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Mr. David Heath: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the quangos within her Department's responsibility which she has to date announced her intention (a) to abolish and (b) to make subject to a significant element of democratic accountability. [9678]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 25 July 1997]: On the issue of the abolition of quangos, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) on 18 June 1997, Official Report, column 174, which stated that a review of quangos with the aim of reducing overall numbers has been announced. I cannot, of course, pre-empt the results of that review.

On the issue of democratic accountability, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Bradley) on 24 July 1997, Official Report, column 693, on that issue.

EU Enlargement

Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps the Government are taking to promote trade with the potential new members of the EU in eastern and central Europe. [9983]

Mrs. Roche: Ten countries of central and eastern Europe--Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia--have association agreements with the EU carrying the promise of EU membership on certain conditions. On 15 July, the European Commission recommended that accession negotiations start with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. In December, the European Council is expected to make a decision about the opening of negotiations.

The Government place a high priority on successful enlargement to the east. EU demand and competitiveness will be stimulated through expansion of the single market by up to 100 million consumers, improving the opportunities for British trade and investment in the region.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia are part of a joint DTI-FCO promotional campaign--"Open for Business in Central Europe". The 18-month campaign, which began in January 1997, aims to raise awareness among British companies of the opportunities in these markets, both generally and in

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five identified industrial sectors--health care, automotive, consumer goods-retailing, agribusiness and IT-telecommunications-electronics.

The first part of the campaign, which has now ended, involved 13 general awareness seminars held around the UK. The second stage will concentrate more on the specific sectors, with seminars, trade fairs and inward and outward missions. It will also address a number of important issues, such as getting paid, distribution and finding an agent. This will be done through three major showcases, in London, Glasgow and Birmingham-- 8, 15 and 23 October 1997 respectively. The final stage of the campaign will concentrate on investment.

Trade with the Baltic states is being promoted through a series of Baltic business seminars; by providing support for trade missions and advice and information both in London and in the region. Similar initiatives are being undertaken for Romania and Bulgaria.

Assistance is available for UK companies active in the region through the know-how fund schemes to support pre-investment feasibility studies and training of key staff. The DTI overseas trade services publication "Sources of information, finance and advice on trade and investment in Central and Eastern Europe" lists these and other forms of support for British trade and investment in the region.

Business Links

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement about the progress and effectiveness of business links, with particular reference to the involvement of the private sector. [10647]

Mrs. Roche: Business links are run by private sector led partnerships of training and enterprise councils, chambers of commerce, enterprise agencies, local authorities, and other providers of business support. Business link boards are business-led; this ensures that business has a strong voice in the development of services focused on the needs of small and medium enterprise customers.

The network was completed earlier this year with each of the 89 business link partnerships in England now having at least one outlet--giving 100 per cent. business link coverage to the SME sector.

Over the last quarter:

The quarterly report on business link and business link regional supply network management information--URN 96123--is regularly published and a copy is available in the Library.

Lone Parents

Mr. Fallon: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if those people who are trained as child carers as part of her Department's welfare to work for lone mothers will be eligible for the new national minimum wage. [9048]

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Mr. Ian McCartney: The national minimum wage will be introduced sensibly and will take account of the needs of young trainees and not penalise occupational training activity, including that which provides training as child carers as part of the Government's welfare-to-work scheme.

Industrial Tribunals

Mr. Welsh: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if she will make a statement on recent changes to expenses made payable to appellants and their representatives attending industrial tribunals; and if she will outline what plans she has to ensure that those attending industrial tribunals can claim travel and subsistence allowances; [10308]

Mr. Ian McCartney: Changes to the expenses payable to parties and witnesses appearing before industrial tribunals were announced on 17 February 1997, Official Report, column 374, and came into effect on 1 April 1997. A range of expenses and allowances is payable, including the cost of travel by public transport or mileage expenses, a loss of earnings allowance and, where appropriate, an overnight subsistence allowance. Expenses are not normally paid to parties' representatives although, exceptionally, payment may be made to unpaid representatives of bodies such as citizens advice bureaux and free representation units which claim expenses on the same basis as parties and witnesses. No assessment has yet been made of the impact of the changes on such bodies.

The Government recognise the importance of ensuring that parties are able to attend and present their cases before industrial tribunals. The arrangements for expenses and allowances to parties and witnesses will be kept under review.

High-pressure Marketing

Miss McIntosh: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what plans she has to amend (a) part III of the Fair Trading Act 1973 and (b) the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 to provide increased consumer protection against (i) unsolicited visits and (ii) high-pressure marketing techniques in the building and home improvement industry; [10557]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: We are determined to see that these problems are addressed. We want to ensure that all the relevant legislation enables effective action to be taken against rogue traders who cause so much distress and financial hardship to consumers.

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The Consumer Protection (Contracts Concluded Away from Business Premises) Regulations 1987 and part III of the Fair Trading Act 1973 are particularly relevant where unsolicited visits and high pressure selling are involved. We will shortly be consulting on proposals to amend the 1987 regulations in order to strengthen the consumer protection that they provide. We also see a case for reforming part III. The Director General of Fair Trading has promised further detailed proposals on this shortly. When we have them, we shall consider them fully and consult widely. We shall also be working with my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for construction, who has a particular interest in the performance of the building industry.

Animal Imports

Mr. Flynn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many (a) dangerous wild animals and (b) exotic animals were imported into the United Kingdom in each of the last five years from each continent; and if she will make a statement. [10782]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

Information in the form requested is not held centrally. Data on imports to the United Kingdom and other EU member states under the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora are published by the European Commission and include endangered live animals. I am arranging for the data supplied by the United Kingdom for the EU reports between 1991 and 1995 to be placed in the Library of the House.

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