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Waste Resource Action Programme

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress made by the new Waste Resource Action Programme. [135430]

The Prime Minister: Significant progress has been made in establishing Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) as an independent body with around £30 million of Government funding over the first three years, covering England, Scotland and Wales. Vic Cocker CBE, formerly chief executive of Severn Trent Group plc, is already in place as its chairman. The new chief executive will be Jennie Price, formerly chief executive at the Construction Confederation.

WRAP will be launched formally on 15 November, when its initial priorities and overall objectives for tackling barriers to increased recycling will be published.

Lord Levy

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the visits, and dates of those visits, undertaken by Lord Levy in his capacity as his private envoy since 1 January. [135417]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 30 October 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 6 April 2000, Official Report, column 574W. Since then, Lord Levy has made the following visits in his capacity as the Prime Minister's personal envoy:







Intelligence and Security Committee

(Annual Report)

Mrs. Golding: To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to lay the Intelligence and Security Committee's Annual report before Parliament. [136515]

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee for their valuable work and their latest annual report. Following consultation with them over matters which could not be published without prejudicing the discharge of the function and operation of the intelligence and security agencies, I intend to lay the report before Parliament on 2 November. Copies of the report will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government will respond formally to the report in due course.

Iraq

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty's Government's latest assessment of the effectiveness of UN sanctions against Iraq; with particular reference to the impact of sanctions on the children of Iraq. [133748]

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The Prime Minister: We believe that the sanctions regime has effectively contained Saddam Hussein in the last 10 years. During this time he has not attacked his neighbours, nor used chemical weapons against his own people.

We share concerns that the children of Iraq have suffered greatly, as have all Iraqis, at the hands of a ruthless dictator who cares nothing for their welfare. Unlike Saddam Hussein we are concerned at their plight. SCR1284--a UK initiative--has expanded the oil for food programme. This year alone it will provide more than $16 billion for the Iraqi people. In the face of this oil wealth, there is no reason for the people of Iraq to go short of food and medicine other than Saddam's own decision to deny them humanitarian relief.

Social Inclusion

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what analysis he has commissioned of the effect of the gap between rich and poor on social inclusion. [133662]

The Prime Minister: The Government have taken forward a substantial amount of analysis in this area. The Social Exclusion Unit has, in particular, examined a wide range of research evidence in its work on specific topics such as deprived neighbourhoods and teenage pregnancy. The unit is currently leading work to develop a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal. The strategy will aim to arrest the wholesale decline of our most deprived neighbourhoods, to reverse it, and to prevent it from recurring. We expect to publish an action plan later in the autumn, which will set out how we plan to implement the strategy and which includes analysis of the problems in this area.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Sickness Absence

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the progress made by the Lord Chancellor's Department since 1999 in reducing sickness absence; what targets he has agreed with the Cabinet Office; and if he will make a statement. [135466]

Mr. Lock: The Lord Chancellor's Department and its agencies, the Court Service and the public Trust Office, together with the Public Record Office, HM Land Registry and the Northern Ireland Court Service have each adopted the principles set out in the "Working Well Together" report, issued by the Cabinet Office in 1998, for managing attendance in the public sector.

As a result, a range of new measures has been introduced with the aim of reducing sick absence levels in line with targets set for 2001 and 2003 and consolidating reductions already achieved. New arrangements include; enhanced local monitoring procedures to capture and interrogate sick absence figures, strategies for dealing with long-term sick absences, the appointment of new occupational health providers, health screening programmes, awareness-raising sessions, and detailed guidance.

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The Cabinet Office prepares, each year, an annual report of sickness absence in the civil service, which includes information for each Department. The report for 1999 is currently being finalised and will be published shortly.

Details of the Department's targets for reduced sickness absence for the years 2001 and 2003 against a baseline year of 1998 will be included in its service delivery agreement. This is also to be published shortly.

Whistleblowers

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what procedures exist in the Lord Chancellor's Department for a civil servant to report actions which (a) are illegal, improper, or unethical, (b) are in breach of constitutional convention or a professional code, (c) may involve possible maladministration and (d) are otherwise inconsistent with the Civil Service Code. [135453]

Mr. Lock: The Lord Chancellor's Department, its agencies, the Court Service and the Public Trust Office, and its sister Departments, the Northern Ireland Court Service, the Public Record Office and the Land Registry each have, or are currently developing, specific procedures for reporting all matters of the nature referred to, in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Code.

The procedures within the Lord Chancellor's Department Headquarters, the Court Service Agency and Land Registry provide for staff to address their concerns to a more senior manager, or if this is inappropriate, to a specific named official who will investigate the matter. If staff remain dissatisfied they are advised to report the matter to the Civil Service Commissioners.

The Public Trust Office and the Public Record Office both have existing internal grievance procedures which staff can use if necessary to report the kind of problems covered by the question.

The Northern Ireland Court Service also has an existing internal grievance procedure. However, in response to the Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998, a suitable policy for dealing specifically with the type of concerns raised in the question is being drafted. It is intended that this policy will be operational by the end of this year.

Visitor's Entry Certificate

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the introduction of charges to exercise the right of appeal against a refusal of a visitor's entry certificate; what representations he has received about the charges; and if he will list the charges made for other statutory rights of appeal. [135698]

Jane Kennedy: To be of use family visit appeals must be processed swiftly because such visits are often for an important event like a wedding. Providing a priority service is expensive and it is important that visit visa appeals pay for themselves to avoid adverse impact on other high priority areas.

We have received 22 representations from Members of Parliament and one from a Member of the House of Lords expressing concern about the charges for these appeals. In

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addition there have been six representations from local Racial Equality Councils and four from other voluntary organisations.

Charges are also payable where there is a statutory right of appeal to the Supreme court, county court and in family proceedings. Details of these fees are set out in the Supreme court, county courts, and Family Proceedings Fees Orders 1999, and subsequent amending orders, respectively. In addition there are charges for applications and hearings at the Lands Tribunal and the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. These fees are set out in the Lands Tribunal (Fees) Rules 1996 and the Leasehold Valuation Tribunals (Fees) Order 1997 respectively.

Small Claims (Court Fees)

Mr. Field: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what assessment he has made of the increase in court fees for small claims cases since April 1999. [135670]

Mr. Lock: Issue fees were increased across the board for all litigants issuing money claims on 25 April 2000. The increases varied according to the value of the claim. Since 25 April 2000 a litigant claiming £1,000 or less has paid between £7 and £10 more to issue the claim through the county courts, depending on the size of the claim but, where that claim has been defended, has no longer had to pay the £80 fee payable on the filing of an Allocation Questionnaire. Litigants issuing claims between £1,000 and £5,000 in the county courts, the upper value limit for assigning defended claims to the small claims track, have paid £80 to issue the claim instead of £70, a £10 increase. The Government continue to believe that it is reasonable to expect parties to pay the full cost of the civil justice system they are using to resolve their dispute and to make economic decisions about whether or not to pursue a claim through the courts. Less well-off litigants are protected by exemption and remission provisions.


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