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Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend asks about information being available. Representatives of the news media will be in the Government's millennium centre. They will operate freely--they will not be under our control in any sense. They will be free to report the information that they are gathering. We anticipate that some of the television media, the Press Association, and other such people will be there. We also anticipate being able to make information available, if required, on Teletext, so that it is more readily available.

My hon. Friend asked about hotline numbers. We are encouraging people to gain information about local services, which are the ones that supply their home or place of business, by collecting local numbers. From this week, there are to be advertisements in 550 local newspapers, placed by and in conjunction with local service providers, to disseminate information widely among the general public.

My hon. Friend also asks specifically about ships and airlines. I understand that any ship that has not been able to provide assurances about millennium compliance will not be on the high seas, will certainly not be allowed into port and will probably not be released to leave port in the run-up to the date change rollover. No airline is currently expected to face problems over the United Kingdom. The only airline over which a query hangs, in that it has been unable to satisfy the authorities as to its millennium compliance, does not fly into or out of this country.

Mr. David Atkinson (Bournemouth, East): Given that the right hon. Lady has rightly and consistently warned the House that there are no guarantees that there will be no disruption in the first weeks and months of the new year, what is her personal advice to ordinary people, such as domestic householders, on the sensible precautions that they should have taken or should be in the process of taking?

Mrs. Beckett: I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. He has followed this issue since the beginning--indeed, his interest commenced far earlier than most others. His expertise is well known and I am grateful for the interest he has always shown. The only personal advice I would offer to people--indeed, the advice I intend to follow myself--is simply to make the sensible preparations that they would make for any Christmas and new year, with some slight additional recognition of the fact that they should expect more unexpected visitors who might eat and drink rather more heavily than usual.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): We welcome full compliance and acknowledge the substantial efforts,

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including the right hon. Lady's, made to achieve it. However, does she agree that a certain competitive tension between Departments and Government agencies to be the first to achieve the desired objective is a good thing? Consistent with that principle, will she say which Department or agency was the last to achieve full compliance and give the reason for its tardiness?

Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Gentleman is right: there is something to be said for people learning from each other and sharing best practice. However, in response to his point about potential competition between Departments, I would point out that the key to what has been achieved throughout the public and private sectors is co-operation and exchange of information. He asks me to identify which was the last Department to complete its work and to give the reason why. I think that it was the Ministry of Defence, and the reason is simple: that Ministry has infinitely more systems than any other Department. Memory tells me that, of about 30,000 systems throughout government that needed to be assessed, the Ministry of Defence has about 10,000.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): My right hon. Friend has been engaged in probably the largest contingency planning exercise in peacetime. It would be a great pity if all the data that have been collected were simply to be shoved aside after the key dates had been reached. Will she ensure that all Departments and Government agencies retain the data and make them available to all authorities involved in emergency planning, and to any expert groups that might be set up, with a view to extracting the best information for future planning purposes?

Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend is right: there has never been such an exhaustive reassessment and testing of diverse arrangements, including contingency plans, carried out in peacetime--the scale of the work is unprecedented. He will be pleased to learn that the Government have already set in hand a thorough process of assessment, so that we can learn as much as possible from the experience of those weeks and months, and that we intend to make that information available.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his interest and for the support that he has shown in this issue. As he has asked me about the things that we can learn, and as it is the eve of Christmas, I thought that I would share with the House one of the more interesting pieces of information made available to me. It is that in its testing of non-critical systems, Customs and Excise has included the need to test the hairdryer for sniffer dogs. Its continuity plan is that if it fails, it will use a towel.


Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia)

Mrs. Ann Winterton, supported by Mr. Joe Benton, Mr. Julian Brazier, Dr. Vincent Cable, Mr. Jim Dobbin, Dr. Brian Iddon, Mr. Kerry Pollard, Mrs. Marion Roe, Rev. Martin Smyth, Miss Ann Widdecombe, Mr. Nicholas Winterton and Mr. William Cash, presented a Bill to prohibit the withdrawal or withholding of medical treatment, or the withdrawal or withholding of sustenance, with the intention of causing the death of

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a patient; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 28 January, and to be printed [Bill 12].

Carers and Disabled Children

Mr. Tom Pendry, supported by Mr. David Hinchliffe, Mrs. Llin Golding, Mrs. Virginia Bottomley, Mr. Stephen Dorrell, Mrs. Marion Roe, Mr. David Chaytor, Jackie Ballard, Mrs. Sylvia Heal, Mr. Andrew F. Bennett, Mr. Andrew Reed and Mr. Lawrie Quinn, presented a Bill to make provision about the assessment of carers' needs; to provide for services to help carers; to provide for the making of payments to carers and disabled children aged 16 or 17 in lieu of the provision of services to them; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 4 February, and to be printed [Bill 13].

Licensing (Young Persons)

Mr. Paul Truswell, supported by Mr. Fabian Hamilton, Mr. Harold Best, Mr. Colin Burgon, Mr. John Gunnell, Mr. George Mudie, Mr. Hilary Benn, Ms Chris McCafferty, Mr. Christopher Leslie and Mr. David Taylor, presented a Bill to make provision in connection with the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor in cases involving persons under 18; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 11 February, and to be printed [Bill 14].

Health Service Commissioners (Amendment)

Sir Peter Emery, on behalf of Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, supported by Mr. Menzies Campbell, Mr. Alan Williams, Dr. Howard Stoate, Dr. Peter Brand, Angela Smith, Mr. David Amess, Mr. Marsha Singh and Mr. David Hinchliffe, presented a Bill to amend the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 3 March, and to be printed [Bill 15].

Warm Homes and Energy Conservation

Mr. David Amess, supported by Mr. David Atkinson, Mr. Simon Burns, Mr. David Chaytor, Mr. Michael Colvin, Mr. Cynog Dafis, Mrs. Linda Gilroy, Ms Jenny Jones, Mr. Alan Simpson, Rev. Martin Smyth, Sir Teddy Taylor and Mr. Paul Tyler, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to draw up and facilitate the carrying out of a programme of action to provide households with a comprehensive package of home insulation, heating and other energy efficiency improvements for the purpose of reducing fuel poverty; to require the setting of targets for the achievement of that programme; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 10 March, and to be printed [Bill 16].

Government Powers (Limitations)

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith, supported by Mr. John Bercow, Mr. John Whittingdale, Mr. Quentin Davies, Mr. Eric Forth, Mr. Gerald Howarth, Mr. Robert Key, Mr. Richard Ottaway, Mr. Richard Shepherd, Mr. Bernard Jenkin, Dr. Julian Lewis and Mr. Oliver Letwin, presented a Bill to amend the law in relation to the permitted number of Ministers of the Crown; to limit the powers of Ministers

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to make certain appointments; to make provision with respect to the parliamentary scrutiny of European Union proposals and other subordinate legislation; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 7 April, and to be printed [Bill 17].

Urban Regeneration and Countryside Protection

Mr. Anthony Steen, supported by Mr. Tony Baldry, Mr. Martin Bell, Mr. Crispin Blunt, Mr. Kenneth Clarke, Sir Peter Emery, Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, Mr. Tom King, Mr. Peter Lilley, Mr. Peter Luff, Mr. Patrick Nicholls and Sir Michael Spicer, presented a Bill to require local planning authorities to undertake urban capacity studies and to publish audits of derelict, vacant, under-used and under-utilised buildings and land; to place a duty on public bodies to maximise the use of previously developed buildings and land; to impose new requirements in respect of planning applications for housing development on undeveloped land or for housing development likely to have a significant impact on existing infrastructure; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March, and to be printed [Bill 18].

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