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8. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department about the recruitment of police officers in Wales. 
Interim figures show that on 31 January 2002, there were 7,116 police officers in Wales. In 200203, Welsh forces have been allocated funding for an additional 136 recruits under the Crime Fighting Fund. These will be in addition to any other planned recruitment.
10. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about unemployment levels in Wales. 
The Government recognise that certain sectors, particularly manufacturing, have experienced tough times, due largely to the world economic slowdown. However, over the last year Wales has the best record of any nation or region in the UK in cutting unemployment. Labour force survey statistics show that the unemployment rate in Wales has fallen to 5.4 per cent., down 0.8 percentage points on a year earlier.
The Labour Force Survey statistics show the unemployment rate in Wales has fallen 5.4 per cent., down 0.8 percentage points on a year earlier, while the claimant count was also down by 0.5 percentage points.
11. Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to introduce new procedures for the consideration of primary legislation affecting Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Paul Murphy: The current procedure for progressing Welsh legislation through Parliament since the establishment of the National Assembly is working very well. There are already procedural options for dealing with Welsh only primary legislation and each piece of legislation will be considered on its merits.
Mr. Paul Murphy: The current procedure for progressing Welsh legislation through Parliament since the establishment of the National Assembly is working very well. There are already procedural options for dealing with Wales-only primary legislation and each situation will be considered on its merits.
12. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly about the progress of the Objective One programme in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Minster regularly to discuss a range of issues, including progress with the Objective One programme. At 21 March, over 500 Objective One projects had been approved, worth a total of over £300 million in European grants. Over £68 million of Objective One grant has already been paid out by the Assembly.
28. Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly about the application of EU structural funds in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues, including progress with structural fund programmes in Wales. However, day to day administration of these programmes is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales and its executive agency, the Welsh European Funding Office.
Mr. Touhig: I recognise that prospects for the whole of the North Wales aerospace industry are underpinned by the continued success of Airbus at Broughton. I am pleased that Airbus has so far managed to weather the uncertainty brought about by September 11 with minimal risk to jobs. This has been due in no small part to the good working relationship built up between management and unions. I would urge Airbus staff to continue to work constructively with unions and management in the coming months.
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Mr. Paul Murphy: This Government believe that the British steel industry is among the most efficient in the world. I believe that the Welsh steel industry has a long term future, despite the regrettable decision of Corus to cut UK steel capacity.
Mr. Paul Murphy: The Government work closely with the UK steel industry and provide support where the strict state aid provisions permit. Since 1997 the Government have supported a number of industry led initiatives designed to improve the sector's competitiveness. In February, we announced funding of £2.7 million for the new National Metals Technology Centre, which will play an important role in ensuring that the UK metals industry remains competitive and a world-leader in innovation. In addition, the Government continue to support the steel sector through the Metals Industry Competitive Enterprise (MICE) initiative, which has already resulted in significant improvements in the companies it has worked with.
15. Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the National Assembly for Wales Secretary for Rural Affairs to establish the number of sightings of big cats in Wales over the last 12 months. 
The Agriculture Department deals solely with cases involving threats to livestock. Any big cat reports that relate to human health are referred to the police. The Agriculture Department does not keep records of such cases.
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The Government recognise it is a particularly tough time for manufacturers in the UK, due to the slowdown in world economy and weakness of euro. However, these problems are not confined to the UK or, in particular, Wales.
Mr. Touhig: The National Assembly have put in place various strategies to improve the NHS in Wales through increased funding to support the increased capacity of the NHS in Wales to treat patients, a waiting times strategy. The Government are supporting the Assembly's efforts through the primary legislation programme with measures for restructuring the NHS in Wales contained in the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill.
19. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will meet the First Secretary of the National Assembly to discuss the impact of recent closures of the Severn Bridge on Monmouthshire. 
Assembly officials and the local police authorities attend regular operational liaison meetings with the Highways Agency and Severn River Crossing plc. If my hon. Friend could provide me with more detail regarding his concerns, I will ensure that Assembly officials raise them at the next such meeting. I will of course advise my hon. Friend of the outcome of any such discussions.
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