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21 Oct 2002 : Column 78W—continued


Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what the basis is of the assertion at page 17 of his dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein is determined to retain the weapons of mass destruction that the dossier discusses; [75830]

The Prime Minister: These points reflect specific intelligence information. In the area of longer-range weapons, paragraph 28 of the dossier also explains the significance of the new engine test stand at al-Rafah, which has a capability to test engines for missiles with ranges over 1000km.

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister for what reasons hon. Members were not provided with copies of his dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the day it was debated in Parliament. [75686]

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The Prime Minister: The Government was working to a tight deadline. The dossier was made available at 8am on Tuesday 24 September in order for Members and Peers to be able to consider it before the debate.

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty's Government made of the report on Iraq's military production and deployment capabilities published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in September; and whether Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months if it had sufficent fissile materials. [75868]

The Prime Minister: The International Institute for Strategic Studies report was an independent and well-researched overview of the evidence available in the public domain. Our assessment, as the dossier states, is that if Iraq obtained fissile material and other essential components from foreign sources, it could produce a nuclear weapon in between one and two years.

Iraq Dossier

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister (1) whether information from United States sources was used in the Iraq dossier on weapons of mass destruction; [75871]

The Prime Minister: The sources used in the dossier were mainly those of the United Kingdom's intelligence and analysis agencies—the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Communications Headquarters, the Security Service, and the Defence Intelligence Staff. The dossier also reflected our access to intelligence from close allies, but details of discussions on these matters are confidential.

Cabinet Committees

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make an exception from the rule covering non-disclosure of information from Cabinet committees and sub-committees under Part II of the code of practice on access to Government information to permit details of progress made at meetings of the Cabinet sub-committee ENV of green ministers to be given to Parliament on a more regular basis than its annual report to the Environmental Audit Committee. [75455]

The Prime Minister: The Sustainable Development in Government Report is published annually and outlines the contribution of all departments to sustainable development. Key developments during the year are posted on the Sustainable Development in Government website, The Environment Audit Committee is able to call for reports and evidence at any time.

It is established practice under Exemption 2 of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of the Cabinet and its committees.

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Russian Convoy (Campaign Medal)

Bob Spink: To ask the Prime Minister if he will meet a group of Royal Navy and Merchant Navy Russian convoy veterans to discuss the offer of a campaign medal made by the Russian Government. [75472]

The Prime Minister: We have received no formal request from the Russian Government asking that permission be granted to issue the Defence of the Soviet Arctic Region Medal to British veterans. Were the Russian authorities formally to ask for this campaign medal to be officially recognised in this country, the Government would consider it carefully and discuss with relevant groups.

Convention on the Future of Europe.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to meet M Valery Giscard d'Estaing to discuss the Convention on the Future of Europe. [75662]

The Prime Minister: I met M Giscard d'Estaing to discuss the Convention in February and May. I hope to arrange a further meeting with him later this year. He reported to the Seville European Council in June on the progress of the Convention, and is due to address the Brussels European Council, 24–25 October, on the same subject.

Swill Feeding

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had on a ban on swill feeding in the last two years. [76173]

The Prime Minister: I have of course been made aware of the ban on swill feeding as part of the discussions I have had with regard to Foot and Mouth Disease.

On 20 November 2001, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs met with the Associated Swill Users and agreed to investigate the possibility of providing free business advice to those former swill feeders affected by the ban. The Government applied for, and has now received, approval from the European Commission to fund, via the State Aid process, a scheme to provide free business advice to those affected by the ban on swill feeding.



Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the promotion of (a) e-democracy and (b) e-Government. [75240]

Mr. Alexander: To promote e-democracy and to further inform our policy thinking, we are currently running a wide-ranging public consultation. The consultation paper—In the Service of Democracy—was launched by my right hon. Friend the President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons on 16 July. The consultation is due to close on 31 October 2002.

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To promote e-government we have developed, a portal for government services and information. It is indexed on popular search engines and other government department websites.

In addition we have created a platform for government services on Sky DiTV and we deliver some government services and information through interactive kiosks.

Emergency Planning

Mr. Francois: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what schemes the Government intend to implement to increase public knowledge and awareness with regard to emergency planning; and if he will make a statement. [73774]

Mr. Alexander: The provision of advice and guidance to the public remains central to the government's approach to contingency planning.

Extensive arrangements are in place at central government and local authority level to ensure the provision of information on specific issues. Government Departments and agencies use a range of tools including web-sites to disseminate relevant facts and advice. In cases of particular emergency, such as flooding, publicity would be given to the risks as well as sources of help and advice. This would be through regional or national activity including the use of broadcast media. The Cabinet Office provides central co-ordination where required.

Work is in hand to revise and update the document ''Dealing with Disaster'', a key statement of guidance on the arrangements for emergency response nation-wide, in consultation with local authorities and the emergency services.

Thinking on public information and guidance is regularly exchanged between central, local and devolved government through courses and seminars held under the auspices of the Emergency Planning College (EPC). Further details can be found on the EPC web-site at


Food Supplements

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the impact on Treasury revenues of the European Food Supplement Directive and the proposed European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products; and if he will make a statement. [75815]

Mr. Boateng: The impact on Treasury revenues, as a result of the European Food Supplements Directive and the proposed Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, is likely to be negligible.

Commercial Property Valuation Tribunals

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many commercial property valuation tribunal hearings are listed for hearing in 2004. [74801]

Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.

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There are no hearings currently listed to take place in England in 2004. In some areas there is an intended programme of hearing dates shown on the valuation tribunal website, but these will not be formally listed until a notice of hearing is issued by the relevant valuation tribunal not less than 4 weeks before the hearing date.

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