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Millennium Compliance

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the nature of the service to callers using the Action 2000 telephone hotline to obtain advice on millennium compliance of computer systems. [27876]

Mrs. Roche: The "Millennium Bug" campaign telephone hotline is run for Action 2000 by ICL Sorbus. The service is currently equipped to despatch Information Packs and direct callers to centres of expertise where they can obtain help and support. Plans are underway to increase the breadth of information available and provide on-line advice and guidance specific to a caller's needs.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps she is taking to ensure that public sector computer systems involved in the introduction of European Monetary Union are millennium compliant. [25376]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 4 February 1998]: The Government attach major importance to tackling this problem effectively. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has set up a Ministerial Group on the millennium date change (MISC 4) to drive action across the public and private sectors to ensure that the national infrastructure is not damaged by the failure of electronic systems related to the year 2000 date change.

This objective applies to all public sector computer systems, including those which may be affected by Economic and Monetary Union.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has during the British presidency of the EU to propose the suspension or postponement until after 2001 of EU directives which would impede progress on the implementation of the action necessary to ensure the millennium compliancy of computer systems. [27879]

Mrs. Roche: I have no such plans at present, but propose to undertake a study which would enable the Government to assess the extent to which work on the millennium bug and other major tasks will absorb the skilled people available.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what controls her Department has on the use of the Action 2000 millennium computer compliance logo; and if she will make a statement. [27874]

Mrs. Roche: This scheme is the responsibility of Action 2000.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if her Department's initiatives to encourage awareness and action to ensure the millennium compliancy of computer systems take account of 2000 being a leap year; and if she will make a statement. [27880]

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Mrs. Roche: Yes, for example, the leap year issue is picked up in the advice and good practice material disseminated by Action 2000. This directs people looking for more detailed information on this topic to specify advice from the Computing Services and Software Association, the British Standards Institute, the British Computer Society and the National Computing Centre.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures have been introduced to indicate the millennium compliance of computer products for sale; and if they are subject to independent certification. [27877]

Mrs. Roche: Action 2000 is devising a scheme based on a Millennium Safe logo. I understand that no decision has been taken on whether it would involve independent certification.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many times the Ministerial Committee on the year 2000 computer problem has met. [25373]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 4 February 1998]: In accordance with long standing practice, information about proceedings of the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee is not made public.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps will be taken to prevent the Millennium Safe logo being used by businesses which are not millennium compliant. [27817]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 5 February 1998]: This is a matter for Action 2000.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what checks will be made on businesses before Millennium Safe logos are issued to them for use on their products. [27819]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 5 February 1998]: This is an issue which I understand to be under consideration by Action 2000.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what organisation is issuing the Millennium Safe logo; and how many have so far been issued. [27818]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 5 February 1998]: The logo scheme is the responsibility of Action 2000. I understand that the precise operation of the scheme has not yet been finalised.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the President of the Board of Trade upon what basis the Millennium Safe logo will be issued to businesses. [27816]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 5 February 1998]: This is a matter for Action 2000. I understand that it is discussing the operation of the scheme with the Consumers Association.

Commercial Tenants (Protection)

Mr. Stunell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what measures are in place to prevent excessive charges by landlords to commercial tenants for electricity and gas supplies; what plans she has for additional protection of commercial tenants; and if she will make a statement. [27469]

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Mr. Nigel Griffiths: In the case of gas, the Director General of Gas Supply has a duty to set maximum resale prices. The Current direction requires the gas to be re-sold at no more than cost in all cases.

The Director General of Electricity Supply has a power to set a maximum resale price for electricity. He has, so far, only seen a necessity to do so in respect of domestic tenants.

Trademarks

Mr. Willis: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to introduce legislation requiring the National Registry of Internet Domain Names to investigate each attempted registration for possible use by dealers to obstruct the company whose trademark the registered Domain Name is related to. [27710]

Mrs. Roche: There are no plans to introduce legislation requiring the National Registry of Internet Domain Names (Nominet) to investigate registrations in this way. Existing trademark law applies equally to domain names as to any other use of names, as illustrated by the recent "One in a million" judgment. Competition in the registration of domain names in the UK top-level domain is fully open, and Nominet has a dispute resolution procedure in place to deal with any conflicts over domain names. Nominet is also about to enter into collaborative agreements with conventional trademark watching services, so that they will be able to add domain names to the portfolios they oversee.

Export Licences

Mr. Faber: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to her answer of 10 December 1997, Official Report, column 596, what percentage of applications for export licences were processed by the Export Control Organisation according to their stated aims in the four week periods beginning (a) 15 November 1997 and (b) 13 December 1997. [26977]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 2 February 1998]: Further to my answer of 10 December 1997, the figures to the nearest percentage point for the two periods are as follows:

4 week periods beginning15 November 199713 December 1997
Applications circulated to other Government departments according to their policy requirements and completed in 20 working days4441
Applications not circulated to other Government departments and completed in 10 working days7373


Nuclear Fuel

Mr. Baker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the total volume of reprocessed spent nuclear fuel exported for each year since 1990 broken down to show (a) high level, (b) intermediate level and (c) low level waste indicating countries of destination. [26980]

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Mr. Battle [holding answer 2 February 1998]: I refer the hon. Member to my previous answer on 5 February 1998, Official Report, column 787. British Nuclear Fuels plc have, since 1990, imported 1,700 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel of reprocessing. The fuel is stored in ponds at the Sellafield site on receipt. The majority of the fuel imported since 1990 will be reprocessed during the coming years. Reprocessing involves using a number of chemical processes to separate the reusable uranium (96%) and plutonium (1%) from the 3% waste products contained in spent fuel. Reprocessing separates out the constituent parts of spent fuel, and material for export is not regarded as reprocessed spent nuclear fuel.

The UKAE have, since 1990, imported almost 4 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing. The nuclear material which will be separated as a result of reprocessing of this fuel (namely uranium and plutonium) may be returned to the country of origin. The total amount of nuclear material exported since 1990 is 1 tonne and countries of destination include Germany, Netherlands and France.

Since 1976, all new contracts for reprocessing of overseas spent fuel have contained option for the return of wastes. The Government intend that such options should be exercised and that such wastes should be returned to the countries of origin.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what attempts are made by Her Majesty's Government to assess the adequacy of disposal facilities and plans for radioactive waste management in countries using United Kingdom reprocessing facilities in advance of approving applications for the import of spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing under contracts which include a return-to-sender commitment covering radioactive waste arising from reprocessing. [27989]

Mr. Battle: It has been the practice of successive Governments to obtain, before a contract for the reprocessing of foreign spent nuclear fuel is signed, assurances from the relevant government that it will take no legislative or regulatory steps to prevent the return of arising wastes under the contract. The adequacy of the facilities for managing those wastes is a matter for their owners and the regulatory authorities of the country concerned in accordance with the relevant legislation of that country.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the forecast demand for the mixed plutonium and uranium oxide fuel from the MOX plant at Sellafield; and which countries (a) have signed contracts and (b) expressed interest in contracting for the purchase of fuel. [28272]

Mr. Battle: Details of particular contracts for MOX fuel fabrication are a commercial matter for British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) and their customers. However, BNFL have already supplied some of their European reprocessing customers with MOX fuel from the existing demonstration plant at Sellafield. As regards the expected demand for MOX fuel from the new plant, I refer the hon. Member to the report, produced by PA Consulting for the Environment Agency, entitled "Assessment of BNFL's Economic Case for the Sellafield Mox Plant: Public

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Domain Version" which is currently the subject of a public consultation being undertaken by the Agency. A copy of the report is in the House of Commons Library.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the financial consequences of recovering plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel. [28278]

Mr. Battle: The financial case for recovering plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel is for the owners of the spent fuel to assess, taking into account the need to satisfy the requirements laid down by the United Kingdom's regulatory authorities.


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