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HMS Invincible

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he plans to withdraw HMS Invincible from service before 2012. [46459]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 125W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle)


Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account his Department takes of a firm's good practice in (a) training and (b) employment practice in awarding procurement contracts. [46484]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence recognises that supplier training and employment practices are important for the timely delivery of the quality goods and services the MOD requires. The MOD will normally contract only with suppliers who have achieved an appropriate, certified quality management standard. Additionally, it will usually make use of qualification questionnaires and associated tools to help assess a potential supplier's suitability for a contract both before and after invitations to tender are issued. The MOD's standard contract terms also remind suppliers of their obligations under the Racial Discrimination and, where appropriate, Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Acts.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the target time will be in 2002–03 for (a) Ministers to reply to letters from hon. Members and (b) officials in his Department to reply to letters received directly from members of the public. [44955]

Dr. Moonie: In 2002–03, the Ministry of Defence target time for replies to both Ministerial and Treat Official correspondence is within 15 working days.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average length of time taken to answer letters to Ministers has been in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [43949]

Dr. Moonie: Information is published annually by the Cabinet Office on the volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament received by Ministers and Agency Chief Executives; Departments' and Agencies' handling targets; and their performance in meeting these targets. The Report for 2001 is due to be published shortly.

New Deal

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many people have been employed by his Department in each of the last three years under (a) the New Deal for Young People, (b) the New Deal for the Over 50s and (c) the New Deal for Lone Parents; and at what cost, listed by category to public funds; [44921]

3 Apr 2002 : Column 1020W

Dr. Moonie: Data on the number of New Deal appointments under the programme for Young People was recorded from the beginning of the scheme until April 2001. From then, data also included the over 50s and lone parents programmes. Since October 2001 data has not been held centrally on the New Deal programmes. Available data are detailed in the following table:

Financial yearLone parentsOver 50sYoung people aged 18–24Total numbers recruited under New Deal (includes those aged 25 and over)
2001–02 (until October 2001)02610

Forty-two New Deal recruits subsequently became permanent members of staff. Others who have left the scheme will have had the opportunity to acquire new skills and enhance their marketability for employment elsewhere, but information is not held on whether they returned to jobseekers allowance or other benefits. New Deal recruits take up existing vacancies so extra costs to public funds are limited to the subsidy, where appropriate, and any training and development that may be needed. Details of costs are not available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.



Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her EU counterparts on the handling by the European Commission of the issue of CFCs in refrigerator insulating foam. [44929]

Mr. Meacher: My colleagues and I have not discussed the issue of the European Commission's handling of the clarification of the meaning of Article 16 of EC Regulation 2037/2000 with Environment Ministers from other Member States.

We are taking urgent action to ensure recovery facilities are put in place in the UK as quickly as possible. A mobile plant is already operational in Lewes, and we expect that several static plants will be established at various sites around the UK by July, to ensure that the UK will be able to meet its obligations to recover and destroy CFCs from refrigeration insulating foam.

3 Apr 2002 : Column 1021W

Dangerous Substance Rules

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 793W, on dangerous substance rules, if she will place in the Library copies of the correspondence between the Government and the Commission relating to the reasoned opinions referred to; and if she will make a statement on how the Government are dealing with these Reasoned Opinions. [44727]

Mr. Meacher: No, Reasoned Opinion infraction cases are confidential matters between Member States and the Commission.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the second draft of the Environmental Impact Statement on the Ashmoor disposal site will be completed; and if drafts will be placed in the Library. [45922]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The first draft of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the site at Ashmoor is being revised to take account of comments received from the various interested parties we consulted. There is further work to be done and I cannot yet say when it will be completed but we are progressing matters as quickly as possible.

I see no reason to place copies of the draft Assessments in the Library but I will arrange for a copy of the final version to be placed there in due course.

Pesticide Tax

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what monitoring there has been of the annual financial commitments given by the farming unions and the Crop Protection Association in respect of the voluntary measures in place of a pesticide tax; and if she will make a statement.[45923]

Mr. Morley: Some initial monitoring of costs has been carried out by the Steering Group for the voluntary package. The Steering Group are aiming to produce an Annual Report of progress in April/May 2002 which is expected to contain details of costs incurred during the first year of the programme. It is intended that this report will be made widely available and I will place copies in the Library of the House.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what payments have been received from (a) farming unions and (b) the Crop Protection Association since the introduction of the voluntary measures package. [45924]

Mr. Morley: No payments have been received in connection with the voluntary package of measures to minimise the environmental impact of pesticides nor will they be in the future. The farming unions and the Crop Protection Association have estimated the costs to themselves associated with implementing the voluntary package and they will be expected to show actual costs as the programme progresses.

3 Apr 2002 : Column 1022W

Sustainable Development

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's preparations for the forthcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development. [46334]

Mr. Meacher: DEFRA, working closely with other departments, is leading on the UK's domestic and international preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The Department is represented on MISC18, the Cabinet Committee set up to co-ordinate, develop and deliver the Government's strategy for WSSD. DEFRA also chairs two official level groups which co-ordinate preparations across Government. My officials are fully involved in the international preparations for the Summit and are attending the third preparatory meeting in New York which started on 25 March.

DEFRA also leads on the development of a cross Whitehall communications strategy to raise awareness of the Summit. We are working closely with local authorities, NGOs, business and other organisations to ensure that we engage a wide range of stakeholders in the Summit. DEFRA has also developed the government sustainable development website ( to include information on WSSD.

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