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19 Dec 2000 : Column: 136W
I have today laid before the House the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000. These regulations govern meetings of the executive under new local authority constitutions, recording of executive decisions and access to papers relating to executive decision making.
The regulations introduce a rigorous new regime of accountability. For the first time, the public will have a right to more than three days' notice of key decisions which will affect the local community. For the first time, key officer decisions will be notified to the public in advance and be open to public scrutiny afterwards. In addition, the regulations are clear that where these key decisions are to be decided collectively by the executive or its committees, the public has a right to see those decisions being taken or discussed in advance with officers.
I have also today published the revised chapter of the statutory guidance under Part II of the Act, which deals with access to information. This reinforces the intention of the regulations to ensure that there is a proper culture of transparency and accountability around executive decision making.
Modular constitutions for local authorities are also published today. These are designed to assist local authorities who are drawing up proposals for new constitutions. Councils who follow the proposals in this document will be able to design a constitution which meets the aims of efficiency, transparency and accountability of decision making which underpin Part II of the Local Government Act.
I am also publishing a direction under s37 of the Act today. This sets out what a council's new constitution must contain and a revised chapter of the guidance has been issued to accompany the direction.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list those organisations that (a) have replied to his Department's consultation on the Employment Agency Regulations and (b) he has met to discuss the regulation of 'temp to perm' contracts and the regulation of employment agencies; and if he will place all responses to this consultation in the Library. 
Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 18 December 2000]: I will write to the hon. Member listing the organisations and place a copy of that letter in the Libraries of the House. In the last 12 months I have met the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, Manpower, Adecco, Blue Arrow, Brook Street and Hewett Recruitment to discuss the regulations. Copies of
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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what procedures the ECGD follows in order to ensure that commission payments on arms sales covered by ECGD guarantees to United Kingdom companies are declared to it. 
Mr. Caborn: When completing applications for ECGD cover exporters are obliged to declare any commission payments. In addition to existing procedures for identifying and controlling agents commissions, ECGD has recently introduced provisions in all its facilities aimed specifically at combating bribery. These provisions, among other things, enable insurance policies to be avoided in bribery situations and allow ECGD to seek to recover any loss it may suffer under its facilities following the conviction of either the exporter or the bank for corruption in connection with a contract or its financing.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the extra £100 million announced in October for miners suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema has been paid to former miners residing in (a) South Shields constituency, (b) the North East of England and (c) nationally. 
As at 13 December the Department had made in excess of 11,000 revised and new expedited offers totalling £54 million, further offers continue to be made. Of these, the value of payments made, following acceptance by the claimant, are as follows:
Many thousands of new offers will be made before Christmas. However, payments will depend on how quickly claimants and their solicitors respond. Once an offer has been accepted, payment is usually made within 10 days.
The Director General of Fair Trading is responsible for monitoring markets. He completed a review of differential pricing within this market in November. He concluded that differential pricing has not resulted from anti- competitive behaviour by the major oil companies.
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Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has issued consultation documents in relation to implementation of the Postal Services Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alan Johnson: Under the Postal Services Act 2000, the Secretary of State has today published consultation documents on the definition of turnover for the purposes of financial penalties (section 30), free postal services for blind and partially sighted persons (section 41), and social and environmental guidelines (section 43). These consultation documents are available on the DTI website and hard copies are available from the Postal Services Directorate at the Department of Trade and Industry. Responses should be submitted by 31 January. Hard copies are also available in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 December 2000]: In the last six months, my Department has received representations about Royal Mail services in London NW1 from five individuals, one Member of Parliament and one business.
Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if solicitors are entitled to take part of the compensation awards to claimants under the Vibration White Finger and the Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema litigation schemes. 
Mrs. Liddell: This is a complex area. The Department's position is set out in a letter dated 26 July to hon. Members with direct coal mining interests, including my hon. Friend. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House for all hon. Members, and I am sending a copy of the letter to my hon. Friend. The Department believes that it is inappropriate for solicitors to take a proportion of a claimant's compensation.
Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children seeking asylum were placed in the care of local authorities in each of the last three years; and how many children seeking asylum are accommodated in care homes in (a) Britain, (b) each region and (c) Bolton. 
Mr. Hutton: Figures on the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum (UASC) who were placed in the care of local authorities are not available for the year 1997-98. Only those local authorities spending in excess of 5 per cent. of their children's personal social services standard spending assessment were eligible to claim grant in this period. Figures for weeks commencing 2 April
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1999 and 31 March 2000 are set out in the table. Comparable figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not available.
Claims for payment of the 1999-2000 UASC special grant were submitted by local authorities in February 2000 based on actual expenditure from 1 April 1999 to 28 January 2000 and estimated expenditure from 29 January 2000 to 31 March 2000. The numbers of unaccompanied children for week commencing 31 March 2000 are estimated and subject to final audit and adjustment. Figures are only available for local authorities that submitted claims for the 1999-2000 special grant.
|Local authority||Total number of unaccompanied children at week commencing 2 April 1999||Total estimated number of unaccompanied children at week commencing 31 March 2000|
|Barking and Dagenham LB||170||166|
|Bath and North East Somerset CC||0||1|
|Brighton and Hove||0||7|
|Corporation of London||0||1|
|Derby City C||0||1|
|East Sussex CC||1||2|
|Hammersmith and Fulham LB||123||157|
|Kensington and Chelsea RB||74||113|
|Kingston upon Hull CC||2||2|
|Kingston upon Thames RB||7||11|
|Milton Keynes MBC||0||2|
|Newcastle Upon Tyne||2||5|
|North East Lincolnshire||2||13|
|North Somerset CC||0||3|
|Redcar and Cleveland CC||2||4|
|Richmond Upon Thames||73||204|
|Slough Borough C||2||5|
|Southend on Sea BC||4||14|
|Tower Hamlets LB||8||13|
|Waltham Forest LB||12||32|
|West Sussex CC||39||77|
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