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8 Jan 2003 : Column 266W—continued

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the United States' recently announced national strategy to combat weapons of mass destruction in respect of the policy to discourage the worldwide accumulation of separated plutonium. [89016]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: This strategy is further evidence of the seriousness with which the United States is approaching the issue of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We welcome the renewed commitment to discourage the worldwide accumulation of plutonium and the use of highly-enriched uranium, in addition to the US programmes in Russia and other former Soviet states. The UK Government believe that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed to make them, represents a serious threat. We support all efforts to counter that threat. On plutonium, we have committed #70 million over ten

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years to help Russia dispose of thirty-four tonnes of plutonium, as part of the 2000 US-Russian agreement. UK officials met with G8 partners in Moscow in December 2002 to progress this important programme. This UK-supported plutonium disposition programme forms just one part of the G8 'Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction', to which the UK has committed up to $750 million over ten years.



10. Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had on devolved power being reinstated in Northern Ireland. [89186]

Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has held with Northern Ireland party leaders about the future of the devolved institutions. [89184]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Helen Jackson), Official Report, Column 154.

Punishment Beatings

11. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has received about punishment beatings in Northern Ireland. [89187]

Jane Kennedy: Both the Secretary of State and I hold regular meetings with our senior security advisers, elected representatives and members of political parties to discuss a wide range of security issues including attacks on communities by both Loyalist and Republican paramilitary groups.

Small Businesses

12. Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what research his Department has carried out into the impact of regulations on small businesses in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [89188]

Mr. Pearson: When drawing up the Better Regulation Strategy, which currently operates in Northern Ireland, and which seeks to reduce the regulatory burden on business, my Department consulted the various Northern Ireland business representative organisations including the Northern Ireland Federation of Small Business, about the impact of regulations on business.

Castlereagh RUC Station

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has received the final report from Sir John Chilcott on the break-in at Castlereagh RUC station on 17 March 2002; and if he will make a statement. [89189]

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Mr. Paul Murphy: The Government take the break-in at Castlereagh extremely seriously, which is why my predecessor as Secretary of State immediately announced an independent review to examine the implications to national security, how it happened, whether the measures taken following the incident have been adequate and whether there are wider lessons.

This review, conducted by Sir John Chilcot, is running in parallel to the ongoing police investigation.

I have not received Sir John's final report, but look forward to doing so in due course.

Good Friday Agreement

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further progress has been made towards the implementation of outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement. [89178]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Substantial progress has been made in implementing the Agreement, but the restoration of the devolved institutions depends on the restoration of public trust in the commitment of participants to exclusively peaceful means and to stable inclusive institutions. If that can be achieved then, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has explained, we can implement the rest of the Agreement in its entirety together.


Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current security situation in Northern Ireland. [89190]

Jane Kennedy: Dissident Republicans remain a threat to the peace process but for the most part their activities have been thwarted, intercepted or nullified by good policing operations. Sectarian violence and the Loyalist feud continue to affect communities in Northern Ireland. Interface areas remain tense but quiet.

It is now time for republican and loyalist paramilitary groups to make a commitment to end all forms of violence.


Cabinet Papers

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the Cabinet Office guidance issued to Cabinet committees requiring all Cabinet papers and letters to explain how proposals meet the economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable development. [89094]

The Prime Minister: XCabinet Committee Business: A Guide for Departments (February 2002)" is already available on the internet at I am also placing copies in the Libraries of the House.

Environmental Policy

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the delivery of environmental policy, with particular

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reference to the allocation of departmental responsibilities and the separation between policy making in DEFRA and policy delivery in other Departments. [89068]

The Prime Minister: The Government have made significant improvements across a range of environmental policy areas. The UK now has the cleanest rivers, beaches, air and drinking water since the industrial revolution. Greenhouse gas emissions were 13 per cent. below 1990 levels in 2000, with policies to improve energy efficiency taking 350,000 households out of fuel poverty since 1997, with a further 200,000 expected by 2004.

In addition we have delivered improvements to sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), increases in the green belt, and increased the proportion of new housing built on brownfield land. The Government's Strategy for Sustainable Food and Farming, published in December 2002, set out further proposals for redirecting agricultural support to environmental goals.

Full assessment of the effectiveness of the delivery of environmental policy can be found in Defra's first annual report, at This report provides an overview of the Department's objectives, and assesses progress against key targets. Responsibility for two of Defra's Public Service Agreement targets (PSAs) is shared with other Government Departments: with DTI for the target relating to greenhouse gases; and with DfT for the target relating to local air quality, reflecting the need for joint efforts to achieve the desired outcomes.

The independent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assessed the UK's environmental policy and delivery in November. This report highlights areas in which progress has been made since the previous review in 1994, as well as identifying areas where more remains to be done. A copy is in the Library of the House and is available at,, EN-home-478-nodirectorate-no-no-no-21,00.html

World Peace

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with President Bush concerning world peace. [89202]

The Prime Minister: I am in regular telephone contact with President Bush about threats to world peace, and had three meetings with him last year, most recently at the NATO summit in Prague in November. At a joint press conference there, we said that we shared the strong conviction that we must work together to make the world a more peaceful place.


Bedroom Standard

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 16 December 2002, Official Report, column 612W, if he will publish a table showing

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households in England below the bedroom standard broken down by (a) region and (b) tenure for the year 2001–02. [89524]

Mr. McNulty: The answer given on 16 December 2002, Official Report, column 612W, to my hon. Friend, gave information on households in England below the bedroom standard by region and tenure averaged over the years 1999–2000, 2000–01 and 2001–02 in order to provide a sufficiently large sample. Information at regional level for single years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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