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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I discussed this issue regularly with representatives of central and Latin American Governments in the period leading up to the Marrakesh ministerial meeting. I underlined the importance of the round and the need for rapid conclusion and implementation. With certain banana-producing countries which were also GATT contracting parties I also urged them to accept the Commission's banana offer so that this could be included as part of the Uruguay round.

European Political Union

34. Sir David Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his counterparts in the European Union to discuss greater political union.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : There are no plans for a meeting of Community Foreign Ministers to discuss greater political union.


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European Union

35. Mr. Pickthall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his European Union counterparts about the public accountability and openness of European decision-making.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The General Affairs Council has had a number of discussions aimed at making the European Union more open and accountable, which led to agreements at the end of last year on the publication of votes and public access to documents. The United Kingdom strongly supports these moves.

Iran

36. Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs if he will make a statement about relations between Iran and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We restored our relations with Iran on 27 September 1990 on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each others' affairs.

The revelation of Iran--Provisional IRA links and the fatwa against Mr. Rushdie demonstrate why Iran's behaviour continues to cause us and other European member states serious concern.

It remains the case that improved behaviour will be important in determining the extent to which closer relations with, and confidence in, Iran can be developed.

Foreign Service (BBC Documentary)

38. Ms Lynne : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the BBC documentary on the Foreign Service on the public's opinion of that service ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : No such assessment has been made, but I enjoyed the programme immensely.

Falkland Islands

39. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the Falkland Islands.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The visit by my right hon. Friend was the first by a Foreign Secretary. He received a warm welcome. The islanders are proud of their way of life and much attached to it and to the United Kingdom. They are confident about the future. He reassured them that sovereignty was not for discussion and that we would continue to support their right to self-determination. Clearly life would be simpler if Argentina dropped her claim.

Somalia

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent theft of money from the United Nations compound in Mogadishu in Somalia ; and what action is now being taken on this matter.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The matter is being investigated by United Nations civil police and a team from the United Nations investigations unit. It would be imprudent to comment further before these investigations are complete.


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Mr. Mudie : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much of the £237,000 of departmental funds lost in Somalia in 1992-93 indicated in the appropriations accounts was (a) lost in transit and (b) lost from balances in the embassy bank accounts ; how these losses occurred ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goodlad : The loss of £237,000 occurred as follows : (

(a) £130,000 lost in transit consisted of three fundings sent to the Bank of Somalia in 1989 for the credit of the Embassy account. Exhaustive inquiries with the Bank of England and the National Westminster Bank, the United Kingdom intermediary bank of the transactions, confirmed that this account had been sent to Somalia. Embassy staff investigated these missing items but were unable to locate them before they were evacuated following the collapse of law and order in Somalia. The decision to write off this sum was taken in 1992 because it was considered very unlikely that the bank of Somalia would ever be able to locate these missing funds following the extensive looting which occurred in Mogadishu.

(b) £103,000 from embassy bank accounts and £4,000 cash and miscellaneous items less some small recoveries were shown in the balances of the last imprest account submitted to the FCO before the evacuation. As the embassy and its bank in Somalia had been looted it was considered unlikely that these assets would ever be recovered. Due to the complete collapse of law and order all diplomatic missions in Mogadishu were withdrawn and it was not possible to follow the usual procedures for protecting departmental funds overseas. There continues to be no recognised Government or banking system in Somalia.

North Korea

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what explanation North Korea gave for its withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty ; and if he will make a statement on the prospects of that country's return to the treaty.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty under article X (i) on 12 March 1993. North Korea cited the joint United States-South Korea military exercise Team Spirit, and the International Atomic Energy Authority's request for special inspections of its nuclear facilities, as being grounds for withdrawal. North Korea subsequently suspended its intention to withdraw from the treaty on 11 June. We continue to urge North Korea to resolve all suspicions about its nuclear programme by complying fully with its safeguards agreement and by affirming permanent commitment to the NPT.

Macedonia

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Bulgarian and Romanian co-operation in the installation of a United Nations presence in Macedonia.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Equipment destined for UNPROFOR Macedonia passed through Romania and Bulgaria and reached the Bulgaria/Macedonia border on 18 April. UNPROFOR Macedonia has taken delivery of the equipment.

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent report he has received of armed Serbian activity around the border with Macedonia.


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Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have had no recent reports of any armed Serbian activity on the Macedonian border.

Hamas

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to him by the Government of Israel about the activities of Hamas within Britain.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We have regular contact with the Israelis on a wide range of issues.

Brazil

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arms sales were discussed during his recent visit to Brazil ; and what plans he has to make an announcement on this.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs reaffirmed the importance of the continuing partnership between British defence equipment suppliers and Brazil's armed forces, exemplified by the recent sale of Super Lynx helicopters to the Brazilian navy. He also discussed prospects for future sales.

Georgia

Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Government of Georgia ; whether British know-how fund assistance was offered ; and if he will make a statement on the state of relations with Georgia.

Mr. Goodlad : We have regular contacts with the Georgian Government through our ambassador in Moscow. In addition, my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs also met senior advisers to President Shevardnadze last week. Know-how fund assistance is already available to Georgia and in 1993 we spent £71,000. The United Kingdom also contributed over £2 million in humanitarian relief since March 1993.

Relations between the United Kingdom and Georgia are good. We continue to emphasise the need for co-operation with the UN and CSCE in seeking a peaceful solution to disputes on Georgian territory.

Security

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of private detective agencies and security companies by his Department.

Mr. Goodlad : There is no record of the FCO ever having employed a private detective agency. Up to now the only recorded instance of the FCO employing a private security company in the United Kingdom was for the guarding of Wiston House conference centre for six months in 1992-93. However, under the market testing programme, six private security companies have been invited to tender, along with an in-house team, for guarding all FCO premises in London from 3 January 1995. The result will be announced in August.

We do not keep central records of security companies employed at our posts overseas.


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Libya

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made as to the effect of current sanctions in respect of medical supplies upon Libya in respect of (a) the poor and (b) women and children ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goodlad : The supply of medical products is not prohibited under the current United Nations sanctions against Libya. As a matter of general principle, with which the United Kingdom agrees, the supply of medicines is exempt from the effects of all United Nations sanctions regimes.

Occupied Territories

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the closure of the occupied territories by the Israel Government on the economic life of the Palestinians and the peace process ; and what representations he has made to the Israeli Government.

Mr. Goodlad : We welcome the agreement reached in Paris on 29 April between Israel and the PLO on economic aspects of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho, including the movement of goods and labour between the Palestinian areas and Israel.

Argentina and Brazil

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations with Argentina and Brazil.

Mr. Goodlad : On Argentina I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman).

Our relations with Brazil are excellent. On his recent visit with a party of senior business men, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was able to see for himself how dynamic the Brazilian economy is and what opportunities there are for the United Kingdom. The Brazilian Foreign Minister has accepted his invitation to visit Britain later this year. Increasingly the United Kingdom and Brazil share a common international agenda.

Angola

Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commownealth Affairs what discussions he has had with EU Ministers on the situation in Angola.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : There are regular working level discussions of Angola at meetings in the framework of the common foreign and security policy.

Occupied Territories

Mr. Sykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance Her Majesty's Government are providing bilaterally and through the EC for a Palestinian police force in the occupied territories.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The United Kingdom is providing 200 sets of riot- control equipment and organising training


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courses in the United Kingdom for senior police officers. The European Union has adopted a joint action which provides for up to ecu 10 million in grant funds from the Community budget towards the Palestinian police force. The United Kingdom played a leading role in stimulating the European Union contribution.

EMPLOYMENT

Self-employment

Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on what is currently being done to encourage people to be self-employed ; and what further changes he will make.

Miss Widdecombe : The business start-up scheme encourages unemployed people to set up their own new businesses. It offers a weekly allowance together with business training and counselling. Nearly 700,000 people have entered the scheme to date. The budget for the scheme has been transferred to the Department of Environment's single regeneration budget, one of the aims of which is the encouragement of sustainable economic growth and wealth creation by improving the competitiveness of the local economy, including business support.

The Department supports the Prince's Youth Business Trust in making funds available to disadvantaged young people to set up their own businesses. We have recently agreed additional funding to help the trust in its aim of doubling the number of young people it supports. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is developing a network of business links, which will provide world class support to business--including those who are contemplating starting a new business.

TRANSPORT

M25

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what cost- benefit analysis his Department has undertaken of the delays experienced by motorists in roadworks for widening the M25 compared with the final benefits of a widened road ; when he anticipates road widening on the M25 will be completed ; and what will be the total cost of widening the M25.

Mr. Key : This question relates to operational matters of the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. John Spellar, dated 29 April 1994 :

The Minister for Roads and Traffic, Mr. Robert Key, has asked me to write to you in reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the M25.

The cost of delays to motorists caused by construction works is assessed as part of the overall economic cost benefit analysis of motorway widening schemes. The results of this analysis are published as part of the assessment framework for each scheme.

We have recently completed widening the M25 to dual four lanes between junctions 15 (M4) and 16 (M40) and two further schemes are under way between junctions 7 (M23)--8 (Reigate) and junctions 10 (A3)--11 (Chertsey) for completion during next year. Other schemes for widening most of the M25 to dual four lanes within the highway boundary were included in the recent review of the road programme and details published in the 1994


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Review report. The total cost of widening to dual four lanes between junctions 5 28 (excluding junctions 11 15 which has been dual four lanes for some time) is approximately £672 million. Subject to the availability of funds, all these schemes should be completed over about the next 10 years.

There are also schemes in the programme for increasing the capacity of the western section of the motorway beyond dual four lanes. Two of these, between junctions 12 (M3)--15 (M4) and


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between junctions 15 16 (M40), have an estimated total cost of some £231 million. The timetable for construction of these schemes would depend on the time needed to complete the statutory procedures and the availability of funds. Widening beyond dual four lanes is also under consideration for the length between junctions 10 (A3) and 12 (M3) but the form of any scheme, and hence its cost, is not yet known.


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M25 Programme                                                                                                                                               

Construction schemes                                |Status and Cost £                                                                                      

                                                    |million                                                                                                

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

Widening to D4                                                                                                                                              

Junctions 3 (M20)-5 (M26)                           |Longer term scheme, to be reviewed later.                                                              

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 5 (M26)-7 (M23)                           |Priority 2 scheme, programme to be reviewed.                                                           

                                                    |Cost: £101.1.                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 7 (M23)-8 (Reigate)                       |Works started in March 1994. Construction                                                              

                                                    |expected to take about 15 months.                                                                      

                                                    |Cost £63.5.                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 8 (Reigate)-10 (A3)                       |Proposals published February 1994 with work                                                            

                                                    |likely to get underway early 1995.                                                                     

                                                    |Cost: £78.2.                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 10 (A3)-11 (A320)                         |Works started in February 1994. Construction                                                           

                                                    |expected to take about 12 months.                                                                      

                                                    |Cost: £50.5.                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 11-15                                     |Already D4 standard                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 15 (M4)-16 (M40)                          |Construction started 4 January 1993. The works                                                         

                                                    |completed end April 1994.                                                                              

                                                    |Cost: 35.3.                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 16 (M40)-19 (Watford)                     |Proposals published February 1994. Public                                                              

                                                    |exhibitions held and comments are now being                                                            

                                                    |considered.                                                                                            

                                                    |Cost: 71.3                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 19 (Watford)-23 (A1)                      |Priority 2 scheme, programme to be reviewed.                                                           

                                                    |Cost: 86.5.                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 23 (A1)-26 (A121)                         |Details published February and comments are now                                                        

                                                    |being considered.                                                                                      

                                                    |Cost: £81.1.                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 26 (A121)-28 (A12)                        |Priority 2 scheme, programme to be reviewed.                                                           

                                                    |Cost: £104.                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                            

Capacity beyond dual four lanes                                                                                                                             

Junctions 3 (M20)-10 (A3) and Junctions             |Announced on 22 July 1993 that for foreseeable                                                         

21A (M1)-30 (A13)                                   |future there would be no widening beyond dual                                                          

                                                    |four lanes for these sections which make up                                                            

                                                    |some 70 per cent. of M25.                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 10 (A3)-12 (M3)                           |Consultants appointed October 1992 to study                                                            

                                                    |options. Proposals may be published Autumn                                                             

                                                    |1994.                                                                                                  

                                                    |Cost: £123.9.                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 12 (M3)-15 (M4)                           |Draft highway orders published 7 April 1994.                                                           

                                                    |Already announced that public inquiry will                                                             

                                                    |have to be held, probably towards the end of                                                           

                                                    |this year.                                                                                             

                                                    |Cost: £164.3.                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 15 (M4)-16 (M40)                          |Decision to proceed to order publication state with                                                    

                                                    |proposals for 2 lane link roads announced on                                                           

                                                    |30 March.                                                                                              

                                                    |Cost: £66.2.                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                            

Junctions 16 (M40)-21A (M1)                         |No work on feasibility of providing capacity                                                           

                                                    |beyond D4 will be undertaken for many years.                                                           

                                                                                                                                                            

Junction Improvement                                                                                                                                        

Junctions 30 (A13)-31(A1306)                        |Consultants appointed 1 January 1994.                                                                  

                                                    |Cost: £43.5.                                                                                           


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A40

Mr. Luff : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to review the various speed limits on the A40 between the A40 (M) and the M40.

Mr. Norris : This question raises an operational matter for the Highways Agency. I have asked Lawrie Haynes, the chief executive, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Peter Luff, dated26 April 1994 :

The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your question about his plans for reviewing the various speed limits on the A40 between the A40(M) and the M40 because this is now an operational matter for the Highways Agency.

Much has been, and still is being done to improve the length of the A40 in question and it is important to ensure current speed limits reflect today's conditions. Accordingly we intend to review the speed limit on the length between Hanger Lane and the Polish Memorial Junction later this year after the Traffic Director has announced his plans for red route measures for the road. Reviews of the speed limits elsewhere on the A40 will follow as and when the major improvement schemes currently under construction at Long Lane and Northolt Airport are completed at the end of the year, and when those planned at Gypsy Corner and Western Circus have been undertaken.

Annual Staff Reports

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 21 February, Official Report, column 86, if he will list by annual staff report box marking for the same reporting year the numbers of male grade sevens receiving box 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 performance markings.

Mr. Norris : In the reporting year 1991-92, 29 grade 7 males received box 1 ; 322 box 2 ; 260 box 3 : and 3 box 4 ASR markings. No male grade 7 received a box 5 marking.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 21 February, Official Report, column 81, what targets and budgets he has set for the collection of unpaid vehicle excise duty.

Mr. Key : On the question of targets I refer the hon. Member to the answer of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 29 April, column 385. The agreed budget to carry out this work during 1994-95 is around £27 million.

Civil Aviation Authority

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will report progress on the privatisation of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr. Norris : We announced at the time of the 1993 Budget that we were asking a group of officials to examine whether the national air traffic services of the Civil Aviation Authority could be privatised. This group has now reported and we are considering its

recommendations. We hope to announce our response shortly.

Vehicle Excise Duty

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total amount of revenue that was collected in vehicle excise duty in each of the last three years.


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Mr. Key : Net vehicle excise duty, after refunds, collected in the last three financial years was :


Year       |£ millions           

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

1991-92    |2,931                

1992-93    |3,225                

1993-94<1> |3,655                

<1> Provisional.                 

Motorway Pollution

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he is taking to improve the treatment of surface water from motorways and other trunk roads so that it does not cause pollution ;

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that all surface water run off from (a) existing motorways and (b) new motorways, is properly treated before discharge to the environment ; and what are the implications for construction and maintenance costs for ensuring all surface water from motorways is properly treated ;

(3) what assessment he has made of the future cost implications to his Department of the out-of-court settlement in respect of the case brought by Mr. Mohamed Al Fayed for pollution of his land by run-off from the M25 ; and if he will make a statement ;

(4) what assessment he has made of the likelihood of future legal actions from people who have suffered as the result of pollution from motorways ; and what contingency fund his Department has for such actions.

Mr. Key : These four questions relate to operational matters of the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive, Mr. Lawrie Haynes, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Ms Joan Walley, dated 4 May 1994 : The Minister for Roads and Traffic, Mr. Robert Key, has asked me to write to you in reply to your recent four Parliamentary questions about the treatment of surface water from motorways and other trunk roads.

The Highways Agency is now responsible for research previously commissioned by the Department of Transport jointly with the National Rivers Authority on the design of highway drainage systems to avoid pollution problems. When the research has been completed I expect to issue advice to designers and those responsible for maintaining the drainage systems.

The out-of-court settlement in the case you mentioned reflected the particular circumstances of that case and cannot be taken to have implications for situations elsewhere. The settlement involved damages of £5,000 and agreed works to the drainage system likely to cost in the order of £60,000. In addition there will be legal costs of an amount yet to be agreed.

In the case of existing motorways, the arrangements for treating surface water run off before discharge to the environment have been accepted by the relevant water regulatory authority. The arrangements for new motorways will be considered within the environmental assessment and agreed with the water regulatory authority. We are currently reviewing the implications for construction and maintenance costs.

The Department does not, in general, assess the likelihood of future legal actions from people who claim to have suffered as a result of pollution from motorways and no contingency fund is kept for such actions.


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Detective Agencies

Mr. Denham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) of 25 April, Official Report, column 42, if he will list all contracts with private detective agencies for the purpose of collecting evidence and serving papers on those who have trespassed on his Department's land, and the expenditure to date on each ; how many former employees were inadvertently overpaid ; and what was the total sum involved.

Mr. Key [holding answer 3 May 1994] : A single detective agency has been employed to serve papers and collect evidence on those who have trespassed on the Department's land. The recorded expenditure stands at £250,829.52p.

Detective agencies have also been used in connection with inadvertent overpayment of 15 staff, totalling £22,030.06p. Of this sum, £17,556.76p has been or is being recovered.

SCOTLAND

Correspondence

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what percentage of letters sent by his office to hon. Members are written in the Gaelic language ;

(2) if it is his practice to sign personally letters in reply to hon. Members which are written in the Gaelic language.

Sir Hector Monro : Neither my right hon. Friend nor his office has had occasion to write to hon. Members in Gaelic.

Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston Bypass

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions the Scottish Office has had with the appropriate authorities concerning the implementation of plans for the Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston bypass ; and when he expects the project to be started.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Officials have consulted regularly with district council officers. They have been made aware of the further work being undertaken to identify the best layout for a bypass. A further meeting has been arranged for May to explain the progress which has been made while these studies continue. At this stage it is not possible to predict when work on construction might start.

Colorado Beetle

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent reports he has received about sightings of Colorado Beetle (a) tendered voluntarily and (b) in response to requests ; and if he will make a statement.


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