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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office on how many occasions the joint Steering Group co-chaired by the Irish Department of the Taoiseach and the Cabinet Office has met since 10 November 1997; on what date the most recent progress report on East/West co-operation was drawn up; and if she will place a copy in the Library. 
Mr. Ian McCartney: The Good Friday Agreement established a British-Irish Inter-governmental Conference to promote bilateral co-operation. Progress was reviewed at the BIIGC Summit on 17 December 1999, after which a communique was issued. Officials have maintained contact with the Taoiseach's Office to review progress since.
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|Main Department (including agencies)||Number|
|Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food||58|
|Privy Council Office||1|
|Culture, Media and Sport||4|
|Ministry of Defence||118|
|Education and Employment||2,182|
|Office for Standards in Education||1|
|Environment, Transport and the Regions||63|
|Export Credits Guarantee Department||4|
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office||8|
|Government Communications Headquarters||1|
|Government Offices for the Regions||8|
|Law Officers' Departments||15|
|Lord Chancellor's Department||38|
|National Assembly for Wales||36|
|Northern Ireland Office||11|
|Registers of Scotland||1|
|Trade and Industry||51|
|Office of Government Commerce||1|
|HM Customs and Excise||73|
|Office for National Statistics||10|
Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps she has taken to ensure that Government Departments promote equality between (a) older people, (b) disabled people, (c) ethnic minorities, (d) religious minorities, (e) women and (f) gay and lesbian people, and the rest of the population in each case, in service provision, employment, drafting of legislation and other activities; and if she will make a statement. 
Marjorie Mowlam: As an equal opportunities employer, the Civil Service is committed to fairness and equality of opportunity for all in employment and advancement on the basis of suitability for the work.
A central commitment of the Civil Service reform programme is to achieve a dramatic increase in diversity. The aim is to develop a service that values the diversity of its staff and enables all to realise their potential by recognising the contribution of all and the positive benefits that difference can bring.
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In respect of the services that Government Departments provide, all Departments aim to ensure that all the Government's activities, including policies, programmes, legislation and services are taken forward in line with the joint-departmental guidelines "Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment" issued in 1998.
Dawn Primarolo: The new children's tax credit is a tax cut for hard-working families. It will be worth up to £442 a year or £8.50 a week when it is introduced from April next year. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his recent pre-Budget Report that it was his aim to increase this to £520 or £10 per week in his next Budget.
Dawn Primarolo: We have received a number of representations on this along with all other aspects of the tax system. The new children's tax credit is a tax cut for hard-working families. It will be worth up to £442 a year or £8.50 a week when it is introduced from April next year. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his recent pre-Budget Report that it was his aim to increase this to £520 or £10 per week in his next Budget.
Dawn Primarolo: The new children's tax credit will be worth up to £442 a year or £8.50 a week for hard-working families when it is introduced from April next year. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his recent pre-Budget Report that it was his aim to increase this to £520 or £10 per week in his next Budget.
The Government's tax and benefit reforms are already providing extra support for all families with children, and targeting help on those who need it most. It is estimated that the measures introduced in this Parliament will lift more than one million children out of poverty.
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16. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the efficiency of delivering EU structural funds to the United Kingdom's four objective 1 regions. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Single Programming Document (SPD), drawn up at the start of the Objective 1 period, forms the basis of ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed Objective 1 programme. I am pleased that the European Commission is promoting the Cornish document to the rest of Europe as a model of good practice.
Dawn Primarolo: We have received representations about the operation of the Working Families Tax Credit from a number of sources including applicants. Within its first year of operation, Working Families Tax Credit already helps over 1.1 million families with average awards of £73 per week.
18. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what incentives he has introduced for motorists to convert their vehicles to run on low emission fuels; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The cleaner vehicles programme offers grants of up to 75 per cent. of the cost of converting vehicles to natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and electricity. Its funding has been almost tripled for this year, to £10 million. We have introduced a sharply reduced rate of duty on liquid petroleum gas, and the new graduated VED system for new cars being introduced in March will offer new reductions for cars using low emission fuels.
In the pre-Budget report, the Chancellor set a challenge to British industry to develop proposals for practical alternative fuels. Our intention is to be in a position to announce significant duty reductions for the most promising alternative fuels at the time of the Budget.
Mr. Andrew Smith: Public sector net investment is set to double over the period 2000-01 to 2003-04. Detailed plans on how this additional spending will be delivered are set out in recently published Departmental Investment Strategies.
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Dawn Primarolo: We are significantly increasing the Minimum Income Guarantee next year for two million of the country's poorest pensioners. The new, aligned rates will be £92.15 a week for single pensioners and £140.55 for couples. These will then be raised in line with average earnings, reaching £100 and £154 a week by 2003. In addition, we are consulting on a new Pension Credit which will benefit 5.5 million pensioners with low and moderate incomes.
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