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16 Nov 2001 : Column: 922W
delivery (i) by first post the following day and (ii) within 24 hours; and how many to London in each category achieve delivery by each of those times. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 13 November 2001]: I have been informed by Post Office Ltd. that it acts as agent for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in issuing motor vehicle licences through 4,000 post offices. In order to safeguard the interests of taxpayers, DVLA has to ensure that the relicensing service is cost effective. Under the present arrangements, increasing the number of post offices offering the facility increases the costs without increasing the total revenue collected. With the completion of the Horizon automation programme, we are considering the scope for extending the facility more widely without additional cost to DVLA.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to (a) assist and (b) compensate sub-postmasters in Northern Ireland, with special reference to owners of rural post offices, affected by the phasing out of the old system of benefit payments in favour of the automated credit transfer system. 
Mr. Alexander: Benefit and pension recipients who wish to collect their benefits in cash at post offices will continue to be able to do so after the change in payment arrangements, beginning in April 2003, by means of Universal Banking Services.
The Government remain committed to maintenance of a nationwide network of post offices and has committed £270 million of support over the next three years to start the implementation of the Performance and Innovation Unit's recommendations, all of which the Government accepted, for modernisation of the post office network.
The PIU report recommendations include financial support for modernisation of the urban and rural networks. Post Office Limited's objective for the urban network of the future is to establish bigger, better, brighter post offices based on viable businesses that deliver adequate returns to subpostmasters. The Government are also committed to providing transitional financial assistance to the rural network and will shortly receive advice from the Postal Services Commission on the best way of channelling assistance to rural post offices.
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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have been (a) opened and (b) closed in each of the London borough authorities in each of the last three years; and if he will list them. 
Mr. Alexander: I understand from Post Office Limited that data on the post office network are not held on a local authority basis. From the financial year 200001, network data have been compiled on a regional basis and in that year there were 10 net closures of post offices in the London region.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much Government investment there was in the north-west Regional Development Agency (a) in 1999, (b) in 2000, (c) in 2001 and (d) is projected for 2002. 
|200203 (gross indicative)(2)||276,600|
|200102 (net allocated)(3)||(4)276,215|
|200001 (net actual)(3)||(5)206,962|
|19992000 (net actual)(3)||141,337|
(2) Only gross figures (including receipts) are available for 200203.
(3) Actual net figures (excluding receipts) available for 19992000 and 200001. Latest net allocation figures (excluding receipts) available for 200102.
(4) Includes additional funding for the Business Recovery Fund in response to foot and mouth disease, and the Rapid Response Fund.
(5) Includes funding for additional activity.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on levels of Government investment in all regional development agencies in (a) 2000, (b) 2001 and (c) 2002. 
|200203 Gross indicative(6)||200102 Net allocated(7)||200001 Net actual(7)|
|One North East||183,400||157,755||123,492|
|North West DA||276,600||276,215||206,962|
|East Midlands DA||95,200||86,717||75,497|
|Advantage West Midlands||185,700||159,801||135,897|
|East of England DA||71,600||58,247||42,582|
|South East of England DA||102,200||97,851||80,850|
|South West of England DA||92,400||84,663||68,468|
(6) Only "gross" figures (including receipts) are available for 200203.
(8) Includes additional funding for the Business Recovery Fund in response to foot and mouth disease, and the Rapid Response Fund.
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Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has that the hijackers who crashed the commercial airliners in the United States on 11 September were trained in al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Al-Qaeda, harboured by the Taliban regime, have for some time run training facilities in Afghanistan. Prior to the current military action against al-Qaeda targets, there were at least 12 camps across Afghanistan, of which at least four were used for training terrorists. Following military action none of these camps are operational.
Most of the nineteen 11 September hijackers were al-Qaeda associates. A senior UBL associate has claimed to have trained some of the hijackers in Afghanistan. We know that al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out a failed attack on a US Navy destroyer in January 2000 had trained in camps in Afghanistan.
Peter Hain: The UK is keen to assist Russian efforts to combat organised crime. We have signed two memorandums of understanding to facilitate co-operation between UK and Russian law enforcement agencies. The National Criminal Intelligence Service has provided advice and consultants to a Russian project to establish a financial intelligence unit, an essential element in tackling money laundering.
With our international partners, we participate in Operation Millennium, an Interpol initiative sponsored by the G8 to share intelligence on Eastern European, including Russian, organised crime. We also contribute to the Joint EU/Russia Action Plan on combating Russian organised crime, focusing on judicial co-operation in criminal matters and on law enforcement co-operation.
Peter Hain: Since his appointment in June, the Secretary of State has visited Warsaw on 30 September and Ankara on 1718 October. The Secretary of State has also met his Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Cypriot counterparts. I visited both Prague and Budapest
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in September, and have plans to visit more candidates early next year. I have also met the Foreign Ministers or chief negotiators of most of the candidate countries.
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