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Illegal Meat Imports

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she is having with Customs and Excise on (a) detecting the people responsible for importing illegal meat products from China and (b) increasing checks on meat imports coming into Scotland. [73002]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office has frequent discussions with HM Customs & Excise on a wide range of issues.

The relevant public authorities, including HM Customs & Excise, are participating in discussions about illegal meat imports and in an action plan to tackle the problem.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he is having with the Scottish Executive on illegally imported meat from China found on sale in shops; and if she will make a statement. [73003]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office has frequent discussions with the Scottish Executive on a wide range of issues.

The question of illegally imported meat is the subject of discussions and an action plan involving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Scottish Executive, HM Customs & Excise and other public authorities.

Employment Statistics

Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will publish for each constituency in Scotland the (a) actual and (b) percentage change in (i) youth, (ii) long term and (iii) total unemployed since May 1997 and present. [61294]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

The National Statistician will write to the hon. Gentleman shortly and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.

ADVOCATE-GENERAL

Correspondence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Advocate-General what the target time will be in 2002–03 for (a) ministers to reply

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to letters from hon. Members and (b) officials in her Department to reply to letters received directly from members of the public. [44942]

The Advocate-General: I refer the hon Member to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Recruitment

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Advocate-General how many net additional staff her Department has recruited in each month since June 2001 at (a) executive officer level and (b) administrative level. [52422]

The Advocate-General: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Staff Numbers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Advocate-General how many staff were employed by her Department on (a) 2 May 1997 and (b) 31 May 2002. [60924]

The Advocate-General: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, on 13 June, Official Report, column 1402W.

Overseas Trips

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Advocate-General if she will list the overseas trips on departmental business that have been undertaken in each of the last five years by officials in her Department; and what the (a) cost, (b) purpose and (c) result was in each case. [68738]

The Advocate-General: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

TRANSPORT

Ferries (Southern Europe)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in extending the terms of the Stockholm Agreement to ferries operating in Southern Europe. [73198]

Mr. Jamieson: The European Commission's proposal for a directive to extend the "Stockholm" stability standards to all EU-flagged ro-ro ferries and third country flagged ro-ro ferries calling at EU ports was agreed at Transport Council in June. It will now go to the European Parliament for debate, under co-decision procedures.

Community Councils

Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many community councils were operating in England in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. [58877]

Mr. Raynsford: I have been asked to reply.

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Community councils operate in Wales and Scotland. Their counterparts in England are parish councils. 79 new parishes have been created between the years 1997 and 2001.

Mobile Telephones

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to introduce legislation (a) enforcing a ban and (b) introducing a criminal offence for driving while operating a hand held mobile telephone; and if he will make a statement. [72517]

Mr. Jamieson: In accordance with our road safety strategy we are keeping the need for new legislation under review.

Aviation Policy

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the Government are evaluating runway options for Heathrow and Gatwick that will provide additional runway capacity in five years or less; and if he will make a statement. [71900]

Mr. Jamieson: The South East airports consultation document published on 23 July 2002 sets out options for future development of runway capacity in the South East, but none of these options could deliver more runway capacity within five years.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that London Gatwick maintains a network of full service operators and operations to enable passengers from UK regional points who fly into Gatwick to make connections to a network of world-wide services. [71901]

Mr. Jamieson: It is a commercial choice for airlines to decide which routes they serve. Gatwick airport offers a range of inter-connecting opportunities which enables passengers from UK regional points to make connections to a variety of world-wide destinations.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many take-off and landing slots have been handed back to the airport co-ordination slot co-ordinator at London Gatwick in the last 12 months, broken down by airlines. [71902]

Mr. Jamieson: The information requested is not held by the Department.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Ministry of Defence airfields have been included in the Government review of UK aviation policy and subsequent consultations; and if he will make a statement. [71801]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made to the House on 23 July 2002 by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The use of military airfields is considered in the published consultation documents on regional air services and airports. These documents cover the whole of the UK.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many take-off and landing slots have been bought at London Heathrow and Gatwick in the last 12 months, broken down by company. [71904]

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Mr. Jamieson: The information requested is not recorded.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to hold discussions with airlines giving up slots on re-allocating them through the slot co-ordinators for use by regional air services. [71903]

Mr. Jamieson: DfT officials are engaged in ongoing discussions with airlines about regional air services. When an airline gives up a slot, it is returned to the slot pool and allocated by the co-ordinator in accordance with the criteria set out in the Regulations 95–93.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Ministry of Defence about opening up more RAF airfields for civil operations; if such openings will be on a full cost recovery basis; and if they will recognise the obligations on other Government owned airfields. [71905]

Mr. Jamieson: During the preparation of the consultation documents on the Future of Air Transport in the UK, which was published yesterday discussions were held with MOD about the potential commercial use of some of their airfields. The outcome of those discussions is reflected in the consultation documents.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has ensured that in the negotiations with the EU on changes to the slot allocation rules the existing mechanisms to allow for ring fencing of slots and application of public service obligation protection will be maintained after the change in the rules. [71895]

Mr. Jamieson: During Working Group negotiations on the Commission's proposal to amend European Regulation 95–93, the UK will argue that the existing mechanisms available for the ring-fencing of slots for regional air services be maintained.

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Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on recent studies undertaken by his Department on UK-US Government aviation policy options and place the findings of such studies in the Library. [71785]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 22 July 2002]: The Civil Aviation Authority have undertaken an analysis of UK-US aviation policy options on behalf of the Department. This study is informing the evaluation of those options. It would not be appropriate to place the CAA study in the Library at this time, as to do so might undermine the UK's position if further bilateral aviation talks were to be held.


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