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Scientific Staff

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve the recruitment of (a) trainee and (b) trained scientific staff by the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [145407]

Mr. Denham: The National Advisory Group for Scientists and Technicians has been charged with developing plans to improve work force planning, education, training and career development among that group of staff. The Department is also developing a specific strategy for improving recruitment and retention, liaising closely with employers, professional bodies and trade unions to raise the profile of the work of scientists.

The National Health Service Careers Service, including the website has been extended to include scientists and technicians. A new generic scientists and technicians careers leaflet has also been prepared.

To address particular recruitment and retention problems in pathology laboratories pay increases of between 7.3 per cent. and 16.7 per cent. have been offered from April 2001 to over 6,000 trainee Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers (MLSOs), MLSO1s and MLSO2s. Other scientific and technical staff have been offered a 3.7 per cent. increase.

Food Labelling

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce legislation on food labelling to make it an offence to remove labels when repackaging foods and to require labels to indicate (a) country of origin, (b) country of production and packing and (c) whether the produce is organic. [144757]

Ms Stuart: Relabelling when repackaging food is generally necessary in order to ensure that the label gives accurate information on the repackaged product. Failure to remove the original label risks causing confusion. Misleading labelling does give rise to an offence.

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Origin labelling rules are harmonised at European level. We are actively pressing for these rules to be amended to improve the amount and clarity of origin information on food labels. In the meantime, guidance issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in February last year, and placed in the Library, makes clear that origin labelling must be carefully worded to avoid confusion between the origin of ingredients and the place of final processing.

Produce that is organic is already generally identified. Organic food production is strictly regulated by written standards. It is illegal to offer for sale any food described as organic unless it has been produced in full conformity with European rules by registered producers.


Listed Church Buildings

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list by region the number of churches within each denomination which will be entitled to claim VAT reduction on repairs to listed church buildings; [144981]

Dawn Primarolo: The information requested is not available.

Disadvantaged Groups (Scotland)

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to promote enterprise among disadvantaged groups in disadvantaged areas in the West of Scotland. [145772]

Mr. Timms: The Government aim to promote enterprise among disadvantaged groups in all parts of the United Kingdom. The Government have undertaken to consult on a number of tax incentives designed to increase private investment in high unemployment areas, including the proposal by the Social Investment Task Force for a community investment tax credit.

Specific Scottish measures for promoting enterprise among disadvantaged groups in the West of Scotland are a devolved matter for the Scottish Executive.

Income Tax (Scotland)

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people in Scotland paid no income tax in the last year for which figures are available; [145656]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Swinney) on 29 November 2000, Official Report, column 705W.

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Mr. Maclean: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from heritage groups about the level of VAT charged on repair work. [145587]

Dawn Primarolo: Ministers have received many representations from heritage groups and individuals about VAT on repair work, but details of the numbers are not available.


Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to publish the 1999-2000 report on UK operations at the International Monetary Fund. [145926]

Mr. Gordon Brown: I am today publishing the second Annual Report to Parliament on UK operations at the IMF. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House.



Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the means by which her strategy paper for Montserrat aims to improve the quality of life of those inhabitants living by an active volcano. [145853]

Mr. Foulkes: I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mrs. Gilroy) on 10 January 2001, Official Report, columns 1061-62.

The Government of Montserrat/DFID Country Policy Plan sets out how our assistance has already helped and will continue to help with sustained economic and social recovery in the north of the island. All the essential facilities for normal life (utilities, road, health, education, housing) are now in place. The volcano, however, continues to pose a threat to the south of the island.

Regional Symposia and Conferences

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department gives to regional education symposia and conferences in developing areas of the world. [145735]

Mr. Foulkes: The Department's work in education is focused on the attainment of the two International Development Targets for education (universal primary education by 2015 and gender equality in primary and secondary education by 2005) and helping provide developing countries with an essential framework for skills acquisition and training provision. International and regional conferences which promote these objectives are eligible for DFID support. The level and nature of our support (e.g. financial, and/or DFID participation) is dependent on the relevance, likely impact and requirements of the conference.

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Commonwealth Scholarships and

Fellowships Plan

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the review of the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan. [145745]

Mr. Foulkes: The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) has now submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State its review report. This makes a number of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the CSFP and enhancing its contribution to the development of DFID partner countries. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be meeting shortly with the CSC Chairman to discuss these findings and their implementation.

Anti-corruption Bureaux

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much assistance her Department provides to support anti-corruption bureaux in developing countries; and if she will list them. [145361]

Clare Short: Our planned and operational support for anti-corruption bureaux in developing countries totals £11.415 million since 1998 and includes support in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Pakistan and Malawi.

Support for anti-corruption bureaux is normally only one part of wider programmes of activity to bear down on corruption.


Sam Marshall

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what communication he has received from the Coroner concerning the Sam Marshall case in the last 12 months; and what courses are available to him to enable Crown agents who may have evidence of criminal acts to give testimony before the Coroner without facing prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. [142320]

Mr. Ingram: The Northern Ireland Office has no record of receiving any correspondence from the Coroner concerning the Sam Marshall case in the last 12 months.

In Northern Ireland, Rule 8(1) of the Coroners (Practice and Procedure) Rules (Northern Ireland) 1963 provides that a coroner has a discretion to examine, at an inquest, any person tendering evidence who is likely to have knowledge of the facts relating to the means by which the deceased came to his death. However, no witness at an inquest is obliged to answer any question tending to incriminate himself in any potential criminal charge (Rule 9(1) of the above Rules).

Under the Official Secrets Act 1989 a Crown Servant only commits an offence if he discloses damaging information without lawful authority which, by virtue of section 7, means otherwise than in accordance with his official duty. By virtue of section 9 of the Act no prosecution may be brought except with the consent of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

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