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Cambodia

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what matters were discussed when he met the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia and the Adviser and Director of the Cabinet for Cambodia; and if he will make a statement about (a) bi-lateral British and Cambodian relations and (b) relations between the European Union and Cambodia. [28350]

Mr. Fatchett: When I met the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister on 21 January, our discussions covered the internal political situation, the forthcoming Cambodian elections, human rights and other issues. These talks were part of a continuing dialogue between the UK and Cambodia. The EU also takes a keen interest in events in Cambodia and is providing 9.5 mecu in election assistance, subject to political conditionality.

Falkland Islands

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what offers of assistance have been (a) received, (b) discussed and (c) accepted from the Government of Argentina to assist British troops with mine clearance in the Falkland Islands. [28224]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: In 1993, the Argentine Government offered to assist with demining and to meet the cost.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 42

The matter was last discussed by Ministers at a meeting between the Foreign Secretary and Dr. di Tella in November 1997, and by officials at a routine meeting earlier this week.

We are committed to meeting our obligations under the Ottawa Convention. It is currently considering how best to achieve this in the mined areas on the Falkland Islands. Comprehensive clearance work on the minefields was stopped soon after the conflict following a number of serious incidents involving clearance personnel.

Single Market

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he proposes to secure the completion of a single market; and to what timetable. [27682]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 4 February 1998]: I have been asked to reply.

The Single Market Action Plan produced last year by the Commission sets out the key priorities to ensure an effective Single Market. All Member States have committed themselves to a timetable to catching up with delays in implementing Single Market law by the end of this year. As chairman of the Internal Market Council during the UK Presidency, the Minister for Trade and Competitions in Europe will be leading the efforts to achieve this timetable. There has also been close co-ordination with Austria to ensure that momentum is kept up in the second half of the year. However, there will still be a need for work to ensure the Single Market is working effectively and responsive to new markets: also that the rules are being properly enforced and are not over-complicated. There will also be a need for legislation for new technologies as they emerge. Progress in these areas will be a top priority for the UK Presidency.

WALES

Birth Defects

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many babies were born with serious birth defects in each health authority in Wales in (a) 1997, (b) 1987 and (c) 1977. [26988]

Mr. Win Griffiths: The number of voluntary notifications of babies born with congenital anomalies, by usual residence of mother, is shown in the following tables for the years 1977, 1987 and 1996, which is the latest year for which information is available. Data for 1996 are not comparable with the previous years as prior to 1990 all malformations were notifiable, but from 1990 onwards specified minor anomalies were excluded from notifications to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Additionally, prior to 1995 only those anomalies detected at or within ten days of birth were notified. Data for 1996 include anomalies detected after 10 days.

Health Authority of residence of mother1977(3)1987
Clwyd8963
Dyfed69--
East Dyfed--69
Pembrokeshire--39
Gwent6070
Gwynedd4248
Mid Glamorgan98148
Powys2641
South Glamorgan9370
West Glamorgan7454
Wales551602

(3) Dyfed figures for 1987 were provided by the health authorities of East Dyfed and Pembrokeshire


9 Feb 1998 : Column: 43

Health Authority of residence of mother(4)1996
Bro Taf75
Dyfed Powys19
Gwent11
Morgannwg9
North Wales63
Wales177

(4) 1996 figures were provided by the reorganised health authorities which came into being on 1 April 1996.

Source:

ONS


Hospital Closures

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many hospitals have been closed since 1979; and if he will make a statement; [27275]

Mr. Win Griffiths: Since 1 January 1979, some 62 NHS hospitals have been closed and remain closed to date according to records held by the Welsh Office. Over the same period 15 NHS hospitals have been opened. No NHS hospitals have been closed, or opened, since 1 May 1997.

NHS Ancillary Staff

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many ancillary staff are employed in the NHS in Wales. [27272]

Mr. Win Griffiths: The system used to classify directly employed non-medical NHS staff changed from groups which were based on payscales to groups which are based on new occupation codes. The staff group previously described as 'ancillary staff' are now mostly in a group called 'support staff'. At 30 June 1997, there were approximately 5,800 whole-time equivalent support staff directly employed by the NHS in Wales.

Out-of-school Clubs

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many out-of-school clubs there are; and if he will make a statement. [27649]

Mr. Win Griffiths: The out-of-school child care Initiative has supported the development of 206 child care clubs providing 4,500 child care places since its inception in 1993.

I have increased the level of funding for this initiative in 1998-99 by 300% to a new level of £900,000. I anticipate that this will support a further 30 child care

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 44

clubs and 650 more child care places for school age children. This demonstrates our commitment to the development of child care in Wales to enable women in particular to re-enter the labour market or re-train. This initiative helps support our Welfare to Work programme and will contribute to the Childcare Strategy for Wales.

Truancy

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he has instituted to reduce the incidence of truancy; and if he will make a statement. [27648]

Mr. Hain: The Welsh Office issued draft guidance on "School Attendance and the Role of the Education Welfare Service" in December. The consultation ends on 20 February. Final guidance will be issued shortly thereafter fulfilling the undertaking given in the White Paper "Building Excellent Schools Together".

An OHMCI Report "Improving Attendance and Behaviour: An Evaluation of Welsh Office [GEST] Funded Projects in Nine LEAs" was published on 12 December 1997 with the aim of spreading good practice.

LEAs in Wales have indicated they propose to spend about £0.5 million on truancy and discipline measures through the Department's Grants for Education Support and Training programme (GEST) in 1998-99. Authorities were informed of their individual allocations on 30 January.

The Department's Youth Access Initiative 1998-99 has required local authorities and TECs to produce joint action plans to tackle the problems of disaffection among young people who are not receiving education or training and are not in employment. For young people below school leaving age the plans will help them to return to mainstream education. Welsh Office support in 1998-99 amounts to £1.6 million.

Welsh Language

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many children in Wales currently receive a Welsh language medium education. [27443]

Mr. Hain: At January 1997, 50,392 children in maintained primary schools were in classes in which Welsh was the sole or main medium of instruction and a further 7,649 were in classes in which Welsh was used as a medium of teaching for part of the curriculum. 49 maintained secondary schools were "Welsh speaking" schools (as defined by the Education Act 1996) but not all pupils in these schools would have been taught through Welsh. Of the 28,831 pupils in Years 7 to 11 in these schools, 21,372 were taught the subject of Welsh as a first language. This may give an indication of the number studying other subjects through the medium of Welsh.

Town Centre Shopping

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he intends taking to protect town centre shopping facilities in Wales. [27445]

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 45

Mr. Win Griffiths: Government planning policy on retailing and town centres is set out in "Planning Guidance (Wales) Planning Policy" published in May 1996. This includes a commitment to sustain and enhance town centres and established tests for new retail development which favour town centres sites. A revised version of "Planning Guidance (Wales) Planning Policy" is now being prepared following consultation and it is intended that this will emphasise the need to safeguard and promote town centre shopping.


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