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Rural Schools

19. Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning the closure of rural schools in Wales. [41432]

Mr. Hain: Since February 1998 I have answered 4 Parliamentary Questions and received correspondence from hon. Members, Directors of Education, parents and others.

Renewable Energy Sector

20. Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to encourage the growth of the renewable energy sector in Wales. [41433]

Mr. Hain: The Government's policy review of new and renewable energy is currently under way. It is considering various options for delivering 10 per cent. of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2010. The outcome will be announced later this year.

I certainly hope that Wales will be able to benefit further from opportunities presented by this review.

Local Government Finance

21. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the implications of the changes to advance corporation tax in the current budget on the financing of local authorities in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [41434]

Mr. Win Griffiths: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to him on 7 May 1998, Official Report, column 479.

Ambulance Service

22. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning the restructuring of the ambulance service in Wales. [41435]

Mr. Win Griffiths: A single ambulance trust for Wales was established on 1 April 1998. A summary of the representations that my right hon. Friend and I received during the public consultation period has been placed in the Library of the House. I also met a number of local representative groups including hon. Members, Trade Unions, Community Health Councils and Ambulance Services.

Great Western Trains

23. Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from (a) Welsh businesses and (b) others on the impact of the recent punctuality record of Great Western trains between London and South Wales; and if he will make a statement. [41436]

Mr. Hain: My right hon. Friend and I have received a total of four representations, including one from a business in Wales. Over recent months we have become increasingly concerned about the marked deterioration in

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the standard of Great Western services between London and South Wales. On 29 April I met senior representatives of both Great Western Trains and Railtrack to make clear my concern, particularly in view of the likely impact of late and unreliable trains on Wales and the Welsh economy. Both companies have undertaken to provide me with details of the steps which they will be taking to restore performance to an acceptable standard.

Agri-environmental Scheme

24. Ms Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the all-Wales agri-environmental scheme. [41437]

Mr. Win Griffiths: My right hon. Friend and I have received proposals for detailed management prescriptions for the new scheme which we are presently considering.

Public Health

25. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he has taken to improve public health in Wales. [41438]

Mr. Win Griffiths: In order to continue in our efforts to improve public health in Wales, last Thursday I launched the public health green paper "Better Health--Better Wales" which sets out the basis of our new approach and seeks views on how this can be taken forward.

Drug Misuse

26. Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps his Department has taken to extend information on the dangers of drug misuse to primary schools. [41439]

Mr. Hain: The Welsh Office has issued circular guidance to schools "Drug Misuse: Prevention and Schools" (WO Circular 54/95). In partnership with health and social services, police and the community, schools have a responsibility to respond to drug misuse through appropriate education, including the teaching of certain aspects as part of the National Curriculum, and through appropriate management of incidents on school premises. The circular advocates that each school should have a drug prevention policy.

A Strategic Prevention Action Plan on Drugs and Alcohol in Wales was developed by the Welsh Drug and Alcohol Unit (WDAU) and launched in November 1997 by my hon. Friend as part of "Forward Together"--the Government's national strategy to combat drug and alcohol misuse in Wales. This includes the recommendation that substance misuse prevention activities should be targeted at children of primary age.

As part of its prevention campaign the WDAU has developed "Lets Talk" for children of primary school age. The "Lets Talk" resource, which is unique to Wales, consists of six comic strip postcards which depict situations where young people are likely to be introduced or exposed to drugs, solvents and alcohol. The postcards serve as a lively trigger to participative learning about substance misuse and related issues. A copy of this resource is currently being distributed to every school in Wales.

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New Deal (Participating Companies)

27. Mr. Hanson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the number of companies participating in the new deal. [41440]

Mr. Hain: I am very encouraged by the enthusiastic response from employers.

In the South-West Wales Pathfinder area, where the programme has been in place since January, nearly 400 employers have pledged some 1,600 jobs. In the rest of Wales, we have received pledges from a further 400 employers, bringing the total number of opportunities to more than 2,000.

We will continue to ensure that the widest range of top quality placements are made available under the New Deal.

Transport Costs (Rural Areas)

28. Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning the costs of running a car and access to public transport in rural Wales. [41441]

Mr. Hain: The Welsh Office received a large number of responses from individuals, local authorities and interested organisations on a wide range of transport issues affecting rural Wales as part of the consultation exercise last year on the development of an integrated transport policy. These responses have been taken into account in the preparation of a UK wide White Paper on integrated transport, which will be published shortly. At around the same time, a Welsh Transport Policy Statement will be published drawing out those issues of particular relevance and importance to Wales.

Child Care

29. Ms Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he plans to produce his child care strategy for Wales. [41442]

Mr. Win Griffiths: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, East (Mr. Howarth), on 12 May 1998, Official Report, column 85. We will publish our proposals for the implementation of the child care strategy in Wales shortly.

Rough Sleepers Initiative

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received urging that funds be made available for a Rough Sleepers Initiative programme in Wales. [42225]

Mr. Win Griffiths: I have received representations from three sources. These were from my hon. Friends the Members for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Ms Lawrence) and for Gower (Mr. Caton), and from Shelter Cymru. They have all made representations that we should introduce a Rough Sleepers Initiative in Wales similar to that in England.

Our initial analysis of local authorities' Housing Strategies and Operational Plans shows that few have surveyed the level of rough sleeping or made any estimate of numbers. Nor has a case been made for substantial investment of capital. However, I believe that it is

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important that all local authorities have the strategies and structures to respond to the needs of rough sleepers in their area, and my officials will be discussing this with authorities over the coming months.

We have said that we would welcome hard information about the level of rough sleepers from organisations other than local authorities, including Shelter Cymru, but we have received nothing substantial.

Consultation Papers

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the consultation papers published since 1 May 1997 giving the date of publication, closing date for submissions and the number of respondents. [42257]

Mr. Ron Davies: A list of the consultation papers issued from my Department since 1 May 1997 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Environmental Education

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the role of environmental education in Wales. [42308]

Mr. Win Griffiths: Environmental education has an important part to play in delivering our sustainable development policy. I am pleased to say that the Environmental Education Council for Wales, set up to develop and co-ordinate efforts to further environmental education, is developing an environmental education strategy for Wales and will launch the first phase of its environment Network centres this summer.


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