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28 Oct 2002 : Column 537W—continued

Rural Post Offices

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the timetable is to be announced for the programme of financial support for rural post offices. [76978]

Mr. Timms: We have received advice from the Postal Services Commission on proposals for supporting the rural network from 2003 and details of substantial financial support will be announced shortly.

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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to provide assistance to the Post Office Rural Network; and if she will make a statement. [77756]

Mr. Timms: The Government are committed to the maintenance of a nationwide network of post offices and placed a formal requirement on the Post Office in November 2000 to maintain the network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices.

The Government have already invested in modernisation comprising some #480 million to computerise the whole post office network. We have made available a #2 million fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or reopen post office facilities in rural areas where traditional services would otherwise close. Figures for end September 2002, showed that 168 applications—to a value of #825,000—had been assessed and approved and to that date payments of #529,000 have also been made.

We have received advice from the Postal Services Commission on proposals for supporting the rural network from 2003 and details of substantial financial support will be announced shortly.

Small Business Council

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what new powers, responsibilities and resources the Small Business Council has been given in their recently extended remit to lessen the impact of regulations on small businesses. [76838]

Nigel Griffiths: William Sargent's role, as Chairman of the Small Business Council, has been enhanced to provide an Xindependent voice for small firms". He attends the Ministerial Panel on regulatory accountability and has access to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to discuss small firms matters. The resources available to the Small Business Council have increased allowing for 12 officials to support the council in its work to provide advice about the needs of small businesses.

Smart South West

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the annual budget of Smart South West is publicly funded; how many officials are employed; and if she will make a statement as to the nature and purpose of their work. [74937]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 22 October 2002]: The public funding known by the RDA is:



Sub Post Offices

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with Consignia on a definition for different types of sub post office. [76979]

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Mr. Timms: It is the responsibility of Post Office Ltd. to classify post office outlets. According to Post Office Ltd.'s classification a rural post office is one defined as serving a community which has up to 10,000 inhabitants.

Trade Partners UK

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the annual budget is for Trade Partners UK for the financial year (a) 2001–02, (b) 2002–03 and (c) 2003–04. [75862]

Ms Hewitt: Trade Partners UK is the trade development arm of British Trade International, which is a joint operation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Trade Partners UK programme budget for the three years is as follows:

# million
2001–02 outturn59.0
2002–03 estimated outturn71.9
2003–04 plans76.4

The administration costs relating to this expenditure are borne by the DTI and FCO.

WALES

Departmental Job Vacancies

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many job vacancies there were at (a) administrative assistant or equivalent, (b) administrative officer or equivalent, (c) administrative executive officer, (d) higher executive officer, (e) senior executive officer, (f) grade 7 principal and (g) all positions above grade 7 level in his Department for jobs located in (i) London and (ii) the south-east between 1 April 2001 and 31 March; and what is the total employment for each civil service grade. [76558]

Peter Hain: I will reply to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Firefighters' Strike

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike; and what the cost is to the Department of these actions. [77660]

Peter Hain: The Government have arranged for armed service personnel to provide basic emergency fire cover during any strikes by firefighters.

The additional cost of this cover in England and Wales will be met by ODPM.

Departmental Websites

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the website links associated with his Department, including sites now dormant or closed, and indicating whether they are live, dormant or closed; what the start up costs were for each site listed; what the

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operating costs were in each year since start up for each site; which company hosted each site; what assessment takes place for each site; which company does the assessment; if he will place the assessment reports in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [75574]

Peter Hain: The Wales Office has one live bilingual website (www.walesoffice.gov.uk/www.swyddfa.cymru.gov.uk).

The total operating cost, including the start up cost which cannot be separately identified, of the Wales Office website between 1 April 1998 and 1 July 1999 was #7,867.

The Wales Office was not charged for the running of its website between 1 July 1999 and 1 September 2000.

The operating cost of running the website, including the development of bilingual content, between 1 September 2000 and 31 August 2001 was #5,699.

The Wales Office has not been invoiced to date for the operating cost between 1 September 2001 and 31 August 200, but it is understood the sum will be around #1,600.

The Wales Office website is hosted by Eduserv. Eduserv provide a rolling statistical assessment on the site which may be viewed at http://www.ossw.wales.gov.uk/statistics/ for the English site and http://www.swvddfa.cvmru.gov.uk/statistics/ for Wales.

CABINET OFFICE

UK Online Interactive

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what plans he has to expand UK Online Interactive; and if he will make a statement. [76322]

Mr. Alexander: My officials are working closely with other Government Departments and local authorities to significantly increase the content available through UK online interactive.

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost of Phase One of the UK Online interactive project has been; and how this relates to planned costs. [76319]

Mr. Alexander: The cost for the UK online interactive project for the period up to the end of September 2002 has been approximately #300,000. This is in line with the projected costs.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Bangladesh

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the law and order situation in Bangladesh. [76989]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have some concerns about the poor state of law and order in Bangladesh. We had hoped therefore that the countermeasures the Government are taking would have a lasting remedial effect. But we are concerned by reports of mistreatment of detainees, including deaths in custody. We are following closely the arrests of senior opposition

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politicians on 17 October. Our high commission are raising our concerns with the Bangladesh Government. We look for the due process of law to be followed in all cases, and for the action of security forces and the treatment of detainees to be in accordance with internationally agreed standards.

Camp X-Ray

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what statements made by UK citizens in Camp X-ray have been communicated to him; and if he will make a statement. [53080]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement given to the House on 21 January 2002, Official Report, columns 623–24, and the written answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Anniesland (John Robertson) by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bradshaw). And to the written answer given by me on 13 June 2002, Official Report, columns 1397–98W, to my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Ms Russell).

I am unable to give further details of the detainees' statements. They contain personal and confidential information the disclosure of which is exempt under the code of Practice on Access to Government Information Parts 4 and 12. I understand the information is also subject to the Data Protection Act.


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