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14. Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what measures he is taking to encourage the dispersal of civil servants and Ministries from London to the regions. 
Mr. Leslie: The existing dispersal of many civil service functions across the UK has worked well, and the Government believe that the administration of public service benefits from this national and regional diversity. The Government will continue to consider this matter.
15. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what the role of his office is with regard to (a) climate change and (b) international climate change discussions. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: I continue to play a role on international climate change discussions and negotiations on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I work to foster effective relationships internationally at the highest political level. The UK's negotiating positions for international negotiations on climate change are agreed through the
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Cabinet Committee on the Environment, which I chair. The lead Department for climate change is DEFRA, which retains policy responsibility for international negotiations and implementation of the UK's policies. My office works closely with them and with other Departments with a key interest on strategic and cross-departmental issues.
24. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office if he will set out the part his Department has played in co-ordinating Government work on climate change in the last month. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: During the last month the Cabinet Office has continued to work with other Government Departmentsincluding DEFRA which has lead responsibility for climate changein furthering Government policy on climate change.
The Cabinet Office has provided support to me as I continue to pursue international agreement on climate change on behalf of the Prime Minister.
16. Paul Farrelly: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office if he will second an official from the Cabinet Office to the North Staffordshire Partnership to assist in the regeneration of the region. 
Mrs. Roche: I am pleased to be able to tell my hon. Friend that at the present time there are three Cabinet Office secondees working on regeneration issues with the North Staffordshire Partnership.
17. Brian White: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office if he will list the projects being undertaken by the social exclusion unit. 
Mrs. Roche: The unit is currently working on four projects, looking at: re-offending by ex-prisoners; young runaways; educational attainment of children in care; and transport and social exclusion.
19. Ms Munn: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what recent meetings his Ministers have had with the Government Office for Yorkshire and Humberside. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: I last met the Regional Director of the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber on 27 June. My hon. Friend the Minister of State Cabinet Office met various staff of the Government Office on 4 December.
20. Adam Price: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what assessment he has made of the scope to relocate Executive functions of (a) Government Departments and (b) public agencies to the nations and regions of the UK. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: No such assessment has been made.
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Individual Government Departments and agencies are free to make their own decisions about location and facilities on the basis of operational requirements and value for money.
21. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the work of the e-envoy in expanding the use of the internet among the population. 
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the e-envoy is committed to the goal of ensuring that everyone in the UK who wants it may have access to the internet by 2005.
Progress towards meeting this target is detailed in Section 3 of the recently published UK online annual report.
23. Richard Burden: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what assessment he has made of the annual report of the Government Car Service. 
Mr. Leslie: The Annual Report and Accounts of the Government Car and Despatch Agency, of which the Government Car Service is a part, were seen and approved by me before publication in the House on 17 July 2001. Furthermore, the agency's financial statements contained in that report were subject to an audit by the National Audit Office and no observations were made.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Minister of State for Cabinet Office what role his Department is playing in promoting neighbourhood renewal in the most disadvantaged communities. 
Mrs. Roche: The Cabinet Office plays a full role in work across Government to deliver the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal.
Both the Social Exclusion Unit and the Regional Co-ordination Unit support the work of other Government Departments to deliver sustainable improvements in the most disadvantaged areas, and of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit in co-ordinating and leading strategy centrally.
The nine Government Offices for the Regions have particular responsibility for neighbourhood renewal at regional level, supporting local strategies, administering funds and reporting on local activity.
Mrs. Ann Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the nature, time scale and cost of repairing the defect which was discovered on HMS Sceptre, HMS Sovereign and HMS Superb. 
Mr. Ingram: Indications of small original fabrication imperfections discovered during routine ultrasonic inspection of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) in HMS
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Sceptre identified the need for more detailed analysis to support the existing safety case for reactor plant operation. Inspection of Sceptre will be undertaken as part of her refit at Rosyth Dockyard. While imperfections have not been identified in either Sovereign or Superb, they have similar Reactor Pressure Vessel design. An acceptable safety case was produced for Superb and she has now returned to operations, pending further inspection later this year. Precautionary inspection of Sovereign is now taking place during her on-going maintenance at Clyde Submarine Base. The time scale and cost of work to return Sceptre and Sovereign to operations is subject to
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acceptable inspection results and the complexity of the associated safety case, so cannot be provided with accuracy at this stage.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British troops are serving overseas and in which countries; and what proportion of United Kingdom military forces are (a) overseas and (b) in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Ingram: The following table shows the number of UK regular forces serving overseas as at 1 November 2001 broken down by service.
|Location/proportion||Naval Service||Army||RAF||Grand total|
|United Kingdom (84 per cent.)||35,317||77,682||47,535||160,543|
|Overseas total (16 per cent.)||6,523||32,093||5,676||44,292|
|Overseas split by location:|
|Other Mediterranean, Near East and Gulf||1,514||5,921||1,369||8,804|
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many retired members of the armed forces have claimed compensation for service-related Noise Induced Sensorineural Hearing Loss since 1990; how many claims were accepted; how many claimants appealed to the pensions appeal tribunals; and how many claims were rejected. 
Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not available in relation to War Pension claims for disablement arising from Noise Induced Sensorineural Hearing Loss and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims by retired members of the armed forces for compensation for service-related noise-induced sensorineural hearing loss since 1990 were disallowed for the reason that (a) hearing loss at the time of claiming was less than 50 dB averaged over one, two and three kHz, (b) hearing loss at the time of leaving the armed forces was less than 50 dB averaged over one, two and three Khz, (c) hearing loss exceeding 50 dB after leaving the service but at the time of leaving the armed forces the hearing loss was less than 50 dB averaged over one, two and three kHz, (d) hearing loss exceeding 50 dB averaged over one, two and three kHz after leaving the service but there was no evidence of hearing loss at the time of leaving and (e) claims were made more than seven years after leaving the armed forces. 
Dr. Moonie: The information requested in items (a) to (d) is not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Claims to war disablement pensions are not disallowed if lodged more than seven years after leaving the armed forces. There are no time limits for claiming.
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