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Endowment Insurance

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what statutory provisions restrict the ability of policyholders to make top-up payments to long-term endowment insurance plans; and what plans he has to review these provisions. [102433]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: There are no statutory provisions prohibiting top-up payments. The provision of advice on and selling of endowment policies is regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Policyholders are encouraged to seek independent financial advice before deciding on options to meet projected shortfalls in maturity.


Departmental Employees (Disabled People)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of the total workforce in his Department is registered as disabled; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of disabled people in his Department. [102050]

Mr. Hain: As at 1 October 1999, 111 staff (2 per cent.) had declared themselves as disabled in a voluntary survey. The FCO is committed to the employment of people with disabilities. In September 1998 the Department qualified for the Employment Service Two ticks symbol "Positive about disabled people". Under this scheme the Department guarantees an interview to anybody with a disability where the application meets the minimum criteria for the post. Particular arrangements are put into place for tests and interviews when requested by the candidate. Reasonable adjustments are made to the working environment for new entrants with disabilities. The FCO has appointed a Disabled Persons Officer to deal with disability issues within the Office.

Diplomatic Missions

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the British diplomatic missions that have been closed during the last five years. [102407]

Mr. Hain: The British diplomatic missions that have closed in the last five years are: Douala in 1994, Kuching and Chiang Mai in 1998 and Cleveland in 1999.

In addition, the Embassy in Belgrade closed at the start of the Kosovo campaign. The Yugoslav authorities subsequently severed diplomatic relations. We have since re-established a presence in Belgrade with an British Interests Section of the Brazilian Embassy.


Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of recent progress in co-operation with China in tackling international crime. [102704]

Mr. Battle: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Jiang Zemin agreed on the need for further dialogue between our two countries on the problems of international crime and drugs in their meeting during the Chinese State Visit. I raised the issue of drugs with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister during my recent visit to China and we agreed to continue close co-operation in this field, where we have had a number of small, mainly training, projects.

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There have been a number of successful co-operative operations between the British and Chinese police to deal with kidnapping cases.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he discussed further co-operation in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction when he met President Jiang Zemin during his visit to Britain. [102742]

Mr. Battle: The need for further dialogue on this subject was agreed in the Prime Minister's meeting with President Jiang Zemin during the State Visit.

EU Applicants

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries which (a) have applied for membership of the EU and (b) are investigating the possibility of applying for membership within the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [102459]

Mr. Vaz: The countries that have applied for membership of the EU are listed in the table. Accession negotiations started in March 1998 with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Accession negotiations will begin in February 2000 with Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia. The Helsinki European Council on 10-11 December 1999 recognised that Turkey is a candidate for membership. Norway put its application on hold in 1994 after a referendum rejected membership. Switzerland suspended its application in 1993. In 1987, the Council of Ministers did not accede to an application from Morocco. No other country has signalled an intention to apply for membership within the next 12 months. This Government strongly support EU enlargement.

Countries that have applied for EU-membership

CountryDate of application
Morocco(10)20 July 1987
Turkey14 April 1987
Cyprus3 July 1990
Malta(11)16 July 1990
Switzerland(12)20 May 1992
Norway(13)25 November 1992
Hungary31 March 1994
Poland5 April 1994
Romania22 June 1995
Slovakia27 June 1995
Latvia13 October 1995
Estonia24 November 1995
Lithuania8 December 1995
Bulgaria14 December 1995
Czech Republic17 January 1996
Slovenia10 June 1996

(10) EU did not accede to the request

(11) Frozen in 1996, re-activated 10 September 1998

(12) Left in abeyance 1992

(13) 1994 referendum rejected membership. Application on hold


Ministerial Meetings

Mr. David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what arrangements (a) he and

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(b) Ministers in his Department have put in place for the taking and keeping of minutes of meetings between Ministers and people outside his Department. [102363]

Mr. Chris Smith: Decisions on the format of minutes of meetings will depend on the nature of the discussions.

Sports Clubs (Personal Injury Insurance)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will introduce legislation to require sports clubs to insure team members against personal injury. [102502]

Kate Hoey: I have no plans to introduce legislation requiring sports clubs to insure their members against personal injury, but I encourage them to ensure that adequate insurance is in place. The home country Sports Councils, in co-operation with the Association of British Insurers, published a booklet in 1997 called "Managing Risks" which provides guidance on insurance for sports organisations, clubs and individuals.

Osborne House

Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what his plans are for the future use of those parts of Osborne House not once occupied personally by Queen Victoria and opened to the public, and of the grounds; and if he will make a statement. [102570]

Mr. Alan Howarth: As I announced on 4 February, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has decided that it is no longer appropriate to run this part of Osborne House as a convalescent and residential home and will be seeking Parliament's approval to repeal the provisions of the Osborne Estate Act 1902 which places this responsibility on him. In the meantime the home remains open. I have asked English Heritage to bring forward proposals for the use of the accommodation currently occupied by the convalescent home.

British Olympic Facilities

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what discussions he has had with the British Olympic Association on ensuring that a future British Olympic bid contains proposals to disperse major sporting events throughout the United Kingdom; [102804]

Kate Hoey: I am in regular discussion with the British Olympic Association and other interested parties on a number of issues including facilities to stage a future Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee require that the Olympic Games are city rather than countrywide based. The British Olympic Association, who have responsibility for UK bids for the Olympic Games, are finalising a series of feasibility studies on a London based bid and I am expecting their report shortly.

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Departmental Transport

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how much his Department has spent on civil servants' transport in each of the last two years. [99145]

Mr. Wills: All travel undertaken by civil servants in DfEE and the Employment Service (ES) complies with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code.

For DfEE, the total amount spent on civil servants' car transport in each of the last two years is £648,826 (1997-98) and £720,853 (1998-99) 1 .

For ES, the total amount spent in each of the last two years is £3,462,169 (1997-98) and £4,992,971 (1998-99) 1 .

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