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4 Nov 2002 : Column 41W—continued

Middle East

Mr Drew: To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made with his offer to convene a peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians. [79044]

The Prime Minister: The immediate priorities are for the quartet (the US, EU, UN and Russia) to agree a roadmap leading to a comprehensive settlement by 2005, and for the parties to commit to implementing it. We believe that a conference of the parties involved in the peace process should be a key element of that roadmap. We are examining how we can best contribute to achieving this goal.

Parliamentary Recall

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will propose changes to Standing Order No 13 to grant the power to initiate a recall of Parliament to the Speaker. [78844]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Scottish MPs (Redundancy Payments)

Mr. Swire: To ask the Prime Minister what the anticipated cost is of one-off redundancy payments to Scottish MPs losing their seats as a result of the proposed reduction in the number of Westminster constituencies; from what budget they will be paid; and if he will make it his policy to extend such payments to English MPs who lose their seats as a result of the redrawing of boundaries by the Boundaries Commission. [77956]

The Prime Minister : There are no arrangements for additional compensation for Members who lose their seats as a result of the redrawing of boundaries by the Boundaries Commission. All Members of Parliament who retire or are defeated at a General Election are entitled to payment of a resettlement grant. The amount of the grant is calculated on the basis of age and length of service, and the cost involved is determined by the actual Members who are ultimately affected. The resettlement grant is available to all eligible Members of Parliament.

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Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what matters in respect of Sellafield were raised by his Irish counterpart at the Heads of Government Summit in Brussels on 25th October; and what response he made. [78651]

The Prime Minister The Taoiseach did not raise Sellafield at the Brussels European Council on 25 October. However, Irish concerns over Sellafield have been made clear through other fora. We continue to respond as fully as possible to such concerns and to assure the Irish Government that we take very seriously our responsibilities in respect of the effective and safe management of the Sellafield site.


Postalisation of Gas Prices

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce postalisation of gas prices in Northern Ireland. [78801]

Mr. Pearson: The provisions to give effect to postalisation of gas transmission costs were included in the draft Energy Bill which had entered Committee stage prior to the suspension of the devolved Administration. Subject to the Secretary of State's consent, it would be my intention that the Energy Bill would be converted to an Order in Council and included in the programme for the next legislative session.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Regulator are involved in ongoing discussions with the pipeline owners about the precise arrangements for introducing postalisation.

Public Employees

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many public employees there are in Northern Ireland; and what percentage they represent of the overall workforce in Northern Ireland. [78335]

Mr. Pearson: At June 2002, there were 204,952 public sector employee jobs in Northern Ireland. This represents 27.1 per cent. of the workforce jobs figure for Northern Ireland.

Selective Education

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions his Department has had with the Department for Education and Skills regarding the future of selective education in Northern Ireland. [79251]

Jane Kennedy: The review of post-primary education was taken forward by the devolved Administration. No formal discussions have been held with the Department for Education and Skills.

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Business Organisation (West Midlands)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the business organisations in the West Midlands with which he makes it his policy to consult on matters of relevance to the business sector. [79488]

Mr. Leslie: An example of recent consultation undertaken across the West Midlands region by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister related to draft Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands. The list set out follows shows the range of business organisations consulted on that occasion.

Council Housing

Alan Simpson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister where council tenants vote against the transfer of housing stock to an arm's length management organisation or other social landlord, how the local authority will access the debt write-off provisions offered by the Government. [79067]

Mr. McNulty: Where council tenants vote against the transfer of housing stock to a Registered Social Landlord (RSL), their authority's attributable housing debt will continue to be serviced through Housing Revenue Account subsidy and the provisions for addressing overhanging debt will not arise.

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Overhanging debt payment is only made when transfer is to an RSL, it does not apply to transfers to Arm's Length Management Organisations (ALMOs), as the authority still owns the stock.

Domestic Fires

David Wright: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people were killed in domestic house fires in the last year, broken down by region. [78551]

Mr. Raynsford: The table shows fatal casualties in dwelling fires attended by local authority fire brigades in the UK in 2000 by region. 2000 is the latest year for which data are available.

Fatal casualties in dwelling fires(1),(2) by region and brigade area, UK, 2000(3)

Fatal casualties
United Kingdom445 (4) (447)
England and Wales365 (4) (367)
North East13
Tyne and Wear5
North West69
Greater Manchester22
Yorkshire and The Humber41
North Yorkshire2
South Yorkshire10
West Yorkshire22
East Midlands23
West Midlands51
Hereford and Worcester3
West Midlands26
East of England36
South East43
East Sussex3
Isle of Wight0
West Sussex3
South West19
Isles of Scilly0
North Wales3
Mid and West Wales14
South Wales8
Northern Ireland13
Highland and Islands3
Lothian and Borders12

(1) Including late call and heat and smoke damage incidents.

(2) Including caravans, houseboats and other non-building permanent dwellings.

(3) Data are provisional and fatality figures are likely to be revised downwards as later information becomes available.

(4) Estimates of the revised figures for United Kingdom and England and Wales are shown in brackets.

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