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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of the Pensions Appeal Tribunals (Posthumous Appeals) Amendment Order 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: Posthumous appeals allow the representative of a deceased ex-serviceman or woman to continue an appeal against a decision to reject their claim to a war disablement pension lodged before their death or to appeal against a decision to reject such a claim which is received after their death.
The Pensions Appeal Tribunals (Posthumous Appeals) Amendment Order 2001 was a consequence of extending time limits on war pension appeals from 9 April 2001. The 2001 amendment to the Pensions Appeal Tribunals (Posthumous Appeals) Order 1980 ensures, for parity, that similar time limits are applied to posthumous appeals.
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Dr. Moonie: United Kingdom forces did not use depleted uranium (DU) munitions in Northern Iraq during the Gulf War. They were deployed as part of a humanitarian relief operation and were therefore not equipped with Challenger battle tanks. The United Kingdom's allies are also not believed to have used DU in Northern Iraq during the war.
No British troops who served in the Gulf or Balkans would have featured in the Level I scenario, or the worst case estimate for the Level II scenario, that is, personnel exposed to DU for about 100 hours.
Some duties undertaken by British troops in the Gulf could potentially have put them in scenarios representative of the Royal Society's Level II average estimate of 10 hours exposure to DU. However, the Royal Society's prediction of excess deaths from lung cancer and leukaemia, resulting from such Level II exposures, is very low (0.25 and 0.0007 per 10,000 respectively by the age of 75). This would not be detectable above the general risk of dying from cancer over a normal lifetime.
7. Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales about social exclusion. 
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8. Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what assessment he has made of the Better Regulation Task Force's report, "Housing Benefit: a Case Study of Lone Parents". 
Mr. Leslie: The Better Regulation Task Force is an independent body advising Government on regulation issues, supported by a secretariat in the Cabinet Office. Ministers responded positively and in full to their helpful report on housing benefit and lone parents.
That trend has now been reversed. Whatever measure you use, the number of people and the number of children living in poverty is now coming down. We are now well on the way to meeting our targets of reducing child poverty by a quarter by 2004 and eradicating child poverty within a generation.
10. Mr. Heath: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State if he will make a statement on the co-ordination of the response of Government Departments to potential external threats to biosecurity. 
Mr. Leslie: The response to threats of biological attack on the United Kingdom involves a number of Government Departments, including the Department of Health, the Home Office and the Security Services. The Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat works closely with all Departments to ensure the Government response is properly co-ordinated.
11. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State when he expects the Government to report on the findings of the emergency planning review and seek to implement its recommendations. 
Mr. Leslie: As I told the House on 8 February 2002, Official Report, column 1230W, the results of the emergency planning review consultation have been placed in the Library. Preparatory work is now under way with a view to introducing new legislation on dealing with civil contingencies when parliamentary time allows.
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Mrs. Roche: The Castle Awards were launched on 8 March. During the first month of its launch no formal applications were made but we have received 420 requests for Castle Award applications and there have been 1,011 hits on the Castle Award web pages.
13. Andrew Selous: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what steps the social exclusion unit is taking to ensure people in poverty in more affluent districts have equal access to Government grants for which local authorities can bid. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State: The Government's approach is to tackle poverty and social exclusion wherever they are foundthrough delivering high quality public services to everyone.
We have set targets for minimum levels of performance to focus effort on making improvements where outcomes are worst. Examples include a target for 25 per cent. of pupils in every school to achieve five A*-C GCSEs by 2006; and a target for a 25 per cent. reduction in burglary rates by 2005, with no area having a rate three times the national average.
15. Mr. Lansley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what has been the percentage increase in take-up of online transactions with Government Departments in the last 12 months. 
Over half of all central Government services that can be delivered electronically are now e-enabled and around a quarter of those are for services other than providing information. Take-up has been significant. For example, more than 75,000 individuals submitted last year's self-assessment returns over the internet; over 1 million checks of potential employees for child care positions have been carried out via the internet; and NHS Direct receives approximately 1 million hits a week.
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