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St. David's Day

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the Welsh Assembly and others on declaring St. David's day a public holiday in Wales. [144285]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Assembly First Minister has written to me concerning this matter, and the UK Government are currently considering the issue, but have not yet formed a view.

Farmers' Incomes

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the average farmer's income was in (a) Wales and (b) the smallest regional area applicable to each constituency in Wales, in each of the last 10 years. [143642]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Information is available only for Wales as a whole, and is set out in the Annual series of statistical publications, "Farm Incomes in the United Kingdom", copies of which are in the Library.


Departmental Projects

Mr. Brady: To ask the President of the Council if she will list the projects undertaken for her Department by (a) outside consultants, (b) academic researchers and (c) university departments since 1 May 1997, giving the total expenditure incurred in each category. [144074]

Mrs. Beckett: Outside consultants have undertaken three projects for my Department since 1 May 1997 at a total cost of £25,650. These projects are listed:

Outside consultantProject
Civil Service CollegeGeneral accounting advice
Central Computer and Telecommunications AgencyIT services
Focus Quality ServicesAssessment for Investors in People accreditation

My Department has not made use of academic researchers or university departments during the period in question.



Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department has taken to help prevent the spread of HIV in sub- Saharan Africa. [144468]

Clare Short: HIV/AIDS is a major development challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. The epidemic is undermining economic growth and fundamentally threatens social and economic development in many countries in the region. DFID gives greatest priority to

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prevention, but we are also working to reduce the personal, social and economic suffering resulting from the illness and death caused by the disease.

Last year my Department spent over £84 million on bilateral HIV/AIDS related work--the bulk in Africa. As national strategic plans tackle the epidemic improve, we have begun to place our support within the framework of those plans. For example, we have recently approved preparatory work for an additional £20 million to combat HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, and £65 million in Nigeria.

UN Desertification Conference

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on Government participation in the UN Conference in Bonn on desertification. [143768]

Clare Short: At the Special Ministerial Segment of the meeting, the UK was represented by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for International Development. He was supported by three officials from the Environment Policy Department of the Department for International Development and one from the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The Conference began a major review of implementation of the Convention. This will be taken forward at the next Conference in October 2001. In his statement to the Conference, my hon. Friend underlined the importance of integrating programmes to combat desertification with developing countries' strategies for sustainable development and poverty elimination.


Recruitment Agencies

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the meetings (a) he and (b) officials of his Department have held with recruitment agencies during the last two years. [144480]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Since my appointment I have had meetings with Manpower, Adecco, Blue Arrow, Brook Street, NES International and Hewett Recruitment. I have also met the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the Agents' Association and the Local Employment Agencies Forum. Officials in the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate have regular meetings with agencies and their associations. It is estimated that over 1,400 meetings and visits have taken place in the last two years.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effect which the new Employment Agency regulations will have on recruitment agencies which arrange work experience for people of school age. [144482]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I propose to revoke certain requirements agencies must fulfil before introducing workers under 18 to employers, but propose to strengthen protections for all workers to ensure they are not required to do work they are unsuited for or which would pose a hazard to them. The new regulations will apply to agencies arranging work placements for people of school age as before. Services provided by local authorities and

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certain colleges will continue to fall outside the legislation and particular regulations will continue not to apply to persons covered by section 25 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963.

Manufacturing (Job Losses)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the minutes of the meetings of the ministerial group on job losses in the manufacturing sector. [144416]

Mr. Alan Johnson: There is no such group. I can say, however, that job prospects in manufacturing are kept under review.

Online Banking

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by what date he estimates all post offices will be able to provide online banking services. [143283]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Over 15,000 post offices (83 per cent. of the network) are now online and the Horizon programme is well on schedule for completion next spring. Horizon now includes smartcard compatibility and opens the door for the provision of online banking services throughout the post office network. The Post Office is currently considering different IT platforms compatible with Horizon through which it can connect to banks. Their final decision will depend on the cost and functionality offered by the different options.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with post office representatives concerning the potential usage by post offices of the LINK electronic banking network. [143581]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 20 December 2000]: The usage by post offices of the LINK electronic banking network is a commercial matter for the Post Office.

Limited Liability Partnerships

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the Companies Registrar has published guidance on the information he requires before registering a limited liability partnership. [144097]

Dr. Howells: The Registrar of Companies intends to make guidance notes available regarding Limited Liability Partnerships in England and Wales and in Scotland. These will cover information on filing requirements. The Guidance will be provided as a series of booklets and also on the Companies House website

The guidance cannot pre-empt--so it will be made available shortly following--the parliamentary debate on the Limited Liability Partnership Regulations 2001. The current estimate for the timing of this debate is the middle of January 2001.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if Ernst and Young have applied for registration as a Limited Liability Partnership; and if he will make a statement. [143960]

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Dr. Howells: The Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 will not come into force until 6 April 2001, and it will not be possible to be incorporated as a Limited Liability Partnership before then.


Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he plans to include comparable pension provision in the transfer of undertakings employment rights entitlements. [144181]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I am currently considering this matter in the light of views that have been expressed on it.

European Coal and Steel Community

Consultative Committee

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been the record of attendance of the United Kingdom representatives on the European Coal and Steel Community Consultative Committee over the past two years; what the criteria were for the selection of candidates for the final term of appointment to the Consultative Committee for the period up to the ending of the ECSC Treaty in July 2002; and which representatives were reappointed. [144028]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Department of Trade and Industry does not keep attendance records for the United Kingdom representatives on the European Coal and Steel Community Consultative Committee.

The membership of the Consultative Committee is made up of representatives from three coal and steel industry sectors: producers, workers, and consumers and dealers. Industry representative organisations make nominations for the producers and workers categories. The Department of Trade and Industry makes nominations for the consumers and dealers category on the basis of recommendations made by industry organisations.

The members of the Consultative Committee for its final term of office are as listed. Those marked with an asterisk are reappointments from the previous term.

Producers category
Coal Sector
Mr. Richard John Budge*
Mr. Brian John Rostron
Mr. Ronald Parry*
Steel Sector
Mr. Allan Johnston*
Mr. David Rea*
Mr. Ian Rodgers*
Workers category
Coal Sector
Mr. Neil Greatrex*
Mr. Patrick M. Carragher*
Steel Sector
Mr. Robert Shannon*
Mr. Michael J. Leahy*
Mr. Keith Brookman*

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Consumers and dealers category
Coal Sector
Ms Jenny Kirkpatrick*
Mr. Michael Gibbons*
Ms Jane Heginbotham*
Steel Sector
Mr. Scott Macdonald*
Mr. Derek Tordoff*
Mr. David Nicholas.

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