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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 July 1993

HOME DEPARTMENT

Category A Prisoners

Mr. Richards : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many category A prisoners there are currently in England and Wales.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Mr. D. Lewis to Mr. Rod Richards, dated 15 July 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about how many Category A prisoners there are currently in England and Wales.

There were 578 such prisoners on 30 June 1993.

Correspondence

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what change there has been in the amount of mail received by his office from hon. Members regarding law and order issues during 1993 ; and what steps he is taking to avoid excessive delays in replying.

Mr. Maclean : In the first six months of this year my office received 1,624 letters from hon. Members on law and order matters, compared with 414 in the same period in 1992--an increase of 392 per cent. A monthly comparison is set out in the table.

I very much regret the time taken to reply to some hon. Members' letters. A number of measures have been put in hand to reduce delays. Most notably, additional staff have been allocated to the division principally responsible for assisting in the preparation of replies. Every effort will be made to see that all outstanding correspondence from Members is answered as expeditiously as possible.


Number of letters       

received from hon.      

Members on law and      

order                   

issues                  

         |1992|1993     

------------------------

January  |61  |114      

February |76  |194      

March    |92  |555      

April    |16  |287      

May      |74  |279      

June     |95  |195      

Immigration

Mrs. Anne Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applicants from overseas have been (a) granted political asylum, (b) granted exceptional leave to remain and (c) refused permission to stay since April 1992.


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Mr. Charles Wardle : There is no provision to grant asylum to a person not in the United Kingdom. Information on the outcome of entry clearance applications made abroad for the purpose of seeking asylum here is not separately identifiable in the statistics.

In the period April to December 1992 a total of 490 grants of settlement-- including dependants--were made to south-east Asian refugees, who form a distinct group dealt with under a specific programme. This information since December 1992 is not yet available.

Information on all decisions made in the period 1 April 1992 to 30 June 1993 on applications for asylum in the United Kingdom is given in the following table.


Decisions<1> on applications received for asylum in the                

United Kingdom, excluding dependants, by type,                         

1 April 1992 to 30 June 1993                                           

                                                   |Decisions          

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Total decisions                                    |46,155             

Recognised as refugee and granted asylum<2>        |2,230              

Not recognised as refugee, but granted exceptional                     

  leave<3>                                         |23,900             

                                                                       

Refusals                                                               

Total refused                                      |20,030             

Refused asylum and exceptional leave after                             

  determination                                    |3,755              

Refused on third country grounds                   |770                

Refused under paragraph 101 of the Immigration                         

  Rules<4>                                         |15,500             

<1>Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the     

same period.                                                           

<2>Excluding South East Asian refugees.                                

<3>Where it would have been unreasonable or impracticable to seek to   

enforce return to country of origin.                                   

<4>For failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within  

a reasonable period, including failure to respond to two invitations   

to interview to establish identity.                                    

Remand Prisoners

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many remand prisoners have been held on remand in custody for more than 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest available provisional data are for 30 June 1993. On that date there were about 200 untried prisoners and 100 convicted unsentenced prisoners in Prison Service establishments who had first been remanded in custody over 12 months earlier. Not all of these defendants will have been in continuous prison custody since their first remand. This period excludes any time spent in non-Prison Service establishments--eg police cells--before reception on remand into a Prison Service establishment.

Child Offenders

Mr. Clappison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders aged 15, 16 or 17 years have received a sentence of detention under section 53(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act since 1983 ; and if he will break down their offences into categories.

Mr. Maclean : Information for 1983 to 1991 is given in the table. 1992 data will not be available until the autumn.


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All offences -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1

Including arson.

No

Fellowship Charitable Foundation

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now ask the Charity Commissioners to consider exercising their temporary protective powers under section 8 of the Charities Act 1992 in respect of the trustees of the Fellowship Charitable Foundation.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand that the Charity Commissioners are already considering which of their powers, if any, they should exercise in respect of the Fellowship Charitable Foundation.

Manchester Prison

Dame Angela Rumbold : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce a decision on the future of Manchester prison (Strangeways).

Mr. Howard : The prisons board met yesterday to consider the report of the panel which evaluated the bids for the management of Her Majesty's prison Manchester. It decided to accept the majority recommendation of the evaluation panel that the preferred service provider should be the in-house team. In the face of fierce competition, the in-house bid offers the best value for money and will set new standards for the operation of established local prisons. Subject to the conclusion of a satisfactory service


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level agreement, the team now faces the challenge of delivering its promise of a safe, purposeful and open regime, with active prisoner and community involvement. Performance against these commitments will be closely controlled on a basis comparable to private sector contracts.

Firearms

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will lay before Parliament the fourth annual report of the Firearms Consultative Committee.

Mr. Howard : I have placed a copy of the annual report of the Firearms Consultative Committee in the Library of both Houses today.

LORD CHANCELLORS DEPARTMENT

Divorce

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will estimate the average cost to the public sector of divorce for a couple with two children where (a) the parties receive legal aid, (b) one or both parties are rehoused in public housing and (c) the party given custody of the children receives state benefit.


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Mr. John M. Taylor : It is not possible to estimate the average cost in such a case because eligibility for legal aid, public housing and state benefits depends on a number of factors but particularly the income of the husband and wife at the time of separation. However, the average cost of a legally aided divorce in the county courts in 1992-93 was £1,514.


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TRANSPORT

Passenger Transport Authorities

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what were the contributions to (a) capital investment and (b) revenue of British Rail by each of the passenger transport authorities in each of the past five years.

Mr. Freeman : The information is as follows :


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PTE support to BR over the past five years                                 

£ million                                                                  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Centro                                                                     

  Revenue          |16     |17     |19     |22     |25     |99             

  Capital          |2      |4      |5      |8      |9      |28             

                                                                           

Greater Manchester                                                         

  Revenue          |17     |22     |26     |28     |29     |122            

  Capital          |8      |7      |3      |6      |6      |30             

                                                                           

Merseyside                                                                 

  Revenue          |12     |18     |22     |18     |22     |92             

  Capital          |3      |6      |8      |9      |14     |40             

                                                                           

South Yorkshire                                                            

  Revenue          |3      |4      |4      |5      |6      |22             

  Capital          |1      |2      |-      |1      |7      |11             

                                                                           

Tyne and Wear                                                              

  Revenue          |1      |1      |1      |1      |2      |6              

  Capital          |-      |-      |-      |-      |-      |-              

                                                                           

West Yorkshire                                                             

  Revenue          |8      |9      |12     |15     |15     |59             

  Capital          |1      |3      |1      |3      |13     |21             

                                                                           

Strathclyde                                                                

  Revenue          |27     |26     |29     |31     |30     |143            

  Capital          |7      |26     |15     |9      |6      |63             

                   |-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------        

Total                                                                      

  Revenue          |84     |97     |113    |120    |129    |543            

  Capital          |22     |48     |32     |36     |55     |193            

Notes:                                                                     

1. Revenue contributions, are largely supported by central Government RSG  

and SSA cover and capital contributions by credit approval cover given by  

the Department.                                                            

2. Revenue is the level of S20 claims after audit, except 1992-93 which as 

yet has not been audited.                                                  

3. Capital refers to investment funded directly by PTEs, ie, it excludes   

investment funded by the PSO and recovered via debt charges.               

Radioactive Materials (Transport)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was Her Majesty's Government's policy position on the draft code of practice for the maritime transport of radioactive materials discussed at the International Maritime Organisation's marine environment protection committee meeting on 5 to 9 July.

Mr. Norris : Her Majesty's Government's policy is to support the decision of the International Maritime Organisation's maritime safety committee to approve the code of practice for adoption by the 18th assembly of the IMO.

Unstaffed Rail Stations

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all the British Rail stations in each parliamentary constituency which are (a) wholly or (b) partially unstaffed, indicating those which became unstaffed within the past year.


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Mr. Freeman : The information is not readily available in the form required. However, as at 14 July, of the 2,551 stations on the British Rail network, 977 were wholly unstaffed. Because of the variation in the number of hours for which stations are open, it would be difficult to define partially staffed.

Airline Passengers (Telecommunications)

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration he has given to the safety and security implications of airline passengers using telecommunications technology while airborne ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris : The responsibility for the safety regulation of civil aviation rests with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

It has been found that transmissions from portable telephones may cause interference with an aircraft's own electronic systems. Earlier this month the CAA issued an updated aeronautical information circular giving guidance on this matter to air operators, pilots, flight crew and all


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concerned with the operation of the aircraft. They were advised that the use of portable telephones in aircraft is not permitted, and that they should require passengers to switch them off.

Driver's Licence History (Sentencing)

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the average cost charged to a magistrate's court of a printout by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of a driver's licence history needed to assist in sentencing.

Mr. Key : DVLA does not charge courts for driver licence printouts.

Urban Public Transport

Mr Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to meet the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers to discuss the reorganisation of urban public transport.

Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend has no current plans to meet the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, but Ministers do have regular contact with the institution.

Network SouthEast

Mr. Channon : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for providing funding for Network SouthEast to lease new trains.

Mr. Freeman : In last year's autumn statement an additional £150 million was made available to British Rail specifically to allow it to lease new rolling stock. New outer suburban trains for Network SouthEast are one of two options being considered by British Rail. It is expected to take a decision later in the summer. Whatever the outcome, I shall be looking to support further leasing deals, provided that they comply with Treasury guidelines.

ENVIRONMENT

Special Waste

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste category of (a) neutral metal bearing, (b) neutral-inorganic, (c) neutral-organic, (d) neutral-oily (1 15 per cent.), (e) mineral oil and 20 per cent. others, (f) mineral oil and 20 per cent. others, (g) oil 20 per cent. water 85 per cent., (h) grease/fat/wax/vegetable oil, (i) tars/phenols, (j) solvents-non halogen, (k) solvents-halogenated, (l) solvents-mixed (including water) and (m) solvents-S non halogen ;

(2) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste categories of (a) solid metal bearings, (b) solid inorganic, (c) solid CN, (d) solid organic, (e) solid asbestos, (f) filter material-inorganic, (g) acid metal bearing, (h) acid-inorganic, (i) acid-organic, (j) alkalis metal bearing, (k)

alkalis-inorganic, (l) alkalis-organic and (m) aqueous cyanide ; (3) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production


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in the waste categories of (a) hydrocarbons and their oxygen, nitrogen and/or sulphur compounds, (b) inorganic cyanides, (c) inorganic halogen containing compounds, (d) inorganic sulphur containing compounds, (e) laboratory chemicals, (f) lead compounds, (g) mercury compounds, (h) nickel and nickel compounds, (i) organic halogen compounds, excluding inert polymeric materials and (j) peroxides, chlorates and azides ;

(4) if he will list by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste categories of (a) pharmaceutical waste, (b) mixed organics in drums, (c) metal compounds, (d) non-toxic metal compounds, (e) metals-elements, (f) metal oxides, (g) inorganic compounds, (h) other inorganic material, (i) organic compounds, (j) polymeric material and precursors, (k) fuels, oils and greases, (l) fine chemicals and biocides, (m) miscellaneous chemicals waste, (n) filter materials and sludges, (o) miscellaneous waste and (p) construction waste ;

(5) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste categories of (a) acids and alkalis, (b) antimony and antimony compounds, (c) arsenic compounds, (d) asbestos (all chemical forms), (e) barium compounds, (f) beryllium and beryllium compounds, (g) biocides and phytopharmaceutical substances, (h) boron compounds, (i) cadmium and cadmium compounds, (j) copper compounds, (k) heterocyclic organic compounds containing oxygen, nitrogen and/or sulphur and (l) hexavalent chromium compounds ; (6) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste categories of (a) solvent-S halogen/mixed, (b) mineral oil sludges, (c) contaminated industrial waste, (d) empty contaminated drums, (e) pressurised cylinders/aerosols, (f) contaminated soil, (g) mixed laboratory chemicals, (h) biocides-solid, (i) biocides-liquid, (j) biocides-aqueous diluted, (k) resins-organic and (l) filter material-organic ; (7) if he will list, by year for the last five years, and by county, the number of tonnes of special waste production in the waste categories of (a) pharmaceutical and veterinary compounds, (b) phosphorus and its compounds, (c) selenium and selenium compounds, (d) silver compounds, (e) tarry materials from refining and tar residues from distilling, (f) tellurium and tellurium compounds, (g) thallium and thallium compounds, (h) vanadium compounds and (i) zinc compounds.

Mr. Yeo : The information is not currently available.

Council Tax

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list those local authorities in England with over 60 per cent. of their properties in bands A and B combined, for council tax purposes ; and if he will give the relevant percentage in each case ;

(2) if he will list those local authorities in England with 50 per cent. or more properties in band A for council tax purposes ; and if he will give the relevant percentage in each case.

Mr. Baldry : I am arranging for the information to be placed in the Library of the House.


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Radioactive Waste

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the reason for the United Kingdom request for an exception for 15 years to the prohibition on the sea disposal of low and intermediate-level radioactive substances, under the convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic.

Mr. Yeo : The convention provides no such exception : it provides that, after a 15-year moratorium which starts this year, France and the United Kingdom will each have the option to resume sea disposal of low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The reason for preserving this option is that sea disposal may be the best practicable environmental option for certain categories of radioactive waste. It would be wrong to close off that option.

Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make it his policy during the further consultation period on the discharge licences for Sellafield that developed countries should aim for self-sufficiency in dealing with radioactive wastes.

Mr. Yeo [holding answer 14 July 1993] : It is for countries to decide their own policy in dealing with radioactive waste in the light of their international obligations.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will release to all consultees as part of the further consultation period announced for the thermal oxide reprocessing plant project on 28 June, the 20-year forward look review commissioned from the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee.

Mr. Yeo : No. The Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee's review of the radioactive waste disposal issues which are likely to arise over the next 20 years has not been completed.

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to consult over the issue of substitution of nuclear waste in contracts between British Nuclear Fuels and other Governments utilities, with particular reference to the issues raised by Professor Knill of RAWMAC.

Mr. Yeo : We require further information from the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee before its advice on waste substitution can be considered properly.

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which organisations in the United Kingdom would have the technical capacity to construct or run a dry store capable of taking spent advanced gas-cooled reactor fuel.

Mr. Eggar : I have been asked to reply.

This is a matter for the organisations concerned.

Toxic Waste (Taiwan)

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has received from the Government of Taiwan as to the proportion of the toxic


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waste exported in 1992 to Taiwan from the United Kingdom that has been (a) separated and recycled and (b) directly disposed of.

Mr. Yeo : None.

Community Charge Arrears

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce amending legislation to amend regulation 16(1) of the Community Charges (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1989 to enable the collection of community charge arrears by way of attachment of earnings orders or deductions from income support in conjunction with postponed warrants of commitment to prison under regulation 41 of those same regulations.

Mr. Baldry : A court will normally postpone a warrant of commitment under regulation 41(3)(b) of the Community Charge (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1989 on condition that a debtor repays a specified sum each week. The weekly payment will be decided by the court following an examination of the debtor's means. It would not therefore be appropriate for a further statutory deduction to be allowed from the debtor's income to recover that debt.

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce amending legislation to enable community charge charging authorities to apply to the magistrates courts to vary the order of that court if both charging authority and the debtor are agreed on a payment arrangement.

Mr. Baldry : We do not think that is necessary. Under the law as it stands there is nothing to prevent a debtor from paying an authority more than the amount specified in the court order if he agrees to do so. It would not be appropriate for the debtor to pay less than the amount specified in the order as this is the amount that the court has decided he should pay, following an examination of his means.

Housing Associations

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the Government's objectives in reducing housing association grant ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : The Government's objective in reducing average housing association grant rates is to maximise the proportion of private finance in new housing association schemes, and thereby maximise the number of new homes that housing associations are able to provide from the available public resources. This will ensure that more people now living in unacceptable conditions can be housed satisfactorily.

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals to set up a housing association ombudsman.

Sir George Young : The Housing Corporation circulated proposals in a consultation document earlier this year and have received a range of comments and suggestions. The Environment Select Committee has also recently reported


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its views on this subject. These comments are currently being considered and I hope that a revised set of proposals will be issued shortly, dealing both with the establishment of an ombudsman service for housing association tenants and with improved arrangements for the handling of tenants' complaints by associations themselves.

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proportion of housing association tenants were in receipt of housing benefit in each year since 1988.

Sir George Young : Reliable information is not available for all housing association tenants covering the period 1988-1992. The information set out in the table covers permanent lettings by housing associations in the years 1990-1992, and shows the proportion of households assessed by housing officers as qualifying for housing benefit in each year.


Proportion of households      

qualifying for housing        

benefit:                      

Housing Association lettings, 

England.                      

          |Per cent.          

------------------------------

1990      |55                 

1991      |62                 

1992      |67                 

Source: National Federation   

of Housing Associations, CORE 

data base.                    

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the average income levels of housing association tenants in each year since 1988.

Sir George Young : Reliable information is not available for all housing association tenants covering the period 1988-1992. The information set out in the table covers permanent lettings by housing associations in the years 1990-1992, and shows the average net weekly household income of new tenants who took up a housing association tenancy and of existing tenants who moved within a housing association.


Average net weekly   

household income<1>: 

Housing association  

lettings, England.   

       |£/week       

---------------------

1990   |92.00        

1991   |94.00        

1992   |97.50        

<1> Includes child   

benefit but not      

housing benefit or   

council tax benefit (

or equivalent).      

Source: National     

Federation of        

Housing Associations,

 CORE data base.     

Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to respond to the recommendations regarding housing association grant made by the Environment Select Committee in its second report of Session 1992-93 (HC466) on the Housing Corporation ; and what account will be taken of those recommendations in relevant decisions taken by his Department before publication of his response to the Select Committee report.

Sir George Young : We are examining the recommendations of the Environment Select Committee report on the


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Housing Corporation and will make a formal response when the House reassembles after the summer recess. However, where operational decisions are needed sooner, we may provide an interim response on particular issues.

In taking decisions about the level of housing association grant in 1994- 95, Ministers will consider all available evidence, including the Select Committee's recommendations.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his current estimate of the amounts of capital receipts received by local authorities since November 1992 and which are available to authorities for capital spending under the terms of the autumn statement ; and what was his original estimate.

Mr. Gummer : Estimates of local authorities' capital receipts are based on information provided by local authorities. At the time of the autumn statement, it was estimated that English local authorities would receive some £2.2 billion of capital receipts in 1992-93. On the basis of more recent information from local authorities, a revised estimate of £2.1 billion was made in April this year. No separate estimates of receipts have been made for the period between 13 November 1992 and the end of the financial year, during which virtually all of the receipts received will have been available for capital spending as a result of the temporary relaxation in the capital receipts rules announced in the autumn statement. Provisional outturn information for receipts which local authorities obtained between 13 November 1992 and 31 March 1993 will be published in due course, once returns from local authorities have been received and processed.

Disabled Facilities Grants

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whatisabled facilities grants ; what consultations he has had with the representatives of people with disabilities on the effects of the alterations ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir George Young : These changes were designed to provide more help to grant applicants on low incomes and less to the better-off. It is too soon to assess their precise effects. Disability organisations were consulted on the changes prior to their introduction. They will have an opportunity to provide views on this as part of the Department's current consultation exercise on the future of private housing renewal programmes.

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the principal changes in the disregards for the purposes of calculating the entitlement to disabled facilities grants since 1 April.

Sir George Young : The information requested is contained in the Housing Renovation etc Grants (Reduction of Grant) (Amendment) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993 No. 551) and Department of the Environment circular 7/93, copies of which are available in the Library.


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Council Rents

Mr. Clappison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what conclusions he has reached as a result of the consultation carried out by his Department on recent rent increases for regulated tenancies.


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