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Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his answer of 5 May, Official Report, column 643-44, how much his Department has spent on private investigation services during the last two years ; if he will list those companies which have been employed by his Department during this period ; what safeguards his Department took to ensure that these agencies were members of the Association of British Investigators ; and what guidelines are currently in operation within his Department as regards this matter.
Mr. Redwood : Seven private investigation agencies have been used by my Department in the last two years, at a total cost of £7,684.10. Although there is no prerequisite for the agencies appointed to be members of the Association of British Investigators, all but two of these agencies have been members of the association.
Private investigation services have been used in cases of damage to trunk road furniture and personal injury claims. The companies are not named for reasons of commercial confidentiality. There are no specific guidelines for their use, other than value for money considerations.
Sir Wyn Roberts : The development of a public rights-of-way network in Wales falls to the Countryside Council for Wales working in partnership with local authorities, voluntary bodies and user groups.
The council has set itself the target of ensuring that a public rights-of- way network is opened and available for use by 1995 and all eight Welsh highway authorities have confirmed their commitment to it. This interim network
Column 556should comprise at least national trails, routes of strategic importance to highway and planning authorities and paths of special value to local communities.
A Wales-wide survey of rights-of-way was started in 1992, and to date over 100 surveys have been completed. The results have been analysed to provide detailed information on the location and condition of the Principality's network.
By 1999, the system of rights-of-way should be open and available for use. These targets are endorsed by the Government.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : [holding answer 17 May] : Some 34,330,000 prescription items were dispensed in Wales in 1993-94. It is not known centrally how many individuals received exemption from prescription charges. However, in 1993-94 28,840,000 prescripton items exempt from charges were dispensed--excluding those where a pre-payment certificate was involved.