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"Work and Parents" Green Paper

Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide a regulatory impact assessment for those measures that have been announced following the end of the consultation on the Green Paper, "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice". [156754]

Mr. Byers: I am placing a partial regulatory impact assessment in the Library of the House for those measures which have been announced following the consultation on the Green Paper, "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice". A full regulatory impact assessment will be published when the relevant legislation is presented to Parliament.


Foot and Mouth

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the action being taken by his Department to help people affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [156749]

Mr. Darling: My Department has taken urgent measures to ensure that benefit claims from people who have been affected by foot and mouth disease are dealt with quickly and sensitively.

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We are preparing an information sheet for people living in affected areas listing the benefits most likely to be available to them, the conditions of entitlement and giving examples of the evidence needed to support their claims to ensure they are completed as quickly as possible.

Jobseeker's Allowance, administered by the Benefits Agency, can help people whose normal work or business has been interrupted or who are workless. We have issued guidance to local Benefits Agency staff to remind them of the flexibilities in the benefit rules which are likely to apply to people making claims in affected areas. We are also giving local decision-makers direct access to specialist advice and guidance to ensure that any queries on claims are resolved without delay and are working closely with colleagues in the Employment Service.

Housing Benefit, administered by local councils, is available to help meet the housing costs of people who rent their homes and who are out of work or have insufficient earnings. Social Fund crisis loans are also payable under normal rules to prevent people in affected areas from suffering hardship. We have taken steps to ensure that sufficient funds to meet such need are available to Benefits Agency districts covering affected areas.

We are receiving regular progress reports from the Benefits Agency on benefit claims in affected areas and are keeping the position under close review.

Departmental Report

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Departmental report will be published. [156750]

Mr. Darling: The Social Security Departmental Report, which sets out the Department's expenditure plans for 2001-02 to 2003-04 and the Main Estimate for 2001-02, has been laid before Parliament. A copy has been placed in the Library.



Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received concerning recent attacks upon Rohingya Muslims by Rakhine Buddhist extremists in Arakan State, Burma; and if he will make a statement. [155348]

Mr. Battle: I understand that the violence occurred in Northern Rakhine State, a remote part of Burma. Contacts with UNHCR and INGOs have confirmed reports that there was renewed violence in February 2001, which resulted in loss of life and destruction of homes. Intercommunal tension in Rakhine State is just one example of the suffering of the peoples of Burma. We will continue to press for change in Burma to bring about national reconciliation, full respect for human rights and a return to democracy.

Minister for Europe

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many overseas

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visits, and to which countries, the Minister for Europe has undertaken on official business since assuming his office. [156762]

Mr. Vaz: The information is in the table.

Overseas travel: Keith Vaz MP--Minister for Europe

Serial numberDatesLocation
0114-15 October 1999Tampere
0218 October 1999Hungary
0319-20 October 1999Warsaw
0431 October--01 November 1999Yerevan
0508-09 November 1999Paris
0615-16 November 1999Brussels
0717 November 1999Strasbourg
0820-21 November 1999Florence
0923 November 1999Luxembourg
1009-11 December 1999Helsinki
1116-18 January 2000Rome
1219-20 January 2000Athens
1322 January 2000Paris
1424-25 January 2000Brussels
1530 January--05 February 2000India
1614 February 2000Brussels
1718 February 2000Zagreb
1828 February--01 March 2000Washington
1915-16 March 2000Berlin
2023-24 March 2000Lisbon
2129-30 March 2000Brussels
2210-11 April 2000Luxembourg
2315-16 May 2000Porto
2418-19 May 2000Gibraltar
2523 May 2000Brussels
2624-25 May 2000Spain
2725-26 May 2000Lisbon
2813 June 2000Luxembourg
2918-19 June 2000Porto
3004-05 July 2000Malta
3110 July 2000Brussels
3225-26 July 2000Athens
3305-06 September 2000Slovenia
3407 September 2000The Hague
3511-12 September 2000Sweden
3618 September 2000Brussels
3712-13 October 2000Biarritz
3818-19 October 2000Italy
3908 November 2000Latvia
4009 November 2000Lithuania
4119-20 November 2000Brussels
4228 November 2000Slovakia
4304 December 2000Brussels
4407-12 December 2000Nice
4515 December 2000Brussels
4622 January 2001Brussels
4724 January 2001Prague
4809 February 2001Helsinki
4922-23 February 2001Stockholm
5026 February 2001Brussels
5128 February 2001Austria
5214 March 2001Cyprus
5319 March 2001Brussels
5422-24 March 2001Stockholm

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) of 20 March 2001, Official Report, column 112W, for what reason the responsibilities of the Minister for Europe were expanded to include entry clearance. [156355]

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Mr. Robin Cook: The Minister for Europe was asked to take on responsibility for entry clearance because he was the best man for the job. His stewardship of the portfolio since then has been an outstanding success, as has been recognised by many Members of this House. At home and overseas he has delivered a huge improvement in service. He eliminated the backlog of replies to Members' letters on entry clearance cases, and has achieved dramatic reductions in waiting times at overseas posts such as Islamabad.

Iraq (Export Controls)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what goods subject to strategic export controls have been approved for export to Iraq in the last three months. [156755]

Mr. Battle: Following consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry recently approved licences to export 30 electronic exploder and four Hook and Line Kits, controlled under the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, as amended, to the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for use in a humanitarian mine clearance programme in Northern Iraq under the UN Oil for Food Programme. The export of these goods to Iraq has been approved by the UN Sanctions Committee.

East Timor

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy on the deaths of newsmen in Balibo, East Timor in 1975. [156198]

Mr. Battle: The British Government continue to take an active interest in this case. When I met Sergio Vieira de Mello, Head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), in London on 6 March, I asked him about the UN investigation into the deaths. Mr. de Mello confirmed that the UN police report had been submitted to Mr. Othman, the UN Prosecutor General, who has said that there are grounds to continue with the investigations but that the case is not yet ready for trial. We will continue to monitor developments closely.

Foot and Mouth

Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) on what date (i) an official and (ii) a Minister from his Department first informed (a) an official and (b) a Minister in another EU member state that the UK had its first (1) suspected and (2) confirmed case in the foot and mouth disease outbreak; [156384]

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Mr. Vaz: The Government Chief Veterinary Officer confirmed the presence of foot and mouth on the night of 20 February. The Government were immediately in close contact with the European Commission and other member states. As lead Department, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has since then been in constant contact with European colleagues and the Commission. The FCO has supported through Embassies and Ministerial contacts. The Government have taken every step possible to protect our own industry and farming across Europe.

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