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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 3 May 2001


Treasury Solicitor's Department

Mr. Miller: To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made in the review of the work of the Treasury Solicitor's Department. [160590]

The Solicitor-General: I refer to the review of the Treasury Solicitor's Department that I announced to this House on 8 March 2001, Official Report, column 336W.

I am pleased to announce the publication of the report on the first stage of the review. The report concludes that the Treasury Solicitor's Department has generally provided a high quality service to the Government and should continue to be an agency. Stage 2 of the review will examine how the agency's performance can be enhanced and improved to meet the increasing demands upon its services.


External Development Assistance

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the Government's plans for future collaboration with the European Community in the area of external development assistance. [160533]

Clare Short: I have approved a new Department for International Development institutional strategy paper for the European Community, which has been prepared in

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consultation with the European Commission, other member states and civil society. The paper sets out a number of objectives for my Department's work with the EC over the next three to four years. These focus on four key impact areas: EC external assistance programmes which contribute effectively to the achievement of the international development targets; trade and other EC policies that help developing countries benefit from the global economy; integration of environmental issues for sustainable poverty reduction; and effective EC responses to crises, conflict and humanitarian disasters.

A copy of the institutional strategy paper is available in the Library of the House.

Official Visits

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what visits her Permanent Secretary attended with members and officials of the United States Government during his visits to New York on 20 to 22 March 2000 and to Washington on 15 to 22 April 2000. [159807]

Clare Short: From 20-22 March 2000, the Permanent Secretary of DFID held discussions with the UK Mission to the UN, New York; with the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN; with the heads of the UNDP and UNICEF; and with the Under Secretary-General for the UN for Economic and Social Affairs.

From 15-22 April 2000, the Permanent Secretary of DFID held discussions, at the time of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings, with the President of the World Bank; with the head of USAID; and with a number of visiting Finance Ministers. He attended the meetings of the IMF and Development Committees.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the visits outside Britain made by her Department's Permanent Secretary on official business since 11 July 2000, indicating the date and purpose of the visit in each case. [159806]

Clare Short: The Permanent Secretary of the DFID made the following visits outside Britain on official business since 11 July 2000:

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Malta19-21 SeptemberCommonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting
Czech Republic23-28 SeptemberIMF/World bank Spring Meetings
New York and Ottawa12-13 OctoberDiscussion with heads of UN Funds and Programmes
Discussions with Canadian International Development Agency
Germany9 NovemberDiscussion with the German Ministry for Development Corporation
Nepal20-22 NovemberDiscussions with Ministers and DFID Office
India23-25 NovemberDiscussions with Ministers and DFID Office
Zimbabwe22-24 JanuaryDiscussions with DFID Office
Malawi24-26 JanuaryDiscussions with Ministers and DFID Office
Tanzania19-21 FebruaryDiscussions with Ministers and DFID Office
Kenya22 FebruaryDiscussions with Ministers and DFID Office
Australia, Fiji and Thailand20-25 MarchDiscussions with Australian officials
Discussion with DFID Office
Discussion with DFID Office
Washington27-30 AprilIMF/IBRD Spring Meetings

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Earthquake (Turkey)

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the earthquake relief given by her Department to Turkey. [159923]

Clare Short: In response to both the earthquakes in Turkey, in August and November 1999, my Department contributed a total of nearly £2 million to support the emergency relief effort, co-ordinated by the Turkish Government.

We provided immediate support to the search and rescue effort with specialist personnel from the UK fire service as well as other independent UK-based rescue organisations. In addition, we transported numerous relief items to the region (on behalf of the Red Cross and UNICEF), including medical supplies and tents.

We also channelled funds through the UN and the Red Cross for the provision of essential relief items such as shelter materials, medical supplies, food, water and sanitation equipment.


Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will receive the annual report for 2000 of the immigration and nationality directorate's independent complaints audit committee; and if he will make a statement. [160481]

Mr. Straw: A copy of the report has been placed in the Library and on the immigration and nationality directorate website. It is a useful and informative document, and I am grateful to the committee for its comments and its recommendations, which will all be followed up.

Electronic Data Tags

Mr. Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on adopting the use of electronic data tags to reduce property crime. [160482]

Mr. Charles Clarke: In May last year, the Government announced the allocation of £4.5 million to combat the trade in stolen goods by planting small identity microchips in consumer products at risk from theft. In partnership with a range of commercial companies, we are developing a series of pilot demonstrator projects to show how property crime can be reduced throughout the supply chain. These pilot projects aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) in combating property crime by providing proof of ownership of goods and confirming that they are not stolen or counterfeit.

The initiative aims to make it more difficult for offenders to steal and sell stolen property, easier for the police to recover it when they do, and to accelerate the adoption of this technology by business. The response from industry to the scheme has been excellent and details of the first pilot projects will be announced very shortly. In view of the high level of interest generated, I am

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pleased to announce that the Government have allocated an additional £1 million to this initiative to allow the number and scope of pilot projects to be increased.

Asylum Support Adjudicators

Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will announce the increase in remuneration for the asylum support adjudicators for 2001-02. [160483]

Mr. Straw: The chief asylum support adjudicator's remuneration will be equivalent to grade 6.1 of the SSRB judicial scale, which for 2001-02 will be £99,420.

The asylum support adjudicators remuneration (and daily fees) will be increased by 3.7 per cent. in line with the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body report No. 46, the twenty-third report on senior salaries (Cm 4995), which was presented to Parliament in February 2001.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review schedule 1 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [160594]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I am arranging for possible changes to the schedule to be considered by the Animal Procedures Committee, the statutory body which advises the Secretary of State on the operation of the 1986 Act. Before deciding on the action to be taken we will carefully consider the committee's recommendations.

Appointment of

Assistant Surveillance Commissioners

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made for the appointment of assistant surveillance commissioners under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. [160595]

Mr. Straw: On 1 May 2001, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister appointed three assistant surveillance commissioners--His Honour John Jeremy Fordham, His Honour Colin Francis Kolbert, and Viscount Colville of Culross QC--for a period of three years to assist the chief surveillance commissioner in his duties.

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