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21 Nov 2001 : Column: 301W
Good progress has been made towards the Headline Goal target for a European pool of forces. Offers were made by EU member states at last year's Capability Commitments Conference for 94 of the 144 identified capability areas underpinning the Headline Goal. The new offers made on Monday enhance our capabilities in a number of these areas and provide solutions for a further 10. We also agreed an Action Plan to address the remaining shortfalls: there are already identified initiatives addressing 20 of the 21 most significant capability areas. This process also reinforces NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative.
EU nations have offered substantial contributions, as set out in the Compendium of national Contributions prepared by the EU Presidency. In addition to the UK commitments made at last year's conference, I have identified further capabilities targeted specifically at the remaining shortfall areas. Some will be available before 2003 for the Headline Goal target; others later.
Key Target 2Less than 5 per cent. of occupants should experience significant defects within 14 days of moving in.
Key Target 3To complete the planned upgrade of 2,400 properties by 31 March 2002.
Key Target 4To complete:
At least 95 per cent. of emergency repairs within 24 hours of notification;
At least 90 per cent. of urgent repairs within five working days of notification;
At least 95 per cent. of routine repairs within two months of notification.
Key Target 5To reduce the management margin progressively towards 10 per cent. by November 2005, to better balance supply and demand while delivering other key targets. (The DHE's interim target for 31 March 2002 is to have a management margin of 12.8 per cent.).
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what proportion of those named day parliamentary written questions to his Department that received a holding answer between 15 October and 5 November received the substantive answer (a) within three parliamentary days, (b) within seven parliamentary days, (c) within 10
21 Nov 2001 : Column: 302W
parliamentary days, (d) within 15 parliamentary days and (e) over 15 parliamentary days after the holding answer was issued. 
Mr. Ingram [pursuant to his reply, 16 November 2001, c. 958W]: The information contained in the table was incorrect. The questions which received a substantive reply, or where an undertaking to write to hon. Members was given, is set out in the table:
|Number of parliamentary days||Answers|
|Between 4 and 7||1|
|Between 8 and 10||0|
|Between 11 and 15||0|
Ms Hewitt: We shall introduce legislation to combat age discrimination in employment and training by 2006. That is the deadline set out in the EU's Employment Directive, and it will give us the necessary time to resolve the complexities surrounding this issue. We shall be issuing a consultation document shortly. This will cover key questions to be considered on discrimination on grounds of age, along with the other grounds covered by the Directive: sexual orientation, religion, disability and race. We expect to bring forward a second consultation on age in 2002.
Mr. Wilson: It is recognised that there are significant environmental benefits from using coal mine methane for power generation and the Department is currently working with the Association of Coal Mine Methane Operators to quantify more precisely the benefits to be gained from using this fuel.
Ms Hewitt: Information about numbers of ministerial appointments to public bodies is included in the Cabinet Office annual report, "Public Bodies". Copies of this are placed in the Libraries of the Houses and the report is published on the Cabinet Office internet website. The next edition of "Public Bodies", which will include numbers of appointments at 31 March 2001, will be published around the end of the year.
21 Nov 2001 : Column: 303W
In the period between 7 June and 31 October 2001 a total of 154 ministerial appointments were made to DTI public bodies of which 90 were re-appointments of serving members. The total number of ministerial appointments for which I am responsible is 3,279.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she had with the Philippines authorities (a) at the last World Trade Organisation Conference and (b) recently elsewhere on encouraging trade between Muslim areas of Central Mindanao and the UK, with particular reference to tropical fruit. 
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to link more closely the work of the RDAs and that of the Government offices, with particular reference to the Government Office of the north-east. 
Alan Johnson [holding answer 20 November 2001]: The Government Office for the north-east and the regional development agency, One North-East, already work very closely together on a wide range of issues and I have no plans to change that. The implementation of the new Single Programme Budget for RDAs next year is likely to lead to even closer working, with the Government office having a key role in monitoring One North-East's performance against the demanding targets for that budget. The Government office was fully involved in the production of the Regional Strategy, and will be working closely with One North-East in the coming months on the review of the Agency's Regional Strategy for the North East which is now under way.
Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners in Amber Valley have (a) claimed and (b) received payments in compensation for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. 
Mr. Wilson: To date, IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered 1,583 claims in respect of respiratory disease in the constituency of Amber Valley. 516 individual payments have been made in this region totalling £2.0 million.
Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners in Amber Valley have (a) claimed and (b) received payments in compensation for vibration white finger. 
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Mr. Wilson: To date, IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered 1,026 claims in respect of vibration white finger in the constituency of Amber Valley. 507 individual payments have been made in this region, totalling £2.7 million.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she last met representatives of the Petrol Retailers Association to discuss wholesaler and retailer relations; what the outcome was of the meeting; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Wilson: My officials and I meet representatives of the Petrol Retailers Association from time to time. Most recently I met the association on 19 September 2001 and my officials met them on 1 and 13 November 2001. We have had a useful discussion of developments in petrol retailing and the implication for small petrol retailers.
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