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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for the Multinational Brigade Centre led by the United Kingdom in Kosovo to be merged with the French-led Multinational Brigade North; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The future of the Multinational Brigades in Kosovo will be decided in the light of the major review currently being undertaken by NATO of its operations in the Balkans. The review, entitled the Joint Operational Area Review, will be discussed by NATO Foreign Ministers later this month. We welcome the review and remain committed to maintaining a military contribution to NATO peacekeeping in the Balkans. The form that this contribution will take has yet to be decided.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Chief of the EU military staff regarding organisational change in NATO; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his (a) EU and (b) NATO counterparts regarding organisational change in NATO; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Preparations for this November's NATO Summit in Prague include work on a range of issues (including NATO's command and force structures, enlargement, resource management and Headquarters structures and processes) with organisational implications. I discuss these issues on a regular basis with NATO colleagues. We also work to ensure good contacts with the EU in relevant areas.
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regarding creation of a Special Operations Coordination Centre at SHAPE; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received from his US counterpart regarding a creation of European Mobility Command to coordinate existing and future European airlift assets; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: None. We are working closely with allies and with NATO staffs to develop a capabilities improvements programme to build upon NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative at the Prague Summit in November, and it is likely that improvements in airlift will continue to be a key objective. The existing European Airlift Co-ordination Cell already provides a means of sharing airlift capacity among a number of European countries.
Mr. Hoon: This was the latest regular meeting of the heads of 20 air forces within the forum of the European Air Chiefs Conference (EURAC) which was established in 1993. The aim of EURAC is to improve co-operation and understanding among European air forces, thereby increasing their efficiency and effectiveness.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what action he is taking to establish a national graduate training scheme for local government. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Employers' Organisation (EO) has put in place a national graduate development programme (NGDP) for local government, which begins in September this year. This programme is to address the need to recruit a new generation of managers with the leadership potential to shape the future of local government.
Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many seats on parish and town councils in England and Wales were vacant on 1 January in each year since 1995. 
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Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research projects have been commissioned by his Department into electronic voting since June 2000; and if he will state in each case (a) the organisation or consortium members carrying out the research, (b) the cost, (c) the purpose and title, (d) the date on which the research was or is due to be delivered to his Department and (e) the date or expected date of publication of the results. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Department has commissioned one research project into this area since June 2000. It is entitled 'The Implementation of Electronic Voting' and is being undertaken by De Montfort university at a cost of £84,910. The project has examined the practical requirements for the implementation of remote electronic voting. It is intended to publish the research later this month.
Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will take steps to rectify the disparity in total external support to local authorities covering the Bromsgrove area in the local government White Paper; 
Dr. Whitehead: We are working to develop options for fairer and more intelligible grant distribution formulae. We will consult on options over the summer and will consider the responses when we come to take decisions.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether a change in the material used to fill the package to be used to transport the mox fuel from Japan to Sellafield from argon gas to water requires the flask to be re-certified, proven and tested in compliance with the IAEA Safety Series 6 Regulations of the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials. 
Mr. Jamieson: The certificate of approval ceases to have effect in the event of any alteration to the composition of the package, the package design or in any of the facts stated in the application unless the Competent Authority confirms the certificate notwithstanding the alteration.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if the approval process for the shipment and the transport package for the mox fuel due to be returned from Japan to Sellafield has assessed the level of risk and consequences for all reasonably foreseeable incidents that could arise in United Kingdom territorial waters and during docking, handling and onward transport from Barrow to Sellafield, including (a) fuel criticality events, (b) flask drop and impact incidents, (c) fire and/or
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explosion on board the ship, (d) sinking of the ship and (e) significant incidents during the rail transport phase. 
Mr. Jamieson: The approval process assesses against the performance standards and test conditions prescribed in the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which establish standards of safety designed to provide an acceptable level of control of the radiation, criticality and thermal hazards to persons, property and the environment, taking into account routine, normal and accident conditions of transport.
Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what coolant will be used in the replacement of the air conditioning and water coolant for the QEII Centre. 
Dr. Whitehead: Specialist advisers have considered all technological alternatives for the replacement of these air conditioning chillers. The choice of refrigerant will be in accordance with the relevant Government policies and I will be happy to confirm the final refrigerant selection within the next two months.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what role parish councils will play in the revised planning procedures envisaged by the Government for (a) major infrastructure projects and (b) other planning applications. 
Ms Keeble: Local planning authorities are required to consult or notify various organisations and bodies. This includes parish councils that have asked to be notified of certain applications. We are concerned that the present arrangements for consulting expert bodies on planning and other cases are not working as effectively as they might. The distinction between statutory and non- statutory consultees has become blurred and consultation can often be a source of delay.
One option proposed in our consultation paper "Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change" is to clarify the basis of determining whether bodies should be statutory consultees and reduce their number. Decisions about which bodies might in future be statutory consultees will be made in the light of the consultation. The consultation paper also contains a number of proposals to promote better engagement of local communities in shaping the future development of their areas.
We have proposed the introduction of a new procedure which would enable Parliament to make a decision in principle on certain major infrastructure projects. It is for Parliament to determine how this procedure might operate and how representations from interested organisations, such as parish councils, might be considered.
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