4 May 2000 : Column: 181W

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 4 May 2000


Special Advisers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the Government's special advisers and their responsibilities. [119982]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 20 April 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) on 11 November 1999, Official Report, columns 826-28W. Since then, I have appointed Carey Oppenheim, Carl Sobhan and Chris MacShane. Dr. Iain Anderson is no longer employed as a special adviser. In addition, ministerial colleagues have appointed the following special advisers: Margaret Ounsley (Chief Whip, House of Lords), Ruth Mackenzie (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport), Andrew Hood (Secretary of State for Defence), David Wilson (Deputy Prime Minister), Michael Williams (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) and Andrew McMenaman (Secretary of State for Wales).

All special advisers are employed under terms and conditions set out in the "Model Contract for Special Advisers", a copy of which is in the Library of the House. Schedule 1, Part 1 of the contract sets out the duties and responsibilities of special advisers.

House of Lords Reform

Ms Moran: To ask the Prime Minister if he is in a position to announce the membership of the House of Lords Appointments Commission promised in "Modernising Government: Reforming the House of Lords" (Cmnd 4183). [121113]

The Prime Minister: Following an open recruitment exercise conducted in accordance with the principles of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, I have decided to appoint the following people, on the recommendation of the selection panel, as the independent Chairman and members of the Interim House of Lords Appointments Commission.

The Chairman will be Lord Stevenson of Coddenham, the Chairman of the Pearson Group and Halifax plc and a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords. The leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have been informed and are content for Lord Stevenson to be appointed as Chairman.

The independent members, chosen from a strong field of candidates, will be Mrs. Angela Sarkis CBE, the Chief Executive of the Church Urban Fund; Dame Deirdre Hine, previously Chief Medical Officer at the Welsh Office and Chairman of the Commission for Health Improvement; and Ms Felicity Huston, Chairman of the Northern Ireland

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Consumer Committee for Electricity and Deputy Chairman of the General Consumer Council of Northern Ireland.

In addition, the Commission will contain a member nominated by each of the three main political parties. The Labour Party member is the right hon. Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde. The Conservative Party member is the right hon. Lord Hurd of Westwell CH, CBE. The Liberal Democrat member is Lord Dholakia OBE, DL.

The seven members of the Commission will combine knowledge of the existing House of Lords with a diverse range of personal backgrounds. They will be well-qualified to take forward the process of appointing non-political peers to the House of Lords on a more open and transparent basis and to take on responsibility for vetting all nominations for peerages.


Car Worker Retraining Programmes

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement regarding retraining programmes available to car workers made redundant at Longbridge and its suppliers. [119632]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Rover Task Force produced an interim report that was presented on 26 April to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who welcomed the proposals.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has pledged £129 million to assist the people and businesses of the west midlands and the report made a number of recommendations about short and medium-term actions that should be taken to regenerate the region. These include a number of initiatives that will tackle employee re-skilling and re-training for workers from Rover and its supplier chain who will be made redundant or whose jobs will be affected. Funding of more than £27 million has been approved to support this work, to help individuals and to aid supplier chain diversification which will include the re-training of up to 4,000 workers.

The report also recommends three new initiatives to support employees which will:

Senior Civil Servants

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade andIndustry what position (a) Mr. Jonathan Green and (b) Mr. Michael Atkinson (i) held in his Department on 1 January and (ii) will hold on 1 May. [120117]

Mrs. Liddell: Mr. Jonathan Green was Director, Energy Utilities on 1 January 2000 and was still in post on 1 May.

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Mr. Michael Atkinson was Director, Coal Unit on 1 January. On 1 May he moved to become Director, Resources, Business Competitiveness Group. His successor as Director Coal Unit will be Mr. Peter Mason.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the movements of senior civil servants from and to the division of his Department dealing with energy issues in the last six months. [120110]

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes have been made recently in the officials dealing with coal and industrial subsidy. [120207]

Mrs. Liddell: The information requested is as follows:

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who his Department's (a) Director of Energy Utilities and (b) Director of Coal Units are. [120118]

Mrs. Liddell: The following is the information:

(a) Mr. Jonathan Green
(b) Mr. Peter Mason


Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if BMW has indicated that it would consider a bid for (a) the new Mini and (b) the R30. [120076]

Mr. Byers: I refer to the evidence given by Professor Samann to the Trade and Industry Select Committee on 29 March 2000.

Media Discussions

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he, his Ministers and his officials had with (a) Kevin Maguire and (b) Keith Harper of The Guardian during (i) the week beginning 10 April, (ii) Saturday 15 April and (iii) Sunday 16 April; and what subjects were discussed. [120109]

Mr. Byers: My Department maintains regular contact with a range of journalists.

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Post Offices

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices were closed in each year from 1992 to 1999; and how many were opened. [120797]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that historical data for the numbers of post offices opened are not available. The net numbers of post office closures are as follows:

Year ending MarchNumber


Out-of-school-hours Study

12. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to establish a new entitlement to regular out-of-school-hours study support for older primary pupils and secondary schools. [119635]

Mr. Wills: We know that taking part in out-of-school-hours study support improves pupil attitudes and is linked to better performance at school. Virtually all schools already provide some study support activities and around half of all pupils attend at least one activity per week. We want to extend that to all pupils, which is why we have announced our intention to provide all older primary and secondary pupils with the opportunity to take part in these activities.

Evidence suggests that disadvantaged young people benefit most from the kind of study support opportunities that other young people may take for granted, such as learning to play a musical instrument or having the space or encouragement to do their homework. It is for these reasons that this Government have, for the first time, ring-fenced significant funding for study support, which we are targeting on young people from disadvantaged areas.

To date, almost 2,000 schools have benefited from a share of the £240 million that is available for study support through the New Opportunities Fund. In addition to this, around 6,800 schools are expected to benefit this year from £20 million of Standards Fund money for study support, and this amount will rise to £60 million next year.

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