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15. Lawrie Quinn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what representations he has made on the marine environment for the consideration of the world summit on sustainable development. 
Mrs. Roche: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State has made many representations on the UK priorities for the World summit. The conservation of the marine environment is one of those priorities, given the importance of marine resources for maintaining sustainable livelihoods across the world.
17. Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what co-ordinating role his Department is taking in the implementation of the European employment directive in respect of age discrimination. 
Mrs. Roche: I am co-ordinating the implementation of the European employment directive, which covers discrimination in employment and vocational training on three new equality strands, one of which is age.
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However, the existing dispersal of many civil service functions across the UK has worked well, and the Government believe that the administration of public service benefits from this national and regional diversity. Following the publication on 9 May 2002 of the White Paper on regional governance, we will aim to:
encourage interchange between the civil service and organisations in the regions;
encourage Whitehall Departments to consider the balance of their staff as between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation.
19. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State if he will make a statement on the percentage increase in civil service pensions in each of the past three years; and on which basis the increase was calculated. 
20. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what plans he has for travelling abroad to represent the United Kingdom at conferences in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister. 
Mr. Leslie: Joined-up working is key to meeting the Government's delivery agenda. We have introduced a number of initiatives. These include the dissemination of cross-Government policy tools; of good practice across the public sector; the co-ordination of area based initiatives in Government offices; and the creation of cross-cutting public service agreements.
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many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
The Community Action Programme to Combat Discrimination (200106) supports the development of practical solutions to combat discrimination on grounds of racial and ethnic origin, disability, age, religion and belief and sexual orientation. The programme encourages the exchange of best practice on policies and practices which have been shown to work well in combating discrimination across Europe.
Dr. Whitehead: The Government's policy on establishing elected assemblies in the English regions was set out in the White Paper "Your Region, Your Choice" (Cm 5511), which was published on 9 May. The benefits of such assemblies are summarised in chapter 3 of the White Paper and elaborated in the following chapters.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which body is responsible for (a) the regulation and (b) the auditing of expenditure of the regional assemblies. 
Dr. Whitehead: The arrangements for funding elected regional assemblies are described in chapter 5 of the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", published on 9 May. Regional assemblies' financial responsibilities will be set out in the primary legislation which will be needed before assemblies can be established. Assemblies will be subject to appropriate audit arrangements. We are discussing with the National Audit Office and the Audit Commission what form these should take.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the arrangements for internal and external auditing of local councils. 
Dr. Whitehead: I am aware of the need to ensure that external and internal audit arrangements for local councils are appropriate. For this reason, the Audit Commission has introduced a new "lighter touch" audit framework for local councils, with the aim of making the external audit process more proportionate to the size and circumstances of local councils. We plan to consult later this year on proposals to make explicit the need for authorities to follow existing relevant best practice when carrying out their internal audit role.
Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to review the operation of road traffic law in relation to the use of mobile telephones by drivers of road vehicles. 
Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent assessment he has made of the number of road accidents in which the use of mobile telephones by the driver has been a contributory factor. 
Mr. Jamieson: Detailed investigation is needed to establish he cause of any accident. Two research projects currently under way will help to establish the likely numbers of road traffic accidents involving mobile phones. One project involves carrying out in-depth analysis of police fatal road accident reports that identify distraction as a possible contributory factor. The other involves on-the-spot studies of accidents in order to improve the understanding of the influences of human involvement, vehicle and highway design on accident causation and injury mechanisms. Nevertheless, international research has provided clear evidence of an increased risk of an accident when using a mobile phone while driving.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what Her Majesty's Government's policy is for reducing population growth in the south east of England relative to other regions. 
Ms Keeble: The Government's policy is to achieve high and stable levels of growth and employment throughout the UK, with all regions and communities having the opportunity to share in the nation's prosperity. Our target is to improve the economic performance of all regions, measured by the trend in growth of each region's GDP per capita. We believe this is best done by tackling the causes of regional under-performance in some regions rather than by restraining economic development in others.
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