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Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on lone parent students of the transition from income support to jobseeker's allowance; 
Chris Grayling: Prior to November 2008 lone parents could claim income support until their youngest child reached 16. This age has been progressively reduced, and currently lone parents with a youngest child aged seven and over wishing to claim benefit have to claim jobseeker's allowance if they are capable of work.
Lone parents who are in receipt of income support and are full-time students or undertaking a full-time course on the new deal for lone parents programme (or as part of an approved scheme) prior to the change can remain entitled to income support until they finish their course or their youngest child reaches the relevant age in force at the time they started the course, whichever happens first.
Lone parents who decide to undertake a full-time course after the income support entitlement change came into force will not be able to claim jobseeker's allowance but may be able to access support from the educational maintenance system which, unlike the social security system, is designed for their needs. Lone parents studying part-time can claim jobseeker's allowance but need to demonstrate they are available for and actively seeking work.
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which disability organisations the Minister with responsibility for disabled people has met to discuss the future of the independent living fund. 
Maria Miller: I have met with a number of disability organisations and other bodies to discuss the future of the independent living fund: the chair of Equality 2025; the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability; the Disability Charities Consortium and the Disabled People's Organisations Group; and the Independent Living Fund Advisory Group. I have also met with other disability organisations individually, including speaking with the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), and will continue to do so as we consider the future of the independent living fund in the context of the spending review.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what Jobcentre Plus services his Department plans to make available via the post office network; and how many Jobcentre Plus staff he expects to be deployed in post offices. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about what Jobcentre Plus services his Department plans to make available via the Post Office network; and how many Jobcentre Plus staff he expects to be deployed in post offices. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Coalition Government policy statement 'Securing the Post Office Network in the Digital Age' published on 9 November 2010 sets out the services which the Department for Work and Pensions is considering piloting with the Post Office.
Jobcentre Plus, as part of the Department for Work and Pensions, is actively considering opportunities to work closely with the Post Office. This includes exploring the potential to make more use of the Post Office network, for example to support Jobcentre Plus in the administration of the National Insurance Number application process. No decisions have been taken about whether there is sufficient potential to merit piloting any of the opportunities being considered. There is no intention at this stage to locate Jobcentre Plus staff in Post Office premises.
Jobcentre Plus already provides outreach services in over 1,500 partner premises including community centres, children's centres, prisons and schools. The extent of co-location can vary from a few hours each week to a full time presence. These decisions are taken by local managers in conjunction with partner organisations to meet local need.
It is our intention to take a positive and constructive approach to identify opportunities to work more closely with the Post Office to deliver a service that represents best value for our customers and the taxpayer.
Chris Grayling: At present jobseekers are required to agree a jobseeker's agreement with their personal adviser. The introduction of the Claimant Commitment strengthens this existing requirement and extends it to other benefits. It will be integrated into the existing claims process and will help streamline current, benefit-specific actions. As such, the commitment is expected to have a minimal impact on Jobcentre Plus resource requirements.
Chris Grayling: Following a competitive tender exercise the Medical Services Agreement between Atos Healthcare and the Department for Work and Pensions was awarded on 15 March 2005 by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The contract went live on 1 September 2005, for a period of seven years, with options to extend for a further three and two years. On 1 November 2010 I awarded a contract extension to 31 August 2015 to facilitate the delivery of incapacity benefit reassessment. The new disability living allowance assessment service from 2013, is not included in the extension but will be awarded through a competitive tendering process.
Steve Webb: The Department for Work and Pensions awarded Atos Origin IT Services Ltd. trading as Atos Healthcare, the contract to provide medical services on behalf of the Department from 1 September 2005. The total cost of these services amounts to approximately £100 million per annum. This figure not only covers the total number of examinations undertaken across all benefits, but also costs relating to written and verbal medical advice, fixed overheads, administrative costs, investment in new technology and other service improvements.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what performance standards are required in his Department's contract with Atos in respect of medical checks on benefit claimants; and what the outcome has been of performance
assessments of Atos undertaken by his Department in the last 24 months. 
Chris Grayling: The Department manages all aspects of performance and service delivery of the medical services contract through the monitoring of: service level performance, quality audits and complaints.
The contractual agreement between DWP and Atos Healthcare contains numerous performance targets covering a wide range of features including throughput, customer service and medical quality. Schedule 5 of the contract details the service levels DWP requires from Atos Healthcare. A copy of the contract is available in the House of Commons Library
|Employment and support allowance assessments||Incapacity benefit assessments||IB scrutiny||Disability living allowance/ attendance allowance assessments||Industrial injuries disablement benefit assessments||ESA file work||Overall|
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how frequently his Department receives performance reports under its contract with Atos in respect of medical checks on benefit claimants. 
Chris Grayling: Schedule 16 of the Medical Services Contract contains a full list of the Management Information Reports received and their frequency. Additional performance and quality reports can be requested as required.
Chris Grayling: The Medical Services Contract was re-let by means of open competitive tender as advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The award was based around the most economically advantageous tender in terms of the criteria as stated in the contract, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library:
Maria Miller: Disabled home owners who are entitled to income-related employment and support allowance or income support, may receive an additional element called support for mortgage interest. This makes a contribution towards the interest on eligible loans taken out to purchase the property. It also makes a contribution towards specific loans for repairs and improvements which are necessary to maintain the home's fitness for habitation or to loans taken out to adapt a home to meet the special needs of a disabled person.
Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what support his Department provides to new parents seeking to resume work by starting a business; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Grayling: Jobseekers, including new parents, interested in self-employment or starting a business are signposted to a range of information and advice from the start of their jobseeker's allowance claim.
At present, from the 13 week stage of a jobseeker's claim, support, including business advice, workshops and mentoring, is made available. Eligible jobseekers can also receive the Self-Employment Credit (SEC) of £50 a week for up to 16 weeks when they leave jobseeker's allowance and start trading. These arrangements will continue until March 2011.
We are replacing the current arrangements with the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. This is being developed to promote self-employment as a route off benefits and into financial independence for customers who have been claiming jobseeker's allowance for six months or more. It will initially be targeted on areas in Great Britain facing the greatest unemployment challenge.
Customers will have access to a mentor as they prepare to move into self-employment. They will be entitled to financial support provided they can demonstrate they have a viable business proposition. This will include a weekly allowance for up to 26 weeks and access to loan finance of up to £1,000.
We intend to trail blaze the mentoring and loan elements of the new self-employment offer in one or two areas from the end of January 2011, before rolling out the full New Enterprise Allowance from April.
Steve Webb: Legal frameworks relating to retirement differ widely between member states, though all are covered by the EU framework directive. In the strictest sense, no other EU countries have a default retirement age, as this is specific to UK legislation. DWP and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills monitor developments in member states' policies, and are aware that some countries do operate or have operated retirement ages in at least some sectors. However, decisions on the details of legislation in this area must be made in the context of the UK's economy and legal framework.
As part of the review of the default retirement age, DWP commissioned a comparative review of international approaches to mandatory retirement. This review compared the UK with France, Ireland and Sweden, along with five countries outside the EU. The report 'A comparative Review of International Approaches to Mandatory Retirement, 2010' is available at:
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) recipients of benefits were paid and (b) benefit payments were made (i) by direct debit into bank accounts and (ii) via the Post Office network through the Post Office card account in each of the last three years. 
The following table shows the number of benefit and pension accounts paid (i) by direct payment into bank accounts and (ii) via the Post Office network through the Post Office card account in each of the last three years.
|Bank account||Post Office card account|
1. Figures are rounded and relate to GB payment accounts live and in payment as at April of each year.
2. Customers may be in receipt of more than one benefit and therefore may be counted more than once.
3. Child benefit and war pensions are no longer administered by DWP and have therefore been excluded.
DWP, Information Directorate
Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the number of women over the age of 50 years who will have their state pension age raised by more than one year as a result of the implementation of the proposal to raise the state pension age to 66 years by 2020. 
Steve Webb: Women born between 6 October 1953 and 5 April 1955 will have their state pension age raised by more than one year, compared to the timetable set by the Pensions Act 1995. The most recent population estimates indicate that there were approximately 500,000 women resident in Great Britain who were born in this period.
Steve Webb: The UK state pension is payable world-wide but is only up-rated abroad where there is a legal requirement or reciprocal agreement to do so. A well known court case challenging the UK's position was heard by the European Court of Human Rights' Grand Chamber in September 2009 and the Court's judgment of March 2010 was in the UK's favour.
We continue to take our obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights seriously and are satisfied that we are complying. We therefore have no plans to make any changes to the current arrangements.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the compliance of (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's criteria for sourcing sustainable timber. 
Chris Grayling: The Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) comply with the UK Government's Timber Procurement Policy which requires central Departments to purchase legal and sustainable or Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensed timber and wood derived products. This means all timber and wood derived products are independently certified by either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs takes responsibility to ensure that the Timber Procurement Policy addresses other criteria for sourcing sustainable timber, such as that of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to mitigate the risk of home-owners losing their homes in the event of becoming unemployed; and if he will make a statement. 
Steve Webb: Unemployed home-owners entitled to income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, may receive an additional element called Support for Mortgage Interest. This makes a contribution towards the interest on eligible loans taken out to purchase the property, and specific loans for repairs and improvements which are necessary to maintain the home's fitness for habitation.
The Government expect to see lenders continuing to offer support and forbearance to their customers who are struggling with their mortgage. We are also exploring with mortgage lenders the scope for them to "freeze" benefit claimants' mortgage accounts and apply a standard interest rate for a fixed period.
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to paragraph 15 of his White Paper entitled "Universal Credit: welfare that works", what assessment he has made of the likely effects on HM Revenue and Customs of his Department administering the universal benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
Over time, the financial support currently delivered by HMRC through tax credits will be replaced by Universal Credit. This process will not be completed until Universal Credit is fully in place, around four years after implementation begins in 2013. The extent of the changes and efficiencies will depend on the eventual design of Universal Credit and its delivery.
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to paragraph 8 of his White Paper entitled "Universal Credit: welfare that works", what steps he plans to take to ensure that no individual will experience a reduction in the benefit they receive as a result of the introduction of universal credit; and if he will make a statement. 
In managing the transition to Universal Credit we will make sure that those who will gain most from the incentive to work will move in the first phase, and that no-one whose circumstances are unchanged will see their entitlement reduced when they move on to Universal Credit.
Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policy on its contract with Atos of the recommendations of the independent work capability assessment review led by Professor Richard Harrington. 
Chris Grayling: The Medical Services Agreement between Atos Healthcare and the Department for Work and Pensions commenced on 1 September 2005 for a period of seven years, with options to extend for a further three and two years. On 1 November 2010 I awarded a contract extension to 31 August 2015.
Professor Harrington considered all aspects of the operation of the WCA, including the Atos assessment and concluded that, whilst the assessment is not working as well as it should and much could be done to make it fairer and more effective, the system is not broken or beyond repair.
Professor Harrington has recommended a series of practical improvements to the work capability assessment which we have accepted. A number of these relate to the work of Atos Healthcare-specifically that every Atos assessment contains a personalised summary of the assessment; that Atos provide mental, intellectual and cognitive champions in each medical assessment centre; that Atos pilot the audio recording of assessments; and that Atos develop and publish a charter of claimant rights and responsibilities and consider publishing their guidance online.
Before publishing its response and accepting these recommendations, the Department negotiated with Atos to ensure that these recommendations would be achievable. We will now work closely with Atos Healthcare in order to introduce them as fully and speedily as possible.
Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects on families with disabled children of changes to eligibility rules for working tax credits; and if he will make a statement. 
From April 2012, the Government will change the eligibility rules for the working tax credit so that couples with children must work 24 hours a week between them, with one partner working at least 16 hours a week in order to qualify for the working tax credit. An equalities screening assessment was carried out for this measure, which considered the impact of this measure on those with disabilities. This change will not affect entitlement to the disabled and severely disabled child elements of the child tax credit.
The Government published an 'overview of the impact of Spending Review 2010 on equalities' alongside the spending review document. This document considers the overall impact of the spending review on groups protected by equalities legislation and it can be found at
Mr Charles Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to ensure long-term diversity in land-use in farming; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr Paice [holding answer 29 November 2010]: The farming industry is best placed to determine how they use their land to make best use of local conditions and meeting market demands. Our recently published departmental business plan highlights our commitment to encouraging sustainable food production. DEFRA provides funding for agri-environment schemes and support to the Campaign for the Farmed Environment which helps farmers to manage their land to produce food sustainably alongside supporting their local natural environment.
Mr Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many appeals have been submitted in respect of applications for consideration under the alternative method of the Single Payment Scheme in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr Paice: Under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) regulations member states were required to create a National Reserve (NR) to give qualifying farmers an opportunity to obtain an increase in the value of the historic element of their SPS payment entitlements.
Farmers could apply for an allocation from the NR under a number of categories, one of which was the Investor category. If a farmer considered that the standard method of calculating the allocation under the Investor category did not fully reflect the investment they had made they could request an alternative method of calculating the allocation (referred to as 'Alternative Investors').
Since April 2009 the Rural Payments Agency has received 22 Stage 1 appeals under the SPS Procedure against the decision not to make an allocation under the Alternative Investor category of the NR. Of these 20 farmers progressed to Stage 2 of the appeal procedure.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has evaluated on the treatment of performing animals in circuses in respect of (a) transport, (b) confinement, (c) training and (d) other conditions; and if she will make a statement. 
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to publish the full results of the consultation on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses; and what the reasons are for the time taken to complete work on the consultation. 
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to announce her Department's policy on the use of wild animals in circuses before the end of 2010. 
Mr Paice: We are currently considering the 13,000 or so responses before we publish a summary. In the meantime, Lord Henley has been meeting with representatives of welfare groups and the circus industry. An industry body has proposed a self-regulatory system, but no decisions have been made.
George Eustice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had on the importance of animal welfare considerations in World Trade Organisation negotiations. 
None. The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement only allows controls on food safety, plant and animal health grounds. While we are totally committed to improving animal welfare standards the situation is that unanimous agreement of the WTO's membership would be needed to change this to include production standards such as
those relating to animal welfare. Such agreement is unlikely to be forthcoming because many of the WTO's members would regard such standards as likely to facilitate protectionism rather than trade.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to establish specific and detailed guidance at (a) EU and (b) UK level on the treatment of building foam containing ozone depleting substances; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: The European Commission intends to let a tender for an EU-wide study which will include the development of recommended measures for reducing emissions of ozone-depleting substances from building foams. The contract is expected to be let shortly and the work should be completed within 14 months. This should provide the basis for an EU-wide approach to the treatment of these building foams.
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to bring forward proposals for a mandatory requirement for large companies to publish information on their carbon dioxide emissions. 
Mr Paice [holding answer 1 December 2010]: There are no current plans to ban the use of electronic training aids for animals. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 already makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal and to treat an animal in a way that fails to meet its welfare needs. It also provides additional powers to prohibit the use of any such equipment through secondary legislation if considered necessary.
However, we recognise the need for further research into this issue. DEFRA is currently carrying out a study into whether electronic training collars cause unnecessary suffering, and this is expected to be completed next year.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many EU directives are pending transposition into domestic legislation by her Department; and what estimate she has made of the cost of each such transposition. 
A total of eight EU directives are currently pending transposition into domestic legislation. The following table gives details of estimated costs, where
available. However, five of the directives listed are still at pre-consultation stage, so figures are not currently available.
|EU directives pending transposition into domestic legislation by DEFRA|
2009/145/EC Providing for certain derogations, for acceptance of vegetable landraces and varieties which have been traditionally been grown in particular localities and regions and are threatened by genetic erosion and of vegetable varieties with no intrinsic value for commercial crop production but developed for growing under particular conditions and for marketing of seed of those landraces and varieties
Water Framework Directive 2009/90/EC Laying down, pursuant to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status
Stephen Mosley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to reduce the amount of food waste produced by the food and drink supply chain. 
Richard Benyon: The DEFRA-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme is working with the grocery industry on Phase Two of the Courtauld Commitment, a responsibility deal on waste prevention, which includes an ambitious target to reduce supply chain food (and packaging) waste.
The Government support complementary industry initiatives such as the Food and Drink Federation's 'Five-Fold Environmental Ambition', which aim to improve the environmental performance of the food manufacturing sector.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of likely proceeds from the sale of (a) Forestry Commission land in England and (b) national nature reserves in each year of the spending review period. 
Mr Paice [holding answer 24 November 2010]: Work on the future management and/or ownership of national nature reserves is at a very early stage so it is not possible to give any indications about any likely sale values.
The Forestry Commission estimates selling 15% of the public forest estate over the spending review period, approximately 40,000 hectares. The estimate of net receipts from sales, year on year, is £13 million/£18 million/£20.5 million/£23 million.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on compliance of (a) public and (b) private sector organisations with the provisions of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation in respect of sustainable forest management. 
Mr Paice: The main provisions for sustainable forest management internationally are contained in the Rio Forest Principles and the subsequent work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel and Forum on Forests, which the Food and Agricultural Organisation facilitates the implementation of through a number of its activities on forests.
These global commitments on forests have been articulated for European forests through resolutions of the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe, including the development of pan-European criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management. The UK has used this pan-European framework to inform its approach to sustainable forest management, which is contained in the UK Forestry Standard that both public and private forest owners and managers are expected to comply with.
Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent estimate she has made of the annual administrative cost to local authorities of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme; 
Richard Benyon: On 18 March 2010, DEFRA launched a consultation seeking views on the most effective combination of policies to ensure that England reduces the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill and meets its EU landfill diversion targets. As part of the consultation, DEFRA asked for views on the future of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS).
The vast majority of respondents considered that the scheme had been an important driver in diverting waste from landfill. The Government announced on 8 September that the UK will meet the 2010 landfill directive target, and the scheme has played an important role in delivering that outcome. However, the majority of respondents thought that the landfill tax was now a greater driver. There was a range of views about the future of LATS, with a number of respondents considering that LATS should be abandoned immediately, others wanting this to happen after the 2013 target year and others wanting LATS to be retained till 2020.
DEFRA is assessing policy options in the context of the Government's current wider review of waste policies, taking these views into account. We do not have a recent assessment of the administrative cost to local authorities of the LATS. However, a primary goal of the policy assessment is to achieve a set of policies delivering the required reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill without placing unnecessary burdens on those involved, including local authorities.
Mr Paice: The Task Force on Food and Farming headed by Richard Macdonald has identified the livestock movements regime (including the standstill rules) as one of the areas they will review. I look forward to their recommendations.
Mr Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the New Forest National Park Authority spent on circulating the recent report on its activities to every household in the National Park. 
Richard Benyon: The decision to issue the authority's 'Park Life' biannual newsletter is a matter for that authority. I understand that each edition costs £12,000 to produce and distribute-which is about 13p per copy.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the proportion of (a) existing public buildings and (b) public buildings under construction which utilise ozone depleting substances in their construction materials. 
Richard Benyon: In 2009, DEFRA commissioned research into the quantity of ozone-depleting substances present in the UK building stock. This research, which should be published in due course, estimated the total quantity of ozone-depleting substances still present in the UK building stock, but has not explicitly identified the proportion still present in public buildings.
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received on the introduction of a No 4 production code for enriched eggs to differentiate them from eggs produced using conventional cages after 1 January 2012; and what recent discussions she has had at EU level on the introduction of a ban on eggs and egg products produced from hens housed in conventional cages after 1 January 2010. 
Mr Paice: I have received many letters on this subject from MPs and individual farmers recently. The UK Government remain entirely committed to the conventional cage ban coming into force on 1 January 2012 and to supporting industry throughout the transition. DEFRA officials are continuing to work with the European Commission and industry to ensure that everything is done to protect UK producers who have already made significant investment to comply with the legislation.
The UK has suggested the introduction of a Code '4' for eggs produced by hens housed in enriched systems with the Commission, to ensure they can be distinguished from those housed in conventional cages after the ban is introduced. However, the Commission has made it clear that it views the introduction of an additional Code as confusing to consumers. It is not an option it is willing to consider.
We have therefore, along with some member states, asked the Commission to provide sufficient enforcement controls across the European Union. This will help protect compliant producers and ensure that they are not disadvantaged if there is any delay to the ban, or any member states fail to meet the 2012 deadline. One way of achieving this might be an intra-community ban on the trade in eggs produced by hens still housed in conventional cages after 1 January 2012. In practice this would mean that such eggs may only be sold in the member state of production for a limited period only.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking together with (a) other Governments and (b) international agencies to reduce the illegal trade in tigers. 
Richard Benyon: International trade in tiger parts is a significant threat to the species and as a party to the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES), the UK is supportive of its increasing focus on enforcement, its work with range and consumer countries as well as enforcement agencies such as Interpol. The UK has been involved in the development of the Global Tiger Initiative, a World Bank programme which aims to address threats to the species so that numbers in the wild will double by 2022, as well as the inter-governmental Global Tiger Forum.
The Government take seriously the threat to wildlife from smuggling and trafficking wildlife. The UK is currently chair of the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), a coalition of six Governments and 13 non-government organisations, committed to raising the profile of illegal trade to focus public and political attention and resources on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) funding and (b) other assistance her Department plans to provide to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme adopted by the International Tiger Forum at St Petersburg, Russia. 
Richard Benyon: We will assess how the UK can best participate in efforts to protect tigers in the wild in light of the recent global tiger summit held in St Petersburg, once details of its conclusions and the governance regime are known in detail. No decisions regarding funding or other assistance have yet been made.
Nevertheless, the UK has consistently supported efforts to protect tigers in the wild, particularly through membership of the global tiger forum, and actively participated with the World Bank, non-government organisations and tiger range states in the global tiger initiative programme. We will now assess how the UK can best participate in the post-summit strategy.
Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much sweet chestnut is under management for coppicing in each (a) county and (b) local authority area. 
Mr Paice: The best available information on woodland type, tree species and area in England is from data collected by the Forestry Commission for the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees published in 2001. The estimated area of sweet chestnut coppice assessed as being in active management at the time of the survey is given in the following table. No sweet chestnut coppice was recorded in the counties not included in this list.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on a settlement by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas which would not guarantee the recovery of bluefin tuna stocks by 2022. 
Richard Benyon: I made it clear to the Fisheries Council on 25 October 2010 that the protection of bluefin tuna had to be a top priority for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and that if further cuts were necessary to the total allowable catch (TAC) in order to achieve this, then they should be made. While we would have preferred to have seen a more significant reduction in the TAC to increase probability of recovery by 2022, the decision by ICCAT to reduce it by a further 600 tonnes is within the parameters of the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS).
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what submissions her Department made to the EU Council on its negotiating position for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas discussions on a potential ban on the commercial fishing of bluefin tuna. 
Richard Benyon: During such discussions, the UK advised the Council that it favoured providing a mandate that would have obliged the Commission to seek a significant reduction in the level of total allowable catch (TAC). This did not prove to be possible, as member states with fishing possibilities opposed this, and pressed for a mandate that would have sought retention of the TAC at last year's levels.
Following extensive negotiations, a presidency compromise was adopted, which sought to achieve a level of TAC that would provide between 60 and 77% probability of achieving maximum sustainable yields by 2022. The UK abstained, because opposing would have meant that the EU had no mandate to negotiate on bluefin tuna, and this could have resulted in contracting parties seeking an increase to the TAC, which would have made the situation worse.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness on stock conservation of the proposals advanced by (a) the Netherlands, (b) Sweden and (c) Greece prior to the EU Council meeting which determined the EU mandate for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas negotiations. 
Richard Benyon: The UK considered a range of proposals, advanced by different parties in the lead up to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas negotiations, in order to arrive at a settled EU position that would enable the continued recovery of the bluefin tuna stock.
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) her international counterparts and (b) multinational agencies on banning the commercial fishing of bluefin tuna. 
Richard Benyon: I discussed the issue of bluefin tuna with the head of the American Oceanographic Agency, and made it very clear that we considered that the conservation of bluefin tuna was a top priority, and that steps needed to be taken at International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to reduce the quota if the Scientific Committee judged that it was necessary to do so.
Richard Benyon: At the 2009 annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), it was agreed that if the Scientific Committee judged that there was an imminent risk of stock collapse, the bluefin tuna fishery should be closed immediately. The 2010 stock assessment did not indicate that such a risk was likely, and we would not therefore support a ban on the commercial fishing of bluefin tuna at this time.
Mr Charles Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which 10 streams and rivers in England have been assessed as being most at risk from water abstraction; and if she will make a statement. 
Richard Benyon: The Environment Agency assesses which rivers and streams are under pressure from abstraction by developing catchment abstraction management strategies (CAMS). These documents indicate that rivers in the south-east are under pressure from abstraction.
The Environment Agency does not have a ranked list of rivers at risk. It uses CAMS and river basin management plans to identify which environmental problems to address by looking at the degree to which abstraction could be affecting surface and ground waters, and evidence of environmental damage. Licences identified as potentially impacting the environment undergo further analysis in the Environment Agency's Restoring Sustainable Abstraction Programme.
those sites protected by the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directive (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas);
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (England only);
Biodiversity Action Plan sites (Rio convention on biodiversity); and
sites of local importance.
The Environment Agency also uses information from CAMS to decide if new abstraction licences can be granted and to develop river basin management plans under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The Environment Agency is also investigating water bodies that are failing to meet the environmental objectives set by the WFD.
Mr Charles Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the use of aminopyralid and clopyralid in herbicides; what assessment her Department has made of the effects of such compounds on the environment; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr Paice: The policy on the use of all pesticide products is that they are authorised only if they can be used without unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. Aminopyralid and clopyralid products are used for the control of weeds in crops, turf and pasture land.
The persistence of aminopyralid and clopyralid herbicides in manure from livestock which feed on pasture land treated with these is considered as part of the risk assessment in the authorisation process. Conditions are imposed on the way the products can be used to minimise manure containing residues of these pesticides being used to cultivate susceptible crops.
Following incidents of crop damage attributed to manure containing residues of aminopyralid in spring 2008, authorisations for this herbicide were suspended. Some users had not complied with conditions of use designed to prevent the use of manure containing aminopyralid.
The Advisory Committee on Pesticides considered this issue at a number of meetings in 2008 and 2009. At its September 2009 meeting it recommended that authorisations be granted to new aminopyralid products. This was subject to additional conditions on the way products could be used and the authorisation holder continuing with a stewardship campaign to highlight the risk of treating susceptible crops.
There are still reports of damage to crops but these have reduced in number this year and relate to aminopyralid use before the new conditions were imposed. Reports of damage to crops from the use of clopyralid occur infrequently. A recent review identified the need to further improve the labelling of some products and this is being done.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the effects on the political situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain of the Government's assistance to it in respect of security intelligence. 
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the (a) contribution of cultural links to UK relations with Bahrain and (b) merits of taking steps to strengthen such links with Bahrain. 
Alistair Burt: We are committed to elevating our engagement with Bahrain across the board, as well as with other Gulf states. This includes work on cultural and educational links. There is great potential for more and larger collaborations on cultural projects in the region and the UK. We welcome the prospect of future partnerships in cultural schemes and we support the deepening of cultural and historical ties.
We are concerned about the safety of human rights defenders in Colombia, including journalists. We regularly raise our concerns with the Colombian Government, including at a recent meeting between our ambassador and the head of the Vice President's Unit for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Colombian authorities in relation to the detention in Charco of Henry Castillo Perlaza. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: We cannot intervene in Colombia's judicial processes but we do raise specific cases with the Colombian authorities where there is a concern for individuals who have been detained for long periods without trial. We are following Mr Castillo's case closely.
We regularly underline to the Colombian authorities that those charged with crimes should have their legal rights fully respected, including the right to a fair trial. The issue of swift and effective justice was raised last at the EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue on 23 November 2010, which was attended by our ambassador in Bogota.
Mr Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 914W, on Colombia: terrorism, what assessment he has made of the credibility of the allegations made by members of the San Jose de Apartado community of collaboration between the Colombian army and paramilitary groups. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: We have not made an official assessment of the credibility of the allegations made by members of the San Jose de Apartado community. We will continue to monitor the Colombian Government's response to these allegations and to maintain contact with the San Jose de Apartado community.
Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the Guatemalan Government the steps it is taking to ensure full and effective implementation of the (a) article guaranteeing free, prior, and informed consent to communities affected by large scale extractive projects and (b) other articles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: Human rights were a focus of my visit to Guatemala on 26 November, and featured in my meetings with the Foreign Minister and Vice Foreign Minister. I also discussed current issues and human rights with a group of diverse and young Guatemalan future leaders, including leaders of indigenous groups.
The protection and the strengthening of human rights is central to the work of our embassy in Guatemala City. On 24 November the ambassador spoke at a seminar on Guatemala's construction industry about the need for responsible development in Guatemala and open dialogue with civil society to ensure human rights are protected. These arguments are gaining support, for example through the new law to allow public-private large infrastructure projects. It includes regulations and dispute resolution mechanisms that engender the confidence of both international investors and local populations.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the possibility of a Working Holiday Agreement with Taiwan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: We are aware of Taiwan's desire to establish a working holiday agreement, but no substantive discussions have to date taken place. The UK operates a single generic Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) to enhance cultural exchanges between young people. All participants of the YMS need to meet certain eligibility criteria, including demonstrating a low level of immigration risk, a satisfactory returns arrangement with the UK and reciprocal opportunities for UK nationals.
Following an objective worldwide review, the UK lifted its visa requirement for short term visits by Taiwanese passport holders in March 2009. We enjoy a strong relationship with Taiwan in the areas of education and cultural exchange, with around 15,000 Taiwanese students in the UK at any one time.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the oral answer to the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) on 9 November 2010, Official Report, column 141, on the Western Sahara, what steps were taken in response to his request for monitoring by his Department's officials based in Morocco. 
Alistair Burt: The Government support the idea of independent verification of the human rights situation in Western Sahara. Discussions regarding human rights monitoring in Western Sahara need to explore all options and identify which organisation is best placed to deliver that function.
Our embassy in Rabat works closely with local and international human rights non-governmental organisations on a range of human rights issues and raises specific human rights cases with the Moroccan authorities when appropriate. Work to monitor human rights in Morocco includes working in partnership with other EU missions in Rabat as part of our wider engagement with Morocco.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with UK representatives in Morocco on the current situation in El Aauin, Western Sahara. 
We are concerned by the recent reports of violence in Western Sahara and continue to support the UN-led efforts to resolve the dispute seeking to encourage the parties to enter into a dialogue, without preconditions, to reach a mutually acceptable political solution.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the comments of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to Algerian television on 11 November 2010, what steps have been taken by UK representatives to monitor the violence in El Aauin, Western Sahara. 
Alistair Burt: Our ambassador and officials at the British embassy in Rabat have been monitoring the situation in Western Sahara closely since the reports of violence on 8 November. They are in contact with the Moroccan authorities in Rabat as well as a range of other interlocutors.
As President of the UN Security Council we convened an informal meeting on 16 November where the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr Atul Khare, briefed the Council on the recent incidents in Western Sahara.
Equality in our work force is a key priority for this Government. I am pleased to tell the House that employment for both men and women is increasing and we expect this trend to continue as the economy recovers.
The independent Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs is currently conducting a comprehensive review of policy and has also received representations from a wide range of groups and individuals on this issue. They will announce the conclusions of their review in early 2011.
Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office (GEO) engages with EU and international institutions as well as priority countries to protect and promote UK interests internationally. As part of this work, Ministers and officials are sometimes required to travel to represent the UK at EU and international meetings and conferences.
The Council of Europe meeting on Equality between Women and Men in Strasburg on 8-10 December 2010.
The EU Commission High Level Group on Gender Mainstreaming meeting in Budapest on 11-12 January 2011.
The 55(th) session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York on 22 February to 4 March 2011.
The EU Commission Non-Discrimination Governmental Expert Group meeting in Brussels on 12 April 2011.
In addition, the UK will be sitting on the management board of the European Institute for Gender Equality in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the next three years therefore the GEO anticipates that officials will attend relevant meetings as required.
Graham Evans: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what consultation her Department has undertaken with (a) public and (b) private sector employers on her plans to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees. 
The Minister for Women and Equalities and I have had several informal discussions with a number of public and private sector organisations,
as well as other key stakeholders, about flexible working. We will continue to work closely with colleagues at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who have responsibility for this matter and who will begin formally consulting on the extension to the right to request flexible working to all employees in the new year.
Mr Bain: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what assessment she has made of the compliance of the Government Equalities Office with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's criteria for sourcing sustainable timber. 
Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office (GEO) does not source any timber. Since its creation on 12 October 2007, the GEO has been a tenant of the Department for Communities and Local Government and any sourcing of timber and compliance with the UN criteria is for DCLG to manage.
Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) illegal migrants and (b) failed asylum seekers have been released following arrest owing to a lack of capacity on the immigration detention estate in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Damian Green [holding answer 1 December 2010]: The UK Border Agency does not record this information centrally and it could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) illegal migrants and (b) failed asylum seekers on temporary release from detention were found after absconding in each of the last five years for which figures are available; 
Damian Green [holding answer 1 December 2010]: The UK Border Agency does not record this information centrally and it could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records or through extensive report development.
The current average cost of detaining an individual at an immigration removal centre is £110 per night. This includes the operating contract costs, but
also the cost for detention services, the part of the UK Border Agency responsible for overseeing the detention estate, to provide direct services to detainees.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many detainees in each detention centre on the latest date for which figures are available had been diagnosed with a mental health condition. 
Damian Green: Consultations and medical records are confidential between patient and doctor. The only exception to this is where a medical practitioner believes a detainee's health is likely to be injuriously affected by continued detention. In such circumstances, he or she is required to inform the UK Border Agency. The Agency is not otherwise informed of, and is therefore unable to provide data on the number of detainees who are diagnosed with a mental health condition.
All immigration removal centres provide free onsite primary health care to the same level of care as NHS general practices in the community. This involves access to nursing care, including mental health, 24 hours per day, and visiting GPs who are on call outside of normal hours. The GP refers detainees to the local primary care trusts where secondary treatment or specialist health assessments are required.
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport if he will assess the likely effects of the reduction in the budget for the Arts Council on the delivery of legacy projects associated with the 2008 European Capital of Culture in Liverpool; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Vaizey: The Arts Council have agreed to limit cuts to their overall budget for arts organisations to just 15%. At the same time, the Department has reformed how lottery money is allocated in order to boost the arts share by £50 million each year from 2012. Taken together, this means that the overall funding for the Arts Council will fall by just 11% over the next four years.
We are confident that by prioritising investment in the front line, and with the Arts Council working closely in partnership with other funders and the arts sector, key legacy projects building on the 2008 European Capital of Culture in Liverpool will continue to thrive.
Jack Dromey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what recent assessment he has made of the likely effects of local authority funding reductions on arts organisations based in the Birmingham city council area. 
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what recent assessment he has made of the likely effects of local authority funding reductions on arts organisations in Durham county council area. 
Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with the British Film Institute on its responsibilities for development and promotion of UK films in respect of UK-written and produced films in (a) indigenous and (b) non-indigenous UK languages. 
Mr Vaizey: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport does not currently have a direct funding relationship with the British Film Institute (BFI). This is a matter for the UK Film Council to address.
In my capacity as Minister with responsibility for culture and the creative industries, I made an announcement on Monday 29 November about the Department's new relationship with the BFI, which will take effect from April 2011. The details of this proposal, designed to create a more sustainable future for the British film industry, have been published on our website and can be found at:
Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Executive, (b) Historic Scotland and (c) the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland on his proposal to end the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme; and what plans he has for the future value added tax liabilities of repairs to listed places of worship. 
John Penrose: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, and has announced that the scheme will continue until 2014-15, with a fixed annual budget of £12 million and an amended scope. Officials have discussed decisions with Historic Scotland and have recently responded to correspondence from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
European Union (EU) VAT legislation agreed by successive Governments does not provide any scope for the introduction of new zero rates or the extension of existing ones. Furthermore, given that the last discussions
on reduced rates of VAT concluded after six years of negotiation, there is no appetite at EU level for these to be reviewed again. There is thus no realistic prospect of any change to the current VAT arrangements for the foreseeable future.
Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 1 November 2010, Official Report, column 513W, on prisoners: terrorism, for what reason each of the six offenders convicted of terrorist offences who were re-released in 2010 following an earlier recall were taken back into custody. 
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the compliance of (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's criteria for sourcing sustainable timber. 
Mr Djanogly: The Ministry of Justice's timber procurement is following the specifications set out in the UK Government's Timber Procurement Policy and requires that all timber and wood-derived products procured must be from only independently verifiable legal and sustainable sources or action plan for forest law enforcement, governance and trade licensed timber or equivalent sources. The Government's definition of sustainability is based on internationally agreed criteria for sustainable forest management, which are also referred to by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The timber purchased by the Ministry of Justice is used by the prison industry workshops for the manufacture of office furniture and associated joinery products. All woodwork workshops undertake goods inward inspections to ensure all timber received is as per the above guidance.
Henry Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assumptions in respect of the rates of air passenger duty were used in calculations to obtain the forecasts for air passenger duty receipts contained in table C11 in the Budget 2010 report; 
Justine Greening: The air passenger duty forecast uses announced duty rates where available and beyond that the assumption is that duty rates will be increased in line with the retail prices index at each Budget. This is set out on page 51 of the June Budget policy costings document:
Passenger numbers by band are forecast using econometric models of the demand for air travel, based on the relationship of passenger numbers with macro economic variables including gross domestic product and disposable income. The latest Office for Budget Responsibility forecast of these variables is used to produce the forecast. Outturn passenger numbers by band, as well as outturn receipts data are published by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs:
The receipts forecast is the product of projected passenger numbers multiplied by assumed duty rates. Some small adjustments are made to reflect unusual factors, such as the volcanic ash cloud and industrial action, as well as the latest receipts outturn.
Mr Umunna: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many meetings each Minister in his Department has had with (a) representatives of banks and financial services companies which will be affected by the implementation of a remuneration disclosure scheme and (b) others to discuss such a scheme; when each such meeting was held; and who attended each such meeting. 
Mr Hoban [holding answer 25 November 2010]: Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. It is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.
Mr Bain: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what legal advice his Department obtained on the compliance of the proposals in his Budget Statement of 22 June 2010 with the statutory equality duties; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment his Department made of the compatibility of the proposals in his Budget Statement of 22 June 2010 with the Government's statutory equality duties; and if he will make a statement; 
The Treasury has assessed the compliance of each of the 101 measures announced in the June Budget with our equality duties in respect to gender. In some cases, an impact assessment was not necessary or appropriate; in others an impact assessment had already been carried out or would be carried out after the Budget announcement at the appropriate time; and in other cases the measure has already been implemented in primary legislation.
Two gender impact assessments (on the public sector pay freeze and indexation of benefits by the consumer prices index) that were originally not included have now been completed and the policies reconsidered in light of these impacts. These policies will go forward as planned.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with UK Payments Administration Ltd. on the time taken for cheques drawn on (a) the same bank and (b) a different bank to clear following payment into a bank account. 
Mr Hoban: Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to ensure that private sector debt collection agencies comply with (a) data protection legislation and (b) principles of confidentiality in handling taxpayers' personal information under his proposals for collection of tax arrears. 
Mr Gauke [holding answer 29 November 2010]: Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs requires debt collection agencies (DCAs) working on its behalf to comply with strict codes of conduct and the contracts require that they maintain HMRC standards in relation to customer service, data security and professionalism. A robust audit and assurance process has been put in place which builds on the experience gained during the 2009-10 pilot.
Matthew Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on (a) reimbursement of staff expenses and (b) the 10 largest staff expense reimbursement claims in each year since 1997. 
Justine Greening: Total spending by Treasury staff on reimbursable expenses and the largest 10 payments in each year since 2003-04 are shown in the following table. Information on claims prior to 2003-04 is no longer available.
|(1) The large increase in reimbursable expenses in 2008-09 was due to the introduction of a new corporate card system for the payment of expenses. The system requires staff to pay for their own travel and subsistence in the first instance and then claim reimbursement of their spending through the Department's expenses system. Prior to 2008-09, most travel and subsistence was paid directly by the Department.|
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