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Rendering Subsidies

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to re-introduce the rendering subsidy. [42487]

Mr. Rooker: None. The objective of the rendering industry support was to avert the disorderly collapse of the red meat/animal waste chain in the immediate aftermath of the BSE crisis in March 1996. This objective was achieved.

Whaling

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking in respect of the plans by Iceland to resume whaling described as scientific whaling. [42168]

Mr. Morley: I intend to raise this issue with the Icelandic Fisheries Minister when I visit Reykjavik later this month. I shall make clear our opposition to any possible resumption of whaling.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to influence the Norwegian and Japanese Governments in respect of their whaling policy. [42169]

Mr. Morley: My Government colleagues and I take every opportunity to draw to the attention of the Japanese and Norwegian Governments our continuing opposition to their whaling activities. The United Kingdom delegation

20 May 1998 : Column: 427

will be making our views very clear at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission that is currently taking place in Oman.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Public Bodies

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department's action plan for increasing the number of women holding public appointments will be published; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [42849]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: This Department's action plan will be published shortly. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what is the average salary of (a) male and (b) female members of boards of non-departmental public bodies responsible to his Department; [42847]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The majority of board members of non-departmental public bodies give their time and services voluntarily and receive no payment other than normal travel and subsistence expenses. Where members do receive remuneration, this can vary between an annual salary, an honorarium, and an attendance fee (which itself can be a daily rate or a half-daily rate, or calculated on a per meeting or per case basis). Individuals' remuneration therefore is not directly comparable. Full details of all payments to board members of non-departmental bodies, by gender, are given in the Cabinet Office publication "Public Bodies".

Staff Car Mileage Allowance

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total number of staff of all grades employed by his Department; and what percentage of these staff were eligible to claim a car mileage allowance on 31 March in each year since 1990. [42550]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The total complement of UK-based staff in all grades employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 31 March in each year since 1990 are listed in the following table:

YearNumber
19906,605
19916,730
19926,646
19936,546
19946,346
19956,050
19965,904
19975,800
19985,800

All staff with a valid driving licence and vehicle insurance are eligible to claim car mileage allowance

20 May 1998 : Column: 428

when using their private vehicles for travel on official business. The Department does not record the number of staff who hold such documents.

Congo

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights in the Congo and the expulsion of UN representatives. [42799]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We deeply regret the circumstances which necessitated the UN Secretary-General's decision to withdraw the UN inquiry team which had been investigating alleged human rights violations since 1993 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We and our partners in the EU consistently urged the Congolese authorities to ensure the fullest co-operation with the inquiry team. Despite some improvements, the team never enjoyed full co-operation. We fully endorsed the decision to withdraw the team, but did so with considerable regret, as we believe a thorough and impartial investigation into human rights violations could make a valuable contribution to long term stability, security and sustainable development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region as a whole.

Kenya and Uganda

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take further steps to assist the Governments of (a) Kenya and (b) Uganda to resolve conflicts in their countries. [42397]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We have consistently urged the Government of Kenya. and political parties in Kenya, to avoid confrontation, and violence, and to pursue political dialogue on Kenya's further democratic development.

We do not believe there can be a purely military solution to the problems of Northern and Western Uganda. We have urged the Government of Uganda to pursue opportunities for dialogue as a means of resolving these conflicts. We are always prepared to consider the merits of requests for practical assistance with conflict prevention and resolution, in Africa and elsewhere.

Information

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department operates a monitoring exercise of persistent inquirers for information. [42639]

Mr. Tony Lloyd [holding answer 19 May 1998]: The FCO does not operate a policy of monitoring persistent inquirers. The FCO's Open Government Unit routinely logs and monitors all formal requests for information received under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. This is to ensure that each inquiry is correctly answered on a case by case basis within the twenty working day target. These statistics (which do not include names) are also required for inclusion in the annual Report on the working of the Code of Practice, which is co-ordinated and published by the Cabinet Office. In 1997 the FCO dealt with 55 formal requests, 48 of which (87.3%) were answered within the deadline.

20 May 1998 : Column: 429

Regional and Minority Languages

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to sign the Convention on Minority Languages. [41427]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. George) on 5 May 1998, Official Report, column 341.

HEALTH

Mental Health Services

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the means by which primary care groups are able to purchase appropriate mental health services, including counselling and psychotherapy for their patients. [23465]

Mr. Boateng: Primary Care Groups will provide a direct means by which general practitioners, their primary care team and community nurses, working in co-operation with health authorities, and other health and social care professionals, will lead the process of securing appropriate, high quality care for local people. Commissioning of all services will be determined in accordance with national priorities and local health improvement programmes.

School Nursing

Audrey Wise: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the (i) short-term and (ii) long-term outcome of various patterns of school nursing provision. [25024]

Mr. Boateng: Research has been commissioned into the effectiveness of school entry nurse health checks and consideration is being given to a further study of the effectiveness of health checks undertaken by nurses in school. There are also specific studies into the trial of an injury prevention programme in primary schools and into service support for children with special health needs attending mainstream schools which may reflect outcomes associated with school nurse involvement. The results will assist evaluation of how the health care needs of children in community settings may best be met.

Alternative Health Register

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to establish an alternative health register; and when. [27360]

Ms Jowell: The statutory register for osteopaths, established under the Osteopaths Act 1993, opened on 9 May. Arrangements for the opening of the statutory register for chiropractors, to be established under the Chiropractors Act 1994, are in preparation, but we are not yet in a position to say when it will open.

We have no plans to regulate by statute other complementary therapy groups, some of which maintain, on a voluntary basis, a register of their membership.


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