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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter dated 8 February from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan regarding national insurance contributions. [42799]

Dawn Primarolo: I have done so.

Tax Referral

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much is owed by businesses in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK in respect of schemes to defer liability for (i) PAYE, (ii) VAT and (iii) corporation tax to mitigate the effects of foot and mouth disease. [42000]

Dawn Primarolo: Between 21 March 2001 and 3 March 2002, the total amounts deferred in respect of PAYE, VAT and Corporation Tax came to £65.236 million, £109.598 million and £11.954 million respectively. These are gross figures and take no account of amounts subsequently paid. Businesses seriously affected by the foot and mouth outbreak have not been required to recommence payments of deferred liability and we do not have full details of payments received. It is, therefore, not possible to state how much is still owed by businesses in Scotland and England. However, a sample review of these cases in December 2001 suggests that as much as £78.45 million has been paid voluntarily.

Aggregates Levy

Barbara Follett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes he proposes to make to the aggregates levy legislation. [43215]

Mr. Boateng: The primary legislation for the aggregates levy was included in the Finance Act 2001. Since the Act received Royal Assent, Customs and Excise have continued to consult the aggregates industry on matters of details, with a view to finalising the secondary legislation, which will be laid shortly.

During those discussions a number of technical issues have been raised, and it is the Government's intention to make a number of small changes in this year's Finance Bill that will facilitate the smooth functioning of the levy. These are:

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The Government also announced in the pre-Budget report that it was minded to phase in the levy for aggregates used in processed products in Northern Ireland. Enabling legislation for this change will also be brought forward in this year's Finance Bill.

Public Service Agreements

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 27 February 2002, Official Report, column 1326w, on public service agreements, if he will place the record of the performance of each Government Department held by his Department for each public service agreement target in the Library for each year for which outturn data are available; and if he will make a statement. [41395]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Departments have reported, and will continue to report, their progress against PSA targets in their departmental reports, all of which are presented to Parliament.


"Safer Clubbing" Guide

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the "safer clubbing" guide. [42534]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The "safer clubbing" guide contains comprehensive new advice for club owners, dance event promoters and local authority licensing departments on how to ensure the health and safety of anyone attending dance events. It advises club owners on how to tackle drug dealing and recommends that clubs have police approved staff, searches and the use of metal detectors and regular patrols of all areas of the venue.

The clear message to young people remains that they should not take illegal drugs, and that they are harmful. The new guidelines should help reduce the availability of these drugs at venues. We must also take steps to reduce the harm that drugs cause individuals. The "safer clubbing" guide aims to do just that—it does not condone drug use.

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases which had been dealt with by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have been examined by the European Court of Human Rights in the last five years. [40867]

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Mr. Keith Bradley: The information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. If applicants remain dissatisfied with the Commission's decisions on whether to refer their case to an appellate court, it is open to them to seek a domestic remedy by initiating judicial review proceedings. From the Commission's inception until 31 March 2001, four judicial review applications only have been granted leave: three were decided in the Commission's favour and one was settled on terms agreed by the Commission and the applicant.

Baton Guns

Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the use of baton guns by police forces in England and Wales; [40473]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 March 2002]: Baton rounds have been available to police forces in England and Wales since 1981, primarily for use in situations of public disorder.

In August 1999 the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) reissued operational guidelines for the use of baton rounds in situations of public disorder which were approved by my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary (Mr. Straw).

ACPO also issued guidance on the use of baton rounds in situations where firearms would otherwise need to be used on 24 September 2001. This followed the then Home Secretary's announcement in April 2001 of the introduction of the L21A1 round which unlike its predecessor has a trajectory which is sufficiently predictable to be suitable for such use.

Currently 36 forces, maintained under the Police Act, possess the new baton round and I understand that three others will shortly be acquiring it.

EU Policy

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what co-operation exists between UK and French authorities in relation to asylum procedures; what plans there are to extend co-operation; and if he will make a statement. [29678]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 24 January 2002]: At the Franco-British summit in Cahors in February 2001 the United Kingdom and French authorities agreed to increase practical co-operation between our two countries through meetings on the Cross Channel Commission. This resulted in regular meetings throughout last year, to discuss practical measures on both asylum and migration issues of common interest to our two countries. The Cross Channel Commission will continue to meet in the coming year.

EU Asylum Policy

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress towards European Union agreements on common

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asylum policy; and if he will list agreements made to date and the areas of future work including timetables for (a) agreement and (b) implementation. [29679]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The Treaty of Amsterdam committed member states to adopt by May 2004 a broad range of measures designed to establish minimum standards for asylum procedures and polices across the European Union. At the Tampere European Council in October 1999 member states agreed to look beyond the minimum standards established by 2004 towards the creation of a common European asylum system. After a slow start there is now increasing momentum on the first stage of the process to establish minimum standards. The United Kingdom has participated actively in this process and has opted in to all measures to date where the three-month time limit from formal presentation of the proposal has already expired.

The following measures have been adopted to date: Council Regulation establishing the EURODAC electronic fingerprinting database (adopted 11 December 2000); Council decision for an agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the state responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a member state or in Iceland or Norway (adopted 15 March 2001); Council decision establishing a European Refugee Fund (adopted 28 September 2000); and Council directive on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in event of mass influx (adopted 20 July 2001).

The following measures are under discussion but have not yet been agreed: Proposal for Council directive on minimum standards on procedures in member states for granting and withdrawing refugee status; Proposal for a Council directive laying down minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in member states: Proposal for a Council regulation replacing the Dublin Convention; and a proposal for a Council directive on minimum standards for the qualification as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection.

The Laeken European Council in December 2001 called for the Commission to bring forward revised proposals for the measures setting minimum standards for asylum procedures and the regulation to replace the Dublin Convention by the end of April 2002.

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