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27 Nov 2002 : Column 286W—continued

Sellafield (Radiological Leaks)

Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the radiological leaks from Sellafield; when they took place; and what and how much radioactive material was leaked to the environment. [83251]

Mr. Meacher: The Environment Agency conducts monitoring of the local surface waters around the Sellafield site and springs of groundwater found on the Sellafield beach. I understand that, to date, the Agency has identified two sources which result in detectable levels of radioactivity off the Sellafield site, albeit at very low levels.

These involved seepage of tritium from on-site burial trenches from the 1950s to the present day, resulting in off-site radioactivity levels of 119—353 Becquerels/litre; and seepage of technetium-99 from the B241 waste storage tanks from around 1978 to the present day, resulting in off-site radioactivity levels of <0.2 Becquerels /litre.

The radiological and environmental impact of the leakage of low levels of tritium and technetium-99 is assessed by the Environment Agency to be trivial.

Sustainability Strategy

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the

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sustainability strategy is for her Department; and how it has changed since the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. [83443]

Mr. Meacher: The Defra sustainable development strategy, XFoundations For Our Future", was published in June 2002, it provides a framework for how Defra will develop policies and identifies a set of indicators which will be used to monitor Defra's progress. The strategy will be reviewed in June 2003 taking into account the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Travel Budget

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total budget is of (a) her Department and (b) its agencies for official travelling in 2002–03. [83031]

Alun Michael: The total 2002–03 travel and subsistence budget for Defra and its executive agencies, is as follows:

£ million
Total for Defra16.193
of which agencies3.662

TSE Surveillance

Mr. Michael Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding has been allocated for TSE surveillance in 2003 in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland. [83695]

Mr. Morley: For 2003/2004, estimated funding allocated for TSE surveillance and associated costs in GB amounts to around £44 million. The testing programme is administered by Defra, in close consultation with the devolved administrations and FSA, so costs are not broken down by country. The estimated allocation of funding for TSE surveillance and associated costs in Northern Ireland is £3.5 million.

Water Supplies

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many domestic customers are reliant on water supplies from private water suppliers. [83379]

Mr. Morley: Local authorities in England and Wales are required to maintain public registers of private water supplies in their areas. On the basis of the information provided by local authorities, we estimate that about one per cent. of the population in England and Wales use water from private supplies.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Biological and Chemical Attacks

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries in the middle east have purchased from the UK in the last 12 months protective clothing to guard against biological and chemical attack. [82549]

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Nigel Griffiths: I have been asked to reply.

Such equipment may not be licensable, and since sales can fall through, even after a licence has been granted, the DTI does not hold records of such purchases.

Grants

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the grants funded by his Department for which individual members of the public and organisations may apply; and if he will make a statement as to (a) the total of such funding in the last financial year, (b) the total number of awards and (c) their administrative costs. [82196]

Mr. Rammell: The FCO funds grants for Education, the Environment, Human Resources and other projects. The total funding in 2001/02 was £58 million.

The administration of grant programmes is carried out by a number of different units within the department to which a range of staff make a contribution. It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of these costs centrally.

Tibet

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Tibet. [82498]

Mr. Rammell: We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet. We welcome, however, the releases this year of several Tibetan prisoners, including Ngawang Choepel, Chadrel Rinpoche, Jigme Zangpo and Ngawang Sangdrol. All of these were on the list of individual cases of concern that we have raised with the Chinese Government. We have also welcomed, along with EU partners, the recent visit of the Dalai Lama's representatives to China. We encourage both sides to continue to use dialogue to find a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage the European Union to achieve the early appointment of a special co-ordinator in Tibet. [82499]

Mr. Rammell: The EU discussed the appointment of a special representative for Tibetan issues in April. After careful consideration, and bearing in mind the US experience, the EU decided against such an appointment. The EU presidency informed the Dalai Lama's representative accordingly.

CABINET OFFICE

Civil Contingencies

Miss Anne McIntosh: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent review of civil contingencies procedures there has been. [82223]

Mr. Alexander: The Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC) has conducted a wide-ranging review of the United Kingdom's contingencies procedures and infrastructure. In conducting the review, the

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CCC worked systematically through Government Departments, the emergency services, local authorities and the devolved Administrations. The arrangements are revised and tested through exercises to encourage continual improvement of our response arrangements.

Contingency plans for civil emergencies are reviewed by the departmental owners of those plans and exercises are carried out on a routine basis to test their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. This process is co-ordinated by a Cabinet Committee (DOP(IT)(R), chaired by the Home Secretary, with support from officials in the Cabinet Office.

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) is currently co-ordinating a rewrite of the third edition of XDealing with Disaster", which is the core guidance document on planning for, responding to, and recovering from a major disruptive incident. The Government have also sponsored a review of emergency planning. The recommendations are being incorporated into the programme of work leading towards a civil contingencies Bill.

Firefighters' Pay

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what advice his Department has given to the Fire Service's employers on pay increases for firefighters in the past 12 months. [82689]

Mr. Alexander: None.

PRIME MINISTER

Royal Prerogative (War Decisions)

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will bring forward proposals to make it a requirement for Parliament to be consulted prior to each exercise of the power under Royal Prerogative to take the country to war. [82853]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr Allen) on 21 October 2002, Official Report, column 78W.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Research Funding (Universities)

7. Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to increase research funding for universities in Northern Ireland. [81605]

Jane Kennedy: The draft Budget approved by the Executive prior to suspension contained an increase in line with inflation for university research funding. The final Budget proposals will be published in December. Until then I am not in a position to comment on the matter.

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Crime Victims

8. Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he has taken to help the victims of crime in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [81606]

Mr. Browne: The Government remain committed to improving access to justice for victims of crime in Northern Ireland. The recommendations of the Criminal Justice Review sets out specific recommendations which are currently being implemented.

We have invested almost £2 million in Victim Support (Northern Ireland) and the establishment of court witness schemes in this financial year.


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