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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 7 March 2000


Police Federation Meetings

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions, and on what dates in the past three years, each regional board of the Police Federation has held special meetings. [108489]

Mr. Ingram: The following table shows the number of special meetings held by each region of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland in the last three years.

No. 115 October 1999
No. 2None
No. 39 February 1999; 13 May 1999; 24 May 1999; 4 November 1999; 7 March 2000
No. 4None
No. 59 September 1999 ; 22 September 1999; 17 November 1999; 20 January 2000
No. 6None
No. 728 January 1999; 2 March 1999

New Public Bodies

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the new public bodies established by his Department since May 1997. [112668]

Mr. Ingram: The annual Cabinet Office publication, "Public Bodies" provides information on a range of public bodies including those in Northern Ireland. The 1997 edition lists those public bodies in existence prior to May 1997. The 1998 and 1999 editions lists public bodies in existence in subsequent years. Copies of these publications have been placed in the Library of the House. Copies are also available on the Cabinet Office website (www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/quango).

New Departments (Titles)

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the process by which the titles of the new departments and the Information Service of the Northern Ireland Executive were decided. [112788]

Mr. Mandelson: The titles of the Northern Ireland Departments are set in statute in the Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999. The Order was made following a statement issued by the First Minister (Designate) and Deputy First Minister (Designate) on 18 December 1998 on structures (including Departmental titles) and functions across the then proposed new Departments. The statement was considered and ratified

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by the shadow Northern Ireland Assembly in January 1999 and the Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 specifies the Departmental titles agreed at that time.

In relation to the Information Service this was an interim short title designed to distinguish the Information Service of the Executive from that of the Northern Ireland Office. The title would have been subject to consideration by the Executive Committee in the context of proposals for corporate identity and for a communications strategy which were in preparation at the time of suspension.

Rosemary Nelson

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the current position on the investigation into the murder of Rosemary Nelson. [113637]

Mr. Ingram: A dedicated team, selected and led by Deputy Chief Constable Colin Port, continues to work tirelessly to track down and bring before the courts those responsible for this cowardly murder. This team, which consists of representatives from 25 policing agencies, including the Royal Ulster Constabulary, has in excess of 60 personnel, 60 per cent. of whom are from outside the RUC. To date they have interviewed more than 5,000 individuals, taken 1,500 statements and established 5,000 lines of investigation in their efforts to catch the killers. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has kept in touch with DCC Port, today took the opportunity to meet his team at one of their bases in Lurgan and to hear at first hand about the progress to date in this investigation. The Government are convinced that Mr. Port continues to lead a credible and effective investigation and welcome all the support and co-operation that can be given to the team in its work to solve this appalling crime.

Northern Ireland Act 2000

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the terms and scope of the review to be carried out under Section 2 of the Northern Ireland Act 2000. [113454]

Mr. Mandelson: Following my decision on 11 February to suspend the operation of the institutions, both Governments will be consulting the political parties in Northern Ireland this week. These consultations are expected to continue during and after St. Patrick's Day following which the two Prime Ministers will review progress. They will focus on how best confidence can be rebuilt to enable the institutions to be restored so that the full implementation of the Agreement can be achieved.


Social Enterprise Sector

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he has initiated since the publication of the Social Exclusion Unit Policy Action Team 3 report on Enterprise and Social Exclusion (A National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal) to improve access to finance for social enterprises; and if he will make a statement. [113452]

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Mr. Timms: Since the publication of the PAT3 report, the Government have announced the creation of the Phoenix Fund, a £30 million programme to promote better access to business support and finance in deprived communities. This will include an enterprise development fund, help for community finance initiatives, and a network of 1000 volunteer business mentors. The Government have also announced that HM Treasury will have an observer role on the Social Investment Taskforce, established by the UK Social Investment Forum. This Task Force will look at the next steps in devising a strategic framework for social investment, including investment in social enterprises.

Fuel Excise

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate his Department has made of the loss of taxation revenue from excise duty and VAT from hauliers purchasing fuel on mainland Europe; [112910]

Mr. Timms: HM Customs and Excise has responsibility for excise revenue. There are no current studies or estimates for the numbers of hauliers purchasing fuel from mainland Europe and the Republic of Ireland.


Jackie Ballard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the legislative basis is for the Inland Revenue taxing pensions on the amount entitled to rather than the amount received in one year. [112920]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The legislation governing the basis of assessment of pensions under Schedule E is in Section 41 of the Finance Act 1989.

Tobacco Duty

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount of additional revenue which will be made available to the National Health Service in 2000-01 as a result of hypothecation of increased levels of tobacco duty. [112786]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Projections of tobacco revenue will be published at the time of the Budget.

Social Investment Taskforce

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the (a) aims, (b) objectives and (c) work programme of the Social Investment Taskforce; and if he will make a statement. [113055]

Mr. Timms: The Social Investment Taskforce is an initiative led by the UK Social Investment Forum. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked the Social Investment Taskforce to report to him in the autumn

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with proposals for a new strategic framework for the development of social investment in the UK. The Taskforce will:

    identify barriers to the further development of social investment; and

    propose models for the future development of social investment.

EU Tax Policy

Mr. Denzil Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list those third countries and dependent or associated territories which the EC Commission intends to consult, pursuant to ECOFIN's report to the European Council on Reinforced Tax Policy Cooperation. [113071]

Dawn Primarolo: As the report makes clear, it is for member states to pursue discussions with their dependent or associated territories in co-operation with the Commission. The Presidency and the Commission would deliberate with third countries. The geographic coverage of these further discussions and deliberations is for future consideration.


Legislation (Human Rights)

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what training is being provided for Government lawyers to ensure that legislation is prepared to comply with human rights. [113453]

The Solicitor-General: The main responsibility for training rests with individual Departments which are best placed to identify the legal skills and knowledge required by their lawyers and the most economic and effective way of meeting those needs.

Training on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) has been provided, and is continuing to be provided, to all Government lawyers. This has taken the form of Civil Service/GLS wide Conferences (open to both lawyers and administrators) at which outside speakers including Judges and Counsel have spoken; two intensive one-day courses provided last year by the Civil Service College, in conjunction with the GLS, and to be run again this year; and internal training programmes run by individual Departments (but often open to lawyers from other Departments) where speakers have included both specialist Counsel and Government lawyers with ECHR/HRA expertise. In addition, many Government lawyers have attended the external training courses/seminars run, for example, by leading human rights sets of barristers' Chambers. The introductory course for all lawyers new to the GLS also includes a session on human rights.

Such training has meant that Government lawyers are fully equipped, not only to ensure that all new legislation complies with the European Convention on Human Rights, but also to advise their Departments on all human rights issues when they arise in the decision making process or in the context of litigation.

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