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Mr. Forth: To ask the Prime Minister what recent changes he has made to the practice and conventions relating to ministerial responsibility for replying to questions and adjournment debates in the House; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what measures were taken to ensure that the consultant advising on the installation of air conditioning in No. 10 Downing street, was aware of the Government's policy on the use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants in air conditioning; and if he will make a statement on the measures taken by the consultant to source practical and safe alternatives to hydrofluorocarbon-based air conditioning; 
(3) which consultant was used to advise on the installation of air conditioning in No. 10 Downing Street. 
The Prime Minister: A comfort cooling system was installed in parts of No. 10 during 2001. The Cabinet Office sought expert advice through its managing agent and appropriate appraisals were made including taking account of Government policy on the use of HFCs. The installed systems comply with all current relevant European standards on the use of HFCs and safety in the workplace.
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12. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the social exclusion unit's study into the role of transport in welfare to work policy and access to services. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The social exclusion unit was asked by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to look at the relationships between poor transport and social exclusion in April last year.
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: A revised ministerial code was issued in July 2001. Since then, in response to a recommendation from the Public Administration Committee, the Government have agreed to amend paragraph 27 of the code. A revised model contract for special advisers incorporating a new code of conduct for special advisers was introduced for all appointments made after the election in June 2001.
Lord Macdonald is not a trustee of the Duchy benevolent fund. The Secretary of the fund has provided the following information. During the 12-month period 1 March 2001 to 28 February 2002 the Duchy of Lancaster benevolent fund has distributed approximately £285,000. The fund's annual report and accounts will be produced at the end of the financial year on 31 March 2002.
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The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The British-Irish Council has agreed to take forward work in the following priority areas: drugs, the environment, the knowledge economy, social inclusion, transport, tourism and tele-medicine. There are no current plans to discuss the issue of investment. Responsibility for investment in the border areas of Northern Ireland lies with the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend earlier today to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), Official Report, column .
16. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the proportion of ethnic minorities and women that have been appointed to public bodies in the past 12 months. 
Mr. Leslie: Information contained in Public Bodies 2001 which was published on 14 February 2002, shows that as at 31 March 2001, women held 34 per cent. of appointments made to the boards of public bodies, and people from ethnic minority backgrounds held 4.8 per cent. of appointments. This is an increase of one per cent. and 0.4 per cent. respectively on the previous year.
In addition, also published on 14 February 2002 was "Public Bodies: Opening up Public Appointments 200205". This publication contains individual departmental plans to increase diversity in public appointments.
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: Since the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy was published in January 2001, the Social Exclusion Unit jointly with Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, have published one further report related to neighbourhood renewal in July 2001: "Changing Fortunes: geographic patterns of Income Deprivation in the late 1990s". This sets out baseline information on income deprivation and recent social trends at the local level. It will be used in monitoring progress of the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy.
18. Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he intends to meet the Royal National Institute for Deaf People to discuss the employment in Government Departments of people with hearing impairments. 
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The Government are committed to employing disabled people including those with hearing impairments and all Departments have targets to increase the number of disabled people they employ. 3.6 per cent. of staff in the civil service have declared themselves to have a disability. This includes 1.7 per cent. in the senior civil service.
19. Andrew George: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the proportion of Government services delivered by Government agencies and other bodies operating at a regional level. 
Mrs. Roche: No such assessment has been made but Government policy stresses the importance of providing public services that respond to users' needs, including area-based programmes that tackle the problems of particular localities.
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