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Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) former service men or (b) current service men have contacted his Department complaining of ill-health effects they believe to be desert fever arising from contamination from serving in the British forces in Operation Granby.
Mr. Hanley : A total of 15 former and six serving members of the armed forces have contacted my department expressing concern about their health following service in the Gulf. All have been offered the opportunity to be medically assessed by a military
Column 401consultant. Of the 14 who have accepted this offer, 12 have so far been examined. All have been found to be suffering from separate medically recognised conditions which are not peculiar to service in the Gulf.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent communication he has had with the Trauma After Care Trust regarding concerns over Desert Storm fever ; and what plans he has to meet with TACT to discuss the problems.
Mr. Hanley : Further to my answer of 17 February to the hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside, Official Report, column 998-99 , Ministers have today written to hon. Members about the responses received during the consultation period. Work is continuing on our policy proposals.
Mr. Rowlands : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions since 1979 when Ministers have issued written instructions to override his Department's accounting officer's objections.
(D Day 40th anniversary celebrations)
(Type 22 frigate)
(Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment)
(HMS Endurance replacement)
Mr. Radice : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many agency chief executives in his Department are currently paid more than £82,925, excluding performance-related bonuses ; and whether such chief executives were recruited directly to their present post from outside the civil service.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made in drawing up codes of practice for the disclosure of information held by local authorities and the national health service ; and when he expects to publish proposals for consultation.
Mr. Waldegrave : The local authority associations have responded positively to the suggestion in the White Paper, "Open Government" (Cm 2290) that they could usefully adopt a voluntary code of practice on disclosure of information. The associations are preparing a draft.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has asked the NHS Management Executive to take forward the proposal for a code of practice for the NHS. A task force has been set up for this purpose and I understand a draft code should be ready for wider consultation by the summer, with a view to implementation by the end of the year.
Mr. Alan Howarth : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to publicise its code of practice on official information when it comes into force in April ; and what budget has been allocated for this purpose.
Mr. Waldegrave : I will be making a further announcement on the implementation of the code of practice later this month. Material explaining the operation of the code will be available from Departments and will also be offered to advice centres and similar outlets. A budget of £15,000 has been allocated centrally for these purposes.
Mr. Waldegrave : The handbook for heads of Departments has not been submitted to Lord Justice Scott's inquiry. However, copies of certain of the separate documents which are included in the handbook have been provided at the inquiry's request, including some of the documents mentioned in the answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman's question yesterday, 9 March, Official Report, column 256.
Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many calls have been made to charterline since its inception ; what has been the average daily call rate and the average cost per call ; how many personnel work on charterline ; and what has been the total cost to date of charterline, including promotion and all associated costs.
Column 403IBM has nine trained staff available to answer charterline calls, who also perform a wide range of other tasks and answer other calls. Up to four of these are awaiting charterline and other calls at any one time.
The operational cost per call to date is £68. If call volumes were higher, significant economies of scale could be achieved. The operational costs of a pilot study are always relatively high. One of the purposes of the charterline pilot study is to assess the demand of the service and the volume of calls and costs that would be associated with a national service. The pilot study will ensure that, if charterline is rolled out, it is done on a high-quality and extremely cost-effective basis.
Total set-up costs amount to £1,251,000. These include initial research, project planning and management, system design, contractual advice and data collection, which are all one-off costs. Running costs to date amount to £1,037,679. These include paid advertising, research during the pilot study, set up and use of ACORN data--which categorise groups of households into one of 38 types, on the basis of such factors as the ages of the people living there, the size of their home, the type of work they do, their ethnic background and so on--operational costs, and operation of the charterline language service, which is available in Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Mr. Waldegrave : The National Audit Office will be able to audit records held by Departments in the normal way, to ensure that their contracting procedures ensure that propriety and regularity are safeguarded and that best value for money is obtained.
Departments and agencies will ensure that where finance-related work is contracted out the NAO will continue to have access to documents to enable it to carry out certification audits of the Department and value-for-money examinations of the way in which the Department
Column 404has used its resources. The right of access to any such documents no longer held by the Department of agencies should be provided for in the contract. Even where documents are available in the Department, the NAO will normally require access to the contractor to ensure procedures operate correctly and that propriety and regularity are safeguarded.
It is not intended that the NAO should have access to records relating to the contractor's affairs, nor that he should conduct a certification audit of the contractor.
Mr. Hendry : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of market tests in each Government Department were won by (a) in -house bids, (b) other public bodies in competition with in-house bids and (c) the private sector in competition with in-house bids.
Mr. Hendry : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for what proportion by value of the market tests in each Government Department there were in-house bids ; and what proportion by value of the market tests in each Government Department were won by (a) in-house bids, (b) other public sector bodies and (c) private sector bidders.