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An innovation by the presidency was the introduction of web chats at the end of each plenary session. The
17 July 2008 : Column 58WS
public had been invited to put questions to Ministers via the French presidency website and these were answered by whichever Minister chose to.

I answered a question on active ageing, pointing out the economic implications, the importance of skills, the need to exchange information and best practice and the challenges of anti discrimination. I met bilaterally with Ministers from Denmark, Sweden, and Italy, and I hope that the new Italian Minister will visit the UK in the autumn and see a Jobcentre Plus office. I was also able to discuss with the French High Commissioner for Active Solidarity against Poverty, Martin Hirsch, UK views on EU social experimentation, including the trans-national pilot projects which we believe can offer significant new insights in the field of social inclusion.

Social Fund Commissioner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Social Fund Commissioner’s annual report has been published today and a copy placed in the House of Commons Library.

The report covers the work of the Independent Review Service, whose Social Fund Inspectors provide an independent means of review for applicants who are dissatisfied with the decisions made on their applications for the discretionary Social Fund.

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