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Queen's Awards

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Prime Minister what plans there are to carry out a review of the Queen's Awards for Export, Technological and Environmental Achievement. [64275]

The Prime Minister: The Queen's Awards are made by Her Majesty The Queen on my recommendation. At Buckingham Palace's suggestion it has been agreed that now would be an appropriate time for a further review of the scheme, to ensure that it is up to date and provides the best possible incentive for British business. The Review Committee will be set up shortly. The Committee will consider all aspects of the Awards, including their scope and eligibility. The membership of the Review Committee will be made in time for any resulting changes to be implemented for the Awards in the year 2000.

Those wishing to express views on the operation of the Awards or to suggest changes are invited to submit their views to the Secretary, Queen's Awards Review, Room 188, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SS by no later than the end of January 1999. Views may also be submitted by e-mail to or from the Secretary, Queen's Awards Review, telephone number 0171-215 3772.


Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the report by the National Audit Office into the construction of new headquarters for MI5 and MI6. [63853]

The Prime Minister: No. The reports on the purchase and fitting out of Vauxhall Cross and Thames House contain sensitive information. It is established practice under Section 1(a) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information where disclosure would harm national security or defence.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the contents of the National Audit Office report on the construction of the new MI6 building. [63854]

The Prime Minister: I am aware of the report which the Comptroller and Auditor General made to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in 1992 on the purchase of Vauxhall Cross. The report was dealt with in accordance with the agreed procedure set out in the House by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in 1987 on 27 January 1987, Official Report, columns 246-49.

European Union

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister further to his reply of 16 November 1998, Official Report, column 371, if he will make a statement on what types of outside organisations Her Majesty's Government classes as relevant for inclusion in lists of recommended sources for further contact in official documents; and if he will consent to the listing of organisations opposed to closer European Union on Government-funded publications. [64109]

The Prime Minister: There are no set criteria concerning contact lists in UK Government publications about the European Union. The Government are keen to

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ensure that members of the public are given access to all relevant information. They do not list publications by political parties in source material, but would seek to include academic institutions. These may well have differing views on the development of the European Union.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) of 2 December 1998, Official Report, column 874, on the constitutional position of the United Kingdom in relation to the EU, if he will list the essential interests to which he referred. [64017]

The Prime Minister: Our essential interests are to maintain and enhance the security and prosperity of the UK, and to improve the quality of life of its citizens. We seek to protect and promote these interests through membership of the European Union.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies) of 2 December 1998, Official Report, column 879, on age discrimination, what action the Government have taken to tackle age discrimination; and when he plans to introduce legislation on this matter. [64019]

The Prime Minister: The Government stand by their manifesto commitment that in work older people should not be discriminated against because of their age.

On 16 November, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities launched a consultation on the draft Code of Practice for Age Diversity in Employment. A final version of the code will be published early next year.

The draft Code of Practice builds on the results of the year long consultation on age discrimination set out in the report 'Action on Age' published in August. This pointed to the immediate impact a Code of Practice would have in tackling unfair age discrimination in employment. Proposals for the Code were widely welcomed by employers and individuals alike.

Given this Government's busy legislative programme, the Code of Practice is an effective measure that will challenge employment practices that unfairly discriminate against employees on the grounds of age. The impact of the Code will be evaluated and this will inform future plans for legislation in this area.

The Code of Practice is one of many strands in the Government's approach to helping older people enjoy an active life, participating fully in work and more widely. On 23 November "Building a Better Britain for Older People" was published, setting out the Government's wide strategy for supporting older people.

Beef Export Ban

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) of 2 December 1998, Official Report, column 880, on the ban on beef exports, when agreement was reached that the export ban be entirely lifted. [64018]

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The Prime Minister: On 25 November the European Commission adopted a Commission Decision which permits the resumption of exports of deboned beef produced under the Date-Based Export Scheme.

Waiting Lists

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) of 2 December 1998, Official Report, column 877, on waiting lists, what has been the rise in the number of general practitioner referrals over the last six months; and from what source these figures have been derived. [64011]

The Prime Minister: General practitioner referrals for an outpatient appointment rose by 31,000 in the first six months of 1998-99, compared to the first six months of 1997-98. Referrals from all sources (including general practitioners, accident and emergency departments, other consultants and other healthcare professionals) rose by 97,000 during the same period.

These figures are derived from the quarterly returns from National Health Service trusts.

Rover Group

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Burden), of 2 December 1998, Official Report, column 874, on the Rover Group, if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to assist Rover. [64012]

The Prime Minister: The Government continue to be in close contact with Rover and BMW over future investment plans for Longbridge. The decision by Rover employees to implement the new working-time arrangements and the decision to make the new mini at Longbridge are very important milestones in helping to secure further investment for the plant.

We will maintain our close contact and support to both companies. However, the Government have not been asked for financial assistance. Should such an approach be received, it will be considered on its own merits and within the usual rules for providing financial assistance to companies.


Police (Firearms)

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish statistics on the police use of firearms for the latest period for which such statistics are available. [62268]

Mr. Boateng: The statistics for April 1997 to March 1998 show that the number of police operations in which firearms were issued to officers was 11,842, a fall of over 4 per cent. on the previous year. The number of occasions on which firearms were discharged by police fell to just three, from five the previous year, resulting in two fatalities.

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There was a decrease of 7 per cent. to 7,510 in the number of operations in which armed response vehicles were deployed. Firearms were carried in these vehicles, but were not necessarily issued to offers on each occasion.

Full details are set out in the tables.

Number of operations in which firearms were issued
Avon and Somerset156326312139
City of London325275308307
Devon and Cornwall2990160133
Greater Manchester110142214165
North Yorkshire255265102
South Yorkshire172225155302
Thames Valley6596215227
West Mercia5059106132
West Midlands141226270227
West Yorkshire181657617630
Dyfed Powys16111727
North Wales60117233310
South Wales556959101

Number of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs)
Avon and Somerset156157165161
Cheshire12284 70 82
Cleveland 55 65 86 84
City of London146120 88 81
Devon and Cornwall116140151147
Greater Manchester181186209182
North Yorkshire142134108 95
South Yorkshire162125110108
Staffordshire8480 78 86
Suffolk 65 70 82 96
Surrey 7679 7661
Thames Valley180175185194
Warwickshire565041 38
West Mercia160153155159
West Midlands 87 87 88 95
West Yorkshire156150131114
Dyfed Powys58577071
North Wales71 70 72 90
South Wales150154134176

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Number of operations involving Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs)
Avon and Somerset 90200247121
Bedfordshire 0239309285
Cheshire 76180240166
Cleveland 894651,014(2)57
City of London 0 2325 0
Cumbria 19 44 64 43
Devon and Cornwall 021 77 58
Durham 27 38 62 85
Gloucestershire 0 101348
Greater Manchester 69 6 (3)-- 56
Humberside 6 35284437
Kent 47 42208212
Lancashire 48187320321
Leicestershire 50101126 68
Merseyside 73239618559
Metropolitan (4)--1,025790 954
Norfolk 3680152117
North Yorkshire 0 0 13 52
Nottinghamshire 40 44 66(2)256
South Yorkshire140171129252
Staffordshire 370235206
Surrey 25 47 52 76
Thames Valley 6 73164184
West Mercia 26 39 77 98
West Midlands 58 98103102
West Yorkshire173587584586
Wiltshire 13 1 23 21
Dyfed Powys 9 6 1219
Gwent 9395847
North Wales 0 14173260
South Wales 8 42 55 97

(2) These forces have amended their arrangements for counting ARV deployment to incidents

(3) No figures available

(4) Not known

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