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Intelligence and Security Committee

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the reports produced by the Intelligence and Security Committee, excluding annual reports to him. [73957]

The Prime Minister: In addition to the Intelligence and Security Committee's four Annual Reports and one Interim Report, I have, since May 1997, laid the following two reports on special subjects before the House:

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Mr. Beith: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to give a substantive reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed of 26 March about policy announcements to Parliament. [73902]

The Prime Minister: I replied to the right hon. Member on 1 August.

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will take steps to ensure that the Treasury Minister to whom he has referred for reply letters to him from the right hon. Member Manchester, Gorton dated (a) 9 July with regard to Ms S. Nutter and Ms L. Roberts, (b) 17 July with regard to Mr. S. Pennells and Dr. V. Hay, (c) 22 July with regard to Rev Canon Peter Vowles, (d) 4 July with regard to Ms H. Andrews, (e) 29 July with regard to Ms K. Fletcher and (f) 30 July with regard to Ms C. Mitchell and Ms N. Flanagan replies; and if he will request explanations from Her Majesty's Treasury for its delay in responding to these letters; [74627]

The Prime Minister: I understand that my hon. Friends, the Minister of State for Health and the Economic Secretary replied to my hon. Friend's letters on 11 September and 23 September respectively.

I have written to my right hon. Friend explaining that I place great importance on the efficient handling of all correspondence and take an active interest in our performance in this regard. As far as I am aware all the letters he has raised have now been answered.

Patriotism Envoy

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Prime Minister what studies and initiatives have been undertaken since he appointed a patriotism envoy; and at what cost. [74263]

The Prime Minister: I have not appointed a patriotism envoy. However, the Government has undertaken a range of initiatives on this issue. For example, the Department for Education and Skills, in partnership with the Citizenship Foundation, has run British identity roadshows in London, Sheffield and Cardiff at a cost of around #5,000. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (the hon. Member for North Swindon) (Mr. Wills) has given four seminars hosted by the Social Market Foundation on this issue. He has also written a pamphlet on this issue published by the Social Market Foundation and several newspaper articles. There was no cost to Her Majesty's Government.

Faith Envoy

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the (a) engagements undertaken by the hon. Member for Leeds, West since his appointment as unofficial faith envoy; and (b) articles and interviews authorised by the envoy; and what initiatives are planned in the next two months. [74264]

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The Prime Minister: Shortly after the last general election I asked the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) to take on an informal role as my unofficial representative to the faith communities thereby serving as an extra channel of communication between faith groups and Government. Since his appointment he has met with many religious representatives. As it is an unofficial role the hon. Member is primarily responsible for deciding and arranging his engagements and written contributions.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister how many peerages have been created since May 1997. [73903]

The Prime Minister: 269 life peers have been created since 1 May 1997. This includes peers nominated by my predecessor but created after the 1997 General Election. Of these, 116 have been appointed specifically either as Labour Ministers or as Labour working peers.

British Energy

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what recent discussions he has had about (a) the future of British Energy and (b) the future of nuclear power generation in the United Kingdom; [74392]

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, kept me informed, as she was informed by British Energy of its financial position.

The Government is currently carrying out a review of energy policy with a view to issuing a White Paper around the turn of the year. The review includes consideration of the role of nuclear power generation.

Arnab Banerji

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Prime Minister what role he played in the appointment of Arnab Banerji as the Prime Minister's adviser on financial matters; and what formal mechanisms are in place for liaison between Dr. Banerji and the Treasury. [74491]

The Prime Minister: I have appointed Arnab Banerji as a special adviser in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 50 of the Ministerial Code. He is employed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers.


Drug Dependency

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what Government services are available for people with drug problems who are seeking work; [74401]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: We are committed to helping unemployed people who have decided to kick their drug habit and move into work. Our policies and programmes are helping people with drug problems to overcome them and lead healthy and productive lives, a key aim of the Government's Anti-Drugs Strategy.

Jobcentre Plus provides a wide range of help for people recovering from drug problems, including early access to programmes like the New Deal and Work Based Learning for Adults.

In addition, we are introducing progress2work, a #40 million initiative to give unemployed people who are recovering from their drug problem the extra help they need to get into work.

Progress2work will provide specialist support to help recovering drug mis-users to make the best use of our welfare to work initiatives and move into jobs. It will equip Jobcentre Plus staff with the skills and knowledge they need to better identify people whose drug mis-use puts them at a disadvantage in the labour market, and refer them to appropriate provision.

We launched the first progress2work projects in the spring in 27 pathfinder areas throughout the country, including one in my hon. Friend's constituency. The second phase of the initiative begins in a further 36 areas from this month. We plan to roll out the programme nationally from next year.

In progress 2 work, close contact is maintained with jobseekers when they move into work or training to anticipate and assist, where necessary, with any problems that may cause them to drop out or relapse. The assistance given is dependent on the individual's needs but can include, for example, referral to a drugs agency, help with accommodation and debt problems, or confidence building and support to manage the transition into employment.

Post Office

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what restrictions there will be on Post Office customers collecting (a) child benefit, (b) pensions and (c) other benefits at post offices; and which bank accounts will not be accessible via the Post Office. [74361]

Malcolm Wicks: We have given a commitment that all customers who wish to collect their benefit or pension in cash at post offices will continue to be able to do so.

The Post Office already has arrangements with some High Street banks—Girobank/Alliance and Leicester, Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Cahoot, Smile and Co-op Bank, and First Direct (Scotland only)—to provide their banking facilities free of charge to customers. The Post Office also provides a cheque cashing facility for customers of other banks, but a charge is made for this service.

From April 2003, these arrangements will be complemented with the main banks and the Nationwide Building Society making their basic bank accounts

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widely available through post offices. The Post Office is also developing a Post Office card account. This will only be available through post offices and will allow benefit and pension customers to access their cash without charge at the post office.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether he plans to allow applicants to open a Post Office account (a) in person at post office counters and (b) in writing; [74359]

Mr. McCartney: Customers who wish to open Post Office card accounts will need to discuss their account options with the relevant paying Department. They will then be given a letter to take to their Post Office branch where they will be issued with an application form. The Post Office plan to have available the card account service from April 2003.

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