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Energy Efficiency Week

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what action her Department took in recognition of Energy Efficiency Week. [11510]

Dr. Howells: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport did not take any specific actions for Energy Efficiency Week but continued with longer-term projects to meet, and exceed, the Government targets in respect of energy saving. Through the Royal Parks Agency projects to produce electricity through wind power, water power and solar energy are being planned at Bushey Park. Those projects, together with a combined heat and power project

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using managed forestry and the produce from normal land management as fuel, will heat a swimming pool, supply electricity to some parts of the park and, possibly, export some power to the national grid.

Departmental Publications

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many publications were issued by her Department in each of the last four years. [11839]

Dr. Howells: The number of publications issued by my Department in each of the last four years was:


To date, nine publications have been produced in the 2001–02 financial year.



Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with Fakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan, regarding the involvement of women in the talks involving interested parties to a post-Taliban Government for Afghanistan. [11301]

Clare Short: I met Ambassador Brahimi on 9 October and reiterated our support for his efforts to develop a broad-based and representative Afghan Government. Ambassador Brahimi has demonstrated a commitment to addressing the human rights dimension of the governance of Afghanistan. The involvement of women in those discussions and the use of expertise on gender issues will help to ensure that the rights of the entire population of Afghanistan are protected and promoted, particularly recognising the complexity of gender issues in Afghanistan. We will continue to provide whatever assistance we can to Ambassador Brahimi and support the crucial role he plays in Afghanistan's future.

Third World Debt

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans the Government have to reduce third world debt; and what information she has collated on those of other European Union member states. [11776]

Clare Short: The Government have been at the forefront of global initiatives to tackle the unsustainable debt burden facing some developing countries, and led the way in securing the revision of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which was agreed at the annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in September 1999. So far, 23 countries have qualified for this exceptional relief. More than $23 billion of debt relief has been agreed for those countries, which together owe $74 billion, so a major part of their debt has been written off.

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In December 2000, the Government announced that the UK would go further than is required under the HIPC initiative and would provide 100 per cent. bilateral debt relief to countries when they qualify for HIPC relief. We will hold all debt payments received from HIPC countries in trust and, at that point, will return these payments to them. In addition, the UK has pledged over $300 million to the HIPC trust fund to meet the costs to the multilateral development banks of delivering HIPC debt relief. This includes our share of $85 million in EC contribution. We have also provided $43 million to assist the IMF with their share of such costs.

Most of our partner states in the European Union have also made bilateral contributions to the trust fund, on top of their share of the EC contribution. In addition, those member states that are major creditors deliver bilateral debt relief through the Paris Club of Official Bilateral Creditors to countries that have qualified for HIPC relief, with the majority providing 100 per cent. debt relief on their remaining bilateral debts.

Summer Recess (Departmental Publications)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) press notices and (b) consultation documents were issued by her Department during the summer recess. [9229]

Clare Short: My Department issued five press notices and no consultation documents during the summer recess.


Security Normalisation

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the direct costs are of the security normalisation measures he announced on 24 October. [11071]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 1 November 2001]: I have been asked to reply.

The normalisation measures announced on 24 October 2001 were the closure of two observation towers on Camlough and Sturgan mountains, the sangar at Newtownhamilton, and an Army base at Magherafelt.

Initial demolition work at all four sites has commenced with Royal Engineer manpower and helicopter support using assets already available in Province. Additional costs of some £10,000 have been incurred to date covering the hire of additional equipment such as cranes and skips.

Further work will be required at each of the sites, and in many cases this will be done by civilian contractors. The scope and cost of these contracts is still being assessed.


Drainage Systems

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the policy of the Duchy of Lancaster is towards drainage works on tenanted agricultural land

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where those works are the responsibility of the landlord; and if he will make a statement. [11727]

Mr. Leslie: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has asked me to reply.

Responsibility for the drainage of tenanted agricultural land is laid down in farm tenancy agreements. The Duchy's policy is to abide by its contractual obligations under such agreements.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the budget of the Duchy of Lancaster is in respect of the maintenance, repair and replacement of drainage systems on Duchy agricultural land. [11728]

Mr. Leslie: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has asked me to reply.

The budget of the Duchy of Lancaster for the maintenance and repair of agricultural property for the year to March 2002 is £173,100 which is not allocated to specific types of repair.

Better Regulation Task Force

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he last met the Chairman of the Better Regulation Task Force. [11830]

Mr. Leslie: My right hon. Friend Lord Macdonald is the Minister responsible for regulatory reform. He last met Lord Haskins, Chairman of the Better Regulation Task Force, on 23 October.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to (a) reduce and (b) limit the number of regulations affecting industry. [11828]

Mr. Leslie: The Government are committed to minimising the burden of regulation on business.

A Regulatory Impact Assessment is required for each new proposal for regulation affecting business to ensure it is necessary and that the benefits justify the costs. The Panel for Regulatory Accountability, now given Cabinet Committee status, meets regularly to discuss regulatory performance with departmental Ministers.

The Regulatory Reform Act 2001 now provides a useful tool for reforming over-burdensome, over-complex and outdated primary legislation.

A draft Regulatory Reform Order (relaxing licensing in pubs and clubs for the forthcoming new year's eve) has already been laid before Parliament for scrutiny, and consultation exercises on a further eight proposals have now finished. There is one consultation exercise on reform of credit unions currently under way.

Cabinet Office Refurbishment

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the improvements being carried out to accommodate him at the Cabinet Office indicating the cost of each item of improvement; and when he expects the improvements to be completed. [12000]

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Mr. Leslie: The office of the Deputy Prime Minister will move to the Ripley building when renovations are completed next summer. A very small number of modifications to the original plan will be made to accommodate ministerial offices (for example blocking off and opening up doorways).


UK Gas Market

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent action the Government have taken to address concerns about the UK gas market; and if she will make a statement. [12658]

Mr. Wilson: The Government are very aware of concerns about the operation of the GB gas market in the light of rising gas prices. While we remain convinced that the primary reason behind the increase is arbitrage across the interconnector with high oil related gas prices in the European market, we are aware of the need to consider the impact of the operation of the other parts of the gas chain on the downstream market. Indeed, this forms an integral part of our strategy to address gas prices.

The Government have therefore today published a consultation document entitled "A Consultation On Concerns About Gas Prices And Possible Improvements To Market Efficiency", which considers the various concerns made about the gas market. The document also considers the wider benefits to the gas market of increased information flows between the onshore and the offshore. This builds on a joint workshop with the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association held on 10 September.

The intention behind the document is to stimulate debate and to see if the concerns stand up to scrutiny. If we find any evidence of actual anti-competitive behaviour we shall bring it to the attention of the appropriate competition authority.

Copies of the consultation document can be found on the Department of Trade and Industry's website at

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