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Sure Start

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 28 January, Official Report, column 386W on Sure Start, what are the local Sure Start Programme areas in the parliamentary constituencies of (a) Birkenhead, (b) Wirral South, (c) Wirral West and (d) Wallasey. [108349]

Yvette Cooper: There is one local Sure Start programme currently being developed in the Wirral. It is in north Birkenhead and cuts across the wards of Bidston and Birkenhead. This area falls within the parliamentary constituency of Birkenhead. There are no Sure Start programmes in the parliamentary constituencies of Wirral South, Wirral West, and Wallasey.

School Inspections

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, (1) pursuant to his answer of 31 January 2000, Official Report, column 421W, on school inspections, if he will place in the Library a copy of the analysis of the Ofsted/Audit Commission questionnaire replies from schools in Leeds, broken down by primary and secondary sectors; [108694]

Ms Estelle Morris: This is a matter for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead. I have asked him to write to my hon. Friend and to place a copy of his letter in the Libraries.


Anti-drugs Strategy

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress is being made in increasing the numbers of problem drug misusers in treatment. [109169]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Government have allocated an additional £200 million over three years to provide treatment for drug misusers. We are beginning to see the effect of this investment in expansion of treatment services in prisons, the development of arrest referral schemes and the expansion of community-based drug treatment services.

One of the barriers to faster expansion is the shortage of suitably skilled staff and I have recently announced a major new recruitment campaign for drug workers, to begin in March. This campaign will be jointly funded by the Department of Health and the Home Office and we aim to recruit up to 300 new drug workers. We hope to attract people from a wide range of backgrounds, and we are ensuring that training will be available to enable the new drug workers to begin work as quickly as possible.

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Staff Bonuses

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department, its agencies and associated public bodies spent in total on extra bonuses above usual payments for staff working over the new year period; what were the (a) maximum and (b) minimum bonuses paid; how many people received the (i) maximum and (ii) minimum payments; and if he will make a statement. [104489]

Mr. Hain: Some Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff were required to work over the Millennium to monitor international Millennium related development, provide consular, press and communications services and to check FCO IT and other systems worldwide.

To compensate staff for working over the period, bank holiday overtime rates payable in the United Kingdom were increased by 50 per cent. Shift disturbance allowance and on-call allowances were also enhanced. Staff in grades not normally eligible for overtime payments received a special payment of £27.50 per hour worked. About 130 staff will receive these various payments.

Staff employed in the non-departmental public bodies for which the FCO is responsible received comparable treatment.

FCO staff serving overseas do not qualify for overtime or shift allowance payments. They received no additional payments.

It is not possible to provide full cost details, since individual line managers are responsible for authorising overtime payments from their budgets and the payments are still being processed.

I should like to pay tribute to the efforts of all FCO staff to ensure that the Department's business was carried on as normal and that the coverage of developments abroad over the period went smoothly and efficiently.

European Commission

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to respond formally to the Commission's Consultation Document, "Reforming the Commission". [107361]

Mr. Vaz: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 31 January 2000, Official Report, column 408W.



Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the Montserrat Government concerning the return of residents to exclusion zones. [108146]

Clare Short: Island residents are not permitted in the Exclusion Zone by order of the Governor, under his Emergency Powers. The Governor takes regular advice from scientists and the Volcano Executive Group.

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Following the last scientific assessment (December 1999) there is no immediate prospect of residents being allowed to return to live in the excluded areas.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what reports she has received of the long-term health risks to residents in Montserrat in areas affected by volcanic ash containing high percentages of cristobalite; [108141]

Clare Short: My Department has commissioned and received a number of reports from a Consultant Occupational Physician at the University of Cambridge. These include a report of research carried out on respiratory function and asthma in children (April 1998), one describing the health hazards of volcanic ash in areas south of the Belham Valley (July 1999), and health risk annexes to Scientific and Hazard Assessment reports received over the last two years, the latest in December 1999.

Future reports will include (i) the outcomes of two toxicological studies on the long-term effects of exposure to volcanic ash (ii) conclusions on the respiratory health of Montserratians on island and (iii) estimates of the long-term effects and health risks associated with cristobalite in volcanic ash.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what health checks have been provided for Montserratians in (i) Montserrat and (ii) the UK following their exposure to ash. [108140]

Clare Short: We organised health checks for all Montserratians evacuated to the UK under the HMG sponsored evacuation arrangements. Follow-up checks are under consideration. The Government of Montserrat's Environmental Health Department regularly monitor ash levels both on the ground and in the air. In addition, we have agreed in principle to fund a study by the Institute of Occupational Medicine on the respiratory health and exposure to volcanic dust of Montserratian residents.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports she has received of activity levels of the Saufoiere Hills volcano in Montserrat. [108143]

Clare Short: We receive weekly reports from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. The volcano's new dome began to grow in November 1999 and now has an estimated volume of 16 million cubic metres. The rate of growth is similar to that associated with the 1997 eruption. Resumed magma ascent reinforces the need for sustained and vigilant monitoring. The December 1999 Scientific and Hazards Assessment Report concluded there are no immediate risks outside the Exclusion Zone.

Oath of Allegiance

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many letters she has received since 1 May 1997 on (a) constituency matters

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and (b) other matters of Government policy from each of those Members of the House who have not taken the Oath of Allegiance. [108405]

Clare Short: This information cannot be provided on the basis that correspondence between MPs and Departments is treated in confidence unless the originating MP chooses to make such issues public.


Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of the aid budget was channelled through charities with an annual turnover of less than £1 million in each of the last three years. [106438]

Clare Short: We provided a total of £167 million through 233 UK charities in the financial year 1996-97, a total of £172 million through 223 UK charities in 1997-98, and a total of £182 million through 209 UK charities in 1998-99.

Full details of DFID's expenditure appear in "Statistics on International Development", a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Information on disbursement to charities with an annual turnover of less than £1 million is not held centrally.

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