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16. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last visited the European Union institutions in Brussels to discuss Objective One funding; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I visited the European Union institutions in Strasbourg at the beginning of July. During that visit I had meetings with Welsh MEPs and with Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the UK's Permanent Representative to the European Union, to discuss a number of European issues, including Objective One. This built on my meeting with Commissioner Barnier in Brussels in November 2001 and on discussions with the President of the Commission and Commissioner Kinnock, during their visit to the new European Commission office in Cardiff at the end of May.
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The Government have renewed their commitment to ensuring that Wales receives the full benefit of Objective One funding, by providing full public expenditure cover for the Objective One programme in Monday's Spending Review. Once again, this is outside Barnett and additional to increases to the Welsh block.
17. Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary concerning the role of small businesses in economic development in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Minister regularly to discuss a wide range of issues, including small businesses in Wales.
Small and medium sized enterprises account for over 99 per cent. of all businesses in Wales and are therefore crucial to the economic success of Wales. A number of measures in the Chancellor's budget will make a significant contribution to supporting small businesses in Wales. 6,000 Welsh SMEs will benefit from the corporation tax starting rate cut from 10 per cent. to zero and a further 13,000 will be helped by the 1 per cent. reduction in the small companies' rate. In addition, thousands of Welsh SMEs will benefit from measures to simplify their VAT.
18. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly on environmental protection for areas of outstanding natural beauty. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with the First Minister on a range of matters affecting Wales.
The Assembly is keen to see appropriate protection afforded to the five areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) in Wales. As well as the resources provided through the local authority revenue settlement for AONBs, the Countryside Council for Wales provides additional core funding support.
The Assembly also provides £750,000 each year, for the administration of the Environment Development Fund, which is designed to support innovative, sustainable development projects to support communities within the AONBs.
20. Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Lord Chancellor's Department concerning proposed changes to the Court Service in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with colleagues about matters affecting Wales.
The Court Service report "Modernising the Civil and Family Courts", which was published on 23 May, forms part of a wider Courts and Tribunals Modernisation Programme. This is a major programme of investment, which will enable the Court Service to change radically the way that courts across all jurisdictions work. I understand that the National Assembly for Wales was consulted about the implications of this programme.
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21. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will implement for teachers in Wales the key objective of the Review Body on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions of Service of reducing the work load of teachers. 
Mr. Touhig: Teachers' conditions of service are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.
Consultation on the recommendations in the report of the School Teachers Review Body on teachers' work load came to an end on 3 July. The Department for Education and Skills' consultation letter of 8 May said that my right hon. Friend would consult again on practical measures, as appropriate in the light of the initial consultation.
For the time being, the Department for Education and Skills is evaluating the initial consultation responses. Further consultation is likely to take place in the early autumn.
22. Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has held with Secretaries in the National Assembly about improving fire safety in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I hold regular meetings with the First Minister on a range of matters.
23. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of public attitudes to the operation of devolved powers in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I believe that people increasingly understand the split of responsibilities between Cardiff and London and that they welcome the new arrangements.
24. Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the measures taken by the Government to tackle crime in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: Tackling crime is a priority for the Government.
Through the Safer Communities Initiative, all 22 Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in Wales will benefit from extra cash during the current financial year, with an extra £1.1 million in total. In addition, the Crime Fighting Fund will be providing Welsh forces with up to 136 new police recruits over and above their previous recruitment plans.
Since 1997, police numbers in Wales have been rising steadily and the passage of the Police Reform Bill will ensure that police officers can spend more of their time on front line crime fighting duties.
25. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2002, Official Report, column 169W, what the (a) 200102 EU
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structural funding and agricultural support payments in Wales and (b) the share of United Kingdom's net EU contributions represented by the Welsh share of UK GDP, were. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: Structural fund payments in Wales amounted to £146 million and agricultural support payments amounted to £155 million in 200102. Wales accounts for around 4 per cent. of UK GDP.
27. Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary regarding violent crime in Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with colleagues about matters that impact on Wales, including measures aimed at reducing violent crime.
The Government remain committed to improving the reporting and detection of violent crime, and to tackling its underlying causes.
28. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly over funding to reduce waiting lists in Wales. 
Mr. Touhig: My right hon. Friend and I discuss health issues on as regular basis with the First Minister and the Health and Social Services Minister.
This year health authorities have again received £35 million as part of the health authority allocation to help reduce waiting times and tackle emergency pressures.
29. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary about levels of unemployment in North Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with the First Secretary about a number of issues, including unemployment in North Wales. Today's labour market statistics, show that we are making excellent progress towards our long term aim of getting more people into employment than ever before.
Today's labour market statistics show that claimant counts are down compared to a year before in every North Wales constituency. Claimant counts have come down an average of 44.4 per cent. since the 1997 election across the 10 North Wales constituencies (Alyn and Deeside, Caernarfon, Clwyd, South, Clwyd, West, Conwy, Delyn, Meirionydd Nant Conwy, Vale of Clwyd, Wrexham and Ynys Mon).
30. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about Jobcentre Plus offices in Wales. 
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Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular meetings with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues. I welcome the fact that Jobcentre Pluswhich was launched at the pathfinder office in Bridgendis being rolled out to other offices in the Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff and South East Wales districts. District managers across Wales are now in the process of developing service delivery plans as the first step in the full rollout of Jobcentre Plus to all 144 former Employment Service and Benefit Agency offices in Wales.
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