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Children

14. Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the child care and child protection elements of the Government's legislative programme and its impact on Wales. [98891]

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Mr. Hanson: The Secretary of State will meet the First Secretary and appropriate officials to discuss these issues as necessary. I have already met the Assembly Secretary Jane Hutt to discuss proposed legislation, including childcare and child protection elements.

Match Funding

15. Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about including additional money in the block grant for Wales for objective 1 and 2 match funding. [98892]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer regularly when we discuss a number of issues.

24. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many representations he has received about objective 1 and 2 funding since the beginning of May. [98901]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My predecessor and I have received many representations about Objectives 1 and 2, some of which have referred to funding.

25. Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary with regard to objective 1 match funding. [98903]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I hold regular meetings with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales. We have discussed a range of issues, including Structural Funds support in Wales, and I am aware of the importance of the issue.

Special Advisers

18. Dr. Michael Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much money is currently spent by his Department on special advisers; and how much was spent during (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98 and (c) 1998-99. [98895]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department is currently spending around £90,000 per annum on special advisers. The previous costs were:

£
1996/9730,964
1997/9895,430
1998/99101,786

Electoral System

19. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the operation of the electoral system used in elections to the Welsh Assembly. [98896]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The electoral system used in elections to the Welsh Assembly is provided for in Section 4 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 and combines the "first past the post" method for constituency Members with "proportional representation" for additional Members. This ensures that the National Assembly is representative of all parts and interests in Wales.

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National Minimum Wage

20. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the impact of the national minimum wage on Wales. [98897]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I met the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry last month and we discussed a range of issues. The Government fully recognise the importance of assessing the effect of the introduction of the national minimum wage and they asked the Low Pay Commission to monitor and evaluate the minimum wage's introduction and impact across the UK, with particular reference to the effect on pay and employment. The Commission is due to report later this month.

Children (Leaving Care) Bill

23. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has scheduled with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about the Children (Leaving Care) Bill outlined in the Queen's Speech. [98900]

Mr. Hanson: I will be having discussions with the First Secretary and appropriate officials as and when necessary.

Transport

26. Mr. Donald Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the Government's legislative programme and its impact on transport in Wales. [98904]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly and we discuss a number of issues, including the impact on Wales of the Bills in the Government's legislative programme.

Forestry

27. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about the protection of forestry in Wales. [98905]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet weekly with the First Secretary of the National Assembly and we discuss a wide range of topics. However, Forestry matters in Wales are a matter for the Forestry Commission which reports direct to the Assembly.

Block Grant

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the size of the block grant. [98890]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the Assembly First Secretary on a weekly basis to discuss a range of issues.

Cabinet Committee on Agriculture

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which minister in his Department is a member of the Cabinet Committee on Agriculture. [100102]

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Mr. Paul Murphy [holding answer 29 November 1999]: There is no Cabinet Committee exclusively concerned with agriculture matters. I assume the hon. Member refers to the Rural Affairs Committee (misc 8). This Committee was established to consider rural matters in England. However, I receive the Committee's papers and if these raise issues which are relevant to Wales I will attend the Committee's meetings.

Farmers

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last received a delegation of farmers from Wales. [98883]

Mr. Paul Murphy: During October I received deputations from the Farmers Union of Wales, the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association. On each occasion the meetings were productive and covered a wide range of topics. I am attending the CLA Wales dinner on 1 December.

Education

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss assistance for education in Wales. [98902]

Mr. Hanson: The Secretary of State regularly meets the First Secretary to discuss various issues.

I have met Tom Middlehurst to discuss aspects of education, and will continue to meet or talk to Mr. Middlehurst on a regular basis.

Pre-Budget Statement

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the impact on Wales of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's pre-Budget statement. [98887]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the Assembly First Secretary on a weekly basis to discuss a range of issues.

PRIME MINISTER

Iraq

Q11. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what recent representations Her Majesty's Government have received from (a) UN organisations and (b) church organisations about continuing UN sanctions and military action against Iraq. [98916]

The Prime Minister: We continue to maintain close contacts with all the UN organisations operating in Iraq. There are also regular meetings between officials and representatives of church organisations at which the sanctions regime and our enforcement of the No Fly Zones can be discussed.

Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 1 December. [100329]

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The Prime Minister: This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I will have further meetings later today.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Pig Industry

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the extra costs per pig imposed on pig breeders which arise from animal welfare arrangements in Britain which are not imposed in other EU countries; and if he will provide compensation for these costs. [99292]

Ms Quin: No recent estimates have been made but at the time the decision was taken to improve pig animal welfare standards in the UK, it was decided that the costs should not be compensated by the taxpayer. My right hon. Friend the Minister and I do, however, continue to urge purchasers of pigmeat to source to UK welfare and other standards.

Sterling

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what money is currently available for compensating UK farmers for the problems caused to them by the strength of sterling. [99213]

Ms Quin: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply to my hon. Friend for Kettering (Mr. Sawford) on 25 November 1999, Official Report, column 740W.


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