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17 Nov 2005 : Column 1392W—continued

Transport Security

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government are taking to improve security on transport. [26456]

Ms Buck: Mature and proportionate security regimes are maintained across all security regulated transport modes. These are kept under continuing review, and take account of new and emerging threats with, currently, a particular focus on transport soft targets".

Further information is available in the 'Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate Annual Report (April 2004–March 2005)', a copy of which is in the House Library.
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Consultants/Special Advisers

Mike Penning: To ask the Leader of the House how many (a) consultants and (b) special advisers were employed by his Office in each year since 1997; what the cost of each was in each year; and if he will make a statement. [27412]

Mr. Hoon: The information requested is as follows.


The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons employed one consultant on IT issues during August 2005 at a cost of £3,760.

Special Advisers:

Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each payband. For the most recent information I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 21 July 2005, Official Report, 158–162WS.

Information on the numbers of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and this information will be available in the Library of the House.


Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures are being taken to tackle drug and alcohol abuse in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [25942]

Nick Ainger: Wales is tackling drug and alcohol misuse by the delivery of its national substance misuse strategy. The Welsh Assembly Government has significantly increased funding for this strategy from £3.3 million in 2002–03 to £15.4 million in 2005–06. The strategy in Wales is implemented at a local level by the 22 Community Safety Partnerships via the delivery of their action plans.

Pensioners (Cold Weather)

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with Members of the National Assembly for Wales regarding provision for those over 65 years to ensure that they are not adversely affected by the cold in winter 2005–06; and if he will make a statement. [23040]

Nick Ainger: I regularly meet with the Assembly Ministers to discuss a range of issues such as provisions for those over 65 affected by the cold winter months.

The Welsh Assembly Government have policies and actions in place to reduce the impact of colder winter weather on the health of older people. For instance, it funds the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, which provides the installation of central heating in homes, and runs the annual Keep Well This Winter" campaign. This campaign encourages older people to take extra measures to look after their health during the
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winter such as having the flu vaccination, eating properly and taking appropriate exercise, and by keeping warm and safe.

In addition, in winter 2004–05 over 464,000 households in Wales benefited from winter fuel payments of at least £200. Out of these households, 110,000 with someone aged over 80 received £300 winter fuel payment.

Police Service

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning the level of funding for the Police Service in Wales. [25721]

Nick Ainger: The Government recently consulted on options for change to the grant distribution formula, to which all police authorities in England and Wales were given the opportunity to respond.

Welsh Police Authorities received good settlements this year, each receiving an increase of 3.75 percent. over 2004–05. This is in line with the minimum increase guaranteed for all police authorities in England and Wales. Details of the settlement for 2006–07 and 2007–08 will be announced in late November or early December.

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with police forces in Wales on improving road safety; and if he will make a statement. [25921]

Nick Ainger: Under the Government's road safety strategy we are working towards a 40 percent. reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2010. The Road Safety Bill, currently being considered in the other place, addresses drink-driving, speeding, and driver training and testing. It also covers driver fatigue, vehicle safety and driver licensing.

The Welsh Assembly Government have provided more than £35 million in local road safety grant in the last five years. Tamsin Dunwoody, Deputy Assembly Minister for Economic Development and Transport, is currently meeting Welsh Chief Constables, to discuss measures for improving road safety.

Welsh Language Newspaper

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if the Government will take steps under the provisions of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages to facilitate and support the creation of a daily newspaper in the Welsh language. [29504]

Mr. Hain: Promotion of the Welsh language is primarily a matter for the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Language Board. I am aware of recent moves to establish a Welsh language daily newspaper and that the promoters are in discussion with the Assembly and its sponsored bodies.

The Welsh Language Board has encouraged all those with an interest to contribute to the current review of the charter.
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Youth Crime

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on youth crime in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [25941]

Nick Ainger: The Government is supporting a wide-ranging programme to tackle youth offending and to prevent children being drawn into crime. This includes tackling deprivation and working with families and education services, along with ongoing implementation of the 10-year anti-drugs strategy. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently announced a major new drive to increase the take-up of parenting contracts and orders, as part of our strategy for fostering respect in society.



Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the British Government's attempts to tackle poppy production in the Nangarhar area of Afghanistan. [26826]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

The UK, as lead nation on counter narcotics (CN), remains committed to supporting the Afghan Government in the implementation of their comprehensive 2005 CN Implementation Plan and in updating their National Drug Control Strategy. We continue to work with the Afghan Government and others to increase activity in all areas of their strategy. As well as co-ordinating the activity of international partners, we are providing substantial financial and practical support—more than £270 million over the next three years. I refer to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb) on the counter narcotics programme in Afghanistan on 6 June 2005, Official Report, column 235W, which includes support to Nangarhar.

In August, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced provisional cultivation figures for 2004–05 from their annual poppy survey, which showed that cultivation had dropped by 21 per cent. to 104,000 hectares in Afghanistan. Nangarhar saw the greatest decrease, with opium poppy cultivation dropping by 96 per cent. to 1,093 hectares. Success can be partly attributed to an effective Government of Afghanistan communications campaign in late 2004–05, which we supported, alongside Governor-led eradication initiatives and a market adjustment to high levels of cultivation in 2004. UNODC are due to publish their final report in the next few weeks, but these figures are unlikely to change.

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