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20 Dec 2004 : Column 1374W—continued

South African Nationals

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the level and type of assistance given by (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Air Force and (c) the Royal Navy to serving officers who are South African nationals and wish to apply for a British passport. [205465]

Mr. Caplin: There is no requirement for the Department to make representations to the Home Office on applications for British citizenship by foreign personnel, including South African nationals, serving in the United Kingdom Armed Forces. However, in the interest of the Service, and in support of individuals' careers, a small number of Royal Navy Commonwealth personnel are opting to apply for either dual or full British citizenship. The Royal Navy sponsors these applications on a case by case basis through an agreement with the Home Office.

Warship Support Agency

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) gross operating cost, (b) net operating cost, (c) net cash outflow from operating activities and (d) cost of capital charge for the Warship Support Agency was in financial year 2003/04; [205450]

(2) when he intends to publish the Warship Support Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2003–04. [205449]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 December 2004]: The requested information is shown in the following table:
Warship Support AgencyFinancial Year 2003–04
(£ million)
Gross operating cost2,718,164,000
Net operating cost2,666,932,000
Net cash outflow from operating activities771,917,000
Cost of capital charge246,576,000

These costs are taken from the Warship Support Agency's Annual Report and Accounts for Financial Year 2003/04, which have been audited and approved by the Comptroller General and are due to be published early in the new year. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and will also made available on the Agency's Public Documents page of the Ministry of Defence's internet site.

Young Military Personnel

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many 16 and 17-year-olds are serving in (a) the Royal Navy, (b) the Army and (c) the Royal Air Force. [205682]

Mr. Caplin: I refer my hon. Friend to TSP (Tri Service Publication) 8: Age Distribution of UK Regular Forces at 1 April 2004 which was published on 19 May 2004. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
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Clergy (Employment Legislation)

Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 applies to ministers of religion and their employees. [205381]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 enables the Government to confer rights contained in specified legislation on individuals who do not currently have such rights.

Coalminers' Compensation Scheme

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which 10 solicitors in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland have received most money from her Department in respect of coal industry compensation claims. [204603]

Nigel Griffiths: As of 5 December 2004 the figures are:
Costs paid (£ million)
2Hugh James Ford Simey51.3
4Browell Smith29.0
5Mark Gilbert Morse23.4
9Watson Burton14.9

Costs paid (£ million)
3McLeish Carswell2.2
5McConville O'Neill0.6
6Campbell Smith W.S.0.3
7Ross Harper0.2
8Accident and Injury Claims0.1
9John Y. Robertson0.1
10Carr and Co0.08

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure that widows due coal health compensation payments receive such payments before they die; and how many claims for such payments to widows are outstanding. [204604]

Nigel Griffiths: Proposals to expedite offers in deceased cases have been put to Sir Michael Turner, the judge who oversees the respiratory disease scheme.

As of 5 December 2004 there are just over 52,000 widows' respiratory disease claims waiting to be settled. Some of these claims will have received a widows' interim payment of bereavement award.

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will ensure that coal health compensation payments due to widows but not paid before they die are made to the widow's next of kin. [204605]

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Nigel Griffiths: Scottish law does not allow for compensation of general damages (solatium) to be paid to the widow of the estate if the miner died before 16 July 1992. However, during the negotiations of the Scottish Claims Handling Agreement with the solicitors representing the claimants, the Department agreed that solatium could survive the miner and pass to the widow. In cases where the widow herself dies, it was not originally intended that the payments went to her estate. Nevertheless, the Department subsequently agreed that it would make ex-gratia payments to the surviving family where widows died between 1 May 1999 and 31 July 2002, as we acknowledged that there had been a backlog in setting up the process to handle claims.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry with whom her Department has discussed the consequences of the coalminers' compensation scheme being an issued case. [204734]

Nigel Griffiths: The Department has discussed this matter with its external legal advisors.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to ensure that solicitors overcharging on the Coalminers' Compensation Scheme refund the Treasury. [204852]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 14 December 2004]: Any overcharging by solicitors must be dealt with by the Law Society. There is no question of solicitors overcharging either the Treasury or DTI.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the total of additional fees charged by solicitors under the Coalminers' Compensation Scheme. [204853]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 14 December 2004]: These figures are not held by the DTI.

Counterfeit Medicines

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she has taken to evaluate the risk to patients from counterfeited medicines in the medicines supply chain in the EU. [201644]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

The enforcement group of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are investigating suspected criminal offences involving the supply of counterfeit cialis and reductil via the legitimate supply chain. The route of access is one aspect of the investigation, but details cannot be disclosed while this investigation continues.

The date officers from the criminal investigation unit have discovered counterfeit cialis and enforcement action has been taken to remove them from the supply chain.

The MHRA investigates all allegations of counterfeit medicines in the United Kingdom, the vast majority of which are not associated with the tightly regulated legitimate supply chain. Action in the form of legal proceedings is taken if appropriate.
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The MHRA routinely carries out market surveillance by sampling and testing medicines on the UK market for authentication. It is also consulting with pharmaceutical industry concerning technical developments in product security.

Action to prevent circulation of the counterfeit product includes a recall at patient level through the MHRA defective medicines reporting centre. MHRA inspectors and Royal Pharmaceutical Society inspectors have increased monitoring of product batch numbers during routine inspections of wholesalers and pharmacies.

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