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Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I meet regularly with the National Assembly First Minister and the Assembly Health and Social Services Secretary to discuss the NHS in Wales.
Mr. Paul Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular meetings with the First Secretary to discuss a range of subjects, including this one. The census in England and Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have therefore had no discussions with the Home Secretary of this issue.
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Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the First Minister. In light of the current situation with foot and mouth disease, tourism has of course figured prominently in their discussions.
I represent the Wales Office on the Government's rural taskforce, a body on which the Assembly is also represented. As a result of the work of this taskforce, several initiatives have been announced to assist tourism and rural industries more generally where they have been affected by foot and mouth disease.
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular meetings with my right hon. Friend the First Secretary to discuss a wide range of issues and accompanied him, my hon. Friend for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards) and the Prime Minister to Usk yesterday, where we met representatives of the farming and tourism industries.
20. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary on the impact of foot and mouth disease on the rural economy in Wales. 
26. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary about the agriculture and tourism industries in Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I maintain close contact with my right hon. Friend the First Secretary on a variety of issues including foot and mouth disease and last Sunday we jointly visited areas of Wales affected.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales is a member of the UK Government rural taskforce set up to examine the effect of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease across the rural economy as a whole. Following the initial meetings of this taskforce, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment announced on 20 March a package of UK wide measures to help businesses cope with the campaign to get the public back to areas of the countryside which they can safely visit and an immediate package of short-term practical help for rural businesses, involving the Small Business Service and the banks. These initiatives are in addition to the £156 million agrimonetary compensation announced by the Government for the sheep, beef and dairy sectors (over the £15 million compulsory agrimonetary aid) and two future years of funding for outgoers under the pig industry restructuring scheme, worth £40 million, which has been made available this year.
In addition, the National Assembly for Wales has already issued a Tourism Charter and announced a £1.5 million marketing package through the Wales Tourist Board aimed at reassuring visitors to Wales. The Assembly has also made available £12 million to local authorities to enable them to grant rate relief to businesses affected by foot and mouth disease, £1 million additional
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funding to help the agri-food sector in Wales recover from the effects of foot and mouth disease, and £0.5 million to match pound for pound voluntary donations from the public to help relieve rural distress.
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have had regular discussions recently with the Welsh Agriculture Secretary with regard to the impact of foot and mouth disease in Wales and last Sunday he and I visited affected areas in Wales with the National Assembly First Secretary.
25. Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions with regard to foot and mouth disease in Wales. 
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales is a member of the UK Government rural taskforce, chaired by the Minister for the Environment, set up to examine the effect of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease across the rural economy as a whole.
Our strategy is still to ensure that all animals on infected farms are culled within 24 hours of report and animals on neighbouring farms culled within 48 hours. All efforts are focused on taking action to ensure the disease is contained and eradicated as quickly as possible. The action that is being taken is severe but the best way to beat the outbreak.
11. Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary concerning estimates of the number of redundancies proposed by Corus in Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have met the First Secretary regularly over the past few weeks to discuss issues facing the steel industry in Wales, including the threat of closures and redundancies at Corus plants in Wales.
I welcome the outcome of last week's discussions between Corus and the trade unions. The Government have indicated their willingness to support a scheme of retraining by approaching the European Commission and other member states for their approval.
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Mr. Hanson: Welsh trunk roads are a matter for the National Assembly for Wales, in discussion with the lead Whitehall Department in cases where decisions affect communities on the English/Welsh border.
Although my right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the First Minister on transport issues and I have regular meetings with the National Assembly Minister for the Environment and Transport, we would only become directly involved in trunk road matters if we were asked to intervene to help resolve a difficulty.
I understand that the public inquiry on this application took evidence from a significant number of individuals and groups on all aspects of the case and that views of Cheshire residents were well represented.
14. Mr. Rowe: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary with regard to the progress of the Government's policy on reducing hospital waiting lists. 
Like the Government, the National Assembly is making the reduction of waiting lists a priority but it is for them to decide how they go about it. Significant funding has been allocated for this purpose and last year the Assembly Health Secretary set targets for health authorities to meet.
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