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Mr. Robert Ainsworth: This information is not normally held centrally as the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is administered by local authorities. However, as part of a review of the Act's effectiveness, contractors have discovered that approximately 370 licences were issued last year covering nearly 12,000 animals. The contractors are due to report their findings in April.
Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made in preparing a draft order under section 16 of the Local Government Act 1999 to liberalise local authorities' powers to engage in trading activities; and when such an order will be published. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: We expect to publish next month a consultation paper on the use of powers in Section 16 of the Local Government Act 1999 to provide new and amended powers to promote and facilitate the achievement of best value through partnership working. This will include proposals for best value authorities to provide a wider range of goods and services to partners, both in the public and private sectors. Draft Orders will be laid before Parliament following the conclusion of the consultation exercise.
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Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the statements issued by British embassies in (a) South American countries, and (b) Middle Eastern countries in relation to visits made by Lord Levy. 
The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 February 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) on 5 February 2001, Official Report, column 390W.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Prime Minister if he will provide a breakdown of the costs of interpreters used to assist Lord Levy in his role as personal envoy during his visits to the Middle East and South America. 
The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 February 2001]: In the Middle East, most of Lord Levy's meetings have been conducted in English. Where there has been interpretation, it has been provided by host countries at no cost to the United Kingdom.
Dr. Harris: To ask the Prime Minister what information he received on the contents of the Education and Employment Committee's report on access to higher education, and the proceedings of the Committee prior to the publication of the report. 
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The Prime Minister [holding answer 12 February 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment on 14 February 2001, Official Report, column 162W.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what steps he took at the time the Hammond Inquiry was established to ensure that the Cabinet Secretary made public his meetings with the Hinduja brothers. 
(3) what criteria are applied to determine whether it is appropriate for the Cabinet Secretary to meet persons external to Government. 
The Prime Minister: The Secretary of the Cabinet met the Hinduja brothers through a speech which he gave about diversity in the Civil Service. He accepted their subsequent invitation to lunch because he was advised that to do so would be beneficial to British commercial interests in India. He was accompanied at the lunch by a private secretary who circulated a note of the discussion afterwards to the Departments concerned. The Secretary of the Cabinet has made no secret of the fact that the lunch took place. Passports were not discussed at the lunch, and nothing about the lunch was relevant to the Inquiry. Sir Anthony Hammond QC has been given full access to the papers in case he wishes to satisfy himself on the point. I am satisfied that the Secretary of the Cabinet acted entirely properly at every stage.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions between 1 January 1989 and 30 April 1997 when senior civil servants met the Hinduja brothers; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: I asked Sir Anthony Hammond QC to undertake this inquiry because I wanted his independent judgment on the matters covered by his terms of reference. It would not be appropriate to ask the Secretary of the Cabinet to carry out such a full and lengthy investigation.
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The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 29 January 2001, Official Report, column 70W (in reply to questions UIN 147716 and 147717).
Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what independent mechanisms exist to ensure that those with responsibility for the Hammond Inquiry are not in a position to influence the content of the final report in respect of their roles. 
Mr. Chope: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the public expenditure incurred on the provision of hospitality for the Prime Minister's (a) official guests, (b) private guests other than family members and (c) family members at Chequers in each of the last 10 years. 
The Prime Minister: In respect of non-official hospitality at Chequers, as under previous Administrations, all costs for private guests, including family members, are at my own expense with no cost falling to the public purse.
For expenditure on official hospitality at Chequers, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 970W. The figure for the first three quarters of 2000-01 was £6,981. This information was not recorded separately before 1997-98 and therefore it is not possible to give comparable figures for the years prior to 1997.
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to the answer of the Minister for the Cabinet Office of 11 December 2000, Official Report, column 48W (1) what costings of (a) Liberal Democrat and (b) Conservative Party policies his Department has (i) undertaken and (ii) co-ordinated in
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the previous 12 months; and if he will place copies of such costings and relevant background documents in the Library; 
(3) if special advisers in his Department have been involved in (a) co-ordinating, (b) costing and (c) presenting costings of policies of opposition parties; and if he will make a statement. 
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