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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 9 June 2003



Paul Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact on the risk from al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the UK of the Coalition invasion of Iraq. [115566]

The Prime Minister: The terrorist threat remains real and serious. As recent events have shown, no country is immune from attack, and it is simply not possible to guarantee against more attacks in the future. However, the Government remain resolute in their determination to defeat terrorism regardless of its source.

Adam Price: To ask the Prime Minister what guarantees will be offered to serving members of the intelligence services wishing to give evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry into the Government's conduct and preparation for the war in Iraq that legal or disciplinary action will not be instituted against them as a consequence of their submissions. [117921]

The Prime Minister: It is for the Intelligence and Security Committee, in accordance with section 10(4) and Schedule 3 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994, to establish the procedures and operation of their inquiry. I anticipate that the Committee will be taking evidence from members of the intelligence and security agencies in their normal way.


Overseas Trips

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor General if she will list each of the overseas trips made by herself and other members of her ministerial team in 2002; and what the (a) purpose and (b) cost of each trip was. [101839]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 March 2003]: Since 1999 this Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

Information for 1997–98 was included in the 1999 list. The overall cost of Ministers' visits for the years

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1995–96 and 1996–97 was most recently provided with the 2001 list. The information for 2002–03 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor General how many staff in the Department were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years. [109262]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 28 April 2003]: The information requested is as follows.

Crown Prosecution Service

The numbers of staff in the Crown Prosecution Service who have had periods of long-term sick leave (20 calendar days or more) in each of the last five years are listed in the table.

YearNumber of peopleTotal number of employeesPercentage of employees

Serious Fraud Office

The number of staff in the Serious Fraud Office who have had periods of long term sick leave in each of the last three years are listed in the table.

YearNumber of staff absent due to long term sick leave

It is not possible to provide information on long term sick absences in 1998 and 1999 without incurring disproportionate cost, as the requested information is not readily available for these years. In calculating the above figures, 'long term' is defined as being a continuous spell of sick absences lasting 4 weeks or more.

The number of staff taking long term sick leave in the Treasury Solicitor's Department (defined as one month or more) in each of the last five years was:


These figures include Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers staff.

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HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

Since HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate was established as a separate unit in 2000 only four members of staff have taken long term sick leave of more than four weeks.

Special Advisers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor General what the salary bill was for special advisers in her Department in 2002–03; and what it is expected to be in 2003–04. [108494]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 14 April 2003]: None of the Departments for which the Attorney-General holds ministerial responsibility employs special advisers.

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Senior Clergy (Freehold Status)

Mr. Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what plans the Church Commissioners have to review the status of the freehold in terms of senior clergy. [118187]

Mr. Bell: As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Archbishops' Council has set up a group to review clergy terms of service. The first task of the group is to consider ways of improving security for those clergy who do not have freehold of office or employment contracts. The subsequent task, as defined by the terms of reference, is to consider the future of the freehold, irrespective of seniority.

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Abandoned Cars

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what effect the charge on the disposal of cars no longer licensed has had on the number of abandoned cars. [115930]

Mr. Meacher: Local authorities have the power to charge the person who they consider has abandoned a vehicle—for removal, storage and disposal costs—irrespective of whether a vehicle is licensed or not.

Local authorities have, however, had increasing difficulty in enforcing these charges because of the ease with which vehicles can fall out of the current UK vehicles register. New measures being introduced in January 2004, including an automatic £80 fine for failure to re-license a vehicle on time, should help remedy this problem by ensuring that a vehicle has a traceable keeper. If local authorities can enforce charges against those who abandon cars, this should act as a deterrent to their doing so.

Action Energy

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the Carbon Trust and (b) Action Energy about changes imposed by a private company in the contracts with consultants to bring business to Action Energy. [114705]

Mr. Morley: The Carbon Trust is a private company created in April 2001 to take the lead on energy efficiency in the business and public sectors, and to support the development of the low carbon sector in the UK.

Action Energy is the UK's main energy efficiency information, advice and outreach programme for non-domestic organisations in the public and private sectors.

My Department, and the Devolved Administrations, provide the Carbon Trust with grant funding, subject to an agreed business plan for the Carbon Trust and its programmes (including Action Energy). The Business Plan, agreed with my Department and the Devolved Administrations, describes how the Carbon Trust intends to improve service delivery of Action Energy, in particular updated delivery targets. The management of Action Energy and on-going contractual arrangements are a matter for the Carbon Trust.

Air Quality

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning her Department's publication of report on the Review of the National Air Quality Strategy. [117532]

Alun Michael: A summary of responses to the report on the Review of the National Air Quality Strategy was published in the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: A consultation

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document, issued in August 1999 by the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Government's current Air Quality Strategy was published in January 2000. Following a review of three of the pollutants in the Strategy, my Department published a consultation document in September 2001 on proposals for tighter air quality objectives for particles, benzene, carbon monoxide and a new objective for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A summary of responses to these proposals was published on the Department's website in August last year when we announced the adoption of the new objectives. These were formally incorporated into the Air Quality Strategy by an Addendum published in February this year.

Copies of these documents can be found on my Department's website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airqualitv/index.htm

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