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Voter Identification

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his estimate is of the number of persons removed from the electoral roll in each constituency following legislation on voter identification; what percentage of the electorate this represents; and what the ratio is between the reduction within each constituency and the size of the electoral majority of the sitting hon. Member. [86018]

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Mr. Browne: The Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 requires an application for voter registration in Northern Ireland to be signed by, include the date of birth, and the national insurance number (or a statement that the applicant does not have a national insurance number) of, each of the persons to whom the form or application relates. Applicants are also required to make a statement that they have been resident in Northern Ireland for the requisite three-month period before the date of their application and to state any other address in the United Kingdom in respect of which they are, or have applied to be, registered. The Chief Electoral Officer is required to remove a person's name from the Electoral Register if their application does not contain any of the above information. These changes came into effect at the Annual Canvass conducted on 15 October 2002. The new Electoral Register was published on 29 November 2002.

132,000 fewer names appeared on the 29 November Electoral Register than appeared on the previous register of 15 August. Anyone among that 132,000 who is eligible to be registered will be able to do so via Rolling Registration before the next scheduled Assembly election on 1 May 2003.

The figures in the attached table have been provided by the Chief Electoral Officer and are available on the Electoral Office website: .

Parliamentary constituencyNumber of persons removed from the Electoral Register in each Parliamentary constituency following 2002 annual canvassPercentage of previously registered electors this representsSize of electoral majority at General Election on 7 June 2001
Belfast East6,63711.537,117
Belfast North9,43415.96,387
Belfast South10,08416.985,399
Belfast West10,97018.5619,342
East Antrim6,45210.57128
East Londonderry5,5649.121,901
Fermanagh and South Tyrone5,4407.9553
Lagan Valley7,51010.2218,342
Mid Ulster4,6067.269,953
North Antrim6,2228.1914,224
North Down6,96810.967,324
Newry and Armagh7,64710.273,575
South Antrim8,42711.911,011
South Down7,2059.5413,858
Upper Bann6,7639.12,058
West Tyrone5,5338.925,040

Weston Park Commitments

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which political parties gave commitments at Weston Park in respect of the new Northern Ireland policing legislation and on other proposals presented. [86454]

Jane Kennedy: The agreement at Weston Park was that between two Governments. Together with the Irish Government, we published, on 1 August 2001, our joint proposals on four areas—policing, normalisation, the stability of the institutions and decommissioning— together with a draft statement which the parties would issue in the event that the overall package was acceptable. In the event not all the parties accepted those proposals.

All the changes to the policing legislation that the Government had undertaken to consider in the context of the review of policing arrangements were set out in the updated Patten Implementation Plan, published on 17 August 2001.

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Women Prisoners

23. Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister for Women what recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary regarding the treatment of women prisoners. [91062]

Ms Hewitt: I have had no recent discussions with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary regarding the treatment of women prisoners.

Equal Pay

24. Andrew Selous: To ask the Minister for Women what recent representations she has received about the gender pay gap. [91063]

Ms Hewitt: I have received no representations in the last three months on the gender pay gap.

Julie Morgan: To ask the Minister for Women what plans she has to reduce the pay gap between women and men. [91059]

Ms Hewitt: The causes of the gender pay gap are complex. The Government have set in place a number of measures designed to tackle them. The Employment Act 2002 when it comes into force in April 2003, for example, will introduce an equal pay questionnaire and measures to help mothers stay attached to the labour market.


Manufacturing Productivity

7. Mr. MacDougall : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what plans her Department has to increase the UK's manufacturing productivity levels; and if she will make a statement. [90938]

Alan Johnson: Manufacturing matters hugely to the prosperity of the UK. But we know that our manufacturing productivity levels here in the UK are significantly lower than in some of our competitor nations. That is why this Government have focused the spotlight on manufacturing productivity through the Manufacturing Strategy it published last May, the first by any Government since the 1970s.

Post Office

15. Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what payment will be made to sub-postmasters who make payments from (a) a high street bank account, (b) a universal bank account and (c) a post office card account. [90947]

Mr. Timms: Remuneration for sub-postmasters is a commercial matter between the Post Office and the sub-postmasters.

16. Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she last met the chairman of Postwatch to discuss the availability of post office card accounts and the Post Office Reinvention Programme. [90948]

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Mr. Timms: DTI Ministers and officials have regular contact with Postwatch to discuss a range of issues concerning postal services.

19. Mr. Prisk: To ask to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the future of the post office network. [90951]

Mr. Timms: The Government remain fully committed to maintaining a nationwide network of post offices and is investing very substantial sums in supporting the modernisation of the network in line with the PIU report's recommendations.

Energy White Paper

17. Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to publish the energy White Paper. [90949]

Paddy Tipping : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will publish the energy white paper. [90950]

Mr. Wilson: The Government expects to publish energy White Paper shortly.

Arms Sales

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry What has been the cost to public funds in the last financial year of arms sales financed by ECGD payments. [90946]

Nigel Griffiths: ECGD charges premium for all its business, regardless of sector, at a level which reflects its assessment of the risks involved and is sufficient to meet the financial criteria set by Ministers. For defence business in 2001–02, ECGD paid claims of #125 million which were in respect of guarantees issued before this period. ECGD has paid no claims on defence business underwritten since May 1997.

Belfast City Airport

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will refer to the Competition Commission a bid to take over Belfast City airport. [91342]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Under the Fair Trading Act 1973 a merger qualifies for investigation if it creates or enhances a 25 per cent. share of supply in the UK or a substantial part of the UK, or if the gross value of the worldwide assets being taken over is more than #70 million.

In the first instance it is for the Director General of Fair Trading to advise Ministers on whether or not a qualifying merger should be referred to the Competition Commission.

Child Care Tax Credit

Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) who will conduct the review into the childcare tax credit; what the review's terms of reference are; whether the results of the review will (a) be published and (b) be made available in the Library; and if she will make a statement; [90770]

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Dawn Primarolo: I have been asked to reply.

As announced in the joint report released by DTI and Treasury on 14 January, XBalancing Work and Family Life: Enhancing Choice and Support for Parents" the Government are committed to keeping under review how well support for child care costs within tax credits is working, in particular, the effect that the increased flexibility has on the ability of parents to adjust their child care requirements to suit their needs. Clearly the new system will need to be in place for a period of time before consideration can be made of the effects of the new more flexible system.

In order to qualify for childcare tax credit, parents have to satisfy two requirements. Firstly they must qualify for WFTC working more than 16 hours per week with a family income below the eligible maximum. Secondly they have to be using registered child care and if you have a partner he or she must also be working more than 16 hours. Because of the difficulties in identifying the people meeting these criteria and the constantly changing profile of recipients, it is difficult to estimate the number of parents eligible but not claiming the childcare tax credit.

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