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Sellafield

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his present estimate of the limit of capacity for storage of intermediate level nuclear waste at Sellafield; and what criteria are used to assess this capacity. [25065]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 23 January 1998]: I have been asked to reply.

The current capacity of intermediate level waste storage facilities at Sellafield is 45,000m 3 of modern store and 46,000m 3 of other stores.

I understand that BNFL does not expect to need storage facilities in addition to those currently in existence or for which planning permission currently exists.

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MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO

Disney World

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister without Portfolio how many journalists accompanied him on his recent visit to Disney World in the United States; and what was the total cost to public funds of their accompanying him. [26179]

Mr. Mandelson: My recent visit was covered by a number of journalists. They were not invited by me, and there was no cost to public funds.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Freedom of Information

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the costs over the last year, for each Government Department, of satisfying requests for access by the public to information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information; what estimate he has made of the costs for each Department over the same length of time of satisfying such requests under his freedom of information proposals; and if he will make a statement. [25444]

Dr. David Clark: Costs of dealing with requests under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information are not monitored centrally. Based on experience in my Department an the total number of registered Code requests for 1996 (2033), I estimate that the total cost to Government Departments of operating the Code is in the order of £2 million per annum.

There is no precise method of quantifying the estimated cost of FOI--it will clearly be dependent on the number of requests--but using comparators such as the costs of FOI overseas, the costs of the Code of Practice and the estimated costs of the new Data Protection regime, I estimate that the total public sector costs (including provision for an appeals mechanism) would be £26.5 million 'start-up' costs, and an annual cost of £23.5 million thereafter.

The factual and background information on the development of the White Paper, which I intend to publish shortly, will contain a more detailed account of how these estimates were arrived at.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what mechanisms he has put in place to ensure the Government's objective of promoting sustainable development is reflected in the outcome of the comprehensive spending reviews for his Department. [25897]

Dr. David Clark: The Comprehensive Spending Review for the Office of Public Service is being conducted within terms of reference that were announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 24 July 1997. A set of the Terms of Reference for all departmental spending reviews may be found in the Libraries of the House.

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Civil Service Staff

Mr. Rhodri Morgan: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of Civil Service staff of grade 5 and above within his Department (a) have spent their entire civil service career within his Department, (b) have had secondments to (i) the private sector and (ii) other Departments and (c) have come from other Departments. [26034]

Dr. David Clark [holding answer 28 January 1998]: Eighteen per cent. of Civil Service staff of grade 5 and above have spent their entire civil service within my Department and seventy four per cent. have come from other Government Departments. Figures detailing secondments by staff of grade 5 and above to either the private sector or other Departments are not centrally held.

Public Services

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he will reach a decision on the establishment of a panel for consulting people about pubic services; and if he will make a statement. [26914]

Dr. David Clark: I have today decided to set up a Panel to consult people about public services, and appointed MORI and the School of Public Policy at the University of Birmingham to set up and run it. The People's Panel will be used to find out what members of the public think about the services for which they pay for and use every day.

We want to put people first as we develop our Better Government programme to modernise public services. The Panel will be consulted on a range of matters relating to public services, such as service delivery, the use of IT, awareness of the Charter programme, and complaints handling procedures. We will make the results public.

This is a unique development, and one which underlines the Government's commitment to providing better government through listening to the views of people in all walks of life about their experiences of public services.

Civil Service Statistics 1997

Mr. Pike: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when Civil Service Statistics 1997 will be published. [26915]

Dr. David Clark: Civil Service Statistics 1997 was published today and copies have been placed in the Library. This publication highlights key trends in Civil Service staffing for the period up to 1 April 1997.

Agenda Database

Mr. Forth: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what will be the level of public access to the contents of the database Agenda. [26220]

Dr. David Clark: The Agenda system, which is designed to replace the existing CAB-E-NET, will be an inter-Departmental strategic media information tool. The system will handle and store information based upon confidential communications between Departments; it will not, therefore, be available for access by the public.

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CABINET OFFICE

Club of Three Meetings

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Minister without Portfolio in what capacity he attended Club of Three meetings in September; what public expenditure was incurred by his participation; and if he will make a statement. [25928]

Mr. Mandelson: I attended the Club of Three meetings in Munich in my Ministerial capacity following an official visit to Bonn. The cost to public funds of my visit to Germany was approximately £535.

WALES

Farm Incomes

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of the farming industry to discuss income levels; and if he will make a statement. [25317]

Mr. Win Griffiths: My right hon. Friend and I, either together or individually, met farmers' leaders in Wales on several occasions last month and this month, most recently on 20 January, to discuss matters of mutual interest concerning agriculture in Wales, including farm incomes.

Environmental Health Officers

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many environmental health officers (a) are in post currently and (b) were in post in each year since 1990. [25311]

Mr. Win Griffiths: This information is not held centrally. Chief Environmental Health Officers are listed in the Municipal Yearbook. Copies of the 1990 edition onwards are available in the Library of the House.

School Standards

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he has taken to raise standards in schools in Wales. [25310]

Mr. Hain: Our broad and vigorous standards agenda was set out in "Building Excellent Schools Together" (BEST), the Education White Paper for Wales, published in July last year.

We have introduced legislation to realise our objectives. The Schools Standards and Framework Bill proposes the legislative measures necessary to raise standards at primary and secondary level in both Wales and England. Amongst other things it provides for smaller infant classes, places a duty on local education authorities to support schools in raising educational attainment standards and secures the basis upon which these authorities will act to support schools in setting and meeting targets for continuous improvement. The Teaching and Higher Education Bill (currently in the House of Lords) will give teachers scope to lift professional standards through a General Teaching Council for Wales. The legislation proposed will also allow local education authorities LEAs and further education

29 Jan 1998 : Column: 332

institutions to make provision for post-16 students jointly to better meet students' needs and to reduce duplication of courses.

We have set out a range of challenging new all-Wales targets through BEST aimed at raising standards in schools in Wales across the board. Working in partnership with ACCAC and OHMCI the Welsh Office is also implementing an all-Wales strategy to raise levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy. We are providing additional resources to support schools in this work--£50.267 million for recurrent costs in schools within the 1998-99 local government revenue settlement, and £65 million of capital funding over the lifetime of this Parliament for much needed school renovation and repair work. We will also be making nearly £30 million available in 1998-99 through the Grants for Education Support and Training (GEST) programme.


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