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Mr. Denham: The Citizens Council for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence was announced in the NHS Plan. We will be evaluating different models with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in spring 2001, and will make an announcement later in the year.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will allow access to confidential hepatitis C testing in the NHS without the necessity for those wishing to be tested having to volunteer to be a blood donor. 
Yvette Cooper: Hepatitis C testing is available in the National Health Service other than through blood donation. Those who have been at risk of exposure to hepatitis C and who seek testing in the National Health Service should be offered well-informed advice and made aware of the implications of a positive test. Those who test positive will be referred to a specialist for confirmatory testing, further assessment and treatment, if appropriate.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were awaiting discharge from acute hospitals in Worcestershire at the end of (a) October, (b) September, (c) August, (d) July and (e) June. 
A one-day census undertaken by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals National Health Service Trust found that of the 808 patients in trust hospitals on 14 June, 88 patients were awaiting discharge. On 5 November the figure was 80.
34. Mr. Wigley: To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission what representations he has received on the adequacy of resources available to the NAO for investigating not-for-profit companies which have been set up at arms length from Central or Local Government to deliver services to the public and which depend in part or in whole on public finance. 
Mr. Sheldon: The Public Accounts Commission last met on 18 July to consider and approve the National Audit Office's Corporate Plan for 2001-02 and beyond. This covered a bid for resources for the Office to undertake its financial audit and value for money duties. These resources include a small provision for the investigation of not-for-profit companies where the C&AG has secured access to--but not the audit of--records on a case by case basis. However, under existing companies legislation the
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C&AG is not permitted to undertake the financial audit of limited companies, nor does he have statutory access rights to limited companies. The Commission have advocated in their submission to the Sharman Review of Central Government audit that the C&AG should have full rights of audit and access to such companies.
35. Mr. Loughton: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what measures are being taken by the Church of England to tackle shortages in recruitment of clergy. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: I understand from the Archbishops' Council, whose responsibility these matters are, that although the total number of stipendiary clergy in the Church of England is projected to decline on present trends, the number of new people coming forward for ordination training has risen over the last five years. It is equally encouraging that the number of non-stipendiary priests and Readers continues to grow.
36. Miss McIntosh: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent representations he has received on reducing the rate of VAT on church repairs; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: I was very encouraged, as indeed was the Church of England in general, by the announcement on 8 November by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of Exchequer that the Government wish to seek a reduction in the rate of VAT levied on repairs to listed buildings that are places of worship. I understand that a letter has already been sent to the European Commission on the scope for such a reduction. Any reductions in VAT realised in this area would directly benefit thousands of parishes who currently bear a very heavy and ongoing VAT burden in respect of the necessary repair of their churches.
37. Mr. Pike: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what representations he has received regarding the ethical investment policy of the Church of England. 
Mr. Stuart Bell: The Church Commissioners are advised by the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group, who constantly monitor representations on these areas and who review, co-ordinate and communicate policy on ethical investment issues on behalf of the three main investment bodies of the Church.
38. Mr. Baldry: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on the value of the assets of the Church Commissioners in the financial years (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99 and (c) 1999-2000. 
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Mr. Stuart Bell: The Commissioners' financial year ends on 31 December and their end year asset value is stated in their annual report, a copy of which will have been sent to the hon. Member. The total market value of their assets at the end of each year from 1997 to 1999 was:
Mr. Beard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the findings of current scientific evidence on the contributions to global warming of (a) the greenhouse effect, (b) sun spots and (c) other cyclical influences on climate. 
Mr. Meacher: Recent scientific results from the Hadley Centre have shown that the observed temperature rise over the last 50 years is most likely to have been caused by greenhouse gasses emitted through human activities. There is some evidence of solar effects causing warming in the early part of the century but these are now secondary to the effects of greenhouse gasses. Cyclical influences due to the earth's orbit are important on time scales of thousands of years but currently have a negligible influence on global warming.
Ms Armstrong: I am pleased to say that we have now reached agreement with Gregory Campbell MLA, the Northern Ireland Minister for Regional Development, on the terms of a concordat between us. This is being
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Mr. Mullin: We set out for consultation our proposals for the Starter Home Initiative for consultation in our Housing Green Paper, published in April. In July we announced that we would provide £250 million of extra funding for the initiative. Further details, including invitations to organisations to bid for funding, will be announced soon.
Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress there has been on the Small Area Health Statistic Unit study, on health effects around landfill sites. 
Mr. Meacher: On the advice of the Director of the Small Area Health Statistic Unit (SAHSU), in the light of problems with the scale and interpretation of data, a revised protocol (study design) has been agreed. A summary of the revised protocol will shortly be available on the DOH website www.doh.gov.uk/envchemh.htm. As a result of this we are now expecting the report from SAHSU by summer 2001.
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