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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 7 July 2003

NORTHERN IRELAND

Special EU Programmes Body

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ian Pearson): Copies of the Special EU Programmes Body: Annual Report and Accounts for 2001 have today been laid in Parliament.

Chief Electoral Officer

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Paul Murphy): The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, Denis Stanley, is responsible for all aspects of electoral administration in Northern Ireland, including the conduct of all elections and referendums, as well as electoral registration. In accordance with section 14 of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962, the Chief Electoral Officer is required to submit an annual report to the Secretary of State.

I am pleased to announce that the annual report of the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland for the year 2002–03 has been laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in both Libraries.

HEALTH

"Saving Lives, Valuing Donors"

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): We are publishing today Saving Lives, Valuing Donors—A Transplant Framework for England, setting out our key aims for organ and tissue transplantation over the next 10 years. It describes good practice based on national and international evidence, which we believe will help save lives and maximise the benefits of organ and tissue transplantation.

Copies of Saving Lives, Valuing Donors—A Transplant Framework for England have been placed in the Library.

Foundation Trusts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): The Government's response to Second Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Health, on foundation trusts, (Cm. 5876), has been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

DEFENCE

Iraq

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The Ministry of Defence is publishing today Operations in Iraq 2003: First Reflections, an initial

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report on the recent combat operations in Iraq. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office.

This initial report provides an authoritative account of the campaign and the contribution which has been made by the UK's armed forces. It also reflects on the early conclusions which we can draw from the combat operations and their implications for future defence policy.

Within the Ministry of Defence, a thorough examination is under way into all elements of the operations in Iraq, and gathering evidence from those involved at all levels. Detailed analysis—to inform a definitive assessment of the effectiveness of our equipment, military strategy and planning processes—will take some months to complete. The reflections in this report are therefore inevitably broad and of a provisional nature. We hope to publish a full report before the end of the year.

Our armed forces are continuing to perform a vital and difficult job in Iraq, helping the Iraqi people to establish a functioning infrastructure and creating the conditions for a stable new government. I pay tribute to their magnificent work, which is demonstrating once again the exceptional quality and dedication of our servicemen and women.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Regional Development Agencies

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Jacqui Smith): I have published the Regional Development Agencies' reported Tier 3 outputs for 2002–03. These impressive figures are evidence of how the RDAs are making a concrete difference in every region. The figures cover the creation and safeguarding of jobs, amount of brownfield land brought back into use, numbers of businesses added to the regional economies and the number of learning opportunities. These results, which are in line with their challenging targets are testimony to the hard work and commitment of staff working in RDAs and their regional partners.

Also published today are the results of regional surveys of stakeholders' perception of RDAs' performance, which were conducted by MORI, on the behalf of DTI. These results show that although RDAs are relatively new organisations their stakeholders are generally satisfied with their performance and feel that they are addressing the right priorities. The majority of stakeholders thought that RDAs have been successful at developing coherent Regional Economic Strategies and working effectively as lead partners to deliver regional initiatives. The surveys also highlighted the need for RDAs to work harder to communicate clearly what they are trying to achieve and to publicise their activities better.

Press releases on the Tier 3 outputs and the regional surveys results have been issued in each region. Copies of these press releases, the regional survey reports and the Tier 3 output figures for 2003–03 have been placed

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in the Libraries. MORI's reports on the regional surveys have also been placed on Government office websites. Links to the reports and more information about the RDAs and their performance is available on the DTI website at http://www.dti.gov.uk/rda/info/index.htm.

Information and Consultation Directive

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt): A consultation document on the EC

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Information and Consultation directive is being published today. The directive gives new rights to employees in larger firms to be informed and consulted on workplace issues which are likely to affect them. It sets out proposals for legislation to implement the directive, to come into force by March 2005. The public is invited to comment on the proposed legislation by 7 November 2003. The consultation document is available on the DTI website at www.dti.gov.uk/er. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries.