure by which charities apply for receptions at 10 Downing street; [43306]

The Prime Minister: The programme of events at No. 10 is designed to give access to as many people as possible. Events cover a very wide spectrum of charities including NSPCC, Barnados, Sargent Cancer Care for Children, Shelter, Help the Aged, and smaller charities such as Kids, Saving Faces and Contact a Family.

As has always been the practice, it is open to all charities to contact 10 Downing street to apply to hold a reception which is then considered. The guests lists are drawn up by the charity, which also funds the event.

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TRANSPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND

THE REGIONS

Official Visits

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will list the official visits to (a) Paris and (b) Brussels made by each Minister in his Department in 2001 and the mode of travel used; and what guidance is provided to Ministers in his Department on the choice of mode of travel for such visits; [38151]

Dr. Whitehead: Since 1999 this Government have published an annual list of all overseas visits undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken since 1 March 2001 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

The additional detailed information requested in respect of UK travel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Spring Supply Estimates

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the additional grants from the Scottish Executive in item lxxxi on page 8 of the Spring Supply Estimates. [40236]

Dr. Whitehead: The transfer of £1,293,000 to the Scottish Executive, reported at item lxxxi on page 8 of the Spring Supplementary Estimates, is in respect of rail freight facilities grant which, under section 211(4) of the Transport Act 2000, must be paid by the Scottish Executive.

Gender Pay Gap

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the extent of the gender pay gap among staff in his Department. [40997]

Dr. Whitehead: The Government have committed Departments and agencies to review their pay systems by April 2003 and prepare action plans to close any equal pay gaps. The Cabinet Office issued comprehensive guidance in January 2002 to assist in these reviews.

In advance of the Cabinet Office guidance and in conjunction with the local trade union side an equal pay review was instigated in the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Central) during the

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2001 pay round, following guidelines contained in the Equal Opportunities Commission's code of practice. The outcome of this review is subject to the Governments commitment to review pay systems by April 2003.

Special Advisers

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many special advisers were employed by him and his predecessor (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive; and what the total amount spent on special advisers by the Department was in each of those years. [41256]

Dr. Whitehead: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions employed a total of six special advisers between 1 May and 31 December 1997 at a total salary cost of £77,470. In 1998 a total of seven special advisers were employed (of whom no more than six were in post at any one time) at a total salary cost of £142,152. In 1999 a total of seven special advisers were employed (of whom no more than five were in post at any one time) at a total salary cost of £158,400. In 2000 a total of five special advisers were employed at a total salary cost of £197,092. In 2001 a total of eight special advisers were employed (of whom no more than five were employed at any one time) at a total salary cost of £132,278.


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