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8 Jan 2004 : Column 445Wcontinued
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices there were in each constituency (a) in 1997 and (b) currently; and how many of them transact more than 40 per cent. of their work volumes on behalf of the Benefits Agency. 
Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 9 January 2003, Official Report, column 299W.
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will take steps to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have the same opportunities to compete for contracts for public sector user-framework agreements as larger firms; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Government are working to encourage small firms to secure public sector contracts.
This includes implementing the recommendations of a recent Better Regulation Task Force/Small Business Council report, which made a number of recommendations to improve SMEs ability to compete against large companies for contracts.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was of producing the report, "The Regulation of Licensed Taxi and PHV Services in the UK", OFT 676; and when she expects to respond to its recommendations. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The cost of producing the report is a matter for the Chairman of the OFTI have asked him to write to the hon. Member directly. My right hon. Friend will respond to the report and its recommendations within 120 days (by 9 March 2004).
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) whether she has performed an impact assessment to determine what percentage of veterinary surgeons would be adversely affected by the recommendations contained within the Competition Commission report into prescription only veterinary medicines; 
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(3) what discussions she has had with veterinary organisations regarding the recommendations of the Competition Commission's report on prescription only veterinary medicines; and what assessment she has made of their representations; 
(4) how many complaints were received by the Office of Fair Trading about the price of prescription only veterinary medicines in each of the last five years for which records are available; and what proportion of those complaints were made about (a) large animals practices and (b) small animal practices; 
(5) what the average profit per veterinary practice was in each of the last five years for which figures are available; 
(6) what the average profit per veterinary practice was on the sale of prescription-only medicines in (a) large animal practices and (b) small animal practices in each of the last five years for which figures are available; 
(7) when she expects to publish a Statutory Instrument to implement the recommendations of the Competition Commissions Report into prescription only veterinary medicines; 
(8) what estimate she has made of the impact on the average cost of a veterinary consultation of implementation of the recommendations made by the Competition Commission in its report on prescription only veterinary medicines; 
(9) what discussions she has had with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons regarding changes to its Guide to Professional Conduct, with reference to the Competition Commission's recommendations on prescription only medicines. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: In recent months, I and members of my Department, have had several meetings with representatives of the RCVS, the BVA and other professional bodies. We have listened carefully to the views of the profession particularly in relation to animal health and welfare. These discussions have been helpful and productive and identified opportunities to reduce the potential need for legislation by addressing many of Competition Commission recommendations within the industry's own professional code of practice.
A consultation document together with a draft impact assessment and the draft legislation we consider is necessary to implement these recommendations is currently being finalised in discussion with DEFRA. This will be issued shortly and will provide all interested parties with a further opportunity to comment on how best to carry forward the Commission's recommendations. Reflecting the Government's better regulation agenda, the DTI would look closely at proposals from the profession to take forward some or all of them within the industry's own professional rules.
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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people over the age of 60 were victims of (a) attacks and (b) abuse in England and Wales in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: The most recent information available on violent crime victimisation of people over the age of 60 is from the 2000 British Crime Survey, which measures crime in 1999 (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 08/02, Chivite-Matthews and Maggs, 2002). This showed that 0.9 per cent. of women aged 60 and over and 1.1 per cent. of men in this age group were victims of at least one incident of violence in England and Wales that year. There were approximately 132,000 incidents of violence against older people in 1999, however some people may have experienced more than one incident in the year. People aged 60 and over had a lower risk of experiencing violent crime than other age groups, and were also less likely to be repeatedly victimised.
More recent figures are available for those aged 65 or over. In 200102, 0.7 per cent of men aged 65 to 74 and 0.7 per cent. of women in this age group experienced one or more violent incidents, while 0.6 per cent. of men aged 75 and over and 0.5 per cent. of women aged 75 and over did so. In 200203, 1.3 per cent of men and 0.7 per cent. of women aged 65 to 74 and 0.4 per cent of men and 0.6 per cent. of women aged 75 and over were victims of a violent crime (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 07/03, Simmons and Dodd, 2003).
The statistics do not make a distinction between attacks and abuse.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which areas the alcohol harm reduction strategy will be implemented. 
Ms Blears: The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published an interim analytical report on the harms associated with alcohol misuse on 19 September 2003. This report identifies the following broad areas of policy intervention: education, information and communication; supply and pricing; health and treatment services; and community safety and criminal justice. The findings of this report will be used to inform development of the Government's alcohol harm reduction strategy, which will cover all areas of England.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many security passes have been reported lost or stolen by staff in his Department in the last 12 months. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The total number of Home Office Security Passes reported lost or stolen on the London and Croydon Estates for the 12 months ending 11 December 2003 was 291; for London 162, for Croydon 129.
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The loss of these passes is a nuisance rather than a threat. They do not show that they provide access to the Home Office. They all have a photograph which enables the security guards and others to challenge a person other than the rightful holder. The passes for the central London estate are de-activated as soon as they are reported missing, so that they cannot be used to gain entry through revolving/circle lock doors.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many senior civil servants in his Department are disabled, expressed in (a) numbers and (b) as a percentage of whole-time equivalents. 
Fiona Mactaggart: Statistical information about senior civil servants with disabilities is available on the Civil Service Statistics website at: http://www. civil-service.gov.uk/statistics/documents/pdf/disability-oct03.pdf
This information is also available in the Libraries of the House. The latest statistics show that in my Department there are no senior civil servants with a disability.
The Department is concerned that there are no known disabled staff in the Senior Civil Service (SCS) and we are implementing an action programme to address the position.
There are significant numbers of staff with disability at junior and middle management levels and this should lead eventually in to senior levels. Reasonable adjustments are provided at promotion and selection boards for disabled candidates and we operate a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled staff who meet minimum requirements for vacancies.
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