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Rural Affairs

17. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what actions she is taking to ensure inter-departmental co-ordination on rural affairs. [101561]

Marjorie Mowlam: I am chairing the new Cabinet Committee to co-ordinate the Government's policies affecting rural areas.

Inter-departmental Reviews

19. Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proposals she has to enable parliamentary scrutiny of the recently announced inter-departmental reviews. [101564]

Marjorie Mowlam: Interdepartmental reviews can be scrutinised in the normal way by ministerial accountability to Parliament.


20. Barbara Follett: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps her Department is taking to make use of the internet in communications between Government and business. [101565]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Cabinet Office is investigating ways of increasing the amount of electronic communication with business, including the use of the Government Procurement Card, e-commerce discussions with major suppliers, and making procurement information available on the Department's website.

Since the autumn of this year the Cabinet Office IT Infrastructure Division has provided access to the internet for all the Department's staff (via the Government Secure Intranet). This makes it possible for the Cabinet Office to communicate effectively with other departments and business and greatly facilitates meeting the Government's target for doing business electronically.

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The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) has established, and manages, a number of procurement schemes under which public sector organisations can purchase a wide range of IT and telecommunications products and services from the private sector using the internet.

Information Champions

21. Mr. White: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on the role of the information champions; and what progress has been made since the committee was set up. [101566]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Information Age Government Champions (IAGC) lead work in support of the Corporate IT Strategy. They take ownership on behalf of departments and agencies and report to Ministers and the Modernising Government Project Board. Members include representatives from departments, the NHS and local government. The IAGC have agreed a programme of work that will result in the publication in March 2000 of the Corporate IT Strategy for government. Further details of the work of the IAGC can be found on their website (

Regional Initiatives (Funding)

22. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what discussions she has had with those of her Cabinet colleagues responsible for co-ordinating the delivery of economic development funding, European funding and other regional initiatives. [101567]

Marjorie Mowlam: I have no Ministerial responsibility for these policy areas but of course I participate fully in collective discussion of them.

Social Exclusion Unit

24. Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on progress made by the Social Exclusion Unit in meeting the Government's target to reduce homelessness. [101569]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Social Exclusion Unit's report on Rough Sleeping sets the target of reducing the number of those who sleep rough by two thirds by 2002. The Rough Sleepers Unit in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is responsible for action to meet this target and they have today published an implementation strategy for England.


25. Mr. Pike: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many deregulation proposals her Department expects to be introduced in 2000. [101570]

Mr. Stringer: There are about nine proposals under consideration at the moment.

As my hon. Friend will know through his valuable work as Chairman of the Deregulation Committee, I will be introducing legislation in this session of Parliament to remove barriers to wider application of the current deregulation order-making powers. I am confident this will lead to more proposals coming forward for consideration by the Deregulation Committee.

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Civil Service (Ethnic Minorities)

26. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what measures she is taking to tackle the under-representation of ethnic minorities in the civil service. [101571]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Government are committed to redressing under-representation and we are actively working to recruit and retain ethnic minorities at all levels in the Civil Service. Some key measures include the appointment of an Outreach Worker to work with ethnic minority university groups to promote careers in the Civil Service, and a Civil Service ethnic minority careers fair which will be held annually.


Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will include in the Government's Annual report dates of Cabinet meetings held and their duration. [101563]

Marjorie Mowlam: No.

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Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much money has been spent to date on each area of the Government's anti-drugs strategy announced following the comprehensive spending review. [102662]

Mr. Ian McCartney: It is not possible at this stage of the financial year to provide the information in the format requested.

The Comprehensive Expenditure Review 1997-98 estimated drug-related spending across the UK to be in the region of £1.4 billion.

The 1998 Comprehensive Spending Review settlement provided an additional £217 million over three years directed to health, local authorities and criminal justice agencies for targeted anti-drugs activities. The table details allocations.

In addition, in July 1999, the Home Secretary announced the availability of a further £20 million for the development of Arrest Referral Schemes to get drug misusers into treatment.

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Breakdown of additional anti-drugs money
£ million

PSS (purchase of community care services) Local Authority3512.520.5
NHS--Health Authorities drug misuse special allocation12182050
Comprehensive provision for treatment of problem drug users in prison and effective links between prisons and community20202060
Voluntary drug testing in every prison25512
Piloting of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders followed by comprehensive Implementation subject to evaluation1204061
Development Funding for Drug Action Teams1.
Department of Health prevention work1113

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Civil Servants

Mr. Healey: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many fast track civil servants have been recruited to Government departments since May 1997. [101558]

Marjorie Mowlam: We recruited 766 Civil Servants on to the Fast Stream Development Programme between May 1997 and the end of October this year. 448 of those were recruited to the General Fast Stream and 318 to specialist schemes.


Dr. Palmer: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps she is taking to ensure wider diversity in appointments to quangos. [101547]

Mr. Stringer: The Government are committed to ensuring that public appointments are open to a wide field of candidates.

My Department co-ordinates the work of other Departments in taking forward their published action plans to achieve equality of opportunity for all.

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Imported Chickens

Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if (a) chicken meat and (b) chicken products imported from Thailand and Brazil are produced from animals raised using antibiotics that are banned in the European Union; and if he will make a statement. [100403]

Ms Quin: The details of antibiotics authorised for use in Thailand and Brazil are not currently available. However, like all other third countries that wish to export meat and other animal products to the EU, Thailand and Brazil are required to submit to the European Commission their plans for testing for residues of veterinary medicinal products including antibiotics.

Cattle Incineration

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his policy on direct incineration of over-thirty-month scheme cattle. [100827]

Ms Quin: EU Commission Regulation 716/96 requires that OTMS animals be incinerated, or rendered and destroyed. The Intervention Board (IB), which is

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responsible for the administration of the scheme in the UK, looks to maintain a balance between direct carcase incineration and rendering. On the basis of capacity and cost considerations, the IB has determined that rendering should be the primary disposal route for OTMS animals. IB has contracted meat and bone meal incineration capacity to meet its needs for the foreseeable future. Direct carcase incineration will continue to play an important part in the scheme, in particular for casualty animals slaughtered on-farm.

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